Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Revolutionary History’ Category

“On the 1937 Sino-Japanese War” – Leon Trotsky – Parallels to the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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This is simply brilliant. Parallels with the 2022 Russian Ethnic-Cleansing, Imperialist and Racist invasion of Ukraine 🇺🇦 should be obvious to all readers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/10/sino.htm?fbclid=IwAR0Q41Y8r88mV9n-dpLazaWcnyqnbE1ByhFovRM09yYDn7rTMc9ntAH5lNU. Leon Trotsky wrote a letter to the outstanding Mexican Painter Diego Rivera.

“In my declaration to the bourgeois press, I said that the duty of all the workers’ organizations of China was to participate actively and in the front lines of the present war against Japan, without abandoning, for a single moment, their own program and independent activity. But that is “social patriotism!” the Eiffelites cry. It is capitulation to Chiang Kai-shek! It is the abandonment of the principle of the class struggle! Bolshevism preached revolutionary defeatism in the imperialist war. Now, the war in Spain and the Sino-Japanese War are both imperialist wars. “Our position on the war in China is the same. The only salvation of the workers and peasants of China is to struggle independently against the two armies, against the Chinese army in the same manner as against the Japanese army.” These four lines, taken from an Eiffelite document of September 10, 1937, suffice entirely for us to say: we are concerned here with either real traitors or complete imbeciles. But imbecility, raised to this degree, is equal to treason.

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How Can Feminist Solidarity Help Ukraine? (Podcast)

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From the outstanding ESSF http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article62454

How can feminist solidarity help Ukraine?

Since Russia’s full-scale imperialist invasion of Ukraine was launched by Vladimir Putin on February 24, Putin’s speeches, Russian state propaganda and the actual massacres and rapes committed by the Russian army have revealed the genocidal and misogynist character of this invasion. At the same time, the resistance of the Ukrainian people has been heroic. There have been many other expressions of opposition to this war as well, ranging from global protests to humanitarian aid convoys and initiatives by individuals and groups to help the resistance in Ukraine.

Ukrainian feminists have been an active part of the resistance both in actual combat and in various other invaluable capacities such as health care, child care, food production, communications and strategizing through social media as writers, leaders and spokeswomen. Among the more than five million Ukrainian refugees in Europe who are mostly women and children, many women are promoting valuable communication with the world.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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”

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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?

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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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Russian Socialists Speak : “Against Russian Imperialism”

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During important political disputes it is often necessary to “bend the stick”. This article persuasively calls on the left across the globe to recognise that Vladimir Putin, not NATO, has invaded Ukraine 🇺🇦. In Ireland and other European countries we have a duty to implement solidarity with Ukraine.

Authors : Thursday 7 April 2022, by Russian Socialist Movement (RSD), Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement) Ukraine

Source : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article62003

Although the majority of the left has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the left camp’s unity is still lacking. We would like to address those on the left who still stick to “a plague on both houses” position that views the war as an inter-imperialist war.

It is high time the left woke up and carried out a “concrete analysis of the concrete situation” instead of reproducing worn-out frameworks from the Cold War. Overlooking Russian imperialism is a terrible mistake for the left. It is Putin, not NATO, who is waging war on Ukraine. That is why it is essential to shift our focus from Western imperialism to Putin’s aggressive imperialism, which has an ideological and political basis in addition to an economic one.

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