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I have a very interesting document — a study by the leftist Ukrainian sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko entitled ‘The Ukrainian Left during and after the Maidan protests.’ It is a study requested by the Die Linke delegation in the European Parliament. It covers the whole period from the overthrow of Yanukovych to the present war. I tried to upload it to the WSPUS website but was unable to, probably because the file is too big (a PDF file of 128 pages). I’ll email it to anyone on request (email@example.com)
On similar developments in the US:
Opposition to Hindutva also comes from secularist Indians.
At the start of Elizabeth II’s reign the British government committed massive atrocities in Kenya to suppress the Mau Mau uprising and prevent Kenyan independence.
Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2010)
The crimes of British colonialism are not forgotten in Kenya or in South Africa:
Wolff writes sometimes as a theorist but in much of his output, especially his videos, he is a propagandist. His theoretical output reveals that he really understands much more than you would think judging from his propaganda alone. He evidently believes that the truth is too complex for most workers to grasp, so he just keeps plugging one simple idea and he has chosen self-management for that purpose. And even self-management is not discussed seriously: he says nothing about its problems, he doesn’t even mention Yugoslavia.
Something like that did actually happen in Tito’s Yugoslavia and in the Israeli kibbutzim. The cooperative enterprises had to solve the problem of the need for temporary and seasonal labor (the first for a construction project, say, the second at harvest time). They found it advantageous to hire labor as needed rather than admit more members whose work wouldn’t be needed after the construction was completed or the harvest brought in.
All true enough, Alan. However, I do object to our using the term ‘impossibilist.’ It was invented by some of the few academics who have deigned to notice us and reflects the common view of our opponents that the strategy we advocate is impossible. But we don’t think it’s impossible. Or do we?
I remember in my teens going to a family wedding where they played the Israeli anthem Hatikvah. Everyone stood except me. The two people sitting to my right and left attempted to lift me into a standing position but after about half a minute it got too much for them and they let go and I slumped back onto my chair.
ALB: Why shouldn’t the illusion continue, if it serves a purpose (or more than one)? As you say, it’s a long time since Britain was a world power and the illusion hasn’t faded yet. Here in the US the media are full of coverage of the royal succession.
I am curious about how Charles will behave as king. He has long been unusual as a royal for the interest he takes in public affairs. He has criticized modern architecture that he dislikes and expressed concern about global warming (he tried to persuade Trump that it exists). He has been in the habit of reading state papers, making comments on them and asking questions in interaction with senior civil servants. If this continues now he is king maybe the monarchy will regain some real political power?
Yesterday I read the Russian newspaper Izvestia. There was an article praising the bravery of specific units, officers and soldiers fighting in Donbass, how they had held the line in face of superior Ukrainian forces until reinforcements arrived. It reveals that Russian forces are in an inferior position in many places. Also of interest: it says the purpose of the fighting is to protect the people of Donbass, without mentioning any other war aims.August 1, 2022 at 1:57 pm in reply to: Who’ll speak up for the new oppressed working-class boys? #231910
What the article is targeting (in a confused way) is a toxic new ideology that is especially influential here in the US. I suggest we call it PEC, i.e., ‘Progressive Except for Class’: it opposes an open-ended set of oppressions, starting with race and sex and potentially including anything except class.
Workers at the Urals Compressor Plant in Yekaterinburg are on strike because their wages have not been paid for months. The plant director attributed the delay to the war in Ukraine.
I get some relevant papers through academia.edu. Sociologists investigating Ukrainians’ attitudes to European integration find that only 18% “feel a positive effect from Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU” and in East Ukraine the figure is only 9%.
Let me try to clear up some confusion over ‘communes.’ The word has been used to refer to several quite different things.
First, there was the age-old village commune that still existed in Russia in Marx’s time. Land was controlled by the community but not farmed collectively. It was redistributed regularly among families depending on their size. They could use ‘their’ land but not sell, bequeath or otherwise dispose of it. Some Russian socialists thought the village commune could be a basis for socialism and Marx did not rule out the possibility (his correspondence with Vera Zasulich). This sort of commune existed in many other countries. After the Mexican revolution the indigenous commune was reconstituted in modernized form as the ‘ejido.’
In China, during the so-called Great Leap Forward of 1959-61, ‘people’s communes’ existed temporarily as very large collective farms, although in the so-called ‘communist’ countries ‘collective farms’ were only formally owned and controlled by a collective that elected its own chairman. In reality they were owned and controlled by the state as a means of extracting surplus from the peasantry, just as ‘state farms’ were.
In the West a ‘commune’ may be a collective farm (in the real sense) or just a bunch of people who live together and share living expenses.
I’ve been watching video interviews with military experts and specialists on the Russian economy. Here are the main points I picked up.
The war is now one of attrition between artillery, with high casualties on both sides. Russia has the advantage in terms of the power and range of its artillery. The Ukrainians are able to impede Russian advances with local counteroffensives but unable to recover lost territory — something close to a stalemate. The West has promised to supply the Ukrainians with more powerful and longer-range rockets to nullify the Russian advantage and hopefully enable them to retake lost territory, but only a trickle of these new weapons has been entering Ukraine so far (not clear why or whether that will change).
The sanctions are doing enormous damage to the Russian economy. One aspect that was new to me concerns Russia’s railways, which are its only efficient transport system. A few years ago the railways switched to the use of ‘cassettes’ to carry freight, but these cassettes are available only from two Western companies, so sanctions will gradually mess up rail transport.
Regional authorities are stocking up on basic supplies to protect their people from shortages. This may lead to controls on the movement of goods across regional boundaries (as in the 1990s) or even a quiet disintegration of the country. Some Western leaders may view this as a desirable outcome, but what happens to the nukes?
In reply to ALB, I came across a paper that provides a very useful survey of the positions on war taken by European social democrats in the years preceding 1914: Marc Mulholland, ‘Marxists of Strict Observance’? The Second International, National Defense and the Question of War. I can send the paper by email on request.
First, there WERE a few prominent figures who like us equally opposed offensive and defensive wars. “At the 1891 Congress of the International, [Dutch socialist Domela] Nieuwenhuis argued that socialists ‘must reject all chauvinism and any distinction between offensive and defensive wars.’ Any skilled diplomat, he pointed out, could present his country’s military action as ultimately defensive…”
But this ‘revolutionary pacifism’ was the position of a quite small minority. “Wilhelm Liebknecht condemned the Dutch resolution as ‘unacceptable and absurd’.” Most social democrats insisted on ‘the right of national defense.’ The point about diplomats being able to present offensive action as defensive proved prescient in 1914, when Germany attacked Belgium and France in the name of a strategy of defense against Russia. And now Russia presents its attack on Ukraine as a defensive move against NATO expansion.