[Marxism] Duncan Chapel on the Ukraine

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Jun 1 06:46:24 MDT 2014


(Chapel is a British Mandelista.)

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By Duncan Chapel

Four points on Ukraine, flowing from one key point: What's happening is 
that the dominant ideas in Ukraine are those of nationalism, and that 
the struggle there is channeled and transformed by it.

First, the description of Maidan and the governing as pro-EU, and pro-EU 
as bring pro-NATO, is simplistic. The main parties, the Ukrainian 
oligarchs and also the new president, are trying to struggle the divide 
between the EU and Russia: they want access to _both_ markets. They are 
not simply EU (and, of course, Right Sector is anti-EU) It's because of 
Putin that the comparador strategy isn't tenable. Putin wants the other 
CIS countries to be semi-colonies. The masses support the accession 
agreement for different reasons: they have experienced, in the 19th and 
20th centuries, that Russian underdeveloped Ukraine. They see that they 
are already most of the way along the painful route to entry into a free 
trade zone with Europe which could be powerfully progressive, not only 
economically but in enforcing civil liberties. The idea of "Europe" is a 
glimpse over the borders to their West, and it looks good. So, the 
masses and the ruling elites are in the same movement for different 
reasons, which is why the strategy of permanent revolution is so 
powerful in Ukraine.

Fascists are not the battering ram that is introducing neo-liberalism 
into Ukraine. The nationalist movements east and west are under the 
leadership of bourgeois oligarchs. Putin and the Russian oligarchs 
implemented IMF shock therapy, and separation from Ukraine will not 
protect them from neo-liberalism. The leadership, as we can see in 
Donestk, is eclectic but procapitalist.

The description of what has happened as a coup by a rump is problematic. 
We have an elected president; an elected parliament, and a cabinet 
elected by parliament. If this was a coup d'etat, how is it that the 
political parties and parliament not only remain in place, but also 
retain power through the state? A coup d'etat involves a _minority_ 
action, while this was a majority action by the Ukrainian parliament 
which, of course, has the right to impeach the president. A majority is 
not a rump. Of course the impeachment procedure in Ukrainian law 
requires, after the removal of the president, a trial. He is not 
submitting himself to a trial, but that in itself does not make a coup.

The movement in the East is disoriented. The Kharkov rally leaflet, with 
its swastika Star of David symbol (the new president is of Jewish 
decent), shows the wide range of motivations. There are Russian fascist 
groups in that movement, and the fear of fascism is clearly fictitious, 
as is the fear of the suppression of language rights. What is real is 
the fear of neo-liberalism. Sadly Borot'ba, and even more so their 
tailists like Workers' Power, struggle to admit that the danger of 
neoliberalism comes from the class that leads both movements, and that 
there are organised fascists inside both movements. Nationalism is 
channelling the real fear of neoliberalism into a movement which, by 
dividing the working class along linguistic rather than national lines, 
is turning the masses into tools of the oligarchs.



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