Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 27, 2015

From Serhii Mazlakh and Vasyl’ Shakrai’s “The Ukrainian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)”

Filed under: Ukraine — louisproyect @ 6:22 pm

The surge of national consciousness and the intense will for a free, sovereign, and independent life revealed by the Ukrainian revolutionary national movement completely preclude the very thought of the Ukraine’s return to the status of a colony of some other power. Sooner or later, through the difficult and bloody course of armed conflict or through agreement—the democratic way of resolving issues in dispute between neighboring countries—the Ukraine will be independent and sovereign not only in words but in reality. Either as the result of an extended diplomatic and armed struggle, by maneuvering among states, or through the revolutionary activity of its worker-peasant masses, the Ukraine will become independent. At best, the Ukraine will become completely free in the very near future thanks to the activity and consciousness of its national masses, and the more rapidly and fully this goal is reached the better it will be for the Ukraine and her neighbors. There will be fewer national quarrels and less hostility; the further progress of the Ukraine’s economic, political, social, cultural, and spiritual life will be easier, and the Ukraine’s contribution to the treasury of world culture will be greater. And on the other hand, the less strength and activity it manifests in the near future, the more drawn out is the independence process, the more the Ukraine has to rely on diplomacy or on external assistance—the longer will she remain in the morbid condition of an unsolved national question, and the more the poison of national hostility, quarrels, and incitement will hinder socioeconomic, socio-political, and spiritual-cultural progress. Revolutions not only reveal deeper springs and forces, not only reject all that is superficial and conventional, they are also the locomotives of history. Days in a revolutionary era are the equivalent of decades in more peaceful periods. What demands many long years in a peaceful era may be attained in a few months in a revolution. And just as steel is tempered in the conflagration of revolution, so peaceful development often rusts and corrodes it. If the Ukrainian national question is not settled now, during the revolutionary era, if it is handed on to posterity, like rust it will corrode the socioeconomic and cultural-political development of the Ukraine and its neighbors.

That is why it is so important that all the forces presently contending in the Ukraine, and because of the Ukraine, realize fully the importance of this decisive moment in history. This is especially true for the relations between the Ukraine and Russia. Many socio-economic and cultural-spiritual links have been forged during the two and a half centuries of the Ukraine’s confinement within the boundaries of tsarist and autocratic Russia, but, at the same time, so much filth has collected on these links that they have lost their elasticity and become stiff, incapable of bending with the turns of history. They crack and break, and the break is not clean; rails, beams, and ties point in different directions and intermingle in the most monstrous ways. This process is very painful for both sides of the break: rails and beams wound people; rocks, cement, and coal cover people; dust and chips are thrown in their faces, blinding them; and the crackling and roaring deafens them.

Instead of clearing away individual rails and beams and wasting energy attaching supports to walls which may fall in today or tomorrow, it is better to clear out the whole place, removing the old and installing new rafters.

The sooner this fact is realized, and the more clearly, the better it will be. Soviet Russia should realize this before all others. C. Rakovski spoke the truth when he said that the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic is the heir to the Russian Empire. But the conclusion to be drawn from this is diametrically opposed to the one reached by C. Rakovski at the peace conference.8 It should not be forgotten that Soviet Russia inherited not only a great state but also a lot of rottenness and dirt. One should inspect one’s acquisitions with care; historical experience makes clear that some inheritances should be renounced in order not to ruin completely the possessions acquired through one’s own efforts. Such is the case of the Ukraine. One should forget about the former Southern Russia and remember that the Ukraine rose in its place, forget about the former colony and remember that it is now a sovereign independent country—if not im Sein then im Werden—forget that workers came from Central Russia to work in the Donets Basin and will continue to come in the future, forget about the 2,100,000 Russians living among the 16,500,000 Ukrainians and about the need, for their sake, to regain the birthright. Relations with the Ukraine must find a new set of foundations; they must be based on a real and alive—not a verbal—international unity. It is time to abandon the various scientific investigations demonstrating how insignificant are the ethnographic differences be-tween Ukrainians and Russians, time to forget Valuevism, Stolypinism, and Mymretsovism, time to acknowledge sincerely the right of nations to self-determination, time, in short, to face the facts. It is time to implement Article 5 of the Resolution of the 1913 Summer Conference and reach the appropriate conclusion: either one way or the other. And this conclusion must be reached without fearing that others will differ. Forget about the pottage of lentils, sugar, coal, iron, or grain. These will take care of themselves. And when this is done you will have such an ally as cannot be acquired from any kind of one and indivisible.

The Ukrainian workers and peasants should also come to their senses. In the first place, this will help the Russian workers and peasants to their senses and, second, as the proverb states: Heaven helps those who help themselves.

 

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for this. It’s very persuasive, and prescient. I don’t entirely take back the comment I posted earlier but it’s clear I need to think a bit more about things. The analogy with Ireland probably makes sense. I still feel as if a noble sentiment (Ukrainians’ desire for self-determination) has been canalised into something hopeless.

    Comment by j — February 27, 2015 @ 8:52 pm


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