More views from the left

2 06 2014

In “Eastern Ukraine: Popular Uprising, Conspiracy, or Civil War?” leftish cultural-political magazine n+1  presents a very interesting and diverse collection of interviews with left-wing activists in Ukraine and Russia on the events of the last few months.

And Observer Ukraine presents an interview with Left Opposition activist and lawyer Vitaliy Dudin.

An earlier interview with Zakhar Popovych (also included in the n+1 article) has been translated here.

Velychenko: Prelude to the present

25 05 2014

In “Ukrainian Marxists and Russian Imperialism 1918-1923: Prelude to the Present in Eastern Europe’s Ireland,” historian Stephen Velychenko provides some interesting background to the debate about what happened to the Ukrainian left. The article is long, but worth reading, as it covers an important historical episode in the relations between the Ukrainian left and the Russian left that, Velychenko suggests, is echoed in debates among leftists today.

Velychenko writes:

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Separatists vs. leftists (& an oligarch)

20 05 2014

Developments in eastern Ukraine have been taking some interesting turns.

Among the themes I’ve been seeing in the coverage are more detailed profiles of the pro-Russian separatists, who are looking ever more like a motley bunch. As noted on this blog before, many have links to far-right groups in Russia. (Some of those groups — like Russkaia Pravda, with its bizarre conspiracy tales of how the Jewish-Masonic “Kiev junta” is planning to massively resettle Hasidic Jews from Manhattan into eastern Ukraine — are pretty outlandish.)

University of Manitoba historian Myroslav Shkandrij‘s account of the Russian mercenearies in Donbas details the criminal and/or neo-Nazi backgrounds of about a dozen of the most prominent pro-Russian separatist figures, including Strelkov/Girkin, “Babai”/Mozhaev, “Dingo”/Ponomarev, and several others. Collectively, their prospects seem to be declining.

Another theme is that left-wing eastern Ukrainians — from coal miners and steel workers to national-communists and anarcho-syndicalists — have either begun to clearly distance themselves from the separatists, or have been doing that all along (if less noticeably).

An example is this interview with Mykola Tsikhno, co-ordinator of the National Communist Front, which models itself on the national communists who were prominent in Ukraine in the 1920s (before getting squashed by Stalinism). Another is this interview with Mykola Volynko, head of the Trade Union of Donbas Miners.

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Left Opposition: For an independent socialist Ukraine

11 05 2014

The short answer to the question “Where is the left in Ukraine today?” is that it’s weak and divided. Weak because 70 years of Soviet rule discredited it for many and 22 years of oligarchy marginalized it. Divided because while many leftists in central and western Ukraine support the interim government, much of the southern and eastern left is ambivalent or fights on either side.

The Ukrainian workers’ movement Left Opposition has tried to steer the divide by calling for a national workers’ movement that would focus on shared economic goals as against the pro-EU orientation of the Maidan and interim government, but also against the pro-Russia positions of the separatists.

In a statement from last week, they discuss how other groups have been drawn into the growing divide — socialist union “Borot’ba” on the pro-Russian side, anarchists and anti-fascists on the pro-Maidan side — and call for unity among Leftists.

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Ishchenko: For nuance

15 04 2014

In “Maidan or anti-Maidan? The Ukraine situation requires more nuance,” sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko attempts to carve out a progressive socialist position on the Ukraine conflict, one that would “support progressive wings of both Maidan and anti-Maidan, and try to unite them against the Ukrainian ruling class and against all nationalisms and imperialisms on shared demands for social justice.”

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Pilash: “Trapped… in a vicious circle”

16 03 2014
The following interview with Denis Pilash of the Left Opposition in Kyiv was carried out by SYRIZA (the Greek “Coalition of the Radical Left”). It was passed onto me by Marko Bojcun and can be read here in full. As it hasn’t been printed anywhere else yet (to my knowledge), I am sharing it here in full.

Question: The European Union has started a game that it is not able to finish. It (EU) couldn’t predict the reaction of Moscow?

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Ukrainian leftists’ & anarchists’ statement

3 03 2014

This statement by the Autonomous Workers Union and the Direct Action Independent Student Union makes clear the rift within the Ukrainian left between those who broadly support the anti-Yanukovych movement, participating in the Maidan to varying degrees, and those — primarily Borot’ba, but also the Progressive Socialist Party and Oplot — who align themselves with pro-Russian and Eurasianist forces.

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The “threat” of direct democracy

22 02 2014

These are my own thoughts after following today’s events in Ukraine. I am cross-posting them from Immanence. — A. Ivakhiv

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“Power to the millions, not to the millionaires” (#Leftmaidan)


Three forms of democracy vie with each other in Ukraine today.

The first of these is what we might call authoritarian democracy. This is a hybrid of democracy and authoritarian rule, in which partially developed democratic institutions can be relatively easily played off against each other by the powers-that-be to maintain their rule.

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