There are some amongst the Western left who seem confused about how to react to the invasion of Ukraine. This is unsurprising since few of them knew how to build solidarity with the Syrian people and build an international antiwar movement, instead preferring to come to the defense of the oppressive government that they lived under simply because it was the supposed enemy of Washington. But if there is one thing this situation has shown, it is that ordinary Russian people are putting those Western leftists to shame.
Thousands have taken to the streets across Russia to denounce Putin’s invasion, and over a thousand have been arrested. None of them seem to have a problem with equivocation when it comes to war or their government’s criminality. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many on the Western left who are wringing their hands trying to find ways to defend Putin.
Without a doubt, Putin is not a 21st century Hitler as some Western propaganda outlets have inferred, and this is not World War II. We should reject such idiotic and shallow correlations. But he has invaded a sovereign country, and one that has been historically colonized by Russia in the past. One would think that would be enough for condemnation. Not so, to these leftists, many of whom have swallowed the rubbish of highly paid sock puppets on the Trumpenleft.
Being antiwar is not something we can afford to equivocate on. It is either a core principle, or else it is meaningless. Opposing Russian militarism and imperialism is as important as opposing American militarism and imperialism, as well as NATO aggression. Has the American Empire committed more atrocities and launched more wars? Yes. Has NATO expansion over the past couple decades exacerbated the situation? Of course. But this doesn’t mean that Russian imperialism does not exist or does not present a danger. And taking a stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in no way diminishes a stand against American invasions, meddling or covert actions in Somalia, Yemen, Cuba and dozens of other places.
If you claim to be on the left and cannot grasp this, then I suggest you step out of the way. Because the imperative now is to join in solidarity with our antiwar allies in Russia. Not to spout empty theoretics in the defense of some government or state actor simply because that actor happens to be the enemy of the American Empire.
Kenn Orphan, February 2022
*Photo is of a Russian antiwar protestor. Photographer is Peter Kovalev/TASS.