The crisis in Ukraine has drawn numerous commentaries. Most of them have fallen into two camps. The mainstream media in Europe and North America have largely made this conflict about freedom fighters fighting off Putin, Europe’s new Hitler. Lots of the items in the alternative/”progressive”/”left” media have taken the line that the overthrow of the Yanukovych oligarchic regime was a coup against a “democratic” government by neo-Nazi thugs and that the oligarchic Putin regime has acted in the right in moving troops across the border, allegedly to protect Russian speakers being threatened by fascist storm troopers. This, while Putin himself denies that there are any Russian troops in Crimea (all those people riding around in new Russian armored vehicles are “local militia”!). Fortunately, there have been other voices, including those from an anarchist/libertarian communist perspective. The purpose of this post is to bring some of these together in one central location. This list will be updated as new accounts emerge. We also have posted two older analyses that show that the former Soviet bloc was incorporated into the global capitalist system long before its collapse in the late 1980s. See "Yuppies In Moscow!?" by Jack Straw and "Ecocide on the Eastside" by Will Guest.
Ukraine is not simply a region, which the term “the Ukraine,” used widely and ignorantly, implies. The term was meant to create this misimpression by its originator, the Czarist empire, which about 300 years ago incorporated Ukraine within its dominions. Previously, Ukraine had an independent existence, and continues to have a distinct language and culture. Ukraine also has a history of anti-capitalist politics, most notably with the Makhnovist movement of 1917-1921, which held off both the Czarist White Army and the Bolshevik Red Army (while usually aligned with the latter but never the former), only to be attacked and overwhelmed by its ostensible ally after exhaustion. My sympathies are with neither the Ukrainian capitalist elite, nor the Russian one, but strictly with the working people in both nations and everywhere. The only stance which makes sense to me is an internationalist perspective against war between nation states and in favor of class war everywhere.
Maidan and Its Contradictions: Interview with a Ukrainian Revolutionary Syndicalist (February 20, 2014, http://avtonomia.net/2014/02/20/maidan-contradictions-interview-ukrainian-revolutionary-syndicalist/). This article provides good background material, although it lacks a clear understanding of the full dimension of capitalism and its crisis.
Ukraine 1. Yanukovich’s end is a beginning (February 26, 2014, http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/ukraine-1-yanukovichs-end-is-a-beginning/). This is the first part of a two-part article. The person being interviewed is a socialist who had recently visited Ukraine. The best aspect of part 1 is the discussion of the role of right wing extremists in the Ukraine upsurge of last month, and the highly inaccurate and sweeping characterizations of the entire upsurge as being the work of "fascists" and "Nazis" that have been advanced by much of the "left" in the US and Europe. This perspective has been shared by extreme right media outlets/web sites in the US (e.g. Zero Hedge, Ron Paul), which view the situation entirely through their lens of "if you are against the US government, you are OK with us."
Ukraine 2. A political earthquake for Europe and Russia (February 26, 2014, http://peopleandnature.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/ukraine-2-a-political-earthquake-for-europe-and-russia/). Part 2 of the article makes many excellent points, though it, like the interview with the Ukrainian syndicalist above, has shortcomings regarding a full understanding of capitalism and crisis.
Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong, by Mark Ames (February 24, 2014, http://pando.com/2014/02/24/everything-you-know-about-ukraine-is-wrong/). The author used to edit "The eXile" when he lived in Moscow a few years ago. He is basically a left-liberal, but provides information, and does well in taking the US left to task for its mischaracterizations of what has transpired.
Ukraine: Hobson’s choice, by Michael Roberts (February 27, 2014, http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/ukraine-hobsons-choice/). Roberts, the author of this blog, calls himself a "Marxist economist," apparently not realizing that this is an oxymoron, given Marx's views of "economics" and even "political economy" (see http://www.dailybattle.pair.com/2010/american_left_doesnt_get_capitalism.shtml) but this piece has some interesting content.
Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda, by Timothy Snyder (March 1, 2014, http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/mar/01/ukraine-haze-propaganda/). The author is a history professor at Yale University, who has written a lot on Eastern Europe. He regards himself as being on the left, but strikes me more as a left-liberal (but that's true of most of the US left today). He presents a lot of interesting information regarding the recent events in Ukraine, particularly regarding the myth that what has happened is a fascist or even neo-Nazi coup (including that the organizer of the first protest at Maidan Square was an Afghan Muslim journalist, the first protester to die was an Armenian, the second a Belorussian, and there were Russian anarchists there supporting their Ukrainian comrades). I wish to emphasize that i myself see all states as the enemies of humankind and its chances for survival in the near term, and this includes whatever new government takes power in Kyiv, so i regard Snyder’s optimism about the new pro-EU regime badly misplaced. But the article does help set the story straight regarding what has actually happened in Ukraine.
"War on War! Not a Single Drop of Blood for the 'Nation'!" A declaration of internationalists against the war in Ukraine, (March 3, 2014, http://libcom.org/news/internationalists-issue-declaration-against-war-ukraine-02032014). Unlike the previous piece, this one has my full support. The declaration is an excellent re-statement of the internationalist anti-war position first enunciated in the early years of the 20th century. It states well the irreconcilable difference between the interests of the ruling class, no matter that different cliques within it have disputes which can escalate to war, and the interests of the ordinary people, no matter what nation state they happen to be living in.
Posted March 6, 2014
March 19, 2014: The Ukrainian Revolution & the Future of Social Movements, undated and unsigned, (http://crimethinc.com/texts/ux/ukraine.html). This article makes some good points, particularly about how anarchists should be "offering points (in space, tactics, and discourse) around which much larger social bodies can cohere according to a logic that challenges both the state and its authoritarian opponents," and that standing aside can only strengthen the state. Furthermore, any such abstention on anti fascist grounds (i.e. because of the involvement of fascists in the mass movement which pushed aside the Yanukovych regime) makes no sense because there are fascists on both sides (of the Ukraine divide). There is one huge error near the beginning, in characterizing Turkey and Brazil as "ascending," when in reality the global economic crisis is exerting horrible consequences in both countries, leading to violent demos in Turkey just this past week (March 13-14).