Predictably, the events in the Ukraine continue their downward path as more citizens in some of its regions, fear the IMF/Nato path the new Kiev government has embarked upon. Instead of re-assuring all its citizens they will be consulted about the way forward and that their future economic, political and personal security needs will be guaranteed under the new unelected regime, these self-appointed elites, egged on by Europe and the USA, have ignored them.
Rather than give people a choice, they have decided for them and threatened that any who advocate referendum’s on seceding from Ukraine or gaining regional autonomy will be dealt with savagely. Freedom of speech has been denied and regime criticism has been effectively outlawed. Where the new government is unable to enforce such strictures, the far Right is doing the job for them, after either a nod and a wink from Kiev or independently on its own initiative.
Whether or not the majority of people in Ukraine fully understand the present global crisis of capitalism, most know that a mixture of economic downturn and corruption has engulfed the IMF influenced countries of Europe. Anyone aware of what is happening to working people in Greece and Spain can envision a similar future for Ukraine within the suffocating embrace of a capitalist-led Europe. They also know that corruption and self-interest is endemic among the political elite in Kiev. From their own history, they also know that revolutionary changes in governance have been frequent in Ukraine (as elsewhere) and have generally ignored the ballot-box.
Past political revolutions in the Ukraine as well as economic ones over the last 100 years have been invariably accompanied by a degree of force, by one elite or another, so an ousted government is nothing really new or traumatically shocking. It is not simply the kicking out of a former corrupt and oppressive regime which causes many Ukrainians to oppose those presently ensconced in Kiev, but the nature and direction of the new group which has seized control of the parliamentary procedures.
The present elite, propelled to power by the uprising and a widespread dissatisfaction with the previous elite, have simply failed to attract wide-scale support. They have not proposed and implemented policies which are capable of attracting the majority or even a considerable minority, of the citizens of Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. Indeed, following their own interests and the agenda of Europe and the USA, they have continued to alienate large numbers of those living in Ukraine.
Accordingly, the citizens of Crimea – whether encouraged by Russia or not – quickly voted for autonomy within a Russian sphere of influence. It cannot be surprising, therefore, if other regions of the Ukraine such as Lugansk, Donetsk and Odessa seek to follow suit and demand referenda to see how much support they have in their regions. This desire will be all the more intense, if they also see their future interests and personal safety as best protected by separation from the new regime.
What is perhaps surprising, however, is the highly belligerent response to this development by the dominant elites in the western governments of the USA and Europe, particularly the latter. These elites, themselves already myopically overseeing collapsing economies and bankrupt state finances, have decided to back the new regime and at the urging of the USA to ramp up the rhetoric and intensify the conflict.
By entirely blaming Russia for what has happened and introducing boycott measures against Russian elites, they have ensured the conflict in the Ukraine will continue and descend into even further chaos. Sending troops on another Crimean adventure by the West cannot guarantee a peaceful outcome because the struggle in Ukraine is now one of serious existential consequence. The new Kiev elite and the Right forces are now fighting for their very political and social existence.
Their alliance with the Right and the measures they have instituted cannot be easily overlooked or forgiven by many citizens and internal antipathy is growing. The new elite in Kiev must now win the political and social battle by force or deviousness or submit. If they submit they will face eventual prosecution, punishment or escape by self-imposed exile. The same is also partly true for those who oppose the coup in Kiev and the new elite presently operating from there. They too must win the coming struggle or submit.
If they submit they too will face prosecution, punishment, exile or even death from the pro-Kiev and right-wing forces. The situation has gone too far for a peaceful resolution, even though Machiavellian peace manoeuvres will be attempted. Of course none of this internal conflict and chaos seriously bothers the elites in the west or anywhere else for that matter, for they can benefit one way or another. However, this is not the case for the ordinary working person in the Ukraine or those in the rest of the world, because economic sanctions always hit those who are weakest.
The invitation to retaliate to the West’s sanctions by Russia, may be too much for Russia’s elite to resist. Further escalation of tensions and measures are almost bound to occur. Gas supplies being cut off to Ukraine due to non-payment of huge bills are the latest suggestions. That aside the costs of increased energy and raw material charges and the consequent further downturn in economic activity due to any effective sanctions, will create hardship and further unemployment and poverty in the Ukraine and Europe, if not in North America.
These knock-on economic and financial consequences will directly and indirectly effect the blue and white-collar working class, the unemployed and poor first and foremost. Yet another unnecessary expense will be incurred by the actions of the present political and military elites, whose ample incomes will offset any rise in prices and shortages of essentials. And it is the actions of the political and military elites in particular who we need to worry about.
We have seen over the past decades that these sections of the elite, the military and political milieu are generally blind to the human, economic and financial costs of their actions. Extended expensive bombing campaigns (Serbia and Libya) and territorial invasions (Iraq and Afghanistan) continued whether there was approaching austerity or a severe crisis. Since they have no role in creating wealth, but only in consuming it, they tend to have a blasé regard to the source of their political positions and their military hardware.
It does not concern the political elite that their positions ultimately rely upon the consent of the electorate for they can reliably manipulate the political process in ‘normal’ times to ensure their class continues in power. It does not seriously concern the military elite that the source of their weapons and salaries are derived from the taxes and wealth creating productive efforts of working people and that the latter must work hard and pay much to keep them in the manner they have become accustomed to.
The working classes, blue-collar and white-collar and their wealth creation along with the capitalist system they exist within are simply taken for granted by these elites. Why? Because political and military education does not include an analysis of the capitalist mode of production which would reveal its instability and crisis-prone contradictions. Political and military hierarchies float way above the mundane economic realities of everyday life and the working class struggle for existence. For this reason they will carry on administering and destroying a productive system already in serious internal and external melt-down.
Since they choose not to fully comprehend the capitalist mode of production, the pro-capitalist elites will never understand or accept that their actions are merely accelerating a pivotal level of economic and financial collapse of the entire capitalist system. This blindness is most blatantly demonstrated by the military, who like all military elites before them eagerly grasp every opportunity to acquire and destroy their lethal equipment by routine exercises or actual engagement, all the military commodities they can lay their hands upon.
So an unsolvable political crisis (such as the situation over the future of Ukraine) is already spawning hope among some that military pressure will advance a favourable solution. These events could be yet provide another chance for generals to play war games, sacrificing troops and civilians to the unwanted attentions of the latest weaponry. The recent interventionist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the bombing of Libya and earlier the Balkans, indicate the political and military elites have little regard for life, limb and the economic condition of the countries funding them.
Whilst the19th century saying by General Carl von Clausewitz that ‘War is the continuation of policy by other means’ is still unanimously adopted by the modern bourgeois class of politicians, his actual war principle of using ‘force without limit and without calculation of cost’ , is still the paradigm which the modern military elite like to operate within when allowed to do so.
The history of the capitalist mode of production indicates that periodically the smallest spark during tensions over disputed territorial advantage or annexations can explode catastrophically as it did in the Balkans 100 years ago in 1914 and again in 1938. And when they do the situation can quickly deteriorate into open warfare as it did in both these world-war periods. It is to be hoped that the situation in the Ukraine does not provide yet another example of this logic which continually emanates from the capitalist system and seeks a cause for conflict if one does not opportunely present itself.
Roy Ratcliffe (April 2014.)