Support the Ukrainian people in their resistance against the war!

June 9, 2022
Tassos Anastassiadis
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[Αναδημοσίευση από το International Viewpoint, 1/6/2022]

[Το πρωτότυπο, στα ελληνικά, στο site μας και στο site της Αναμέτρησης]

Tassos Anastassiadis is a member of “Anametrisi”’s leadership and also a member of the TPT-“4” (part of the Greek section of the Fourth International). Anametrisi (=confrontation), founded in March 2022, is a product of radical left recomposition process in Greece these last years. [1] This text was submitted to the leadership of Anametrisi on 19 May 2022. The original Greek text is published on Anametrisi’s site.

Positions on the Ukrainian war and our stand

1) The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an “imperialist” attack. [2]. Analyses may differ on the source of this “imperialism” [3], on the extent of its dynamics, on the causes of this particular invasion, and even on its function in the capitalist world arena. But what is fundamental is that it is an unjust war of the strong against the weak. [4] And in particular, it is a “national” type of oppression – that is a challenge at gunpoint to the right of a population to exist as a political entity and to decide for itself and freely about its own existence.

2) From this point of view it is a matter of principle [5] for the left to take a clear position on the war being waged: It must place itself on the side of the weak, those who are under attack and fighting back i.e. on the side of the Ukrainian people. The right of a people, a population, a nation, to define itself is a fundamental component of an emancipatory programme.

3) This means that in this war the left cannot be indifferent: it is not a “war” that is simply taking place somewhere out there, without subjects and without responsibilities. It is a military attack and there is contestation and resistance to it. The left must take a stand against the war being waged by Russia, and consequently, in favour of those who oppose it, basically the Ukrainian people but also the Russian left. That means in favour of the war being waged by the Ukrainian people.

4) For the same reason that it cannot be indifferent, the left cannot remain neutral either, supposedly “pacifist” [6] or “against both side”. [7] The Russian army is in the wrong and therefore we demand that it should withdraw and, if it does not do so on its own accord, it must be forced to withdraw, that is be defeated. [8] The Ukrainians have a just cause in their struggle for the withdrawal of the Russian army from their territory and, therefore, we must support them politically and materially. [9]

5) Also, the left, by definition, cannot adopt views or attitudes of indifference – theorizing that we don’t care what happens elsewhere as we are only concerned with “our own struggles» or have a policy of “no interference». On the contrary, we have acknowledged that capitalism and the various systems of oppression and problems it creates have an international and global dimension. [10] No position of “the enemy is within our own country» is therefore justified [11] and would be programmatically suicidal. The oppressed of the whole world need us (they need our solidarity and support) and we need them too. There is no reason to abandon this principle now – quite the opposite. [12]

6) Our support for the oppressed internationally is not only for reasons of abstractly internationalist principle or because we programmatically recognize the international nature of exploitation and oppression. It also has a much more expedient significance: every victory for the system of the dominately powerful, every defeat of our own camp, strengthens and reinforces our own conditions of subjugation, and vice versa. Imperialism, and every aspect of it, however large or small, [13] (as well as sexism, exploitation, and other forms of domination), must be defeated in order to strengthen the general correlation of powers in favour of the weak throughout the world. Conversely, every victory of the strong over the weak strengthens and unites them.

7) Obviously, we are in a world where the ruling classes, both internally and externally (they consider it their right to have external “spheres of influence»), are allied against us [14] but they are also sometimes in competition with each other. [15] In particular with regard to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is an opportunity for various Western imperialisms to suddenly feign interest in the Ukrainian people: but this, however hypocritical [16] it may be, does not negate the justness of the Ukrainian struggle. [17] We must follow the principles that the socialist movement has always held.

8) Every form of resistance against a national oppression, a specific invasion, must be supported, regardless of who else supports it – and there is usually some well-meaning “opponent» of the oppressor who will try to benefit. Therefore, we have rightly supported the struggle of the oppressed every time, even if it was supported by rivals or “our», imperialisms. [18] The Ukrainian people do not cease to be fighting for a just cause on account of being supposedly “supported” by members of NATO in the face of the Russian invasion; likewise, the Kurdish cause didn’t cease to be a just one because they were armed by NATO against ISIS.

9) The involvement of the rival imperialisms (and their ruling classes) is never for those fighting a struggle, but rather to undermine the power of their opponents, to gain points of “influence» and to guide the leadership of the movements (through local ruling classes). [19] However, this does not automatically turn them into indirect wars of the powerful (interimperialist); on the contrary, this is what is mainly at stake in war from a social aspect, especially in a “national» war where the population demands its political entity! The peoples themselves, especially in national issues, are never “puppets» as the powerful would have it, they are political subjects. So the Ukrainian war is in no way a “war by proxy” as if the Ukrainian people in particular were “pawns” and not able to claim and have their own political entity.

10) The same applies to the involvement of our own imperialism and its government, as well as the various international aggregations in which it participates (EU, NATO, international economic leaders, IMF, Worldbank, OMC, etc.). Issues of principle that we have, i.e. dismantling the EU, IMF or NATO, socialism, world peace, etc. do not respond to the question of their involvement as “no involvement» would be tantamount to letting the Ukrainians die. Therefore, we neither denounce nor deny “aid” to the Ukrainian people in general. Our response must be more specific regarding the points, the methods, the terms:

For example, we must accept and reinforce the policies of welcoming migrants from Ukraine [20] and in no way denounce Western imperialism for “interfering” by helping Ukrainians.

– We must think ahead and be ready to prevent their troops from interfering, but also to oppose the militarization of Western societies against the Russian imperialist bogeyman. [21] We want the latter to be defeated but by the people and the mass movement of Ukraine (and Russia), not by guardianship and for this they must be strengthened politically and materially.

Furthermore, we must go beyond what these imperialists want to do and in a more substantial way: for example we must demand the cancellation of Ukraine’s debts, as the Ukrainian social movements have highlighted, and we know, as in the case of Greece, how popular this is in the capitalist circles!

We must take an equally specific and undogmatic view of their “sanctions» against Russia as with “aid” to Ukraine. The fact that we (the left) do not control their range is not a reason for either general denial or general support. We have to formulate specific positions with the help of our Ukrainian and Russian comrades and our appreciation of their reach. Thus, we cannot disagree with “sanctions» on the Russian oligarchy (economic or political) which to be effective, however, would have to challenge tax havens and therefore the freedom and opacity of the world markets! On the other hand, we must oppose sanctions that are directed primarily against the Russian people (or other peoples).

So whatever the case, we accept the support of the Ukrainian people and their resistance but refuse any aid which has an extortionate character. Because this may be more complicated than it seems, the final say on the need for aid must be held by the Ukrainian militants, their movements and their organisations.

11) Our solidarity and support for a just struggle is always undivided and unconditional [22] for two reasons: first, because programmatically we must treat victims not as mere objects but as real subjects [23] and secondly, so that we have the freedom to have our own opinions – and to speak them – without them being coercive. Thus, we must support the Ukrainians themselves in the war they are waging against the Russian invasion and, above all, we must agree to support them in whatever decisions they themselves make about how to wage it. That is why, in particular, we support their resistance, armed or unarmed – it is not our place to decide what is best for them. [24]

12) A just struggle must be supported regardless not only of the individual perceptions of the people waging it, but also of the nature of their leaderships. [25] A people, a nation struggling against an agressor is still a society permeated by class, patriarchal, etc., relations; it is never homogeneous, even if the particular struggle itself may contain elements of superficial unanimity against the agressor.

13) Despite the diversity of national liberation struggles, their outcome is always judged by the general dynamics of social liberation that they create. Therefore:

  • a) the support of Ukrainians in the war is not only against their ethnic oppression; it is also for the general emancipation of different social groups including workers, ethnic (Roma), gender, etc.
  • b) the hegemony of the local bourgeoisie tends to be challenged by the very dynamics of the struggle even when it is merely one of national liberation [26], as, by definition it is carried out to turn the oppressed into political subjects.
  • c) the final outcome will also depend on the hegemony of the struggle by the socially oppressed strata and their own will at the expense of the programmes of the ruling class (oligarchs, etc.), which is why the social programme of the war and the challenging of bourgeois hegemony in practice are of such great significance.
  • d) and for this same reason, the strengthening of the groups, parties, trade unions, collectives (large or small) that make up the sections of society struggling and fighting against the aggressor is even more important.

14) In this social war (which is ultimately a national one) of the Ukrainian people against imperialism, the left, and especially the international left, has an enormous responsibility. [27] First of all, for not handing over national liberation to the bourgeoisie by refusing to join the struggle of the Ukrainians . Secondly, because it has to ward off the elements of blackmail that the “aid» from the rival imperialists entails in order to neutralise the people themselves and “satellite” their country. Thirdly, since class struggle, the particular struggle of the oppressed is not only not cancelled by war, but constitutes what is mainly at stake, and the left is necessarily involved in the main way to a victorious outcome. It is our duty, the duty of all the left in the world and above all for the working classes, the trade unions, the grass roots movements and all the oppressed to measure up to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia, who both ask for and need our help. For the defeat of the imperialist invasion, for the victory of social liberation in Ukraine, in Russia and in the rest of the world.

What we need to do:

  1. Acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings so far, especially in our positions up to now. [28].
  2. We should not hesitate to confront the majority of the Greek left, which is essentially bankrupt in its task of supporting the Ukrainian struggle. Looking for excuses and “theories” to justify itself, killing any principle of support for the oppressed and recognition of the necessity of their self-emancipation and, in practice, siding with imperialism (with the sole concern to defeat the Ukrainians).
  3. To make direct contact with movements, trade unions, collectives, etc., which constitute the society that is fighting. Clearly, not in order to tell them what to do or impose our own geopolitical or social plans on them, but to listen to them, ask them what they need and organize it, etc. We can also join the networks of support to the Ukrainian people [29] against Russia’s war.
  4. To convey their voice, their views and their struggles both in the resistance and in their political and social reality to Greek society. To try to help them in what they need and not what some omniscient smart aleck from here imagines they need.
  5. To stop indiscriminately reproducing Putinist propaganda (i.e. Nazi nation or “non-nation») and to seek out the truth even when there are questions, real or imagined, about history, social and political reality, the burden of capitalism (and oligarchs), etc. [30]