The war in Ukraine and the unity of revolutionaries

We are living in a period of crises and extreme instability.

And yet, each time, the revolutionary left is surprised, at first mute, then dispersed in sometimes contradictory positions.

The day before yesterday the Islamist “war against terrorism”, yesterday the covid pandemic, today the war in Ukraine, tomorrow a climate disaster or something else, how can the revolutionary left react correctly? What are the lessons of yesterday for today? And what are today’s lessons for tomorrow?

The Red Help International does not intend to propose the “right line” in relation to the war in Ukraine. We do not even know if there is only one, so complex is the situation and so many are the parameters.

But we do know what mistake the revolutionary left must absolutely avoid.

This mistake is to allow serious and damaging divisions to arise among us, based not on solid analyses and certain positions, but on decisions dictated by urgency, determined by largely inadequate historical references, influenced by the propaganda of the bourgeois states that marks the “zeitgeist”, and more legitimately based on differences of conception of the revolutionary process.

In this changing situation, with a well-organized class enemy (both in Russia and in the West), and with the prospect of new crises, we must avoid unnecessary ruptures and find revolutionary unity to the highest possible degree.

We believe that the fundamentals of a common position exist.

They consist in refusing to fight for the interests of the enemy. Not NATO, not Putin, not Zelensky, because the main protagonists in this war represent interests opposed to the revolutionary project. We are not going to fight for Putin, for NATO or for Zelensky, and we must denounce all the narratives that are part of their war propaganda.

But refusing to be embroiled for bourgeois interests does not mean simply to be content with dismissing Putin and Zelensky back to back. In a situation as dramatic as a war, nothing justifies passivity or wait-and-see attitude, an attitude of a sorry spectator. We must commit ourselves and act, without allowing ourselves to be locked into the choice offered to us by the enemy (either Zelensky and NATO, or Putin). We refuse campism in the sense that our camp is not this or that official belligerent, but the revolutionary camp.

In a situation like this the revolutionary left must therefore base itself on its own ideological values and its own strategic interests.

Only on this basis will it be possible to dialecticize with the authentic revolutionary initiatives that exist (with great difficulty!) in the hostile conditions of Russia, Donbass and Ukraine.

Only on this basis will it be possible to develop an authentic revolutionary solidarity with the Ukrainian people suffering from the aggression of the Russian state.

There is indeed a common frame of reference for the revolutionary forces, even if this framework allows for a rather wide range of strategic, operative and practical proposals. And it is necessary to keep in mind and to value this “common background” rather than to focus on the differences of proposals.

This framework is characterized by the three imperatives that guide revolutionaries in the diversity of their choices:

We do not think that it is possible to build a unity on the “what to do” in the question of Ukraine or on other crises that could arise. But beyond these sometimes profound divergences of choice (criticism of NATO, denunciation of the war, commitment against Russian aggression) the revolutionary movement in Europe has a vital need for a united dynamic in solidarity.

It is necessary to avoid that the divergences, as deep as they are, on Ukraine, weaken the movement here without necessity.

As we have said, we are in a period of crises, and these are arising rapidly, challenging the revolutionary left to govern both quickly and well.

This will inevitably lead to differences in choices.

If we allow these differences to cause lasting ruptures within the revolutionary left, we would be committing political suicide. For the fault lines caused by this crisis will be added to those caused by previous and subsequent crises.

The only way to preserve ourselves from this atomization is to accept that in times of crisis, very different, even antagonistic, positions can be taken on this or that dynamic. And then, on the basis of this acceptance, to take care of our unity wherever it is possible, not by denying the contradictions, but by limiting their impact to the only subject which has seen them arise.

And to find unity beyond the divergences will be done in particular by attacking our enemy here, in the way he takes advantage of the crises, which he has often provoked or nourished, to increase his profits and reinforce his power.

February 2022
Secretary of IRH