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Nothing tests socialists as does the question of war

The ultimate test in such circumstances is what position do socialists adopt — do they echo the condemnations of the “enemy,” do they “take sides” with this or that imperialist bloc or power or,do they stand firmly against imperialism, asks JOHN McINALLY

NOTHING tests socialists as does the question of war. And the ultimate test in such circumstances is what position do socialists adopt — do they echo the condemnations of the “enemy,” do they “take sides” with this or that imperialist bloc or power or,do they stand firmly against imperialism, warmongering and advocate an independent class position.  

Russia’s attack on Ukraine cannot be justified but claims by the Western powers and the Nato military alliance that it is “unprovoked,” a claim repeated by some in the labour movement, must be categorically rejected. 

As war hysteria reaches fever pitch we must keep clear heads and firm principles, oppose imperialist aggression wherever the source and expose the role of our own ruling class as should socialists in the “enemy” country.  

War is not an accident, it is inevitable as capitalist powers compete for resources, profits, military supremacy, status and influence.  As the British ruling class rage against the “irrational” actions of Putin, claim to be defending ”democracy” and the rights of nations to exist from outside intervention we should remind them, and particularly their “Little Sir Echoes” in the labour movement, precisely how the actions of Western imperialism led to this situation.   

The US and Britain were up to their necks in bringing to power in Russia the current oligarchy, composed of gangster elements and some of the old bureaucracy, and they did so not in the interests of the Russian working class, but in the hope this new capitalist elite, whose money was stashed mainly in the City of London, would be directed and controlled by the West.  

With mind-numbing arrogance and strategic incompetence the US continued to treat their fellow capitalist exploiters as the “enemy,” rather than locking them in to deeper economic and military alliances — the Russian oligarchs wanted to join Nato, they were rejected. 

In these circumstances the rise of Russian nationalism and imperialism was entirely predictable. Now the US wants to reassert its political and economic hegemony in Europe and projects like Nord Stream 2 are in their firing line.  The working class throughout Europe will pay a heavy price and a fall in living standards as a result of this competition between these opposing sets of profiteering exploiters.  

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, amid hubristic claims of “the end of history,” the US has, contrary to its promises at the time, aggressively expanded Nato, trashed nuclear treaties and organised a series of so-called “colour” revolutions, including the Maidan coup in Ukraine in 2014.  

Since Maidan western imperialism, especially the EU’s, has systematically looted Ukraine. Instead of the prosperity promised to the Ukrainian people they have been subjected to mass privatisation, repression, bans and proscriptions, the expansion of openly Nazi paramilitary organisations, an upsurge in anti-semitism, the direct hounding and murder of minority groups like the Roma and the state-sponsored rewriting of history in which Nazi collaborators and mass murderers have been “rehabilitated” as Ukrainian “heroes.”  Ukraine, a potentially wealthy country, is now the poorest in Europe with human capital, as low-wage migrant workers and worse, its main export.

The western backed government in Kiev has been shelling the ethnic Russian Donbass breakaway republics with impunity for eight years.  Had it been implemented, the Minsk Accord would have seen Donetsk and Lugansk stay in Ukraine as semi-autonomous regions but, with Western backing, the Ukrainian oligarchs refused a diplomatic settlement — they have played with fire and the consequences will now be borne by the working class.  
 
The venal British political establishment is assembling a confederacy of reaction, which includes the Greens and the Scottish National Party, as well as the Starmer’s  Labour; they attack the Stop the War Coalition and socialists who stand in opposition to both Western and Russian imperialism, and some are even calling for state censorship against the Russia Today media station, the type of “special measure” that will be used ruthlessly against the working class in future. 

The situation in Ukraine is now very dangerous and it is precisely in such circumstances socialists must prioritise exposing the role of their own ruling class, and that of their coat-holding social chauvinists in the labour movement. 

We should stand in absolute opposition to Western and Russian imperialism, we should support Russian and Ukrainian workers against their own rotten ruling elites and, in the West, stand in complete opposition to our own warmongering governments that having left a trail of destruction in the Middle East, provoked a crisis in Europe that we, not they, will pay the price for. 

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