[Marxism] UKRAINE: Anarchism in the context of civil war |Tahrir-ICN

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Fri May 9 04:03:31 MDT 2014

On Fri, May 9, 2014 at 4:17 AM, Michael Karadjis <mkaradjis at gmail.com>wrote:

> -----Original Message----- From: Greg McDonald
> "Interesting how some people here are so contemptuous of blackbloc
> meatheads,  but when they encounter the same phenomenon multiplied 100x
> over in places like the ukraine their eyes glaze over.  Small wonder this
> political genius from Finland rationalizes the massacre in Odessa."
> Greg, I didn't think the writer did rationalise it. In fact he stressed
> that even if some of those inside had previously been violently attacking
> pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, there were no doubt that others were inside
> the building; and that even if those inside throwing molotovs may have
> contributed to the blaze, the pro-Ukraine mob outside were likewise
> throwing molotovs, even after the fire had began, and even if they weren't
> entirely responsible for it, "it was not for lack of trying." How is that
> rationalisation?

Perhaps "rationalization" is too strong. "Misleading" would be more
appropriate. It seems clear from a close observation of the video and
photographic footage, of which there is ample, that something more sinister
was afoot. And I'm not necessarily even thinking about the provocateur
thesis, of which, by the way, there seems to be mounting evidence in
support of that pov, unlike the opinion to the contrary stated by our
Finnish anarchist.  I grew up in the south. I've been to klan/anti-klan
rallies where the klan run their flag up the flagpole in front of the
police station, all the while ringed by dozens of heavily armed riot
police. I also know what a lynch mob looks like. This was a lynch mob,
seemingly in coordination with local authorities, like Jackson, Mississippi
during the civil rights struggle. I suppose the more correct term would be

People were shot and beaten to death on the ground floor and then their
bodies were torched. Some of the bodies were only partially burned after
being shot and/or bludgeoned. Then their bodies were moved. Some of the
women were raped before they were shot or beaten to death, and then their
bodies were burned. People who jumped from the building's windows to escape
becoming a human torch were beaten to death by young people who do not
appear to be a day over 16.  People who tried to escape the fire were shot
at from outside. Others were captured in their hiding places on some of the
higher floors and were either shot or beaten to death. Finally, as
Kagarlitsky points out in his strong article on the events of Odessa, the
Ukrainian prosecutor's office admitted no weapons were found in the
building, which means that the people who took refuge there were mostly
from the camp and had not participated in the earlier street fighting.

> Sure, there were parts where I thought the writer could have been stronger
> and clearer, noone's perfect. But I thought his more general points were
> better encapsulated in sections such as:
> "When looking at either side of the conflict one can see a dangerous
> tendency, which every anarchist and anti-authoritarian will face in the
> future: the recuperation of anti-authoritarian rhetoric and terminology for
> the purposes of hierarchical ideologies ... In reality, these
> characteristics are either present in a distorted form or not at all. When
> two different flavors of nationalism are «self-organising» in order to maim
> and murder each other, there is nothing to celebrate. Subsequent to the
> events in Ukraine, it is clear that anarchists must explain the essential
> difference between «self-organisation» and self-organisation to the world.
> "According to the opinion poll referenced above, in Eastern Ukraine as a
> whole, only 12% of the population supports the «federalists’» armed
> actions, whereas the Kiev government is supported by some 30%. The
> remaining 58% supports neither, and in conditions of civil war, this is the
> majority on which we should count. We should encourage desertion and
> conflict avoidance. Under any other conditions, and if anarchists had more
> influence, we could form independent units against both warring factions
> "Unarmed civilians have stopped bloodbaths in several places by moving in
> between the troops as human shields. If not for this kind of civil
> disobedience, a full-scale war would have been launched much earlier. We
> should support this movement, and attempt to direct it against both
> «federalist» and government troops simultaneously.

These are all useful proposals, I agree.  On the other hand, 10 civilians
have already been shot by ukrainian national guard attempting to block
passage of tanks.

> "In case civil war spreads, these deaths are just the beginning. No doubt
> that on both sides the majority only wants a better life for their close
> ones and their motherland, and many hate governments and oligarchs to an
> equal extent. The more sincerely naïve people die, the greater the pressure
> to support one of the factions in the war, and we must struggle against
> this pressure.
> "Whereas it may occasionally be worth it to swallow tear gas or to feel
> the police baton for a bourgeois revolution, it makes no sense at all to
> die in a civil war between two equally bourgeois and nationalist sides. It
> would not be another Maidan but something completely different. No blood,
> anarchist or otherwise, should spill due to this stupidity."
> Beautiful lines, every one of them.
> And moreover, lines that have further encourage my respect for anarchism,
> which has grown with the fact that so many anarchist writers, as well as
> the left groups coming from the "socialism from below" tradition, have been
> so consistently better than much of the Trotskyist-derived left on the
> question of the Syrian revolution. Of course, that is unfair, as some of
> the latter have also been excellent, but too many have tended to be more
> confused, often in the half-way house making unconscious concessions to the
> Stalinist and BS "anti-imperialist" viewpoints. Anarchists have made none
> of these ideological concessions.
> To be sure, the problem is that anarchists then show their Achilles Heel
> regarding states and governments that are genuinely based on working
> people, as in Latin America. "All states are bad." Wrong. But at least that
> makes them right most of the time. Heresy to say all this, I know.
> Which in my opinion has nothing to do with the elitist, vanguardist,
> substitutionist nature of Black Bloc "anarchism".
Fair enough.


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