A US Pseudo-Trotskyist Association Hired by Russian Imperialism:

26 июня 2022, 02:03
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A US Pseudo-Trotskyist Association Hired by Russian Imperialism:

How the ICFI Attempts to Rewrite the History of the Ukrainian Revolutionary Liberation Movement By Oleg Vernyk


On June 11, 2022, the Russian version of the WSWS website run by the pseudo-Trotskyist sect ICFI, posted an informative article with a very controversial and striking title: “The ISL’s Oleg Vernyk promotes Ukrainian fascist Stepan Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists”. This is not the first time that this small online group has made slanderous attacks against ISL's positions and against Oleg Vernik in particular, the latter being the leader of the Ukrainian ISL organization – Ukrainian Socialist League. In theory, the attempted defamation by that miserable middle-class pseudo-Trotskyist online group from the United States could have been ignored, if it were not in the current context of the aggression of Russian imperialism against Ukraine and a kind of informative isolation of Russian in the current context.

 

Today no one believes Russian propaganda anymore. In particular, no one believes this discourse of Ukraine being governed by "Nazis" and Russia's mission being precisely the "denazification" of Ukraine. We are well aware that in this confrontation between two imperialisms, Western imperialism and Russian imperialism, Ukraine plays only one role: the role of victim. However, we members of the USL/ISL, have as our basic principle the defense of Ukraine as a political subject, the defense of its working people, the defense of the unconditional right to self-determination of the Ukrainian people and the struggle for the preservation of the integrity of the State. The USL/ISL does not support the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, nor Volodymyr Zelensky; it manifests itself in favor of the mass resistance of the country's lower class in its struggle against oppression. At the same time, the question arises: what does the ICFI's activity consist of and what are the values ​​and principles of these strange people who only appear on the Internet?

 

For several years now, the leader of the pseudo-Trotskyist sect called ICFI, a United States citizen, Mr. David North, has been defending the interests of Russian imperialism and its propaganda apparatus on issues related to Ukraine. However, the disinformation activity of this propagandist sect has been revived precisely in the beginning of the month of June of the current year, when it became clear that official Russian propaganda no longer has sufficient informational space within the American media or any other country in the western orbit. Hence, the need arises to use these organizations with little authority and little influence, such as the WSWS, for this purpose. From the introductory part of their defamatory text, the authors indicate with total honesty that the central purpose of the article is to “reject false conceptions of ‘Russian imperialism’ and ‘democratic Ukraine.’”

 

It is absolutely clear that in order to whitewash Russia's military aggression, the ICFI needs to:

 

a) affirm that Russian capitalism is not imperialist in character;

 

b) indicate that Ukraine is not a simple nation with an extremely dependent and peripheral bourgeois democratic regime, but is a key player in the Nazi movement. That is to say, precisely this argument is key in the task of justifying the military aggression, both on the side of the Russian Federation, and on the part of its agents within the political movement of the left.

 

It should be noted that, from the beginning, the controversial and striking title of this article has absolutely nothing to do with reality. Oleg Vernik has never made propaganda in favor of the political figure named Stepán Bandera. He (Oleg Vernik) never made propaganda in favor of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. On the contrary, he always proposed to make a deep analysis of the liberation and nationalist movement in Ukraine and the dynamics of its evolution, considering its branches both on the right and on the left, and advised against ignoring the complexities and problems that characterized these movements. In addition, Oleg Vernik has always been very critical of the figure of Stepán Bandera, who had precisely been the leader of the ultra-radical right wing branch of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), also expressing himself strongly against the democratization of the political figure of Bandera and against his conversion into leftist leader. We will return to this problem later. But now let's ask ourselves the following question: based on what did the ICFI reach the conclusion that Oleg Vernik professes the ideas of Stepán Bandera?

 

Following the article published by the ICFI, we learn that Oleg Vernik shared a post on May 26, 2022 on his Facebook page “Záhyst Prátsi” (“Defense of Labor” in English) which is an open group. The material shared in the post originally belonged to Mr. Ket Sotnyk. It is a photocopy of a historical book from 1948, whose author is Petró Poltava. That book is considered a bibliographical relic in Ukraine. Precisely due to the fact that it tells the story of one of the ideologues of the leftist branch of what was once the movement of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The author and protagonist of the book, Mr. Petró Poltava narrates in that work how he had begun to propagate ideas that were absolutely opposed to the ideology of Stepán Bandera. Precisely those ideas that were proclaimed during the 3rd Regional Congress of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1943 were described by Stepán Bandera as "Bolshevik" ideas, that that Congress had been organized by some "Bolsheviks" and that he (S. Bandera ) would never accept the resolutions approved by that Congress. S. Bandera, who at that time was imprisoned in a German concentration camp called "Sachsenhausen," had perfectly understood that a tendency towards democratization was beginning to appear within the ranks of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), towards the ideas of the left and the incitement to a simultaneous war against German national socialism and against Stalinism. Obviously, this position was firmly rejected by Bandera and by the other members of the right-wing branch of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Not even the title of the brochure could calm the discord: “Who are the Banderites and what are they fighting for.”

 

The discontent of the ultra-right is understandable, but the fear that this little brochure has caused in the ICFI will have to be explained in more detail. Apparently, this text, dated 1948, annuls all the arguments of Russian propaganda and its ICFI lackeys regarding the assertion that any nationalist liberation movement in Ukraine should be considered, without exception, a far-right current and Nazi. The authors of such a “pearl” even dared to quote some key phrases from that brochure: “The ‘Banderites’ fight ‘for the construction of a society without division into social classes, for an authentic elimination of the exploitation of a human being by another… for democracy, against dictatorship and against totalitarianism, for freedom of expression and freedom to assemble… for the guarantee of all kinds of rights for national minorities in Ukraine.” At the same time, those slogans that are articulated through that Ukrainian brochure were cataloged by the authors of the ICFI as being nurtured “with the spirit of fascist ‘national socialism.’” It is not entirely clear where in these slogans the “spirit of National Socialism” is revealed. Perhaps it shows itself in the phrase “against dictatorship and against totalitarianism” or in the line that speaks of “the authentic elimination of the exploitation of one human being by another,” or in the part about “the guarantee of rights for the national minorities of Ukraine…” As we can see, the ICFI Lords have a rather strange perception of the term “fascism”. Though their perception of the term fully coincides with that of Mr. Putin, who started a war in Ukraine precisely to combat this rare kind of “fascism.”

 

But the most interesting thing is that Oleg Vernik, who had shared the photocopy of the aforementioned book in his publication, did not leave any comments of his own about it, offering the readers of the union’s group to familiarize themselves with the text, which is so difficult to find today in the Ukrainian archives, and reach their own conclusions. That post was not at all about any propaganda related to S. Bandera, nor the author of the book Petró Poltava (it should be remembered that the latter was an ideological opponent of S. Bandera). That very obvious lie of the ICFI can be discovered very easily. But first let's analyze the arguments of these exotic pseudo-Trotskyists about the so-called “S. Bandera propaganda” that Oleg Vernik has allegedly made.

 

The ICFI authors wrote:On June 5, Vernyk shared another post with a passage from a book by Danylo Shumuk, a former member of the Communist Party in West Ukraine (KPZU), who, disoriented by the crimes of Stalinism, joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA by its Ukrainian acronym).”

 

Once again it must be clarified that Oleg Vernik made no comment of his own when sharing that excerpt from Danylo Shumuk's book. On the contrary, he invited the readers to analyze for themselves the opinion of the book’s author, who was a true communist, but had been a victim of Stalinist repressions on several occasions since 1935 for being a member of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine.

 

At this point, it is very important to remember the chronology of historical events. In 1938, the Executive Commission of Stalin's Communist International had approved the resolution on the definitive dissolution of the Communist Party of Poland and, with it, of the Communist Parties of Western Ukraine and Belarus, the latter two organizations being part of the prior. The Communist Party of Poland had a considerable number of representatives of the Fourth International who had a significant influence within the party and clandestinely made anti-Stalinist propaganda and supported Leon Trotsky’s ideas of revolutionary Marxism. This situation was the fundamental factor in Stalin's decision to dissolve these parties and repress the communists in western Ukraine. The excuse that was officially presented to carry out these repressions was that “the leadership positions of those parties were occupied by fascist agents.” Such an accusation seems similar to the context of the war we are currently experiencing, doesn’t it?

 

It was precisely the activists of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine who were the first victims of the repressive apparatus of Stalinism and were practically exterminated after the annexation of the western territory of Ukraine to the USSR in 1939, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Danylo Shumuk miraculously survived after spending long years in Stalinist concentration camps. Evidently having been through this situation and having been one of the victims of Stalin's repression against members of the Communist Party of West Ukraine, this man (using the words of the ICFI authors) had grounds to be somewhat “disoriented by the crimes of Stalinism.” Obviously, I allow myself a bit of irony here, despite the seriousness of the events described.

 

In any case, let us refer to the works of Comrade Trotsky. He was the one who had very carefully analyzed the situation of the communist movement in Western Ukraine in particular, and had paid much attention to Ukraine and its peculiarities in his works of the time. It is clear that the authors of ICFI are perfectly aware of the existence of this analysis by Trotsky, but, aiming to please their imperialist boss who employs them, they prefer to omit any mention of said analysis.

 

In August of the year 1939 Leon Trotsky wrote his famous work called “Democratic Feudalists and the Independence of the Ukraine” (“Bulletin of the Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists), No. 79-80”) in which he wrote clearly and unambiguously the following: The Ukrainian revolutionary movement aimed against the Bonapartist bureaucracy is the direct ally of the international revolutionary proletariat… The national revolutionary Ukrainian movement is an integral part of the mighty revolutionary wave which is now being molecularly prepared underneath the crust of triumphant reaction. That is why we say: Long Live Independent Soviet Ukraine!

 

In 1939, the communists of western Ukraine no longer had any illusions about Stalinism and they knew perfectly well the position of Leon Trotsky. What kind of fighting strategy should the Western Ukrainian communists have adopted in that context after having been forced underground in Poland and in the Stalinist “liberated Western Ukraine?” Danylo Shumuk waited until 1943, when the “UPA” (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) had begun its war on two fronts, that is against German National Socialism and against Stalinism. That is when he enlisted in the ranks of the "UPA".

 

Unfortunately, Stalin's executioners had taken Trotsky´s life by 1943. Therefore, it is very difficult for us to predict what tactics and strategy Leon Davýdovich might have proposed to the communists of western Ukraine, considering the complex context of that time. He left that question to future discussions among comrades.

 

However, already in 1939, Leon Trotsky had his work “The Problem of the Ukraine” (“Bulletin of the Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists), No. 77-78”), which currently serves as the bedside text for any Ukrainian Marxist; there he wrote the following: Not a trace remains of the former confidence and sympathy of the Western Ukrainian masses for the Kremlin. Since the latest murderous “purge” in the Ukraine no one in the West wants to become part of the Kremlin satrapy which continues to bear the name of Soviet Ukraineit is precisely this despicable equivocation, it is precisely this ruthless hounding of all free national thought that has led the toiling masses of the Ukraine, to an even greater degree than the masses of Great Russia, to look upon the rule of the Kremlin as monstrously oppressive. In the face of such an internal situation it is naturally impossible even to talk of Western Ukraine Voluntarily joining the USSR as it is at present constituted. Consequently, the unification of the Ukraine presupposes freeing the so-called Soviet Ukraine from the Stalinist bootA clear and definite slogan is necessary that corresponds to the new situation. In my opinion there can be at the present time only one such slogan: A united, free and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine.”

 

Do the pseudo-Trotskyists of the ICFI know this position taken by Trotsky? Yes, they know it very well, though they prefer to lie and manipulate minds in a premeditated way, fulfilling the order of their authoritarian mentors and Kremlin bureaucrats. So, let's continue looking at the other points of the text that these Rashists published.

 

In yet another post, from May 26, Vernyk shared a comment glorifying a 1953 uprising in a Soviet labor camp (Gulag), which was led by Shumuk and other members of the OUN and UPA who had been imprisoned by Soviet authorities.As we can see, from this point on, the ICFI Lords have abandoned all kind of ethical limit, abruptly and definitively breaking any ties that united them to the Trotskyist heritage, siding with the Stalinist executioners in that struggle that took place between the latter and the prisoners of the Gulag. This is the famous uprising in the Gulag of the city of Norilsk in the summer of 1953. It was the largest uprising in the entire history of the Gulags. It is estimated that about 30,000 people participated in it and that the Trotskyist prisoners played a key role in the organization and execution of the plan.

 

In “The notes of the Head of the Authorities of the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR” it is clearly indicated that precisely the prisoner with the surname Klichenko, who had been sentenced twice for anti-Soviet activity and received for this a sentence of 25 years, was in charge of carrying out the most important job of inciting the convicts to continue and strengthen their resistance. Likewise, some testimonies were preserved that highlight the importance of the role played by the convicted Trotskyist with the surname Shimánskaya in that prisoner uprising. The Norilsk uprising of 1953 was one of the most important and remarkable events in the history of resistance against Stalin's regime within the USSR. But the quasi-Stalinists of the ICFI have another vision of things, extending their hand as an act of help and support to the numerous authoritarian and bureaucratic dictatorships such as the dictatorships of Stalin or Putin.

 

Continuing down the text of that article, its authors' words become truly delusional. In particular, they write the following: On its website, the ISL posted a video of one of its members, Kirill Medvedev, masked and in body armor, who is identified as a member of the UVO, a detachment of the Territorial Defense Forces. Where did they get that our comrade Kirill, activist of the ISL/USL, bears the last name “Medvedev?” Honestly, it was not very clear to us. Later we understood that the authors of the text apparently simply confused our Ukrainian comrade Kirill with the Russian activist of the “Russian Socialist Movement” (USEC) named Kirill Medvedev. This detail could not even classify as one of the many lies in the article. It is a striking display of ignorance and lack of preparation on the part of the authors of the ICFI who sow defamation, being unintelligent people, but at the same time very committed to what their contractors dictate.

 

We could go on endlessly evaluating each paragraph of the ICFI pro-Russian instigators' text of amalgamation of outright lies and half-truths. However, the task before us is totally different. We have to use the refutation of the lies of that little-known and boring sect of pseudo-Trotskyists in the United States in the context of our attempt to grasp the deeper aspects of the Ukrainian question and the history of its revolutionary liberation movement.

By the beginning of the 20th century, most of Ukraine was within the Russian Empire, while its western part was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The development of capitalism in Ukrainian territory prompted the accelerated formation of its proletariat. This process also fostered the creation of social democratic (Marxist) parties and other socialist-oriented parties. Large proletarian centers linked to the development of coal mines (Donbas region), the railway industry, the sugar sector (Sumy province, which belongs to the Slobozhanshina region) among other branches of industry. The social class of the proletariat was formed both from the Ukrainian peasants who were left without their plots of land, and from those peasants who migrated to Ukraine from the central regions of the Russian Empire as a result of having been left without land to farm.

 

In the territory of Ukraine, the Ukrainian colloquial language was widely used, despite all the repression and despite all kinds of prohibitions imposed by the government of the Russian Tsar. That language came to be preserved and rooted within the broad masses of the Ukrainian population. Leon Trotsky, who was born and raised in the central part of the Ukraine, wrote in his diary that his mother tongue was “Súrzhyk:” a colloquial variety of the Ukrainian language with a high content of foreign words. However, in the Russian Empire one could only receive higher education in the Russian language, while the Ukrainian language maintained its level as a popular language of the lower class. Most of the intelligentsia and the bourgeoisie of the urban sectors, upon graduating with some higher education degree, began to speak the Russian language permanently. A significant part of the proletariat, i.e. those people who were previously Ukrainian peasants, was also subjected to this kind of “Russification.” However, at the same time, at the beginning of the 20th century, an inverse process was set in motion. A significant segment of the country's urban intelligentsia, and even working-class people, had begun to gradually transfer the use of the Ukrainian language from rural to urban areas as an act of protest against the Russian monarchy. This factor is key to the analysis of the following years of the history of the revolutionary movement of liberation and the Ukrainian labor movement. From the beginning of the 20th century in Ukraine, the class-revolutionary aspect of social liberation and the national liberation aspect of the struggle for self-determination of the Ukrainian people have gone hand in hand; that is, they have been inseparable and interconnected. Any attempt to destroy this link and interdependence between the two in Ukraine was doomed to have catastrophic consequences and undergo its own extreme reforms. The entire history of Ukraine in the 20th century is a complex, controversial and, in many aspects, tragic story.

 

The social-democratic Marxist groups that had been actively formed within the territory of Ukraine were in practice and from the very beginning divided into two factions. The first was of those who joined the structure of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party and the second was of those who became part of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labor Party. In turn, it is important to note that, in regard to the vision of both groups on the solution of the “Ukrainian question,” with the influence of Vladimir Lenin being a decisive factor, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party had a well-defined position: recognize the right of the Ukrainian people to create their own independent state. However, the party that proclaimed itself to be the most pro-Ukrainian, that is, the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' Party, limited itself to claiming Ukraine's autonomy among its slogans, as it was part of Russia.

 

Unfortunately, within the Leninist party (Russian Social Democratic Labor Party) it turned out that there was a cross-section of activists who expressed their internationalist approach only in words, but in practice had strong rudiments of Russian imperialist chauvinism embedded in their subconsciousness. Joseph Stalin progressively became the informal leader of that political faction. This chauvinistic approach of Stalin was already glimpsed at the time of the preparation of the Constitution of the USSR in the year 1924. As a counterweight to the position of Lenin and Trotsky, Stalin had tried to introduce into the Constitution of the USSR the principle of “autonomies.” In other words, instead of having a full and equitable federal union of Soviet republics, what Stalin proposed was to annex all those republics to Russia as its “autonomies.” Lenin and Trotsky completely discarded that Stalinist attempt at a “second edition” of the Russian Empire and the Constitution of 1924 finally turned out to be democratic and reinforced in the body of its text the federative principle of the Union of Soviet Republics, preserving free and full right of exodus from the Soviet federation, if so desired.

 

However, after Lenin’s death and the defeat of Trotsky's Left Opposition, Stalin's political faction began to gradually reduce the rights of the Soviet republics, concentrating more and more levers of power and leadership in Moscow. Unfortunately, in the mid-1920s Leon Trotsky and his Left opposition failed to establish a close alliance with the communists of those Soviet republics who were in opposition to Stalin's centralist policy. This shortcoming cost all anti-Stalinist forces within the Party dearly. Practically all the communists in the Soviet republics who had the courage to fight against Stalin's chauvinist policy were repressed and shot during the 1930s. To make matters worse, Stalin had invented a treacherous deceitful term for them: “national-communists.” Despite this, they were the ones who precisely acted as the authentic internationalists, fighting against the revival of national oppression and against inequality among the Soviet republics of the USSR.

 

Stalin's bureaucratic counter-revolution could not but penetrate all spheres of life of the Soviet state. Its revelation was beyond evident in regard to the issue of national self-determination, which remains a very sensitive issue for Ukraine. Not understanding this question or, worse, turning a blind eye to it, means breaking the ties to the Marxist emancipatory tradition that supports both the class-social struggle of the proletariat and all the policies and practices that accompany it, including the struggle of national liberation of the peoples.

 

For us it is clear on which side the members of the pseudo-Trotskyist sect, racist instigators of the ICFI, stand. No matter how many attempts these people make to put on a Trotskyist mask, their Stalinist face is exposed, as is their open support for the Russian imperialist spirit of Putin and company. Both characteristics give them away, tearing away their “Trotskyist” façade.

 

As already indicated above, the authors of that ICFI text accuse Oleg Vernik and the ISL in general of supporting Ukrainian nationalism, repeating Putin's narrative. We fully understand that these Putinist instigators are prepared to incriminate all Marxists who show support for the resistance of the lower class of Ukrainian society against the aggression of Russian imperialism. However, here the relationship that revolutionary Marxism has with all forms and manifestations of a phenomenon such as “nationalism” remains very relevant. This question is especially relevant in those countries that recently became independent and reached their fullness as a state (such as Ireland, the countries of the former USSR that emerged as a result of the restoration of capitalism and the disintegration of a single state, among other examples). This also concerns those regions of the world where the processes of the national liberationist struggle continue to this day (Palestine, Catalonia, Western Sahara, Basque Country, etc.).

 

It should be remembered that in his 1922 work called “The question of nationalities or ‘autonomization’” Lenin wrote the following: “an abstract presentation of the question of nationalism in general is of no use at all. A distinction must necessarily be made between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation, the nationalism of a big nation and that of a small nation. In respect of the second kind of nationalism we, nationals of a big nation, have nearly always been guilty, in historic practice, of an infinite number of cases of violence.”

 

In the same work he mentions: “nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice; ‘offended’ nationals are not sensitive to anything so much as to the feeling of equality and the violation of this equality.

 

Obviously, any nationalism enters into a contradiction in the face of proletarian internationalism and any nationalism is a limiting factor in the development of the world revolutionary process. However, Lenin justly proposed that we make a distinction between the different types of “nationalism” within our Marxist analysis. And if the nationalism of the imperialist and oppressive nations is always reactionary and points against the working class, the "nationalism" of the peoples who fight for their national freedom, although it does not coincide with our Marxist vision linked to proletarian internationalism, deserves at least that its causes of creation and the logic of its development be understood.

 

Here we should emphasize the fact that it was precisely Stalin and his imperialist policy carried out in Soviet Ukraine that made right-wing Ukrainian nationalism triumph in Western Ukraine in the second half of the 1930s. Even in the 1920s the most popular party in that region was the Communist Party of Western Ukraine. Precisely this political force was considered by the Ukrainian working people as the vanguard of their struggle of national liberation against the yoke of the Poles. By the end of the 1930s that party was practically destroyed by the Stalinists. A Ukrainian proverb says: “a sacred place will never be unoccupied”. Who would fill that void left in the political field of western Ukraine after the crimes of Stalinism were committed? Evidently, that vacant post was filled by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Do the authors of the ICFI know what are the real causes of this transformation in the moods and the causes of political support for the right-wing forces by the population of Western Ukraine in the 1930s? Yes, of course they know, but they prefer to ignore the obvious facts as they are affected by a fit of Stalinist rage and by their desire to serve Putin’s regime.

 

As mentioned above, in the history of the right-wing political formation of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, there were endless transformations, cracks, radical changes in its slogans, certain inclinations to the left and to the right, cooperation with Hitler and the war on two fronts, among many other events. To this we must add the creation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in 1943 and the massive entry to that organization in 1939 of the communists of western Ukraine that miraculously escaped total extermination by the Stalinist regime. All of this forms part of Ukraine's history that is often characterized as extremely complex, controversial and ambiguous. However, this history should not be used in any context as a kind of universal anti-Ukrainian propaganda in the hands of the rogue Stalinist instigators and imperialist Putin collaborators who emerged from the so-called ICFI sect.

 

I am convinced that this article of mine has only dealt with a small part of the problem of the history of Ukraine that is so relevant for all of us. However, this text could further the development and deepening of Marxist research on the Ukrainian question, the history of the development of Ukrainian Marxism and its role in the national liberation struggle of the working class.

 

Oleg VERNYK

June, 2022

 

 

 

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РАЗДЕЛ: Новости мира
ТЕГИ: Ленин,Полтава,Сталин,Степан Бандера,Троцкий,троцкизм,бандеровцы,Владимир Ленин
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