[Marxism] Ukrainian contradictions | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 16 13:58:31 MDT 2014

The Marxist left now supporting the Kremlin over the crisis in Ukraine 
has lost the ability to think dialectically. Not that I want to reprise 
the often sterile polemics of the debate in the SWP of the late 1930s 
that pitted Trotsky and Cannon against Shachtman and Burnham, but a 
glance at the record on the supremely valuable Marxists Internet 
Archives will remind you of the Hegelian element of Marxist thought. 
 From Trotsky’s “The ABC of Materialist Dialectics”,  a contribution to 
that debate:

	Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar in the same way that a motion 
picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not 
outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to 
the laws of motion. Dialectics does not deny the syllogism, but teaches 
us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding 
closer to the eternally changing reality. Hegel in his Logic established 
a series of laws: change of quantity into quality, development through 
contradictions, conflict of content and form, interruption of 
continuity, change of possibility into inevitability, etc., which are 
just as important for theoretical thought as is the simple syllogism for 
more elementary tasks.

Development through contradiction—those words are perfectly suited to 
recent Ukrainian history. Unfortunately some of our comrades are 
uncomfortable with contradiction. For them, West and East become 
synonymous with good and evil when it comes to the Ukraine. The Right 
Sector militias are fascists serving as the vanguard of a new war on 
Russia, while the Russian militias are likened to the Red Army. It of 
course helps them to think in these terms when the Right Sector smashes 
Lenin statues while the other side defends them. Of course, if politics 
were this simple we would have no need of Marxist dialectics. A Youtube 
clip would suffice.

This reductionist tendency reached a critical mass when the pro-Russian 
militias seized government office buildings in Donbas in the name of the 
Donetsk People’s Republic. For some Marxists, this was about as close as 
you can come today to the Paris Commune. At least that’s the only way I 
could understand Boris Kagarlitsky:

	The future of the Donetsk Republic remains undecided, and this 
represents a huge historical opportunity of which there was not even a 
trace during the Maidan demonstrations, whose leaders could not always 
control the crowd, but kept rigid and effective control of the political 
agenda. By contrast, the Donetsk Republic formulates its agenda from 
below, literally on the run, in response to the public mood and the 
course of events. Strictly speaking this republic is not even a 
state—rather, it amounts to a coalition of diverse communities, most of 
them self-organised. In essence, it is the perfect embodiment of the 
anarchist concept of the revolutionary order. Curiously, the anarchists 
themselves refuse to have anything to do with it, preferring to repeat 
the state and patriotic rhetoric of the new Kiev rulers.

The perfect embodiment of the anarchist concept of the revolutionary 
order? I hate to break this to comrade Kagarlitsky but this sounds much 
more like Plato’s Republic than anything Karl Marx ever wrote.

full: http://louisproyect.org/2014/05/16/ukrainian-contradictions/

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