By new puritan
Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:10 pm
Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:10 pm
- Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:10 pm #405195
Good interview with Volodymyr Ishchenko, one of the few genuinely insightful commentators on Ukraine.
RF: The dominant pro-Western narrative in the West, epitomised by the recent work of Timothy Snyder and Andrew Wilson, is that Ukraine represents the innate drive towards Russian expansionism. What would be your response to this?
We have to analyse the whole situation as a result of the rivalry between competing imperialisms. Yes there is the fact of military intervention into Ukraine, the supply of weapons and in August (and also recently), sending in Russian troops, albeit in a limited way. But this is not the result of some extreme, evil nature of Russian imperialism but rather the result of the uneven distribution of opportunities and resources for each of the competing imperialisms in Ukraine. If the Ukrainian government has become completely loyal to Western hegemony and to the requirements of the IMF, what is the point of the US intervening militarily?
This argument by Andrew Wilson and others is a legitimisation of Western imperialism. So Putin is a new Hitler and we all have to unite, the left and the right (Snyder is pretending to be at least liberal left) to fight this absolute enemy. This is what is at stake now, Western European “civilised values”. This can develop into racist overtones. In the end it will become just a clear ideological legitimisation of the interests of the European and American ruling classes.
In the same way Russian imperialism is legitimised by the conservative, patriarchal defence of Russian dignity, sovereignty and their rightful place in the world, which they lost when the USSR collapsed.
The problem now is that values we would uphold as progressive — minority rights, gender equality, formal democracy — have been used as part of this imperialist rivalry. So to a significant extent they have become discredited and seen as unimportant. The left must work out how to maintain an independent position against this inter-imperialist rivalry; otherwise you just become left supporters of one rival or another.
http://socialistreview.org.uk/400/socia ... se-ukraine" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;RF: What is your assessment of the impact of the crisis on the left and of the challenges the left face?
That is a big question. The majority of the left has dissolved into supporters of this or that camp. In the final instance it is a consequence of the weakness of the working class, and of the left’s class analysis as well. Actually one can trace these problems as far back as the 1960s. We have the influence of the postmodern liberal left who support the Maidan on the basis of “European values” and what one might call movementism. The “anti-imperialist” left will mostly support anti-Maidan and even support Russia as a competitor to the US.
Both these positions represent a move away from independent socialist politics. What we lack is an independent, anti-capitalist socialist position in this war and that is what we have to create. There are now some initiatives, for example the one I am participating in, which is trying to create a new left party; this will not take a strong position on the Maidan or anti-Maidan but will try to speak to the common interests of workers in the east and the west of Ukraine. It includes left radical networks in Kiev, Odessa and other cities but also the independent labour unions, such as in Kryvyi Rih, which is a big industrial centre in central Ukraine.
We will see whether we will be able to create some strong left political force which will be able to play an independent role in the coming protests.
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.