Alec Callinicos and French Communist Party on the Ukraine.
US State Secretary lays flowers to Ukraine’s heroes from the Heavenly Hundred on March 4 in Kyiv.
Russia’s seizure of military control over Crimea has brought Ukraine to the brink of war. This crisis represents the coming together of three distinct conflicts.
First, there is the struggle that has been going on for more than a decade among the corrupt and thuggish bunch of oligarchs who have dominated Ukraine since independence in 1991.
Secondly, there has been a genuine popular movement against the now exiled president, Viktor Yanukovych. This has expressed anger at the corruption of the entire political elite in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, this movement harbours illusions in the European Union (EU). Moreover, thanks to the historic weakness of the left in Ukraine, the far right has played a significant role in the “Euromaidan” occupation in Kiev.
Nevertheless, those who claim Yanukovych’s overthrow was a “fascist coup” are parroting Moscow propaganda. He fell because the section of the oligarchy who had previously backed him withdrew their support.
Third, and now most important, is the inter-imperialist rivalry between Russia and the West over Ukraine. In this conflict, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than it does to the United States or the EU.
A Ukraine that was fully integrated into the EU and Nato would be a step towards Moscow’s worst nightmare of being encircled by the West. President Vladimir Putin went to war with Georgia in 2008 to prevent this nightmare being realised.
“Putin is engaging in an inter-imperialist power play.”
“Socialists in the West must of course oppose any military intervention by the US or NATO in Ukraine. But the crisis reminds us that imperialism can’t be reduced to American domination. It is a system of economic and geopolitical competition among the leading capitalist powers.
Rather than tail any of these powers, we must fight this entire system. This means opposing Russian intervention in Ukraine. Never has the slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism” been more relevant.”
This is a seriously thought-out analysis and, despite all the temptations to contradict the SWP, many of us will agree with comrade Callinicos.
The Stop the War Coalition says some of the same things.
This is highly relevant.
We should also take no lessons from those who have supported intervention in the past in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and who proposed major air strikes in Syria as recently as last August. Nor should we believe concerns about national sovereignty from countries which have launched drone attacks on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
There are many political differences in Ukraine that can only be resolved politically and by respecting the language and civil rights of all concerned. But the background to this lies far beyond the borders of the Ukraine in terms of conflict between major powers.
The expansion of the EU and Nato eastwards has led to the growth of a neoliberal and militarised agenda in the region.
We disagree with this to the extent that it tilts towards exonerating Putin and other Russian leaders from their own responsibility for the crisis.
But, to those who do not instinctively bristle at the lectures on democracy given by American and European politicians,not to mention the show of U.S. support for Ukraine’s new leadership, Secretary of State John Kerry, we observe.
- Has the US “freedom agenda” achieved stable political liberty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?
- Did the US’s support for the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution”(2004 -5) create a solid democratic foundation for the country?
How have others on the left reacted to the issues the Ukraine face-to-face raises?
James Bloodworth provides a summary of the position of British left groups on Shiraz Socialist.
It would appear that few organised groups (apart from the Communist Party of Britain) hold the idea that the Ukraine has undergone a “fascist coup.”
James manages to find some statements by individuals, such as the flatulent Gorge Galloway, who rave against the “fascist and ultra nationalist coup in Kiev”.
But is this (Left Unity) part of making a “moral equivalence” between unwanted Russian military intervention in Ukraine and economic assistance requested by the Ukrainian government to support its ailing economy”?
Left Unity takes the position that there can only be a political solution to this crisis and that neither foreign military intervention nor foreign political and economic intervention provide the answers to Ukraine’s complex problems.
Whether under the flag of US, NATO, Russia or the European Union, military intervention only ever makes the situation many times worse. So it is in Ukraine. The West’s hypocrisy in condemning Russia for breaking international law is breathtaking: nevertheless, Russian troops hold no solution to the crisis.
A different reading would suggest that this about right. That there is no “political solution” worthy of support that encourages further steps on the neo-liberal road. Plans for drastic austerity in the Ukraine tend to demonstrate Left Unity’s point. It would be said that this is a position which represents the majority of the Left.
The majority of the left’s generally even-handed position contrasts with the hysteria whipped up by intellectuals such as Timothy Synder (Moscow is in thrall to a far-right Eurasian ideology), Anne Applebaum (Russia heads a new conservative International ) and Bernard-Henri Lévy (Putin is playing a Sudetenland over the Ukraine).
It is interesting that comrade Callinicos’ own even-handed stand has received a warm welcome from members of the Novueau Parti anticaptialiste (NPA). (Forum des marxistes révolutionnaires)
Their party has inclined to the opposite error: too great enthusiasm for the new government in Kiev and too much emphasis on the faults of Russia’s leaders in creating the crisis.
The French Communist Party has launched a declaration “Solidarité avec les communistes ukrainiens” against the country’s far-right – which has attacked their members and offices.
The PCF also declares in a formal statement,
For the last three months the Ukraine has been ablaze with a mercilessness struggle for power between oligarchs, all as corrupt and venal as each other, and who have been made wealthy thanks to neo-liberal policies backed as much by the European Union as by Russia.
The European Union, Russia, the USA – via NATO, or directly – have been engaged in outbidding each others, threatening the us of force, or military escalation. The Ukrainian people have been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The French Communists warn of the danger of “groupes néo-nazis.” But they empathise that the need now is for all for immediate measures to be taken in the Ukraine to ensure that the people of the country take their own destiny in hand.
They call for an end to the “Logic of war” and the cynical “tête-à-tête” between the West and Russia.
It’s hard not to agree.