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“F*ck Leftist Westsplaining!” | The Nation

Berlin—This was once the fault line between East and West in Europe. Almost 35 years after the momentous change brought about by the fall of the Wall, Germany still feels tied to two regions, two histories. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is viewed and spoken about in a very different way here than it is in the United States.

This part of Europe has already changed in a fundamental way. Nearly 2 million refugees from Ukraine reached Poland by March 18. Ten thousand refugees are arriving in Berlin every day. At the Romanian border, children fleeing Ukraine cross a footbridge lined with toys volunteers have left to welcome them.

To understand how each of these places is connected to the other, you need to know that the distance between Berlin and the Polish border is shorter than distance between New York and New Haven, that there are no hard borders between most countries in the EU, that both university instructors and house cleaners sometimes commute to work from one country to another. And to understand how close the war feels, you need to know that, when rockets struck Volodymyr Ukraine, windows shook in Poland.

Approximately 80 years after the Second World War and 30 years after the end of the Cold War, in Central and Eastern Europe the memory of both remain very present. Stories of life during invasions, said Zosia Brom, are “passed from generation to generation.” Brom, editor of the anarchist journal Freedom, grew up in Poland.

“Like most Eastern Europeans, I have spent the past week or so living in some kind of haze, where news cycles really last 24hrs, there is no sleep, and your phone rings constantly,” Brom wrote in a recent essay titled “Fuck leftist westplaining.” Written like an angry letter to a friend, the piece calls out Western leftists for their lack of knowledge about Eastern Europe and their disregard for the perspectives of people who grew up in countries that were colonised by Russia.

Brom’s missive is one of the “Many vital texts…on the problems with #westsplaining, coloniality and the denial of a voice, agency & self-determination in debates on Ukraine, Central & Eastern Europe,” identified by political philosopher Tereza Hendl, who grew up in Prague. Hendl created a much-referenced Twitter thread linking to work by writers from the East European left.

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