Stop the war in the Ukraine!
‘Do you know what I do to people who get in the way of me?’ asked the thuggish manager of a GAZOPROM plant sitting across the table from me.
‘No, what do you do to them?’
‘I destroy them,’ He said. And he stared at me, unsmiling.
This is a brutal, capitalist Russia, not a beacon of advanced, enlightened civilisation. The Russian nomenclature does not have many friends in a socially progressive Europe, partly because it does not deserve to have them. Arguably, the Russian answer to Western provocation and NATO expansion eastwards was comprehensible and foretold – if not excusable. Seen from the perspective of the exploited, developing world, we may recognise that bourgeois nationalism, such as the bourgeois nationalism of Russia, can form a firebreak against rampant US imperialism eager to get its hands on Russian natural resouces and to divide Russia up like a pie or a cake.
But if you are not a Russian nationalist and if you do not ally yourself firmly with the strategic aims of the Russian state and its corrupt actors, then your sympathy for Russia’s response to decades of NATO provocation – as the bodies pile high – must be severely limited. And no, the Germans in opposing Russia have not suddenly turned into Nazis.
The frightening fact is that competition between different centres of capitalism in the first part of the 20th century led to World War One. We are witnessing just such a competition between centres of capitalism right now. The priority now has to be to prevent World War Three.
Conservative Russian society is an example to no one.
Socialism arose in one of the most backward, top heavy, autocratic states in Europe. When socialism ended, Putin doubled down on the reactionary values that Soviet society had preserved in aspic.
Russia bypassed the 1960’s cultural revolution, that era of enlightenment and tolerance. In the U.S.S.R. they learned nothing from the struggles against racism around the world, the struggles for individual freedom and self expression, and the struggle for the emancipation of women. Russia is still that rather fossilised society that did not benefit from the social revolutions of the 1960s.
Russia would have more support and less opposition in the UN, Europe and the rest of the world had Russia settled on a more enlightened political system and not on brute capitalism; had it shown more solidarity with progressive social causes.
The celebration of toxic masculinity, the concentration of obscene fortunes, and the promotion of social conservatism have all provided excuses to the opponents of Russia. At the moment, the advancement of trans rights is an important part of the movement towards progressive social change in Europe and the USA. Naturally, trans rights are ignored and ridiculed in Russia. It is a mark of how socially retrograde Russia is. Conservative Russian society is an example to no one.
It is no coincidence that it is the right-wing populist, nationalist autocrats and former autocrats around the world, like Modi, Duterte, Bolsonaro and Trump most favour Putin; they share in his social conservatism.
An enlightened human being should not subscribe to the values of an intolerant, brutal, capitalist state like Russia. Russia Today. (RT) was notorious for pandering to the far right in Europe and the USA. RT inflamed feelings against migrants just as easily as it pointed the finger at US police brutality against African Americans.
What is to be done?
What is at issue now is the prospect of a dangerous nuclear escalation between an imperial USA and a nationalist Russia that threatens to destroy both the west and Russia and Europe. Peace negotiations should start at once!
And when the west and Putin manage to stop the war, then Putin will have to deal with the destructive consequences of the actions of his government. While the Russian speaking eastern and southern parts of the Ukraine will probably become attached to Russia, the Russian government will have to join in with Europe and the USA and pay for the reconstruction of what remains of the Ukraine – with no strings attached – before it is allowed to rejoin the international community.