A few thoughts from Russia about the war with Ukraine.
I am writing this after my I have lost my old Internet contacts and new ones have just been created, and I don’t know how many people will read it. Nevertheless, I want to express my opinion on the new phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war that began in February and what I believe people in the warring countries should do under these conditions.
I do not believe that “the worst republic is better than any monarchy”. Everything is determined by grassroots activism of the masses, not by voting in elections. But in this case, the Ukrainian people are much more independent of the government and much more influenced by it than the Russian people. Putin considers this to be Ukraine’s weakness, but in fact it is its strength. This is the main reason why the army of the “full-fledged state” cannot cope with the army and self-defense units of Ukraine: slaves fight badly, while free people who do not want to be slaves fight well. This is one of the main reasons why Zelensky is perceived as a lesser evil even by his opponents in Ukraine.
A lesser evil tends to transform into a bigger one, which makes it unreasonable to support a lesser evil. However, in addition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, there are territorial defense units in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government is forced to support them. Willingly or unwillingly, it has distributed weapons to the people. And now there is a third force in Ukraine – the armed people. In addition, as once in republican Spain, units of foreign volunteers are coming to Ukraine. Finally, partisan militias may emerge in the occupied territories. One should not idealize all this, the Ku Klux Klan was also a product of self-organization of a part of the people; but an armed self-organized population is the only force from which something good can emerge. Everything will depend on self-consciousness–the people’s self-defense units as a whole are just as “good” or “bad” as the people as a whole. That said, they are heterogeneous, as are the people as a whole. Anyway, as of today they are the only force worthy to be supported. And if I were asked where an ordinary Ukrainian, who doesn’t want to sit idly by, should go, I would answer: “If he or she can, create one’ own unit, if not – join the self-defense brigades. Or join a partisan unit.”
The Ukrainian government is now forced to support this force. However, when the situation changes, it will try to get rid of the Territorial Defense units, the volunteers, and any other self-organized brigades. Recall the fate of the Donbass battalion, which was deliberately left without support and in a knowingly doomed position. Fighters of self-organized units should keep this in mind.
It is more difficult for the inhabitants of the Russian Federation: all grass-roots initiatives are crushed here, and apart from street protests, which are also brutally crushed, the Russians can only offer passive resistance to the war: avoiding recruitment, desertion, voluntary surrender. In the future, even rebellions by soldiers may become possible, but for now, their prospects are doubtful. Although I have received information about mass refusals of contract soldiers to go to war with Ukraine, but I do not know how accurate this information is.
If I am asked whether I should switch sides if I have the chance, I will answer: “Only to independent units. I can perfectly understand those who would like to join AFU (Ukranian army, translator) , but I consider this to be a mistake.
Mass strikes and refusal to pay taxes would be great resistance against the war, but I do not think that with the current level of self-organization that is possible in the Russian Federation. However, in the future I do not rule out social uprisings caused by the problems that the war will bring and has already begun to bring to Russians. In the latter case, along with the usual social demands, protesters should demand an immediate end to the war.
This demand will naturally be supported by liberals, but ordinary Russians should by no means trust liberals. The liberals and oligarchs are the ones who brought Putin into power to protect what was looted under Yeltsin, and just because Putin eventually escaped their control does not mean that they are any better. Even now they are trying to blame the war and all the troubles it caused on the common people by repeating the official lie about mass support for Putin by the “heartland people”. I repeat, Putin was brought to power by oligarchs and liberals, they are responsible for this war, not the people, deprived by their efforts of any influence on the government, it is them, not the people who should pay for the war. Therefore, the anti-war alliance of the people with them, the alliance with the thieves against the bloodsuckers can only be temporary. This is not even an alliance, but a temporary truce during the fight against a common enemy, nothing more, and people should understand this (the liberals and businessmen themselves understand this very well). Let the reparations and contributions be paid by those who started this war.
Under conditions of low self-consciousness and the long-term propaganda of bourgeois values, a decline in living standards can lead to both social uprisings and attempts to save oneself at the expense of others (by robbery, fraud, and looting). One has to be prepared for this and to fight against it. The only alternative to a war of all against all is a grassroots war against the upper classes and a social revolution.
Belarus is in an intersectional position between Russia and Ukraine. Some of its citizens go to Ukraine to fight against Russian troops. Having gained combat and organizational experience, they can then begin an armed struggle on the territory of Belarus. However, such a struggle is doomed to failure without the support of the working population, without the support of the very factory workers and rural women and men digging potatoes, who were treated with such contempt and disdain by the “modern” protesters 2020 (which was one of the main reasons for their defeat). On the other hand, a change of power in Belarus without taking into account the interests of urban and rural workers would simply be replacing bloodsuckers with thieves, replacing one exploiter with another.
Finally, let me remind you that war is one of the products of capitalism. This does not mean that there are no wars without capitalism, but that there is no capitalism without war. And if for some businessmen this war means the loss of their wealth (or a significant part of it), the loss of their accounts and real estate, for others it means new profits, new accounts, new real estate, new contracts, in short – an increase of their wealth. Workers on either side of the war will only lose, some more, some less; none of them will benefit. The workers of different countries have nothing to sell, but they are sent into battle and reparations and contributions are collected from them in favor of the businessmen and bureaucrats behind the front lines.
The only outcome of a war that would be different is a social revolution. And the more the majority of workers on all sides understand this, the higher the chance that such a revolution will take place.