[Marxism] Ukraine 2. A political earthquake for Europe and Russia | People and Nature

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 28 07:15:05 MST 2014

I have heard western leftists argue that Ukrainian workers need to 
beware of Europe because EU labour regulations compare poorly with the 
letter of Ukraine’s labour law. Maybe true, but surely irrelevant. 
Ukraine’s labour law is rarely enforced to workers’ advantage, because 
workers’ organisation is not widespread enough or strong enough to 
enforce it. Whether Ukraine ends up imposing legal frameworks from the 
Eurasian customs union (Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan), or the EU, or 
neither, it will be the level of organisation that matters most. In the 
meantime, for young Ukrainian workers “Europe” means “higher wages”.

On Monday 24 February in Kyiv, completely by chance, I came across about 
2000 medical students from one of Ukraine’s most prestigious 
universities on a spontaneous demo. They were demanding the dismissal of 
their rector, who had threatened to discipline students who joined the 
Maidan medical corps. Chatting to some of them, it seemed to me that 
they look at the world much as do their counterparts right across Europe 
(or in Russia for that matter). I was struck by how their transnational 
outlook contrasts with the nationalist symbols on Maidan – legacies of 
the process of national self determination that Ukraine didn’t complete 
in the 19th or 20th centuries, and that in the 21st seem like an echo of 
the past.


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