Belarus and Imperialism’s agenda By Gerry Downing

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02/12/2020 by socialistfight

The protesters in Belarus flying the flag of the pro-imperialist Belarusian National Republic of 1918-19. In 1941 it became the flag of the Nazi occupation administration, and it appeared on arm patches of Belarusian volunteers in the German Army and Waffen SS.

The Red Flag and ‘Foreign Money’

In Red Flag No 36, Belarus Protests at an impasse after ten weeks, By Urte March, in the section Class dynamics and foreign influences we get the following analysis:

“Why was the rank-and-file workers’ revolt unable to consolidate itself, overcome the state’s repression and carry through the revolution? Ever since independence from the USSR, the state has suppressed all independent political organisation in Belarus, so the political infrastructure that would be necessary to sustain and coordinate the revolt was non-existent. Unlike cases like Egypt or Ukraine, where religion or competing nationalisms provided easy social schisms to exploit, there were no nationally organised shadow parties waiting in the wings which could fill the political vacuum or act as a conduit for foreign money and ambitions.” (our emphasis)

So, the ‘revolution’ could not advance without assistance from ‘shadow parties’ using ‘foreign money’ (CIA-directed NGOs). In Egypt and Ukraine it had won, apparently, because that revolution took advantage of these opportunities. In Egypt the ‘revolution’ was so successful that the USA and Israel immediately hailed its great gains, and the left were massacred by Al-Sisi’s fascistic regime. Many on the left hailed the great revolution and then were forced to complain that the victory was stolen from them at the last minute by Al-Sisi who had betrayed (and shot) them!

These same petty bourgeois political forces in Ukraine were led by fascists who lionised the  leadership of Stepan Bandera and instituted a national holiday in honour of Hitler’s collaborator in massacring up to 100,000 Poles and tens of thousands of Jews. Bandera’s  Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists proclaimed, “As for Jews, we are taking all measures leading to their extermination.” The former leader of Workers Power, the Red Flag predecessor, Richard Gerrard, is a Ukrainian Jew whose family were victims of Bandera.

 Victoria Nuland boasts of her ‘foreign money’ here,

“We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”

But, Comrade March tells us, “To attract substantial sections of the working class into new, democratic forms of political organisation would have required an independent political programme.” The great general strike was called for 26 October by the imperialist stooge Svetlana Tikhanovskaya but flopped abysmally despite blanket support from the western mass media. Their ‘independent political programme’ was scripted by Trump, Johnson and Merkle. And, as Borotba tells us, in The role of the working class, the Belarus working class did not buy it:

“Outraged by the police brutality of the early days of the protests, the working class began to lean towards the opposition.  However, by that time the harsh crackdown on the protesters had stopped, most of those arrested were released.

“Along with demands for the abolition of fixed-term labor contracts, leftist activists opposed the privatization of state-owned enterprises. These slogans naturally conflicted with the general trend of the liberal-nationalist agenda and were de facto banned from the main opposition media sources.

“Borotba welcomes the attempts of the Belarusian left to organize an independent political movement of the working class. But the elimination of the welfare state and the implementation of market reforms cannot be an option for Belarus.

“On the contrary, the strengthening of the social character of the state and the introduction of truly socialist elements into public life can become a way out and an alternative to the lifelong rule of Alexander Lukashenko. And this development is impossible without a strong left movement and independent organizations of the working class.” ▲

Letter to the Morning Star: Belarus and Imperialism’s agenda (published on 3/09/20)

I read with interest A Bukhvostov’s letter (MS September 2) advising us that his union, the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers were against Lukashenko’s ‘dictatorial regime’ and making many correct points about the suppression of workers’ rights. Like Tony Burke’s letter last week, we learned what they were against but not what they were for in any detail apart from ‘the rights of freedoms of workers for democratic reforms’.

Very good but we would respectfully suggest that US and EU imperialism, who also say they support approximately those aims, do so for self-serving motives. Trade union leaders should first of all acknowledge that Belarus has the lowest infant mortality rate in the region (the same as Ireland and better than Britain), the best life expectancy and a whole range of welfare state benefits like free education and healthcare, lost in the post-Soviet reaction in the states all around them. Life expectancy fell by up to ten years in places as the wolves of the free market feasted on the destroyed welfare states by the oligarchy created by Yeltsin in collaboration with the US/EU.

And workers in Belarus know this which is why it is believable Lukashenko won the election, even if the 80% is dubious. The colour revolution leadership had to abandon their neoliberal programme and the independent trade unions still had form a separate federation. So, correct to fight for democratic rights but not as a cover for privatising nationalised industry and welfare states to enhance the profits of transnational corporations. And if we can learn anything from Libya 2011 and Ukraine 2014 workers will get very little ‘freedom and democratic reforms’ from colour revolutions which won’t defend past gains and they can’t eat.

Gerry Downing  ▲

Letter to the Morning Star: Belarus and Imperialism’s agenda (published on 15/09/20)

Bryan Waters makes a good point about the progressive nature of the GDR’s childcare, social housing, etc. (Housing crisis has roots in GDR fall, M Star September 15). Also Oleg Podolinski (We need support from the world, M Star September 10) is not wrong about Lukashenko running a brutal, repressive regime.

And so did Gorbachev in the USSR, Yanukovych in Ukraine, Morsi in Egypt, and Saddam in Iraq, etc. However, the ‘solutions’ offered by western imperialism under the guise of ‘peace, justice, and democracy’ eliminate past social gains; the ‘cure’ was and will be far worse than the ‘disease’. And we do not forget that the geopolitical targets of US imperialism are Iran and both Russia and China.

Borotba, the leftist Ukrainian communists, makes the following points in a statement on August 25:

“the real labor movement, thanks to skillful manipulation, served as a screen for the liberal-market movement led by leaders of the pro-Western opposition. Such examples are well known in history: for example, the protest of freight carriers in Chile against the Allende government and the protest of miners in 1991 in the USSR (in support of Yeltsin- GD).”

The Berlin Wall fell to the right and to US imperialism and not to the left and a class conscious, resurgent working class. Borotba explains how that worked out in Belarus:

“The working class of large enterprises actually acted as a separate “party” to the conflict. It was for the allegiance of the working class that the main struggle between Lukashenko and the opposition unfolded … While sympathizing with those arrested, the working class was not at all ready to support the political agenda of the protest leaders – privatisation, market reforms, nationalism – and the plan to rouse the workers for a nationwide strike actually failed.”

Gerry Downing ▲

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