By Rainer Shea
A reaction to Operation Z’s impacts that I’ve seen from Marxists in the imperial center is one of alarm, in which it’s appeared to them that Russia was reckless for deciding to intervene in Ukraine. They’ve seen Sweden and Finland’s joining NATO, the crackdown on anti-imperialist sentiments, the further neoliberalization that the EU has carried out amid the crisis, the war’s nurturing of white supremacist terrorism worldwide, and the ways the oil and arms industries have profited from the conflict, and concluded that it’s hurt the anti-imperialist and workers movements more than it’s helped them. The other half of the story, the half which vindicates Russia’s decision, is the fact that Z has also empowered the forces for global revolutionary progress. And in a macro analysis, it’s apparent that these forces are the ones which will prevail, rather than the forces of reaction.
It’s not that Z has brought fascism, neoliberalism, and imperialism closer to victory. It’s that Z has made the conflict between the revolutionaries and the reactionaries unfold far faster than it was only a year ago. The reactionaries have been advancing in response to the developments in Ukraine, but so have those who represent the revolutionary side. Every country has been forced to make it unambiguous which side of the new cold war they align with. Sweden, Finland, and other European countries like Germany have solidified their allegiances with Washington, but the vast majority of the non-imperialist countries have solidified their allegiances with the Chinese-Russian bloc. Most countries outside the imperialist sphere have acted in a neutral fashion on Ukraine, which Washington has interpreted as confirmation that they side with Russia.
As this loss of Washington’s international respect has been exposed, the decline of Washington’s capacity for inflicting damage upon its challengers has consequently become apparent as well. Because the Global South isn’t helping with the sanctions, Washington has had to sacrifice Europe’s economic wellbeing to advance its economic war. Because the sanctions haven’t been as effective as anticipated, the U.S. and its allies will suffer from the sanctions worse than Russia. Due to these relatively greater costs for the imperialist bloc, Russia will end up winning the war both militarily and economically. The price of Sweden and Finland’s assimilation into NATO is that they’re now taking on more austerity policies to accommodate the war effort, reflecting how the broader imperialist bloc has been undergoing an acceleration of its internal decay amid the conflict. Inflation and intensified neoliberal policies are heightening their capitalist contradictions, providing openings for the forces of class struggle.
In some places, these forces have already seen tangible benefits from the conflict. Within Russia itself, and in the most closely Russian-aligned former Soviet states like Belarus, Z’s impacts are accelerating the rise of revolutionary politics, bringing things closer to socialist restoration. The conflict’s nationalism is emboldening Russia’s fascists and monarchists, but their efforts to beat back worker struggle can’t succeed. Even if Putin loses the war—which isn’t likely, given how exhausted Kiev and NATO now are compared to the still robust Russian forces—the communists will take over. They’ll then fulfill the Russian people’s popular mandate for neutralizing the Ukrainian fascist menace.
There are still a great deal of figures in the Russian military who are Soviet nostalgics. In addition to being nostalgics, they see that the country’s political environment is one in which the vast majority of people wish to return to the better conditions of the socialist era, and they recognize the obvious reality that returning the communists to power would be the best thing for stabilizing the country. The specter of a new Bolshevik revolution has always haunted post-Soviet Russia, but Z has sped up the development towards that outcome. This is why even though there are fascists in Russia’s government, I now believe that the sidelining the conflict has brought upon them will be permanent, and that the communist sympathizers will be the faction which wins out.
If Putin wins the war, the pro-Z stance of Russia’s leading communist presence the CPRF will be vindicated, as the operation will have succeeded at rendering fascism and imperialism irrevocably crippled. A parallel victory for workers struggle is coming to Belarus, which has played an instrumental role in ensuring Russia’s Ukraine victory and has a formidable communist movement. Lukashenko’s decisions are profoundly influenced by the communists, because they represent a force for class struggle which remains immensely strong within the country. As Russia’s communists have been pressuring Putin into waging an anti-fascist war, Russia is becoming more like Belarus. When their bourgeois governments can no longer hold on, they’ll be replaced by new socialist republics. Republics that are willing to continue the current Russian-Belarusian policy of intervening to defeat fascism throughout other post-Soviet states.
It feels as though the logical conclusion of these factors is a restoration of the Soviet Union. That’s perhaps true, but the reactionaries won’t stop fighting until they’re made extinct. And the path to a full undoing of the harms from Perestroika is filled with many additional obstacles, in the form of rising fascist movements across numerous countries in the region. Ukraine will be fully demilitarized, there’s no longer any doubt about that. But as long as U.S. imperialism exists to prop up the fascist Kiev regime, the regime will still control the territory beyond the Donbass, and be able to impose a Zionism-inspired police state upon its marginalized populations. And as Ukraine continues to lose, Washington will shift to backing Euromaidan-style fascist takeover efforts across eastern Eurasia.
The recent Nazi terrorist plots within Germany and Italy, some of which have been directly linked to Azov, indicate how the preparations are being made for the returning of these countries to their previous roles as anti-Russian, anti-communist weapons. The social fascists in Germany’s Green Party have already carried out the steps of re-militarizing Germany, and solidifying the country’s allegiance towards Washington’s proxy war. The newly elected far-right parties in Italy, as well as in Scandinavia, have demonstrated loyalty towards the war effort as well. The only thing that could weaken Europe’s role as a warfare asset is the prospect of new division among its countries. Which has been emerging as Ukraine’s firing of a missile into Poland has strained Poland’s relations with Kiev, and with the EU. Poland’s government remains fascistic and vile, but we could see it and Europe’s other despicable regimes come to fight amongst each other.
The mounting costs of the sanctions make this fraying of unity among the NATO powers more plausible. One NATO member, Turkey, has already been acting as a foil towards U.S. designs for years by fighting Washington’s Bookchinist Rojavan terrorists in Syria. It’s certain we’ll see further clashes of interests among the NATO members as this chaotic situation Washington has contrived unfolds. Faced with this growing uncertainty, U.S. imperialism’s best means for stopping Soviet restoration and the full loss of Eurasia is to carry out equivalents of the Euromaidan coup throughout all the countries it can manage.
The Baltic, Scandinavian, eastern European, and central European states are largely halfway there. In these places, fascism is either in power, or poised to take power after the decrepit liberal governments give way. Latvia is censoring and even jailing those who speak out against the war. It’s among a litany of post-Soviet states that are speeding up their decommumization campaigns, tearing down Soviet statues that in many cases include anti-fascist victory monuments. (Inverse to this is how Russia has been putting up new statues honoring the Soviets, further showing how powerful Russia’s communists are becoming.)
Along with this aggressive anti-communism has inevitably come an effort to rehabilitate the images of the Nazi collaborators within these countries. Ukraine, where Holocaust denial has been made a state policy by criminalizing those who speak of Bandera’s World War II crimes, is the most advanced example of this. The same dual dynamic of anti-communist fanaticism and fascist apologism is emerging across all the other countries where the communist movement isn’t currently winning, including in EU-opposed Hungary. When capitalism decays, and socialism can’t fill its place, fascism is the outcome.
The past shows where this is headed. Russia and Belarus will continue to grow closer towards socialism, whereas fascism will continue to rise throughout more and more of the other post-Soviet states. Washington will seek to nurture the fascist movement across broader Europe as well, seeing a resurgent Nazism as its best weapon against a Russia which has been victorious in Ukraine. Imperialism will shift its proxy wars further east, as well as further south; Washington has already started this process by backing Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia, intending to divert Russian military resources towards this new conflict. Azerbaijan was the perfect post-Soviet state to use as the next anti-Russian weapon, because its government has long been a fascist abomination which upholds anti-Armenian sentiment as state policy. Washington’s goal is to expand these stories of manufactured conflict between former international friends. Should it succeed, history also shows where this will end: in defeat for the fascists.
Ukraine was only the start: U.S. imperialism is bringing Eurasia towards a repeat of World War II (substack.com)