Lauren Hebig–SS (Aparicio)–
According to Aristotle’s Politics, the definition of a citizen varies depending on the form of government. For example, Aristotle believes that in a democracy, a citizen must share in the “administration of justice, and in offices.” However, to make the definition of a citizen fit more forms of government, he broadens the definition to someone “who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of any state.” Given his definition of a citizen, one can understand the turmoil taking place on the other side of the world with Crimea and Russia; the citizens are not able to function. Is Putin interested in making Russia a better country by annexing Crimea and allowing its inhabitants to fulfill their function as citizens or is he just enslaving the Crimean people? If Aristotle is correct in defining the function of a citizen, then does this mean Putin and the president of Ukraine are abusing the Ukrainians by ruling as tyrants?To understand why the Russians are abusing the Crimean’s function as a citizen, one must know a little about the history of Crimea.
From 1783 to 1954, Crimea was under the direct control of Russia. However, Nikita Khrushchev, the secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, gave Ukraine the control of Crimea in 1954. Because Crimea was under control of a Russian speaking country for more than 150 years, it created an area where more than sixty percent of inhabitants speak Russian. The rest of the peninsula speak Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. The citizens who speak Crimean Tatar resent the Russian government because when Crimea was under Russian control, the Russians tried to eliminate them through expulsion out of the country.The Crimean Tatar deportations started in 1944 with Stalin because he accused them of working with the Germans.When Khrushchev shifted Crimea to Ukraine, he moved Russian speaking people under the control of a non-Russian speaking government. This decision left all sides unsatisfied, thus creating tensions.
In the spring of 2014, events increased tensions between Ukraine and Russia, but ultimately reached a height when Russian parliament gave Vladimir Putin authority to invade Crimea. The Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who is pro-Russia, refused to accept a trade agreement with the European Union and partnered with Russia instead despite the majority of the Ukraine citizens wanting to trade with the EU. By making this decision, which opposed his people’s wants, the president of the Ukraine acted as a tyrant. Consequently, protestors flooded the streets of Kiev, which ultimately forced the president of the Ukraine to flee to Russia. Currently, a new man has taken the role as president. Because Russia is very interested in expanding its influence and keeping the newly formed partnership with Ukraine, Russian troops entered Crimea. Once the Russians established a military presence in Crimea, a referendum was held on whether Crimea should join Russia. Once the votes were counted, Crimea became part of Russia. While the vote said that almost 100% percent of the voters wanted to join Russia, is this vote entirely accurate?Were the voters voting honestly or were they intimidated by the Russian military forces inhabiting their peninsula? The answer is simple: the vote is not fair.
For example, the “referendum reach an astonishing 123% of registered voters” because Russian soldiers who were in Crimea were allowed to vote as well.Taking into account the definition of a citizen, one can see that Russia is prohibiting the people of Crimea from living out their function as man and as a citizen according to Aristotle. One must not be confused that Aristotle thinks man has two functions; this is a false statement. Instead, one must understand that he thinks the main function of a man is to reason and because of this, he can live out other functions such as the function of a citizen.
While Russia is permitting all citizens of Crimea to vote on whether or not to join Russia, the votes are also not valid because Russia is intimidating the people of Crimea by stationing men throughout the peninsula.For example, imagine Barack Obama agreed to trade with Mexico instead of Canada solely because he was better friends with the Mexican president. By choosing to trade with Mexico, Obama ignores the demands of the citizens and creates havoc among the nation that causes him to flee to Mexico. Obama’s choosing to trade with Mexico suggests that he is a tyrant because he is looking out for his own self-interests, which is exactly what the president of Ukraine did when he refused to trade with the European Union, the preference of the Ukrainians.
Since the former president of Ukraine is to be considered a tyrant, then according to Aristotle, he was ruling a perverse form of government that hindered his people from living out their function as citizens and was not acting for the “common good.” Similar to the president of Ukraine, is Putin, who also limited the Crimean’s function through this voting system: instilling fear in the people of Crimea and stuffing the ballot with the votes of Russian soldiers. Relating back to the example of Mexico and the United States, imagine that a referendum was run by the Mexican government to decide if America was to become part of Mexico. As the citizens were voting, Mexican soldiers stood watch and possibly took a glance at the votes marked with the voter’s name as well. Would you be intimidated into voting to be a part of Mexico? By taking such an action, Putin violates not only the function of the citizens, but also the function of the state according to Aristotle, which is to help a man live out his function. By violating the ability to properly vote, Putin can also be considered a tyrant. As Aristotle said, the purpose of the state also “exist[s] for the sake of a good life and not for the sake of life only.” If the state only existed for life, “slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choice.” Although the Russians are not directly forcing the Crimeans to vote to be part of Russia, the Russians are still influencing their ability to reason through intimidation.
To support that Putin is not looking out for the best interests of his people as a whole, one needs to look at the facts. According to CNN.com, adding Crimea to Russia could potentially hurt the economy of Russia and Crimea because most of the resources that it consumes comes from Ukraine. In fact, 80% of its electricity comes from Ukraine and Crimea even receives money from Ukraine for government spending.By joining with Russia, Crimea could potentially have to pay higher prices for electricity from another country and would have to look elsewhere for money for government spending. Similarly, the Russian government would have to pay high prices too because Russia would have to invest about 6 billion dollars into Crimea to unify the country.On top of hurting the Crimean’s function as a citizen and potentially hurting both economies, one can see that Putin has ulterior motives and thus fulfills Aristotle’s definition of a tyrant because he is only ruling for his own interests rather than the people of Russia or Crimea. His own interests include taking control of the prized Sevastopol for a better naval port among others unknown to the world.
Several problems in the Crimean and Russian society arise by trying to reconnect Russia and Crimea. However, what about Putin? No one hears problems about the man who is causing the problems. Instead, he is getting publicity for something which is ultimately detrimental to the Crimeans ability to live out their function, thus not allowing Russia to fulfill its purpose as a state. Just as Putin is acting tyrannical according to Aristotle, the president of Ukraine also acts as a tyrant by not allowing his citizens to participate in government decisions.
Ultimately, adding Crimea to Russia is a poor decision for Putin because his people will ultimately suffer. Though the naval base Sevastopol in Crimea is beneficial for trading reasons and for having a stronger navy, he forgets the purpose of the state: to help man live out his function. Perhaps Russia and Ukraine need to refocus their goals by changing leaders from tyrants to people who are interested in helping all classes.
1. “Crimea profile,” BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-18287223, (June 27, 2014).
2. Ibid (#1)
3. Gus Lubin,“How Russians Became Crimea’s Largest Ethnic Group, In One Haunting Chart,” http://www.businessinsider.com/crimea-demographics-chart-2014-3, (June 27, 2014).
4. Ibid (#3)
5. David Adesnik, “How Russia Rigged Crimean Referendum,”http://www.forbes.com/sites /davidadesnik/2014/03/18/how-russia-rigged-crimean-referendum/, (June 27, 2014).
6. John Curran, “Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Explained,” The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johncurran/russian-ukrainian-conflict-explained_b_4909192.html, (June 26, 2014).
7. Ibid (#5)
Adesnik, David. “How Russia Rigged Crimean Referendum.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidadesnik/2014/03/18/how-russia-rigged-crimean-referendum/ (accessed June 27, 2014).
BBC. “Crimea profile.” BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-18287223 (accessed June 27, 2014).
Lubin, Gus. “How Russians Became Crimea’s Largest Ethnic Group, In One Haunting Chart.” Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/crimea-demographics-chart-2014-3 (accessed June 27, 2014).
Soares, Isa. “Why annexing Crimea may prove costly for Russia.” CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/14/business/russia-ukraine-crimea-economy/ (accessed June 27, 2014).
Stack, Steve. Crimea Vote. Cagle. March 14, 2014. June 27, 2014. http://www.cagle.com/news/crimea-vote/page/7/.