Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 2, 2014

Stephen F. Cohen is not the man he used to be

Filed under: Fascism,Russia — louisproyect @ 7:49 pm

Ever since the crisis in the Ukraine broke out, Stephen F. Cohen has been campaigning on behalf of a Kremlin that he warns is being unfairly demonized by the West as part of an effort to start a new Cold War. Some of his arguments can only be described as ludicrous. For example: “That the Ukraine crisis was instigated by the West’s attempt, last November, to smuggle the former Soviet republic into NATO.” In fact, despite the millions of words to this effect from the pro-Putin left, this is what the new foreign minister stated on March 29th:

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deschytsia has once again stated that the new Ukrainian government is not intending to lead Ukraine to NATO.

“We are considering all options regarding the strengthening of our security and collective security. But we must stick to the existing legislation of Ukraine,” he said at a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday.

The official noted that in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation Ukraine is a non-aligned state.

The other thing that does not seem to matter to Cohen is the economic basis for the Cold War, which involved irreconcilable differences between modes of production. Hitler invaded the USSR to smash public ownership of the factories, mines, and farms. After the war ended, Churchill spoke of an Iron Curtain that supposedly kept the Soviet peoples from enjoying freedom. Any fool would have understood that Churchill was talking about the freedom to exploit workers.

In today’s NY Times, there is an article (“So Far, U.S. Sanctions Over Ukraine May Be Inflicting Only Limited Pain on Russia”)  that reveals why American sanctions against Russia are more gum than teeth:

The current American sanctions target 30 government officials and business leaders, as well as some of their companies. While some small Russian banks will have to stop taking Visa or MasterCard, the sanctions have not stopped major transactions or projects by those targeted. It is not clear whether the targets even have assets in the United States to freeze.

Beyond the targets themselves, large companies like Exxon Mobil, Boeing, Royal Dutch Shell, Siemens and BP have done nothing to curtail operations in Russia. The chief executives of Shell and Siemens even met separately with Mr. Putin in recent weeks, making clear business will continue, although Shell has since added that it will hold off starting new projects for now.

Exxon Mobil and BP are partners with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company led by Igor I. Sechin, who is on the American sanctions list, but both companies can continue working with Rosneft because Rosneft itself was not targeted. Just this week, the Austrian energy company OMV made a pipeline deal with the Russian company Gazprom while Germany said it would not block the sale of RWE’s oil and gas unit to the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

Despite the fact that much of what is written in the name of Marxism today is a mixture of economic determinism and conspiracy theory, there are very few articles that take the incestuous ties between Western oil companies and their Russian partners into account. What is a war with Russia supposed to accomplish? Opening the doors to foreign investments as was the case when Brezhnev was boss? Right now Russia is the 3rd largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world, and my source for this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, RT.com:

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Russia reached a record $94 billion in 2013, a leap of 83 percent on the year before according to a United Nations report. Russia follows the US and China as the third most attractive country for investors.

The Global FDI research published by the UNCTAD – the UN agency responsible for international trade and development – has Russia jumping 6 places from its 9th spot in 2012.

The shift was primarily caused by the UK’s BP taking an 18.5 percent stake in Rosneft as part of Rosneft’s $57 billion acquisition of TNK-BP.

“FDI in the Russian Federation is expected to keep pace with its 2013 performance as the Russian Government’s Direct Investment Fund [RDIF] – a $10 billion fund to promote FDI in the country – has been very actively deployed in collaboration with foreign partners, for example funding a deal with Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Mubadala Development Company to invest up to $5 billion in Russian infrastructure,” the report says.

http://rt.com/business/russia-top-3-fdi-356/

One of the things I have learned about capitalist Russia over the years is the degree to which every impudent challenge to the Kremlin by its former colonies is depicted as a NATO plot designed to “open up” Russia to imperialist penetration. For example, in 2004 the Party of Socialism and Liberation stated that “If it were to succeed in separation from Russia, Chechnya would join the league of former Soviet lands that are now ‘hosts’ to U.S. and NATO occupation, and whose wealth is exploited for foreign profiteers.” Basically, it didn’t matter that the Chechens were the victims of a Nazi-style blitzkrieg. The minute a country like Ukraine, Georgia or Chechnya gets on the wrong side of the Kremlin, it becomes a tool of imperialist penetration willy-nilly.

Returning to Stephen F. Cohen, I am sad to say that he is not the man he used to be.

I first ran into him when I was attending the trial of the SWP against the FBI back in 1981, when I was still a sympathizer. Against the charges that the SWP was plotting a coup, Cohen testified for the plaintiffs that the Russian Revolution was a democratic movement against a minority that was determined to use violence against the soviets to preserve the status quo. He was so brilliant that Judge Griesa, a life-long Republican, kept overruling objections being made by the FBI attorneys.

So with those memories, I was terribly disappointed to hear Cohen making the case for Putin the other night on George Noory’s “Coast to Coast” radio show on WOR, an AM talk radio station in NY that is now home to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. There was a time when Cohen’s usual venue was someplace like the PBS News Hour or Charlie Rose. How the mighty have fallen.

Cohen told Noory that people had to understand that Russia was the only nation in the world that had suffered two collapses in the 20th century, one in 1917 and one in 1990. I could understand the reference to 1990 but 1917? I wonder if the SWP filed suit this year instead of in 1981 whether  Cohen would be such a reliable witness. The only thing that collapsed in 1917, after all, was Czarist oppression.

Noory’s show is just one small step above Alex Jones. I usually turn it on for a minute or two late at night to hear some guest talking about vapor trails, flying saucers or why global warming is a myth. I invite you to check out the website for Coast to Coast and see for yourself. There’s a story on “Polaroid Ghost Pictures” and one on Noory’s appearance at a UFO fest.

I am not exactly sure why Noory booked Cohen but I do know that he is a big-time supporter of the Baathists. Combining his appetite for the supernatural and an affinity for Baathist rule, Noory found just the right guest back on September 4th 2013, a Nostradamus expert and prophecy scholar named John Hogue. The Coast to Coast website described Hogue’s findings:

In writing published in July, using astrological methods, Hogue correctly predicted that chemical weapons would be used in Syria. Yet, he believes there isn’t definitive evidence that the Assad regime was behind the attacks. He forecasts that eventually we’ll learn that the Free Syrian army was stealing the chemical weapons from the Assad army, and that it was al Qaeda/jihadist elements within the Free Syrian army who were trying to create a ‘false flag’ event to induce the Obama administration to act.

Reading this, I was reminded of how Trotsky once defined fascism. Although the USA is not anywhere near fascism today, there are alarming signs of a Red-Brown coalition taking shape in Europe and Russia inspired by Putin’s willingness to put the gays in their place and by his “anti-imperialist” stand against the West (excluding, of course, oil company executives from Exxon and BP, et al.) Trotsky wrote:

Fascism has opened up the depths of society for politics. Today, not only in peasant homes but also in city skyscrapers, there lives alongside of the twentieth century the tenth or the thirteenth. A hundred million people use electricity and still believe in the magic power of signs and exorcisms. The Pope of Rome broadcasts over the radio about the miraculous transformation of water into wine. Movie stars go to mediums. Aviators who pilot miraculous mechanisms created by man’s genius wear amulets on their sweaters. What inexhaustible reserves they possess of darkness, ignorance, and savagery! Despair has raised them to their feet fascism has given them a banner. Everything that should have been eliminated from the national organism in the form of cultural excrement in the course of the normal development of society has now come gushing out from the throat; capitalist society is puking up the undigested barbarism. Such is the physiology of National Socialism.

56 Comments »

  1. Despite his good testimony in that 1981 trial, Cohen has always frustrated me with his inadequate understanding of the nature of the Soviet state. He had it wrong in the 70’s & 80’s and he’s got it wrong today. It’s as if he never really understood the fact that there was only one aggressor during the entire Cold War.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 2, 2014 @ 9:37 pm

  2. Maybe you can re tweet Carl Bildt’s celebration of the mass murder of pro-Russians today in Odessa. After all they are but fascists.

    Comment by jeff — May 2, 2014 @ 9:49 pm

  3. That’s what happens when you shoot at people from the rooftops, Jeff. I guess the Putinites thought that they could kill people with impunity.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 2, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

  4. The people burned alive in the trade building were on top of the building ? But I do see you are celebrating the deaths. Do carry on, it’s quite revealing.

    Finally – “Acting Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deschytsia has once again stated that the new Ukrainian government is not intending to lead Ukraine to NATO.”-

    These people do lie compulsively, so quoting them is not an argument.

    Comment by jeff — May 2, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

  5. Jeff, the Putinites had attacked protesters with molotov cocktails, clubs, and guns earlier in the day. When you use violence, you have to expect violence in return. You know and I know that you are no pacifist. You are a Putinite stooge and not a very good one at that.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 2, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  6. @ # 3 [“I guess the Putinites thought that they could kill people with impunity.”]

    They don’t just “think” they can. They KNOW they can. That so called “blitzkrieg” levelled upon Chechnya by the gangster capitalist Kremlin was one of the greatest war crime slaughters (largely hidden by the Commercial Press) in the last 30 years, bar none — the Pentagon’s turpitude in Iraq & Afghanistan notwithstanding.

    Shame on those leftists, particularly those who’ve actually studied Lenin & Trotsky, who claim Chechnya’s Independence would somehow be a blow to the international cause of proletarian revolution.

    What part don’t smart people get that revolutionists like Lenin & Trotsky would without debate view oppressors like Putin virtually identical to the Czar on the eve of WWI — the main difference being only that thanks to Big Oil — Uncle Sam & the Kremlin have much cozier realtions than a century ago.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 3, 2014 @ 12:11 am

  7. “Despite the fact that much of what is written in the name of Marxism today is a mixture of economic determinism and conspiracy theory, there are very few articles that take the incestuous ties between Western oil companies and their Russian partners into account. What is a war with Russia supposed to accomplish? Opening the doors to foreign investments as was the case when Brezhnev was boss? Right now Russia is the 3rd largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world, and my source for this comes straight from the horse’s mouth, RT.com”

    Oddly enough, Kagarlitsky did say this about three weeks ago, He ridiculed the prospect of severe sanctions against the Russian Republic, saying that they would backfire against the West by pushing the Republic towards import substitution. As for Putin and the Red-Brown coalition, I agree, with the exception that the people who defend Putin in the US and Europe aren’t really left, merely simpleminded anti-imperialists. Efforts to describe him as a manifestation of Russian democracy are especially comical.

    But I don’t consider the deaths in Odessa today as solely a manifestation of resistance to Putin. Upon reading the report of Howard Amos of the Guardian, it appears that the fighting over the building was between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainians associated with the Right Sector (Amos interviewed two of them).

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/02/ukraine-dead-odessa-building-fire

    I am hard pressed to perceive any benefit to the left from this conflict, both sides will use the fighting in Odessa today to marginalize liberal and left voices, which is why I also opposed the Ukrainian entry into Slavyansk. I can only hope that the people in the east and the west surprise me, regardless of nationality.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 3, 2014 @ 12:47 am

  8. There is no pressing need for the Ukraine to join NATO is it has already signed an agreement with the EU on March 21st that accomplishes some of the same protections it would get under NATO but also forges the type of trade links that the EU wants.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine%E2%80%93European_Union_Association_Agreement
    The agreement commits both parties to promote a gradual convergence toward the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and European Defence Agency policies.
    The Common Security and Defense Policy is described here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Security_and_Defence_Policy
    A phrase that is often used to describe the relationship between the EU forces and NATO is “separable, but not separate”:[3] the same forces and capabilities form the basis of both EU and NATO efforts, but portions can be allocated to the European Union if necessary. The right of first refusal governs missions:the EU may only act if NATO first decides not to.

    So the Ukraine is in effect already linked to a mechanism to use NATO forces through the EU agreement..

    Comment by ken — May 3, 2014 @ 1:28 am

  9. If the Euromaidan politicians were so gung-ho to join NATO, they would have done so when Yushchenko or Tymoshenko were heads of state. For that matter, when Yanukovych was in power, they never voted against bills that kept Ukraine unaligned. This hysteria about NATO is manufactured. It is an attempt to turn the victim into the criminal, as Malcolm X once put it. What people like Ken and Jeff cannot deal with is Lenin’s stance on Ukraine–he equated it with Ireland under British rule. In 1920 the Ukrainians had a legislature that Christian Rakovsky deemed unacceptable. It was dissolved because the Ukrainians were not a “real nation”, the same garbage heard from the Maoist Alain Badiou. Despite all the left rhetoric, those who follow the Kremlin are no different from Stalin. If Lenin hadn’t died, he would have launched a fight against Stalin. It was the Great Russian chauvinism of Stalin’s secret faction that was the initial symptom of bureaucratic degeneration.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 2:22 am

  10. R. Estes is right that none of these lives lost amount to jack shit in the struggle to liberate working people from the shackles of capitalism and that’s a tragedy insofar as these are no doubt proletarian lives being lost in complete vain.

    And while the very idea of proletarian liberation from this iconic system of wage slavery & enviromental plunder seems distant in the eyes of old dye hard unrepentant Marxists given the current state of the Left — the fact remains that the youth of today are far more conscious of this corporate system of global plunder than we give them credit for.

    The question is can all these like minded young (and old) people overcome all the atomizing individualstic trends of modernity to form a sufficient compact to spark a structural paradigm shift in social relations?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 3, 2014 @ 2:40 am

  11. “It was the Great Russian chauvinism of Stalin’s secret faction that was the initial symptom of bureaucratic degeneration.”

    Gee, and here I thought it was the elimination of the workers councils and free speech for workers, the suppression of workers that prompted the writing of the Letter of the Twenty-Two, the banning of political parties and even factions, the war against the Makhnovists, the terror of the Cheka, (all of which happened when Lenin was alive and well) etc., etc., etc.

    Turns out it was the national program of the guy Lenin hand picked to write the Bolshevik position on nations.

    Thanks for the clarification Lou!

    Comment by Sylvester T. — May 3, 2014 @ 11:29 am

  12. Russia today is akin to Japan in the years before World War 2 – it’s a smaller, weaker, more desperate imperialist power. Back then the Japanese militarists could make a reasonable claim that the US was trying to hem them in and made similar “anti-imperialist” noises. I guess if the Party for Socialism and Liberation had existed back then it would have told the Chinese and Koreans to stop their belly-aching and become enthusiastic partners in the “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” all in the interests of the struggle against U.S. imperialist hegemony, of course!

    Comment by John B. — May 3, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

  13. Hey Sylvester. I’m surprised you left Krondstat out of your diatribe?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 3, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  14. I just don’t get the notion that to see Russia’s moves as primarily defensive makes one a defender of Putin, or that it entails that geopolitics trumps class struggle. I thought imperialist states routinely exploit social schisms, mass discontent and the anxieties of smaller nations bordering on regional powers. Such either/or reasoning seems quite alien to Marxist analysis. Moreover, why is talk about Western meddling in Ukraine a conspiracy theory, but to ascribe events in eastern Ukraine entirely to Russian machinations not a conspiracy theory? There seems to be rather more evidence of an American policy to weaken regional powers like Iraq. Iran, China and Russia than of Russian designs on Ukraine. Even as events were unfolding in Ukraine, Obama was in the Philippines to announce a new ten-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with that country. Should we take Obama’s word for it that “We’re not interested in containing China”?

    Comment by marco — May 3, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

  15. Moreover, why is talk about Western meddling in Ukraine a conspiracy theory, but to ascribe events in eastern Ukraine entirely to Russian machinations not a conspiracy theory?

    Because Kyiv saw demonstrations of up to 800,000 people around Euromaidan and armed bands only showed up after 3 months of mass protests. But in eastern Ukraine, it has been exclusively armed bands with clear connections to the Russian military and intelligence agencies. Apples and oranges.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  16. In either case it seems that imperialist powers are exploiting the situation. It is not beyond the bounds of reason to think that the West hijacked the legitimate protests in Euromaidan to install a client regime in thrall to its Western financiers, or that American planners have some end in mind. Certainly similar upsurges in Turkey and Egypt have not attracted such American support. I’m not sure that the protests in eastern Ukraine are “exclusively armed bands” or that their “connections to the Russian military and intelligence agencies” are clear–they seem fairly murky–but surely there is an estrangement in the east from the government in Kiev that cannot be ascribed entirely to the duplicity of Russian propaganda. It seems to be the case that Russia wants to diffuse the crisis, but has not the command and control to force the occupiers in the east to stand down. Meanwhile, the west is clearly encouraging the government in Kiev to take steps guaranteed to exacerbate the situation, perhaps to provoke a Russian invasion.

    Comment by marco — May 3, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

  17. “Because Kyiv saw demonstrations of up to 800,000..”
    doesn’t hurt kiev is the largest city in ukraine and blights the population centers of the east. i think you are full of shite frankly using that to justify the double standards..

    Comment by james — May 3, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  18. Fucking idiot. Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and the seat of government power. People came there the same way that they came to Washington to protest the Vietnam war.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

  19. @Karl, that too. But I won’t stick around to read your particular take on the “whatever the ‘workers’ state’ does is right, even when that means smashing the workers” canard. Comrade Trotsky smashed strikes, advocated armed invasions and militarized labor for the good of the workers. Uncle Joe did it because he was a villainous bureaucrat. Am I doing it right?

    @marco The “global class war” cretins of PSL, WWP, et al, make the mistake of putting a plus wherever Washington puts a minus, making them supporters of a particular imperialist camp against “their own”. That’s bad enough. Oddly though, lately on the pages of this blog Louis seems to be putting a plus where Washington puts a plus; or at least he puts an “~”. I’m thinking of Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine. To me it seems pretty clear that no proletarian pole has emerged in any of this and as such there’s absolutely nothing for us to support in these battles between bourgeois nation states.

    Comment by Sylvester T. — May 3, 2014 @ 6:03 pm

  20. Sylvester, if you think that pointing out that Ukraine was colonized by the Czars and given short shrift by Christian Rakovsky amounts to putting a plus where Washington puts a minus, you need to have your head examined.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

  21. Did I mention any of that? I’m talking about spending all of your time “exposing” the already transparent actions of Moscow in Ukraine while turning a blind eye to the meddling of Washington and Brussels.

    No imperialism is to be supported of course, but if one insists, I’d much rather see them expose the activities of “their own” imperialists than building on the work of the bourgeois press of “their own” country to expose the action of the so-called enemy camp.

    It’s sort of like writing an in depth analysis of the security state in North Korea while ignoring the rise of an immense Big Brother apparatus in the US that now includes drones with facial recognition flying over urban California. Of course you wouldn’t do that, so I’m at a loss to why you take your current positions on Ukraine, Libya, Syria, etc.

    Comment by Sylvester T. — May 3, 2014 @ 7:30 pm

  22. Of course you wouldn’t do that, so I’m at a loss to why you take your current positions on Ukraine, Libya, Syria, etc.

    If you want general denunciations of capitalist evil, piss off. I write what I want to write.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 7:42 pm

  23. louisproyect- going to washington to protest vietnam isn’t a bad analogy with the kiev overthrow of gov’t feb 14.. what is missing is the thread of being opposed to a large number of neo nazis who would like nothing more then to murder anyone who descents from their view. i certainly wouldn’t go to protest in kiev with the interm gov’t that is in power at the moment. whoh in their right mind would? look what happened in odessa. fucking idiot –

    Comment by james — May 3, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

  24. look what happened in odessa.

    Putinite assholes get worked up over 30 dead people in Odessa who were in a firefight while not giving a shit about 30 schoolchildren who had their lives snuffed out by a Baathist barrel bomb. The hypocrisy is of biblical proportions.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 3, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

  25. Louis wrote:

    “But in eastern Ukraine, it has been exclusively armed bands with clear connections to the Russian military and intelligence agencies. Apples and oranges.”

    So you don’t believe at all that the east-Ukrainian separatists are real or have a legit beef whatsoever? That the whole separatist thing is simply a mask for Russian soldiers?

    Comment by Todd — May 4, 2014 @ 12:36 am

  26. Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2014 7:30 p.m. ET

    Ukraine’s Divisions Extend to East Itself
    History Helps Explain Country’s Dichotomy, but Doesn’t Necessarily Mean People Living Near Russia Want to Secede

    By James Marson And Paul Sonne

    DONETSK, Ukraine—With young men standing guard over barricades of tires, and speeches and music blaring over loudspeakers, the pro-Russia camp that has taken over the regional assembly here could be an answer to the pro-Europe movement that emerged late last year in Kiev.

    But Donetsk, one of the largest cities in eastern Ukraine, is missing one element that proved vital to the success of the Kiev protests in toppling Ukraine’s pro-Russian president: people.

    Thousands of activists lived on Kiev’s central square for three months, rising to tens of thousands at weekend rallies in the capital. By contrast, the movement here has never attracted more than a few thousand. Nowadays, the square in front of the assembly building often has only a few dozen stragglers.

    The disparity reflects the differences between Ukraine’s west and east that are at the center of the current crisis, as well as the mixed feelings in Donetsk itself.

    Western Ukraine was only absorbed by the Soviet Union in 1939 after centuries under Polish or Austrian rule. It was long a bastion of Ukrainian nationalism that has translated into strident political activism, particularly against Russian influence. Many people there work, study or travel in Western and Central Europe.
    Hotspots Along the Border

    The eastern heartland of Donbas was long part of the Russian empire and adapted quickly to Soviet centralized rule, where big steel mills, factories and coal mines took care of most every element of life. Few have traveled West, relying as before on Russia for trade and jobs.

    The west is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking and idolizes nationalists who fought against the Soviets, at one point alongside the Nazis. In the east, where Russian is the main language, statues of Lenin still stand in town squares and the western heroes are seen as traitors.

    The west was the driving force behind Kiev protests that led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, a Donetsk native, in February. The majority in Donetsk reject the new government and want closer economic and cultural ties with Russia.

    But that doesn’t mean they want to become Russian.

    A recent poll showed that only about 28% of people in the Donetsk region want to become part of Russia. Just 18% supported the seizure of the regional assembly, according to the survey, which the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, one of the country’s most respected, independent pollsters, conducted from April 8-16.

    Asked about the low headcount outside the building, Kirill Rudenko, a spokesman for the protesters, said it was overflowing with people this month but that after Kiev began what it calls an antiterrorist operation last week, many went home to the outskirts.

    “The time for protests is already over,” he said.

    Still, Russian television has given them blanket coverage, depicting the occupation as backed by the majority and claiming equivalence with the Kiev demonstrations, which it portrays as engineered by the West.
    View Slideshow

    A member of the Ukrainian special forces takes position at an abandoned roadblock in the eastern city of Slovyansk. AFP/Getty Images

    That has prompted Moscow to suggest Ukraine’s regions are too diverse to be governed from Kiev, and to push for a federal structure.

    Ukrainian officials view that as an attempt to increase Moscow’s sway and hobble the government’s attempt to reorient the former Soviet republic westward. Kiev has instead offered more power to the regions over economic and cultural matters.

    The Donetsk protesters themselves are at odds over what they want. They demand a referendum, but when they are pressed on what question will be posed, few can answer.

    Compared with Kiev, it is more difficult to mobilize protesters of any political stripe in Donetsk, a less-youthful and more working-class city buttressed by surrounding steel mills, coal mines and factories, said Serhiy Harmash, a journalist and activist who organized a pro-Ukraine rally in the city last week.

    “Here, people are more apolitical,” Mr. Harmash said. “There is a lot more paternalism.”

    If Moscow were to send troops, more than 10% of people in the region would welcome them, but more than half would stay home and do nothing, according to the KIIS poll.

    Many simply feel they have no influence on events controlled by elites and vested interests.

    “When they decide something somewhere up above, that’s when something will happen,” said Irina Kiriyenko, a 17-year-old Donetsk student. “We have nothing to do with it.”

    Ms. Kiriyenko said, above all, people just want stability, even those who might sympathize with the goals of the activists.

    In the KIIS poll, 42% of people in the Donetsk region cited Russia’s economic stability and 38% political stability as what they find attractive about the country—even higher percentages than in eastern Ukraine as a whole.

    After opposing demonstrations in Donetsk in March resulted in violence, many people became scared and lost the desire to protest. One demonstrator was stabbed on March 13 when a pro-Russia mob attacked a crowd waving Ukrainian flags.

    Also, some say their ideas can’t be boiled down to a clear, shared goals in the way the Kiev protesters—despite vastly differing backgrounds—came together in demanding Mr. Yanukovych’s resignation and closer ties with the European Union.

    For example, some in Donetsk favor a united Ukraine but hate the new authorities in Kiev, making them wary of unfurling Ukrainian flags. Some older people in particular want closer relations with Russia and dream of the old Soviet days, but nonetheless see Donetsk as part of Ukraine.

    The toppling of Mr. Yanukovych shocked people in the region amid fears the new government wouldn’t listen to their interests. Last year, when he seemed set to sign a free-trade deal with the European Union, Russia slowed its imports from Ukraine and halted some industrial cooperation in what was interpreted as a warning shot.

    If it did so again, production in the industrial region would fall, sending unemployment soaring to more than 15%, estimates Dmitry Petrov, an analyst at Nomura.

    Even so, weekly anti-Kiev protests appeared to be fading before an unexpected thrust in early April, which Kiev officials say was provided by Russian agents and money, leading to building takeovers in several cities. Moscow has denied involvement.

    Now, apart from hotbeds like Slovyansk, the occupied buildings in places like Donetsk have turned into strange spectacles.

    Tuesday in Donetsk, about 20 middle-aged men and women sat on makeshift benches behind the barricades, watching a flat-screen television taped to a wooden bookshelf that was beaming out a live feed of Russian state news. Curious passersby stopped to listen to Soviet-era poems or karaoke performances.

    It is a different vibe from Kiev, where students were the lifeblood of the protests. Here they are rarely spotted. Neither have many blue-collar workers joined. The trade union at one of the largest metal plants in the region said its members supported Ukrainian unity and would stay at work.

    At the root, however, the concerns of many in Donetsk resemble those of people in Kiev.

    “Forget about the Donetsk Republic,” said Vladimir Kovalchuk, a pensioner who supports the protests against Kiev but says he doesn’t want to join Russia. “People want decent wages and pensions. They want the smell of meat and wine.”

    Comment by louisproyect — May 4, 2014 @ 1:36 am

  27. Two conditions are required to maintain the unity of Ukraine (apart obviously from the criminally annexed Crimea) and make a Russian land grab less likely. 1. Decisive government action against the fascist pro-Russian militias that clears away their occupations, road blocks and bases. 2. The adoption of a radical programme for unity of East and West under a revolutionary democracy that takes on gangster capitalism which ever imperialism it seeks succour from. That will necessarily require the complete marginalisation of any far right elements on the side of the Ukrainian National Democratic Revolution.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 4, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  28. Louis Proyect is scraping the bottom of a very dirty barrel. First relying on arch-fantasist and notorious plagiarist Luke Harding, now quoting the Wall Street Journal’s propaganda. Yes, the rag who said that the Egyptians would be lucky if they had a leader like Pinochet. I don’t have to wonder why the WSJ supports the neo-liberal/Svoboda/Right Sector alliance ruling Kiev, but more importantly, why do you?

    For your information Louis, the ‘protestors’, who were mostly made up of football ‘Ultras’ and Right Sector fascist thugs, attacked and breached a barricade defending a protest camp outside the local trade union headquarters. They had a right to self-defence. Your contempt for the victims of a fascist massacre is particularly revolting as you’ve found yourself in a pro-fascist hole and can’t stop digging.

    Comment by Anti-Fascist — May 4, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  29. . I don’t have to wonder why the WSJ supports the neo-liberal/Svoboda/Right Sector alliance ruling Kiev, but more importantly, why do you?

    —-

    I am not surprised that someone so self-preening as to call himself “Anti-Fascist” (as if intervening in the comments section of a blog anonymously puts him in the same league as someone like myself who faced down machine-gun toting KKKers in Houston, Texas in 1974) hasn’t a clue about the WSJ reporting. In fact, the reportage is first-rate and not bound to the ultraright editorial pages. I got to know Joel Millman in the late 80s before he went to work for the WSJ. He was a free-lancer at the time who did a very good article on my group Tecnica for Technology Review at MIT. His father must have been some kind of old leftist since he went to Nicaragua on a Tecnica delegation himself.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 4, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

  30. @28 Anti fascist,

    Even if that article from Wall Street Journal is very telling. See this quote:

    “The west is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking and idolizes nationalists who fought against the Soviets, at one point alongside the Nazis. In the east, where Russian is the main language, statues of Lenin still stand in town squares and the western heroes are seen as traitors.”.

    Comment by Daniel de França — May 4, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

  31. There’s nothing wrong with fighting against Stalinist domination. Bandera’s mistake was aligning himself with the Nazis. In terms of those Lenin statues, it is useful to remember how they originated:

    The making of a socialist ‘saint’
    Wednesday, October 15, 1997 – 10:00

    Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia
    By Nina Tumarkin
    Harvard University Press, 1997
    337 pp., $31.95 (pb)

    Review by Phil Shannon

    Cults come in all shapes and sizes. The Elvis cult is tacky but harmless. The Princess Diana cult is schmalzy and intellectually repellent, but not a direct threat to life and limb like the quasi-religious cults of the mass-suicide variety. The cult of Lenin that existed in the Soviet Union managed to be tacky, schmalzy, intellectually repellent and, in the hands of Stalin, camouflage for the deaths of millions.

    Nina Tumarkin’s book on the Lenin cult looks at the first expressions of the eulogising and mythologising of Lenin at the time of his attempted assassination in 1918; the cult’s mad growth spurt, including the embalming of Lenin’s body, during the two years following his death in 1924; and the subsequent icon fashioned by Stalin.

    Tumarkin acknowledges the element of “spontaneous devotion to revolutionary symbols and leaders”, derived from the genuine popular aspect of the Russian Revolution and which contributed to the cult of Lenin, as much as the “self-conscious artifice” by some Bolshevik leaders to mobilise loyalty to the political regime.

    Thus when Fanny Kaplan, a member of the terrorist organisation of the anti-Bolshevik Socialist Revolutionary Party, fired two bullets into Lenin in August 1918, an emotional tidal wave of praise for Lenin and anger at the attempted murder flooded in from the Russian people who saw this assassination attempt as an attack on their revolution.

    Much of the praise, especially from Bolshevik leaders like Zinoviev, although a sincere expression of solidarity and respect for Lenin, was extravagant, flamboyant and quasi-mystical. Lenin was distressed by the exalted glorification and appalled at the un-Marxist veneration of the individual.

    The cloying adulation that filled acres of scarce newsprint was “shameful to read”, Lenin said. “They exaggerate everything, call me a genius, some kind of special person. All our lives we have waged an ideological struggle against the glorification of the personality, of the individual”, and now here was Lenin, who had always detested flattery and praise, being turned into a socialist saint.

    Lenin requested the publication of his praises be stopped and the volcano settled down, but the subterranean lava remained active.

    On Lenin’s fiftieth birthday in 1920 the Bolshevik Party in Moscow organised a commemorative meeting at which many Bolshevik leaders, including Stalin, vied with each other to sing Lenin’s praises. Lenin, however, only entered the meeting after all the speeches and poems. He expressed his annoyance at the stylised and elaborate praises by “thanking the assembly for their greetings and for having spared him from having to listen to them” and bluntly suggested that personal anniversaries should be “celebrated in more appropriate ways in the future”.

    A vain hope, as it turned out. A socialist economy in an isolated, backward, war-ravaged, peasant-based country faced severe stresses and this created the social space for the growth of a bureaucracy under the oxymoronic banner of Stalin’s “socialism in one country” with its attendant horrors of rapid industrialisation and forced collectivisation. The cult of Lenin was to be used by the victorious Stalin faction as gospel against all dissent and opposition.

    Not that Stalin was the sole architect of the Lenin cult in the beginning. When Lenin died from a brain haemorrhage as a result of a major stroke in January 1924, Zinoviev, the most prominent Bolshevik leader apart from Trotsky, took the lead in the official veneration of Lenin. The rituals and symbols of the cult were designed to control and channel popular grief over Lenin’s death into legitimacy of, and subservience to, the leadership of Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin in their struggle against Trotsky.

    Lenin, when alive, was the acknowledged leader of the Bolsheviks but his authority did not necessarily mean automatic acceptance of his views in a party that still practised open debate and decided issues on their merits. The cult of Lenin became the unquestionable authority used to drive democracy from the party, the soviets and the country.

    Lenin’s cultification swung into high gear after his death. Institutions and cities were re-named after Lenin: Petrograd became Leningrad and Lenin’s image appeared on cigarette packets, cups and biscuits. New biographies created myths and legends. Previous memoirs which showed Lenin to be less than perfect were beautified, as was Lenin’s personality. The gravitational centre of the cult was the embalmed body of Lenin on display in a mausoleum in Red Square, a holy relic for veneration.

    There was opposition to the Lenin cult. Lenin’s sisters, Maria and Anna, and his brother, Dimitri, criticised the legends invented to idealise Lenin and they opposed the embalming. Amongst the Bolshevik leadership, Trotsky was outraged at the decision to preserve and display Lenin’s body, Kamenev thought it un-Marxist, whilst Bukharin though it an affront to Lenin.

    Krupskaya, Lenin’s widow, wrote that Lenin should be honoured not by embalming, monuments, celebrations and the like, all of which had meant nothing to him, but by building day-care centres, kindergartens, homes and schools. Krupskaya continued her private protest by never visiting the mausoleum. The revolutionary poet, Mayakovsky, denounced the “rituals, mausoleums and processions” and the trafficking in Lenin kitsch. With the political defeat of Trotsky in 1926, however, the cult was fully established and regulated.

    Stalin graduated from yoking his name to Lenin’s to his own full-blown Stalin cult in the early 1930s. With Stalin’s death, his own body joined Lenin’s in the mausoleum for eight years until Kruschev’s limited de-Stalinisation ended that obscenity. But it wasn’t until Gorbachev’s reign that a partial erosion of the Lenin cult was initiated.

    Tumarkin’s book can yield an informative account of the origin, growth and political utility of the Lenin cult but (and there is always a “but” in establishment treatments of Lenin) Tumarkin does not stray from the anti-Leninist path.

    While she concedes that Lenin was a popular leader inspiring a genuine reverence, she goes on to serve up the usual fare of Lenin’s alleged dictatorial ambitions and “personal domination of his party”. Whilst innocent of initiating the cult, or at most guilty of passively accepting it, Lenin, according to Tumarkin, got his kicks in other ways, wanting, instead of praise and flattery, submission and obedience.

    Tumarkin finds much to credit in the orthodoxy of establishment and ex-Stalinist biographers of Lenin such as General Dimitri Volkogonov, who portrays Lenin as absolute evil, responsible for only “blood, coercion and the denial of freedom”. But Lenin as the ruthless bogey-man of official anti-communism, the soulless, fanatical, compulsive power-freak is as mythical as the Lenin of the Lenin cult under Stalin, the lifeless icon, the commanding figure in the windswept coat with arm outstretched grimly pointing to the socialist future.

    Also questionable is Tumarkin’s emphasis on the influence of traditional Tsarist Russian culture on the Lenin cult. Certainly, as was recognised with frustration by the Bolsheviks, the old culture reasserted itself after the revolution. Peasant superstitions such as the religious veneration of icons and the myth of the just Tsar-deliverer, did mould the cult, but it was politics that mattered. When Lenin was active, cultification was stopped or moderated, but when used to fight Stalin’s political battles it was full steam ahead.

    Tumarkin’s concept of cult is very elastic, which allows her to assign responsibility for it to anyone who had ever shown any respect for Lenin, or a desire to emulate his virtues. Any note of praise, any resort to the writings of Lenin becomes at least a seed sown or at worst a conscious attempt to build the cult. So Trotsky and other anti-Stalinist communists, and by implication the entire Marxist project, are doomed to the defect of the cult of personality.

    It is possible, however, to recognise and honour Lenin as an important revolutionary theorist and politician whose greatness lay in his ability to unite his political imagination with realism and in his powers of clear and direct argument. The difference between this view and a cult is the acceptance of the whole Lenin, the Lenin who was fallible, who got things wrong, who does not have all the answers to everything today and who suffered from ordinary human failings.

    Lenin was not special or superior. The elitism inherent in a capitalist cult figure like Princess Diana denies her followers their own self-worth and dignity with each ritual of royalty worship. The Diana cult serves to reinforce people in their “ordinariness” and powerlessness. The real Lenin was about the collective power and creativity of “ordinary” people to make history and to remake themselves.

    Lenin, writing tate and Revolution just days before the revolution, made the prophetic remark on the attempts by ruling classes to convert revolutionaries, after their death, into “harmless icons” as a means of consolation of the oppressed and cooption of their heroes, whilst robbing their revolutionary theory of its substance. Cruelly this was to be Lenin’s fate at the hands of Stalin. There is a real Lenin still to be rediscovered.

    From Green Left Weekly issue 293

    Comment by louisproyect — May 4, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

  32. That’s an interesting article, Louis (BTW, “Anti-Fascist”, don’t be an ass: Marx used bourgeois sources, too), and it provides a few more details, but it doesn’t answer my question. I’ve already seen evidence that there’s hardly utter unanimity in the east (that couldn’t and can’t ever be said of any separatist, or revolutionary, movement), but that’s not the point, right?

    Comment by Todd — May 4, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

  33. So you don’t believe at all that the east-Ukrainian separatists are real or have a legit beef whatsoever?

    Todd, of course they have a legitimate beef. But my sympathies are with the Ukrainian left not the goons who rally around Lenin statues on the same day that kidnap and beat reporters. Like this guy:

    http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/ukraine-the-main-threat-is-capitalism/

    Comment by louisproyect — May 4, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

  34. “Two conditions are required to maintain the unity of Ukraine (apart obviously from the criminally annexed Crimea) and make a Russian land grab less likely. 1. Decisive government action against the fascist pro-Russian militias that clears away their occupations, road blocks and bases. 2. The adoption of a radical programme for unity of East and West under a revolutionary democracy that takes on gangster capitalism which ever imperialism it seeks succour from. That will necessarily require the complete marginalisation of any far right elements on the side of the Ukrainian National Democratic Revolution.”

    This is the IMF program. Establish military control over the east as dictated by the bailout plan itself. Require workers there to work under conditions imposed by the IMF through the Ukrainian government. Conduct the May 25th election under military occupation. Free up forces to return to the west to suppress any meaningful resistance to the current round of shock therapy The only prospect of a “revolutionary democracy” in the Ukraine is if the conscription program ordered by government collapses in the face of Russian opposition in the east, resulting in the unraveling of the bailout. Of course, that’s unlikely, and the territorial boundary may not include parts of the east. But the possibility that there could be such a creation through measures consistent would the implementation of the IMF plan for the Ukraine strikes me as implausible.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 4, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

  35. What’s so hard about this? First, Ukraine was pretty hard hit by the contraction in 2008, being the site of considerable steel production, so the economic driver is…well, the same driver pushing everywhere. Secondly, that Ukraine is 1) the location of Russia’s only warm-water port– Sevastapol on the Black Sea and 2) Ukraine also is the source of much military production for Russia (helicopter motors, jet engines, etc)? 3) Ukraine is on Russia’s border, and Russia after all did suffer around 30 million casualties in WW2, consequently, yeah Putin might be a little nervous about things like US military bases or Nato alliance, and the US never misses an opportunity to create more chaos, — like conducting “joint” military exercises in Poland, like sending warships into the Black Sea. Come on… imagine if Mexico was “leaning” towards the Comecon back in the 60s and 70s, what do you think the US response would have been?

    So we can certainly explain, and comprehend why Putin does what he does, as the leader of the Russian capitalist economy. Doesn’t justify it. Just makes it comprehensible and not the product of greedy, evil megalomania.

    And, we have to comprehend the legacy of the fSU– in Ukraine, Czech, Poland– where in fact resistance to the Soviet destruction of the possibilities for socialism makes its initial appearance, erupts first and foremost, as “wanting to live like (Western) Europeans;” and the admiration for the democracy of the supermarket.

    The opposition to the old regime, that puts in power an even more reactionary regime, is grounded in the economics of capitalism. Given the circumstances, given its environment in the Ukraine, it could only manifest itself, initially, as antipathy to the ex-Soviets. There is a “legitimate” anti-capitalist impulse to the struggle that has not yet been developed because the working class as a class has been so disorganized by the legacy of Soviet rule, and the economic contraction since 2008.

    Geopolitics are geopolitics and so what? Oh sure, Putin and Russia have “legitimate interests” in “maintaining” the “allegiance” of the Ukraine, provided of course you ignore the need, and the prospects, for independent workers mobilization against GEOPOLITICS itself since geopolitics are anti-thetical to class struggle.

    That workers’ mobilization is obstructed in that reaction appears as progress, and wants to bind the Ukraine to “the European way of life”– when the Ukraine already has just that way of life, as evidenced by the IMF program of loans and deconstruction.

    So…..the “solution” such that it is, will not be found separate and apart from the workers of Europe demanding and developing a program to abolish the EU, the IMF; the solution is not found in geopolitical excuses for Russia’s actions.

    Comment by sartesian — May 4, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

  36. Louis wrote:

    “Todd, of course they have a legitimate beef.”

    Good. I was scratching my head in perplexity at where the sense of that idea had gone when you wrote about “clear connections” between the separatists and Russian armed-forces infiltrators. It seemed to contradict some stuff you’d written earlier about imperialists arming and supporting national independence/bourgeois revolutionary movements for their own purposes.

    Comment by Todd — May 4, 2014 @ 11:49 pm

  37. David is out of his god damned mind. Capitalism has been decadent for years and years, and as such there hasn’t been a successful “national democratic revolution” anywhere in the world in decades. And there won’t be. Imperialism simply wouldn’t accept it. The only way forward is a proletarian revolution against capitalism. Period. End of story.

    Comment by Sylvester T. — May 5, 2014 @ 6:28 am

  38. I’m generally with Estes & Artesian on this. I had mentioned before that it is precisely the “geopolitical chessboard” – inter-imperialist capitalist rivalry – that is the enemy, rather than any particular imperialist power, though one of them – the US/EU/Japan “Triad” – is the more dangerous *on the world scale*, but not on the Ukraine scale, in that there is nothing they can do to effectively counter Russian intervention on any scale there. But on any scale, it’s an enemy we need to know from *all* sides, as its actions seen as a whole, set the conditions for “emancipatory projects”, that is, victorious class struggle. For example, the catastrophe of WWI determined that the first socialist revolution would happen in Russia, not where Marxists of the time, including Lenin of course, thought it would, in Germany or Central Europe. And so forth.

    A few points pertaining to this commentary, ironically concerning Left “economic determinism”:

    1) “The other thing that does not seem to matter to Cohen is the economic basis for the Cold War, which involved irreconcilable differences between modes of production. Hitler invaded the USSR to smash public ownership of the factories, mines, and farms”. I think this is fundamentally wrong. The USSR did not comprise a “socialist” or any other coherent mode of production. The USSR was a transitional state with both capitalist and socialist elements, such as, notably, a persistence of wage labor. But but while the “socialist” elements loomed larger than under a capitalist state – which also have “socialist” elements such as state-provided health care, etc. – neither prevailed overall, but rather hung in a precarious balance in the USSR. Pointing to State (public) ownership – and for sure these were the same thing in the USSR – is no demonstration of the existence of a “mode of production” different from the capitalist. It was precisely the incoherence of the “mode of production” that doomed “socialism in one country” as a reactionary utopia.

    The economic basis of the Cold War was the disintegration of the old 19th C. capitalist world system by a) the exit of large countries such as Russia & China, and b) the disintegration of the European colonial empires, and c) and the capacity of *one* imperialist power, the US, to impose its hegemony over what remained of the old world system in Japan and W. Europe on the basis of its effective, if very temporary, monopoly of the productive forces within the shrunken capitalist world system in the postwar.

    2) “Despite the fact that much of what is written in the name of Marxism today is a mixture of economic determinism and conspiracy theory, there are very few articles that take the incestuous ties between Western oil companies and their Russian partners into account. What is a war with Russia supposed to accomplish? Opening the doors to foreign investments as was the case when Brezhnev was boss? Right now Russia is the 3rd largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world…”. OK, this is an attempt in irony, and I presume here “war” means in general a “new Cold War”. First, the US bourgeoisie are not reducible to the oil industry, and not all US capitalists are barreling into Russian investment. Not by a long shot compared to, say, Germany. Second, I think “Wall Street” finance and the so-called “military-industrial complex” have more State influence in the US than do the oil majors (look at the Keystone imbroglio), and this latter has in capitalist Russia a *direct competitor* of the first order, while the former see another country (Ukraine) to rape financially.

    But third, this comes off as an argument for inter-imperialist harmony. I don’t think that was the intent, but why not be straightforward about it rather than trap oneself in a double irony for the sake of being a wee bit too clever. Capitalism is characterized by uneven development, especially on the world scale. That means divergence, not convergence, between capitalist sectors across the world states system is the norm. This is the “economic basis” for a growth in inter-imperialist rivalry. This is further exacerbated by the combined development of “developing countries” outside the capitalist core, including Russia.

    The combination of both on the world scale has created an increasing problem for US imperialism in particular. It should be blindingly obvious that the US, with much less to lose economically in Russia than Europe, is ginning up a “new Cold War” to drive a wedge against the further intensification of economic ties between Europe and Russia. That is the essence of US involvement in Ukraine, about which country Washington doesn’t give squat about otherwise. The US is pursuing the same strategy in East Asia against China. Basically, the whole of world capitalist development is working against the USA, whose own existence as a social formation ( = State + accumulation regime) becomes increasingly parasitic in relation to it.

    3) Finally, I have to invoke the “Bundy rule” here: WE have to condemn any call for the mass murder of political formations, even fascist formations, by the *bourgeois state*. And we can all agree that Ukraine is a bourgeois state. This is aimed expressly at and against comment #27 (David Ellis), (one that moreover put forward a total fantasy “program” of “democratic revolution” in a country whose political scene is totally monopolized by the *broad* Right, from neo-liberals to actual neo-Nazis and everything in between. There will be no “radical democratic revolution” under these conditions, rather there will intensified oligarchic rule as already mentioned by Estes). This is aside from the question of the actual political character of the armed groups in Donbass; while these are certainly not avatars of the worker’s struggle – all the less so as they manifest themselves within a classical working class region – they don’t strike me as “fascist” either. I doubt these have heard of A. Dugin, check out yesterday’s NYT article on these militia. Beating people up and acting like a thug does not automatically translate into “fascism”, to claim otherwise it to stoop to the most childish sort of polemics.

    This condemnation extends to any backhanded ex-post-facto “they were asking for it” commentary as well, in a situation where our own information is gotten at sketchy second or third hand. To indulge in this sort of bloodthirsty rhetoric in a situation where no *class politics* were at stake is to stoop to the same level as the pro-Assad/Putin crowd.

    And, no, there is no possibility of raising the question of a critical bloc with an “anti-imperialist national Ukrainian bourgeoisie”, mimicking the rhetoric of this same lousy crowd “in reverse”. The present Kiev coup government has its social basis solely in the reshuffled deck of Ukraine oligarchs, and not Maidan, and together their program is to sell the country to be raped by EU/US imperialism. This is the answer to the comment by “Diogo” in http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/ukraine-the-main-threat-is-capitalism/

    Oh, and fuck Stephen Cohen, he’s a washed up has-been, why waste time on him?

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — May 5, 2014 @ 8:57 am

  39. #34 Where do they find morons like you? Stick to 9-11 truthing.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 5, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

  40. `This is aimed expressly at and against comment #27 (David Ellis), (one that moreover put forward a total fantasy “program” of “democratic revolution” in a country whose political scene is totally monopolized by the *broad* Right, from neo-liberals to actual neo-Nazis and everything in between. There will be no “radical democratic revolution” under these conditions, rather there will intensified oligarchic rule as already mentioned by Estes).’

    You know what? I knew you were a pseud and a wind bag. I’ll stick with the `fantasy programe of democratic revolution’ you stick with the hopelessness.

    Comment by davidellis987 — May 5, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

  41. @40 What do you mean by democratic revolution?

    Comment by Daniel de França — May 5, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

  42. I’m with Sylvester T. when it comes to “national democratic revolutions”– like the Holy Roman Empire– thrice wrong. Moreover, think we need to come to grips with what the real legacy of so-called “national revolutions” have been– like going all the way back to the dismantling of the Ottoman empire, and what a disaster those “national revolutions” were.

    Comment by sartesian — May 5, 2014 @ 3:29 pm

  43. Actually I’m probably with Sylvester T. on a lot more things– but don’t want to distract from the current issue.

    Comment by sartesian — May 5, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

  44. This may be of interest. The Autonomous workers union have for my money provided some of the best, most cogent, and often sadly prophetic analyses of events:

    http://avtonomia.net/2014/05/05/awu-kiev-statement-odessa-tragedy/

    Comment by johng — May 5, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

  45. “The opposition to the old regime, that puts in power an even more reactionary regime, is grounded in the economics of capitalism. Given the circumstances, given its environment in the Ukraine, it could only manifest itself, initially, as antipathy to the ex-Soviets. There is a “legitimate” anti-capitalist impulse to the struggle that has not yet been developed because the working class as a class has been so disorganized by the legacy of Soviet rule, and the economic contraction since 2008.”

    If the reports are accurate, young people in the Ukraine have seized upon integration with the EU as a means of resistance against the kleptocracy that has emerged after the collapse of the USSR. They see the EU as an alternative to the crony capitalism personified by Putin and his Ukrainian allies. It is an understandable impulse. I might think the same if I had grown up in the Ukraine.

    But now that integration comes at the price of IMF imposed austerity (in an alliance with the very kleptocrats they despise) and military service in the east. Will they gravitate towards rightists or will they move left? Will they willingly go east to kill Russians or will they confront their own government? It would also be interesting to see someone evaluate events in the Ukraine in light of what has tragically transpired in the Caucasus to the southeast. For example, someone like Georgi Derluguian:

    http://georgien.blogspot.com/2006/06/review-derluguian-bourdieus-secret.html

    “Finally, I have to invoke the “Bundy rule” here: WE have to condemn any call for the mass murder of political formations, even fascist formations, by the *bourgeois state*. And we can all agree that Ukraine is a bourgeois state.”

    Especially when the police of the “bourgeois state” stand aside and allow rightists associated with the Right Sector to participant in attacks like the one in Odessa. (NOTE: according to the AWU statement posted by johng, the police joined in the attack.)

    As for the statement posted by johng, I agree with this:

    “Instead of taking a united stance against the neoliberal policies of the government, proletarians are busy fighting each other for the interests of various bourgeois cliques.

    The final result of such policies will be a civil war in Ukraine, which will mean an ultimate catastrophe for the working class.”

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 5, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

  46. @44: just for clarity and / or completeness of information: here is the statement of Borotba Union re the Odessa killings. At least two of its members have been murdered, one beaten to death outside the building after he luckily escaped the fire. Others severely wounded, i.a. Alexej Albu, an Odessa city councillor and Borotba member, mentioned in avtonomia statement. To call Borotba stalinist is just bullshit. AWU and Borotba are nusing a long-standing enmity, unfortunately in this times in Ukraine and unresponsibly for any left or revolutionary individuum and / or organisation.

    http://borotba.org/neo-nazi_terror_in_odessa-_more_than_40_killed-_hundreds_injured.html

    At a rally on March 1st in Odessa in front of 5000 people coordinator of the association “Borotba” Alexey Albu said from the podium that he will put out the issue of establishing of Autonomous Republic of Odessa within Ukraine at the next session of the Odessa Regional Council.

    “I and my colleague Vyacheslav Markin (burned to death last Friday in the Union Building) both were recently asked by some hundreds people to submit for consideration in Odessa Regional Council the issue of establishment of the Autonomous Republic Odessa within Ukraine. And we will meet this request,” He also said that he considers the new government as a fascist one and reminded about brutal tortures of the communist Rostislav Vasilko in Lvov made by the Right Sector mob.

    Borotba is very clear on its stand against whatever foreign intervention in Ukraine. Association “Borotba” emphasizes: “Our position is that the Ukrainian people should decide their own destiny. We do not support any foreign interference in internal affairs.
    Not to defend the surrendered power but rather to build up people’s self-organization.

    Not to ignite ethnic and language conflicts but rather to defend values of internationalism and peoples’ friendship.

    The only solution to the crisis created by oligarchs, officials and politicians is creating a socialist society.”

    Comment by thomas — May 5, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  47. ”Borotba” has proved itself an organization with a non-transparent funding mechanism and unscrupulous principles of cooperation. It uses hired workers, who are not even the members of the organization. The local cells of “Borotba” took part in the protest actions together with PSPU (Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, which is an anti-Semitic, racist, and clerical party, and has no relation to the world socialist movement) and with Kharkiv pro-government, anti-Semitic and homophobic group “Oplot”; and are known for their linkage with an infamous journalist O.Chalenko, who openly stands for Russian chauvinism.

    Recent events demonstrate that the leadership of this union, following the example of the “Communist” Party of Ukraine, have been overtly defending the interests of president Yanukovych, justifying the use of weapons by security forces and denying the acts of unjustified violence and cruelty on their part, the use of tortures and other forms of political terror. The representatives of “Borotba” take an extremely biased stance concerning the composition of protest movement, which is represented both on their own web resources and in the media commentaries. According to them, the Maidan protests are supported exclusively by nationalists and radical right, and were aimed only at a coup d’etat (“fascist putsch”).

    full: http://avtonomia.net/2014/03/03/statement-left-anarchist-organizations-borotba-organization/

    Comment by louisproyect — May 5, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

  48. @47: complete bullshit to take avtonomia statements 1:1, exsp. the one you mentioned, there is a totally different narrative by a lot of people re events in Charkiv in March. But I’m not here to defend a party or a group, I’m discussing with comrades to find a common ground in self-organization, self-consciouness, internationalism, etc., not in ranting and spreading rumours. Go read their statements on the website, there is a lot, see the films about their actions, or you could have met Borotba comrades tonight in Berlin at a meeting to discuss developments in Ukraine. And re their financial background: very transparent at least what we transfer from Germany via “Rote Hilfe”, “red support”, you will easily find the resp. account on their website.

    You are obviously still captured in your 60ies and 70ies childish fighting of “right” or “wrong”, and “right” is only MY organization

    Comment by thomas — May 5, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

  49. @48 [“you could have met Borotba comrades tonight in Berlin at a meeting to discuss developments in Ukraine.”]

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 6, 2014 @ 1:14 am

  50. I’d like to have been to that meeting in Berlin to get that story as a journalist as I suspect it would have provided lots of political clarification.

    Why is it that class analysis of any given situation is so much more complicated today than 60 years ago despite class antagonisms being sharper than ever?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 6, 2014 @ 1:22 am

  51. #45 “Instead of taking a united stance against the neoliberal policies of the government, proletarians are busy fighting each other for the interests of various bourgeois cliques.

    “The final result of such policies will be a civil war in Ukraine, which will mean an ultimate catastrophe for the working class.”

    Utter anarchist bullshit. Not surprised it was posted by a member of the UK SWP. Losing a civil war would be the ultimate catastrophe for the working class but to eschew a civil war would be to eschew revolution.

    The various sects are either on the side of Putin or take the most revolting position of neutrality which is the same as being on the side of Putin but for cowards. The international working class on the other hand needs to be positively on the side of the victory of the Ukrainian National Democratic Revolution. All this hand-wringing anti-nationalism is just liberal imperialism smothered in left verbiage.

    Victory to the national democratic revolution and this can only be achieved and civil war avoided if Ukraine has a government that will act decisively against the pro-Russian fascist irregular militias being backed by Putin and develops a policy for the unification under a revolutionary democracy of East and West against gangster capitalism which would necessarily require the political marginalisation of any far right elements who at the moment are taking advantage of the indecisiveness of the government and the piss poor attitude of the left domestically where it is apologetic and internationally where it is shamelessly pro-Putin as it has been in Syria. Today’s left is a disgusting shame to be around. It supports more mass murders than the far right and villifies genuine fight backs.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 6, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  52. Ellis wrote:

    “Victory to the national democratic revolution and this can only be achieved and civil war avoided if Ukraine has a government that will act decisively against the pro-Russian fascist irregular militias being backed by Putin and develops a policy for the unification under a revolutionary democracy of East and West against gangster capitalism ”

    Is this decisive and democratic enough for you, shmuck?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140506-706036.html

    “In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament held a special closed session to hear a report from security chiefs, amid concerns that the violence could spread into the capital in an attempt to disrupt the elections. Members of Ukraine’s Communist faction in parliament, who openly express Russian sympathies, weren’t allowed into the session.”

    Do you really think the bourgeois politicians, who have only too happily rolled over for the IMF in its demands and ignored the real concerns of eastern Ukranians (which match those of western Ukranians when it comes to incomes), are going to be part of a “revolutionary democracy”?

    Comment by Todd — May 6, 2014 @ 1:47 pm

  53. “Victory to the national democratic revolution and this can only be achieved and civil war avoided if Ukraine has a government that will act decisively against the pro-Russian fascist irregular militias being backed by Putin and develops a policy for the unification under a revolutionary democracy of East and West against gangster capitalism which would necessarily require the political marginalisation of any far right elements who at the moment are taking advantage of the indecisiveness of the government and the piss poor attitude of the left domestically where it is apologetic and internationally where it is shamelessly pro-Putin as it has been in Syria. Today’s left is a disgusting shame to be around. It supports more mass murders than the far right and vilifies genuine fight backs.”

    This is a hallucinatory fantasy. Ukrainians in the east are going to accept conscription to kill Russians in the east and then turn their guns on their government in the west, with the support of the Russians they have just killed? The passage from the WSJ quoted by Todd reveals how the government intends to deal with political resistance to it and the IMF austerity plan: demonize it by claiming that it is part of a separatist conspiracy the disrupt the elections.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 6, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

  54. Proyect: “Bandera’s mistake was aligning himself with the Nazis.”

    Like yours.

    Comment by prianikoff — May 8, 2014 @ 8:35 am

  55. Really? Your rhetoric and Golden Dawn’s are identical, aren’t they? Those are the real mass fascist movement, not a Right Sector that is preferred by one percent of Ukrainian voters.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 8, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

  56. If you people want a deep analysis and which side you should support, see the analysis here:

    http://critiqueofcrisistheory.wordpress.com/capitalist-anarchy-climatic-anarchy-ukraine-and-new-threats-of-war-and-fascism/

    If you want to see the responsibility of US government on 9/11, without conspiracy, see this:

    http://www.thecuban5.org/wordpress/2013/10/04/the-cuban-five-were-fighting-terrorism-why-did-we-put-them-in-jail/

    Comment by Daniel de França — May 8, 2014 @ 1:45 pm


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