Maidan & the Left: “Libertarian in spirit”
In a report on the recent conference “The Left and the Maidan,” held in Kyiv in April, Russian trade unionist Kirill Buketov (of the Global Labour Institute and the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers) provides a detailed overview of the role of the political left in the Maidan movement.
Buketov argues that while the Maidan cannot be adequately described as either left-wing or right-wing in its political character — according to polls, “93% of the Maidan participants were distant from politics” and only 7% “had a political position and belonged to one political group or another” — in spirit it was “left-wing” and “libertarian.”
“Driven by protest against corruption and tyranny, against humiliation and oppression, by masses of people who felt their dignity had been offended by their rulers’ lies,”
the movement, he argues, was both anti-authoritarian in its essence and in its “modus operandi”:
“The Maidan used methods that we [the left] traditionally consider to be our own: direct participation, self-organisation, direct actions, rejection of leaders, and a resounding NO to the steering and pacesetting role of parties.”
The article discusses the Left Opposition (which has been mentioned several times on this blog), the Women’s Squadron (with its feminist demands), the Students’ Assembly (led by anarchists), the leftist Hospital Watch group, and others.
Buketov also discusses the failures of the Maidan left, including the low representation within it of workers groups and trade unions (“the bulk of the protest movement was formed by students, pensioners, office clerks, civil servants, small entrepreneurs, etc.”) and a general lack of coordination among its groups.