From the Left: Ukranian working class should reject the EU and Russia

By Dan Fournier
On February 14, 2014

Despite the media blackout by the corporate-controlled FOX-CNN-MSNBC complex, the truth about the atrocities being committed by the Ukrainian government against its own people are slowly seeping out, thanks to the likes of Twitter, Reddit and independent journalists. No matter what the Ukrainian government wants, the fact that we live in a digital era means that small bits of information are going to slide across the Internet and land on your news homepage, and that's devastating to their government because it means that they cannot necessarily control the narrative that is making its way into Europe and America.

It's not uncommon for the people to rise up against their government and demand change. Whenever the working class wants economic reforms that improve its living conditions and protect its civil liberties, it has to fight the ruling class in order to get them. Hegemonic power systems do not relinquish their power willingly, and any transfer of power from the state to the people can only be done with direct action by the people themselves. Reforms are never a gift from above; they are the result of popular struggles by the working-class majority. If the populace wants change, it has to forcefully extract it from the ruling class because the latter will never peacefully diminish its own authority to empower the former.

But we need to be intellectually honest and recognize the effect of these reforms; when the working class obtains momentary political victories (expanded access to healthcare, extra funding for education, trimming defense spending, etc.) it effectively deradicalizes them. This means that the ruling class has a vested interest in slowly, incrementally introducing political reforms because it serves as a means through which the working class is drained of its revolutionary zeal. Reforms are effectively counter-productive to the working class achieving political supremacy because it causes them to grow complacent with their immediate material conditions and loose sight of the real future goal: socialism. 

Ukraine is currently at an impasse. Should its government listen to the cries of the western Ukrainian citizens and integrate into the European Union? Or should they listen to the citizens along the eastern border that want desperately to become economic partners with the Russian Federation? Whom Ukraine works with should be a trivial question, but it is literally ripping the nation apart and putting it on the brink of an all-out self-destructive civil war.

This is what the Ukrainian people are trying to do: decide what their political destiny is going to be since the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, after which the countries in eastern Europe that were economically and militarily integrated into the USSR via the Warsaw Pact of 1955 have been ravaged by neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is the political cancer of our generation; it is to the post-USSR world what fascism was during the 1900s. Neoliberals worship at the altar of market fundamentalism; they preach fanatically that deregulating markets, privatizing economic affairs and replacing public spending with private spending all promote liberty when, in fact, they do the exact opposite. Neoliberal policies lead inevitably to monopolization, corporate hegemony and an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. If followed through to conclusion, a generation of unrestrained neoliberal policies lead to the transformation of a genuine democratic republic into a corporate-run banana republic.

Since the USSR and its mostly-state-run economy vanished, western corporations jumped eagerly into Ukraine in the hopes of opening up new foreign markets. Nothing is more illustrative of neoliberalism's destructive power in the post-USSR Ukraine than the fact that its national currency, the hryvnia, has never had a lower value; when compared side-by-side with the U.S. dollar, it's worth only 11 cents. This means that the hryvnia has lost 89 percent of its value, and this hyper-deflation was caused by the reckless, capitalist politics of the Ukrainian Central Bank as it worked hand-in-hand with international corporations in the industrial West.

If Ukraine wants to escape the neoliberal horrors that have been shoved down its throat by international powers since the USSR collapsed in 1991, then it has to do something to fundamentally change its political system, and I do not think that change should involve either their integration into the EU or Russia. Both Viktor Yanukovych and Serhiy Arbuzov (the Ukrainian president and his prime minister, respectively, even though Arbuzov should be bared from public office because he directed the massive for-profit commercial bank PrivatBank, among others, and is thus nothing more than a corporate delegate in the peoples' government) should both be immediately removed from office. Democratic and transparent elections should be called, and Yanukovych and Arbuzov should be replaced by genuine representatives of the Ukrainian working class so that they can decide, on their own, what their political destiny should be. It should not be a decision made by corporate elites and career politicians. In the end, the Ukrainian working class should reject neoliberalism not by joining Putin's Russia or Merkel's EU, but rather by working together to build a new, humane, and socialist economy that runs in their direct material interests.

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