Against nationalism! For proletarian class unity!

(«Proletarian»; Nr. 11; Winter-Spring 2015)

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Such is the meaning, according to a representative of a Western country to the UN, of the March 15th Russian veto of a resolution condemning the referendum in Crimea over the annexation of the region by Russia.

But in fact it is not only the action of Russia in Ukraine, but all relations between states which satisfy this adage. Russia has not complied with the treaty it had signed with Ukraine, the United States and Great Britain, securing the borders of this newly independent country in return for its renunciation of nuclear weapons remaining on its territory after the disappearance the USSR; but all treaties are only scraps of paper, which are only of value as long as it is in the interests of the signatories to respect them! The French government, so respectful of international law and the UN was nevertheless prepared to attack Syria without any UN decision a few months ago; same as the US actually did in Iraq, or the Europeans in Yugoslavia, and Israel has done since its inception, etc. etc.

Bourgeois propagandists who denounce the Russian annexation of the Crimea as «the first military annexation in Europe for 70 years»; «forget» that the largest annexation accomplished in Europe since the Second World War was of the GDR by West Germany! Since the collapse of the USSR under the blows of a very deep recession, «legally intangible» and internationally recognized borders of many European States have been amended and some States have even disappeared, sometimes peacefully, sometimes in the midst of armed conflicts and wars involving the major powers. The case of the Crimea is by no means an exception...

But the case of Crimea caused an international political crisis and its consequences are likely to be long-lasting. The major European countries, led by Germany, have not enjoyed being presented with a fait accompli, and seeing their offers of negotiation contemptuously rejected by Moscow. However, the economic interests of both sides are too strong for the crisis to lead, let’s not say to an open war which nobody wants, but to a new «cold war» evoked by the media.

Russia has a vital need to sell its gas to Europe, its banks are heavily involved in Ukraine and Western investments are a necessity to develop a still very weak economy. Germany does not want to lose its investment in the Russian market, where it has implanted itself widely since the demise of the USSR; and, as with Italy, albeit to a lesser extent than Poland, it cannot do without Russian gas and oil. As for France, which has also invested in Russia (for instance, Renault has invested into the main local car firm) despite government statements on sanctions to be imposed, it does not intend to waive its «military cooperation» with Russia which was concretized in the very profitable sale of military vessels: French president has stated that France honored its contracts. As billions of euros are at stake, it may well allow a violation of the so-called international law! In the United States, large corporations, oil among others, have made representations to Obama that sanctions which could be detrimental to their interests not be applied against Russia...

«Right» is only the sanctioning of a relationship of forces, and when the balance of power changes, the law is worthless: here is the very valuable lesson of which Putin has reminded the world. This applies not only to relations between states, or between economic powers, but also to the relationship between social classes. Confrontations between classes are not resolved according to the principles of legality and law, but according to the actual relationship of forces. Workers must not be paralyzed by the law and bourgeois legality which are the legal sanctioning of their subjugation to capitalism. They need to rebuild their class strength class in order to oppose the enemy class frontally, regardless of nationality, language or ethnicity, and whatever norms are imposed by legality. The bourgeoisie itself does not hesitate for one second to violate its own laws against the workers, it does not hesitate to use para-legal forces, right-wing gangs and various thugs to assist the forces of legal repression: against this repression the proletarians must therefore organize their own self-defense and not rely on the police and the justice of the bourgeois state.

Today there is a profusion of nationalism on both sides; the provisional government of Kiev, beset by many difficulties and faced with extremely serious problems (notably debt) has already warned that sacrifices would necessary to put the economy back on track. The only solution it have to motivate these future anti-worker attacks, is to play the nationalist card. In this respect the Russian intervention is a real boon for it in trying to create a climate of national unity!

On the other hand, Putin praises Russian nationalism by presenting himself as the protector or the liberator of Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine, while in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the capitalists call for regional unity to face-down Kiev .

But the nationalist intoxication won’t be able to mask the reality of class antagonisms forever. Ukrainian proletarians will be forced to enter into struggle to survive, as they have already done forcefully in the past. Then they will see in fact that their enemy is not the proletariat from another region or another nation, but their own bourgeoisie, allied to a particular imperialist power. When the miasma of nationalism dissipates, then the union of the proletarian class will reappear across all borders against the capitalists, their parties and states with their legal and illegal forces of repression, and reconstitute the international revolutionary party to lead the struggle.

Then there will resound again in Ukraine as elsewhere, the class war cry of 1848:


Proletarians of all countries, unite!


March 16, 2014



International Communist Party


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