Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 21, 2014

The Situation in Ukraine

Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 8:49 pm

Ukrainian soldiers examine a damaged tank

I have a sense of déjà vu with Ukraine. Not long ago, before Russia poured men and heavy weaponry into Donbas and scattered the Ukrainian military to the four winds, the “anti-imperialist” left was beside itself over war between Russia and NATO. From the rhetoric you’d think a new Operation Barbarossa was in the offing. As about as pure an example of this way of thinking, WSWS.org told its readers on August 11th that “Assault on Donetsk risks war with Russia”, alluding to Samantha Power’s warnings that the US would find a Russian intervention “unacceptable”.

In reality, the USA had about as much interest in a military confrontation with Russia as did in “regime change” in Syria just a year ago when the same kind of apocalyptic predictions were made. After the sarin attacks in East Ghouta and Obama’s “red line” bluster, there were the same kinds of doomsday scenarios. Typical was Alan Freeman’s comment on a FB thread: “David, I don’t really know how to begin. The US state is trying to start World War III by mobilising a Europe-US coalition to retake the ground lost to an opposition which, by the admission of its own most prominent defector, commands the support of at most 4 million out of 24 million of the people of Syria.”

I have subsequently learned that Freeman, a fairly prestigious economist, is a member of Socialist Action in Britain, a group that has begun networking with the Russian far right, under the auspices of the impresario of right-left convergence Boris Kagarlitsky. Freeman attended a conference in Yalta on July 2nd that did not pass the smell test as International Viewpoint, an organ of the NPA-affiliated Fourth International, reported:

Besides the Institute of Globalisation Studies and Social Movements, of which Kagarlitsky is the Director, the conference was organized by the far right New Rus’ Coordination and Support Centre, and the Osnovanye Fund. This fund was established recently to support the separatist movement by such Russian personalities as Alexandr Prokhanov and Vladislav Shurygin (editors of the far right journal, Zavtra) or Nikolai Starikov (leader of the far right Party of Great Fatherland). It was attended from Britain by Richard Brenner of Workers Power and Alan Freeman of Socialist Action, both supporters of the Ukraine Anti-Fascist Solidarity campaign.

Zavtra is quite a publication for those like Freeman to be connected with even on a three degree of separation basis. A Web-TV outlet launched by the publisher of Zavtra featured one Konstantin Dushenov, the creator of a video series titled “Russia With a Knife in its Back: Jewish Fascism and the Genocide of the Russian People,” and the publisher of a 2006 open letter asking for a ban on Jewish organizations. Nice.

Just as was the case with Syria, there was no war. Those instead who were supposed to be shock troops in Syria ended up being blown to smithereens by barrel bombs and/or starved into submission. If you read people like Freeman, you’d think that Obama was going to invite the FSA to the White House and present them with gift-wrapped Stinger missiles. Instead they got nothing but ready-to-eat meals and enough light arms to keep them going—just barely.

If you want to get a real idea of what is going on Ukraine now, I refer you to an article in the NY Review by Tim Judah titled “Ukraine: What Putin has Won”. He describes something that sounds a lot like what Saddam Hussein’s army looked like as it fled Kuwait in 1991: “Inside Ukraine, driving north from the Sea of Azov, an appendage of the Black Sea, along rutted country roads that snake parallel to the Russian border, we saw abandoned Ukrainian military encampments and the twisted remains of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles.”

Judah interviewed Sergei Baryshnikov, a pro-rebel political scientist in Donetsk. Baryshnikov could be relied up upon to describe separatist goals without the leftist patina people like Kagarlitsky like to spread across their dispatches:

If the war starts again, we know what the rebels and their Russian backers want. Baryshnikov, who was wearing a lapel pin of Novorossiya’s flag, a variation on an old Russian imperial flag of yellow, white, and black, explained that Novorossiya would encompass all of the southeast of Ukraine, as far west as Transnistria, a breakaway part of Moldova that is funded by Russia and defended by Russian troops. If this ever happens, what is left of Ukraine would have lost its entire Black Sea coast; Crimea, which has already been annexed to Russia, would be connected to Russia by land, which it is not now; and the historic port of Odessa would be lost to Ukraine as well.

“Ukrainians,” said Baryshnikov, “are an artificially created nation, not like the French or Russians.” Creating Novorossiya, he conceded, was going to be hard, both militarily and politically, but he and his colleagues were doing their best to spread the word. Novorossiya, he explained, encompassed former Russian imperial territories that would first be “liberated” and “then become part of the Russian Federation.” The leading ideologist of this cause is Aleksandr Dugin, a proponent of a Russian Eurasian empire, run from Moscow, who used to be a marginal figure in Russian extreme nationalist politics but is no longer. “He is our friend,” said Baryshnikov. “I really appreciate him.”

The reference to “former Russian imperial territories” is key. People like Freeman, who come out of the Trotskyist movement (his group came out of the IMG, the same one Tariq Ali belonged to), tend to respond to trouble spots like Ukraine as if they were defending the USSR. Instead of seeing Vladimir Putin as an enemy of the working class, they posit him as a bourgeois nationalist with an eye toward “development” as Freeman’s article on the Post Globalization Initiative website indicates:

But we see a different side of the coin in many developing countries, most notably those using state stimulus and particularly investment stimuli. Is this a purely BRICS phenomenon? No, because countries like Vietnam are quite small but are stimulating their growth with such policies.

However there several good reasons the BRICS are playing a leading role. The first is an issue I first drew attention to in a book that Boris Kagarlitsky and I published together, back in 2004. Challenging the thesis of ‘globalization’ I argued for ‘continentalisation’ – both to show that it was the real process taking place, and to show the deleterious effect on countries that didn’t recognize its importance.

I guess if socialism is no longer on the agenda, except as something you pay lip-service to on May Day, you may as well settle for “development” even based on capitalism. As far as Vietnam’s “stimulus” is concerned, I doubt that most sixties radicals, including Freeman, had in mind when they marched against the war. Like Russia, Vietnam is a breeding ground for millionaires and now its first billionaire. I will not begrudge Freeman and Kagarlitsky for getting excited over such “progress” but I will remain the Unrepentant Marxist if you don’t mind.

On September 16th Charles King, Professor of International Affairs and Government at Georgetown University, wrote a perceptive article for the Washington Post titled “Ukraine’s breakaway region is becoming a de facto country”. Oddly enough, the pro-Putin left has not even recognized the facts on the ground that specialists like Judah and King have accepted. One supposes that this would rob them of a rallying cry against a White House bent on war, even if Obama has pretty much washed his hands of Ukraine.

Referring to countries that are being reconstituted as Novorossiya, King describes a strategy that was taking shape under Boris Yeltsin, supposedly a figure who was always supposed to be catering to American interests (even if you bracket out the unfortunate Chechens.)

Russian support for the secessionists was critical, and this support long predated the advent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indeed, in Ukraine, Putin has used many of the moves pioneered during the administration of former President Boris Yeltsin. The use of “volunteers” sent across the border, the leaking of material from Russian weapons stores, and the dispatch of Russian administrative personnel to staff local offices (especially in the security sector) were defining features of the brief wars in Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia in the early 1990s. Some of these individuals have now decamped to Novorossiya, bringing nearly two decades of experience in running the military, security, and economic establishments of countries no one actually recognizes. All of this does not bode well for pulling Novorossiya back into the Ukrainian fold.

Like all the other former Soviet republics that ended up with a bloody nose and dashed hopes, Ukraine has learned that Russian power is not to be trifled with:

Fourth, no external power besides Russia has an incentive for deep involvement beyond helping to stop the fighting. Ukraine has actually fallen into precisely the trap that Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan stumbled into in the early 1990s. The Kiev government chose to use force against a secessionist threat, but it had neither the resolve nor the capacity to overcome it on the battlefield. The result has been increasing pressure from the international community to agree to a cease-fire, which has now held (with serious violations) for more than a week.

As has been the case since the days of Katherine the Great, Russia is a weak and dependent nation both as an outright colony and as an “independent” state. One of the things that used to get a bitter laugh from me was the warning I used to hear about how NATO was encroaching on Russia’s sphere of influence. The analogy was apt but the meaning lost on those making it. Common Dreams, a liberal website, published an article by Jon Queally titled “Will Ukraine Bid To Join NATO Unleash 21st Century Cold War?” (http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/08/29/will-ukraine-bid-join-nato-unleash-21st-century-cold-war) that should have raised eyebrows but probably didn’t: “To explain the reasoning behind Russia’s thinking, Steele explained, “Imagine what would happen if Canada or Mexico decided to join an anti-U.S. alliance? Obviously, the U.S. would be concerned. Russia has legitimate concerns about the expansion of NATO.” Well, I don’t know about Canada but the people of Mexico would resent the idea that the USA had any “legitimate concerns” about anything happening within its borders that have been violated time and again over the past 150 years.

Texas, like Donbas, was acquired through violence. The USA expanded just like the Russian Empire. What Katherine the Great accomplished in Ukraine, so did Polk in Texas and elsewhere. Even after the bullets stopped flying, the USA interfered with Mexico’s sovereignty either through the agency of the US Marines in its oil fields or through NAFTA.

The sad thing about people like Queally, Stephen F. Cohen, Boris Kagarlitsky, Alan Freeman and a host of others is that they cannot recognize Ukraine as a victim of imperialism. The only imperialism that matters to them is the one based in Washington. Despite the death of Joseph Stalin and despite the decline of Stalinism globally, its heritage continues apace in this most degraded aspect of a global left willing to serve the Kremlin in its ambitions to reconstruct the Czarist Empire. At least with Stalin, you could argue that the collectivist foundations of the USSR were worth preserving. What this reflex action on behalf of Gucci and BMW dealerships in Moscow has to do with past struggles is simply beyond me.

 

 

31 Comments »

  1. The neo-Stalinists don’t think they are defending the Soviet Union, they are deeply cynical not deeply stupid and they have nothing in common with Trotsky who actually defended Ukrainian self-determination even when the Soviet Union existed. They know full well that Russia is now under the control of a billionaire kleptocracy. They are desperate that failing US-sponsored globalisation should not result in world socialist revolution but that a new multi-polar arrangement should emerge to replace US hegemony. They actively support the emergence of strong rival powers to the US that can balance power between them above the heads of the multi-billioned masses and impose peace. Now I admit that is stupid but it is a stupidity that arises out of necessity. The necessity of opposing or trashing every revolution or popular movement from Ukraine to the Arab Spring to the Scottish Yes referendum.

    Comment by davidellis987 — September 21, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

  2. Putin is governing on behalf of Gucci and BMW dealerships in Moscow?

    Get outta here!

    And Poroshenko governs on behalf of whom?

    Louis, it’s a very lovely thing that someone remains who sees the world through the prism of 1930’s radical infighting, but dude, the world has changed.

    The unrepentant Marxist may be unrepentant; he is also completely irrelevant.

    Comment by Dieter Neumann — September 21, 2014 @ 10:21 pm

  3. Where in fuck’s name did I ever describe Poroshenko as a leftist? Learn to read, asshole.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 21, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

  4. Louis, you assume that the interests of Novorossiya and Putin wholly coincide, but the websites of Novorossiya are full of bitter complaints that Putin has sold them out by halting the offensive and insisting on a ceasefire. As you have pointed out, the project of Novorossiya precedes the current crisis and has many supporters on the Russian right, including Dugin, but where is the evidence that Putin supports succession? According to the Novorossiya websites, Putin facilitated the recent offensive by allowing an increase of volunteers on leave from the Russian military and by sending more weapons to break the siege of the eastern cities, to prevent the destruction of the rebels and to force Kiev to agree to a ceasefire and to negotiate with the rebels. This is consistent with Russia’s defensive posture. The problem for Putin is that a defeat for the rebels will lead to an attempt to take Crimea back and then there will be real trouble.

    Comment by Marco — September 21, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

  5. Of course the rebels have their own agenda. But the larger problem is Putin’s refusal to allow Ukraine to go its own way. They want a Crimea-type annexation and he simply wants veto power over Ukraine. A Hobson’s Choice if you ask me.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 21, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

  6. If you’re a Marxist where’s the class struggle? This is an imperialist fight. Workers have no fight in it. They should continue to fight their own capitalists. Did Lenin ask for US aid when Russia was invaded or did he use the opportunity to up the fight against his own rulers?

    Comment by Marais — September 22, 2014 @ 6:46 am

  7. 1 million ethnic Russians have been displaced from the Donbas by the war and all you can do is talk about “Russian Imperialism”!

    In which case, why didn’t you talk about “Serbian Imperialism” during the Yugoslav War?

    Serbs were settled in the Krajina (which means the same as “Ukraina”) by the Hapsburgs, to guard its border with the Ottoman Empire.
    Did this justify driving out 250,000 of their descendants, as the Croat forces did during “Operation Storm” in 1995?

    The current US government aren’t crazy enough to engage in a direct military confrontation with Russia. But many Ukrainian nationalists hope the US will arm them, so they can do the same thing to the Donbas.

    For example, the blogger Taras Zagorodnii writes:

    “It seems that the Croatian scenario is realized. Croats also signed a truce. Then the West pumped up the Croatian army with weapons and raised the number of soldiers to 200,000 out of a population of 3 million. Then this army overthrew the Serbs in two days.”

    Poroshenko demanded modern US weapons, when he spoke at the US Congress in Washington last week. Yatseniuk demanded Ukrainian membership of NATO as soon as the Ukrainian offensive was defeated.

    As Sergei Kirichuk notes:-

    “European public opinion is opposed to the escalation of the conflict, and the invasion of NATO forces in Ukraine would have caused a deep crisis in the political life of the EU. Arms supplies to the Ukrainian regime are possible, but can only be guaranteed by the unlikely victory of the “War Party” in the EU.”

    “Any attempt to implement the “Croatian scenario” in the Donbass can quickly escalate into a full-fledged pan-European carnage.”

    http://borotba.su/croatian_scenario_for_ukraine._by_sergei_kirichuk.html
    Sergei Kirichuk is a leading member of the Ukrainian socialist movement “Borotba” (Struggle) For many years he fought against the oligarchic regime of Viktor Yanukovych. But today Kirichuk and his comrades are organizing resistance to the new authorities. In response to these they have been targeted by right-wing terror and police repression

    Comment by prianikoff — September 22, 2014 @ 11:27 am

  8. Prianikoff is a moron. He is now just an open schill for Russian imperialism and pro-Russian fascist militias in East Ukraine. Not for him the rights of nations to self-determination or the struggle to elucidate a class independent programme to take the Ukraine National Democratic Revolution forward. No, it’s Putin and his boot boys or nothing as far as he is concerned.

    And this Marai creature says it is the duty of socialists to abandon Ukraine. There are no workers there worth bothering about. The left is truly degenerate if people like these can claim membership.

    Comment by David Ellis — September 22, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  9. Prianikoff, you should be ashamed of yourself repeating Borotba’s arguments here. They, Kagarlitsky, Alan Freeman, Alan Woods, Andy Newman, and frankly 90 percent of the left have their heads up their ass on Ukraine. You really need to familiarize yourself with revolutionary writings on Ukraine, starting with Lenin. Go to MIA and do a search in the Lenin archive for “Ukraine”. You will find it most edifying.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 22, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  10. [T]he websites of Novorossiya are full of bitter complaints that Putin has sold them out …

    Of course they are complaining that Russia has sold them out. Fascists eternally complain about being stabbed in the back. This does not mean that they are somehow operating against the Russian cause. When Putin flings them a bone, they will jump for it like a pack of dogs.

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 22, 2014 @ 3:40 pm

  11. “a fairly prestigious economist”

    i would say a very prestigious economist. if he isn’t very prestigious then no Marxist is, but that is another debate!

    “Of course the rebels have their own agenda. But the larger problem is Putin’s refusal to allow Ukraine to go its own way. ”

    No, the larger problem is this, and please sit down while reading it because you seem blind to this fact:

    The people in Kiev will not accept the democratic will of the people in the East. Every time the people in the East elect someone those in Kiev don’t like they start a ‘revolution’. i will ask you straight, would you want to live in a nation where your vote didn’t matter and your rights were disregarded?

    Your Putin obsession is merely a distraction. You suffer from the same problem as those who see World Ward 3 looming. You miss the main issue by focusing on the big players.

    Victory to the Donetsk Commune!

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 22, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

  12. If nothing else, the conflict in Ukraine has helped me to understand why Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation right after the Battle of Antietam. If you fight a bloody civil war to force a rebellious part of your country back into the union, that civil war has to evolve into a war about something nobler than just real estate. For Lincoln, it was slavery. What is it for Poroshenko? What’s the higher ideal the government in Ukraine is fighting for? Beats me. On the other hand, what exactly are the rebels in Donetsk fighting for? Just the Russian character of the region?

    The Pro-Putin left seems to be operating under the “lesser of two evils” principle. Russia is the lesser of two evils when compared to the United States. It might be. But you could also argue that the Democratic Party is the lesser of two evils when compared to the Republicans. On the other hand, a lot of people in Eastern Europe might see the United States as the lesser of two evils when compared to Russia. It depends on your perspective I guess. Is there anything worth dying for in Ukraine? Not that I see.

    Comment by srogouski — September 23, 2014 @ 4:54 am

  13. There is no comparison between Lincoln and Poroshenko. The war in the USA was to achieve social emancipation, the one in Ukraine was to derail a struggle against the oligarchy. Putin’s gambit (and it was just as much his as the Donetsk separatists) was to militarize the situation in Ukraine in order to precipitate a situation in which nationality trumped class. His main worry was that a Euromaidan spirit of rebellion would eventually penetrate Russia and threaten his own oligarchic rule. Poroshenko took the bait and lost, as was surely foreordained given the relationship of forces. In a very real sense, the separatist rebellion was the militaristic counterpart to Bashar al-Assad firing on peaceful protests in order to spark a civil war that emphasized sectarian tendencies. Very clever tactics by the scum of the earth.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 23, 2014 @ 5:04 am

  14. Louis, did you read Keith Gessen’s latest in the LRB (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n17/keith-gessen/why-not-kill-them-all)? Of course Gessen is no supporter of Putin. His sister is a direct victim of Putin’s regime and is one of its harshest critics. But Keith Gessen has conceded that there is an authentic Russian nationalism in the east of Ukraine driving the separatist movement. It is not as simple as Russian imperialism, although of course Putin has his own interest in displacing internal pressure within Russia outward toward a regional conflict.

    Then, there is the question of the composition of the western Ukrainian nationalism. Some of it is indeed very ugly, and in fact neo-fascist, although there are no doubt leftist elements mixed in. Wouldn’t you concede at the very least that this is a conflict between nationalisms, and that US aid to one or another side does little to yield a progressive outcome?

    One could even go further and say that, without US support for the Kiev government, Putin would not have had the opportunity to respond in Crimea and the east.

    As Gessen has made clear, the working class finds itself on both sides of this terrible war. Why beat the drum for one or another side, when the end result will simply be one or another nationalist inflection of the same old corrupt state bureaucracy? The Left should rather be providing analysis which could at some point yield an overcoming of this nightmare.

    Comment by 92 — September 23, 2014 @ 7:43 am

  15. #8-9
    You don’t understand what Lenin wrote on national self-determination, in particular the distinction he made between the specific and the general.
    This is why you’re completely uncritical of the worst sort of Ukrainian nationalists; those who torch anti-facists, bomb civilians and are willing to risk a European war for their own selfish interests.

    In fact it’s worse than a mere lack of understanding.
    It’s turning into a form of arrogant viciousness and indifference to human suffering.

    Ellis, who has problems understanding which historical epoch he lives in and probably with tying his own shoelaces, openly called for the resistance in Eastern Ukraine to be crushed.
    He thus allied himself with the private armies of the Ukrainian Oligarchs and the fascist Azov Brigade.

    The Kiev government is busy selling Ukraine’s independence to the highest bidder.
    Real self-determination can only be achieved by a common struggle with the workers of Western Europe and Russia. It won’t achieved through an alliance with NATO the EU.
    I don’t expect Putin or the Great Russian Chauvinists to fight for it.

    Comment by prianikoff — September 23, 2014 @ 8:58 am

  16. Speaking of… who was it that actually did fire on peaceful protestors in Maidan?

    Comment by Marais — September 23, 2014 @ 9:02 am

  17. `Victory to the Donetsk Commune!’

    Twat. The people of the East are under the jackboot of these pro-Russian fascist militias. It is beholding on the Ukraine Army to clear out these ethnic cleansing scum and for the people to demand that East and West is unified under a revolutionary democracy that confronts gangster capitalism whichever imperialism it looks to for succor. There is no doubt that the people of Ukraine increasingly realise that the far right who claim to be on their side are an obstacle to such a perspective and obstacle to the national democratic revolution and to self-determination for the whole of Ukraine. They are increasingly being marginalised. Poroshenko on the other hand negotiates with the pro-Russian militias and Putin for the division of Ukraine. He hampers the task at hand. His billions should be appropriated to pay for the weapons needed to smash the `Donetsk Commune’ or more properly called the Nazi Nest.

    Comment by David Ellis — September 23, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  18. `This is why you’re completely uncritical of the worst sort of Ukrainian nationalists; those who torch anti-facists, bomb civilians and are willing to risk a European war for their own selfish interests.’

    Every word out of your mouth is a filthy lie you Stalinist degenerate.

    Comment by davidellis987 — September 23, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  19. The fact that the word “Nazi” has been thrown around in this conflict more than it probably was in the Second World War, what does that indicate?

    1.) There are Nazis on one, more sides? Certainly they exist. But the pro-Russian side, that Ukraine is the vanguard of the Fourth Reich that is NATO seems a bit stretched.

    2.) Or does it mean neither side is fighting for anything they really want to talk about? If the only reason you can say you’re fighting someone is that “they’re Nazis,” don’t you become a bit like Bush in Iraq? Aren’t you trying to mask your real goals (whatever they are)?

    Comment by srogouski — September 23, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  20. Wouldn’t you concede at the very least that this is a conflict between nationalisms, and that US aid to one or another side does little to yield a progressive outcome?

    As I pointed out already in a reply to another comment, the dominant impulse of Euromaidan was not nationalist but anti-oligarchic. Privy Sektor and Svoboda were not the ideological expression of the revolt but simply well-organized groups that functioned as street fighters. The opportunity to deepen the struggle against the oligarchs was lost when the separatists seized government buildings and began functioning as an autonomous power. That led to a bloody confrontation that has heightened ethnic divisions. To repeat myself, that was exactly the strategy of the anti-Euromaidan forces, to become the advance guard of a Novorossiya movement that has existed for decades now and that is now victorious as a result of Russian military might.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 23, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

  21. [T]here is an authentic Russian nationalism in the east of Ukraine driving the separatist movement….

    There are or have been authentic nationalisms in many places where no nation-state now exists or is even possible.

    Why are the Scots now considered the only true natives of Scotland? The extinction of the Brythonic-speaking Picts in what is now all-Gaelic Scotland came four or five centuries after the Anglo-Saxons allegedly stole Britain from the Britons.

    Aren’t the Scots too mere immigrants, nation-killers, oppressors, and murderers?

    National identity and national feeling are one thing. A national state is something quite different.

    The history of the world is the story of annihilated nations. There will never be justice for most of them.

    The current of revolution–thanks to the contradictory nature of historical change–may flow through some struggles for national identity, but it does not flow through all of them..

    If it did, we would all have massacres in our guts and war between our eyeballs.

    If there’s a right side in Ukraine, it won’t be determined by “authentic … nationalism.”

    Comment by Pete Glosser — September 23, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

  22. re: ” the dominant impulse of Euromaidan was not nationalist but anti-oligarchic. Privy Sektor and Svoboda were not the ideological expression of the revolt but simply well-organized groups that functioned as street fighters”

    That certainly is the crux of the issue. Does anybody really know? Was there ever a consensus, or was there an emerging point of view that developed over time and eventually got hijacked by the oligarchs.

    I became *very* skeptical of a lot of people when they started pounded the “Euromaidan is Nazi and created out of thin air by the United States” line even before anybody knew what was going on. It seemed like a precooked line of propaganda.

    But I don’t see the Ukrainian government now as anything more than another gang of oligarchs. Why support it against Putin? Why not “a pox on both your houses?”

    Comment by srogouski — September 23, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

  23. I see that Proyect doesn’t want to discuss the issue of people in the East having no democratic rights. I think this shows where he is coming from, not far from the lunatic David Ellis. Whose words speak for themselves.

    Maybe he gets the job as Proyect’s Ukraine expert?

    We already have Les Evenchick as special adviser on Syria. Quite a team you are putting together!

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 23, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

  24. “Putin’s gambit (and it was just as much his as the Donetsk separatists) was to militarize the situation in Ukraine in order to precipitate a situation in which nationality trumped class. His main worry was that a Euromaidan spirit of rebellion would eventually penetrate Russia and threaten his own oligarchic rule.”

    Yes, this is it, and it is sad that some European and US leftists haven’t recognized it. And it still might happen, especially if participants in Euromaidan catch on to what the EU and the IMF have planned for the Ukraine. Some already have.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 23, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  25. Talking of Syria here is the opening paragraph of a statement on the conflict which I think is a chemically pure example of the neo-Stalinist world view and method:

    `No to US airstrikes on Syria and Iraq!
    All support to popular movements in Syria and Iraq!

    A statement by Syrian Revolution Bases of Support

    As the US once more beats the drums for its “war on terror” we affirm our
    opposition to US/coalition airstrikes on Syria and Iraq. Such imperialist
    intervention will only lead to propping up the sectarian occupation regime
    in Iraq and the genocidal Assad regime in Syria. It will further pave the
    way for expanding US economic and strategic interests in the region (namely
    exploiting resources and supporting the Zionist State).’

    This is pure crap. Will they be confirming their opposition to these airstrikes by marching shoulder to shoulder with the IS butchers outside various embassies? These airstrikes are an objective fact and it is beholden on the forces for national democratic revolution in Syria to take advantage of them to retake lost liberated territory. Nowhere is it written that these airstrkes will automatically benefit Assad. That will only happen if the pseudo left are going around worrying about airstrikes instead of the revolution. The airstrikes will degrade the fascist IS’s ability to function. Good. In addition nowhere is it written that Marxists are everywhere and always opposed to imperialist intervention. Whilst we do not advocate it we do not necessarily oppose it and sometimes we might even facilitate it (see Trotsky’s example of striking dockworkers in a fascist state). Ironically most of these neo-Stalinists would have been screaming in the 30s for the `democracies’ to help Spain or in the 40s demanding that the allies open a second front in support of the Soviet Union.

    Comment by David Ellis — September 24, 2014 @ 10:24 am

  26. “in order to precipitate a situation in which nationality trumped class”

    A more profound level of bullshit it is hard to imagine

    Comment by Simon Provertier — September 24, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

  27. Provertier, bye-bye.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 24, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  28. @ #6: “Did Lenin ask for US aid when Russia was invaded?”

    That’s rich since the US was practically leading the invasion after the October Revolution! They sent in 13,000 of the most well equipped troops the world had ever known with the aim of crushing the Bolshevik Revolution.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 25, 2014 @ 6:33 pm

  29. This is what your Ukranian friends are doing in the Ukraine to set us on the road to socialism:

    http://rt.com/news/191360-ukraine-lenin-monument-down

    Comment by Adelson — September 29, 2014 @ 6:54 pm

  30. Adelson, you don’t get it. Those Lenin statues don’t date from the 1920s prior to Stalin. They are recent artifacts that have about as much to do with socialism as National Socialism. They were symbols of Soviet domination and nothing else. Lenin gave strict instructions that he not be deified after his death. The first violation of his instructions was the mausoleum that smacked more of Roman Catholic relics that a living revolutionary movement.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 29, 2014 @ 8:57 pm

  31. Ukraine is not a “victim of imperialism”. It is a war fought between two clans of gangsters for the control of territory and resources. Both Ukraine and Russia are not capitalist states, but contradictory in nature. Same goes for Putin, he is a contradictory figure, not an outright “enemy of the working class”. For example, his popularity among the Russians – how do you explain it?

    Comment by star — April 4, 2017 @ 7:09 am


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