01 February 2014

An insidious continental trend

Eric Draitser has an insightful article up on CounterPunch, about the rise of fascism in Greece and the Ukraine, and the possibly dangerous ramifications for the rest of the continent. (Many thanks both to John at EifD and the wonderful Ms Barbara-Marie at VfR for the link!) Please do give the entire thing a read; it’s important. But, just to get the gist of it, here are some of the key points:
The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of ultra-nationalist (read fascist) right wing groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense” (UNA-UNSO), and “Trizub”. All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things. In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.

While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets. Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly. The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue. Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.

For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character. In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters. However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge. Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.”


Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation. Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world) – a trend which threatens the very foundations of democracy.


In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it. Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could. If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.

For one thing, let the point be considered fully in its own right. For another, let this be the last that the anti-war, sovereigntist left ever hears of ‘appeasement’ (as if our opposition to wars of aggression against third-rate states with antiquarian arsenals whose geopolitical significance is (at best) regional in importance was ever in the first place somehow morally equivalent to the naivety of Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement). If ever the Eustonites and Jacksonites level that rhetorical cannon our way again, let us point them straight to the plentiful photographs of their beloved war-hero and champion of democracy, Senator John Sidney McCain III embracing the neo-fascist leader of the All-Ukrainian Union ‘Svoboda’, Oleh Tyahnybok. (Or to the photos of Victoria Nuland, Kerry’s Assistant Secretary of State and wife of PNAC mastermind Robert Kagan, handing out snacks to the good little jackboots on their field trips from Galich.) And lastly, let us highlight that the rise of street fascism in Ukraine and Greece is not just a second-world problem, but one which can affect countries such as Britain, France and Germany as well. Svoboda’s most consistent political collaborators, along with Greece’s Golden Dawn, are Hungary’s Salafi-sympathetic Jobbik Party, the BNP, Marine Le Pen’s Front National, and Japan’s uyoku dantai movement. And you can bet that all of them are comparing notes.

So far, the Eustonites and the Jacksonites, for all their vaunted (self-declared) support of democracy and militant opposition to totalitarianism and bigotry, have been the ones who have snivelled and squirmed their way out most shamefully when it has come to speaking up against the fascists in Galich and Kiev. Too attached are they to the idea that Russia is the eternal enemy of all that is good and decent, that they cannot help but ignore the evil lurking at the heart of the Maidan.

Catholic neoconservative George Weigel wrote a cringe-inducingly craven piece in the National Review supporting the rioters (Stalin name-dropped by paragraph three, natch, and without a hint of irony). Nick Cohen tied the Maidan to a ‘human rights’ and pro-LGBT agenda and again advanced the blood libel that those who don’t oppose Russia ‘have blood on their hands’. Three guesses where the Weekly Standard comes down, and the first two don’t count. (Hint: the Maidan rioters show ‘courage and commitment’ and ‘liberal democratic impulses’; while the pro-Yanukovych side is a ‘looming behemoth’ of ‘Soviet order’ with a ‘remote-controlled replica of civic protest’… you get the picture. At least the Weekly Standard was willing to acknowledge the existence of ‘nationalists’ on the Maidan, though they downplayed it as far as possible. At the Weekly Standard you can’t say the ‘f’ word unless you’re talking about Muslims, after all!)

Those who continue to support the Maidan are playing with fire. For all our sakes, let’s hope they don’t end up unleashing an inferno.

On a less gloomy note:
恭喜發財!萬事如意!And a great big 馬年快樂!

Happy Year of the Horse, everyone!

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