What unites the protestors in Belarus is not a devotion to the purity or glory of their “people”. Rather, it is their common attachment to ideals of popular sovereignty and fundamental rights shared by all citizens. What is happening in Belarus is very much a legacy of the French Revolution, which placed the figure of the oppressed citizen at the heart of the struggle against tyranny.
Protestors raise their nation’s historical red-and-white flag in the streets. Op-eds exult in Belarusian national poetry and history. And everywhere in this tiny ex-Soviet republic, there seems to be a surge of national feeling. For many westerners, who have become accustomed to reading about increasing nationalism in Europe and beyond, it may be tempting to assume that these are the gestures of yet another nationalist movement.
November 17, 2020 -