Ukraine: Where does the Left Stand?
‘Right-Sector’ in Ukraine.
The conflict in Ukraine is too serious to make facile judgements.
Apart from condemning state and all brutality what can we offer?
The left in Europe cannot honestly say that they have an answer.
The ingrained tendency to play fantasy Premier league political football in these conditions has so far not been much in evidence.
True the Nouveau Parti anticaptialiste has published an interview titled, describing the crisis as “Une révolte de masse d’Ukrainiens pour la démocratie»
But the information in the NPA piece belies the headline.
Zakhar Popovych represents a small group, Left Opposition. It has published a Manifesto,
“Our hope is that the protest movement, spurred to action by social injustice, might ultimately eradicate the root causes of this injustice. We believe that the cause of most social problems is the oligarchy that formed as a result of unbridled capitalism and corruption. It is important to limit the egotistic interests of our oligarchs, instead of relying on the help of Russia or the IMF, with the consequent national dependence. We believe that it is harmful to add our voices to the demands for Euro-integration; instead, we need to clearly delineate the changes necessary to support the interests of ordinary citizens, especially hired labourers. On several occasions, we cite the progressive experiences of a few European states that have taken similar measures.”
But the representative of the group, interviewed by the NPA, admits that the far-right and nationalists have effectively corned them. He underlines the presence of the neo-Nazis. Hard-right groups are leading the battles. Nobody else gives much evidence of a left presence in the protests.
An autonomist site (Timothy Eastman) carries this information,
Sascha: There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis. They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.
Mira: The two biggest groups are Svoboda and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector). The defense forces aren’t 100% Pravy but a large percentage is.
S: Svoboda is more legal as a group, but they also have an illegal militant faction. Pravy Sektor is more illegal, but they want to usurp Svoboda.
M: There’s a lot of infighting between Pravy and Svoboda. They worked together during the violence but now everything is calm so there’s time to focus on each other. Pravy and Svoboda both take donations and they have lots of money. Recently Pravy has all these new uniforms, military fatigues.
One of the worst things is that Pravy has this official structure. They are coordinated. You need passes to go certain places. They have the power to give or not give people permission to be active. We’re trying to be active but we have to avoid Nazis, and I’m not going to ask a Nazi for permission!
S: A group of 100 anarchists tried to arrange their own self-defense group, different Anarchist groups came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists. There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult. The Anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated.
S: Nazi groups are also trying to mimic leftists, to try to ingratiate themselves. They use anarchist vocabulary, words like “autonomous.” One group of the ugliest Nazis is now doing this by calling themselves “Autonomous Resistance.” They’ve had lots of success with this tactic.
They attract some Anarchists who think they’re changing the Nazis, but really the Nazis are changing them.” They’re becoming more nationalistic, they have more more anti-feminist views, etc. Now is when Anarchists need to speak out and be louder.
Two symbols that could be found at EuroMaidan. The Celtic Cross (l) is a common symbol representing white supremacy. The Wolfsangel(r) was a symbol used by several divisions of the SS during World War II and now represents Neo-Nazism.
S: There’s a whole spectrum of Nationalists represented. They divide themselves into groups with their own symbols. They want support so they don’t use Nazi or fascist symbols so much. They use symbols that are recognizable to other fascistic people, but look innocuous to anyone else. For example there is a special eagle symbol. It’s drawn a certain way, it doesn’t look like anything unless you know the meaning.
No one has any idea how this could turn out, what form a new government could take. The fascist groups don’t have common aims, they know what they’re opposed to, and that they’re opposed to each other, but they don’t all want the same things. If Pravy has positions in a new government that would be really dangerous but that isn’t possible, they aren’t powerful enough.
M: People have these chants: “Glory Ukraine,” “Glory to Heroes,” “Death to Enemies.” But who are these heroes, who are these enemies? I don’t think they have any idea. “Ukraine Above All” is one, just like they used to chant in Germany.
Perhaps the last word should go to Zakhar Popovych,
” Malheureusement le scénario le plus probable est la mise en place d’un régime de droite, autoritaire et nationaliste.”
Unfortunately the most probable scenario is that a right-wing nationalist and authoritarian regime will be placed in power.
Updates: This article claims to refute evidence that there is a fascist component (it describes this as ‘fringe’) in the Ukrainian movement. KYIV’S EUROMAIDAN IS A LIBERATIONIST AND NOT EXTREMIST MASS ACTION OF CIVIC DISOBEDIENCE.
No doubt there are many political forces in play in the Ukrainian movements. It would have been more convincing if it did not make such an exaggerated claim about the “liberation” goals of the protest, and addressed the actual nature of a key political force (and party), Svoboda.
On this see l’Humanité “Ukraine: le parti Svoboda est fasciste”.