War against war! - statement on Ukraine

War against war! - statement on Ukraine

Statement by leftists and anarchists on the confrontation in Ukraine, arguing for working class internationalism and against supporting either the Ukrainian government or pro-Russian factions.

In the ongoing conflict, we support neither Ukrainian government nor pro-Russian factions that established their authority on the portion of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. The working class (i.e. everyone who has neither power nor capital) is equally alien both to the concept of ​​unitary Ukraine and to the ideas of ​​”federalization” or creation of new states — these are merely the games of politicians, drawing blood from ordinary people. We, the left and the anarchists, should primarily adhere to the needs of the working class in the war-torn regions of Ukraine, protect their rights and freedoms.

Against LPR and DPR!

Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” are a collection of warring right-wing juntas. Rights and freedoms, which are granted to the rest of Ukraine, are not available in the territories under their control. Public manifestation of political dissent is not possible there; worker rights activists who criticized DPR were kidnapped and tortured. Upon preservation of these regimes the working class will be completely deprived of any opportunity to defend their legal rights. The only possible form of the “left” activity in DPR and LPR is the ritual worship of Soviet symbols, which has nothing to do with the workers’ interests.

The reactionary regimes of DPR and LPR are not interested in peaceful solution, they aim at escalating the conflict even further, which is confirmed by the promises of their leaders to “get to Kharkov”, “to Kiev” and “to Lviv”.

Against the Ukrainian government!

Ukrainian authorities profit from war contracts, send war reservists and untrained conscripts to to the frontline of the civil war, and attempt to use the protracted military conflict to strengthen their positions. Contrary to the forced rhetorics of the unity between the government and people, we must resist all attempts to curtail social guarantees, political rights and freedoms, all manifestations of police and military violence, all the incitement of nationalist and religious prejudice among soldiers and common people. For the ruling class, war is the opportunity of a crackdown in political and social spheres. In struggle against the aggression of Putin’s regime and his satellites, Ukrainians should not neglect the danger of a “Putin” who can emerge in their own country.

After their victory over the “separatists”, whose position is doomed without the external military support, the strengthened Kiev regime will once again become a major threat to the working class. If the oppressed unite with the ruling class under the patriotic banners, the crackdown on human rights and freedoms, which was to be avoided by the Maidan, is inevitable under the new government. Parliament is comprised of the representatives of conservative and far-right parties (“Batkivshyna”, “Svoboda”), which had repeatedly sponsored obscurantist bills – in particular, the restitution of death penalty, restriction of reproductive rights, preventive arrests on political motives; the charters of these parties contain appeals to ban political strikes. In many of the initiatives they mimic such of the Putin’s regime, of the Party of Regions or of the Communist Party. Despite their plummeting ratings, such rhetorics are perceived as a legitimate part of the political field.

Against fascists on both sides of the frontline!

We unhesitatingly oppose the legitimization of ultra-nationalist and criminal groups as members of the “anti-terrorist operation”. However, we should note that among those fighting on the other side are the volunteers from European fascist organizations and the ultra-reactionaries from Russia, and pro-Kremlin propaganda only portrays them as “anti-fascist warriors”.

Against war incitement under the guise of pacifism!

We are equally disgusted by saber rattling and cheering the killing of enemies, on the one side, and by pseudo-pacifist speculations of the people directly responsible for the escalation of violence, on the other. Pacifism is neither compatible with the backing of the “New Russia” regimes or expressing any kind of sympathy towards them, nor with the support of Ukrainian militarism.

Against lies and propaganda from all sides!

Information space and the media have become a genuine battlefield, the people of Ukraine and Russia are being fed opposite in content but equally spurious propaganda that strengthens militancy on both sides of the conflict and sets workers on against other; this allows governments to channel social discontent into a safe direction. Therefore, it is important not to follow the crowd, which is pleased to receive the news it wants to hear, but to keep a sober mind and stay true to our principles. Only time will help to reconstruct the events truthfully.

For the development of the labor movement!

The working class in Ukraine is still in its infancy and is does not take part in the conflict as a subject. We need to formulate and defend the social agenda and help the development of organizations that express the interests of workers. Only a strong labor movement that realizes its interests will be able to establish peace in Ukraine.

We oppose involuntary military service, and demand to end the conscription and release all soldiers who do not want to fight.

We support the campaign of aiding internally displaced persons from the war-torn regions, and we are ready to support deserters and conscripts who evade service on ethical and political grounds. AWU-Kharkiv already runs a campaign to support the internally displaced people in its area – we urge all libertarians and left to join in or do the same in their areas.

We express our support and solidarity with the workers’ and trade union initiatives that fight for their labor rights; we are ready to actively support those who are struggling against DPR and LPR from the class standpoint. They are in a much more serious danger today than activists from Central and Western Ukraine.

No war but the class war!
You may sign this statement by sending us an email to inbox@avtonomia.net, or by leaving a comment right here.

Originally posted on Autonomia.

Comments

Foristaruso
Jun 22 2014 18:37

About the declaration of AWU "On the confrontation in Ukraine"

The KRAS, section of the International Workers Association in Russian region, appreciates the statement of Ukrainian "Autonomous Workers' Union" (AWU/AST) "On the confrontation in Ukraine" as a step in the right direction. Condemning both sides of the civil war, it differs in this point favorably from the previous position of AWU/AST representatives who refused in March to sign the statement of KRAS, internationalists of Ukraine, Russia and other countries (http://www.aitrus.info/node/3608)

The AWU/AST representatives motivated their disagreement with our Declaration by the very fact that we stand with the position of condemnation all warring parties, while they supported the "people" who gathered to "Evromaidan" and called for the protection of Ukrainian "homeland" from "Russian aggression". Some groups and members of the AWU/AST participated in the reactionary "Maidan" protests against the also reactionary Yanukovich government, without being disturbed even by an active role of the far-right groups in the "Maidan" coup. After the outbreak of armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, some active members of AWU/AST actually supported the idea of armed suppression of "Antimaidan" by the new Kiev authorities.

A new declaration of the AWU/AST looks more balanced and contains no sympathy for punitive operations of the Kiev authorities in the East of the country. Nevertheless, it is full of contradictions, in our opinion. So, it condemned first of all the separatist coup in eastern Ukraine ("Antimaidan"), and only then the Kiev government, although the "Antimaidan" was a reaction to the earlier "Maidan" coup. Moreover, the statement of AWU/AST contained again praise for "Maidan", which allegedly prevented the curtailing of rights and freedoms, while in fact the "Maidan" coup a opened the way for the adoption of new reactionary laws (including the "austerity" regime imposed by the EU and the IMF) and for the militarization of society, it made largely the hands free for the terror of the ultra-right groups and unleashed a spiral of confrontation, which ultimately led to the current outbreak of the Civil War. In the spirit of the official mode of Kiev war propaganda, the statement asserted that Antimaidan is just a manifestation of aggression of "Putin and his satellites", although most of the population in eastern Ukraine has repeatedly spoken out in the past against the political forces which organized the "Maidan" coup. The authors of the statement warn against the emergence of Ukrainian "Putins" as if regime of billionaire and oligarch Poroshenko is somewhat better than the Kremlin oligarchy. Finally, the AWU/AST condemns expansionist actions of the Russian state, but not one word mentioned inflammatory actions of its equally imperialist rivals from NATO. There is no mention of the need to cease hostilities and stop the death of workers under the bullets and shells of punitive forces of “anti-terrorist operation”. The statement completely ignores the catastrophic humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, and blames for this tragedy exclusively the separatists and "agents" of Russia.

We do not feel the slightest sympathy for the regimes established by separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, as in the past time we did not have any sympathy f.ex. for the nationalist separatist regime in Chechnya. But then and now, this don`t hinder us to condemn the war and to call for a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of military troops, paramilitaries, mercenaries or “volunteer” from all sides from the conflict zone.

For us, both camps in the confrontation are equally conservative and nationalist, and any significant difference between them is not visible: neither in social and economic area, nor in domestic or foreign policy. Neither submission to the European Union, nor the submission to the Russian oligarchy can solve the problems of the working people of Ukraine. As before, we emphasize that the victory of one or another group of the bourgeoisie and the national-conservative reaction may lead only to social disaster for workers in the country.

We remain convinced that the workers have no homeland to defend. We equally condemn Maidan and Antimaidan; Kiev and Donetsk; Russia and NATO. We do not believe that a right side can exist in the struggle for power, influence or control over the territories between bourgeois cliques. In situations where the revolutionary internationalists do not have enough force to intervene and to crush both rival gangs, the most urgent task is to conduct an anti-war agitation among the workers so that they do not engage in military or paramilitary forces of Kiev, Donetsk or Luhansk regimes but instead remember their class interest and fight for their basic socio-economic needs: improving the living and working conditions and cancellation of imposed policy of "austerity".

Our slogans remain the same:

WAR ON WAR!
NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR!
NOT A SINGLE DROP A BLOOD FOR THE “NATION”!
http://www.aitrus.info/node/3818

Steven.
Jun 23 2014 09:30

Foristaruso it would be great if you or someone else could post that statement up in our news section as well

S2W
Jun 23 2014 11:13

I expect AST members to discuss the first paragraph, whereas I will comment parts of your reply which refer to contents of the current statement and not claimed (but unsubstantiated) claims on commentaries of AST members.

Foristaruso wrote:
A new declaration of the AWU/AST looks more balanced and contains no sympathy for punitive operations of the Kiev authorities in the East of the country. Nevertheless, it is full of contradictions, in our opinion. So, it condemned first of all the separatist coup in eastern Ukraine ("Antimaidan"), and only then the Kiev government, although the "Antimaidan" was a reaction to the earlier "Maidan" coup.

The order of the topics is totally irrelevant. More space is sacrificed for criticism of the Kiev government than to criticism of the separatists. The fact that you are even making this a topic is ridiculous.

Coup d'etat is an event in which part of the ruling class just pushes aside another part, without any mass involvement. Revolution is a regime change with a mass involvement - not necessarily progressive, it may also be a bourgeois one.

I consider February events in Kiev as something between coup and revolution, both elements were present. However, if you claim these events as a mere "coup", you deny there was any mass involvement whatsoever. This is denial of the reality, and close to conspiracy theories of the people like Borotba organisation and other European stalinists.

Foristaruso wrote:
Moreover, the statement of AWU/AST contained again praise for "Maidan", which allegedly prevented the curtailing of rights and freedoms, while in fact the "Maidan" coup a opened the way for the adoption of new reactionary laws (including the "austerity" regime imposed by the EU and the IMF) and for the militarization of society, it made largely the hands free for the terror of the ultra-right groups and unleashed a spiral of confrontation, which ultimately led to the current outbreak of the Civil War.

Do you really believe the new reactionary laws would not have been adopted with the Yanukovich regime as well? That is a rather naive belief.

Issue of militarization is dealt in the resolution. As for the "terror of ultra-right groups", this is wildly exaggerated in Russian media and is obviously not the reason of the current spiral of confrontation. The "Banderovists threat" is rather a manipulative scare crow, which apparently has had an effect to you as well.

Foristaruso wrote:
In the spirit of the official mode of Kiev war propaganda, the statement asserted that Antimaidan is just a manifestation of aggression of "Putin and his satellites", although most of the population in eastern Ukraine has repeatedly spoken out in the past against the political forces which organized the "Maidan" coup.

Where and when has "most of the population" spoken? "Most of the population" is rather passive but against both sides.

Foristaruso wrote:
The authors of the statement warn against the emergence of Ukrainian "Putins" as if regime of billionaire and oligarch Poroshenko is somewhat better than the Kremlin oligarchy.

This is a straw man argument. There is plenty of criticism against Kiev regime in the statement.

Foristaruso wrote:
Finally, the AWU/AST condemns expansionist actions of the Russian state, but not one word mentioned inflammatory actions of its equally imperialist rivals from NATO.

Where, in Libya? Or Afghanistan? That is rather off topic. Or do you claim that Maidan was a NATO conspiracy?

Foristaruso wrote:
There is no mention of the need to cease hostilities and stop the death of workers under the bullets and shells of punitive forces of “anti-terrorist operation”. The statement completely ignores the catastrophic humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, and blames for this tragedy exclusively the separatists and "agents" of Russia.

Another straw-man argument. There is plenty of criticism of the both sides in the statement, and it is obvious that it is against the war as a whole.

Foristaruso wrote:
We do not feel the slightest sympathy for the regimes established by separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, as in the past time we did not have any sympathy f.ex. for the nationalist separatist regime in Chechnya. But then and now, this don`t hinder us to condemn the war and to call for a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of military troops, paramilitaries, mercenaries or “volunteer” from all sides from the conflict zone.

What do you consider the conflict zone? To me it seems like whole of Ukraine is a conflict zone. And perhaps Russia as well. Obviously you may call for withdrawal of any bourgeois armies from the planet, but that is pretty much the same thing as calling for a workers' revolution. A necessary call, but not any sort of "immediate solution" you are apparently asking for.

Foristaruso wrote:
For us, both camps in the confrontation are equally conservative and nationalist, and any significant difference between them is not visible: neither in social and economic area, nor in domestic or foreign policy.

There are huge differences, which however are not a reason to pick sides.

Foristaruso
Jun 23 2014 12:44

To S2W:

1) Revolution supposes not only the change of ruler but also progressive social and economic changes. There are not such things. So it is ridiculous or reactionary to call Maidan "revolution". Although it was a movement with participation of "masses" sometimes, these "masses" are not obviously progressive. There were "masses" also in the NSDAP or in Ruanda genocide. And the "masses" for EU, as this time

2) Maidan was not a NATO conspiracy, of course. But NATO clearly interfered to forbid Yanukovich to extrude protesters. Unlike the case of Erdogan repression in Turkey f.ex.

3) Immediate solution is the stop of hostilities and not the victory of one side

4) As to reactionary laws or activities of new Kiev government, there are very much, and not only for violent things but also for dissident opinion (http://english.cntv.cn/2014/04/08/ARTI1396964142829309.shtml; http://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/politics/sbu-vozbudila-delo-protiv-polzovatelya-facebook-za-prizyvy-19062014184000 - about punishment of Internet comments; http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/turchynov-law-enforcers-studying-political-parties-involvement-in-supporting-separatists-in-ukraine-347442.html; http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1403182147; etc.) It is not better than Yanukovich laws

klas batalo
Jun 23 2014 15:13

What does AST stand for, I know what AWU stands for. Or is it just the same acronym?

baboon
Jun 24 2014 11:37

My support to the position of Foristaruso above.

The last AWU statement is certainly more clearly an expression of internationalism, but what's the strength of it? It looks like a positive change on the face of it but there is no clarification of its previous positions, which was generally support for one side in an imperialist war, to one of denouncing both sides. What happened? What's the explanation for the change in position?

From the very beginning, from late last year, the "struggle" in Ukraine was poison ground for the interests of the working class. Any attempt at class struggle was suffocated straight away and channeled into support for nationalism. The interests of the working class are self-organisation and solidarity and there was aboslutely no prospect of any attempt at either here. In this case the best option for workers was to keep well away from this imperialist mobilisation.

I think that it was originally, late last year, Russia who tripped this particular episode of imperialist tensions with its diplomatic manoeuvres in and around Kiev. But questions of "who started it?", "who is more culpable" (the greater or lesser evil) is oot the point but an exercise in bourgeois game-playing. These imperialist developments are inevitable and instrinsic developmennts of a capitalism that has no answer except the flight into irrational militarism.

Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq are related to the whole question of a weakening US attempt to act as a global policeman, whose actions can only bring about more grief and spread more chaos. The element of Nato and the proxy war between Russia and the west has been the major feature of this crisis since the beginning. In this sense Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine are all on the same level and come from the same fundamental problems of capitalism.

I would think that Russian imperialism, in the first instance, would be quite satisfied with what it's got so far: Crimea and a buffer zone into Ukrianian territory. The one certain thing about imperialist tensions is that they are not static and will inevitably develop further.

Foristaruso
Jun 24 2014 13:19

Klas Batalo, AST is the Russian / Ukrainian abbreviature for AWU. It is the same

S2W
Jun 27 2014 09:47
baboon wrote:
My support to the position of Foristaruso above.

The last AWU statement is certainly more clearly an expression of internationalism, but what's the strength of it? It looks like a positive change on the face of it but there is no clarification of its previous positions, which was generally support for one side in an imperialist war, to one of denouncing both sides. What happened? What's the explanation for the change in position?

There is no any change of position. AST/AWU has been dealing more with Stalinist propaganda due to their conflict with Ukrainian leftist groups supporting separatists, such as Borotba. They have been forced to fight turf war with them. However the general position has been the same all the time.

S2W
Jun 27 2014 10:16
Foristaruso wrote:

1) Revolution supposes not only the change of ruler but also progressive social and economic changes. There are not such things. So it is ridiculous or reactionary to call Maidan "revolution". Although it was a movement with participation of "masses" sometimes, these "masses" are not obviously progressive. There were "masses" also in the NSDAP or in Ruanda genocide. And the "masses" for EU, as this time

One may agree that revolution by defition means some kind of "fundamental change", but it definitely does not have to be progressive. For example, everyone calls events of Iran in 1979 "a revolution", but one may hardly describe them "progressive". I think only someone who believes in Marxist historical determinism may define revolutions as something exclusively progressive.

Foristaruso wrote:
2) Maidan was not a NATO conspiracy, of course. But NATO clearly interfered to forbid Yanukovich to extrude protesters. Unlike the case of Erdogan repression in Turkey f.ex.

This does not sound plausible. After all, a good number of people were shot in Kiev, whereas that did not happened in Turkey.

Of course, Yanukovich was for a long time hesitant to shoot people (and it could be the eventual decision to shoot people was taken by other people, plus it is not clear that authorities began shooting first). But after all, people got shot so talk about NATO interference is pure speculation.

Plus, it is rather ridiculous to compare ban of shooting people with occupation of Crimea.

Foristaruso wrote:
3) Immediate solution is the stop of hostilities and not the victory of one side

This is a very abstract call. It context of wars between countries, a concept of "peace without retributions and annexatons" makes sense, in context of civil wars, hardly. What do you mean by this? Independence of DNR and LNR? Where the border should be located? I heard you supported "federalist Ukraine" in some facebook discussions, is this still your position?

Foristaruso wrote:
4) As to reactionary laws or activities of new Kiev government, there are very much, and not only for violent things but also for dissident opinion (http://english.cntv.cn/2014/04/08/ARTI1396964142829309.shtml; http://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/politics/sbu-vozbudila-delo-protiv-polzovatelya-facebook-za-prizyvy-19062014184000 - about punishment of Internet comments; http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/turchynov-law-enforcers-studying-political-parties-involvement-in-supporting-separatists-in-ukraine-347442.html; http://khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1403182147; etc.) It is not better than Yanukovich laws

First and third links do not work. This case against someone for a facebook comment and law project to ban funding of separatists are nothing in comparaison with Yanukovich laws of the february, nor they are anything in comparaison with random arrests and torture in DNR and LNR. There is a huge different of scale. Shit is shit, but there are different kinds of shit, and stating the obvious does not mean support for any sort of shit.

S2W
Jun 27 2014 10:19
Foristaruso wrote:
To S2W:

You did not answered any of my main questions.

1) Do you really believe that Yanukovich would have stood against neoliberal reforms, and would not have adopted reactionary laws? One of your main arguments against AST resolution is its position against Maidan, as you claim that Maidan opened a way for reactionary laws and neoliberal reforms. However to me it is rather obvious that Maidan did not influenced this developments to any direction (in the long run), in short run it managed to cancel February laws of Yanukovich (at least for a while) but also will mean energy price hikes and IMF reforms. However, in few years time span Yanukovich would have done all the same reforms.
2) Where and when has "most of the population" spoken?

S2W
Jun 27 2014 10:20

I would agree that AST/AWU resolution lacks a proper in-depth analysis of Maidan, but resolution does not have to be a booklet. I think it pretty well sums up a reasonable position on current war.

Gepetto
Jun 27 2014 15:16
S2W wrote:
I think only someone who believes in Marxist historical determinism may define revolutions as something exclusively progressive.

I just love it when anarchists use word "Marxist" like a slur.

ocelot
Jun 27 2014 15:31
S2W wrote:
One may agree that revolution by defition means some kind of "fundamental change", but it definitely does not have to be progressive. For example, everyone calls events of Iran in 1979 "a revolution", but one may hardly describe them "progressive". I think only someone who believes in Marxist historical determinism may define revolutions as something exclusively progressive.

Agreed. I do wish people would stop doing "The Walrus" with revolution, trying to make it mean what they think it "really should" mean. What next? The American Revolution was not a revolution? The Iranian one? The vast bulk of the working class already think we're freaks enough already without developing our own private language in public words.

S2W wrote:
Foristaruso wrote:
2) Maidan was not a NATO conspiracy, of course. But NATO clearly interfered to forbid Yanukovich to extrude protesters. Unlike the case of Erdogan repression in Turkey f.ex.

This does not sound plausible. After all, a good number of people were shot in Kiev, whereas that did not happened in Turkey.

Of course, Yanukovich was for a long time hesitant to shoot people (and it could be the eventual decision to shoot people was taken by other people, plus it is not clear that authorities began shooting first). But after all, people got shot so talk about NATO interference is pure speculation.

Plus, it is rather ridiculous to compare ban of shooting people with occupation of Crimea.

I think the shooting thing is a diversion. The point is there is a NATO question in the current confrontation, and there's no point denying it. It doesn't mean that Maidan was a NATO conspiracy* to say that NATO and the EU see this as an opportunity to advance their geopolitical surrounding of Russia.

Today's headline on the BBC is - EU signs pacts with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova

and there's a nice little map:

500x

Just because Putin's paranoid doesn't mean they aren't really out to get him...

But, politically, when there are people on the "federalist" side demanding a constitutional lock for the Donbass to have a veto on Ukraine as a whole joining NATO - to say nothing at all about that, rather than raising an explicit "Neither Putin nor NATO" position - does rather leave open the suspicion of silent assent to the obvious programme to do just that.

----
* although I have no doubt that the Agency channelled a shit-tonne of cash into the oligarchs and other supporting the various NGOs and political parties that sucked out any possibility to develop self-organisation and autonomy within the Maidan process - as reported by the AWU (the role of the parties in precluing autonomy, that is)