Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 23, 2014

Indefensible Marxism

Filed under: Fascism,Russia,Ukraine — louisproyect @ 6:48 pm

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Natalya Vitrenko and Lyndon LaRouche at a conference held by the Germany-based Schiller Institute

In Defense of Marxism is the website dedicated to the ideology of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), a group aspiring to breathe life into the moribund Fourth International project. Its top leader is Alan Woods, a 70-year-old Brit who broke with 72-year-old fellow Brit Peter Taaffe in 1992 over the question of whether their sect should remain in the Labour Party (Taaffe favored an exit). Woods is best known for his undying loyalty to the Chavista project in Venezuela while Taaffe is distinguished for having spawned Socialist Alternative, the American group that is in the spotlight now for its member Kshama Sawant having been elected to Seattle’s City Council.

Up until recently, I have had no major problems with Woods’s sect and probably forwarded more of his articles to Marxmail than any other group except for the ISO. I thought the reporting on Venezuela was valuable even if it failed to understand how its Leninist formulas were inappropriate for moving the struggle forward. There were also many interesting items on art and science that reflected a serious engagement with developments ignored by other such groups. For example, an article on Leonardo Da Vinci is very much worth reading as is one on quantum physics and Marxist dialectics.

Like a number of other groups on the left, the IMT has attached itself to the cause of the Donbass separatists. Along with John Rees’s Counterfire and others similarly inclined, Woods has taken the position that Euromaidan is a fascist plot against workers power. The two groups spearheaded a conference in London held on June 2nd in the name of the “Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine”.

To some extent, although this is impossible to prove, it might be related to IMT’s close identification with Venezuelan state policies that tend to follow RT.com and PressTV’s talking points. However, despite Venezuela’s support for Bashar al-Assad, the IMT viewed the revolt as legitimate. It may be the case that the IMT’s hostility to Euromaidan might have more to do with a long-standing inability to grasp the national question.

For example, when Argentina went to war with Britain over the Malvinas, the IMT took a “third camp” position, even continuing to refer to the Falklands. In an article by Ted Grant, the leader of the IMT until his death in 2006, we see that the rights of the British citizen take precedence over that of the Argentine nation.

Although there are only 1,800 Falkland Islanders, Marxists nevertheless have to take into consideration their rights and interests. The Junta’s claim to the Falklands is purely an imperialist claim for loot in the shape of resources which can be developed, although even this is secondary to their aim of heading off revolution by diverting workers along nationalist lines.

Despite the fact Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship, the Argentine left supported the reintegration of the island, including Carlo Petroni, the leader of the IMT’s section who formed a Class Struggle Faction over this very issue. Commenting on an IMT article claiming that Britain “obtained” the Falklands in 1830, Petroni wrote:

The article completely ignores how Britain obtained them. Britain invaded the Malvinas and massacred its Argentinean population. Some local guerrilla fighters, led by Gaucho Rivero, waged a war against the British invaders for years. Upon his capture, Rivero was sent to die in a British prison.

For generations Argentineans have been brought up to struggle to recover the Islands. This is what explains both the courage of the Argentinean conscripts in the face of the cowardly actions of their officers during the war and the mass support among young people for the struggle against British and American imperialism. The war over the Malvinas Islands only coalesced this historical hatred for British imperialism, and completely unmasked the role of American imperialism.

It is not hard to figure out the parallels with the Ukraine. For the IMT, the Euromaidan was equated with NATO, Western banks, the IMF, fascist gangs and just about any other dirt it could dig up. The grass roots movement against Yanukovych was about as important to Alan Woods as the aspirations of the Argentine left. So aggravated was Petroni that he eventually split with the mother ship. Of course, such splits are endemic to the Trotskyist movement and I would not want to make too much of it but on the issues Petroni was obviously right.

Turning to the IMT’s coverage of Ukraine, you are really struck by the reckless disregard for objectivity. In some ways, the articles are beneath propaganda and almost appear written to make the group indistinguishable from the Communist Party in Ukraine, a mainstay of Kremlin ambitions.

The first inkling I got of something off at the IMT website was a March 26 interview with a Ukrainian named Dmitry Kolesnik that should have not passed the smell test. Kolesnik warns about an ominous development that coincides with and is related to Euromaidan: “We can even talk of the establishment of a ‘Brown International’. So, Ukrainian far-rights in power and on the streets is a part of a common European trend and, therefore, should be dealt also on an international basis.”

There is a big problem with this, however. The European far right is pretty much in agreement with the IMT that Euromaidan was a EU/NATO plot and now hails Putin as the last best hope for defending Ukraine against “imperialism”. Golden Dawn, Jobbik, the National Front in France, and the BNP in England are all on the side of the Kremlin against the Jewish/imperialist cabal of bankers and politicians. This is from the BNP website:

While the rest of the world sinks in to an economic crisis of its own making, Russia lives within its means and cuts its suit according to its cloth. Its people are not in perpetual debt, and while their lifestyle might not be as luxurious as the wealthy in the US or Europe, they live happy lives with the prospect of retiring at 55.

And here is the BNP on Ukraine:

In case you don’t know, the National Endowment for Democracy was behind the Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution. Known as an asset of the America Intelligence Community, the NED has been behind a plethora of other ‘’people’s revolutions’’ that have overthrown sovereign nations in order to bring them into a planned One World Government.

The NED were also behind the Rose Revolution in 2003 that lead to an armed conflict with Russia in 2008; and – more to the point – they were a major part of the Solidarnost protest movement that sought to overthrow Vladimir Putin after the Duma Elections of 2011.

That could have been lifted from Counterfire or the IMT website. Indeed, Boris Kagarlitsky, who was one of the keynote speakers at the June 2nd conference on the Ukraine referred to above, spoke at another conference about the menace of colored revolutions in 2010 that was organized by the FPO in Austria—that’s the party formerly led by Jörg Haider, who once referred to Auschwitz as a “punishment camp”.

By early May, Alan Woods had become a shameless defender of the separatist movement in Donbass, referring to it as a “popular revolution”.  One month later, the IMT was publishing articles even more extreme.

On June 7th an antiwar conference was held in Minsk that was endorsed by Alan Woods’s supporters in Russia. To give you an idea of the conference’s orientation, the call stated: “the military conflict that followed the victory of the neo-liberals and nationalists in the ‘Euromaidan’ actions in Kiev has claimed hundreds of lives and contributed to an unprecedented growth of chauvinism and xenophobia in Ukrainian and Russian society.”

IMT member Artem Kirpichenok gave a speech at the Minsk conference that demonized the Euromaidan movement:

Armed gangs of far-right thugs, football fans and generally fascist elements from within the public have been regularly attacking communist and trade union activists since the very beginning of the so-called Euromaidan.

Borotba, a group that shares the IMT’s politics and participated in the conference, endorsed the positions adopted there but with reservations—finding it “too moderate”. Borotba explained its objection to a statement that found the Kremlin guilty of intervention:

Here, Kagarlitskiy, is probably closer to the truth, when he said that if Russia was truly a democratic regime, the Russian tanks would already be near Kiev. The Russian regime should be criticized not for intervention but for non-interference, bordering on the actual betrayal, which is accompanied by deafening patriotic and anti-fascist propaganda.

I imagine that Kagarlitsky was trying to say that Putin was ignoring the wishes of the majority but what a commentary on his understanding of democracy! For a number of years now Putin has been cracking down on the opposition, jailing journalists and closing down media outlets that defy the Kremlin’s policy goals. When you have total control over the press, what meaning does the word democratic have? In the 1950s, Communists were fired from their jobs at universities in the USA and in the media while both parties in Washington ratcheted up the Cold War. Don’t you think that when someone like me developed anti-Communist attitudes, it had something to do with my access to information?

That being said, Borotba’s idea that Russia was guilty of “non-interference” can only be understood as the outcome of living in an ideological bubble. People living outside the bubble understand how ludicrous such a claim is but not the poor unfortunates living within it. One Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov) heads up the Donbass People’s Militia. In an interview with Pravda, Girkin revealed that his troops had experience fighting for the Russian armed forces in Chechnya, Central Asia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and even Syria. That’s some non-interference.

Searchlight, a British organization launched in 1964 to oppose fascism, published an article on the June 2nd conference titled “Warning to anti-fascists invited to meeting at SOAS”. It departed from the bubble consensus.

It pointed out that Borotba has been working with the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, whose leader Natalya Vitrenko is a long-time associate of Lyndon LaRouche, the rightwing cult leader who has been a solid supporter of the Kremlin and the Donbass separatist movement. Here’s Vitrenko hailing LaRouche on his 90th birthday:

Lyn, you have also rendered unquestionable service through your tremendous political activity as a candidate for the U.S. Presidency and builder of the Schiller Institute, which brought together scientists from all continents and became a platform for an alternative to the reforms of the IMF, the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank. On that platform, under your leadership, representatives of 39 countries in December 1995 adopted the Memorandum to Mankind, the importance of which increases with each passing year. I am proud to have had a direct role in drafting it.

On March 3rd, a statement signed by Ukrainian left organizations and individuals denounced Borotba for its collaboration with Vitrenko’s group:

”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.

Back in the 1970s, Lyndon LaRouche’s goons were breaking up left meetings armed with clubs and other weapons. Who would ever have dreamed that forty years later it would still be exercising a baleful influence but on a much more difficult to prevent basis. After all, it is much more difficult to ward off ideas offered in the name of Lenin that run counter to everything he stood for than it is to block a blow from a club or a fist. Difficult but necessary.

25 Comments »

  1. Lyndon LaRouche was a member of the Lynn, Mass. branch of the SWP. He worked for GE in the rjverworks local #201 U.E. at the time and he was a time motion study man, his job to cut the rate on piece work for machinists at GE. Fittingly he was sitting on a high stool timing a machinist when some enterprising toiler placed a galvanized pail of ammonia under his stool. A short time later Lyndon took ill and had to leave for the day, later he told this tale to Larry Trainor of the Boston SWP complaining about the union workers lack of cooperation at GE. Quite expectantly Larry literally threw him out of the branch. That about sums up the mentality of Lyndon LaRouche and this is 65 years ago.

    Comment by Michael Tormey — June 23, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

  2. I actually used to be a member of the DC branch of the Workers’ International League, the US section of the IMT, though I wasn’t very active (I was a “contact” at American University, and went to one or two rallies with them, including an anti-Mubarak one). Reading this makes me a bit ashamed, but for what it’s worth, I can vouch for them as good guys, especially the one who got me started when I got to DC. Their line on Syria is a lot less f**ked up than the WSWS’s (though I used to read their film reviews), and they’re way less paranoid than other sects. I think that part of the appeal of Marxist sects, especially the “good” ones, is that it’s sort of like being in a tight-knit pack of like-minded friends who all know each other and hang out.

    Comment by Reza Stephen Lustig — June 23, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

  3. But the whole perversed logic!!! Borotba has been cooperating with PSPU “local cells of “Borotba” took part in the protest actions together with PSPU” – but Borotba also took part in protest actions with groups that were on EuroMaidan side – does it mean that these groups should be blamed too – in the same way? Borotba participated in rallies with Avtonomia, Left Opposition etc. And does the fact that the groups participating in Euromaidan were together with neo-Nazis from Social-National Assembly, Right sector, Svoboda – mean that they are all fascist too (if follow the same logic)?

    Comment by Katherine — June 24, 2014 @ 2:42 am

  4. Yes, it is absolutely imperative not to take part in joint actions with a group whose leader has been associated with Lyndon Larouche for decades.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 24, 2014 @ 2:46 am

  5. The UK’s Workers Power are also on board with the pro-Russian fascist militias in Donetsk.

    Comment by David Ellis — June 24, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  6. But is not imperative not take part in EuroMaidan where Right Sector, Svoboda party and other neo-Nazis take part? ))

    Comment by Katherine — June 24, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

  7. I’ve no desire to defend the IMT, but pretty much everything is wrong in this post. Carlos Petroni never headed the Argentine section of the IMT. He was never even a member of the IMT. He was briefly a member of Socialist Alternative, linked to the CWI, in the US not Argentina. This was long after the IMT split from the CWI. While it’s fair enough to make criticisms of the position of the British Militant on the Falklands war, those criticisms ought to be based on firmer grounds than the mythical “guerilla war” of Rivero against the British invaders. Rivero was involved in a wage dispute He and seven others killed Matthew Brisbane the commercial agent of Louis Vernet, (the guy Argentina had granted exclusive rights to the islands) and four Argentinians because unlike the British, he wouldn’t pay them in silver. The British used the incident to take over the islands, to which they had previously only claimed sovereignty. They did not massacre the Argentine population who were also recent settlers. Rivero didn’t die in a British prison, he couldn’t be tried due to a legal technicality and was deported to Brazil. He certainly did not lead a guerrilla struggle against British invaders. There are plenty of real crimes of British imperialism without repeating these myths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Rivero.

    As to the Ukraine, open fascists played quite a prominent role in the Maidan movement. I believe the IMT are wrong to glorify the Russian separatists in Donetsk, but the fact is that their are ultra-right forces on both sides while working class forces are also pitifully weak. It is hardly surprising that the Russian speakers of the east have put their faith in Russian nationalism rather than those pitifully weak progressive forces in the Maidan. The tragedy is one section of the left is tail-ending the Maidan and the other Putin.

    Comment by Vince Salman — June 24, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

  8. Thanks for the clarification but the underlying point remains valid, namely that the Ted Grant analysis was fucked up. Argentina was a victim of British imperialism historically, just as were the Irish or the Indians. For more on Britain and Argentina, read this:

    http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/state_and_revolution/argentina1.htm

    Comment by louisproyect — June 24, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

  9. You lost me Louis. Of course no one in their right mind would partner up with the Larouchite lunatics, but why do you deride that while at the same time praising groups that were in the same crowds as the Right Sector in Ukraine or the Islamic extremists in Syria? Why is that okay, or why was it okay for leftists to join mass marches against the Iraq war where extreme rightsists and Ron Paulites were present, if it’s wrong for Borotba to work with a group that worked with a group that is led by a guy who worked with LaRouche’s group?

    Comment by Steve D. — June 24, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

  10. Because it is not just the joint action with the Larouchites. It is a bunch of other shit as well:

    http://www.anarkismo.net/article/26817

    On January 24th, the region council deputy and “Borotba” representative Oleksiy Albu participated in the protection of Odesa region administration building against “Nazis”, accompanied by Russian Cossacks and nationalists (“Slavic Unity”) and the members of ruling Party of Regions and Communist Party. In his later interview, he admitted his cooperation with the Security Service of Ukraine. On March 1st, “Borotba” activists together with pro-Putin organizations took part in the assault on Kharkiv region state administration, which resulted in raising of a Russian flag and severe beating of many Kharkiv Maidan activists, including a leftist poet Serhiy Zhadan. The members of “Borotba” call all of this “an antifascist action” and claim that these violent actions were aimed against radical rightist.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 24, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  11. Fair enough. I still have to wonder though if you’d condemn those you support in Syria for “taking part in an assault” along with Islamic extremists.

    Comment by Steve D. — June 24, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

  12. I certainly would condemn anybody who took part in an assault with ISIS in Syria.

    “The largely opposition-held city of Deir e-Zor faces a two-pronged siege, from the regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham. The city has been blockaded since June 3 when ISIS seized control of the a-Siyasiya Bridge on the Euphrates River, the rebels’ only supply route into the city.”

    http://syriadirect.org/main/36-interviews/1448-isis-regime-close-in-on-deir-e-zor-rebels

    Comment by louisproyect — June 24, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

  13. La Rouche still alive, oy vey!! He has the dubious distinction of having the most comprehensive paranoid delusional system that includes not only persecutors but a symmetrical imaginary “good guy” conspiracy, and both running back for thousands of years.

    Comment by Peter Myers — June 25, 2014 @ 12:36 am

  14. When I clicked on the hyperlink given by Shekhovtsov, http://anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.co.at/2014/06/freedom-party-of-austria-far-right.html , http://www.floriangeyer.ru/seminars/ and then examined the photos, and had the pg. translated by Google Chrome, I did not see Kagarlitsky identified in any of the three photos. However, this article, http://www.tol.org/client/article/23918-russia-the-uses-of-extremism.html , says he has participated in the Florian Geyer Conceptual Club “The most astonishing new foundation in the extreme right-wing intellectual milieu, however, is a small circle that calls itself the Florian Geyer Conceptual Club and was founded in September 2011. Led by the notorious Islamist and avowed anti-Western activist Geidar Dzhemal, the group uses the name of a figure from the German Peasants’ War of the 16th century. The historical figure Geyer is entirely unknown in Russia, and unfamiliar even to many Germans. The name Florian Geyer, however, is well-known among experts on contemporary European history, as the byname of the Third Reich’s 8th SS Cavalry Division, which was deployed on the Eastern front in 1943-1944.

    Dzhemal, Dugin, and Shevchenko, the founders of the Florian Geyer Club, claim to be referring to the former peasant warrior and not to the SS division. Dugin’s past in particular, however, suggests that the club’s founders are familiar with the name’s Third Reich association and that the twofold historical significance of Florian Geyer is actually intended. From 1980 to 1990, Dzhemal and Dugin were members of a small occult circle in Moscow that called itself the Black Order of the SS. During the 1990s, Dugin, both under the pseudonym Aleksandr Sternberg and under his own name, repeatedly expressed support for sympathizers, members, and divisions of the SS, for example the Ahnenerbe Institut (Ancestral Heritage Institute) of the SS, the Italian fascist theorist and admirer of the Waffen-SS Julius Evola, the SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, and the SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich (the initial organizer of the Holocaust).

    Thus, it is all the more astonishing that – in addition to several right-wing extremists – some well-known Russian intellectuals were participating in the club’s roundtable-talks who do not fit the mold, among them historian Igor Chubais, legal scholar Mark Feygin, and sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky. It is also worth noting that, at the meetings of the club, anti-American activists from abroad were also invited to speak, including, for instance, the notorious Italian “traditionalist” Claudio Mutti.

    Another noteworthy participant is the infamous political writer Vladimir Kucherenko, better known under his pseudonym, Maksim Kalashnikov, who is also a member of the Isborsk Club. Like Dugin, he sympathizes with aspects of National Socialism and weaves extravagant flights of political fantasy in his publications. In the book Toward USSR-2 (2003), which had a large print run, for example, Kucherenko-Kalashnikov speculates about a future “neuro-world” that would be a “structure” combining the characteristics “of a church, a giant media conglomerate, and a financial empire” that is “equipped with a secret service.”

    Comment by michael098762001 — June 25, 2014 @ 1:13 am

  15. Great story about Lindy at GE. His father was a big time-motion guy so it makes sense that GE might have hired his son. LaRouche only worked briefly at River Works but he stayed in the Boston SWP local until at least 1952-53, He then moved to NYC and wrote an article on automation for The Fourth International in 1954.

    The story an old SWP’er (Trainor?) told the Boston Phoenix in the early 1970s was that LaRouche did work for the SWP cell in the Lynn factory but he “couldn’t get up in the morning” and so got fired. Maybe the truth is that he did work as a time motion man even as he was also a member of the SWP cell. This got back to Trainor who threw him out if only because it gave the SWP’s critics so much ammunition, LaRouche then left (or was fired from) GE (perhaps he even bowed to pressure from the SWP leadership to leave).

    In any case, he resumed his membership in the Boston local until he relocated to NYC. Anyway SWP old-timers never claimed he wasn’t a member of the SWP in Boston and NYC as far as I know. BTW: He worked as a time-study guy in NYC as well (“industrial engineer”) until he tried to branch off into computers. I think his wife Janice was a secretary in the SWP’s office in the 1950s as well although I may be wrong about that.

    Comment by Lunchpail — June 25, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

  16. I met Janice at a little party at Cynthia Cochran’s place in NY.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 25, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

  17. Yes, never heard of Carlos Petroni leading the Argentine section of the IMT. Never heard of Petroni leading anything outside the tendency led by Nahuel Moreno until after 1988 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahuel_Moreno

    “As to the Ukraine, open fascists played quite a prominent role in the Maidan movement. I believe the IMT are wrong to glorify the Russian separatists in Donetsk, but the fact is that their are ultra-right forces on both sides while working class forces are also pitifully weak. It is hardly surprising that the Russian speakers of the east have put their faith in Russian nationalism rather than those pitifully weak progressive forces in the Maidan. The tragedy is one section of the left is tail-ending the Maidan and the other Putin.”

    That’s close to my own view. When the Maidan emerges again (and I believe it will, depending on how things work out in Ukraine, the remnants of the previous one are still camped out there), the “anti-Putin” left must be prepared to (literally, quite likely) fight its way in. That’s what the Ukraine left should plan for in the next period.

    In addition, I have loudly complained of the absence of any perspective on the OBVIOUS, laser-focused, U.S. intervention into Ukraine, in the context of inter-imperialist rivalries.

    The general disarray in the world Marxist movement generally means that we can be sure that there will never be exact alignment of perspectives. Divergence of perspectives will sharpen precisely as the capitalist crisis deepens and shows the superiority of the Marxist view of social reality. Differences in perspective should be no big deal, however, so long as we are open to changing these according to the facts, consistent with strategy and the principles that flow from that strategy. For differences in perspective will remain even if all of Marxism was united into one big party pursuing one strategy.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — June 26, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

  18. I would add, though, that it is wrong to politically characterize maidan on the basis of the participation of fascists, “open” or otherwise. The accurate characterization would be that the maidan was politically led by the *broad* European Right. By that I mean the “neo-liberal” Euro/US Right, currently at loggerheads with their own Far Rights in their own countries, including the U.S. (tea party, etc). Later, a space was created for the intervention of the fascists. So EU/US neoliberalism has for the moment formed a bloc with the Far Right + fascists in Ukraine ONLY.

    That’s a key difference with the rest of Europe that Ukraine leftists ought to think about. That’s why its wrong not to develop a open perspective *against* EU/US imperialist intervention in Ukraine, in an effort to break up the broad Right front. As opposed to a simply anti-Russian imperialist perspective.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — June 26, 2014 @ 11:35 pm

  19. “By that I mean the “neo-liberal” Euro/US Right, currently at loggerheads with their own Far Rights in their own countries, including the U.S. (tea party, etc). Later, a space was created for the intervention of the fascists. So EU/US neoliberalism has for the moment formed a bloc with the Far Right + fascists in Ukraine ONLY.”

    Perhaps, this is a quibble, but I consider this an overreach. In both Greece and the Ukraine, political unrest created an opening for rightists and fascists. But neither the US nor the EU have formed a bloc with them in either instance, rather the US and the EU are willing to accept the benefits of their involvement, allowing them room to maneuver, but only so long as their activity facilitates the implementation of neoliberal shock therapy. When they become a threat, the state takes carefully modulated action to suppress them, as it has done with Golden Dawn in Greece and with fascists in the Ukraine. The US and the EU are attempting to impose boundaries upon their activity, seeking to preserve them as a means of intimidating the left while training them to avoid contesting the neoliberal order. Obviously, it is doubtful that this approach can result in a more permanent political configuration, given the combustibility of the relationship.

    I agree that the left will have to “fight its way in” to the next round of protest. It will be necessary, as part of that fight, to intensify fissures between the US and the EU, rightists and fascists and young Ukrainians who consider the culture of the EU alluring. It is the inability of the US and the EU to deliver EU levels of prosperity and civil liberties to the Ukraine that will be their undoing.

    Comment by Richard Estes — June 26, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

  20. Is Woods’ age, or Taaffe’s age, relevant somehow? Does the CWI “spawn” groups? Anyway, if so, the CWI has now “spawned” in around 50 countries and in 45 cities across the U.S. . (You oughta see us readin’ Marx in Mobile)! After the election of Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant to Seattle City Council, and the subsequent $15 minimum wage movement “spawned” by Socialist Alternative there and now in other cities as well; I’ve been waiting for Proyect to reconsider his whole pro-liquidationist thesis on socialist organization (“Leninism”). Did I miss that post?

    Comment by Leon — June 27, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

  21. Anyway, if so, the CWI has now “spawned” in around 50 countries and in 45 cities across the U.S.

    —-

    Well, at least you don’t have the same crappy politics as Alan Woods:

    The self-declared “People’s Republic of Donetsk (PRD)”, led by a combination of pro-Russian far-right wingers, anti-Semites, ex-military, and former riot police, has armed forces under the command of “supreme commander” Igor Girkin, the “archer”, a self-confessed “former” Russian special services operative. The militia has allegedly been involved in looting, general harassment of the population, and, under the guise of an “anti-drugs campaign”, pogroms against the Roma community.

    full: http://www.socialistalternative.org/2014/06/13/ukraine-hundreds-killed-in-military-clashes/

    Although your position on Syria is perfectly dreadful.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 27, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

  22. I know much less than you (in fact, nothing, apart from reading some articles by Kagarlitsky) about the political character of these organizations, so I am happy to defer to you about their motives/methods.

    I have been following the Ukraine situation out of interest, and without any special knowledge, and I am just interested in the analysis offered by various people. In this respect, I feel that many of your statements are quite unfair and the analysis of theirs about Ukraine you quote is closer to the mark. Of course, this does not mean that their analysis on other things or proposed solutions are correct.

    a) You say that IMT believes Euromaidan was a “EU/NATO plot and now hails Putin as the last best hope for defending Ukraine against “imperialism” ” and you give lots of quotes from far-right parties saying nefarious things. But what does the person interviewed on the IMT website say? In the same paragraph you quote, Dmitry Kolesnik says: “However, I think that most likely we’ll see the coordinated plundering of Ukraine by both sides (West and Russia). ” Nowhere does it have any inkling of Russia being the hope of defending Ukraine against imperialism.

    b) You quote the IMT conference : “the military conflict that followed the victory of the neo-liberals and nationalists in the ‘Euromaidan’ actions in Kiev has claimed hundreds of lives and contributed to an unprecedented growth of chauvinism and xenophobia in Ukrainian and Russian society.” Is this wrong? One can of course disagree with who is responsible for the deaths, but it is totally uncontroversial that hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands dispaced. Here is the latest UN statement on the matter: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48159#.U7gX2VFCa0U

    c) You helpfully link to Artem Kirpichenok’s speech which you say demonizes the Euromaidan movement. “Armed gangs of far-right thugs, football fans and generally fascist elements from within the public have been regularly attacking communist and trade union activists since the very beginning of the so-called Euromaidan”. Is this wrong?

    As to Kirpichenok’s attitude to Russia, he clearly acknowledges the Russian involvement in the South-East: ” While we cannot deny the role played by Russian forces and agents in organising these protests, it is obvious that the roots of the movement lie in mass rejection of the new liberal-nationalist regime by the people of Ukraine’s South-East. ” And his attitude towards the self-declared “people’s republics”: “We should not foster any illusions in the leadership of the People’s Republics, where power was taken by representatives of the petit bourgeoisie and the Russian far-right, who initially hoped that Putin, and later on Akhmetov, would offer them protection.”

    d) Borotba’s statement that there is “almost no support from Russia” is obviously misleading at best and a fabrication at worst. However, Borotba seems to be only one attendee of the conference. Why treat it as if it represented the conference as a whole? The conference statement clearly recognizes the role of Russia and demands the stoppage:

    “The Russian government, the European Union and the United States government are using the civil war in Ukraine for their respective interests, while the people of the Donbass region suffering from war are just pawns of their competition.”

    “We demand from Russia, the EU and the U.S. to completely stop interfering in the Ukrainian conflict and cease support to any one side.”

    http://liva.com.ua/conference-antiwar.html

    Comment by Anand — July 5, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

  23. I will only say this. My writing could have been clearer. I wrote: The European far right is pretty much in agreement with the IMT that Euromaidan was a EU/NATO plot and now hails Putin as the last best hope for defending Ukraine against “imperialism” You interpreted that–reasonably–as saying that the IMT was hailing Putin but I only meant to say that the IMT thought that Euromaidan was a EU/NATO plot. I should have written: The European far right now hails Putin as the last best hope for defending Ukraine against “imperialism” and is also pretty much in agreement with the IMT that Euromaidan was a EU/NATO plot.

    Comment by louisproyect — July 5, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

  24. A friend (and reader of this blog) sent me (member of the IMT) a link to this post. Unfortunately there are many errors in this piece regarding the positions of the IMT. I just want to clear up a few things.

    1. The IMT position is not necessarily pro-Donbass Rebel. We are against the white terror in Ukraine, which consists of repression against the CP, Borotba, and the “anti-terrorist operation” against the East. We believed Maidan was a reactionary movement, while the uprising in the East had many more progressive features. We acknowledge there are leftwing as well as reactionary rebels in the East. We do not support seperatism, but stand for a united independent socialist Ukraine.
    2. The IMT never has supported and will never support Putin. In fact our Russian section has organised several anti-war protests against the Crimean annexation and other military moves by Putin.
    3. Borotba is not affiliated to the IMT, but we have similar positions and cooperate on some issues. Through solidarity with Borotba, we decided to participate with other organisations in setting up Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.
    4. The IMT has nothing in common with the far right or with Lyndon LaRouche. This is just cheap slander and guilt by association (especially considering an article about the IMT is headed by a picture of LaRouche). What if the IMT would have supported Maidan? Would this article then state the IMT has the same position as the pro-American liberals?
    5. As for a reply to the allegations by SearchLight, see http://ukraineantifascistsolidarity.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/searchlight-ill-informed-and-incoherent-attack-on-solidarity-with-the-antifascist-resistance-in-ukraine/
    6. The statement by Petroni and the Class Struggle faction was from the CWI. The IMT (and its Argentinian section) still stand behind what was written during the Falklands War by Ted Grant. As regarding the name Falklands/Malvinas, that is not a political issue (the Spanish IMT publications use Malvinas, and the English one Falklands).

    Comment by Jordan — October 13, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

  25. L.P. writes: “Borotba’s idea that Russia was guilty of “non-interference” can only be understood as the outcome of living in an ideological bubble”.

    Borot’ba is writing at the call of Kremlin. See “Victor Shapinov and his Marxism and the War in Donbass”,
    http://knowledge.ucoz.org/news/victor_shapinov_and_his_marxism_and_the_war_in_donbass/2017-03-17-107

    Comment by star — April 3, 2017 @ 12:12 pm


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