Re: Boycotting the Ukrainian Resistance Is Neither Internationalist Nor Socialist!


Allow me to reproduce BMayers' text so I can respond point by point:

1. Let's just cut to the chase.  Should Lenin have accepted the material aid of German imperialism in supplying him with a specially sealed train from Switzerland to Finland/Petrograd?  We recall that the Bolsheviks were later slandered with accusations that Lenin was "an agent of German imperialism" by their political opponents. We also recall that it was the social-chauvinist Parvus who negotiated this aid from German imperialism, and Parvus can be considered an early "counter-hegemonist" in that, while he understood that Germany was imperialist, it was a secondary, "contender" imperialism acting against the "hegemons" of the Anglo-French colonial imperialism, for which WW1 tolled the bell of its actual end.  We can also recall that Bolshevik Soviet Russia and German imperialism gave mutual aid to one another at Brest-Litovsk, freeing Germany to launch its final offensive in France, when the Germans likely could have continued on to Petrograd and Moscow and enacted the counterrevolutionary overthrow of the Bolshevik regime, which instead survived.

Indeed, let's cut to the chase except Mayers' is using the wrong knife, cutting against the grain, and chasing nothing but abstraction and diversion.  The main reason that there's no chase here, is because there is no Lenin.  Lenin, may I be so rude to remind others, was nominal head of a revolutionary party.  He advocated a revolutionary program.  He did not get on the train or get off the train to subordinate the independent program of the working class to "national defense" or national self-determination.  He got on the train to advance a revolution. So absolutely taking that train was the right thing to do because it enabled Lenin to advance a revolutionary program and NOT to submerge class differences under some rubric of patriotism or national self-defense.  So where's our Lenin here?  Where is the revolutionary program that is being preserved and advanced in and by the actions of those proclaiming the exact opposite, those  proclaiming not the need for independence of a class based program, but for one that merges itself  with a government committed to preserving capitalism, and not just national, domestic capitalism, but the imperial capitalism of the IMF the EU? 

And we might drive this train further.  Did Lenin, when confronted with the resumed German advance into the newborn soviet territory, appeal to the Triple Entente to  provide weapons? Did Lenin urge "national defense" against the imperial Germans.  Of course not.  I would say, after his proclamation of no support to the Prov Government, Lenin's greatest contribution is to NOT succumb to that.  Rather, he argued to retreat, to cede the territory, accept the German terms and work towards the revolution in Germany and Europe as the only way to truly defend the revolution. And I'm not known for being a big Lenin fan.

2. - Ukraine is a capitalist but not an imperialist country, so we're not talking about "imperialist" war credits in the case of Ukraine.  This is not German Social Democracy in 1914.
- Russia is now a capitalist, neo-imperialist country

--  please define the terms, provide some empirical data to justify the distinctions, and show how those distinctions are the actual causes of the conflict.  If you can't, then it's just empty verbal posturing, designed to rationalize prejudice.  Show us how Russia's imperialism ECONOMICALLY needs to, or has already, subjugated Ukraine's non-imperial capitalist economy.  If you look at the actual economic footprint of Russian assets and Russian shares in the Ukrainian economy, it becomes quickly apparent how small the footprint really is.  It's about 1/15 to 1/20 of the footprint of the US assets and stake in the UK economy.  

3. Democratic right to self-determination is the only necessary *and* sufficient fundamental principle operative here.  By taking the politically correct stance here, Ukraine Socialist Solidarity is able to link up with Ukrainian workers and rank and file socialists on the ground there.  Note there emerges from this basic principle *no requirement* to act as "advisors* to the Ukrainian state, including its "socialist" members, nor to US "socialists" in Congress, nor as "advisors" to NATO on what military aid to send Ukrainians (only Ukrainian soldiers know what they need), nor as OpEd or news spin "propaganda advisors" and "editors" to the NYT or CNN.  Misunderstanding this is the source of all the slanders of being "pro-NATO", etc.  Believe it or not, laying eyes upon the pages of the NYT does not automatically "taint" you with "pro-NATO imperialism", or more concretely, pointing out that something claimed as fact by the NYT might actually be true, also does not "taint" one with "pro-NATOism".  This "logic" is but a case of Plato's shadows on the cave wall, the effect of all those 100 year old fossil bones rattling around in the skulls of too many leftists.

--here comrade BMayers asserts what must first be proven.  In everything I can recall ever reading by Lenin, and Trotsky, there was never ever the assertion that national self-determination ALONE was/is/can be  both the necessary and sufficient principle, so I would appreciate knowing how that determination has now been arrived at.  Is  it  because adopting that patriotic stance allows one to "link up with Ukrainian workers" there?  Even if so, the question is, on what basis? On the basis of support of the Zelensky government?  On the basis of the right to pay debt service for decades to imperialist banks and imperialist institutions?  On the basis of preserving the Ukrainian oligarchs against the Russian oligarchs?  Where exactly is your link going to take you without any articulation of class struggle?

You foreswear any allegiance to NATO, to a central command?  But you claim at the same time the absolute right for those battling for self-determination to obtain weapons from any source, as if the weapons are free, as if they don't come with the steepest of prices, as if the weapons are given to a "struggle" rather than to a class organization to  maintain specific relations of power; as if somehow self-determination is the cause of this conflict, and not the INTRA-capitalist conflict over impaired accumulation, overproduction, etc.

4.  A reformist socialist who voted for or against war credits will have to answer to Ukrainian workers in either case, independently of us.  Ukraine Socialist Solidarity stands independently of those scenarios, since we are not a Ukrainian socialist party, don't run in Ukrainian elections, and have no Ukrainian representatives in their Duma. We are an internationalist *campaign*.  Likewise with US reformist "socialists".  They are Democrats and not the representatives of *independent* socialists like us.  They don't answer to us, we don't answer to them.  

-- here is where comrade Mayers' argues essentially that the very weakness, and irrelevance of an opposition organization relieves it of responsibility and a certain commitment to principles,, and he does all that without realizing what he is truly saying.  "We are (only) an internationalist campaign."  Really? No, you said that "self determination" ALONE "was the necessary and sufficient position that allows you to "link up" with Ukrainian workers.  So you cannot avoid responsibility, when you detach self-determination from the program of class opposition to the Zelensky government, when you separate self-determination from the class analysis of the source of this war in mechanisms of  capitalist accumulation, when you do not articulate any program that envisions expropriating the property of the oligarchs in the Ukraine.  You can't pull that trick.  Oh, you can try. But somebody somewhere sometime is going to say, "WTF?"

5.  Finally, one last experiment with the thought experiment.  Substitute Palestinian for Ukrainian, and our opponents on the Left recognize immediately where the argument will go, and don't want to go there!  Too bad:  "What if"  Palestinians wanted to escalate their armed struggle against the state of Israel, and some US/NATO country offered to supply arms, and the Palestinians - the PA & Gaza regimes and people - accepted?  Would socialist support for the Palestinian call for arms taint us as "pro-NATO"? 

--I'm not afraid to go there.  Comrade Mayers again confuses the struggle of a people which is always an opening moment in class struggle, with the authority of a specific organization, which organization somehow doesn't represent class interests opposed to the successful prosecution of the class struggle.  Nice work if you can get it, but you can't.  We have all sorts of experience with those who have obtained weapons from "any source."  Hasn't worked out well for workers, has it?  The point being, the supply of weapons is used to suppress the prospects of proletarian revolution.  You don't believe me?  Look at Spain 36-39; Vietnam at the close of WW2, when Ho's party used its US supplied weapons to suppress the workers in Saigon and "hold" the line for the British imperialists to make Vietnam safe for the return of the French imperialists.   I would say if US/NATO, or Russia starts supplying weapons to the PLA or Hamas, it's because one or both recognize in PLA -Hamas a cat's paw to use against class struggle in the Mideast.  And yeah, I'd say the revolutionary struggle would involve the struggle against these arm shipments to all these enemies of the proletariat-- Israeli, Palestinian and Arab.

6. Finally, I'd offer the following as a program for united action on Ukraine.  
a) withdrawal of Russian troops
b) no recognition of secessionist oblasts
c) no partition of Ukraine
d) no US/NATO weapons shipments to Ukraine
e) Cancellation of Ukraine's international debt
f) Cancellation of IMF/WB/BIS/OECD programs for "restructuring"
g) No support for the Zelensky government
e) Expropriation of Ukrainian banks without compensation
f) Disarming of all nationalist militias
g) Europe out of NATO
h) Revolutionary defeatism, that is the defeat of each government so engaged by internal revolutionary struggle is the only way to put an end to the war.

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