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I hate! On war in Ukraine

VolodyaWriting from a critical position is not something to be widely appreciated in turmoil times. For some hysterical idiots I’ve succumbed to the fascists, for others–betrayed the Fatherland. Time is now precious and to be used efficiently. This is why I respond to all in a single post.

I hate the Euroidiots who started all this because of their little ticks and cultural chauvinism.

I hate the bastard who clung to power despite dozens of deaths and who now wants to return to the country on foreign tanks.

I hate the former opposition, who became today’s authorities, and who found nothing better than to “save the Ukrainian language” [by restricting Russian], populate the government with fascists, and promise unpopular social measures.

I hate Crimean authorities, who are so afraid for their places that they would happily serve as the doormat of an occupying administration.

I hate the tyrant in the Kremlin, who needs a little victorious war to strengthen the rouble and his own, almost unlimited power.

I hate all these “deeply concerned” EU and US bureaucrats, which introduce sanctions only when the government is all but toppled and give aid under conditions resembling daylight robbery.

I hate Ukrainian and Russian fascists, who cannot get used to the reality of a multicultural and multilingual country, and are ready to destroy it.

I hate those “liberals,” who were ready to cover for and never distanced themselves from the the fascists present on the Maidan to give a chance for truly all-Ukrainian democratic movement rather than pushing the country to a Civil War.

I hate myself and other leftists for spending most of our time in mutual recriminations rather than the building of a powerful political organization. Divided, we could influence little the Maidan or the anti-Maidan. Part of the blame lies with us.

But I am for the world peace. I send these flowers from Wallonia. Snowdrops against the background of green leaves from last year. I hope this is not the last time we see them. I just returned to my divided country and pray that all it will all end with a Second Crimean rather than Third World War. Because this war won’t grow into a world revolution (the chances for that are much less than 100 years ago) but in a nuclear holocaust.

Russian comrades, go to the central squares of your cities so that you could stop the intervention into Ukraine.

Ukrainian comrades, let’s think what we could do. It’s clear that signing up in the Right Sector [which has issued a call for mobilization] is not an option.

By Volodymyr Ishchenko

Volodymyr Ishchenko is a research fellow at the Institute of Slavic Studies, Technical University of Dresden. His research focuses on protests and social movements, revolutions, right and left politics, nationalism, civil society. He has authored a number of articles and interviews on contemporary Ukrainian politics, the Maidan uprising and the following war in 2013-14 for various publications including The Guardian, New Left Review, and Jacobin. He is currently working on a collective monograph “The Maidan Uprising: Mobilization, Radicalization, and Revolution in Ukraine, 2013-14”. He used to be a member of various new left initiatives in Ukraine and a founding editor of left-wing intellectual publication Commons: Journal of Social Criticism.

8 replies on “I hate! On war in Ukraine”

Thank you for this piece. A valuable reminder to all open-minded folk that not everyone caught up in a crisis gets dragged into a faction. I don’t like the word “hate” even in this context but I understand that it was the only formula that could express your anguish. I wish you a peaceful and constructive future when some of the maniacs have quietened down or cleared off.

Thanks for your piece.

As a lecturer at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, whose president is now the Education Minister, would you please say whether the following is true or not:

“S. Kvit, an open nazi and former officer of nazi organization ‘Trizub of Stepan Bandera’ has got the Ministry for Public Education. While being the head of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy he was righteously met with hatred by all progressive students.”

Do you know when Kvit left Trident, if it is true that he was a member? Is Kvit still “an open nazi”, or has he stopped being either a fascist or a xenophobic Ukrainian nationalist, &, if so, when?

Thank you, & I hope you can all stay safe whilst doing your crucial political work.

Serhiy Kvit was a member of the Trident, holding even some middle-rank position (‘sotnyk’), althouh he either left the organization or was not active there any more for many years.

He is not an open Nazi, it would be a very strong exaggeration to say this, although he is definitely a nationalist and wrote a sympathetic book on Dmytro Dontsov, one of the ideologues of Ukrainian integral nationalism in the first hald of XX century. It is a complicated discussion whether Ukrainian integral nationalism was a variant of fascism or it was not.

Kvit indeed played a significant role in repressing progressive activism and critical science and artis in the Kyiv-Mohyla academy by closing down Visual Culture Research Center (you may probably google something in English about the incident), although, I believe, he was acting more as a bureaucrat here, less as a rightist political opponent. Later he hypocritically did not support the student stike initiative started in Kyiv-Mohyla academy after the repressive laws of January 16, 2014 were passed by Yanukovych controlled parliament. Although now he might be seen slightly more sympathetic as he negotiated some transparency reforms with the student movement and assigned a progressive activist and researcher Inna Sovsun as his first deputy minister.

Thanks so much for your informative reply, Volodymyr, & doing so so swiftly.

Unless there’s evidence to the contrary it’s always wise to withhold calling someone a fascist. The word gets bandied about, often indiscriminately, whereas its historic usage has always denoted a movement, not just a party, & always as a combatant of working-class organisations, both trade unions & political parties. This latter feature has been absent from the reports I have read of Ukraine; it is why I myself have described that prominent Ukrainian politics as xenophobic nationalism. Your own work is close to that, I think.

Concerning Ukrainian ‘far right’ participation in government & key agencies (chief prosecutor, the National Security & Defence Council), the experience in Italy of Fini’s National Alliance (formerly the MSI, Italian Social Movement) offers one scenario, a growing de-radicalisation twinned with increasing respectability, the mis-named il dolce fascismo. Being in Belgium you’ll know all about Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang). Reactionary politics is the main enemy, not fascists as such.

Street-fighting squads is one thing; once a group has state positions it has other ways to apply leverage to increase its influence. The coming period in Ukraine may be quite different from the stark picture many ‘Western’ left-wing radicals have been painting. Importantly it partly depends on the political skills of the ‘far right’ leaders, & whether their organisations can achieve a common hope, the so-called historical bloc.

The ‘organic nationalism’ of Dontsov and Bandera may not meet all the criteria of full-blown fascism, but it is rather too close for comfort. Under the Nazi occupation the Banderites massacred many thousands of members of ethnic minorities in Galicia, mostly Poles.

Unlike Jara Handala, I have seen numerous reports, including some by Volodymyr Ishchenko, of Right Sector thugs intimidating and beating up left-wing and trade union activists, all of whom they regard as ‘communists’. (See also the observations of Nicolai Petro.) This seems to be one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason, why the left has been so ineffective.

Quite presumptious of you, Stephen; I’ve seen them too.

In Italy it was worse than Ukraine has been: the MSI & others blew people up, & shot them. Some perpetrators even found sanctuary in Britain. Given the evidence one can easily conjecture that the Ukrainian ‘far right’ will take different paths, some focusing on trying to build a foothold in state organisations, others being violent towards their enemies, some combining the two. The decision by Yarosh to stand for Prez shows how flexible Right Sektor is, with a hot summer in prospect when he isn’t elected, perhaps getting 5% at most.

Above you say (rightly) that fascist movements have always been “combatants of working-class organisations, both trade unions & political parties” and continue: “This latter feature has been absent from the reports I have read of Ukraine.” That certainly seems to imply that you had not seen the reports of Right Sector thugs beating up left-wing and trade union activists. Perhaps on 5 March you had not seen those reports yet, but by 8 March you had.

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