To survive, Ukraine has no choice but to win a military victory. Victory over Russia, which is seriously affected by fascism. Russian workers can still prevent the worst-case scenario for their country by challenging Putinism. Whether this will be possible also depends on the mood in Ukraine, namely on stopping the dehumanization of the enemy.
The victory in World War II, the anniversary of which is being celebrated today, did not go without a powerful wave of hatred for all things German, which lasted long after the war. We can recall stories of how the Soviet military, speaking at rallies in front of the local population of liberated Germany, sometimes by habit ended their speeches with calls to “beat the Germans”. It took decades for the hatred to subside, with the Germans repeatedly declaring their responsibility, paying reparations, and providing lifelong compensation payments to concentration camp prisoners.
Ukraine is currently at war with Russian invaders. The atrocities now under way in Ukraine under the slogans of “denazification” and “protection of Russian-speakers” provoke a genuine emotional reaction, a desire to abandon everything Russian, to forget the Russian language and to erase from memory all Russian classical literature, much of which is indeed a sin., imbued with imperial sentiments and expressions of supremacy over other peoples, especially those who were conquered by the empire. The extent to which and in what form Ukrainian culture will retain its Russian-speaking component will only become clear after the end of the war. And the longer the war lasts, the more Eussian-speaking culture will suffer, in Ukraine, in Russia and in the world.
The genesis of hatred
Nowadays we see a growing hatred for everything Russian. It began with hatred for Putin, who promoted Yanukovych’s trash, annexed Crimea, and started a war in the Donbas. Until recently, most Ukrainians did not blame all Russians for the Putin regime’s crimes,. But with Russia’s current open aggression, it has become increasingly clear that most Russian soldiers have joined the army more or less voluntarily under contract. Of course, most Russian contract soldiers come from the most depressed and backward regions, and joined the Armed Forces primarily because of the lack of other work, the inability to get a decent education, and even simply to ensure a relatively decent livelihood. Without a doubtsl, social catastrophe in such regions is primarily the result of many years of policy of the Moscow-Petersburg capital, which methodically extorted and neglected these regions, while squeezing all the juices out of them. But whatever the social preconditions, there must be personal responsibility. Many of the Russian military are committing here with their own hands violence and other crimes which a normal person is not allowed to commit. What else can the corpses of civilians found in Bucha with their hands tied behind their backs, who were shot in the back of the head, mean? It could not have been an accident, it was the deliberate killing of already detained civilians who could no longer resist and posed no threat.
But even more appalling is that so many Russians seem to support this war, believing the cynical claims of the Russian General Staff that it has nothing to do with these killings. Instead of even pretending that they are ready to take part in the investigation, the Russian authorities are simply denying the obvious facts. And the number of Russians who support the war, despite the tens of thousands of civilian Ukrainians killed, seems to be growing. Although it is of course possible that there is in fact a more complex process of polarization of Russian society: along with the consolidation of the elite and its henchmen, resistance to Putin’s cannibalistic policies is growing.
What groups are for Putin?
On the one hand, it seems that even those Russians who were initially against the war, probably for some abstract humanistic reason and unwillingness to spoil relations with the West, now, feeling the unpleasant consequences of sanctions and, most importantly, contempt from most Europeans, felt iinsulted as Russians, and began to actively support the war. That might explain at least the actions of Russian diasporas “against Russophobia”, which took place in many European capitals simultaneously with the extermination of thousands of Ukrainian women and children by the Russian army in Mariupol, Bucha, Irpen and dozens of other cities and towns. So it turns out that even those Russians who saw Putin’s war as a mistake still believe that Russia has a right to war. If Americans are able to exterminate Iraqis, Afghans, etc., the Russians, too. can afford to do what they see fit in their area of influence. The logic looks something like this. And this disgusting imperial logic can now provoke nothing but contempt and hatred. And, unfortunately, this imperial contagion has to some extent taken hold in the majority of citizens of the Russian Federation, at least according to available opinion polls. Even if the absolute figures of support for Putin by Russian citizens are somewhat inflated, it seems that the dynamics of support for the war ilare according to most sociologists, positive. By some estimates, the war is now supported by more Russians than a month or two ago. There is a rapid fascisisation of Russia.
In this situation, Ukrainians’ hatred of Russians seems quite natural, justified and inevitable. What worries me more is why so few Russians hate the Russian imperial regime and its disgusting imperial history, the modern Russian ruling classes and their henchmen, who are now crowded with Russian flags and “Z” symbols on their cars on the streets of Russian and European cities. . After all, these scoundrels are now dancing on the bones of Russian-speaking children of Ukrainian Mariupol.
At the same.time as many Russians demonstrate support for the regime in various ways, and the police are detaining everyone on the streets who is suspected of anti-war positions, the number of social protests is growing in Russia. Even with the intensification of repression and the establishment of a military dictatorship in Russia, there are strikes at the car industry, strikes of couriers, actions of public disobedience. Public and political organizations that consistently and radically oppose war continue to operate in Russia.
Perhaps the “Russian people” deserve to be hated as a community of people who associate themselves with this imperialist state and support the criminal regime. But the Russian working class, aware of its condition, interests and goals, which will overthrow this regime, will deserve our respect, support and solidarity .It will deserve this to the extent that it can become a class for itself, as much as every Russian worker will find the strength and dignity to turn against the rule of the oligarchy and the secret police. Then the armed Ukrainian workers, who received weapons both as fighters of the Armed Forces and as members of the Territorial Defense, will be able to return from the destruction of the Russian occupiers to solving the problem of deoligarchization of Ukraine and establishing true social justice and democracy.
Hatred of Ukrainians is justified as hatred of a criminal who cannot be justly punished, but it is unfortunate that this hatred of the whole nation is becoming almost a new journalistic standard. The same people who a month ago professionally fought against the “hate speech” and promoted tolerance are now shouting about their hatred of the enemy. And they are right, because war does not imply tolerance for the enemy, at least until he surrenders. It is good that the Ukrainian authorities, in particular the Office of the President, constantly emphasize the need to treat prisoners humanely, investigate reports of violations of their rights, but in any case, civilization and humanity do not cancel hatred and cruelty. Formal civilization does not cancel racism, you can already see an incredible number of posts on social networks, which in various ways assert the inferiority and inferiority of Russians, rheir values, their cultural, their genetics. The main mouthpiece of the Ukrainian state propaganda “United News”, followed by half of the country’s journalists, constantly call Russians “orcs”. It seems inconvenient for them to call Russians any differently. This is reminiscent of the term “cockroaches” used by Rwanda’s state radio during the genocide. This terminology normalizes fascism, so if we do not want to fascisise ourselves and turn into another “erefia”, we have to abandon the dehumanization of the enemy. No matter how much we hate our enemies and no matter what crimes they commit, they remain human and will be held accountable for all their actions. We want to punish thieves, not turn them into slaves.
For better or worse, we have fairly close cultural roots, and our only difference is that we have chosen to fight against empire and imperialism instead of being complacent about belonging to it. And they too can choose this path. Most Russians are Russian workers and young people who also (though certainly not as much as Ukrainians) suffer from oppression by the Russian imperial authorities. Of course, these people are largely zombiified by propaganda, but the level of support for the war among them is much lower than that of the petty-bourgeois “middle classes” of pro-Kremlin henchmen. The chance to build a world order without imperialism is, in particular, to mobilize Russia’s working class against Russian imperialism.