[Marxism] Fwd: Tony Wood: The Case for Chechnya. New Left Review 30, November-December 2004.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 6 15:42:23 MST 2016

(Not behind a paywall and very relevant to Aleppo.)

Discussions of the Russo-Chechen conflict have rarely focused on this 
staggering divergence of fortunes, often preferring the state-sponsored 
obfuscations of the ‘war on terror’, or else characterizing it as the 
all but inevitable product of a long-running historical antagonism. The 
legacy of Chechen resistance to Russian colonization—from the first 
confrontations with Cossack settlers in the sixteenth century to the 
southward expansion of the Tsarist Empire in the nineteenth century, and 
well into the Soviet period—has undoubtedly played a role in galvanizing 
the movement for secession. A strong impetus would also have come from 
the experience of deportation and exile suffered by several North 
Caucasian peoples in 1944. The immediate roots of the present war, 
meanwhile, can be found in the Kremlin’s cynical plan to hoist Putin 
into power, and to reverse the defeats suffered in 1994–96.

But underpinning Chechen resistance, past and present, has been a 
consistent struggle for self-determination. The Chechens’ demands are 
comparatively modest—full sovereignty, retaining economic and social 
ties with Russia—and have a sound constitutional basis. The response, 
however, has been staggeringly disproportionate, with Russian forces 
unleashing attacks of a ferocity unmatched in these lands since the 
Second World War. In the West, on the rare occasions that attention is 
devoted to Chechnya there has been almost total unanimity that Chechen 
independence is not to be countenanced, for the good of Russian 
democracy and its nascent capitalism. What follows is an attempt to 
demonstrate the weakness in fact, and shamefulness in principle, of the 
arguments used to deny the fundamental right of the Chechen people to 
govern themselves.


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