Open Letter to the European Left

originalTo the members of GUE/NGL faction in the European Parliament,
Gabriele Zimmer

Dear comrades.,

We, the members of leftist, trade union and human rights organizations in Ukraine, as well as individual activists, would like to draw your attention to the recent events in our country.

On Thursday, 16th of January 2014 without the discussion and contrary to its own regulations and to the Constitution of Ukraine, the Ukrainian parliament, passed a series of laws directed at limiting freedom of speech and citizens’ right to peaceful protest. One of the approved items is the infamous amendment to the Criminal Code which bans so-called “extremism”. In this amendment “inciting social discord” is defined as “extremism”. It is clear that any kind of drawing attention to social problems, to the blatant inequality that exists in Ukrainian society, can be qualified as “inciting social discord”, therefore the activities of left, trade union and social activists in Ukraine can be criminalized to a large extent.

The Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) plays a particularly shameful part in these events. Not only did the Communist Party’s faction unanimously voted for the repressive bills, but the CPU official website also features materials that condemn the recent protests as being inspired by foreign actors with the aim of destabilizing Ukraine. Spreading such opinion, the CPU in fact fulfills the task of the whitewashing of Yanukovych’s regime.

It is true that open anti-communists do play a significant role on Maidan, but this anti-communism is caused mostly by the arrogant position of the Communist Party itself. It is not the first time the CPU has tried to de-legitimize civil protests and adopted a conservative position. In addition to this, in the country that suffered the catastrophic losses caused by hunger and repressions during the Stalinist regime, the CPU refuses to condemn the actions of the USSR’s leaders or at least apologize for them, which makes socialist ideas less popular in Ukrainian society.

Yanukovych’s regime has demonstrated its readiness for repressions. It is evident today that the CPU will use its international connections in order to justify this regime’s actions. That is why we believe that the left all around the world and especially in the European Union must terminate any relations with the Communist Party of Ukraine and condemn its actions.

We believe that the party that treats popular uprisings with open hatred, the party that speaks out against “inciting social discord”, is not fit to be called communist or leftist and is “communist” in  name only.

We ask you to bring this letter to the attention of the leadership of the parties which are members of your Union.

Autonomous Workers Union – Kyiv,

18/01/2014

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  • definitio

    I think a revaluation is needed above. Some leftists get so hang up “on the moment”, thinking they are fulfilling a revolutionary act when crashing with police, when in fact they contribute to an image of chaos which at particular time has a purpose.

    How does the ukrainian european left feel now that top neonazi group members have taken positions of power?

    Was it the established aim to compete with the extreme right in “revolutionary” valour, as a means to gain support and did it succeed?

    Is the leftist revolutionary struggle more possible, more open now or before?

    Such short-sightedness is unforgivable when it is repeated over and over.

    Is the neonazi triumph a result of the position of the CParty?

    Unforgivable lightness of political thought…

    • https://plus.google.com/117938083871109937916 Dmitry Maluka

      I’m not a member of any movement (yet in sympathy with left anarchists) but still…

      > How does the ukrainian european left feel now that top neonazi group members have taken positions of power?

      Not much worried about that, probably. Those “top neonazi” look rather like ordinary political prostitutes than some scary radicals. And they were elected to the parliament in 2012, btw.

      > Is the leftist revolutionary struggle more possible, more open now or before?

      Now.

      > Is the neonazi triumph a result of the position of the CParty?

      There is no “neonazi triumph”.

      The influence of far-right is largely overestimated by many Western people. This is a result of “scheme-based thinking” disconnected from Ukrainian realities. The increasing fascism of Party of Regions was far more dangerous than any nazi slogans. As now Kremlin’s fascism is.

  • definitio

    Thank you for your reply, but will all due respect you are not conversing or problematizing, you are responding as if you had some truth conceived and informing others with single word answers.

    – How could one not speak about a “neonazi triumph” when openly fascist politics has been brought to the mainstream, legitimized and extreme nationalism makes up the political agenda, through influence or as a strategic choice in order to manage “failed state” reactions?

    Furthermore it seems that extreme right in Ukraine is actually above the law.
    If neonazis stormed the prosecutor’s office and beat up a state employee, besieged the parliament or beat up the head of TV station, that would be regarded as the bells of fascist domination in the rest of Europe.

    Was Andrei Parubi elected in 2012?

    You are also abusing the word fascism in a way very reminiscing of shallow political thinking thriving in the nationalist camp.

    – In this political climate, poisoned by extreme right ideologies, institutionalized so to speak, what is the “relevant weight” of the left really?
    – As a movement?
    – As a way to manage the economy?

    The answer is minimal to none.
    – In the political scene you have institutionalized corruption, peaking fascist influences and embedding extreme nationalism
    – In the economic scene you (will) have institutionalized neoliberalism, with IMF blessings.
    – Ukraine is now another clashing-field for the geopolitics of USA, EU and Russia, and that means that what happens to people is the last thing in the politicians’ mind. Look at Syria and learn.

    Unfortunately much part of the Left can’t see beyond its nose, either dreaming about instances of “revolution” (by clashing with police), or just being very hypocritically “left”, using the word moreso rhetorically than anything else.
    Anarchists usually belong in the first category, the social-democratic left in the second.

    • https://plus.google.com/117938083871109937916 Dmitry Maluka

      > How could one not speak about a “neonazi triumph” when openly fascist politics has been brought to the mainstream, legitimized and extreme nationalism makes up the political agenda, through influence or as a strategic choice in order to manage “failed state” reactions?

      This just has nothing to do with reality. You are talking about some different Ukraine, from another universe.

      > Furthermore it seems that extreme right in Ukraine is actually above the law.
      If neonazis stormed the prosecutor’s office and beat up a state employee, besieged the parliament or beat up the head of TV station, that would be regarded as the bells of fascist domination in the rest of Europe.

      Nope. False bells if you hear them. It’s not a serious talk if you form your picture based on a few random facts. A lot of things are often above the law in Ukraine these days. The power in Kiev is weak. Do you know what happens in Eastern Ukraine every day now? Pro-Russian “anti-fascist” bullies violently beating unarmed Euromaidan activists, and the police – the Ukrainian police – standing still watching.

      > Was Andrei Parubi elected in 2012?

      Yep, check wikipedia.

      > You are also abusing the word fascism in a way very reminiscing of shallow political thinking thriving in the nationalist camp.

      By fascism I mean suppression of dissent, totalitarianism, corporatism, reliance on underclass, privileged status of security agencies, militarism, cult of personality, – all these are certainly the characteristics of Putin’s Russia. Some of them were also evolving in Yanukovich’s Ukraine, especially during those 3 hot last months, and their evolvement was really frightening.

      > In the political scene you have institutionalized corruption, peaking fascist influences and embedding extreme nationalism

      Once again, those extreme nationalists were elected in 2012. If you think that they gained much more public support as a result of 2014 revolution, this does not correspond to reality. Surveys suggest the opposite: their support decreased significantly. (To be fully honest, another far-right political force – the Right Sector – emerged as a result of the revolution. Its support is marginal too, and it is not represented in power.)

      I won’t lie that the influence of the ultra-right rhetoric is negligible in Ukraine. It is noticeable. But it is highly exaggerated. Unfortunately, the leftist rhetoric is even less influential. Average Ukrainians are just not familiar with nuances of left vs right politics. But now that the revolution created the ground for intensive public debates and public initiatives, the leftists have much more chances to become influential.

      > In the economic scene you (will) have institutionalized neoliberalism, with IMF blessings.

      What are you talking about? Every previous Ukrainian government was neoliberal. Didn’t Yanukovich consider taking IMF loans? Yeah, he had an alternative which he finally chose: make Ukraine a satellite of Russian resource-based economy. This is a way, way worse alternative, just believe me.

      > Ukraine is now another clashing-field for the geopolitics of USA, EU and Russia, and that means that what happens to people is the last thing in the politicians’ mind.

      Thanks cap. So what?

      P.S. No offense, but your reasoning is very, very standard. I’ve read plenty of such posts from Western folks, full of cliches about fascists in the government, IMF blessings and geopolitics, demonstrating a lack of knowledge about Ukrainian and Russian realities.

  • definitio

    Too much selective reasoning there.

    – The institutionalization of neoliberalism through specific EU programmes is equated to former governments having followed neoliberal politics.

    Well, coming from the EU, I am telling you that those two are completely different things. Your elected government following such politics and signing deals and bringing Ukraine into an institutional space where those are the norm are two things separated by a chasm.

    Better take a look at the fiscal pact promoted by EU which is the governance now that will take effect.
    Better take a look at the economic programmes that accompany European expansion/integration.

    – You are completely avoiding the question on extreme-right immunity to the law.

    The maidan self-defense groups killed policemen and refused to recognize any political deal reached for normalization. It is also very probable that the snipers were actually part of the former opposition.
    Police does not dare arrest extreme right leaders even when they are violating the law in the most fascist-propaganda way or when they besiege the parliament.

    You’ve got US funded channels like hromadske.tv (civil society institutions I guess) whose reporters objectively call for Avakov to be replaced by Timoshenko (what a great leader, symbolizing anti-corruption and being welcomed at Maidan) who is in favor of ethnic cleansing or some Right Sector figure.

    – How many SVOBODA and Right Sector aligned personnel has been given ministerial or public governance roles? You say that extreme-right footprint is negligible?
    Nationalist rhetoric is all I hear even from “mainstream” leaders these days.

    By the way, the Banderist-constituent parties of Right Sector actually have a history, they did not appear out of nowhere during the “revolution”.
    Also, if the Ukrainian people have no understanding of left -right politics, as you say, who does, the Swiss perhaps?

    – The problem is with the short-sightedness of people who -if arguing honestly- seem to focus on their very immediate environment and miss the broader picture.
    When you have Western countries supporting the most anti-russian elements and giving “carte-blanche” to maidan violence just to get rid of a government and have an interim govt sign deals it does not have the authority to sign, when Western politicians and diplomats parade through Maidan (imagine the same people visiting the “Occupy movement”) and throwing all their weight behind shady figures like Timoshenko, bankers etc you should really question what direction you think you are pushing towards and what direction you are actually moving.
    What we have here is a return to a past where extreme-right groups served as geopolitical tool for the West.

    – Again, abusing the word ‘fascism” and arguing as though all the elements of that trend you find in Russia are not and were not part of pro-western politicians in Ukraine. Count the parties and movements named after their leader, at some time at least.

    P.S. No offense, but I find your answers are just evasive. If you find mine typical, I find yours as coming through a bubble.

    What I would like you to give me is some factual evidence that I am wrong. You are denouncing it, but not giving the “right picture” about Ukrainian realities.
    You have not given factual examples of your point of view. And what is going on the official political scene surely does not verify it.

    • https://plus.google.com/117938083871109937916 Dmitry Maluka

      Your “broader pictture” has too many fictional facts and oversimplifications. Timoshenko is highly unpopular among maidaners. Her phone leak with joke notes about ethnic cleansings is likely fabricated by herself (she is often suspected to have secret deals with Putin, so perhaps she tried to deny it in such a bizarre way). There are no Right Sector members in the government. The defencist rhetoric of the “mainstream” politicians induced by Russian military aggression is not the same thing as the extreme nationalist rhetoric of Svoboda. You focus on the geopolitical interest of the West but ignore the geopolitical interest of Russia. And so on.

      I didn’t say that the extreme-right footprint is negligible. I said it is NOT negligible but it is exaggerated.

      Giving the “right picture” is a serious task, it’s not my job. You can find some more or less accurate materials on this website, some of them are in English.

    • https://plus.google.com/117938083871109937916 Dmitry Maluka

      You seem to think that participation of the left in the revolution was a mistake. I don’t think so, quite the opposite, I think their involvement was not active enough. In this regard, let me quote a post by a Ukrainian leftist written on January 19 (http://lj.rossia.org/users/nonkor/84331.html). Sorry for my dull English.

      “I’m disappointed with our left libertarians.
      At the very peak of the totalitarian machine offensive, in the very hell of confrontation with this inhuman bulldozer, in the most momentous days for the fates of inhabitants of this country, – they arrogantly keep distance from the ongoing events.
      Because “there are nazis”. Apriori unwilling to share any tiny piece of airspace with the right-wing. They are ready to write about anything: support of the “democratic segment of Russian space”, protests in Turkey, other garbage weakly relevant to the topical events. Anything but something really important. A month ago we woke up in Russia. Now that some has passed, we looked closer – nah, in Belorussia. But the trend anarchists care little about that. A couple of superficial notes about “bastards at both sides”, and then they proceed to the next issues on the agenda.
      What a dementia on the part of my left brothers! I’m deeply and unpleasantly surprised. Inability to recognize the key point, dull formulaic approach, morbid fixation on the confrontation with nazis, – and now, lo and behold, the left are rapidly swallowing the upcoming totalitarian reality.
      Too depressing narrow-mindedness for freedom-loving anarchs and commies. Today we have the only real issue on the agenda – the TOTALITARIANISM. Confrontation with the rotten traditionalist thinking will be important later, it will make sense when thoughts will be allowed to be expressed in words. (I have a reasonable doubt about possibility of the latter in future.)

      As for “no tiny piece of space shared with” – who prevented you from creating your own vector within the common anti-authoritarian protest? Who prevented you from raising your own questions? Why not Greece, why not anarchists are mobilizing the streets against the regime, but some stinking “right sector” does? You lost everything, and now it’s the autonomous nazis who will skim the cream, who will be given honors for starting the violent confrontation. Justifiably, by the way. The attitude of the masses will get more and more radicalized. As it has long been known, in such a situation a layman’s eye is looking forward to the extreme sectors of the political spectrum: ultra-right and ultra-left. Did the latter participate in the struggle for people’s minds, did they want to become the vanguard of the struggle? The answer is obvious.

      Where has the era of situationism gone? When did the left stop acting on the topic of the day? When was flexible thinking supplanted by a monolith carved dogma?
      I don’t know, but in my opinion, it’s time to wake up. Guys, there is a revolution in the streets, all jokes aside.”