Ukraine - A Nationalist Dead End

It is now over two months since the political crisis erupted in the Ukraine. A demonstration in favour of the EU? Nigel Farage would never believe it (nor for that matter many in Southern Europe). Are people really occupying and rioting because their government failed to sign an article of association and trade agreement with the European Union? It might have started as a protest at the failure of President Yanukovich to agree to a deal that had been in the making for a decade. But it has become more than this. It is now seen as a sign that nothing in crisis-ridden, oligarch-dominated, corrupt Ukraine was going to change. Resentment that has been building up for some time over a whole range of issues has found a cause and an outlet.

The Failure of the Orange Revolution

When the US-backed Orange Revolution kicked out Yanukovich the last time (2004) many Ukrainians thought that it would be an end of all the political sins of the corrupt post-Stalinist regime. Yanukovich’s fradulent election victory was overturned and the new regime headed by Yushchenko, with the “gas princess” Yulia Timoshenko as Prime Minister, took over. But it did not last. Whilst Yushchenko remained fixed on taking Ukraine into NATO and was more pro-Western, Timoshenko saw that Ukraine’s continued 60% dependence on Russian energy meant that a deal with Putin was inevitable. After the 2006 crisis when Russia cut off the gas supply in the depths of winter Timoshenko began to negotiate a deal with Putin (1).

The deal she did sign in 2009 was secret and designed to keep Yushchenko (then President) in the dark. With the two main branches of the former Orange movement at loggerheads, and the economy in a massive downward slide (a 15% fall in GDP in 2009) (2) after the bursting of the global speculative bubble in 2007-8, Yanukovich won power in what were considered “fair” elections in 2010. After the misery inflicted on the working class by the restructuring of the Yushchenko era, Yanukovich posed as the man to bring back “equality”. It was an unlikely claim as Yanukovich is part of the Donetsk clan headed by Ukraine’s richest oligarch Rinat Akhmetov who has a fortune of $12 billion. Needless to say workers, like workers everywhere, are worse now than they were 4 years ago.

One problem for the Ukraine is that it is dominated by such oligarchic clans (of which 4 are dominant). The top 50 oligarchs control two thirds of the country’s wealth. With the powerful backing of Akhmetov, Yanukovich (who in his youth was a convicted thug) lost no time in settling scores after the election. After creating a government dominated by the Donetsk clan he put Timoshenko on trial. She herself is an oligarch of great wealth acquired after the collapse of the USSR and in association with convicted criminals now in the US (3). The deal with Putin that Timoshenko signed was deemed illegal (4) by the regime who imprisoned her two years ago. Her release was one of 6 EU conditions that Yanukovich, and his coalition of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party refused to meet last November. He has also altered the constitution to give himself as President more powers whilst the arrest and harassment of political opponents increased. If you look at how the Putin regime operates you get the picture for the Ukraine.

In the Vice of Imperialism

Ukraine is in fact stewing in an imperialist pressure cooker. Since 2007 its economy has been one of the worst performing in the world with the value of its biggest export earner, steel, being drastically cut. IMF loans have dried up as the regime has been incapable of carrying out the reforms they demanded. With $15 billion of its loans due for repayment next year and a continuing budget deficit Yanukovich (who seeks re-election in 2015) was in a desperate hole. The deal with the EU offered more money (€27 billion) but hedged with so many conditions and was so long term that Yanukovich was easy pickings for a bit of instant Russian pressure.

And the Russians, smarting over so many humiliations at the hands of NATO (5) and the EU, are pressuring many of their former satellites into economic agreements rather than look to the West. Armenia, dependent on Russia for its security, was also recently browbeaten back into the Russian camp and Ukraine has followed. Putin only had to offer to reduce the price Ukraine paid for its gas from $400 per 1000 cubic metres to $268.5 and offered a loan of 15 bn dollars with $3 billion paid up front (and another $2 billion by the end of January) to win over Yanukovich. Putin’s pay day loans are for the really desperate but he is only charging 5%, no questions asked and no EU conditions to be met.

The Protests

At first protest after November 21 was relatively muted. Students, and other young people (overwhelming middle class), who realised that the opening to the EU (and better job prospects) was now blocked, were amongst the first to protest and occupy the streets. This included Independence Square where the “Euromaidan” (Euro Square) camp was set up. However on November 30, the sight of the Berkut (riot police), and their allied paramilitary titushky (thugs), attacking peaceful demonstrators unleashed even bigger protests which started in the West of the country but has since even spread to Yanukovich’s own heartlands in the East and South. Local government offices have been taken over in many towns and attempts at alternative municipal structures have been made.

Every political opposition political grouping became involved and Putin is certainly right to say that there is foreign interference in the movement. He though was criticising the very public visits of EU top officials and US Senator John McCain to give solidarity to the demonstrators but there is a deeper involvement. Yulia Timoshenko’s Homeland Party was not slow to give their backing to the protests (since her release had been one condition of the EU deal). The party is now led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former foreign minister who strongly backs the EU’s proposed austerity reforms. Allied with Homeland are parties like ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko’s Udar which was originally set up with funding assistance from Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and is very close to Angela Merkel’s CDU. Klitschko is also thought to be close to Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the neo-fascist anti-semitic Svoboda (Freedom) Movement which has MPs in parliament and is in the same reactionary group as the BNP in the UK, Jobbik in Hungary and the Front National in France.

Svoboda and the far right have so far been the main gainers. Tyahnybok calls for “revolution” and his supporters are the most dominant in policing the occupations (even evicting other groups they don’t like the Splina Sprana (Common Cause group which represent the petty bourgeois of West Ukraine).

However many are increasingly suspicious of all the political parties. Many of the West Ukrainians, not all of them pro-EU contribute money, materials and time as individuals to the opposition. The resolution and organisation of the demonstrators has astounded the regime as they have dug in for 2 months in Independence Square (the so-called “Euromaidan” in sub-zero temperatures. Even the Christmas/New Year break only led to a temporary drop in their numbers.

The Regime’s Response

The regime’s initial response was to try to tough it out but by the end of November it thought it could intimidate the demonstrators with brutal repression (in which at least 7 have been killed and many have been tortured). After the New Year it then decided to introduce more repressive legal measures. The law passed by Parliament on January 16 basically restored outright dictatorship and banned any form of protest. They were assisted in passing this by the thugs of the Right Sector, a motley collection of ultra-nationalist neo-fascists largely made up of football hooligans. They despise the official neo-fascist group of Svoboda as liberals. They are not interested in the EU or Russia but in a racially pure Ukraine which they think is run by Jews who want to give gays rights. They had been accepted by the more liberal demonstrators because they have fought back most violently against the riot police (Berkut). However according to the AST (Autonomous Workers’ Union, an anarcho-syndicalist group in the Ukraine), the same anti-semitism and anti-gay material can be found on the social media of the titushky who line up with the Berkut. These groups are often led by ex-police officers and they operate like Latin American death squads. The removal of injured protestors from hospital to be tortured and, on a couple of occasions killed, is put down to them (6).

In short there are vicious ugly elements on both sides of this conflict. It is thus quite laughable to read accounts on Trotskyist websites describing the protests as “right wing” as though Yanukovich’s regime was any different. What we have in a Ukraine saturated in nationalist ideology are two Rights who are equally wrong. However the Right Sector may have made the headlines until January 16 they have now seen their influence reduced as more protestors have joined the demonstrations against the attempt to increase authoritarian control. Many of these are indifferent to nationalism and are not interested in the EU. Some have of these begun to suggest that the Right Sector is actually a tool of the regime as its provocations provide an excuse for more repression.

Since January 16 too the demonstrations and occupations have begun to really spread to the Donetsk clan’s heartland in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. This has given Yanukovich pause for thought. The regime is now backing down and seeking a negotiated way out. The January 16 laws have been rescinded, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have resigned and Yanukovich has made several offers of deals to the opposition to calm things. Even the oligarchs who back Yanukovich have warned of the danger of civil war and call for more dialogue. Yanukovich has now tried to buy time by sending in a sickie. He claims he has an “acute respiratory disorder” (otherwise know as a touch of the cold) but is still running the country. It is a good way to postpone any further discussion with the Opposition who might splinter over who controls the government buildings that have been occupied. In fact the opposition are only united around one demand – the overthrow of Yanukovich.

A Working Class Perspective

Throughout all this the working class has been largely absent. It has certainly been missing as a class force. Under the formal control of the Ukrainian trades union federation it has been quiescent. It has good reason to be. None of the factions in the current struggle offer it the slightest comfort. In the immediate term they are better off with Yanukovich since any deal with the EU (and the IMF for that matter) means “reforms” and workers all over the world now know what that means today. It means greater job insecurity, lower wages, less social security and diminished pensions. The longer term though is of a global capitalism in crisis with Ukraine as one of its basket cases. The “reforms” that are needed to keep capitalism functioning in the Ukraine are all about attacking workers’ living standards as they are throughout the world. And the Ukraine is not the only place which is seeing the rise of the radical and even neo-fascist Right. One dodge of the capitalists has always been divide and rule and in a crisis how easy is it to blame it on the “other” immigrants, the unemployed other ethnic groupings. It is a story older than capitalism but it has never been more needed by our exploiters than today. But the world working class is a class of migrants. We have no country but we do have a world to win.

In the Ukraine the task looks daunting. Forming a politically independent and autonomous working class movement in current circumstances is not easy. However the few revolutionary working class elements that do exist should seek to cooperate on the ground around some common aims. Above all else these should include no support for any of the bourgeois factions who represent only different aspects of the spectrum of exploitation and oppression. At the same time it should also include support in the workplace, in neighbourhoods, and in the occupations for any initiative which bolsters working class solidarity and confidence. Alongside this we have to spread political propaganda against all bourgeois factions and the recognition that the fight of the workers in the Ukraine is not unique but part of a global resistance to capitalist exploitation. The path is not a short one but this would at provide a starting point. Ultimately the workers of the Ukraine have to join the battalions of the world working class in an international and internationalist political movement to get rid of a system which has long outlived its usefulness.




(3) Pavel Lazarenko also a former Prime minister under President Kuchma. The UN says he stole $200,000,000 and was sentenced in the US in 2006 to 9 years for money laundering, wire fraud and extortion. In 2004 Transparency International put him at number 11 on the world’s most corrupt list.

(4) In fact by agreeing to pay world market prices Timoshenko hamstrung the Ukrainian gas company Naftohaz which gives an 80% discount to customers as they cannot pay Putin’s price. Ending this subsidy is one of the “reforms” demanded by the IMF and more quietly the EU. It would be political suicide for any Ukraine government to agree to it. See



Monday, February 3, 2014


Juraj put this latest on Facebook. Things are getting more dangerous. More than civil war and partition beckoning? Would lead to severe economic problems across Eastern Europe especially for Russia.

Responding to Jock's references to 'the Right Sector', you might find an article entitled 'The Menace of the European extreme right', as published by 'The New Worker' of 21st February 2014, informative. It can be seen on the website

Further to source of article referred to on 2014-02-23, please see same for new article of 28th Feb, entitled 'Nazi threat in Ukraine', which reports that over 1,000 people joined an anti-fascist march in Kiev led by Ukrainian communists, etc, etc.

Ukrainian Communists in this context are not communists in any real sense (unfortunately) but the continuation of the old Stalinists who are as nationalist as their right wing opponents. Defence of workers' autonomy in the Ukraine means opposing all factions manoeuvring for power.

Cleishbotham advises workers in the Ukraine to oppose all factions manoeuvring for power. How, if at all, does that differ from anarchism ? The violent chaos recently seen (on freeview 85, a channel I recommend) might well be described as anarchic. Of course it has been stimulated by 'the West' in various ways, notably including neo-nazis, such as those descended from the ones who provided guards for the nazi death camps.

If the only sort of public order of which ICT would approve is as per all CL theories stemming from 1922, then a starting line in Ukraine and world-wide seems exceedingly remote. Meanwhile, the workers, especially of Russia, know exactly what nazis do and have had to learn how to oppose them.You might have already heard that the unelected 'government' in Kiev, composed largely of right-wing personnel, many of them oligarchs, has apparently appointed a far right-winger as its defence minister, probably to the delight of NATO. The overproduction of weaponry has caused its capitalist manufacturers to seek 'outlets' for its products far and wide. We hear reports of young children being given guns by their parents in the USA. I reckon that we need to consider, as far as possible, just what is most likely to happen in Ukraine, Britain and elsewhere, and then see what, if anything, can usefully actually be done by workers to deal with it. That will depend upon what workers can actually agree about, given their thinking at the time.

I suppose you could argue that nazis rule the world. But some nazis are more obvious than others. Some imitate the prototype hitlerite nazi, all prim and proper and decked in military attire, and zieg heiling all over the place like robots. But these are a little outdated. Others present themselves as just plain bully boys, skin heads and goon squads. Ukraine seems full of them at the moment. Some are more "left wing" than others, some more "right wing", but it all boils down to the same thing - people who haven't thought about it at all defending this that or the other kind of bourgeois democracy, and prepared to thuggishly fight to prove they're right and that anyone disagreeing is wrong.

And then there are the nazis that run everything. Leaders like for example Obama, Putin, Cameron, Zuma, Milliband (a Marxist style nazi!!) Castro, and whoever replaced Chavez; the bosses of the banks, the stock exchange crazies; the CIA, the IMF, the UN, the Taliban, the police, military generals and the like - in short the whole mechanism of the bourgeois dictatorship. It sometimes seems to me they're all nazis now. All out viciously to enforce the diktats of the search for profits and the defense of capital; ; the policing and enforced protection of their various militarized states; the maniacal pursuit of spying on all their citizens (the Gestapo is everywhere now) and the crushing of anything that challenges their "lawful" rule.

Workers may be mocked for their inaction in the face of rapidly deteriorating nazi - sorry, I mean capitalist! - society: but they, we, are still the only solution around like it or not. Believe it or not. And while my understanding of "NAZI" may be stretching its meaning just a's only just a touch.

There are two imperialist rackets operating in the Ukraine. Russia and the West. Support for both sides is well-endowed with xenophobic, racist thugs who do not offer anything but more exploitation to the working class of the entire country. To argue otherwise is to support one imperialist camp against another. In the meantime the situation is much more complex than that seen by T34. The oligarchs who jumped ship and finally did for Yanukovich look to have done it in the nick of time. They are now being used by the new regime as go-betweens who may keep the Ukraine together after the inept and provocative decision taken by the post-Yanukovich Parliament to make Ukrainian the only official language. Incidentally one of these oligarchs is Oleg Kolomoisky "a prominent member and supporter of the Jewish community" who said "he had accepted an offer from Kiev to head the regional government in his native Dnipropetrovsk region in eastern Ukraine where he controls a large share of industry". [Financial Times March 3 2014]. These guys really own Ukraine (55% of farmland in Ukraine is owned by corporations and 13.5% of Ukraine land is owned by 40 foreign corporations - 2011 figures in Andro Linklater's Owning the Earth (see letters column of same FT). The Euromaidan will not alter that and our discussions here need to start with the real material position of the working class not accepting the tawdry propaganda of one side or the other playing on false historical analogies.

Cleishbotham provides some details of the complex situations within the Ukraine and, previously, asserted that 'old Stalinists' there are 'not real communists' in this context. He has probably read the Report delivered by Georgi Dimitrov to the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International, August 2 1935. The CP published a small book on that, entitled 'For the Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism' in 2007. The section towards the end of it is entitled 'The ideological struggle against fascism'. Dimitrov said "Comrades, proletarian internationalism must, so to speak, 'acclimatise itself' in each country in order to sink deep roots in its native land. National forms of the proletarian class struggle and of the labour movement in the individual countries are in no contadiction to proletarian internationalism; on the contrary, it is precisely in these forms that the international interests of the proletariat can be successfully defended."

What a nauseating piece of double speak! Internationalism is nationalism or even national socialism. Dmitrov was in fact announcing the imperialist stance of the USSR. "Anti-fascism" was to become the war slogan for enagaging with the democratic West against the open war aims of Hitler's Germany which was to win lebensraum in the East. It did not stop the realpolitik of Stalinism doing a deal with the very fascists that the 7th Congress condemned. But this is the nasty mess you get involved in when you abandon proletarian internationalism for the imperialist games of the capitalist class everywhere. "Workers have no country" Karl Marx.

Marx was correct to say that 'workers have no country' when he said it, but, since then, you will probably remember that from 1917 that was no longer so. They almost lost it in the 1940s in Russia, were it not for the military defeat of Hitler's forces, won at terrible cost by millions of workers opposed to fascism.

Millions of workers fought and died for fascism too. That does not make it supportable just as fighting for Russian imperialism in World War Two was not supportable. The working class revolution in Russia was defeated by the 1920s so there was nothing left to defend by 1939. The fact that Hitler and Stalin could settle their differences in 1939 (and agree to dismember Poland) only underlines the distinction you try to make is anti-working class. Marx quote was right then, now and always.

Not to mention that Stalin cynically ordered the army of the "socialist fatherland" to halt its march on Warsaw in 1944 when uprising broke out there and Nazis were crushing it. Isn't the callous indifference to the fate of Varsovian workers (200,000 civillians died, 700,000 were expelled and 85% of buildings were destroyed) something you'd expect from a bourgeois politican? And without talking about this we can prove he was one and he led nothing else than a capitalist state.

Of course, the fact that millions of workers fight for some cause or other does not automatically make the cause itself valid. On the other hand, fighting for the survival of Russian people, workers, was felt and thought to be very much 'supportable' in World War Two by them, and by many workers elsewhere. It is contemptible to just portray that as their 'fighting for Russian imperialism', easy to say from a distance. Please consider what the consequences would have been, had they not fought and won their major part of the war against Hitler. Historically this is of far greater importance than whatever opinions are held about Stalin, Trotsky, gulags, Marx, and imperialism in general. The ICT views seem rather like saying that wars would not have occurred and will disappear if workers and everyone else worldwide turned Buddhist, (though, quote Jock - "We are not pacifists" ) and simultaneously overthrew imperialism, rejecting steps and stages won and secured because of being unsatisfactory from an ICT viewpoint.

In 2013 I told you that I was in support of CWO/ICT views, but have now changed my views of them, as you will know from my comments since then. However, my personal views are of no significance except in so far as they agree with and are in support of the working class. Imagine your situation if Hitler had gained victory and world domination. No thanks.

You may have supported CWO/ICT views T34 but if you understood them as well, if you understood communist positions, you would know that while the working class may be dragooned as in the 2nd World War into fighting for the bourgeoisie and for capitalism this doesn't make it right, or mean that the working class is furthering its own interests, or that one side of the bourgeoisie is any better than some other side. The Stalinist side of the bourgeoisie was just as obnoxious as the Hitlerite side or the Cburchillian "western" side. They were all responsible for millions of deaths just to preserve capitalism which started it all in the first place by entering a "depression". Nothing was gained for the working class, only millions of deaths, and capitalism emerged victorious, and is ready again now for yet another war to save it from decay.

As to "what would have happened if Hitler had won the war"...well, in so far as the only winner was capitalism itself, I suppose you could argue that he did win. The bourgeoisie won. Gestapo-like military regimes are actively being brutal all over the globe today, and even in cosy countries like the UK life under increasing austerity and with state control of just about everything, is hardly the rosy picture our rulers lyingly insist on.

If the workers turn to Buddhism for a solution I don't think this will help. The only solution for our massively increasing world desperation now T34 is if the international working class once again finds it feet and begins to fight back. Otherwise we're toast.

No, Charlie, whilst bits of what you said, such as that, today.." military regimes are being actively brutal" are common knowledge, for you to argue that today the working class should fight back, but that they shouldn't have done so against Hitler is ridiculous, as is also your claim that nothing was gained for the working class. Even more lives would have been lost by the working class than were lost in fighting against Hitler's forces if Hitler had not been defeated. How come? Try thinking of Auschwitz as a prototype. Nazis wanted and no doubt still want total 'aryan' control of the whole world. To dismiss anti-fascism as just a cover for bourgeois democracy should be reconsidered by all those with affinity to the CWO/ICT.

Please be clear, as per my comment of 7th March, that I was NOT advocating that workers should adopt Buddhism, but only attempting to partially liken the ICT views against fighting in wars to it, so please leave that out of any more you might say back to me.

The working class was unable to fight back against Hitler because Hitler and the Nazis arose precisely on the corpse of the first revolutionary wave 1917-23, and on the corpse of the working class, which was defeated every where perhaps especially in Germany. So the defeated working class was unable to respond to the Great Depression in the thirties and just submitted itself as cannon fodder to the rapacious requirements of the bourgeoisie who needed a war as the way of dealing with capitalism's sickness. The working class, having been defeated, were unable to resist the fervent and passionate nationalism of the Hitlers, Stalins, Roosevelts Churchills and others, who seized the opportunity to dragoon the defeated and now submissive working class to the needs of capitalist war.

So, in being hypnotically led into a world war on behalf of the ruling class and its capitalist economy, the working class found itself divided up into nationalities - Germans, British, Japanese, Indian, American and so on, and were forced to kill each other not to resist fascism (the ruling class doesn't give a bugger about fascism as long as it serves capitalism which it does and anti-fascism was just an excuse for mass destruction) but to destroy competition! The winners - the US and the USSR - claimed all.

Today the working class is not a defeated class as it was in 1939; new generations have been born. So a "fight back" as you call it T34 is now possible. Not a fight back against for example Chinese "communism" (lol) or the would-be imperialism of Russia in seizing the Crimea, but a real genuine fight back, on working class terrain and with working class consciousness of the goal in view, a fight back against capitalism itself.

Trying to have the last word on previous history with ICT doesn't seem attractive to me, but your use of the words 'working class terrain' does seem worthwhile if considering present and future developments.

As for your allegation that Russia is 'seizing' Crimea, that seems to be refuted when watching news showing large crowds of people who have lived there for ages enthusiastically waving Russian flags and expressing full affinity with the Russians of Russia. Maybe you are aware that the leading member of one of the several ultra-right organisations in Kiev has expressed a wish to become a presidential candidate, so it's not surprising that Russian speakers are alarmed at developments following the rightist putsch. Is it not more likely that NATO would like to 'seize' Crimea ? If so, it's no surprise that Russia would want to avert that, for obvious reasons of self-defence.

I'll let you have the last word T34.

No. We'll have the last word Charlie. Your posts have been very much appreciated however T34 sent a further post spamming for the New Worker and some other Maoist sect. These have been deleted as we are giving no platform to Stalinists, nationalists and those that are as reactionary as the Western imperialist powers they condemn.

A shrunk platform should be adequate if the 'communist left' only wants to debate within itself.


March/April 2014

Ukraine: only action of proletariat can stop nationalist threatening with war

Mass protests in Ukraine, which were sparked by not signing the association agreement and a free trade agreement with EU by President Yanukovych, have lasted for more than three months now and have esca-lated to nationalist hysteria, threatening with weapons, both from Russian side and by the protests strengthened mostly West-oriented Ukraine opposition. For example, neo-fascist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, which emerged from the protests boosted thanks to their organization not only on the barricades of Maidan and which has obtained five ministerial posts in the new government, including Deputy Prime Minister and general attorney, would like to insure the position of Ukraine with accession to the NATO structures and with renewal of nuclear arsenal. This launched a game that teeters on the edge of open military conflict, could be the beginning of a global war of destruction of forming imperialist blocks, which would be built over the existing economic and political alliances.

For Russia may support of Russian nationalism in East-ern Ukraine and Crimea be part of the larger geopolitical game tarnishing its recently injured position as the imperialist super-power, specifically after the loss of its influence in Libya (where because of the Gaddafi’s fall, in which Western super-powers were engaged, Russia lost a possible naval base) and potential loss of the last Russian naval base in the Mediterranean in Syrian Tartus, if Russia and Iran supported Bashar Assad would be defeated. The development regarding the Crimea may follow the same scenario as in the case of occupation of territories of South Ossetia or Abkhazia. It may also be a tactic to get to the head of the Ukrainian state elements such as the now mostly discredited Tymoshenko, which already have in the past emerged as being able to communicate with Putin. Ukrainian bourgeoisie is lobbying in the EU and in the USA for a strong response to Russia, but the EU mainly due to Germany and its economic interests and energy needs, will in effect remain with toothless verbal threats. To set off an imaginary powder keg it will take steps and conspiracies of the USA and Russia itself, probably through the exploitation of nationalist militias, of which exist on both sides too many.

Either way, one thing is clear. The nationalist hysteria and direction of the whole development show that the proletariat – a collective wage worker - in this storyline plays the role of extras unable to express its own inter-ests and its resistance to be mobilized for the interests of the national bourgeoisie as potential cannon fodder.

Initial protests, that began in November 2013, were by their nature peaceful protests of students, urban “middle strata”, the petty bourgeoisie and minority of workers, an image of inter-class civil society, for whom the signing of association agreements with the EU was a move closer to the standards of living of more western Europe, either directly through the visa policy easing, or through the false dream of Western Europe as a paradise without corruption, high wages, social security, honest politicians, law, clean streets... So, except some material dimension at least for inhabitants of western Ukraine through bourgeois ideology mediated idea of a better material life. Polarization the EU versus the former pro-Russian president Yanukovych has characterized the protests by strong anti-Russians sentiments since the beginning, as an expression of resistance against today’s post-Soviet reality. After violent and sadistic police attack during early December days, protests spread, multiplied, attracted interest of working masses and got transformed into general anti-government and pro-democracy protests.

Starvation wages, the average wage is less than 200 Euros, contrasts with fabulous wealth of oligarchs and political elites connected with them, are the material basis for indignation of the masses, even more intensified with the impact of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, that hit Ukraine with 15% decrease of GDP. Ironically, it was “ousted”, for embezzlement repeatedly accused, President Yanukovych belonging to Donetsk oligarchs, who stopped some unpopular austerity measures applied by previous political elites of the so called Orange Revolution supported by the West, led by “The Gas Princess” Tymoshenko, herself also belonging to oligarchs, whose former business partner of the time of her tenure at the energy company, Pavol Lazarenko is currently imprisoned in the U.S. for money laundering. History of post-Soviet Ukrainian politics is defined by changing oligarchic clans at the head of the state and the struggle between them.

The growing economic problems of Ukraine and the pressure of the imperialist powers to decide which block Ukraine would join, moved Yanukovych into an unenviable situation. The signing of the Association Agreement with the EU would for the proletariat Ukraine mean applying austerity measures. The signing could potentially, among other things, make Russia react in the way that would complicate cross-border labour migration for hundreds of thousands of Eastern Ukrainians and would probably cause also Yanukovych’s political death anyway, even though Yanukovych has been “buying” some parts of the population till now, as in the case of favouring Eastern Ukraine and mining Donetsk. Yet even withdrawal from the signing, which was supported by a prompt agreement on Russian financial injection caused immediate impetus for the mobilization of opposition forces against Yanukovych. President’s arrogance, violence by the police, kidnapping and murders at the hands of government paramilitary groups, all that have mobilized against the government the masses, whose “common sense” in the absence of proletarian organization structures has been based on nationalist fundamental assumptions. Opposition factions with themes of national unity, national democracy, national coalition against Yanukovych, has used well nationalism as a tool to prevent penetration of topics of everyday material reality of the proletariat. Even “spotless” boxing cham-pion Klitschko, whose centre-right UDAR made its exis-tence thanks to the funding from the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, linked to Merkel and her CDU, also plays the tone of nationalism with his campaign “Do not worry, you are Ukrainian”. Neo-fascist Tyahnybok whose Svoboda party uses pro-Western democratization in a populist way purely for their political gains, belongs with Klitschko and Tymoshenko’s Yatsenyuk to the leaders of so-called anti-Yanukovych revolution.

With approval of repressive laws (Article 206 of the Criminal Codex) at the 16th January by Yanukovych’s MPs, prosecuting so-called extremism, defined as acts inciting social conflicts, has mobilized even more masses into the protests with pro-democratic sentiments. An idea of better democracy does not correspond with the positions of Svoboda party and even with more extreme and more violent Right sector, however, it was these two neo-fascist groups that have played a crucial role in fighting on Maidan barricades, for which they have earned respect among the masses, enhanced with the fact that in connection with the new anti-extremist law the defenders of the barricades had no choice – either to go and face upcoming “cleansing” from the hands of spe-cial paramilitary squads and state prosecution for illegal military formation with charges of 2 to 15 years in prison or to hold on and believe in the fall of Yanukovych.

Since 23rd of January the Maidan movement had occu-pied governmental buildings in Kiev, Lviv, Ternopil, Uzhhorod, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Rivne, Zaporozhye, Poltava, Vinnytsia and other cities, elsewhere protesters blocked access to buildings, but did not take a control of them. Important roads were also blocked. Governors of several large cities were forced by the crowd to resign, others fled, villa of gover-nor of Uzhhorod was burnt down. Occupied buildings were used as field hospitals, canteens and dormitories, but the movement did not use them to equip itself with discussion and decision-making bodies. Attempts to establish general assemblies and councils “without poli-ticians” failed or came under the control of the opposi-tion parties. Democratic opposition finally, despite not being very keen on the occupations since the beginning and even claimed that it is a provocation, determined the agenda of occupied space or worse, they assumed their management. They also prevent spontaneous destruction of documents and demolishing of equipment in occupied governmental buildings. In some cases (like in Lviv) the protesters partially released the occupied building in order “to allow officials to work”. And finally, it was right the opposition that pushed to end of the occupations as it was one of the conditions for the amnesty that it had previously negotiated.

The movement didn’t try to block the Ukrainian econ-omy, there are no traces of sabotages or strikes On the contrary, we could see the proletarians, who took vaca-tion so they could participate to demonstrations, or oth-ers who were coming to camp in Maidan after a twelve-hour shift and leaving in the morning to go back to work.

What will an ordinary observer of events in the Ukraine probably stick in his memory the most, are the huge clashes between demonstrators and police, the streets filled with smoke from burning barricades and tear gas from police reserves, and particularly the immense bru-tality of the repression forces, 112 dead and more than 2,000 injured on the side of the demonstrators. But mass dimension of the protests sparked the fire of contradictions even among the elite units of Berkut designated for repression of riots. Some protesters tried to fraternize with the Robocops already in November and December, when they offered them food and warm drinks. But only the fact that more and more people joined the movement triggered that the members of repressive forces started to join the side of the demonstrators either because they shared their criticism of governmental power, or because they simply refused to shoot into the crowd where their friends and relatives were standing. Since the moment when there appeared a danger that Yanukovych’s government deploys army against demonstrators, groups composed of soldiers’ families but also complete strangers were set up, which were trying to discuss with soldiers in front of the barracks and to persuade them to refuse to participate in a possible crackdown on demonstrators.

Svoboda party and the Right sector gained points be-cause of present nationalism and their preparedness and organization and their pre-existing violent structures. Traditional opposition parties are largely discredited and therefore Svoboda and Right sector appear as uncorrupted groupings, where Svoboda seems to be more radical alternative for outraged “unblemished public” (a parallel with Greek Golden Dawn comes to a mind) and Right sector with its mix of Nazism and anti-capitalism is more sexy for the youth. The chairman of the Right sector, that is now transforming itself into a political party, became deputy head of the National Security and Defence Council and announced that he will run for president of Ukraine.

In the context of nationalism, anti-Russian and pro-democracy sentiment during protests and with the ab-sence of any explicitly articulated direct economic topics of the exploited masses, it is hardly shocking that the new government that came out of the protests appointed two billionaire oligarchs – one that runs his business from Switzerland – as new governors in Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk in the East. Now the ruling opposition intends to introduce as soon as possible the implementation of austerity measures and social changes in dictate of the EU, the IMF, which will even further empty the pockets of the proletarians, as elucidated by Klitschko: “It is essential that we begin with the reforms. We need to help our economy that every day falls into bigger and bigger problems. We cannot wait another day...” Ukrainian bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia are confident in their shoes, the material interests of the proletariat are effectively denied with the interest of the nation, national economy, as it is the case in other parts of the world. Not only because of this Ukraine is not an isolated battle, but a part of the global capitalist system and therefore a target of the same anti-proletarian austerity measures and resistance against them.

However, neither the position of the so called democ-ratic opposition is very solid. It did not enjoy clear popu-larity within Maidan movement; on the contrary, it is seen by many as a bunch of opportunists always ready to betray the protest movement that brought it to power. Many of those who participated in the demonstrations now remember that many representatives of the “new” power once already governed the country. To name just one, the current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, already occupied the post of Minister of Economy and Foreign Minister in one of the post orange-revolution governments. He, like other opposition leaders, was booed several times at demonstrations; Vitali Klitschko was even attacked by protesters. Freshly released Tymoshenko also enjoyed lukewarm reception at Maidan, her speech sparked a wave of indignation and had to be interrupted several times. Criticism of political parties is however limited to similar expressions and moods, and at this point it seems that it does not develop further.

Few and far between proletarian groups and militants, who intervened in the protests, who stood on positions against nationalism and did not join any of the compet-ing bourgeois parties and who tried to articulate mate-rial interests of the proletariat during protests and thereby influence protests’ direction, were either at-tacked by the extreme right or were seen by masses as pro-Russian provocateurs. One cannot ignore sadism, kidnapping and murders committed by members of Yanukovich’s state apparatus, but all those activists (class, trade union, feminist...), which currently got per-haps at worst broken a few bones by neo-fascists on the Maidan, are harbingers of the neo-fascist attack on the activities of exploited and oppressed. The fact that there were standing individuals of Jewish origin and of other post-Soviet nationalities next to fascists on barricades, that the popularity of extreme right between people of Maidan is overestimated are just a few non-essential details of the development; as little essential as a general indifference to the main opposition trio, as the existence of by the opposition unapproved occupations of government buildings and as the general mood of self-organization on the Maidan.

When neo-fascists, who are not supported by the major-ity for their fascist ideals, but as representatives of na-tional independence, are able without resistance of the “unblemished public” violently smash social critique, although very isolated, led from proletarian positions or emancipatory efforts of various minorities, as well as when they are already entrenched existing political structures which are actually in charge of the daily life of Maidan, in addition to the general spirit of a will for individual participation and to the limited space for self-organization (the opposition does not have to bring 300 flags everyday as in days of the Orange Revolution to present its dominance), it is obvious that these are not a ideas and ideals carried in individual heads, what determine the socio-political dynamics and direction (Maidan) of movement.

The presence of proletarians who were part the Maidan movement, of course, grows from the fertile soil of social contradictions. Their direct material interests, as we said in the beginning, stand behind their participation and their actions. However, in absence of collective articulation of economic interests within a framework of the wage worker as a social class, action and will take place at the level of individual at the mercy of the whole machinery of bourgeois ideology domination. And individualism, as well as nationalism has always been a part of bourgeois ideology closely connected with the present mode of production and consumption, its language and the whole tangle of social relations. Collective action, of proletarians, is also led by economic interests, but differs in that that the process of development from an impulse, action, will to fight, to class consciousness and possible theoretical understanding of - the class division of society, capitalist exploitation of wage labour and therefore its revolutionary overcome – is gaining enormous dy-namics for reverse criticism and theorization. Now no longer from a position of an isolated individual, but thanks to collective impulses and more powerful reac-tions from a position of forming mass revolutionary class – the proletariat - the only class that is able to solve poverty, extortion, police terror and imperialist wars, senseless waste and the apparent scarcities for all masses (including the original initiators Maidan) by destruction of capitalism.

We do not want to submit here a bombastic analysis of economic, political, historical context which have influ-enced Maidan and the current nationalist hysteria. The fact is that without the existence of everyday proletarian resistance, struggle for their economic interests, without a structure and an organization, the proletariat as an independent actor in such a mass protest like Maidan is weak and faces attack of its class enemies. Individual proletarians and sectors can be “bought”, split, incite against each other using a national, ethnic, gender, racial affiliation.

Mass events, not only Maidan, show significant experi-ence that being indifferent to the everyday struggles of the class, to take distance from their “limited” level and to improvise during a “big” movement is a fatal mistake, when it may already be too late for any attempts to in-fluence class direction. Therefore it is important, that already now real class militants contribute to the politi-cal direction of the class and do not wait with this prac-tice until the time when “the situation requires it”, and when it will be honour for them to trumpet pompously the revelation of a need for political leadership with an illusion that after they roll up their sleeves and begin this work and present the historical lessons of the prole-tarian class struggle, theoretical conclusions and direc-tions for action, the class would embrace it with love. The bourgeoisie is always ready with its ideological apparatus, intellectuals, psychologists, and their death squads. Saying that today is not need for political train-ing, that “preparation” of militants is not on the agenda, that now only need is to share information, to connect via social networks, to bring bombastic analyzes of the crisis and struggles’ horizons, to invent always valid strategies and measures – thus creating the illusion we are participants of the real class movement and we in-fluence it, or just to follow in the steps of proletarian struggles with all their limitations, because “the class is not prepared for more” (tailism), - is not only wrong, but it has nothing to do with the activity of a communist vanguard. Not to make revolutionary communist orien-tation just some abstract improvisation, the influence of communist vanguards must be a dialectical join of the class and class struggle. This is more than a slogan “Freedom or death!”, spraying graffiti or preference for an immediate confrontation. It is necessary to try to theoretically understand what actually social relation-ships around us are about.

Therefore, in order to not let revolutionary overcoming of capitalism and militants who intervene in the strug-gles of the class and agitate for it, be regarded as admir-ers of the USSR, representatives of the Stalinist atrocities and the Ukrainian Holodomor in the 30th of the 20th century, groups claiming the revolutionary communist ideas must in principle demonstrate their theoretical and practical continuity. This continuity is not a “study circle of intellectuals”, but represents the connection with the real class struggle. This continuity characterizes the continuity of the communist movement in time and space – historical Communist Party. Nowadays small communist minorities would be useless if these organized expressions of the communism would have lost real connection to the real social events and its primary expression, the real class struggle. Only this connection forms in this continuity the result but also the factor of history.

It’s a difficult time for class intervention in Ukraine. New opposition will probably make now strengthened extreme right some concessions, and will use it to destroy more socially subversive elements, before it would push the far-right itself back on the brink of political marginality. Meanwhile, the proletariat in Ukraine will have to undergo further attacks on their direct economic interests and to fight for the formulation of its own program. On the other hand, due to instability of the current system, which is heavily affected economically and politically, and moreover in the situation when a war between the Western imperialist block and no less imperialist Russia could break and spill more blood in the name of profit, conditions extend for defining our class interests and for discovery of real social alternative to capitalism. The aim of all class militants is to play a role in this process of possible development of a collective revolutionary program.

Therefore it’s necessary that proletariat in Ukraine and everywhere else:

  • refuses economic sacrifices from its pocket and material bleeding in the name of social peace in the interest of national unity
  • rises up against state terror by both repressive forces and “moderate” social charlatans
  • refuses to be recruited into the capitalist wars, understands that all the wars are waged for the in-terests of bourgeoisie, that only one who sheds his own blood is proletariat and therefore all the wars are wars against proletariat
  • breaks with national, racial, religious unity and counters all the existing separations these of the proletariat as a worldwide class of exploited wage workers forced to break their capitalist shackles
  • connects to the red thread of proletarian class struggles all around the world and also in history, consciously raises a banner of communism, arms itself with an organized political leadership acceler-ating existing class war.

Workers of the world unite!

Communism or death!

  • March/April 2014 *