Filed under: International Coverage
The following was anonymously submitted via email.
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I want to speak as simply as possible about something incredibly complicated. First of all, I should introduce myself as someone who isn’t facing the possibility of imminent death due to a military invasion. I humbly express my solidarity with those around the world who are facing the violence of nation-states, which includes people in Ukraine.
I am in solidarity with those suffering the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia: the poor who bear the brunt of this war, those fleeing into the unknown, and those falling victim to the war games of the powerful.
However, unlike many of the Polish citizens suddenly rushing to help Ukrainian refugees at their borders, my solidarity with those fleeing war, famine, and general struggle is consistent and without double standards. I support people seeking help across borders regardless of the color of their skin ; obviously many in Western media and Western nations do not share this ethic.
I also extend my solidarity to those dying in Brazil and India due to Bolsanaro and Modi’s wars on indigenous peoples. I extend my solidarity to those suffering the wars inflicted on the populations of Sudan and Myanmar by their juntas. I feel ashamed of this world I exist in when I think of those in Yemen undergoing a combined misery of famine and war. I am against all wars that consolidate or impose power rather then eradicating it. I reject wars of power consistently, and do not only concern myself with war if it threatens the stability of the first world.
Ukraine is an incredibly conservative and religious country. Zelensky being Jewish does not change these facts. Ukraine’s behavior in World War 2 continues to affect generations today. Ukrainian Nationalists primarily in western Ukraine collaborated with the Nazi occupation with hopes of regaining independence from Russia, a collaboration that included Nazi pogroms. These tensions can be passed down through generations, not unlike the civil wars of Greece and Spain.
The right-sector fascist group that demonstrated huge strength in the Maidan in 2014 remains very real. The neo-nazi Azov battalion is also very real, and is formally integrated into Ukraine’s national guard. Just like in the United States, neo-nazis and fascists have very much normalized themselves in Ukraine’s law enforcement and the military.
This is also true of Russia, however. Honestly from videos I’ve watched, the scariest nazis I’ve seen are hooligans from Poland, Ukraine, and Russia. The Ukranian and Russian nationalism that has fueled this war has been raging since 2014 in Eastern Ukraine. It’s something I reject and find disgusting on both sides.
Now, however, the dynamic has changed, and we see an authoritarian invasion as well as an anti-imperial response across various political and social demographics.
As I watch Ukraine now I root for the people of Ukraine as they confront imperial aggression. I root for people defending their livelihoods against a war intent on nothing more then expansion of power. I root for this alone. As an anarchist, it is always easy to know who to root for: those resisting the violence of power.
There are non-fascist and even in some cases anarchist volunteer battalions who are fighting what they see as an authoritarian invasion in Ukraine. There are also millions of people courageously standing up to the invasion who are concerned for their families and communities, not some “white homeland” vision.
There are also many Russian soldiers who come from poverty and are simply pawns in a broader power game. Some Russians recently killed their commander by running over him with a tank; they’d clearly had enough . There is also grassroots resistance against the war in Russia and Belarus, where the consequences for any act of solidarity are immense.
“The brigade commander was killed by his own troops and killed by his own troops, we believe, as a consequence of the scale of losses that have been taken by his brigade.”
— IGD Worldwide (@igdworldwide) March 25, 2022
We all know China is observing Ukraine with an eye towards its own plans for Taiwan. Taiwan has some fascistic roots, and if an invasion was to take place, these elements would undoubtedly arise along with nationalistic resistance. Still, I would support Taiwanese fighting back against an invasion by China, and do so while rejecting all elements of nationalism or historical fascism.
I take this approach because I am an anarchist: I can demonstrate and determine my solidarity based on my analysis of the world, not the polarization intended by nationalism and capitalist media. I can root for a population’s survival against a military oppressor while also recognizing some of that population possesses perspectives I oppose. In the case of full-scale invasion, it is no longer about solely focusing on this or that group which fought in previous conflicts; you are considering a military onslaught against an entire population.
Let me speak simply: the Western coverage of the conflict in Ukraine is deeply racist. The border policies regarding Ukranian refugees are racist. Leftist defenses of Russia due to this or that battalion being full of Nazis are ridiculous as well, however. Russia is not a liberator; it is a powerful nation-state hell-bent on expanding its power. It is a ruthlessly capitalistic country, and no anarchist should be defending Russia. The same goes for China, another capitalist country.
I am concerned about anarchists falling into the same inconsistencies as the Western media when it comes to Ukraine. We should support struggling refugees and people defending their livelihoods, but how have our resources and voices been used so intensely for this specific conflict while there are wars raging across the world?
Anarchists or anti-fascists are a very very small minority in the fight in Ukraine. They deserve our complete support, but are we reasserting the notion that anarchism is a purely Western idea by fixating on this specific war while ignoring others? There are so many conflicts where the oppressed are not receiving huge amounts of aid from heinous forces such as the United States– West Papua, Chile, Haiti, and Brazil to name a few.
Of course we should be supporting refugee solidarity efforts on the borders in Eastern Europe. We must support as a movement the anarchist battalions engaged in fighting an imperial power. We need to be clear, however, in recognizing that this is another tragic war on the earth, and there is not an anarchist element to the resistance itself. This is not the Spanish Civil War.
Many from anarchist movements around the world joined the YPG and SDF. Is there a fetishization within our movements that leads our solidarity efforts and attention to only fixate on armed conflicts that match a certain aesthetic? If so, this must be challenged.
It is terrifyingly risky to go to a warzone, whether it’s to join the YPG and SDF or to go to Ukraine and join the anarchist affiliated territorial defence forces now. Would someone considering flying to Ukraine right now also consider joining anarchists in Sudan or Myanmar ? Or weighing the risks, might it hypothetically be equally or more beneficial to rob a bank in one’s home country and donate those funds to benefit such struggles?
Of those international volunteers lucky enough to leave the YPG alive, some felt what they had joined turned out to be in some ways an authoritarian group. This did not mean they regretted helping to defend those facing terror from ISIS and the Turkish state, or that they weren’t grateful for the opportunity to witness massive anti-hierarchial organizing by a significant population experimenting with the prospect of a new, more free society.
Some felt inspired, some felt disappointed, and some felt confused by the coincidence of American military cooperation and various other elements within a very complicated situation. That same willingness to take on the risks of a war zone could also be helpful to your everyday life resistance, as an anarchist revolutionary wherever you are in this world. If you are willing to die to demonstrate solidarity, what are some possibilities you could engage with at home?
Obviously if calls for international support are made, I humbly respect someone willing to go, but with so many struggles happening around the world, should our small anarchist voice and presence follow the trends of Western media? Is the contribution we can make worth it for our broader struggle? Are we consistent with our ethics in prioritizing conflicts elsewhere in the world and encouraging solidarity for all groups fighting exploitation and domination?
Back in 2014 when I first learned of the Maidan in Ukraine, I was confused who to root for. It appeared one side wanted to join the neoliberal style capitalism of the west and the other wanted to continue being a puppet state of more autocratic-style capitalism of Russia. To further muddy the waters, the strength of the Maidan uprising in the streets seemed to come primarily from fascist hooligans.
Similarly, in Thailand in 2013 , I remember the battles of the Yellow Shirts vs. Red Shirts. I had a hard time understanding exactly what was fueling this conflict in Thai society, though I tried. One side, the Yellow Shirts, appeared to unconditionally support the Monarchy and the preservation of how Thai society had been structured historically, with the rich located in certain regions and the poor in others. The Yellow Shirts were also closely aligned with the military, who essentially run Thailand as a shadow junta that the Western world doesn’t seem concerned with. The other side, the Red Shirts, seemed to want a more neoliberal style capitalist society, with a more Western-style state democracy. The Red Shirts were closely aligned with Thailand’s police.
As an anarchist, it was quite hard to pick who to support, but I chose the Red Shirts since they seemed to be more working class friendly . However, I still only observed and sympathized, and never could have fully supported either side.
I do not support any nation-state, including Ukraine. When I watch the World Cup, I just root for the poorer of the two countries playing.
I reject billionaires in America, called entrepreneurs, and I reject billionaires in Russia called oligarchs. I reject every nation-state and I do my best to remain consistent. I note America and Europe’s heinous hypocrisy as it collaborates with Israel, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia while espousing its almost comical rhetoric about “the free world.” Fuck all these countries, because they all are the same thing: nation-states looking to control and exploit their populations in the furtherance of a status quo that benefits only a few.
We need to apply a globally consistent approach when it comes to our support and solidarity with those in Ukraine fighting against this tragic invasion by Russia. We do not vote for the lesser evil and we do not fall into the traps of division the world’s elite set for us.
The war in Ukraine is fueling rationalizations for further post-pandemic inflation across the world. The war is fueling famine across the world. The war is exacerbating climate change. The war is furthering the global refugee crisis and horrific human trafficking industry that prevail in the capitalist world. The war is leading to the deaths of many poor people both in Ukraine and around the world.
The institutions and individuals with power in this world are willing to push us off a cliff before compromising their own preservation and those few the systems of domination benefit. Let us support the anarchist battalions and the people in Ukraine, but let us expand our voice and apply this internationalism consistently.
The following information here helps to provide direct solidarity to anarchist initiatives in the resistance to the Russian invasion, as well as anti-fascist/anarchist efforts in mutual aid: