A polemic against the wave of militarism seen across the anarchist movement in Britain since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Everyone is against war in the abstract – even the arms industry executives can tell themselves that they are merely providing for defence and global order, deterring war in doing so. But when war breaks out the sentiment is made irrelevant. Peace-loving or not, war is here, and you are either with your nation, your people, or against them. Peace will come with victory. In any case, your side is the righteous cause, because you fight for freedom and justice, for democracy and stability, because your enemy were the aggressors, and tyrants and devils to boot. The bloodshed is so easily sanctified.
Anarchism cuts right through such mystification. We say it as we see it: the workers of different nations are sent to slaughter each other in the interests of their rulers. Anti-militarism is a core principle of anarchism. We understand armies to be a violent force underwriting political authority (or those who would conquer it). We point to the role of military force in suppressing uprisings and strikes at home, while imposing national interests, enforcing capitalist markets, and ruling colonies abroad. Military research and production is a highly profitable investment of private capital and public funds, not least as a subsidised source of technological development (for the purposes of social control and generating profit). We consider how the military system of strict hierarchy and discipline, alongside its culture of chauvinism and othering,1 breaks down the human character and reshapes it to the needs of those in command.
So how is it that today the anarchist movement in Britain (and elsewhere) is supporting one nation's military against another, ideologically justifying and materially provisioning2 the Ukrainian war effort? Are we seeing something altogether new that would lead us to question and revise our principles? No. We are seeing the same tragedy brought upon the people of the region as we have seen time after time. Our anti-militarist, internationalist, and revolutionary perspective is as vital as ever. At this present stage, the struggle for liberation is caught in the no-man's-land between imperialist invasion on the one side, and national defence (backed by an opposing imperialism) on the other. To seek purpose in either trench would be just more fuel in the furnace of capitalist warfare; it would mean allegiance to the state against anarchy.
National Defence and Anti-Imperialism
From the long-standing anarchist paper Freedom and anarcho-communist Anarchist Federation (AFed), to the anarchist “scene” around antifascist and other activist groups, war fever is rife. At first this involved cheerleading for the so-called ‘Anti-authoritarian Platoon’, a unit of the Territorial Defence made up of anarchists and antifascists, among others.3 Participation in military structures was explained by the need to defend themselves, and softened by a narrative of independent popular resistance. But the reality was quite different. The Territorial Defence Forces are the reserve force of the Ukrainian military, subject to its command structure. There is no question of autonomy. A member of the Anti-authoritarian Platoon observed that in their unit “there [was] normal military hierarchy with section commanders and platoon commander subordinate to higher military officers.”4 Other anarchists and antifascists joined the regular army. Rhetoric aside, this means collaboration in the national defence by joining the state military, one way or another.
That some people choose to join or support the military defence of the nation in which they reside when threatened by imperialist domination is understandable5 and I do not judge anyone making such difficult choices. But it is not anarchism – it is not compatible with anarchist ideas or practices. No one lives up to their ideals in everything they do, but these compromises and contradictions should be accepted as such, not assimilated into our theory and practice such that in turn our movement is assimilated into the society of capital and state.
As the reality of collaboration became clearer to British anarchists, the message widened to support for the defence of Ukraine, maintaining the rhetoric of ‘popular resistance’. “From Ukraine to Scotland to Western Sahara to Palestine to Tatarstan, we stand with the people resisting imperialism,”6 proclaims Darya Rustamova in the pages of Freedom (and reprinted by AFed). This statement raises more questions than it answers. Who are “the people”? By what means are they resisting? To what end? In the past, AFed were able to see through such empty talk, arguing that “As anarchist communists, we have always opposed nationalism, and have always marked our distance from the left through vocally opposing all nationalism — including that of ‘oppressed nations’. While we oppose oppression, exploitation and dispossession on national grounds, and oppose imperialism and imperialist warfare, we refuse to fall into the trap so common on the left of identifying with the underdog side and glorifying ‘the resistance’ — however ‘critically’ — which is readily observable within Leninist/Trotskyist circles.”7
Rustamova’s article, ‘A Thousand Red Flags’, makes explicit their nationalist premises by regurgitating the leftist differentiation of good and bad nationalism. The nuance between different expressions of nationalism in different contexts is no doubt real and significant. The nationalism of a colony struggling for independence is obviously different from the nationalism of the empire. Yet, for both the state is their end (to establish, defend, or expand); both suppress or obscure the class divide beneath nationality; and both serve the interests of a ruling class (current or prospective). The common features of all nationalisms that define them as such are precisely those we reject as anarchists and revolutionary internationalists.
“Anarchists have taken to defence of their homeland,”8 announced the editor of AFed’s magazine, Organise!, in issue #96. What homeland do anarchists have? The ‘homeland’ is a sentimental notion of the nation-state in which a person is born. It is the feelings of belonging, allegiance, and nostalgia that bonds the individual to the nation. This clarifies the unquestioned leap that has been made between Ukraine, as a sovereign nation, defending its territory against invasion (i.e. national defence), and anarchists or other individuals defending themselves (i.e. self-defence). It is a powerful argument for going off to fight in the war in so far as few would renounce the right of self-defence. But it assumes identity between the nation and oneself, a formulation of nationalist ideology that anarchists reject. Without hesitation, anarchists went from championing “semi-autonomous” anarchist units in a “popular resistance” to beating the drums of war for the military victory of Ukraine and total defeat of Russia.
The state’s ultimate self-justification is preserving the safety and wellbeing of its subjects. War with other nations is the greatest unifying force of the state (initially, at least). The Ukrainian anarchist magazine Assembly confirm that “we should understand that the national unity of Ukrainians around Zelensky’s power rests only on fear of an external threat”.9 To participate in this unification and raise that same instinct of self-preservation as explanation, is to not only give legitimacy to the state's ideological power, but also to support the state's material reinforcement. To assert the necessity of participating in national defence and joining the state military is to accept the necessity of the state. Assembly lament that “the majority of those who identify themselves as anarchists in Ukraine [...] immediately merged with the ruling class in a single nationalist impulse.”10 The state’s power over life and death, war and peace, is one of its defining aspects – it is for anarchists to criticise and subvert, not fall back on as a necessary evil.
Alongside the theoretical rejection of national unity, it is important to question the practical reality of the assumption that our personal safety is tied in with national security. Thoughts on this are offered by Saša Kaluža, an anarchist in Ukraine, who says that “The goal of the Ukrainian state and their military structures in this war is to keep their power, the goal of the Russian state and their military structures is to seize power. The participation of anarchists in the structures of either of these states does not make the situation any easier for the people living in Ukraine, who are suffering from the war between two states. All the words about the army defending people, society and their land are only part of state propaganda, and history shows this. It is only possible to stop the war by opposing both states.”11 Regarding the volunteer units specifically, they argue that the “Territorial Defence is a good and telling example of how volunteer structures initiated and controlled by the state can only perform volunteer support functions within the state, by state methods and only to protect the state itself, and cannot actually help the population with security and other primary needs that arise in crisis situations.”12 It can further be doubted that the participation of a hundred or so anarchists and antifascists in the armed forces has any impact on the outcome of the war, whereas as many dedicated agitators could be a significant nucleus of anti-militarism.13
We need to look beyond the black-and-white binary of aggressor and resistance, imperialist nation and oppressed nation, revealing the complexity of class antagonisms, power structures, and social hierarchies within each nation-state, identifying the latent force of working class internationalism.
In supporting Ukraine, British anarchists have found themselves on the side of NATO, an imperialist military alliance that defends the interests of the core capitalist nations in Europe and North America. But rather than take this as an opportunity to repudiate NATO, acknowledging a mere coincidence of interests in this particular situation, anarchists in Britain have wavered in their opposition, sympathising with Western imperialism as a check on Russian imperialism. This is most evident in Zosia Brom’s article, ‘Fuck Leftist Westplaining’,14 published in Freedom (of which she was an editor at the time), and reprinted in Organise! #96 by AFed. Supposing the necessity of NATO membership for the security of Eastern Europe is no doubt correct from the perspective of state diplomacy and international relations, but we are not politicians and we are not part of the decision making apparatus of the state. As anarchists we must respond to the manoeuvrings of nation-states and imperialist blocs from a working class perspective. Autonomous of all state machinery, its realpolitik is not for us to take up. Our anti-imperialism cannot be the Stalinist reflex of supporting anyone opposed to Western imperialism – but neither can it involve turning to said imperialism to maintain our rights and safety. Rather than thinking in terms of national agency, we need to be thinking along class lines, in terms of social struggle.
Antifascism and Class Struggle
Neither the Russian nor Ukrainian state can be accurately described as fascist, although both have tolerated, enabled, and utilised fascist elements whenever expedient. However, the Russian state has reached a level of authoritarian nationalism, internal repression, and revanchist expansionism comparable to the fascist regimes of the twentieth century. The Ukrainian state can better be described as a neoliberal, corrupt democracy.15 It is necessary to thoroughly reject Russian propaganda of “de-nazifying” Ukraine. But anarchists in Britain have simply turned this around, framing Ukraine’s military defence as an antifascist struggle. This risks legitimising war in the name of antifascism, an ideological manoeuvre that Putin has so transparently played on. Projecting our antifascist ideals onto the national defence of Ukraine does not alter its material reality.
Ideological antifascism can serve to obscure class interests and subordinate revolutionary struggle to popular fronts in defence of the democratic state.16 The movement towards anarchy is deferred to a future, more opportune time as the immediate threat of fascism (or comparable totalitarian tendency) redraws the board. The intermediate goal of defending the limited rights of democratic society becomes the only legitimate reference point. Ideological unification is mirrored by social unification in cross-class alliances that bring together ruler and ruled, exploiter and exploited against the exceptional threat.
If it means the defeat of fascism, the shielding of actual life and liberties, conceding one’s principles may be understandable. But we should have learned from the twentieth century that it is nothing but a travesty.17 Again and again, the democratic state which popular fronts defended gave way to fascism with little more than a whimper. Those states prioritised – through counter-revolution – the consolidation of their authority, even if that meant enabling or embracing fascism. “The fight for a democratic state is inevitably a fight to consolidate the state, and far from crippling totalitarianism, such a fight increases totalitarianism's stranglehold on society.”18 The state can develop towards democracy or dictatorship depending on what is necessary for the continuation of capitalism and the state. It is through the struggle against the state as such that we can both confront authoritarian tendencies in the intermediate term while overturning the conditions that produce them in the long term.
War and Revolutionary Struggle
Those anarchists supporting Ukraine have revealed a great deal of confusion about how we relate to war as anarchists. Some keep up their anti-war rhetoric while supporting one side against another. Others conflate warfare with the struggle for freedom. And some fully embrace war-mongering, all things being justified by opposition to Russia.
Peter Ó Máille (editor of Organise! magazine) off-handedly dispenses with working class anti-militarism in musing that “For the Anarchist there is only one war which matters and that is the class war, except for when it isn't. There are fascists that need fighting, there are despots, tyrants, and empires. They aren't going to go home due to your strongly worded petition.”19 We can surely agree on the need to fight against tyrants such as Putin, but the heart of the matter is the means by which we do so. And here we find misrepresentation and confusion. War between nations and “class war” are distinct in kind. Anarchists are against war in the sense of military conflict undertaken by political authority. "Class war" is a figurative term, referring to the struggle between classes that is framed by capitalist social relations. Revolutionary class struggle is the collective effort of the working class to transform those social relations, which cannot be altered by war in the proper sense. War, in fact, consecrates those social relations in blood.
The war has been treated, in general, not as a war between two states, but as a struggle for the freedom of Eastern Europe.20 Russia’s victory would reinforce its totalitarian regime internally and encourage the further subjugation of its neighbours, while Russia’s defeat, we are told, would incite the collapse of Putin’s government and reinforce democratic governance in the region, maintaining favourable conditions for social struggle. Here it is clear that the methods and principles of anarchism have been entirely discarded in favour of the doctrine of military humanitarianism (exemplified by NATO interventions across the Global South and the Balkans). With such a logic adopted, it was only a matter of time before anarchists started arguing for NATO member nations to send more military aid to Ukraine (or bemoaning the hesitant lack of it).
The political, social, and economic outcomes of war are unpredictable. It is not unlikely that Ukraine will emerge from the war as an authoritarian state, an active partner in NATO’s military imperialism, and highly susceptible to far-right ideologies whose zealots will have been empowered by the war in more ways than one. Even if liberal democracy survives in Ukraine, there is no guarantee that these conditions will be favourable to the struggle for liberation. A democratic state commanding popular support will have the free reign to quietly suppress post-war rebellions and quell industrial unrest. Anarchist malcontents will easily be framed as Russian-backed separatists and saboteurs, or simply ignored in the wave of overwhelming patriotism and desire for a return to normality and stability, which could follow a military victory. Either way it is pure speculation, and not a strong basis for the working class to sacrifice itself to the war effort.
Anarchists have always understood that the social transformation we wish to see cannot come about by means of the state or military force of any kind, but must develop from the bottom-up among the oppressed and exploited people themselves. Wars can only impose a new form of authority, even if that new authority is a lesser evil. Deferring the struggle against capitalism and the state until after a “victorious” war only ensures the conditions for further war and oppression remain, while undermining the struggle against them. War is not a means of liberation. Just as we use direct action, self-organisation, mutual aid, and sabotage to pursue our revolutionary ends, those same means can be used to undermine tyrants and invaders, without facilitating other forms of domination.
Action From Principle
The coherency of means and ends is a notion fundamental to anarchism. The principles that guide us, and the methods we employ, are a continuous thread linking our partial struggles today with the social revolution we seek to hasten and the free society born thereof. Action from principle underpins everything we do. In defending a course of statist military action, anarchists will have stumbled into basic contradictions. This has been resolved through a series of falsifications and concessions.
Anti-militarism, internationalism, and so on, are all very nice in theory, we are told, but ultimately empty abstractions.21 They are simply not applicable to the reality faced by anarchists on the ground. Here we see the separation of theory and practice. Theory belongs in books, we would be led to believe, while the plans and practices of anarchists are driven by force of circumstances. The lesser evil displaces any self-determined goal as the point of reference, while expediency becomes the measure of all choice. Necessity justifies all, in the end.
What is forgotten is that the theory and practice of anarchism are drawn from one another in a constant process of mutual development. It is from experience – of success and defeat, war and peace, revolution and reaction – from generation to generation, all over the world, that we have cultivated a method of freedom: anarchism. It is false to contrast principles with pragmatism, because our principles are the crystallisation of precisely what works.22 There may be more appealing options in the short term, in relation to more immediate interests, but these will lead us away from our goals. Anarchists, for example, refuse to act within state structures or collaborate with state forces not in obedience to unquestionable dogma, but because we know that by such means we will only perpetuate state power, that our struggle will be recuperated into political channels and reshaped by institutional pressures. We know this both through abstract analysis of the modern state, and through the experiences of individuals, organisations, and whole movements.
Such an understanding used to be at the core of the Anarchist Federation. Now they openly disparage anarchist principles as “slogans” used to sidestep critical analysis, provoke emotional responses, and shut down debate. Anti-militarist agitation is compared to the manipulative and authoritarian practices of Brexiteers and the far-right.23 This simply does not reflect the reality of the propaganda work of “No War but the Class War” groups, for whom this slogan is just a masthead.24 Meanwhile, the editor of their theoretical journal Organise! now asserts that “I doubt the theory works past the first barrage of artillery on the neighbourhood.”25 In that case, we may as well give it up and don our khakis. Anarchism, we would conclude, is nothing but naive idealism, belonging to a more peaceful world than our own. I would say, quite the opposite, that it is precisely in such times of heightened conflict, of raised stakes and mortal threats, that learning from our past is more vital than ever. And I would say, far from limiting ourselves to ideal conditions, the anarchist movement has a strong tradition of anti-militarism in times of war, as well as heroic, constructive efforts in the depths of crisis and disaster.
Once we separate our methods from our goals, our ideas from our actions, we are left only with the rule of expediency: the most efficient means of attaining immediate objectives, regardless of other considerations. If the military victory of Ukraine and collapse of Putin’s government comes before all else then there are much more effective ways to pursue this goal than forming ideologically bound “anti-authoritarian” Territorial Defence units made up of volunteers with little to no combat experience. It is entirely logical that anarchists and other left-wing activists fighting in the war would become frustrated with the auxiliary role and bureaucratic limitations faced in the ‘Anti-authoritarian Platoon’ and disperse into more effective fighting units of the army closer to the frontline. And since “fascists are much better organized in the ranks of the Ukrainian army”26 – also sharing the motivation to be fighting on the frontline – it is predictable that “attempts to get a place in the military ranks brought [anti-authoritarian fighters] directly to units directly connected with Ukrainian fascist groups”27 and “in one way or another, becoming forces that support the development of far-right politics in Ukraine”.28 This is the logical outcome of relinquishing anarchist principles to the practical needs of the war effort.
In our own context, the war fever that has overcome British anarchism will likely lead to support for British military intervention (through military aid and technical support, if not actual combat involvement) and, by extension, NATO imperialism. It is through such means that Ukraine will be able to defeat Russia. Given that NATO members are currently hesitant to escalate into direct conflict between nuclear powers, some anarchists find themselves in the absurd position of being more eager for the generalisation of imperialist war than their own ruling classes. Will anarchists be signing up to the British Army to go kill Russians? We don’t have any anarchist MPs to vote for war credits, at least.
The Lesser Evil
In our proletarian condition of dispossession, disempowerment, and alienation, our entire lives have been reduced to a search for the lesser evil. Looking at Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the war crimes it has perpetrated, and the harsh repression brought upon its own citizens, we could identify Ukraine’s national defence as the lesser evil. Yet, acknowledging that there is a lesser evil does not mean, without further reason, that we should be supporting it. And, from an anarchist perspective, we can find no good reason to collaborate with either state. At the same time, refusing to support one state against another does not mean equating both sides. We don’t say that both sides are the same, simply that neither have anything to offer the working class.29 Different structures and forces of oppression should be analysed in their particular nature, and action can be focused on one thing over another, without resorting to collaboration.
The lesser evil is still an evil. In defending its territory, the Ukrainian state has not been transformed into a force for good. While the war rages, the capitalist class in Ukraine has only intensified its exploitation and abuse of the working people, backed by new restrictions on industrial action and the dismantling of workers’ rights.30 That is, for those who have not been conscripted to the killing fields. Conscription is a form of slavery, to be resisted at all costs. Ukraine’s borders have been closed to all men of conscription age (a category in which trans women have been included, erasing their identity) to enable the rounding up of cannon fodder. Meanwhile, Ukraine contributes to the genocidal war in Tigray, providing support for the use of drones by the Ethiopian military.31 Along the road of the lesser evil, the political and economic conditions that produce war and dictatorship will continue to perpetuate themselves; “it is forgotten that to choose an evil - even if it is a lesser evil - is the best way to prolong it.”32
We need to choose our own battles. The threat of co-optation and counter-insurgency is that we seem to be constantly denied the possibility of fighting on our own terms. Whether that be pushing social movements into the electoral graveyard, or driving rebellion into the field of military conflict, our real social strength is lost leaving us a controlled opposition or a symmetric enemy of the state that can be isolated and crushed. The strength of anarchism – what has made it a truly subversive force outside of and against every system of authority – is that anarchists have constantly struggled to fight on their own terms, even if that means facing marginalisation or suppression. If at first we speak alone with the voice of revolutionary internationalism, the tide can quickly turn – a tide that not uncommonly surges towards the tail end and aftermath of war.
Neither East Nor West
Many of the anarchists in Ukraine, and across Eastern Europe, have thrown themselves behind Ukraine’s war effort. This creates a tension with anti-militarist, internationalist agitation in Britain and across the world. As Peter Ó Máille puts it, “You just can't bear to listen to Eastern European Anarchists eh? [...You] forget to listen to the fucking locals as [you] act like the Politburo of Anarchism. Please kindly, shut the fuck up.”33 Meanwhile, Zosia Brom bemoans “westplaining” – western leftists condescendingly explaining to Eastern Europeans their own reality. We should “be informed that many Eastern Europe leftists are on the same page here, and we have been discussing it for a while now”.34
In this way, the debate between war anarchists and anti-militarist anarchists is reframed into a confrontation between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, between Westerners’ ignorance and arrogance on the one hand, and the pro-Ukraine “consensus” in Eastern Europe on the other. This is of course a rhetorical device for shaming any criticism. In reality, many anarchists in Eastern Europe, including some in Ukraine itself, have responded to the Russian invasion with internationalist, anti-militarist propaganda and action. The anarchist collective behind the Assembly magazine, based in Kharkiv, Ukraine, have withstood the urge of nationalist militarism and chosen to focus on mutual aid, counter-information, and class conflict. All of the sections of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers’ Association (IWA) in the region – in Poland,35 Slovakia,36 Serbia,37 and Russia38 – have taken a clear stand for revolutionary internationalism. An ‘Anti-militarist Initiative’ based in Central Europe was launched in response to the surge of militarism across Europe, not least in the anarchist movement. They may be a minority, but anarchists have no faith in the inherent virtues of any majority. There is also a problem of Eurocentrism in the East versus West dichotomy, since internationalist reactions to the invasion of Ukraine can be seen from around the world.
Even without such concrete examples, we should be sceptical of anyone who claims to speak on behalf of a whole region, as if the anarchists of Eastern Europe were a homogenous collective with a consensus of opinion. The logic of representation itself must be scrutinised by anarchists. Those speaking for the region “extract only one tendency from the multidimensional whole and ignore or downplay the others”.39 In contrast “We try to listen to as many voices as possible, but we only support those that we find constructive. Others we criticize and refuse to support. In short, we perceive different tendencies and do not try to support war propaganda that portrays the Ukrainian population as a united community calling unanimously for involvement in the war.”40 We should listen, yes, but also think for ourselves.
I totally reject the construction of an us and them paradigm between Eastern Europe and Western Europe. We relate to each other as individuals and collectives on the basis of shared struggles and shared principles, not as geopolitical blocs. KRAS (the Russian section of the IWA) have been slandered and had their members doxxed41 for not falling into line behind the supposed pro-Ukraine “consensus”, despite their anti-war efforts. One of the perpetrators of this doxxing was subsequently given a platform in Britain by Freedom,42 in an interview about the defunct RKAS of Ukraine, an organisation accused of cult-ish authoritarian dynamics and nationalist sympathies, whose members dissolved into the conflict between the Ukrainian state and Donbass separatists.43 At the same time, the editors of Freedom refused to publish anything contrary to their pro-Ukraine line.44 This kind of tribalism can tear international movements apart.
Working Class Internationalism
“The position of 'no war but the class war' is not a cop-out, it is a long term and short term principle which denies the false choice between 'evils'. To make it a reality we need to be even more active in encouraging internationalism in the working class to the extent that ordinary people feel confident, organised and supported enough to resist their war-mongering governments and national liberation movements.”
— Organise! #52 (1999), Anarchist Federation
Make no mistake, in opposing capitalist wars we are not pleading for peace at all costs. We are not pacifists. There can be no peace between people so long as one part of society oppresses and exploits the rest. The violent enforcement of power and wealth underlies everything in our society, and in times of war it erupts to the surface in a terrible orgy of blood. One power structure clashes with another; but whoever wins, our slavery continues. Our struggle is to overturn these powers and build new social forms without hierarchy. We will not be passive victims of violence: every struggle for freedom must defend itself when necessary. There is a long history of libertarian partisans fighting against oppressive governments and occupiers. Armed militias and guerilla units answerable to self-organised workers (such as revolutionary unions and workers’ councils) have sprung up in times of social revolution.45 The people armed are the surest safeguard against counter-revolution. But regular armies – permanent, specialised forces monopolising legitimate violence with hierarchical discipline – are a function of state power (and a rudiment of the state-in-formation).46
In Ukraine and Russia there is no revolution, only war. The war between nations, then, must be transformed into open class struggle. This begins when workers reject the social truce within their “own” nation, and organise on a class basis against the people who oppress and exploit them every day.47 Internationalists aim to build solidarity between workers across borders, while agitating for soldiers to fraternise, desert, and mutiny. Military infrastructure can be sabotaged, as has been happening on the railways connecting Russia and Belarus to Ukraine.48 Mutual aid networks can be set up, so that people can support each other to survive the devastation and hardship.49 Support needs to be given to draft-evaders, deserters, prisoners, and refugees.50 All such vital efforts, and newly emerging forms of social struggle, should be organised from below, independent of all state, military, and corporate structures. Anarchists can take the initiative in agitating and organising such activity, while arguing for working class internationalism and opposing the authoritarian measures of the militarised state.
Workers around the world can intensify the latent struggle in their workplaces and communities, taking direct action against war industries and arms trading through strikes, boycotts, and sabotage. It is imperative that we oppose war-mongering and militarisation in Britain and Europe, resisting the generalisation of war. Direct action is already being used effectively by activists against arms companies linked to the Israel Defense Forces, for example.51 We need to link the class struggle in Britain, which is currently growing in intensity due to the cost of living crisis, to the struggles faced by the working class in Ukraine and Russia. ‘NWBCW Liverpool’ have been agitating on this basis on picket lines across Merseyside during the current strike wave. We need to spread information about the daily struggles and emerging acts of rebellion in warring territories, and find ways to support them in practice.52 Meanwhile we can seek to assist the people fleeing the war, whether they be civilian refugees or military deserters.53 The ‘Olga Taratuta Solidarity Initiative’ in France offers a good example of such practical support. This should bolster a broader struggle against the “Fortress Europe” border regime and Britain’s “hostile environment” policy. Some anarchists in Britain have taken this course of working class internationalism – such as the Anarchist Communist Group, Liverpool Solidarity Federation,54 and AnarCom Network – but they are a minority.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the immiseration of the working class in Britain are both products of the same capitalist system in crisis. And this capitalist crisis can only be overcome by the revolutionary struggle of the international working class. If that revolutionary struggle and international working class solidarity have yet to develop, it is our task to help bring them about.55 What was said by anarchists during the First World War is no less true today: “No matter where they may find themselves, the anarchists’ role in the current tragedy is to carry on proclaiming that there is but one war of liberation: the one waged in every country by the oppressed against the oppressor, by the exploited against the exploiter. Our task is to summon the slaves to revolt against their masters.”56 Desertions, mutinies, mass strikes, and international revolutionary upheaval brought that war to an end.
In Britain we are at the heart of the global capitalist economy and NATO imperialism; to fall into war fever at this time is disastrous. The class struggle is already being waged by our bosses, bankers, oligarchs, and their lackeys in government: we can fight back or we can go to the slaughter.
~ ‘War in Ukraine and desertion: Interview with the anarchist group "Assembly" of Kharkiv’, International Relations Commission of the Italian Anarchist Federation.
~ ‘An interview with anarchosyndicalists from Russia: no war but the class war!’, Grupo Moiras.
~ ‘Anarchist Antimilitarism and Myths About the War in Ukraine’, Some Anarchists from the Central European Region.
~ Assembly coverage of anti-war direct action and social struggle in Ukraine and Russia.
~ ‘Against Nationalism’, Anarchist Federation.
'The Volunteers', woodcut on paper by Käthe Kollwitz (1921–2).
- 1Anarchists are no less susceptible to these pressures, for all our ideals, as can be seen with anarchist fighters in Ukraine referring to Russian soldiers as “orcs” and “Putin’s horde”.
- 2Anarchists have been raising funds for the ‘Solidarity Collectives’ (formerly ‘Operation Solidarity) who provide military supplies to libertarian and antifascist activists in the Ukrainian Armed Forces (in addition to humanitarian aid). Between February and June 2022, out of €59,680 spent by Operation Solidarity, €41,404 was used for “military causes”. https://operation-solidarity.org/2022/07/06/operation-solidarity-the-end/
- 3Since the beginning of the war, they have dispersed into various Territorial Defence and regular army units (many of them transferring so as to be closer to the frontline), but still connected through the Resistance Committee and supported by the Solidarity Collectives.
- 4“Defensive war as an act of popular resistance…”: Exclusive Interview with an Anarchist Fighter of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine. https://enoughisenough14.org/2022/06/02/defensive-war-as-an-act-of-popular-resistance-exclusive-interview-with-an-anarchist-fighter-of-the-territorial-defense-forces-of-ukraine/
- 5Just as it is understandable that other people will seek to escape the war-zones and seek refuge elsewhere, to evade being drafted, or desert from the military.
- 6‘A thousand red flags’, Darya Rustamova. https://freedomnews.org.uk/2022/03/07/a-thousand-red-flags/
- 7‘Against Nationalism’, Anarchist Federation. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anarchist-federation-against-nationalism
- 8‘Editorial’, Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 9‘War in Ukraine and desertion: Interview with the anarchist group "Assembly" of Kharkiv’, International Relations Commission of the Italian Anarchist Federation. https://umanitanova.org/guerra-in-ucraina-e-diserzione-intervista-con-il-gruppo-anarchico-assembly-di-kharkiv-iten/
- 11‘Anarchist Organization in Times of War and Crisis’, Saša Kaluža. https://enoughisenough14.org/2022/03/07/anarchist-organization-in-times-of-war-and-crisis-ukraine/
- 13Back in 2018, in relation to the war against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region, but before the full Russian invasion of 2022, Ukrainian anarchist group ‘RevDia’ (who now participate in the Resistance Committee) argued that “The army is a hierarchical structure, where an ordinary soldier can not influence the course of the war”, and that “...the army does not protect us. And does not defend our interests”. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/rev-dia-thought-of-war and https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/rev-dia-anarchism-in-action#toc6
- 14‘Fuck Leftist Westplaining’, Zosia Brom. https://freedomnews.org.uk/2022/03/04/fuck-leftist-westplaining/
- 15Although the extra-parliamentary far-right in Ukraine should not be brushed under the rug.
- 16This is not a criticism of antifascism in the general sense, but of a particular antifascist ideology that was prevalent in the popular fronts of the mid-twentieth century, and which continues to be present in liberal opposition to fascism.
- 17“For revolutionaries, and particularly for anarchists, the tragic experience of Spain in ‘36 should suffice to keep oneself free of illusions in respect to antifascism, which is no more than the defense of the democratic forms of capitalist management, reconciliation between classes, the option of the “lesser evil” and the abandonment of the revolutionary horizon.” https://malcontent.noblogs.org/post/2022/03/28/reflections-on-the-ongoing-capitalist-butchery-russia-ukraine-vamos-hacia-la-vida/
- 18‘When Insurrections Die’, Gilles Dauve. https://libcom.org/article/when-insurrections-die-gilles-dauve
- 19‘Editorial’, Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 20See, for example, ‘Why Do Anarchists Go To War?’, by RevDia, March 2022. Featured in Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 21For example, “The [internationalist] analysis is [...] full of abstractions and unreal at ground level, from where Ukrainian anarchists are asking for our practical help including military equipment”. Quoted from ‘Ukraine – Anarchist Approaches’ in Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 22‘Pragmatism as Ideology’, Joseph Kay. https://libcom.org/article/pragmatism-ideology
- 23‘The Trouble With Slogans’, Emma Hayes, Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 24See NWBCW Liverpool’s list of internationalist positions. https://nwbcwliverpool.wordpress.com/internationalist-positions/
- 25‘Editorial’, Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 26’A political and personal statement as well as a review of our solidarity work around the war in Ukraine so far’, Anarchist Black Cross Dresden. https://enoughisenough14.org/2022/12/04/a-political-and-personal-statement-as-well-as-a-review-of-our-solidarity-work-around-the-war-in-ukraine-so-far-anarchist-black-cross-dresden/
- 29“Nationalism can offer nothing except further rounds of conflict, which look set to increase in number and severity as national competition over the world’s dwindling energy resources increases. When conflict is framed in national terms — understood as the conflict between an oppressed and an oppressor nation — the working class necessarily loses out.” https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anarchist-federation-against-nationalism
- 30‘Ukraine’s anti-worker law comes into effect’, openDemocracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/ukraine-labour-law-wrecks-workers-rights/
- 31”Turkey, a member of NATO, sells to the Ethiopian government drones whose engines are manufactured in Ukraine, in Kyiv. The government of Ukraine which – although itself under the threat of imperialism – did not hesitate to provide after-sales service and to send mercenary technicians to teach the Ethiopian imperialist army how to use these drones against the populations in Tigray.” http://cnt-ait.info/2022/02/27/tigre-ukraine/
- 32‘The Lesser Evil’, Dominique Misein. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/dominique-misein-the-lesser-evil
- 33‘Editorial’, Organise! #96. https://organisemagazine.org.uk/3d-flip-book/organise-96-plus/
- 34‘Fuck Leftist Westplaining’, Zosia Brom. https://freedomnews.org.uk/2022/03/04/fuck-leftist-westplaining/
- 35‘Against the War!’, ZSP. https://zsp.net.pl/przeciw-wojnie. See also, anti-war actions in front of Russian and Ukrainian embassies. https://zsp.net.pl/anti-war-actions
- 36Reproduced anti-militarist articles from CNT-AIT and KRAS. https://www.priamaakcia.sk/Medzinarodny-den-zien-a-vojna-na-Ukrajine.html and https://www.priamaakcia.sk/Ruska-sekcia-Medzinarodnej-asociacie-pracujucich-KRAS-odpoveda-na-otazky-tykajuce-sa-vojny-na-Ukrajine.html
- 37‘Let's turn capitalist wars into a workers' revolution!’, ASI. https://iwa-ait.org/content/lets-turn-capitalist-wars-workers-revolution
- 38‘No War!’, KRAS. https://aitrus.info/node/5921
- 39‘Anarchist Antimilitarism and Myths About the War in Ukraine’, Some Anarchists from the Central European Region. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anonymous-anarchist-antimilitarism-and-myths-about-the-war-in-ukraine#toc28
- 41‘Again about "anarchists" who forget the principles’, KRAS. https://iwa-ait.org/content/again-about-anarchists-who-forget-principles
- 42‘“Leftists” outside Ukraine are used to listening only to people from Moscow: Interview with anarcho-syndicalists in Eastern Ukraine’. https://freedomnews.org.uk/2022/10/04/leftists-outside-ukraine-are-used-to-listening-only-to-people-from-moscow-interview-with-rkas-anarcho-syndicalists-in-eastern-ukraine/
- 43‘Caution: platformist party and psychosect in one bottle!’, Eretik. https://eretik-samizdat.blogspot.com/2013/01/caution-platformist-party-and.html
- 44See, ‘Fuck Leftist Westplaining’, by Zosia Brom. https://freedomnews.org.uk/2022/03/04/fuck-leftist-westplaining/
- 45The formation of militias by the CNT-FAI in Spain, July 1936 – prior to their regularisation into the armed forces of the Republic – are a good example of this.
- 46For example, the regularisation of the anarchist militias [see footnote above] into the military of the bourgeois-Stalinist Republic, alongside the disarming of CNT Defence Councils in the towns and cities, was a key stage of counter-revolution and reinforcement of state power in the Spanish Civil War.
- 47See, for example, ‘Wildcat strikes in Ukraine on both sides of the front line’, Assembly. https://libcom.org/article/wildcat-strikes-ukraine-both-sides-front-line
- 48See, also, the fire-bombing of military recruitment offices across Russia, and the sabotage campaign of the ‘Anarcho-Communist Combat Organisation’ (BOAK).
- 49The ‘Solidarity Collectives’ and Assembly have both been actively organising humanitarian aid for civilians.
- 50Soldiers will be more likely to refuse to fight if they know there will be a support network to aid them when facing the consequences (or help to evade them). The prosecution and abuse of deserters and conscientious objectors has already begun. See, “Repression against those who do not want to fight”, KRAS. https://aitrus.info/node/6044
- 51Although I don’t fully agree with their politics, 'Palestine Action' are a good example of the potential for direct action. https://www.palestineaction.org/news/
- 52Assembly’s libcom blog is a good source of information on this subject. https://libcom.org/tags/assemblyorgua
- 53The Anti-Militarist Initiative report that “At least 200,000 people are fleeing Russia to escape Putin’s military mobilisation, and tens of thousands more are avoiding mobilisation in Ukraine. Yet some voices claim that ‘the number of deserters is so negligible that it is strange to even begin to talk about it.’ These cynical attempts to ‘make invisible’ people who choose not to serve in the army, to defect or to emigrate for political reasons, must be opposed. Their voices must be heard and practical help must be given.” https://antimilitarismus.noblogs.org/post/2022/09/12/appeal-days-of-international-solidarity-with-deserters/
- 54Liverpool SolFed set up ‘No War But the Class War - Liverpool’, alongside the Communist Workers’ Organisation. https://nwbcwliverpool.wordpress.com/
- 55Some anarchists have justified collaboration by arguing that the lack of a strong revolutionary movement in Russia or Ukraine makes an (internationalist) anarchist approach unworkable. But this logic would result in anarchists abandoning anarchism for the preferable faction of the ruling class every time circumstances push them to make this choice (i.e. every decisive historical moment). Anarchism would thus devolve into a liberal, reformist politics.
- 56‘Anti-War Manifesto’, February 1915. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/various-authors-the-anarchist-international-and-war
Excellent article! Rob Ray…
Rob Ray may get his knickers in a twist though.
Yeah thanks for that…
Yeah thanks for that sneering little aside, I think it says more about your personality than my boxers though. Tbh I got to the obviously silly line of "war fever is rife" and just rolled my eyes at it.
Love it! It's been…
Love it! It's been depressing to see how many anarchists have forgotten their principles so good to see something so well written by someone who hasn't.
Sounds a lot like genocide…
Sounds a lot like genocide appeasement to me. Perfect example of somebody who would allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I'm glad that the aid is shooting down the bombs, clearing the mines and ending the crimes of the occupation ASAP. Is this some great victory for the class struggle? Who says it is? It's about saving lives!
When there's lives on the line, ideological purity is a luxury that is paid for with the blood of the innocent. Prague can hiss and piss that they don't like it, but as far as I am concerned, the voices that count most in this crisis are the ones directly affected by it and that means Ukranian, Russian and Bellarussians. Not Prague. Not the rest of us. We don't have the right to dictate dogma to our comrades when they ask for a lifeline under the threat of literal genocide!
Honestly, anyone who shares the opinions of the Anti-Militarist Initiatiative should seriously re-evaluate what their objective is in the movement. Is it to serve the theory, or to serve the people who have the greatest need? Is it to use what we have learned to change the world, or is it to just preach from the pulpit that the world is full of sinners? What is it you're trying to achieve here and consider if your priorities are straight.
Lives are depending on that aid. It's what stands between the Ukranian people and literal genocide. The dogma isn't worth this.
Sorry, I haven't really…
Sorry, I haven't really followed the war much. What evidence is there that genocide was an aim of Russia? From most of the news at the time, it seemed the goal was to install a Russia-friendly government, not set up concentration camps.
Lives are depending on that…
I'd say realistically that lives are depending on negotiations, and not on sending more Western weapons/aid to Ukraine and possibly provoking a nuclear conflict. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the war is mostly concentrated in the South and East where there's greater Russian sympathy. It becomes farcical to argue that socialists should volunteer in order to help "reclaim" places like Crimea, where most of the population consist of ethnic Russians who don't even support the Ukrainian government to begin with. As alluded to in the article, it's also not even clear that a Ukrainian victory would somehow lead to better circumstances for people (certainly not for Russians in Ukraine) or to more organizing space for socialists, especially considering how the Ukrainian government has already banned "communist" parties for Russian sympathies (in addition to Darth-Vaderizing Lenin statues, which I'm not entirely sure is a bad thing).
There exists heaps of…
There exists heaps of evidence of genocide within the occupied territories. Are you folks denying the genocide out there or
something? Is that how you sleep at night, by pretending it's not real?
Everything from the forced deportations to the filtration camps and Leibensbraum policies of repoupulation. Did you not see how the "reffendum" was conducted door to door by soldiers?
I've also seen what those "communists" are accused of and they should be on trial for what they have done to their local communities. They deserve zero sympathy and absolute condemnation for their behavior. Before assuming that they're innocent, maybe you should actually check what they are accused of and ask yourself, would you do that? Would you sit there and mark civilian targets for the Russian military, to serve some bad dogmatic take on ideology?Check out the SSU website if you want to actually see these people and what they are accused of. Hang them all I say.
"Negotiations" will open up when the crimes of the occupation, which there is ZERO justification for, are ended. Ukraine will not accept less for peace and to believe otherwise is like expecting the Irish, the Vietnamese, the Afghans, etc to accept occupation. You know what all the occupiers discovered though? Better to just withdraw and suddenly, magically, there was peace. Trying to pacificy these places never worked, no matter how brutal the occupier was, how long they tried, or how isolated the oppressed was. So, not only is it wrong, but it's also impossible.
The occupation and its crimes are being ended with, or without you. There should be no tollerance and appeasement of genocide whatsoever. So, now lets get to the elephant in the room. You might wag your finger at the Kremlin and say "naughty naughty", but actually forcing that withdrawal? No. The one thing you could do to actually bring about peace sooner and you'd condemn the arms that the solution depends upon. You'd condemn Ukraine to centuries of occupation, just like Ireland. The war wouldn't stop and neither would the genocide, you'd have just facilitated it.
"The occupation and its…
"The occupation and its crimes" are not being ended with at all, in fact the war looks like it will drag on for quite a while, and it will get worse as it goes on, not better. The position of "negotiations only once Russia is defeated" is an absurd line, if only because a Ukrainian total victory at this point could only take place if NATO intervention ramps up to a drastic degree. At which point the spectre of nuclear war becomes a lot more real.
I don't think you're going to convince anyone on this forum by referencing Vietnam, Ireland, Afghanistan, etc as positive examples of oppressed people throwing off their overlords. All of these examples are great case studies of exactly why communists and anarchists (should) oppose "national liberation" movements as such, since their aim is the imposition of "native" capitalists in place of the foreign ones. Whatever improvements there may be after "decolonisation", it is still the basic position that we counterpose internationalist working-class action to all these varieties of bourgeois politics.
I do not believe that the Russian government has the aim of committing ethnic cleansing against the Ukrainian population, but is intent on waging a war of occupation against substantial amounts of it. The internment camps, war crimes, etc are a means to an end for this. Of course, this doesn't make it any better, but we need to have a clear picture of what is motivating the Russian government. Russia hasn't invaded because they're crazy anti-Ukrainian racists but because they're trying to maintain the economic hegemony they have over the post-Soviet states in the backyard. It's the needs of its capitalist class here, not ideological racists like Dugin. Plus, nobody should believe that the Ukrainian military would be innocent of war crimes if the tides turn and they need to start enforcing their hegemony against a resistant population.
I can understand now why left-communists place so much emphasis on internationalism during WWII as an essential part of communist politics. It revealed the same thing that is being revealed now: that the perspective of most of the left has not gone beyond searching for the lesser-evil capitalists and supporting them once they think they've found them. Once again, the consistent internationalists are in the minority, and they have to fight harder than ever to have their voices heard by demoralised working-classes that are dominated by nationalism and war fever.
You're not internationalist…
You're not internationalist for condemning the Ukraninan people to genocide. Quite the opposite. Your "lesser evil" is to cut off the lifeline those people depend upon to shoot down the bombs and reclaim the occupied territories, ending the numerous crimes of the occupation. For whose benefit does this serve?
Is this a messy solution to the occupation? Yes. Nobody is disputing that. It's a means to an end and it must happen for the sake of the Ukranians, the Russians and Bellarussians. Go read for yourself if you like. You've managed to find Prague's uninformed opinion, how about checking out what our comrades who are actually directly involved want?
Instead, you downplay and deny the engoing genocide within the occupied territories. We can talk shit all we like about the IRA, or the Taliban not meeting our ideological standards, but what we cannot deny is that they had a right to oppose their respective occupations. You need to understand that Ukraine is going to win this war, whether it takes them another year, or another hundred years of occupation and terror. I will not condemn them to the later to serve our own political dogma. Our comrades have asked for our aid and they are getting it!
At no point do I downplay or…
At no point do I downplay or deny the war crimes being committed by Russia in Ukraine, but rather try and explain why they are occurring (hint: not because of depraved Russian bloodlust).
I'm glad at least to see you admit that this logic would drive you to support the Taliban in certain contexts.
"You need to understand that Ukraine is going to win this war, whether it takes them another year, or another hundred years of occupation and terror."
This has nothing to do with political dogma – it's sad that many of the anti-war groups are small sects. But what alternative are you proposing? Critical support for a capitalist war machine, bourgeois apologia like the worst Trotskyists. If you want to make working-class independence a reality it makes no sense to begin by encouraging them to die for a political bloc that has the aim of exploiting and repressing them.
You want a solution. Here we…
You want a solution. Here we go.
Arm Ukraine. I don't care who does it. I don't care why they do it. I don't care what they believe. I don't even care if they're doing entirely out of self-interest. The result is what is important and that result is bombs shot down and filtration camps shut down.
It's a messy solution, but it is a solution and it is demonstrating positive results. All the calls to cut the aid do is condemn Ukraine to occupation for longer. Demanding that what goes on in the occupied territories to go meaningfully unchallenged serves who exactly?
In fact, this is my…
In fact, this is my favourite summary so far of thousands like it in the last year:
This is what our comrades directly affected want and their word carries more weight than anyone elses' in my opinion.
@Machnette - I think this…
@Machnette - I think this would be a more productive conversation if you read the article you are commenting on and reply to the arguments made in it. At the moment you are mostly repeating the very opinions that the article above argues against, without offering a reply to those arguments. For example, you seem to think that anarchist anti-militarism means leaving people to suffer domination and death for the sake of ideological purity. There is a whole section of the text above arguing against this notion, and it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on what is written (rather than what you are assuming is written).
Also, we can have a more meaningful debate in good faith if we acknowledge that all of us here have the deepest compassion for the people suffering in the war (primarily Ukrainian civilians, but not only) and want to see the end of Russia's imperialist invasion. What we disagree on is how this can be done without simply creating more war and without strengthening the states that make war. When we refer back to the principles of anarchism, it is not out of dogmatism, but because we think that anarchism offers the best way to fight against the state, capitalism, and the wars they make, and to change society in doing so.
And it's worth pointing out that the article above is mainly criticising anarchists in Britain for abandoning anti-militarism. It discusses what an internationalist approach would look like in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, because that is the starting point from which to consider how we can act in Britain. But it's not about telling Ukrainians what they should be doing, or judging them for their choices.
Machnette wrote: …
There really is no comparison between the Russian occupation of Ukraine and the colonial/neo-colonial occupation of Vietnam by the French and Americans. For starters Ukrainians and Russians actually share a historical relationship and identity. Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and USSR, and the Russian Empire itself, or what would become the Russian Empire, emerged out of Kievan Rus. Crimea was also transferred over to the Ukrainian SSR by Khrushchev in 1954 and then given to Ukraine after the USSR’s dissolution. The French and Americans, on the other hand, had no such shared identity or past with Indochina; the French simply wanted a colony to benefit the metropole and enhance the “grandeur” of the French Empire, whereas the Americans wanted to keep Indochina a part of the “free world” and open to economic exploitation.
It’s also just incorrect to say that “peace” came after the U.S.-backed Saigon regime was overthrown. The Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge massacred thousands of Vietnamese in the South after reunification, leading the new Vietnamese government to invade Cambodia and overthrow the Pol Pot regime (after which they occupied Cambodia for a while), to which China responded by invading Vietnam in the North. So I’m not sure exactly what “peace” you’re referring to there.
The ethnic majority of Russians in Crimea preceded the 2014 annexation and was not the result of some “Lebensraum”-policy of repopulation. A census conducted by the Ukrainian government in 2001 placed ethnic Russians at around 60% in Crimea (http://2001.ukrcensus.gov.ua/eng/results/general/nationality/Crimea/).
Nobody is also endorsing Russian filtration camps or the Russian invasion itself. I’ve only argued that negotiating, or holding referendums in disputed territories, is more sensible than arming Ukraine with Western weapons or having socialists volunteer in the Ukrainian military to defend “Ukrainian sovereignty.” Do you agree with the Ukrainian government’s ambitions to reclaim Crimea? And are you not concerned that Russian officials have threatened nuclear retaliation if Ukraine tries to retake the peninsula?
You absolutly do endorse…
You absolutly do endorse filtration camps with this stance. Or do you seriously expect the occupiers to close them? I think I'll keep playing it safe and plan around taking the ground by force and closing the camps that way instead.
Scroll down to "activity in Russian occupied areas". 5th paragraph in particular mentions the Lebensraum policy of repopulating Mariupol with 50,000 Russian citizens. This is a city with a pre-war population of nearly half a million, which now has around 100,000 survivors who havent yet been displaced by the occupation. We've seen the mass graves. We've seen the interviews with the survivors of the filtration camps. We've even seen the Ukranian kids abducted from the occupied territories and having their identities erased. Want me to source all of that too, or are you done with embarassing yourself with your willfull ignorance and callous disregard for the lives of these people?
The rest of what you wrote should haunt you. Did you not fucking see how the annexation refferendums were conducted?! They went door to door with the army, demanding to know your loyalty. Just think about that for a moment. That is what you're calling a legitimate reffendum. Here's a negocitating point - Russia withdraws from Ukraine entirely. Ukraine will not pursue them beyond the internationally recognised borders.
They can either walk the soldiers out, or they'll be carried out, but the population will not endure occupation either way. You want those fucking genocidal pricks to survive? Tell them to withdraw. Otherwise, nothing in the world is going to stop Ukraine from sending every one of them back in bags.
Oh and Ukraine isn't…
Oh and Ukraine isn't intimidated by Putin's nukes and neither am I. Either nuke us, or don't. We're still committed to liberating Ukraine regardless. It's the world's largest nuclear arsenal and I am not afraid.
@Albatross I've dragged…
I've dragged myself through your essay a few times now and it's all what I've heard before and none of it seems to suggest that you would put lives before the dogma. I mean what do you call this?
It is a war though, so it absolutly the time for black and white. There are bombs. They must be shot down. That requires Western AA. There are camps. They must be shut down. That requires modern main battle tanks and heaps of artillery. Millions of people are depending upon that aid. Your proposals are to cut the aid and sab the Ukranian war effort, for some Underpants Gnome logic of these issues resolving themselves with a Russian victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.
The effect on the ground is what people actually give a shit about, not the rhetoric and not the fantasy conjured up from theory. People want real provable solutions to the genocide NOW, not whenever the revolution finally comes.
A: The citizens of Ukraine who are committed to reclaiming their homes. 69% approval https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=1151&page=1. They are resisting the occupation through force, as no other option has been presented by the invaders, beyond acceptance of occupation. The end is to restore the internationally recognised borders, so millions of displaced Ukranians can return to their homes, the filtration camps can be shut and the bombings of civilians are stopped.
Anarchists, for example, refuse to act within state structures, or collaberate with state forces not in obedience to unquestionable dogma, but [in fact screw it, let's double down on the unquestionable dogma]
This is a fucking joke and it's a bad one that is costing lives. You're all treating this like it's peacetime civilian politics, when guess what? We were perfectly happy to march against Austerity policies in Britain, myself included, despite it being "collaberation" with the state, because people's lives were depending on those government services. Remember how we got asked all the time "Urrrgh, if you're Anarchists, how come you don't want the government cut!"? That's you guys right now, but instead of it being my dole, or NHS waiting times, etc threatened, it's literally bombs in residential buildings, filtration camps and genocide that we are confronting. So, if I followed your logic, it's fine when "collaberate" to save our own dole, but some gross betrayal if you apply the same principles to save innocent people facing literal genocide.
What is it that you value more? The dogma, or the people?
Machnette wrote:are you done…
I stopped reading Machnette…
I stopped reading Machnette's diabolical rantings after they posted "We can talk shit all we like about the IRA, or the Taliban not meeting our ideological standards, but what we cannot deny is that they had a right to oppose their respective occupations." So in Machnette's book the IRA and Taliban are uncriticisable because they are somehow "anti-imperialist".
Think you've got the wrong…
Think you've got the wrong end of the stick there. Criticise them all you like. There's heaps of crimes that should be called out. Resisting the invaders itself though, is not one of those crimes.
Ah, critical but…
Ah, critical but unconditional as Trots put it.
Peter Ó Máille (editor of…
Peter Ó Máille (editor of Organise! magazine) and a member of the AFed doubles down on his support for war by appearing to criticise the Anti-Militarist Initiative on AFed Twitter
Replying to @Jake_Hanrahan
"Honestly, I suspect it's less to do with you as a character or Popular Front as on outlet than it is the mass betrayal of anti-authoritarian warfighters in Ukraine by the apologists for Russian imperial aggression, "revolutionary defeatists" and the pro-capitulation pacifists. -P"
More recently (February 3rd) Ó Máille retweets the attacks of Integration Nightmares who seeks to question the credibility of the Assembly group in Ukraine who take an anti-war stance , saying “Important thread with several important points to take home and digest. Please take a moment.”
"Ok, let's fucking talk about anarchist "Assembly" from #Kharkiv, a small group that was raised by some sectarian groups of anarchists to the height of true anarchists of #Ukraine. #Anarchism #Antifascism"
The International of…
The International of Anarchist Federations, of which the Afed is a member organisation, issued the following:
The Committee of Relations of the International of Anarchist Federations (CRIFA) met in Marseille on 19-20 March 2022, and discussed matters on the ongoing war in Ukraine. Although there are different views on some points among member Federations, on which we commit to continue exchange and constructive discussion, important common points emerged from the discussion.
We condemn the criminal aggression to Ukraine promoted by the Russian government, alongside all militarisms, and we stand in solidarity with oppressed people from both sides of the border, promoting active support to the victims of the conflict, to refugees, deserters and prisoners from all sides of this war and of its potential expansion. In the contexts in which our different federations operate, we must expose and oppose the role of NATO, the US and the EU in also creating the preconditions for allowing the Russian state to attack its weaker neighbour with the complicity of its puppet, Belarus. We denounce the rise of authoritarianism across the world in recent years, which has seen the growing role of armies in public policies. With the current situation, we especially stress the growing militarization of society in the context of increasing rearmament across the EU, amidst generalized calls for a European Army, to the detriment of social expenditure.
The poor and oppressed people of the world are always the losers in wars. They have become cannon fodder and have been uprooted from their homes, and face poverty and sickness as a result of this war. At the same time, the global bosses continue to work to control the world’s resources. We stand against global capitalism and nationalism that are the causes of war. Instead we have to fight the class war, countering the war industry and public spending on war, and the whole logic of war, and to promote wider horizontal mobilizations of workers and collectivities.
We likewise stress the danger of making the mistake of defending “our” nation or “our” country, highlighting our anti-nationalist and defeatist/refusal positions, as our enemy is in “our” country and it’s “our” national state or national bourgeoisie. Instead we aim to build solidarity amongst all proletarians, and stress the global character of capitalist states.
Confirming our historical values of internationalism, solidarity and global kinship across borders, we confirm our opposition to all crimes and massacres perpetrated by the capital and the state, from the genocide of Black and indigenous peoples that continues today in Brazil, Latin America and all across the Global South, to the destruction of the environments perpetrated by the logic of states, profit and markets which is threatening the very life of our planet.
In the perennial war of the oppressors against the oppressed, we see the worsening of the living conditions of poor people around the world due to the pandemic and regional wars that began in recent years, as a consequence of the growing cost of basic commodities and further spending on armaments due to war economy. We especially stress the tragedy of migrants, marginalized and racialized people who are denied the most basic rights, and we stand alongside the last, the forgotten, the discriminated, against states, capitalism, fascism, racism, patriarchy and exploitation."
Is the IAF/IFA aware of the actual stance on the ground of the Afed/? It would be good to know.
Lies are being spread about…
Lies are being spread about Ukrainian anarchist Anatoli Dubovik
S2W wrote: Lies are being…
First of all, the names of the people accused of the doxxing are not mentioned in the article, only in the source article which is linked to in a footnote:
This source is an article by the KRAS published in English on the IWA website, which I treated as a trustworthy source of information. However, if the accusations are false and malicious, you should direct your refutation to the IWA which published this article. The IWA are far better placed than me to to either 1) confirm the veracity of the accusations, or 2) withdraw them with an apology.
Secondly, I was aware of the feuding between the KRAS (Russian IWA section) and RKAS (defunct Ukrainian organisation), which should make anyone sceptical of the accusations they launch at each other. However, in talking to several different anarchists in eastern Europe (who are not members of KRAS, nor Russian) I gained confirmation for the characterisation of the RKAS given in the article. Also, the source given for that characterisation is not KRAS either, but a website which a different contact of mine had informed me had previously given accurate information on issues with another organisation in the region.
The Avtonom article states that:
"Facebook post by Oleksander Kolchenko to which KRAS is referring is this one. In comments, you may see Dubovik mentioning a KRAS member by name, date of birth and that he is living in Moscow. That is not something I would endorse, but this particular member of KRAS has been openly member of anarchist movement for more than 30 years, and you may find materials published under his name also in the KRAS website. None of this information is a particular well-kept secret, and obviously this may not be considered doxxing."
I don't find this at all convincing. I had heard from contacts connected with the KRAS that the facebook posts had indeed put KRAS members at risk, given the harsh repressive apparatus in Russia and KRAS's openly anti-war agitation. Anarchists have been imprisoned and tortured in Russia for less.
I should also make clear that this article was not written or endorsed by the libcom.org group, only published on their platform.
***EDIT: It now seems clear that the doxxing did in fact happen and the refutation was in error. See comments below.
I can't see how publishing…
I can't see how publishing someone's name, year of birth and city of residence (which nobody seems to be denying happened) can *not* be considered doxxing, considering the context of the current situation for anti-war activists within Russia.
If someone altered a screenshot, to make it look like more information was shared than actually was, then that is a case of malicious and manipulative behaviour.
But the original doxxing is still there.
Statement from KRAS member…
Statement from KRAS member today on FB:
New disinformation campaign against internationalist anarchists.
A text was published earlier today on the English language portion of the Avtonom website claiming that Anatoliy Dubovik had not doxed anyone and that the screenshot was falsified. https://avtonom.org/.../lies-are-being-spread-about...
This most idiotic lie is easily refuted by going to the comment in question and looking at the edit history. As the text itself states, here is the comment in question: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php...
If you can not see the comment, make sure to select "All comments" on the right-hand side instead of "Most relevant." Attached to this post are screenshots of the comment as it currently is as well as its edit history. It can clearly be seen that Dubovik indeed doxed people and then later edited his comment to make it look like he didn't. I have chosen not to black-out the content of the comment, as anyone following the steps here can easily just go see it for themselves, and so as to show what exactly Dubovik has published.
We recall that Dubovik, along with his accomplice Shevchenko, also engaged in an international slander campaign against myself after I wrote a text about some anarchists who had joined the Miners Brigade in the DPR in 2014. The text I wrote is here (note how in the comments Dubovik also slanders Ilya Romanov calling him a Bolshevik and accusing him of being a Komsomol member): https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=pfbid0eYXf7bmDG3WGkE9vwsxUesEDtL8kvutzDPQfHL5p7g24oNRt1VMfP5hDzpBGGQSgl&id=100011736547045
The slander was debunked here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=pfbid0iyPguWYEdPHdv4wnjr9eD2G3vrwHXmk715cBV8p89FyyZgJMgrFejDgoHgJyinQNl&id=100011736547045
We again point to the statement by KRAS-IWA on Dubovik, supporting their suggestion: "Anarchists all over the world should be aware of the shameful deeds of provocateurs-informers and once and for all refuse to have anything to do with them, forever throwing them out of the anarchist environment and sending them to their patrons and masters from the secret services and the secret police!" https://aitrus.info/node/5974
Machnette is clearly not an…
Machnette is clearly not an anarchist. Their belief seems to be that anarchist ideals are all fine and good until capitalism become worse (eg with intercapitalist warfare) then we must all become hard nosed liberals and statists.
Machnette conflates national defence with self defence several times in their comments. Something which is addressed in the article. Even though they insisted on having read the article several times, I can only suppose that they either lack the reading comprehension to realise most of their talking points are addressed in the article or they think it is stronger to repeat a moralising position over and over.
The notion that our ideals and theory are just that is a liberal dismissal of anarchism and communism. The central idea is that anarchism and communism are actually deeply unrealistic and have no pragmatic answers, but liberalism does. Which our current trajectory towards more warfare seems to state otherwise. It is pretty clear from the state of things that Russia has no intention of backing down and neither does NATO in its support for Ukraine. The escalation of the conflict will not save lives as Machnette insists, it puts more and more lives at risk as the conflict will widen to new fronts and bring in other states. The short term answer of "Arm Ukraine" may well answer the issue of Russian troops here today, but it doesn't answer who has those guns tomorrow. It doesn't answer what is to be done in Russia when the troops pull out. It doesn't answer what is to be done with the conscripts, it doesn't answer what is to be done about the immiseration of the working class across the world as the powerful nations of the world look to secure their hold over the resources in Ukraine.
The anarchist and communist answers are not easy answers. It is not easy to say "Don't vote, organise!" because the easiest answer is to vote. It is easy to use the answers provided to you by capitalists and states. It is harder to foster real solidarity amongst people. But the liberal can only tell you something short and sweet, a salve for the immediecy and urgency of the world's problems, but it is not holistic, anyone with foresight or some historical knowledge can see the seeds of new conflict being sown in the soil of this one.
Incidentally Rob Ray's comment is hilarious. He would like everyone to know that he does not in fact wear knickers he wears big boy boxers. He also doesn't have the patience for reading.
Fucking zealots with more…
Fucking zealots with more loyalty to their dogma than human lives. And you think that makes you the one representing our Anarchist ideals??? Opposition to genocide isn't conditional upon meeting our high political standards. It's something that is done because it has to be done.
Evil Western aid shot down 71 of the 61 bombs launched at Ukranian civilians today. Did the anti-air systems have to be politically correct to save those lives? I'm proud of my work and it will continue until the Russian military withdraws from Ukraine. I'm not alone within our movement for taking a hard line against genocide and it's appeasers (that'd be you guys).
albatross wrote: ***EDIT: It…
There are some entertaining…
There are some entertaining remarks about the Anarchist Communist Group by Peter Ó Máille on his Twitter account. His commentary is about the above article being reposted on the ACG's website.
Perhaps of interest... https…
Perhaps of interest...
Ó Máille is reduced to…
Ó Máille is reduced to hurling sexist and ageist abuse at the ACG on his Twitter account over this: "You chat shit on the internet and act like the big boss of anarchism whule (sic) the reality is your a few blokes ( there are actually women in the ACG-Battlescarred) past yer prime who have absolutely no connection to anarchism in practice."
This is what the AF, once a fine organisation, has been reduced to.
I noticed while you were…
I noticed while you were smearing a real Anarchist, you cut around the other parts of his post. Why'd you edit out the bits in bold??
We're out there doing anarchist shit from 16 year olds to 70 year olds, talking about the things we disagree on, while organising and building mutual aid.
You chat shit on the internet and act like the big boss of anarchism whule the reality is your a few blokes past yer prime who have absolutely no connection to anarchism in practice.
You were born out of your solidarity with a transphobe and you can't even accept it, the same mental barricades exist now.
Each of Ó Máille's posts on…
Each of Ó Máille's posts on that thread are fairly idiotic, so Battlescarred is just highlighting aspects of one of the daftest of them.
Battlescarred is not smearing, he is quoting.
Tell me about the transphobe
Tell me about the transphobe
With friends like Machnette,…
With friends like Machnette, who needs enemies? Eh Ó Máille?
I've been out of the loop…
I've been out of the loop for about a decade now, so I have no idea what either of you are talking about. What transphobe is he reffering to?
Btw, I had no idea who this…
Btw, I had no idea who this O'Maille guy was either, but thanks for pointing me thier way. They actually seem to give a shit about the victims of this war and you folks are really going out of your way to try smear them. Meanwhile, what I know about you guys is fucking disgusting.
And that's why I started funding Organise! magazine yesterday. If this has upset you guys that badly, it must be doing something really right.
Think it through mate. There…
Yep, you suit the AF's politics right down to a T.
But think it through mate.
There is no smearing — only quotes.
You say it's not a smear,…
You say it's not a smear, but quote is introduced as a sexist and ageist comment, then you actually read it and they're instantly dismissed, but I'm left asking a few questions about you guys, not him.
Who is the transphobe?
Why edit out the prior sentence praising the actions of "16 to 70 year olds"?
Why are you guys so threatened by this guy that you felt the need to frame his comments this way?
Yeah. The more I talk to you appeasers, the more I think I picked the right side.
Machnette, explain this one:…
Machnette, you are right up the AF's street. They will no doubt welcome you with open arms.
But explain this one:
"We can talk shit all we like about the IRA, or the Taliban not meeting our ideological standards, but what we cannot deny is that they had a right to oppose their respective occupations."
Already did. Scroll up. Who…
Already did. Scroll up.
Who's the transphobe?
edit: You know what?. Nevermind. I'll get the story from somebody else I'm sure it'll be a lot more accurate than what I get from you guys.
Ó Máille is the gift that…
Peter Ó Máille is the gift that keeps on giving.
Battlescarred wrote: Ó…
Saying someone "acts like a woman" because you were criticized in an article does seem like a bit of an overreaction, and is not very anarchistic, last time I checked...
Ha, after looking at the original tweet, I believe Battlescarred is just commenting that there are actually women in the ACG. Still seems like Ó Máille is getting a bit worked up there
The lack of seriousness and…
The lack of seriousness and meaningful reflection on this matter is deeply concerning. We are standing on the precipice of another world war, as global capitalist crisis is producing a general increase of authoritarian nationalism and rising imperialist tensions. Besides the wars in Ukraine, Yemen, and others that anticipate generalisation, there are also flashpoints of world war in the USA-Israel-Iran confrontation and the China-AUKUS confrontation. Imperialist war and authoritarian nationalism are rising as the normal condition across the world, and anarchists must have the theoretical grounding and practical preparedness to continue the struggle towards anarchy in such conditions. To put a finer point on it, anarchism can’t be reserved for liberal democratic nations in peace-time and treated as an ideological irrelevance everywhere else. We need to learn the lessons of the twentieth century and find our own path outside of the framework that capitalism and statism offer us.
I wrote the article above to contribute to that much needed clarification, and criticise the developments in the anarchist movement that I believe will lead us back to further war and oppression. If anarchists abandon anti-militarism and internationalism at this crucial moment, not only will we be marching in step with our masters towards the hecatomb of imperialist conflagration, we will also be ensuring the demise of the anarchist movement itself.
I know that many anarchists disagree with the arguments I put forward in this article, and I can only hope that they take the time to consider them in good faith and put forward counter-arguments. At the moment, the responses to this article on social media and here in this comment thread have been dismaying. On the one hand, those defending Ukraine’s war effort have simply responded by seeking to discredit anti-war anarchists in Ukraine and Russia, and by dismissing this critical reflection as a petty spat between cliques or a dogmatic reaction to actually-existing-anarchism. On the other hand, it seems that ACG members have taken this as an opportunity to jeer at the Anarchist Federation and drag the discussion back to the argument around the split between the two. And that’s not to mention the commenter in this thread who seems to be some vile parody of the pro-Ukraine anarchists.
The retreat into tribalism and sectarianism is indicative of a movement failing to meet the crisis at hand. That's not to say that we should ignore our differences and unite on lowest common denominator politics, or that with a little dialogue we'll suddenly realise we all actually think the same thing. If there is a divergence within the anarchist movement between internationalists and the rest then so be it. But both the commonalities and disagreements need to be mutually understood through rational discussion.
How can I overlook that? How can I turn to the people begging for the occupation to end and tell that I won't help, because of some political interpretation says it is a sin? I can't! We have the power to help and I'm doing what I can, for who I can, with the tools I have, because the alternative proposed is worse.
I consider my priorities right. The class struggle should not come at the cost of genocide because people come before dogma.
Great article and good post…
Great article and good post above albatross.
Just wondering what is the background or history of anarchists and anarchist communists turning away from a revolutionary perspective that opposes and resists capitalist wars. Perhaps not a well-formulated question, but where did it start? What I mean to ask is — historically, where did it start to all go so wrong?
There have been various modern anarchist organisations that have 'supported' armed struggle national liberation movements such as the IRA — the Class War Federation had a tendency for that at one point I think and the group Subversion did have a brief exchange of views with them over this.
It's not like there's no…
It's not like there's no history of anarchists advocating lesser-evilism or calling on people to resist a foreign invader (e.g. Kropotkin's support of the allies in WWI, Bakunin's call on French workers and peasants to resist the Prussian invasion, Chinese anarchists' involvement in the Second United Front against Japanese imperialism, etc.). I don't agree with the anarchists/communists siding with the Ukrainian government, but it is pretty boring listening to certain anarchists/communists regurgitate their sacred principles/ideology as opposed to actually explaining why they think taking part in anti-Russian resistance, or siding with the Ukrainian government, is wrong; it makes you an ideologue, and is not the slightest bit interesting or helpful, if all you can ever do is invoke your principles/ideology.
A reply from Wayne Price: …
A reply from Wayne Price:
'Are Anarchists Giving in to War Fever? In Defense of Anarchists Who Support the Ukrainian people'
albatross wrote: A reply…
I'm surprised how many 'anarchists' are starting off from nationalistic premises, 'the people' etc. Perhaps I shouldn't be.
Wouldn't expect any less…
Wouldn't expect any less from Wayne Price, I guess
First off I would to say…
First off I would to say that I think this article makes a lot of good and important points, and is coming from a good place.
But I think there is a major problem with it.
The point is best illustrated by this quote:
Now in part I guess this is because I think we can all agree that anti-militarism has always been an important part of anarchism and revolutionary ideas in general. However, this does not necessarily mean that anti-militarism is always the priority.
In a situation like that in Ukraine, where there is an imperialist invasion by a foreign, imperial power, working class people and revolutionaries in the country being invaded will rightly have many fears.
These will range from things like the risk of dying in shelling or war, to being murdered or otherwise assaulted by the invading army. Risk of having their language and culture eradicated, risk of having civil rights eroded, etc. And especially for anarchists and revolutionary workers in Ukraine, this will be a significant concern. Ukraine is a corrupt social democracy. But anarchists and revolutionaries are pretty free to agitate as they see fit (given the current exception of pro-Russian left parties at the moment). In Russia of course the situation is very different. Anarchists, anti-fascists and revolutionaries are frequently arrested, tortured by security forces, murdered by fascists and other right-wing extremists, jailed for long periods etc. Given that, I don't really feel I can criticise Ukrainian anarchists who choose to join the armed fight against the Russian invasion. Because this isn't just a matter of the nationality of your ruler, it's about whether you can live free, or be tortured, thrown in jail or killed.
Now going back to this article, I think you could say lots of things about what Ukrainian anarchists could be doing, rather than joining the war effort. And I think there are very strong arguments to say that Ukrainian anarchists would be mistaken to just join the Ukrainian military. I think a strong argument here is that they might just get used as cannon fodder by the government fighting in brutal trench warfare over a few metres of empty land in Donbass, which the government may well end up giving up in a later peace negotiations anyway.
But, arguing that Ukrainian anarchists should be focused on anti-militarism I think is completely wrongheaded. Ukrainian anarchists agitating against the Ukrainian military literally can only have the effect of aiding the Russian invasion.
Does the author really think that the best option for Vietnamese revolutionaries during the Vietnam war was to argue against Vietnamese militarism? Or that the French or Yugoslav resistance during World War II should have been engaged in anti-militarism?
I think you can certainly make the argument that joining a statist army is a mistake. And you could certainly argue that 100 people engaged in other types of revolutionary activity, like fighting against the Ukrainian state's recent restrictions on the right to strike, or organising mutual aid, or even potentially engaging in other types of resistance to the invasion (like the civilian protests, or guerrilla actions, in Russian-occupied areas), would be a better use of effort.
While Ukrainians place their…
Yes, Red, that was exactly…
Yes, Red, that was exactly the sort of thing I had in mind with my comment. Opposing those kind of direct attacks on Ukrainian workers would be the type of activity which I think would be much more fruitful for Ukrainian anarchists (or whoever), than opposing "militarism" in abstract.
Thank you Steven for your…
Thank you Steven for your considered reply.
I think here I have not expressed myself very well and (unthinkingly) used the term "anti-militarism" as a shorthand for various forms of anti-war activity and social struggle outside of the state-military framework of either nation. The kind of internationalist, anti-militarist, anarchist perspective I am putting forward is elaborated not in the quoted sentence but in the concluding section, 'Working Class Internationalism', where I write:
I think that here I am outlining what internationalism and anti-militarism look like in practice, far from "opposing militarism in abstract" as you put it in your latest comment. My intention in this article was not to tell Ukrainian anarchists what they should be doing. That is why there is only one paragraph outlining what an internationalist approach looks like in the warring region, which draws on things that are actually happening (I give examples for the more specific points), and which does not apply only to Ukraine but, if anything, is especially applicable to Russia. My intention in writing the article was to criticise the abandonment of internationalism, anti-militarism, and basic anarchist principles by anarchists in Britain, and secondarily to outline how we can respond in Britain (and across the world) to oppose the war in such a way that clearly breaks with the logic of capitalism, nationalism, and militarism that produce and prolong modern war. Otherwise we can offer little more than a radical liberalism that reproduces this society based upon oppression and exploitation, even if in an ameliorated form. I think we agree on that.
Going back to the original point, while I agree with the gist of what you're saying, I don't think anti-militarism in the specific sense is irrelevant to Ukrainians just because their nation is the invaded side. While Ukrainians are suffering from bombings and in some areas brutal occupation, many are also suffering from conscription, martial law, closed borders, etc. There is the propaganda image of the Ukrainian nation totally united in a war until victory or death, and then there is the reality that there are many people who have no desire to kill and die for their country, but who are forced to do so, being stopped at the border, subpoenaed on the street, punished for desertion, etc.
I don't judge the choices of individuals in such a situation, but I do think it is legitimate to criticise the political project of anarchist movements as expressed by, for example, The Resistance Committee and the Solidarity Collectives.
I am more or less in agreement with the rest of your comment.
Hi, thanks very much for…
Hi, thanks very much for your comment, appreciate the engagement. Also I think it's nice to get this discussion more back to the article rather than scene in fighting. A clarification question for you then, appreciate that you bring up the example of anti-war sabotage in Russia which has been beautiful to see. But would you advocate that kind of sabotage against the Ukrainian military as well? Because I would not, because that would essentially just assist the Russian invasion. I won't comment further at this point until I hear your views on this point.
Steven. wrote: But would you…
The question needs turning on its head. When talking about class struggle, we're talking about elemental social forces not calculated individual acts. If workers in any of the warring states took up the class struggle, and by doing so began to undermine the war effort in any way, would Steven and others, in their political capacity, be telling them to "go back to work because you're assisting the enemy"? And do remember - in times of crisis and war, opposition to any attacks on working class conditions is seen by the ruling class as a threat to national unity (so even civilian protests or opposition to restrictions on the right to strike, which you provide as positive examples, very quickly becomes "undermining the war effort" according to war propaganda).
This is my point of view…
This is my point of view. When there is a war between two or more warmongers, argument for defending one against the other based on occupation is flawed. When there is a war, one warmonger begins it. The one that begins is the one that occupies. If we base our judgment on occupation, there won’t be any war among warmongers that we won’t participate in. We should argue from fact, to see if Ukraine government or Russian government were warmongers or not. I found that both were. I agree with the article that anarchists should oppose this war.
Opposing militarism when…
Opposing militarism when there is war between two warmongers is not abstract, it is concrete. Abstract concept can become empty when concrete evidence for it disappears. But there are many facts telling us that this war is among warmongers.
About this: "But would you…
"But would you advocate that kind of sabotage against the Ukrainian military as well? Because I would not, because that would essentially just assist the Russian invasion. "
If anarchist had enough social base in both sides of the war, they could agree to fight against their rulers in order to change the situation to join their countries into one.
With few anarchist in a Ukraine or Russia, it is better for anarchists in both sides do nothing but work towards a mass movement against war.
Steven. wrote: Hi, thanks…
I agree with Dyjbas' reply above. However, to give a more direct answer: I wouldn't be opposed to it in principle, but tactically it wouldn't make much sense on the Ukrainian side. The local telegram channels that have been set up in various Ukrainian cities to warn each other of officers giving out summons for military service would be an existing example of what I would consider anti-militarist action, that I would fully support despite detracting from the war effort, and by extension "essentially just assisting the Russian invasion". But I think the internationalist perspective is precisely to refuse that logic of nation versus nation.
As Dyjbas gets at, any internal conflict within the nation potentially undermines the war effort and helps the enemy if your frame of reference is winning or losing the war. Therefore, a defencist position logically entails (even if only informally, de facto) a form of Union Sacrée / Burgfriedenspolitik. Everything must then be subordinated to the national interest, even the wish to prevent death and destruction, to fight for freedom, and defend our interests as workers.
we'd like to point you to…
we'd like to point you to our blog on libcom. there is our presentation as a group.
We are always happy to share our views, and about our practices. as for the polemics about supporting us, we understand that some might want to refer to Leninist defeatism as an answer today for the proletariat, but this is clearly missing the point of what is actually happening in Ukraine at the moment. We are not in 1917-20's and neither is there any brink of revolution going on in Russia yet.
We understand that there hasn't been enough information coming out of Ukraine from our side, we had not the opportunity to write about our activities, we had too much work, and sometime, not enough electricity to do so, as you might be able to imagine.
About other activities of the anti-authoritarian left or anarchists, certainly there is a variety of practices, from a variety of groups. We will soon make publications about the variety of groups in Ukraine at the moment and hopefully this will answer as for the what is actually our movement doing at the moment.
As collective, we can present our, which is the most polemical we understand. As for us and our comrades fighting, this was a conscious choice, make no mistake here, things have been thought and prepared, we do have answers to give. Only, when you ask a question, you should understand that the answer will not be the one you where waiting for. Otherwise, why ask each others questions right?
Just keep in mind, that we live in a country that has suffered from invasion, bombs, occupation, tortures and mass killings from the Russian army.
Aiming at liberation from all forms of oppression, is our goal in the region, and of course it's not going to be with a Flower at the end of the rifle, or actually, the mortar. And in this we have an understanding with our Russian comrades who are well aware of the difficulties to come, so we end wars in the region. We all are in this fight on the long run, you will, hopefully but sadly, hear from us in the years to come, as we all know this war is not going to be quick, and getting the Russian federation on it's knees, is going to be a long process. But it's the only way for Russian's to access the head of their state, and finish it off.
@Dyjbas When talking about…
We're not talking purely about hypotheticals though, workers (apparently affiliated with the KKE) in Greece blocked tank shipments to Ukraine in April 2022 https://dailytelegraph.co.nz/world/greek-railway-workers-refuse-to-transport-nato-tanks-toward-ukraine/
If we take @albatross's formulation "I wouldn't be opposed to it in principle, but tactically it wouldn't make much sense" for direct opposition to the Ukrainian military in Ukraine (vs. draft dodging and similar), what does this mean for that kind of direct opposition outside Ukraine?
For me, lots of arms shipments go around the world un-blockaded all the time, so if there are for example arms going to Saudi Arabia for the war against Yemen vs. arms going to Ukraine, I would not personally be prioritising opposing the ones going to Ukraine.
It doesn't mean I think the rail workers should be condemned, but I'm not sure I'd hold it up as a paragon example of internationalism compared to say Belorussian sabotage. Greece has its own military deployments around the world in 'peacekeeping' operations too.
I always enjoy seeing arms…
I always enjoy seeing arms shipments blocked myself.
Consider how folk like…
Consider how folk like myself will respond if you attempt to interupt the aid that Ukraine is relying upon to end the genocide in the Donbas. Consider what we consider the stakes to be.
I would be annoyed..
Just out of interest, in the…
Just out of interest, in the years before the Russian invasion, when it was the Ukrainian state forces that were regularly bombarding the separatist areas of the Donbas, which side do you think should have been on the receiving end arms shipments in order to 'end the genocide'?
What genocide? You think our Russian comrades would be giving interviews like this if that wasn't the case?
Millions are displaced, hundreds of thousands dead and filtration camps throughout the occupied territoriy. There is no equivilance, so please stop.
The conflict in the Donbas…
The conflict in the Donbas began in 2014, by early 2022 - before the invasion, 14 00 people had been killed and thousands displaced. What makes this not a comparable situation in your view?
I see you're one of those…
I see you're one of those people who sees what they want to see. That is well proven to be disinformation. Specifically the claim about genocide. There is no way in hell this compares to the filtration process within the occupied territories. Thousands of kids have been abducted and seperated from their families, which if you want that verifying, I can get you the interviews with those children that Amnesty made. Hopefully, this will be enough to convince you, where our Russian comrades in the UAF could not, that there was no genocide in the Donbas 2014-2022
The pre-war population of Mariupol was 450k. It's now 100k. This is a majority Russian speaking city. That is something you can verify. That 350k inbetween are refugees, victims of the filtration process, or living under the worst imaingable conditions under occupation.
From the people I know in Ukraine, their family are these refugees who had to flee out West after the 2014 invasion and were welcomed by Western Ukraine. One of them even has a nice government job! If the government's trying to genocide these Russian speaking Ukranians, they're doing a piss poor job! Oh and he's just telling me now that another one of his family friends from Luhansk is representing Ukraine in the Olympics, so yeah....
Fuck your false equivilance.
To finish, here's that Amnesty report I promised. It contains many interviews with the victims of filtration and occupation. You may want to hear it from them what you're asking them to endure without aid.
I'm sorry for being so damn…
I'm sorry for being so damn angry towards people who I'd normally call comrades, but this is not a minor disagreement about the interpretation of our theories for me, this is about stopping an engoing genocide with the tools available. I have not come here and claimed ideological purity and nor do I care for it at this point, it is unable to address this current crisis, or worse, goes around testing the waters for sabbing the lifeline that those suffering are depending upon.
If you all want to say that you're the most dogmatic and hardcore theorist around, I won't actually argue with you. Please just let me do what I need to do to help these people. Sneer all you like at the tactics used to end the occupation, but please NEVER question the commitment to ending these engoing crimes against humanity. My motives are pure, even if it doesn't get your theoretical stamp of approval.
I don't think that the claim…
I don't think that the claim that the civil war started in 2014 or that the accumulated death count of the conflict up to 2022 (for both sides combined ) was in the region of 14 000 counts as disinformation, it's a figure given by the UN. I didn't make any other claims.
Specifically the claim about…
Specifically the claim about genocide. I included a fact-check link about the context of those numbers you're throwing about.
If you want to see genocide, read that Amnesty report. If you dare.
So, before you double down…
So, before you double down again, consider the merits of backing down. I'm looking at you as a genocide appeaser right now who will say anything, do anything, to excuse your actions up to this point. It's not too late to realise that you've been lied to by a determined Russian propaganda machine and make ammends for it.
FWIW I have no doubt that…
FWIW I have no doubt that the Russian State and its armed forces have and do commit atrocities.
darren p wrote: The conflict…
that 14,000 includes people on both sides, and most were military casualties
Just to be clear. My comment…
Just to be clear. My comment was an, admittedly not the best-worded, attempt to try to understand the logic of those who think that the situation is going to be made better, and not worse, by a prolongation of conflict.
Article on the ICC website…
Article on the ICC website responding to the discussion on this thread:
Alf wrote: Article on the…
I don’t find the author’s criticism of anarchists’ past participation in national conflicts (e.g. Kropotkin’s support of the Allies in the First World War) all that convincing. One could note Marx and Engels’ (entirely correct) support of the Union during the American Civil War as an example of them also putting aside their internationalism or view that “workers have no country.” (Industry in the South wasn’t as developed, but there was a Northern proletariat, such as in the form of the textile industry.) Marx and Engels’ backing of the Union in fact shows how one should not base their pro- or anti-war positions on unthinking slogans/principles (“no war but the class war,” etc.), but rather on a careful examination of whatever conflict or struggle.
The author might respond that Marx and Engels’ support of the Union was justified since it “served the development of capitalism” and the decline of slavery. However, I find this thinking—the idea that Marx and Engels “welcomed” the development of capitalism or saw it as essential for revolution—quite flawed. One could point out Marx and Engels' belief that Russia could possibly avoid the horrors of capitalist development on the basis of the Russian commune/mir (and the success of revolution in Western Europe). Does the author think that the undermining of the Russian commune/mir by capitalist forces, which Marx and Engels bitterly condemned, was actually progressive? If the “development of capitalism” is the only time that support for a particular war or conflict is justified (such as the American Civil War), then one could note that much of the national-liberation struggles of the twentieth century also involved peasant societies without developed working classes (e.g. Vietnam and China). Does that mean that “good Marxists” should have got behind whatever faction or group that wanted to develop capitalism in these countries? In fact, Ho Chi Minh also lamented, in his 1945 Declaration of Independence, how French colonialism had always hampered the development of a native bourgeoisie: “They have made it impossible for our national bourgeoisie to prosper; they have mercilessly exploited our workers” (54). This sort of stageist thinking is not that dissimilar from arguing that support of the Union was justified—not because slavery was a horrendous institution and deserved to be ended—but because a Union victory would have “assisted the development of an American bourgeoisie.”
This sort of stageist…
This sort of stageist thinking is not that dissimilar from arguing that support of the Union was justified—not because slavery was a horrendous institution and deserved to be ended—but because a Union victory would have “assisted the development of an American bourgeoisie.
This part is a good example of the difference between Marxism and 'Anarchism'; turning it into a moral question rather than a historic one. Marx didn't support the North because they were morally 'better' than the South but because he saw it as progressive. These are not the same thing.
The defeat of slavery was seen as an important step towards the formation of a unified proletariat in America and for the development of the basis for communism.
This is the key point and why the national liberation movements in the 20th century onwards are not progressive; because none if them can fundamentally assist in the movement to communism. Capitalism has already become sufficiently global for communism to be a practical possibility and no other mode of production exists to a meaningful degree.
This is the point of understanding the era you are dealing with. The reason Marx could see the mir as a possible basis for communism in Russia was because he thought capitalism as a whole (as a world system) was or would soon be sufficient for the communist revolution. He hoped Russia would be spared the transition through capitalism because of the world revolution.
The difference between Marxism and 'Anarchism' (such a loose term to be almost meaningless) is in the approach to history. Marxism offers a system of thought and analysis whereas Anarchism generally offers moral positions without a systematic theoretical structure (unless it incorporates Marxism to some degree).
Amazing how Marxists think…
Amazing how Marxists think they're the only materialists.
jaycee wrote: The difference…
well you can say that if you know nothing about anarchism and ignore the results of marxist "analysis"
jaycee wrote: This is the…
Capitalism most certainly was not "global" in Vietnam during the First and Second Indochina Wars or in China during the Chinese Civil War/Revolution. As I said, these were predominantly peasant societies (as was Russia too) and remained peasant societies well into the twentieth century. The "communist" parties of both countries in fact largely came to power through their massive peasant (not proletarian) bases and anti-landlord programs. If you're going to argue that Marx's support of the Union was justified on the basis of it "developing capitalism," then it's quite inconsistent to not then back whichever faction or group that wanted to develop capitalism in Vietnam or China, since that would have supposedly been "progressive" and would have "helped lay the foundations for a socialist/communist society." In fact, some of the policymakers in reunified Vietnam also erroneously appealed to Marx (similar to how you and Amos are doing now) when arguing how Vietnam should first focus on developing capitalism as the necessary step towards a socialist society. In any case, the argument that capitalism had become "sufficiently global for communism during the twentieth century" seems rather arbitrary and ideological, especially considering how, in reality, peasants still constituted most of the world's population and most countries remained unindustrialized (not that that would be an obstacle to communist revolution). It's also overlooking the fact that Marx and Engels were speaking of communist revolution prior to the twentieth century and were basing their arguments on unindustrialized countries/empires like Russia.
The only historical…
The only historical materialists, yes. A bit like how all evolutionists are Darwinian to some degree. No?
Adri, you seem to have…
Adri, you seem to have ignored or misunderstood my point. The global nature of capitalism doesnt mean that every part of the world was fully capitalist but that the world market had been established to a certain level that would allow for the movement to communism.
Marx didn't think Russia would achieve the transition to communism in Russia alone. The development of capitalism in Vietnam was never going to impact whether or not the revolution was successful or possible in the 20th century. There are still peasants in the world today but more capitalism is not progressive in any way today. There is nothing that capitalist development can offer humanity now. This is a different era. We can argue about when that occurred and why but I don't think there can be much doubt about that basic situation. Do you agree?
jaycee wrote: Adri, you seem…
If communism was possible prior to the twentieth century (as Marx and Engels maintained that it was), then what is the point of (ideologically) arguing that communism "suddenly became achievable in the twentieth century thanks to the spread of capitalism"—despite the fact that most of the world remained unindustrialized and there wasn't much of a global proletariat to speak of?
Yes, and I noted this.
Yes, I agree that revolution is possible today. But do you disagree with Marx and Engels' argument that communist revolution was possible prior to the twentieth century, or did revolution only become possible in the twentieth century owing to the fact that this was "a different era"?
jaycee wrote: The only…
Oh dear, are you going to be claiming Marxism is a science next?
Adri: communism was…
Adri: communism was certainly achieved for the majority of human history and survived in pockets throughout history, but the form of communism envisaged in the workers movement can only be achieved on the back of the (possible) abundance and international unity made possible by the development of capitalism (the first truly global mode of production since primitive communism). Once we entered the stages of history dominated by class society all the attempts to return to communism were eventually destroyed one way or the other, with isolation always being a key aspect of their destruction.
Nastyned: in what way do you support a materialist view of history if part of that isn't in attempting to have a science of history?
I'm genuinely confused about what your point is here. Do you think it isnt possible to have a science of history or just that Marxism isn't it?
I just don't get this. How…
I just don't get this. How is this article in Freedom at all anarchist or libertarian communist?
Notes from a sniper in Ukraine.
rat wrote: I just don't get…
Its part of a new series, they're going to have an article by a Ukrainian policeman next I believe.
Uncreative wrote: rat wrote:…
Don't give them ideas!
jaycee wrote: Nastyned: in…
I'm genuinely confused by what you mean by science. I suspect it's not very scientific though. To go back to Darwin as an example, I did study evolution at university and of course Darwin was mentioned. But we didn't actually read any Darwin, things had moved on so much. Which differs massively from Marxism where the sacred texts are pored over by people acting like religious scholars. And come to think of it, if Marxism was actually a science you should be really concerned that left communism is an obscure current most Marxists reject.
Freedom have now deleted…
Freedom have now deleted that article.
rat wrote: Freedom have now…
It was literally war propaganda. Perhaps someone else in the Freedom collective had some sense.
It clearly demonstrates, however, that what we are dealing with here is not anarchist analysis and intervention, it is simply supporting one nation in fighting and winning a war against another nation. There is no other way to read an article about a military sniper killing people and requesting that we send more supplies.
"I joined up in the Ukrainian infantry as an assault pioneer the day after the full-scale invasion began. Why? I didn’t particularly spend time thinking on why. Perhaps it was a sense of freedom. Freedom pushed me to fight."
Is this what the new non-"purist" anarchism looks like?
Nastyned: There's clearly a…
There's clearly a debate to be had on what 'science' means; I would argue overall that a broader definition than the positivist bourgeois view of science as limited solely to what can be measured and quantified is necessary but my question was 'do you think it is possible to have a science of history?' If it is then Marxism is an indispensable aspect of that science just like any serious approach to evolution would not be able to do without Darwins contribution.
Clearly these can be turned into fetishises and it is possible to 'go beyond' both but going beyond includes incorporating the key points.
Anyway probably best to leave it there or start a new thread on the question of science etc.
It's good to see that the internationalist response to the war is still by and large the dominant one here though. It is depressing how much of the rhetoric of 'the left' is being mobilised for war elsewhere.
Strangely, the Notes from a…
Strangely, the Notes from a Ukrainian Sniper article that was published by Freedom News still appears on the Anarchist Federation.net website (not the UK AF, but a separate general anarchist news site).
It's been a rough few weeks…
It's been a rough few weeks. We lost three comrades to a Wagner ambush. Lifelong, dedicated, Anarchists who gave everything to keep the aid corridor in Bakhmut open. Their names were Dmitry Petrov, Cooper Andrews and Finbar Cafferkey. You will not find better examples of the best of our movement.
I know that sniper being reffered to and participated in the GNIP fundraiser she is reffering to in her letter.
I really don't understand the scandal. Is there some kind of problem here with our comrades requesting mutual aid and solidarity while they are literally in the trenches? I don't know what you expect. Are we supposed to abandon our comrades when there's a war on?