Sunday, March 16, 2008

Popular Culture of the Orange Revolution

"Razom nas bahato! Nas ne podolaty!" The rhythmic chant spread through the crowd of hundreds of thousands that filled Kiev's Independence Square on the evening of November 22. "Together, we are many! We cannot be defeated!" Emerging from a sea of orange, the mantra signaled the rise of a powerful civic movement, a skilled political opposition group, and a determined middle class that had come together to stop the ruling elite from falsifying an election and hijacking Ukraine's presidency.

Razom Nas Bahato, Nas Ne Podolaty is a hip-hop song by Green Jolly, which became the unofficial anthem of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004. The literal translation of the song title is "Together we are many! We cannot be defeated!". The lyrics of the song follow below:

Together we are many
We cannot be defeated.

Falsifications. No!
Machinations. No!'
Little Understandings'. No!No to lies!
Yushchenko, Yushchenko!is our President.
Yes! Yes! Yes!

Together we are many
We cannot be defeated.
We aren't beasts of burden.. We aren't goats.
We are of Ukrainesons and daughters
It's now or never
enough of waiting

Prior to the Orange Revolution, the people of Ukraine did not have much to rally together around. Overall, it is fair to generalize that national-democrat Yushchenko articulated a largely civic nationalism program which encouraged people to act collectively against the abuse of rights and freedoms and to the imperial influence of external forces. The civic nationalism motive of the protesters was symbolically represented by the most popular revolutionary song “Together we are many”, which encouraged people to imagine their larger community context and not to be afraid of supporting the democratic movement. Nationalism of Yushchenko supporters should largely be viewed in the sense of the imagined community.

With the help of the popular culture of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine was able to unite for one of the first times ever. GreenJolly helped the people unite through the chant “Together we are many. We cannot be defeated.” Besides helping the people of Ukraine tonight, the song brought attention to the situation from people abroad and which helped gain support for their cause. When else has popular culture been able to unite a country such as this has? Do you guys think that the revolution would have been as successful without the musicians and writers that helped make a little gathering into an international phenomenon? I am interested in your opinions…


Illiana said...

This is really cool. Did you translate this song yourself?! I wish I could actually hear it, maybe it is on Youtube. As far as whether music motivated people to rally together during the Orange Revolution, or whether it was a product of their rallying together- well, that is sort of a "Which came first: the chicken or the egg" kind of question. But I am going to agree that once a song like this is widely circulated, its message can penetrate into many different echelons of society and popularize the movement it supports.

Mitchel Kay said...

I agree that this example of popular culture and the unification of a society was unusual and unique in many ways, however don't lose track of how many different cultures have been brought together through similar instances. Polish rock in the 80s brought about a resistance and change toward their Communist government. And of course British and American music and pop culture became highly politicized during the Vietnam War and today as well. While I did like what you had to say considering the effect of music and pop culture in Ukraine, don't lose focus of the general change that music and politics have had throughout history and continuing today (music for AIDS, Darfur, environment, etc.)

Rebecca said...

I agree with Illiana for the most part. Definitely songs are a great way to get people together and get a message across; it's like a slogan put across in a very memorable form. I don't know if it was that important that a writer or a musician specifically supported the Orange Revolution, but rather people who are popular and influential.

Brittany said...

I believe that this revolution was a success for many reasons, but the musicians and writers that contributed to making the culture so exciting definitely had something to do with it. They definitely turned this "gathering" into an international phenomenon. This song and the pop culture that it was a part of have impacted the Ukrainian society and made it what we know it to be today. Very interesting post, Jon!

S Gliske said...

"When else has popular culture been able to unite a country such as this has?" Whether Ukraine was actually united by this is question for debate, but offen pop culture is integrally connected to political movements. Other posts have mentioned US-Vietnam in the 70s and Polish Rock in the 80s, but much older examples exist. Consider the many 1950s movies honoring the sacrifices of WWII soldiers, or the George M Cohans WWI song "Over there."

Even in the 1800s when romantic operas were a type of Pop Culture many examples exist of interactions between pop and politics. Perhaps not so close as the orange revolution... Consider Verdi's operas political overtones. Rather than the people chanting the words to the song, as with Green Jolly and the Orange revolution, they chanted his name--owing to the coincidence that it worked as an acronym for their movement, simularly calling for freedom from oppression. The best reference I can find is here but I'm sure there's a better one elsewhere.

Svitlana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Svitlana said...

Click here to view the YouTube video

Laura said...

I found some information on student groups that were leaders in the Orange Revolution. PORA, which began its activities in early 2004, was modeled after Otpor, a similar group in Poland. PORA, “It’s Time” in English, was a coalition of groups and individuals that came together for the purpose of ensuring free and fair presidential elections in 2004. PORA focused part of its efforts on conducting informational and educational activities. It also began to plan on how to counter the possibility of electoral fraud. The administrative resources, organizational structure and pool of volunteer-activists of PORA was to a great extent based on the network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of Ukraine, the most important of which were the regional member-organizations of the Freedom of Choice coalition, comprising more than 350 NGOs. On the eve of the presidential campaign, PORA had 73 territorial substructures with tens of thousands of participants, thereby becoming the largest, most influential and active civic movement of the last decade in Ukraine. During the course of the campaign, PORA activists distributed more than 70 million copies of printed materials, met with over 25 million people, held more than 750 demonstrations and public events, and created the website, which became the fifth most popular website in Ukraine. After the Revolution, PORA became it's own political party.
I think it's amazing that Ukrainian youth take such an active interest in their government. I'd like to see American students rally to form their own political party. It's obvious that Ukrainians are aware of current events both in their own country and on the global political scene.