Matviyenko & the war’s ‘colonial-imperial vector’

15 03 2023

Critical media theorist Svitlana Matviyenko’s recent Marshall McLuhan Lecture, delivered at Berlin’s Transmediale conference, has now been turned into an online article in E-Flux. Titled “Speeds and Vectors of Energy Terrorism,” the article provides both a deeply personal perspective (from one who has been in Ukraine during much of Russia’s full-scale invasion) and a rigorously theorized one covering the continuities and discontinuities between the Russian-Ukrainian war and previous wars going back to world wars one and two.

As has been the case with her “Dispatches from the Place of Imminence” (written for the Institute of Network Cultures), and familiar to previous readers of her writing, Matviyenko focuses especially on the more innovative fronts of this particular war, including cyberwar and disinformation; the role of nuclear power plants, including the occupation of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia complexes; the “irreversible militarization of life” with its “epidemic” proliferation of “martial assemblages”; the mythical nature of the concept of “victory”; and the production of “terror environments” centering around “necropolitical data-subjects.” Regarding the latter, Matviyenko notes how the Russian government’s justification for the full-scale invasion, and its refusal to call it a “war,” fully marks it as a “state of exception”:

In this regard, the Russian state’s description of its war as a “special operation” is accurate: it declares its intention to transgress the laws of war by opening space for unregulated war crimes, for creating multiple terror environments marked by extreme suppression and violence.

Her reference to the “necropolitical ‘death-worlds'” produced by the use of pollution as a weapon of war — a form of “vertical occupation” that is different from the “horizontal occupation” of territory — is especially sobering:

In war, however, pollution spreads—and violence occurs—at various speeds. In addition to the fast, or extremely fast, violence of rocket strikes, bombs, and other explosions that also release toxic chemicals, other forms of pollution spread “gradually and out of sight,” whether as a consequence of these faster forms, or independently. [. . .] This war will stay with us as a sequence of heavy losses for the entire earthly community.

This is a topic I intend to come back to in future posts. But I want to focus a little more here on a line of thinking connected to the colonial/decolonial question.

Matviyenko identifies two “vectors” of the “ongoing, complex, asymmetrical warfare.” The first is “interimperial,” and it “unfolds according to the logic of deterrence.” While this vector “is extremely aggressive,” it is a “communicative exchange” that largely follows the transactional pursuit of national interests. In this case, Russia’s “extreme extractivism and exploitation” has served “the fossil-fuelled capitalist interests of the so-called West and its simultaneously ‘oil-soaked and coal-dusted’ democracy,” as Cara Daggett has called it. Alongside the global South’s similar reliance on Russian fossil fuels (which Matviyenko doesn’t get into, but in which India is a key actor), this means that “the list of countries that retain economic relations with Russia after a year of genocidal war remains long” and that “fossil-fuel fascism” is sustained, not fundamentally challenged.

The second vector Matviyenko identifies is “colonial-imperial,” which follows “a trajectory of noncommunication.” This is a vector that “sets the direction for relations of suppression, subsumption, annihilation, and erasure,” such that “[a]ll negotiations are suspended indefinitely”: “‘Ukraine does not exist’ for the Russian state as a party in negotiations, except as an imagined subaltern who must submit to the invader’s will.” Matviyenko continues:

The Russian Federation claimed that they “had no choice” but to invade Ukraine and kill its people, which constitutes a complex and contradictory epistemological landscape that could probably only be deciphered through psychoanalysis. This urge, ever embittered by an extreme resentment that will only grow in the future, is particularly strong in those citizens of the Russian Federation who already feel—or will feel very soon—that whatever future they thought they had in Russia has been stolen from them. This mass vision of a stolen future will remain one of the many dangerous consequences of this war, no matter what awaits the Russian Federation in the years to come. It will also serve as a resource for future fascist mobilizations.

This same noncommunication sustains colonial relations between the Russian state and underdeveloped communities in its jurisdiction. This noncommunication also extends to peoples who self-identify as Indigenous, but remain unrecognized. Russian legislation only acknowledges forty-seven peoples across the vast landmass. According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, after the annexation of Crimea the list of unrecognized but self-identified Indigenous peoples grew to include the Crimean Tatars, the Krymchaks, and the Karaim. The empire only acknowledges the existence of a form of life when it is deemed useful, when the empire sees its potential for resourcification.

The coloniality of the latter is especially evident in Russia’s “reliance on an unrestricted supply of cheap, disposable human resources drawn from colonized first-nation communities and many strategically underdeveloped ethnic and social groups within the Russian Federation.”

It’s worth pointing out here that there are multiple imperial-colonial vectors at play in today’s situation. In a recent piece in New Eastern Europe, Milosz Cordes notes this colonial disparity writ large across Russia — where “[r]evenues from oil and gas from the non-ethnic Russian Nenets, Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugs [provinces] fuel investments in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and prevent regions like Novgorod, Bryansk or Pskov from economic collapse. This is a typical model of economic exploitation,” he writes, “known from the Congo, Egypt or Latin America,” which qualifies the Russian regions east of the Urals as “part of the Global South.”

This “colonial-imperial vector” works differently in relation to the Buryats, Dagestanis, Tatars, or South Ossetians who have been among the primary “cannon fodder” for the Russian military, than to Ukraine or Belarus, the “brotherly peoples” of the “Great Russian race.” In imperial thinking, the latter have been more valued as the “backbone” of Great Russia, but are (as is clear today) also to be punished more vehemently when they reject their fate as “inner colonies.”

Ukraine’s long dance in relation to Russia and away from it has been going on for over a century and a half (and in some places since the 17th century state-building of Bohdan Khmelnytsky), with even leaders of Ukraine’s first independence movement — among them Mykhailo Hrushevsky, pivotal historian and first president of the Central Council of the 1917-20 Ukrainian People’s Republic — uncertain of whether Ukraine’s future lay with Russia or apart from it. If Stalin could destroy an entire generation to crush Ukraine’s independentist aspirations, however, Putin cannot. And so today we find Ukrainians in their culminating national-liberationist moment.

What this means for Ukraine is pretty clear: political self-determination accompanied by some measure of civic and cultural revitalization (the details of which have become clearer over time, but which still remain to be determined in post-war Ukraine). What it may mean for Russia — especially as Russia risks imploding from the neo-imperialist overextension of its capacities, and as calls for Russia to decolonize increase — is something I will explore in upcoming posts.

Please stay tuned for more on this topic.

Decolonialism divided against itself…

1 03 2023

Ukrainian anti-colonialists can continue to be disappointed by the leading postcolonial/decolonial intellectuals from the Global South whose views on the Russian invasion have reiterated Russia’s main propaganda narratives.

Writing in the French-language Lundi Matin, Pierre Madelin, in “Des pensés décoloniales à l’épreuve de la guerre en Ukraine” (“Decolonial Thinking Put to the Test by the War in Ukraine”), finds such views being spread not only by politicians like Lula and Evo Morales (respectively, the president of Brazil and former president of Bolivia) and France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, but also decolonialist intellectuals par excellence Walter Mignolo, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, and Ramon Grosfoguel.

Madelin writes (in Google’s English translation, which I’ve modified for readability and meaning),

Suffice to say that I was surprised when I discovered these [Grosfoguel’s] speeches, which reproduced the Kremlin’s discourse down to its most delirious aspects, as it seemed obvious to me that the war of annexation waged by Russia, an old imperial and colonial power, should have oriented the solidarity of these authors towards Ukraine. The logic of anti-colonialism or anti-imperialism would in fact require the countries or peoples who suffer from it to show solidarity with those who suffer from it elsewhere, even if it is under the boot of a rival power to the one that oppresses them. 

The problem, as Madelin points out, is a lack of reflection in the Latin American decolonialists’ view on behalf of a “dialectical vision of Europe” that is characterized by its own internal tensions and contradictions. Europe is, instead, “presented as a unity, as a malignant substance spreading throughout the world” (quoting Daniel Inclan).

Yet this framework, within which the analysis of concrete situations seems to give way to a metaphysics of history where an all-powerful hyper-subject holds the quasi-monopoly of evil in the world, is obviously ineffective for grasping the specificity and complexity of the war in Ukraine, just as it was hardly conclusive to understand the revolution and civil war in Syria.

Critics from the Global South have latched onto the legitimate critique of Europeans’ “double standard” in welcoming Ukrainians but not darker-skinned refugees from the South, to seemingly, and less legitimately, justify their “absence of unfailing support for the resistance and the massive mobilization of Ukrainian society.”

Madelin cites the analyses of Pierre Gaussens and Gaya Makaran, who critique the Latin American Modernity/Coloniality scholars for “historiographical oversimplification,” “permanent Manichaeism,” “cultural essentialism,” “Latin American provincialism,” and an “apparent criticism of Eurocentrism that in reality hides a tenacious Westernism.” He continues,

The paradox indeed is that the thought of these authors, one of whose first vocations, perfectly legitimate, was to criticize “Eurocentrism” and to “provincialize Europe,” is often deeply Eurocentric and Western-centric when it sets out to understand the present, the blissful celebration of the West and its “civilizing mission” having given way to the endless denunciation of its misdeeds but without ever losing its centrality, even when it no longer fully corresponds to developments in the contemporary world. There is something like an unthought-out political theology in there: a primary cause (in this case the United States/the West) and secondary causes which are always its derived and reactive product, or even its passive object. (emphases added)

The result is an “inverted occidentalocentrism” that, in the author’s view, is little better than the “campism” that sees no difference between Ukrainians today fighting for their national self-determination and U.S. militaries squashing third world liberation movements of the past. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then Putin, for all his faults, must be a friend to these thinkers. The contradictions of such “anti-imperialism” are profound:

If the long history of American interventions in the world, from the coup d’etat in Guatemala in 1954 to the war in Iraq in 2003, passing through the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961, the war in Vietnam, Pinochet’s Chile in the 1970s and the Nicaraguan Contras of the 1980s, is relatively well known and constantly recalled, a strange amnesia seems to surround the equally long history of Soviet interventions in many of its peripheries: in Berlin in 1953, Budapest in 1956, Prague in 1968 or Warsaw in 1980, without even mentioning, in the specific case of Ukraine, the Holodomor or the deportation of Crimean Tatars, even though these different events are the subject of a large number of works by historians. […]

Certainly, unlike the Spanish, British or French colonial empires, which essentially developed “overseas”, Russian colonialism was […] less easily discernible, since the territories conquered from the 17th century until the end of the Second World War were conquered, in successive layers, on the immediate periphery of the initial core territory. And if some of these territories were emancipated from Soviet tutelage after the fall of the Union, the consequences of this long colonial history remain strong, especially in the Caucasus and in Central Asia, where the populations suffer from persistent racism. To that should be added that in the first months of the war, it was the ethnic minorities of the Russian Federation, in particular Buryats or Yakuts, who paid the heaviest price on the Ukrainian battlefield, while the white middle classes of Moscow or Saint-Petersburg were relatively spared.

The risk the cited authors take is that they end up supporting the quasi-multilateralism that Indian feminist Kavita Krishnan calls “the mantra of authoritarianism.” This “multipolarity” is, in Madelin’s words, “a rallying cry for the despots” — in Krishnan’s analysis, it is authoritarians like Putin, Modi, Xi, Orban, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, and Trump, leading “far-right, white-supremacist, racist, anti-feminist, homophobic and transphobic political movements” — “which serves to disguise their war against democracy as a war against imperialism.”

In contrast, Madelin points for inspiration to Mexico’s Zapatistas: “Long engaged in a struggle with decolonial overtones against capitalism and the Mexican state,” he writes, “they gave in nothing to campism, and on March 13, 2022, they marched by the thousands in the cities of Chiapas in support of the Ukrainian resistance with cries of ‘Putin get out!'” 

For all those reasons, Madelin calls for a “polycentric decolonialism,” or, as I’ve referred to it (which he cites in his conclusion), an anti-imperialism that is against all imperialisms — an anti-all-imperialisms.

The entire article by Madelin can be read in the original here.

Reflections on a year of full-scale war

24 02 2023

Here are a few quick thoughts on the anniversary of Russia’s tragic decision to fully invade Ukraine.

1) The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a full-scale atrocity, with tragic consequences for millions, and indicative of the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Putin regime. Everything I’ve said and written about it before, including the way it has been a “turning point” in world affairs, remains true, but mostly on the negative side of the ledger. The positive — such as its potential for reorienting Europe away from dependence on Russian fossil fuels and toward renewable energy, and its potential for strengthening democratic movements around the world — remains only partially attained, if at all.

2) Like Ukrainians in general, whose resistance to the Russian onslaught has been remarkable, President Volodymyr Zelensky has done wonders in so many ways. But one thing neither he nor his western supporters have succeeded at — as this New York Times analysis shows — is convincing the global South to support Ukraine in its struggle. Wartime emergencies call for military support, but diplomatic pressure on Russia also needs to increase, which means that Ukraine’s foreign policy must broaden.

There are no good reasons for postcolonial democracies like Lula’s Brazil and the ANC’s South Africa to remainneutral” in an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial struggle. (Pressure on them to do better should increase.) Zelensky and western supporters, however, also need to make clear that that’s what this is (an anti-colonial struggle), and that no “tradition” of cold war “nonalignment” makes sense any more. We’re in a new world with new allies and new enemies, whose contours will increasingly be shaped by new conflicts. One of these — and one whose “war ecology” (to use Pierre Charbonnier’s astute phrase) shapes the nature of this conflict already — is that between fossil-fuel authoritarians (the likes of Putin and Trump) and climate-transitioning democracies (of whom the EU, Biden’s US, and Lula’s Brazil can be leaders).

It’s high time to shed the old lenses and shape a new global reality. In that, Ukraine can stand at the forefront.

3) I recently argued that the cultural dimensions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict cannot be denied. As shown in this excellent New York Times investigation and photo-essay (“A Culture in the Crosshairs,” Dec. 19, 2022), cultural sites have sometimes been deliberately targeted by Russia, and otherwise have simply been part of an indiscriminate barrage of terror against the Ukrainian population.

If Putin’s goal of geopolitical power has long been supported by a complementary goal of strengthening Russian imperial culture — the “Russkiy mir” he regularly touts — and of denying Ukraine’s (the largest non-Russian post-Soviet republic’s) longstanding resistance to it, Ukrainians have also risen to the level of successfully resisting Russian cultural imperialism through defending their own culture and nationhood. As cultural nationalists have long argued, cultural promotion — including the revival and strengthening of the Ukrainian language — can be an essential part of national self-determination.

But the same idea of broadening Ukraine’s foreign policy can apply to internal policy, including cultural and economic policy. What this implies, for me, is an intentional turn toward seeing national self-determination as part of a wider global struggle for democracy, social justice, and climate transition. I have no illusions that Ukrainians can move forward in building anything when missiles are still targeting Ukrainian cities, so the details of any such shift will remain to be determined (and fought for) once the war is over.

But the vision can be articulated now. And it is one that can encompass much more than the Europhilia, Ukrainophilia, and pro-Western orientations that are often expressed. It can encompass democracy as a global project of social justice and climate justice, resistance to all manner of geopolitical imperialisms (most of them based on carbon capitalism and authoritarian conservative resistance to change), and transition to a renewable and sustainable society.

In all these respects, Ukraine could become a global leader. But first we must stop Russian aggression and end this war.

Economics vs. culture: Ishchenko & his critics

6 02 2023

This is intended as the first in a series of more in-depth posts discussing scholarly perspectives on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It reflects thinking-in-progress, shared for the sake of open discussion and not for scholarly exactitude. (I practice the latter elsewhere.) Responses and corrections are welcome.

Volodymyr Ishchenko has carved out a unique niche as one of the western Left’s go-to voices on all things Ukrainian. His list of articles and interviews in popular venues like Jacobin, New Left Review, Democracy Now, The Guardian, Open Democracy, Socialist Project, PONARS Eurasia, and The Dig runs into the dozens. These appearances in the popular press aren’t undeserved, as his longstanding scholarship on Ukrainian social movements (see this and this) has made him a perceptive and nuanced observer of Ukraine. His perspective has been consistent, and his generous engagement with critics has been noteworthy.

The mixed response to Ishchenko’s recent New Left Review article “Ukrainian Voices?” caps what appears to be a growing rift between Ishchenko and some others on the Ukrainian academic Left, which I attempt to make sense of in this post, as I see important issues at stake in it. (For a few examples of that rift, see here, here, here, and here.)

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Žižek: on Russia’s “nazification” & Ukraine’s popular resistance

13 01 2023

Slovenian theorist Slavoj Žižek has always been easy to agree and disagree with, his elliptically insightful arguments often leaving readers puzzled and exhilarated in equal measure (but rarely simply comforted; for some of my own agreements and disagreements with him, see my book Shadowing the Anthropocene).

On Ukraine, I have found him both insightful and consistent. In June, in a Guardian piece entitled “Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine,” he astutely assessed Russia’s “strategic plan” as being

to profit from global warming: control the world’s main transport route, plus develop Siberia and control Ukraine. In this way, Russia will dominate so much food production that it will be able to blackmail the whole world. This is the ultimate economic reality beneath Putin’s imperial dream.

And he saw in Ukraine’s defense “the greatness of Ukrainian resistance: they risked the impossible, defying pragmatic calculations, and the least we owe them is full support, and to do this, we need a stronger Nato – but not as a prolongation of […] US politics,” but rather as a fully European strategy. He criticized the war’s “strange bedfellows like Henry Kissinger and Noam Chomsky,” both of whom have, at least by implication, advocated Ukrainian surrender. And even as he noted that Putin’s attack on Ukraine was little different from George W. Bush’s attack on Iraq, he argued that “Today, one cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine.” 

This past week, in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Vasha Tavberidze (“Denazification Should Begin at Home, in Russia“), Žižek argued that while fascism, “horrible” as it is, has often limited itself to countries attempting to “maintain order in their own land,” Nazism represented a more expansionist and imperialist form of fascism. Today, he suggests, with Putin’s embrace of a vision inspired by fascist thinker Ivan Ilyin and with materially backed rhetoric about the necessary “de-Satanization” of Europe, Russia is the country that is most “dangerously approaching a new version of Nazism.”

The global risk, as he sees it, is that of “a silent pact between Western alt-right neoconservatives, aggressive populists from France to England to Germany, [and] the United States and Russia” pursuing a “new vision of sovereign neofascist states.” In this situation, he defends the social-democratic vision of a Europe that is “a corporation of states in a global emergency situation based on basic social democratic values [… of] global health care, solidarity, free education, and so on,” and argues that it is this Europe that needs to support the Ukraine that today counts as “one of the few examples [of] authentic popular resistance — they did the impossible, every leftist should be glad.” 

RFE/RL’s interview with Zizek can be read here.

Explaining Russia

23 11 2022

It’s trite to call Russia’s actions in Ukraine these days evil. In their goal of bringing an entire country to its knees through military firepower, battered infrastructure, and a decimated power grid (in time for the cold winter ahead), they are certainly that. But they are an evil that calls for analysis and explanation.

That analysis, however, would have to cover a great deal.

For starters, it would have to explain how it is that Russians allowed their country to succumb to the belligerent authoritarianism of Putinism, and how enough of them came to either support Putin or to consider it imprudent or too costly to resist him. And how Putin himself transformed from the (seeming) pragmatic realism of his early presidency to the neo-imperial fantasies of today. And how the late Soviet power elite finessed its way into an oligarchic capitalism amenable to the consolidation of Putin’s power vertykal (and, conversely, how Putin coldly disemboweled any rival sources of power). And how his rise was built, from the get go, on the creation of external threats (Chechens, Georgians, “Nazis,” the “liberal” West) and assertive displays of disciplinary power to eliminate or neuter them.

And how Russians who were poised to follow in the footsteps of their fellow East Europeans by threading the needle (challenging as it was everywhere) between democracy and neoliberal entrepreneurialism on the one side, and the social safety net of socialism on the other, came to lose all faith in the former two and accept what scraps of the third were offered them. And how decades of Sovietization, the economic traumas of the 1990s, and the creeping authoritarianism of Putinism exorcised away any capacity among Russians to act collectively and politically in the face of any challenge (so unlike Ukrainians in that).

And of how Russia’s essential conservatism bounced back after 1990 with a vengeance, led by an apocalyptic church beholden both to its own hierarchic religiosity and to its deep historical entanglement with power (in this case, Putin’s). And of the unquestioned imperialism and colonialism at the heart of the Russian imaginary, in which Ukraine functioned only as a lesser, weaker brother liable to forget his allegiance to the imperial center and needing to thereby be reined in, repeatedly and by force if necessary. And of how the West, with its wealth, its progress, and its freedoms, became the ultimate foil for the Russian project and the ultimate object of its ressentiment.

And of how challenging the liberal West has become Russia’s modus operandi on the world stage, allowing it to find supporters (tacit or otherwise) in nearly every country in the world, and to repurpose its Soviet era security apparatus toward global informational warfare. And of how Russia’s oil and gas reserves — its only source of economic strength — has made it an attractive partner to other states with reason to distrust the U.S.-led West (such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea these days, but also China and India).

And of how all this leads to a situation where colossal miscalculations — such as the dubious assumption of a three-day military victory and an overwhelmingly welcoming Ukrainian population — will naturally arise, and where the internal logic of strongman authoritarianism, with its blinded judgment and its to-the-death dependence on victory, can only lead to the gory intensification of military might that we are seeing now, people’s lives be damned.

That’s for starters.

Dale: a Leninist defense of Ukraine

19 08 2022

In “Lenin, Ukraine, and the Amnesia of the ‘Anti-War Left‘,” Tom Dale provides an incisive analysis of the contemporary Left’s failure to substantively analyze the war in Ukraine. Writing in the independent socialist magazine New Politics, Dale writes:

The left lacks a unified theory of geopolitics, capitalism, war, and movement strategy to act as a reference point for its internal discussion. It lacks even a range of contending, explicitly articulated theoretical perspectives drawn from within its own ranks, and consistent with its broader world view, that clearly describe the lines of debate.

What it has instead is a mess of half-examined folk-theories, sentiments, and habits of argument. These have been drawn impressionistically from recent history, borrowed selectively from philosophically incompatible traditions—such as realism—or half-excavated from the bedrock of the left’s own past.

The article draws in depth on Vladimir Lenin’s own writings and positions to show that the founding father of the Soviet Union, for all his contradictions, had a much more nuanced understanding of war than today’s “anti-war left” has shown itself capable of. In his conclusion, Dale argues that the war in Ukraine

pits a flawed democracy against a personal autocracy; a social system with the potential for evolution against one hard-cased by a police state; and national self-determination against colonial annexation and cultural annihilation. Whatever one thinks, strategically, of Ukraine’s manner of handling its relations with the West and Russia, these are the matters at stake, and the primary ground on which the question of military support should be decided.

The full article can be read here.

Balibar: on the war’s globalized ‘hybridity’

7 08 2022

It’s rare for a western European left-wing philosopher to be so well informed about Ukraine, and for that alone Etienne Balibar’s article “In the War: Nationalism, Imperialism, Cosmopolitics,” published back in June and translated here on the Spil’ne/Commons web site, deserves reading and sharing.

On the whole I think it is an excellent piece, which analyzes the Russo-Ukrainian war in all its multidimensionality — as a war of independence (for Ukrainians), a continuation of a “long European civil war,” a war that raises important questions about nationalism and neo-imperialism, a globalized and hybrid war involving rival military and economic alliances, and a war that is further “hybridized” by the “environmental catastrophe” that “shifts and subverts all borders in the world, particularly the borders between the habitable and inhabitable regions, and the ‘frontiers’ of exploitable regions at the cost of immense destructions of natural landscapes.”

I have a few minor qualms with the piece. One is that by referring first to the war’s being a “war of independence,” Balibar risks overemphasizing Ukrainians’ agency in causing it. The war is first and foremost a war of attempted colonial (imperial) conquest. That Russian hostility was triggered by the Maidan “revolution” of 2013-14 is not at issue. But that “revolution” did not challenge the boundaries of Ukraine or Russia; Russian incursions (in support of ostensible “separatists”) did. I take this as an oversight of emphasis, since Balibar is well aware that, as he puts it, “We can never forget which armies invaded Ukraine and currently destroy it.”

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Bilous: It’s about self-determination

27 07 2022

Taras Bilous got sick and took a few days off from his work with the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, and wrote two articles. Here’s one of them, published in Jacobin, entitled “I’m a Ukrainian Socialist. Here’s why I Resist the Russian Invasion.”

The decision to oppose the Russian occupation was not made by Joe Biden, nor by Zelensky, but by the Ukrainian people, who rose en masse in the first days of the invasion and lined up for weapons. [. . .]

Instead of seeing the world as being composed solely of geopolitical camps, socialist internationalists must evaluate every conflict based on the interests of working people and their struggle for freedom and equality. [. . .]

The world will become even more unjust and dangerous if non-Western imperialist predators take advantage of American decline to normalize their aggressive policies. Ukraine and Syria are examples of what a “multipolar world” will be like if the appetites of non-Western imperialisms are not reduced.

Feminist Initiative: Right to Resist

20 07 2022

The Feminist Initiative Group’s “Right to Resist” Manifesto takes issue with the Feminist Resistance Against War manifesto, arguing that the latter denies Ukrainian women the right to resist.

We, feminists from Ukraine, call on feminists around the world to stand in solidarity with the resistance movement of the Ukrainian people against the predatory, imperialist war unleashed by the Russian Federation. War narratives often portray women* as victims. However, in reality, women* also play a key role in resistance movements, both at the frontline and on the home front: from Algeria to Vietnam, from Syria to Palestine, from Kurdistan to Ukraine.

Its signatories, numbering in the hundreds, call “for an informed assessment of a specific situation instead of abstract geopolitical analysis which ignores the historical, social and political context,” and argue that “Russian aggression undermines the achievements of Ukrainian feminists in the struggle against political and social oppression.”

It’s worth noting that the Feminist Resistance Against War, which was published on March 17, has been signed by 151 signatories as of today. Not a single one of them is based in Ukraine. In contrast, the “Right to Resist” manifesto, as of July 20, is signed by 629 people and 56 organizations, of which at least a few hundred appear to be Ukrainian (judging by names or affiliations).  

The entire manifesto can be read on Spil’ne/Commons.

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