Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Ukraine: Divisions Among The Left

It was never expected that the response to the war on Ukraine of the Left internationally, would be so divided. Broadly there have been four positions held by those who consider themselves to be anti-capitalist socialists of one kind or the other. The arguments, rationalisations and justifications provided by the first three of these groups do, in some degree or the other, overlap. 

The first group (which is certainly the smallest of the four categories) includes those who fully support the Russian invasion as well as those who while not going gung-ho in supporting the invasion will neither call it an invasion nor condemn it in even the mildest of language. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation fully supports the action which it describes only as a "special military operation". The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM calls the war "unfortunate"  and insists that US/NATO expansionism is the real cause forcing Russia to behave as it did. The older and smaller Communist Party of India (CPI) says much the same without using the word "unfortunate" even, and makes a meaningless general call for peace in the region. That is to say, neither of these parties make even a cursory criticism of the Russian action and put not just primary but sole blame on the US/NATO. Whatever the leaders and ideologues of these two parties in India may think privately, in public they do not even declare that Russia (and China) are now capitalist countries let alone that they are imperialist. In fact, a principal ideologue of the CPM, Vijay Prashad who has written a number of good books on the Middle East and on the Indian diaspora in the US, says that the only imperialist country in the world is the US. So France and the UK, despite their behaviour in Africa, the Middle East or elsewhere are no longer to be seen as imperialist powers despite their past. While lower order powers making military-political incursions abroad whether they be Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, etc. are also absolved of any charge of being weaker imperialist countries or even sub-imperialisms. It is not just that the US is the biggest imperialist power with the ugliest historical record which it is; but that it is uniquely imperialist!. However, this claim cannot be used to deny the ugly and unjustified behaviour of either China or Russia or even the former USSR. Loyalty to the CPM/CPI, however, has generally triumphed to the point of its acolytes and leaders repeatedly defending the indefensible whether it is the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 or of Czechoslovakia in 1968 or post-Soviet Russia in Chechnya and Ukraine.

Second Group: Two Variants

The second group do condemn the Russian invasion in milder or stronger forms. But they generally avoid reference to Ukraine's 'right to self-determination' since if one were to endorse this clearly and unequivocally or even half-heartedly, then what follows as a matter of logic is endorsing the right to resist of the Ukraine people, whatever be the nature of their current government, to fight as they see fit to regain their freedom and sovereignty. However, the central preoccupation of this group of leftists is to focus on the iniquities of the US and NATO. The latter's expansionist drive is not seen as the sole reason for the invasion but it is seen as the main reason. This is the dominant prism used for understanding the why of the invasion and what the response of the Left and progressives should be to this development. Depending on whether one sees Russia as itself an imperialist country or not, there will be variation in the degree of culpability to be attached to Russia. a) Those reluctant to identify Russia as an imperialist power (even if of much lesser weight than the US) can then talk of its 'misadventures' or its 'imperial' behaviour but above all emphasize its 'reactive' character mistaken though this is or might be. They will highlight the iniquities of the Ukrainian government, its rightwing and even its supposedly far-right or Nazi character which can then serve as a kind of excuse for Russia's assault. b) Then there are those who say very clearly that Russia (and China) are imperialist powers though weaker than the US. Hence there is an inter-imperialist dimension to the Ukraine issue and a corresponding geopolitics that must be unravelled. That there is a geopolitical dimension that has to addressed is obvious since the impact and implications of the Russian invasion are not confined to Ukraine and yes, these inter-imperialist rivalries have also been playing out within Ukraine's own internal politics. 

The crucial question is how much weight to give to this inter-imperialist dimension as a causal or explanatory factor behind Russia's decision to invade. Those subscribing to approach a) given above will give much more weight to the geo-political dimension (they are reluctant to call Russia imperialist) and will in their arguments provide at least implicit rationalisations, even justifications, that will greatly soften their explicit words of formal condemnation. Supplementary arguments will be used to buttress their case. There will be talk of Kiev's repression in the Donbas region where pro-Russia separatist forces are presumably wanting to exercise their choice of political self-determination. This argument then becomes a cover of sorts for Russian intervention in the past (the 2014 takeover of Crimea) and the 'understandable' desire of Moscow today to 'counter' this drive against the more culturally Russified eastern part of the Ukraine. Focussing more attention in one's arguments on the 'Nazi' character of the government and the ruling classes for example, becomes a way of  diverting attention away from the fact that it is the huge mass of ordinary working people in Ukraine who are angry, who are suffering deaths, injuries and devastations from the military assault and who are fighting back in whatever way they can. To pretend or even imply that the broad masses are dupes of their authoritarian rulers is shameful. One can certainly criticise the far-right forces and ruling government in Ukraine but there are liberals, socialists, Marxists, feminists who are very much part of the forces resisting the Russian forces. This is rarely if ever mentioned; nor is it pointed out that Ukraine's quite flawed democratic polity is less flawed than that of Putin's Russia. Instead, most efforts are made to promote the view that since the 2014 Maidan protests (supposedly engineered by Washington) the Kiev regime is basically a puppet or near-puppet regime of the US led West.

Those subscribing to approach b) will usually say a lot more about Ukraine's sovereignty being violated. They will make more noises about the suffering of the Ukrainian people and that they are resisting. They will generally be more critical of both the domestic and external behaviour of Putin and the Russian ruling classes---after all, Russia is an ambitious imperialist power. Its recent record from 1990 onwards can be brought in to defend the argument that they too are an imperialist power though not one able to match the US. So Russia's military-political interventions into Afghanistan, Georgia, Moldova, Abkhazia, Tajikistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kazakhstan, Chechnya, Armenia and Azerbaijan and its own establishment of a pact of countries over which it can exercise some degree of control and influence, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) are much more likely to be pointed out. But since this lot of leftists also claim that the primary factor in causing this war is inter-imperialist rivalries, this section of the Left will also greatly underplay the more fundamental reason for why the Russian government carried out this invasion. Ironically, this is not something that Putin and the key decision-makers and supporters around him have ever been shy of publicly voicing---that the very formation of a post-Soviet Ukraine as an independent country is unacceptable and that, in part or preferably whole, it should cease to exist and be part of a Greater Russia and subordinate to the dictates from Moscow. That Putin declared as much to the Russian people just before invading is either ignored or only very briefly mentioned in the most cursory way. No, it is US/NATO expansionism that is the main culprit alongside the geopolitical ambitions of Russia beyond the specific concern with Ukraine that must be understood to make proper sense of what has happened. 

In both the cases of a) and b) it is essentially assumed that Putin is so naive that he would not recognise that his attack on Ukraine (the country had not even reached the stage of getting a NATO Membership Plan), far from weakening this western expansionism, would solidify and spur it forward towards greater hostility and efforts to militarily encroach nearer Russia's borders. It should occasion no surprise that Finland and Sweden have now decided to become members of NATO thus providing newer border outposts against Russia. It is also revealing that Putin has dismissed  these developments as of little worry or consequence indicating that for him, capturing as much as he can of Ukraine and dismembering it is a much greater priority than concern about US/NATO expansionism. Both a) and b) use the language of this being a 'proxy war' between Russia and the US-led West. What an extraordinary claim! The term 'proxy war 'is used in cases where within some country there is an internal conflict between two major forces, something like a civil war situation where two major external forces or blocs are militarily-politically respectively supporting opposing sides. The 'external' aspect is then to be seen as the major arena of contestation rather than the internal conflict itself. The geopolitical dimension is given a higher political status and concern than the national dimension. Is it any wonder then that upholders of this approach go on and on about the global impact of the war in Ukraine, of how global food supplies are being affected and how a new Cold War is emerging and how this new and growing tension is making things globally worse and dangerous. All true of course. But this then should lead to a more severe and forthright condemnation of the culprit Russia which has caused it and should reinforce support from the international Left for Ukrainian resistance. Moreover, to call this basically a 'proxy war' is absurd. It is an actual war launched by one side, Russia against another capitalist country which is not itself an imperialist country or a weaker imperialist power or even a sub-imperialist one. The use of the term 'proxy war' disguises what is the central characteristic---that for Ukraine this is a war of national liberation against a foreign power out to crush and subordinate it and that Ukraine therefore deserves the support of the international left which must always be both unconditional in defending its right to self-determination and yet always prepared to be critical and even opposed to the ways its government and other forces may go about conducting this struggle. 

As for the possible advocacy and exercise of the right to self-determination in Donbas and Crimea, this cannot ever be justifiably done under the military jackboot of a foreign occupier. The military takeover of Crimea in 2014 followed by a referendum under occupation was a deliberate and ruthless violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum whereby Russia, in return for retrieving Ukraine's nuclear arsenal (then the third largest in the world) promised never to violate its territorial integrity---a betrayal that gets little or no mention among the geopolitical preoccupations of the Left rationalisers of Russian behaviour.

Third Group

This third group is for peace and an end to militarism. It notes the suffering of the Ukrainian people and condemns Russia for what it has done. But for various reasons---the danger of further military escalation, the nefarious designs of the US for wanting to 'bleed' Russia over time by continuing the war---it wants a settlement as quickly as possible. This group is therefore against US/NATO supplying of arms to Ukraine---a posture also held by the first and second group of leftists discussed above. Another common position held by these three groups is that economic sanctions against Russia should be opposed because these will hurt ordinary working people economically. That they are in fact endorsing and supporting an undeclared regime of sanctions against the Ukrainian people (their desired embargo on arms) whereby on a mass scale the suffering endured by Ukrainians---millions displaced as refugees, physical deaths and injuries, destruction of homes and devastation of everyday life is far beyond what can happen in Russia through sanctions---does not even seem to register on the minds of these leftists. How is this settlement to be achieved? Why, through diplomacy presumably! And how is that going to happen? Is a ceasefire and settlement to be somehow imposed on the belligerents or at least made more possible through pressures applied from outside powers?  Since Russia is much the more powerful side in this war isn't it logical that it would be easier to achieve a settlement by pressuring the weaker side, the Ukrainians? In brief, what follows from this logic is that for the peace advocates, in the name of a practical and realistic assessment of the balance of forces on the ground, the least consideration should be given to what the Ukrainians themselves think or want. 

Ukrainians want justice; they want a retreat of Russia, they want reparations. Their only hope of being able to move some way at least towards these goals depends on changing the course of this war in a direction whereby the costs to Russia, material and political, become progressively higher. Weapons support, whatever be the motivations of the suppliers which are not the same as those of the Ukrainian people fighting, is vital. Certainly, those motivations can be fiercely criticised by left voices but solidarity with the people of Ukraine is primary. They have to decide whether and when to stop fighting. We on the outside can disagree with tactics, strategies and policies and warn about this or that. But we must respect their freedom of agency to decide as they see fit because they are the people oppressed! On this issue the position of Chomsky and other peace votaries like him is not to be upheld or supported.

Fourth Group

This fourth group aligns itself with what the anti-Stalinist Marxists and Socialists and Socialist Feminists and progressive Anarchists of Ukraine themselves say. Listen to us, they say. We are as much against the US and NATO as you in the West and elsewhere are. But this war is not about Russian security concerns but primarily about its imperialist ambitions. We are fighting this war; we need political, moral, material support and yes a continual supply of weapons to enable us to effectively resist this military onslaught. The more determinedly the international left supports us the stronger can the Ukrainian left become internally, for we are much more aware than you outsiders of our own class and internal divisions and its dangers even as we are broadly united as we must be, in opposing the Russian military and its government. We, like leftists internationally, also want a dismantling of NATO which has now become more difficult to attain. But what about the dismantling of all imperialist blocs like the CSTO about which you say little or nothing?

Any end to this war, whether temporary or prolonged or permanent will be shaped by the course this war will take. And that trajectory will itself depend on the strength and durability of the will of the Ukrainian people to keep resisting this great injustice done to them. The calculations of the US and other Western powers, that currently say they support Ukraine, are always subject to change and to the proclivity of their elites/governments to making unprincipled deals with others including Russia if they think this will best suit their 'national interests'. The international revolutionary and democratic left should be the most principled supporters in the fight against injustices everywhere. 

Even as we criticise those sections of the Western left who are not prepared to give unconditional yet critical support to Ukraine and go on and on about the Russian invasion as basically a reaction to the US and its allies, we can be grateful that at least they are strongly critical of and opposed to their own governments for their imperialist behaviour or collusion in imperialist pacts like NATO. In India, however, too many liberals as well as many of those who see themselves as on the left refuse to similarly attack the stand of the Indian government but actually applauded its so-called neutrality on the war in Ukraine. This is an India which is, in all but name, a strategic ally of the US and whose own imperialist ambitions to become a dominant regional (perhaps global) power require it to maintain a strong military relationship with Russia and Israel and with the US as well. India has the second largest army in the world. It has the third largest military budget and is the fourth largest purchaser of arms. Its healthcare expenditure as a proportion of GDP is the fourth lowest in the world and it has the largest absolute number of malnourished and undernourished people in the world. India itself is a lower order imperialist power with ambitions to become an ever more powerful imperialist one. Why should leftists support such an orientation let alone cover it up with false references to India having a foreign policy of 'strategic autonomy' or 'neutrality'? 

In a world divided into separate nation-states the left everywhere must always also take a stand against the pernicious, immoral and unprincipled positions adopted by its own national governments. This, much of the Indian organised left has failed to do. The  position of the Radical Socialist (RS) group is clear. That the Communist Party of India Marxist Leninist-Liberation (CPIML-Liberation) has also taken a forthright stand condemning the Russian invasion and supporting the Ukrainian resistance is to its credit. The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) does condemn Russia and declare its support for Ukrainian sovereignty and resistance. However, its public statement is a very long and rambling text which spends most of its time making generalities about 'proletarians of the world unite' and of 'turning the imperialist war into a civil war and revolution'. The statement has more to do with propagandising the general perspectives of the Party than with analysing or focusing on the specificities of the Russia-Ukraine issue. One of the more interesting sidelights revealed in the text is that the CPI-Maoist calls China a "social imperialist" country. This means it sees China as still not a capitalist country but one which turned towards social imperialism presumably after the leadership of Mao ended. That the two biggest parties of the mainstream Indian left---the CPM and CPI---have neither condemned Russia nor the stand of the Indian government nor offered solidarity to the Ukrainian people, is but another symptom of why we need to build a newer  revolutionary and democratic left in India.

Achin Vanaik 

An Addendum 

Many of those who position themselves on the anti-capitalist radical Left nonetheless have viewed the war in Ukraine through a lens which saw the primary conflict as between a much stronger and more hegemonic imperialist power the US and a weaker one Russia. Even for those who didn't give primary status to this imperialist face-off, some did believe that this would require them to more generally support the lesser imperialism since counter-balancing against the stronger US (and allies) opens up greater spaces globally for progressives forces and struggles against capitalism. Another term when used on the left buys into a similar kind of thinking. This is the belief that in today's world there is real merit in supporting the development of 'multipolarity' as against a unipolar order represented by the US. In effect, the way is made clear for these sections of the Left to, in some way or the other, take sides with the "lesser evil" imperialism and endorse its regressive foreign policy behaviour. 

A Realist Discourse

This language of 'poles' and 'polarity' (whether of unipolarity, bipolarity or multipolarity) is a standard refrain in the Realist discourse on international relations and foreign policy behaviour and is used by rightwing and liberal thinkers who have no interest whatsoever in fighting against capitalism, domestically or globally. So why do leftists who believe they are inspired by Marxism, adopt the same terminology not only using the term 'multipolarity' as a conceptual tool but also ascribing virtues to it as a desired outcome? 

In this Realist discourse, states are seen as the primary actors on the world stage. But the state entity that that they refer to is understood as a 'national territorial totality' when it is actually a much smaller set of apparatuses that is encased within a much wider social formation involving all kinds of tensions and relations between the state and civil society, between different sections in that larger social order, with above all, the division between classes. All states are class states that are structurally biased towards the interests of their ruling classes. In the post-1990 overwhelmingly capitalist world we live in today, these are the interests of capitalists, weaker or stronger, more or less independent from others. However, this much more important reality is covered up and obscured by the notion of the state in its foreign policy acting as a 'national territorial totality'. The fact that world politics is very much shaped by the competition among the most powerful such states, each pursuing the interests domestically and externally of their own capitalist classes and TNCs, is similarly obscured. 

Talk of polarity (single, dual or multi-) is another way of shifting the understanding of vertical power relations away from its social and class nature to a supposedly horizontal set of power relations between a few 'poles', each of which is also understood as a 'national territorial totality'. A state defined in such a way is then axiomatically pursuing the 'national interest' and to question this means one is being anti-national and unpatriotic. There is all too often  much wisdom in the saying that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." 

Revolutionary Marxists should (a) unconditionally but critically support oppressed nations subject to military invasions by imperialist powers even if they are capitalist and autocratic e.g., opposing the US invasions of 1991 and 2003 of Iraq. b) They should support progressive anti-capitalist forces and struggles in all countries (whether liberal democratic or authoritarian) against their own capitalist ruling classes even if these capitalists are feeble and subordinate to other ruling classes in other countries. c) It is important to fight for greater democratization even within a capitalist country and to oppose any steps being taken toward greater authoritarianism internally. However, when it comes to the external bullying and imperialist behaviour of the stronger countries it is not their internal political character i.e., whether they are liberal democratic or authoritarian that is the key explanatory factor but their capitalist character. All such imperialist behaviour and efforts to establish their respective 'spheres of influence'---a euphemism for bullying and trying to subordinate in one way or the other weaker neighbouring and even more distant countries---must be opposed.

No Longer the Cold War Era 

What about the idea that multipolarity provides greater global space for progressive and revolutionary struggles? In today's world this is a dangerous delusion. Today's world order is fundamentally different from that in the Cold War era. Then the world was not 'Bipolar'---a deeply misleading term---but had a systemic divide. That is to say, there were two fundamentally different socio-economic systems, a capitalist vs. a non-capitalist bloc arraigned against each other. The existence of such a non-capitalist  but far from socialist bloc meant that an objective space was created for progressive struggles in the developing world to advance, most notably de-colonization. But even here the primary reason for successful liberation came from the internal struggle for national liberation howsoever much it may have been helped by outside material and political support. Even so, in this misnamed 'Socialist or 'Communist' bloc, because of their governments ridiculous belief in the possibility of "socialism in one country", the nationalism became much more important than socialist aspirations which required the  strongest commitment to the principles of  Proletarian Internationalism. The end result was nationalist hostilities and rivalries---Stalin vs. Tito, the Sino-Soviet split, the USSR against Albania, China militarily attacking Vietnam (1979), Kampuchea's war with Vietnam, not to mention the diplomatic games played between the USSR and the US, the former's repressions against progressive and pro-Socialist struggles in Hungary (!956)  and Czechoslovakia(1968), and the shameful entente between Mao's China and the US under Nixon.  The best characterisation of the external behaviour  of the most powerful non-capitalist regimes of USSR and China  is that they were deeply contradictory---both progressive and reactionary.  

Today's world order is very different. The most powerful countries are now capitalist and imperialist. Different imperialist powers (US, Russia, China and a few others) are interested in supporting regime change in other countries if this can result in governments that are more amenable to their own regime. Even better if after such changes they become subordinate or best of all if they become basically puppets. Of course over time, even such alliance arrangements and networks because of imperialist competitions will be subject to shifting compositions among their country-members. But the one thing to be absolutely sure about is that none of these imperialist powers want to promote or see anti-capitalist regimes emerge anywhere. Capitalist competition will always create temporary or longer term winners and losers as well as shifts in power rankings. But what remains the common global commitment is that the world must remain capitalist. 

Nor do the imperialist countries care whether their allies are internally more democratic or authoritarian--- the crucial thing is that they remain allies and subordinates. As for the weaker and smaller countries which are capitalist or seeking to establish a more stable or independent capitalism, they too are bitterly opposed to progressive anti-capitalist politics and struggles. Why then should revolutionary leftists see any virtue in today's world of such inter-imperialist rivalries? We should not be fighting to shift the world from a "super-imperialism" to a "multi-imperialism" but against all imperialist and capitalist states. Our strategic allies in this much longer term domestic and global struggle are not governments but progressive and anti-capitalist forces and organisations everywhere. 

From the time of Marx till the 1990s despite all ups and downs, the banner of internationalism was upheld by the Left. Today, contra the hopes of Marx,  it is the biggest capitalists of the world who are saying "Despite all differences let us try and unite to protect and strengthen the world capitalist order since we having nothing to lose, certainly not our privileges"! 

The struggle for the Revolutionary Left to once again capture the banner of internationalism has now become more necessary than ever. 

Achin Vanaik

[October 11, 2022]


On “The Tragedy of the Ukrainian Working Class”


When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, at first we were speechless. For the war had raised many questions that are hard to answer clearly and unambiguously. A first reaction, supported by the editorial board of this journal, was to point out the frightening geopolitical dimensions of this war and oppose the ongoing militarization “at home.” [1] In the editorial of the last issue of this journal, we then formulated further questions. [2] First of all, as a historical journal, we came up with the question of the disposal of historical knowledge by calling this war, for example, “the first one in Europe after 1945”(and thus implicitly removing Southeastern Europe from the map) or by labeling it a “war of extermination” (and thus trivializing the Nazi and Wehrmacht mass murder). The second question we asked was about the fate of those on whose backs this war primarily is being waged. As a first contribution to this question, a member of our editorial committee conducted an interview with Karmína collective, based on an analysis published some weeks ago – which we very much recommend to our readers as an introduction to the current class struggles in Ukraine. [3]

Question: Your text includes a lot of information about the history of the labor movement in Ukraine. However, it remains at first sight a bit unclear what exactly the “tragedy” of the workers consists of. How would you tell this story, like in a nutshell?

Karmína: A few words about the origin of our article and its title. Like many others on the internationalist left, we were shocked by the invasion in February. As a small collective blog that tries to follow working class struggles and conditions in our home countries (Slovakia and the Czech Republic) and beyond, we started working on a text about the war right away. In the meantime, other radicals around the world, including people we know, put out their responses to the war. We found some of them quite formulaic, often revolving around readymade slogans such as “No war but the class war!,” and full of factual inaccuracies (e. g., the now standard tune of “eight years of bombing the Donbas” and “14,000 dead”). We thought that this lack of a more historically and empirically grounded approach was unfortunate and not in the tradition of critical historical materialism at all. We tried to compensate for it by providing a longer history of post-independence Ukraine from a working class perspective.

This meant that all work on our “text about the war” had to be postponed indefinitely. Instead, we spent the next four months looking at events which preceded the invasion. Although we are from countries which have close historical and geographical links with Ukraine, we had little to work with at the beginning – we were, for the most part, ignorant of its history. Thankfully, there is a wealth of resources and perspectives, mostly by Ukrainian left-wing academics and activists, that we could study and link to in our text. We mention this not just to acknowledge this mountain of existing work without which our own text would not have been possible, but also to emphasize that we are in no way experts on the subject – the article is just a synthesis and interpretation of other people’s research. What we produced is by no means original and should be viewed simply as an attempt by amateur enthusiasts at making sense of what happened in Ukraine between circa 1990 and 2022.

As we studied the last thirty years of Ukrainian history, we realized there is a tragic arc to them, which is perhaps most apparent when looked at through the prism of the Eastern regions. In the late 1980s, the miners in the Donbas (but also in the Western part of Ukraine) joined strikes initiated by their colleagues in Siberia’s Kuzbas. At first, they demanded better working conditions and higher living standards. Soon, the movement became more politicized, demanding wider democratization and, in Ukraine, independence from the USSR. Some even believed that privatizing the mines would give workers more autonomy and control. Instead, the economic transition of the 1990s and beyond decimated the material basis of the “old” Ukrainian working class and its way of life. These merciless processes pushed workers to ever more desperate forms of struggle, such as hunger strikes, self-immolation or a 600 km march on foot from the Donbas to Kyiv in 1998. The aim of these struggles was often simply limited to preserve the “right” to be a wage worker – to be paid for one’s work instead of working for free or for remuneration in kind. We think of this twist – from fighting for more freedoms to struggling for bare existence as wage workers – as the first act of the tragedy.

In the 2000s, Ukraine’s new capitalist class, divided into sectoral and geographic “clans” with different material interests, began to use the national question to mobilize political support. The “Anti-Maidan” movement of 2013/2014, which later morphed, to some extent, into “separatism,” dreamed of resurrecting the old industrial base in the East. The idea was that up to then, Donbas workers had been forced to feed the rest of the country (note that this was a fantasy), but once the region becomes autonomous within a federalized Ukraine, gains complete independence, or joins the Russian Federation, things will finally turn around. Turn around they did, but in an even more desperate direction. The self-appointed administrations of the unrecognized “people’s republics” closed down most of the mines and crushed independent trade unions. Their Russian overlords (or, as they say in Ukraine, “curators”) did not bother investing in the extractivist and manufacturing base of the Donbas – or in its conversion in a more sustainable and/or competitive direction – at all. Looking for stable employment, many former miners saw no other option than to sign a contract with the “people’s militia,” i. e., the Russia-controlled military. This was the second act of the tragedy.

The current, third act has been unfolding since 24 February 2022. Donbas workers from the occupied territories aged 18 to 55 are being forcibly mobilized, snatched directly from the street or their workplace, and sent to the front, regardless of any chronic health conditions they may have, without training and with ancient, Soviet-era helmets. More enterprises close down or are destroyed by the war – including on previously unoccupied territory, such as the Azovstal steel works (Mariupol) or the Azot chemical plant (Sievierodonetsk). All of this is accompanied by massive civilian casualties, brutality, displacement, and dispossession. However, if we look at just the material side of things and focus on the fate of the Soviet-era fixed capital base, what we see is a continuation of the processes of decomposition and destruction that began with the economic transition after the demise of the USSR. What the impersonal forces of capitalist competition were not able to accomplish is now being completed by the brute force of artillery shells. Only now, the process also extends to plants that it had been quite profitable to operate.

By using the term “tragedy,” we do not wish to paint Ukrainian workers simply as passive victims. On the contrary, they were often the ones taking the initiative. It is just that in the ensuing whirlwind of events, their moves often had unintended consequences – “tragic” in the ancient Greek sense of the term. There is a sense of heroism and hope as well, because through it all, the flame of working class resistance from below was weakened, but never completely extinguished.

The re-composition of the working-class

Question: And what is the working class in Ukraine? You describe a strong social differentiation since the 1990s. What is the common ground, from your point of view, between workers in different industries, of different genders and origins?

Karmína: Processes of class recomposition and social differentiation in Ukraine were mostly analogous to those in other post-Soviet and Eastern European countries. However, Slovakia’s post-socialist industrial base, for example, was mostly destroyed or quickly shrinking, despite desperate struggles, by the early 2000s (it was, of course, much smaller, at least in absolute terms). It was replaced by Foreign Direct Investment driven manufacturing, mostly in the burgeoning automotive sector and its suppliers. In Ukraine, by contrast, the old base was never completely dismantled. True, it was decimated, but some of it survived. There are still more than a thousand state-owned enterprises operating in Ukraine. In 2020, they accounted for ten percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The corresponding layer of Ukraine’s working class (along with public sector workers) appears to be quite militant and has a long history of organization and conflict. One recent example are struggles in the Kryvyi Rih mining and steel industry in 2018–2021, briefly discussed in our text.

Another layer would be the “new working class,” concentrated around greenfield investments in the Western part of Ukraine – notably, in wiring and electronics manufacturing, which is often linked to the European automotive industry. A still other stratum of Ukrainian workers are the highly-skilled tech workers in the information and communications technology sector, along with their colleagues, “office proletarians,” from shared service centers in cities like Kharkiv or Lviv. Or, take the couriers and others in the new “platform” or “gig economy,” which of course also exists in Ukraine. All of these newer sectors have shown less militancy so far, which also seems to have been the case in most other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

What unites all of these strata is the antagonism between their material interests and those of capital and its state. But this is only “in theory,” and unfortunately, it cannot be easily translated into practical existence by leftist activists. Only the workers themselves can discover points of unity in the course of their struggles. In any case, we think one should be wary of any “exoticization” of Ukraine that puts too much emphasis on the supposed national divisions inside the working class – namely, between the Ukrainian-speaking and the Russian-speaking parts of the population. These divisions were largely whipped up by the political rivalry of the “clans,” with key support from the Russian state’s propaganda machine. Pre-invasion polls show that “national issues” (e. g., the state language question) play a rather negligible role in most people’s consciousness, regardless of their origin or language. People find questions of material survival much more pressing.

The relations between Ukraine and the occupied territories are a different matter. There does not seem to be any deep-seated hostility, at least from the Ukrainian side, where polls consistently show that Ukrainians view people in the “people’s republics” as either “victims of circumstance” or “hostages of illegal armed groups” (we just do not have comparable data from the occupied Donbas). But conditions for struggle in the “republics” are very difficult, not to mention possibilities for practical solidarity across the (unrecognized) border. From the Ukrainian side, important work in this regard is carried out by the Eastern Human Rights Group, founded by former trade union activists from the Donbas.

Question: What role does migration play in the economy of the working class in Ukraine (as migration into Ukraine, out of the Donbas, but also into the EU and Russia)?

Karmína: The Ukrainian working class has been very mobile since the 1990s, undoubtedly because of the catastrophic transition that unfolded. Over time, this dynamic has accelerated. In recent years, remittances from abroad amounted to as much as ten per cent of Ukraine’s annual GDP.

Russia, due to the many economic links and the absence of a language barrier, had long been the chief destination for Ukraine’s migrant workers. This began to change significantly after 2014. By 2016, Poland became the main source of remittances. It was estimated by Polish researchers that in 2013–2018, Ukraine’s migrants have added about 0.5 percentage points per annum to Poland’s economic growth. [4] Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Italy has also been an important destination for Ukrainian workers, as well as the, less surprising, Czech Republic. After the EU Association Agreement enabled easier movement, workers from Ukraine quickly became the most important migrant group on Slovakia’s labor market as well.

Today, we are witnessing a significant shift, as some of the (“postsocialist”) CEE countries which are EU members move from being net exporters of labor power to being net importers. As their national wage levels rise, they become dependent on inflows of cheap migrant labor. Ukraine is one of the source countries enabling this change. In this respect, the plight of Ukraine’s migrants is not significantly different from those from other “third countries” (e. g., Serbia): low wages, long hours, semi-legal schemes of employment, predatory work agencies that keep workers at an arm’s length from their real employers, which are often transnational corporations – and little to no union representation. Ukraine’s internal migrants from the war-torn Donbas since 2014 (some 1.4 million people before 2022) have faced different kinds of problems. Upon moving westward inside Ukraine, many of them were left to their own devices, with no easy access to housing, jobs, and public services. Incidentally, one reason why even today, people from the villages and towns near the front line are returning home, to a very dangerous situation and a life among ruins, is that the state is unable to provide dignified conditions in the safer parts of the country – with NGOs desperately trying to substitute for that.

Development and significance of labor unrest

Question: In your text, you report about labor unrest especially for the years since 2020, in the Donbas, but also in the western part of the Ukraine. This is very interesting. What was the course and significance of these struggles? What organizational and political forms have, if so, accompanied them? What has happened to them since the beginning of the war?

Karmína: Firstly, it is important to note that workers’ struggles in the occupied Donbas have to deal with very specific conditions: There are no independent trade unions, there is no freedom of the press, and there is no freedom of assembly. The early waves of repression, when hundreds of journalists, pro-Ukrainian activists and others experienced illegal detention and torture in improvised prisons, are still a living memory. Of course, in the rest of Ukraine, as in many other countries, the state also sometimes resorts to repression and police harassment of worker activists, but people do not simply disappear in basements of the secret police, as they did in the occupied Donbas.

In 2020, the pent-up anger of miners, who had not been receiving their full wages for almost two years, finally exploded. The spark was probably a leaked list of more mines that the administration was planning to close. Miners at the Nykanor-Nova mine (near Zorynsk, “Lugansk People’s Republic,” “LPR”) refused to surface after their shift. They achieved that the wages owed were paid, at least in part. This, then, inspired miners at four other mines. About 100 miners at the Komsomolskaya mine (near Antratsyt, “LPR”) staged an underground protest, but word got out to the authorities before workers at other mines could join them. Another underground protest broke out when the mining company failed to meet the next agreed-upon payment date. This time, the authorities were well-prepared: They cut the electricity underground, blocked cell phone networks and internet access on the surface, and cordoned off the town to prevent solidarity actions. The MGB, which is basically a local version of the FSB / KGB, then started an investigation of the “ringleaders” and their families. Over twenty people were detained, which provoked a demonstration by colleagues and relatives in front of the building of local authorities. In 2021, conflict was brewing at the Alchevsk metallurgical plant (in the “LPR”) as well. Not much is known about the way these struggles are organized. There are no formal organizations that we know of, and so word of mouth and private groups on the Telegram instant messaging platform probably play a key role. There also appear to be contacts between people on the territory of the republics and trade union or human rights activists on the Ukrainian side. As regards the significance of these struggles, it is difficult to tell. On the one hand, they were able to secure some concessions, including the payment of some of the wage arrears. The company that originally managed the illegal export of coal and other products from the “republics,” Vneshtorgservis, was eventually replaced by a new investor, YuGMK, which promised to pay back all it owed. As of early 2022, its wage debts in the “DPR” still amounted to about € 29 million.

On the other hand, these early successes of workers in the occupied Donbas were interrupted by the beginning of the full-scale war in February 2022. Forcibly mobilized soldiers from the “republics” are quite literally used as cannon fodder, and many workers – perhaps including some of those involved in these struggles – will be killed or maimed on the front.

Question: To what extent can the labor struggles in Ukraine be compared with those in other (former) Commonwealth of Independent States countries? Are there similar tendencies there (thinking of Belarus, for example, but also of Russia)? Are there possible connections?

Karmína: Alas, we know far too little about countries like Belarus or Kazakhstan to provide any interesting insights. Superficially, there still seem to be important material connections between the economies of post-Soviet countries which could serve as the basis for solidarity and common struggles, notably in the fossil fuel–heavy industry nexus. In many of these countries, ruled as they are by authoritarian capitalist regimes, economic issues faced by the working class seem to be inextricably linked with questions of freedom and democracy, even in the sense of elementary bourgeois democracy that some of our Western friends would scoff at. Any democratic movement in these countries seems hopeless without the participation (and hopefully a leading role) of the masses of working-class people. We have seen hints in this direction in the summer of 2020, when a wave of demonstrations and, significantly, strikes swept parts of Belarus.

This brings us to an important point: The Lukashenko regime was only able to survive thanks to various forms of Russian assistance. Today, the Russian state is once again a transnational gendarme – albeit not of all Europe, as in the times of Nicholas I, but of the post-Soviet space, which it views as its sphere of influence. Before the current invasion, the most recent example of the utterly reactionary role that Russia plays in this region was provided by its intervention in Kazakhstan, where (mostly) Russian troops helped crush an emerging working-class insurrection in the very early days of 2022. [5] In the future, the defeat of the Putinist regime could serve as a clarion call for the working class across the CIS to rise up. The disintegration of this regime could come about through military defeat in the current war of attrition in Ukraine, but it can also be brought about by a mass movement – at the very least, a democratic movement – in Russia itself. For everyone’s sake, we would very much prefer the latter option.

On the significance of the Russian intervention

Question: In your analysis you speak of “colonialism” – about Ukraine as a whole, but also about the Donbas. I find this reference rather problematic and unconvincing, especially in view of colonialism as a historical crime of incomparable scale. What is the case for using this comparison?

Karmína: We are aware of the difficulties, which is why a close look at the text reveals that the term “colonialism” does not actually appear in it, not even once! There are some veiled references to it, but not in the sense the question suggests.

As regards the territory of Ukraine as whole, we think that its position in Tsarist Russia is best thought of as that of an “internal colony,” similarly to other regions on the periphery of the Russian Empire, such as Siberia. The Soviet period was somewhat specific: On the one hand, we saw murderous repression, massive dispossession, large-scale starvation as a result of economic policy (similar to, e. g., British India), proletarianization, and forced population displacement going hand-inhand with Russification and Russophone settlement (with a brief interlude in the 1920s, the heyday of both Ukrainian Bolshevism and local cultural development).

On the other hand, we also saw intense modernization, state-led development, urbanization and upward social mobility. We are not sure what to call this deeply contradictory process, but we hesitate at using the term “colonialism” without adjectives. Perhaps a special theory of the relation between the Stalinist center and its periphery is required – in our view, this would be quite fitting, since we tend to view Soviet-type economies as not fully capitalist, but also not in the least socialist. Maybe such a theory already exists in the vast work of post-Soviet researchers, largely untranslated and unknown in the West.

As far as the occupied Donbas is concerned, we suggest a parallel in the text between the authoritarian apparatus of the two “people’s republics” and a “colonial administration.” We use this term because the apparatus is completely subservient to the Russian state. The latter directly determines the composition of the ruling elite through appointment and repression (including assassination); some elements of this elite are Russian citizens with no history in Ukraine. Moreover, the relation between Russia and the occupied regions in the last eight years has been completely parasitic. The Donbas is viewed simply as a source of cheap coal, which was exported to Russia and beyond through Vneshtorgservis, a semi-legal scheme based in another Russia-controlled quasi-state, South Ossetia. The region also serves as a source of cheap and flexible labor power for the neighboring regions of Russia (or, today, as a source of cannon fodder). As noted above, there have been no significant investments from Russia (or anywhere else, for that matter) in the Donbas, no development to speak of – only plunder, including the export of scrap metal from abandoned production facilities, and “spontaneous” decay. Hence our comparison of Pushilin [leader of the “DPR,” P. B.], Pasechnik [leader of the “LPR,” P. B.], and others, with a “colonial administration.”

Some have also called the 2022 invasion a colonial war. We still owe our readers (and ourselves, really) a text on these events, where we want to take a closer look at this question. In the text we published, we opted for calling the present war an “irredentist” one. [6] We took cue from the many declarations by various representatives of the Russian state and its media, who have clearly stated the goal is for the state of Ukraine – and its civil society – in its original form to cease to exist, and to annex at least some parts of this alleged primordial Russian territory. Now, some would perhaps argue that all this is just for show, and that the true motives of Russia’s invasion are different: to deflate internal contradictions of Russian society, to make a run for a position as an important global power, or to consolidate the current clique’s hold on the Russian state. But whatever it is, it does not seem to matter much from the point of view of the Ukrainian population.

The Russian army’s practical actions are no different from what an irredentist expedition would do: Signs in Ukrainian are replaced by ones in Russian, teachers are interrogated by the secret police, the education system is being switched to instruction in Russian only, and civilians are put in “filtration camps” where they are sorted based on their perceived harmfulness to the Russian project. Whatever the “true motives” might be, from the Ukrainian side it really does look like a war of territorial expansion whose goal is to fully subdue the population and install subservient administrations similar to the ones in the “people’s republics.”

“Euromaidan” and transnational social movements

Question: A most striking part of your text is the reference to Greece (concerning the depth of the crisis and the social upheavals after 2008 and 2014), but also the worldwide social movements since 2011. But you do not name any left wing social movement dynamics, in contrast to Greece, not even a trace of it, but mainly the strengthening of rightwing forces, in Russia, but also in Ukraine. Are there no such remnants at all?

Karmína: As regards movements since 2011 (or since the 2008 crisis more generally), they are a rather disparate group – some included explicitly leftist elements and were motivated more by material grievances, while the focus of others was simply democratization. Some were coupled with left-wing electoral mobilization, others were not. What united them, in our view, were their roots in the 2008 crisis and its aftermath, their heterogeneity in terms of social composition (i. e., they were cross-class movements and were also not led by the working class), and their specific tactics (i. e., occupation of urban space, such as squares, sometimes including attempts at blocking the circulation of commodities – but no significant strikes, for example). Some of these movements elicited a lot of enthusiasm in certain left-wing quarters and were hailed as exemplifying a new mode of struggle. After about a decade, we think it is fair to state the obvious: Such hopes were misplaced. These movements have not left much behind, regardless of the extent to which they engaged in leftist rhetoric. The Euromaidan of 2013/2014 fits into this group precisely because of its cross-class – or “civic” – nature, its tactics, the vagueness of its demands (it is now also known as “The Revolution of Dignity”), as well as the quickness with which it became co-opted by established political forces and then demobilized without much fanfare. Unlike in some of these other movements, the left did not play a significant role in the Euromaidan, though not for a lack of trying. Socialist, anarchist and feminist activists were often simply pushed out of the movement by far-right threats or violence. Many then decided to pull back or at least to operate more covertly, without openly stating their affiliation with the left. The overall strengthening of the far right was, at first, due to the escalation of violence at the Euromaidan by the state and then, in 2014, a result of the Russia-sponsored violence in the Donbas.

However, we think that to judge the state of working-class or wider social movements in Ukraine, one has to look beyond the Euromaidan. Similarly, when looking at the current state of the left in the US, it would not be wise to focus on “Occupy Wall Street,” which is now a rather distant memory. And, at least before the 2022 invasion, there were significant struggles in different sectors of the Ukrainian economy, some of which we summarize in the text, or struggles beyond the workplace, such as against real estate development.

We think the presence of such struggles is more important than the outward appearance of there being a lot of leftist activists and visible organizations (though these do exist: We want to mention specifically the Kharkiv-based anarchist group, Assambleya / Assembly, the broadleft, democratic socialist Sotsialnyi Rukh / Social Movement, as well as the journal, Spilne / Commons). To put it another way: We know Ukraine is much bigger than the Czech Republic or Slovakia, in all respects, but still, when we look at the activity of its working class pre2022, we do get a little jealous. The same applies to the level of sophistication of the debates on the left which, to be honest, is far beyond what we experience in our own country. Of course, this may not be enough for our friends in the West, where working-class movements are so much more powerful and the debates so much more exciting. Or are they?

Question: Immediately before the war, you speak – with a view to the election of Zelensky and the deselection of Poroshenko – of fatigue in the face of nationalist mobilization. What does that mean today? Has this social tendency of “fatigue” disappeared? What will happen next? What perspectives do you see for the Ukrainian working class facing the war? And what are the possibilities of solidarity?

Karmína: The landslide victory of Zelensky and the defeat of Poroshenko indeed showed that efforts at a mobilization under the banner of “Army! Language! Faith!” do not resonate with the majority of Ukraine’s electorate. It appears that in the months before the invasion, Ukraine was on a course to further moderation in terms of nationalism – as even Zelensky was quickly losing popularity, unable to deliver what he promised, including any substantial progress on the eastern front (and also because of continuing with the hugely unpopular “reforms,” such as creating a market in agricultural land).

With the beginning of the full-scale war, most of the population (to the extent that we can trust the polls and other, more anecdotal evidence) rallied around the president and the army. This does not mean, in itself, that divisions along national lines within Ukraine will deepen. After all, the brunt of the war’s destruction is borne by cities and towns with a substantial Russian-speaking population, such as Kharkiv – the very population whose language rights the “special military operation” is supposed to protect. Many are now saying openly that they have lost any sympathy they may have had for this version of the “Russian world.”

But the broader perspectives for the Ukrainian working class are, of course, bleak. They can only get bleaker as the war drags on – which it most probably will, in a form that will be more or less desperate. Its level of desperation will be inversely proportional to the amount and sophistication of military aid sent from the West. It is a convenient pacifist fairy-tale that the bloodbath would stop immediately if there were no weapon deliveries from the West. Firstly, there are other sources of weapons and ammunition, though much less high-tech, on the world market, including on the black market. And, secondly, even if there were not, the war could continue for quite some time in a much more primitive, though no less brutal form of a Ukrainian insurgency and “punitive expeditions” by Russia. The past two decades provide plenty of examples of the efficacy of this form of warfare, of the sort of difficulties it can create for even the most sophisticated military in the world, as well as of the effects it has on the civilian population. It is not difficult to predict what political forces would inevitably try to take control of such an insurgency on the Ukrainian side – the far right.

A range of bad alternatives

Question: I understand the reference to Afghanistan etc. But, in my opinion, that does not mean that the arms deliveries will more or less automatically (like the as the mathematical metaphor suggests) lead to shortening or ending the war. Couldn’t the delivery of “sophisticated” weapons and the development of a proxy war also prolong and brutalize it, see for example the ongoing war in Syria? Aren’t there situations, in terms of the dynamics of wars, where there are just several bad alternatives?

Karmína: There being a range of bad alternatives might be a good way of describing it. We would underscore, though, that unlike us, the mass of Ukrainian people do not have the luxury of remaining aloof, at the level of description. These alternatives are forced on them in a very real way. Even if they hesitate or abstain from choosing, a choice will be made for them and will shape the reality they face – a reality more brutal than inflation or a recession. It seems to us that for many on the Left outside Ukraine, the chief task seems to be to “get it over with” and quickly come to some definite conclusion (e. g., that the war can in no way be won; that the Ukrainian state is this or that anyway, so why care; that there is no fundamental difference between bourgeois democracy and a “D/LPR”-style society, since both are forms of capitalist rule, etc.). Once this is done, people move on to thinking and writing about other issues. But even if such reasoning were correct, for people in Ukraine, the bad alternatives are a lived reality and there are few “other issues” to think about at the moment. Unfortunately, most of the commentators stop short of providing any (realistic) pointers as to what they should do. Perhaps this leftist desire to be done with the war on the verbal level of declarations is also an expression of our collective powerlessness on a practical level. Meanwhile, the majority of Ukrainian workers still seem to bet on an alternative they prefer over others: the vision of an unoccupied, independent Ukraine. The idea that they are unaware of the immense costs is ludicrous, as they bear them every day. Still, their views are ignored in much of Western leftist discourse on the war.

The way we see it, the rather piecemeal military aid from the West (quite restrictive, for example, in the kinds of long-range capabilities it includes) has enabled the Ukrainian armed forces to halt the Russian advance and, as we are writing this, to try to push it back. This would not have been possible, for example, without the deliveries of artillery shells which Ukraine had been running short on. On the one hand, this does prolong the conventional war and is directly responsible for casualties on both sides. But the proportionality metaphor concerns something else: Western military aid has so far prevented a descent into a desperate insurgency and a brutal occupation, while also tiring and demoralizing the invading force. Foreign weapons also provide some measure of safety to people in places further from the front which have been targeted. We can ask ourselves: If we had to remain in Kharkiv, for whatever reason (as many people have), would we prefer that an anti-aircraft missile system be stationed near the city or not? This, as opposed to the fanciful dichotomies of “an immediate ceasefire vs. continued attacks” or “a peaceful handover of state power to Russia vs. more war,” is one of the immediate questions. It is an other-worldly question for people like us, who only know the sound of air-raid sirens from quarterly test runs – but one such missile system was in fact donated by Slovakia, to the protests of local pacifists and opponents of “escalation.”

For these reasons, we were critical of workplace actions in Italian ports that sought to prevent the transfer of arms to Ukraine. Nor would we go out and demonstrate against weapons deliveries (and in defense of the national economy), as tens of thousands of people have recently done in Prague. Unless such disruption becomes commonplace in Russia, such actions objectively amount to supporting the military aggression. On the other hand, we think anyone, including men of military age, should be free to flee the war or, as many labor migrants have done, not to go back to Ukraine to join the war effort. The people whom the Ukrainian state views as draft dodgers deserve our solidarity. Moreover, unlike some comrades in Ukraine, we are wary of the idea that this is simply an emancipatory “people’s war” that can somehow strengthen pro-worker forces – such illusions can in fact be quite dangerous. Finally, attempts by EU governments to shift the costs of the war and its inflationary effects on the working class can and should be resisted, though in a way that does not turn Ukrainian workers into scapegoats. Admittedly, our position is contradictory. We prefer the headaches that such contradictions lead to over the sort of satisfying but reality-independent thinking mentioned above.

Question: A final question. What does the ongoing war mean, in your opinion, for the development of class struggles in Ukraine?

Karmína: The current conditions of occupation appear to foretell the “DPR- / LPR-ization” of new territories such as the Kherson Oblast – that is, unless they are liberated by the Ukrainian army, which can only be done at terrible human cost. The destruction of lives and productive capacity in other regions has already brought about immense suffering and an unprecedented decline of the economy. Even if the war would end tomorrow, in whatever compromise, it will still have set Ukraine’s development back by years, deepening the country’s dependence on international financial aid and precipitating further outflows of labor power. Moreover, the ruling class in Ukraine is already using the war as a pretext for rolling back basic freedoms and protections of workers in ways which appear to be incompatible with EU legislation, even though European integration (and approximation of legal norms) is its proclaimed goal. See, for example, the recently passed law no. 5371 that robs workers employed in small and medium-sized enterprises of any Labor Code protections and leaves everything up to shop-floor negotiation. A draft of the law had been submitted to parliament already in April 2021, but the economic difficulties created by the war provided new “arguments” in favor of passing it, allegedly as a temporary measure.

The key to the situation is, of course, the Russian working class, although its obligations to act (obligations, firstly, to itself, but also to the global working class) are only rarely mentioned in the declarations of the Western left. Through strikes, sabotage, and well-planned acts of terror against military and government targets, it could suffocate the war. The level of resistance that the Russian population has already put up, in quite difficult conditions, should not be underestimated. Note that in the West, there were plenty of peaceful demonstrations before and during the Iraq war, but we don’t remember seeing US recruiting offices on fire or supply trains derailed. Alas, actions on a more massive scale are needed to make a dent in the Russian war effort. In short, our solidarity with Ukraine must be with those who fight on both fronts – against the Russian occupation and against the homegrown policies of austerity and repression. Such forces do exist. Our solidarity with Russia can only be with those who throw wrenches in Putin’s war machine.

Iran: Islamic regime shaken by unprecedented revolt


Protests in Iran erupted on Friday 16 September after the death in police custody of Mahsa-Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. She had been arrested on Tuesday 13 by the morality police for a few strands of supposedly “indecent” hair protruding from her Islamic dress, in application of article 638 of the penal code of the Islamic Republic.


Women were at the forefront of the first protests, cutting their hair and burning their headscarves in public in defiance of the hijab law. Unlike the individual initiatives of 2017-2018, this time removing one’s headscarf is done collectively, leading to a direct confrontation with the authorities.

 A women’s revolt that comes from afar

Compulsory veil-wearing is one of the ideological foundations of this patriarchal and theocratic regime. It was imposed by force on women despite their huge mobilizations in 1979 to oppose it. After 43 years of protest, feminist demands are now coming to the forefront of the political and social demands put forward in the demonstrations.

Part of the depth of women’s current refusal is that they are present in all spheres of social, political and economic life. Almost all of them are literate and have a level of education at least equal to that of men. Nevertheless, they have great difficulty in finding a job and are therefore confined to the home.

The average number of children per woman is 1.6. In response, the law of 15 November 2021 criminalizes abortion. It also considerably restricts access to contraception and vasectomy. At the same time, the regime encourages early marriage before the age of 15.

For the past ten years, women have been investing in internet communication. They have multiplied blogs and online videos. In the months leading up to Masha Amini’s death, women converged on anti-hijab protest hashtags, posting videos of themselves walking with their heads uncovered or being harassed in the street.

The strength of Kurdish resistance to oppression

As early as 18 September, protests broke out in Mahsa-Jina Amini’s native Iranian Kurdistan. General strikes were organized there from Monday 19. Hostility towards the regime is traditionally strong in this part of the country where the population is particularly oppressed. Aspiring to autonomy and democracy, they were among the first forces of opposition to the Islamic regime. Repression is particularly fierce there: a good part of the political prisoners in Iran come from there.

 Social and geographical extension of the mobilizations

Starting with women, the movement very quickly spread to the student world. It reached out to other young city dwellers, but also to older people.

All the unions and associations not recognized by the government openly supported the movement. For example, on 17 September, the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Workers’ Union (VAHED) declared that it “strongly condemns this crime” and “demands prosecution, a public trial and punishment of all those responsible for the murder of Mahsa Amini. The structural, institutionalized and patriarchal discrimination against girls and women in the country must end.”

The protest quickly led to a growing number of demonstrations across the country, burning up as many as 100 cities in a week, including all the major ones. In the face of this, the repression has so far resulted in more than 50 deaths, hundreds of injuries and thousands of arrests across the country.

A rapid politicization of the movement

The initial slogans, generally directed against the morality police, were very quickly enriched by mass chants such as: “Death to the dictator”, “Down with the Islamic Republic”, “No Shah, no Supreme Guide”, “Woman, Life, Freedom”, or “Bread, Work, Freedom”. The movement was highly politicized from the start, and it was no longer a purely protest movement.

A long-standing resistance to the regime and its neoliberal policies

The rapid politicization of the current movement is not surprising. Indeed, the rupture between the regime and the population is total. According to polls conducted by state institutions, only 12-14 per cent of the population is in favour of the regime. The regime thought it could consolidate its reign by pushing aside the “reformist” tendencies embodied by former presidents Khatami and Rouhani. He designated Ebrahim Raiisi, considered by human rights organizations as guilty of crimes against humanity. Far from “responding to the country’s problems”, his policy has led to an unprecedented social crisis: galloping inflation, mass unemployment, increasing insecurity and impoverishment of the majority of the population: according to official statistics, 50 per cent of the Iranian population lives below the poverty line.

For several years, Iran has been regularly shaken by popular uprisings of varying degrees, but most often based on a set of social, economic and environmental demands. These mobilizations are opposed to the neoliberal policies implemented by all the successive governments of the Islamic Republic since the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988).

To mention just a few, the revolts of 2017 and 2019 were violently repressed in blood. According to some sources, more than 1,500 people were killed in 2019. Arrests and continuous harassment of activists in the trade union, student and feminist movements have been the only responses of the regime, without any social proposals. This repression has not prevented 4122 protest movements and actions, strikes, sit-ins, by workers, teachers and other employees, as well as pensioners, from taking place last year. An absolute record in the history of the Islamic Republic. The workers’ movement’s response to President Raiisi’s rule. The high point of this response was last summer’s major strike by workers in the oil and petrochemicals industry, when more than 100,000 workers in this sector responded to the call to mobilise.

Iran has been the scene of water revolts, notably in Khuzestan (2021), Isfahan and Shahrekord (2022), which quickly took a political turn and were repressed.

 The manœuvres of those nostalgic for the Shah’s dictatorship

After the total failure of the “reformist current inside the state” and its discredit among the vast majority of the population, a campaign was led by the major media in exile, some of which were supported and financed directly by the Gulf monarchies and their US sponsors. Using a few isolated slogans chanted during the two previous revolts, they presented the son of the Shah (overthrown in the 1979 revolution) as the “symbol of the unity of the people“. They tried to present him as the embodiment of a “return to Iran’s monarchical roots”. Their campaign was amplified by the strength of their large-scale means of communication, and via viral actions in social media.

However, as of 25 September, after 9 days of nationwide revolt, at no time has such a colouring of the demonstrations been heard or observed, either among the mobilized citizens, or among the organizers and major actors of the collective actions. Moreover, the slogans chanted show precisely the absence of such an orientation. This is a victory for the living, progressive forces in Iran.

This ongoing revolt is a higher stage of the struggle of the women and men of Iran in their quest for democracy and social justice. No Shah, No Supreme Leader!

25 September 2022

Bahman Anjang

Radical Socialist Statement on Ban on PFI and its associate organisations

Condemn and Oppose the Aggressive Anti-Muslim Hate Campaign!

Demand  the Repeal of the Ban on the PFI and its associate  organisations

Yes to Due Process, No to Special Powers and Bans


The ban on the Popular Front of India and its associate organizations is supposedly because the government knows it is trying to “radicalize” a section of the population. The organizations that have above all pushed large sections of the Indian population to violence are the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and other Hindutva organizations. They occupy honoured places, including in cabinets and high posts of various kind. As for the PFI, the action comes in a definite pattern. A number of people are arrested at random. Till now no chargesheet has been filed, let alone cases proved in court. Way back in 2001, the NDA government, then too led by the BJP, had banned the SIMI. Over 125 persons had been arrested by the Gujarat police that year. All were Muslims and charged with being members of SIMI and with being associated with terrorist activities. The case dragged on for twenty years. Many remained in jail, some got bail, but all were tarnished by the image of being terrorists, since the police and the media successfully painted them as such. In March 2021, however, all were found totally innocent. Meanwhile they had lost twenty years of their lives. And even more than just those people, a step had been taken in portraying to  large numbers, especially numbers of Hindus, that Muslims could not be trusted, all Muslims were potentially terrorists. In another notorious incident, eight arrested persons, alleged to be SIMI activists, supposedly escaped  from prison and were killed in an “encounter” that civil rights activists deemed an extra-judicial killing of undertrials.

There is gross misuse of the term 'terrorism'. Terrorism must not be seen as primarily a reference to any particular category of persons but as a reference to a means or tactic or technique that is used to threaten or carry out actual physical injury or death to innocent civilians. Precisely because of this, there are three kinds of agencies of terrorism---the individual, the group and, of course, the apparatuses of the state. All these agencies can be, and so often are, guilty of ordering or carrying out terrorist actions and those responsible for them, no matter how high up or powerful, must be punished. But this must only be after due and fair process of law is followed, (rather than special laws that deny fairness and justice), and proof established of such behaviour. No democracy can justify arbitrary punishments or bans without following such a process. Nor must we forget that the biggest culprits --in terms of the greatest scale of casualties caused by terrorist acts as well as the ones most able to get away with such terrorist actions-- are governments and the groups that enjoy their patronage and protection in civil society. So much so that there is no comparison of scales possible.

The raids in several provinces, the arrests, the bare claim with no incident to back it up, all show that the claim about the PFI is a repeat performance of past practice of intensifying anti-Muslim hatred. Its aim is to portray all Muslims, especially any Muslim who takes part in any social or political activity as actual or potential terrorists. We condemn this unequivocally. We call on citizens to protest and demand a retraction of the ban.


Radical Socialist,  28/9/2022

In Sri Lanka’s crisis, a new president and old problems



Sri Lanka has a new president. On 20th July, parliament in accordance with the Constitution elected by clear majority the acting president and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. He succeeds Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was forced to vacate the presidency on 9th July and flee abroad, after resisting months of demands for his resignation in the public backlash to the island’s worsening economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe had been the pundit’s favourite in what began as a four-horse race, since the majority party in parliament – the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP—People’s Front) of the Rajapaksa clan – declared in his favour. Hostility to his nomination from within the SLPP, smaller parties once aligned to it, and opposition parties, echoing the sentiments of substantial opinion within the unstructured protest movement, proved inadequate.

This result confirms the lack of public legitimacy of the 225-member parliament, expressed in the slogan of the Janatha Aragalaya (‘People’s Struggle’): “No to the 225!” The ineffectiveness of parliamentarians to arrest and address the breakdown of the economy and provide solutions to the people’s needs had in any case damaged trust and confidence in it. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s election is the last nail in the coffin. It fuels further political instability. The pressure for an early general election to choose new legislators will now grow.

Alongside the Rajapaksas, whose maladministration, nepotism and kleptocracy are now blamed by the ethnic majority Sinhala populace for Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy, Wickremesinghe has no popular mandate. His United National Party (UNP), an affiliate of the International Democratic Union that includes the Conservative Party, was wiped off the electoral map in 2020. It secured one seat through proportional representation. His surprise appointment as prime minister in May, was rightly seen as a deal within the political elite to safeguard the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration in return for a share in state power

As Wickremesinghe now assumes office as president, Sri Lanka is under a state of emergency that he proclaimed on 18th July. This suspension of democratic rights vests greater powers in him, including use of the military to clamp down on public protests. Already, a court order has been established to begin removing people who have besieged the president’s office in a continuous protest (‘GotaGoGama’) since early April, providing a rallying point to the movement across the island.

Meanwhile, big business, the upper middle class and mainstream media are already calling for the Aragalaya to wind up. It has accomplished their goal of reining in the Rajapaksas and securing a neoliberal in the highest office of state. The new president and the coalition government he will form in the coming days, should in their view now be allowed to stabilise the turbulent political order, as a precondition for economic stability.

The unlikely vehicle for such stability is the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The multilateral agency is expected to provide a funding line to a state whose coffers are empty – usable foreign exchange reserves are around USD250 million, which is under four days equivalent of imports – and that has nowhere left to borrow from.

Sri Lanka has lost access to the international capital markets through which it accumulated almost half of its US$51 billion external debt. Its sovereign credit rating was downgraded even further following a default on debt repayments in April. China, an important new lender in the Rajapaksa era, has held back on new credit during the crisis. India stepped in with bridging finance for imports of fuel and fertiliser, but this too is now exhausted.

This will be Sri Lanka’s 17th agreement with the IMF since 1965. In the decades in between, the country’s reliance on foreign loans and stock of debt has only increased sharply. Exhausted by the daily struggle of finding transport to move around for want of petrol and diesel; the scarcity of medicines (80% are imported) and cooking gas; the lack of forex to finance inputs in manufacturing, agriculture and services; and soaring food prices accompanied by shortfalls in domestic production; inflation spiking at 60% and wages trailing far behind; the consensus across social classes is that an IMF ‘bail-out’ will somehow rescue the economy.

In anticipation of the IMF’s structural adjustment conditionalities, the government had already increased the pump price for fuel by 300% and abandoned consumers to price-fixing by the cartels that supply the staple food, rice, as well as milk powder and sugar among other basic commodities. Once other reforms begin rolling out, including reduction of the state sector payroll – one in seven of the work force – rollback of public expenditure, user fees in education and health (that are free of charge though under-resourced), and ‘targeting’ of social programmes, the burden on the poor and lower middle class will only become more unbearable.

The election of the new president and evidence of his majority in parliament, along with the achievement of the initial objective of the protest movement to throw out the former president, will likely see some fall in support and intensity of public protest.

However, the co-dependence between Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Rajapaksas is a liability to both. There is no guarantee that the new cabinet of ministers he cobbles together will last long, as everyone schemes to minimise their culpability for what is a structural crisis of dependent capitalism and secure their political future in an upcoming general election.

On the streets and in social media, the activists of the Aragalaya have vowed to maintain their opposition to the Wickremesinghe-led government, including the ongoing occupation of the entrance and grounds of the president’s office and other sites in public places across the island. Their campaign for reduction in the executive powers of the all-powerful presidency will continue, pending constitutional change that abolishes these in toto. The democratic consciousness of the movement is high. There are novel demands for right of recall of elected representatives and the right to have referendums on matters of national importance.

While the largely Sinhala people’s movement has yet to confront the gross violation of human rights during Sri Lanka’s 26-year internal war and reckon with the demands of the Tamil nation for justice for war crimes, truth over the disappeared, and for internal self-determination, this difficult dialogue has begun among its most conscious elements. Already its most recent demands include the release of Tamils in long-term detention and for an end to racism, including the rampant post-war Islamaphobia directed at the ethno-religious Muslim minority. Whatever challenges are ahead, the gains of this moment and movement must be defended.


From International Viewpoint

Radical Socialist Perspectives: National and International

Adopted by the All-India Conference, May 27-29, 2022

            Our historical lineage is traced to those Marxist currents, that were committed to the pursuit of a democratic socialism that transcends capitalism, rejects one-party rule and seeks to institutionalize a much deeper and wider form of democracy in all respects--social, economic, cultural and political—that goes well beyond the limits imposed by the nature of capitalist liberal democracy and resolutely opposed to Stalinism from the left. In this regard it is a historical fact that only certain forces established (relative to all other anti-Stalinist currents) an organized body of resistance howsoever weak that carried the banner of theoretical-political opposition and on the ground practical resistance to Stalinism worldwide albeit it was unevenly spread geographically. Historically, the Fourth International (United Secretariat) was the largest and most important such current, keeping alive the principles and practice of proletarian internationalism. 

1.      Nationally, this means moving towards the overthrow/replacement of bourgeois capitalist rule in which the working class majority and its social allies will for the first time rule through newly institutionalized democratic structures that are both direct and indirect. “Politics is that domain of social life that is concerned with how we arrive at and give effect to collectively binding decisions and rules.”  

            Even among the working class there are sectoral divisions and categories. To maximize popular control and influence over decisions that in closer and more distant ways affect the actual lives of people, RS subscribes to the application of the principle of subsidiarity and therefore of structures that are both de-centralised and united pyramidically. 

2.      The post-capitalist worker’s state that we must strive for will be a ‘transitional society’ and is not a socialist order. We reject the notion of ‘socialism in one country’ since the construction of a socialist order will necessarily be extra-regional and more global involving powerful solidarities between the more developed and less developed parts of the world. 

            As it is, the transcendence of capitalism worldwide has become more necessary than ever before and will require much greater levels of global cooperation between countries as a matter of immediate urgency. This is the only way to decisively overcome the five great evils of our time, two of which threaten in large part or whole, the human species itself.  

            These are (i) Ecological devastation through and in addition to climate change.; (ii) The danger of a nuclear holocaust. (iii) Persistence of mass poverty (undernourishment and malnourishment as well as unmet basic needs) amidst obscenely rising inequalities of income and wealth. (iv) The rise of rightwing /far-right regimes and forces based on the ‘politics of cultural exclusivisms’ in one or more of its variants, namely ethnicity, race, religion, nation; (v) Regularly repeated global health pandemics resulting from a) seriously shrinking distances between wildlife domains and substantial human habitation; b) industrial farming including concentrated factory-based forms of livestock production; c) growing urban megapolises replete with massive slums; d) seasonal and regular migration flows between urban and non-urban areas; e) global tourism. 

            The need to forge an institutional embodiment of a progressive internationalism that is anti-capitalist is more urgent now. We cannot overcome the above evils within capitalism even as we can and must pursue crucial reforms to address these dilemmas. 

3.      The nation-state, however, remains the initial terrain on which bourgeois domination must be defeated. Success here will have a dramatic ‘spread effect’; the bigger or more developed the country in which this takes place, the more powerful its global impact and likely emulation. 

4.      We must recognize the new historical conjuncture of global capitalist development and draw the proper lessons. The first great global crisis of capitalism---the Great Depression---was partially overcome by New Deal type policies and more decisively by the emergence of the war economy in several countries. 

            The mass mobilization of the working class during WWII in advanced countries and therefore its carry over effect after 1945, along with the survival of the USSR and then the breakaways from capitalism of China, Yugoslavia, Albania, Easter Europe (under Soviet tutelage), North Korea, North Vietnam, proved decisive for the establishment of Keynesianism and of mass-scale welfare measures. 

            The Keynesian crisis of the mid-70s onwards and the major political defeats of working class power in N. America, UK and Western Europe in the early 80s enabled the turn towards neoliberalism as the new system of capital accumulation. Here the prior political shift in the class relationship of forces between labour and capital in the advanced capitalist world was the pre-condition for the more secure establishment of neoliberal globalization---an order further reinforced by the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the shift towards state capitalism in China which massively increased the size of the labour market available at much more depressed average wage levels for transnational capital. 

            The last great crisis of global capitalism arising from its internal contradictions was the 2008-12 ‘Great Recession’. However, unlike on previous occasions this time instead of a new system of capital accumulation being inaugurated, there was the re-assertion of the same neoliberal pattern of accumulation. This is because the working class and its potential peasant and other allies have not been able to shift the socio-political relationship of forces in its own favour.  

            Two consequences have followed: a) In response to the continuing impoverishment and inequalities as well as the psychic disorientations caused by neoliberal globalization, in a context where socialist progressive forces have been relatively so weak, has resulted in the rise of rightwing/far-right forms of authoritarian populisms. b) Given the massive political shifts of the relationship of forces in favour of capital against labour, the belief that one can ‘restore’ and ‘stabilize’ the old kind of welfarist-Keynesian order in the advanced countries or that we can succeed in establishing in most of Africa, South and Central America, Asia the kind of capitalist developmentalism that emerged in a few Southeast Asian countries, is a chimera. 

            This is because, to break from this neoliberal order, the shift in power relations in favour of labour will have to be much greater than ever before, given the transformation in the nature of the states themselves that now serve and protect the strongest sections of their respective capitalist ruling classes. This means that the process of reversing this huge political gap in relative class power will have to make such great strides that it will unavoidably threaten the very existence of capitalist ruling classes. That is to say, it will inevitably put the question of transition beyond capitalism on the political agenda, i.e., to reach the level where the working class and allies can successfully threaten the neoliberal system of capital accumulation will at the same time threaten the existence of the capitalist class itself. There is not and will not be an alternative to neoliberal capitalism and the dominance of finance in all the countries—richer or poorer---where it currently reigns. 

            China is the one exception which will not be repeated anywhere precisely because its ruling elites broke away from the capitalist order and later returned to it on their own terms. The political relationship of forces and power between the state and its capitalists (key sections of which are imbricated with and dependent upon the state) make it fundamentally different from all other capitalist countries. It is possible that China might transit over time towards the kind of system of capital accumulation that exists elsewhere but that remains to be seen. 

5.      What is the key implication that follows from this existing reality of the neoliberal capitalist character of the global order? This has to do with what can be called the ‘path to revolutionary change in the nature of the state’. Elections are now held in most of the world’s countries even those that are highly authoritarian or becoming increasing so, such as the US, India and others conventionally characterized as ‘liberal democratic’ polities. The Maoist path of trying to create ‘liberated zones’ from where to launch a “prolonged peoples war” of “countryside surrounding the cities” can, for a host of reasons we do not need to go into here, be considered a dead-end and must be rejected as such. 

6.      This leaves two basic strategies for revolutionaries seeking to transcend capitalism insofar as they correctly understand, as Lenin said, that addressing the question of state power remains central. Each of these two strategies believes that it is the realistic one which has drawn the proper lessons from the course of history in regard to revolutionary struggles and its successes and failures. 

            The first sees revolutionary change including the transformation of the bourgeois capitalist state as only a gradual and accumulative process of achieved reforms. This process must be peaceful and will not involve a violent confrontation with the state which radical forces cannot hope to win and therefore must be avoided at all costs. 

            The second approach sees revolutionary change as both a process and an event. Yes, we have to fight for cumulative reforms but we believe that no capitalist ruling class or its state managers will ever give up its power and position without resort to the armed apparatus of the state. As both Weber and Marx have pointed out---ultimately the state is at rock-bottom 'bodies of armed men'!  

7.      What this means is that a) there has to be a politics of appeal and intervention directed to this armed apparatus that aims to not just neutralize but win over important sections of it. This is possible if one can establish a solidity and scale of mass support precisely at those key times (which can never be anticipated long beforehand) when the state is in deep crisis and its radical overthrow becomes a real possibility. b) Since we have been in a prolonged period of low-level class struggle, a transitional perspective will be to push for left oriented reforms, conceivable only if there is active mass support on a sufficient scale constantly demanding as much. This politics will involve the pursuit of various kinds of reforms better termed as 'anti-capitalist structural reforms' as embodied in the Trotskyist Transitional Programme that not only materially improve the condition of the working class and poor, but actually help to enhance the organizational-political power of the working class, i.e., shift the class relationship of forces in its favour. As times change so also must new reform projects emerge. Thus growing awareness of the ecological devastation requires us, for example, to demand a transition from fossil fuels to renewables even as the current reality makes more necessary than ever  the transcendence of capitalism itself. 

            Since both adherents of the first and second approach have a very long way to go towards the final culmination of their projects, there is no reason why this should prevent a ‘collective long march’ of struggling together for a host of reforms. Of course tactical differences may well arise on issues and struggles but these will also emerge among those who share the same basic long term ‘strategic line of march’ i.e., agree on the path to revolutionary change and victory. We must be alert however to the possibility of sudden and dramatic positive shifts in the relationship of class forces and the opportunities thereby presented. 

8.      This issue of tactics and tactical alliance will emerge and what we do in this regard will be based on the general principles we uphold and the concrete circumstances we encounter. Alliances may well take place on specific issues or sets of demand between revolutionary groups and other left and social democratic groups. Issue based joint struggles can happen even with bourgeois parties and organizations on occasions.  

            In the Indian context, the RS makes important distinctions between Maoist groups, the mainstream left of CPI//CPM (which are basically social democratic parties maintaining a more radical rhetoric while sections are moving rightwards) and left parties with different historical origins, like the RSP, which moved from a position close to revolutionary Marxism to a more parliamentary one; or the CPI(ML) Liberation, which has moved from Maoism to adopting a mass orientation as well as occasionally a pure electoralism, these being parties that have conflicting positions on critical questions. Then there are bourgeois formations which are in their overall programme and practice rightwing but nevertheless qualitatively different from the BJP-RSS-/Sangh which is the most dangerous far-right force either a fascist variant or having pronounced fascist characteristics. However, these other bourgeois forces are increasingly accommodating themselves to the policies and perspectives of the Sangh Parivar. Theoretical agreement on the precise characterization of the Sangh Parivar and its components may differ but it is the programmatic agreement on how best to fight it in the short, medium and longer term that is far more important.  

            We believe that the Sangh is seeking to expand its hegemony and that if it is in the longer term to be decisively and permanently defeated then there has to be the creation in India of a resolutely revolutionary and much more democratically ‘renewed Left’. This can be expressed in the form of a new party or---given the inescapable heterogeneity of the working class---a set of parties that will have to work together. 

9.      RS believes in the necessity of creating a new Left and that history has so far shown that the most important organizational form for the successful pursuit of revolutionary ends has remained the party. RS is committed to the building of such a formation. It does not see itself as the nucleus of such a party which will then grow through a steady accumulation of forces around this ‘true and only’ revolutionary force. Rather more modestly and realistically it sees itself as one element in the pursuit of building such a nucleus or one such nuclei. A process of dialogue and collaborative practice with other revolutionary groups and radical progressive movements is the way that this desired outcome can be realized. 

10.  Internationally, the RS seeks to participate in the building of a revolutionary Communist International. 


Resolution on Reservations

Adopted by the All-India Conference of Radical Socialist, May 27-29, 2022


1.    We support reservations as part of measures to reduce social oppression as a strong form of affirmative action. We support the demand for extension of SC/ST reservation to Muslims and Christians wherever applicable.

2.    Reservation is not a purely economic, job-creation measures, so reservation is not the road for tackling economic deprivation, and particularly not a measure intended for economically less advantaged persons from oppressor castes (which means we oppose EWS).

3.    The tensions over reservations conceal the reality that reservations in education and jobs exist only for government, public sector and state-aided institutions. For the last three decades and more, governmental expenditure to create jobs and educational opportunities (new schools and colleges, UGC grants, and other forms), have been shrinking. As a result, right now the reserved jobs amount to around 1.5% of the total number of salaried jobs in India. We therefore condemn the attacks on reservation as casteist and motivated.

4.    We demand the application of a properly formulated roster system for recruitment in reserved categories, with prescribed penalty for managements who do not follow this.

5.    We demand an expansion of overall jobs, and educational opportunities, especially permanent jobs in government/public sector/government aided sectors, through increase in public expenditure.

6.    We demand a reversal of the privatization of education.

7.    We demand the expansion of reservations to the private sector as well.

8.    We demand affirmative action in other forms, notably greater investment in schools, hostels etc. for the Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs.