Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Delegation from the European Network of Solidarity with Ukraine Visits Lviv

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A Ukrainian Correspondent Yuliya Yurchenko – https://www.facebook.com/yuli.yu2010 – reports on a delegation of left wing parties that is visiting Ukraine.

May 5 and 6 2022 : A conference dedicated to the construction of the European Network of Solidarity with Ukraine was held in Lviv.

Words of support were expressed by representatives from Denmark (Red-Green Alliance), Poland (Lewica Razem), Finland (Left Union), France (New Anticapitalist Party, Ensemble), Switzerland (Ensemble à Gauche) and Argentina (Left Front Workers – Unity FIT-U ), as well as an activists from the UK, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Belgium.

Reports from the Ukrainian side were presented by representatives of leading trade unions (medical, railway, mining, energy and other sectors), as well as public initiatives (including feminist, ecological, human rights). Attention was given to the threats of neoliberal reforms and the war of humanitarian problems.

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“Four points on the war in Ukraine” – Murray Smith

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Murray Smith writes a very useful review of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 2022. Some readers of this blog may not agree with parts of the historical analysis, and that is healthy. Debate on such issues is positive, and there is no need to impose a “political line”. For example, Smith’s article contains an implied criticism of the neutrality policy chosen by the southern partitioned bit of Ireland during World War 2. That said, anti-war activists living outside Ukraine today have a duty – an emergency duty – to unite in action around clear and unambiguous practical solidarity policies. Article Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article62344

Murray Smith is a member of the leadership of déi Lénk (“The Left”) in Luxembourg and is one of its representatives on the Executive Board of the Party of the European Left. Information Source : https://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?auteur11

Two parts of Murray Smith’s analysis deserve emphasis :

Number 1 :

We must insist on the nature of the war in Ukraine. What started the war was the Russian invasion, not NATO. This is a war of national defence of Ukraine in response to this invasion. And it’s a war of the whole people, not just the army bit the territorial defence units, and the trade unions in particular. So, no revolutionary defeatism on both sides, only on the Russian side. Ukrainian side, national defense. And for internationalists in other countries, solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance and the anti-war movement in Russia. And especially with leftist, political, trade union and feminist forces in both countries.

Number 2 :

The fact that Ukraine obtains weapons from NATO countries and elsewhere does not fundamentally change this. In a war situation you find weapons where you can. The Irish rebels in 1916 to Germany to seek arms. Countries threatened by the United States turn to Russia. And Ukrainians look above all to NATO. This does not change the nature of the Russian war in Ukraine. And even if the conflict were to spread, it would not change its fundamental nature. Any analysis that reduces the war in Ukraine to just one facet of an inter-imperialist conflict only serves to weaken solidarity with Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine which began on February 24 is not only the biggest armed conflict in Europe since 1945. It is the first attempt of this magnitude to redraw the map of Europe by force. And it is on the initiative of Russian imperialism, not second-rank powers like Turkey or Serbia. It is too early to learn all the lessons and see all the consequences. But we can already say that nothing has happened as Russia had envisioned. We will not list here the weaknesses and mistakes on the Russian side. But the fundamental factor that thwarted Putin’s calculations was the strength of the Ukrainian resistance

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“Ukrainian town fights off Russians and faces down hospital bombing” – Remember that name – Bashtanka.

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Introductory Note :

Daniel McLaughlin is an old-fashioned war-correspondent, who writes for the Irish Times. This report, published on Saturday April 30 2022, illustrates very vividly the real nature of the current war in Europe, the most dangerous conflict on the continent since World War 2.

This is a war of Ukrainian national liberation against a far-right ethnic-cleansing imperialist state headed by Vladimir Putin. The residents of Bashtanka, in the words of the town’s mayor, Aleksandr Berehovyi, decided to fight because “we had no choice”.

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Evasions on the Left Over Ukraine – Conor Kostick, Independent Left (Ireland)

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This is a strongly recommended article. The author is an experienced anti-war activist, an Irish historian and writer living in Dublin. He is the author of many works of history and fiction.. For more information read the information at this link : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conor_Kostick?wprov=sfti1. https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/ Some of Conor’s political writings are here : https://www.leftarchive.ie/people/2778/

Wars are not light topics that can be dispensed of with simple formulas. I, for one, cannot imagine how the success of Russia would further the cause of democracy and socialism around the world. If you do, then say so, openly, so it can be debated in public. But don’t falsify tradition and history and hide behind pathetic slogans. To paraphrase Marx, we Marxists disdain to conceal our views and aims.

John Ganz, Ben Burgis’s Bad History: Jacobin’s anti-Jacobins

There is a type of left argument around the war in Ukraine which has arisen in the West. It is one that condemns Putin’s invasion, but refuses to offer practical support to the people of Ukraine in resisting that invasion. It is the position one can read in Jacobin, or in statements by Chomsky, Corbyn, and the Stop the War Coalition in the UK. In Ireland we have the same type of response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine from People Before Profit and the Socialist Party of Ireland.

I will use the label Evasionist Left for this approach. It’s not clear how representative this trend is internationally, as many on the left do pro-actively support the resistance in Ukraine, e.g. parties such Razem in Poland; those associated with the Fourth International like Left Bloc and the Danish Red Green Alliance; and the main left party in Japan, the Japanese Communist Party.

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From Managed Democracy to Fascism – Putin’s Imposition of Obedience and Order on Russian Society. – Ilya Budraitskis

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Many western left-wing anti-war activists catastrophically underestimate the far-right ethnic-cleansing and imperialist régime of Vladimir Putin – a régime which promotes huge far-right forces in the European continent such as Marine Le Pen (France) AFD (Germany) Salvini (Italy) – just naming a few. In general, such leftists wildly exaggerate the far-right in Ukraine, make absurd claims that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an inter-imperialist war, and blame NATO for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Popular resistance to the Russian invasion is deemed OK, provided the Ukrainian masses do not use weapons. Meanwhile Putin’s ethnic-cleansing army, which is NATO’s number one recruiting sergeant, implements a plan to dissolve the Ukrainian nation – just like, for example, Israel committed a genocide of the Palestinian people in the late 1940’s. It is necessary to engage with the left in Eastern Europe, which shines a light on the far-right reality of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In Ireland we can respond to this with effective focused solidarity actions directed against the Russian invasion – demanding, for example, the expulsion from Ireland of the Russian Ambassador Yuri Filatov.

John Meehan April 25 2020

Ilya Budraitskis is the author of Dissidents Among Dissidents: Ideology, Politics, and the Left in Post-Soviet Russia. He writes regularly on politics, art, film, and philosophy for e-flux journal, openDemocracy, Jacobin and other outlets. He teaches at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and the Institute of Contemporary Art Moscow. Article Source https://www.tempestmag.org/.

From Managed Democracy to Fascism

Putin’s Imposition of Obedience and Order on Russian Society.


by Ilya Budraitskis

In the aftermath of its invasion of Ukraine, Ilya Budraitskis describes Russia as evolving to a new form of fascism. What had been a “managed democracy” with limited personal freedoms, has become a society and polity which requires unequivocal acceptance of the Ukraine invasion and treats any sign of deviation as treason. The article first appeared in German in Die Wochenzeitung, under the title, “Gruseliges Vorzeichen einer möglichen Zukunft.”

A Russian flashmob in the form of a letter "Z".
Flash mob at the Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk on 11 March 2022, organized by the Central District Management Committee and the United Russia party as part of the “We don’t abandon our own” (Своих Не Бросаем) campaign. Attendees including Young Guard of United Russia members and local residents arrange themselves in “Z” symbol formation. Photo by the City of Khabarovsk.

In just a month and a half since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Putin’s Russia has entered a new period in its history. The authoritarian regime built over the last twenty years, despite ever-increasing repression, has until recently allowed the existence of limited freedom of speech, party struggle within a so-called “managed democracy,” and most importantly, the right for private life. The latter was a key element in the permanent depoliticization of Russian society: you might be unenthusiastic about government decisions or presidential rhetoric, but you always had a safe haven from “politics” in your daily business or your family circle. Today, with the letter Z, which has become almost an official grim symbol of the invasion of Ukraine, adorning the windows of public transport, schools and hospitals, the cosy space of private life has lost its right to exist.

The regime now requires unequivocal public acceptance of the war from every citizen. Any sign of deviation from this civic duty is condemned as treason, and any dissemination of information about the war other than official Defence Ministry briefs is treated as a crime. Since the war began, dozens of Russians – young and old, residents of Moscow and provincial towns – have been charged with new criminal offences of “discrediting the Russian army.” Not only going into a square with an anti-war poster, but even a pacifist badge on a backpack or a careless comment in the workplace can be grounds for arrest or a huge financial fine. The persecution of dissidents is gradually becoming not only a matter for the police, but also for “vigilantes” who are prepared to write a denunciation about a neighbour or a colleague. All this does not mean, however, that mass nationalist fanaticism has taken the place of depoliticization – on the contrary, propaganda and repression remain the exclusive monopoly of the state.[A]fter thirty years of post-Soviet authoritarianism and neoliberal market reforms, [Russian society] has consistently been reduced to a state of silent victimhood, a malleable material from which a full-fledged fascist regime can be built.

Support for the war is strictly controlled from above and does not allow for any form of self-organisation. For example, the authorities have banned right-wing radicals from organising independent marches in solidarity with the Russian army – such actions can only be carried out by local authorities according to a uniform script approved by the presidential administration from Moscow. Backing for the war can only come in the form of backing for Putin; it must reflect the complete identity of the national leader and his people, and nothing else. Anyone who is not prepared to do so is defined as an abettor of the “Nazis.” This maniacal fixation of official propaganda on the terms “denazification” and “Nazism” seems as if it specifically suggests the right definitions for the changed nature of Putin’s regime.

I think it can already be stated that today’s political regime in Russia is rapidly evolving towards a new form of fascism – the fascism of the twenty-first century. But what are its characteristics? What are its similarities and differences from the European fascism of the first half of the previous century?

A huge body of historical and philosophical literature on fascism of the past has provided a variety of answers about the nature of this phenomenon. I would focus on two largely opposing approaches, one of which can be described as a theory of “movement” and the other as a theory of “move.” The first approach (by historians such as Ernst Nolte, for example) saw fascism primarily as a mass movement aimed at suppressing a revolutionary threat from outside the state, which was too weak to protect the rule of the ruling elite. According to this approach, the fascist movement broke the state’s monopoly on violence against political opponents and then, once in power, transformed that state from within. The fascist regimes in Italy and Germany were, therefore, primarily movements that radically transformed the state and gave it a form of its own.

The second approach, by contrast, viewed fascism primarily as a top-down coup by the ruling classes themselves. This position was most clearly expressed by the sociologist Karl Polanyi, who saw in fascism an aspiration for the final victory of capitalist logic over any form of self-organisation and solidarity in society. The aim of fascism, according to Polanyi, was the complete social atomization and the dissolution of the individual into the machine of production. Fascism was thus something more profound than a reaction to the danger of revolutionary anti-capitalist movements from below – it was inextricably linked to the final establishment of the domination of the economy over society. Its goal was not only to destroy workers’ parties, but any element of democratic control from below in general.Flash mob at the Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk on 11 March 2022, organized by the Central District Management Committee and the United Russia party as part of the “We don’t abandon our own” (Своих Не Бросаем) campaign. Attendees including Young Guard of United Russia members and local residents arrange themselves in “Z” symbol formation. Photo by the City of Khabarovsk.

Modern fascism (or, as the historian Enzo Traverso defined it, post-fascism) no longer needs mass movements or a more or less coherent ideology. It seeks to affirm social inequality and the subordination of the lower classes to the higher classes as unconditional as the only possible reality and the only credible law of society.

Russian society, after thirty years of post-Soviet authoritarianism and neoliberal market reforms, has consistently been reduced to a state of silent victimhood, a malleable material from which a full-fledged fascist regime can be built. External aggression, based on the complete dehumanisation of the enemy (“Nazis” and “non-humans,” as Putin’s official propaganda puts it), was the decisive moment in the “move” made from above. Of course, the Russian regime has its own unique features and was produced by a complex combination of specific historical circumstances. However, it is very important to understand that Putin’s fascism is not an anomaly, a deviation from “normal” development – including in Western societies.

Putinism is a frightening sign of a possible future to which extreme right-wing parties striving for power in various European countries could lead. In order to fight for a different future, we all need to reconsider the very foundations of the capitalist logic, which is quietly but persistently preparing the ground for a “move” from the top, which could happen in a heartbeat. The old and somewhat forgotten dilemma of Rosa Luxemburg, “socialism or barbarism,” has become an urgent reality for Russia and for the world since the fateful morning of the 24th of February.

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Should socialists support or oppose NATO arms to Ukraine?

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Joan McKiernan and numerous other comrades recommended this article. The Easter 1916 Rising of Ireland, led by revolutionary Marxist martyr James Connolly and his revolutionary nationalist Allie’s of the Irish Volunteers, could not have happened without using weapons supplied by German Imperialism. A guiding slogan of Connolly’s Irish Citizens’ Army was “We Serve Neither King Nor Kaiser”. John Reimann’s policy is endorsed by many clear-thinking socialists including the Fourth International https://fourth.international/en. Get involved in Ukraine Solidarity initiatives http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article61759

By John Reimann, a US Marxist and retired union militant, who blogs at Oakland Socialist: See also https://shirazsocialism.wordpress.com/2022/04/16/should-socialists-support-or-oppose-nato-arms-to-ukraine/

Today the majority of socialists in the West argue that it is our duty to oppose “our” government’s sending arms to Ukraine. They equate the situation today with that at the start of WW I. At that time, almost all socialists supported their “own” capitalists in sending their workers to that imperialist slaughter in the interests of their “own” imperialists. By doing so, those socialists not only betrayed socialism, they betrayed the working class.

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Pro- Ukraine Workers impose sanctions : 1. Sabotage in Belarus: railway workers in action 2. Swedish Dockers Block Russian Ships

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A Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign directed against the far-right ethnic cleanser régime of Russia is necessary. This can be a direct imitator the BDS campaign for Palestine against racist Israel – and the past Boycott Apartheid campaign directed against racist South Africa. Workers in states close to Ukraine – Belarus and Sweden – show us the way forward. For more information on active solidarity with Ukraine click here : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article61759

Railway sabotage in Belarus: railway workers in action

In the aftermath of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Executive Committee of the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus stated: “We wish to assure you, dear Ukrainians, that the vast majority of Belarusians, including workers, condemn the reckless actions of the present Belarusian regime in tolerating the Russian aggression against Ukraine. We demand an immediate halt to hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, as well as from Belarus.”

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