Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lugansk communists work to create "fighting left" to confront crisis interview by Greg Butterfield

Workers World interviewed Maxim Chalenko, Secretary of the Communist Party – Lugansk Regional Committee in the Lugansk People’s Republic (LC). Chalenko is a founder of the Forum of Communist, Socialist, Workers’, Environmental and Anti-Fascist Forces. He helped to organize the Donbass International Forum titled "Anti-Fascism, Internationalism, Solidarity" held on May 8 in Alchevsk. This is the second part of the interview.

Maxim Chalenko (top left) with other participants
in the Donbass International Forum.

Workers World: The Donbass International Forum was hosted by the Ghost Brigade anti-fascist militia in Alchevsk. How did that come about?

Maxim Chalenko: Originally, we planned to hold the forum in Lugansk city, but due to the worsening military confrontation and internal political situation, we decided to hold it in Alchevsk, the second largest city in the region. An invitation was extended by Brigade Commander Alexei Mozgovoi, who was ideologically a communist though not a member of the party, and he played an important role. I think the decision was correct; we not only held the forum, but also supported our ideological comrades in Alchevsk. [Mozgovoi and four other Ghost Brigade members were assassinated on May 23.]

WW: What were your impressions of the forum? What was achieved?

MC: One of the main objectives was to consolidate the efforts of leftist and anti-war organizations of the world on the issue of Donbass. This goal must seem very romantic, given current geopolitical realities, but we have already achieved some important steps.

The forum brought together a large number of left-wing organizations that are interested in the situation of the anti-fascist resistance in the Donbass. Generally, our situation is quite unusual, and I’m aware of the many contradictions and disputes among leftists around the world in relation to our assessment of events, and most importantly, how communists, internationalists and anti-fascists should operate in these conditions.

Even during the forum, on a par with the wishes for victories in the struggle against fascism in Ukraine, there were questions about the role of the left in the events in Ukraine and Donbass. What position should we take in a situation where the main question is which side to take in a geopolitical confrontation? The answer is very complex and the opinion of one person or national organization is not enough.

By and large, this was the second key objective of the forum: to begin a dialogue about the role of the left in events spurred by the geopolitical confrontation in southeastern Ukraine.

WW: The forum also announced the creation of an international solidarity committee. What will this body do?

MC: We are working for the creation of an international solidarity movement with Donbass, which we hope will be a platform to define a unified ideological position on the situation in Donbass and the forms and methods of work for left-wing political forces in these conditions.

To that end, we have initiated these projects:

1. Assist in the formation of a Committee for Solidarity with Donbass in every country of Europe and the world.
2. Analysis of the situation in the Donbass, preparation of reports, information, and messages about the social and political environment.
3. Preparation and holding of international seminars, round tables, presentations, conferences and meetings related to the current situation in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics of Donbass.
4. Organization of solidarity actions, like those which took place following the death of Brigade Commander Mozgovoi.
5. Publication of newspapers, pamphlets and books.
6. Struggle against political repression in Ukraine, informational pickets in support of demands to release political prisoners in Ukraine. Creating a list of repressions in Ukraine. Picketing of Ukrainian embassies in Europe. Protest rallies in Kiev.
7. Promoting media that openly and honestly cover the events taking place in Donbass.
8. Creation of online media resources to disseminate accurate information about the situation in the struggling republics.

WW: How do you see the role of communists in Lugansk today?

MC: Today the communists in Lugansk, as well as in Ukraine, are experiencing a serious systemic crisis. We were not prepared for a serious geopolitical confrontation here, could not give an ideological assessment as the events were occurring, or answers on how to proceed.

In fact, this problem is not unique to Lugansk. Here the issues were thrust to the forefront by the acute confrontation and war on our territory. But a similar trend is weakening leftist movements with repression and splits throughout the former Soviet Union. I'm afraid that we may soon witness the failure of the last bastion of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Russia.

It must be understood that the potential for progress envisioned by communists after the collapse of the USSR has already completely exhausted itself. If we do not find adequate answers and develop new ways of working, we will be excluded from the country’s political life for many years to come.

Therefore, in Lugansk, it is necessary to consolidate all communists around a unified organization, and then develop a new strategy and methods of work for its realization. We must search for new social bases for the party among the working class to enhance its capacity and size. And most importantly, develop a clear position on where we are going and what is the role of the left in the modern realities of the young Lugansk and Donetsk republics.

Another important issue is establishing an international left movement that will develop a concept of a fighting left in the new "post-unipolar" world that is today being built by the actions we have actively participated in.

WW: What is your vision for the future of socialism in Donbass?

MC: In many respects, it depends on whether we communists find successful ways of working to ensure the movement of the republics along the path of socialism, rather than something that may appear socialist in form, but is essentially a neoliberal state.

We are developing an organization to unite all supporters of socialism-communism under the name "Union of the Left of Donbass," and to the extent possible, to influence the political development of the republic.

Respect and revolutionary greetings to all comrades!

Democracy and Class Struggle was from the outset a supporter of the right of self determination for the people of Lugansk and Donbass even if we have had some criticisms of the leadership of the movement which needs to break internally  with anti oligarch populism for socialism and move from anti hegemonism to anti - imperialism on the external front.

Our counsel from afar was self reliance as the only way forward and we are pleased to see this has increasingly been the practice of Prizrak (Ghost) brigade.

We like Lenin never believed in a pure socialism of everyone simply lining up on one side and others lining up for the other side for capitalism and the other side for socialism  - real life is never so clear cut - and we welcome Russian Grandma's and Old Believers as part of the struggle for a future for Lugansk and Donbass even as we criticise the ideas of Alexandr Dugin for their absence of the modernity of the 21st Century and casting us back to the fundamentalism of the old believers of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The people of the Donbass are like the people of Wales and they are our class brothers and sisters hewn from the Coal seams and and the Iron and Steel works - a hardy people like our people and that is why we have confidence in their victory has we have in our own. 



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