The New Wave (Bolshevik-Leninist) is a revolutionary Socialist organization committed to rebuilding the BLPI in South Asia and the 4th International Globally March 2014
Contents : 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8)
Editorial .............................................2 Field visit to BSNL contract workers .............................................3 All out support to BSNL ! No to merger with MTNL ! .............................................4 Ukraine-Hobson's choice (by Michael Roberts) .............................................7 Ukraine-Yanukovich's end is beginning (from peopleandnature.wordpress.com).........................................9 Venezuelan crisis (article from Litci.org/en) .............................................13 Trotsky on Ukraine (1939) .............................................17 Perspective on LGBT Rights struggle .............................................20
Editorial : The crisis of today is a crisis of revolutionary leadership More than 70 years ago, the revolutionary leader of the Russian revolution, Leon Trotsky, had noted in the Transitional Programme, “The World political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of leadership of the proletariat”. When comrade Trotsky had written these lines, all the world's bourgeoisies were trying in vain to suppress the powerful undercurrent of a worldwide revolution. The 'normal' forces of populist bourgeois democrats and treacherous labor leaderships which work within the framework of bourgeois democracy to pacify and control the working class, were failing one by one. The worldwide crisis had pushed even the most capable “democratic” bourgeois forces into a state of paralysis, while the less wily among the capitalists felt compelled to “stake its last on the card of fascism”.
give the people only two choices. Either enslavement and suffering under the diktats of the EU (whose criminally exploitative nature has been so clearly exposed in Greece ), or enslavement under an oligarchical gangsterized bourgeoisie acting as the proxy of Russia. It was a people's uprising that uprooted the gangster regime of Yanukovich. Yet this mobilization, was hijacked by political parties which support a pro-EU stance, including openly fascist forces like the Svoboda. The democratic demands for equal rights, the rule of law, and national freedom from foreign control are all being compromised and cheapened by the reactionary, bigoted nationalist government the mobilization pushed into office. Under their leadership, Ukraine today stands on the brink of war and threatened by a chaotic partition between the Russian speaking East and the Ukranian The last 10 years in particular have seen some of the speaking West. largest popular democratic mobilizations in recent history, almost all of them failing in one way or What the Ukranian people need, is a revolutionary another. This has posed the question of working class Bolshevik Leninist working class leadership. A leadership sharper than ever and forces us to revisit the political leadership that can best articulate the needs of theory of permanent revolution. In contrast to the the poor and working class in Ukraine and lead the theory of stagism which erects an artificial wall struggle against its class enemies. A government led between the democratic and socialist revolution and by such a force would seize funds to meet the needs of seeks to isolate the working class, the theory of ordinary people on heating, education and public permanent revolution formulated by Leon Trotsky, services. It would revoke the debts owed to Russian grows over into the socialist revolution. and Western banks and demand that the IMF write off its loans so that Ukraine could start without the heavy This is because the fundamental needs of the working burden of debt. Ukraine remains a key agricultural people, whether poor peasants, rural labourers or urban exporter and also a low-cost steel producer. If the workers, just cannot be satisfied if the revolutionary banks and major export sectors were in the mobilizations are stopped at the bourgeois democratic government’s hands and not those of oligarchs (and barriers. Such deep-going demands as housing, foreign private equity companies in the future), then a education, and health for all are what drive the national plan could be implemented. democratic and popular revolutions beyond national independence and the universal franchise to socialism. In our newsletter we present views on Ukraine which The bourgeoisie is incapable in providing any of these direct us to better understanding the situation there in any adequate measure to the people, and have proven and show us the necessary tasks at hand which must time and time again their inability to solve the most be addressed to build such revolutionary leadership. pressing needs of humanity. Nor can we rely anymore Ukraine is not an isolated case. Throughout the last 10 on the forces of the non-revolutionary (and counter years we have stood witness to massive popular revolutionary) petty bourgeois or trade union mobilizations fizzling out because of the crisis of bureaucrat misleaders. The failure of the welfare state, proletarian leadership. Venezuela too is experiencing and almost all post liberation former colonies is telling mass movements, only there it is pitted against the vacillating non-revolutionary ( but welfarist ) petty on this. bourgeois. In this newsletter we focus on such The events of Ukraine in particular shows the democratic struggles and highlight the urgency of the rottenness of the bourgeois class as a whole who can nature of the crisis of leadership of the working class. 2
Field visit to BSNL contract workers On the 22nd of January, comrade Adhiraj and Pushkar of worker, that two months' payment of wages had not the New Wave made a visit to a team of contract yet been given to him. workers who attended our Open Forum on the 7th of January. We asked him later on about how long he has been working in BSNL and what were his motivations in They were engaged in work of line repair for BSNL joining the company. He explained to us : “I have been underground cables. The workers have told us that they working in BSNL for around 12 years at least. Right have been at this work since morning at 9 and had after completing graduation I joined the company. We spent 7 hours at work by the time we arrived. During were told that BSNL was a growing and reputed our stay there we did not see any supervisor nor government company. All of us who joined expected technician on the spot to guide the workers in this the stability of a government job. I hoped that after work, although the line man ought to be present. two or three years my employment would be regularized, but nothing of the sort happened. In the When we asked about the nature of the work and the last 12 years I have seen no change it has been as bad support from the company or contractor, one worker as it is now. I have two parents, a wife and a child in was quick to point out that “There is no support from my family, and so far, we're surviving only on my the company or contractor, if we injure ourselves there father's pension. I haven't been able to contribute a is no accident insurance either. Despite the fact that the single rupee to the family because my wages are too work we do is of a hazardous nature”. They also little and aren't paid in time.” pointed out to us an earlier incident of a colleague being injured while on duty. All workers we discussed with were more than willing to come out in struggle for their basic demands, Later on we discussed about the core demands which however, they did not find the necessary support. The the workers would look forward to. They were all main trade unions in BSNL had not raised the issue of unanimous in stating that their main concern is getting contract workers on their agenda till the New Wave proper payment of wages. One worker among them Bolshevik Leninist initiated its Open Forums. The told us “The contractor disburses the payments, and he main fear in the minds of the workers however, was always pays us less than the minimum wage. We don't the constant threat of retrenchment which the get ESI *( Employee's State Insurance) payment or contractor keeps repeating. Absence is punished with Provident Fund payment, but a much smaller amount” . pay cuts and the workers are forced to attend on Incidentally it was in most cases less than the stipulated weekends including Sundays and other statutory minimum wage for the state of Maharashtra and far holidays. Even Independence Day and Republic Day below the minimum wage guaranteed by the latest are not spared and their names are written on the order by BSNL itself. muster rolls even when they do not attend. That day's pay is cut from their monthly salary. When asked “are you satisfied with the minimum wage of around Rs. 10,000?” the workers unanimously stated Comrade Adhiraj Bose later on answered the doubts that the wage must be at least Rs. 12-15,000 especially regarding the legal structure in place for contract so given the rising cost of rent and transport. Most of work. In particular, the duties of the contractor and the the workers we interviewed live in the outskirts of Pune management in the event that the contractor fails to do and have to travel distances of 50 or more kilometres to his duty. The position of the contract worker is legally arrive at the office, from where they are assigned synonymous with a 'workman' in the Industrial different areas of the city to work in. The pressure for Disputes Act which entitles him to all benefits which transportation drains out most of the monthly income any permanent worker enjoys including ESI payment from the workers, which we found were in most cases and Provident Fund. Not only that, but makes it around Rs. 5000 . A pitiable amount considering the mandatory on part of the contractor to provide for this. house rent and cost of transport. Even here, though A discrepancy in payments by the contractor would workers have complained to us about arrears in welcome punitive sections in the Abolition and payment and delays in payment. We were told by one Regulation of Contract Workers Act, and would also 3
put burden on the company management to make good any arrear in payment to the worker. Neither company nor contractor is performing their legally binding duty in this case. Equally significant to note, that when a worker is employed in a job of a continuing nature, that entitles him for regularization. Most of the workers therefore, would be entitled to regularization.
know about the next step in the Open Forums initiative. We have resolved to continue the organization of the Open Forum and use it as a fighting force for the rights of contract workers. The next step we decided is to investigate into grievances of contract workers within Pune district and investigate into contractors who have indulged in illegal abuses.
At the end of the meeting the workers were keen to
Comrade Adhiraj addressing the Open Forum with contract workers of BSNL
All Out Support to BSNL ! Against merger with MTNL It has been almost 10 years since the formation of BSNL, which has since then emerged to be one of the leading telecom companies in india. The de-merger from DOT which created BSNL also created MTNL as another telecommunication company. Today while BSNL remains a 100% government owned company, MTNL has been privatized to the extent of 46% of its holdings. After repeated attempts at privatization of BSNL have been successfully thwarted thanks to the pressure of workers, the Congress led UPA government in its last leg, is pushing for a short cut to privatization by merging BSNL with MTNL. A wave of destructive 'reforms' had been unleashed by this government. After FDI in retail, aviation and now with clearance given to Insurance and Pension, Telecom is targetted. Deepak Parekh the chairman of 4
the Parekh panel committee has recommended up to 100% FDI in telecom, a move which undoubtedly is being made to support the greed of private capitalists. BSNL is a major target! Indian capitalism is in crisis, and the only way for the big shots to come out of this crisis, is by attacking the working class and its public assets. In the telecom sector, the Mittals and Ambanis and Tatas rule, and it is only BSNL which stands to challenge their unquestioned monopoly of the private capitalists! This is like a thorn in their throats. Major mobilizations in BSNL have had the effect of stymieing the worst of their plans, and the workers have succeeded in pushing through important concessions like securing wage hikes and IDA merger. Now it would seem they want vengeance, and in their
service is their government of landlords and brokers! From Defense to Offense ! The workers need higher wages, a stable security of job, and an overall better working conditions. The priority sector customers especially rural customers With struggle comes with its own tactics and benefit from priority sector services at subsidized rates. strategies. Our enemy is as clever as it is rapacious, Both would lose if private capital has its say in the they will use our attack against us, just as they have decision making in telecom! done with Air India. They simply let the pilots and workers of Air India go on an indefinite strike, and Full support to the BSNL strike ! continue it for as long as was needed to discredit and destroy the company, eventually letting private In the past BSNL workers had embarked on several airliners gain against air india. The aim of course is to powerful strike actions aimed primarily at wage allow for the privatization of the airlines, both foreign revisions and the question of IDA fixation. The last and domestic players would benefit from Air india's time, the workers prepare to moved an indefinite strike, loss. We must not let the government do this with the management caved in before the strike even began ! BSNL, which is why we must implement the strategy The demand for IDA merger was achieved which was a of permanent mobilization ! major victory for the workers of BSNL. In the simplest sense, it means we give the This time too, we must put pressure on the pro- government an ultimatum to accept our demands capitalist management of BSNL to ensure our demands within a time, if they don't we will increase our are met. This means, we must combine the tactic of militancy. If within one week, all basic demands of solidarity with that of permanent mobilization. BSNL are not met,then we will cut down infrastructure for private companies , if within two The question of BSNL's privatization does not effect weeks they still won't concede, we will cut down BSNL alone. It is part of a much larger attack on communications lines of the administration, if they worker's rights and welfare. The public sector is a continue to ignore us till the third week then we will bastion of the working class in India and in particular, occupy all offices, and so forth. All the while, we must is a bulwark in the telecom sector against the total keep augmenting our demands further with each move dominance of the four big monopolies, the Tatas, Idea to advance the strike. Cellular, Airtel and Vodafone. VSNL which was previously a government owned undertaking has been This kind of radical militancy, however, can't be completely privatized, and the abuse of the workers shouldered only on the support of BSNL. It requires there show precisely what happens as a result of solidarity across all workers in the telecom sector. It is privatization. a known fact that private telecom companies practices hurt the interests of the workers, take the example of In this struggle of the BSNL workers, New Wave VSNL which has contractualized most of its expresses its full support and solidarity ! workforce and retrenched most of its earlier workforce inherited from before the privatization. There is no security of tenure or pay in private companies.
BSNL workers on strike in June last year demanding IDA merger
The only reason why they have not raised their voice yet, is because of the absence of organized resistance. Public companies have this advantage but we can't take it for granted, we must reach out to our brethren in private companies and secure their support. One of the reasons why the Air India strike failed was because the bourgeoisie was successful in preventing a strike at Kingfisher airliners and the striking pilots failed to achieve solidarity between workers. It is absolutely critical that we present a united struggle against the forces of Capitalism. Our fight to save BSNL isn't simply around BSNL, but takes the whole sector into consideration. Ultimately we are not only attacking the
management's policy on BSNL but attacking the entire accountability. capitalist policy in the telecom sector. In a public company, workers can expect a degree of This strike in its immediate demand however, is equitable treatment and freedom of organization. The primarily a defensive one. We are not demanding what management is more often than not, bound by law and we were promised but not given, rather we are answerable for its actions. In particular, the aspect of defending against a policy measure. We are defending freedom of organization and agitation enjoyed by the public nature of BSNL and defending it against workers in a public sector company are the key aspects privatization. But lets raise a question, why must we we must look to defend. This is the key to ensuring the always find ourselves in the defensive ? Why can we best possible welfare measures be accorded to all not attack our class enemies ? If the capitalists can workers, regular and non-regular. call for privatization then we too can call for Nationalization ! Gamut of demands : Today, the big private capitalists stand completely discredited. Their sanctimonious lies of better management and 'clean' image have been exposed ! The While supporting the core demand for annulment of spectrum scam, and now the oil pricing scam shows merger between BSNL and MTNL, we also propose that the big monopolies controlled by the Tatas, our own set of demands to take the struggle forward : Ambanis and Birlas are steeped in corruption and committed to only one thing, the thorough exploitation of the India and its working class. In such a situation, if 1) Full Re-Nationalization of MTNL. The we openly confront them, we will found the masses of company which is one of three created from workers and poor with us in struggle ! the DOT, has been almost half privatized. This has given the capitalists tremendous say to the We should be willing to raise the intensity of the private capitalists in the company. We must struggle. After all, if we could win concessions just seek to reverse this, and re-nationalize the from the threat of an indefinite strike, imagine what company to a fully government owned more can be won ! enterprise like BSNL. We need a complete struggle : The struggle for defending BSNL from privatization must not devolve into a choice between two types of capitalisms, either state or private. If we are not willing to struggle for the best conditions of work for the workers of BSNL, then the purpose of our fight would be lost. In particular, we must struggle for fair treatment of contract workers and an abolition of casual workers in BSNL. At present contract workers account for almost half of the total workforce in the company. We cannot ignore their plight ! We cannot ignore the question they pose.
2) Nationalization of all major telecom companies. The Indian telecom sector cannot be allowed to become the private playing field of a few oligarchs. The public sector must step into this field and create a united network under public control. This again, must be under the control of workers democratically organized to ensure public interest is paramount. 3) Full rights and benefits to all workers. Our struggle won't be a complete struggle, if we fail to address the inequal and unjust treatment of almost a half of the workers of BSNL, our struggle would become incomplete and ultimately, we would fail.
Their conversion from contract workers to regular workers must be a top agenda. The contract workers have an interest in preserving the public nature of The workers United will never be defeated ! Long BSNL. Unlike private companies, which act beyond the live the workers struggle in BSNL ! Inquilaab scope of the law and evade accountability, the public Zindabad ! nature of a public company brings with it a degree of
Ukraine-Hobson's Choice [The following article was originally authored and published by Michael Roberts in his blog : http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/ukraine-hobsons-choice . The article deals with the most critical problems facing the Ukranian uprising and deals with the necessary tasks at hand. However, we do not agree with the author's conclusion that there is “nobody” to advocate the alternatives he proposes. We state, as conscious revolutionaries of the fourth international, that we must work to build up a political leadership of the working class to make certain that we have a government committed to the people's interests and fight against the exploitative capitalist oligarchs in power.] The people of Ukraine are left with Hobson’s choice: either go with KGB-led crony capitalism from Russia or go with equally corrupt pro-European ‘democrats’. The majority have opted for the latter because, at least for the moment, it means they can argue, protest and campaign without being kidnapped, shot dead or tortured. But many are well aware that opting for the pro-EU parties does not mean the end of corruption or a further collapse in already pitiful living standards – Ukraine’s GDP is $175bn for a population of 45m, or about $3800 per person. Ireland’s GDP is the same for a population of 6m, or $28,000 per person, eight times as much.
include metallurgical and pipe factories, banks, real estate firms, mobile phone enterprises and a large media company. He is the de-facto ruler of Donbass, the home of Ukrainian heavy industry and owns the football team Shakhtar Donetsk. These oligarchs soon realised well before the current crisis that Yanukovych would not be around for much longer. They began carefully looking around for alternatives. Akhmetov opted for controlling the main bourgeois ’orange revolution’ party of imprisoned former prime minister, ‘goldilocks’ Tymoshenko, and is now supporting Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over the leadership of her Fatherland alliance when she was incarcerated and is set to be the new prime minister. Firtash, for his part, is backing Vitali Klitschko’s party UDAR. Firtash has placed people in Klitschko’s UDAR Party, a former head of the secret service, for example.
The collapse of the pro-Russian regime of Yanukovych is a big defeat for Russia national interests. Putin sees Ukraine as a satellite of Russian crony capitalism. As he once told the then-US President George Bush: “Ukraine is not even a state”. In public, Mr Putin can’t bring himself to call Ukraine anything but a “krai”, the Russian word for territory. He was determined to stop Ukraine coming under the wing of German-led The oligarchs and the parties they are backing are European capitalism. But his man, Yanukovych could now preparing an emergency plan for Ukraine, which will amount to getting dollars and euros from the IMF not deliver. and the EU in return for a drastic programme of devaluation, austerity and ‘labour reform’. The nation Now the pro-European bourgeois leaders in Kiev will needs to borrow USD2bn by the end of this month prostrate themselves before the EU and IMF in order and a further USD9bn by the end of the year just to obtain ‘aid’. These politicians are just as much in the keep up with government debt repayments. This hands of Ukraine’s billionaire oligarchs as the ousted money was due to come from Russia, which promised pro-Russian government were. As the German journal, a total of USD15bn but, with that promise now off the Der Spiegel has explained table, it falls to the West to stave off Ukraine’s (http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/howlooming bankruptcy. The government needs to raise oligarchs-in-ukraine-prepared-for-the-fall-ofUSD9bn to cover payments to Gazprom and the IMF yanukovych-a-955328-2.html), two oligarchs, as well as its own maturing Eurobond issuance and Akhmetov and Firtash, between them control over 90 loans. Then there is the current account gap of some MPs in the Ukraine parliament. Akhmetov is worth $15 USD13bn. And maturing debt from the bank and billion and is head of the holdings company System nonfinancial corporate sector adds a further USD8bn. Capital Management, which controls more than 100 Totting it all up, 2014 financing needs are around companies with some 300,000 employees. They USD30bn, effectively double current FX reserves (see 7
graph of FX reserves and external debt below. Ukraine could still stage a financial meltdown and a banking collapse. More likely, the new government will be helped over the next few months with bridging loans until the IMF deal is struck. Then the hardship for the people will really begin in earnest. Ukraine’s foreign debt is about to double as it takes on new debt from the IMF and the cost of existing dollar and euro debt jumps as the hyrvnia is devalued. This burden will be on shoulders of Ukrainians for a generation.
Ukraine foreign exchange - Debt data
The new government will devalue the Ukraine currency, the hryvnia, further – it has already collapsed – to try boost exports. Mainstream economists and government advisers argue that this is needed to“restore competitiveness”,which has been eroded by a 9% per annum rise in real wages since 2008 while industrial unit labour costs are up by almost 40% over the same period. In other words, real wages must now be slashed by encouraging a sharp increase in inflation and cuts in employment. The aim is to raise the profitability of Ukraine’s key export sectors, agriculture and steel. What will the IMF demand? It wants a 40% rise in energy prices with government subsidies removed. It complains that these subsidies cost 7% of GDP a year so that Ukraine’s residents get cheap gas and heating during the bitter Ukraine winters. It wants an end to that. The IMF recent delegation to Ukraine said “upfront, meaningful, and broad-based tariff increases are essential for reducing large quasi-fiscal losses, attracting new investments, and improving governance”. It will want to restructure the banks and it wants ‘fiscal consolidation’ which means “high budget expenditure should be reduced by rationalizing public procurement, restraining the growth in public sector wages and employment, and limiting pension indexation to inflation.” The new government will go along with this. Indeed, the prime minister elect has said that while it will mean hardship for the people and be unpopular, he was prepared to conduct ‘suicide politics’. For these leaders, there is no alternative but to agree to the EUIMF terms. Yatsenyuk has already pledged the country to join the EU.
All this may be too much for the pro-Russian part of the country, already worried about the takeover by the pro-European Ukrainian politicians in Kiev, who they expect to discriminate against them. As the map shows, in the Crimea and along the Russian border, most people are Russian speaking and supported Yanukovych. Indeed, Crimea was part of Russia until Krushchev handed it over in 1954. The country may yet split along these lines as the austerity and debt servicing bites.
Election results map with linguistic demograhpics
There is an alternative to the Hobson’s choice offered by capitalism to Ukraine’s people. A real people’s government would take over the interests of the oligarchs who stole Ukraine’s wealth in the first place. It would seize funds to meet the needs of ordinary people on heating, education and public services. It would revoke the debts owed to Russian and Western banks and demand that the IMF write off its loans so that Ukraine could start without the heavy burden of debt. Ukraine remains a key agricultural exporter and also a low-cost steel producer. If the banks and major export sectors were in the government’s hands and not those of oligarchs (and
foreign private equity companies in the future), then a Of course, this is not going to happen as nobody with national plan could be implemented. influence in the country advocates this. Instead, it is Hobson’s choice for Ukraine.
Yanukovich's end is beginning [This article was originally written by Gabriel Levi and published in peopleandnature.wordpress.com Though written before the actual exile of former Prime Minister Yanukovich, the article deals with many of the challenges faced by the movement against Yanukovich as well as providing a balanced perspective on the developments in Ukraine with a hollistic perspective. The original article can be accessed here : http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/ukraine-1-yanukovichs-end-is-a-beginning/] The movement in Ukraine that brought down the former president, Viktor Yanukovich, at the weekend has not fitted into some stereotypes used by people in western Europe, including socialists and left wingers. Having spent the last few days in Kyiv, I offer the following answers to questions that friends in western Europe frequently ask.
important points, to my mind, are (1) this was a mass movement embracing wide swathes of the population; and (2) the strength of right-wing populism, and the presence of fascists, is due mainly to the crisis of the left – which is an international problem, not a Ukrainian one. The occupation at Maidan (= Maidan Nezalezhnosti, = Independence Square) mushroomed into a mass movement not so much in response to Yanukovich’s failure to sign an association agreement with the European Commission as in response to police brutality.
Oleksandr Turchinov, speaker of parliament and acting president, said on Monday 24 February that “the priority is to return to the path of European integration, the struggle for which Maidan was started”. That’s rewriting history – already! Yanukovich’s failure to sign the agreement with Brussels brought on to Maidan only about 400 students. What enraged much of Kyiv was the brutality with which those 400 were attacked by the Berkut riot police late on 30 November last year. The Euro maidan 1st December 2013 next day, Maidan (also the venue for mass demonstrations during the so-called “Orange Question: Has there been a right-wing coup? revolution” of 2004) was filled with tens of thousands Gabriel: No, there has not. The new government will of people. A middle-aged, middle-class acquaintance, include some nasty right-wing people. How nasty they whose own children are at university, said to me this can get, only time will tell. But it’s difficult to imagine week: “If they [Yanukovich and co.] hadn’t attacked those kids, the whole thing would never have got that they could take repressive measures more going. It was their own stupid fault.” monstrous than those Yanukovich and co. used in the last few months (sniper fire into crowds, other types of The make-up and motivation of the crowd on Maidan murder, torture of activists, unbridled use of paid thugs, was complicated. I wasn’t there so I can only relay impressions from friends and comrades. Almost and so on). everyone I talked to seemed to agree that a gigantic In any case, the government’s potentially dangerous proportion of Kyiv’s population (the young and the right-wing colouring is one thing; the character of the old, the rich, the middle-class and the workers) was movement that paved the way for it is another. Two there at one time or another; that motivations varied 9
widely, but removal of Yanukovich became an allembracing theme, especially after 16 January when he tried to push through laws to limit drastically the right to protest; and that putting an end to corruption in politics – which means different things to different people – was an issue. Various kinds of patriotism and nationalism, including the most reactionary, were there in abundance; social issues seemed not to be at the forefront. Among analyses published by Ukrainian leftists in English, this interview with a member of the Autonomous Workers Union considers Maidan’s politics in the most detail. LINK The crowd was independent of its “leaders”, and that was crucial in Yanukovich’s final days.
multiplied the number of victims many times over. What did for Yanukovich was the crowd’s refusal to move. Q. Was this a revolution, then? G. I heard different views on this from Ukrainian friends and comrades. Of course, it depends what is meant by “revolution”. To my mind a revolution involves a collapse or radical overhaul, not just of government but of state structures – the bureaucratic apparatus, armed forces, and the rest. In Ukraine, these structures are holding together, but only just. A decisive element in Yanukovich’s downfall was the declarations at various times last week by various police, army and security services chiefs that they would not move against the protesters. On FridaySaturday 21-22 February, parliament played fast and loose with the constitution: it effectively usurped the president’s powers, deciding e.g. to free Yulia Timoshenko from jail and to call new elections. Structures were strained, but not destroyed.
►On bloody Thursday, 20 February, snipers opened fire on Maidan and, unbelievably – despite dozens of deaths – the crowd stayed firm. (A well-off acquaintance of mine, who had never been on a demonstration in his life before November, said: “Many people in Kyiv, me included, who couldn’t spend all our time on the square, would go there whenever Maidan was under attack. That happened on Thursday.”) Another element in revolution is surely a successful ►On Friday 21 February, the three opposition leaders – challenge to state power, by a mass movement, Vitalii Klitschko (boxer turned leader of the Udar (= outside the usual political processes. This certainly Punch) party), Arseny Yatseniuk (neo-liberal happened – although the state’s armed forces economist, of former prime minister Yulia surrendered after the cowardly murders on the square, Timoshenko’s Batkyvshchina party) and Oleh rather than being defeated in battle. Tiahnybok (leader of the right wing populist Svoboda On the other hand, the Marxist understanding of party) – negotiated a compromise with Yanukovich: revolution assumes change not only to the political presidential elections in December and return of the system, but to the social and economic order. That, 2004 constitution (i.e. less power for the president and clearly, has not happened. more for parliament). The talks also involved European foreign ministers, including Pavel Sikorski of Poland So I suppose my answer is more “no” than “yes”. But who was caught on camera warning Klitschko: “If you the important thing is to understand the substance, not don’t support this, you’ll have martial law, the army, to try fitting it to pre-conceived definitions. you’ll all be dead.”
Q. What part have right wing populists and ► Klitschko went to the square to ask the crowd to fascists played? endorse the deal. An activist from the self-defence force G. The right wing and fascists are, numerically, a grabbed the microphone and said no. If Yanukovich did small minority in a broad popular movement. But not leave by the morning, the crowd should go and get they can not be ignored. And for Ukraine’s left wing, him. The crowd roared its approval – and at that point their threatening presence is a problem that will not Yanukovich lost his nerve. By Saturday morning 22 go away. February he had abandoned the presidential administration and his obscene dacha at Mezhigorye. The populist right wing party Svoboda (= Freedom) – By Sunday 23 February Aleksandr Efremov, leader of which is aggressively nationalist, homophobic, and the Party of Regions (Yanukovich’s party) in received about 10.5% of the vote in the parliamentary parliament, was declaring him a “traitor”. Among elections of 2012 – was prominent on Maidan. So was Yanukovich’s piles of riches were found documents the Right Sector, an alliance of nationalists, including showing that he had considered an “anti-terrorist the most prominent organisation, Trizub (= Trident, operation” using 2500 troops, which could have the group of Dmitry Yarosh, Right Sector’s leader), 10
racists such as Belyi Molot (= White Hammer), UNA- into opposition together with the Party of Regions. UNSO (Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian (See also this appeal to the European left.) National Self Defence) and other extreme right and fascist groups. Q: The fascists and extreme nationalists are not Right Sector took shape on Maidan as a fighting force, the only ones organising self-defence groups, are and formed branches in western Ukraine. As soon as its they? leaders started talking about turning it into a political party, tension grew been them and Svoboda’s leaders, G. Certainly not. The Right Sector was substantially since they could appeal to the same voters. Some outnumbered by the Maidan self-defence units that Ukrainian comrades describe all these groups as owed allegiance to the “Civic Council of Maidan”, “Nazis”, and I don’t think that’s an adequate term of formed as the would-be voice of the demonstrations analysis; it obscures significant differences between by human rights activists, NGOs and aspiring them. (Some more details in an interview with an a left politicians (real, current politicians were not wing activist here and an interview with anti-fascists welcome). The Maidan self-defence units and Right Sector fought side by side against the riot police. who were on the square here.) While the state forces had most of the armed force, The Right Sector, and/or gangs associated with them, but not a monopoly. Of an estimated 82 killed last have assaulted and threatened leftists and trades week, 10 were policemen. In the middle of last week unionists in the Maidan crowd. A tent put up by the there were about 250 policemen in hospital with Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, the gunshot wounds, in addition to 350 protesters. main independent union federation, was attacked by a gang carrying knives. Such violence is the contination In the days after Yanukovich’s downfall, the police of a series of attacks on left-wing gatherings in Ukraine largely disappeared from the streets of Kyiv and other that has run parallel with Svoboda’s growth over the cities. An agreement was reached in Kyiv that police and Maidan self-defence groups would patrol jointly. past couple of years. Self-defence groups sprang up across the country, This highlights another issue – that although hundreds, most armed with sticks, baseball bats and ski masks, or perhaps thousands, of leftists (including socialists, some with firearms. Some are coordinated by Maidan anarchists and others, and trade union activists) or the Right Sector; some organised by local residents participated in Maidan, attempts to do so in a high- in response to fears of the breakdown of law and profile or organised way mostly failed. Some socialists order; some are little more than self-appointed gangs were heavily involved in initiatives such as medical of young men, playing by their own rules. support, and in anti-Yanukovich student strikes. But attempts to form a Left Sector, and to form an anarchist It is not clear how this will play out. One friend told fighting group on the square, were both abandoned due me that a newly-formed neighbourhood defence group in the huge housing estate in which he lives, on to threats from the right. the edge of Kyiv, is disciplined and expertly For those active in the workers’ movement and left coordinated with internet-based technology. At the wing groups in Ukraine, this is an urgent practical height of the conflict it erected a block on the main problem. Rather than trying to gauge the strength of road to Kyiv to obstruct pro-Yanukovich forces; over fascist or right-wing organisations according to the weekend, it patrolled police-free streets. My prejudices about Ukrainian nationalism, let’s focus on friend described a reasonable level of community concrete incidents, and make sure that we support our coherence. But I heard and read reports of other friends and comrades. My practical proposal would be armed groups apparently not underpinned by such that attacks are systematically monitored, so that our collectivity. discussions can be informed by good information. On Monday 24 February, a small picket – of about 20 Note: apart from attacks on anti-Yanukovich leftists, people, mostly radical leftists – was held outside the there have also been widespread attacks on members Russian embassy, to support the 6 May prisoners who of, and property of, the Communist Party of Ukraine. were that day sentenced to terms of between two-andBut this post-Stalinist organisation was on the other a-half and four years for their part in anti-Putin side of the barricades. It notoriously voted in favour of demonstrations in Moscow. (See more about them the anti-protest laws of 16 January, the introduction of here.) It was interesting to see the response from which produced a big upsurge in the movement. It has Maidan. long supported Yanukovich in parliament on a range of issues, and on Monday announced that it was moving A self-defence unit of about ten men stayed 11
throughout. Their representative addressed the pickets, and said they wanted to protect the embassy from provocation. My leftist friends thought such a danger – that, in response to Russian government support for Yanukovich, Ukrainian protesters might use the picket as a pretext to attack the embassy – was real, and that the self-defence units’ reasoning was logical. Half-way through the hour-long picket, a less friendly-looking group –Svoboda supporters, apparently – arrived. The self-defence group talked to them, and they remained passive onlookers. I wondered what was going on in their minds: one of their perceived enemies, the left, was up against another, Russia.
left activity, and not only for the right Some leftists see a serious danger that right wing and fascist groups may merge with state structures. They fear that the radical right street fighters, who are today operating joint patrols with police, could tomorrow get uniforms and (legal) weapons. Proposed government appointments seem to justify such fears. On Wednesday 26 February, it was reported that Andrei Parubi, who headed the Maidan self-defence force, would take over Ukraine’s Council of National Defence, and that Yarosh of Right Sector would be one of his two deputies.
Parliament has appointed Arsen Avakov, former governor of Kharkiv, as internal affairs minister; Q. And how might things evolve politically, from Valentin Nalivaichenko of Udar to head the SBU here? security service; and Oleg Makhnitsky of Svoboda as G. The opposition is putting together a government that general prosecutor. “Who’s he going to prosecute?” will head a weak state at a time of mounting economic asked a socialist friend. crisis. It’s hard to see how the political forces in the opposition will be able to work together. Even within Q. Some people in the western left focus on the the largest party, Batkyvshchina, there are deep right wing and fascists; others seem to ignore them differences: Yatseniuk, proposed on Wednesday 26 completely. Why? February as prime minister, has bought into the neoliberal agenda that implies opening up Ukraine’s A. This is more about the western left, and the economy to a heavy pounding (“making it competitive stereotypes it is so often satisfied with, than about internationally”). Timoshenko’s modus operandi, by what is going on in Ukraine. contrast, is to cut deals with Russian and Ukrainian People who see the world in terms of a geopolitical oligarchs (politically powerful businessmen); she is one battle between the USA and NATO on one side, and of them, having accumulated a huge fortune in the gas Russia, among others, on the other side, look at sector in the 1990s. Ukraine as a chess piece in this conflict. To them, Even if neo-liberal dogmatists and oligarchical interest what is most important is not the development of groups can reach compromises, they still have to deal social and labour movements – in Ukraine, Russia or with Ukraine’s working-class people. The impact of the anywhere else – but which side Ukraine takes in this 2008-09 economic crisis, in terms of unemployment battle (the west vs Russia). They can not get their and inflation, has been partly cushioned by public heads round the idea of middle class or working class sector wages and pensions, that have risen in line with Ukrainians seeing positives in Europe, as opposed to inflation, and relatively cheap municipal services Russia. The answer, they are convinced, must be that (housing, gas, electricity, etc) and welfare, that no Maidan can not be a mass movement in which right Ukrainian government – neither Yanukovich and his wing populists and fascists have gained influence, and allies (2004-05, 2006-07 and since 2010) nor therefore it must be a movement inspired by the right, Timoshenko and co (2005 and 2007-10) – have dared supported materially and ideologically by the USA. to cut. Udar and Svoboda, Batkyvshchina’s likely An especially crude version of this view is here. (“In partners in government, have both won votes by railing an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of against cuts, as well as against corruption in influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the government. first time, allied itself with fascists”, etc.) Some of Squaring this circle won’t be easy for the new these presumptions were reflected, too, in Seumas government, my leftist friends in Kyiv said. Tensions Milne’s article in the Guardian here. could also open up between Svoboda and the extreme On the other side are social democratic supporters of nationalists of the Right Sector. My own view is that the European ideal, whatever that means to them. Ukrainian governments can not for ever put off turning They believe that their job is to help bring Ukraine the screws on people’s living standards. Battles over into the European capitalist fold. This meant turning a this could open up spaces for working-class action and blind eye to, or playing down, the right wing and 12
fascists’ violence, and emphasising that Maidan is proEuropean and therefore inherently progressive. Variants of such views are effectively challenged by Volodymyr Ishchenko of the journal Spil’ne here and here.
Police Lines, Kyiv 9 December 2013
and symbols of the wartime Ukrainian Resistance Army (UPA), some of whose leaders collaborated with the Nazis, and some of whose detachments participated in ethnic cleansing against Jews, Poles and Russians. That symbolism sticks in my gullet; perhaps it’s my Jewish family background. (I felt even sicker in 2010, when the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko, pinned a medal on the grandson of UPA leader Stepan Bandera, saying, in effect, “screw any discussion of history among Ukrainians, let’s appeal to the crudest nationalist sentiments”.) Socialists need to get a historical handle on Ukrainian nationalism. But in order to do so, in my view, we need first to filter out the heavy legacy of Soviet ideology, which still corrodes the 21st century labour movement. That ideology cast the tyrannical Stalinist dictatorship, which in 1932-33 presided over a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians, as “socialist”, and all Ukrainian nationalists – whether or not they had any connection with UPA or sympathy for its wartime dealings with the Nazis – as “fascists”. All this is behind some of the stereotypes.
There is a great deal of history running through these When Yanukovich said he was overthrown by a arguments. I was depressed to see, on Maidan, flags “fascist coup”, he might even have believed it. In terms of analysis, surely we can do better. _________________________________________________________________________________________
Venezuelan crisis (Venezuela highlights the popular front and populist government's crisis – IWLFI & UST) demonstrations and bloody clashes with the government’s repressive forces and shock troops. It's a new fact, which expresses the deep crisis facing the country, governed since 1999 by the regime created by Hugo Chavez (after his death Nicolás Maduro became president in 2012). However, Venezuela is not a lightning in blue sky. Its situation is part of the economic and political crisis of several Latin American Popular Front (headed by workers or left-wing parties in alliance with the bourgeoisie) and Populist (leaded by bourgeois parties with a huge people’s support) governments. These crises currently affect the governments of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, protestors clash with police in Venezuela Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and, to a lesser extent, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil. Only Rafael Correa’s The right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez government in Ecuador remains stable. turned himself in to the police and was arrested on February 18, accused of "inciting violence" against These governments were an alternative found by the Nicolas Maduro’s administration, after several days of national bourgeoisies from each country to try to 13
control the revolutionary processes that shook the subcontinent in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first (Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela). The bourgeoisie turned to this kind of government to handle the situation of the capitalist system which was thus defined by former Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde in 2002: "We are a step away from the abyss, and across the forest is on fire".
Venezuelan people as "a coup". This is another historical evidence that the national bourgeoisies, despite their leftist speech, are unable to break the semi-colonial grips and free the subcontinent from poverty. This is a task that only a true socialist workers revolution can accomplish. Convened by the Bureau of Unity (MUD) with the slogans "Out now, the street wins!" demonstrations occurred in several Venezuelan cities, with the presence of students and popular sectors. Clashes between protesters and repressive organizations, including paramilitary, left at least three dead, 69 wounded and many arrested, among them, lots of students.
These governments had two elements in their favor. First, a rise in the world economic situation (20022007) and then a smaller impact of the global economic crisis, opened in 2007, due to high commodities’ prices. Second, given the lack of a working-class and socialist alternative, they appeared before the masses as "their government" that faced imperialism and got The socialists from UST did not take part of these achievements. meetings and made a call for people not to go to the However, despite their “leftist” rethoric (chavismo manifestations of these bourgeois parties because called itself "21st century socialism"), they took only their slogans and their goals are not the same as the some partial measures such as the expropriation of a working class ones. They conceal - by relying on foreign company or limited measures to alleviate widespread discontent - their own austerity plans in poverty, such as unemployment grants in Argentina, the favor of entrepreneurs and multinationals. program Bolsa Familia in Brazil and the Venezuelan Missiones. On the other hand, the foundations of the The UST repudiates the violent crackdown on imperialist capitalist semi-colonial domination demonstrators. The working class and popular sectors experienced first-hand this repressive escalation that remained intact (and has even deepened). just days ago imprisoned 10 oil workers and leaders The Chavista economic policy worsened and continues by demanding a decent collective contract, employees to worsen the current crisis because it not only didn’t of Toyota Cumana had to withstand the pressure of break the country’s semi-colonial character, but, for the Bolivarian National Guard when they performed being part of a parasitic and rentier (people who live by an action inside the plant, and the same happened “clipping coupons”, as Lenin said) bourgeoisie, wasted with the strikers at Sidor. Civetchi workers remain billions of dollars of the country’s oil revenue. jailed in Carabobo. They are criminalizing protests. Today, the boom came to an end, and the world We defend the democratic right of workers, students, economic crisis hits hard: the decrease of commodities peasants and other popular sectors to come forward prices and reduction of foreign investment due to and protest, at the same time we demand the changes in American financial policy result in capital immediate release of all those arrested for protesting. flight, fiscal crisis and very high inflation. Along with this, the struggles grow and important sectors of the Furthermore, we demand the investigation of the working-class and popular organizations that used to murders and all repressive and violent acts, so that back the government now break with it. Furthermore, justice is done. Accordingly, we propose the formation of an independent Investigative the repression by the government grows. Commission, formed by human rights organizations Moreover, as the comrades from UST highlight in their and workers and popular organizations to ensure that article (below), there is no coup attempt. The U.S. the investigations conducted by the judicial bodies are imperialism tries to erode the governments to defeat impartial, objective and well publicized. them electorally, both in Argentina and Venezuela, and do not bet, for now, in a coup d’état (Maduro said there Nicolás Maduro’s government attacked the was a "conspiracy" and expelled three U.S. diplomats). demonstrations, accusing them of "fascists" and stating that "a coup was in march," as happened in All these governments (Maduro, Cristina Kirchner, 2002-2003. With this speech he justifies repression. Correa, Evo Morales and Dilma Rousseff) support each For the UST, there is at present no possibility of coup. other when faced with protests. And use the same The old coup conspiracies of the bourgeoisie and argument of "coup" to justify the crisis and condemning imperialism were defeated by mass mobilizations. No the protests. All of them, and Mercosur as a bloc, major military power is in favor of destabilizing the supported Maduro and denounced the protests of the 14
regime or launch an armed coup. The Bolivarian Armed Forces' officials are involved in key ministries and local governments, they drive the main primary companies (steel, iron, cement, etc.), run their own TV channel, their own construction company, claim to be "partakers of the construction of 21st century socialism" and their high echelons were homogenized after 2003. On the other hand, the Chavismo is the majority force in the National Assembly and Maduro could not be removed by this way. But neither are any of the so called "pro-imperialist right-wing bourgeoisie" sectors, despite their obvious internal divisions, willing to support a coup. Neither imperialism itself advocates this policy. It prefers to press the government to deepen as much as possible the austerity that is already been done (devaluation, cuts in public expenditure, low wages, etc.) to erode it until it can be defeated by a "petition for revocation of the mandate" or in the 2015 elections for the National Assembly representatives, prior to the presidential elections. If any possibility of coup exists, the UST would be in the front row against it and demanding the government the confiscation of the assets of imperialist companies of oil, medicine and goods, banks, as well as all of companies belonging to the bourgeoisie of the coup. And we would be requiring arms for the people. Why are the demonstrations multitudinous? The marches and demonstrations called by the MUD were important. But in fact these leaders rely on widespread discontent that exists across the country among workers, the youth and popular sectors. This dissatisfaction is based on the lack of essential goods and the long lines to get any product, very high inflation, low wages, covert devaluation, disinvestment in basic industries, the repression of struggles and so on. Working people are watching the implementation of a harsh austerity plan “by installments" that the right has been demanding and Nicolás Maduro is applying. So we live much worser than before.
ownership companies (such as Repsol and Chevron, among others) are grabbing, increasingly, the best gas and oil fields. The austerity plan is harshening Meanwhile, PDVSA and the state’s debts are increasing. The foreign debt, according to the Central Bank, is worth US$ 104 billion, leading the state and PDVSA to pay interests of US$ 11 billion this year. Where will this money come out from? The government is rehearsing an "way out", warning that gasoline prices will rise, although with "no hurry", as well as public services. But, as this will not be enough, it will unleash its "best argument" that is freezing labor collective contracts for years ... What about 21st Century Socialism? For years the ruling party has been saying that all their measures take the path "towards socialism". All sacrifices posed to the workers were made in the name of "future generations and the achievements of the revolution." However, reality contradicts these speeches: those who benefit from huge profits are the multinationals, mixed-owned and food companies, banks and financial firms, the “shell” companies that grease the palms with cheap dollars for speculation and the big corrupt state bureaucracy. Therefore, Maduro was not ashamed to admit that their policies against "speculation and corruption" safeguard "the rules of the real and true capitalist game related to profit rates." He said: "I know what I'm doing; to those who underestimate me, whether the ultra-left or the ultra-right, I know what I'm doing" (El Universal 17.01.2014). And it is true. Neither the government nor MUD and its leaders
Some are well off
Workers and popular sectors should face the austerity plan that the government is applying. We must organize and fight back. We can’t allow the workers paying the burden of a cheap dollar for speculators. We should not accept to be the ones who pay the foreign debt and the royalties for multinational oil companies with poverty wages, food shortage, cuts in public health and education.
This situation does not affect everyone to the same extent. The financial and banking systems, according to official records, earned US$ 33 billion, importers sold their stocks for a "fair price" until they run out. Corruption allows some rich get richer and “shell” companies acquired more than US$ 20 billion that Cadivi "cheerfully" gave them and, until today, nothing is known of this monumental fraud, despite the statutory bodies have a detailed list of the names of these companies. The multinationals that share mixed-
We can’t fall into the fairytale that the MUD parties and their leaders mean a way out and therefore we should participate in their protests. Not at all! They are not against the devaluation, they have demanded such a measure for a long time now. They are not against low wages. It's what the Fedecámaras and any employer want! They are against independent trade unions and in favor of multinational oil companies, importers and banking and financial business. Their struggle is to control these businesses which today are
dominated by the PSUV and officialdom.
want to organize any fight and others who are linked to bourgeois projects keep us divided, and actually leave workers and popular sectors at the mercy of the MUD and their partiesâ€™ demagoguery. Workers need unity to fight. The Sidor workers gave their example of unity to struggle. The oil workers from Anzoategui released their imprisoned colleagues with unity.
It is a complete mistake the support that trade union and student leaders give to the MUD demonstrations. The same for those workersâ€™ federations and leaders that back the government. Both tie the working class to different employers projects. Workers should fight for an independent policy from the government and the right-wing. Some leaders have been meeting to denounce the current labor situation before the ILO. And also made A workersâ€™ and popular program some statements. These reports and statements by the To build an independent policy, the working class and Trade Unions Unity (composed among others by popular sectors need a program for the country, which FADESS, UNETE and CCURA) are important, but includes general pay increases according to the staple insufficient. These currents should broadly call all food and periodically adjusted for inflation. The unions and political sectors which are willing to nationalization of all oil fields and the end of the discuss and implement a workers' and popular mixed-owned companies (joint ventures). Oil revenues program, in defense of all democratic rights and must be invested in education, health and housing. which responds to the most pressing questions to Imprisonment for the corrupt officials. Independent propose a plan to fight for this program. The UST will investigative commission against corruption and encourage and be part of such convocation. against the protests repression. Full democratic rights for all. Real recognition of all unions elected by the On the other hand, we will continue to fight for the workers. Workers' and popular control of the entire political independence of the working class and the construction of an independent, democratic political economy. tool that intends to fight for a government of the Unity to fight! working class and popular sectors so that workers The complicity of some union leaders with the never have to choose one of the many bourgeois government and the cowardice of others who do not options.
rally at Caracas
Problem of the Ukraine (1939) -Leon Trotsky
The Ukrainian question, which many governments and many “socialists” and even “communists” have tried to forget or to relegate to the deep strongbox of history, has once again been placed on the order of the day and this time with redoubled force. The latest aggravatiqn of the Ukrainian question is most intimately bound up with the degeneration of the Soviet Union and of the Comintern, the successes of fascism and the approach of the next imperialist war. Crucified by four states, the Ukraine now occupies in the fate of Europe the same position that was once occupied by Poland; with this difference – that world relations are now infinitely more tense and the tempos of development accelerated. The Ukrainian question is destined in the immediate future to play an enormous, role in the life of Europe. It was not for nothing that Hitler so noisily raised the question of creating a “Greater Ukraine,” and likewise it was not for nothing that he dropped this question with such stealthy haste. A Question That Must Not Be Ignored The Second International, expressing the interests of the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy of the imperialist states, completely ignored the Ukrainian question. Even its left wing did not pay the necessary attention to it. Suffice it to recall that Rosa Luxemburg, for all her brilliant intellect and genuinely revolutionary spirit, found it possible to declare that the Ukrainian question was the invention of a handful of intellectuals. This position left a deep imprint even upon the Polish Communist Party. The Ukrainian question was looked upon by the official leaders of the Polish section of the Comintern as an obstacle rather than a revolutionary problem. Hence the constant opportunist attempts to shy away from this question, to suppress it, to pass over it in silence, or to postpone it to an indefinite future. The Bolshevik party, not without difficulty arid only gradually under the constant pressure of Lenin, was able to acquire a correct approach to the Ukrainian question. The right to self-determination, that is, to separation, was extended by Lenin equally to the Poles 17
and to the Ukrainians. He did not recognize aristocratic nations. Every inclination to evade or postpone the problem of an oppressed nationality he regarded as a manifestation of Great Russian chauvinism. After the conquest of power, a serious struggle took place in the party over the solving of the numerous national problems inherited from old Czarist Russia. In his capacity as People’s Commissar of Nationalities, Stalin invariably represented the most centralist and bureaucratic tendency. This evinced itself especially on the question of Georgia and on the question of the Ukraine. The correspondence dealing with these matters has remained unpublished to this day. We hope to publish a section of it – the very small section which is at our disposal. Every line of Lenin’s letters and proposals vibrates with an urge to accede as far as possible to those nationalities that have been oppressed in the past. In the proposals and declarations of Stalin, on the contrary, the tendency toward bureaucratic centralism was invariably pronounced. In order to guarantee “administrative needs,” i.e., the interests of the bureaucracy, the most legitimate claims of the oppressed nationalities were declared a manifestation of petty-bourgeois nationalism. All these symptoms could be observed as early as 1922-23. Since that time they have developed monstrously and have led to outright strangulation of any kind of independent national development of the peoples of the USSR. The Bolshevik Conception of Soviet Ukraine In the conception of the old Bolshevik party Soviet Ukraine was destined to become a powerful axis around which the other sections of the Ukrainian people would unite. It is indisputable that in the first period of its existence Soviet Ukraine exerted a mighty attractive force, in national respects as well, and aroused to struggle the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intelligentsia of Western Ukraine enslaved by Poland. But during the years of Thermidorian reaction, the position of Soviet Ukraine and together with it the posing of the
Ukrainian question as a whole changed sharply. The more profound the hopes aroused, the keener was the disillusionment. The bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too. But in the Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful, deeply-rooted longings of the Ukrainian masses for greater freedom and independence. To the totalitarian bureaucracy, Soviet Ukraine became an administrative division of an economic unit and a military base of the USSR. To be sure, the Stalin bureaucracy erects statues to Shevchenko but only in order more thoroughly to crush the Ukrainian people under their weight and to force it to chant paeans in the language of Kobzar to the rapist clique in the Kremlin.
Ukrainian people to one imperialism or an-’ other in return for a promise of fictitious independence. Upon this tragic confusion Hitler bases his policy in the Ukrainian question. At one time we said: but for Stalin (i.e., but for the fatal policy of the Comintern in Germany) there would have been no Hitler. To this can now be added: but for the rape of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist bureaucracy there would be no Hitlerite Ukrainian policy.
We shall not pause here to analyze the motives that impelled Hitler to discard, for the time being at least, the slogan of a Greater Ukraine. These motives must be sought in the fraudulent combinations of German imperialism on the one hand and on the other in the fear of conjuring up an evil spirit whom it might be difficult to exorcize. Hitler gave Carpatho-Ukraine as a grft to the Hungarian butchers. This was done, if not with Moscow’s open approval then in any case with confidence that approval would be forthcoming. Toward the sections of the Ukraine now outside its It is as if Hitler had said to Stalin: “If I were frontiers, the Kremlin’s attitude today is the same as it preparing to attack Soviet Ukraine tomorrow I is toward all oppressed nationalities, all colonies, and should have kept Carpatho-Ukraine in my own semi-colonies, i.e., small change in its international hands.” In reply, Stalin at the 18th Party Cpngress combinations with imperialist governments. At the openly came to Hitler’s defense against the slanders recent 18th Congress of the “Communist Party,” of the “Western Democracies.” Hitler intends to Manuilsky, one of the most revolting renegades of attack the Ukraine? Nothing of the sort! Fight with Ukrainian communism, quite openly explained that Hitler? Not the slightest reason for it. Stalin is not only the USSR but also the Comintern (the “gyp- obviously interpreting the handing over of Carpathojoint,” according to Stalin’s formulation) refused to Ukraine to Hungary as an act of peace. demand the emancipation of oppressed peoples whenever their oppressors are not the enemies of the For a Free, Independent Soviet Ukraine! ruling Moscow clique. India is nowadays being defended by Stalin, Dimitrov and Manuilsky against – This means that sections of the Ukrainian people Japan, but not against England. Western Ukraine they have become so much small change for the Kremlin are ready to cede forever to Poland in exchange for a in its international calculations. The Fourth diplomatic agreement which appears profitable at the International must clearly understand the enormous present time to the bureaucrats of the Kremlin. It is a importance of the Ukrainian question in the fate not far cry from the days when they went no further than only of Southeastern and Eastern Europe but also of Europe as a whole. We are dealing with a people that episodic combinations in their politics. has proved its viability, that is numerically equal to the population of France and occupies an Stalin, Hitler and the Ukraine exceptionally rich territory which, moreover, is of the Not a trace remains of the former confidence and highest strategical importance. The question of the sympathy of the Western Ukrainian masses for the fate of the Ukraine has been posed in its full scope. A Kremlin. Since the latest murderous “purge” in the clear and definite slogan is necessary that Ukraine no one in the West wants to become part of corresponds to the new situation. In my opinion there the Kremlin satrapy which continues to bear the name can be at the present time only one such slogan: A of Soviet Ukraine. The worker and peasant masses in united, free and independent workers’ and peasants’ the Western Ukraine, in Bukovina, in the Carpatho- Soviet Ukraine. Ukraine are in a state of confusion: Where to turn? What to demand? This situation naturally shifts the leadership to the most reactionary Ukrainian cliques This program is in irreconcilable contradiction first who express their “nationalism” by seeking to sell the of all with the interests of the three imperialist 18
powers, Poland, Rumania, and Hungary. Only hopeless pacifist blockheads are capable of thinking that the emancipation and unification of the Ukraine can be achieved by peaceful diplomatic means, by referendums, by decisions of the League of Nations, etc. In no way superior to them of course are those “nationalists” who propose to solve the Ukrainian question by entering the service of one imperialism against another. Hitler gave an invaluable lesson to those adventurers by tossing (for how long?) Carpatho-Ukraine to the Hungarians who immediately slaughtered not a few trusting Ukrainians. Insofar as the issue depends upon the military strength of the imperialist states, the victory of one grouping or another can signify only a new dismemberment and a still more brutal subjugation of the Ukrainian people, The program of independence for the Ukraine in the epoch of imperialism is directly and indissolubly bound up with the program of the proletarian revolution. It would be criminal to entertain any illusions on this score. Soviet Constitution Admits Right of SelfDetermination But the independence of a United Ukraine would mean the separation of Soviet Ukraine from the USSR, the “friends” of the Kremlin will exclaim in chorus. What is so terrible about that? – we reply. The fervid worship of state boundaries is alien to us. We do not hold the position of a “united and indivisible” whole. After all, even the constitution of the USSR acknowledges the right of its component federated peoples to self-determination, that is, to separation. Thus, not even the incumbent Kremlin oligarchy dares to deny this principle. To be sure it remains only on paper. The slightest attempt to raise the question of an independent Ukraine openly would mean immediate execution on the charge of treason. But it is precisely this despicable equivocation, it is precisely this ruthless hounding of all free national thought that has led the toiling masses of the Ukraine, to an even greater degree than the masses of Great Russia, to look upon the rule of the Kremlin as monstrously oppressive. In the face of such an internal situation it is naturally impossible even to talk of Western Ukraine Voluntarily joining the USSR as it is at present constituted. Consequently, the unification of the Ukraine presupposes freeing the so-called Soviet Ukraine from the Stalinist boot. In this matter, too, the Bonapartist clique will reap what it has sown. But wouldn’t this mean the military weakening of the USSR? – the “friends” of the Kremlin will howl in horror. We reply that the weakening of the USSR is 19
caused by those ever-growing centrifugal tendencies generated by the Bonapartist dictatorship. In the event of war the hatred of the masses for the ruling clique can lead to the collapse of all the social conquests of October. The source of defeatist moods is in the Kremlin. An independent Soviet Ukraine, on the other hand, would become, if only by virtue df its own interests, a mighty southwestern bulwark of the USSR. The sooner the present Bonapartist caste is undermined, upset, crushed and swept away, the firmer the defense of the Soviet Republic will become and the more certain its socialist future.
Against Imperialism and Moscow Bonapartism Naturally an independent workers’ and peasants’ Ukraine might subsequently join the Soviet Federation; but voluntarily, on conditions which it itself considers acceptable, which in turn presupposes a revolutionary regeneration of the USSR. The genuine emancipation of the Ukrainian people is inconceivable without a revolution or a series of revolutions in the West which must lead in the end to the creation of the Soviet United States of Europe. An independent Ukraine could and “undoubtedly will join this federation as an equal member. The proletarian revolution in Europe, in turn, would not leave one stone standing of the revolting structure of Stalinist Bonapartism. In that case the closest union of the Soviet United States of Europe and the regenerated USSR would be inevitable and would present infinite advantages for the European and Asiatic continents, including of course the Ukraine too. But here we are shifting to questions of second and third order. The question of first order is the revolutionary guarantee of I the unity and- independence of a workers’ and peasants’ Ukraine in the struggle against imperialist on the one hand, and against Moscow Bonapartism on the other. The Ukraine is especially rich and experienced in false paths of struggle for national emancipation. Here everything has been tried: the petty-bourgeois Rada, and Skoropadski, and Petlura, and “alliance” with the Hohenzollerns and combinations with the Entente. After all these experiments, only political cadavers can continue to place hope in arty one of the fractions of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie as the leader of the national struggle for emancipation. The Ukrainian proletariat alone is capable not only of
solving the task – which is revolutionary in its very essence – but also of taking the initiative for its solution. The proletariat and only the proletariat can rally around itself the peasant masses and the genuinely revolutionary national intelligentsia.
out. That is how revolutionists must continue to behave in the future. The impending war will create a favorable atmosphere for all sorts of adventurers, miracle-hunters and seekers of the golden fleece. These gentlemen, who especially love to warm their At the beginning of the last imperialist war the hands in the vicinity of the national question, must Ukrainians, Melenevski (“Basok”) and Skoropis- not be allowed within artillery range of the labor Yeltukhovski, attempted to place the Ukrainian movement. Not the slightest compromise with liberation movement under the wing of the imperialism, either fascist or democratic! Not the Hohenzollern general, Ludendorff. They covered slightest concession to the Ukrainian nationalists, themselves in so doing with left phrases. With one either clerical-reactionary or liberal-pacifist! No kick the revolutionary Marxists booted these people “People’s Fronts”! The complete independence of the proletarian party as the vanguard of the toilers
Perspective on LGBT rights struggle :
In making homosexuality illegal in India once again, the Supreme Court is playing a most regressive and The reactionary role of the state in personal reactionary role. We fully and unconditionally relationships: condemn the law in place i.e. Section 377 of the Indian The aim of the repressive State is not merely to Penal Code and call for its immediate repeal. prevent men and men (or women and women) from forming loyalties which it might not be able to control. The LGBT rights movement has been building Its real, undeclared purpose is to remove all pleasure momentum in recent years, encouraged by the decision from the sexual act from a sizable section of the of the Delhi High Court in 2009 striking down section population. Love has got nothing to do with any of 377 as unconstitutional. With this latest judgment, this, for the state free sensual pleasure is the enemy, however, the gender rights movement has been set back inside marriage as well as outside it. All marriages not just years but what feels like decades. between heterosexuals have to be officially sanctioned 20
by the Law, and although the principle is never clearly stated the only "official" purpose of marriage is to beget children for the service of the State and the system of individual property ownership mediated by the family. Sexual intercourse is regarded as a necessary evil, a safety valve for the human sexual drive (which is totally irrepressible) that is tolerated within marriage and as high-jinks of the rich. It's like having an enema to relieve constipation. This again is never put into plain words, but in an indirect way it is rubbed into every citizen though religion and congealed tradition. There are even organizations and philosophies advocating complete celibacy for both sexes. The sick behaviour this kind of thing can lead to was notoriously exemplified in the bedtime habits of the great Indian hypocrite and anti-humanist Mahatma Gandhi. The State would love to kill the sex instinct, but since it cannot be killed, then it does its best to distort it and dirty it. And as far as women are concerned, the Stateâ€™s efforts have historically speaking been rather successful, trapping most Indian women in a mental cage of social taboos and inhibitions and threatening them with severe punishment if they dare to step outside it. In the raging jungle warfare of real society, in the streets and spaces of India's swollen cities, where the "protections" and "equalities" of the Law are the music of a distant paradise, women are threatened with assault, violation, rape or death if they leave the safe physical cage of home or a protective male escort. This situation doesn't only apply to India, although India is notorious throughout the world for the animal brutality of its sexual violence against women. In many, if not most, poor and oppressed countries, especially perhaps in Latin America where the Catholic church exerts its centuries old stranglehold over personal relationships, women are subject to the most degrading discrimination and contempt. And the same goes, only more so, for those outside the straight heterosexual world of traditional marriage. Gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals are all vulnerable to discrimination and merciless aggression all over the world - even in countries where the law has belatedly begun to recognize their activities as normal expressions of human interpersonal behaviour.
and they were not intended to be! Neither is typically Indian religious deviltry like temple prostitution. The character of the leadership of the LGBT struggle : This judgement has given rise to several immediate consequences. Besides the sheer danger to life and limb that it represents for all LGBT activists, there is a growing frustration with the old "respectable" bourgeois leadership and their 'apolitical', liberalist stance that is completely and starkly justified by the ease with which their efforts have been spat on and nullified by the state and its institutions in the shape of this judgment. The blindingly obvious weakness of the old leadership is its social base in the better-off sections of Indian society, the bourgeoisie and the socially climbing petty bourgeoisie and to some extent labour aristocracy. The dominance of the bourgeoisie in directing and building up the LGBT rights struggle has directly given it an exclusive and elitist nature, alienating it from much of the working class. This alienation is what has weakened the movement till this point, making it easy for rabble-rousing reactionaries to whip up lumpen hatred against suspicious "other" behaviour. "Look at these freaks, their problems are not your problems, their demands have nothing to do with you! They are the reason society is falling apart and you are suffering." It's the usual reactionary ploy of divide and rule, setting up scapegoats to blame for the troubles of the mass of ordinary people. Pitting sections of the working class against each other instead of the real enemy, the real cause of their frustration and misery, the capitalists at home in India and throughout the world who are exploiting their cheap labour to make themselves fortunes - and who incidentally flout every principle of morality and decency in their own "private" lives. As the antics of the former Italian prime minister and archetypal capitalist brute Silvio Berlusconi so eloquently testify.
To make any real progress the gender struggle needs to put down roots in the Indian mass movement and make common cause with the demands of the working class for equality of opportunity, economic justice, an end to discrimination and exploitation, and a society in which every individual can fulfil his or her potential The millenia-old ideals of the Catholic church, as regardless of their social origin or personal epitomized in the institutions imposed on monks and constitution. nuns, are socially, physically and mentally enslaving. Poverty, chastity and obedience are not the ideals which This means that it is not enough to simply be 'political' create free, harmonious and fulfilled human beings - and fill the pages of newspapers with good arguments. 21
The only people capable of leading the movement to real advance will have to be class-conscious and have the ability to win the backing of the working masses. This will not be as difficult as bourgeois intellectuals and activists fear, as the working masses have no problem with supporting real democratic demands that mean progress and improvement for the whole of society. As the history of democratic reforms worldwide has shown time and again in relation to votes for women, the provision of birth control, the right of women to economic equality and ownership of property, etc. And in many countries today, in the legal acknowledgement of serious long-term unmarried relationships in relation to children and property, and in the recognition of marriages between people of the same sex.
2) PROTECTION DISCRIMINATION ! :
Sexual minorities suffer from daily harassment and humiliation. When they turn to the law for protection, they get nothing but betrayal and further humiliation and harassment. The existing laws are hopelessly inadequate, and in some cases outright discriminatory against the LGBT community. A new law must be made to ensure protection to this community, A Prohibition of Discrimination Act. 3) FULL RIGHTS FOR ORGANIZATION AND ASSOCIATION :
What is to be done : Our demands for the LGBT movement are few and straightforward: 1) EQUAL RIGHTS FOR LGBT : We demand that the LGBT community be entitled to full rights of marriage and civil union which any citizen of India are entitled to before law. All discriminatory laws which prohibit the full and free sexual expression of the LGBT community must be undone and existing laws amended to give recognition to LGBT rights.
The right to organize and form association of the LGBT community must be given statutory recognition. These organizations be it support groups or activist groups are among the only respite the community has in a hostile social environment. This must be encouraged and given needed support and recognition. In Finality, we declare that the ultimate intention of revolutionary socialists is to abolish the present male supremacist and chauvinistic social structure that is inherent in capitalism. This goes hand in hand with abolishing the family structure itself and making way for a communist society.
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