I am writing these lines in Kyiv while it is under artillery attack.
Until the last minute, I had hoped that Russian troops wouldn’t launch a full-scale invasion. Now, I can only thank those who leaked the information to the US intelligence services.
Yesterday, I spent half the day considering whether I ought to join a territorial defence unit. During the night that followed, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyi signed a full mobilisation order and Russian troops moved in and prepared to encircle Kyiv, which made the decision for me.
But before taking up my post, I would like to communicate to the Western Left what I think about its reaction to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
First of all, I am thankful to those Leftists who are now picketing Russian embassies – even those who took their time to realise Russia was the aggressor in this conflict.
I am thankful to politicians who support putting pressure on Russia to stop the invasion and withdraw its troops.
And I am thankful to the delegation of British and Welsh MPs, unionists, and activists who came to support us and hear us in the days before the Russian invasion.
I am also thankful to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign in the UK for its help over many years.
This article is about the other part of the Western Left. Those who imagined ‘NATO aggression in Ukraine’, and who could not see Russian aggression – like the New Orleans chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
Or the DSA International Committee, which published a shameful statement failing to say a single critical word against Russia (I am very thankful to US professor and activist Dan la Botz and the others for their critique of this statement).
Or those who criticised Ukraine for not implementing the Minsk Agreements and kept silent about their violations by Russia and the so-called ‘People’s Republics’.
Or those who exaggerated the influence of the far-Right in Ukraine, but did not notice the far-Right in the ‘People’s Republics’ and avoided criticising Putin’s conservative, nationalist and authoritarian policy. Part of the responsibility for what is happening rests with you.
This is part of the wider phenomenon in the Western ‘anti-war’ movement, usually called ‘campism’ by critics on the Left. British-Syrian author and activist Leila Al-Shami gave it a stronger name: the “anti-imperialism of idiots”. [Continue reading…]