In Ukraine, opportunist ‘left’ adapts to fascism

By Union Borotba (Struggle)

Recently two events were held in Kiev to unite the left. First was the creation of the “Left Opposition” coalition of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU, led by Peter Simonenko) and the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine (PSPU, led by Natalia Vitrenko). Second was the founding congress of the “Social Movement” party.
These events are not equal – the KPU with several thousand members and the PSPU with a few hundred are political force with their own history and branched structure. “Social Movement” has a few dozen members. However, both associations are important as characteristic consequences of certain left-wing tactics in the face of the coup and the repressive regime of the extreme right.
The Left Opposition of Simonenko-Vitrenko clearly defines the events of February 2014 as a coup, speaks very negatively about association with the European Union and the policies dictated by the IMF. The Left Opposition demands an immediate end to the war in the Donbass, while relying on the terms of the Minsk accords.
In fact, the Left Opposition is an attempt by the Communist Party and the Progressive Socialist Party, whose activity is illegal following the Ukrainian Parliament’s adoption of the law banning “propaganda of communism,” to remain aboveground and continue their activities. Shortly before, the KPU announced the creation of the “Left March” movement, which is also conceived as a legal “shelter” in the event of a ban. Apparently, the leaders of the Communist Party did not believe in the ban until recently, and amused themselves with the hope that the militant anti-communism of the post-Maidan government was “not serious.” Now that the threat of harsh repression against the left — which Borotba warned of ever since the coup — has become a reality, the leadership of the Communist Party is frantically looking for opportunities to stay in the legal field.
Undoubtedly, such protective legal structures are needed and we welcome their creation. However, in our view, under conditions of a fascist regime, they should only exist alongside illegal structures of resistance, with the legal part of the work subordinated to the illegal. In the case of the Communist Party, we are dealing with an attempt by corrupt leaders, deeply integrated into the structures of the bourgeois state, to remain in the public realm at all costs, even if it means giving up the most important part of their own program.
In the crisis of winter-spring 2014, the leaders of the Communist Party proved to be passive, unable to fight. At the time of the coup, carried out by nationalist and pro-oligarchy, neoliberal forces, the Communist Party faction remained in Parliament and its presence actually helped the putschists, creating the illusion of “opposition.” Public leaders of the Communist Party almost never participated in the popular anti-fascist movement in the southeast, and the party structures were with few exceptions passive, at a time when the serious organizational and financial resources of the Communist Party could have changed the balance of forces in favor of the so-called “Anti-Maidan.”
Instead, the leadership of the Communist Party not only did not support the popular uprising in the Donbass, but also publicly denounced the communists of Lugansk and Donetsk who openly sided with the people. It’s hard to believe, but in some cases, activists of the Communist Party were even expelled from the party for “separatism,” including defenders of the House of Trade Unions in Odessa.
Without a change of party leadership, any initiatives under the control of the Communist Party will not be effective in the anti-fascist and anti-capitalist struggle.
Founding of the Left Oppostion coalition.
Photo: KPU
On the other flank of left politics, we see the consolidation of a number of activists in the “Social Movement” party. These are basically activists who openly supported Euromaidan and the subsequent coup. One of the leaders of the new organization made a special trip to Britain, where he organized a presentation in the House of Commons on behalf of the “Ukrainian Left,” designed to appeal for support of the “revolutionary government” of Turchinov and Yatsenyuk. These activists participated in activities of Euromaidan, despite the fact that the leadership of this movement was carried out by neoliberal and ultra-right political forces. Contrary to facts and logic, they argued that so-called “European integration” will bring Ukraine European-style labor laws and social guarantees.
These same activists reacted negatively to the popular anti-fascist movement in southeastern Ukraine, often repeating the slander of official propaganda. Thus, a number of activists who entered the leadership of the new party actually helped to legitimize the right-wing coup, simulating left support for the new Kiev authorities. Given the small numbers of the pro-Maidan left, their propaganda was mainly aimed at disorienting left forces in Europe and the rest of the world.
A year after the coup, when the results of Maidan’s victory became clear, a number of activists of the “Maidan left” began to disassociate themselves from it, arguing that they condemn “both sides” of the conflict. Such a change in position within a short time cannot inspire hope for a clear and strong new party. This is also reflected in the fact that the “Social Movement” party has been unable to formulate a position on the civil war in Ukraine, undoubtedly the most important question in all Ukrainian politics.
Thus, in both cases, with the creation of new political forces — the coalition of the Communist Party and Progressive Socialist Party, and the “Social Movement” party — we are dealing with an attempt to adapt to the new political reality, to make their activities acceptable to the repressive anti-communist regime in Kiev. This is not the way to fight, this is the path of opportunism.
Union Borotba declares that without a popular referendum on the constitution of Ukraine, without bringing the war criminals to justice, without a deep denazification, any conditional “left” activities in the organs of legislative and executive power will not lead to changes in the interests of the workers.
We are firmly convinced that the liberation of Ukraine from the Nazi authorities and oligarchs is possible only through struggle, not through conspiracy and intrigue. 
Ukraine will be free and socialist!

Translated by Greg Butterfield

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