[Marxism] Why "nostalgie" is harmful, or, Hanging on the cold war axis. ( WAS: Kagarlitsky on "The Ukraine Reality Show")

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Dec 17 22:08:23 MST 2004

I do think that Michael often weights the facts he is willing to
recognize  towards those that favor  the KLA et al. But so do those who
deny the FACT that Albanians were an oppressed nationality in
Yugoslavia, that they were denied unification with Albania under Tito
and subjected to racist slanders and so forth.  The ethnic cleansing
they have carried out is pretty typical of ethnic cleansing by bourgeois
nationalists in other circumstances.  Not a rare crime.  But I simply do
not buy the claim that there were no Serbian atrocities, no Serbian
ethnic cleansing etc. in Kosovo, Bosnia, and, yes, in the Krajna area
when the Serbs had control.
Bad guys are chosen arbitrarily and only they do bad things.  Milosevic,
who made straightup racist declarations about Albanians when he came to
office in Serbia in the late 80s, would never lift a finger against an
Albanian in anger (unless it was their fault, which it always is). And
the only important issues are "privatization" and US foreign policy.  On
the other side, the oppressed nationalities are the "good guys" and the
bourgeois nationalist movements that dominate certain oppressed
nationalities could not possibly be drug dealers and ethnic cleansers.
And the only important issue is self-determination.
Both sides of ths debate seem to long to get back to the cold war days,
where attitudes toward "Mother Russia" and "Mother Serbia" was the axis.
Although in those days the Russophiles were mostly anti-Tito.
"Anti-Stalinists"  tend to  make their his axis anti-imperialism by way
of the anti-Stalinism axis.  And  the other side does it by the defense
of a somehow progressive role in the world of capitalist Russia and its
allies, or capitalist Serbia and its ally Russia.  You could see this in
the strange rallying to and prettification of the wretched Shevardnadze
on the web,  Shevardnadze who led the capitalist, pro-imperialist forces
in Georgia when the old regime collapsed, and in the current
prettification of the Ukrainian regime, and in the bizarre idealization
now taking place of the thug and cop Putin.
Lost in all this is the rot and decline and growing backwardness of the
whole region, across all these supposedly fundamental lines of  "class
struggle" or "national struggle" or "anti-imperialist" struggle since
the disintegration/collapse of the "workers'" or "socialist" setups.
This is the real issue that faces the working people of the whole
region, across all the national and "privatization" and other
half-real, half-fake lines.  This decline deepens in every one of these
conflicts, regardless of  whether "imperialism" triumphs over
"progressive Shevardnadze" in Georgia  or "progressive" Putin triumphs
for the moment over the "pro-imperialist"  Islamist and ethnic cleansing
I am for self-determination for the Chechens and for Kosovo, just as I
was for self-determination and opposed to both occupations of
Afghanistan, but I don't delude myself about the progressive
consequences of any "independence" won in the current framework in these
areas.  Without progressive social struggles by the people of these
countries, the direction will continue to be backward.
This is a situation that can only begin to change for the better when
the working people in this region begin to speak in their own voice and
act again in their own name, tendency that seems to have collapsed
across the board after the proclamation of martial law in Poland.  Until
then, their only role can be the one they are primarily playing in
Ukraine today: passively and indifferently preferring the past to the
present and the present to the future.  I am an OPPONENT  of
"nostalgie" in the former Soviet bloc which I view as a force that acts
for passivity, inaction and hopless pessimism.  The better past was the
cause of the worse present, and the worse present will be the cause of
the even worse future, and that pattern will continue uniterruptedly
until the working people of this vast region begin to take matters into
their own hands.
Meanwhile, I think we have to really kiss goodbye to the cold war
universe, the reliance on "Mother Russia" (no longer socialist, but
still Mother, goddamit) as our maginot line against the imperialist
The Cubans have worked their way through this better than any other
important leadership in earth, and the Venezuelans have shown a way to
advance in the world situation that defeated Nicaragua and Grenada.
Let's move forward along that line.

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