Ukrainian crisis and the "Left": Necessary clarification

 Ukrainian civil war caused another heavy blow to those social forces in Russia, who call themselves "left", "anti-fascist" or "anarchist movement". Unable to withstand the tests about the infamous "national question", or more precisely the examination on internationalism, this milieu splinted into supporters of one of the bourgeois camp who grappled with each other in the struggle for power in Ukraine.

The logic of support of Maidan coup and the regime in Kiev established by it, on the one hand, or of pro-Russian regimes in Donetsk and Lugansk, declared their secession from Kiev, on the other hand, inevitably led their apologists to the justification either of imperialist interests of NATO, or 0f predatory expansionism of Kremlin - that is, those powers which confront each other on the Ukrainian soil through their puppets and satellites.

The failure of the "left"

Many of the "left wingers" and "anarchists" in the former "Soviet Union" long time ago abandoned internationalist position and - in the pursuit of popularity in the "masses" - were ready to compromise with the various forms of nationalism. The Ukrainian war was the push that helped complete this evolution toward "right". The left camp in Ukraine crashed into two main groups. The Leninists of "Borotba", faced with open anti-left and Ukrainian nationalist rhetoric and practice of the Maidan, in fact, supported the opposing "Antimaydan" movement and declared the pro-Russian eruptions in the East of the country "anti-fascist", despite of an active presence of ultra right-wingers on the very first roles in these activities. At the same time, leaders of the "Autonomous workers union" (AST) not only welcomed Maidan as "antidictatorial" protest, despite the leading role of ultra-rightist fighters on Maidan, but then got up on the side of Ukrainian centralized bourgeois state, denying any existence of dissatisfaction with the Kiev coup in the East of the country and reducing the whole problem solely to the aggressive actions of the Kremlin. Some groups suffered a brutal split. For example, some members of platformist RKAS went to the Maidan, others condemned the struggle for power in Kiev, but then proclaimed the intention to defend the "homeland against the aggressor", Russia, the third is rumored to have entered into military formations of separatist "Donetsk People`s Republic" (DPR)...

No less confusion reigned among the Russian "left". Some people (including most of the "anarchists") from the outset sympathized Maidan as the alleged "people`s" and "self-organized" movement, ready to justify a tactical alliance with the Ukrainian nationalists and ultra-rightists. Someone supports Kiev in its conflict with the East and the Kremlin, guided by simplest "anti-Putin" motives and by the motto "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Others are still in captivity of idea of "progressive" national "liberation" movements, and have seen in the Maidan orientation toward NATO a manifestation of the progressive struggle against centuries-old yoke of "Russian Empire". Fourth group, on the contrary, leaned in favor of the Republics of Donbass or even began to express more or less cautious support for the Kremlin's policy by announcing the Russian imperialism a counterweight to "more terrible" enemy - imperialism of the West. Fifth group continues to declare the insurgency in the East an anti-fascist manifestation, claiming that "anti-fascism" should unite the entire political spectrum from the ultra-right-wing up to the ultra-leftists. Sixth tendency interprets the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the secession of Ukrainian East in the sense of "the right to self-determination" ...

The inability of most of the "left" (in the broadest sense of the word) movement in Ukraine and Russia to take a consistently internationalist position in this conflict, of course, is not an accident, and - unfortunately - not a surprise. Its roots are the same, that once, with the onset of the First World War, splinted the Second International: nationalism, patriotism, statism and political logic of opportunism ("lesser evil" and "graduality").

The position of KRAS-IWA

The anarcho-syndicalists of Russia from the outset took a position against all confronting bourgeois groups in Ukraine and against the imperialist powers behind them - NATO and Russia. Our anti-nationalism was formulated clearly in the statement "war on war" signed by the Russian section of the IWA in early March. We condemned the struggle for power between the oligarchic clans in Ukraine, manifested in the confrontation between the Maidan and Antimaydan, and we emphasized expansionary policy of powers with regard to Ukraine, which has become a bone of contention between the emerging military-political blocs. Even before the annexation of the Crimea, we warned that "Russian capitalism intends to use redistribution of Ukrainian state power in order to implement their long-standing imperial and expansionist aspirations in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine where it has strong economic, financial and political interests. On the background of the next round of the impending economic crisis in Russia, the regime is trying to stoking Russian nationalism to divert attention from the growing workers' socio-economic problems: poverty wages and pensions, dismantling of available health care, education and other social services. In the thunder of the nationalist and militant rhetoric it is easier to complete the formation of a corporate, authoritarian state based on reactionary conservative values and repressive policies". And we warned from the interests and aspirations of Western powers too, because "their intervention in the conflict could lead to World War III" (

We were well aware that - in the situation of the current weakness – the workers movement and of the social-revolutionary forces in the Ukraine and Russia will hardly be able at this stage to provide an organized resistance to the war. But this does not mean that they should not resist the nationalist hysteria and they must go to shed their blood for the interests of their masters, whoever they may be. We called for the deployment of a wide antinationalist, anti-war, anti-capitalist and antistatist agitation, seeing it as a necessary step on the way toward the future social-revolutionary upsurge.

This internationalist position was reaffirmed in an extensive interview that one of our militants gave to German anti-militarist libertarian newspaper "Graswurzelrevolution". Although he did it in a personal manner, his words reflect on this issue the point of view of our organization. The comrade said that "pro-Russian movement in the East and in the Crimea is as heterogeneous as the Maidan. And just in the same degree nationalist and reactionary in its predominant orientation. The leaders of pro-Russian forces in the Crimea are prominent representatives of the local Russian-speaking bourgeoisie". He said about "the participation of Russian (Russian-speaking) ultra-rightists in the current anti-Kiev protests in the east, south of Ukraine and Crimea. First of all, they are the Cossacks, which are now something like the KKK in the United States, and members of various pro-fascist groups".

Of course, special attention was paid in the interview to the plans and actions of the imperialist powers. "It is clear that Putin's regime took advantage of the chaotic situation in Ukraine in order to carry out its own hegemonic plans", our comrade said. "The interests of the Russian state and capital in the Crimea are diverse. Geopolitically, Russia sees itself as a regional superpower, which claims at least for hegemony in the former space of the "Soviet Union". Ukraine has become a conflict zone in the imperialist contradictions between Russia and the EU. In contrast to association projects of Ukraine with the EU, Moscow launched membership of the southern neighbor in the block under its domination, the Customs Union. Logically, Russia is not would like to tolerate an anti-Russian government in Kiev. (...) Putin's regime even prefer to take the risk to find a stable and lasting enemy with future revanchist aspirations in Kiev, only to capture the region of Crimea. Crimea is for the Russian state of great military importance. There are the main bases of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and these term expires in 2017. From a strategic point of view, the peninsula jutting out into the deep sea is the key to the Black Sea. And possible prospects of Ukraine's membership in NATO scares the Russian government. Also and economic interests having an importance. Russian capitalists make their business in the Crimea and have real estate there. New profitable projects are in planning. (...)The information about the presence of rich oil and gas resources in the sea in the vicinity of the Crimea gives the additional excitement". Finally," there are clear internal political motives (for the intervention). The Russian government is increasingly intensifying its neo-liberal policies of austerity, and on the background of very low salaries. Many analysts based on the fact that the economic crisis in the country this year will worsen. So that incitement to nationalist and military hysteria is the best means to distract discontent of population, which is pushed to patriotically close ranks around the government ".

"(...) We have to deal with competing imperialisms, with another round of struggle for the re-division of the world", our comrade said. "In the world, there are many players: imperial aspirations of the USA, China, etc. Each state would like to expand its influence and to imperial policy. Not everyone can, but everyone wishes. Hence hypocrisy on all sides. Each state allows such a policy to itself, but denies it to everyone else. I think that the first and most urgent task of the anti-nationalist is to unmask this position and such a situation and to explain it as much as possible to general population. We have always - and as systematically as we can - to explain that the imperial policy and militarism are inseparable part of the system. If we can not contribute to a change of consciousness, we can never break the discursive domination of capitalist-statist system"(

The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on

Since then, our position has not changed. We continue to oppose NATO and the Kremlin, Kiev and Donetsk-Lugansk, Maidan and Antimaydan. Our slogan is still all the same: "A plague on both your houses, bourgeois!"

But adherence to principle annoying the Russian and Ukrainian "left" which are restless in the chaos. Forgetting what it is, they are willing to condemn any loyalty to the (betrayed by them) ideals of internationalism and class resistance as something naive, marginal and sectarian, and if they can`t, then simply to slander it.

It is clear that today we are burning hatred by both the advocates of Maidan / Kiev and the adherents of the Donetsk and Lugansk "people`s" republics (DPR & LPR) / Kremlin. Someone really does not understand how you can not support any of the warring parties: because politics it's "art of the possible". It is useful to reminder to such persons that the anarcho-syndicalists did not engage in "politics" in their understanding, so to get such a sparrow, we simply do not need to bend down. We are not interested in the names and covers of politicians, but in the struggle for social and economic interests of working people.

Someone lives in the logic of Stalinist State prosecutor Vyshinsky: "Who is not with us is against us". Bifurcating the world schizophrenically, these people believe that anyone not supporting "liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people" (under the leadership of patriotic oligarchs, of course) is direct or indirect agent of the Kremlin. Not being a psychiatrist, we do not know how to treat their political schizophrenia.

Finally, there are those who prefer to just open lies and slander. So there were liars, who invent that the KRAS-IWA refuses to criticize the pro-Russian republics in Eastern Ukraine and even supposedly supports them.

Anyone who understands the logic of our position and who is familiar with the above quote, can notice very easy that this is certainly not the case. Yes, there were more material about social problems and anti-war protests in the area controlled by the Kiev regime on our website until now. But it is, first and foremost, because there was no coherent information on these topics from the areas controlled by the separatists. We know nothing about strikes broke out in these areas, if there are protests against the war, rising prices, mobilization... As soon as we receive the relevant information, we intend to publish and distribute them in the same way as we do with the materials about strikes in the Crimea annexed by Russia.

Nevertheless, in order to avoid any misunderstanding (we believe unnecessary to refute open slander of our enemies), we can only confirm frankly that we don`t consider the regimes of DPR/LPR some "better" than the Kiev regime. Even with all the widely scattered and fragmentary nature of objective information, we have enough sufficient grounds for this opinion:

– The regimes of DPR and LPR are bourgeois (as the regime of Kiev). At the head of them, there are representatives of the local middle or petty bourgeoisie and the security forces, and behind them is quite clearly seen the interests of large Russian corporations, repeatedly sent their trusted men to the governing structures of these republics;

– The regimes in Eastern Ukraine are extremely nationalistic, but, in contrast to Kiev, it is not Ukrainian nationalism but Russian. To see this, it is enough not only to get acquainted with the constitution of the DPR saturated with the Black Hundreds style exclamations about "Russian World" and "Russian civilization", about the primacy of Orthodox Christianity and traditional values, but also to listen to or read the relevant statements of statesmen and military leaders of the two republics. Evidence of this give also direct references of these leaders to the traditions of the Russian White Guards.

– The regimes in eastern Ukraine (as well as in Kiev) are ready to receive support from their own and foreign neo-fascists. It is hardly possible to believe that the militants of "Russian national unity", of "National bolshevist party", the Cossacks and the heirs of the White Guards are something "better" than the battalion "Azov", an openly neo-Nazi Ukrainian unit of "the National Guard."

– The regimes in Eastern Ukraine are extremely repressive (as in Kiev). International human rights organizations fix numerous human rights violations in the both zones of the country. As in the territory controlled by the Kiev authorities, the DPR and LPR installed and practice censorship, the political opponents are persecuted; arrests, kidnappings and beatings occur. Of both parts of Ukraine, there are reports about forced mobilization in the army or the construction of fortifications. In August, the DPR adopted a law on the establishment of courts-martial and the restoration of the death penalty. We have no reliable information about who and when it was executed, but the fact that such laws are extremely disturbing .

- The regimes in Eastern Ukraine are antisocial (though, unlike the Kiev government, yet do not follow the dictates of the IMF and the EU in matters of "austerity"). None of the leaders of the republics doesn`t want to encroach on the property of the capitalists; there is no information about any attempts to freeze prices, to raise the salary or to declare additional social guarantees...

Enough said. Those "leftists" who can declare their support for such regimes, are just out of mind ... or they are not more than "left" fig leaf of the bourgeoisie.

Anarcho-syndicalists remain in their principled positions. We have never supported, will not support and will not support any state, any ruling class, or any bourgeois or national movement. Our course toward social revolution and anarchy is unchanged. Here we stand and we can do none other.