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Ukraine's descent into fascism shows what happens without a communist resistance army

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What Ukraine has taught us is that when a society's conditions get worse, it doesn't necessarily bring proletarian revolution closer. Without a sufficiently strong network of revolutionary cadres, ones which are prepared to defend themselves from reactionary violence, counterrevolution can find ways of continuing to prevail. Which is what the oligarchs in Ukraine have achieved since the 2014 coup, the event that's greatly exacerbated capital's contradictions within the country.

Washington's post-2014 puppet governments have facilitated gargantuan corruption that's wrecked the economy, enacted extreme neoliberal shock policies, and created harrowing costs for the country's people by consistently provoking more conflict. This came after two decades of neoliberal social collapse and power grabs by oligarchs, which by 2011 had reduced Ukrainian public support for a multiparty system to one-third. The vast majority of the country's people did not believe in liberalism, because liberalism had caused their living standards to plummet and the deterioration was greatly accelerating. Yet a return to Ukraine's socialist past has since become more remote of a possibility than ever. The U.S. proxy regime has avoided a rise in communist influence by preemptively suppressing communist organizing, and has done so despite Ukraine having descended into a failed state since the coup. This has been achieved through paramilitarism, where the state has enabled the CIA to support neo-Nazi terrorist organizations within the country.

Could this have been avoided if Ukraine's communist party had sufficiently armed and trained its members in guerrilla warfare beforehand? Of course, but whatever mistakes its leadership made came within the context of an unprecedented anti-communist coup two decades prior, and of a government that had been on the verge of again taking away its legal status the entire time. The party had to choose between gaining electoral seats, which were its most tenable path to power for the foreseeable future, and investing in a kind of armed revolt that communists simply can't win without the emergence of the right conditions.

The increasing disillusionment of the masses with capitalism wasn't enough, there also had to be a revolutionary crisis that would have made guerrilla actions in step with the masses. And since this wasn't the case, the party felt it had no choice but to continue entirely investing in electoralism, despite the horrific history of what's happened to communist parties when they've declined to arm themselves in the leadup to coup scenarios. I'm not saying it was correct in how it went about this, but these are the sensitive circumstances that can lead a communist party to steer away from militancy.

This underlies what should be our ultimate takeaway, despite these pieces of context behind the party's lack of guerrilla preparation: the forces of counterrevolution in Ukraine would now be defeated, or at least seriously challenged, if there had been a communist army prior to the coup. This sentiment about communist parties always having responsibility to make the correct steps, and about counterrevolution's triumph always at least partly being the fault of the revolutionaries, is reflected in Jim Dann's critique of the failed "Focoism" guerrilla strategy by Che Guevara:

In countries throughout the world the people can overthrow the oppressive rule of imperialism and seize state power to build a bright future under socialism. Despite inevitable twists and turns in the struggle, the working class will eventually win victory. Defeats, in general, cannot be explained by an extraordinary series of accidents or because "adverse factors unbelievably built up" (as Fidel says in the introduction), but by defects in the political line. Many people around the Left have wishfully thought of Che as one of the foremost practitioners of People's War. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as we shall show. "The liberation of the masses is accomplished by the masses themselves - this is a basic principle of Marxism-Leninism. Revolution or people's war in any country is the business of the masses in that country and should be carried out primarily by their own efforts; there is no other way." (Lin Piao, "Long Live the Victory of People's War")

Indeed, more could have been done to prevent or mitigate the violent anti-communist purge that's been occurring these last eight years. Whereas Che's error was in assuming he could kickstart a revolution in Bolivia without sufficient backing from the masses, the error of Ukraine's communist party was in assuming it could survive without investing in any sort of guerrilla warfare strategy. These errors were inverse, in that one went too far while another didn't go far enough. The party didn't have to jump ahead of the masses by prematurely starting a guerrilla war; it only had to have a plan in place for physically protecting its members when a violent anti-communist purge started.

And it's not like Ukraine's present fascist nightmare was impossible to have foreseen prior to 2014. The party seemed aware of the risks of a fascist coup beforehand, as evidenced by its speculations about the 2011 unrest in Kazakhstan having been orchestrated by U.S. imperialism as part of a regime change attempt. But when NATO's regime change network successfully absorbed Ukraine a few years later, the party was unprepared for what would follow. In the summer of 2014, only several months after the coup, the party's leader described the direness of the situation:

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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