Thursday 20 August 2020

Cheering State Thuggery in Belarus

The uprising in Belarus stands on a knife's edge. Following huge demonstrations and strike action that has brought industry to a juddering halt, it's looking like the regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko is on its last legs. Popular consent has evaporated following his rigged election, and there has been some drift from the army and security services away from the state and toward the protest movement. Having got shouted down in mass meetings - he should be lucky that's all he's had to deal with - Lukashenko is looking to redouble repressive efforts, with riot police back on the streets rounding people up and administering beatings. By upping state intimidation and violence now, the president is hoping to ward people off from assembling this weekend in the sorts of numbers we saw last Sunday.

On Wednesday, the EU met and agreed to impose targeted sanctions on key regime figures, has resolved to put out a statement of solidarity with the protest while refusing to recognise the disputed election result, and offered its services as mediator between government and opposition to affect a peaceful transfer of power. The Coordination Council, set up by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya in Lithuania following her de facto expulsion after the rigged election leaves a lot to be desired, politically speaking. Initially calling for people to stop protesting, she has pleaded with the EU to back the movement and has agitated for fresh elections. For the EU, and especially the Baltic states and Poland, ever-weary of Russian revanchism, the removal of Lukashenko and his on again, off again love-in with Vladimir Putin for a dependably friendly government would be most welcome - hence its efforts at steering the opposition and, it hopes, the uprising in a pro-EU direction. For those interested in such things, the UK is following the EU line.

In these sorts of situations, sympathy, support, and solidarity goes to those risking life and limb. If Belarusian leftists are on the streets with the movement and fighting the dictatorship, the very least those of us sat comfortably in rich liberal democracies can do is listen to what they say and amplify their voices. Unfortunately, this is not the case among some who style themselves "anti-imperialist". Having seen what happened in Ukraine all those years ago, and Libya before that, in their imaginations the fundamentally open process of revolt has already been closed down. Because the EU are working to take advantage and bring any successor regime into its orbit, this is the inevitable consequence - if not the essential characteristic of the movement already. It leads to the absurd situation of a nationwide movement pigeon holed as reactionary whereas Lukashenko's disgusting gangster regime is more "progressive", and apparently socialist thanks to the still-sizeable presence of state industry. What can you say, some people are easily impressed.

I suppose it's unsurprising. Coming out of a period where revolts and mass movements were infrequent or easily derailed, and preceded by another stamped by the geopolitics of the cold war, so there are those who see mass mobilisations in countries not seen full in with Western governments as creatures of state-led subversion efforts. It's a fundamentally defeatist attitude assuming a priori the standpoint of proletarian passivity and multitudinous calm while according supernatural agency to our states, up to and including turning the repressed citizens of Europe's last dictatorship into their unwitting dupes. Often times these counsellors of despair and apologists for state terror mistake themselves for revolutionaries when, in fact, they're fundamentally conservative. If we're properly guided by a militant political science instead of tankie nostalgics, then no leftist would be in the position of defending a creature like Lukashenko from a popular revolt. And if you can do that there, think about the strange political contortions that might result here. Such as Britain's most prominent admirer of Stalin looking to cut deals with Nigel Farage and now, a scabby alliance with Scottish Tories.

Thankfully, such people are at the margins of the labour movement and the socialist left. They should stay there.

Image Credit


CCAAC said...

How many times will an election result be questioned before we come to the conclusion, let us suspend all elections now and forever and just let the global elite decide who rules?

What is the point of elections in this day and age? No one seems to respect the result of an election, unless of course it goes the way the global elite want it to.

The good thing about this would be that if every nation was ruled by a US puppet regime the old ruling class tactic of playing nations off against each other in a race to the bottom won't wash as nations will wonder why capital isn't being invested in their country given their puppet president is so friendly to the US! Then of course we would see new protests but only this time PhilBC would say fuck all about it!

In this puppet regime world we would clearly see that all foreign policy is supremacist and all the bile being meted out against the migrants in the channel is simply this supremacy being reflected in the opulent masses. We would also then see that the neo liberal fantasy would come into direct conflict with the actual physical realities. Not everyone can live of 11kw of energy and to even imagine a sustainable future the people of the West will have to reduce their energy usage by more than a half, at least.

The sight of Westerners, like PhilBC, pontificating about this brutal regime or that leaves me sick, given he is blogging from the most dangerous fucking place on Earth with the most dangerous values (passive consumption rules ok), the place where the Planet destroyers live, who will let nothing, not even a deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome get in the way of their consumption!

Of course the global elite will pour capital into where it is strategically advantageous, and this only where it will make the best return. If the West can undermine Russia or China they will send capital in that direction, this is a point missed by religious Marxists, i.e. those who quote from Marx...badly, like a fundamentalist quoting from the Bible.

Incidentally the regime in Belarus doesn't seem anywhere near as Thuggish as the chief gangster regime of the USA or Britain for that matter. I might have missed a wikileaks expose but I can't remember Belarusian troops shooing innocent civilians from Helicopters and high fiving each other at the carnage. Did I miss that?

Fuck the West and their bleating.

Phil said...

You see, we even let incoherent and anonymous swearbabies comment on here.

Darrell Kavanagh said...

This is an interesting interview in Jacobin with two Belarus leftists. Not hopeful, because the left is weak, but the only rational action for the left here is to try to inject explicit class politics into the movement.

Lidl_Janus said...

The Stop-the-War types operate from the one essential principle that the West (especially the US) is always wrong, regardless, and whoever opposes them must therefore be in the right. The idea that the opposite of a wrong idea might also be a wrong idea doesn't occur to them, because this would require genuine thought about the world and the context events operate in, rather than mindless adherence to an axiom.

CCAAC said...

Speaking of incoherence PhilBC, can you precisely tell us where your expertise on all things Belarusian springs from, given yo think you are able to post things like this as if you are some sort of authority on the subject?

A guest post from a leftist Belarussian would have been nice, but from you, do me a favour.

Phil said...

Are you an expert on matters Belarusian? For that matter, do we need expertise on everything to have an opinion? Jog on.

Meanwhile, try this. You might learn something.