Tomás Ó Flatharta

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Archive for the ‘Mass Action Versus Militarism’ Category

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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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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Ukraine : On-the-Spot Reports by Good Correspondents are Invaluable : Tony Connelly (RTÉ) and Daniel McLaughlin (Irish Times)

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Every major war tests news sources. Blizzards of disinformation should not deter us from seeking the truth. We can identify good and bad journalists. Two excellent war reporters are quoted here. Tony Connelly of the Irish State Broadcaster RTÉ, and Daniel McLaughlin of the Irish Times. We need them. We are attempting to rescue the reputation of the international revolutionary anti-war Left. In this respect the quotations below from two outstanding chroniclers of World War 1 and the 1917 Russian Revolution – John Reed and Leon Trotsky, are extremely good guides for activists combatting the Russian Ethnic Cleanser invasion of Ukraine in dark days of 2022.

Tony Connelly in Ukraine – as of noon Irish time, Sunday February 27 2022 – Day Four of the Invasion and Some Predictable Conclusions Already

It’s day four of the invasion and some predictable conclusions already. A civilian death toll – over 200 killed. But I suppose a more surprising element to this is a strong sense that this is going to be a lot harder than Vladimir Putin had expected.

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News Report : “Greek Railway Workers Refuse to Transport NATO Tanks Towards Ukraine” – the Russian Ethnic Cleanser President Vladimir Putin is Delighted

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Many anti-war comrades have under-estimated the political character of Vladimir Putin’s Russian State, and its invasion of Ukraine.

This leads them to actively opposing Ukrainian armed resistance. A news report tells us :

According to Alexandropoulos port director Konstantinos Hadzimihail, three trains’ worth of NATO equipment have been sent to Poland and Romania through the port to date. At least three NATO ships have entered the port over the past month, including the US-flagged Liberty Passion, and the Hartland Point, a British ro-ro cargo vessel, and the US Liberty King, which is continuing to be unloaded.

The KKE (Greek Communist Party) has been highly active in opposing Athens’ involvement in the crisis between NATO and Russia over Ukraine.

https://dailytelegraph.co.nz/world/greek-railway-workers-refuse-to-transport-nato-tanks-toward-ukraine/?fbclid=IwAR2W8smj2j99KLzEqyDWa3JPflUJ7U2Je9c-OPcNd2Zsim7YQ_veErYMCRk

The story came to my attention via the Facebook page of a respected anti-war veteran, Tariq Ali. At the time of writing, it is unclear to me if Ali approves or disapproves of the action taken by the Greek workers, and the tankie policy of the Greek KKE. A number of correspondents offer some clear thinking.

On April 9 2022) a number of Left wing activists from the UNITE trade union picketed the Embassy of Russia in Dublin’s plush Orwell Road calling for the expulsion of Ambassador Yuri Filatov from Irish Soil.

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Home Truths About Ukrainian Resistance to the Russian Imperialist Invasion

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“Marine Le Pen’s party is binning its 8-page electoral tract, which features a picture of her shaking hands with Vladimir Putin. Apparently that’s not a vote-winner any more! 1.2 million copies had been printed.”

Hint to Left-Wingers in Anti-War War Movements everywhere :

Russian Troops Out of Ukraine Now!
Solidarity with the Ukrainian Resistance!

Adopt a policy proposed by Noam Chomsky :

Noam Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky?wprov=sfti1

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major war crime, ranking alongside the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland in September 1939, to take only two salient examples.

Meanwhile, we should do anything we can to provide meaningful support for those valiantly defending their homeland against cruel aggressors, for those escaping the horrors, and for the thousands of courageous Russians publicly opposing the crime of their state at great personal risk, a lesson to all of us.”

https://truthout.org/articles/noam-chomsky-us-military-escalation-against-russia-would-have-no-victors/.
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We Are All Ukrainians Today – Everywhere on this Earth : Left Wing Parties, Progressive Social Movements, Labour Movement Activists Oppose the Barbaric Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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A new mass international anti-war movement is emerging in 2022. There is one test :

Demand : Russian Troops Out of Ukraine Now!

Remain up-to-date by visiting this site :

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/

Michael Taaffe, SIPTU Trade Union Researcher, Dublin : “At times, the debate over the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches the bottom of the rhetorical barrel. Some commentators portray an informed and intelligent discussion as an apology for one side or the other. If you criticise NATO policy over the last two decades, you are a tool of Putin. If you criticise Putin, you accept the many US-led abuses. It is reminiscent of Albert Camus’ observation: when I criticise Franco, I’m called a communist; when I criticise the invasion of Hungary, I’m called a stooge of Western powers”. https://notesonthefront.typepad.com/politicaleconomy/

In this spirit we continue to reproduce and report on solidarity actions and statements. The first comes from Die Linke (The Left) in Germany, which is represented in that country’s parliament the Bundestag with 39 seats. .https://www.bundestag.de/en/parliament/plenary/distributionofseats This war is producing seismic changes on the international left. Some, like Die Linke, have origins in the old pre-1990 communist parties of Eastern Europe – but have shifted to to the left, confronted with the criminal 2022 Russian imperialist assault on Ukraine.

Die Linke Statement :

DIE LINKE strongly condemns attack on Ukraine, Russia must immediately cease hostilities!

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Paul Murphy TD Message : Immediate Withdrawal of Russian Troops from Ukraine; Anti-War Protest, Dáil Éireann, February 24, 5.30pm

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Paul Murphy TD Tweeted Message https://twitter.com/paulmurphy_TD/status/1496770211176804352

Solidarity with the people in Ukraine. Join the @IrishAntiWarMvt protest at 5.30pm today.

Demand an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.

Oppose any NATO escalation in response which will just threaten an even bloodier conflict.

New Message from former leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn :

Russia’s shocking invasion of Ukraine will inevitably lead to more fear, misery and death. It is a frightening escalation of the ongoing crisis.

Russia must withdraw its troops and return to diplomacy. If it does not, dark days are ahead for Ukraine, Russia and all of Europe.

The next Irish Anti-War Protest needs to take place outside the Russian Embassy

John Meehan February 24 2022

Left Wing Solidarity Delegation from Wales and England in Ukraine

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A solidarity delegation from the left in Wales and England is underway in Ukraine. A copy of a press release is below. Two members of the Welsh Senedd (Assembly) – Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) leader Adam Price MS and his colleague Michael Antoniw MS – are part of the fact-finding team. Initiatives like this belong to the best traditions of international anti-war movements connected to the left and the Labour movement. Wales, like Ireland, is a small nation with a history shaped by Great Power Domination made in London. The parallels between Ukraine and Russia were highlighted by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the first leader of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1917-22) RSFSR after the successful October 1917 Socialist Revolution. Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article61199

The history – VI Lenin compares relationships : Ireland and England – Ukraine and Russia. 100 years later – much the same starting point?

The delegation has already met with activists of the Sotsialny Rukh, Human Rights Activists from East Ukraine, and the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine.

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Russian Imperialist Dictator Vladimir Putin Denounces “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s Ukraine” – Russian Troops Out of Ukraine Now!

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Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the first leader of the Bolshevik Russian Soviet Federation created by the 1917 October Revolution. A different Vladimir, the billionaire oligarch gangster Putin, is determined to wipe Ukraine off the map and ”show what real decommunisation means for Ukraine”. Anti-War movements across the globe need to support the demand “Russian Troops Our of Ukraine Now” while also opposing the eastern expansion across the European continent of the USA’s NATO war-machine.

Key Extracts from Vladimir Putin’s Speech Denouncing “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s Ukraine”

“Modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely, Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began immediately after the revolution of 1917…

“As a result of Bolshevik policy, Soviet Ukraine arose, which even today can with good reason be called ‘Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s Ukraine’. He is its author and architect. This is fully confirmed by archive documents … And now grateful descendants have demolished monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. This is what they call decommunisation. Do you want decommunisation? Well, that suits us just fine. But it is unnecessary, as they say, to stop halfway. We are ready to show you what real decommunisation means for Ukraine.”

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/extracts-putins-speech-ukraine-2022-02-21/

Statement of ‘Sotsialnyi Ruh’: Recognition of LDPR by Russia is criminal play of Russian Imperialism

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