Ukraine 2014: Frontline of the people’s struggle

(By J. Arnoldski, Toilers’ Struggle) 

Even such a titanic and tireless revolutionary as Lenin admitted amidst the ongoing Revolution of 1905 that “In a revolutionary period it is very difficult to keep abreast of events, which provide an astonishing amount of new material for an evaluation.”1 Needless to say, in such times as now when information and news circulate at seemingly the speed of light, it remains a demanding task for communists to carry out their duty of digesting, analyzing, and acting upon the astonishing amount of evernew material for evaluation provided by turbulent, revolutionary conflagrations.

The foremost commotion which has captivated and confounded communists the world over in recent months has been the “crisis,” as it has been so mildly called, which has gripped Ukraine since November, 2013. The original Maidan protests of November, the ensuing coup in February, and the resultant, ongoing civil war and disintegration of the country have kept observers on the edges of their seats in anxious anticipation as to each new development in what has been one of the most significant and defining struggles of the early 21st century.

In the heat of organizing protests against Western aggression in Ukraine and holding educationals on the nature of the new Ukrainian government and its relationship to Western imperialism, a distinct absence of genuine analytical summation has plagued communists’ work. While communists have worked out amongst themselves the basic slogans and theses rendered necessary by each new development, as far as is known to the present author, there is yet no work in circulation which has endeavored to provide a working, yet comprehensive – to the limited extent such is possible as events progress – dialectical and historical-materialist analysis of the profound changes in Ukraine, which Marx provided so paradigmatically and crucially for the events in France in 1851 in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

The following is presented as a sort of Eighteenth Brumaire for Ukraine, a history and analysis, for communists to use to inform their theory and practice. As the Ukrainian Civil War continues and the world imperialist powers escalate their aggression against Russia, and as new, more profound and world-significant questions of Marxist analysis are brought before communists by implication of the events in Ukraine, such an established chronicle and analysis will only become more relevant, necessary, and crucial.

Background to (counter) revolution

The counter-revolution which gripped Ukraine in early 2014 did not fall from nowhere out of the sky. Rather, it was the result of the arrangement and trajectory of class forces within the given material conditions of contemporary Ukraine. Reviewing and highlighting such conditions is indispensable to providing a coherent understanding and analysis of the events which, in a streak of rapid procession and ferocious tempestuousness characteristic of revolutionary times, shook the whole of Ukraine and brought the country to its present state of civil war. Continue reading

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Beer Hall Putsch “Leftism”: Ukraine & the ISO

(By Vince Sherman, Return to the Source)

First, an admission: After three years of writing Return to the Source sporadically, I’m getting tired of roasting the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and tearing apart their positions. The criticisms of their social chauvinist lines on Libya, Syria, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other countries targeted by imperialism seem to be popular with readers, evidenced by the hundreds of hits this blog still gets despite a long period of inactivity.

At the same time, all signs point towards the ISO discrediting itself and losing ground with leftists around the country. For instance, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone, except the most die-hard cruise missile ISO member, reads Gilbert Achcar’s recent article, What remains of the Arab Spring? and thinks anything besides, “This is a sad, irrelevant man who can’t recognize reality.” The ISO’s bizarre brand of social imperialism is still dangerous, but it’s discredited itself, most notably with regards to Syria.

I preface with that admission before rounding up all of the evidence necessary to totally dismantle the ISO’s closet support for fascism in Ukraine because I don’t want readers to think I’ll be doing this a lot more. At times, though, the US Trotskyites take a position so egregious that it begs for engagement, if for no other reason than to provide a resource to those actual Marxists around the world committed to battling social imperialists in the people’s movement.

Intervening versus Leadership: ISO support for the fascist opposition in Ukraine

An inflammatory title, but no more inflammatory than an article that appeared in the ISO’s rag, Socialist Worker, on February 5 entitled, What’s at stake in Ukraine? In it, ISO member Sean Larson calls for the Ukrainian left to begin “erecting a left pole within the movement.”

The movement Larson refers to, the ‘Euromaiden’, is an assembly of far-right and neo-fascist opposition groups that have taken to violent street confrontations against the current Ukrainian government, headed by Viktor Yanukovich. The opposition groups have coalesced around the demand for Ukraine to break with the Russian Federation and become closer to Western Europe, with many of the strongest voices calling for Ukraine to join the European Union and become partners in Germany’s imperial project.

There is no question that the Euromaiden protests in Ukraine, which have attracted the vocal support of Republican Senator John McCain, are led and dominated by the far-right, running the gamut from standard anti-Soviet oligarchs to full-on neo-Nazis. Even Larson doesn’t dispute this fact. He just doesn’t think it’s important. Continue reading

The New Coup Plans of the Venezuelan Bourgeoisie

(Statement issued by the Marxist Tendency in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela)

Using the slogan of “Unity on the Streets” the right wing in Venezuela has launched a new “guarimba” (1) against the Bolivarian revolution.

Despite the fact that the Bolivarian government has issued calls to try and arrive at some way of working together with the political representatives of the opposition with the aim of resolving the different problems facing the country, the most extreme sections of this rancid opposition have prepared a new offensive to destabilise the country.

Conciliation is not possible.

After the elections of the 8th of December last year President Maduro had a meeting with the main sections of the national bourgeoisie where he made a number of concessions such as offering credit, dollars from the state and other opportunities. As was to be expected, a few weeks later these same people replied with an even greater level of hoarding goods thereby ramping up the economic war. In a similar manner, while the government was meeting with the Venezuelan opposition to try and work together to resolve issues such as insecurity, violence on the streets, education, health, and so on, the clear response of the right wing has been to issue a call to the most radicalised sections of the opposition who have been affected by government measures to mobilise, take to the streets and overthrow the government.

None of this should surprise us. The lessons are clear and they should have been learnt some time ago as we, the Marxists, have warned about time and time again. Any attempt to try to conciliate with the bourgeoisie and its political representatives in Venezuela, all grouped together in the parties of the MUD (2), will not succeed. The national bourgeoisie is incapable of playing any progressive role and has been irreconcilably opposed to the Bolivarian revolution since its beginnings. The revolution has meant the awakening of the working masses and a profound change in organisation and revolutionary consciousness that threatens the class domination of the bourgeoisie. For that reason alone there is no possible way of arriving at any form of conciliation with the bourgeoisie. Given this situation, the “national” bourgeoisie have thrown themselves into the arms of their masters in Washington to whom they are tied by a thousand economic, political and personal threads.

This is a Class Struggle

As we have said many times, we cannot count on the bourgeoisie to develop the country, not even to carry out basic progressive reforms in the areas of education, health, housing, and so on. They failed to carry out these reforms when they had their own servile governments that they were allied to and which governed in their interests, so they will be even less inclined to carry out these reforms when they have a government that is taking measures for the benefit of the working class.  Continue reading

Korea: Frontline Between Socialism and Imperialism

(By the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has entered 2014 determined to continue defending and building socialism, and to continue the anti-imperialist struggle for peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.

These and other themes were highlighted in the New Year address of the country’s leader, Comrade Kim Jong Un, who declared that: “we are seeing in the New Year 2014 filled with confidence in the future and revolutionary self-respect …

“Last year was a proud year, in which the entire party, the whole army and all the people waged an all-out offensive in support of the party’s new line of developing the two fronts simultaneously [of nuclear defence and developing the economy – Ed] and thus achieved brilliant successes in building a thriving socialist country and defending socialism.”

Comrade Kim Jong Un referred to the tense situation that prevailed earlier in 2013, when US and south Korean war exercises simulated an invasion and nuclear attack on the north, and made a bold appeal to the authorities in south Korea and all sections of the Korean nation to once again take the road of national reconciliation, saying:

“To resolve the reunification issue in keeping with the aspirations and desires of our fellow countrymen, we should reject foreign forces and hold fast to the standpoint of ‘By our nation itself’.

“The driving force for national reunification is all the members of the Korean nation in the north, in the south and abroad; only when we remain steadfast in this standpoint can we reunify the country independently in line with our nation’s interests and demands. To go on a tour around foreign countries touting for ‘international cooperation’ in resolving the inter-Korean relations issue, the one related with our nation, is a humiliating treachery of leaving its destiny in the hands of outside forces.” [Here Comrade Kim Jong Un refers to the public statements made by the south Korean president last year in the course of her state visits to a number of countries, including Britain – Ed.] Continue reading

Cuban Socialism Surpasses Capitalist Countries by Health Indices

Originally published as “Cuban life indicators continue to rise: Another vindication of a society that puts people first”

(By Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

In December, at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Cuban President Raul Castro and US leader Barack Obama shared a handshake – the first between their nations’ leaders in well over a decade. It may very well have been impromptu, but it nevertheless prompted a flurry of speculation across international media. The handshake, it was suggested, is symbolic of thawing Cuban-American relations.

The following month, the BBC quoted Edward Alex Lee, deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department, as saying the United States is “very open” to building new relations with Cuba. In fact, he said, both countries had shared “very productive” talks and made “substantial progress” on bilateral issues such as migration, aviation safety, counter-narcotics operations, and resuming postal services. The United States is keen to continue these “rare negotiations”, the article stated. . (‘ Cuba – US very open to new relationship’, BBC News Online, 11 January 2014)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican congresswoman in Florida and virulent anti-communist, condemned the exchange and the perceived easing of tensions, labelling Cuba as “cruel, ruthless and [tyrannical]”. Mr Lee was then quick to reaffirm the United States’ concerns over its neighbour’s ‘human-rights record’ and stated that any improved relations must be accompanied by a “fundamental change” in the attitude of the Cuban government towards its own people. (‘White House says Obama-Castro handshake not planned ’, BBC News Online, 10 December 2013)

Infant mortality falling

So what exactly is the Cuban government’s attitude towards its people? In fact, there was a clear demonstration of this in December as the public health ministry released data showing that the infant mortality rate in Cuba continues to decline, and is now just 4.2 deaths per 1,000 births – the lowest in the island’s history.

Infant mortality is a key indicator to “measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants”. (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012)

It is often difficult to compare statistics between socialist and leading capitalist countries, because the latter have enjoyed centuries of economic development; development that has rested upon the exploitation of their workers and the plunder of vast colonies abroad. Socialist countries, by contrast, are relatively young, and are subject to intense economic restrictions imposed by stronger capitalist states that want to see them fail.

Cuba is a perfect example of this: the tiny island has faced a brutal economic blockade enforced by the mighty US for more than five decades. In practice, this deprives the Cuban economy of billions of dollars each year, as well as holding back its technological development.

Yet, despite this handicap, and comparing 2013 statistics from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Cuba’s infant mortality rate compares favourably to the European Union average (4.43 per thousand), the United Kingdom (4.5 per thousand), and the United States (5.9 per thousand).  Continue reading

Nations Want Liberation: The Black Belt Nation in the 21st Century

(By Return to the Source)

Thousands rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.

In the past year, the United States has experienced an upsurge in black political consciousness as hundreds of thousands of organizations and people poured into the streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17 year-old African-American youth brutally murdered in Sanford, FL. Martin’s case has drawn enormous attention to the daily terrorism inflicted on African-Americans by both the US government and vigilante terrorists, like George Zimmerman, who uphold and enforce a vicious system of white supremacy.

As the movement against police brutality and racist oppression continues to grow, Marxist-Leninists must grapple with the burning question of how to build a revolutionary national liberation struggle capable of ending white supremacy and imperialism in the United States.

Seeking to capitalize on the growing struggle against racism, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has republished a series of articles from the 1980s reflecting their understanding of “The History of Black America” in its newspaper, Socialist Worker. Complete with all of the errors endemic to their bizarre Trotskyite understanding of revolutionary history, these articles are a flaccid attempt for a mostly white organization – an organization that expelled several activists of color from its Washington DC branch in 2010, no less – to make itself relevant to the struggle of African-Americans against white supremacy.

However, one article in particular, republished on Saturday, June 16, stands above the rest in its historical revisionism, its fallacious analysis, and its generally poor syntactical construction. Lee Sustar’s piece, “Self-determination and the Black Belt” is a hit piece on the Marxist-Leninist demand for African-American self-determination, the entire concept of the Black Belt nation, and black nationalism in general.

Rife with historical errors, strawman characterizations, and misspellings, Sustar’s piece itself is barely worth a response. Never missing an opportunity to denounce and slander Josef Stalin, Sustar makes the totally absurd claim that “The Black Belt theory was part of a sharp “left” turn by the Communist International (Comintern) used by Joseph Stalin to mask his bureaucracy’s attack on the workers’ state,” arguing that somehow upholding the demand for African-American self-determination allowed Josef Stalin to better consolidate his so-called “state capitalist regime in Russia.” (1) The relationship between the struggle for black nationalism and the USSR is never explained or warranted by Sustar.

Neither is his claim that the demand for black self-determination was based “on the works of a Swedish professor who aimed to theoretically justify the political turns of the bureaucracy which was coming to control Russia.” (2) Sustar never names this Swedish professor, supposedly the progenitor of the demand for black self-determination, nor does he offer any evidence that such a professor had any impact on the development of the black national question adopted and implemented by the Communist International (Comintern). But a lack of evidence never stands in the way of the ISO’s vicious slander of Marxism-Leninism so the omission of key facts is both unsurprising and expected.

However, the continued relevance and renewed importance of the black national question in the 21st century demands serious consideration by Marxist-Leninists. It is important to respond to these unprincipled criticisms and slander of the experiences of black nationalist organizations and the CPUSA. The ISO may have published this piece nearly 30 years ago, but the same theoretical bankruptcy demonstrated in this re-published essay continues to inform their strange blend of Cliffite-Trotskyism today.

Instead, Marxist-Leninists must put forward a principled and materialist evaluation of the successes and failures of these various groups struggling for black liberation that appropriately contextualizes their specific struggles. Continue reading

Soviet Troops Liberated Auschwitz 69 Years Ago

(By Liberation News)

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops entered Auschwitz, Poland to liberate the 7,000 survivors of the Nazi death camps. This was a monumental day in history marking the beginning of the end of World War II and the triumph of socialism over fascism.

The death camp network at Auschwitz alone took the lives of over 1.1 million Jews, Roma, Poles, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and leftists. In its advance into Poland, the Red Army was headed straight for Auschwitz with the goal of liberating its prisoners.

While the largest and one of the most famous death camps, Auschwitz was not the first to be liberated by Soviet troops: in July of 1944, the Red Army liberated Majdanek, followed by Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. All of these camps were home to indescribable horrors: the purposeful destruction of lives, brutal slavery and heinous experiments conducted on racial minorities. Modern-day survivors of the Holocaust still recall the tremendous relief brought by the arrival of Soviet troops.

The Soviet Union sacrificed by far the most in World War II, losing 28 million lives between Nazi concentration camps and war casualties. Historians agree that without the powerful comeback of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, it would have been unlikely that the Axis forces would have been defeated.

The victory of the Soviet troops can be attributed not only to the determination of military commanders, but largely also to the heroism of Soviet civilians. In a series of feats that was not replicated anywhere in the West, the occupants of the smallest towns and villages joined together to fight to their last breath, sacrificing their lives just to keep the fascist troops away from Moscow for as long as possible. One of the most famous of these is the 1939 and 1941 defense of the Brest fortress, where soldiers and civilian occupants of the city of Brest, Belarus staved off Nazi troops until all were dead or taken prisoner. The occupants had barely any arms and could have chosen to retreat, but stood and fought instead.

The dedication of Soviet fighters and civilians to the cause of defeating fascism went beyond patriotism and a need to survive. Fresh from revolution, civil war, rapid industrialization and reconstruction of economic and social relations, the people of the USSR—now educated, with new inalienable rights and a sense of brotherhood with their fellow Soviet people—had another profound reason to fight the fascist scourge. Working people in the USSR were grateful for the chance at a life of equality and opportunity that socialism gave them, and the thought of giving the victory of the working class up to fascism was repulsive to them. They fought not only for their families and their country, but for their revolution and their class. Continue reading