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 »

Climate scientists go for ‘human tipping point’

May 15, 2014

A group of scientists headed by pioneer global warming researcher James Hansen is challenging the consensus view that humanity can avoid serious danger by holding the average temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Warming should be limited to one degree centigrade to avoid “disastrous” consequences, Hansen and his colleagues write in an open-access paper published in December last year.[1]

Hansen et al also venture beyond the physical sciences to discuss the potential impact of global warming on human society and what should be done about it. They appeal to the Read the rest of this entry »

To citizens of Ukraine and the world: No war in Ukraine!

May 11, 2014

This letter by Oleg Yasinsky, a Ukrainian socialist, was published on 6 May in Russian on the web site of Spil’ne [Commons], a socialist journal based in Kyiv.

For Ukraine. Urgent letter to my country. To sign, distribute and add to.

Suddenly our country, Ukraine, has been turned into an unknown planet. At the start of all this I thought that at least I understood the language. But then, when I listened carefully, not even the language was comprehensible. The very same words turned out

"It's always the people who pay for war".

“It’s always the people who pay for war”.

to have no permanent meaning: what they meant yesterday was completely different from what they mean today.

Apart from the problem of government, and of the forces that support it, Ukraine has also changed because its people have changed. My love for friends and family alike has not changed, but I already have no idea how to express it. Yesterday, we could laugh together at our political differences. Today, I can not even gather my closest friends Read the rest of this entry »

No-one wants to die

May 5, 2014

After Odessa, “remaining human” as a political programme.

A comment by Ilya Budraitskis, published in Russian on the Open Left web site in Russia

In the two days that have passed since the tragic events in Odessa, we have heard dozens of versions of what happened. And all of these versions have been, one way or another, linked to the search for a “hidden hand” that sent two armed groups of demonstrators to clash with each other, and pushed one of them into the slaughterhouse at the House of Trade Unions.

Most of these versions – from those of official Kyiv to those of Russian propagandists – point to the local police, who in a conscious and organised manner held back from any attempt whatsoever to prevent the mounting violence.

Odessa. Photo: napaki.livejournal.com

Odessa. Photo: napaki.livejournal.com

These versions of events as a rule then offer an explanatory “scenario”, that works in favour of one or other side: Yulia Timoshenko [former Ukrainian prime minister] will sabotage the 25 May [presidential] elections [in Ukraine] in order to ensure her own victory in future; the Kyiv government will intimidate the “separatists” and pin responsibility for a bloodbath on their supporters; the Russian government will get more than convincing arguments to discredit supporters of the [Kyiv] “junta”; the [former Ukrainian president] Yanukovich clan will push Russia into open [military] intervention.

In a way, each of these versions sound convincing to us – Russian and Ukrainian people – because we know that none of the forces mentioned would stop at carrying out any crime in order to achieve their ends. This readiness to make victims out of one’s own citizens was always a necessary condition for Read the rest of this entry »

Darkness in May. A socialist eye-witness in Odessa

May 5, 2014

Tragedy came to Odessa on Friday 2 May, when clashes between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russian separatists led to the deaths of at least 38 people. This report by Sergei from Odessa was published in Russian by the Ukrainian socialist web site “Left Opposition” on Sunday 4 May. I (the editor of People & Nature) agree with those Ukrainian socialists who refuse to take sides in the developing civil war, and who

Odessa. Photo: Reuters

Odessa. Photo: Reuters

put their efforts into building organisations and alliance that will unite working people, and not divide them. Sergei’s article does not deal with such issues; it is his impressions of how events unfolded on the day, and of the responsibility borne by ultra-nationalists on the “pro-Russian” or separatist side, who are mistakenly being presented as “anti-fascist” by some western leftist writers.

A dignified, grey-haired grandpa in a brown jacket talks on the mobile. “Hi. You’re asking where I am? I’m at war.”

Cracked cobblestones, tiny streams of blood on the street, blood-soaked bandages scattered around. A young fellow, about 16 years of age, asks for some space on the Read the rest of this entry »

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