The Boeing 777: can Putin back down?

July 20, 2014

This article by ILYA BUDRAITSKIS, a Russian historian, researcher and socialist activist, was published on Friday 18 July, on Openleft.ru in Russian and on LeftEast in English.

We can say with confidence that the tragedy of Boeing 777, which took the lives of 298 people, has brought the conflict in Eastern Ukraine to a principally new level. Now the main centers of power – Russia, the US, and the EU – must make themselves known and must take

The crash, seen from a nearby village

The crash, seen from a nearby village

the responsibility for stopping the war or, conversely, for its practical legitimation and expansion.  Even considering the possibility that the plane was shot down by mistake, it is events of such magnitude that divide history into “before” and “after.” “After” such an event the possibilities of “strange,” “hybrid,” and other “wars without war” have been exhausted.

Over the past several months, as an endless supply of people and weapons has passed through the gaping hole in the Russo-Ukrainian border [to support the separatist forces], the nerve centre of the diplomatic Read the rest of this entry »


‘A gangster-police putsch, presented in “people’s” wrapping’

July 20, 2014

This interview with VT, an anarchist based in Donetsk, was conducted by the Russian anarchist group Avtonomnoe Deistvie, in early May – that is, before the intensification of military conflict and the Kyiv government’s “anti terrorist operation”. So VT comments not on the effect of the conflict, but on the character of the separatist movement and its relationship to the working-class community – and that is why I publish it here. GL.

Are there anarchist groups in the Donbas?

Anarchist activity is low, there isn’t much of it. So its influence on the political situation is small. There are “unorganised” anarchist groups in several cities in the Donbas: Donetsk, Avdiyivka, Kramatorsk, Horlivka, Mariupol, and Yasynuvata. Each group probably includes less than ten people. There is also a Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists Read the rest of this entry »


The ideologue who tried to make environmentalism mean population control  

July 13, 2014

Review of The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon and our gamble over Earth’s future, by Paul Sabin (Yale University Press, 2013).

It was the Indian food crisis of the mid 1960s that turned the biologist Paul Ehrlich from a field researcher on butterflies into one of the USA’s most vocal environmentalists and population control advocates.

Ehrlich published his best-seller The Population Bomb – which warned that “mankind will

Pete Seeger/ Earth Day 1970

Pete Seeger, the folk singer, at Earth Day 1970. See “About the photo”, below.

breed itself into oblivion” and called for “radical surgery” to excise the “cancer” of population growth – in the summer of 1968.

The American elite was receptive to Ehrlich’s “grim predictions about the future”, Paul Sabin writes in The Bet. That year, violent revolt swept through American cities; the USA was mired in the Vietnam war and faced opposition to it at home; and student and worker protests swept through the rich countries and culminated in the French general strike.

Ehrlich became a media superstar, doing more than 100 public lectures and 200 radio and TV shows in 1970 alone. The Population Bomb was reprinted 22 times in three years. In the Read the rest of this entry »


Ukraine: Russian White Guards in the Donbass

July 6, 2014

Here ZBIGNIEW MARCIN KOWALEWSKI challenges the myth that the separatists in eastern Ukraine are leaders of a workers’ uprising. Kowalewski is deputy editor of the Polish edition of Le Monde Diplomatique and author of several works on the history of Ukraine. This article appears here with his permission; it was also published in English by International Viewpoint, in French by Mediapart, and in Russian by the Praxis Centre.

There is no revolution in the Donbass, not even a mass movement. They exist only in the propaganda of the supporters of an armed separatist movement, led by far-right nationalists. Imported from Russia, they seek the

A border post in Luhansk, through a shot-up truck windscreen. Photo: uainfo.org

A border post in Luhansk, through a shot-up truck windscreen. Photo: uainfo.org

restoration of the Tsarist Empire. The Kremlin supports this reincarnation of the White Guards and the Black Hundreds[1] who are destabilising Ukraine; but it seems that it is also afraid of them.

On April 22, Boris Kagarlitsky affirmed (here, Russian original here) that “the successful uprising of hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of people in eastern Ukraine is not to be explained on the basis of Russian interference”. An uprising of hundreds of thousands, even millions? Even the propaganda of the Russian regime aimed at people abroad, with the channel Russia Today in the forefront, is a thousand times more measured.

On the international left, almost nobody knows Russian, and even less Ukrainian; so when the left wants to know what is happening in Ukraine, it finds itself in a catastrophic situation. So as not to depend on the Western media, it is condemned to have recourse to the English-language propaganda of the Putin regime and to that of the so-called “anti-imperialist networks” which are pro-Russian (often “red-brown” or downright brown) as well as what is Read the rest of this entry »


Deeper, costlier and dirtier

June 20, 2014

Humanity’s problem is not that it will use up all the coal, oil and gas. That could not happen for hundreds of years. But, already, the easy-to-get-at resources are running out. Oil and gas companies are going further, drilling deeper, and using more and more complex technologies to eke out resources, than ever before.

And long before these fuels are exhausted, the world’s economies will have burned the

Puckland Woods in Kent, seen as a possible site for coalbed methane exploration. Photo by John Flynn and Stuart Gooda, keepshepherdswellwell.org

Puckland Woods in Kent, seen as a possible site for coalbed methane exploration. Photo by John Flynn and Stuart Gooda, keepshepherdswellwell.org

amount that – according to climate scientists – can be used without potentially triggering uncontrollable global warming.

These are some of the conclusions of a report published yesterday by Corporate Watch, To The Ends Of The Earth. It explains the drivers behind the “unconventional fuels” boom, what those fuels are, and why there is a groundswell of opposition to them by communities and environmentalists.

The report questions the idea of “peak oil”, i.e. that oil production would reach a maximum, and then decline, causing “the imminent collapse of modern civilization”.

The stock of conventional oil and gas reserves – that is, those that it is economically feasible to produce, using conventional drilling techniques – may indeed be peaking, it argues. But rather than this causing “global economic and social collapse”, it is driving the oil producers to access new resources that were previously considered too expensive, or too difficult to make use of.

“As oil and gas reserves begin to run low, energy prices rise, and this, along with enormous power held by fossil fuel companies, means that new, more extreme methods of production Read the rest of this entry »


‘Libertarian in spirit’: the left and Maidan

June 16, 2014

Before the war was the uprising. The military conflict between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government is escalating – and with it the number of casualties, among combatants and civilians. Socialists in Russia and Ukraine are trying to build social and labour movements around internationalist and anti-war principles, participating in so-far-modest efforts to launch a peace movement, and arguing about how best to do so. Central to these discussions are activists’ assessments of the Ukrainian uprising that in February brought down president Viktor Yanukovich, and of the left’s successes and failures in that

Socialists on Maidan, 24 November 2013. The poster says "for a socialist Europe". Photo from Zakhar Popovych, Left Opposition

Socialists on Maidan, 24 November 2013. The poster says “for a socialist Europe”. Photo from Zakhar Popovych, Left Opposition

movement – because it was that uprising that triggered the response by the Russian government, which protected the exiled Yanukovich and annexed Crimea, and by Russian nationalist and fascist forces who joined the armed irregulars that control parts of eastern Ukraine. This report by KIRILL BUKETOV of the Global Labour Institute first appeared in Russian on the Left Opposition site. GL.

On 12 April 2014 a conference on The Left and the Maidan was held in Kyiv, which brought together activists from anarchist, socialist and communist organisations that had been involved in the Maidan movement in late 2013 – early 2014. (“Maidan” = square, after Independence Square in Kyiv where the movement began.) The initiative to hold the conference came from the Left Opposition organisation (Liva oppozitsiya), the Centre for the Study of Societies (Tsentr doslydzhennya suspyl’stva), the Centre for Social and Labour Research (Tsentr sotsyal’nikh i trudovykh doslidzhen’) and the social critique magazine Spil’ne (The Commons). It was supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. The conference provided an opportunity for left-wing Read the rest of this entry »


Eastern Ukraine: beyond the fragments

May 22, 2014

Organised workers in eastern Ukraine are urging action to stave off the looming civil war, making their voices heard against bosses of all nationalities.

The Krivyi Rih branch of the mineworkers’ union has issued a statement, not only supporting a workers’ pay campaign at the Russian-owned multinational steel company Evraz, but also npguminersdenouncing “interethnic confrontation that is fuelling a hysterical mutual hatred between workers of different nationalities”.

The statement calls for “workers’ self defence” to “prevent the escalation of violence in Ukraine” and ends: “Long live international workers’ solidarity! By preserving the peace in
Ukraine we will preserve the peace of Europe!” It has been published in English by RS21, a socialist group, with a call for a demonstration in London on Friday at the Evraz group’s headquarters. I hope this appeal gets a good response, not only on Friday but in the development of a solidarity movement with Ukrainian working people in western Europe.

Solidarity means listening to people and trying to understand the situations they face. And to that end I am publishing here (1) some comments on employers’ influence on trade unions Read the rest of this entry »


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