IG joins centrist muddleheads on Ukraine
Nordenites, like TF, WSWS neutral on Ukraine’s ‘right’ to join NATO
On 23 February, on the eve of the current Russian military campaign to “de-NATO-ize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine, Jan Norden’s Internationalist Group (IG) released a statement calling for defeatism on both sides:
“The League for the Fourth International calls to defend self-rule in the breakaway regions of southern and eastern Ukraine and to defeat the war drive against Russia and China. We militantly oppose imperialist sanctions and denounce the U.S./NATO hue and cry over Russian troops shoring up the besieged Donbass republics as the bleating of frustrated warmongers and their social-democratic acolytes. The conductor of this orchestrated uproar is U.S. imperialism, with its record of countless bloody invasions. If clashes lead to a full-blown war between Russia and Ukraine, Trotskyists would be for a policy of revolutionary defeatism in both of these regional powers, calling for workers to actively oppose the war effort of ‘their’ bourgeoisies and to wage intransigent class struggle against the capitalist rulers in Moscow and Kiev. But if it turned into a war by Ukraine’s imperialist backers against Russia that would be a very different matter.”
—internationalist.org [emphasis added]
The day after the IG published its statement, “a full blown war between Russia and Ukraine” did indeed commence. Over the years we have had many important political differences with the IG, and have been sharply critical of its refusal to repudiate the social-patriotic flinches of the grotesquely degenerated Spartacist League, our common political ancestor. In recent years our position on contemporary Russia has generally aligned pretty closely with that of the IG—we both reject the notion that Russia is an “imperialist” country and have both clearly asserted the need for the left and workers’ movement to defend it against US/NATO aggression. The IG statement declares that “the overriding class issue is to fight against the aggressive U.S./NATO imperialist warmongers and their flunkeys in Kiev.” But, with the defense of Russia against NATO encroachment actually posed concretely, the IG, like various other ostensibly Trotskyist formations which take an abstractly correct position on “Russian imperialism,” has flinched and adopted a position of dual defeatism—a pox on both houses. We explain what is wrong with this in a recent polemic with the Trotskyist Fraction.
The mental contortions required for ostensible Trotskyists who denounce NATO’s persistent and ongoing drive against Russia, yet refuse to take sides in the current conflict, are vividly displayed in a 1 March statement on David North’s World Socialist Website:
“In the case of the conflict in Ukraine, the nature of the war is being revealed with considerable speed. Ukraine is only the initial physical battleground in what is, in essence and fact, a war between NATO and Russia.
“The non-membership of Ukraine in NATO is, and has been for several years, largely a fiction. Already substantially armed and with weapons pouring in, Ukraine is the front line in a war aimed at regime change in Moscow and the complete subordination of Russia to NATO.”
The statement goes on to summarize recent developments that substantiate this assertion and then bizarrely concludes:
“None of this changes in any way the World Socialist Web Site’s opposition to the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine.”
The TF, IG, the brain-dead current iteration of the SL and a variety of other fake-Trotskyist formations share the same position. While this is in line with the positions taken by most of these groups in the past, we are frankly surprised that the IG has not adopted the position we put forward in our 27 February statement:
“We categorically reject the idea that the rulers of Ukraine or Georgia have a right to join the NATO imperialist military alliance targeting Russia. The left wing of the ‘Neither Moscow nor Washington’ crew tend to want to avoid taking a position on this issue—because recognizing such a ‘right,’ means aligning with the US State Department’s position. Conversely, rejecting Ukraine’s ‘right’ to enlist as a pawn in the imperialist struggle to defeat and dismember Russia, means favouring the military victory of Putin’s forces and defying the furious imperialist propaganda barrage currently underway.”
We know that the ranks of the TF, IG and even the WSWS, are mainly composed of serious subjective revolutionaries. We appeal to them to think through the politics and potential geopolitical stakes in the current confrontation. The WSWS correctly describes it as “in essence, and in fact, a war between NATO and Russia”—in this war Trotskyists have a side, despite the unpleasant character of Putin’s reactionary bonapartist regime. It is not too late to break with muddleheaded centrism and the “anti-war” pacifist neutrality which, at bottom, represents a capitulation to imperialist ideological pressure.
This is no time for sitting on the fence—if Russia successfully “de-Nato-izes” Ukraine, it will make the world a safer place for the Chinese deformed workers’ state, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and the many other countries targeted by rapacious US imperialism and its allies. A NATO triumph over Russia in Ukraine will represent the opposite, and bring humanity one step closer to the risk of annihilation.
Down with social-pacifist neutrality—Ukraine has no ‘right’ to join NATO!
The international workers’ movement must defend Russia against imperialist encroachment!
Smash capitalism through world socialist workers’ revolution!