Ukraine and the shape of politics to come February 27, 2014Posted by WorldbyStorm in International Politics, Irish Politics, The Left.
Thanks to Jim Monaghan for posting this link to a very clearly written piece on Ukraine that cuts through a lot of the rhetoric we’re being subjected to on that subject from points various, whether the mainstream accounts of what is happening or elsewhere. It’s main points, that Ukraine isn’t a clear cut example of fascism versus an embattled democratically elected government, or said government versus the IMF or whatever is very necessary to keep front and centre.
One of the key points in this is made by the author of the piece, Mark Ames, when he writes:
In Ukraine, there is no populist left politics, even though the country’s deepest problem is inequality and oligarchy. Memories of the Soviet Union play a big role in turning people off to populist-left politics there, for understandable reasons.
But the Ukrainians do have a sense of people power that is rare in the world, and it goes back to the first major protests in 2000, through the success of the Orange Revolution. The masses understand their power-in-numbers to overthrow bad governments, but they haven’t forged a populist politics to change their situation and redistribute power by redistributing wealth.
The latter paragraph is a consequence, it seems reasonable to suggest, to the dynamics extant in the first paragraph. With no popular left alternative, not even a vaguely social democratic one, of any real size – and a look at the wiki page on the composition of the Ukrainian parliament is instructive, it’s as if Ukraine has a large party right of Fine Gael, and another right of Fianna Fáil and another a bit like a cross between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and the social democratic left is unrepresented though there is a CP representation and a heap of Independents (sounds familiar?) – it is locked into a situation where radicalism will almost of necessity be expressed increasingly to the right of the spectrum and in then most noxious ways possible.
The depressing aspect of this, and Ames points clearly to it, is that there is a sense of collective mass action and the potential in it, but that it is directed and shaped to deliver a means of ejecting governments, but not to ensuring that their successors are any better. It’s as if they are in a political loop where there is a degree of agency to the people, in so far as they can go through the same motions, but progress achieved appears minimal.
Ames makes one other troubling point.
The front-center role of Svoboda and the neo-fascists in this revolution as opposed to the Orange Revolution is, I think, due to fact that the more smiley-face/respectable neoliberal politicians can’t rally the same fanatical support they did a decade ago.
That has an importance well beyond the borders of Ukraine. Indeed in my darker moments I wonder if politics in this state, and elsewhere in Europe, may be heading in a not dissimilar direction, where because the centre of gravity of political activity in the so-called ‘mainstream’ has tilted so far to the right the left as an option, in any of its forms, is now fading.
It’s actually not that difficult to see a situation emerge where the predominance of the centre right and right of centre parties here – which is an unarguable fact across the history of the state, is strengthened further towards the right. And particularly in relation to governance.