Wednesday, March 5, 2014

“Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism”

Confused about Ukraine.  There seems to have been a revolution without any input from the left. I suppose this is something I have to get used to; but I'm not used to it yet. Moreover most commentators agree that the far right has played a significant role in the “Euromaidan” occupation in Kiev.

Mark you, I don't think the word revolution is apposite. I prefer to reserve this word for a revolution in the classical Marxist sense of one class superseding another, as in the English revolution of the 1640’s, or the French Revolution on the 1790’s, or the ultimately unsuccessful Russian revolution of 1917.  But whatever about semantics, this movement has forced a change of regime which is rocking international politics. Out of all I've read, my bones tell me that this piece from Socialist Worker has its finger on it. Putin's imperial ambitions (and national populism) clashing with the EU extending its zone of neoliberalism. So it’s no to western military intervention and no to Russian invasion. But the Ukrainian popular movement includes some unsavoury elements ... so it's a tangled mess I certainly haven’t got to the bottom of.

One thought on Socialist Worker’s comment that the Euromaidan movement “unfortunately harbours illusions in the European Union”.  If the choice were between the EU and the mafia capitalism of Russia, I suspect I too might be inclined to harbour illusions in the EU. Be that as it may “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism” is always a handy slogan, and it will do here I suppose.

Socialist Worker uses this image of Russian frigates to illustrate the crucial strategic importance to Moscow of the Crimea, which since the 18th century has served as the base of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and thereby access to the Mediterranean.
(Pic: Russian Federation Ministry of Defence)
Worth reading are interviews with three protesters who don't sound like fascists to me, on The Guardian website, Tuesday: "We were so naive and optimistic".

In which I worry over response to concentration camp

To Berlin last week with my friend Vincent, and to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Pronounced Saxon-hausen, a common placename in Germany. I would fain have avoided this visit but Vincent was keen. I'm glad we went, and I may have more to say about it in due course. But for now I just want to relate my own feelings as I went round.  The point is, I had none.  It was as if I were visiting any other archaeological site, a castle say with medieval dungeons, or a cathedral.  I was bothered about this. Some inadequacy of sensitivity on my part.

Members of our Sachsenhausen tour group inspect a hut charred by an arson attack in 1992
Only two original huts remain. The compound has been vandalized several times by Neo-Nazis. In 1992 they set fire to a hut now used as Jewish museum. And the foundation that runs the camp, instead of restoring the burnt beams, has preserved them in their charred state. This is good. The arson attack is itself part of the site’s history.  But what is not good, is that here I am again harping on about archaeology rather than concentrating on the misery and suffering that occurred there.