Tag Archives: capitalism

TRANSCRIPT: The High Road of the Highlands (Interview with David Griffith of the Socialist Party of England and Wales)

The Last Defense
Interview with David Griffith
Correspondent: Haneul Na’av
21 Oct. 2014

http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/
https://coventrysocialists.wordpress.com/
@Socialist_party

We have the pleasure of speaking to Dave Griffith, Regional Coordinator for the West Midlands of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, and discuss the significance and results of the Scottish referendum to secede from the UK. Using a Marxist perspective, we cover the history of Scotland leading up to the referendum, the demographics of the YES/NO camps, and future of establishing a Socialist International through states determined to break away from neoliberal entanglements in the global political stage. You can listen to the original interview HERE.

HANEUL: Can you tell us about yourself, your role in the organization and why you supported the referendum?

DAVID: I’ve been in the Socialist Party, formerly known as the Militant Tendancy in the Labour Party, for many years, and especially with events in Scotland when we had the All Britain anti-poll tax campaign. I was involved in the Militant when the miner’s strike occurred and workers challenged Margaret Thatcher. We’ve continued to establish a party of working people to stand up for our rights because we have many establishment parties singing off the same hinge i.e. the global free market, and labour being driven down all the time.

HANEUL: One reason why I met you guys was because of your principles, and I really appreciate that. As we say, “keep fighting the good fight”. We see lots of parallels between issues happening in Britain and the US, so it’s important to have a moment of solidarity between the two.

HANEUL: What are some of the primary, unresolved conflicts between Scotland and Westminster, which led to a desire for a referendum?

DAVID: There was a feeling of a deficit in Scotland. 30 years ago, no one could imagine that Scotland would come close to separating from the United Kingdom. Why does that happen? We saw the vote for independence go from 24 – 45% during this referendum, worker’s strongholds voting “yes”, and really, people in Scotland only voted “no” under a tsunami of threats and the SNP’s inability to respond to attacks from Westminster. They said, “the SNP offered more austerity, stay in NATO, keep the Queen, keep the Pound”, and offered lower “cooperation” taxes; a sort of race to the bottom, which was no different from the Westminster free market. Those threats were just about enough to get a “no” vote, but it was [still] an incredible development in Scotland.

Ordinary people are often accused of apathy, but we saw an incredibly energized movement in Scotland—85% voter turnout, which is a record, and the radicalization of tens of thousands of people, and they won’t be going back into their box. People have had enough of austerity, living standards being pushed down, and there was a feeling that, by voting “yes”, they might be able to relieve those problems.

The background of the 80s and 90s is particularly important to this… do you want me to explain that?

HANEUL: Yeah, sure!

DAVID: The vote that took place wasn’t due to nationalism, but a class rejection of the establishment parties down in Westminster. The Tories already had very little support in Scotland, but also Labour, where we saw Labour voters voting “yes” go from 80 – 40 %. Labour failed to resist the Tories on top of very little confidence amongst the working people that Labour could win an election, or, if it did, it would do anything different from the Tories. In the 50s, in Scotland, there was a Tory majority; now I think there’s only one Tory MP in the whole country. That comes from the post-War boom, standards of living, and everyone thought that the next generation would be better off. That was taken as the norm, and now we know that all the gains made post-WWII are under attack, but conversely, an increased strength of the organized working class, which people thought would help improve their lives.

The SNP, known as the “Tartan Tories” in the 70s, was very small, but in the 80s and 90s, under the Thatcher government, we saw massive unemployment being unleashed as a weapon against organized working people, attacks on the miners of the miner’s strike and closure of pits, and the hated poll tax, which we were so proud to help defeat. By the late 80s, there was not a single Tory MP in the whole of Scotland, and yet, they were still [active].

On the poll tax, which was a Robin Hood in reverse tax where the rich paid less and the poor paid more, Scotland was actually given it a year before England and Wales, so you can imagine how that was like scratching an open wound, and must have seemed like foreign rule. When we saw the collapse of Stalinist states in Eastern Europe, the Labour Party moved further right, not only in Britain but also internationally, and in trade unions, and this created the space that the SNP tried to fill as a soft, social-democratic, reforming party. There was also space for a strong, left, working class party in Scottish Militant labour, which was polling at 30 – 40 % in some council elections in Glasgow, but in the absence of a fighting, working class alternative, because Labour wasn’t offering it anymore. People in Scotland were getting more cheesed off with the rotten political establishment in London and austerity, so the idea of national independence more attractive as a way out.

HANEUL: We recently discussed national security, [as] the TRIDENT program and nuclear weapons [became] a focal point of future elections, and Scotland could use its money for other things like its future, autonomy, pensions, and retirement. However, during and after the independence vote, we saw a lot of reactionary statements in the newspapers. Could you tell me about some of those?

DAVID: You’re right in that nuclear missiles are based in Scotland, and the money used on that could go to improving Scottish people’s lives, and Westminster ignores people on such issues. The big driver is the incredible gap between the rich and poor—all of the wealth goes to the top, and all of the misery pours down to the bottom. Health services and standard of living became the dominant narrative. Even the media saw what we call a “working class agenda” come to the surface. That was the dominant issue in people’s minds and what they sought to achieve with a “yes” vote, with little confidence in the political establishment or the system. It was the month that the Scots shook the establishment.

Prime Minister Cameron gambled on a “yes” or “no” referendum and refused to offer more powers to the Scottish parliament that would give people more of a say. People grabbed hold of the referendum as a way to hit back. They looked for a way to change things, and the establishment responded in three ways: there was Project Fear, which was relatively light, and it was, “If you vote yes, all the banks are going to move out of Scotland and go somewhere else, you’ll have no work, you’re Mickey Mouse, you’re not a real country, etc. That gentle drip of Project Fear, where they thought they would get a “no” vote easily, suddenly went into Project Panic when an opinion poll gave 51% to a “yes” vote in the referendum.

[Afterwards], we saw a deluge of politicians pouring up to Scotland, and the Scottish people thought, “Well, we never see you. Now you’re interested. Now we’re threatening to do something”. Cameron went on television to say, “This is an important referendum to the United Kingdom, and not about whether or not you want to get rid of the F-ing Tories”. That was a very interesting comment because it indicated that, “we know we’re unpopular, but don’t vote against us,” but the fact that he said “F-ing Tories”… he wouldn’t have said that anywhere else, and it reflected the Westminster attitude that Scots were a bunch of swearing ruffians who don’t understand anything, which was naked class prejudice. We had Gordon Brown, the former leader of the Labour Party, go up to Scotland for the first time in 20-30 years and mention Karl Marx in an attempt to pull working class people back to the “no” vote.

They suddenly offered devo-max: We’ll offer you these powers if you don’t vote “yes”. A hundred Labour MPs went to Glasgow and walked the streets to much abuse from local people. They even flew the Scottish flag over Parliament. When that didn’t work, they moved from Project Fear to Project Terror. If you took an excerpt from the news bulletins, it was a snowstorm or blitzkrieg of threats to everyone’s jobs and fears, and the SNP (a pro-market party just like Westminster) couldn’t really answer [them], and that’s probably what lead to that narrow margin for “no”, because people were just a bit worried. Will I have a future or work, if all of this Hell and damnation is unleashed onto Scotland for having the temerity to run our own affairs?

HANEUL: You mentioned who was worried about the results. We had the “yes” and “no” camps; people that voted “no” were from the upper class and people with pensions, and they were afraid of losing [them]. Can you give me more information about those two groups?

DAVID: Amongst working people, initially, there’s been quite a division, that’s true, but the more the Loyalists have their staunch “no” vote, it appeared that all of the establishment were saying “no”, and that Scots were inferior and couldn’t be a nation—it created such a reaction amongst Scottish people that many said, “Who do you think you’re bullying?!” That did open things up for people to vote “yes”, but, in order to do so, the needed to be convinced of an economic plan that would work for them, something the SNP didn’t have, and we believe only a socialist argument could answer that problem. There was also a campaign for a “yes” vote in the SNP, but not everyone was behind it. What was striking was the grassroots rebellion from ordinary working people that going to a meeting wasn’t something bad to do. Hope over Fear, which was a tour organized by socialists in Scotland, which included people like Tommy Sheriden… 30,000 people attended their public meetings in the run-up to the referendum.

For anyone that knows politics, getting people to meetings hasn’t been easy in these last few years, because people might agree with you, but they don’t [know if] you’re actually going to change what’s happening. “Hope over Fear” put a left and socialist case for tens of thousands of people, and there were many other forums with an incredible energizing of the population involving debate and discussion about the way forward for Scotland, which has continued even now. Tens of thousands have joined political parties—not Labour or Tory, or Liberal—and in Scotland, as they try to grope around for a way forward, thousands and thousands of people in trade unions have demanded to leave them because they supported “no”, and even people that were neutral left for the same reason.

If “yes” had won, Labour and Tory would have lost the lead, and there would have been a split and political chaos in the establishment. Even today, there’s incredible room for a working party of people to emerge in Scotland. In Ireland on Saturday, the Socialists, through the Anti-Austerity Alliance, won their third MP in the Irish Parliament in a by-election coming from way behind to win, and that’s because of their opposition to water charges, and that shows that organized working people can offer alternatives to what’s been put up by the Establishment, and that should give a lot of people hope for the future.

HANEUL: Congrats to them! We’ll see more and more people occupying. One of the groups I wanted to contact was the Syriza Party—the equivalent in Greece, who have gained more seats in the Hellenic Parliament. It would be great if we could create a bridge between the two groups.

DAVID: It’s interesting what you mention about Syriza, because a BBC commentator, shortly after the election, said, “There is huge space for a Syriza-type development in Scotland. What we’re doing is urging the trade unions, organizing working people—Socialists—in Scotland to seize that opportunity, not to tail-end the SNP, but to offer a working class Socialist alternative, because really, the only way you’ll own real independence is if you own the economy. The key question about who owns the economy will be the debate that emerges in Scotland.

If there had been a “yes” vote, imagine the position that the SNP would have been in. They would run the country and, under the demands of the markets, force more austerity on the population of Scotland. It would have opened huge space to the Left, because Labour and Tory, increasingly rejected in Scotland, the SNP, looking just like the other parties, would leave the space for a Socialist alternative, and it still is.

HANEUL: This has opened up an international powder keg. After the referendum had taken place, even though there was a “no” vote, we see other countries opening up. Unfortunately, Catalonia decided to have only a symbolic vote, but more people are breaking away from the old narrative in the UK. We had Scotland in Europe, Catalonia in Spain, and Venice in Italy, trying to break away and have their own independence referendums. Can you tell, from a Marxist perspective, how this is going to create internationalism, where new groups can create their own socialist alternatives?

DAVID: Socialists are internationalists. We want to see the global economy brought under control to benefit everyone and take decisions that the free market clearly can’t do—about measures to protect our environment… immigration is another big issue, which is based on poverty and war that the current system brings. You wouldn’t have problem if you had a balanced world economy, so, as Socialists, we want to unite the globe for the benefit of all and not just a few corporations that are trying to unite the world by forcing their will on people. It would seem almost contradictory to just support the national rights of just one country. We want to unite the world economy and put as much power as possible in localized units so that people have democratic control over how its economy and resources are used.

The second interesting point is, in most modern capitalist nation-states—and don’t forget, half the world doesn’t [currently] have real nation-states, like Iraq—they were a product of economic development, creating greater units for better efficiency for human progress. In other words, Marx explained that Capitalism played a bigger role, took away a lot of [narrow-minded] localism and created economic development based on bigger units. In the nations like Great Britain, that creation of “one market, one nation-state” benefited the economy overall.

We’re not seeing this in liberation struggles in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia against imperial domination, but national rebellions against remote political establishments. The real truth is that, most of these political establishments don’t have real power, because economic power is under control of boardrooms and financiers, so the real frustrations should be against them. People feel that they can’t get what they want and they’re looking for ways to get it. We’ve seen that in Scotland, in Belgium, in the former Yugoslavia, in Eastern Europe, and in Catalonia. In Ireland, we saw an unresolved national question. Under capitalist progress, we saw the unifying of nation-states, and the fact that they’re in danger of breaking up and fraying at the edges is a clear sign that the capitalist system is not progressing, and people have less confidence in the system and are looking at other ways to improve their living conditions.

Now, just creating a load of mini-states will not solve economic problems, and we would argue that, unless we can own the resources, plan, and direct them to improve living conditions, i.e. Britain producing enough flaming houses or jobs for people, then the policies that any regional or nation-states adopt won’t work. However, I think that this has been accelerated in Europe, that you have a very remote EU that takes decisions well above national governments, and people want to bring power back home in order to protect themselves. If the system is going to remain in the economic doldrums, which we think is a Japanese-style recovery where there’s a slump, and just bumping along the bottom with very little economic growth… if that’s going to happen, this pressure on nation-states for social change is going to grow. As Socialists, we recognize the people’s right to self-determination, but we also urge working together in federations. In Scotland, our position was very clear: vote “yes” and fight for socialism and a Socialist Federation in Britain. That’s how we wanted to progress. In Scotland, there were two different phrases–We’re for two forms of independence. We want an independent Scotland as a step to Socialism in Britain, and then, into Europe and around the world. The other form of independence was working class organizations from big business and other pro-market policies from the SNP.

HANEUL: One thing that you mentioned, about Japanese-style economics, [is that] everything is gearing towards this post-Keynesian system, is centrally planned, going through central banks and institutions like the IMF and World Bank, and each countries respective, but privately owned [national] bank. Speaking of Japan, China and Korea [and] living in East Asia for a while, Japan has had such a slump because they’re experiencing what people call “Abenomics”, where they just keep printing money and hope that nothing collapses. Meanwhile, they’re funding this military industrial complex that works in favor of the [American] Asia pivot, so they’re basically being used as an outpost for the United States. As China grows in power, and they use a Marxist-Leninist model to grow their economy, they have become the largest economy in purchase power parity (PPP). They have been able to make these steps, [which] is scaring a lot of people because they can assert their independence and claim to regional waters and territories. Other countries, when they start making their own economic models, they can branch off and do their own thing. Scotland could take control of the oil reserves in the [North] sea, the same way that Norway and Sweden do with theirs.

HANEUL: I wanted to ask you, if they had succeeded in [independence] from the UK, what long term benefits would have happened, and what would it have meant for the Scottish people?

DAVID: That’s an interesting question, because it comes back to whether or not you’re going to plan the economy, or let the free market go. We’ve seen the effects of the free market in the biggest slump we’ve seen in over 100 years, and we’re not recovering from that. Japan has suffered from deflation on and off for the last 20 years, and [that] appears to be the direction of Europe and other parts of the world, offering nothing other than increasingly slave-like labour, no conditions, reducing worker’s holidays and rights, creating a vulnerable work force, etc, and falling living standards, people unable to buy houses. We see more people going hungry around the world. This system can’t provide the basics of life for the majority, so an independent Scotland, despite the talk of oil—there’s no magic bullet—a capitalist market would fair no better than it is at the moment. Corporations would take their oil reserves, make great profits, and money would flow to the top, while, at the bottom, you’re told to work for less. As you correctly say, if you take the global situation, look at the rearming of countries around South Asia, and the United States shifting more of its military efforts to the Pacific, and in the Atlantic to NATO.

We’re seeing some of the processes, where individual countries are protecting their national interests against other countries, causing conditions driven by markets and the production of goods that we saw up to the development of WWI, as the mighty powers unleashed a global conflict that took millions of working people’s lives. We don’t see any future in the free market, and it would have been selling the people of Scotland a dangerous illusion if they remained as a capitalist market, where, in reality, the people that run it, dictating to countries, wouldn’t have improved their conditions. That is a key point for a socialist Scotland.

If you look at the other countries in Asia and say that China is using a Marxist-Leninist model, we would argue with that. They have let the free market rip, that it is headed towards a shadow market and housing bubble, and once we see problems in these economies, then we will see such proxies and mini-conflicts; a dangerous future. In the plan to lift people out of poverty without ruining the environment, which should be planned globally, at a local level, so that people were not putting an “X” in a ballot box every 5 years for whichever robber party decides to rule, but are actually participating in the running of all aspects of society to everyone’s advantage.

HANEUL: Good points, and we see points of contention people have with the government, as there’s a low glass ceiling for advancement…

DAVID: If you’re in the political elite, you can make a fortune living in China, but at the bottom, workers have their rights repressed, but there have been many strikes recently, so we could see the rise of China’s working class in the future.

HANEUL: Some issues happened related to pollution in southeastern China, and because many people were upset about that, the government had to respond. They are still, in essence, a collection of different organizations and parties. They have allowed the free market to improve people’s standards of living, but there is conflict between the central government and the free market, similar to what happened to [the USSR] shortly before its collapse and the rise of its oligarchs.

DAVID: Robber barons from the old feudal days—the ones that used to collect all of the wealth and were the basis for capitalism. They offered a lot of their capital in exchange for cheap labour, which helped to stimulate the economy for a whole period, and China is still a motor in the world economy, but the internal contradictions—the removal of people off the land, the pollution, poor wages and savage conditions of many working people—that will lead to the growth of organized working people fighting for their share. When there are billionaires at the top of the Chinese Communist Party, who control some of these industries, people aren’t going to put up with it, and we’re seeing in Ukraine what it can lead to—different oligarchs fighting about who’s going to dominate Ukraine and using nation-states as their armed forces.

HANEUL: You know what’s funny about that? Igor Kolomoisky, who was one of the governors of the [Dnipropetrovsk] provinces of Ukraine, led a campaign against the people who are now the Donetsk People’s Republic, and they nationalized his resources, so all of his billions of dollars have been seized and used as an asset to build the Donbass. [Laughs] He got what was coming to him.

DAVID: If only they all did!

HANEUL: We’ll see what happens to the future of Novorossiya… I hope that they can make it and solidify everything happening there. They’re still fighting in the Donetsk airport a lot, but most of the ceasefire is holding. Speaking of which, how could an independent Scotland keep these capitalist influences from taking over?

DAVID: Clearly, international markets continue their organized robbery of working people and destabilize markets. The world’s wealth and shares have been plummeting for the last 20-30 years, which has led some capitalists countries to say, “My God, we’re not paying the workers enough!” That’s why Monetarists and Keynesian capitalist economists continue to debate.

So, let’s assume that Scotland gained full independence… they would face, like the Russian Revolution, huge hostility from the free market around the world. The only way to defend that democracy would be to take full control of the country so it could benefit everyone, and a socialist Scotland should be a beacon to create a socialist England and Wales, like a Socialist Federation of Countries of the Former Great Britain, but also France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece could join this Federation. You mentioned Sweden and Norway using their resources, and taking a bigger share of it in their country, but in Sweden, they’re privatizing education, attacking living standards, so we would like to make an appeal: Remember in the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx said, “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” A movement in Scotland or anywhere else has to spread around the world in order to save humanity from the current economic situation.

HANEUL: Like what we were talking about previously, the conflict between Trotsky and Stalin, is that you can’t have Socialism in one state. You need a strong bulwark of support from the international community, and hopefully we will see these types of things happen in the future.

Between two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Age

From Wikipedia:

In his 1970 piece Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, Brzezinski argued that a coordinated policy among developed nations was necessary in order to counter global instability erupting from increasing economic inequality. Out of this thesis, Brzezinski co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller, serving as director from 1973 to 1976. The Trilateral Commission is a group of prominent political and business leaders and academics primarily from the United States, Western Europe and Japan. Its purpose was to strengthen relations among the three most industrially advanced regions of the capitalist world. Brzezinski selected Georgia governor Jimmy Carter as a member.

Between two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Age

Episode 24: Red Star vs. Brown Shirt (Interview with Sergey Kirichuk of the Borotba Party)

The Last Defense: Interview with Sergey Kirichuk of the Borotba Party
By Haneul Na’avi and Michael Bielawski
31 March 2014 | borotba.org

The following is a transcript of our interview with Sergey Kirichuk of the Borotba Party, a left-wing, antifascist Ukrainian political party fighting for the solidarity of Ukrainians. We discuss the oligarchic forces and right-wing groups operating in Kyiv such as Svoboda, Euromaidan, and Right Sector, go over the players and pawns of the current Ukrainian Parliament (Rada), and discuss the possible outcomes of the crisis. You can listen to the full interview here.

HANEUL: Sergey, can go ahead and tell us a little about yourself, what you do with your organization, and please further elaborate?

SERGEY: Yeah, the Borotba movement is a young political movement. We have been operating for three years in Ukraine and we started our activities from the unifying of many left-wing groups and common people in Ukraine that are fighting against capitalism and oligarchy. Ukraine is a country totally controlled by a few rich families that we used to call oligarchs, and they are doing whatever they want—changing political parties and regimes, and when we have some kind of election here, we have everything under the control of a few families. So, fighting this system is one of our aims and we are trying to do our best to change the political situation in Ukraine. Actually, we are just a left-wing political movement.

HANEUL: You say [the organization] is basically aligned with Communist values and principles, and you’re trying to form international partnerships and friendships with other people, regardless of race and gender, and you’re trying to get rid of the fascist element, or at least to expose it. Now, according to your website, Borotba.org, can you please give us a definition of what you think fascism is, in the eyes of Ukrainians as well as in Europe?

SERGEY: What we have here in Ukraine, and all over Eastern and Western Europe; we have political change. We don’t have traditional fascist movements anymore. We have so-called new far-right movements. That means these people have changed [throughout] history and now they are trying to use more Populism. They are talking more about the problems of common people; about working class people. So, you see, when you use some symbols of Adolf Hitler or German Nazis, or Benito Mussolini and his fascist party, you will not be successful, of course. That means that you should find some other forms and they are finding these forms in Ukraine, especially. They are trying to be very bourgeois; they are trying to be a part of the Ukrainian political establishment. So, Ukrainian fascist have two kinds: One is a kind of bourgeois fascist that is represented in Ukrainian parliament and in [the] Ukrainian government, and the other kind is street fascism, which are in military clothes patrolling our streets, and they are really angry. They are not under somebody’s control, and they are really aggressive and really dangerous.

 

HANEUL: Wow, that’s an interesting portrait of what’s going on there. Which of those would you say is bourgeois? Is it Svoboda?

SERGEY: It’s Svoboda; it was a very small political party in the West of Ukraine. Their name was [formally] the Social-Nationalist Party of Ukraine. It was like saying “hello” to Hitler’s National-Socialist Party, but they understood they couldn’t move forward with the old name, so they changed [it] to Svoboda, which means “Freedom” in English. They were supported by some groups and the bourgeois government because the Ukrainian government [and] administration of Yanukovich [were] trying to use fascists to fight their political enemies. For example, you know that in Ukraine, one of the most popular politicians was Julia Tymoshenko. She was a really corrupt politician, but at the same time, she was quite popular, so, Yanukovich and his team used Svoboda in order to attack [her]. They made some good financial donations to Svoboda, and within a few years, they [went] from [being] the small fascist party in the West of Ukraine [to becoming] a big parliamentary political party. I should explain that Ukraine is a very nationalistic country. When the Soviet Union crashed and we had a big social disaster here in Ukraine, it was [the] intention and willingness of people to fight capitalism because it didn’t give anything good to people, and [all of the] Ukrainian oligarchy, new businessmen, new rich people began to use nationalistic ideology to prevent the country from returning to the “Red Past”. We’ve had nationalistic propaganda for 20 years through media, in school, and we have good financial support to fascist movements. These two conditions made possible for fascists to be in the Ukrainian parliament.

HANEUL: Mike, what would you like to ask or add?

MICHAEL: Well, for any of these groups that you guys are working against, do you think that there are any outside influences, or is it entirely internal within the country? For example, people accuse the United States intelligence, CIA, etc., or British Intelligence for meddling in other countries affairs, especially groups that aren’t in the natives best interests. Do you think that any of that is playing into the groups of Ukraine?

SERGEY: I should explain from the very beginning that we are not fighting fascists. It’s not our main goal. Our main goal is [the] Ukrainian oligarchy and Ukrainian ruling class, because Ukrainian fascists are only a symptom of this disease called capitalistic development. Actually, they are only one of the problems in Ukraine because we have a huge number of problems connected to corruption, poverty, and far-right movements. This big unemployment, this poverty in Ukraine, they are not creating a good basis of development, [but] of these fascist neo-Nazi movements. So, our main enemy is the ruling class. Of course, we are attacked every time by fascists, but we should understand that they are only some part, some guard of the ruling class. If we are talking about these paramilitarists that are acting now in Ukraine, I don’t have any evidence that the CIA or British Secret Services are cooperating with them, but we know that some of their gangsters were training in Latvia and they had some military bases in the Baltic countries. That means that they [were] prepared by somebody. I don’t know by whom, but we can imagine that the US government was very active in Ukrainian issues because Western diplomats have declared that they had spent five billion dollars [on] the development of democracy in Ukraine, but we don’t have any idea of how this money had been spent, or what they paid for, but five billion dollars had been invested for the last 10 years to different political groups. We are really disappointed about this strong Western influence because they are not condemning far-right groups. They are not concerned about growing far-rights. They didn’t see any problems with this, so I think that Western countries have a lot of influence in the Ukrainian situation.

HANEUL: We wanted to mention also there were talks between the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and the EU Foreign Affairs Representative Catherine Ashton, and they both declared at one point that Euromaidan had financed the snipers at the time of the ousting of Yanukovich, but we also noticed some of the Euromaidan leaders were actually working with people like John McCain. They had been seen in speeches. Can you tell us, who are some of the main people that are some of the fascist or oligarchic elements that are currently running parliament, and what were their roles in the attacks of the initial protests that lead to Yanukovich fleeing the country?

SERGEY: You would not believe that Right Sector was created by the administration of Yanukovich. They created this part of the protests in order to show fascist participation there, so they took radical fascist groups in order to show that all of the protests were far-right, and they thought that people would be disappointed when they saw all of the fascist elements in Kyiv and Euromaidan, but people were so angry at the administration of Yanukovich that they followed and supported Right Sector, and when Yanukovich ran away from the country, Right Sector became a powerful political force. This is really big problem, and now the leader of Right Sector—his name is [Dmitry] Yarosh—he is trying to be the president of Ukraine, and he will participate in presidential elections. I have no idea how many votes he will get, but nevertheless, participation of far-right leaders is a very, very bad mark for Ukrainian policy. It’s like, in Germany, Andy Peewood participating in Presidential and parliament elections.

MICHAEL: I have a question. What is an example of a policy from far-right people that specifically isn’t good for the Ukrainian people?

SERGEY: The main idea of the far-right is a national, corporate state. They are against trade union and the Russian language. You know that Ukraine is separated into two big divisions. Half of Ukraine speaks Ukrainian and the other half speaks Russian. They are against Russian language. They are against feminism, women’s rights. They are very homophobic, so in this [their] internal policy, they are trying to be very traditional, right-oriented politicians.

HANEUL: And you know what’s funny about that, I wanted to mention, is that when you find financial backing by Western powers, they tend to support neoconservative groups like Svoboda and Right Sector, but also, in other parts of the world, you have al-Nursra in Syria, you have al-Qaeda factions around the world, al-Shabaab in Somalia, and the funny thing about it is, they always give backing to these ultraconservative groups of people. Like, just recently, Barack Obama has decided to rekindle ties with King Abdullah of the Saudi Arabia kingdom.

SERGEY: Yeah, sure. You see that this is big chain. We are not surprised about this Western policy because Ukraine is a big part of a big chain. You know what they’re doing in Syria, in Ukraine, in Venezuela, in Thailand; it is the same. They are supporting ultraconservative governments. You can see that all of these governments—Bashar al-Assad, Victor Yanukovich—they are not really progressive. They are not very democratic governments, but they, more or less, they are Western-oriented, they are not anti-imperialists. They are very common politicians that are trying to be in some way useful to their countries. So, you see, Yanukovich was a very pro-Western politician. He was guilty only of his willingness to minimize all of these conditions of free-trade zones with the EU. That was his only problem. He was not a socialist. He was not anti-imperialist. He was dreaming about how he could be in the Western establishment. So, this support of ultraconservative forces is one of the foundations for US foreign policy.

HANEUL: Yeah, it’s absurd. It’s amazing, and it goes all across the board, all across the world. Now Mike, did you want to ask any questions?

MICHAEL: Yeah, well we’ve spoken a little about how foreign interests may or may not be influencing politics in Ukraine. Certainly, it’s happening to some degree. Now, Ukraine is kind of stuck, physically and politically, between the interests of Russia and NATO. So, who do you think right now is interfering more positively or negatively with Ukraine’s internal affairs?

SERGEY: Ah, you see, Ukraine is a country with a very dramatic history, and if you could see history since WWI and WWII, you can see that Ukraine was one of the battlefields in both World Wars. Now, we’re on the big battlefield between the Russian and Chinese blocs, and the Western blocs. We are on the frontline, and I don’t think that Western influence can have any positive influence on Ukrainian policies. At the same time, the problem with Russia is that it is not a very progressive regime. Vladimir Putin is quite an interesting politician, but he is not a socialist. He is not really progressive, so people here don’t want to be in one bloc or the other. We have supporters of European integration, people that want to be in NATO and the European Union, and we have some people who are very close economically and mentally to Russia, but we also have a third group that are supporting Ukrainian national independence and our movement is one of those movements who are fighting for Ukrainian independence, that we should not be in any political blocs, but this position is quite hard to be protected, because people understand that we should either be in the EU or in Russia. The other problem is, right now, I’m in the eastern part of Ukraine, and here we have high-tech industrial production. Right now, we are still able to produce airplanes and space rockets, and we are producing equipment for nuclear stations. It is a very high-tech industry and the only markets that can [preserve] our products are Russia, China, and India, and other Eastern countries. You can imagine that the European Union will never [preserve] our airplanes, space rockets, and our nuclear equipment; they are closing high-tech industries in the Eastern countries they get in. So, people here are really afraid of this Western integration, that we will be in the EU free-trade zone, but what will we supply to EU markets? What can we supply? Ukraine is one of the biggest producers of grain, and is the biggest producer of sunflower oil in the world, but these are raw materials [of lesser value], and [by] integrating into the European Union, we are losing our high technologies.

HANEUL: One thing I really wanted to note on was the importance, geopolitically, that Ukraine plays into the entire picture. We have one of Barack Obama’s top foreign policy advisors, [who] is Zbigniew Brzezinski. One of the things that he said, 20 years ago—he talked about this particular quote: “Russia can be neither an empire nor a democracy, but it cannot be both. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine, suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” So, he’s talking specifically about one of the two things. The first is the natural gas pipelines that go through Crimea as well as the Southern parts of Ukraine, [and] additionally, that brings NATO to the doorstep of Moscow, which also plays an even stronger geopolitical role, as we know there are also missile defense systems in place in Poland, and they were trying at one point to get them into Ukraine. I’m not sure if they actually went through with that. Can you tell me some of the other geopolitical points for the United States if they were to destabilize Ukraine?

SERGEY: It was one of the dreams of the US administration to create in Ukraine an anti-Russian regime in order to escalate this confrontation with Russia, and Russia is really surrounded from different parts of their borders by US allies. You see Afghanistan is more or less controlled by NATO. Turkey is also a very Western-oriented country and they are controlling the Black Sea, and Russia is very worried about it. Now they are trying to have Ukraine. I think that one of the main reasons for this coup was the close relationship between Ukraine and China, because President Yanukovich, when he was disappointed with these conditions on free trade zones with the EU, he made important steps to make Ukraine closer to China, and China arranged some credit line for Ukraine, and they were ready to invest some money [in] Ukrainian industries and agriculture. I think that one of the reasons for this attack was Ukrainian cooperation with China.

HANEUL: One of the things I wanted to note, Sergey, is that there were talks also, I remember one of our acquaintances Eric Draitser was [saying], about how Turkey recently had a leak, and in it, he was talking about this false-flag event that [Erdogan] wanted to start in Syria. Now, the strategy behind the leak was… one of the things about Erdogan and Turkey was that they were trying to align themselves with the EU, and then they moved back towards the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, because they’re actually an observer state [correction: dialogue partner]. So, in order to get rid of that possibility, they were trying to release the leak. Now his major opponent at this point, I think his name is [correction: Fethullah Gulen], he is more closely tied to the CIA, the United States, and pro-Western powers. So you see how they try to create this shift in balance, this shift in policy, when they don’t find that the current leader complies with the demands of the Western hegemony. What are your opinions on that?

SERGEY: Yeah, I think that Turkey is a very specific country, and that Turkish policy is showing how it is proceeding inside countries that are willing to develop independence, and at the same time, they are under the strong influence of Western countries. I knew Turkey quite well. I visited this country many times, and I can see how much people there are willing to develop independence. They are very anti-imperialistic and want to have a good future for Turkey. At the same time, they have so-called political allies that are closely integrated into the Western establishment. They are trying to control everything. This political life and biography of Erdogan shows how difficult it is for Turkish politicians to be for the West or East. You see in Ukraine, when Russia took the Crimean peninsula, these are 300,000 Tatar people whom are Muslims. They are quite close to Turkey, because, you know, Crimea was the territory of the Ottoman Empire and Tatars are quite friendly to Turkish people, and I think that one of the main problems for Vladimir Putin will be to minimize Turkish influence in the Tatar minorities in Crimean, because it is quite a dangerous issue. They (Turkey) have 15 percent Tatar people, and this also quite interesting issue for your investigations.

HANEUL: Wow, yeah, this is going to play into a very sensitive geopolitical game in the near future. We’ll see what happens. Many of them voted for secession into the Commonwealth of Independent States, or the Russian Federation. Only time will tell what happens as they begin to go back into the Russian system.

MICHAEL: Sure, as we were talking, I was pulling up a couple of headlines here. This one is from Infowars.com, and it says “Ukrainian Junta Concedes to IMF Looting Plan”. This gets back into the West and East fighting for influence, and this is the economic angle. It’s obviously very shaded with the West, NATO and the World Bank, and this article is saying that the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former central banker, is conceding to IMF demands for austerity. Would you agree with that statement?

SERGEY: Yeah, sure. The IMF plan is killing Ukraine, and the funniest thing was that the Ukrainian government [and] the Ukrainian politicians who are on the administration right now were criticizing Yanukovich for his anti-people, anti-social policies. They were criticizing pension and medical reform, but now, when they are in the government, they are proceeding with these reforms, and they are promoting social cuts and austerity measures. They are promoting the IMF plan to kill the Ukrainian social sphere. So, the role of the IMF here is really dramatic.

HANEUL: Yeah, that’s going to be very huge, especially now that they’re passing that in Parliament. Once you privatize everything, it’s going to create chaos and it’s not going to make things any better. It’s this constant cycle of conflict that they create in these countries, for instance, when they wanted to fight Siad Barre in Somalia, and the country collapsed, and there were warlord factions. The same with Libya—a  [relatively] stable country. After the [correction: killing] of Muammar Gaddafi, basically all of the elements within start to fight with each other. It’s going to disrupt what people naturally want. They never seem to do things that work within the interests of the people, working with these IMF bailout packages [and] if they don’t see what’s happening in Spain, Greece, Italy, what’s happening with Cypress as well, with Ireland… these austerity packages don’t do anything. They don’t produce any growth. They don’t help them to innovate. They don’t help to put plans back into the social sphere.

HANEUL: The last question that I’d like to ask you is this. There is a group of people on both sides of the Ukrainian border. We have the Russian troops to the right and in Crimea. We have the Ukrainian troops on the left, and I see some kinds of provocations that are taking place with snipers. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and another injured, and this is bringing tensions of the Cold War to all-time highs. So, what do you think about the possibility of a full-scale war or invasion taking place, and what do you hope we can prevent, or how can we stop this situation?

SERGEY: I hope that war between war Russia and Ukraine is impossible because they’re two big industrial countries, and on the east of Ukraine, they could be occupied or taken by Russia. There are so many industrial plants and there could be a great chemical catastrophe if this war is started. So, I think that we will have this great tension between these countries for many years. It will be very similar to the India and Pakistan conflict, and all of this military hysteria. You see, some people in the Russian establishment—they are interested in these tensions because they want to have some [military] contracts, and this is good business for many people. At the same time with Ukraine, this tension and possibility of war with Russia is a good reason to explain why we are so poor, why we cannot go forward and develop our economy, and to do anything with the social issues, to develop the social sphere. So, Ukrainian and Russian governments are interested in these tensions in order to talk about external problems and are keeping silent about internal problems. It’s really a pity.

HANEUL: It’s a [pitiful] situation. I’ve met a lot of Ukrainians while living in Shanghai. I’ve met them in Seoul. They’re a good people, along with the Russians as well. The funny thing is, people pretty much want the same thing in life. They want to be happy. They want to be free. They want to be secure.

SERGEY: Yeah, right. Sure, and right now, here in Ukraine, we are starting to mobilize against this dictatorship and work for peace, democracy, and solidarity between different peoples, and we are sure we will be successful, because nobody in Ukraine wants to be involved in this war.

HANEUL: Yeah, it’s very true, and as a spokesman for Borotba, can you tell us what you and your organization would like people to do in order to become involved or in order to show support?

SERGEY: Yeah, we are calling people in Ukraine and all over the world to support our efforts to escape this bloody war with Russia, and we are calling people for organization, high consciousness, and discipline, and this is our [collective] action; that is our only weapon, our ideas are our only weapon that we can [use to] fight with this military hysteria and, of course, people in Ukraine are hoping for international solidarity to stop this political and military crisis.

HANEUL: Wonderful, wonderful, and we hope so, too. We hope that everything will be okay in the end. Mike, do you have any final comments?

MIKE: I do have one question from my original list. From both sides, the West and the East, is a false-flag attack going to be at play? And, of course, a false flag attack is when somebody stages an attack on their own people or their own forces, in order to create an incentive for more fighting. Between everything that’s going on in terms of violence and fighting on the ground in Ukraine, do you think that either side, or Ukraine itself, could use such a tactic?

SERGEY: Um, I don’t know, because there are such things that, yesterday, some things are not possible in Ukrainian policy, but now, everything is possible. So, we cannot be sure about anything. Anything could happen here, so, unfortunately, the situation right now is very, very unstable and everything is possible.

HANEUL: In addition, what I had mentioned to people before, with the Orange Revolution of 2004 and with this current uprising taking place in Ukraine, there was CANVAS operating—that was the Center for [Applied] NonViolent Action [and Strategies], and they were basically stoking the fires. One of my associates was talking about how, during this time, they were handing out food and water, and trying to get support. You had people like John McCain, and people from the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, that were also operating in Ukraine, and that was basically a failed coup in 2004, but this one, they seem to be pushing their agenda once again. So, that’s one of the things I would like to see out of the picture so that Ukrainians can get back into healing the country and also, getting involved with one another. Not on this hateful bent that a lot of these far-rights are trying to provoke.

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