September 27, 2023 at 11:04 am #247204MooParticipant
The Ukrainians are attempting to defend their homeland in much the same way most people would attempt to defend their homes (and loved ones) against an intruder.
WORKERS HAVE NO COUNTY. COUNTRIES SERVE THE CAPITALIST CLASS. Workers defending ‘their’ country is like slaves defending ‘their’ plantation. The best way people can defend their loved ones (from the evils of capitalism, including war) is to advocate then organise for socialism.
You keep telling us we’re wrong, Lizzie, but you don’t offer any constructive criticism.September 27, 2023 at 2:01 pm #247212DJPParticipant
“The Ukrainians are attempting to defend their homeland in much the same way most people would attempt to defend their homes (and loved ones) against an intruder.”
But states are not like households, this is exactly the niave view that leads to so bad thinking.
Neither can humanity cannot neatly be divided up into distinct “people’s” each with there own distinct and clearly definable patch of land.
Perhaps is Lizzie wants to offer something useful she can provide an argument as to why she thinks the opposite.
The only thing I can work out she has said on this forum so far amounts to “The way things are is the way they are, and therefore this is the only way they can be”. Some kind of bland conservatism.September 27, 2023 at 2:06 pm #247213PJShannonKeymaster
Lizzie45 – ‘The Ukrainians are attempting to defend their homeland in much the same way most people would attempt to defend their homes (and loved ones) against an intruder.’
The trouble with this analogy is, it’s not what actually happens. With a home invasion, most people’s first thought would be to get themselves and family away to safety, not die fighting to defend their home entertainment system, nor even the house, which is probably not theirs anyway.September 27, 2023 at 2:29 pm #247216
lizzie45; “The Ukrainians are attempting to defend their homeland in much the same way most people would attempt to defend their homes (and loved ones) against an intruder.”
That’s a ridiculous comparison. Your “home” is something tangible (bricks and mortar) as are your loved ones. Your “homeland” is not “your” homeland any more than Russian workers are said to own Russia in any meaningful possessive sense. The nation-state is a pure abstraction, the product of capitalist development. Benedict Anderson called it an “imagined community” and for good reason. And, actually, going to war in defense of your so-called homeland makes it far more likely that your home will be destroyed by missiles and your loved ones will be killed. It is far more sensible and pragmatic to offer no resistance or become a refugee than risk being killed for some dumb abstraction called Ukraine or Russia
Also, I love the way you bleeding-heart liberals defend the right of “Ukrainian” workers to misguidedly rise to the defense of their so-called land but you have absolutely nothing to say about the “right” of people in places like the Donbas or Crimea to equally misguidedly rise to the defense of their so-called land against Ukrainian aggression. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, surely, but you never mention this do you? This stupid war probably would not have happened had Ukraine not broken the Minsk agreement and appalling though the Russian invasion was, we should try at least to be a bit more even-handed in our condemnation
Lizzie45: “That you’re unable to understand this will almost certainly be one of the reasons your party has been an abject failure for almost 120 years.”
If we have been such an “abject failure” why then are you so obsessed about the SPGB? I am sure there are more successful websites to which you can transfer your trolling activities if you are so convinced we are going nowhere. In any event, since the SPGB does not propose to do anything “for” the working class – we are not a leadership-based organisation and we maintain that the emancipation of workers must be carried out by the workers themselves (we are just a tool workers can choose to use to that end) – there is a sense in which the “abject failure” you talk of is really an abject failure of our class to take steps towards our collective emancipation. That presumably includes you Lizzie45, assuming you are a member of the working class…
September 27, 2023 at 7:40 pm #247245
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by robbo203.
This is interesting. Lavrov hints at the possibility of peace on certain terms though the article doesn’t mention Donbas. According to one commentator “Lavrov’s statement, then, does imply that Moscow would recognize Ukraine’s 1990 borders if Ukraine foreswore membership in NATO.”
Makes you wonder what is going on behind the scenes. On the other hand the article is from the Daily Express and that is a very unreliable source of information so who knows?September 28, 2023 at 12:43 am #247249
I disagree that the war in Ukraine has become a “proxy” war just because Ukraine is now completely funded by foreign powers. I would agree with you if you could show that these foreign powers have effectively contracted out the use of force to the Ukraine state as an alternative to direct military intervention themselves – like US supplying missiles to the Mujahideen against the USSR in Afghanistan, or Putin using the Donbas separatists against the Ukrainian armed forces. I don’t see any similarity between these examples and the current situation in Ukraine. You are calling it a “proxy war because it describes the “constraints on (the Ukraine state’s) actions and abilities” due to total financial dependence. I know there is no agreed definition of “proxy war,” but IMO yours fails to accurately describe what is currently raging in Ukraine. Since when has constraints induced by financial dependence been enough to turn an independent state into a proxy state?
I’m not sure that one of the criteria for a “just war” is likelihood of success When a decision is first made to resist an aggressor, who is to say that the resistance is likely to be successful or not? However, I think it fair to say that there are limits on waging a just war, eg. when a just war has achieved victory, it would be unjust to continue to demand total submission of the aggressor state’s population or, say, as in WW2 when the Allies had already defeated Germany but insisted on unconditional surrender. You say that independence is now off the agenda for Ukraine. Really?? The war is likely to end in a stalemate, with an armistice. Ukraine will be taken swiftly into the open arms of the EU and NATO. But it will still be an independent sovereign state. The state more likely to end up as a satrapy is Russia, as a satrap of China.
Who would possibly deny that we are entitled to question the motives of the governments we live under and express our concern when they treat people as a means to an end? But why single out Ukraine? Ukraine is fighting a war against a state much bigger and stronger than itself because it doesn’t want to be part of a forced merger imposed on it by Putin. Treating people as a means to an end is much more likely to happen in a country at war than in a peaceful place like the UK. The UK has also treated people as a means to an end in wartime. On the day war broke out in 1939, the British state imposed a liability to conscript on all men between 18 and 41. Wasn’t that also a case of a state using people as a means? Ukraine has a rather stronger case for imposing its will on its people I would have thought, because it has been invaded. Britain hasn’t been invaded since 1066.September 28, 2023 at 5:42 pm #247250
well, terminology is an aside: what matters is that the effective control of the war is in the hands of the donors (since, if they cut off supplies, it’s all over). Their motives matter, and I think the onus would be on anyone trying to say that the the donor states are fighting for justice or the interests of Ukrainian people to prove that, especially in the light of their track record.
In world capitalism, no state is truly sovereign, and the world markets dictate much more than any one government can, so it is worth asking whether it is worth dying for what amounts to a change of name on the brass plate. A Ukrainian victory and recovery of their lands won’t lead to democracy, especially as the donors will call in their chips.
I doubt, in any case, that Russia intends to occupy the whole country, their war aims seem to be partition (cutting rump Ukraine off from the sea by taking Odesa as well). They’d be bled white in the west.
Ukraine will be Finlandised by the EU or Finlandised by Russia.
September 29, 2023 at 1:40 am #247252
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Young Master Smeet.
You ask if the governments of NATO and others such as Australia are being “just” in supplying arms to the Ukrainian government and nationalists. “Am I for it or against it” you ask. That’s an easy one to answer. I am for it. I support the provision of financial, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine because Ukraine is fighting a legitimate war of self defence against a war of aggression by Russia. I don’t think that I would call it “just”. I’d call it the right decision. I wouldn’t call it “just” because you are talking of government decisions, and I don’t regard governments as moral actors.
It was no “cop out” as you call it when I said that “I’ll leave it to the Ukrainians to decide”. You have misunderstood me. I meant that I have “no skin in the game”, because I am not the one doing the fighting and dying, living as I do thousands of miles away in a peaceful place that is not being invaded. I am not involved. I take no risks. It would be arrogant in the extreme for me to tell Ukrainians who are doing the fighting and dying what they should do. Which is why I said, “I’ll let them decide”.
The most recent figures I have seen from Ukraine say that support for Ukraine’s independence is the highest it has ever been at 82%. 76% tell pollsters they do not want elections until the war is over. Support for negotiations with Russia is relatively low. Confidence in the country’s politicians is low, but approval of the army and Zelensky remains sky high (from The Economist, 23/09/2023). The general picture given by these figures are in accord with what I have read in the recently published book “Invasion” by Luke Harding, the Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent. Overall, I get a different picture of popular feeling about the war amongst Ukrainians than what I read from you, but of course, like yours, mine is a limited picture.
You mention conscription against their will (of Ukrainian males presumably). There is no necessary contradiction between the introduction of conscription and popularity of the war. It’s like tax. Few individuals will volunteer to pay tax. But asked if they think the government is right to levy tax, most will say yes. It’s the difference between being an individual and being a citizen. The large number of ethnic Russians in Ukraine you mention doesn’t imply that they are all supporters of Putin. When I last heard, many if not most expressed their abiding hostility to him. Other ethnic Russians who support him have made their way across the border into Russia. Some have stayed in Putin’s two faux republics in the Donbas. “Why take the side of the majority who support the war?” you ask. Surely it’s obvious. I support the majority because the majority support the war of resistance against Putin. And I’ll let the majority decide. I neither support nor oppose draft dodgers.September 29, 2023 at 9:31 am #247253ALBKeymaster
Thanks, pgb, for making your position absolutely clear — you support NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine to incorporate the country into their bloc. You naively accept the “humanitarian” and “moral” reasons and talk of “justice” invoked by the NATO governments to justify their arming and financing the Ukrainian state and keeping the war going
The issue has always been whether or not Ukraine should join NATO. That’s why the West supported the overthrow of a pro-Russia government in 2014 and why Russia invaded in 2022 in a bid to overthrow the pro-West government there. Whether or not Ukraine should exist as an independent political entity has never been the issue. Both Russia and the West accept this; they just want its government to favour them. NATO wants to expand further to the East. Russia sees this as a threat to its vital interests as a capitalist state. In international relations (relations between capitalist states) “morality” and “justice” don’t come into it. Might is right. Realpolitik rules.
Incidentally, you quote an opinion poll which says that 82% of the population of Ukraine support its existence as an independent state and that this is “the highest it has ever been”. That seems rather low at only 82%. What about the other 18%? Presumably they either couldn’t care either way (which would be good) or think that it should become part of Russia again (a sizeable minority which would make for political instability). Also, was this poll conducted just in the territory controlled by the Ukraine government or in the whole of its designated territory? If the former, that would mean that if those in the Russian controlled territory were included the figure would be much higher. And if the latter, how did the pollsters poll those in the Russian controlled parts?
You say that the poll showed that “support for negotiations with Russia is relatively low” but don’t give the exact figure. Have you got it to hand?
Finally, the SPGB has always been opposed to conscription and practised what it preached, with those members who were in a position to do so refusing to be conscripted in both world wars and also in the period of “national service” after WW2 and either being sent to jail, assigned to non-military work or going on the run. It’s a socialist principle not to kill fellow workers in conflicts between capitalist states.September 29, 2023 at 7:52 pm #247264
An interesting and, it seems to me, balanced assessment of the current state of the war (again, from The Conversation). It seems relevant, with our recent discussions of conscription: “Russian pro-war bloggers complain that the country has refused to go into “total war” mode. But if it’s a long war of attrition, as seems likely, maintaining normality is actually a strength.”
And: “The bottom line is that Ukraine, which is completely dependent on outside support both financially and militarily, will find it hard to sustain its war effort at current levels. Right now it is Kyiv, not Moscow, which is under the greater pressure.” There is a likelihood that Slovakia may elect a war-sceptic government this weekend (or, at least, one that will be heavily divided on the matter) and Poland has some elections coming up, the destabilising effects of cheap Ukrainian grain may well ripple through the neighbour states. The ‘Justness’ of the cause may well be up against the self interest of the actors in the region.September 30, 2023 at 3:27 am #247265
No, I don’t support NATO’s proxy or non-proxy whatever war in Ukraine. I support Ukraine’s war against Russia – for reasons I have made clear many times. I support NATO and other capitalist powers sending financial, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine because without it, they couldn’t defend themselves. I’m not going to oppose them getting help from NATO any more than I would have opposed the Spanish Republic in 1936-38 getting help from Stalin’s Russia.
I don’t buy your Realpolitik version of events at all. Like many Leftists, for you the culprit is NATO’s post-cold war expansion, no doubt fuelled by US capitalist interests. This ignores the fact that every country that joined NATO did so willingly, and none of them did anything to seriously threaten Putin’s regime. The former Soviet vassal states of Eastern Europe joined for the good reason, based on their experience of USSR rule, that they feared Russia. But not even the most hawkish and Russophobic of them – Poland and the three Baltic States – did anything to threaten Putin. Prior to February 2022 Western military involvement in Ukraine was minimal and it’s hard to believe that any NATO government contemplated the imminent possibility of Russia invading Ukraine. Your Realpolitik view also ignores the significance of Putin’s firm conviction, made known well before last February, that Ukraine was never a country, and incorporating it into Russia would be an act of restoration, not an act of aggression. Ideas matter, and there is always a choice. Unfortunately, Putin made a catastrophically wrong choice in starting the largest land war in Europe since 1945.
I am dumbfounded by your remark that the 82% statistic I quoted “seems rather low”. For over a century the SPGB has stood steadfast in its claim that the socialist revolution must have majority support to succeed – an overwhelming majority I would have thought. And here you say that a majority figure of 82% in a Ukraine poll “seems low”. I must be missing something here (irony probably). I can’t add anything to what I have said in my previous post about Ukraine polling figures – for which I did give you the source.
I am aware of SPGB support for conscientious objectors, I too supported conscientious objectors (and not just worker COs) in the 1960s when Australia joined the US war in Vietnam. Many young men here went to Vietnam as conscripts. A tiny minority declared themselves conscientious objectors and only a few of those objected on political grounds. I am sure that none of the conscripts would have joined the army voluntarily. I am equally sure that those who went believed it was a just war. I know you don’t like words like “morality” and “justice” in political debate, but what, if not justice, were you seeking when you actively supported conscientious objectors?
You say it is a “socialist principle” not to kill fellow workers in conflicts between capitalist states. But conflicts between capitalist states may have little or nothing to do with capitalism as such, inasmuch as they are not principally fought over resources, markets or trade routes etc. Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine is such a one. The principle you are proclaiming sounds more like a pacifist principle to , me, with the important difference that you only want it to apply to workers, whereas pacifists apply it to all people regardless of their class identity, which makes their position more morally coherent IMO.September 30, 2023 at 8:12 am #247266ALBKeymaster
I will let others wade in to deal with your flimsy pro-war arguments, basically an echo of what the media put out which you have swallowed hook, line and sinker even to the extent of blaming it on one evil man. If you think that the war has nothing to do with whether or not Ukraine should join NATO then that just shows how naive and unworldly you are.
I just want to clear up your failure to understand my point about “only” 82% of those polled (whoever they were) being in favour of an independent political Ukrainian state. In most countries (unfortunately since such is the grip of nationalism) you would expect this to be at least 99%. The fact that some 18% are against must be of some significance if only to serve as a pretext for the Russian ruling class (and your counterparts on their side) to justify the war.
I notice you left unanswered my request for the percentage of those polled who supported negotiations with Russia.September 30, 2023 at 9:35 am #247272
No one here (as far as I know) is defending Russian military aggression but what is conspicuously absent in PGB´s account is any reference to Ukrainian military aggression toward the Donbas. This region sought to break away from Ukraine following the illegal CIA-backed coup that brought into power a regime that pursued Russophobic discriminatory policies. Ukrainian military aggression against Donbas, in clear violation of the Minsk agreement, led to the deaths of thousands of people from 2014 onwards. (I believe the figure was 14,500 up until the Russian invasion but I might be wrong)
The point is you have to be even-handed in condemnation of military aggression. As I understand it, what sparked the Russian invasion was evidence that Ukraine was mounting troops and equipment to make one final big push to take back the Donbas and that this had been preceded by an upsurge in Ukrainian bombardment of the region. That was the trigger that started the Russian invasion.
Socialists support neither side in this capitalist conflict and this is what PGB, as a liberal, who evidently believes in the cause of a so-called “just war”, cannot seem to understand. He says:
“You say it is a “socialist principle” not to kill fellow workers in conflicts between capitalist states. But conflicts between capitalist states may have little or nothing to do with capitalism as such, inasmuch as they are not principally fought over resources, markets or trade routes etc. Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine is such a one. ”
Well firstly, the protagonists involved are not likely to say that the reason why they are engaging in a war is to capture resources, markets, trade routes, and so on, and is rather naive to imagine they ever would say that. On the contrary, virtually without exception, both sides in wars. particularly in the modern era, will explain their motives in high-minded moralistic cum ideological terms such as “defending Western values”, “defending democracy” or “fighting the evil of fascism”. They have to as a way of justifying their actions. However, that doesn’t mean that economic motives are not the underlying causal factors and we should not be so gullible as to just swallow uncritically what the propagandists on both sides of any capitalist conflict tell us is the reasons why they are fighting.
Secondly, and quite apart from that, PGB doesn’t seem to grasp that it is the very concept of the capitalist nation-state that socialists call into question – not just the appalling consequences that flow from the actions of these entities. PGB thinks the nation-state is an entity that is somehow worth defending. That is the difference between him and socialists.
So yes we are more than just pacificists. We are hostile to the very socioeconomic construct that is the “capitalist nation-state”. You cannot separate support for a capitalist nation-state from support for the economic system that gave birth to this construct.
Finally, there is the question of the pain and suffering caused by war. The liberal identifies the cause of all this pain and suffering as the enemy who is driven by evil intentions to inflict harm on others and who must therefore be removed at all costs. But let’s be realistic here. The decision to militarily resist an invader is as much a cause of pain and suffering as the invasion itself. You only want to resist the invader because you think your nation-state, your so-called land, is worth having and defending. Obviously, socialists have no such delusions. For us, it does not matter what is the colour of the flag that hangs from your local town hall and we refuse to put our lives on the line for such an empty and meaningless cause.
The logic of the liberal nationalistic-minded belief in a just war leads us directly to the insanity of the situation we face today. Since the beginning of this year, the front line has barely budged. In fact, according to this article, the Russian side has gained slightly more territory overall than the Ukrainian side
Russia is seemingly content to continue a war of attrition which in the long run it is bound to win because of its numerical superiority. The day will come when Ukraine will not be able to offer any more serious resistance and the Russian military will very likely surge forward and take the remaining parts of Donbas and even possibly Odessa. I read somewhere that the rate at which Ukrainian troops are surrendering has recently stepped up; it numbers in the thousands. God knows how many have already lost their lives. Figures have been bandied around in the region of 200,000 or more. And that’s just the Ukrainian side. The number of wounded or scarred for life will be much more.
The thing is if you believe in the concept of a just war then thats it – you are committed to sending more troops into the meat grinder ´without any end in sight as a matter of high moral principle regardless of how many get slaughtered since the original “causus belli” still exists in your eyes. This is the reckless logic of the lunatic, the religious fanatic. However, once you start thinking pragmatically and start saying enough is enough then you are into a whole different ball game. You are starting to judge the merits of participating in the war in terms of the consequences of doing so. You are breaking with the moral fanaticism of the liberal idealist.
I would argue that the most logical and consistent expression of the pragmatic approach is, in fact, the socialist view. There is nothing to be gained by workers on either side by participating in this war and an awful lot to lose as we have plainly seen. If the pragmatic approach had prevailed this utterly disastrous and pointless war would never have occurred
September 30, 2023 at 9:47 am #247274
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by robbo203.
But conflicts between capitalist states may have little or nothing to do with capitalism as such, inasmuch as they are not principally fought over resources, markets or trade routes etc.
In this case, the mineral and industrial wealth of Ukraine is in the east, and the western part is largely agricultural, there is iron, coal and even oil: Russia has noted how it has made the Azov sea and internal sea, which is important for trade routes: likewise, Crimea is important as a way of controlling much of the Black Sea. A clear Russian war aim is to take Odesa, and make Ukraine a land-locked country.
Yes, Russia is also asserting an imperial sphere of influence, much like the Monroe doctrine, but countries choosing US hegemony rather than joining Russian hegemony are still in the grip of Hegemony.
The funders conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine talked of needing to restructure transport links to integrate Ukraine into the EU market, and open itself up to investment from EU capital.
There’s a scene in some Arthurian movie: two armies are facing off, and under terms of truce, if one side draws a sword, the battle begins (one soldier sees a snake and kills it, thus starting the bloody battle). The point: when armies are staring at each other, poised and cocked to fight, it doesn’t really matter who started it, the point is to stop it.
This is a war for land and minerals, which are not worth any worker from either side dying for.September 30, 2023 at 6:39 pm #247278AlmamaterParticipant
We already had the same discussion with True Scotsman about the same topic but with the only difference that he was supporting the Russian capitalist class and Russian nationalism and patriotism, and now it is the opposite, the new participant is supporting the Ukraine capitalist class and Ukrainian nationalism and patriotism, in essence there is not difference.
Nationalism is a bourgeoisie conception and it does not make any different where it comes from, as well the so called self determination of the peoples and national liberation is also a bourgeoisie conception, and both of them are based on false illusions that workers own a nation, as well, the concept of peoples is another false idea because there are not any homogenous interest in any nation
All wars among capitalists are based on socio economic interests and this war is not an exception, and it has been proven that Ukraine has more than 14 billions dollars in natural resources and most of them are needed for the modern industry including the armaments industry, and Russia has grabbed a great portion of those resources and the capitalist class of Ukraine need them to obtain profits, as well, the capitalist class of the USA is after those resources, it is a conflict among capitalists.
We have written and published hundred of articles and pamphlet about these issues, and world history has always proven that we have been totally correct including our stand regarding the Vietnam war, we are a socialist party, we are not a nationalist, patriotic and leftist organization.
Most workers around the world have been influenced by the bourgeoisie ideology and that is the reason why they support wars and patriotism
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