Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kiev's Maidan Square and the "Game of Thrones"

US/EU Meddling Attempts to Make Ukrainians Pawns, Promotes Neo-Fascists

The bloody events in Kiev over the past week make one realize that not all street fighting is ‘equal’ – and that not all ‘revolutions’ are simple or even revolutions.  The struggle against corruption and for ‘democracy’ can produce strange bedfellows.  The ‘choice’ between ties with the EU or Russia is not a choice most working-class Ukrainians want to make.  Nor is that what underlies these events.  Economic dependency is sought by both sides.  The stark manipulations of American diplomats, as caught on tape, are just the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of massive capitalist forces, principally Germany, attempting to control the Ukraine’s economic life.  In a full hearing of the tape text on the Amy Goodman show, the diplomats discuss overthrowing the Ukrainian government, not just dissing the EU.  In essence, the EU/US are attempting regime-change and ‘nation-building.'  It could lead to a civil war or partition.  They would love to establish another client state on the border of Russia, and they will do almost anything to accomplish that.  

Ukrainians should not become pawns for anyone, but develop an independent working-class alternative.  There is no ‘one’ Ukrainian people, but an ethnically and culturally-diverse country, like most in the world.  It is industrialized in the east, rural and agrarian in the west.  The present – now missing -  president has the support of many in the east, and he is also backed by many Ukrainian billionaire oligarchs.  He was actually elected, though most elections are easily manipulated.  But elections mean nothing to the 'Democrats" of capital.  The rural west is the heartland of the anti-government right.  The U.S. always enjoys exploiting ethnic antagonisms, as can be witnessed by recent U.S. involvement in Syria, Libya and Egypt.  In this they have Ukrainian allies in the Svoboda Party and the Right Sector, both neo-fascist organizations.  The former is one of three largest anti-Yanukovich political organizations – the others being “Fatherland” and Udar – the latter two helmed by businessmen and boxers.  They are not fascist at least. 

Svoboda is descended from Stepan Bandera, the leader of a Ukrainian nationalist organization that carried out mass murders of Jews, reds, Poles and Soviet Soldiers in World War II.   According to ‘Workers Vanguard’, in 2004 Svoboda was called the “Social-Nationalist Party” after Nazi propaganda, with a swastika-like party symbol, and denounced the “Jewish/Russian” mafia that allegedly ran Ukraine.  Svoboda has engaged in physical confrontations in the Ukrainian parliament.  Its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, met John McCain, one of our endless own war-mongers, in an explicit endorsement by the Republican Party.  Assistant Secretary of State Nuland met with Svooboda in February, being endorsed as legitimate by the our Democratic government. According to The Guardian:  “the party, now running the city of Lviv, led a 15,000-strong torch-lit march earlier this month in memory of Ukrainian fascist leader Bandera, whose forces fought with the Nazis in the Second World War and took part in massacres of Jews.”

Alternet reports, based on anarchist eyewitnesses who had difficult getting into the Maidan Sqaure past the neo-Nazis, who they estimated at 30%:  
"White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev."

Like Jobbik in Hungary (see several commentaries on Hungary, below), Svoboda is a resurrection of fascists tendencies buried during the period of the workers’ states, and now free to roam under capitalism.  Fascism is not some dusty artefact from the distant past.  As the U.S. has proved many times before, making friends with fascists or dictators is just part of any anti-Russian or anti-communist strategy.  People fighting for democracy might want to look at these particular allies in this struggle – ‘allies’ who have no intention of democracy.

In the U.S., there is a never-ending hatred of Russia and demonization of Putin across the whole bourgeois political spectrum.  Obama actually criticized Putin for ‘interfering’ in the Ukraine, while U.S. and EU negotiators swarmed all over Kiev.  The U.S. – in spite of its liberal mask – cannot stand ANY opposition from ANY country on the globe.  When Putin bailed Obama out in Syria and aided the Iranian talks – which the U.S. is fumbling on purpose; when Putin gave shelter to Edward Snowden; when Putin had the temerity to hold the Olympic Games on Russian territory; when the Russians passed reactionary anti-gay laws – all these are examples that corporate bullies do not appreciate – or can use. 

On the latter, do you think that the U.S. criticizes one of the most anti-homosexual countries on the globe, Saudi Arabia?  A country that executes atheists and homosexuals, keeps women in literal closets and is run by unelected billionaire royals, a toxic theocratic mix of oil and Wahhabism?  No. The U.S. sells them weapons instead, as they are an ally.  28 states in the U.S. allow a business to fire homosexuals for being gay.  A peep from Washington or Biden about this?  No.  Because this kind of talk is merely cover for a U.S. global economic strategy, just as their ‘pro-women’ talk in Afghanistan was the cover for military intervention and mineral leases.  It is not about ‘democracy.’ 

Like Russia, Ukraine was economically crushed by neo-liberal shock therapy and mass privatization after the disintegration of the USSR.  More than half the country's income was lost in 5 years and it has yet fully to recover.  A crowd of oligarchs and new capitalists seized state property for a song.  This is one of the roots of this situation.  The left in the Ukraine needs their own forces, mobilized not in the name of the EU or of Russia, but in the name of the Ukrainian working class and their allies everywhere.  Self-determination is essential, but is also a mask for capitalist control.  Killing demonstrators with snipers will not solve this problem.  Nor will successes by Svoboda and the Right Sector – clubs, guns, shields, helmets, gas bombs and all.  The only beneficiaries to that will be one group of big businessmen who are using these particular street-fighters as battering rams for their own interests. 

Fight for working class democracy.

P.S. - An IMF Coup.  The IMF is moving into Ukraine in a big way, dangling $15B with strings - the strings being raising gas prices, cutting subsidies and increasing privatization.  They hope this time they can make the Ukraine swallow the medicine. Anytime the IMF shows up, austerity follows.  Democracy?  Not quite.  Even the unelected 'president' says he will be the most hated man in the Ukraine if he pushes them through - but he's going to do it.

Red Frog
February 22, 2014

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