Ukraine unveils McKinsey programme for nation-builders
The $750bn plan looks like an audit written for 19th century nationalists
This week Ukraine released a comprehensive draft of its proposed recovery plan, which includes a $750 billion price tag. President Zelensky has called on the world’s democracies to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction, with a deal that contains everything from infrastructure and healthcare to farming and nuclear energy and much, much more. It is ambitious, to say the least.
Not only is this a plan for Ukraine’s physical reconstruction, but also included in this proposal is a detailed plan to forge a stronger unified Ukrainian national identity. Like if a McKinsey audit was written with the goals of 19th century Romantic nationalists in mind.
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For example, one plan from the “Youth and Sports” working group sets out in three stages a path to solving the problem of “insufficiently formed Ukrainian national and civic identity.”
Stage 1 — to be completed this year — sees a unified narrative on the formation of Ukrainian identity being created. Stage 2 — from January 2023 to December 2025 — sees the level of Ukrainian identity in the country reaching 85%. And, finally, stage 3 envisions “the field of national and patriotic education” aligned with EU standards by 2032.
The “Culture and Information” working group, for its part, proposed a far more comprehensive agenda. It calls for a sharp acceleration of the process of Ukrainian nation-building that began in 2014, taking the Maidan Revolution of that year and the Russo-Ukrainian war as the new foundational myths of the modern Ukrainian nation-state.
Ukraine, like Poland and some other countries in the region, has an official Institute of National Memory tasked with shaping and preserving national memory. It played a prominent role in drafting controversial decommunization laws in 2015, putting Ukraine’s historical memory on a collision course with Russia’s, with Putin presenting his regime as the defender of the memory of what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.
Under Ukraine’s recovery plan it would likely play an even larger role, not just shaping perceptions of distant history but building new narratives based on events we are all living through today.
The recovery plan calls for the dismantling of 99% of Soviet memorials targeted by decommunization laws by the end of the year, as well as 70% of those that are “Russian imperial markers.” By the end of 2025 it hopes to see the “symbolic space of the country completely devoid of communist and colonial markers,” and by 2032 the change or update of “90% of historical and local lore museums.”
Soviet memorials, devoid of their old purpose, are being swept away. New statues will be erected in their place. Along with countless national and local memorials to the Russo-Ukrainian war, a Museum of the Revolution of Dignity is called for by 2032, as is the creation of a National Pantheon, or a Memorial of Ukrainian Heroes.
“The true history of Ukraine, freed from the myths of the Russian narrative, is part of European history,” the culture and information policy working group concluded. The goal is now to build a “conscious, consolidated society, resistant to propaganda, positioning itself as a part of the European and the democratic world community.”
Ukraine struggled for decades to forge a unified national identity in the wilderness of post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Russian aggression has changed that. One Ukraine — brought down by Soviet missiles and Russian delusions of grandeur — is being destroyed before our eyes. Another is emerging victorious on sovereign Ukrainian territory, and it has a plan to rebuild Ukraine in its image. Now we just have to fund it.
And yet the West, that is being asked to support the nation-building program described in the article, is now dominated by an ideology that seeks to deconstruct national myths and self-belief. If the West was ideologically coherent it would not support rebuilding a sense of cultural unity in Ukraine, but rather promote massive immigration, especially of non-white people, and encourage the Ukrainians to find fault in their own national story.
In reality, I suspect that if the West supports, even to a limited extent, the nation-building program described in the article, it will be to create a bland society dedicated to global trade, a homogenized culture and porous borders. That’s when the Ukrainians will part company with the West.
One would think that being invaded and occupied by your neighboring 800 pound gorilla would do wonders for “forming Ukrainian national and civic identity.”
Ukraine is corrupt. Most of Eastern Europe is corrupt. That’s not intended as a dig; it’s just reality. Whether Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, or others, state funds tend to get channeled to cousins of political leaders. That’s what’s really going on here: a wish list of grift.
This seems to require more scrutiny than it has been given: the comparison with Poland doesn’t seem too apt given that Poland doesn’t have the massive linguistic and cultural division Ukraine has had between its east and its west. One version of Putin’s propaganda has been that Russian speaking Ukrainians aren’t really Ukrainian at all, but Russian: is this becoming the position of the Ukrainian government as well? Given the Russian invasion it isn’t surprising if Ukrainians who would have been more culturally similar to Russia than to Poland turn against that and seek to adopt a more western-Ukrainian identity, but does this mean that it is now the Ukrainian Government’s policy to make that happen?
I would also like to know what is meant by describing Soviet memorials (which I assume are war memorials celebrating the defeat of Hitler) as now “devoid of their old purpose”.
“New statues will be erected in their place.”
Bandera and his like, for starters.
It’s hardly a massive linguistic and cultural division. Russian and Ukrainian are close to being diglossal pair, and a very good case can be made that Ukrainian is a dialect of Russia, branching off in terms of pronounciation (a bit) and grammar (a bit more). Nationalistic feelings and identity are another thing of course, but it’s absurd to pretend that Russian speaking Ukrainians have felt at a disadvantage in the last 30 years, which has led to the breakup (with a lot of encouragement from Moscow, over the decades).
Why should we pay for it ? Russia’s damage Russia’s bill.
damn straight-where are all those frozen funds ??
Where is the 750 billion each for Libya, Iraq and Yemen?
It is baffling that Ukraine would have a “reconstruction” plan when it is still being “deconstructed” by Russia. Such optimism is encouraging to the Ukrainian people, but the focus must surely be to first defeat and expel Russian troops–which unfortunately is not a sure thing.
Baffling indeed. Makes you wonder if this is all being done via a script. In the end, always follow the money.
IS it Ukraine doing the asking? A link to the draft of the document has an “About” page, but no “Who We Are” page. They do link to a sister organization about Digital Futures…on Davos Platz in Switzerland.
This is the European Commission, arguing as Ukraine.
Funny though about McKinsey in the title. McKinsey basically did all of Van der Leyen’s work in Germany. Those excessive payments were the quickly tamped-down scandal that failed her upwards to the E.U.
A German mainstream newspaper posted a McKinsey report (McKinsey advisors being fresh from grad school and without real world experience types, like Chelsea Clinton and Pete Buttigieg), where—no kidding—one of their listed solutions for improving their army was to…pay more for advising so that they got the best help!!
Meanwhile VdL was improving the army by…pushing for maternity uniforms for soldiers, when airplanes, tanks and rifles that were not in working order. Well she failed up nicely, so surely those McKinsey payments were worth it.
When I later saw McKinsey style improvements in the U.S. army, re uniforms, for example, I thought that it must be great business for McKinsey to resell the same information to one government after another. After all, we are all going to be one liberal world order, with Clintons and Buttigiegs and bears, oh my! (Wizard of Oz reference.)
I have to say this is a great question. Is this something Ukraine genuinely wants or is this a bunch of globalists/Davos men pushing their usual agenda through some kind of Ukraine charity scam? Either way, this is stupid and there’s no way anybody should seriously consider giving them this money.
It’s always very easy to give away money that it not your own.
A whole country started a Gofundme campaign to convince their own people that they’re a legitimate country, asking for more money on top of the billions being spent on arms and equipment for the war that’s still going on. Got to admire the chutzpah anyway.
Tiny nations of 40 million often do that.
Britain did the same in WW2–nationalism at its worst.
Gosh! Once Ukraine has been ‘levelled up’, they could fund a Marshall Plan for the UK and call it the Zelensky Plan.
If the Ukrainians can remove all the monuments of Soviet humiliation, why should Germany continue to suffer the even greater humiliation of the three Soviet war memorials in Berlin for one moment longer.
So, one of the most corrupt regimes in the world instigated a war on behalf of US neocons and their own oligarchs, and now they want their 3/4 trillion reward? How about Raytheon, Boeing and their colleagues footing the bill?
And to create stories that people can gather around? Will people ever learn that these stories are used for manipulation and control? 100 years from now all those new and shiny monuments will be destroyed because some other arbitrary story is trending.
Glad you said “one of.”
It’s being invaded by a far more corrupt nation–which tries to corrupt us as well.
That’s three quarter of a trillion dollars. Surely that won’t be agreed to?
But it’s for Democracy!
When you see all the flowers on their tables for every tiny meeting, along with ever unopened bottles of water, and adding all the flights of all the people to all the conferences…of course there is money! (Cattle always come for their milking, while the farmer decides where the milk will go.)
The U.S. (“multilaterally”) is sending at least 48 billion to the Ukraine, when it would cost 20 billion to alleviate the homeless problem in the U.S.
But government jobs need projects that don’t go away, and we seem to want fentanyl to flow.
This is the only way to protect Europe.
Even if Ukraine wins militarily–an increasing likelihood, given that Moscow is now scraping the bottom of its barrel–it can still lose the peace.
Putin’s goal for at least the last decade and a half was to destabilize Europe. A strong, rich Europe will always be a threat to the leader of any poor, corrupt, but expansionist power.
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