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A contribution to the discussion on the war in Ukraine

Roy Wall, a veteran socialist activist in the British movement, shares his proposals for a socialist programme against the war.  He places this in the context of a longstanding evolution of currents arising from the International Marxist Group of the 60s and 70s which he describes as involving a retreat from Marxism, and links it to a similar evolution within the Fourth International's leadership, culminating in a slogan "against all imperialisms." He sees this as a decisive break with the political analysis against imperialist war first outlined by the international in 1934.(ed)

The Ukrainian Revolution

Roy Wall

22 June 2022

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appeals for NATO
to intervene more directly in the war.

The people of the Ukraine must rise up and overthrow the government of Zelensky.  This government led the country to war, and is consequently now unpopular.

Following an overthrow of the Zelensky government, a provisional government should be elected that must negotiate for peace, and convene a constituent assembly voted for by all Ukrainian people.

There is a marked similarity between the present situation in the Ukraine and that in Russia in early 1917 just prior to the February revolution that overthrew the tsarist government.

The war in Ukraine is a proxy war where the two sides consist of capitalist countries. On one side is predominantly Russia, on the other, a NATO alliance of countries that the Zelensky government has sided with.

In the document “War and the Fourth International”, written 10 June 1934, the programmatic position of the Fourth International is stated.  Below, we quote the first paragraph of a section of this document.

“Defeatism” and Imperialist War

58) In those cases where it is a question of conflict between capitalist countries, the proletariat of any one of them refuses categorically to sacrifice its historic interests — which, in the final analysis, coincide, with the interests of the nation and humanity — for the sake of the military victory of the bourgeoisie.  Lenin’s formula, “defeat is the lesser evil”, means not defeat of one’s country is the lesser evil as compared with the defeat of the enemy country, but that a military defeat resulting from the growth of the revolutionary movement is infinitely more beneficial, to the proletariat and to the whole people, than military victory assured by “civil peace”.  Karl Liebknecht gave an unsurpassed formula of proletarian policy in time of war: “The chief enemy of the people is in its own country.”  The victorious proletarian revolution not only will rectify the evils caused by defeat, but also will create the final guarantee against future wars and defeats.  This dialectical attitude toward war is the most important element of revolutionary training, and therefore also of the struggle against war.
Let us be absolutely clear what the above position states on the question of “revolutionary defeatism”:
“… a military defeat resulting from the growth of the revolutionary movement is infinitely more beneficial, to the proletariat and to the whole people, than military victory assured by ‘civil peace’.”
Western mass-media “propaganda” wishes to bring-about a “military victory assured by ‘civil peace’”.  As opposed to this, revolutionaries in the Ukraine must not accept Zelensky’s “civil peace”, but develop the revolutionary movement that Western “propaganda” keeps-quiet-about when it pretending that the Ukrainian people all support the “democratic” government led by Zelensky; a government that was established by a coup, backed by the U.S.A., in 2014.

Today’s “official” Fourth International conveniently ignores its June 1934 document by now being “against all imperialisms”.

In Britain, the section of the Fourth International (USec) has liquidated itself into the Anti-Capitalist Alliance (ACR).  Indeed, it is not made clear whether a distinct British section of the USec still actually exists.

A British section of the USec existed, as a sect of 90 members, since its foundation in the 1980s from a split in the IMG.  It has been involved in numerous “party-building” exercises that have witnessed a progressive degeneration of its politics as it increasingly liquidates itself in order to gain more members, at any expense.  It has recently liquidated itself into the ACR, which now has about 350 members, we are told.

The website of the ACR chooses to address the question of the proxy war in the Ukraine, by means of a main article on “The Political Logic of Russia’s Imperialism”.  In essence, ACR chooses to further demonize Russia, thus following Western mass-media hysteria, which is Russo-phobic and pro-Zelensky.

The ACR breaks with Leninism, and breaks with Marx’s understanding of class, as is clear from its program.  It is a supporters’ club for the apparatus faction that runs and controls it.

The war is not a war for “self-determination” but a proxy war between two groups of capitalist countries.  It therefore appears as a rehearsal for a third world war.

Self-determination of nations can be carried-out, in peacetime and under capitalist rule, by means of a constituent assembly elected by all of the people of the given nation.  In the UK, the present government denies the right of nations to self-determination, by, for example, resisting Scotland’s desire to resolve matters by means of a referendum.

Also, the UK government denies the right of the Irish people to self-determination by continuing with its annexation of the 6 counties of Northern Ireland, and its continued support for its colonial interests there.

Likewise, the EU also does not support the right of nations to self-determination but, rather, restricts this right to its presently constituted national states, but not to the nations within these states.

In other words, the EU’s and the UK’s professed defence of Ukraine’s right to self-determination is sheer hypocrisy.  The claim, by members of ACR, that the main issue in the Ukraine is the right to national self-determination is but a smokescreen for a de facto support of the NATO alliance, against Russia.  The ACR thus tail-ends the NATO bloc.

Instead, we must call for Victory to the Ukrainian Revolution!

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