Published the 1 April 2014 in War and Imperialism
Controversies Impromptu Nº 1 : Introduction by the Editor
The recent events in Ukraine have surprised many and continue to do so. A modest street protest in November of last year against the rejection of an association agreement with the E.U. by president Yanoukovich in favor of an agreement with Moscow transformed into a movement of demonstrations and occupations of government buildings in large parts of the country and ended in a popular uprising that was able to resist Yanoukovich’s police forces and snipers on Kiev’s Maidan square also militarily, at the cost of tens of death and many wounded, but driving the dictator out of office.
Ever since the events are unfolding at a breathtaking pace: Parliament in Kiev ousts the President from office with support of his ‘party of the regions’; an provisional government is formed by three opposition parties that restores the constitution of 2004 and announces new presidential and parliamentary elections on May 25. It immediately declares that the population will have to make sacrifices in order to save the country from its economic emergency. In several cities in the eastern part confrontations, sometimes violent clashes, take place between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrators. Moscow responds to the ousting of Yanoukovich with economic sanctions against Kiev, a pro-Russian seizure of power in Simferopol and a military occupation of the Crimean peninsula. A deafening campaign about a presumed threat of a military occupation of eastern Ukraine by Russia and the illegality of the Russian annexation of Crimea on hand is replied to by a campaign against ‘ a fascist coup in Kiev backed by the E.U.’. In an escalation of measures and countermeasures the USA stop their collaboration with Moscow on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. In response Moscow renounces its cooperation with the international control of its military installations. In their turn the USA strengthen their military presence in Eastern Europe. All the Western countries promise ‘economic support’ to the provisional government in Kiev and announce ‘economic sanctions’ against Yanoukovich, Putin and their entourages. An imbroglio unfolds that we have not seen since the explosion of the Eastern block in 1989 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union since 1990. Amidst strife about spheres of influence the working class, who is targeted by the austerity measures, has difficulties to manifest itself on its own terrain of class struggle. The situation appears to be dominated by the struggle among factions of a national bourgeoisie at its wit’s end and colluded with ultra-nationalists, as well as by the rivalries between western and eastern powers (the USA and German on the one hand, Russia and China on the other) about a hunting ground at the crossroads between Europe and Asia – which pushes the proletariat towards the false choice between two opposite camps of its class enemy.
This Impromptu collection does not defend an achieved analysis of the situation in and around Ukraine and Russia and the insurgent movement of the Maidan square but wants to present material for a debate within the internationalist and pro-revolutionary milieus. It brings together a number of recently published articles and statements that shed light on the surprising movement of Maidan and its consequences from different, and often contradictory positions and angles. In the first place declarations and testimonials from groups in the region are engaged.
It opens with two letters from collaborators from the Praxis group in Moscow and Kiev on the movements in Ukraine and Russia (A. Gusev and J. Gusseva), followed by two communiquees by the ‘Confederation of Free Trades Unions’ in Ukraine and three declarations from the Autonomous Workers’ Union in this country. (p. 4 – 10)
Two exhaustive interviews with eye witnesses shed light on the social, political and economic situation and the Maidan movement in more detail: an interview with a revolutionary syndicalist from Kiev (Denis) on February 19: Maidan and its contradictions, (pp. 11) and a record of the second part of the talk with Gabriel Levy in London on March 1st: A political earthquake for Europe and Russia . (pp. 32)
Next we have the statements of position and analysis by three groups from the internationalist communist left spectrum. In order of appearance: that of the Internationalist Communist Tendency (I.C.T.) of February 3rd , that of the International Communist Party (I.C.P., Le Prolétaire) from the end of February, and the special bulletin from Mouvement Communiste (M.C.) of March 4th. (p. 20 -27)
On the ‘Article 11’ website Charles Reeve made a call for reflection and discussion in the libertarian milieus on the difficult to understand situation in Ukraine, related to the implication of ultra-nationalist (or fascist?) groups in this movement: Demystifying Euromaidan – revolts and the legacy of real socialism. (p. 29) He is, among others, reacting on the aforementioned interview from Kiev.
Two short texts on page 31 respectively propose the context of imperialist tensions, confrontations and changed alliances at world level, and that of the crisis of restructuring of capital as points of departure for further reflection in a larger framework. Concluding this collection, Richard Greeman, collaborator of the Praxis-group replies to the concerns that the popular-democratic movement in country of Eastern Europe has fostered within the internationalist and pro-revolutionary milieus in the West: The trees that hide the forest. (p. 36)
The contributions are in French or English, depending on the availability of the complete text. Most are taken from the Internet. They do not necessarily represent the vision or opinions of the editors of this collection. In footnotes and references links have been included that can be directly activated in an internet browser from the pdf-version of this edition.
Jac. Johanson, March 20, 2014