[Marxism] Irish Left Review | Ukrainian Marxists and Russian Imperialism 1918-1923: Prelude to the Present in Eastern Europe’s Ireland

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat May 24 13:00:42 MDT 2014

Ukrainians were ruled by Russia and experienced the coercive genocidal 
impulse behind Russian universalist Enlightenment rationalism from the 
horrors of 1708-12 and the 1820s (Arakcheev’s military colonies), to 
those of 1919-1949. They accordingly have a tradition of 
anti-colonialist thought, like all peoples who experienced modernization 
through domination, that is relevant to today’s events. This should be 
remembered today, when so many in the European  “democratic” and 
“anti-Stalinist” left, apparently ignorant of Russia’s colonial rule in 
Ukraine, condone instead of condemn Putin’s renewed  imperialism and its 
neo nazi fifth-column in Ukraine. This article reviews the little-known 
Ukrain­ian anti-colonialist Marxist critique of Russian tsarist and 
Bolshevik rule up to 1923. It summarizes some of the key ideas of 
Ukrainian Marxist anti-colonialist thinkers noting that they can be 
placed alongside men like Amilcar Cabral, Tan Malaka, Frantz Fanon and 
Aime Cesaire.

This article draws attention to the fact that although there is a 
Ukrainian Marxist revolutionary tradition behind the current 
anti-Russian struggle, there is no influential Ukrainian socialist party 
to speak of. There only exists the old soviet Communist Party of Ukraine 
(CPU), formed in 1918 as a sub-branch of the Russian Communist Party 
(RCP). This party was overwhelmingly non-Ukrainian in its ethnic 
composition until the 1950s and has always stood for Ukrainian 
subordination to and integration with the former imperial power – 
Russia.1 Today, because of its leaders’ opulent lifestyle and generous 
financial backing from politically pro Russian oligarchs, the CPU is 
popularly known as the Capitalist Party of Ukraine.  It supports Putin’s 
imperialism and the Russian Eurasianist neo-nazis.2
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