Since Russia’s military operation commenced on February 24, the socialist left has been divided in its response to the armed conflict in Ukraine. 

On one side are those who align with the U.S., NATO and the Ukrainian state in denouncing Russia as the principal villain. In opposition are those who view the conflict as the outcome of the West’s new cold war against Russia, and the post-coup regime in Ukraine as a willing pawn of the West (U.S. and its geopolitical allies) in that new cold war. 

There are also some groups who condemn both: Russia for its February 24 military action, and the U.S. and NATO for their provocations against Russia’s national security concerns. Many of the left’s published commentaries repeat invalid assumptions, evade crucial issues, and/or misrepresent the realities of the conflict.

Divided left. There being differing political perspectives on the left is nothing new. For example, during the Vietnam War some avowed socialists (actually liberals) initially supported the U.S. policy in Vietnam from a number of rationales.

Irving Howe at 100 - Dissent Magazine
Irving Howe, a Dissent magazine editor and socialist who supported the Vietnam War in its early phase and critiqued the New Left. [Source: dissentmagazine.org]
Joseph Buttinger, another socialist and staunch support of the U.S. puppet-regime of Ngô Đình Diệm and the Vietnam War in its early phase. [Source: jstor.org]

Those rationales included: acceptance of the pretext that U.S. foreign policy was about defending the “free world” for the sake of “democracy”; unswerving opposition to Communism as an existential enemy of liberal freedoms; and being blind or indifferent to the racist realities of Western imperialism. As the war dragged on with no end in sight and as a large popular anti-war movement emerged, those pro-war “socialists” either switched over to the anti-war side or became discredited.

Finally, realists in the foreign policy establishment and national politics, realizing that the War was undermining U.S. influence around the world, switched over to the anti-war side (thereby dividing the ruling class). At that point, the anti-war forces were strong enough to force an end to U.S. continuation in that War. Defeat in Vietnam was a setback for U.S. imperialism, but only a temporary and limited one. It did not end U.S. imperial interventionism or divisions within the “socialist” left.

Protests against the Vietnam War were slow to develop in the 1960s and many socialists/liberals initially supported the war—as they do Ukraine. [Source: khanacademy.org]

In speaking about the current Ukraine War, every group branding itself as “socialist” claims to be “anti-imperialist.” However, they differ as to which imperialism to oppose in the current conflict: Russia, the U.S. and NATO, or both.

With the conflict portrayed (by the bipartisan political establishment and the liberal mainstream news media) as having begun with an “imperial” Russia threatening and then invading an “independent” “democratic” Ukraine, and with images of Ukrainian suffering and heroic resistance in one-sided daily news broadcasts, it is all too easy to endorse the establishment narrative.

Meanwhile, any socialist who disputes that narrative must expect to be dismissed and/or denounced by those “anti-imperialists” who put all blame upon Russia. In fact, many leftist online publications have been publishing such dismissive, condescending, and/or denunciatory commentaries by Russia-blaming “socialists.” A few of the more erudite examples:

  • Bill Fletcher, Jr., Bill Gallegos & Jamala Rogers [F&G&R]. “When Should We Stop Excusing the Russian Invasion?” New Politics, May 11, 2022. (Republished by Portside and by LeftLinks – CCDS.)
  • Taras Bilous, [TB]. “Self-Determination and the War in Ukraine,” Dissent, May 9, 2022. (Republished by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal and by Portside.)
  • Van Gosse & Bill Fletcher, Jr. [G&F]. “Whose Side Are We On? The War in Ukraine and the Crisis of the Left,” Portside, April 19, 2022.

F&G&R are longtime left activists. Bill Fletcher, Jr., has held leadership positions in Black liberation, anti-war, and organized labor, and is a current leader in DSA. Bill Gallegos has held leadership positions in Chicano liberation and revolutionary socialism, and is a longtime leader in Liberation Road. Jamala Rogers has been a leader in Black liberation, revolutionary socialism, and Liberation Road.

Fletcher and Gallegos have histories working within the Democratic Party. Van Gosse is: university professor of history, a member of DSA and of CC-DS, and also works within the Democratic Party. Taras Bilous, a historian, is a leading member of Social Movement organization, a liberal “socialist” organization in Ukraine.

Franklin & Marshall – Van E. Gosse
Van Gosse [Source: fandm.edu]

This critique neither approves nor condemns Russia’s action. Its essential purpose is to refute the misinformation and misconceptions that have proliferated (especially those from the anti-Russia pro-Kyiv left) in U.S. leftist commentaries.

Consequently, it takes issue with arguments propagated by those leftists who have evaded, or failed to ascertain, the relevant facts and context of the event. In fact, the anti-Russia left (like the mainstream liberal news media) has joined the U.S. and its NATO allies in purveying falsehoods which portray the Kyiv regime as an innocent victim of unjustified or even “unprovoked” Russian aggression.

Unprovoked? Some of the ignored facts.

U.S.-NATO:

  • The U.S. and NATO violated their promise that NATO would not expand into Central and Eastern Europe, promise given in 1990 in order to obtain needed Soviet consent for the reunification of Germany.
  • The U.S. placed nuclear-capable missiles (capable of quickly striking Moscow and other Russian targets) in Poland and Romania (planned from 2008, installed in 2018). Not a provocation? Do we remember how the U.S. pushed the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse when the USSR placed such missiles in Cuba after the U.S. had placed similar missiles in Turkey?
Map

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[Source: images.newcast-pratyashka.com]
  • NATO has repeatedly conducted war games, practicing for war against Russia, in the Baltic states on Russia’s border.
  • The U.S. and NATO consistently responded to the past 25 years of Russian protests (against the foregoing NATO threats to Russian national security) with an arrogant intransigence. Continued diplomacy was clearly not a viable means for obtaining redress.
  • The U.S., especially thru its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has been funding and training anti-Russia pro-West political organizations in Ukraine (also in Belarus and other former Soviet states) since the collapse of the USSR. It funds and trains pro-Western media and civil society organizations in scores of countries (which have also included Russia). Congress created the NED in 1983 to replace the CIA as the principal U.S. agency for surreptitiously promoting regime change in countries (including liberal democracies) which refuse to comply with U.S. dictates.
  • The U.S. incited and abetted the 2014 coup which, spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi militias, ousted the democratically elected government of Ukraine. Why? Because said government had chosen to keep Ukraine neutral between Russia and the West. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the U.S. choice to lead Ukraine, then became Prime Minister.
Ukrainian veterans of the 'Azov' volunteer battalion attend a rally dedicated to the Volunteer Day in honor of volonteer fighters who joined Ukrainian Army at a war conflict at eastern the country regions, in downtown of Kyiv, Ukraine, on 14 March, 2020. Several thousands Ukrainians including servicemen, volunteers and their supporters marched in central of Ukrainian capital despite the ban on holding mass events because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Ukrainian neo-Nazis who spearheaded 2014 U.S.-backed coup. [Source: salon.com]

The post-coup regime (far from innocent) has consistently pursued anti-Russia policies:

Torchlight parade in Kyiv honors Nazi-linked nationalist - ABC News
Ukrainians march with poster of World War II-era Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. [Source: abcnews.go.com]

The U.S. had been arming and training Ukrainian military forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov regiment, for military operations against the Donbas rebels. These military operations resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and millions displaced and many others forced to live for years underground for protection.

There clearly was a lot of provocation: by the U.S., by NATO, and by the post-coup regime in Ukraine. Moreover, but for those provocations, this war would not have occurred.

The belligerents and their objectives.  To reduce this war to a case of evil Putin-Russia preying upon innocent Ukraine is simplistic delusion. The current conflict (certainly since the 2014 coup) was never simply between Russia and Ukraine. 

And now, the U.S. and NATO, with their economic siege (draconian sanctions) against Russia and their supplying of huge amounts of advanced weaponry to the Kyiv state, are very much belligerents even though not putting their own soldiers into the fight. 

The belligerents’ objectives:

  • The U.S.-NATO objective (since before the 2014 coup) has been: to turn Ukraine into a client state of the West; to weaken Russia; to strip it of its limited sphere of influence; and to effectuate a regime change to replace Putin with someone who will be submissive to Western imperial dictates. 
  • The post-coup Kyiv regime, prompted by the U.S. and dominated by chauvinistic Ukrainian nationalists (including neo-Nazis), has consistently pursued anti-Russian policies and sought: to make Ukrainian language and national identity dominant throughout the country; to marginalize or Ukrainianize national minorities; to eliminate Russian influence; to impose its absolute rule over predominantly minority regions seeking autonomy or independence; and to integrate Ukraine into the West both economically and militarily. 
  • Russia’s objective, contrary to assertions by anti-Russia “socialists” [F&G&R], has never been to eliminate Ukraine’s existence as a separate independent country. Russia has been striving: to prevent the presence of hostile military bases (including nuclear-capable missiles) in neighboring Ukraine; to uphold the decision of the people of Crimea to reunite with Russia (along with ensuring Russia’s continued control of its Crimean naval base); and to protect the rights of the predominantly ethnic Russian population in Donbas (which as part of Ukraine would also serve as an obstacle to Ukraine’s joining any anti-Russia alliance).
A crowd of people holding flags

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Crimeans rally in support of reintegration with Russia. [Source: tass.com]

International law?  The U.S.-NATO-Kyiv-aligned part of the “socialist” left attributes this War (as in the words of F&G&R) to Russia committing violations of “international law” and of “the right of nations to self-determination” with “invasion of a sovereign nation.” This oversimplifies and worse. 

Firstly, it evades the fact that the Kyiv regime, with U.S. encouragement and deliveries of ever-more-lethal arms, remained intransigent in response to appeals by Russia and the breakaway Donbas Republics to resolve the Donbas conflict peacefully. 

Ukraine receives second batch of U.S. weapons in Russian stand-off | Reuters
One of many Western arms shipments to Ukraine. [Source: reuters.com]

Kyiv was refusing to even talk to the leaders of said Republics and was evidently intent upon crushing them through brute military force. Moreover, it was the coup regime in Kyiv which first resorted to violence when (in 2014) it sent newly formed armed forces, including neo-Nazi militias, to crush resistance to said coup (the regular army then lacking sufficient motivation for doing so).

Russia insists that its military action against Ukraine is, in part, a response to Kyiv’s aggression in Donbas and, in fact, it was the Kyiv regime which first resorted to armed force. 

Thusly, Russia makes its case that its military action in Donbas was a justified response to Kyiv’s continued military aggression against the breakaway Donbas Republics, and therefore allowed under the UN Charter. 

As for Russia’s invasion of the rest of Ukraine, Putin regards Kyiv’s collaboration with NATO’s increasing moves to threaten Russian national security as providing justification. Although one may question the validity of one or both of those rationales, it is not a clear-cut case of Kyiv-NATO all right versus Russia all wrong. 

Secondly, in their legalistic diatribes against Russia, the U.S.-NATO-aligned leftists either: (1) make unfair comparisons (specifically to the U.S.-British 2003 invasion of Iraq which was, in fact, purely an imperial regime-change war “justified” by nothing other than an absolute lie); and/or (2) evade the enormity of the history of repeated and massive violations of the UN Charter and of international law whenever said law has stood in the way of the unjust aggressions by their own imperialist states.

Those aggressions include:

  • arming violent reactionary insurgencies (such as the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua) in resistant countries;
American Crime Case #29: Contra War of Terror in Nicaragua 1979-1989 |  revcom.us
President Ronald Reagan shakes hands of Contra terrorists, one of many violent imperial interventions undertaken by the U.S. in the Third World. [Source: revcom.us]
  • murderous economic sieges (Cuba, Iraq, Venezuela, Iran, …);
  • threatening war games (Baltic states, South Korea);
  • inciting and abetting coups, even against democratically elected governments (Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Chile in 1973, and dozens more);
  • assassinations and attempts (Lumumba, Castro, Qasim, Allende, Gaddafi, …);
  • interference in many other countries’ elections (beginning with Italy in 1948);
  • devastating murderous military interventions on the side of repressive reactionary regimes in other countries’ civil wars (Greece, China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Colombia, …);
  • arming and shielding states which perpetrate massive crimes against human rights (the Zionist state, Saudi Arabia, …);
  • regime-change military invasions (Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, …).

Many of those racist imperial interventions (scores of them since 1945) have left many tens of millions impoverished, terrorized, displaced, injured, or dead. 

[Source: facebook.com]

Finally, none of those victims of Western imperial violations of international law was able to have it enforced against their oppressors. In fact, the U.S. and its major allies routinely violate the UN Charter and international law and, given the lack of any authority with the power to enforce said law against them, they (its major violators) are never held accountable. 

Nevertheless, our anti-Russia “socialists” are now repeating the U.S.-NATO one-sided application and misapplication of international law in order to justify their backing for the West’s intervention against Russia. 

They may argue that U.S. crimes are a separate case and therefore irrelevant. The fallacy in that argument is that the U.S. and NATO have been anti-Russia participants in this armed conflict ever since the 2014 coup.

Consequently, our U.S.-NATO apologists are, in effect, calling for the worst outlaw in a lawless world to enforce the law against a lesser alleged offender notwithstanding that said enforcer is itself a perpetrator acting in furtherance of its own criminal objectives. This is not support for law enforcement; it is giving de facto assistance to the worst criminal gang in the world.

“Imperial Russia”?  G&F describe Russia as an “imperialist great power.” TB calls Russia “imperialist” and “fascist.” F&G&R accuse Russia of “aggression” as an “imperialist power” motivated by “revanchism.”

Thusly, our anti-Russia leftists make much of Putin’s Russia as an “autocratic,” “anti-democratic” “imperialist” state. While Russia’s economy has improved dramatically under Putin from the era of Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), certainly, there is much to fault in Russia’s domestic policies (crony capitalism, favoritism for the Russian Orthodox Church, inaction on climate change, restrictive labor laws, rigging of elections). 

There may even be valid criticisms for some aspects of Russia’s actions in Donbas and/or Crimea and/or elsewhere. Nevertheless, Russia’s efforts to preserve its limited sphere of influence are essentially defensive. Moreover, Russia (with military spending less than 1/17 that of NATO member countries collectively and with one military base outside of former Soviet countries) pales into insignificance when compared with Western imperialism which: maintains hundreds of military bases around the world; attempts to impose its will upon nearly every other country; exploits and oppresses people around the world; and is led and dominated by the world’s only current superpower. 

[Source: globalresearch.ca]

Finally, Russia’s grievances against U.S.-NATO imperialism and against the post-coup regime in Ukraine are real and valid. Making an issue of Russia’s deficiencies, while evading that reality, is simply a convenient pretext embraced by those in need of an excuse for aligning with Biden, Stoltenberg and the Kyiv regime against Putin’s Russia.

“Democratic” Ukraine? Apologists for the Kyiv regime propose that Ukraine deserves support against “autocratic” Russia because it is (they assert) a “democracy.” F&G&R describe Ukraine as striving for “democracy” and TB describes it as an imperfect “democracy worth defending.”

They omit and evade numerous contrary facts:

  • that the current regime was established thru the U.S.-backed 2014 coup against an actually popularly elected government;
  • that Zelensky’s initial popularity rested largely upon his promise (broken soon after he took office) to make peace with the breakaway Donbas Republics;
  • that (in 2021) the leading opposition party (which was then beginning to outpoll Zelensky’s party) was suspended and its leader (Viktor Medvedchuk) placed under house arrest and subsequently charged with treason; and
  • that voices of opposition to Kyiv’s anti-Russia policies have been routinely repressed by the post-coup regime. In fact, many have been kidnapped and tortured and murdered by the state security forces, trained by the CIA in a Phoenix-style operation reminiscent of Vietnam.
Who is Viktor Medvedchuk and why his arrest is a big deal
Viktor Medvedchuk [Source: kyivindependent.com]

While human rights abuses (some of them probably fabricated) alleged against Russian soldiers are expansively reported by Western states and their supportive mainstream news media, the Kyiv state’s reign of terror, with torture and murder of dissenting Ukrainians and of captive Russian soldiers, goes entirely unreported in said news media. In fact, the Kyiv state has long been far more repressive and anti-democratic than Putin’s Russia.

The national question?  Some Russia-blaming “Marxists” concoct an issue of Russia allegedly violating the Leninist principle that nations (including Ukraine) have the right to self-determination and separate existence as an independent nation-state.

Even though Putin expressed disagreement with Lenin’s nationalities policy, the assumption and assertion (by F&G&R), that Putin has denied Ukraine’s present-day national legitimacy or sought to eliminate its existence as a separate and independent country, is an absolute falsehood.

What he actually said was that Russia and Ukraine, like Germany and Austria, have common ancestral and cultural roots and ought to have friendly relations. He definitively acknowledged that “historical circumstances” had resulted in Ukraine being “a separate nation” and that—as to “How should we treat that?”—there is only one answer: with respect! Substituting false imaginary extensions of Putin’s sentimentalities for his actual deeds and evident intentions, in order to justify siding with Western imperialism, is simply deceitful.

Here are the relevant facts. 

Firstly, Putin has clearly acknowledged the impossibility of resurrecting the Soviet Union. He has evidenced no intent to deprive Ukraine of its existence as a separate independent country, but only to prevent it from becoming a threat to Russian national security.

He persisted for nearly eight years in seeking Ukraine’s implementation of autonomy within Ukraine for the Donbas regions (as Kyiv had agreed to do in the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements) even though much popular sentiment in said regions was for unification with Russia. In fact, the UN Security Council, including the U.S., had unanimously endorsed the Minsk Agreement in 2015.

[Source: express.co.uk]

Nothing that Russia did prevented Kyiv from implementing the promised autonomy. Moreover, the U.S. actually encouraged Kyiv in its refusal to implement. Those are crucial facts which the anti-Russia “socialist” commentators generally omit and always evade.

Secondly, these “Leninists” echo the U.S. and NATO by branding Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea and its assistance to the breakaway Donbas regions as “violations of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.” 

So say F&G&R, who also brand the secession of Crimea as Russian “seizure of Crimea.” Meanwhile, TB embraces Kyiv’s goal (“victory”) as regaining absolute rule over Donbas and Crimea.

Those assertions depend upon a gross oversimplification and misapplication of the national question as applied here. These “Leninists” join the U.S. and NATO in insisting upon the “right” of ethnic Ukrainians to exercise absolute sovereignty over the entire ethnically diverse territory of an independent country separate from Russia; but (contrary to Lenin) they deny the self-determination rights of national minority populations to even have autonomy within regions wherein they predominate.

Moreover, some of these “Leninists,” notably F&G&R, try to justify their one-sided application of national rights by questioning whether the peoples of Crimea and Donbas ever actually chose independence from, or autonomy within, Ukraine. They have evidently rushed to judgment without bothering to ascertain the relevant factual evidence

  • 1954. Khrushchev orchestrated the decision (of dubious legality) to transfer Crimea from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian SSR without the consent or approval of the people of Crimea. 
  • 1991. At the breakup of the USSR, Crimea’s elected leaders attempted to obtain recognition of Crimea as an independent Republic separate from Ukraine.
  • 1992. After disputes between Kyiv and Crimea over the scope of Crimea’s autonomy, Kyiv agreed to a compromise recognition of Crimea as an Autonomous Republic within Ukraine. 
  • 1995. Kyiv abolished the Constitution of Crimea, abolished its office of President, made the elected Crimean parliament’s choice of its Prime Minister subject to veto by Kyiv, and imposed other severe limits upon its authority (largely negating its autonomy). 
  • 2008. Polling by the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Studies (not an agent of Moscow) found that 64% of Crimeans would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
  • 2009-11. The United Nations Development Program (not an agent of Moscow) conducted periodic opinion polls in Crimea. Each time, at least 65% of Crimeans favored Crimea leaving Ukraine and reuniting with Russia. 
  • Crimea’s break with Ukraine was a direct popular response to the US-backed 2014 coup in Kyiv (Crimea having voted overwhelmingly for the ousted government). The assertion that Crimea’s reunification with Russia was effectuated by a Russian “invasion” is another falsehood. Although Russia’s authorized military forces already based in Crimea assisted local forces in effectuating the independence referendum and the subsequent secession and reunification with Russia, those actions were welcomed by a huge majority of Crimeans, they being already so inclined. Moreover, given the history of past denials of their self-determination rights by both Moscow (1954) and Kyiv (after breakup of the USSR), the people of Crimea had more than ample justification for seceding and reuniting with Russia. Lenin, insisting that socialists are “the most consistent enemies of oppression,” would have agreed. 
1954. Why Did Khrushchev Give Crimea to Ukraine? #ussr, #khrushchev, #crimea  - YouTube
[Source: youtube.com]

Our anti-Russia “Leninists” have joined the U.S., NATO, and Kyiv in insisting upon national rights for Ukrainian nationalists but denying such rights for the peoples of Crimea and Donbas. They sanctify “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty” but, contrary to Lenin, they negate the fight against oppression and injustice.

Trap?  Some anti-imperialist analysts believe that the U.S., with its intransigence regarding Russian security concerns, deliberately set a trap for Russia; and there is precedent for that proposition. Jimmy Carter (beginning in 1979) armed the reactionary Mujahidin insurgency against the Soviet-allied revolutionary government in Afghanistan: in order to provoke Soviet military intervention in defense of that government, and (as his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated) to draw the USSR into a Vietnam-like quagmire. 

A 2019 report titled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,” by the U.S. military-funded think tank Rand Corporation, proposed that the U.S. goal should be “to undermine Russia just as it did the Soviet Union in the cold war.” 

[Source: rand.org]

Until there is access to the internal communications of Biden’s national security team, we cannot say with certainty that they intended to trap Russia into a self-destructive war in Ukraine. However, there was apparent advocacy for that policy within the U.S. foreign-policy establishment; with the U.S. encouraging Kyiv intransigence in peace talks, that clearly is the current U.S. policy objective.

As for our anti-Russia “socialists,” they refuse to even acknowledge the clear fact that the U.S. and NATO were acting to isolate and weaken Russia. Why? Because, with their distaste for Putin’s Russia, these “socialists” evidently share that objective.

Domestic politics.  Socialists, whatever their views of the war in Ukraine, are rightly concerned about the rise of bigoted reactionary political factions in the U.S. and many other countries. 

In the U.S., many liberal-reformist “socialists” habitually respond to Republican reaction by giving their allegiance to the Democrats despite the latter’s long-standing betrayal of their working-class electoral base. Moreover, virtually every Democratic Party politician at the national level supports U.S. imperialist hegemony over the world and the consequent imperial crimes in U.S. foreign policies. 

Liberal “socialists,” with their commitment to the Democrats, can then give only lip-service to anti-imperialism. So, when Democrats are in control, such “socialists” generally do nothing to organize popular opposition to U.S. imperial crimes against peoples in foreign lands. In fact, they even become willfully blind to some of those crimes (as in the case of Ukraine).

The correct policy for socialists is to tactically ally with Democratic Party politicians when they actually fight for social justice. However, it is necessary at the same time to educate the people as to the perfidy and betrayals of social justice by Democrats.

Failure to so educate is to tail after the agents of capital and to perpetuate existing ignorance and prejudices within the populace. We need to build a social-justice solidarity movement, not a constituency committed to the Democratic Party. Hence: temporary limited tactical alliances, yes; allegiance, no. 

A.F. Branco Cartoons – THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY – ALL CRIME, ALL THE TIME
[Source: thechesapeaketoday.com]

Pro-war “socialists.”  While the U.S. and NATO send ever increased and ever more lethal weapons which serve to prolong the horrors of this war, it is Ukrainian and Russian (not NATO-country) fighters and civilians who suffer and die. 

Regardless of who prevails, both Russia and Ukraine will have paid a huge price. Meanwhile, transnational capital, especially in the arms industry and fossil fuel companies, will reap increased profits.  

Yet, our anti-Russia “socialists” advocate sending western arms to Ukraine and draconian sanctions against Russia. Thusly, they give their support to the West’s new cold war (now hot) in Europe.

[Note: Socialists have appropriately given critical support for U.S. foreign military operations in those exceptional cases where it (for its own self-serving reasons) was an ally in just war against an oppressor enemy. The Ukraine War is clearly not such an exception.]

Principal contradiction. Portside (an avowedly “leftist” online publication) published a solidly anti-imperialist analysis of the Ukraine war by the U.S. Peace Council [USPC], subsequently indicating that it did so in order to present an alternative viewpoint with which Portside did not agree. Shortly thereafter, Portside published 11 comments in response to the USPC statement, all but one opposing the USPC analysis, several in very denunciatory terms. 

Two of those joined a number of other anti-Russia leftist commentators in denouncing the anti-imperialist analysis as the “anti-imperialism of fools” or “idiots.” A third, avowed U.S. “Marxist” Carl Davidson (a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] and in revolutionary organizations, later and currently active within the Democratic Party, and currently in leadership in CC-DS), commented that the “principal contradiction” in this conflict is “the Russian invasion of a sovereign nation and Ukraine’s defense of their sovereignty.” 

Carl Davidson - Wikipedia
Carl Davidson at launch of a new SDS in 2006. [Source: wikipedia.org]

Evidently, anti-Russia “socialists,” that one among others, have decided that the contradiction, between Western imperialism and its worldwide numerous targets (Russia, China, Iran, Syria, DPRK, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, …) for containment, subjugation, and/or regime change, is no longer paramount.

Being in sync with the U.S. and NATO in this Ukraine conflict, they have devolved into social patriots. The term originates with the leaders of the socialist parties in the major belligerents who (in 1914) concocted pretexts to justify backing their respective imperial governments on both sides in the Great War (after having neglected for years to educate their members with respect to imperialism). Our present-day social patriots, obsessing over the need to prevent election victories by Trump bigots, apparently go along, consciously or unconsciously, with the imperialist liberals for the sake of political respectability and popular influence at the expense of principle.

Given their past contributions in fights for social justice, we can only hope that they, unlike their 1914 predecessors, will recognize and correct their error.

Our current task

We may consider Russia’s military response in Ukraine to be an inappropriate excess or imprudent or both, and we may fault Russian methods in its military operations; but, while we may state our disapproving opinions, we have no capacity to influence Russia’s decisions.

Our job, as anti-imperialist social-justice activists in the West, is to condemn and vigorously oppose U.S.-NATO imperialism (including arms to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia). 

We must expose the falsehoods in the Russophobe war propaganda, and we must persist in supporting the fight against that real enemy. That is our obligation even though we will be defamed by some avowed “socialists” as “Putin apologists,” “fools” and “idiots.”


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13 COMMENTS

  1. The deletion of comments either for or against the author’s position reflects badly on this website in all honesty. Censorship is always bad no matter who does it 🙁

    • Hi Deschutes, we don’t delete comments. All comments should published immediately. On the rare occasion, maybe half-a-dozen a year, we notice the platform asks us to “approve” a comment due to some algorithm. We approve those comment ASAP. There are also spammers advertising some money making scheme which we try to keep up with and mark them as spam. As soon as we can, we will implement a way to block the spammers.

  2. Re “democracies”

    Anyone who talks about “democracies” AS IF a real democracy ACTUALLY EXISTS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD (or has existed at any time) is evidently living mindlessly and blindly in the propaganda world fed to them since a kid and/or is part of the crowd who disseminates this total lie — see “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” … https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

    (CAVEAT — only read the 2 pink elephant article if you’re GENUINELY interested in the truth and therefore “CAN handle the truth” …)

    Isn’t it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole — rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant in a fantasy land and play victim like a little child?

  3. The graphic showing interventions since WWII is a bit misleading. For example, where’s Italy? There was an extensive article on CP detailing actions against Italy since WWII. But in reality, if anybody has actually read Phillip Agee’s book Inside the Company, then they know this list should contain just about every country on earth, if not every. So the list is actually misleading, making U.S. interventions seem far less ubiquitous than they actually are.

  4. Hey all, there is a demonstration on Sept 21st to protest the war manufacturer’s conference featuring Ukrainian President Zelensky who is trying to get even more billions to push WWIII. Please consider joining the protest or helping send folks there. Here’s the event page on Facebook: https://fb.me/e/1N5rsLOoX
    – John Thompson Parker

  5. The pro-Kiev/NATO/Ukraine pseudo-left are total idiots, and are beneath contempt for their support of the post-coup Kiev regime. How they can see post 2014 Ukraine as ‘defending democracy’ is to willfully ignore the facts which are laid out in detail in this article: the ongoing attack on worker’s rights in Ukraine–shredding any worker’s rights legislation; the fact that Zelensky has made ALL political parties except his own illegal (!!); how the SBU (Ukraine secret service) regularly disappears/tortures/kidnaps/kills anyone who criticizes the Zelensky dictatorship. Despite the fact that 40% of Ukraine’s population are ethnic Russian and speak Russian as their first language–since 2014 it is illegal to speak Russian in Ukraine. And they call today’s Ukraine a ‘democracy’!? It’s a dictatorship. Further: the Bandara tiki torch marches in Kiev and Lviv, regularly happening for the past 8 years, very well attended with hundreds of marchers proudly wearing Nazi swastikas, odal rune, black sun, burning celtic crosses, SS death’s head, etc. while shouting ‘Sieg heil!’ or ‘Slava Ukraini! (Ukrainian equivalent of ‘heil Hitler’) shows the vile, fascist character of these horrible people. But if you point this out, most Europeans will actually defend them: “Well, you know neo-nazis are everywhere these days, not just in Ukraine so nothing new about that”. I’ve heard this so many times it is nauseating. Instead of acknowledging these people in west Ukraine are fascists, the pseudo-left Ukraine supporters downplay, deny or even justify these Bandara scum.

  6. Thanks Charles Pierce for such a detailed, analytical article on the outrageous and blatantly provocative machinations resulting in the current horrible war. That we can have in the past the US openly threatening to incinerate the whole world for Russia’s placement of nuclear weapons on Cuba, and the same scenario in reverse being played out today is mind-numbing, given the crazily hypocritical warmongering and brinkmanship of US/NATO and its allies.

    Pierce’s article is so useful because he marshals his facts and key points so well. May we spread it far and wide!

  7. In the beginning of the article there is a picture of Ukranian citizens living in the United States protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the implication is that these protesters are all members of left. That is very unlikely. Some may be members on the left, some may be members of the right and some may be neither right nor left and may have no political orientation whatsoever. The majority of Ukrainians living in North America oppose Russia’s invasion and their opposition is not related to their political orientation.

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