WE DO NOT NEED YOUR ‘SUPPORT’!
A Statement by Ukrainian Left-Wing Militants About the Activities
of German Rote Hilfe (Red Aid)
Nihilist, December 16, 2014
The Nihilist Editorial Board wishes to stress that this statement suffered a massive loss in sharpness and became toothless as it was being pulled together. Some signatories probably want to keep open the possibility of future dialogue with the red-brown authoritarians. We reject the possibility of any such dialogue. In the spring support for Borotba and other pro-Russian nationalists could still be dismissed as a mistake due to a lack of information. Today, however, such support constitutes a conscious position, and one for which responsibility must be taken.
One of the most difficult experiences which we, Ukrainian left-wing militants, had in 2014 was the reaction of the Western left to events in our country. For many of them the ideological schema was pretty unambiguous. Presumably it was a matter of a coup d’etat, backed by the West, in the course of which a radical right-wing government or even a “fascist junta” came to power, which promptly set about repressing left and progressive forces and the Russian-speaking “minority”. Presumably this triggered a justified reaction by Russia in the Crimea, and an “anti-fascist uprising” in the Donbas. The West is presented as an aggressor and Russia as forced to defend itself.
The people who live in the country appear in this ideological schema only as an object of geo-politics. In the best-case scenario some positive role is deemed to them (as folkloric extras in the background) when they do not manifest any sign of disaffection and supposedly belong to the “right” side of spheres of influence. But in the worst-case scenario they are puppets manipulated by deceptive foreign forces and create something like the Maidan. In the framework of that ideological schema the population of the country is not recognized as fully-fledged political subject, capable of its own collective action, and is denied its right to be recognized as such.
The more closed the ideological schema, the more difficult to penetrate through it. Any “alien” information penetrates this hermetically-sealed space only if it confirms its basic assumptions. The precondition of functioning of such a closed system is the full exclusion of dialogue with anybody who finds himself outside.
For this reason, the purpose of this statement is twofold. On the one side, we would gladly communicate with those genuinely willing to listen to us. On the other side, we are perfectly aware that a significant part of the Western left stays deaf to all our statements and appeals – and we wish to distance ourselves from the latter clearly and explicitly. We forbid those on the German left who, in the words of Zbigniew Kowalewski, “have passed with weapons and baggage to the side of Russian imperialism”, to speak for us and in our name. Please speak in your name – we do not need your support!
The reaction to the Maidan and the subsequent events was particularly catastrophic on the German left. Unfortunately, the Rote Hilfe (Red Aid) was no exception. In the summer of this year the Rote Hilfe organized a long speaking tour for “anti-fascists from Ukraine and Russia”, during which propaganda was spread consisting of blatant lies in order to justify the Russian military aggression, and appeals launched for “international solidarity” with the far-right “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine. Since then the Rote Hilfe has boasted of a “five-figure sum” which has been placed at the disposal of the “anti-fascists in Ukraine”.
In spite of a consistent critique, the Rote Hilfe continues to claim that the money raised is “used in support of many persons from various left-wing organizations and initiatives in Ukraine.” We declare that this information is not true. To our knowledge, the Rote Hilfe supports exclusively the pro-Russian left-authoritarian organization, Borotba (or some other Russian nationalists who have been recommended by Borotba and do not even cover themselves with left-wing slogans). The Rote Hilfe has never attempted to make contact with us, and we have never sought to make contact with the Rote Hilfe. In fact, any possibility of working with organisations such as the Rote Hilfe is out of the question for us.
We appeal to all German left-wing activists not to ingest ready-made ideological schemes and to adopt as nuanced a view as possible of events in Ukraine. To that end, we, the signatories to this statement, are always ready to help you.
Автономна Спілка Трудящих (Autonomous Workers’ Union)
Антикапіталістичний спротив (Anti-capitalist Resistance)
Комітет 19 січня – Україна (19th January Committee – Ukraine)
Пряма Дія (Direct Action)
Товаришка (Female Comrade)
Roksolana Mashkova, activist
Ivan Shmatko, activist
Yustyna Kravchuk (Центр Візуальної Культури, Політична Критика – Visual Culture Research Centre, Political Critique)
Oleksiy Radynski (Visual Culture Research Centre, Political Critique)
Natalka Neshevets (Visual Culture Research Centre, Political Critique)