From Hammer and Sickle to Tricolor Flag
On December 8, 1991, President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Leonid Kravchuk, and the President of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet Stanislav Shushkevich signed Belovezh Accords to dissolve the Soviet Union. They recognized each other’s independence and created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) instead of the Soviet Union. All soviet republics left the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan being the last to leave on December 16. With Alma-Ata Protocol on December 21, all republics except Georgia and the Baltics joined the Commonwealth of the Independent States. Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of already gutted the Soviet Union, resigned on December 25 and transferred all his powers to Yeltsin, who pressed for his resignation. The same evening, the Soviet Union formally became history when the tricolor flag of the Russian Federation replaced the red flag of the USSR with the hammer and sickle, which was also the first flag of Tsarist Russia.
The Soviet Union as a proletarian dictatorship was dissolved long before Gorbachev’s resignation. The sophistry of “seventy years of socialism” and “the achievements of the workers’ state” should not mislead anyone. Those who fled from taking a revolutionary stance against the once rotten USSR and its successor Russia kept theorizing their reformist practices. However, the distinguishing feature of the October Revolution was the sovereignty of the Soviet republics, which made the international unity and power of the working class possible. The very same feature made the October Revolution the most significant gain of the proletariat. However, with the dissolution of the Communist International, the Soviet Union stopped being the international sovereign body of the working-class. It gained a national character enough to write a national anthem and became a counter-revolutionary state decades before its official dissolution in 1991.
The already rotten Soviet Union becoming history did not give way to Maoists and Hoxhaist streams that emphasize the Soviets’ counter-revolutionary character or Trotskyist movements that critically support the “corrupted workers’ state.” All these movements were ideologically and programmatically narrow-minded; they had a poor understanding of internationalism and revolutionary organization and lacked political courage. Therefore, they did not take responsibility for creating a revolutionary communist international that would implement and monitor the struggle to defeat the USSR and its counter-revolutionary policies. Thus, the dissolution of the Soviet Union had become a dark defeat that fell on all socialist currents. Not only those who openly embraced the Soviets, who propagandized that “Communism was rapidly being built in the Soviets” or who discovered Leninism in Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika “expansions”, but all leftist streams, whether they associate themselves with the October Revolution and the USSR or not, suffered from this defeat.
The Occupation of Ukraine in the Light of the Spreading and Intensifying Revolutionary Situation
While the flag of the Russian Federation replaced the red flag in Kremlin Square, the voices touting that peace and stability would prevail in the world were loud. The same voices also spread the illusion that the European Union would eliminate national borders and the danger of war on the continent.
A war broke out in Europe, once expected epitome of peace and fraternity. The actors who dissolved the USSR thirty years and a few months ago constitute the two enemy sides of this war today.
Russian troops entering Lugansk and Donetsk as “Peace Force” and invading Ukraine under the guise of “Denazification of Ukraine” should not surprise anyone. Tensions have been growing since the dissolution of the USSR. In any case, this tension is not between Russia and Ukraine. Instead, it is the product of the dispute for partition between Russia and the USA, which stands behind Ukraine. Ukraine has not had control over its claimed territories since 2014, and even the annexation of Crimea by Russia was a component of a geopolitical crisis. What is new today is that the tension in question has turned into an open war, and, although the USA is not sending troops to Ukraine, the tension is much more directly between the US and Russian Imperialism. This new situation has brought Europe into the most significant political crisis and war ever since the second partition war.
The war in Ukraine is the latest and striking example of the spread and intensification of the revolutionary situation worldwide.
The Ukrainian War as an Inter-imperialist War
Those who hailed the overthrow of “Trump fascism” in the 2020 presidential election are probably the most disappointed actors by the intensifying “Ukraine Crisis.” Failure to see the continuity between Obama’s and Trump’s policies and the same old “US war machine” rhetoric will not illuminate why the Ukrainian crisis broke during Biden instead of Trump’s term. Wasn’t Trump the biggest threat to world peace? Didn’t Trump constantly target various countries militarily or economically? And, unlike Trump, didn’t Biden promise to re-establish peace in the world? The same segments cannot explain why Biden wants to expand NATO, while Trump argues that NATO has become unnecessary.
Russia attacked Ukraine six months after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Afghanistan fiasco meant the bankruptcy of Middle East policies of the US since the First Gulf War in 1991. Afghanistan and Iraq operations burdened the US government trillions of dollars. A pro-Iranian regime was formed in Iraq. Both Iran and Iraq strengthened their ties not only with Russia but also with German and French imperialism. In Afghanistan, the US had to leave the field to China.
Failure in Ukraine is far more embarrassing for the United States than in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing a striking example of its decline. We can compare Secretary of State Powell’s speech at the UN just before the Second Gulf War with Blinken’s speech at the UN Security Council in February 2022. With his false speech about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, Powell persuaded several states from Britain to South Korea (except Germany and France) to join the invasion force and finance the invasion. The violation of the Iraqi embargo was not even on the agenda; it remained in effect for thirteen years, from 1990 to the year Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Today, US policy in Ukraine is defensive rather than offensive. Moreover, unlike the “liar” Powell, the march of Russian troops to Ukraine proved Blinken right on his intel about Russia’s invasion preparations. The US could not get serious defense support from its “allies despite all of these.” Neither the US nor its venturous partner, Britain, has not attempted to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine with their soldiers for the time being.
Although the dose is gradually increasing, an embargo similar to the one in Iraq has not been implemented yet. Germany’s suspension of energy agreements took place only after the invasion, with various maneuvers of the “Green Party.”
According to their Kautskyite rote, the dominant trend among the left is to interpret the post-Soviet period as an attempt to establish a world empire for US imperialism, which found the opportunity in the “unipolar world” formed after the “dissolution of socialism.” However, the situation of the US in the Ukraine crisis shows that the US, let alone establishing an empire, will not even be able to maintain its current foundations.
On the other side of the coin, new actors are being politically offensive. The anti-US forces gradually left old defensive positions due to the decline of the US and the uncertainty of the balance of power between the imperialists. When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, creating Donbass and territories that fell out of Ukrainian control, fundamentally, it responded to the colored revolution that led to a change of government in Ukraine. In other words, it had a reactive position. Today, the US wants to preserve the status quo, and conversely, the one who took an active role in changing the balances that had occurred in 2014 and even claimed rights over all the lands of the Soviet Union, is Putin.
After all, although the two imperialists with the loudest voice in Ukraine were the US and Russia, other imperialists also entered the fight for partition with different expectations. Germany and France have not yet severed all ties with Russia. Also, China, which is on the way to imperialization, still has not given Russia all-out support.
The visibility of the decline of American imperialism and liberal winds blowing from the west gives more credibility to the evaluations such as “Decline/End of American Hegemony” among the left. Those who adopt this approach insistently refrain from emphasizing the sharpened inter-imperialist partition war worldwide.
Not only do they hide the fact that “American Hegemony” was established as a result of the US victory in the second partition war, but they also spread the dream that China would peacefully become a world leader or a peaceful balance would be established among other imperialists as a result of the US’s running out of gunpowder. A new worldwide war is not even on their agenda.
However, the main emphasis should be made in the opposite direction today. No one should expect American imperialism to abandon its post and withdraw from policies because it has run out of gunpowder or is heavily indebted. Just as it is a crude dream for China to ascend to the US’s throne without a war of division, China must impose itself militarily, even to become an imperialist country, in at least some parts of the world, just like Russia. “The Decline of American Hegemony” thesis veils the diminishing and blurring of power differences between the US and other imperialists because of the uneven pace of capitalist development. As a result, a new imperialist partition war has come to the fore. Even though America is taking a step back today, the Ukraine Crisis is the latest herald that this partition war is approaching.
Ukraine, Rojava and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination
The Ukrainian crisis is illustrative of the right of nations to self-determination and national liberation struggles. Ukraine has shown that in the absence of national revolutionary leadership, various imperialists or bourgeois dictatorships would use “the right of nations to self-determination” as an excuse for their annexation.
Communists do not apply objective criteria to identify which communities qualify to be a nation and therefore deserve self-determination. Consequently, it is unreasonable to argue whether a national community exists in Donetsk or Lugansk. Nevertheless, it is equally inaccurate to say those nations can determine their destinies by establishing autonomy, joining a federation or another state, or “using the right not to secede.” The only way nations can exercise self-determination is by establishing an independent state.
Imperialists and bourgeois dictatorships are hypocritical in their approach to the question of self-determination. The territorial integrity of Syria or the right of the Kurds to secede is not subject to debate for Russia; however, it defends the right to self-determination in Donbass. The US had no problem with the disintegration of Yugoslavia now supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. A similar situation is also valid for Turkey. Through “Peace Operations” in 1974, Turkey used the people of Northern Cyprus’ right to self-determination as an excuse to divide Cyprus, create a separate state and establish a large military base in northern Cyprus. Now Turkey opposes the “partition of Ukraine.” These examples do not show that the right of nations to self-determination is invalid and should be rejected. These examples show that national liberation struggles can only be achieved by national-revolutionary currents and most consistently under the leadership of communists.
Any of these hypocritical imperialists and the reactionary regional states did not support the hoisting of the flag of Kurdistan in Rojava by YPG, and defining itself as the southwestern part of Kurdistan did not receive support from any state. This lack of support is not surprising; it proves the revolutionary dynamic in Kurdistan and the horror of the imperialists in the face of this dynamic. For this very reason, not only do we state that the national liberation struggles have an anti-imperialist character, but we also emphasize that the only way to be anti-imperialist is to be divisive and support revolutionary national liberation struggles. The imperialist reaction to the revolutionary step taken in Rojava is proof of this.
In the absence of a national-revolutionary movement in Rojava, the regional administration of the southwest of Kurdistan ended up defining itself as the northeast of Syria. They avoided challenges from the different actors in the face of changing international balances and started to look for ways to sit at Syria’s (constitutional) negotiation table to obtain cultural rights.
The emergence of national revolutionary liberation struggles independently of communists in the age of imperialism is theoretically possible. Communists evaluate these movements using the criteria of the second congress of the Communist International. Communists define movements that arm the people, do not impose national pressure on other peoples, and do not prohibit communists from propagating and organizing as national-revolutionary currents and seek ways to form alliances with them. In case such trends emerge in Kurdistan, Chechnya or Donbass today, the path drawn in the Second Congress must be followed. In addition, Second Congress’s decisions on the national question are not limited to identifying the national revolutionary currents. The Second Congress of the Comintern stipulates that only communists can consistently lead the national liberation struggle. The fate of the movements in Donbass, which are directly under the control of Russian imperialism, and the outcome of the Rojava revolution, show that in the absence of communist leadership, the oppressed nation cannot break the yoke of the annexationist states.
Imperialist War and Peace
It is noteworthy that a significant part of leftist movements in Turkey only talk about NATO provocations and aggression and clam up against Russian aggression and annexation. In the Second Gulf War, leftist movements that perceived American imperialism as the “main enemy” were sitting on French and German imperialisms’ tails. To reduce anti-imperialism to anti-US stance pins the left currents to be the yes-man of Russian imperialism.
To indirectly support Russia’s invasion for excuses like “historical injustices” or “security concerns” means surrendering to oppressing nation-state, which justifies its military presence in various parts of Kurdistan with similar concerns today. It is not surprising that those who remain silent to the occupation and annexationism of the same state in Kurdistan also ignore Russia’s similar moves in Ukraine and only talk about American provocations and NATO’s being an imperialist war device.
It should be noted that Russia did not receive unequivocal and open support from all left groups on par with Saddam Hussein or the Afghan mujahideen received in the past. Lack of support is not only because of Russia’s evident intentions on Ukraine but also of the crumbling image of America as the “chief imperialist.” The relatively popular thesis of today is that Ukraine is the victim of both US imperialism and Russian “expansionist policies.” Today, “Hands Off Ukraine!” manifests an internationalist and independent position according to many leftist movements.
However, it is overlooked that Ukraine is a bourgeois dictatorship with national oppressive, anti-labor and counter-revolutionary character just like every other bourgeois dictatorship. The revolutionary stance against war is not to defend Ukraine against imperialist attacks or to demand reconsolidation of the imperialist status quo in Ukraine. Leninists take advantage of the revolutionary dynamics and turn the war into a civil war to overthrow the government.
From Kautsky to Martov, from Rosa Luxemburg to Trotsky, calling for peace to the peoples of the world during an imperialist partition war has been the typical approach of the centrist and leftist representatives of the Second International line. This approach did not disappear after the October Revolution. On the contrary, those who shut the Communist International down after its castration followed the same line before and during the Second World War. From September 1, 1939, to June 22, 1941, when Operation Barbarossa began, none of the member parties of the Comintern called for turning the war into a civil war. They were social-pacifist for “not allowing imperialist aggression.”
Instead of calling for turning the war into a civil war after the German occupation, the Comintern defined a new task for the communist parties outside the Soviet Union: Waging an anti-fascist struggle with regard to sensitivities of the so-called “libertarian forces;” American and British imperialisms. This approach’s defenders and followers would certainly not need a communist world party. And, since there was no communist world party, all communist parties were stuck in a class collaboration line before and during the second war of division.
The alternative to the social pacifist discourse of “No to imperialist war! Hands off Ukraine!” is not a call to overthrow American and Russian Imperialism, dismantle NATO, or call for turning the war in Ukraine into a civil war. Indeed, these are the revolutionaries’ tasks; however, reducing such tasks to slogans obscures that only a revolutionary party can carry out revolutionary politics. Today, when the Ukrainian crisis is in question, the duty of the communists is to create a revolutionary party in Ukraine that will turn the war into a civil war. A similar task must be carried out in Russia or all imperialist countries that are indirectly part of the war. Instead of touting for revolution and civil war in abstract slogans, communists should first set this concrete task of creating a communist party.
One might ask, “should we wait with tied hands in the absence of a communist party or a communist organization in Ukraine?” This trap question is a product of the Second International understanding. It is crippled by national narrow-mindedness, which assumes that creating a communist party in Ukraine is mainly the problem and duty of the Ukrainians. However, an international center’s job is not limited to managing its sections. Its members worldwide are responsible for using all of their resources to establish sections in different countries. On the other hand, national narrow-mindedness calls for peace only to appear as “doing something” or “being active;” keeps being dragged after reformist and bourgeois currents instead of forming sections of an international party.
However, one did not need to recognize the urgency of creating a communist party in Ukraine to prioritize the creation of an international revolutionary center. It would be ridiculously blind to start from Ukraine, while revolutionary dynamics manifest in every part of Kurdistan. Creating a communist party in Kurdistan and establishing an international communist center to manage this party’s construction has been an urgent task for the communists for years. In this respect, those who remember their internationalist duty on the occasion of the Ukraine crisis do not need to go too far. It is possible and sufficient to take the first step by creating an international communist center together with communists fighting in the four parts of Kurdistan and within the borders of the oppressing nation-states that have yoked Kurdistan. To create a communist party in Kurdistan, or later in Ukraine or Russia, requires this international center.
Ending the Occupation and Annexation is Prerequisite for a Democratic Regime
The slogan “the real enemy is in his own homeland” reflects the attitude of the Bolsheviks in the partition war. This means, instead of “being against the war in general” in imperialist partition wars, the proletariat of each country must first fight against its own state and bourgeoisie.
The same slogan determines how the communist should struggle against annexation and occupation. Today, instead of condemning the occupation and annexation of other states in vain, those who want to fight against annexations and occupations should expose the occupying, annexationist policies of the state they are fighting against. This emphasis becomes even more meaningful when the subject is the state we are fighting against. Here, the state that has enslaved a nation whose existence it denies swallowed the largest part of this land and occupied a large area in the south and west with “national security concerns” is in question.
Acquiesce to annexation and occupation of their own state of those who oppose the occupation in Ukraine is a product of social chauvinism and is not a new phenomenon. The same segments also acted as if Turkey had not occupied any place while opposing the US invasion of Iraq. Those who divided Kurdistan by annexing its largest part also divided Cyprus by occupying the north of it. Both regions are the centers where the Turkish bourgeoisie conducts its darkest and dirtiest works. Both Peker’s statements and the Falyalı murder should be regarded as examples of the accumulated filth in Cyprus. Occupation even removes the ostensible obligation to comply with bourgeois law. The relations between the mafia, gangs, and the state are most intense and easily established in the occupied lands. However, the existence of a revolutionary people’s struggle in Kurdistan has made Cyprus more preferable for the bourgeoisie who want to carry out their dirty work. Although Peker’s disclosures or the murder of Falyalı provide examples of the filth accumulated in Cyprus, they are far from exposing the extent of this filth. The working people of Cyprus can only get rid of this mess by destroying the two reactionary states that divide workers of the island and by establishing an independent and united Cyprus. Repelling the occupation in Cyprus is a necessary part of this struggle.
The end of the occupation in both lands is a necessary condition for the liberation of the workers in Turkey. The network of relations created on the island with the occupation of Cyprus constitutes the material basis of counter-revolutionary organizations in Turkey. It is impossible to break the back of the counter-revolutionaries without ending the occupation.
The disintegration of Cyprus and the disintegration of Palestine and Kurdistan took place with the guidance and approval of the imperialists. In this respect, the struggle for an independent and united Cyprus can achieve its purpose only when it has an anti-imperialist, that is, revolutionary character.
Kurdistan is under the yoke of four reactionary dictatorships; therefore requires taking joint international action of the communist movement within the borders of four oppressing nations and the communist movement in Kurdistan to solve the Kurdistan problem. Similarly, since the fragmented existence of Cyprus stems not only from Turkey but also from Greece, this situation itself turns the Cyprus problem into a problem that requires the joint action of Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus communists.
The Leadership Vacuum
Although Marxism is based on a critical scientific study of the world, it is not a science but a doctrine of war and an action guide that draws the roadmap from wage slavery to a classless society.
In this respect, the purpose of highlighting the deepening and spreading revolutionary situation, pointing to the left’s misconceptions about the worldwide economic crisis, is not to demonstrate that history proved communists right again; it is to describe the duties of the communists who want to participate in the class war. This task must be to end the vacuum of revolutionary leadership.
The leadership vacuum is the absence of an international center with a communist program and organizational functioning that claims to operate worldwide. Of course, such a center will not be created through “international relations” and diplomatic negotiations but by becoming a political force through a political struggle. However, to be under the illusion that an international center can only be established when communist parties emerge in individual countries means not learning any lessons from the struggle to establish a revolutionary international carried out by Lenin, especially between 1914-17. Those who want to establish this center must first attempt to create a revolutionary party in the geography where they set their feet. Then with the experience and power they have gained while waging this struggle, they should mobilize the revolutionaries they are associated with outside their geography to create an international center based on a communist program and organizational functioning.
The communists who stand behind KöZ discuss the mistakes of reformist and social chauvinist socialists, who have a national perspective in the mirror of the “Ukrainian War,” and emphasize the urgent internationalist missions, not to renew their faith, but to provide the necessary political clarity and equipment to create an international center.
Communists of All Countries, Unite!
Thirty years have passed since the liquidation of the USSR; the traces of the defeat in question have not been erased today. Consequently, very few movements express the determination to establish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics once again and spread it to the whole world,
No one should dream of a revolutionary breakthrough that will eliminate the demoralization of the left. The Rojava Revolution swung the balances among the imperialists around the world, spread revolutionary energy to the whole world, and even many currents flattered the cantonal administration in Rojava by comparing it to the Paris Commune. Nevertheless, no one tried to evaluate Rojava by gauging the centralist and international dictatorship of the proletariat established by the Soviet Union. Regardless of when and how it determined the consequences of this liquidation, the dissolution of the October Revolution by the counter-revolution led the overwhelming majority of the left to repent of the idea of an international and centralized soviet power.
After the defeat of the French Revolution of 1848, Marx wrote, “proletarian revolutions,…, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals…“. In this respect, the defeat of the proletarian revolutions, which its course also depends on a range of objective factors, is not unexpected. The defeat of the October Revolution cannot by itself explain the overwhelming demoralization. Instead, the dissolution of communist organizations, which were established objectively in the most unfavorable conditions, created a real moral disorder. Therefore, revolutionaries who want to repel the darkness created by the defeat of the Soviet Union must start by standing up from where they fell and re-establishing the dissolved Communist International.
KöZ, who set out by stating “Communists’ Union Before the Workers’ Union,” “Revolutionary Party for the Revolution”, defines creating a world communist party as its primary task for this very reason. By raising the slogan of “Communists of All Countries, Unite!” we invite all the communists with the goal and determination to raise the fallen flag of communism again to shoulder this responsibility together.