[Marxism] Slavoj Žižek · Barbarism with a Human Face: Lenin v. Stalin in Kiev · LRB 8 May 2014

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 30 11:17:26 MDT 2014

The entire European neo-fascist right (in Hungary, France, Italy, 
Serbia) firmly supports Russia in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, giving 
the lie to the official Russian presentation of the Crimean referendum 
as a choice between Russian democracy and Ukrainian fascism. The events 
in Ukraine – the massive protests that toppled Yanukovich and his gang – 
should be understood as a defence against the dark legacy resuscitated 
by Putin. The protests were triggered by the Ukrainian government’s 
decision to prioritise good relations with Russia over the integration 
of Ukraine into the European Union. Predictably, many anti-imperialist 
leftists reacted to the news by patronising the Ukrainians: how deluded 
they are still to idealise Europe, not to be able to see that joining 
the EU would just make Ukraine an economic colony of Western Europe, 
sooner or later to go the same way as Greece. In fact, Ukrainians are 
far from blind about the reality of the EU. They are fully aware of its 
troubles and disparities: their message is simply that their own 
situation is much worse. Europe may have problems, but they are a rich 
man’s problems.

Should we, then, simply support the Ukrainian side in the conflict? 
There is a ‘Leninist’ reason to do so. In Lenin’s very last writings, 
long after he renounced the utopia of State and Revolution, he explored 
the idea of a modest, ‘realistic’ project for Bolshevism. Because of the 
economic underdevelopment and cultural backwardness of the Russian 
masses, he argues, there is no way for Russia to ‘pass directly to 
socialism’: all that Soviet power can do is to combine the moderate 
politics of ‘state capitalism’ with the intense cultural education of 
the peasant masses – not the brainwashing of propaganda, but a patient, 
gradual imposition of civilised standards. Facts and figures revealed 
‘what a vast amount of urgent spadework we still have to do to reach the 
standard of an ordinary West European civilised country … We must bear 
in mind the semi-Asiatic ignorance from which we have not yet extricated 
ourselves.’ Can we think of the Ukrainian protesters’ reference to 
Europe as a sign that their goal, too, is ‘to reach the standard of an 
ordinary Western European civilised country’?

full: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n09/slavoj-zizek/barbarism-with-a-human-face

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