Dark Night – Against Anarcho-Putinism

Part of the anarchists from Central Europe wrote and published an antimilitaristic manifesto, which is called (original in Czech: , German translation – , French translation – and must, as stated in the title, debunk myths on the current Russian-Ukrainian war. Before reading this manifesto, as an anarchist from Russia, I thought that the comrades would really be exposing all the lies that the network of Russian secret services was spreading across Europe to cloud people’s minds with the message that “not everything is so clear-cut”. However, I was horrified to discover that our comrades were themselves influenced by Russian propaganda and are now broadcasting completely destructive messages to the broader European public, far removed from the context of domestic Russian and Ukrainian politics, and very skillfully obscuring them with anarchist beliefs.

Is this really your position on the war?

Before we examine the myths presented, it is worth outlining the roots of this perception. Russia really is not particularly represented in the global anarchist movement, and Ukraine even less so. The European reader, wishing to join in at this challenging time a coherent analysis of the situation from Russia’s comrades, who should know better, only comes across figures who may not have much influence on the anarchist agenda in Russia itself, but who actively broadcast their position abroad. And one such agent of influence is the CRAS and one of its representatives, Vadim Damier ().

The CRAS has no weight in the Russian anarchist movement, apart from Vadim Damier, we mentioned above, who, to be fair, writes some remarkable research. But it would not be a problem if the CRAS remained an organization of armchair historians. Among other things, it also claims to provide “deep” and comprehensive analysis of the current political situation – and voluntarily or involuntarily, it conveys a position that benefits the Russian establishment.

The Ukrainian anarchist Anatoliy Dubovik made a good . It is important to cite it completely since I will not be able to present more consistently the contradictory essence of the “anti-militarism” of the CRAS. Unlike the authors of the manifesto, I will place great emphasis on the specific facts of Russian policy toward Ukraine, because it will be impossible to understand the theoretical rationale without this emphasis and to understand why the call to simply “lay down arms” does not work within the framework of this conflict.

About Anarcho-Putinists (Anatoliy Dubovik)

«The text is large. The text is addressed primarily to anarchists and sympathizers in Ukraine and Russia. Nevertheless, you can and should read it, and not only to anarchists, and not only in the former USSR.

We will talk about a group of Moscow “anarchists” and professionals from science, led by a leading researcher of the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of History Vadim Damier. On the position of this group, which calls itself the “Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists” (hereafter, the CRAS), in Russia’s current war against Ukraine. It will also touch upon an equally important topic related to the attitude of the international organization calling itself the International Workers Association (IWA), of which the CRAS is a part, to this and some other issues. Thanks to Damier’s ability, the name IWA is mistakenly translated into Russian as “Международная ассоциация трудящихся” — and we will refer to it as such, МАТ.

I will immediately formulate my main point: despite many loud words about internationalism, anti-militarism, condemnation of the current war, and so on and so forth, the CRAS supports the most important propaganda theses of the Putin regime ruling in Russia regarding the war, regarding Ukraine. To be sure of this, it is sufficient to carefully study the materials of the CRAS website (). In case anyone has suddenly forgotten or does not know what they are talking about, let me remind you. Taking advantage of the military-political weakness and many internal problems in Ukraine, which had just experienced the national-democratic revolution of Euromaidan, the Russian Federation seized the peninsula of Crimea in late February and early March 2014 and then announced its annexation; the annexation was formalized by a fake “referendum” that had no legal effect either under Russian or Ukrainian law. A month later, pro-Russian insurgencies began in eastern and southern Ukraine, inspired, and supported by Russian military equipment and expertise. Fighting between the Ukrainian authorities and antiUkrainian separatists began when the city of Slavyansk was seized by a group of Russian soldiers led by Federal Security Service (FSB) colonel Igor Strelkov (Girkin). In the summer of 2014, the entire Donbass was already engaged in a bloody war. In the following years, the war took on a positional character, but did not stop for a single day. Russia continued to play the most active role in the events but denied verbally its participation in the conflict. The masks were thrown off at 5 a.m. on February 24, 2022, when dozens of Ukrainian cities were subjected to missile and sabotage attacks, and the Russian army began a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on multiple fronts at once. The war is accompanied by barbaric bombing and shelling of residential areas of Ukrainian cities and villages, mass murder and violence against Ukrainian civilians (regardless of age or gender), the creation of “filtration” (in fact, concentration) camps, mass forced deportations, and the flight of millions of people to find safety from Russian aggression.

But the CRAS exists in some made-up pseudo-reality of its own. In it there is no Russian attack. It places responsibility for the war on both sides — thus the victim of aggression was equated in its “guilt” to the aggressor himself. The position of the CRAS was already stated on February 25, 2022, in the “Statement of the Section of the M.A.T. in the region of Russia”: “The ruling elites of Russia and Ukraine, incited and provoked by global capital, greedy for power and swollen from the billions stolen from the working people, came together in a deadly battle. Their thirst for profits and domination is now being paid for with the blood of ordinary people” ().

This formula – “both sides are to blame” – was repeated later: “The current war is exclusively about a confrontation between two states, two groups of capitalists, two nationalisms” (“The CRAS-MAT interview on the military conflict in Ukraine”. March 16, 2022. );

“As chaotic fighting between Russian-Donbass and Ukrainian forces continues in Ukraine, resentment grows for the wives and mothers of soldiers sent to the battlefield as cannon fodder for opposing oligarchies trying to continue the redistribution of the ‘post-Soviet’ space” (“Women Protest: “There were even calls to lay down arms. May 23, 2022. ).

As mentioned above, the Russian leadership has denied aggression against Ukraine for years. In full accordance with Putin’s rhetoric, from 2014 until recently, the CRAS also did not recognize any aggression, calling what was happening a “civil war”: “The Ukrainian civil war dealt another heavy blow to those social forces in Russia that call themselves ‘leftist’, ‘anti-fascist’ or ‘anarchist movement’. (…) These groups split into supporters of one of the bourgeois camps, who clashed with each other in the struggle for power in Ukraine” (“Ukrainian Crisis and the ‘Left’: Necessary Explanations.” September 28, 2014. ). The CRAS continued to use this term in 2015: “Both sides of the civil war have violated the Minsk agreements” (“Anti-war rally in Donetsk: ‘Leave everyone! June 16, 2015. ). — By the way, the same publication uses another great phrase from Putin’s propaganda vocabulary – “Kiev regime” (at the same time no “Moscow regime” or “Putin regime” is ever mentioned by the CRAS); *“Revolt against arbitrary military rule amid civil war in the country”/ (“Ukraine: Anti-war Riot in Konstantinovka”. March 18, 2015. ).

It was repeated in 2016: “We do not share Ruslan Kotsaba’s political views and beliefs, but we appreciate his bold statements against the civil war in Ukraine, against the mobilization of the population for this war and the fomenting of militaristic hysteria in the country” (“Success of the international campaign: Ukrainian war critic Ruslan Kotsaba at large. July 16, 2016. ).

Another important thesis of Putin’s propaganda is the denial of the very existence of the Ukrainian people, the promotion of the concept that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, maybe with slight regional differences in language. The CRAS cannot repeat illiterate statements such as “Ukraine was invented by Lenin when he worked in the Austrian General Staff”. But not everyone among Russian propagandists and top state officials voices this monstrous absurdity either. More so cannot say such things by the members of the CRAS, who are certified professional historians. They must choose words carefully to convey the same thoughts about “artificial origin of Ukrainians” and “one people” to their audience: “History, culture and even language of Russians and Ukrainians have always been closely intertwined. The word “Russian” itself originally stood for the Kyiv state of the ninth century! Thirty percent of “Russians” have relatives in Ukraine. (…) Many Ukrainians on whom Russian bombs are now falling are Russian speakers! (…) Nationalists inflate differences or even create them artificially by imposing the exclusive use of a single language to the detriment of multilingualism, so that even yesterday’s relatives and neighbors go to kill each other” (“Why Is ‘No War Between the Nations’ the Wrong Slogan?” May 16, 2022. ).

Open anti-Ukrainian propaganda has been carried out by the CRAS since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war (recall that at first these figures referred to it as the “civil war in Ukraine”). This is how the separatist pro-Russian “republics” were equated with Ukraine in the fall of 2014:

“The regimes in eastern Ukraine are extremely repressive (like Kyiv one). International human rights organizations have documented numerous human rights violations in both zones of the country. (…) Censorship is practiced, political opponents are persecuted; arrests, kidnappings, and beatings occur. There are reports from both parts of Ukraine of forced mobilization into military formations or for ‘fortification work’” (“The Ukrainian Crisis and the ‘Left’: A Necessary Explanation. September 28, 2014. ).

It remains a mystery why, given the allegedly identical “extremely repressive” policy of the “two parts of Ukraine,” 1,228,000 people left Russia-occupied Donbass for independent Ukraine, according to UN data, while there has never been any significant flow of refugees in the opposite direction. Why is it that in “Nazi Ukraine” there are independent media outlets, many different public organizations, feminist and sexual minority marches, May Day celebrations, in general there is a real civil society (with all its shortcomings and problems, which no one is hiding) — but in the “people’s republics” of Donbass all this is under a strict ban and suppressed by the “people’s authorities” by the most terrorist methods?

After February 24, the CRAS website continues to scare its readers with the horrors that are happening in Ukraine:

“Anti-war protests in Ukraine are hindered to an even greater extent than in Russia. In addition to repression by the authorities, who have begun banning and arresting political opponents and passing terrorist laws (including penalties for “collaboration with the aggressor,” “looting,” and “high treason,” ranging from 15 years in prison to life in prison), the very conditions of hostilities also make it difficult to protest. How to go out to street actions under a hail of Russian missiles and shells that pose an immediate threat to life?” (“Anti-war Rallies in Russia and Ukraine. March 30, 2022. ).

The main thing here is not even “how to protest?” but “why to protest?” Why should Ukrainians “go out to street actions” if the meaning of their “anti-war protests” is zero in every respect? Russia’s goal in this war is to take over all of Ukraine, to subjugate it, to eradicate everything Ukrainian, up to and including the physical destruction of all those who disagree with this prospect. This goal is undisguised; it has been repeatedly voiced by top figures in the Russian government. This goal can be seen by the behavior of the Russian army in the currently occupied territories. Therefore, the “hail of Russian missiles and shells” can ONLY stop Russia’s military defeat. The CRAS ignores all of this. The main thing is to tell as many horror stories as possible from Ukraine, where, it turns out, some protests are “more difficult than in Russia”. In Russia! In a place where you can end up in jail for throwing a plastic cup at a police officer, for putting up a sign that reads “Two Words” (meaning “No [to] War”), and even for showing up on the street with balloons of blue and yellow — the color of the Ukrainian flag.

Here is another example of the horrible horror stories about Ukraine from the CRAS:

“The current Russian-Ukrainian military conflict has led to a savage explosion of the most disgusting, caveman nationalism on both sides of the front lines” (“Anti-war Speech in Russia and Ukraine. March 30, 2022. ).

The author of these words, the venerable Dr. Vadim Damier, last visited my country nearly a quarter of a century ago, during an international meeting of Eastern European anarchists in Lvov in 1998. However, he spent most of his time during that meeting making and consuming some kind of local cannabis product (until he was threatened with a “beating his face” and thrown out the concoction he made). But that does not matter, either. Any events and processes in Ukraine are best seen from Moscow – the wise Moscow scientist is deeply convinced of that. [You should also] believe it, too, readers of the CRAS website, in the “wild explosion of disgusting nationalism” in the “Ukrainian caves”. If the members of the CRAS do not have enough words for anti-Ukrainian hysteria, they post someone else’s texts on their site. Here is an example: the statement of the “International Communist Movement”. The document was published by Moscow anarcho-professors without any comments, although those who are familiar with the practice of Damier and his friends from the CRAS and MAT need not be reminded of the care with which these people seek out the slightest deviation from their own views and statements, how easily they declare other people “traitors” and “enemies. In this case, nothing of the kind happened – so the editorial board of the CRAS website fully agrees with what the “international communists” said:

“Thanks to an intensive nationalist campaign, he [Zelensky] managed to arm the population, sometimes by force, and recruit an entire group of mercenaries and militants, elevated to the rank of ‘heroes of the nation’. As for the ‘heroic Ukrainian resistance’, it does what all the armies of the world do: it kills, robs, and does not hesitate to beat and even execute prisoners!” (“Against Imperialist War – Class Struggle! April 14, 2022. ).

Is that clear to everyone? It was not the Russian army that came to Ukraine to kill, rob, and execute — it was the Ukrainians themselves who were killing and robbing themselves!

And, of course, the CRAS could not ignore one of the most important points of Putin’s propaganda, the myth of “Nazi Ukraine,” including the myth of the terrible “Nazis from the Azov battalion”. The CRAS happily picked up this theme at the very beginning of the war, almost simultaneously with Russian propaganda generals [Vladimir] Solovyov, [Margarita] Simonyan, [Olga] Skabeeva, and other scoundrels:

“The ‘Azov’ battalion is an openly neo-Nazi unit of the Ukrainian ‘national guard’”. (“The Ukrainian Crisis and the ‘Left’: A Necessary Explanation. September 28, 2014. )

“Overtly ultranationalist and neo-fascist forces and groups have seized hegemony in the streets and in the discourse” (“On War in Ukraine and Social Movements. Interview with the International Secretary of the CRAS.” April 6, 2015. ). And here is an even more frank statement, this time about Nazis not in the streets or in the mysterious “discourse,” but controlling all of Ukraine. The CRAS website, a reprint of a statement by the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative (a section of the MAT in Serbia): “It is clear that the tendency of the strongest and most aggressive military alliance in the world, NATO, to expand into Ukraine, as well as its support of the deliberately Nazified regime created after the 2014 coup in that country, served only as an excuse for Russia to attack Ukraine, because the interests of the Russian ruling class were under threat.” (“Turning Capitalist Wars into a Workers Revolution!” March 5, 2022. ).

It should be noted that this is the only text published by the CRAS, which directly refers to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. And it is characteristic that this text was not written by members of the CRAS: for them, as we have seen, there is no attack, no aggression, only “the confrontation between the two states”.

And again about “Azov”, already this year and again out of the mouth of the CRAS:

“Ukrainian troops also include openly pro-fascist armed formations, such as the Azov”; “the Azov battalion, a formation originally composed of neo-Nazis (with the SS Wolfsangel sign) but now welcoming nationalists of all kinds” (“CRAS-MAT interview on the military conflict in Ukraine. March 16, 2022. ).

There are two things to pay attention to here.

First. the CRAS simply does not know what they are judging. There is simply no “Azov battalion” and it has not existed for an exceedingly long time. Back on September 17, 2014, this battalion was reorganized into the regiment of the same name, which then became the Azov Special Forces detachment. By the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion, Azov was an ordinary unit of the National Guard of Ukraine. It had ethnic Ukrainians, ethnic Russians, ethnic Georgians, Jews, Greeks, and so on, and its commander was ethnic Karelian Denis Prokopenko. Perhaps this is what was meant by the words “nationalists of all kinds”. After all, for anti-Ukrainian propaganda, almost any citizen of Ukraine who does not agree to obey Russia is equal to a nationalist. “But there are many pictures of “Azov people” with Nazi symbols! But there were several Azov prisoners with Nazi tattoos shown on Russian television!”

That is right.

Let us just be honest with ourselves:

Nazism is not tattoos. Nazism is not some symbols and badges, flags, and pictures. The Nazis are not what Russian propaganda (and the CRAS behind it) has labeled as Nazis. The Nazis are those who mass murder and rape civilians, men, women, and children. Nazis are those who destroy entire towns and villages. The Nazis are those who “filter the suspicious” in concentration camps, who deported hundreds of thousands of people. The Nazis are those who unleashed the bloodiest war in Europe since 1945. The Nazis are those who deny the right of existence to entire peoples.

And these are not Ukrainians.

You must look at cases, not tattoos.

The only business that the Azov battalion, regiment, or special forces unit was engaged in was the protection of the people of Ukraine from the physical destruction that the Russian aggressors have carried and are carrying. Protecting people regardless of their ethnicity. If someone considers them Nazis on this basis and considers the genocide of the multi-ethnic Ukrainian people to be anti-fascism -such a person is simply insane.

Second. For some reason it seems to me that the citizens of the anarchoprofessors from the Moscow-based CRAS should be more interested and concerned about nationalism and Nazism in their own country. The CRAS website could talk about Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who as recently as less than a decade ago gave speeches at rallies about “Moscow is a city for Russians” and publicly performed Nazi salute (). About the sabotage and reconnaissance assault groups Rusich () and Ratibor (), which consist of ideological Russian Nazis and have been involved in the war against Ukraine since the summer of 2014. About the fighters of the Nazi “Russian National Unity” who went to war this spring ().

There is nothing of the kind in the publications and statements of the CRAS. The problem of Nazism in Russia simply does not exist for Russian “anarchosyndicalists”. Just as the leading media outlets of the Russian Federation say nothing about it.

A touching consensus between Damier and Skabeeva, isn’t it?

There is another topic that makes no sense to look for in the publications of the CRAS. It is the topic of war crimes by the Russian army in the occupied territories. When at the beginning of April 2022, the entire world was stunned by the horror that opened up in the cities near Kyiv, liberated from the Russian Nazis – in Bucha, Irpen, Gostomel, Borodyanka – the CRAS was silent about it. The CRAS ignored it. To deny this horror, as the official propagandists did (“It was the Ukrainians who killed themselves!”), would have been too stupid. They had to pretend that it simply had not happened, and that there was nothing to comment. Sometimes silence is far more eloquent and far more important than words. This was one of those cases.

Also. When the Ukrainian army goes on a counter-offensive, when it liberates Mariupol, Berdyansk, Kherson, and other cities now occupied by the Russian Nazis [this text was written before liberation of Kherson and many other cities], they will find many more mass graves and the bodies of people with their hands tied and shot in the back of the head abandoned in the streets. Before the war, these cities were larger than little Bucha, which means there will be more deaths. You do not have to be a prophet to know that. But the CRAS will remain silent even then. To know this, it is enough to know the members of the CRAS.

“But the CRAS is an internationalist and anti-war propaganda! But the CRAS is calling for the war to be stopped!”

That is right. That is what the CRAS says. For example:

“We call on the soldiers sent to fight not to shoot each other and certainly not to open fire on civilians. We call upon them to refuse en masse to carry out the criminal orders of their commanders. STOP THIS WAR! BAYONET INTO THE GROUND! We call on the people in the rear on both sides of the front, the workers of Russia and Ukraine not to support this war, not to help it – on the contrary, to resist it with all your might! Do not go to war! Not a single ruble, not a single hryvnia from our pockets for the war! Strike against this war, if only you can!” (“Statement of the M.A.T. section in the region of Russia” (February 25, 2022. ).

The words are beautiful in their abstraction. But where are the actions? Let us assume that the members of the CRAS did not give “a single hryvnia” to the war. But did they refuse to pay at least “a single ruble”? Did the leading researcher of the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, V[adim] Damier, go on strike against the war? How many days has D[mitriy] Rublev, associate professor at Moscow University and leading specialist of the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, is striking [against the war]? Or are they “can’t”?

However, the CRAS claims that at the beginning of March “two of our comrades were detained and fined” (“CRAS-MAT Interview on the Military Conflict in Ukraine. March 16, 2022. ). But neither the names of these people, nor any other evidence is provided. They might as well talk about “twenty arrested and eighty executed comrades”. And I might claim that the CRAS received a cash bonus from the authorities for its stance on the war (we will get to the bottom of that later). I have no grounds for making such a claim – and I do not make them. Neither does the CRAS have any grounds for doing so, but the CRAS does say so.

Seventy-five days have passed since the release of the “Statement of the M.A.T. Section in the Russia Region”. Seventy-five days of non-stop bombing and killing of Ukrainians by Russians. And the CRAS decided to give new advice, this time only to one side of the war. Advice carelessly disguised as alleged fact:

“The main method of resistance to war on the part of the Ukrainian population is to refuse to participate in it” (“Anti-war protests in Russia and Ukraine continue. May 11, 2022. ).

And here again we need to pay attention to two points. First. Refusal to take part in the war – all this “bayonets in the ground,” “do not shoot,” “do not go to war” – can have two results.

If the Russian army heeds this call, lays down their arms and goes home, the war will stop, and peace will come.

If the Ukrainian army heeds this call, if it lays down its arms and goes home, Russia will occupy all of Ukraine without a fight, and a single grandiose Bucha will begin on its entire territory. The death toll will reach millions.

It is all very simple. And there is only one way to end the war: the complete military defeat of the Russian army and Putin’s regime.

Fortunately, the “Ukrainian population” — or rather, the Ukrainian people to whom I have the honor to belong – understand this very well and intend not to surrender, but to destroy the invaders until the last armed Russian soldier escapes to his country. Second. About the same days that the CRAS was giving interviews “about the military conflict,” telling horror stories about “Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov battalion” and calling “to stick bayonets in the ground,” Vladimir Putin, who calls himself president of Russia, also appealed to the Ukrainian military. He suggested that they “arrest the gang of Nazis and drug addicts in Kiev,” after which “an agreement will be possible.

Putin’s words and perhaps the intentions of Putin and Damier and his friends are different. Not very much, but different. The result of following their advice would be the same. Bucha.

Once again, I repeat what I said at the beginning of this text: the CRAS supports most of the most important propaganda theses of the ruling regime in Russia regarding the war, regarding Ukraine.

The CRAS writes about “Ukrainian Nazism,” about “one nation” and “the Ukrainian nation does not exist,” about “Ukraine’s fault for starting the war” (even though, from the point of view of the CRAS, Russia is also a little bit to blame), and more recently about “civil war in Ukraine. And the CRAS is silent about exactly the same things that the Russian authorities and Russian propaganda are silent about. About war crimes and mass murders, about deportations, about Russian Nazism, about the open dictatorship of Putin and his gang in Russia itself.

The CRAS deserved to be considered and called the ANARCHO-PUTINIST group. I see the only explanation for this: in fact, the CRAS collaborates with the Putin regime.

It is unlikely that the leaders of the CRAS are direct secret employees of the Russian secret services. What they call “informer”. This is very doubtful.

But what I personally do not doubt is that the leading figure of the CRAS, Vadim Damier (at least he is one), is what are called “agents of influence”. That is, a person whose fame, position, abilities, and reputation are used to instill in the minds of certain social groups such views, ideas and concepts that the ruling regime, and/or its special services, and/or their individual groups need. Used to find out the public’s reaction to the informational “inserts” made by such agents. Used for other “sensitive assignments”.

An obvious example of an agent of influence is the already mentioned FSB colonel Igor Strelkov. His task is to unite and mobilize for the “fight for Russia, against the West” the most conservative, most dormant strata of Russian society, who proudly call themselves patriots and nationalists. To warn the Russian leadership about the dangerous consequences of their actions (in those places where Strelkov’s handlers, for whatever reason, find it inconvenient or impossible to speak out for themselves). If necessary, to carry out purely military tasks where the open presence of the Russian army is undesirable. As was the case in Donbass in 2014. For this, Strelkov is allowed many things that are inaccessible to mere mortals: to be an oppositionist, to create and lead opposition parties and movements, to furiously criticize the government and its individual representatives, up to and including the Sovereign Emperor Vladimir the First himself [Vladimir Putin]. And he is not subjected to any persecution, even a symbolic fine. Although other Russian citizens are often imprisoned even for using the word “war” in the context of current events.

Damier as an agent of influence has a different task. He does not work within Russian society, since even among the overwhelming majority of Russian anarchists he does not enjoy the slightest authority. His target audience is abroad. Foreign countries, first of all European anarchists and other “leftists” (I do not know what the “leftists” are in the 21st century, but this is what they call themselves). Its task is to carry Putin’s propaganda into this environment. Ultimately, it is to influence Western society in order to spread pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian ideas in it. Of course, this propaganda is adapted to the terminology and belief system of anarchists and “leftists. For this Damier is allowed much of what is inaccessible to mere mortals: to be an oppositionist, to head an anarchist organization, to criticize the government and some of its actions, even to declare himself an opponent of the war. While doing so, he is not subjected to any persecution, not even a symbolic fine, on the contrary, he continues to make a successful career in the (allegedly) hated by the state system. Although other citizens of Russia are often imprisoned for merely identifying themselves as anarchists.

In addition to their quite prosperous existence under Putin’s regime, Strelkov and Damier have one thing in common: they both seem to believe what they are saying. It is understandable and easy to explain either. An agent of influence needs to be convincing. And confidence in your own rightness is perhaps the best way to influence your audience. Therefore, the handlers of both can only suggest that they emphasize this or that circumstance, but by no means can they demand to voice or do anything that contradicts the beliefs of the agents of influence. As one brave Gascon told a Cardinal of France, “I would be badly received here and looked upon badly there if I accepted your offer, your lordship.

However, there is one important difference between Strelkov and Damier, besides the different target audience and everything that goes with it.

Igor Strelkov is subjectively an honest and straightforward man, a brave combat officer, which he has proven by his actions. This is an enemy who deserves a certain amount of respect. Perhaps when he is hanged after the trial, he will be given all the military honors a military officer is entitled to. Vadim Damier is a cunning, deceitful and extremely cowardly creature, which is well known to all who know him personally. Always avoiding the slightest risk to himself, but not shy to “teach life” to other people. I remember how long ago, in 1996, when there was still a semblance of personal human relations between us, he listened to my story about the general strike of the miners of Donbass, about our, Ukrainian anarchistsyndicalists, participation in it, about the defeat of this struggle – and then he said: “You should have had an armed uprising.” “But we would all have been wiped out within two days!” I replied. “Of course. But we, our International, would have made heroes of you, written memoirs and sung songs about you”.

Vadim, I know you are reading this right now. Show that you are not an agent of influence, not a coward, and not an empty shell. Go to the barracks and hand out leaflets to Russian soldiers about “turning bayonets against the government” until you get arrested. Become a hero. Do for once in your life what you demanded of others. I will even sing a song about you. Later.

How successful are the activities of Damier and the CRAS as agents of influence of the Putin regime, as Anarcho-Putinists? Are there any results of their pro-Russian propaganda in the West?


People who are keep up with this subject know very well HOW MUCH of Russia lovers there are among foreign anarchists, Marxists, anti-authoritarian socialists, environmentalists, and simply “leftists. How strong are the myths about “Ukrainian Nazis,” the notorious “Azov battalion,” the “Kyiv junta,” the “military coup on the Maidan in 2014,” “persecution of Russians,” and simply about “Ukrainian fascism”. This information could have come to them in two ways. Either through the Russian state TV channel Russia Today – but they do not watch it, rightly not trusting state propaganda. Or from Damier and others like him, agents of influence. The funniest thing is that they simply do not think twice about asking Ukrainian anarchists, Marxists, anti-authoritarian socialists, environmentalists, and simply “leftists” for their opinion. Why? There is Damier and the CRAS, they are in Russia, it’s practically the same as in Ukraine – and if the Ukrainian “left” says something different, they’re kind of suspicious. They are probably, in reality, fascists or, at best, nationalists themselves. That is what Damier says about them.

I remember well how in 2014–2015 European anarchist websites and magazines rushed to interview a great many of them about the events in Ukraine (Euromaidan, separatist uprisings, the war that had started)… from Moscow anarchist professors. The anarchists of Ukraine simply did not exist for them at that time. This situation began to correct itself only since about 2016. But many people have already formed an opinion.

Above is already a quote from a statement by Serbian pro-Russian anarchists. Here is another text, from a Bulgarian anarchist. Who, of course, considers himself an internationalist, but understands nothing of the events taking place in Ukraine and repeats the thesis of “equal guilt of the two oligarchic clans.

“Today the rulers of the world are again sending two nations to the carnage of war (…) On both sides of the front line, brothers from “the grassroots” are fighting and dying for the interests of “their” rulers and oligarchs. The real enemy is them, within each of the warring states. In this bloodshed and destruction, we are for revolutionary defeatism”, and so on, and so on (Georgi Konstantinov. “Comrades Anarchists!” March 11, 2022. ).

But the anarchists from the Spanish women’s collective Moiras are asking the CRAS how to solve the unsolvable problem of how to explain to their Spanish populations that it is not Putin who is to blame for the war, but someone else, such as the aggressive NATO bloc:

“In the European Union, the media, echoing the governments, keep telling us that Putin is solely responsible for this war. Knowing the history of NATO led by the United States, we think this is not true. How do we explain this to our population without giving the impression that we are justifying Russia’s attack and supporting Putin’s government?” (“CRAS-MAT interview on the military conflict in Ukraine. March 16, 2022. ).

Señoritas, it is quite easy to explain. It is enough to prove that Ukraine is being attacked, Ukraine is being destroyed, Ukraine is being killed – not by Russian troops, but by your Spanish ones! Together with American, Belgian and other Albanian-Montenegrin ones. Overall, NATO is to blame. Prove it. Russian propagandists will surely help you in this noble cause.

Another statement. This time from MAT, but still diverting Russia from responsibility for the horror of the war in which the Ukrainian people find themselves, and hiding the essence of what is happening behind meaningless verbiage:

“There are those who go on thinking that some are merely defending themselves against an aggressor because of self-defense. But we can only talk about the aggressors and the attacked within the mental framework of WE and THEY. Because at the end of the day, it is always about WE, the workers, the people. Regardless of the language we speak, the land we live on, or the laws we obey. We are brothers and sisters who live only by the strength of our hands and minds”. (“M.A.T. 2022 May Day Statement. May 1, 2022. ).

Just as I was working on this text, I received a letter from a comrade from Greece. Here is what he writes: “I want to ask you, what is your opinion of the Russian anarchist group CRAS? A couple of their texts have been published in Greece in recent weeks, declaring most of the Ukrainian anarchists as nationalists and far-right (…) After “Borotba”, which still has some support among the Greek left, now this CRAS group also trashes the anarchists of the region”. — I have already briefly answered the comrade what my opinion of the Russian group CRAS is. Now he can read the detailed answer.

And here are the direct results of the Anarcho-Putinist propaganda. These are no longer words and statements, but actions and deeds. There is the statement by the Anti-Militarist Assembly of Turin, which unites trade union and political activists:

“To oppose a state of military emergency, increased military spending, sending weapons to the Ukrainian government; to fight for the withdrawal of all military forces from abroad, for the closure and reconversion of the military industry, for the opening of the borders to all refugees and migrants, is a concrete and urgent front of struggle. A general strike, boycott and blockade of military bases and death factories!” (“Italy: against wars and those who supply them with weapons! April 13, 2022. ).

A month and a half later, the “grassroots Italian trade unions” did indeed hold a general strike “against the war, the war economy and the war government. For twenty-four hours practically all transport – railroads, air and sea companies, public transport – was out of action. The slogan of the strike was, among other things, to refuse to send weapons to Ukraine. (“Italy: General Strike Against NATO’s ‘War Policy’ and Banker Draghi’s Government. May 26, 2022. ).

A comparable situation is taking place in Greece. In April in the news stream there was a report that the union of Greek port workers refused to serve any ships carrying military cargoes for Ukraine. This text was not ready at the time, and I did not save the link, but if any of the readers can confirm this unpleasant fact, I would be grateful.

So, the Anarcho-Putin propaganda of the CRAS and its MAT friends works and brings results. In various countries around the world, it has a noticeable impact on certain groups of the population, on public opinion as a whole. In Greece and Italy, it leads to sabotage of aid to Ukraine — which undoubtedly does not mean that the end of the war is near, but more deaths for civilians and the military, more destruction and violence. Regardless of the intentions and motivations of the unionists of said countries. The experts in anarchism Dr. Damier may be pleased with the work he has done on the propaganda front. If I were them, I would give the Moscow Anarcho-Putinists some money.

Thirty pieces of silver.

They deserved it».


I would like to say that there is nothing wrong with us getting to know information and adopting, consciously or not, the position that comes across to us most often. But unfortunately, it is not always right what comes across most often. When it comes to the anarchist position on the Russian-Ukrainian war, this is indeed the case, and anarchists in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus overwhelmingly condemn Russian imperialist aggression. The European public does not see it, since the Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian movements are locked, and a huge layer of our reflection inside the movement has no way out. The radical left and radical right in European countries are the most vulnerable groups, and this is very well understood by the Russian special services, which benefit from perceiving the war through the prism that one way out is to call on both sides to lay down arms (but in fact, as it turned out, only one side – the resisting one), or at least encourage radicals to put pressure on their governments so that they do not supply weapons to Ukraine or join military and political blocs.

In fact, such a position only harms. And to understand exactly how it is harmful, we should consider the “myths” presented.


And, since we mentioned imperialism, let us start with it. The first myth is called that.

Myth 1: We are not fighting for the State, but in defense of the people under the fire of the imperial army.

«It is interesting how the argumentation supporting military mobilization is gradually changing, even though the content is still the same. First, we heard that anarchists in the Ukrainian army are only protecting civilian lives but are not defending any State. After a few weeks, there was already talk of a temporary tactical alliance with the forces of the State, without which it was said that it would be impossible to protect the civilian population. Now they are again openly talking about fighting for liberal democracy, that is, for a particular form of State.

All these formulations are intended to convince us that it is possible to wage a bourgeois war coordinated by State structures but avoid strengthening these structures and thereby not waging a struggle for the interests of the bourgeoisie. It is always necessary to see what is actually happening, which in some cases is not the same as what the direct participants or observers claim about what is happening. The anarchists in the Ukrainian army units are effectively fighting for the State and their claim that this is not happening does not correspond to reality. It comes across more as a desperate attempt to cope with contradictions, or worse, to give the impression that there are in fact no contradictions».

One of the main arguments in the discussion concerning why anarchists interact with the state army is that they are supposedly not anarchists at all but defend the bourgeois state in a bourgeois war. Anarchists are supposed to turn bayonets against their government by taking up arms, but for some reason they are fighting in conjunction with one government against another government!

In fact, if you think about it, this is a very funny and ridiculous thesis. To begin with, Ukrainian anarchists, even if they were well enough armed to fight back against the state, would probably only help Russia take over Ukraine. A revolution is not made by automatic weapons alone, and if society obviously does not support anarchism, then an armed rebellion by anarchists against their government will do nothing to encourage the masses to build alternative grassroots institutions. When such a malignant position is put forward, it is as if anarchists forget that anarchism is primarily about organization and institutions, and then about the armed defense of them. There are no anarchist institutions to defend in Ukraine, this is indeed true. But there are people in Ukraine. And they obviously do not want to live under the occupation of another state that does not care about them. Russia obviously does not care about the Ukrainians, and we see plenty of evidence of this: the destruction of the local population, the shelling of cities and peaceful civilian infrastructure.

The only thing Ukrainian anarchists can build after Ukraine has laid down its arms on the ruins of Russia’s destroyed cities is anarcho-primitivism, although it is unlikely to have many supporters. In this war, we really must choose between anarcho-primitivism with the fascist orders of the new government, which carries out “democratic” procedures at gunpoint, and the national bourgeoisie, which treats its citizens a little more leniently and can provide them with decent living conditions in a warm house with electricity, water, sewage, and other amenities familiar to European people after victory over Russia.

So, yes, anarchists choose the lesser evil. But we do so with an awareness of what is going on and an understanding of which version of the coming life is more humane for people.

Myth 2: Without military operations, it would be impossible to protect the lives of the Ukrainian population and resist the Russian empire.

«It is perfectly legitimate to protect the lives of the people of bombed-out cities. But to do so in the form of conventional warfare is effectively to protect the integrity of one State or another. Moreover, it is questionable to claim that it is in this way that the maximum number of lives can be saved. Continued war mobilization leads to the progressive brutalization of war and the death toll rises. At the same time, staying in bombing sites increases the risk of death. Moreover, it is possible to stop the bombing in other ways than by sending one’s own troops to the front.

The Ukrainian army has chosen a frontal military confrontation, which by its very nature cannot take place without people dying in large numbers. Not engaging in a warlike form of combat, however, does not mean sacrificing the population exposed to the bombs, because it is not simply a matter of refusing to fight, but also of organizing non-warlike forms of protection of threatened lives. Some organize the movement of the most endangered people to safe places. Others are attacking the economic, political and military power of the Russian empire, often doing so from various locations around the world.

The effects of militaristic propaganda are devastating. Some people came to really believe that State-led war is the most appropriate way to save lives, and moreover, in their view, the only way»

We can indeed agree with the statement that «continued war mobilization leads to the progressive brutalization of war» and «it is possible to stop the bombing in other ways than by sending one’s own troops to the front». But unlike the Anarcho-Putinists, we turn this thesis toward the Russian government.

No one would have died if Putin had not given the order to attack Ukraine on February 24, 2022. No one would have died if he had not declared “partial mobilization” on September 21, 2022. Putin sends his soldiers to their deaths and kills civilians in vain. Had the Ukrainians not resisted, as the Anarcho-Putinists suggest, there would have been even more casualties, and this can easily be confirmed by the of those people who have been victims of Russian aggression:

«There is one significant factor, which plays the role of a MINING COEFFICIENT and is not considered in these calculations. But it must be mentioned.

As the Chekists like to say in some cases, “it’s not your credit, it’s your fault”.

So, regarding the situation with the genocide of the inhabitants of Mariupol — if the REAL numbers of victims are lower than the estimated numbers, then it is NOT THE SERVICE of the Russian Armed Forces.

Because the calculations consider the CITY WITHOUT DEFENSE.

Just a defenseless city that offers no resistance. At all.

A perfect example of this is the Syrian refugee camps in Syria. Where, as you and I understand, there is no military, no weapons, no air defense systems (even if old), and no resistance to genocide.

That is, if Mariupol had not resisted, the casualty figures would have been exactly that.

Russians often blame Azov and other units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their rhetoric for the fact that they did not surrender the city immediately and without mercy. They say that all the victims are on your conscience.

But it was strictly the other way around.

Since soldiers from Azov and other Ukrainian Armed Forces units were defending the city, helping the civilian population with advice, and destroying the enemy very actively, they played the role of that very lowering factor.

That is, if they had not been there, as in many villages and towns in Donbass, like in Volnovakha, like in Sartana, the Russians WOULD HAVE ACHIEVED THE PLANNED NUMBERS OF GENOCIDE there.

Once again: the actions of the Ukrainian military are a factor in reducing civilian casualties, not the other way around. IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND!

Because the Russian aviation that shelled Sartana and Volnovakha in the first days of hostilities (I deliberately do not say the beginning of the war, because the war has been going on since 2014), this same Russian aviation frolicked over defenseless settlements, without air defense, without any resistance, in an absolutely cynical and cruel way.

So,surrendering the city would not immediately reduce the number of victims, but would increase them.

There is no reason to believe, looking at the fate of Volnovakha and Sartana, which the Russians destroyed BEFORE encircling Mariupol, that surrendering the city would have somehow avoided genocide.

And every Ukrainian soldier who destroyed an enemy mortar or enemy “Grad” rocket launchers thereby reduced the number of civilian casualties in Mariupol».

(Regarding the “planned genocide figures,” see , as well as calculations based on this normative document with regard to Mariupol ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ).

As for evacuations, this obviously either. For example, Mariupol was not evacuated, and no one organized humanitarian escape corridors, and those who were able to leave in the first days did so on their own or simply tried their luck.

«I am very annoyed by all these fakes about the evacuation of Mariupol being organized somewhere. That someone saw some photos of some people in line. That someone saw some lists.

First of all. I can write you any lists, any kind. You take a Soviet phone book and write out the names in random order, that is all. I do not understand what proves, and to whom some paper with names.

That is nothing.

I will tell you more than that. I do not know a single person who used such sources as the lists to find anyone. But I know people from Mariupol, who in March months lost contact with their parents who lived in another district of the city (and at that time the other district was as unreachable as the moon – shelling, lack of transport, lack of gasoline for personal vehicles – all this made moving EVEN BETWEEN DISTRICTS of the city the destiny of rare lucky people, who like Grandpa from my diaries, had 2–3 gasoline cans in the garage).

That is, people lost contact with their relatives in early March, then searched for them, then someone from their acquaintances allegedly saw the names of their relatives in the lists, which was very encouraging and led the search in another direction.

And in the end, it turned out that this whole family burned alive in their apartment back on March 11. That is it, yeah.

And I will say “something else” once again.

I saw how the Russians make the lists. Lists of those who would be sent from April Mariupol for filtration. It was literally “paint and throw away”: names were written with mistakes, the sheet was crumpled in the pocket, and it was unclear whether the data had been submitted anywhere or not, was it made for the sake of appearance?

Because my own ex-husband, with all the capabilities unavailable to many ordinary people, DID NOT FIND US WITH MY SON IN THE LISTS.

That is it, yeah. Even though we were being rewritten.

And if I had not called him from Nikolskoye (Volodarskoye) and asked one of the DPR people for his phone number, it would have been the same: I would not have been on the list.

By the way, my relatives from the Moscow region also looked for me using the lists of so-called Russian volunteers (military, of course). And with the same result.

That is the intermediate conclusion: all these lists that are circulating in the network – they say nothing. They do not prove anything. But they create the necessary information picture – look, there are lists. So, supposedly, there was an evacuation.

You see, two trains and a couple of buses is not an evacuation. It is a mockery. Do you have any idea what half a million people are like? For example, look at the pictures of the Russian rallies on Bolotnaya Square, where they literally count the people by their heads, and it turns out that a huge crowd of people is only 8–10 thousand people. NOT 500 THOUSAND, but 8–10.

And they tell me that they have seen some pictures of some people standing in line (not even a large crowd) to some buses.

I have not seen such pictures. If anyone has them, I ask you to show them. Because we are from Mariupol, we will know right away whether this was taken in our city or elsewhere. Dozens of details make it possible to identify locations with precision. However, we are not shown such photos for some reason, I hear only deafening rumors that there are such photos somewhere. This is also information attack in favor of those forces that should have evacuated the city but preferred to talk about other topics than saving the citizens of Mariupol.

There were no evacuations. Some isolated cases when buses or microcars were used, I do not count as evacuations. These are private rescue initiatives»

Those who take the position that the surrender of Ukrainian cities would result in fewer civilian casualties are not based on facts and evidence, but on pure theory, which does not correspond to reality and is therefore harmful.

Myth 3: The Russian Empire can only be defeated by military force

«The stability of an empire is not only guaranteed by military superiority, but above all by the economic base on which the military machinery depends. The other pillars are the political structures and the prevailing ideology of the ruling class.

The Russian empire seeks the most favorable conditions in international trade and geopolitical influence. In this respect, its power grows throughout the world, not just in the regions of the Russian Federation. People do not need to be on the war front to undermine the basis of the empire. For example, the bombers of the Russian military can be stopped by cutting off the resources they need to operate. Resources can be expropriated, destroyed, disabled, or blocked from moving. There are many possibilities».

Diversion is also a military way of resisting. Yes, it usually does not affect people, and that is its appeal. But sabotage itself has a purely auxiliary function in warfare. In this sense, the few opponents of the war who set fire to the recruitment centers in Russia and remove the rails, will not be able to stop the war machine at once. But the anarchists have really succeeded in this sense, since they have taken the position of vanguard in the field of sabotage: in Russia, the main force of underground protest consists of members of the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists (BOAK).

As for economic sanctions, they also have an auxiliary function. The war could really be stopped if all countries would cut off Russia’s oxygen at once. But in practice, Europe spends more on Russian energy than it provides to Ukraine as military aid. This is something to think about.

In other words, the main process unfolds on the battlefield. Unfortunately, war is bloody. But it is a necessary sacrifice if people’s freedom from fascist aggression is at stake. Just as Hitler could not be defeated by economic sanctions and the German underground alone, so it is impossible to defeat Putin by economic sanctions and the Russian underground alone. Although both ways are useful.

Myth 4: Ukraine’s population is under fire from a well-armed Russian army, so defense will not be possible without armament support from NATO and European Union governments.

«The military invasion of Putin’s imperialism can and must be fought by means other than war. The problem with the pro-war argument is that it reduces defense against imperial aggression to only one option, and that is the riskiest one: a frontal military confrontation. It takes no account whatsoever of the possibility to disintegrate military forces from within directly by those who are recruited for the purposes of war. In all wars, sooner or later there are not only desertion tendencies, but also various kinds of sabotage by ordinary soldiers who have simply stopped believing that there is any legitimate reason for their deployment. The sabotage that occurs does not require expensive resources or heavy weapons. Yet their destructive effects can disable monstrous military machineries or significantly delay the advance of army units. These sabotages are so easy to carry out precisely because they are performed directly by members of military units, who usually have relatively easy access to vulnerable points in war equipment and infrastructure. Sometimes a single nut thrown into the drive train is enough.

The problem remains that too much effort is spent on war propaganda that portrays all Russian soldiers as fanatical supporters of the Putin regime. Although information is leaking out about Russian soldiers who no longer want to go to war, very little resources are devoted to agitation and networking to encourage them to desert and sabotage the war effort. If there are countless initiatives to support civilian refugees, there should be enough to provide security for deserters and saboteurs. As long as the spirit of war propaganda views all soldiers as loyal foot soldiers of the State, there will be little incentive for rank-and-file soldiers to sabotage.

We can look at the example of the Makhnovists, who conducted agitation in the ranks of the opposing armies (both white and red), thereby increasing the frequency of desertions, defections, fraternizations, sabotages, or turning the guns of the rank and file against the officers. The ease and effectiveness of internal sabotage tactics is illustrated by the example of sabotage in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War»

Another argument often promoted by agents of influence is that not all soldiers are Putinists. Well, indeed they are. But those who really can, desert. But this is not so easy, since Russian soldiers often have barrier units behind them, and it is not always possible to surrender or run away. As for historical examples, they are not always correct. As for the Makhnovists, they were quite a weighty force, and their strength was not so much in weapons, but in broad support of the peasantry and workers. Agitation is important when there is ground for it. But now it is difficult for the anarchists to create a grassroots movement like Makhnovists’ and become a third alternative.

As for fraternization, this is not observed in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Roughly the same way the German occupiers did not fraternize with the Soviet army. There are far more parallels here than with any other war because Germany’s war against the USSR was an invader war and was dictated by ideology, as was Russia’s war against Ukraine, while the United States did not seek to invade Vietnam, hence the soldiers were more alienated from it. Russian soldiers, on the other hand, go to war ideologically, believing that they are “denazifying” Ukraine or simply reuniting it with Russia, inspired by imperial and chauvinistic narratives.

Myth 5: Anarchists in Ukraine cannot fight except by joining the army because there is no mass workers’ movement with the means and capacity to organize itself in an anarchist way.

«According to this logic, we could argue that workers everywhere should go to the polls, join parliamentary parties, and ask the police and the courts to resolve disputes with employers until they have the capacity to oppose the whole bourgeois democratic system with their own forms of mass organization. This is nonsense. It is similar to being told that we must ally ourselves with the State in Ukraine today so we can fight it later»

This argument makes no sense. In today’s Ukraine there is no parliamentary debate, no disputes over delayed wage payments, especially in the occupied territories, and no laws as such. In other words, there is nothing to be compared to. And while, of course, anarchists must encourage direct action, this must not come at the expense of any working institutions, because otherwise we are likely to get neither anarchist institutions nor state institutions. In other words, instead of anarchy, we will get ruin.

«In fact, the power imbalance between the State and the workers exists even in countries where there is a mass working class movement. Anarchists cannot wait for the balance of power to tip in their favor. It is precisely by fighting every day outside the structures of the State and in spite of them that they can change the balance of power. By contrast, relying on alliances with the State helps to consolidate the position of the latter. Moreover, this is done with the help of those who may even oppose it, but only rhetorically, not practically.

Anarchists have always argued that the means must correspond to the ends. Non-State goals cannot be achieved through State structures. A mass movement cannot be built by exhorting workers to ally themselves with the organs of the State, because by doing so they will learn to accept and support these organs rather than to define themselves against them and subvert them. With every alliance with the State, the workers gradually cripple the tendency to rely on their own strength and resources. They lose the belief that they can achieve anything by self-organization and thus feed the belief that they are powerless without the help of the State».

Workers accept and support the state organs by default, and this has nothing to do with the anarchists’ defense activities in Ukraine. Generally speaking, the anarchists do not intend to build an anarchist movement by taking advantage of the military ruin. We must evaluate our own forces, because otherwise it would appear that anarchists should not interact with the state in any way, even when they practice direct action – the state is a sworn enemy! No, anarchists are aware of the absurdity of this position: we live in the state, and we need to interact with it. Anarchist propaganda is necessary, but it should be understood that its spontaneous effect in the long run is negated by the fact that no new institutions have been built in place of the old ones.

In other words, even supposing hypothetically that a factory trade union could be found in some region of Ukraine which, under the influence of anarchists, would take the anarcho-syndicalist principles as its basis and thus want to conduct its economic activities separately from the state, would it really be able to do so? It is unlikely. Even if the anarchists try to defend this union, they will not have the resources to seduce other unions to revolt and build a network of grassroots institutions. The rebellion of this trade union, supported by the anarchists, will have no effect on the anarchists themselves, and such is their potential for action in the post-Soviet space: we really cannot do anything more because of our weakened and small number of supporters! The rebel factory is a downtime, an economic diversion in a country weakened by war without any revolutionary sense. Such an adventure will discredit the anarchists in the eyes of the vast majority of the population of Ukraine, and they will see the anarchists not as liberators, but as saboteurs. Revolutionary subjectivity does not come out of the blue, and it is naïve to think that workers, which do not understand anarchist principles, will be inspired by the example of the heroic anarcho-syndicalist trade union, and will go at once to build similar organizations locally.

However, this does not mean that factory workers in a country at war cannot strike, they can. But with some conditions: it should not be a defense-industry factories (for obvious reasons), and regarding civilian production actions should not reach a complete halt in production, since any sabotage is irreparable harm to people who are already facing deprivation. However, the question of strikes is better left to the workers, they are much better able to understand the context of the situation and their interests.

«The next chapter could then be a list of all the concessions that we would have to make in order for such an alliance to take place, whereas the State makes only a minor concession in the sense of “I’ll tolerate you temporarily”. But it gives no guarantee that when, with the help of the anarchists, it achieves its goals, this concession will not turn into a tendency of “I do not need you anymore. So as potential opponents I can and want to eliminate you now”».

Ukraine does not care about anarchists right now. It is more interested in expelling the invaders from its territories. Of course, no state likes anarchists, including Ukraine. But anarchists fight for people, for their freedom and identity, not for the blue-and-yellow flag per se. The anarchists are well aware that the Ukrainian government will not help them to overthrow itself after victory, but the goal is not to build anarchy overnight immediately after the war. Once again: anarchy is an institution, not a weapon. We cannot force people to be anarchists, and simply going to overthrow the government to “build anarchy” is utterly ridiculous. Only someone who does not understand the difference between anarchists and other, even radical opposition, can reduce building anarchy to overthrowing the government.

Speaking of ideological purity, anarchists can and do cooperate with state structures during wartime. Because there are no ideologically pure revolutions. Even in modern Rojava, anarchists openly cooperate with the state when it comes to armaments. An anarchist from the IRPGF answers a similar question.

“As you say, the conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere are only the beginning of what will be a protracted and messy period of global crisis. But what do you consider the proper relationship between armed struggle and revolution? Should anarchists seek to commence armed struggle as soon as possible in the revolutionary process, or to delay it as long as we can? And how can anarchists hold our own on the terrain of armed struggle, when so much depends on getting arms—which usually means making deals with state or para-state actors?

First of all, there is no general formula for how much armed struggle is necessary to initiate and advance the revolutionary process, nor at which point it should commence, if at all. For the IRPGF, we recognize that each group, collective, community, and neighborhood must ultimately decide when they initiate armed struggle. Armed struggle is contextual to the specific location and situation. For example, whereas throwing a Molotov cocktail at police is fairly normalized in the Exarchia neighborhood in Athens, Greece, in the United States the person throwing it would be shot dead by the police. Each particular local context has a different threshold for what the state allows in terms of violence. However, this is not an excuse for inaction. We believe that armed struggle is necessary. Ultimately, people must be willing to sacrifice their social position, privilege, and lives if necessary. Yet we are not asking people to go on suicide/sacrifice missions. This struggle is not for martyrdom but for life. Should it require martyrs, like the struggle here in Rojava and Kurdistan, that will be part of the armed struggle and revolutionary process as it unfolds.

Armed struggle does not necessarily create the conditions for a revolution and some revolutions may occur with little to no armed struggle. Both armed struggle and revolutions can be spontaneous or planned years in advance. Yet, local or national revolutions, which in some cases have been peaceful, do not create the conditions for world revolution nor challenge the hegemony of the capitalist worldsystem. What remains our fundamental question here is—when should one commence armed struggle? To start, we think that one has to analyze their local situation and context. The creation of local community and neighborhood defense forces which are openly armed is a critical first step to ensuring autonomy and selfprotection. This is a powerful symbolic act and one that will certainly attract the attention of the state and its repressive forces. Insurrection should happen everywhere and at all times, but it doesn’t necessarily need to happen with rifles. Ultimately, armed struggle should always be done in relation to living communities and neighborhoods. This will prevent vanguard mentalities and hierarchical social positions from developing.

Revolutions are not dinner parties and, what’s worse, we do not choose the dinner guests. How can we, as anarchists, remain principled in our political positions when we have to rely on state, para-state, and non-state actors to get arms and other resources? Firstly, there is no ideologically clean and pure revolution or armed struggle. Our weapons were made in former Communist countries and given to us by revolutionary political parties. The base we are staying in and the supplies and resources we receive come from the various parties operating here and ultimately from the people themselves. Clearly, we as anarchists have not liberated the kind of territory we would need to operate on our own. We must make deals. The question then becomes: how principled can our deals be?

We have relationships with revolutionary political parties that are communist, socialist, and Apoist. For us, we fight against the same enemy at this point and our combined resources and fighters can only further the struggle. Yet, we remain in critical alliance and solidarity with them. We disagree with their feudal mentalities, their dogmatic ideological positions, and their vision of seizing state power. We both know that should they one day seize state power, we will be enemies. Yet for the time being, we are not only allies but comrades in the struggle. This does not mean that we have sacrificed our principles. On the contrary, we have opened a dialogue on anarchism and criticized their ideological positions while affirming the principles and theoretical positions we share in common. This exchange has transformed us both and is part of what some of them refer to as the dialectical process: the necessity of both theory and practice to advance both the armed struggle and the social revolution.

For the IRPGF, making deals with other leftist revolutionary groups we can find common ground with is a reality we live with. Yet, we also must acknowledge that the larger guerrilla structure that we are a part of does make deals with state actors. While we once again reaffirm our position against all states, which is nonnegotiable, our structure makes pragmatic deals with state actors to survive another day to fight. For the time being, all of our supplies and resources come from revolutionary parties that we are in alliance with, who also make concessions and deals with state and non-state actors. We recognize this as a contradiction but a harsh reality of our current conditions.

Anarchists must choose, depending on their particular context and situation, what kind of deals they can make and with whom. Should they need to be pragmatic and make deals with state, para-state, or non-state actors to acquire arms, to hold on to their terrain, or to, at the very least, survive, that will be addressed and critiqued when the time comes. Ultimately, collectives and communities will make decisions for how to advance in the revolutionary process and how to use the various state and non-state actors for their benefit, with the goal of eventually not needing them and destroying them all. In the final analysis, armed struggle is necessary for the revolutionary process and the various alliances we make we deem necessary to achieve this goal of a liberated world. We, as the IRPGF, believe and affirm the often-repeated phrase from Greece that the only lost struggles are the ones that weren’t given” ().

In this situation, the comrades are fighting for the revolution with much broader support among the locals. Yet they are not trying to build a dogmatic organization in a vacuum that never asks for outside help. Clearly, if any state favors the revolutionaries, it is worth taking advantage of. Even though Ukraine does not directly help the anarchists, it does not hinder them in this situation, and our Ukrainian comrades (and all those on the side of the Ukrainian anarchists) gain combat experience by fighting imperialist aggression. Under conditions of peace, an attempt to undergo military training would a cause for criminal prosecution. So, we are unequivocally positive about our comrades fighting at the front, it strengthens our movement.

Myth 6: By not taking part in the war, the working class abandons the weapons it can use to defend itself.

«To refuse to support the bourgeois war does not mean to surrender. But it is important to answer the strategic question of against whom and how to use the weapons? In this war they are being used against a currently more aggressive imperial bloc in defense of another imperial bloc. The working class is being dragged into the war while suffering the greatest losses. Such use of arms is counterproductive».

Let anyone who talks about the “confrontation between the two imperial blocs” give at least one relevant argument as to why Ukraine can be considered an imperialist state. Did Ukraine start a war? Did it intend to alienate territories and divide markets? Was it perhaps interested in genocide and the “Ukrainianization” of the Russian-speaking population living on its territory when it announced that it would resist Russian aggression? If you do not know what imperialism is, don’t use the word (or at least learn its meaning beforehand)!

«But if the guns are turned against the bourgeoisie, the military officers, or the structures of State power (Russian as well as Ukrainian), we have no problem with that. Fortunately, we can also see such cases on both sides of the war line. If the working class is to shed its blood, it is only for its own interests, which is not the same as bleeding for the fatherland, the nation, democracy or bourgeois wealth».

Neither are we against workers becoming revolutionary actors, but we do not live in a world of fairy dreams, where this comes out of blue, but in the harsh reality that neither Russia nor Ukraine has a strong workers’ movement. But this speculative thesis has one purpose: to cover up yet another attempt to crush the Ukrainian resistance, the authors of the manifesto have mentioned that they are also against the Russian structures of state power. Well, the agents of influence attack on all fronts, trying to pull our hesitant comrades to the position they want. But the essence of the resistance is different. Russia initiated the war, and when Russian soldiers point their bayonets against Russia, they want Russia to stop the war that it itself started. When Ukrainian soldiers do the same, they help Russia take over Ukraine, which has no interest in this war. And only an irrational person would think that the two sides of the conflict have equal interests. If equal, what are they? There is and will be no answer because, as stated above, those who use the word “imperialism” in their vocabulary do not know its meaning.

«The Ukrainian State makes sure that the armed forces are under the central command of its authorities and army, to which are submitted even those “anarchists” who have fallen headlong into militaristic tendencies. It can be assumed that even if the Russian army is militarily defeated, the Ukrainian State will seek to disarm the population which it is now arming under the watchful eye of the State authorities. In the past, whenever a State allowed anarchists to arm themselves to a greater extent, it later did everything possible to disarm them. Anarchists have more than once played the role of useful idiots who first fought for the interests of the State and the bourgeoisie, which they erroneously defined as the interests of the working class, only to end up, after fighting their battles, in prisons and torture chambers, before the courts and on the execution grounds of the very institutions that supplied them with arms».

When anarchists fought as part of the anti-Hitler coalition against Nazism, can they also be considered “useful idiots” who fought for the interests of the state? Of course, only in retrospect can we understand that Russia’s war against Ukraine is analogous to Nazi Germany’s war against the entire world, although fortunately it is not as powerful and large-scale. But remembering the historical experience, it is impossible not to mention how the European powers did not see Hitler as a threat, until he gained enough power and occupied Europe. So yes, the Europeans are enviably short-sighted. But in practice, Russian aggression is not inferior to the once German aggression, fortunately the Russian command has not yet thought of putting Ukrainians in concentration camps. However, this does not make it any easier, because pro-Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories are tortured and killed, forced to pass humiliating filtration procedures, Ukrainian literature is burned, and the heritage of Ukrainian culture is destroyed. Many parallels can be made if respected analysts and anarchist gurus occasionally gets out of a dusty room and looks at how the war is actually going on, which, unfortunately, they prefer not to do (or deliberately ignore).

Myth 7: The involvement of the Ukrainian population in the war was forced by the invasion of Russian troops.

« The Ukrainian population had a choice, but some chose the option of joining the war by entrenching themselves and defending the territory».

What choice they had? To die from Russian shells?

«No one made the decision for these people. The choice is related to the strong patriotic and nationalistic tendency of the Ukrainian population, rather than being forced by circumstances or in the absence of any other option. In short, Ukrainian nationalists prefer to choose dying patriotically on the war front rather than waging a less risky but effective struggle from positions outside the “homeland” or inside the country but otherwise than by frontal military confrontation».

Ukrainian nationalists! That is where the Shoe pinches!

Without bothering the reader with too much history of Ukrainian nationalism here, I will send him to read Michael Colborn’s “From the fires of war: Ukraine’s Azov Movement and the Global Far Right”, because I see no point in retelling it here. However, I would like to make a few important points: although there were Ukrainian nationalist organizations in Ukraine in 2014, they were not made up entirely of Ukrainian neo-Nazis. These were organizations that included both Ukrainian neo-Nazis and Russian and Belarusian neo-Nazis who had escaped persecution. To consider “Azov” an exclusively Ukrainian organization is not to know the history of its formation. Moreover, today “Azov” has been reorganized into a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine and is very much mixed up with representatives of other ideological beliefs (as well as other nationalities!), and to refer to the abstract atrocities of Ukrainian neo-Nazis from the “Azov” battalion is somewhat inconsistent with the spirit of the times. This does not mean, of course, that we should forget the genesis of this or that organization, but the transformation that Ukrainian nationalist organizations have experienced allows us to say today that they are not as nationalistic today as it is commonly believed (or not nationalistic at all), and propaganda is manipulated by outdated facts.

But even if we assume that the nationalists are still as rampant as they were in 2014, and that “Azov” is a neo-Nazi organization, and there is an entire Ukrainian government, which supports them, how do we explain that Ukraine is ruled by a Jew? And how do you explain that nationalist parties don’t even get a measly 5% of the vote in parliamentary elections? Information about political parties and their support in Ukraine is in the public domain. For some unknown reason, the nowbanned party “Opposition Platform “For Life””, which was clearly pro-Russian and served as an FSB agent, makes its way to the Rada, but Ukrainian nationalists do not. This cannot be purely accidental. Ukrainians are not overwhelmingly nationalists, much less neo-Nazis. Ukrainians voted for their country’s independence in an all-Union referendum, but even by voting for a pro-Russian party, they did not vote for Russia’s occupation of their country. Yet the pro-Russian party found more supporters than the Ukrainian nationalists.

As confirmation of this, it is worth citing the about how they feel about Nazism:

“The Azov Regiment’s appeal to Russia.

“Catch the thief!” is usually the loudest shout of all by the thief himself. Kremlin propaganda calls us Nazis and fascists and calls ourselves liberators who have come to “denazify” Ukraine.

Today, the entire world lives in a time of great deceptions, big lies, and tiny truths. Billions of dollars are spent to create the illusion of greatness and to promote the anti-human ideas of the “Russkiy mir” ideology. The same one that brings destruction, death, suffering, hunger, and fear.

The only weapon in this struggle is the Truth.

And the truth is this: A treacherous monster attacked our land, and it is our right and duty to defend it.

At the forefront of this defense stands Azov.

Azov is a National Guard unit that was formed from volunteers in 2014, after Russia seized Crimea and parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. It is a unit in which Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Greeks, Georgians, Crimean Tatars, and Belarusians serve. Soldiers of different faiths have been serving hand in hand in this unit for 8 years: Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Gentiles, Jews, and Muslims. Where the majority speaks Russian.

We despise Nazism and Stalinism, because our country suffered the most from these totalitarian regimes and false ideology.

Russia bombs Babyn Yar, where the victims of twentieth-century Nazism are buried. Putinists drop tons of shells on hospitals, schools, kindergartens, and churches. Putin’s soldiers shoot the elderly, kill children and pregnant women, just as the Nazis once did.

Nazism is the unquenchable need to kill people who dare to be free. It is the certainty of one’s right as a certain super nation and it is the certainty of the right to rule over other nations while raping and pillaging other nations. Doesn’t it remind you of anything?

The difference is that Azov was, is and will be a shield for Ukraine until the occupant leaves our country. We have never attacked anyone, and the main purpose of Azov is to protect and develop our country, our people, and the lives of our citizens are more important than the ambitions of any politician.

We, the defenders of the heroic city of Mariupol, have taken up the shield and sword that protect not only Ukraine from the forces of evil and lies, but the entire civilized world from the plague of the 21st century. If we put the sword down, tomorrow the same fate will befall Kyiv and Lviv, and the day after tomorrow Warsaw, Berlin, and Paris. We wish thinking Russian people to overthrow that government that sends its sons to certain death for the sake of false illusions of a poisoned reality, instead of the people of Russia living, loving, and developing.

The Azov Regiment”.

As we can see, the “Nazi” Azov itself renounces its Nazi beliefs.

In France, for example, support for far-right Le Pen was nearly 50%, but for what reason is France not considered a Nazi country? An exceptionally good question to those who like to call Ukraine a Nazi country, basing their arguments on an analysis of the political screen, what exactly is the reason they do not do the same kind of analysis for other countries. And after all, the French far-right is very supportive of Russia in the war!

«Instead of a military defeat requiring too many casualties, a different resistance against the empire can be organized with fewer casualties. We can resist without dying needlessly on the war front.

We read reports about how much money the anarchists have raised to buy military equipment for Ukrainian soldiers. We ask ourselves how many successful direct actions against the war could have been carried out if these funds had not been swallowed up by the war machinery? Even from places as far from the front as Dresden, for example, it is possible to strike blows at the Russian army, economy and bureaucracy. It is frustrating to see anarchists pouring resources into the military rather than into activities that sabotage, block and undermine the war».

You cannot stop a war if you just stand there with anti-war posters. They have no effect if they are just posters. This is roughly the same methodology that the Russian liberals used to overthrow Putin: they brought people out to peaceful rallies against corruption in the hope that former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev (who today writes horrifying things about the war in his Telegram channel and wishes Europeans freeze to death in their apartments without Russian gas) would report on his vineyards in Tuscany, and current president Vladimir Putin would reveal the secret of whose money he built the mind-boggling palace. But dictators are dictators because instead of reporting to the people on their actions or going to jail for violating the law, they poison their whistle-blowers with Novichok poisoning agent and then put them in jail.

And if the Russians could not overthrow Putin with posters, how would they get him to stop the war with posters? The question is rhetorical. Unfortunately, the Ukrainians will have to fight.

Myth 8: By getting involved in the war on the Ukrainian side, the interests of the working class in the Ukrainian region are defended.

«Let us ask ourselves what the military operations actually save. We have already mentioned the problematic nature of the claim that it is about human lives. Next, we could deal with the material facilities that are destroyed by shelling and bombing. For those working in Ukraine, these are mainly houses, apartments, cultural centers, shops, the infrastructure of urban transport and other services. All of this is mostly owned by the bourgeoisie or the State and is used to accumulate profits extracted from the workers who use them. Even if all of this serves in part to meet the needs of the workers, it is done on the basis of exploitative principles».

Suddenly, we live under capitalism. And suddenly, capital belongs to the capitalists. Is it the anarchists’ fault? No, not at all. To reproach anarchists for defending Ukraine’s infrastructure, which belongs to the capitalists, instead of expropriating it, is like reproaching a homeless person for not buying a house but living on the street. Maybe is that why he lives because he can’t buy a house? Maybe is that why the Ukrainian anarchists defend the capitalist infrastructure because they objectively have no way to socialize it now?

«We are sympathetic to situations where militiamen in the Spanish Civil War fought to save buildings and infrastructure under workers’ control. But why should workers in Ukraine die fighting to save bourgeois property and territory administered by the State? The workers of Ukraine own and manage only a tiny percentage of local wealth. We believe that international solidarity can provide adequate compensation for the facilities taken from the workers by the war. We understand how hard it is to give up what we see as our home and favorite places. But to put our lives on the line in defense of such places seems to us an unreasonable sacrifice, especially when we know that it is mainly a defense of the capitalists’ property, in the management of which the workers have a negligible share».

How does the Spanish infrastructure differ strikingly from the Ukrainian one? Did the Spanish infrastructure, controlled by anarchists, provide some kind of special anarchist electricity, did the plumbing have special anarchist water, did the stores provide special anarchist bread? No, you cannot label food and utilities as political orientations. Anarchists stand for a fair distribution of goods, not for the distribution of only anarchist goods (though certainly the goods produced by anarchists are more ethical). Moreover, it is very strange that the authors separate the preservation of life from the preservation of infrastructure. If you think you can preserve life at the expense of infrastructure, take a field trip to Mariupol, where 95% of the infrastructure has been destroyed, and ask the remaining inhabitants of the ruins what it is like for them to live without the benefits of life. I am afraid that when choosing between a normally functioning city run by fascists and ruins where anarchism is strong, people would still prefer to live among fascists, because what is the point of anarchism in ruins where there are no benefits, and anarchists can’t implement the main point of their economic program?

«Other defended facilities are industrial, manufacturing and warehouse buildings, as well as agricultural fields, mining, and construction companies. Although these are the places where capital retains the exploited class, already long before the war many Ukrainian workers fled from them to other countries in search of a better life. What interest do workers have in defending these places directly linked to their misery, places where they are exploited, humiliated and exhausted?

The war is also aimed at defending the existing political and economic system, that is, the particular capitalist form that depends on the exploitation of workers and the domination of the State over the population. This war aims at nothing else than capitalist functioning and it is not in the interest of the workers to shed their own blood in defense of such a system.

We are not saying that Ukrainian workers cannot save anything that is meaningful to them by waging war. It is just that we see that war is much more focused on protecting bourgeois property and privilege, as well as the infrastructure of State power. And this is not really in the interest of the workers. We say yes to defending the lives and personal backgrounds of the working class. We say no to dying and getting maimed in defense of bourgeois property and privilege. In the case of the war in Ukraine, it is primarily the latter that is being defended».

I have a question for the authors. Why the heck do they speak on behalf of Ukrainian workers, about their “true” interests? Why do they take on the function of preachers who are trying to set workers on the right path? Most of Ukraine’s population is working people. And most of them support the defense of their country. And they volunteer to work for it. And it is their true interest to defend themselves and their country. Whoever speaks for the workers, condemning the workers themselves for what they do, is not an anarchist, but a Marxist-Leninist, obviously. Of course, it would be good to encourage the workers to expropriate the means of production, but it makes no sense to turn to anarchists for this. Anarchists will not hold a gun to the temple of the working class and force them to govern themselves. They can direct it, but no more than that. And after all, if the anarchists call on the workers not to defend the supposedly bourgeois infrastructure and allow it to be destroyed, what will be left to expropriate? Or, as usual, are the authors living in fairy dreams, where workers spontaneously and once imbued with anarchist ideas? Why, then, did we wait until this very restless day and did not move on to anarchism earlier, since the workers are so conscious?

Myth 9: An open dictatorship is a less favorable terrain for selforganization than the liberal democracy for which Ukraine is fighting.

«This claim is purely speculative. It cannot be shown that the working class will organize more and better on democratic terrain than on non-democratic terrain»

Give me some examples. History is full of examples of how reactionary societies have suppressed the labor movement. The revolution in Spain is proof of this: the labor movement died when the fascists seized power. According to the logic of the authors, it should have thrived! A truly Hegelian postulate: if facts contradict to my theory, the worse for the facts.

«In the world we can see various more or less democratic or authoritarian terrains. In some places the class struggle is in decline or stagnating, in others it is developing in quality and quantity. To conclude that the struggles are declining automatically in dictatorships while rising in democracies is very inaccurate. In the debate, such a position is just the result of a flawed analysis. On the ground, however, it means shedding the blood of thousands of people while justifying this by that very flawed analysis».

What is its inaccuracy? The burden of proof is on those who claims. If you claim that a thesis is inaccurate, why do we have to prove its accuracy by accepting this view as an indisputable postulate?

«Fighting for liberal democracy on the grounds that we will have better terrain of struggle is like risking your life on a lottery bet in which there is the possibility of a big win, but there is nothing to eliminate the high risk of a tragic loss like death».

Similarly, fighting for liberal democracy on the grounds that we will have better terrain is like risking your life on a lottery bet in which there is the possibility of a big win, but there is nothing to eliminate the high risk of a tragic loss like death. Have you noticed it? I have changed one word, I have eliminated two. But what would our opponents say to such an objection? Nothing. Because, obviously, this is a speculative statement that is not supported by anything. I can change it as I please, refuting both my immediate opponents and my own ideology.

Myth 10: Support for the Ukrainian population is often denied, on the basis of the presence of far-right forces, which are not thatstrong in the country

«The reason for not getting involved in the war on the Ukrainian side should not be motivated by the mere presence of neo-Nazis and neo-fascists in Ukraine. We have completely different reasons for not supporting the war. At the same time, however, we are struck by how the same people who present the war as a fight for democracy against dictatorship also downplay the Ukrainian far right. Even before the war, the latter had a strong influence on the political direction of the country towards more totalitarian forms. Why should we believe that after the war this force and tendency will disappear to be replaced by a free alternative?

It is not good to downplay the problem of the far right in Ukraine with figures or by pointing to its weak representation in parliament, because it is clear that neofascist and neo-Nazi forces have the upper hand here, especially in the streets. This is being used by parliamentary forces to turn the course of government policy towards more authoritarian forms».

There are neo-fascist and neo-Nazi elements in so many countries, and they are also represented in the streets. We should fight fascism as a phenomenon, not overthrow the Ukrainian government with the justification that it is Nazi and is the main reason Nazism is flourishing in Ukraine. If you are so concerned about why there are some Ukrainians who support nationalism, you should study the genesis of these ideas. The Ukrainian government is not Nazi, far from it; there is plenty of pluralism there that cannot be found in one-party Nazi dictatorships. To deny that Nazism is marked primarily by a one-party dictatorship is to admit your own ignorance. And where is the Nazi model of government?

And don’t you find these “refutations” contradictory? It was written above that Ukrainian workers are ready to take up arms and expropriate property now, establishing anarchy, and now it turns out that most Ukrainians and their government are latent Nazis, and Ukraine is on the road to dictatorship. This is schizophrenic.

Myth 11: Anarchists are against wars, but this one is different from the others, so we must get involved.

«What is interesting about this approach is that it can be seen in many military conflicts, although its proponents pretend that it is something unique. World War I and World War II, the various national liberation wars, and most recently the Rojava War. In all these wars, some anarchists come up with the same argument: we refuse to support the other wars, but this one is different, and we must take the side of one of the warring parties. Each time they mention that this support is critical, although the longer the support lasts the more this critical nature disappears until finally we see only pure war propaganda, which glosses over certain aspects but conceals, ignores or downplays other very important ones».

Well, anarchists do not have to participate in the war, that’s a fact. If you do not want to kill, you have the right to do so. But you must also understand who in the conflict is the victim and who is the aggressor. We cannot blame the victim for defending themself, even if we ourselves do not have guns in our hands. The authors, unfortunately, do. And by doing so, they do not contribute to peace, but only to tearing the victim to shreds.

«So, is the war in Ukraine different from the others? Yes and no. Every war is different from others in some ways. Different actors, different places, different weapons, different ideological justifications. At the same time, all wars except class war are the same in their basic setting. It is always a fight between different power blocs in which the working class is fooled by different ideologies according to which it is in its interest to fight on one side or the other of the battle line. All wars – and the one in Ukraine is no exception – are the same in that the working class sacrifices its lives for the interests of this or that faction of the bourgeoisie but often in the naive belief that it is doing so for the benefit of its own lives».

Anarchists realize that they are not fighting for anarchism in this war. In fact, no anarchist group has yet declared that its ultimate goal is to build anarchism immediately after the war. We live in reality. Workers do make sacrifices, so they should be protected, especially if they were not the initiators of the war. Ukrainian workers were not. And they do not mind defending themselves at all.

Myth 12: The war has destabilized the Ukrainian State, opening up new possibilities for workers to defend their needs and interests.

«Interestingly, this is often claimed by the same people who, in response to our criticism of anarchists in the State army, affirm that anarchists in the Ukrainian region cannot organize as autonomous non-hierarchical units because the Ukrainian State will not allow it and is not willing to give them resources.

If the State was truly destabilized, nothing would prevent people from taking autonomous initiative. Instead, we see the State trying to centrally control activities in the country and suppress expressions of autonomy. The talk of destabilizing the Ukrainian State reflects a wish rather than a reality. The arming of the Ukrainian population is subject to the control of the State, thereby ensuring that the armaments are not used against itself. This brings us back to why the defensive fighting of the Ukrainian troops must be seen as defense and strengthening of the role of the State, and not as mere protection of the bombed population».

In essence, this “refutation” refutes some of the points made above. First the authors claim that workers have a choice other than armed self-defense, because they can turn bayonets against the state, and now it turns out that the state suppresses autonomy, and its weapons would not be turned against itself. Insightful!

Obviously, when Ukrainian soldiers defend Ukraine and Ukrainians, they are defending not only Ukrainians, but also the state. Because, it is not surprisingly, people live in the state. And, it is not surprisingly, they are not objectively anarchists. Can we blame that on anarchists? No. I have answered above in sufficient detail why we cannot.

Myth 13: Opposing the struggle of Ukrainian troops because it benefits Western elites is like opposing industrial strikes because they benefit capitalist competitors.

In this “refutation” the authors use an analogy. Let us decipher it.

«There are many companies competing on the world market, all trying to gobble up the next competitor in order to gain an advantage over all other competitors. At one point, one company attacks another in such an aggressive way that even its employees start dying. The surrounding companies supply the employees with weapons to defend the workplace against the aggressors, not primarily to save their bare lives, but to gain partial control over the workplace resources and the surviving employees who are so fiercely defending it with their lives by defeating the more aggressive competitor.

In such a case, who other than competing companies would have an interest in supplying weapons to the challenged company? After all, it is not in the interest of the workers to defend their employer’s company in order to transfer part of the company’s resources to another capitalist».

Deciphering: There are many countries on the world stage, all trying to gobble up the next country to gain an advantage over all other countries. At one point, one country attacks another in such an aggressive way that even its citizens start dying. The surrounding countries supply the citizens with weapons to defend their country against the aggressors, not primarily to save their bare lives, but to gain partial control over country’s resources and the surviving citizens who are so fiercely defending their country with their lives by defeating the more aggressive state.

In such a case, who other than competing nations would have an interest in supplying weapons to the challenged country? After all, it is not in the interest of the citizens to defend their country’s government in order to transfer part of the country’s resources to another country.

So, as we can see, another influence technique is used here: to try to push the idea that Ukraine is just a marionette in the hands of Western governments, that supply Ukraine with weapons to weaken and plunder this country, through a blurred analogy. In general, another argument from the category of “imperialistic bloc”.

For what reason did the authors not want to call things by their proper names? Well, because by deciphering the analogy, its absurdity becomes quite clear. In this analogy, the attacking country is Ukraine, and it pursues the interests of the Western “imperialistic bloc”. In other words, it is again Ukraine’s fault that Russia attacked it.

The second aspect is that the thesis “to plunder Ukraine” is not supported by facts. This conclusion has no empirical basis. Ukraine is being plundered exclusively by Russia, not the West. The West pursues a double policy: it supplies weapons to Ukraine, but at the same time buys Russian energy resources – what kind of state trades directly with its enemies if, as is claimed, the West were to receive resources from the Ukraine it plundered? How the West plunders Ukraine is not quite clear. Perhaps, of course, the West will soon demand that Ukraine pay for arms supplies, but it would be fair to pay for it with Russian reparations, since Russia is the reason Ukraine is buying arms and getting into debt.

Everywhere we look, it appears that Ukraine is neither a bargaining chip between the supposedly opposing blocs (the bargaining chip is, however, the inhabitants of the LPR and DPR, whose protection was supposedly casus belli for the Russian invasion) nor an aggressor. The narrative that is being put forward as an argument is entirely the rhetoric of Russian propaganda, which is being propagandized mainly among Russian Stalinists.

This interpretation is further confirmed:

«That strikes will in some sense be used by capitalist competitors is a side effect, not the primary content of the strike struggle. In the case of the war in the Ukraine, the primary objective is to win resources for one or another bourgeois competitor, sacrificing mostly proletarian lives in the struggle. To achieve this sacrifice, the proletarians are mobilized for the struggle through nationalist ideology. If the struggle they undergo in doing so leads to the saving of some lives, this is a side effect of the main objective of the war, which is the redistribution of the territory and resources of the Ukraine between the capitalist competitors.

Let us recap. A bourgeois war and a workers’ strike are two completely different kinds of conflict in terms of content. War pursues primarily bourgeois interests for which it mobilizes workers. A strike pursues primarily the interests of the workers, even if capitalist competitors try to wrest something from it for themselves. In a war, the resources for conflict are supplied by rival bourgeois factions; in a strike, the workers rely primarily on their own resources, because they have no reason to expect them from the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie has no reason to supply them, because it would risk them being directed against itself».

Reducing the conflict to the typical question of “who benefits from this” is a characteristic feature of the Russian “tankies”. And here I should say that if everything really came down to this question, we could state that it was the Tbilisi and Yerevan property owners who arranged it all. But the world is not black and white, and it is not reducible to one interest of the bourgeoisie and one interest of the workers. We should not operate only with the base, when we study the details of the processes going on in the world, we must also consider the superstructure. For workers, the superstructure and everything that goes into it is important: language, cultural customs, ways of life. When a hostile country comes and destroys its language, way of life, and culture, replacing them with its own language, way of life, and culture, the worker being involuntarily not only the part of his class, but also being the part of nation, and this is not always of an aggressive sort of involvement.

To reduce people to a faceless mass, to one class only, is a Marxist-Leninist tactic. It is deeply anti-individualistic. Anarchism is individualistic. In addition to the individual’s belonging to society, there is the individual’s belonging to the personal. Every person wants to realize basic human rights: the right to life (first!), the right to speak his own language, the right to love and respect the heritage of his culture in the context of the place where he was born. These are quite natural needs. When another country’s army comes and destroys all of this, it is ridiculous to hide behind pacifism and ignore people’s desires to preserve their collective identity.

As Errico Malatesta wrote: «We abhor war, which is always fratricidal and damaging, and we want a liberating social revolution; we deplore strife between peoples and champion the fight against the ruling classes. But if, by some misfortune, a clash were to erupt between one people and another, we stand with the people that are defending their independence» ().

Alexei Borovoy also made a crucial point:

“Anarchism is the science of culture! For anarchism does not call for the destruction, but for the overcoming of culture. Does not call for the senseless destruction and plundering of the heritage of the people, but for the careful preservation of the values in which the creative achievements of humankind are contained, which are necessary to our final, uninterrupted emancipation. Anarchism is the inheritor of all past human emancipatory aspirations and is responsible for their preservation”.

We cannot ignore people’s culture and identity. We cannot trash people’s desire to consider themselves Ukrainians and feel their connection to the land. To break this connection is to destroy the identity of the people. This is what the imperialist policy of Russia and many other imperialist countries is aiming at regarding independent nations. And although we know very well that the base determines the superstructure, we cannot say that the base denies it (in the nonHegelian sense)! Our task as anarchists, then, is to help oppressed nations find their collective identity and to destroy empires that do not take this identity into consideration.

Does Russia only commit genocide against the Ukrainian population? No, it even genocides those who inhabit its “inner colonies”. According to statistics, most of those mobilized are from national republics – Buryatia, Tyva, Kalmykia, Yakutia – the so-called “national minorities”. There are 87.5 Dagestanis, 275 Buryats and 350 Tuvans per one Muscovite killed in the war. Disproportionate mobilization becomes a hot topic in the media ().

Imperialism is omnipresent. And it is foolish to believe that Putin is fighting with Ukraine just because it is a fight with the West. He is fighting because he does not want Ukraine to be an independent country. And he also does not want the nations conquered by Russia to see the potential of that independence and strive for self-liberation. I am not writing any new things. What I express has been written by Mikhail Bakunin, and he can rightly be called the theorist of anti-imperialism.

Myth 14: This is not a war of imperial blocs, but an invasion by a single empire that wants to subjugate its neighbors who have nothing to do with imperialism.

«Seeing Putin’s Russia as the sole imperial aggressor in this war is exactly what we are often accused of: trying to fit reality to our own ideological conclusions.

Apparently, imperialism is reduced by some to a tendency to exercise power by military invasion, brutal usurpation of the resources of the invaded and their violent subjugation. But imperialism has other expansion mechanisms than aggressive military invasion. Domination also takes the form of economic pressures or pressure on the political configuration of neighboring countries so that the political terrain is as favorable as possible to the interests of transnational economic actors. This is precisely what is happening when the imperial bloc represented by the US, the Western countries and the European Union supplies weapons and other war materials in order to secure an economic and political arrangement in Ukraine that leaves the door open for it to plunder local resources and favor economic activities.

At the moment, Western imperialism does not want to subjugate the Ukrainian population by military force, in the same way as the Russian empire, but this still means that it exploits it for its imperial interests and that it wants to secure convenient access to resources on Ukrainian territory.

Here we see several imperial blocs waging a war for the redistribution of the territory and resources of the post-Soviet space. Some imperialists are doing this by direct military intervention in Ukraine, others by supplying arms to make the Ukrainian population on the front bleed for their cause».

If the Ukrainians have weapons to counter Russian aggression, why can’t they use those same weapons against the West, if the West is really plundering Ukraine? Maybe the whole point is that it is not plundering it? After all, where is the direct and indirect evidence of this? This position does not stand up to criticism because it has no basis. Ukrainians are neither blind nor deaf, and they would have noticed perfectly well how the Western imperialists are draining resources from Ukraine. The only thing Ukraine supplies is grain. But it is not for the sake of capitalists’ profits, but because there is a humanitarian disaster in the world, and the threat of world hunger looms before us. Or do the authors of this manifesto really think that feeding poor people in Africa with Ukrainian grain, which Ukraine itself exports, is robbery by Western “partners”?

«Some anarchists go very far in their cynicism. They claim that “no NATO army is fighting in Ukraine”. In this way they are merely chewing the propaganda of the Western imperialists, masking the fact that NATO is fighting in Ukraine through the Ukrainian population, which it supplies with weapons from its own warehouses. If we see and condemn imperialist Russia, it should not be in a way where we support the imperialist West while hiding its imperialist nature, strategies and goals.

Support for the armed democratic movement in Ukraine is in reality support for Western imperialism with its Ukrainian government».

NATO enters this war only indirectly, and precisely because it does not want a direct confrontation with Russia (what a confrontation!) – although, of course, things can change as long as Russian missiles “accidentally” fall on Poland. That is one point. Another is that Ukraine has no one else to ask for weapons from. We can assume that NATO countries would not supply weapons to Ukraine, and that other countries outside the bloc would do so. This would not change the situation: Ukraine would still have weapons, although not of very high quality. Ukraine would have fought the same way because the value of Ukraine is not weapons, but its independence. The thesis that Russia, having attacked Ukraine, is fighting with NATO – it is what Russian propaganda constantly broadcasts. But Russia is fighting with Ukraine only. Of course, the world is helping Ukraine to hold out. But it does so not because it is the initiator of the aggression itself, which forced Russia to “launch a preemptive strike”, but because Ukraine is objectively weaker than Russia, and if Russia conquers Ukraine, it will inflame it, and it will want to conquer more and more territory, conquering completely irrationally.

It is worth saying that the point of view expressed reproduces with precision the theses of the failed Russian ideology – Eurasianism (“Duginism”) – is developed by the right-wing radical and neo-fascist Alexander Dugin. Eurasianism is totally focused on geopolitics and believes that the struggle in the political arena is between such “opposing blocs”, and in this struggle Russia acts as an original civilization, which needs to become a point of attraction for the European and Asian tendencies of social development. This ideology is secondary, although it carries significant weight, especially among students of philosophy at leading Russian universities. One of the main ideas is Russia’s expansion and the spread of its geopolitical influence. Anyone can read Dugin’s opus filled with occultism, chauvinism, and metaphysics (if, of course, you really want to torture yourself with it) to verify the truth of this description. In other words, Russian ideologues and propagandists project their desires onto others and make the public believe in the truth of this projection. After all, a country, that treacherously attacked the other country cannot simply call itself an aggressor; it needs an excuse. Russia has many such excuses, and their main message is self-defense.

But dictators often use this message. Hitler, attacking Poland on September 1, 1939, said: “For months we have been suffering under the torture of a problem which the Versailles Diktat created – a problem which has deteriorated until it becomes intolerable for us. Danzig was and is a German city. The Corridor was and is German. Both these territories owe their cultural development exclusively to the German people. Danzig was separated from us, the Corridor was annexed by Poland. As in other German territories of the East, all German minorities living there have been ill-treated in the most distressing manner. More than 1,000,000 people of German blood had in the years 1919–1920 to leave their homeland.

As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making proposals for revision, an alteration of this intolerable position”.

Just as Hitler allegedly wanted to protect the German population, Putin declared war because he allegedly wanted to protect the Russians in the Donbass. And apparently, like Hitler, he started this war for the sake of peace, making his country look like a bastion of justice, which now is forced to fight against Western aggression. Once again, Ukraine is guilty of simply existing and not being able to take the forced measures that Russia is going to take to defend itself! After all, if my perception is wrong, then why are the authors so concerned that Ukraine chooses the West over Russia, which also carries out imperialist plunder? What about revolutionary impartiality and “bayonet in the ground”? What about the revolutionary alternative? Or will Russia be the most consistent and revolutionary imperialist between the two imperialists? Obviously, the authors cannot answer the question of why they are singling out a favorite in their “refutations”. They want to accuse Ukraine of collaborating with imperialism simply because this gives them a basis for justifying Russian aggression: if Ukraine is also “imperialist”, then Russia and Ukraine are on an equal footing, and it turns out that the victim is not Ukraine, which Russia bombs with shells, but Russia, which was forced to start this war. It is convenient, nothing to say!

Myth 15: The analysis of anarchists and leftists, especially in the West, is short-sighted because they see imperialism only in the US, NATO and its allies, not in Russia.

«We are sure that all those who criticize the support given to the Ukrainian army do not overlook Russia’s imperial position. We also know for sure that some people, in turn, see imperialism only on the Russian side. They do not acknowledge its existence on the Western side, or they downplay it by saying that Western imperialism is not manifesting itself in this conflict in the invasive and domineering way that Russia is. We have already noted that Western imperialism is, in fact, expansionist, like Russia’s one, but that it pursues its interests indirectly by supporting the Ukrainian army, which is fighting battles for its interests.

If it is myopic to see imperialism only on the side of the US and its allies, we should measure those who see imperialism only in Russia by the same yardstick. Our refusal to support the war does not consist in denying Russia’s imperial role, nor in demonizing the imperial role of “the West”. We refuse to support all imperial powers. We refuse to see the empire only on one side of the battle line, because we see it in every State that supports the war and thereby pursues its own imperial interests above all. Yes, we see differences in the degree of brutality used by each State. However, this is a reflection of their current capacities, which is a variable. States that are less aggressive now because they are pushed on the defensive may become as brutal as Russia tomorrow if they lack the means to do so at present. Anyone who chooses to support one empire in war against another should be aware that in doing so he is providing the weakest empire with the means for future aggression».

The authors have not yet named the imperial powers and their actions specifically. When anarchists say that Russia follows an imperialist policy, they can justify this by citing Russia’s own actions as an argument. Russia is a concrete political entity, a single sovereign state. “The West” is an aggregate. Of course, we sometimes reduce certain policies to the actions of the “collective West”, but we do so consciously and understand that some decisions are indeed made collectively. You can, of course, start listing in alphabetical order all the countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia, for example, but it is very convenient to use the name of the aggregate for this. As for imperialism, we cannot call the entire West imperialistic, because otherwise the word “imperialism” ceases to make sense. Imperialism is characterized by the hegemony of one country, and the only country that falls under this category and yet is Western is the United States. But the U.S. is not the entire West. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Italy, Spain – it is impossible to list them all. Are they imperialistic all at once, too? Do they have the same policy as Russia? And what is it about? And how can these countries all at once become as brutal as Russia?

The West is not an empire. Only countries can be empires. It is not so much the “Western” states that are now resorting to imperialism. For example, Turkey, China, Israel. And you can justify this by referring to their practice (or desire) of expansion through the enslavement of peoples living in the territories they claim.

For Turkey it is Kurdistan, for China it is Taiwan, for Israel it is Palestine. It makes no sense to talk about Western expansion, because there is no such state, and therefore no one can talk about the geopolitical interests of the entire West.

It is worth saying that “West” has in many ways two meanings: the West as NATO countries and the West as member states of the European Union. Let us first consider the European Union and give the rationale why it cannot be imperialistic.

The European Union is a kind of confederation. But each country is autonomous, and to speak of the expansionism and imperialism of the European Union is to admit an ignorance of how it functions. But I think Europeans should know well that the European Union has no attributes of a state, although it is a subject of international law. Its organs are supranational. Any country can leave the European Union and join it, which cannot be a sign of its imperialist nature. The European Union is the most decentralized subject of international law that exists in the world today.

Speaking of NATO countries, it is more complicated than that. The NATO bloc was indeed created to confront a geopolitical adversary, the Soviet Union, and NATO was essentially a tool that the United States used against the USSR. But it made sense at the time: ideological confrontation and the fear that the Soviet Union was threatening the capitalist world. Today, the Soviet Union has disintegrated, and all the countries that were part of the USSR have become capitalistic. NATO remained as a collective military security body. And, as it turned out, the fears were justified indeed: although today’s Russia, as the successor of the USSR, is no longer socialistic, it is still imperialistic. The USSR had not overcome the imperialism of the Russian Empire, and Russia had not overcome the imperialism of the USSR and was infected with the plague of revanchism. However, as the experience of the Russian-Ukrainian war shows, for 10 months NATO has never sent tanks to the Kremlin and does not seem very interested in sending them even after the incident in Przewodów, trying to put it down to an accident (and even if it is an accident – should not this “accident” be able to attract NATO’s attention and make it help Ukraine by closing its sky, for example? How many more such “accidents” will there be at the very moment when Russia is shelling Ukraine with a record number of missiles?).

NATO is also not a state, and although it dances to the tune of the U.S., is obviously not interested in war with Russia. After all, if NATO and the U.S. were interested, they would find a way to “restore democracy in Russia”. NATO does not attack even after obvious provocations from the Russian side. Is it possible to talk about American imperialism in this situation? Neither NATO nor the Americans, who have control over this organization, are enslaving Russia. They want Ukraine not to be taken over, not the collapse of Russia (it may indeed collapse at the end of the war, although it is unlikely that it will do so as a result of “Western redistribution”,since the West is not even discussing this). This is the key difference.

In other words, we cannot simply put on labels and assume that if a country behaves like an imperialist in one case, it will behave the same in another. Empires, oddly enough, also have their priorities. And the Americans’ priority is to keep Europe intact, not to arrange a redistribution of Ukraine for the sake of a dubious confrontation with Russia. The thesis of a confrontation between two imperialist powers seems to have been stuck in the late 1970s. It is time to update the propagandist guides!

Myth 16: The claim that the two warring sides are the same is a common ideological justification for not standing up for the massacred Ukrainian population.

«This myth is obviously based on a misinterpretation of the statement that this is a war between imperial powers, and it is a mistake to take sides with one of them. This is not to say that the two sides are the same in all respects. What is meant is that they are both bourgeois, and therefore it is contrary to the interests of the working class to oppose one bourgeois faction while at the same time defending the other bourgeois faction.

Both sides are the same in their bourgeois content. However, each applies different forms and means to enforce this content. The fact that some do it in more aggressive and brutal ways should not be an argument for joining with the lesser aggressors and bleeding for their interests».

This is a very subtle psychological trick! One time the authors write that no, the confrontation is between Western countries and Russia, and therefore it is two empires, and now it turns out that Ukraine, being the object of this myth, is imperialistic, and the struggle between Russia and Ukraine is a struggle of two imperial powers (no proof, as usual). The argument swings like a pendulum from side to side, but this sophistry is obvious to any thinking person. So yes, the arguments presented are a compilation of everything that can convince people not to support Ukraine. Since our much-respected comrades do not support either side, why are they so fond of criticizing Ukraine, mentioning Russia casually only? This is not accidental. Russia and Ukraine are in an unequal position. Russia has relatively peaceful sky (for now, but if they cease to be peaceful, it will be entirely Russian’s fault). In Ukraine it is not peaceful. Therefore, the question you are being asked has a different meaning. They are trying to ask you if you are cannibals, since you deny people the right to self-defense. But the answer is probably going to be disappointing for you.

Myth 17: People who have not experienced occupation by the troops of an imperial power will find it difficult to understand why the people of Ukraine are defending themselves through war mobilization.

«This myth is based on the stereotype that those who have not experienced something cannot understand it and certainly cannot be empathetic to those who have. It is in fact a kind of hierarchization, where the opinion of survivors has a high value, while the opinion of people without direct experience is considered worthless and fundamentally misguided. For example, the Czech Anarchist Federation states on its website:

“The historical experience of occupation in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe is clearly not transferable and is difficult to understand in regions that have not been occupied or even have their own imperial past.” [Anarchistickáfederace, O lidi musí jít především [People must come first]: ].

We disagree with statements along the lines of “you haven’t experienced it, so your positions will always be out of touch”. In fact, opinions on the issue vary considerably even among the survivors of the occupying forces’ aggression themselves. By the way, we live in a country that was occupied by Nazi troops and later by Warsaw Pact troops, yet we agree with the statement of the FAI (Anarchist Federation of Italy), which the Czech Anarchist Federation tries to counter by claiming that the position of the Italian section is based on misunderstanding due to not having lived through the occupation experience. People do not have to have been raped themselves to show an empathetic connection with those who experience rape. Likewise, people who have been raped can be callous and misguided. If the lived experience of occupation should automatically lead to greater empathy and appropriate analysis, then how do we explain the right-wing populism and nationalism that ran rampant during the Nazi and Stalinist occupation of Czechoslovakia?»

It is interesting that the occupation is compared to rape. Well, by analogy, if you are raped in the street, you should not resist it, because it is violence, and you should just politely ask the rapist not to rape you, and they will not! Don’t you see the absurdity of this thesis?

Experience does affect perception. A person who has been raped is more likely to understand another person who has been raped because it is a traumatic experience that he or she carries over to himself or herself. So does an occupation. Or do our comrades completely disagree that occupation is a traumatic experience for a people?

But sometimes you can empathize without being under occupation. Empathy is responsible for this. Some people have atrophied empathy and are incapable of extrapolating some people’s traumatic experiences to themselves. They are incapable of understanding that sleeping on the floor of a damp basement and running under flying shells is a traumatic experience. They are incapable of seeing people as people, seeing only a faceless mass that they can call whatever they want: “khokhols” [ethnic slur used by some Russians for the Ukrainians] or, in the case of those who wrote this manifesto, “workers” – having no idea that their average idea of people corresponds only to a stereotypical representation.

The human experience is unique. Although each person does experience certain traumatic events in his or her own way (some do not consider the occupation of Czechoslovakia to be any great misfortune either), on average we see that people’s way of life has significantly changed – and not for the better. The military is not fighting against each other in an open field. Russia regularly commits war crimes and does so with near impunity. It must be stopped by brute force, and there is nothing contradictory or inconsistent with the anarchist view. After all, if you think any brute force is unacceptable, then how do you come to support a revolution which, according to right-wing adherents, is violent?

No, you understand perfectly well that these two things – state or capitalist institutional violence and the attempt to resist it directly – cannot be compared. That there is, as Slavoj Žižek wrote in his essay “On Violence”, objective violence and subjective violence. But Slavoj Žižek was smarter than some anarchists; he was able to discern in the Russian military aggression the objective side of violence (Russia’s enslavement of Ukrainians), the violence, that Ukrainians resist using subjective violence (armed resistance proper). Failure to understand this difference also nullifies the anarchist argument why we do not consider it unethical to resist the state and capitalism. Or, as usual, instead of accepting this inconvenient fact that violence differs in origin and character, would the authors prefer to perform mental gymnastics and condemn Ukrainians for resisting the attempts of a state hostile to them to enslave them?

Myth 18: The resistance of the Ukrainian troops is based on the voluntary involvement of the Ukrainian population, which decided to join the fight.

«Saying such a thing is as silly as saying that all Russian citizens support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. There are thousands of people who volunteer to join both the Ukrainian and Russian armies. Just as there are many who evade the draft, desert, or emigrate to avoid having to serve in the army.

Not all Ukrainians are burning with the desire to fight for “their” bourgeois elites and the capitalist oligarchs who control them. The Ukrainian State is aware of this, which is why it tries to force participation in the army through involuntary recruitment.

According to the independent Kharkov website “Assembly”, subpoenas are most often distributed in the same places in the city. Forced summonses are carried out by military police, armed soldiers, “territorial defense” fighters and police officers – in cars and in on foot patrols.

According to an eyewitness, those handing out summonses at the entrance to Klas in Odessa were very loudly indignant that they could not catch anyone. Judging by the feedback from users on the Telegram channel, these actions are causing growing public indignation.

The recruits hunting is taking place at gas stations, on streets and intersections, in stores, at places where humanitarian aid is distributed… Some people try not to accept the call, for example, by sitting in their cars and not opening their windows. Some try to resist. In response, the women of the men called up have had their arms broken and have been threatened.[]

The Russian anarchist portal states:

“Although there are many people who want to fight against the aggressor, it is a common practice in Ukraine to catch draft-age men on the street and give them a draft order, then give them a medical examination in five minutes and send them to a military unit where such unprepared and often unfit recruits are not welcome. According to volunteer movement activist Valery Markus, such forcibly mobilized soldiers who do not want to fight are a potential bomb; they can desert and abandon their positions at any time; they are a waste of valuable resources and are useless anyway.”[]

We have no doubt that many persons engage in war activities quite voluntarily. However, this is not a proof that there are not many who are forced to do so or who avoid it. While the case of the former continues to be brought to the forefront of the media by pro-Ukrainian war propaganda, the latter are mostly ignored. If they talk about them, then it is done in the form of downplaying and belittling. There is a strong tendency to portray such people as a marginal phenomenon. A kind of aberration or exception to the rule that the Ukrainian population voluntarily joins the army units and happily rushes to the front.

If the Russian State is rightly accused of war propaganda manipulation of facts, the same yardstick should be applied to pro-Ukrainian war propaganda, which uses identical manipulative mechanisms».

I am not going to verify these claims, because I do not see the point. Amazingly, in a country where martial law is declared, men are mobilized! And it would also be quite surprising, but yes, it turns out not all men want to fight. There is always a percentage of those who do not want to fight, including in a country that is defensive. And even, surprisingly, there are collaborators in every country, both in the country that is fighting and in the country that is defending. But if you want to approach the question impartially, you have to compare how many mobilization orders Ukraine issued and how many people showed up at the recruitment center and got to the front (minus, again, some margin of error if people who did not want to fight showed up at the recruitment center). You must compare the number of refuseniks with the number of those who went voluntarily to the territorial defense of Ukraine. In other words, there must be a cross-section, a statistic. If not, then the analysis makes no sense: is it worth laying down arms for the sake of a critical minority of citizens who do not want to defend themselves and their homes?

I am afraid that the statistics will not be on the side of those who call for laying down arms.

It is also worth noting that in this “refutation”, the focus is again on Ukraine, while the everyday life of the Russian “partial mobilization” is not mentioned. If we are really talking about desertion, the Russians have excelled the Ukrainians. It was not the Ukrainians who ran into the woods to hide, but the Russians, and it was the Russians who stormed the borders of neighboring countries to leave, because they are obviously being sent to their deaths.

You could, of course, make the argument that if Ukraine’s borders were open, Ukrainians would also storm their neighbors to escape mobilization. But this does not correspond to reality. Ukrainians themselves were lining up to receive weapons, going to the recruitment centers themselves. There is plenty of documentary evidence of this, including video footage. But there was no such thing in Russia. There was a kilometer-long traffic jam on Upper Lars checkpoint, but there was not a single kilometer-long line to the recruitment center.

That says a lot.

And as for the thesis that not all Russians support Putin, that is true. But what good is it if they do not support him if they are passive? Why haven’t the respected anarchist comrades asked their favorite question: shouldn’t the Russian deserters have taken up arms and gone to overthrow Putin? This is a reasonable question, because the respected anarchist comrades demand this of the Ukrainian workers with regard to their government, but demand nothing of the Russian workers with regard to the Russian government. There is a total inconsistency in this. If the anarchist comrades are against all governments, shouldn’t the condemnation of those who escaped mobilization or went to the front without wanting to turn bayonets against the Russian government follow?

But condemnation seems to work only one way.

Myth 19: Refusing to support Ukrainian military forces means sacrificing the population to the bombing by Russian troops.

«We do not want to elaborate further on why not supporting the war does not necessarily mean denying aid to people who are resisting aggressors – both Russian and Ukrainian. We will only add the information that it is the Ukrainian State that, under threat of punishment, forbids the male part of the Ukrainian population to leave the country and recruits thousands of men into the army to effectively stay in the places where the bombing is taking place. It is the Ukrainian State that is sacrificing these people against their will, possibly by mobilizing them under the pressure of patriotic and nationalist propaganda. We, on the other hand, say that no one should be denied the opportunity to move to a place of safety when they are in danger of being maimed or killed by the bombs of the attacking imperial army».

And what does, excuse me, the Russian state do in this same case? Doesn’t it send people to their deaths? Doesn’t it punish those who do not want to go to a neighboring country to kill civilians? There seems to be no impartiality in this argument. And once again we have to be convinced that what the authors of this manifesto crucified above by saying that they are not stirring up anti-Ukrainian sentiment has no weight.

This is not even mentioning the question of which country is bombing Ukraine and endangering not only Ukrainian men, but also women, the elderly, and children. Thank you for mentioning at least casually that the imperial Russian army is dropping bombs on people, but yes, against the background of Ukraine’s military mobilization this factor of Ukrainian men’s mortality is insignificant (no, it is significant).

The position that says that Ukraine, like Russia, should also lay down its arms since its men going to the front are dying does not consider one huge difference: Ukraine would gladly stop fighting if Russia withdrew from its territory. Ukraine would stop fighting if it restored its borders established in 1991. Russia, on the other hand, is the initiator of aggression and does not risk any of its sovereignty. Russian men are not even sent to die for freedom (in any sense of the word), but for the political ambitions of the Kremlin clique. Here lies the key difference: Ukraine values its servicemen. Ukraine celebrates every exchange of prisoners of war as a holiday. Russia, on the other hand, drives mobile crematoriums across the battlefield to burn the bodies of deceased “heroes” and is unwilling to remove the corpses from the Ukrainian fields, which remain there to rot. This gives us a concrete understanding of who is expendable material and who is a defender in this war.

Such a situation, of course, does not mean that someone who is left so badly scarred by his country that it does not even wish to bury everyone with dignity does not deserve sympathy. In part it does, but not as a “neighbor”, according to Nietzsche, but as a “distant one”, since the Russian soldier is pitied not because he was not honored, but because he was so badly duped by imperial chauvinist propaganda that he got all ideas of ethical and unethical off axes, and he went to make the institutionalized killings of citizens of a neighboring country. But this is a question that lies in the plane of human dignity. Since a Russian soldier does not challenge such decisions and goes along to kill because “an order is an order”, his fate is predictable, and he himself has no human dignity – and for that he is kicked in the head by those whom he, a man without conscience, has come to kill. Fair enough. For the freedom of my fist ends with my neighbor’s nose – a basic anarchist principle.

Myth 20: People who refuse to support the resistance of the Ukrainian army cling to abstract ideological dogmas that cannot practically help those affected

«Those who reject war are often the same people who help those affected by war. At the same time, some are actively sabotaging the continuation of the war, hampering the war industry, and disrupting war mobilization through practical actions. For example, the Italian anarchist federation FAI, promoting nonparticipation in the war, declares:

“The first commitment of those who oppose the war is the construction and dissemination of mutual aid practices such as networks of solidarity from below to fulfill the immediate needs of the people who suffer most from the consequences of the conflict, being these food or medical support. There is also the need of support networks for those who practice strikes, sabotage, desertion, such as transnational networks for those who hide or flee from or over both sides of the front.” [Federazione Anarchica Italiana (FAI-IAF), For a new Anarchist Manifesto Against The War, English translation: ].

This is not an ideology detached from life. These are concrete practical steps that save lives and help to organize them in a more just way than is conceivable in the case of any war mobilization by conflicting powers».

Helping people, of course, is great. Such initiatives that help people affected by war, including defectors (including Ukrainian ones, if there are any: after all, if people really do not want to defend their country, they have the right to do so, although this may seem cowardly to some), should be welcomed. But it is worth remembering: Ukrainian (and Russian) refugees will not live in Europe forever. They will have to return to their homes. Therefore, Ukraine is fighting now, so that Ukrainians can return home and live as normal as before the war, and Russian refugees can return without fear of being imprisoned or sent to the front to fight if they do not want to. Above I wrote why the methods proposed by the authors of the manifesto do not work – they have not proven themselves practically. However, both sabotage (again, on the territory of the aggressor country, because sabotage on the territory of Ukraine is harmful, I also wrote why), and economic sanctions are necessary, but only as a supporting tool. These measures cannot replace a fullfledged armed struggle. Helping refugees is about treating the symptoms, not the disease. For refugees to live well, they must return to their homes, not wander around the world in search of asylum. This is a known fact. For them to return, Ukraine must liberate its territories and rebuild its cities.

Myth 21: People rejecting the military resistance of the Ukrainians are only interested in ideological purity and do not care about real people.

«The accusation of disregard for the victims of war aggression is at this point more emotionally tinged than based on truth. For the refusal to engage in war in our conception is not motivated by concern for abstract ideas and disinterest in the concrete people of the bombed-out cities. On the contrary, these people are of primary concern in our analysis.

The black and white vision that divides people into considerate supporters of the Ukrainian army and reckless opponents of support is very misleading. In reality, both camps are often driven by an equally sincere desire to be as helpful as possible to a maimed and murdered population. What differs is their position on the question of what is an appropriate and effective method of aid. Some see it in supporting the war effort on the Ukrainian side, others in subverting the war effort on all sides of the war line.

We will not accuse our opponents of not caring about the people sacrificed in the war. We do not think they are unscrupulous, only that they are mistaken in their estimates. They are wrong when they say that the lives of the bombed population are best protected by joining the war effort.

As the popular saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. And therefore, we cannot avoid to criticize the war propagandists within anarchist circles on the grounds that “they mean well”. Our analysis goes deeper than the intentions themselves and relates to who is making the claims. We are primarily interested in what is actually happening. Thus, when people sacrifice lives for bourgeois interests on the battlefield, and others interpret this as defending civilian lives from a deadly war, then we are saying: war leads to escalating brutalization and mass murder, not to the protection of lives».

Those who believe that Ukraine should defend itself are essentially inventing nothing. We are voicing the position held by the vast majority of Ukrainians. We are talking about what they care about, not trying to invent for them what they should care about. It is not a choice between two nations destroying one another, it’s a choice between those who commit genocide and those who are the victims. That is one point. Another is that toothless pacifism is not “ideological purity”, but inconsistency. Anarchism does not happen to be “ideologically pure” at all, you can find this only with Marxists; anarchism is a practical philosophy, and it is changeable by circumstances. We say why it is rational to fight against Russian aggression by armed means, and we do so without appealing to the argument that both countries are bourgeois. After all, if we think that all countries are bourgeois, and we don’t have to get involved and figure out who is right and who is wrong, then we will have nothing else to do but write cabinet treatises about how things might have been if things had worked out the way we want them to. We should not analyze from the perspective of how things might be, but from the perspective of how things really are.

There really is no black and white vision. Including with regard to this war. But the shades of gray will not be decided by ordinary citizens, but by an international military tribunal. Right now, we need to stay on the black-and-white position: what is ethical and what is not. If Russia initiated the war, then it must be punished. Who exactly and to what extent is guilty will be revealed after the war. And now the talk that “all is not so clear-cut, we must distance ourselves from the war” is beneficial only for the Russian establishment, which wants to hide the traces of its war crimes from prying eyes. Perhaps the Ukrainian authorities made some mistakes, too. But this will become clear later in the legal proceedings. Right now, the task is to stop the bombing of civilians in the most effective way – by fighting the aggressor and initiator of this war.

Myth 22: Criticism of involvement in war is often based on outdated quotes from anarchist classics that cannot be applied to the contemporary context.

«It is true that sometimes figures like Malatesta, Bakunin, Goldman and others are quoted as having spoken out against the bourgeois conception of war. But it is also true that the current supporters of the war on the side of the Ukrainian army have the same tendency to use quotations to give weight to their own positions.

It is easy to pick out just one part of one person’s entire work and ignore others, to interpret his words in one’s own way, because there is no way to verify how he really intended that part. The dead can no longer debate or redefine their positions in light of the current times and situation. That is why we see their quotations as an addition to the argument, not as its core. We find it more important to listen to the voices of our contemporaries and share our views with them than to debate in which way Malatesta saw (or did not see) something a hundred years ago. This is exactly what happens when we try to look for the anti-militarist and revolutionary defeatist manifestations of the proletarians in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere in the world, under the layer of war propaganda.

Our attitude to war is not predefined by what some classic anarchist ever said. Rather, the theoretical rejection of war and its practical sabotage are based on the tendencies of those who today find themselves in the maelstrom of war or are threatened to be drawn into it soon. In the same way that Malatesta is quoted, we could quote the thousands of deserters from the Ukrainian army, the women who prevent the Ukrainian State from forcibly recruiting their partners, the saboteurs who have withdrawn from bombed-out cities to subvert the war infrastructure outside Ukraine with guerrilla tactics.

But this is not primarily about quotations, it is about finding a strategy to minimize the impact of the war and how best to use the situation to organize the needs of the working class. We define war as the negation of these needs for the sake of the needs of the bourgeoisie. Not because some anarchist said it a hundred years ago, but because we ourselves are part of the working class that is drawn into the war and forced to make the greatest sacrifices for interests that are alien to us».

No war is exactly like any other. Every war has certain preconditions and a certain course of events. In general, war is of course a non-anarchist thing, and it is very unlikely that you will find fervent advocates of militarism among anarchists. But one evaluation differs from another. For example, when we talk about the First World War, that is one thing, because the battles were fought mostly away from the civilians, and it really looked more like a meat grinder than a noble cause. But when we talk about the Russian-Ukrainian war, it is quite different, because in this war the main victims are the unarmed. The same Malatesta said that even if there is a war, the anarchists should side with the people that are defending their independence – and this against the idea that Ukraine should lay down their arms, because they are not being pacifist! Even Malatesta has sometimes acknowledged that pacifism is not a universal recipe for ending a war, and it applies if and only if people are conscious enough not to take up arms. Being determines our consciousness, which in turn also determines our being. In other words, capitalism, by influencing people and their thinking, preserves their worldview on the foundation of bourgeois ideology, and they act in accordance with this ideology, but it is not the people as such that are to blame for this, but the prevailing influence of capitalism and the state. It is foolish to think that the majority of those who do not adhere to anarchism can put on ideological glasses and see war as fratricidal. We have to reckon with the fact that people are not ready to remove the shell of bourgeois worldview because of its hegemonic position (although it can be overcome, but not instantly), so we argue pragmatically rather than examine spherical cows in a vacuum.

Myth 23: Antimilitarism is important, but it is a problem when it becomes dogma.

«This argument we often hear from people who are the first to issue countless proclamations and publications with anti-militarist themes at a time when the war is on the other side of the world, but when it comes to their doorstep, they start reproducing war propaganda. The reason for this tilt of opinion is supposedly due to the different context, pragmatism and non-dogmatism. The history of class struggles is replete with examples where some anarchists have tried to redefine their practice using the same justifications. Anarchists joining the republican government in Spain or the Czech ones taking their seats in the first republican government and joining the Communist Party. We can also remember the anarchists who, after 1917, preferred to join the Bolsheviks or those who took sides in the First World War. All these examples showed that although their actors talked about pragmatism, practice disproved their claims. Rather, their actions were ultimately pragmatic for the ruling class, who used these anarchists as useful idiots, as is now happening to some in the case of the war in Ukraine.

There is no doubt that there are different contexts for wars. But the core is unchanged, regardless of whether we are talking about two world wars, various “national liberation” wars or the current war in Ukraine. Different factors may vary. For example, the balance of power between the warring blocs, who acts more invasive and aggressive, or what ideology they wrap their actions in. What does not change, however, is the basic nature of wars. They are always bloody conflicts fought by different factions of the ruling class for their interests, and the working class is forced to make the greatest sacrifice in this process. The only war we can support is class war.

Anti-militarism is not an abstract ideological construction detached from reality. On the contrary, it is a living process that emerges from the life and struggles of the working class. From the experiences of real flesh and blood people. When we talk about anti-militarism, we are talking about principles tested by practice, not theoretical treatises falling from the desks of academics. We do not adhere to dogma. On the contrary, we are constantly confronting our positions with reality, which proves to us many times that being an anti-militarist made sense during WW1, just as it does in the case of the current war in Ukraine».

The problem with this position is not its anti-militarism, but its detachment from context. Anarchism, as mentioned above, is a practical philosophy. We cannot simply write slogans and proclamations and apply them in any context, as Marxists do when they read Lenin’s long outdated works repeatedly and do not revise them. Pro-Ukrainian anarchists are also generally anti-militarists: they do not want the development of armaments and the creation of new forms of mass institutionalized killing, but they are also realists, because they understand that war is an objective product of capitalism, and we cannot simply overcome it. We can choose the scenario that is most likely and least disastrous for the world. Social revolution as an alternative is not very likely right now, so calling it a solution is certainly possible, but not necessarily rational.

World War I and World War II are different in character. And, oddly enough, it is the latter conflict – World War II – that sets us the trajectory of how anarchists should act, because the nature of the Russian invaders’ warfare is identical in many ways with the nature of the Nazi warfare in World War II. Anarchists seems to forget that after World War I there was World War II, and it was quite different. And it is interesting that anarchists in WWII wrote rather that when choosing between the two empires – Stalin’s and Hitler’s – anarchists should choose Stalin’s, because the world that Hitler was bringing seems far more frightening and less promising for freedom. Not to say that they were wrong in this respect, although this choice still cost the deoccupied territories a great deal: in liberating Eastern Europe from Nazi occupation, the USSR itself was establishing a Bolshevik regime in several states. However, the occupation of the USSR, if it can be called that, was less painful for these countries than the Nazi occupation. It would have been good to call people to anarchism at the time, but objectively there was little to encourage it, especially since fascism reared its head after the total defeat of the global anarchist movement, in particular the Spanish one. There is still little that disposes to this encouragement. And so, we have to choose from what we have, if not between communist partocracy and bourgeois neoliberalism, but between two neoliberal regimes, the only difference being that one is fascist and imperialistic, while the other is a hybrid democracy, a former imperial colony that has regained its sovereignty.

Myth 24: Refusing to take part in the fight on the side of the Ukrainian war resistance is a manifestation of the Western Left’s cultural arrogance.

«This myth is strange only because the people behind this text come from Central Europe, so they can hardly be accused of Western condescension. In fact, the contradiction between Western and Central-Eastern European mentality is a false contradiction. Not that there are not factors that influence people’s opinions based on where they live. They exist, they just should not be stereotyped as universally valid templates.

This is not about any contrast between the unemphatic West and the empathetic center or east. It is a contrast between two different perspectives through which the problem of war is viewed. One is liberal reformist and therefore counterrevolutionary, the other is revolutionary. Both perspectives are held by people who subscribe to anarchism, which shows that this label alone does not imply agreement on fundamental issues. Importantly, both poles of these conceptual frameworks span the globe. Reproducing stereotypes along the lines of West versus East certainly does not help us to undermine the imperialist mindset that is characterized by the creation of such territorially defined opposites.

The fact is that the revolutionary defeatist position, namely the refusal to take sides with one of the warring parties, is not only present among Western anarchists, although it is more strongly articulated here. Its traces can also be found in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine itself and other places in Central and Eastern Europe.

We see the search for non-existent contradictions more as an effort to insidiously remove some people from the arena of international debate and practical coordination of anarchist activities. It is enough to label someone as condescending or unscrupulous to lead many to the conclusion that it is not legitimate to debate with such people, let alone cooperate with them. We see there a certain tendency to manipulation».

It is very, very premature to say that the contradictions outlined are insignificant. After all, the question is about the fundamental question of whether people should support Ukraine in its struggle, or whether they can only hope that Russia will take pity on it and leave, as Eastern European anarchists would like. But Eastern European anarchists (and Western anarchists in general, since they are identified with one another), if they hold this view, probably live in a different reality. And they are debating not within the framework of what is happening now, but within the framework of their own partially distorted perceptions. Of course, the war must end, but war does not end so easily. Our task as anti-militarists is to make the case that there are no devils or monsters on the other side of the barricades, but people. But the anarchist comrades had not suggested this; in fact, they have only suggested not to give weapons to Ukraine (well, and struck the right chord when they asked the anarchist militants why they could not spontaneously make a revolution).

One can, of course, wish “revolutionary defeat” in Ukraine. Not to give her weapons. To support desertion in its army in the hope that one of the opposing armies will automatically bring peace closer by disarming (the stupidest statement). But there is no analysis of the causes of the war, of its genesis. The authors almost came to an end and said nothing about dehumanization – on the contrary, they even practiced it themselves, when they groundlessly reproduced the Russian propaganda thesis that supposedly only nationalists are fighting for their independence in Ukraine, who are building a dictatorship. Meanwhile, the main reason for this war and its popularity among Russians is the perception that Ukrainians are not people, an inferior nation (just like other nations, though). Russian propaganda 24/7 only broadcasts the thesis that Russia is not fighting Ukrainians, but nationalists, Banderites, drug addicts, and Satanists.

While the authors acknowledge Russian war crimes (or acknowledge them only for the sake of appearance, because it is no longer possible to hide them), they do not condemn them. They do not condemn or notice the rhetoric of genocide in the Russian media. They do not notice the terrorist nature of nuclear blackmail threat. They condemn Russian imperialism casually simply because it is “bourgeois” and diverges from the interests of proletariat (trying to convince the proletariat of this). But the proletariat, for some reason, does not agree with this evaluation, neither Russian nor Ukrainian. The Ukrainians overwhelmingly want to defend their country, and the Russians overwhelmingly support Putin’s war. These are facts to be reckoned with. And consequently, the contradictions are significant. It is a matter of anarchist strategy and tactics in the matter of such destructive, unjust, treacherous wars.

Myth 25: It is easy to refuse participation in war from people who express their views in a safe place far from the war and do not have to respond to the bombing of their cities.

«Yes, indeed it is easier to organize your own view of the war from a safe distance than when you have bombers flying overhead. But is such a view inferior and should not be taken into account? Is the view of people in bombed-out places superior to other views on the basis that people in a war zone experience greater horror and suffering?

We might as well say that it is easy to call for more weapons to be supplied to the Ukrainian army and for support for the territorial defense fighters from people who are doing this from the safety of their homes, who have never held firearms in their lives and would not be able to use them if the war came here. We see and respect their opinion, even if we do not express support for it, because we have a different opinion. Why should a different standard be applied to people who refuse to choose sides in a war and do not call for support for the troops?»

I do not have bombers flying over me either. But I can mentally take myself to the conditions in which Ukrainians find themselves and imagine what it would be like for me. Those who are unable to take themselves even mentally, if not physically, into places of deprivation and suffering are bereft of empathy. If you ask the Russian average person how he or she feels about the bombing of Ukraine, he or she is more likely to either approve or remain silent, because his or her existence does not correspond to the picture shown in the pictures. It seems that the bombedout houses are somewhere not here, not nearby, because life goes on. But war will come to the streets of well-fed European cities too, if we ignore the inconvenient fact that the bombing is taking place in front of our noses. You can have whatever opinion you want, but if you broadcast it, be prepared to take responsibility for your words and not be offended that you cannot get out of your cocoon and look around, and for your criticism you are kicked by people who have either been physically in Ukraine and seen the results of Russian policy firsthand, or are simply empathic and can imagine what it is like for Ukrainians.

Myth 26: People who criticize participation in war from a safe distance are unemphatic and condescending because they do not listen to the people on the ground.

«Although we perceive the condescending tendencies of some people, we think that the label of condescending is often mechanically applied to anyone who speaks critically about the Ukrainian army’s support for the war. The idea is to belittle, stigmatize and exclude the voice of critics from the debate. The strongest impact is then on people from Western Europe or the USA, whose opinion is often not taken into account for the mere fact that they do not come from Central or Eastern Europe. At its core, such a mechanism is actually discriminatory, stereotyping and prejudiced, despite the fact that its proponents accuse others of doing just that.

Saying that we are against the war and refuse to take sides in the conflict does not automatically mean that we do not care about the opinion of the people in Ukraine and that we are indifferent when they are under fire from Russian troops. In fact, we are listening to these people, and we see that there is not just one unified voice, but a huge patchwork of many opinions, which often diverge at their very base. In fact, the same people who accuse us of not listening often extract only one tendency from the multidimensional whole and ignore or downplay the others. We try to listen to as many voices as possible, but we only support those that we find constructive. Others we criticize and refuse to support. In short, we perceive different tendencies and do not try to support war propaganda that portrays the Ukrainian population as a united community calling unanimously for involvement in the war.

Some of our critics accuse us of not listening, but they ignore the voices of the part of the population that refuses to support the Ukrainian army and opposes the forced conscription of men who do not want to fight. The voice of the Ukrainian deserters is ignored, while the voice of the Ukrainian soldiers is reproduced as if it were the only one being heard. This is called war propaganda, not listening and empathy».

These are empty words. You can say that you listen to the Ukrainians, but you do not listen to them. You first get angry at them for not overthrowing their government, then you exclaim that they are not overthrowing their government because they are nationalists, then you propose to take away their weapons against their desire to defend themselves, based on isolated facts of desertion in the Ukrainian army. You talk about not supporting either side, but you do not mention any facts characterizing Russian policy from the negative side, accusing Ukraine of not wanting peace because it does not want to disarm, while no such appeals follow against Russia. You offer silly reformist options to fight against Russia (posters, sanctions, sabotage), while the fight against Ukraine should be unfolded by all available means, including military means (overthrowing the government). All your “refutations” are contradictory, biased, and far-fetched. No wonder no one wants to listen to you, because no one wants to listen to those who tell lies, distort the facts, and force people to choose among deliberately provocative options. Your “concern” is not worth a plugged dime.

Myth 27: To criticize the resistance of the Ukrainian army from outside Ukraine is to deny the Ukrainian population self-determination and the ability to be a self-determining agent of change.

«We do not think that we have any prerogative to decide the future of the Ukrainian population. But neither do we think that they are denied that right when someone criticizes certain actions that they choose to take as part of their selfdetermination. Talk about the right to self-determination very often becomes an argument for overlooking the horrors that someone has chosen. It is also taken by some as a justification for supporting reactionary tendencies that hinder emancipatory movements. This is why we then see some anarchists taking offense at the fact that a State does not respect the sovereignty of another, as if perhaps the job of anarchists should be to fight for the State and its sovereignty. We can also see the same anarchists calling for support for that part of the Ukrainian population that has decided to fight and die for bourgeois democracy. They have chosen this, they say, and we must support them in this so that we are not disrespectful, paternalistic and unscrupulous. In short, this section of the liberal democrats, who for some reason call themselves anarchists, are willing to support even the tendencies most hostile to anarchism on the grounds that we must respect the self-determination and opinions of the people who express these tendencies. If we wanted to transfer this perspective to the Czech Republic, for example, it would mean that we should support the very large part of the local population that sees parliamentary democracy as a way of defending its interests. Before every election we would call for their support and send resources to politicians’ election campaigns, because that is what these people want, and we do not want to be disrespectful of their selfdetermination. And if someone from another country dared to criticize the participation of Czech workers in the elections, we should condemn them as a supercilious person who does not listen to Czech workers and wants to lecture them on how to choose their future based on a sense of cultural superiority. That would be absurd, and we do not share that perspective. That is why, just as we criticize the participation of Czech workers in the elections, we will criticize the participation of Ukrainian workers in the war. If someone calls it condescending, let it be so. We are not organizing to make the whole world think we are wonderful, but to make the world a better place to live. To do that, we certainly need links with other people, but not necessarily with everyone and at all costs. We do not succumb to the mania for quantity that says the more people you bring together the more success you achieve. Rather, we look at the content and for what purpose people are associating. Reactionary and counter-revolutionary positions will not have our support even if they are chosen by the vast majority of humanity, because we do not see this as a way to advance towards our emancipation».

The anarchist, even when he criticizes, proposes. He does not just condemn the same parliamentary democracy; he also offers something in its place. What can Eastern European anarchists offer Ukrainians if they believe that the right to selfdetermination is bourgeois and not worthy of support, other than the obviously stupid suggestion that they should send bayonets against the Ukrainian government right now to build anarchy? In essence, only a conquest by the empire. Either these “refutations” were not written by anarchists, of which I am almost entirely certain, or these anarchists have not read Bakunin. When anarchists support the right of peoples to self-determination, they support, first, the weakening centralization of the imperialist state with its subsequent long-term disintegration, and, second, the broad autonomy of groups of people who identify themselves along national lines and gain subjectivity. You can view the question of what constitutes a “nation” however you like, but it is rather difficult to ignore the national question because it is so pressing. Keeping peoples in a state that does not represent them and exploits them is a characteristic feature of imperialism, and it is quite interesting how this “refutation” contrasts with the “refutations” where Ukraine is, directly or indirectly, “imperialistic”. Now, it turns out that Ukraine defends the right to self-determination (from the empire, of course), but since the authors of this manifesto are already simply mired in contradictions, all that remains at the bottom line is: “Yes, Ukraine defends the right to self-determination, but we are against states, so we are against Ukraine gaining subjectivity, especially, as we pointed out, it is bourgeois and imperialistic”. This is somewhat reminiscent of the views of “national anarchists”, who oppose Israel supposedly because it is a state (in fact, because they are antiSemites). Why such “anarchists” single out any particular state “purely by accident” from among all states is not specified. But the reason is clear: such “anarchists” are against specific forms of the state, not its content. If Ukraine did not become a state as a result of the takeover by Russia, these “anarchists” would be silent, because their concern is not so much about the injustice of hierarchical institutions, but only about a particular government.

Myth 28: Opponents of supporting Ukrainian military forces are in fact propagandists for the Putin’s regime.

«If we look at things with a sober eye, not with the eye burdened with war propaganda, we can see one important fact: war and pro-regime propaganda is present on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides. But we do not choose one war propaganda in opposition to the other. We refuse to listen to it and spread it, whichever side it comes from.

The mechanism of war propaganda is the selectivity of information. Certain parts of the colorful whole are taken out and blown up to incredibly large proportions. Other parts, in turn, are glossed over, made invisible, silenced, ridiculed and belittled. Those who want an example of such propaganda need only look at the reports circulating over and over in some anarchist media about the pride of the Ukrainian military units, but there is no mention of the numerous deserters and opponents to the war in the Ukrainian region, nor of the needless atrocities committed by the Ukrainian army. We reject this kind of war propaganda, just as we reject that of the supporters of the Putin’s regime. Anti-war agitation is not proregime propaganda».

Why are they suddenly obliged to publish such information? Anarchists publish about anarchists – that makes sense. It is possible not to support these groups, but it is possible and necessary to tell about them, their true motivation and purpose. To publish unreliable or unverified information about the atrocities of the Ukrainian army is somewhat out of line with the idea of a trustworthy media. Whenever atrocities come to light, to put it this way, it turns out that they are Russian – this has applied to all or almost all (let’s not be categorical, so to speak) large-scale war crimes. Even the Russian imperial public does not deny the fact that Ukrainian servicemen entering the de-occupied territories are greeted with applause. Are these the same Ukrainian servicemen who “commit atrocities”? Even if we think about it deductively, it seems that this is just a falsehood to discredit the Ukrainian army, because Ukrainians would not welcome with open arms those who would commit atrocities against civilians.

As for any other war crimes committed against members of the Russian army, the facts must be established by a military tribunal. But I am not yet aware of any high-profile incidents where the Ukrainian army systematically committed atrocities against Russian servicemen and failed to comply with the Geneva Conventions.

Myth 29: In this war, democracy must win to prevent fascism/dictatorship from winning.

«There is no question that fascism/dictatorship is a problem. It is just that the worst product of fascism is anti-fascism. Whenever the specter of fascism is raised as if it were the worst of all evils, the way is paved to support other forms of State – like democratic ones – with the consequence of supporting their crimes. Anti-fascist unity is nothing else but inter-class collaboration, where the proletarians collude with the bourgeoisie, which, despite the “temporary alliance”, never hesitate to crack down hard on all anti-capitalist and anti-State manifestations. Anti-fascist mobilizations tend to be justified by the need to confront totalitarianism, but they do so in a way that reinforces the authoritarian features of parliamentary democracy. As Gilles Dauvé has noted, “Antifascism will always end in increasing totalitarianism. Its fight for a “democratic” State will end in strengthening the State.”

Parliamentary democracy may represent a lesser intensity of State violence than a fascist regime, but it is no reason to fight and die for democracy. Those who claim that the working class is more and better organized in a liberal democracy are so caught up in their fantasies that they are out of touch with reality. Indeed, the militant working-class movement in democracy often tends to wither away; it is gradually absorbed into the structures of the State, which at the same time do not hesitate to stifle any radical tendency. It is doubtful that the democratic form of the State that has been achieved means the disappearance of authoritarian tendencies from the State apparatus. They will remain and manifest themselves whenever the working class raises its head and begins to act combatively as an organized autonomous force. In other words, liberal democracy will never be the antithesis or negation of dictatorship; it will always be one of the ways in which the totalizing capitalist order is organized. In fact, dictatorial and democratic forces are present in every State simultaneously and are not mutually exclusive. Their mutual relation depends on the (non)combativity of the working class and the (in)ability of the bourgeoisie to secure the rule of its class over society.

The State will only fall if we subvert both its dictatorial and democratic tendencies simultaneously. If we focus exclusively on suppressing one part, it will sooner or later be restored with the help of the other. Let us not forget that the democratic State retains the ability to introduce authoritarian measures, just as the fascist State sometimes pacifies the proletariat by democratic co-optation. The dilemma of fascism or democracy is false. In fact, internationalist revolutionaries know that there are only two options before us: capitalism or its revolutionary overcoming».

Once again, the omniscient anarchists speak from the position as if people are already ready to break with dictatorships and democracies in advance. Choosing between two evils, we choose democracy, because dictatorships educate people only in servility, while democracies have the potential for free thinking and the development of various forms of collective human consciousness.

Dictatorships are characterized by atomization and depoliticization. Democracy, on the other hand, politicizes people to a limited extent and forces them to cooperate into political platforms for solving urgent social problems. Another issue is that parliamentary democracy does not bring this trend to its logical conclusion, offering largely obsolete forms of institutions, where the spirit of “interchangeable dictatorship” still prevails, which is why anarchists criticize parliamentarism. But there is always a degree to which authoritarian institutions are authoritarian. Less authoritarian institutions are preferable to more authoritarian ones, all other things being equal. We cannot turn every war into a revolution, otherwise we would already be living in an anarchic society, and when we are between one alternative and another alternative, we will advocate the alternative within which it would be easier for us to spread our ideas. I do not think that those who wrote this manifesto don’t know or don’t understand this. They know and understand, but they deliberately distort the meaning.

Myth 30: The statement “No war but class war” is an abstract and impractical slogan. It is useless to the bombed population.

«The people of Ukraine who are under attack must deal with the situation immediately. But they are being misled by those who claim that the solution is to fortify themselves in territorial defense, i.e. in the very places where the bombs are falling. Those who claim that it is necessary to ally with the Ukrainian army and put our lives in danger on the front are manipulators, and their solution appears to be very impractical. The same State that is driving men to war is preventing them from leaving the country and hiding from bombers outside Ukraine. The same Ukrainian State is pointing out the aggression of the Russian army, but its gestures show a willingness to escalate the conflict, even at the cost of countless more victims. Because when the State is concerned about its existence, it is willing to sacrifice the existence of those it governs. In such a situation, the effort to transform an interimperialist war into a class war is not an abstract ideology, but a matter of life and death. And this is not just a question of the survival of the Ukrainian population, but of the whole of humanity. The possibility of a third world war is not excluded, nor is the deployment of an extremely destructive nuclear arsenal».

The slogan “No war but class war” is not useless. But it must be relevant. We use this slogan when we try to justify why we do not support the outbreak of wars, particularly imperialist wars. Russia unleashed the imperialist war, and it was the top of the Russian power, allied with capital, who wanted to realize their ambitions in this war. The national bourgeoisie, too, is undoubtedly profiting from the people, as we would expect. In Ukraine, however, there are no prerequisites for turning the war into a class war, because the need to build up arms and wage war is dictated by external conditions (an attack), not internal ones (the desire of the Ukrainian oligarchs to arrange a redistribution of resources). When we say “class war”, we do not automatically mean that we want to physically exterminate our enemies (although a revolution is often accompanied by a certain amount of bloodshed, it is usually caused by the reactionary resistance of the remaining old top to the new order), and therefore we cannot automatically turn the current war into a class war: class war implies mainly a struggle of ideas, not a physical struggle.

Russia has the potential to turn an imperialist war into a class war, especially since it had a precedent – the February Revolution of 1905. But this is only possible if Russia starts a war of attrition (that time it took four years) and if there is now active agitation among the people for revolutionary ideas. Speaking of the first, it is worth saying that the war will probably not go so long that it will bring the country to a state of extreme exhaustion. Speaking of the second, it is difficult to judge this, because we do not have information about the dynamics of change with respect to commitment to certain forms of revolutionary ideas (or at least about how many people are aware). Another aspect of the same phenomenon is that it is difficult to draw a line as to which ideas should and should not be considered revolutionary: after all, the 1905 revolution was primarily bourgeois and then only socialist. However, the probability of the designated event is non-zero.

Myth 31: The anti-militarist initiative must be aimed at defeating the militarism of the Russian army.

«This position is legitimate at its core, but the trouble is that it is only one part of a more complex truth. The other part is that the anti-militarist initiative should equally be aimed at defeating the militarism of the Ukrainian army and any other State army. Anti-militarism is a position based on opposition to all State armies and their wars. Such opposition implies that anti-militarists do not choose which one to side with in wars between States. In other words, they do not fight against the militarism of one State through supporting the militarism of another State. But that is exactly what is happening when some people want to fight against the militarism of the Russian army in terms of supporting the militarism of the Ukrainian army. They can wrap it in populist phrases about supporting “self-defense of the people”, but in reality, they are supporting militarism, because the units that are fighting in Ukraine are part of the structures of the Ukrainian army and are under the command of the State authorities. There can be no question of their autonomy and certainly not of their subverting militarism. They are militaristic and this cannot be changed by the soldiers pinning black and red logos on their uniforms and issuing statements full of anti-State phrases.

The anti-militarist position is not – with strictly pacifist exceptions – based on a refusal to resist war aggression. It merely prefers a different, non-militarized form of organizing this defense. Anarchists, for example, have a wealth of experience in waging armed struggle outside the structures of the State and armies. This struggle tends to be militant, but not militarized. Whenever some anarchists decided to subordinate their troops and militias to the logic of the army, they fell into a trap that later meant their defeat. A sad example can be seen in the militarization of some CNT-FAI militias during the revolution in Spain in 1936–1939. That time was contradictory, just like today. Therefore, even then, alongside the supporters of militarization, there were also consistent anti-militarists who had no problem taking up arms but refused to ally themselves with one or another faction of the ruling class and did not submit to the military logic».

Not every supporter of Ukraine’s self-defense is automatically a supporter of militarism, although there are certainly outspoken militarists among anarchists. Not every anarchist wants to turn Ukraine into Israel with the only hope that a huge arsenal of weapons will keep it out of war. This, of course, is poor logic, because it is not weapons that keep Ukraine out of war, but social development and, hence, investment in education, culture, social security, and health care, which will give people a concrete idea of why they can live without war. Russia has in many ways become a militarized country because it has cultivated a military way of solving geopolitical problems as the main one, without paying attention to the social sphere. To put it crudely, Russian television fed the average person with imaginary grandeur. Ukraine did not rattle weapons or threaten to strike Washington with a nuclear warhead (and even if Ukraine had a nuclear warhead, it would hardly have done so). Militarism is more of an ideology than simply “pumping guns” or even simply accepting that there are occasional instances when the use of guns is permissible. Of course, Ukraine may become militarized after a conflict, but this is the collateral result of its neglect of the military sphere before that. Ukraine is left to build up its armaments for now, because, oddly enough, it has a heavily armed neighbor beside it who has no thought of disarming himself. In other words, the reason for militarization is a real external threat. Another matter is that Ukraine, unlike Russia, will probably not get so hung up on an external threat, because it is a self-sufficient country, and it, at least for now, is not ruled by paranoiacs.

It is worth making an important remark: the thesis voiced that the antimilitarist initiative should not be aimed at defeating the militarism of the Russian army contradicts what was said in the rationale. When the authors wrote: “Antimilitarism is a position based on opposition to all State armies and their wars. Such opposition implies that anti-militarists do not choose which one to side with in wars between States. In other words, they do not fight against the militarism of one State through supporting the militarism of another State. But that is exactly what is happening when some people want to fight against the militarism of the Russian army in terms of supporting the militarism of the Ukrainian army”, – they have essentially substituted the thesis. The anti-militarist initiative does not automatically mean support for Ukrainian militarism. We can simply advocate the denuclearization of Russia and the reduction of its military potential without supporting the militarization of Ukraine. Substitution of the thesis also partly affects the nature of perception, and in this situation the idea of anti-militarism has been turned back against Ukraine. Once again is Ukraine to blame?

Instead of Conclusion

To summarize, none of the stated “refutations”, with few exceptions, has sufficient evidence to be considered a valid counterargument. There is no consistency in this work: what is said in one place contradicts what is said in another place, assumptions are based on conjecture and speculation, and there is a clear, practically groundless antipathy toward Ukraine.

It is likely that this “anti-war pamphlet” was written not by anarchists, but by Russian secret services, or by their agents of influence in anarchist organizations. There is a lot of indirect evidence of this, but to avoid accusations of slander, I will say right away that this is just a guess. It cannot be a coincidence that people who accurately reproduce the theses of Russian propaganda, up to and including “Ukrainian nationalism”, yet disagree with Bakunin and his followers in their justification of why Ukraine should not be a sovereign state, putting forward an imperialist rhetoric instead of anti-imperialist, while also calling it anarchist.

It is quite unexpected, of course, that the Russian security services would begin to influence Western radicals by posting on behalf of unnamed Eastern European anarchists the rationale for why Ukraine does not need weapons on anarchist resources. Apparently, the FSB sees not only Russian anarchists as a threat, but also European ones, and tries to reap the benefits, but mistakenly believes that anarchists are too stupid not to recognize such poor manipulation. However, if something really seemed unobvious, this work should have helped to clarify many important points.

I would also like to mention such an aspect as propaganda. Both I and the authors of this manifesto have repeatedly used this word rather negatively. I do not consider the word unconditionally negative. All people are exposed to propaganda one way or another if they are interested in politics (or worse, if politics is interested in them, which is a pattern in a depoliticized society). But the point is how much propaganda is truthful. State propaganda is almost always seasoned with outright lies (not random mistakes and inaccuracies – this is important – because no one can be right about everything, especially when it comes to evaluations), both Russian and Ukrainian, but in different proportions. Russian propaganda is manipulative. It almost never tells the truth, it does not even let it pass, it forms an alternative reality. In particular, the tribunal in The Hague recently concluded its investigation of the Malaysian Boeing shot down in Ukraine and apparently concluded that Russia was involved in the shooting down (officially admitting that it was involved in hostilities in Donbass in 2014). It would seem that this would be a good starting point. But this decision has no validity for Russia. In Russia, [sic!] Ukraine to be the main perpetrator: they say that there is still “no evidence”, and that the missile from which the Boeing was shot down was carried by Ukrainian servicemen. In other words, a complete denial. And this applies to any situation: Russia simply cannot by default be guilty of anything at all, and even if it is guilty of something, it passes the buck.

Ukrainian propaganda in this sense is less clumsy, because unlike Russian propaganda, it does not have to make things up, only embellish them. And this can be seen by comparing this vision with the reference one, i.e. the international position. Russia’s version of events is the version of events that only Russia supports, which makes it even more difficult, because Russia has to rely only on itself. No wonder that with the invasion of Ukraine, Russia cut off all independent media and imposed strict military censorship, banning not only the “hostile” Ukrainian media, but all media that are critical of Russian foreign policy (if it got to them, of course, because there are underground media, including Russian media itself, which are more difficult to reach). Ukraine has not introduced such censorship, because therefore almost the entire international community is on its side, and it would be foolish to think that the international community is deceived and that only the Russians know the truth about the international conflict. But perhaps this is exactly what Russian propaganda is trying to present. That is why even in these “refutations” there was no evidence, only an assessment and postulation of its initial truthfulness, or an emphasis on only one side of the issue and “half evidence”, as in the case of the mobilization in Ukraine, when as “evidence” that Ukrainians do not want to defend themselves, only those who, as claimed, do not want to, out of context, without comparison to the whole population, were included in the sample.

So, the point is not whether we are exposed to Russian propaganda or Ukrainian propaganda, but how it affects us and what its purpose is. The purpose of Ukrainian propaganda is to reassure people that the aggressor will be defeated, even though this may not always be obvious in practice, while the purpose of Russian propaganda is to make it clear that Ukraine should not exist as a state, using the vilest means and manipulations to do so. Ukrainian propaganda in general is not so harmful, because it has a framework, even if at times it does not pick up epithets when it calls occupants occupiers or “rusnya” [ethnic slur used by some Ukrainians for the Russians] (which probably deserves condemnation, but overall, it is legitimate). Russian propaganda, on the other hand, is clearly harmful because it has no framework, and its dehumanizing effect extends to the entire world. This should be understood.

It is also worth making an important caveat: pro-Ukrainian anarchists support Ukraine exactly as long as it defends its sovereignty (the 1991 borders). If Ukraine begins to claim other territories of Russia, if it begins to promote a policy of expansion and occupy territories to which it has no right to claim, we will be just as critical of it as we are of Russia’s policy of expansion. But this is not the case now, and therefore Russia and Ukraine are in unequal positions. Thus, we do not unconditionally support Ukraine, but only within acceptable limits.