Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Anti War Movements’ Category

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

leave a comment »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Should socialists support or oppose NATO arms to Ukraine?

leave a comment »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

leave a comment »

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“The Blitzkrieg Failed – What Next?” – Boris Kagarlitsky

leave a comment »

Challenge yourself in these dark days. Vladimir Putin, a far-right ethnic cleanser who who has his hands on a nuclear button, is threatening Armageddon against Ukraine and his own people – he is not bothered about NATO encirclement of Russia. Putin is NATO’s number one recruiting sergeant. Russian left winger Boris Kagarlitsky explains.

Boris Kagarlitsky PhD is a historian and sociologist who lives in Moscow. He is a prolific author of books on the history and current politics of the Soviet Union and Russia and of books on the rise of globalized capitalism. Fourteen of his books have been translated into English. The most recent book in English is ‘From Empires to Imperialism: The State and the Rise of Bourgeois Civilisation’ (Routledge, 2014). Kagarlitsky is chief editor of the Russian-language online journal Rabkor.ru (The Worker). He is the director of the Institute for Globalization and Social Movements, located in Moscow. Source : https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/04/15/the-blitzkrieg-failed-whats-next/?fbclid=IwAR1cUcoJQiRxcmQX1XexskAs7bnDKsU2p5xji5CpwFEifComiG3y1D71stA

The special operation in Ukraine was conceived by Putin and his entourage as a way to turn the political situation around. The Kremlin strategists weren’t the least bit interested in the fate of the people in Lugansk and Donetsk, or even in the future of Ukraine. At a historical impasse, with no way to revive the economy, cope with the burden of growing problems, or raise the approval ratings now rolling into the abyss, they found no better way to solve all their issues at once but with the help of a small victorious war — a classic mistake that governments make when they are not ready to embark on urgent and inevitable reforms.

Read the rest of this entry »

Liberation for all; Ukrainian Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, and Global Solidarity

leave a comment »

In-depth: In an exclusive interview, Vladyslav Starodubtsev of the leftist Ukraine Social Movement discusses resistance against Russia’s war, solidarity with global struggles, and the importance of consistent anti-imperialism in leftist politics.

Vladyslav Starodubtsev is a history student based in Kyiv. He is a member of Sotsialnyi Rukh, or the Ukrainian Social Movement, a democratic socialist organisation dedicated to working-class organising.

The movement works with traditional trade unions as well as organising new and independent trade unions to advance an anti-capitalist and democratic program.

The source is The New Arab https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/ukraine-anti-imperialism-and-global-solidarity?fbclid=IwAR0WctJeDSDi_XfdFmk4yZee8ft1vX-pMk82any29XiDyFfNmzLnYBYN86I

Simón Rodríguez Porras

14 April, 2022

The New Arab contributor Simón Rodríguez spoke to Starodubtsev about his experiences with the socialist movement, the ongoing Russian invasion, and international solidarity with other movements.

Sotsialnyi Rukh also advocates against the neoliberal reforms pushed by President Volodymyr Zelensky and works to defend women and LGBTQ+ rights, fight against environmental depredation and climate change, and counter the xenophobia and racisminstigated by the government and right-wing organisations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Russian Ethnic Cleansing in Action at Bucha : “Those who committed these deeds, up close, must have regarded their prey as something less than human.”

leave a comment »

There are a number of posts on this and other left-wing sources steering readers away from the belief that Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion of Ukraine can be explained – and in some cases justified – by NATO expansion eastward across the European continent.

This never made any sense to me for one obvious reason, a reason that could be spotted by a small child. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dramatically increased popular support for NATO across the European continent : especially in countries neighbouring Russia which, before the invasion, were not members of NATO. This category includes Ukraine, Finland, and Sweden.

The governments of Finland and Sweden are planning to drop historic neutrality policies and join NATO. This dramatic turn to the right has been accelerated by Russia’s ethnic-cleansing invasion of Ukraine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can Ukraine Militarily Defeat the Far-Right Russian Ethnic-Cleanser Invader? Is the “Porcupine” Military Resistance Strategy Working?

leave a comment »

At first, since the winter of 2021, many well-educated observers doubted Russia would invade Ukraine. Then many of them expected a quick crushing Russian military victory. Facts, stubborn things, have demolished these predictions.

Writing in the Good Friday 2022 edition of the Irish Times, Brussels Correspondent Naomi O’Leary introduces us to the “Porcupine Strategy” :

The Ukrainian Military Porcupine Strategy

The resilience and effectiveness of Ukraine’s defence, and ability to impose great costs on Russia despite Moscow’s vastly greater numbers, have significance far beyond Ukraine.

It’s a vindication of the so-called porcupine strategy that underpins the defence of many other states that contend with a larger neighbour they suspect of territorial designs.

Estonia (1.3 million), Latvia (1.9 million), and Lithuania (2.8 million) will always suffer a numerical disadvantage compared to Russia (144 million). They have long feared the expansionary ambitions of their large neighbour, particularly since the annexation of Crimea.

Their strategy in response is not to try to match Moscow’s numbers – that would be impossible – but to make themselves indigestible. More trouble to attack than they are worth.

Is it possible that, in months and years to come, the Ukraine policy : militarily resist the Russian invasion – using weapons wherever they could get them – will be hailed as the “common sense” view of all on the left? That might seem unlikely now, but stubborn facts should force a rethink. A selection of left policies, Good Friday 2022 vintage, such as

Read the rest of this entry »

Internationalist manifesto against the war – Anticapitalist Organisations of Russia, Ukraine, and NATO Countries

leave a comment »

An excellent initiative.

Source : https://anticapitalistresistance.org/internationalist-manifesto-against-the-war/?fbclid=IwAR1iHwqdg8aV5k106Fodq-vJ7djLfWJ8EQLt0F7d3Ns7qzmcPHqRfkt4X4Y

Anticapitalist Organisations of Russia, Ukraine, and NATO Countries

The criminal war launched by Russian imperialism against Ukraine is the most serious threat to world peace since the end of the Cold War. It brings the world closer to a global conflagration than at any time since Mikhail Gorbachev’s peace initiatives.

The main culprit for this dangerous evolution is US imperialism, which took advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union in order to consolidate its global military network, expand its presence in various parts of the world and launch invasion wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington fostered in Russia and Eastern Europe the adoption of a brutal neoliberal program that created conditions for a far-right drift in most of these countries, especially Russia where it supported Boris Yeltsin’s antidemocratic coup in 1993.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fighting for Self-Determination – Yuliya Yurchenko explains “For Ukrainians it’s an existential fight. Our country’s identity, territorial boundaries, and our very existence is under attack right now”

leave a comment »

Introduction

Ukraine is fighting a war of liberation against a Russian Ethnic Cleanser state led by a violent far-right imperialist Vladimir Putin. All related issues are discussed in the interview below.

Spectre‘s Ashley Smith talked to Yuliya Yurchenko, author of Ukraine and the Empire of Capital: From Marketization to Armed Conflict (Pluto, 2018). She is a Lecturer in International Business and Researcher at the Public Services International Research Unit, the Centre for Business Network Analysis, and the Political Research Centre at the University of Greenwich.

Material like this is urgently required reading for anti-war activists in Ireland and elsewhere who are in love with the word BUT. “Ukrainians have the right to wage armed struggle” BUT “Oppose Sending NATO Arms to the Ukrainian Resistance – and its right-wing government”. History Lessons are easily unlearned – leading up to the Irish Easter 1916 Rising James Connolly’s left-wing Irish Citizens’ Army proudly promoted a banner : “We Serve Neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland”. Many of the guns used in the 1916 Rising were supplied by German Imperialism.

The Butistas talk as much as possible about right-wing characteristics of the Zelensky Government, throwing in wild exaggerations – and say next to nothing about the far more powerful far-right government of Vladimir Putin : promoter of sinister politicians like French Presidential contender Marine Le Pen.

In Dáil Éireann recently Sinn Féin and Labour Leaders Mary-Lou McDonald and Ivana Bacik called for the expulsion from Ireland of Russian Ambassador Yuri Filatov. The right-wing NATO friendly Dublin government vigorously opposed this call. Radical socialist TD’s made no public comment on this proposal, which is gaining some left wing trade union support. John Meehan April 22 2022

What are conditions like for people in Ukraine now amidst this war? What is the state of the military and civilian resistance to Russia’s invasion?

Read the rest of this entry »

“You either support Russian imperialism or Ukraine’s right to determine its own future, together with its civilians. Period” – Notes from a Correspondent in England

with one comment

Mark Findlay reviews the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and reactions from the left in England. The article comes from Mark’s Facebook Page,

NATO or not NATO?


Much is being said about NATO aid to Ukraine; this morning (11/04/2022), I read from Graham Durham on Facebook:


“It was good to see the pro NATO demo on Saturday, called by the PCS union and disgracefully publicised by the TUC , was a tiny flop.
The warmongering demand to ‘Arm Ukraine ‘ is a disgrace to the trade union movement which should be demanding an end to NATO expansion and aggression . As deadly weapons are sent by NATO countries to extend the war some feeble ‘leftists ‘ argue it is not NATO doing this but individual countries
No to War .Stop NATO warmongering
Monday greetings to all in the 5.38 club”


The above is fairly typical from much of the Left. Frankly, I find it hard even to include such a disgraceful post in my text. Not one word about the role of Putin and Russian imperialism, overwhelmingly the aggressor in the current war. This post neatly summarises the Tankie position. Effectively, they want Russia to win. There is no choice in the matter; either Ukraine fights them off, or it’s game over, and Russia will have won at least a large chunk of Ukraine, perhaps the entire Black sea coast plus much of the East, and Kyiv would still remain at threat. If you don’t allow Ukraine to acquire weapons, you are inviting its defeat. This is war-mongering on behalf of Putin.


Here is an exchange in the comments to the above post:

Read the rest of this entry »