The Big Mash-Up

1. Vladimir P, so as not to be confused with Vladimir L, sat alone at a table, channeled the mashed-up spirits of Irakii Tseretilli, Catherine the Great, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, and gave a history lesson to the world. That lesson was that the Ukraine had never existed.

What’s that? Bannon and Conway aren’t dead you say, so Vladimir with a P couldn’t have channeled those spirits? As awful as that fact is, it’s no obstacle because Vladimir with a P is more than a medium. He’s a magician. He mumbled an incantation of some 5000 words, at the end of which he said something that might have sound like “peacekeepers” and poof! part of the Ukraine was gone. Clever Vlad; too clever by half.

Replaced by a couple of shell-companies left over from 2014, call them the Donetsk and Luhansk junk republics (like special investment vehicles where worthless assets live on), these junk republics control only a small portion of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. They do wield power over approximately 4 million people in the areas they do control, approximately 10% of the population of the Ukraine.

In 5000 words, Vlad with a P did away with about 900 years of history. When it comes to the efficient falsification, Vlad with a P. could take a lesson or two from Rupert Murdoch who falsifies all history, everywhere, all the time, with just a headline or two.

As always, Vlad with a P blamed the Bolshevik-led Revolution of October 1917 for the persistent myth of a Ukraine. VP said:

Since time immemorial the people living in south-west of what has historically been Russian lands…

Ah…no, that’s not the case. The lands in the “south-west” were occupied by numerous tribes and clans, and prospered as part of the Kievan Rus Slavic State which include parts of what would become Russia, but was not yet Russia as that territory was occupied by the Golden Horde.

Kievan Rus predates the Grand Duchy of Muscovy; Kyiv as the nexus of the trade routes predates Moscow, and the identification of the territory as “Ukraine” is thought to have originated in the eleventh century, pre-Lenin.

The Slavic state of Kievan Rus disintegrated. What was then known as the Ukraine was occupied by and fought over by, different alliances of clans, families, some having elevated themselves to “royalty.” Poland, Lithuania, the Golden Horde, and the Tatars of the Crimean Khanate battled for control of the Ukraine.

But Vlad with a P, channeling Althusser (V with a P having VIP access to the souls of the deliberately obscure and purposely dishonest) knows, has unimpeachable knowledge that real history is bunk. What counts is ideology– how convincing a particular interpretation of history is in justifying the aggrandizement of space, time, and wealth; how effective the interpretation is in disavowing the reality of that aggrandizement. (See Vlad with a P’s reference to “peacekeeping.” See also Kellyanne Conway and the history of the Bowling Green massacre. )

The real problem according to the anti-history of Vlad with a P, was and is the policy of the Bolsheviks. In the attempt to “stay in power at all costs, absolutely all costs…” “appease[d] the nationalists,” those Western-influenced, Euro-centric Marxists, gave the nationalists “generous gifts, beyond the wildest dreams of the most zealous,” and “on top of all that gave the republics the right to secede from the united state without any conditions.”

Sounds almost plausible, doesn’t it? The Bolsheviks of and after the October Revolution were indeed determined to maintain power at all costs. However, it was the February Revolution’s moderate, pro-war, Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) that encouraged those trapped in and by the Russian Empire, an empire known world-wide as the prison house of nations, to bring forth their claims to autonomy and “self-determination.”

Eight months before the Bolsheviks were able to lead the soviets to state power, moderate socialists, not Bolsheviks, declared Ukrainian Peoples Republic, autonomous but allied with the PRG of Russia.

The Bolshevik policy was not one of appeasement, or generous gifts, but of suppression of forces opposed to the workers revolution. There was no “unified state,” there was class struggle. As that struggle expanded throughout the former empire, including the territory of the Ukraine, revolutionary Bolsheviks in the Ukraine confronted (at different times): the armed forces of the more moderate socialists of the Ukrainian central Rada (council); the armed forces of the Central Powers; the White counterrevolutionary army; the armed forces of the Entente powers; the armed forces of Poland; various Ukrainian militias.

The imperialist war was really turned into a civil war, although probably not in the way Lenin envisioned it. In every moment in this process, the Bolsheviks of Russia were guided not by “self-determination” but by class struggle; not by appeasement of nationalists, but by class combat against counterrevolution.

Putin knows that ignorance is integral to oppression. So we get this:

When it comes to the historical destiny of Russia and its peoples, Lenin’s principles of state development were not just a mistake; they were worse than a mistake, as the saying goes. This became patently clear after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Vlad with a P gets it all wrong again. For one, there’s no such thing as the “historical destiny of Russia and its peoples” separate and apart from the “destiny” of every country and all peoples. There’s not much to be gained from being a “chosen people.” The Jewish religion has sung the song of “chosen people” for thousands of years, and how has that worked out? Good? Maybe not, right? As my mother said to me, herself channeling a chorus of ancestors who had perished at the hands of the unchosen, “maybe God could do us a favor and choose someone else.”

Secondly that it required more than 70 years for this transparently disastrous worse than a mistake to make itself manifest, and only after the entire social organization has decayed to the point of collapse, tends to argue against both the transparency and the severity of the mistake itself. The “mistake,” like the policy, exists only in Putin’s ignorance, to serve the propagation of ignorance..

He continues:

…it is a great pity that the fundamental and formally legal foundations of our state were not promptly cleansed of the odious and utopian fantasies inspired by the revolution, which are absolutely destructive for any normal state.

But Russia isn’t and wasn’t any “normal state,” according to Vlad with a P. It has and had an historical destiny, did it not?

The glorification of a miserable and vicious past is nothing new and even less original.

Trump, after all, wanted to make America great again. Biden is lost in the memory of those great moments when he could shake hands with segregationists and gangsters.

The US South has wistful memories of its lost cause.

Solzhenitsyn wanted to establish future fond recollections of subsistence agriculture and all that comes with it: infant mortality, death in childbirth, religious icons, and Black Hundreds.

Vladimir with a P wants to more than recover a non-existent past; he needs to disappear the actual history of social revolution.

Nostalgia for what never existed– a benevolent authoritarianism, an absolutist harmony–is essential to ideology. Always there’s the image of a glorious past that is lost, betrayed actually, by outsiders, others, aliens; by all those who are not of this soil, this blood, this book.

2. As powerful as an ideology appears to be, it takes an army to make it real enough to replace (parts of) history. History isn’t just written by the victor, it’s erased.

Now there is no doubt that NATO is a threat to Vlad P just as it was a threat to Brezhnev’s USSR; just as the Central Powers and the Entente and the White Russians were threats to the Bolshevik-led revolution.

There is no doubt that the expansion of NATO to include Poland, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania provides this military alliance with forward bases directly adjacent to Russia’s current physical borders; located directly within former soviet socialist republics and their economic partners. Such locations and proximities would never be tolerated by the United States for one, nor by the United Kingdom, for two.

There is no doubt that Vlad P’s Russian Empire v.2 is not the former Soviet Union of Brezhnev; even less does it share anything (and particularly not history) with the 1917-1922 Bolshevik-led Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).

The difference quite clearly is that Vlad P’s vision is built upon the triumph of Russian capitalism; upon the complete collapse of the foundations of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union; upon the defeat of the Bolshevik-led Russian Revolution.

The “continuity” of history, the transition from that period of revolution to the triumph of counterrevolution is established in the interim rule of the former Soviet Union.

At certain critical moments, at emergence and then reemergence of certain critical moment, the leadership of the RSFSR-USSR-Russia sacrificed, suppressed, destroyed the moments for proletarian revolution in exchange , hoped for exchange, for the security of the regime.

Indeed even Lenin even Trotsky even the original Bolsheviks who led the seizure of power practiced this exchange, this trading of revolution and revolutionist for “safety” (see Loren Goldner’s Revolution, Defeat, and Theoretical Underdevelopment).

This becomes more than a gambit. It becomes policy. The more the regime obstructs social revolution, the more the regime relies on the conservative elements internal to the society; the more the regime reproduces those persistent remnants of the old order–inequality, privilege, ignorance; the more the regime strengthens the reactionary elements outside its borders. Such was the result of the suppression of the Hungarian workers in 1956; of the workers in East Germany that same year; of the Czechoslovakian workers in 1968; in Poland in 1970.

The results of such suppression took its acute form with the Polish government assaults in the 1980s on the workers’ movement in Poland.

The Jaruzelski regime used the time purchased by assaults upon the Solidarnosc movement to advance preparations for martial law, which it declared in December. Coal miners across the country struck, some taking possession of the mines. The police (ZOMO) and the militias were used to break the strikes, murdering strikers in the process.

The international ramifications of this attack on the potential for revolution were obvious. This was the beginning of the era of Thatcher and Reagan, with sustained assaults upon unions, wages, work rules, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Both Thatcher and Jaruzelski reaped the dividend from crushing the strikes in Poland and subduing the workers movement. In 1984-1985 when British coal miners struck in opposition to Thatcher’s plan to shut the mines down and break the union, UK imports of coal from Poland tripled. Tripled.

And of course, the government suppression also weakened the radical left wing in the Solidarnosc movement, increasing the power of the conservative, and church linked forces..

“Globalization” then with imports of scab coal, “balkanization” now with secession of junk republics– the “hard” “pro-Soviet” line results in nothing other than the victory of capital over labor.

That’s the real history that can’t be erased or denied.

So:

  • No “self-determination” for breakaway territory.
  • No division of the Ukraine into separate states.
  • No support to the Zelensky government
  • For a unified workers’ socialist Ukraine
  • Withdrawal of Russian troops.
  • Disarming of all nationalist militias, in all regions
  • Immediate cancellation of World Bank programs and loans pending review by workers’ commissions
  • Immediate cancellation of all US/NATO weapons shipments and military assistance to the Ukraine
  • Immediate suspension of all EU funded projects, pending review by workers’ commissions

S.Artesian

February 25, 2022

3 thoughts on “The Big Mash-Up”

  1. Agree with most of it. Like the vividness of the prose. Do not agree with you on the first two demands which are a product of 2014 and the west mobilizing the utlra-nationalists and fascists. They were not the product of Russian meddling. Five times as many civilians in the breakaway regions were killed by deliberate and indiscriminate shelling often from para-militaries than were killed in Ukrainian areas.

    1. The first two agitation points are: No “self-determination” for breakaway territory. No division of the Ukraine into separate states.” Regardless of the origin of these “shell republics,” and regardless of the right-wing dominance of the 2014 Maidan rebellion, the first two demands are key components of the need for a united workers’ Ukraine. I’m sure you don’t prefer a self-determination that allows ultra-nationalist Russian militias to remain active; that doesn’t let those nostalgic for the return of the Czar’s republic exercise power and influence. Donetsk and Luhansk are NOT soviet republics. Historically the east of the Ukraine has been the most heavily industrialized, with the west being the agricultural area, but that does not mean Donetsk and Luhansk are any less nationalist and any more socialist factions. Plus accommodating separation of the Ukraine is a sure way to perpetuate war and conflict. Where in history has such a separation not prolonged such conflict and not eventually proved hospitable to capitalism? Vietnam? Germany? Korea. We are after all talking about the working class taking power and not “self-determination.” Marxists cannot be Marxists and support fragmentation and Balkanization.

  2. One more thing– or the first of a list of one more things: The list of “demands”– proposals for agitation– is hardly complete. One more point I would add, probably right ahead of or after “Withdrawal of Russian Troops” is “Europe out of NATO.”

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