Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 13, 2014

Donetsk in context

Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 5:39 pm

Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk

For many on the left, capitalist Russia today serves the same purpose as it did when it was the USSR, namely as a foil to imperialism. Perhaps one of the more revealing expressions of that came from long-time Marxist Roger Annis in Canada who wrote:

Russia’s independence, and that of other, rising capitalist powers such as China and Brazil, is of considerable political consequence for the international working class. The frictions and conflicts between competing capitalist blocs create political and economic fissures through which peoples and countries can assert and defend their independent interests.

http://www.rogerannis.com/what-stand-for-progressives-on-events-in-crimea-and-ukraine/

Implicit in this statement is that it is probably best for the rights of the Ukrainians to be violated if Venezuela’s are respected. In the geopolitical chess game, sometimes a pawn has to be sacrificed to advance major pieces.

One can imagine the excitement of such people when they read the Guardian article titled “East Ukraine protesters joined by miners on the barricades” that at first blush would lead you to believe that something like a Paris Commune was taking shape in Donetsk:

Word spread quickly through the few hundred pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine: “The miners are coming!”

The crowd parted as a group of a dozen or so burly men in orange work helmets marched past barbed-wire and tyre barricades into the 11-storey administration building, which protesters seized last weekend as they demanded greater independence from Kiev.

“Glory to the miners!” the crowd began chanting. “Glory to Donbass!” they shouted, much as protesters at Kiev’s Euromaidan demonstrations had shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” before they ousted the president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February.

The Guardian article mentions in passing that Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, owns most of the major mines in Donetsk. He has played a balancing act ever since the crisis in Ukraine began. Although he was one of President Yanukovych’s main backers prior to the crisis, he turned against him as the crisis deepened and instructed the Party of Regions parliamentarians he controlled to vote for his removal. Right now he is working with the governor of Donetsk to keep a lid on the revolt even as he is pushing for a settlement that is in line with Russia’s, namely a loose federation that would exclude NATO.

In the political calculations of the pro-Putin left, Akhmetov becomes an asset in the anti-imperialist struggle. That he and Putin can been seen in this fashion is a worrisome sign that the left has lost its way. A close look at his role in the formation of the Party of Regions and the class realities of the Donetsk region might help to wake these people up, although given the advanced stage of their condition, the prognosis is guarded at best.

To begin with, despite John McCain’s reputation as an archenemy of the Kremlin, it was the consulting firm of his campaign manager that proved instrumental in helping Yanukovych’s Party of Regions to take power in 2006. Akhmetov paid Davis-Manafort $3 million to run his underling’s campaign. (Rick Davis was McCain’s campaign manager in his unsuccessful presidential bid.) Once Yanukovych took power, it was possible for the oligarch to return to the Ukraine from a self-imposed exile after fleeing a murder investigation.

Akhmetov, like a number of the oligarchs that Kyiv has appointed to run local governments in the eastern region, made his billions exactly like the Russian oligarchs, namely through their ability to leverage their bureaucratic positions in state industry to become CEO’s of newly privatized companies. Since the eastern regions were deeply intertwined with the Russian economy, they saw their fortunes tied up with Russia rather than Europe. So, in effect, the alignment with the Kremlin had more to do with protecting capital investments than advancing the working class’s interests.

Unlike the eastern half of the country, the west only became part of the USSR in 1939. The east, especially Donbass that included Donetsk, was a major development site for the USSR, which staffed its mines and factories with ethnic Russian workers and pretty much assigned management positions to Russian party chiefs. It was out of this administrative elite that the current-day oligarchs emerged.

For those inclined to nostalgically link the Donetsk miners with the USSR, it is useful to remember that in 1991 they were the battering ram that Boris Yeltsin used to topple Gorbachev and proceed rapidly toward the elimination of state-owned property. The Washington Post reported on June 30, 2011:

Russia’s leader, Boris Yeltsin, allied himself with the miners and credited them for forcing Gorbachev to agree on negotiating a new union treaty among the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, one that would replace the enforced union of 1922 with a voluntary agreement. Power would be vested in the republics — Russia, Ukraine and the others — rather than in the Soviet government.

“The miners have turned out to be the initiators of the destruction of the old command-administrative system,” Yeltsin said that May, “and creators of a new system of economic management.”

Once the USSR fell apart, the Donetsk miners learned that capitalism was no picnic. The mines remained as dangerous as ever. On average each million tons of Donbass coal costs two lives. By contrast, China has a rate of 0.7 deaths per million tons and just a tenth of this (0.02) in the United States. Like miners in the USA, however, the focus of Donetsk miners is preserving jobs no matter the consequences. Opposition to the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan rests on a fear that a tilt toward the EU will leave them high and dry.

Yet there were ample signs that the people of Donetsk were ready to say goodbye to Yanukovych long before Euromaidan. Akhmetov’s decision to cut the strings to his puppet must have taken his narrow base into account, much more so than Right Sector violence. On October 27, 2012 the Washington Post described a president that had lost his most reliable voters:

Dismay with Ukraine’s ruling party has reached this eastern city [Donetsk], its strongest redoubt, yet the party is nonetheless on the verge of cementing its grip on power in Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

This is coal-mining territory, Russian-speaking and industry-laden. It is President Viktor Yanukovych’s home town and home to those who have prospered enormously during his presidency, known throughout Ukraine as The Family. Here, there is little but disdain for the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution, which thwarted Yanukovych’s first bid for the top job after widespread voter intimidation and fraud.

Here, he capped his wobbly comeback in 2010, when he took the presidency. Once, his Party of Regions could have counted on 70 percent of the vote in Donetsk.

Those days are over. Polls suggest the party has about 30 percent support here now – but that will be enough.

His two years in power have taught ordinary Ukrainians not to expect much from Yanukovych.

“Nothing has been done to help the coal miners,” said Anatoly Akimochkin, a leader of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine. There’s a feeling of “betrayal,” said Yevgeny Stratievsky, who writes for a political Web site. People are dismayed by corruption, which sees the city paying double the market rate for nursery school lunches and about $2 more per gallon of gasoline than the pump price, said Yevgeny Senekhin, an activist with a group called the Democratic Alliance.

In some ways the Ukraine is like another country that starts with U—the United States. It has a two-party system in which you have the rough equivalent of the Democrats and the Republicans. The Party of Regions is supposed to be for the working people, even though oligarchs are in the driver’s seat. Meanwhile, the politicians of the west are supposed to be worse because they are pals with the fascists (think in terms of the Tea Party) and are even more anxious to cut pensions and close down factories. So the poor voter holds his nose every few years and votes for the lesser evil.

In 2008 I saw many people who should know better urging a vote for Obama because he was supposed to usher in a new New Deal. It did not matter to them that his chief economic advisers were U. of Chicago neoliberal economists. If you opposed Obama, you were naturally for Romney. This was the argument of the Communist Party that not surprisingly is one of the top defenders of Kremlin policy today. Opportunism has a way of seeping into every pore of the body politic.

 

24 Comments »

  1. Nationalist divisions between workers, in this instance, Ukrainian and Russian workers, are bad for the working class as they facilitate the implementation of neoliberal policies. I would have thought that this was pretty obvious, but apparently not. Your recognition that the left rationalization of the actions of Putin and Akhmetov as part of some process of radicalization has evolved out of the embrace of the BRICs is an important one. Again, I would have thought that the actions of Erdogan and Lula would have exposed the implausibility of this, but, sadly, it hasn’t. Why is the emergence of the BRICs so important, there has always been intra-capitalist competition of one kind or another, so the notion that this form of it, as opposed to past ones, presents unique conflicts that workers can exploit is hard to understand, especially given the fact the BRICs have expedited foreign direct investment from, you guessed it, the US, Japan and the EU.

    Comment by Richard Estes — April 13, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

  2. It will be very interesting to observe the outcome of the autonomy votes in Eastern Ukraine if they are allowed to proceed. These exercises in direct democracy are creating panic in the West and may create problems for Putin in the future. These exhibitions of People Power are the only progressive results to come from the Maidan demonstrations so far and many people in Western Ukraine may envy their Eastern neighbors for the power they have gained while they are being fed to the Austerity Wolves.

    It’s a tragedy that there is no Chaves like leader to rally the masses that gathered at the Maidan and lead the resistance against their PTB. The most recent pictures I’ve seen of the Maidan show nothing but small groups of disillusioned looking skinheads where once thousands protested.

    Comment by PeteM — April 13, 2014 @ 11:38 pm

  3. Very good, we are getting our hands wrapped a bit more closely around the ideological necks of our political opponents on the Left. There is always more work to do in this area, in the real chessboard struggle with these opponents, where the “Grand Chessboard” itself is but another playing piece, one that we should take as well.

    For instance, the Annis article should be characterized as a fairly nuanced, centrist approach containing certain “post-Stalinist” elements, this in the sense of “postality” as indicative not only of supersession, but also of a subordinate element as continuity. This can be seen in Annis’ asterisked footnote, containing a vision of (presumably fully formed) “socialist societies” co-existing in competition with equally fully capable “capitalist social formations”. This is simply a restatement of the classic Stalinist “socialism in one” – or several, but not in too many – countries. However the post-Stalinist reformist left also seeks to distance itself from the “tankist” troglodytes, as they see that this latter bleeds over all too easily into a toxic “red-brown” brew. This same latter, meanwhile, has been driven to deny the imperialist character of the Russian (or Chinese) state altogether, and falls back on the classic Stalinist unconditional bloc with the “anti-imperialist national bourgeoisie” engaged in a “national liberation struggle” against THE “Empire”, because, you know, there can only be one empire.

    As against MR, Negri & Hardt, and lots of Western Leftists, there is in fact NO “Empire”, but various multiple imperialisms located in a geopolitical hierarchy now under stress as some imperialisms decline while others rise. This characterization removes one key angle of play for the Grand Chessboard. Here the post-Stalinist perspective also shows nuance in indicating Russia and China as rising imperialisms. However in this same light Annis’ use of the Iranian left example was inappropriate, as Iran is not an imperialist country, and this example cannot be simply mechanically translated to the case of Russia, in a conflation and reduction that is really intended as a practical caution to the Russian Left to not “step out of line” in post-Stalinism’s counterhegemonic game. But what the recent events in Ukraine have especially brought to the fore is a common thread connecting the two: that the *class character* of the states in question were never a criterion for the geopolitical posturing. Otherwise the troglodytes would have abandoned a counterhegemonic stance based on a now-capitalist Russia after 1992; instead they have dug in deeper, denying not only objective reality but also subjectively overlapping with nativist “blood and soil” Great Russian chauvinism, an absurd gay-bashing, reverence for Orthodox Christianity, alignment with right wing antiwar libertarianism, anti-Semitism and so forth, as any casual reader or viewer of RT, MoA or TheVinyardSaker can determine for themselves.

    The centrist post-Stalinists seek to distance themselves from all of that, without though distancing themselves from the abandonment of the primacy of class criteria in the analysis of the geopolitical “chessboard”, an analysis that begins first of all by denying the grounds for the “counterhegemonic” game, in that none of the imperialist blocs exercise a *global* hegemony, not even the Triad (US-EU-Japan) bloc. The Triad is the most powerful, if declining bloc, but not in the region of Ukraine. There, as current events show, Russia is the more powerful, and the Triadists know it and show it with their hysterical overreactions. And many troglogyte allies agree with this perspective on the relative strength of Russian imperialism in the region – they brag about it all of the time and base their politics upon it. All in all this perfectly qualifies the post-Stalinist Left for what I have called the Alexander Parvus Brigade. Parvus advocated a bloc with second-tier German-Austro-Hungarian imperialism against the first-tier Anglo-French, correctly seeing their third-tier ally, Tsarist and Cadet Russia, as the weak link. The idea was to establish a German-Russian imperialist bloc comprising the most dynamic sections of the European working class. To some extant the Bolshevik policy in the Civil War, *to this extent only*, mirrored Parvus in the opposite direction. Annis, particularly in his implied caution against the manifestation of any opposition by the Russian Left, is following this same strategy in the Parvus direction. Here in an historical irony, NATO Germany is seen as the weak link of the Triad imperialist bloc. Here the “game” is, to the extent that Triad intervention is driven by the US, that harm will only come to the EU, especially Germany, and the US attempts to drive a wedge between the formation of a Russo-German bloc – this how the “counterhegemonists” see the Ukraine “game” right now – will backfire.

    None of this, though, has anything to do with revolutionary Marxism.

    Speaking of class characters, I come from the land of George Meany’s hippie-bashing “hard-hat” construction workers and other such manifestations of “real worker” anti-communism, imperialism, patriarchy and White supremacy. Fuck I grew up in a steel mill town on the east side of Baltimore – featured in the second season of “The Wire” – full of the last one in particular, that’s how my family ended up in California. It wouldn’t be the first time sectors of the working class in imperialist countries took a reactionary political position. So I am not fooled by the caricature presented by the troglodytes of “real workers” of the East opposed to what must be in their minds a bunch of migrant “trailer trash” in the West of Ukraine, the largest sector of such migrant labor I’ve shown to be exploited *in Russia*, and not the EU. Ukraine is not only a “breadbasket”, it is a “laborbasket” as well, and it might be shocking how little attention the Ukrainian migrant labor aspect has gotten from leftist commentary, except when one realizes that class is no longer a criterion of analysis for too many on the Left.

    Another point of view might flip this caricature around and indicate that workers in the East constitute a decaying Ukraine labor aristocracy seeking only to defend what remains of their relatively privileged position within Ukraine. It is not surprising that the Donbass miners were key in hoisting the reactionary drunk Yeltsin to power. Even in that case I don’t see the “real worker” masses in their hundreds of thousands coming out to show solidarity with the various Donetsk putchist groups – in sharp contrast to Maidan -who for all we know are receiving logistical support from Mother across the border. The reality is that workers in the East would lose their relative privileges becoming part of Russia. We defend the privileges of labor aristocrats, even, when they come under attack from the enemy class, and in this case that means defending their right to remain within Ukraine, a right that every poll on the issue so far shows that the general population in the East wishes to defend.

    Of course, this is a question that both species of our opponents assiduously ignore. They are basically eagerly pushing for the conversion of the East into a bloody civil war battleground that these Leftists hope will change those poll numbers in the face of repression from Kiev, a war that will no doubt do wonders for the living standards and status of workers in the Eastern region. Eh, but fuck’em for getting caught in the gears of the Grand Chessboard. That is the cynical essence of their stance.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — April 13, 2014 @ 11:54 pm

  4. I should say that “Parvus advocated a *class collaborationist* bloc”. This was the complementary of what the right wing of German Social Democracy actually pursued, once the Parvus strategy was negated by the failure of the Cadets to exit the war, and the backfire of the subsequent Bolshevik ouster of the Cadets. This, somewhat following Kautsky’s vision of an “ultra-imperialism” – and Kautsky of course hated the Bolshevik revolution – imagined a concert with the West, and took on the more concrete form of a Woodrow Wilson-loving German Social Democracy after the war. “Wilsonian Social Democracy” in the U.S. also crystallized in the political form of SDUSA, future incubus of “neo-conservativism”, firmly lodged in the AFL-CIO labor bureaucracy as well as the US spy apparatus in the 1950’s. The SDUSA’ed AFL-CIO bureaucracy of course itself rested upon those aforementioned hard-hatted hippie-punching labor aristocrats mentioned above.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — April 14, 2014 @ 12:27 am

  5. BTW, “TheSaker”, who apparently imagines that he has a direct line to the All-Knowing Putin’s brain, backhandedly confirms the real attitudes in East Ukraine:

    “Today Putin said something very interesting during a public meeting with members of his Popular Front. He said that before intervening in Crimea Russian special services had covertly organized an opinion poll to gauge the popular opinion in Crimea and that they had concluded that roughly 80% of the people wanted Crimea to become part of Russia (this is a very smart use of special services, by the way!). [Yes, and if I were visited by a US version of Special Services asking polling questions on critical political matters, I’d be sure to give the “correct” answer!] He added that once the referendum was announced and the campaign began, these figures rose to almost 97%, but that initially, at that time, 80% was the secret Russian estimate.

    “We can be pretty darn sure that the Russian special services are also actively conducting such covert opinion polls today. What we don’t know is what their surveys shows. What I will say though is this: while I am confident that “many” people in the east want to join Russia, I am not at all sure that they are the majority. Also, I strongly suspect a sizable minority who would be vehemently opposed to such a solution. Furthermore, I am quite confident that there is a minority, however small, how is actually very much in favor of the new regime in Kiev. Yes, sure, most people in the East are sick and tired of the Nazi freak show in Kiev, but “most” is not at all the same as “all” or even a “strong majority”. The bottom line is this:

    “The Donbass is not Crimea.”

    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/04/russia-might-very-soon-do-something.html

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — April 14, 2014 @ 12:55 am

  6. What remains remarkably consistent in this space is the stunning disregard for the agency of ethnic Russians in the south and east of Ukraine. The thread that runs throughout your analysis of this crisis Louis has rested on the premiss that (1) the coup-installed “government” in Kiev has a shred of legitimacy in the face of its own laws and (2) that those who naturally oppose it and are its natural targets have some obligation to summit to its (non-existent) authority.

    Comment by Bill J. — April 14, 2014 @ 3:51 am

  7. SUBmit to Kiev’s fictional authority I meant of course.

    Comment by Bill J. — April 14, 2014 @ 6:41 am

  8. BillJ: From permanent revolution to the worship of established facts and powers. What a journey you have made and how swift.

    So far the Ukrainian-Russian irregular fascist militias are not having much luck whipping up a civil war against the revolution despite the best efforts of Putin. This is mainly due to the fact that gangster capitalism is hated in all parts of the Ukraine and everybody is perfectly well aware of Russia’s crucial role in propping it up. Though Crimea is lost to an illegal annexation a very hard line needs to be taken against the pro-Russian fascist militias that are seizing various govt. buildings in the East whilst at the same time the revolution needs to follow a policy that will unite East and West under a revolutionary democracy.

    Ukraine has only itself and the support of workers and democratic-minded people internationally to rely on and it is to the eternal shame of the rump Stalinists, neo-Stalinists and anti-hegemonists that they are desparately trying to poison that well of good will by spreading Putinite propaganda. American imperialism in the meantime is split between the Obamaites who would happily see Russia bogged down in an unwinnable war in Ukraine and the rump neo-Cons of McCain who would like to directly confront Putin militarily in Ukraine even though it was their Iraq adventure that emboldened Putin in the first place and they did nothing about Chechnya and Georgia. In any case either policy sees the flattening of Ukrainian citys and towns and millions of Ukrainians dead in the interests of imperialist rivals.

    Comment by David Ellis — April 14, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  9. Though Crimea is lost to an illegal annexation a very hard line needs to be taken against the pro-Russian fascist militias that are seizing various govt. buildings in the East… -D.E

    You lost all credibility right there David. The proto fascist, neo-nazi spearheaded coup that overthrew the democratically elected government in Kiev hasn’t a shred of legitimacy. Elections were due in May to legally and without bloodshed remove the unpopular Yanukovych from office. Why the rush? The freak show “government” in Kiev cannot even credibly claim a mandate from the masses of western Ukraine to back the EU/IMF diktats that it’s trying to ram down their throats to say noting of those in the east or south. I ask you, who elected Yats and his clown posse?

    You’re hot and bothered by the (inevitable) events in Crimea? Too bad. At least one can point to a referendum that manifested the popular will. Can you say the same regarding the events in Kiev? Are there any ballot initiatives that you’d like to point to that offered Ukrainians a say regarding the IMF Austerity sandwiches they’ll all be eating soon? Didn’t think so.

    Comment by Bill J. — April 14, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  10. Bill J., there was no “coup”. Akhmetov directed the Party of Regions parliamentarians to vote for the removal of Yanukovych. A coup is an armed overthrow of an elected government but Yanukovych was voted out of office. You might not be happy with the fact that there were violent protests involving fascists but I suspect that you were equally unhappy about massive and peaceful protests that were ultimately responsible for eroding Yanukovych’s support. If you read my article, you will see that Yanukovych had only 30 percent support in Donetsk in October 2012. If it was that low in 2012, you can imagine what it was like in the rest of the country. You people have convinced yourself that the pro-Russian forces in Ukraine are “objectively” anti-imperialist. Forgive me for saying this, but you are quite insane.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 14, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

  11. If the government in Kiev has it their way, they’ll accept US/EU austerity tied aid AND whatever Putin is peddling. The oligarchs will allow them to walk this tightrope without a safety net. If things don’t workout the way they’ve promised the oligarchs ot would, instead of the president being abandoned for a new one, the party of regions will be abandoned for Right Sector or some other far right party.

    As its obvious that the Ukrainian people are stuck between the US/EU and Russian domination (in which direction the masses are leaning) the group around Trotblogger is actually referring to the situation as the Ukrainian revolution!

    Comment by Jim Brash — April 14, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

  12. Bill J., there was no “coup”. Akhmetov directed the Party of Regions parliamentarians to vote for the removal of Yanukovych. A coup is an armed overthrow of an elected government but Yanukovych was voted out of office. – L.P

    So it’s come to this has it? The coup that really wasn’t a coup? Sad.

    Let’s briefly revue shall we? On February 21st Yanukovych signed the Tri-Party agreement designed to reduce the raging violence then consuming Kiev following his rejection of the EU Economic Suicide Pact. The agreement called for stepped up elections in May that would have almost certainly brought about his legal downfall, a reduction of his presidential powers, and, crucially, the withdrawal of police forces to reduce tensions. Literally the very next day proto-fascist goons exploited this security vacuum to overrun government buildings prompting Yanukovych to flee for his life.

    This was then followed by the spectacle of a rump-parliament “impeaching” the president and electing Victoria Nuland’s first choice, technocrat Arseniy Yatsenyuk, while utterly disregarding constitutional procedures in doing so. Mind you this was all occurring as neo-Nazi thugs patrolled parliament and scores of opposition members were barred from participation due to highly credible threats to their lives. You can call this a legal process if it suits your narrative Louis but you’re kidding only yourself.

    Comment by Bill J. — April 15, 2014 @ 1:30 am

  13. “ITS come to this”…fuck.

    Comment by Bill J. — April 15, 2014 @ 1:33 am

  14. So it’s come to this has it? The coup that really wasn’t a coup?

    You should find a research library somewhere and get access to Nexis. It provides ample data on the deliberations that took place within the Party of Regions over the need to vote for Yanukovych’s removal. This was not a coup. It was a parliamentary move against a politician who had become expendable.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 15, 2014 @ 1:50 am

  15. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/02/how-ukraine-s-parliament-brought-down-yanukovych.html
    03.02.14

    How Ukraine’s Parliament Brought Down Yanukovych
    When the time came, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s own allies were the ones pushing him into the abyss.

    You wouldn’t expect the parliament building for a country of 46 million to be so small, but that’s the case with the main Ukrainian legislative body. And when its session floor is packed with all 450 deputies, their staff, and hoards of journalists, it gets stifling and sometimes claustrophobic to be there. That turbulent Saturday of February 22nd was exactly like this, with Lesya Orobets, an opposition deputy, standing right in the middle of the chamber and waiting for historic voting results to show up. The Ukrainian parliament was deciding whether to officially oust President Victor Yanukovych. When she saw the number of 328 “yes” votes (over 100 votes more than enough), she felt happy for a second. Then, she says, the horrors of the last three days have caught up with her again.

    “When I saw the voting result I just felt, ‘It happened’ in an exhausted way. Because, you know, we still had funerals. I just had taken off my jacket with bloodstains on it. We were still in this war-like post-traumatic syndrome experience, so there was no place for jubilation”, she tells me in almost perfect English, standing in the same parliament three days later. One of the most prominent leaders of the ongoing Ukrainian revolution, Lesya Orobets looks extremely tired because of three sleepless months of constant fighting, mostly standing shoulder-to-shoulder with protesters on Kiev’s streets. Her face darkens when she mentions the murders of February 18-20th, which dramatically shifted the mood in the country against President Yanukovych and prompted the collapse of his presidency. “We weren’t happy for long after the voting, because it took us a very high price for that.”

    Inna Bogoslovska, former member of the ruling Party of Regions, the first to leave the party after authorities started to issue orders to kill protesters, calls what happened in Ukraine’s parliament that historic Saturday “a snowball effect”.

    “The collapse of the ruling Party of Regions had started right after we voted for a ceasefire. This provoked an avalanche [of frustration with Yanukovych]. You know when you see the avalanche from afar and you’re doing nothing, until it’s close and everyone realizes that it’s time to run? That was the same, we all have realized that it’s time to run and vote,” she told me with excitement in her eyes.

    (clip)

    Comment by louisproyect — April 15, 2014 @ 2:00 am

  16. -It was a parliamentary move against a politician who had become expendable.-

    It was extra constitutional, they made up some rules on the spot and about 35 % of the legislature wasn’t even there because they didn’t want to get beaten up or worse. Just last week the Communist speaker got hauled off by Svoboda goons in session (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT2rF23LOs0) . Also the president had to flee the capital and his car was hit by machine gun fire as he left.

    Overall, people are wasting their time hoping for anything ‘Left’ to come out of the Ukraine. There is no Left there to offer ‘support’ to (whatever that support would entail – angry email exchanges ?) It’s sad, but one does have to acknowledge the reality of the matter, something sadly lacking on the annihilated Left.

    So far, rthese are right wing street actions backed by regular and irregular paramilitaries. Geo-politically Russia is backed against the wall so this has a decent chance of blowing up because they can’t have NATO missles on their border.

    Comment by jeff — April 15, 2014 @ 7:40 am

  17. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/15/maidan-anti-maidan-ukraine-situation-nuance

    Nice piece. It quite closely mirrors my comments above.

    Comment by David Ellis — April 15, 2014 @ 10:15 am

  18. On the day that Yanukovych flew east, his own party issued a statement on its website:

    “The country finds itself deceived and robbed, but even this is nothing in comparison with the grief that dozens of Ukrainian families, who have lost their relatives, are feeling. Ukraine has been betrayed. Viktor Yanukovych and his team are responsible for this.” (NY Times, Feb. 23 2014)

    That does not sound like a party condemning a coup.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 15, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  19. The pendulum of power has not moved from the position it was in before Yanukovyck’s ouster- center right. There’s far right and even neo-nazis in the new cabinet, but they are under the patronage of the oligarchs like all other parties in the government.
    The most dangerous and truly fascist elements in the Ukraine remain outside of the current governmentthey’instigating and partaking in alle damage to people & property.

    Comment by Jim Brash — April 16, 2014 @ 4:33 am

  20. The truly dangerous and fascist elements remain outside of the official government. They’re also a political minority, even if most of the illegal occupation of buildings and the damage to property has been instigated and partaken by them.

    (Apologies for the abrupt mishmash ending of previous post. Using android phone instead of tablet.)

    Comment by Jim Brash — April 16, 2014 @ 4:40 am

  21. A great deal of wordy argument is used here to excuse joining in US arguments blaming all the problems in Ukraine on Putin. An analysis which is much more in tune with a Marxist approach is to be found in
    . Are you all in favour of Ukraine being added to the list of new members of the NATO war alliance?

    Comment by Paddy Apling — April 20, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  22. My reference was to http://www.swans.com/library/art20/ga334.html

    Comment by Paddy Apling — April 20, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

  23. […] done well as a geopolitical player.” Roger Annis, a veteran of the Trotskyist movement in Canada, practically sees the Kremlin playing the same role it once did under official Communism: “Russia’s independence, and that of other, rising […]

    Pingback by National Bolshevism rides again | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — May 9, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

  24. Matthew: Critical Alexander Parvus Brigade “fellow traveller” checking in.

    I do support a multi-polar world of a geopolitical environment. Competing capitalist interests gives workers more openings for class struggle.

    Outside a revolutionary period, the left should support a multi-polar world. This is not about reading the neo-fascist Dugin, or about reading Sam Marcy’s “global class war” stuff. This is about *partially* rehabilitating Alexander Parvus’s misguided “SPD left” position – backing Germany’s imperialist war efforts during a revolutionary period – and adapting a politically sanitized version of this to a non-revolutionary period.

    P.S. – Engels himself backed a defense of Germany against an external attack during a non-revolutionary period, but didn’t extend his conclusions to broader geopolitical realpolitik for the left.

    Comment by Jacob Richter — October 16, 2016 @ 6:25 am


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