Date   

Report on DSA meeting on Ukraine

John Reimann
 

I went to a meeting of the East Bay DSA "Night School" last night. This was a presentation supposedly on Ukraine. As I expected, the meeting was a not-so-subtle cover for Putin from start to finish. The presentation was broken up into three parts.

The first part focused on the history of NATO, so right from the start implication was that Russia's invasion was due to NATO's expansion. What they presented wasn't entirely wrong but it was like what a magician does - wave one hand around and use a constant stream of patter to distract the audience from what the other hand is doing. He also said that he didn't want to focus on Putin, because it's mistaken to focus on individual personalities. 

After this first section, there was a discussion and I got up and said I knew where he was going with this, that NATO's expansion is not the basic cause of Russia's invasion, etc. I also explained the basis of Putin's rule - chauvinism, etc. - and that NATO's expansion was not the main reason for Putin's invasion. The main reason was that Putin is trying to restore a Greater Russian empire similar to the old Tsarist Russia and that Putin has stated that he doesn't believe Ukraine has a right to exist. I also pointed out that the Western left doesn't talk with the the left in Ukraine and doesn't read their material. It is like white people talking about racism in the US without communicating in any way with black people or reading what black people have to say.

In the second section, he talked about the restoration of capitalism in Russia although he didn't use that term. It wasn't entirely wrong, but again a bit of a cover up for the former Soviet bureaucracy. He explained that the introduction of a "market economy" (vs. a "planned economy") was through "shock therapy" in which the "moderately rich" bought up the state owned enterprises and became "super rich". He said that during this period "the Russian government is trying to figure out how to do a market economy." He commented on Putin's increased popularity until a couple of years ago due to economic recovery there. He also talked about two different definitions of imperialism - basically the old style colonial invasions vs. Lenin's definition of what amounts to economic imperialism. He did admit that Russia engages in the latter, but to a much smaller degree than does the US.

I was able to reply despite their reluctance to call on me. I commented first of all that he was entirely leaving out the Ukraine itself; it was like these people don't exist! I also said that it was not the "moderately rich"; it was the old "nomenklatura" - the former bureaucrats - and they basically stole the state owned industries in the process of forming a mafia capitalist class. There was one mafiosa who was more ruthless and clever than any of the others and rose to the top to become the head gangster. That was Putin. His increased support, yes, was partly due to the economic recovery but also was due to the base he'd built through support for Great Russian chauvinism and the Russian Orthodox Church. I also pointed out that Ukraine was entirely missing in his presentation and that the return of capitalism there wasn't entirely different as far as the rise of a mafiosa capitalist class although there were some differences.

The last part of his presentation was on Ukraine, which he pictured as a country that historically had had a "huge ethno cultural divide". He talked about the Maidan revolt mainly from that point of view. This was where his point of view became more clear as his basic point was that this is a proxy war. "We (the US) are at war along with Ukraine (against Russia)," he said. "The US is using Ukraine to fight Russia" and is willing to fight "to the last Ukrainian", he said. The one piece of evidence he presented for that was some statement of some Republican congressman. He also said it's "not political" to talk about the course of the war and what the Russian troops are doing there. In other words, we should not discuss the massive atrocities and war crimes of which Russian troops are guilty. Nor should we discuss the fact that Russia is on its way to annex the parts of Ukraine that it now controls militarily.

By that time they were unwilling to call on me, but here what amounts to an imperialist point of view came into full bloom. What the Ukrainians want, their views on the invasion didn't exist in his mind. The fact that at the start of the invasion so many Ukrainians were volunteering for the army that the government couldn't accept them all didn't exist in his mind. And any discussion of the horrific atrocities and war crimes that Russia was committing was "not political", according to him.

Two conclusions: First, especially in places like the SF Bay Area, there is a long and close connection between the Stalinists and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Yes, they have had conflicts at times but at others they worked very closely. East Bay DSA is dominated by a leadership that is determined to keep DSA within the confines ot the Democratic Party. While many of them are not historically Stalinists, it is because of that historic link that they have had to cede the ground to the Stalinists on this issue.

Second: if there is any sort of move towards a working class party in the US, any broader political movement of workers, such issues as Ukraine will inevitably arise. We will have to be debating these soft Stalinists. I think we should do so every opportunity we get right now. It's like taking candy from a baby cutting down their arguments.

John Reimann
--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Social Security trustees say the U.S. is rich enough to expand, not shrink, benefits | Michael Hiltzik | Los Angeles Times

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 



Column: Social Security trustees say the U.S. is rich enough to expand, not shrink, benefits

Mitch McConnell

After passing a huge tax cut for the rich, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blamed Social Security and Medicare for the federal deficit.

(Associated Press)

The army of perennial doomsayers about the financial condition of Social Security had to be a little crestfallen after the release of the program trustees’ annual report last week. 

That’s because the report documented that the program’s condition had actually improved in the last year, if modestly. 

More to the point, the trustees’ data underscored that the cost of maintaining Social Security benefits at current levels, or even expanding and improving them, is well within the capacity of the American economy at least to the end of this century, which is as far as the trustees looked. 

This discussion is really about politics and values, not about affordability.

— Eric Kingson, Social Security Works

To be more specific, the trustees project that the depletion of the Social Security trust funds would take place in 2035 — up from 2034 as calculated in last year’s report. 

At that point, enough money would be coming, mostly from payroll taxes, to cover 80% of then-scheduled benefits, up from the 78% projected a year ago.

The improvement was due in part to the unexpectedly powerful economic rebound after the brief pandemic-related slowdown in 2020. 

This slight improvement didn’t stop news organizations and budget deficit hawks from sounding their customary alarms. The Washington Post editorial board warned of “the Social Security and Medicare disaster” looming ahead. 

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a hive of budget hawks, warned that “the latest Social Security projections show the program is quickly headed toward insolvency.” 

The committee has always been closely linked to a foundation established by the billionaire investor Peter G. Peterson, whose hostility to Social Security was a byword.

The most important figures in the 268-page trustees report may be those squirreled away in an appendix on page 218. These figures project the cost of Social Security as a percentage of gross domestic product — that is, as a share of the U.S. economy. 

They show that the program is eminently affordable — indeed, that there will be plenty of headroom in the economy, thanks to its continued growth, to expand the program and increase benefits. 

This year, the trustees reckon, Social Security’s combined costs for retirees, those with disabilities and their dependents will come to about 4.98% of an economy valued at $25 trillion. Through the turn of the century, that percentage will peak at 6.18% in 2075, when GDP is estimated to be more than $208 trillion, then will fall to about 5.87% in 2100, when GDP is projected to be $574.5 trillion.

Is this “unaffordable”? Not by international standards. Some of our closest allies in the developed world spend much more than we do on public retirement and disability programs — Japan spends 10.5% of its GDP, France 15.3% and Germany 12.5%.

Is spending as much as 6.18% of GDP unsustainable? Given that the U.S. has spent much more on unproductive programs in our recent history, that wouldn’t seem so. 

Military spending reached 9.4% of GDP in 1967, during the Vietnam War, without raising cries that the country was going bankrupt. Defense was still consuming 6.8% of GDP in 1982, seven years after that war ended, and even today counts for about 3.7% of GDP. 

Somehow, defense spending is treated in Washington as sacrosanct, while the support of seniors, those with disabilities and their families is a threat to the national wealth. 

The notion that we can’t afford Social Security and Medicare is a shibboleth of conservatives, Republicans and their anti-tax constituencies. 

In 2018, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), identified “entitlements” — that’s Washington-speak for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — as “the real drivers of the debt” and called for them to be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.”

Translation: He wanted to cut benefits. 

A year later, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said members of Congress should hold discussions about Social Security “behind closed doors ... so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other.” She meant “voters.” And yes, legislation is always easier when it takes place out of public view.

Then there’s Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), whose “Rescue America” manifesto calls for sunsetting every federal program, including Social Security, after five years. His plan advocates requiring Congress to “issue a report every year telling the public what they plan to do when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.” Since those programs can go bankrupt only if Congress connives for that to happen, this is a curiously tautological mandate. 

Scott, by the way, is the Senate’s richest member, with a personal fortune estimated in 2020 at nearly $260 million. 

“This discussion is really about politics and values, not about affordability,” says Eric Kingson, chairman and co-founder of the advocacy group Social Security Works. 

That point is lost on too many commentators in the media. The Washington Post’s editorial board bolstered its alarmist headline with the ludicrous assertion that “the vast expansion of outlays for the elderly” projected for Social Security and Medicare “would hollow out the government’s ability to spend on education, infrastructure, anti-poverty programs and other investments in children and working-age adults.” 

The Post repeated the contention, without examining it, that “any plausible future settlement would require some mix of modest benefit adjustments and tax hikes.” (What’s a “benefit adjustment”? If the editorialists mean benefit cuts, they should say so. This is how conservative attacks on the welfare of ordinary Americans suddenly become “plausible.”

McConnell, as it happens, had things backward when he implied that the “demographics of the future” justified reducing benefits. The demographics of the future pointed to increased economic inequality, which makes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid more important to the average American, not less so.

That’s the point of efforts in Congress to expand and increase Social Security benefits, as would be done by a bill dubbed Social Security 2100, introduced by Rep. John B. Larson and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats from Connecticut. 

The measure would increase benefits across the board by an average 2%, set a minimum retirement benefit at 25% above the federal poverty line and extend dependent benefits for students up to age 26 (the current cutoff is 19), among other improvements.

On the revenue side, the bill would eliminate, over time, the existing cap on wages subject to tax, which is $147,000 this year — a level that in effect gives the 1% a pass on their obligation to support this universal system. (The payroll tax is 12.4% up to that wage cap, shared equally by employer and employee.)

More could be done to provide additional revenue for Social Security. One option would be to make all income, not just wages, subject to the Social Security tax, thus bringing the capital gains and dividends that make up a disproportionate share of income for the wealthiest Americans into the revenue stream. 

That option doesn’t get talked about much, perhaps because politicians know that the wealthy would go to the mat to protect their capital gains from higher taxes.

What’s unnerving about discussions of Social Security’s future in recent years is the emerging assumption that doing something about the program’s fiscal situation requires a combination of higher revenues and cuts in benefits. Although the first is imperative, the latter option must be taken off the table.

The most misleading claim by those advocating fixes is that they must be done now because waiting will only make the required reforms more stringent. 

This makes absolutely no sense. Making the program fully solvent for the next 75 years, the CRFB asserts, would require a 3.24 percentage point increase in the payroll tax today but 4.07 percentage points if delayed until 2035. The program could be fixed supposedly, by a 20% benefit cut across the board today, but 25% if deferred to 2035.

That means depriving workers of more than a decade of benefits or charging them more than a decade of higher taxes, just to make the ultimate changes more politically palatable. Workers don’t gain a thing in those scenarios. It should be obvious that these are “fixes” for Social Security in the same sense that one “fixes” a cat or mobsters “fix” a stool pigeon — the improvements aren’t felt by the targets, that’s for sure. 

There are sound reasons for shoring up Social Security’s financial condition. They get sounder every day as the wealth of the 1% continues to outstrip the income of ordinary families and the household resources fall further behind what’s needed for a sustainable, comfortable retirement

Social Security is the most successful program in American history, and surely the most popular. “Part of the reason this program needs to be understood as a public utility and a public good is that it’s one of the few things we all agree on, pretty much, and we badly need that today,” Kingson told me. “The calm that comes from this year’s trustees report is a reminder that we all have a stake in this system, and it works well.”




American Affairs: The EU after Ukraine

Bradley Mayer
 

Wolfgang Streeck:

"with the war dragging on, Europe, organized in a Euro­pean Union subordinate to NATO, will find itself dependent on the bizarreries of the domestic politics of the United States, a declining great power readying itself for global conflict with a rising great power, China. Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan should have amply documented the American penchant to exit if their, always and by definition well-intentioned, efforts in other parts of the world fail for whatever reason, leaving behind a lethal mess that others must clean up if they require a minimum of international order at their doorsteps. Astonishingly, nowhere in western Europe is the question asked what will happen if, in 2024, either Trump is 
reelected—which seems not at all impossible—or some ersatz Trump is elected in his place. But even with Biden or some moderate Republican, the notoriously short attention span of American imperial policy should, but does not, seem to enter into the strategic calculations, if there are any, of European governments".

https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2022/05/the-eu-after-ukraine/


Re: U.S. Helps Prolong Ukraine War | Christopher Caldwell | The New York Times

David Walters
 

Bobby, it is not a football game. It's quite real and involves all sorts of issues, most notably, and succinctly, what Dayne noted. Taking "no side" IS a position and is taking a "side". For example, in the Vietnam War, if you took "no side" (as did SANE and some early pacifist groupings), it mean *effectively* you were for the U.S. winning or didn't care.


Solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance!

Dayne Goodwin
 

An update on the situation in and political debates about Ukraine from an internationalist anti-imperialist perspective.
by Ashley Smith, Tempest, June 3
  .  .  .

It is essential to correct the distortions made by some sections of the Left about the nature of this war: it is one of imperialist aggression by Russia to re-impose its rule over its oldest former colony, Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has made that abundantly clear in all his speeches. He dismisses Ukraine as an artificial invention of Lenin’s Bolsheviks and, in his view, a product of their mistaken commitment to an oppressed nation’s right to self-determination.

Putin aims to recreate Russia’s pre-Soviet empire. The nature of his colonial project is visible in those parts of Ukraine his forces have already seized; he has imposed puppet governments, switched the currency to the ruble, mandated education in Russian, arrested and detained anyone that resists, and forced them to record confessional videos testifying their loyalty to Moscow.

Putin’s justification that he is carrying out the de-Nazification of Ukraine is laughable. Putin’s regime is itself neofascist, and has formed alliances with far right reactionaries throughout the world from Donald Trump to Narendra Modi, Victor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro, and Marine Le   . Pen, to name only a few.

  .  .  .

The final source of confusion on the Left is pacifism. Pacifists, who oppose violence on principle, condemn Russia’s invasion, but they also oppose Ukraine’s military resistance as well as U.S. and NATO arms shipments in support of it.

Given their abstract moralistic position, they often draw on the faux anti-imperialist and geopolitical reductionist’s political frameworks to justify their positions. Pacifist formations like Code Pink oppose Ukraine’s right to secure arms and the arms shipments themselves, instead calling for the U.S. to broker a ceasefire, engage in diplomacy, and secure a negotiated settlement.

Such calls ignore Ukraine’s right to self-determination. Ukraine alone has the right to decide when and on what terms to stop fighting and negotiate a settlement. Its government and its people have made clear that they remain committed to resisting Russian occupation.

They know that any settlement will be determined by the balance of forces on the battlefield, and if one is brokered at this point it would ratify Russian conquest and partition of the country. Thus, the pacifist position ends up betraying Ukraine’s national liberation struggle and rewarding Moscow’s violent aggression.

  .  .  .



Angela Davis Says Black Activist Anthony Gay Is Jailed on False Charges

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Excerpt: Inside the Gwangju Uprising, a Key Moment for South Korean Democracy

Dennis Brasky
 

The accounts in this excerpt are part of Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea, Recorded by Hwang Sok-yong, Lee Jae-eui, and Jeon Yong-ho, Compiled by the Gwangju Democratization Movement Commemoration Committee. Gwangju Uprising will be published this month in English translation by Slin Jung by Verso. Excerpted with permission. 

Hwang Sok-yong has achieved international acclaim and his status as an imprisoned, exiled, and dissident author has been championed by World PEN. His many novels include At DuskFamiliar Things, and The Guest.

Lee Jae-eui was an eyewitness Chonnam National University (CNU) student and freedom fighter. He has worked for years to preserve the history of the Gwangju Uprising.

Editor's Note: In May, 1980, a protest movement of students and blue-collar workers was violently suppressed by the South Korean martial law government of General Chun Doo-hwan, which arrested, tortured or killed thousands of participants. Survivors worked to preserve and compile a record of their experiences, frequently in secret as activists remained subject to surveillance. The publication and distribution of the texts as contraband was a key driver of the 1987 "June Struggle" democracy movement.

 

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/183148



Re: What Marxmail has always been

John A Imani
 

Andrew Stewart
Jun 6  
wrote:

<<Louis said basically everyone who was mobilized by Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and Bernie Sanders should have a concentrated effort to go get hired at Amazon to unionize their ghastly facilities.

<<We are currently living in the midst of a massive unionization drive that is quite unexpected, untethered to the labor aristocracy, and targeted at two industrial hubs...that epitomize the absolute worst aspects of the neoliberal transition from a manufacturing to service...Union drives of this sort have not been seen in generations and are quite extraordinary, led by dedicated, disciplined radical...

<<I have not seen any serious discussion (JAI:  On Marxmail) of coordinated solidarity protests or campaigns in support of these extremely brave union organizers.

<<What would Louis have wanted? To see this list be helping build these solidarity actions and campaigns.>>

Agree,

JAI


Re: What Marxmail has always been

John A Imani
 

<<Mark Lause
Jun 6  

<<Just my two cents for what it's worth.
 
<<This sort of thing backs up on this list like a faulty sewerage system every few years...
Agree.

JAI


Re: Economic development in socialist countries - great achievements and future prospects | Cheng Enfu | Friends of Socialist China

Andrew Stewart
 

It is rather interesting to see the rhetorical strategy that seeks to rebrand Deng as part of a continuation rather than rejection of Maoism in the 60s-70s. I can’t understand what value this has for anyone. Most recently Danny Haiphong has tried to claim that the Tiananmen Square protest was a color revolution sponsored by the CIA!


Ukraine: 100 days of war

Zakhyst Pratsi
 

https://lis-isl.org/en/2022/06/04/ucrania-100-dias-de-guerra/

By Oleg Vernyk from Kiev

This text is being written as the Russian aggression against Ukraine is exactly 100 days on. On February 24, 2022, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, announced the start of the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine, which set itself the tasks of “demilitarization” and “denazification”. Shortly before the beginning of the aggression, Putin declared that the very existence of an independent Ukraine was a only product of intrigues by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who created Ukraine on the territory of the former Russian Empire. Therefore, another objective of the aggression was to carry out what is called “decommunization”. That is, at first, to make Ukraine a dependent state of Russia, and then, together with Belarus, to create a single “union state”. However, these plans were not destined to come true. The selfless resistance of the Ukrainian people broke the plans of Russian imperialism for a blitzkrieg victory, and the war took on a long, fierce and bloody character...

The situation on the front lines...

Poverty and attacks on workers on the rise...

A socialist policy...



Piketty on the NY Tomes

workerpoet
 

 https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/07/opinion/ezra-klein-podcast-thomas-piketty.html#commentsContainer

Though the censors are mostly blocking posts (for now) by anyone except disparaging anti-socialists. I managed to get one comment in but have been blocked since.


Closet Putinistas

RKOB
 

Closet Putinistas

On the Ukraine War and the inter-imperialist rivalry: a reply to a polemic of the Partido Obrero (Argentina)

By Michael Pröbsting, RCIT, 7 June 2022

https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-closet-putinistas-reply-to-po-argentina/


Red-Green Alliance: 'The Danish government has used fear of Russia's brutal war to rush through major policy changes'

Richard Fidler
 

The Russia-Ukraine war is being used by the Danish elites, as elsewhere, to boost military spending and NATO engagement. This interview illustrates how Denmark’s left party is confronting the challenge.

http://links.org.au/red-green-alliance-danish-government-fear-russia-brutal-war-major-policy-changes

 

Incidentally, those with a Netflix subscription will enjoy the latest series of Borgen (8 episodes), where Birgitte Nyborg (the wonderful Sidse Babett Knudsen), now Denmark’s foreign minister and ostensible environmentalist, grapples with a major oil find in Denmark’s colony Greenland; Chinese, Russian and US interests in its exploitation; and Greenland politicians’ desire to use the potential revenues to further their fight for political independence. As Le Devoir’s critic noted, it’s almost a parody of the dilemmas confronting Steven Guilbault, the Équiterre cofounder who is now Canada’s environment minister.

 

Richard


Re: U.S. Helps Prolong Ukraine War | Christopher Caldwell | The New York Times

Les Schaffer
 

i've put this thread on moderation. posts that offer something new and worthy of discussion by the list will be passed through. consider this thread to be taking a breather.

Les

On 6/6/22 6:44 PM, Anthony Boynton wrote:
Dave Lindorf is way out of line. Here is what the first line on the homepage of the Marxmail list says, "The Marxism list is a worldwide moderated forum for activists and scholars in the Marxist tradition who favor a non-sectarian and non-dogmatic approach. It puts a premium on independent thought and rigorous but civil debate.” You have been warned. No more name calling. When you are at home, feel free to call people fat, old and whatever else you think is an insult, but not here.


Re: U.S. Helps Prolong Ukraine War | Christopher Caldwell | The New York Times

Bobby MacVeety
 

To “pick a side” is to put aside scientific Marxist analysis and become a fan rooting for your team 


On Jun 6, 2022, at 7:56 PM, Dayne Goodwin <daynegoodwin@...> wrote:


WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Are you on the side of the Ukrainian people defending themselves against Putin's invasion?  Or are you on the side of Russian imperialism?

On Sun, Jun 5, 2022 at 11:27 PM Dayne Goodwin via groups.io <daynegoodwin=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
typical middle-class pacifism

On Sun, Jun 5, 2022 at 7:01 AM Dave Lindorff <dlindorff@...> wrote:
The way I view this is that this debate gets skewed off the mark by the different focus of the two sides. Those who want to defend Ukraine at all costs (except for direct US involvement in the war using Amerian ground droops and pilots), feel that the opposition to Russian imperialism and an illegal invasion are apparently willing to risk a nuclear conflict over that sense of obligation to a country and a people under threat. And those who fear a nuclear conflict feel that preventing nuclear war is an issue that overrides the justified resistance of a Ukrainian people who do not want to be subjugated by a powerful imperial neighbor.
   .  .  . 


Economic development in socialist countries - great achievements and future prospects | Cheng Enfu | Friends of Socialist China

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Anti-War Coalition Warns New UK Rockets Will Only 'Prolong the Misery' in Ukraine | Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


‘The Russian empire is failing in its own way’

Dayne Goodwin
 

A conversation between Simon Pirani and Anthony McIntyre about the Russian war on Ukraine.
People and Nature, Pirani's blog, June 1, 2022
  .  .  .
AM: ...We would both agree that the Russian offensive war is the supreme international crime. Yet, we have some on the Left – we expect it from the Right – claiming neutrality, adopting the Kissingerian posture during the Iran-Iraq war that it is a pity both sides can’t lose. I suspect in many cases that is a form of cover for their real sympathies probably lying with the Kremlin. They tend to be old tankies who subscribed to the Brezhnev Doctrine and for whatever convoluted reason think this is the same doctrine served up in a modern dish.

Eric Draitser describes much of this as the “fraudulent narratives of the Kremlin disinformation army on the Left.” How do you feel upon observing people on the Left opting out of supporting Ukrainian society in its struggle to essentially survive in face of a military onslaught from a right-wing capitalist authoritarian state?

  .  .  .

SP: First, we have to discount the effect of the Kremlin’s propaganda. Its purpose is to justify the invasion not only to people in Russia – where it is now going from difficult to impossible to access alternative sources of news – but also to select audiences in the West. These audiences include not only the populist Right, who love Putin, but also people in the global south, and in the so-called “Left” in Europe, who rightly despise and distrust the western powers, on account of their criminal activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with respect to Palestine, and are rightly suspicious of our own governments’ arguments. When I say “propaganda” I mean not only the blatant lies, e.g. that Russian soldiers did not perpetrate the massacres at Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol, but also the constant drip-feed of misrepresentation about the causes of the war, which started not this year but in 2014.

  .  .  .

SP: You say the West built a security architecture that excluded Russia, and that’s absolutely true. And if anyone thought the Western multilateral institutions were designed to bring about peace and happiness, they would see this as a missed opportunity. I just don’t think that’s the way capitalism works. I think that in the 1990s Russia was integrated into the world economy as a secondary power, a supplier of raw materials. Putin has tried to compensate for that fundamental economic weakness with military strength. The Western powers bought the raw materials, welcomed the oligarchs into their financial systems, and after 2014 warned Russia not to overstep the mark. Now it has overstepped the mark, and there is a serious conflict. The relationship has changed. But the people who are getting killed are citizens of Russia’s oldest colony, targets of unprovoked aggression. Their involvement in the 2014 overthrow of Yanukovych, whatever its pros and cons, scared the Kremlin, just like revolts in Ireland always scared the Brits. It looks like a monstrous, one-sided imperialist invasion, because that’s what it is.

  .  .  .

SP: The Russian empire is failing in its own way. I’d say that the Soviet Union, while suppressing key economic features of capitalism, politically pulled most of the Russian empire back together again, after a brief hiatus caused by the revolution. By the late 1920s Russia’s oldest colony, Ukraine – along with Russia’s Caucasian and central Asian colonies – was back in what socialists had called the “prisonhouse of nations”, reconfigured. Finland escaped. So did the Baltic states – only to be incorporated into the Soviet Union thanks to a deal between its leaders and Nazi Germany in 1939.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, capitalism returned – unobstructed, unregulated, and in Russia’s case, in a very parasitic form. So Putin’s imperialism is not about economic dominance of its neighbours. He has actually shown little interest in that. Central Asia is now much more dependent on China, and to a lesser extent the US; Ukraine and the Baltics are increasingly dependent on Europe economically. In my view, Putin’s imperialism is about three things: military strength, including the nukes that you mention; social control, both in Russia and the neighbouring territories; and ideology. The ideology is about the “Russian world”, as reflected both in Putin’s speeches about Ukraine not being a country, and the stuff about hunting down internal enemies. It’s lurching towards something that in my view increasingly resembles fascism.

...

If anyone wants to know my view in more detail, I tried to develop it in these articles: Ukraine: the sources of danger of a wider war, and Solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance: six questions.

  .  .  .

SP: I think that the war could go on for a long time and we will witness more suffering. But I also think that we can see all sorts of reasons to be hopeful. It is Ukrainian society as a whole, not just the army, that pushed back the initial Russian invasion and reminded the world that imperialist thugs can be beaten. European social movements, and the labour movement, have expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance. There is every reason to believe that such solidarity can be woven into movements around the cost-of-living crisis that now faces us all, the climate change disaster, and other issues, to present new and powerful challenges to all capital’s tyrannies of control.

  #  #  #


Katrina vanden Heuvel on How U.S. Media’s “One-Sided Debate” on Ukraine Fans the Flames of War

Charles Keener
 

Katrina vanden Heuvel is no tankie or Putin apologist, but she does calmly raise some reasonable questions/cautions about the standard Western MSM narrative.

Charles


Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv for the first time in over a month on Sunday. This comes as Russian and Ukrainian forces continue to battle over control of the eastern city of Severodonetsk and Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning Western nations against supplying longer-range missile systems to Ukraine. “The longer this war goes on, the much more difficult it is to end it,” says Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation magazine and columnist for The Washington Post. Vanden Heuvel says U.S. corporate media is responsible for what she calls a “one-sided debate” on Ukraine, which is greenlighting unprecedented spending on weapons over the importance of negotiations.

Katrina vanden Heuvel on How U.S. Media’s “One-Sided Debate” on Ukraine Fans the Flames of War | Democracy Now!

Those who provide history and context around the conflict should not be silenced or smeared.


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