Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 16, 2014

An analytical time-line for Ukraine: October 1 to December 31, 2013

Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 7:07 pm

And the Putinites have the nerve to lecture us about fascism

This is a time-line based analysis of events in the Ukraine between October and December 2013, before I began paying closer attention to Euromaidan. It was written mostly to help me understand what has been happening there—a sort of political notebook. I don’t approach these events agnostically. I am inclined to support the analysis of Ukrainian Marxists, including a Marxmail subscriber as well as some blogs I have been following. Just as is the case with Syria, the Ukrainian socialist movement is very weak but that does not have any effect on my views. There is wide sympathy for Putin out there, from Stephen F. Cohen at the Nation Magazine to Pat Buchanan of the ultraright who just defended Putin on the McLaughlin Report in terms indistinguishable from Cohen. I make up my own mind based on a survey of available information. For those who like to follow the crowd, don’t let me stand in the way.

1. October 1-31

Yanukovych was close to achieving a “key foreign policy goal”, signing an agreement with the EU, according to the NY Times. Despite Russia’s displeasure with this, manifested by blocking Ukrainian exports in July and August, Yanukovych was determined to move decisively toward European economic ties.

Much of the left views ties to the EU as a kind of suicidal action since Europe is a basket case right now, except for Germany. However, if you lived in the Ukraine or other countries in the former Soviet bloc, there are mitigating factors. Europe represents a far bigger market for exports than Russia. In fact, Putin relies heavily on gas exports to Europe for the economic health of his country. However, to keep countries like Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, et al locked into a Russia trade formation requires coercion rather than economic logic. In September Armenia decided to join the Russian customs union after its president met with Putin. After spending years working toward European integration, it reversed course. Apparently the Russians made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

2. November 1-8

On November 6th Ukraine signed a 10 billion dollar gas deal with Chevron, thus eliminating reliance on supplies from Russia’s Gazprom that had been charging exorbitant fees. This must have alarmed Russia especially since the EU had begun investigations into Gazprom functioning as a monopoly.

3. November 9-16

To the EU’s dismay, Yanukovych had still not released former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko  from prison, a condition for finalizing the trade deal. Tymoshenko was ousted in 2010 because her government had failed to overcome voter unhappiness with a depressed economy. The goodwill earned by her leadership in the Orange Revolution had long evaporated. Ironically, Tymoshenko was serving a 7 year prison sentence for signing a deal with Gazprom that was seen to have disadvantaged the Ukraine. So much for Ukrainian nationalism.

4. November 17-23

The shit hits the fan on November 22nd when Yanukovych decides to join the Russian trade bloc. His decision was based partially on Russian pressure and partially on punitive aspects of the EU deal, especially stringent IMF loan terms and measures that would fall heavily on eastern Ukraine, his main base of support. (The EU felt blindsided by the IMF demands.)

But overriding all of these concerns was his unwillingness to release Tymoshenko from prison since this woman who had cut a deal with Russia at Ukraine’s expense was his chief rival. If you’ve seen Yanukovych’s Graceland-like mansion, you know how important it is to stay in office. Politics of course had very little to do with the dispute since he was pushing for integration with the EU while she was serving time for being Putin’s lackey.

Within a day, a mass demonstration in Kiev headed toward Maidan Square, the place where the Orange Revolution was based.

5. November 24-30

But unlike the Orange Revolution, the demonstrations now occurring on a daily basis had not received their marching orders from the traditional anti-Russian parties as the Financial Times reported on November 30:

The demonstrations differ in important respects from the 2004 uprising, when as many as 1m people thronged central Kiev. The biggest crowd this time has been the more than 100,000 who gathered last Sunday.

Unlike the well-planned 2004 protests over a rigged ballot, which had initially handed victory to Mr Yanukovich, these rallies have been largely spontaneous, sparked by social media, and caught Ukraine’s political opposition unprepared.

“Many people came with high hopes, but it’s not clear what to do now,” said Halyna Oliynyk, a 50-year old Kiev museum employee. “There is a void in organisation and leadership. The politicians were sidelined by grassroots activists and students, but in my view they now need to lead the people forward.”

6. December 1-8

Late night on November 30th, the cops attacked peaceful protesters in Maidan Square in an abuse of state power that shocked millions of Ukrainians.  The protests had actually been winding down and only a few hundred, mostly students, were sitting in there.

The Guardian reported on December 1:

About 500 police officers descended on the square – the symbolic heart of the 2004 Orange Revolution against elections rigged in favour of Yanukovych, as well as Ukraine’s 1990 anti-Soviet protests – at 4am yesterday, attacking protesters with truncheons. Yanukovich said last night he was “deeply outraged” by the events which led to violent confrontation between protesters and police. He called for an immediate investigation, though did not specifically blame the police for the incidents.

“I just can’t believe it happened,” said student Igor Mitrov, with a bandaged head and a bloodstained Ukrainian flag in his hands. Mitrov, 22 was among protesters regrouping in the grounds of Kiev’s St Mikhailovsky monastery. “The police were beating the girls with rubber batons and we, the guys, were trying to defend them. But without success.”

Yaroslava Fedorash, 20, from Lviv in western Ukraine, described how police surrounded and pushed protesters into a metro station. “We were not resisting: we were just singing the Ukrainian anthem,” she said. “I saw a girl whose hand was broken and the ambulance took her from the site.”

A day later 300,000 Kievans demonstrated against Yakunovych and for the first time raised the demand that he resign, defying a court ban on protests. When you hear from people like Stephen F. Cohen that the protests were impudent demands to unseat a “popularly elected” president, you are dealing with what is commonly known as a weasel deal. It was a police riot that led to this demand and nothing else.

Setting the tone for the RT.com propaganda machine that would ensue, Putin stated on December 3rd that the protests reminded him of a “pogrom” rather than a revolution.

Despite the attempts to equate Yanukovych with “the oligarchs”, the truth is that probably most favored ties to the EU as the NY Times reported on December 7th:

On one side you have businessmen like Mr. [Petro] Poroshenko, whose fortune was estimated by Forbes at $1.6 billion. He is typical of the older money here, people interested more in marketing their assets, whether through initial public offerings or attracting international partners, than grabbing quick profits.

They were hoping that an affiliation with the European Union and its more stringent protections of property rights would protect their interests. They are also more open to a proposed loan from the International Monetary Fund that would require a reduction in government energy subsidies and structural overhauls, including revamping the judiciary.

As further indication that facile distinctions between imperialism and beleaguered Russia must be avoided, Yanukovych appointed Petro Porshenko to be economic development and trade minister of Ukraine in 2012.

7. December 9-16

This was around the time that Lenin statues began to be toppled in the Ukraine, an act that was widely regarded by the pro-Russian left that a “pogrom” was underway. While Lenin was totally opposed to cult-like worship of his image both during and after his life, the more important consideration is how this could be interpreted as a repudiation of socialism since Russia and the Ukraine had about as much to do with socialism as they did with Free Masonry.

While the pro-Putin left convinced itself that mob rule was overtaking the Ukraine, there was little regard for law-breaking cops who were operating as Yanukovych’s militia as the Times reported on December 10th:

On Monday evening, Ukrainian security forces raided the headquarters of an opposition party, Fatherland, and seized computer servers.

The party’s parliamentary leader, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, is one of the main organizers of the protest movement, which ballooned in recent days to dominate the streets of Kiev and pressure Mr. Yanukovich after he refused to sign a political and trade pact with the European Union. Fatherland is best known, however, as the opposition coalition formed by the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, whose release has long been demanded by Western leaders.

”They came without any notice, without any explanations, fully armed,” said Natalia Lysova, a spokeswoman for Fatherland. ”They broke the door, took all the servers and left.”

A day earlier, the security service, known as the S.B.U., issued a curt statement saying that it had opened an investigation into possible treason charges against unnamed politicians. At a news conference with other protest leaders on Monday, Mr. Yatsenyuk said that he had been summoned for questioning on Tuesday.

Well, one can certainly understand the need to break down doors and remove computers. The ends justifies the means, after all. If Putin was defending his geopolitical interests against the West like Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs, who would quibble about the need to break laws.

8. December 17-24

We first begin to hear about the ultraright on December 19th as it becomes clear that their tight military-like discipline and nationalist demagogy of Svoboda enabled it to muscle aside student protesters and the left. For an intriguing analysis of how Svoboda became a force to be reckoned with, there’s this from the NY Times’s Andrew E. Kramer:

Svoboda never won more than a fraction of a percent of the national vote, in spite of having strongholds in city councils and regional legislatures in its base in western Ukraine. Its fortunes changed with the election of Mr. Yanukovich. Serhiy Rudyk, a party official, said the new president’s pro-Russia policies angered Ukrainians, helping Svoboda in the ballot box.

Critics of the party’s role in Ukrainian politics have another explanation. The party, they say, drew strength from an orchestrated policy of Mr. Yanukovich to foster a right-wing competitor to his main political rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who had previously enjoyed strong support in the country’s west.

In 2011, for example, Mr. Yanukovich’s supporters unfurled the flag of the Soviet Union during marches in Lviv on Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates the end of World War II, despite a municipal law banning the display of Communist flags in the city limits. It was a wedge issue that gave Svoboda a lift in the polls. Svoboda denies this assessment, and it is a stated ally of Ms. Tymoshenko.

The next year, however, the party won 8.5 percent of the seats in Parliament, provoking warnings from Israel about rising anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine, a country with a rich history of both. On their first day in Parliament, Svoboda lawmakers started a fistfight with members of Mr. Yanukovich’s party.

The party, critics say, became something of a Frankenstein’s monster for Mr. Yanukovich, and it has grown beyond all expectations with its activists now playing an integral role in the barricading of Independence Square.

Although I generally steer clear of conspiracy theories, I might make an exception for this one.

9. December 25-31

This was a quiet week in Kiev, sort of the calm before the storm when snipers killed dozens in Maidan Square on February 19, 2014.

Quiet except for the people who had the nerve to speak out against Yakunovych. They, like countless other journalists in Putin’s Russia, knows what means to challenge the status quo. Whenever I hear leftists prattle on about fascism in the Ukraine, I wonder how they would react if American cops treated them this way. From the December 26th NY Times:

A crusading antigovernment journalist and activist in Ukraine who became famous last year after documenting the opulence of the heavily guarded residential compound of President Viktor F. Yanukovich was savagely beaten early Wednesday.

The assault on the activist, Tetyana Chornovol, 34, just outside the capital, Kiev, was the latest attack on government opponents who have been participating in sustained protests that have shaken the country.

On Tuesday evening, Dmitri Pylypets, a protest organizer in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was beaten and stabbed four times while walking on the street near his apartment, local news media reported.

Just hours before she was ambushed, Ms. Chornovol published a blog post about a ”country manor” being constructed for Ukraine’s embattled interior minister, Vitaly Zakharchenko, in the village of Pidhirtsi.

The assaults have occurred as protesters continue to occupy Independence Square in Kiev, where they first gathered last month in anger over Mr. Yanukovich’s decision to back away from sweeping political and free-trade agreements with the European Union.

Although tens of thousands of people rallied again in Independence Square on Sunday, protest leaders have acknowledged that the movement, in its current form at least, is winding down. Many are now focused on turning their anger at the government into political action ahead of presidential elections in February 2015.

There were also ominous signs that the Ukrainian government was turning inward. The Ukrainian Security Service confirmed this week that it had blocked an unspecified number of foreigners, including several Americans, from entering the country, on suspicion of colluding with protest leaders and trying to destabilize Ukraine.

Photographs taken in a hospital where Ms. Chornovol was said to be undergoing surgery showed her lying on a bed, her face battered and bloodied, with one eye blackened and shut, and her lips hugely swollen and cut. In a brief video posted on YouTube, she said she did not believe that her attackers had said anything as they beat her.

In the video, she said she had been driving home when a sport utility vehicle blocked her path. ”People came out of it and began beating me,” she said. ”I tried to bypass it, but it was impossible. The jeep hit me. It tried to kill me. They broke my window. I jumped out, tried to run. I was caught and they began beating me.”

23 Comments »

  1. Most of this rending of garments over the crisis in Ukraine may finally be over. The US has accepted a Russian proposal on the future of the country that includes the so called finlandization , autonomy for the regions plus the critical political and military neutrality. It appears that Russia has its demands met while the US and EU foot the bill. If this agreement succeeds the progressive forces from the Euromaidan may be able to regain some control over the new government.. Details at M of A.

    Comment by PeteM — March 17, 2014 @ 12:32 am

  2. Nice time line. There is absolutely no doubt that the most imminent danger to the popular democratic revolution is further dismemberment of the country following the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian army. Putin is working overtime establishing Ukrainian-Russian fascist irregular militias in the East whose provocations will be backed by the Russian Army. This is almost an identikit re-running of Milosevic’s tactics in Bosnia but however the klepto gangster capitalists of imperialist Russia will not be bullied, neutralised or co-opted as their Serbian brothers were.

    Obviously a war between the US and Russia on Ukrainian soil for the glorification of Senator John McCain over the heads of the revolution and at the expense of millions of Ukrainian lives is not in the interests of the people. In any case the West would probably be happier to see Russia bogged down in a bankrupting and distracting war of attrition Syria-style in Ukraine as it itself was in Iraq. There will be no help from the West that doesn’t see Ukrainian bodies through anything but utilitarian goggles. The revolution is going to have to rely on its own strength and the support of progressive world public opinion not to mention the growing opposition to Putin in Russia itself. Russian provocations are inevitable but their neutralisation requires the adoption of the correct policy.

    Those policies must seek to unify Ukraine under a revolutionary democracy against the gangster capitalists who were just as hated in the East as they were in the West. The piggy backing fascist, even nazi, far right and the bunch of political running dogs of the gangster capitalists who accidentally inherited power when Yanukovytch fled must be politically neutrallised, marginalised and swept aside. The Eastern working class who fear an asset-stripping EU must be sought out as allies. They are the key to the prevention of the emrgence of a Ukrainaian-Russian version of Radovan Karadzic. Them an a policy of permanent revolution or the fascist puppets on both `sides’ will be the winnders.

    Comment by davidellis987 — March 17, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  3. March 2014 – Crimea votes overwhelmingly to join Russia, do not share the optimism of some for the leaders of the coup.

    Comment by Toddy — March 17, 2014 @ 4:46 pm

  4. Oh, and soon the rest will split, leaving Ukraine, well no longer Ukraine really.

    But keep cheerleading boys and girls and all hail the glorious revolution!

    Comment by Toddy — March 17, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

  5. What makes the Putinite left like Toddy sound so imbecilic? I guess it goes with the territory.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 17, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  6. “His decision was based partially on Russian pressure and partially on punitive aspects of the EU deal, especially stringent IMF loan terms and measures that would fall heavily on eastern Ukraine, his main base of support.”

    No wonder Russians in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine want out. They have already lived through one episode of shock therapy, with another one waiting in the wings. Will US and EU sanctions, if seriously pursued, accelerate this nationalist division that lies underneath the implementation of IMF structural adjustment measures? It seems likely that sanctions that impair Ukrainian trade with the Russian Republic will invariably do so. As described by Ellis, the “Eastern working class” which is more Russian than the rest of the country, appears to have a clearer understanding of what is about to happen than their Ukrainian brothers to the west. Unfortunately, its embrace of nationalism will play into the hands of the US, the EU and the IMF, all of whom have no problem with escalating violence as long as it brings about the dissolution of it. Reports of Russians stopping the redeployment of Ukrainian troops, if true, present a kernel of hope that they may find a way to see through this manipulation. Not because they are or are not impairing the movements of the troops, but because they are talking to one another, worker to worker.

    Comment by Richard Estes — March 17, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

  7. I would hope that the imminent breakup of Ukraine will make you reflect a little more on the situation in Ukraine, rather than indulge in simplistic US imperialist apologia. I had put your idiocy down to revolutionary fetishism or popularism gone mad, but because you ignore or pay scant regard to the protests in the East against this new unelected government then what are we to think of your slanted output? And to think that you advised people not to vote for Obama!

    Incidentally, re the sniper shooting, Putin has called for an independent investigation into the shootings, your boys in Washington and in the new Ukrainian government want it swept under the carpet.

    Your cheap shots, suggesting I am a Putinite, just highlight more and more your own hopeless and imbecilic position. Your post on the protests outside your building really stands out as being staggeringly imbecilic. like it has anything to do with what is happening on the ground in Ukraine!

    You talk about disinformation, obviously both sides are guilty of this but what you cannot deny is that Crimeans want out. So where do you stand Proyect, with Obama and the industrial/military complex or with the Crimean people?

    Comment by Toddy — March 17, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

  8. A further point, I think your sock puppet David Ellis needs bringing into reality, at least for a minute. Russia have not invaded, no air support, no ground invasion, no shots fired in anger. What has happened is a democratic vote took place and the Crimean people spoke. No amount of posturing can deflect from their wishes. Ellis’s imaginary revolution is falling down around his ears. The end game for this coup was always the breakup of the Ukraine and that is what is happening.

    The astonishing hypocrisy and naked imperialism of the West, the desperate attempts to justify their actions, this is the story that should be told.

    Russia, despite everything, have remained quite calm and rational in all of this, the madness and hysteria is coming from the imperialists and their apologists.

    Comment by Toddy — March 17, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

  9. Toddy, why don’t you go back to Moon of Alabama, where you belong.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 17, 2014 @ 5:23 pm

  10. Russia, despite everything, have remained quite calm and rational in all of this, the madness and hysteria is coming from the imperialists and their apologists.

    From Thomas Campbell, an activist of the Russian left:

    According to statistics collected by the Moscow-based SOVA Center, which monitors racism and nationalism, nearly 4,300 people were assaulted and/or murdered by racists and neo-Nazis from 2004 to 2013 in Russia.

    http://www.sova-center.ru/files/xeno/tables13-rus.doc

    Why this kind of grassroots “right sectorism” has been of practically no interest to all the folks out there sighing and moaning about every crime perpetrated by “Ukrainian fascists” in recent weeks is beyond me. Especially when it’s viewed in tandem with the regime that has fostered and sometimes directly encouraged this horrid state of affairs. A regime that the folks in Svodoba could only dream about.

    Because, after all, they could only hope (and probably not even that) to run Ukraine. Whereas Russia is the world’s largest country.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 17, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  11. “According to statistics collected by the Moscow-based SOVA Center, which monitors racism and nationalism, nearly 4,300 people were assaulted and/or murdered by racists and neo-Nazis from 2004 to 2013 in Russia.”

    I am well aware of the far right in Russia thanks very much and the authoritarian nature of the Russian regime, but what does this have to do with anything? I made clear that the existence of the far right in the Ukraine coup made no difference to my hostility to it. i was more concerned with the grubby interests of oligarchs and imperialists than few far right street thugs, who after all, were just the useful idiots for their masters, as they always are. i fully expected the oligarchs and imperialists to sideline the far rightists.

    The Crimean people want to join Russia, you are on the side of Obama and against the people of the Crimea. Quite a break from Marxism.

    Obama has basically said to the people of Crimea, fuck you. You have no rights, you will take this and accept it upon pain of death. And you take the side of Obama.

    The USA have invaded nation after nation, killing thousands in the process. Russia by contrast are a model of restraint and rational, cool thinking. You live and apologise for a nation that is out of control.

    So no need for clever remarks, your position is clear.

    Comment by Toddy — March 17, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  12. Russia by contrast are a model of restraint and rational, cool thinking.

    http://www.iccrimea.org/surgun/grigorenko.html

    Speech of Petro Grigorenko to Crimean Tatars, 1968

    Now let me express the views of Kostyorin [Kosterin] and myself on the immediate problems of your movement, it will soon be twenty-five years since your people were cast out of their homes, were expelled from the land of their forefathers, and were exiled onto reservations where such dreadful conditions reigned that the annihilation of the entire Crimean Tatar people appeared inevitable. But the hardy and hard working Crimean Tatar people survived to spite their enemies.

    After having lost forty-six percent of their numbers in the forced exile disaster, they began to gather strength and to enter into battle for their own national and human rights. This struggle led to certain successes: the status of exiled deportees was lifted and a political rehabilitation of the people was achieved. True, this rehabilitation was carried out quietly … which in significant degree rendered it valueless. The majority of the Soviet people, who previously had been widely informed that the Crimean Tatars had sold the Crimea, never did learn that this ’sale’ was transparent fabrication. But worst of all, the decree on political rehabilitation… legalized the liquidation of the Crimean Tatar nationality. Now, it appears, there are no Crimean Tatars, there are just Tatars who formerly lived in Crimea.

    This fact alone serves as the most convincing proof that your struggle not only did not achieve its goal but has led to a backward movement. You were subjected to repressions as Crimean Tatars, but now, after your ’political rehabilitation,’ there is no such nationality in the world.

    A nationality has disappeared. But discrimination has remained. You did not commit the crimes for which you were expelled from the Crimea, but you are not permitted to return there now.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 17, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

  13. Here is a very nice piece. Spoiler alert! Do not read it if you are a Putinite dog.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/russia-ukraine-crimea-betrayed-leaders-brother-nations

    Comment by David Ellis — March 18, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

  14. Here is a very nice piece. Spoiler alert. Do not read if you are Putinite running dog.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/russia-ukraine-crimea-betrayed-leaders-brother-nations

    Comment by davidellis987 — March 18, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

  15. What does any of this have to do with the issue at hand, i.e. the wishes of the 97% of the Crimean people? I could mention the fact that Russia lost 20 million in the war, but how would that help the situation right now?

    But what is your point, do you want the Eastern and Southern part of Ukraine cleared out of Russian speakers, cleansed? Maybe this is why Israel is so keen on the coup?

    Your position on this issue is abysmal. One minute you support protesters, the next you denounce them! No rights for the people of Crimea is your slogan!

    Putin seemed the model of restraint when he was interviewed today, compare that with the hysterical and hypocritical belligerence of the West. That has collectively lost their marbles. Clearly Russia didn’t want any of this, don’t want the split up of Ukraine but have been forced into a corner. The divisions are being caused by the West and the far rightists in the new Ukrainian unelected government. The people of Crimea and the East can easily see this, their vote is a clear indicator that the various talking heads served up by the Western media are not speaking for the people of the region but to their own prejudices.

    Incidentally your glorious revolutionaries are now warning against anyone protesting against them, quite ironic seen as they got to power by violently protesting against an elected government! This seems the new template for imperialism, the colour revolutions didn’t work so a new tactic is employed, destabilise elected government, replace with puppets, ban opposition parties, imprison opposition activists and threaten protesters.

    Comment by Toddy — March 18, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  16. We have already established that you care not a jot for the people of the Crimea, you now simply follow the interests of US imperialism.

    I expect that you want crimea cleared out of all non tartars, who incidentally, also voted to join Russia. The people on the ground do not share your joy at the coup and it’s backers. And to think you said to people not to support Obama!

    Your lack of reporting of the belligerent hysteria by the West is most striking. You have gone over to the dark side.

    Comment by Toddy — March 18, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

  17. `Putin seemed the model of restraint when he was interviewed today’

    Yes because anybody who can lay down a creeping artillery barrage on a city like say Grozny eradicating every single building is always the model of restraint. Putin is an international war criminal from Chechnya to Georgia to Syria and now Ukraine not to mention a War on Terror in the south the make America’s look like milk pudding.

    Comment by David Ellis — March 19, 2014 @ 10:51 am

  18. Not to mention his gangster regime of kleptocrats is dependent on international grandstanding and racist and homophobic divide and rule ideology. The place of the left is on the side of the Ukrainian revolution and the opposition to Putin in Russia itself where they not only use the slogan `the main enemy is at home’ because it is true but as an ironic piss take of the Western left who abuse the slogan to give Putin not just a free pass but open support. But it’s not just the neo-Stalinist left that does this. Putin has a big fan base in the European far right so we’ve got a little red-brown alliance going on.

    Comment by David Ellis — March 19, 2014 @ 11:55 am

  19. “The place of the left is on the side of the Ukrainian revolution and the opposition to Putin in Russia itself where they not only use the slogan `the main enemy is at home’ because it is true but as an ironic piss take of the Western left who abuse the slogan to give Putin not just a free pass but open support.”

    Speaking from a more anarchist perspective, the US left rationalization of Putin’s actions over the years is truly astounding. As Richard Seymour posted in response to Lindsey German: ” . . . there is more than one imperialism operating in the Ukraine.” Domestically, he has created an authoritarian government with a democratic facade. My forlorn hope is that his intervention in the Ukraine causes the mass movement to spread to the Russian Republic. Forlorn, because Putin has played the nationalist card in the Crimea to stop it from happening.

    Comment by Richard Estes — March 19, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  20. Putin cult-of-personality MofA’ers in the house, LOL “I am well aware of the far right in Russia thanks very much and the authoritarian nature of the Russian regime [and we admire its wise restraint], but what does this have to do with anything?”

    So what does one Slavic-language far right have to do with another Slavic-language far right? A whole lot, it seems to me. Svoboda and Pravy Sektor are a great encouragement for their (objectively and strategically more dangerous) Russian counterparts, a direct challenge in fact, to the latter to step up their game in Russia. The Red-Brown Left has their eyes off the strategic prize when it comes to concerns over fascism, despite its cynical reduction of living reality to Brzrezinski’s Chessboard. It’s RUSSIA, not Ukraine we should be concerned about when contemplating neo-fascism. The Red-Brown Left is objectively covering for the rise of Russian fascist or crypto-fascist movements in Russia.

    To answer Toddy’s question about Crimea. Since Crimea was and is effectively under Russian military occupation – no matter how “treaty-legal” that occupation may be – and was subject to a hysterical “the fascists are coming” fear-mongering campaign (the whole ‘referendum’ operation was clearly well-planned in advance, given the swiftness of its execution), there is no way of absolutely knowing what the result might be in a fair referendum. I can conjecture on the basis of history that it might have a chance of garnering a majority in favor of anschluss with Russia, but the point is, now we will never know. We support the right to self-determination of the people of Crimea, and self-determination means free of intimidation.

    I’m sure that was Toddy’s position with respect to Kosovo a few years back, wasn’t it now? When is international law not international law? Revolutionary Marxists never base their principles on bourgeois right, including “international law”, in the hands of the bourgeoisie, nothing but the law of the jungle; Our Red-Brown opponents – JUST LIKE THE NATO IMPERIALISTS THEY CLAIM TO OPPOSE – opportunistically base themselves on such bourgeois right when it suits them.

    Next chess-move yours, suckers!

    Comment by matt — March 19, 2014 @ 5:43 pm

  21. “Putin is working overtime establishing Ukrainian-Russian fascist irregular militias in the East whose provocations will be backed by the Russian Army….In any case the West would probably be happier to see Russia bogged down in a bankrupting and distracting war of attrition Syria-style in Ukraine as it itself was in Iraq.”

    On this I am not so sure – except for “establishing Ukrainian-Russian fascist irregular militias”. But the provocations knife could cut both ways. The Putin Party may try to bog down any Ukraine government it doesn’t like (as with the present one) in a counterinsurgency in the East.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — March 19, 2014 @ 5:49 pm

  22. “The astonishing hypocrisy and naked imperialism of the West, the desperate attempts to justify their actions, this is the story that should be told.”

    The West is telling its own story quite well, thank you, through the Iraq War, its support for the Egyptian military coup, and so forth. It’s current reliance on color-coded informal machinations is a sign of its weakness and decline. Do you really have so little confidence in people’s ability to see through the “astonishing hypocrisy and naked imperialism”? It is “astonishing and naked”, ain’t it? Trust me, the masses here in the US from where I write aren’t out on the street demanding a new cold war with Russia, much less a hot one over Ukraine. Looks the same in Europe. It is the last thing on their mind.

    This lack of confidence in the masses mirrors the right-libertarian cynicism concerning “the sheeple”, all “zombies” in need of strong leaders. That’s why it is an easy transition to go from the right-libertarian, pro-capitalist Zerohedge, or from Antiwar.com, to Moon of Alabama. Not to mention certain individual contributions to Counterpunch or Asia Times, minus the anti-semitism disguised as “anti-Zionism” that is seen on Zerohedge and MofA.

    Hence “Red-Brown” is meant not as a gratuitous insult, but as an accurate description of ideological reality. Toddy & Co. would have been in the Moscow counter-demonstration right alongside Sergei Kurginyan’s Essence of Time movement.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — March 19, 2014 @ 6:23 pm


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