divendres, 7 de març de 2014

Notes on the Ukrainian puzzle

This is a translation of an article written for enlucha.org. Original in Spanish. Version in Catalan

1. The core of the conflict is a dispute between pro European and pro Russian oligarchs. The principled left can not support either of these factions.

2. Also at stake are the interests of Russia on the one hand and the European Union and USA on the other. The principled left can not support any of these imperialist powers.

3. That said, many of the people who stood up to the brutal riot police, the Berkut, in Kiev and other cities were fighting against the Yanukovich government because they’d had enough of poverty, inequality, authoritarianism…

4. However, the leadership of the protests fell increasingly into the hands of the right and the far right. The parliamentary opposition was made up of three right-wing parties, one of them the disguised fascist party, Svoboda. The open Nazis, although a minority, played a key role in the square; they also violently expelled left groups from Maidan.

5. Consequently, the main beneficiaries of Yanukovich’s departure were the right. Above all, the fascists have gained influence: Svoboda has taken the post of Vice Prime Minister and other ministries; Nazi groups like Pravy Sektor, previously small and marginal, are now seen as heroes by many in the opposition.

6. Given that Euromaidan was far from expressing the interests of the working class, it is sad, but hardly surprising, that this class is now divided: a large part of it follows one or another sector of the oligarchy.

7. Russia is taking advantage of the situation to try to take control of Crimea. So far, there isn’t open war, but no one can deny that this is an imperialist intervention. Nobody on the left should justify Putin. The executioners of Chechnya can’t present themselves as the defenders of national minorities in Ukraine. Russia’s intervention will only bring more suffering to the population and strengthen right-wing nationalism in Ukraine.

8. On the other hand, the new regime in Kiev — which includes fascists; which came to power thanks to the neo-Nazi gangs; and one of whose first moves was to overturn a law that recognised non-Ukrainian languages — is not in a position to denounce Russian aggression. Furthermore, if right wing Ukrainian nationalism was unable to unite all the ordinary people of the country during the protests, there is no reason to think that it can do so now.

9. The European Union and USA talk of taking measures against Russia. Before doing so, they should withdraw their troops from the Middle East and Africa; they should impose sanctions on Israel for its aggression against the Palestinian people; they should put Bush, Blair and Aznar on trial… Since they do none of these things, their criticisms of Russia are clearly nothing but hypocrisy.

10. The internationalist left in Europe may have little ability to influence matters, but at least we must know which side we are on, and offer our solidarity.

11. We should stand in solidarity, firstly, with the working people of Ukraine. Some of them supported the Euromaidan, but the fascists took advantage of that movement and now participate in a government that offers no solutions to the country’s social problems. That section of the working class movement that distanced itself from the movement now sees how Russia tries to use them and, of course, Putin will not solve their problems. The only solution is for them to stop supporting one or other faction of the billionaires, and to fight for their own interests as a class.

12. In this, a powerful internationalist left in Ukraine could play an important role, but this does not exist. However, there are small left groups — anarchists, Marxists… — trying to offer alternatives. They deserve all our support and solidarity. We must also give our full support to the nascent antiwar movement in Russia; they, and not the authoritarian and homophobic Putin, are our counterparts in that country.

13. Concerning possible protests in the West against Russia’s entry into Ukraine, great caution will be required. Here, we cannot mobilise against Russian aggression without making clear that we oppose the presence of fascists in the Ukrainian government, and also that we oppose any foreign interference, not only that of Russia. Otherwise, such protests could act as a justification of the Kiev regime, and in the worst case, as an excuse for Western intervention. An important element of a left response here should be denouncing the collaboration of the EU and the USA with Ukrainian fascists. On the other hand, it would be hypocritical to denounce fascism in Kiev without also denouncing the fascists that support or even participate in the Russian aggression.

14. All of this confirms the importance of having a strong internationalist left, one that is based on democracy and power from below, not on supporting one or another enemy of working people. The old slogan is more valid now than ever: Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism!