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Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis!
Photo: U.S. Senator John McCain and his neo-Nazi friends. John McCain can be seen here speaking at a rally organized largely by the Neo-Nazi Svoboda movement in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. To John McCain’s right is neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok and to his left is US Senator Chris Murphy (D) Connecticut. With red and black flags of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine blowing in the wind, John McCain boldly declared “We are here to support your just cause!”
Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis!
By Steven Argue
Chaos has erupted in Ukraine as largely neo-Nazi led protesters have attacked cops and taken over government buildings. Occupied buildings are filled with the white power flag and the red and black flag of Nazi occupation of Ukraine. Neo-Nazi protest leader Oleh Tyahnybok blames Ukraine’s problems on the supposed “Muscovite-Jewish mafia”. At least two violent attacks on Jews have occurred since protests began. They happened as the Jewish victims left synagogues. One person was hospitalized from the attacks with knives thought to have been attached to the attacker’s boots. Some Jewish celebrations have been canceled out of fear. Protesters have also attacked security forces with guns, bows and arrows, and Molotov cocktails, injuring over 100 police officers and killing one. In police attempts to restore order, four protesters have also been killed.
Leading this movement is a three party coalition of what is being called the Euromaiden movement. Prominent in this movement are the neo-Nazis of the so-called Svoboda "Freedom" movement. They received only 10% of the vote in the 2010 elections, but they are well organized with a charismatic leader, Oleh Tyahnybok. Svoboda is not just some fringe element of Euromaiden, Svoboda representatives appear at all press conferences of the Euromaiden movement. The other leaders of Euromaiden have done nothing to distance themselves from this openly neo-Nazi leadership. Nor have their western imperialist backers. In fact, US Senators John McCain (R) and Chris Murphy (D) as bipartisan representatives of US imperialism joined the neo-Nazis on stage at a protest in Kiev to support their cause. These Neo-Nazis of the so-called Svoboda "Freedom" movement are gaining momentum in the streets of Ukraine with western financial and political backing.
The two other major political parties leading Euromaiden are also rightwing capitalist parties. One of these is the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland Party) which is affiliated with conservative and Christian Democratic parties of the west. These parties are of course social conservative religious parties that are anti-socialist and strongly support capitalist austerity and exploitation. The third group in the coalition is the UDAR (Punch) which is led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and led by a Ukrainian émigré in Germany, Vitali Klitschko.
Leaders of all three parties participate together in joint press conferences. The fascists of the so-called Svoboda movement and their Euromaiden comrades are fighting for the Ukrainian government to join the European Union. Ukraine’s capitalist president, Viktor Yanukovych, isn’t opposed to this notion on principle. Yet, when he attempted to negotiate a settlement with western imperialist powers for EU membership, he ran into a roadblock with the west insisting on particularly onerous conditions of austerity, trade restrictions, and privatization that would be imposed with the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Yet, despite the openly fascist character of the Euromaiden movement, White House spokesman Jay Carney has boldly declared that the cause of the fighting in Ukraine is a direct result of the government failing to acknowledge the "legitimate" demands of its people.
While Euromaiden protesters fight for fascism and IMF austerity, ironically, the corporate media of the west portrays the struggle as one between freedom loving protesters who love the west and a tyrannical Ukrainian government that is under the thumb of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The reality is that Russia is offering better economic deals with fewer conditions. Capitalism has greatly devastated the economy of Ukraine. To prevent economic collapse, Russia has just agreed to provide $15 billion in loans to Ukraine as well as discounts on natural gas. This aid and support comes under conditions far better than what is being demanded by the EU and IMF.
The IMF is a western imperialist tool used to blackmail countries in return for financing. IMF blackmail is being used by the imperialists to recolonize much of the world where financial power is allowing them to dictate economic policy. The IMF is already presently denying Ukraine needed credit. The reason for this denial is because the IMF is demanding that Ukraine increase the price of its heating fuel by 40%. This sort of price hike would cause the death of many poor people in Ukraine where capitalism has brought drastic decreases in wages and 41% unemployment. One of the reasons why President Viktor Yanukovych is in the crosshairs of the imperialists today is because he refusing to give in to this economic blackmail.
Austerity measures demanded by the Euromaiden movement under the EU’s agreement are similar to the devastating attacks carried out by the European Union against the working classes of Europe. As a result of the decline of capitalism and these austerity measures the entire European Union has sunk into a protracted period of mass unemployment and deepening poverty while the gap between rich and poor grows ever higher. Particularly devastated are poorer European countries like Greece that are being bled dry by the richer imperialist countries of the EU like Germany. It is under the same sorts of financial demands that have devastated Greece and caused mass unrest in that country that Ukraine is being asked to join the European Union.
In addition, the EU agreement that is being demanded by Euromaiden and the west alike would prohibit Ukrainian membership in the Russian-led customs union, a trade partnership that is an essential component of the Ukrainian economy. The EU’s demand that Ukraine leave this partnership would devastate the Ukrainian economy. Likewise, EU membership would prohibit customs duties on many European goods, which would be devastate Ukrainian industry and eliminate many jobs.
In the west we are told this entire struggle is all about Russia. On the one hand Russian President Vladimir Putin is an oppressive capitalist politician and Russia is a minor imperialist power. On the other hand, the competing imperialist interests of Russia and the United States have aided the anti-imperialist struggle in Ukraine, South Ossetia, and Syria. That competition played a role in defending Ossetian national self-determination from the military attacks carried out by Georgia with U.S. and Israeli backing when Russia came to the defense of the South Ossetian nation.
Likewise, Russian military aid and continued economic trade with Syria has helped that country preserve its political sovereignty against imperialist attacks. The US imperialists have imposed an economic blockade on Syria while giving massive aid to rebels through its client states of Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These rebels are religious extremists that have carried out genocide against Christians, Alawites, Shi’ites, and Kurds. While the Syrian government is not without its own crimes, a key difference between Bashar al-Assad's government and the imperialist backed rebels is that the current government is mostly of a secular nature and respects the rights of religious minorities. The rebels, on the other hand, are Islamists who are imposing their religion and Islamic law on people while carrying out genocide against religious minorities.
Yet, many are portraying what is going on in Syria and Ukraine as a fight between proxies. Perhaps these are proxy struggles in a certain sense, yet it is the US backing the worst and most brutal extremists in both cases. And in both cases the US is working to overthrow the sovereign governments to install something more friendly to U.S. imperialism. For the people of Ukraine and Syria, the defeat of the imperialist backed neo-Nazis and genocidal Islamists (many of whom are foreign mercenaries) isn't an act in support of Russian imperialism; it is a fight for basic survival as well as a fight to defend their national sovereignty from US imperialism.
Russia’s role in defending the national sovereignty of some countries against US and European imperialism, however, does not mean we should give political support to Putin’s capitalist government. Life expectancy rapidly dropped by 10 years after the capitalist counterrevolution in the USSR with the destruction of the socialist state owned economy. The fight to reinstate a socialist planned economy and establish workers democracy (as opposed to capitalist or Stalinist dictatorship) will take the revolutionary overthrow of Putin, Yanukovych, and their ilk in a proletarian revolution.
Besides increased fuel prices, more rapid privatization, austerity, and changes in trade relations, another demand of the European Union and IMF is deregulation in the form of eliminating Ukraine’s labor laws. Ukrainian labor laws were adopted during the time of the Soviet Union and offer guarantees that are not found in the west. It is important to the EU to eliminate these laws and force Ukraine to instead adopt EU laws.
Ukrainian labor law guarantees 24 paid holidays per year, prohibits more than 40 hours of work per week with no more than 120 hours of overtime permitted per year, makes it difficult to fire workers, mandates additional wages for work not specified in employment agreements, provides for 70 days leave for women who are pregnant, provides for 70 days leave after birth, provides for parental leave for any amount of time upon request for children under the age of three, and provides reduced working hours at the expense of the employer for women with children under the age of 14 or with disabled children.
Many of these provisions of Ukrainian labor law are very similar to those protections found under EU law, but not US law. It is more in the details of Ukraine’s extensive labor code where workers are offered more protection under its Soviet era laws than under EU laws.
The very fact that Western Europe has the extensive labor protections that it does have is a legacy of the Soviet Union. The capitalist classes of Western Europe were put under pressure both by the militant working classes of their countries and by the example of the gains made by workers in the USSR and allied socialist countries. It was also the example of the USSR that forced the ruling capitalist classes of Western Europe to provide other gains found under socialism like socialized medicine and free education. A major difference is that the USSR was historically a much poorer country and can thank their economic development to provide these social rights on the development achieved through their planned socialist economy. Western Europe on the other hand gained a large amount of their wealth and development through brutal colonization and exploitation in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Another major difference between the social gains made in socialist Eastern Europe was that those gains were paid for directly through social ownership of the economy after the liquidation of the capitalist class. In Western Europe, capitalists were allowed to continue to profit from the exploitation of the working class and social gains were / are paid for largely through taxing the working class.
The fake “socialist” parties that have been partners with other capitalist parties in ruling Western Europe often liked to take credit for the social gains made in their countries. Yet, as soon as the example of the USSR was destroyed, these parties began to roll back many of the social gains that had been made. Today these “socialist” parties of Western Europe (in reality left capitalist parties) are often leading the charge in carrying out austerity against the working class and rolling back Western Europe’s social gains. In these respects, as opposed to the pro-western ideology of the Euromaiden movement, the USSR was largely a civilizing force of Western Europe, both in the defeat of Nazi Germany and in the social gains made for the working class after.
An additional demand the EU makes on Ukraine is for increased privatization. Since the capitalist counterrevolution in the former USSR, the Ukrainian capitalist government has been rapidly privatizing the economy. This has greatly enriched a group of newly created capitalist oligarchs while devastating the condition of the Ukrainian working class. When Ukraine had a socialist economy as a republic of the USSR it enjoyed a 0% unemployment rate. Under capitalism, in 2013 the unemployment rate of Ukraine was 41%. President Viktor Yanukovych has continued this devastating program of economic destruction with much of the state economy going to his capitalist backers Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash. With demands of increased privatization and deregulation, membership in the EU only promises further deterioration of the Ukrainian economy and immiseration of the Ukrainian working class.
The Western backed Euromaiden has made clear their desire to pick up the pace in destroying all of the remaining gains of the October 1917 Russian Revolution in Ukraine. Besides their support for EU membership under deadly terms, they have made this clear symbolically as well. On December 8th, 2013 they made international news by toppling a statue of Bolshevik Revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. Not mentioned in the articles of the corporate media is the fact that these vandals then stood and waved the red and black flag of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine on the pedestal where Lenin's likeness once stood.
It is sort of fitting that the so-called Svoboda movement in Ukraine fights today for western imperialist enslavement of Ukraine under a banner that flew when Germany enslaved Ukraine.
Today many apologists for the atrocities of capitalism in the 20th century, including some anarchists and social democrats, try to rewrite history. They now often absurdly claim that communism was as bad as or worse than fascism. Firstly, Stalin did not represent true communism, but instead the rule of a conservative and privileged bureaucratic clique. Secondly, while Stalin did commit crimes, the reality is that German fascism brought mass murder to a level of industrial production never seen before or since in the world.
Under the Nazi occupation of Ukraine from 1941 to 1945, three million Ukrainians were murdered by the fascists, including 900,000 Jews. Stated Nazi plans for Ukraine were to murder an additional 12 million people in 10 years, enslave most of the rest of the Ukrainians, and open up Ukraine to German settlement. Thankfully, the USSR’s Red Army liberated Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and the world from the capitalist menace of German Nazi imperialism at that time.
The 1917 October Russian Revolution overthrew capitalism and, as a result, turned one of the poorest countries in the world into an industrial powerhouse capable of defeating two major imperialist invasions (including the Nazis who left 30 million citizens of the USSR dead), and rebuilding the economy after each invasion to provide everyone with a job, education, and health care. The Russian Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky also ended Russia's involvement in the inter-imperialist mass slaughter of World War I, brought about a sweeping land reform for the peasants, brought national rights to oppressed minorities forming republics of ethnic regions, legalizing their languages and providing education in those languages while also giving their economies special help through the planned economy, brought about big advances in women's rights and rights for homosexuals, made education and health care priorities, and ended government backed pogroms against Jews.
From the beginning of the establishment of October 1917 Russian Revolution, the USSR had to defend itself from western imperialism. Immediately after the revolution the USSR was surrounded and attacked by 16 imperialist armies and put under economic blockade. Among the troops fighting on Soviet soil were US troops. The counterrevolutionary military campaigns of the White Army were supported by the west as well. The White Army was a counter-revolutionary force that was so anti-Semitic that they murdered 100,000 Jews in Ukraine alone. During this war Leon Trotsky led the Red Army against the U.S. backed White Army, the US Army, and many other imperialist invaders and defeated them all.
The 1991 a capitalist counterrevolution that brought Yeltsin to power, on the other hand, rapidly destroyed many of the gains of the Russian Revolution, creating hunger, a lack of health care, nationalistic bloodletting, and imperialist intervention. In this mix, the U.S. is stepping in to support the worst fascist elements.
President Viktor Yanukovych is the elected capitalist president of Ukraine. Normally, the US and European corporate media and government spokesmen denounce uprisings against “legitimate” capitalist governments. Yet, in Ukraine, there is an imperialist operation going on, so the normal rules don’t apply. Viktor Yanukovych was the target of a similar operation when he was overthrown in a US backed coup in 2004. That coup was labeled by its imperialist sponsors as the “orange revolution”. Despite Yanukovych winning a sizable majority in the 2004 elections, the imperialists declared the loser of the election, Victor Yushchenko, the winner and pumped large amounts of money into Yushchenko’s supposed “orange revolution”.
This coup d’etate was heavily financed by U.S. imperialism. To carry out the coup, hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into the country through groups like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Open Society Institute (OSI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and the Freedom House. Major backers included MoveOn.org sponsor and American multi-billionaire, George Soros.
Part of how the 2004 coup was financed was through pro-imperialist “NGOs” that suddenly popped up everywhere across the country. The fact that Viktor Yanukovych’s government is currently banning similar imperialist financed NGOs should not be seen as an act of repression against the Ukrainian people, but as a basic defense of Ukrainian national sovereignty against the ability of the imperialists to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine.
The so-called “orange revolution” was actually an imperialist backed coup d’etate similar to other color coded imperialist interventions like the “rose revolution” in Georgia and the attempted “green wave” in Iran. The “green wave” in Iran which the west portrayed as being for democracy was led by Mir-Hossein Mousavi who in 1988 as Iranian prime minister executed many thousands of leftist political prisoners. During his election campaign in 2009, students asked Mousavi, “Where were you in 1988, and how many people did you kill?” Mousavi wouldn’t answer the question. Those massacred political prisoners are buried Khavaran where the Iranian government has used bulldozers to destroy markers that families have left on the graves of their loved ones in an attempt to erase their memory. I raise this point not to delve into the complexities of Iranian politics, but to point out that the spin doctors of US imperialism are quite good at putting lipstick on pigs and parading them as beauty queens. Today, they do the same with the neo-Nazi led uprising in Ukraine.
The corporate media and US politicians like John McCain portray the rightwing protesters in the streets of Ukraine as helpless victims of government repression. Likewise, opposition leaders in Ukraine continuously lie about being peaceful protesters who have faced terrible repression. Obama went so far as to threaten sanctions against Ukraine on January 23rd if the violence continues. Yet, in reality, the Eurmaiden movement has been allowed to rampage through the streets, attacking Jews, threatening communists, and shooting security forces with guns and bows and arrows and setting police on fire with Molotov cocktails. Euromaiden has done this with a very limited response from security forces. Despite the extreme violence and lawlessness of protesters and the superior fire power of the Ukrainian security forces, only four rightwing protesters have been killed so far while well over 100 police officers have been injured and one officer has been killed by the pro-western protesters. Due in part to police restraint, fascist protesters only numbering in the thousands have been able to seize government buildings across Ukraine making a movement that does not represent the majority of Ukrainians appear to be stronger than it really is.
Worse, on Saturday January 25th President Viktor Yanukovych offered the position of prime minister to Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party. Reportedly, this is a position that he could have used to fire the government cabinet and set up his own. Yet, this offer was rejected in a joint public statement of the three leading parties that included the neo-Nazi Svoboda movement.
In this mix, the US and EU is stepping in to support the worst fascist elements to promote the imperialist desire to isolate Russia and to impose worse setbacks on the working class of Ukraine. There is nothing to support about the Ukraine’s current capitalist government, but that government must be defended against the IMF and western backed neo-Nazis of Svoboda. Yet, the capitalist presidency of Viktor Yanukovych has only offered a pathetic defense of Ukrainian sovereignty from this imperialist backed fascist movement.
Instead of relying on the capitalist government of Viktor Yanukovych and his security forces, non-sectarian defense militias need to be organized immediately in Ukraine to defend leftists, Jews, and workers from fascist attacks. These militias should place no confidence in any of the capitalist parties contending for power in Ukraine.
To combat the current power structure part of what is needed in Ukraine is the construction of a Leninist-Trotskyist party that defends Ukrainian sovereignty from imperialist / neo-Nazi attack, but at the same time fights for a communist Ukraine with true workers democracy. Part of building that party needs to be on a program that does not play into any illusions in the Euromaiden movement in the streets, but instead boldly defends the right of the elected government of Ukraine to defend itself from the current imperialist / fascist attack and works to organize workers self-defense militias across Ukraine.
Forward to a Democratic Communist Ukraine!
US, EU, IMF Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis!
-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free:
Also from this author, see:
Why The Russian Revolution is Still Important
Syria: As Rebels Escalate Genocide Against Kurds, Obama Prepares Air Strikes to Bring Them to Power
For Women’s Liberation through Socialist Revolution!
Ukraine, Pro-Western Protesters Topple Lenin, Hoist Red and Black Flag of Nazi Occupation of Ukraine