Start with the affected population or the geopolitics of the rulers?

Junge Welt has given Ingar Solty a lot of space to accuse the "left and radical left supporters of arms deliveries to Ukraine" of inconsistency, moralism and historical revisionism. The aim: to delegitimise left solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance as an "appendage of the ruling policy." [1]

Ingar Solty draws up a straw-puppet discussion. He criticises leftists and left-wing radicals who actively demand arms deliveries from the bourgeois state, but then quotes liberal to conservative journalists, politicians and professors. This is either incomprehensible or deliberately misleading. It would be fair to substantiate this criticised opening statement with quotations and the reasons for them.

It is a double misrepresentation when Ingar Solty says that those leftists who campaigned for arms deliveries to Ukraine (who does that) did not at the same time practice concrete solidarity with the trade unions in Ukraine. The central difference is not the question of whether or not anyone is supplying arms to Ukraine's bourgeois army. Ingar Solty does not want to write about this in this article, although he does so indirectly and very deliberately with his delegitimisation of the criticised "left radicals".

The central question is whether one takes the side of the struggling attacked, oppressed, displaced and exploited, regardless of what one or the other imperialist power is doing or not doing at the moment. If Ingar Solty dismisses this as a moral approach, he is free to do so. But without empathy and solidarity with those under attack, emancipatory politics is impossible. At the same time, there are very well theoretically founded political principles that are anchored in the history of the workers:inside movement. The right to self-determination naturally includes that those attacked defend themselves with appropriate weapons and that they receive these weapons from those who are prepared to give them to them - for whatever motives. Anything else, in the concrete case of Ukraine, amounts to a defeat and destruction of Ukrainian civil society. Which, in turn, may favour an escalation of wars by Putin's brothers in spirit - for example, Erdogan against the Kurdish population.

It follows from this that it is necessary to develop a threefold solidarity with the struggling wage-earners - the working people - in Ukraine:

  • With their resistance against Russian imperialism, which wants to restore the Great Russian Empire with its occupying troops.
  • With their resistance against the anti-social and repressive policies of the Selensky government, for example against the neoliberal labour market reforms.
  • With their resistance to the plundering of society's resources (including cheap labour, agricultural land, nature) by corporations from Western Europe and the USA.

The European Solidarity Network with Ukraine is doing just that.[2] It is by no means prioritising the demand that governments supply arms to Ukraine, but it is deliberately not opposing these arms supplies because it considers resistance to be legitimate, and thus it is in line with trade unions, feminist and LBTGQ initiatives, environmental groups and anti-authoritarian and democratic socialist organisations in Ukraine that are doing concrete grassroots work, organising aid convoys, etc. These social forces are the partners of the European Solidarity Network with Ukraine. These social forces are the partners for emancipatory and solidarity-based politics.

Ingar Solty deliberately chose Junge Welt for his polemic. This is a newspaper of the friends of geopolitical bloc thinking and the warlord in the Kremlin, whose speeches it prints with friendly understanding. That is exactly where the article fits in. Ingar Solty writes that Ukraine is a state dependent on the West, which is "hardly less authoritarian and oligarch capitalist than its neighbour Russia". He thus indicates that the distinction between authoritarian dictatorship of an imperialist power, which continues to treat territories in its interior and on its peripheries as colonial territories, and a corrupt parliamentary democracy, of a non-imperialist state, seems to him to be completely irrelevant.

Yes, the US and other European governments are now using this war to weaken Russia. This is the normal imperialist state of affairs and not a special realisation. But this does not change the fact that the resistance of Ukrainian wage-earners - although in the bourgeois army - against an occupying dictatorship is legitimate and therefore should also be supported by us. Yes, the Western governments are supplying reasonably effective weapons to Ukraine - but very selectively and in good doses. If they had not done so, there would be a Russian occupation dictatorship, and there would also be no civil society, no trade unions and no left-wing and feminist groups left in Ukraine. Ingar Solty knows this too. Looking back, would he still find his rejection of arms deliveries from last spring correct?

Under the conditions of an occupied Ukraine, we would now be discussing the supply of several million more refugees and whether a Ukrainian partisan army might endanger stability in Europe.

Yes, US air power has been instrumental in defending Kobane in northern Syria. Without American troops, the SDF would not have driven the Islamic State out of Raqqa. Consequently, Ingar Solty should write that it was wrong to defend Kobane with the help of the US. Or is that also an expression of an aporia?

Ingar Solty cynically and absurdly advises the left-wing supporters of the Ukrainian resistance to form international combat brigades. Only then would they prove their seriousness. Two short answers: There are no social forces in Ukraine that would wish for such a thing. Secondly, it is obvious that such brigades would not be the appropriate response against the Russian artillery barrage and missile barrage.

Yes, the escalation of the war is a problem. However, it is important to understand how this issue is discussed in Ukrainian society. Gilbert Achcar has offered some useful reflections on this. The Western European left would have to discuss ways to escape the spiral of escalation in solidarity with the social forces in Ukraine [3]. But the desolidarisation of the resistance does not help to stop the escalation, but encourages the Putin dictatorship to continue its escalation.

If you want to know my arguments in more detail, you are welcome to read the discussion piece "Entsolidarisierung" with a critique of the LEFT, some of its tendencies, and Wagenknecht. [4]

The aforementioned European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine [2] shows that the discussion internationally is somewhat more differentiated and fruitful than the repeated defamation campaigns of geopolitical left strategists and the Junge Welt.

Translated using Deepl, without proofreading