World in View: ‘Peace’ rallies spurn Ukrainian freedom

March 21, 2023

From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters

by Eugene Walker

While tens of thousands across the globe marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with support rallies for Ukraine’s fight for self-determination (see “Why we’re here for Russian dissidents,” p. 9), there were a few disturbing “anti-war” rallies: coalitions of far-right with so-called Left groups in Germany, Britain and the U.S., calling for an end to supplying arms to Ukraine in the name of peace.

In Berlin, there were peace groups, but also pro-Russia rightists calling for Germany to end arms shipments to Ukraine. Some placards carried banners calling for “America go home,” carrying the logo for a far-right magazine. Others carried Russian flags. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a coalition of libertarians and “Left” anti-war activists rallied against U.S. support for Ukraine at a “Rage Against the War Machine” demonstration. (see “Boycott ‘Rage Against the War Machine,’ ” p. 9.)

To those at these rallies who call themselves socialist or Leftist, we ask: What has happened to the right of nations to fight for self-determination? Are we to abandon the perspective of peace through social revolution in the nuclear age? Are we always going to be at the mercy of big power politics? Have you given up on the possibility of an independent pathway to social transformation?

What does it mean for a significant portion of the Left to align themselves with events dominated by the far right and parroting Russia’s pro-war propaganda while claiming to be anti-war?

It should be noted that many Russian dissidents have rallied to Ukraine’s defense and right for self-determination on the first anniversary of Putin’s invasion with demonstrations in many cities around the world—something impossible to do within Russia itself, where dozens of anti-war protesters languish behind bars.

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