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The Future of Novorossiya is not being Decided Solely on the Front Lines

Разделы: 

Dear colleagues!

 

As you know, the situation in Ukraine is very contradictory. A month ago, after referendum, where absolute majority of population of the East of Ukraine supported creation of independent state, peoples of Donetsk and Lugansk regions initiated creation of new republic, which has now name Novorossia.

 

Population of this region is now under the fair. Thousands of people are killed by bombs, artillery, rockets and tanks of Kiev Authorities. In spite of this fact Novorossia is trying to built new, mow just state.

 

In this situation we, members of editorial board of Russian democratic left journal ‘Alternatives’ wrote the Appeal with our understanding of the situation,  its contradictions and future, with proposals of assistance.

 

Please, read this text and if you acsept at least some key ideas of it, send it to your colleagues via Internet, social net-works, web-sites and so on.

 

More information you can find in our web-site www.alternativy.ru.

If you have any questions or need more information, please, write us buzgalin@mail.ru

With best wishes,

 

Alexander Buzgalin


The Future of Novorossiya is not being Decided Solely on the Front Lines

Open letter from members of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives to defenders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics

Dear comrades,

We address you in this fashion since along with you we are experiencing the same tragedies that have fallen to your lot. We are your comrades, since as scholars in Russian universities and research centres who are members of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives, which has been appearing now for more than twenty years, we have throughout this period consistently spoken out in support of the right of peoples to decide their own fate, defending their honour, dignity and lives. The experience of recent months shows that the majority of you share these principles, despite the diversity of your ideological positions.

There is no war in our country at present. But the Russian people have a complex and painful history.

Hundreds of our comrades perished or were arrested during the autumn of 1993 when they resisted the tanks that were firing on the people, inside the first Russian parliament, who were demanding popular power and who refused to join with Yeltsin in dancing to the tune of the International Monetary Fund and in continuing to inflict on our country the policies of “shock without therapy”.

Behind us we have a long record of analysing the experience of, and of solidarity actions with, those thousands and millions of people who like you have stood up to the tanks, aircraft and cannon of quasi-fascist “liberals” in Asia and Latin America, in Eastern Europe and Africa.

On the basis of this knowledge, of this analysis and experience, we wish to say to you: Your deeds have already made history.

Your self-organisation and heroic defence of the lives, honour and dignity of the citizens of your republics, the fact that you have laid and defended the foundations of new states, has already proved to the entire world: living and acting in the post-Soviet expanse there have been and are people capable of working and struggling independently, and not according to the orders of one or another boss—people who will work and struggle, without sparing their lives, not for the sake of money or of private self-interest, and not only for their relatives and friends, but also for people “remote” from them.

Ranged against you are not just the Ukrainian oligarchs and the newly-appeared rulers, not only the country’s fascist-minded thugs and lying mass media, but also a large section of so-called “civilised humanity”, capable for the sake of corporate profits and the geopolitical ambitions of the global elite of trampling on any and all human rights and freedoms, of supporting and justifying tyrants and fascists, Pinochets of all stripes.

We know that among the leaders and defenders of your republics are people of many different types. You have diverse views, and as supporters of popular power and internationalism, we do not share all of these views by any means. You argue with one another, and there are things we too would argue about with a number of your leaders.

But that is not the main thing at present.

The main thing is defending and developing your new social formations.

The main thing is to ensure your victory, and to make certain that the results of your victory are not exploited by oligarchs and bureaucrats of the Yanukovich or Poroshenko variety, only this time, people with a pro-Russian bent.

Russia, with its history and future, is dear to you as it is to us. But you know as we do that by no means all the people who wield economic and political power in the Russian Federation are ready to support your fight with word and deed, and to provide genuine help. Many Russian oligarchs and their representatives in the government are afraid of your independence, and of the anti-oligarchic thrust of your struggle.

But the people of Russia, in their overwhelming majority, are with you!

You have our decisive support as you strive to determine your own fate, to impose your control over large-scale capital, to get rid of the bureaucrats and to create your own state power from below. That is despite the fact that we do not share the pro-imperial views that are to be encountered in your milieu, or the hopes of a “benevolent Russian tsar”.

But we repeat: these differences must not prevent us from waging a joint struggle.

We are no longer young, and would scarcely be of much use at the front, but throughout these months we have used all our strength to wage an informational campaign, in our country and abroad, to support your fight. We have initiated and maintained regular informational reports in various languages, disseminating statements by leaders of public organisations and opposition parties in European countries, the US and elsewhere.

Despite the monstrous difficulties you face, you are already starting to win. Your victories are not only in defending your towns and villages against an enemy whose strength exceeds yours by many times. Your victories are in setting a precedent of new ways of life, of mutual aid and administration, created in solidary fashion from below. You are demonstrating in practice that you defend humanity, its right to life, to dignity and self-determination. Even in the West public opinion has begun to turn; more and more people are standing on your side, or at a minimum, are speaking out strongly against the actions of NATO.

All the more important is it, then, to move forward in determined fashion. It is now becoming more and more obvious: with all the acute problems you face in defending yourselves, the future of your republics is not being decided solely on the front lines.

You know this even better than we do. For all its contradictions, your positive work of putting economic, political and spiritual life in your regions in order has been priceless. We repeat that it has already become part of the history of collective self-organisation.

But as you yourselves understand perfectly, this is only the beginning. The most important and difficult tasks lie ahead. Because of this, we want to share with you the experience of great achievements, daunting problems and tragic errors that has been accumulated by your predecessors. Meanwhile, we understand very well how limited, in some respects, our possibilities are of giving you advice, and also what a responsibility we are taking on ourselves.

Nevertheless, people need to understand what kind of economy you want to see for your republics, what guarantees of work, incomes and property citizens will receive. Who is going to win, and who is going to lose (because there will most certainly be losers) in the case of your final victory? Who is going to hold real economic and political power? What will the ideological foundations of your society consist of? Will there be a place in it for nationalism (Ukrainian or Russian)? How will your state differ fundamentally in its economic, political and ideological principles from the one that the Yushchenkos, Yanukoviches and Poroshenkos have built and are now building?

You have already taken certain decisions along these lines, but there are also problems. We know that among the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics there are numerous disagreements on these questions. All the more important is it, then, to find points of agreement and to set them forward as concretely as possible. The clearer and more explicit your position, and the more consistently it is backed up by the moves you make, the better. The longer the uncertainty lasts, the more quickly popular support for your struggle will melt away. This, unfortunately, is a natural law of all such movements, confirmed many times by history.

* * *

What might be some of the benchmarks of such a position?

1. The key question faced by every new ruling power that is created from below is the economic one.

You already understand that an extremely important and difficult task now is to take control of all the economic, educational, medical and other services in towns, villages and enterprises. Nationalisation and expropriation are not indispensable for this, despite their being desirable. It is enough to consistently implement accounting and control by the masses, over enterprises, communal services, and the social sphere. Organising workers’ accounting and control is not easy, but neither is it more difficult than holding off the onslaught of your enemies month after month. You have already taken the first steps toward instituting these measures, while under extreme military pressure. So it is all the more important to make use of the crystallised experience of your predecessors: here is what they did, in our country and abroad. This experience shows that popular control can become an important means for organising the work of enterprises in the midst of sabotage, and an effective tool for transferring control over the economy, communal services and finances from the hands of pro-Kiev “professionals” to those of the citizens of your republics.

We support the initial steps you have taken to limit the power of local oligarchs, and your moves toward openly and consistently ramping up subsequent pressure on all those owners of capital (above all the large-scale ones) who do not support your republics and do not aid them economically and organisationally. Here it is important not to rest on what you have already achieved, but to press ahead and make further moves, expanding the use you are already making of the revenues from the enterprises belonging to these owners, and using this money to pursue the aims of the republics. Carrying out this task will become possible to the degree that the new financial and tax system is made to work properly, and also, that popular control is imposed on the enterprises.

We agree absolutely with your efforts to conduct your economic policy openly and transparently, in the interests of citizens. Here, it is important for the DPR and LPR that you carry on developing openness and transparency in all your actions.

Finally, it is of fundamental importance that you impose control over the financial system, including through the replacing (you have already started carrying this out), of the pro-Kiev managers of the banks and other financial institutions (including private ones) with people whom you trust, and through developing control from below over the flows of money. Again, this does not necessarily require the nationalisation of private banks; neither the depositors, nor the owners of the banks (except for open enemies of the republics who finance the slaughter of the population and other anti-popular acts) will suffer from such moves.

2. In the political field

Amid all the problems of developing popular power under conditions of military conflict, you have already managed to establish a functioning mechanism for involving citizens directly in settling important political questions. This too is a gigantic victory for you. But here as well, developing this victory further can help you strengthen your embryonic state. The road to achieving this – the road pioneered more than a century ago by your comrades in struggle – lies through forming organs of power by creating councils of workers and citizens, operating on the basis of the direct expression of the popular will. True, it’s possible that various shifty people might come to power by this route. But in the first place, it’s highly unlikely that they will be worse than the Kiev appointees. Secondly, you have already formed military detachments on this basis. Creating civilian forms of this popular power will not be more difficult, and this means you will succeed here as well.

3. In the area of ideology

Unquestionably, the leaders of the DPR and LPR currently adhere to extremely diverse viewpoints, among which pro-Russian, “strong state” and at times even imperial ideas predominate. We want to state unambiguously: we do not share these views. But we see very clearly the paradox of today’s struggle. While voicing the slogans of democracy and human rights, the Western leaders and their Kiev puppets in reality pursue nationalist, pro-fascist policies. At the same time, the militia members who speak out in favour of “strong state” values, and who in most cases share in the ideas of Russian nationalism, in reality defend the lives and interests of the citizens, while acting on the basis of self-organisation and as internationalists.

In these highly contradictory circumstances, to try to draw up any single, unified ideology would be absolutely utopian, and we support fully your efforts to avoid placing stress on ideological disagreements. Moreover, we solidarise with your overall antifascist platform. This is also shared by thousands of our comrades in Europe, the US, Latin America and other regions of the world.

But as the struggle proceeds, this will more and more prove insufficient. We appeal to you openly to emphasise in every possible way, to disseminate and to propagandise, a number of key ideas that in various cases have already come to serve as the banner of your republics. We call on you:

* to counterpose the defence of the rights of peoples to decide their fate for themselves, including in the area of state self-determination, to the fascism, expansionism and militarism of the Kiev authorities;

* to counterpose internationalism, the friendship and equal rights of Ukrainians, Russians and members of all nationalities, along with respect for all languages, cultures and national traditions, to Russophobia, Ukrainophobia, anti-Semitism and all other manifestations of aggressive nationalism;

* to counterpose granting official status not only to the Russian language but also to Ukrainian, and supporting Ukrainian culture and national traditions in your republics, to the suppression of the Russian language and culture on the territory of central and western Ukraine;

* to counterpose the granting to citizens of your republics of access to the various mass information media to the blockade placed by the Kiev authorities on all truthful information.

This last point is of fundamental importance. As you yourselves know, without the conquest of the “fourth estate”, and in particular, ensuring at least a parity of information flows, the DPR and LPR will not be able to win. Here, removing pro-Kiev newsmakers from leading posts and providing support to rank and file journalists who are close to you ideologically is of fundamental importance.

And further: the history of numerous popular initiatives on various continents shows that if citizens who are fighting for their rights stop half-way, and fail to reinforce their seizure of power by giving it a new, genuine economic and socio-political basis, the victories of the insurgent people will be appropriated and used for their own ends by anti-popular forces, whether Islamic fundamentalists, great-power chauvinists, local nationalists, or globalisers.

* * *

We understand very well that it is easy to give advice from far off, but that putting this advice into practice can be unimaginably difficult, and sometimes, it might seem, completely impossible. But the difficulties can be overcome. You have already done things the “professionals” thought impossible. If anyone had said in March that the volunteers of Donetsk and Lugansk would be able by themselves, without the support of the Russian state, to resist army units equipped with aircraft, tanks and artillery and using them on a massive scale, no-one would have believed them. But day after day you have proved that this is indeed possible. We are certain that in forging new economic and social relationships you will also be able to achieve the impossible.

Moreover, we are not merely observing things from the sidelines. We are in solidarity with your struggle, and are prepared to render any form of aid that is within our powers.

That is why we are making this request to you. For a long time now it has been indispensable for you to make an open appeal to the citizens of Russia and to the world community in the name of your governments and leaders (or if that is impossible, of influential public bodies), setting out in the clearest way possible the goals for which your republics were created and the principles behind their activity. Also essential are concrete suggestions for organising practical solidarity with your struggle.

We in turn, along with hundreds of our comrades, will accept the obligation to help disseminate and popularise this appeal in every way possible.

Aleksandr Buzgalin, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Professor, Editor in Chief of the journal Alternatives

Lyudmila Bulavka, Doctor of Philosophical sciences, member of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives

Andrey Kolganov, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Professor, member of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives

Emil Rudyk, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Professor, member of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives

Boris Slavin, Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, Professor, member of the editorial collective of the journal Alternatives

Andrey Sorokin, Candidate of Economic Sciences, lecturer, executive secretary of the journal Alternatives