You’ve probably seen at least some of the riot porn/”heroic protester” pics from the Ukraine these past few months (if not, here’s an example).
A BRIEF INTRO TO WHAT’S HAPPENING
Mainstream media’s take on the protests’ cause is Ukraine shooting down a cooperation agreement with the EU - protesters want that cooperation, rather than continuing to align the country with Russia.
What’s been happening on the streets: “mass demonstrations of many hundreds of thousands in the winter cold, people blockading government buildings, attacking a presidential palace and occupying the city government office, calls for president and government to resign, talk of a general strike”.
ISN’T THE PROTEST JUST FIGHTING FOR NEOLIBERALISM, BY ALLYING WITH THE EU?
That’s what some say - and even go as far as to say that protesting against Russian influence, even if it’s for neoliberal trade policies, may be necessary to challenge neoliberal capitalism in the long term - by ensuring political liberty in the here and now. I don’t agree!
There are a few decent posts on Libcom about what’s happening. A great one is Ukraine: what’s going on, and what does it mean?. According to that:
- The business elite in the east of the Ukraine, including the president Yanukovych, are allied with Russia. Those in the west want closer business ties with the EU i.e. the business elite as a whole straddles the two, slightly leaning towards Russia.
- The draft agreement would cause mass unemployment in the Ukraine, fuel bill rises, and would probably lead to Greek-style austerity.
- The draft agreement was refused not because of any care for the Ukrainian people - it was simply because it didn’t generate enough income for the eastern elites, even though it would have bolstered western business elites with lucrative contracts.
…but a conflict between two warring business factions wouldn’t put hundreds of thousands in the street in the freezing winter, facing police brutality.
There are two separate sections to the protest: one political party dominated, and one by Occupy-inspired students that reject the binary party politics. These students grew up without the Soviet Union, and see themselves as part of Europe and not the corruption-ridden pro-Russian business policies - they just also don’t back the business-run EU integration that political parties want either.
A pertinent quote: “So far, most of the opposition leaders have refused to heed students’ requests to get rid of party symbols.”
The DIY horizontal attitude the student side is taking is an interesting remedy to the “general strike” pushed by the pro-business opposition parties. The danger is that they get too hung up on fighting for a mythical idealised EU that doesn’t reflect what us in the EU live in and see (more on that in 'Europe' in Ukraine: many things to lots of people)
AREN’T THE PROTESTERS ALL FASCISTS?
Ukrainian nationalism seems to have an anti-Russian spin that focuses ire on Russian-speaking Ukrainians, rather than the oppressive state of Russia, enforcing an idea of what being a “real Ukrainian” is. This element sees the EU as a weapon to use against Russia and anything associated with Russia - not a progressive idea (unsurprisingly).
Fascists may have been behind much-shared-by-Western-radicals attempt to storm the presidential palace with a bulldozer (I hold my hands up as excitedly sharing the pic without being critical enough), and the occupation of a city government building.
However, these fascists are not the whole movement. A lot of it, as mentioned above, is people decrying the poverty forced on them in the Ukraine despite the growing wealth of dictators (see one example in comments of this Libcom article). However, that anti-elite element may be unwittingly siding with fascists in the (misplaced) idea of “we’re all in this together”.
To be blunt, I have no idea whether the fascist force outnumbers the anti-corruption anti-police-violence student-led movement. In my eyes, it’s an open question.
The reinvigorated crackdown by authorities on protest, based on new legal powers equating protest with “extremism”, threatens to cut off the Ukraine from us.
I hope our comrades in the Ukraine come out of this fighting. My fingers are crossed.
Wie funktioniert die Wirtschaft?
In einer halben Stunde. Kann man sich am Wochenende ruhig mal anschauen. Es geht vor allem um den Kreditzyklus, dessen Wichtigkeit von vielen deutlich unterschätzt hat.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio (von Bridgewater)