Belarusians have a dream.
I spoke here at a conference in Berlin — at a panel about collective responsibility. The panel began with a speech by a German philosopher, but quickly switched to listing the claims of Russians against Russians. It seems to be the first time in my life that I have left the stage before the end of the event.
This war is so far the main catastrophe of our life, and it makes us look at everything and everyone in a different way. It gives me the opportunity to look where I have never looked before.
I look at the Ukrainians. I look at Belarusians. And I certainly look at them through rose-colored glasses, but it seems to me that everything is happening there in a completely different way. I'm not so idealistic as to think that everyone there adores each other, but I see that in addition to divisive things, there are unifying things there — and they are much stronger.
Because they have a dream there. As far as I understand it, it sounds something like this — "Let Russia leave us alone, and we will go to Europe." This is a completely understandable dream that can be expressed in one sentence — and behind which an understandable worldview is built with an understandable set of reforms, and an understanding of what is good and what is bad.
We don't have any of this. It is clear to me that the war must be stopped, Putin and other criminals should undergo an international tribunal, and there must be the rehabilitation of laws, and the lustration of those who invent and execute them.
We might argue about details, but, perhaps, we can come to an agreement here. Because everyone will agree — we need to get rid of the shit. The question is — what's next? What are we dreaming about? Let's say I want to take the European way. I want respect for someone else's freedom. But is Russia Europe? All right? Could an empire be a modern European country? Or maybe we are building a confederation and stop feeding Moscow? I am sure many will support the idea, but it does not sound like a dream for everyone, in which everything is clear.
There was so much fuss about Russia's special way that it became generally incomprehensible what any of the country's ways consisted of. But no matter how deep we sank, it is important to understand where we want to be.
Where do we want to go in the end — together? What is Russia's dream? Could there even be any? Or is the situation hopeless — is it an empire that must die?
And I think that the empire must surely die. But how can you dream about it? After all, a dying empire means blood and horror. It turns out that we need to dream of new disasters? It's impossible.
I wonder if there is a good way out of all this. I don't see it yet.
Illia Krasilshchyk, Instagram