By: Ukrainian Workers’ Group
The national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people against Putin’s invasion requires methods of social liberation of the working class against the capitalist plunderers.
Ukrainian workers have been fighting for three months against the genocidal occupation of the Putin regime. Having suffered a defeat near Kyiv and Kharkov, the invader seeks to secure the occupied territories of Donbass and the South as a platform for the destruction of the whole Ukraine. After 80 years, the slogans “Death to the fascist occupiers!” and “All for the front, all for victory!” once again became for Ukrainians a matter of life and death to preserve our freedom and independence.
All our forces must be subordinated to the task of defeating the invaders and liberating the country. The war is dragging on. It is becoming more and more a war not only of the battle fronts, but also a war of the home front. This means that the entire economy of the country must be put at the service of defeating the enemy. Today, however, it is at the service of the profits of the capitalists. As a consequence of this, among other things, there is the tremendous fuel crisis, the frauds with the humanitarian aid, the speculation of the capitalists with the refugees. All this materially and morally undermines the internal resistance. The task of defeating the invaders and national liberation requires measures in the interests of the working people and the exploited sectors, who must take these tasks and power into our own hands.
How to combat the energy crisis? Centralize the fuel sector in the hands of the state, under workers’ control.
The Russian army shelled the country’s only major oil refinery in Kremenchug and many fuel storage facilities. Putin’s lackey, the dictator Lukashenko, stopped supplying gasoline to Ukraine. Fuel from Europe is objectively more expensive, which is aggravated by the depreciation of the gryvnia, the Ukrainian currency. The return of car-owning refugees has boosted the demand for gasoline. All this together resulted in a severe fuel crisis in Ukraine. Today it has mainly affected the “civilian” sector, but it will tend to spread to the armed defense aspect as well.
Firm governmental measures are needed to resolve this crisis. It is necessary to clearly point out that Ukraine is fully provided with hydrocarbon raw materials which we should dispose of without hesitation. While there is a war on Ukrainian soil, millions of tons of oil and billions of cubic meters of gas flow under our land through pipelines from Russia to Germany into the hands of the German bourgeoisie. For this, Putin receives millions of euros to continue the genocide of Ukraine. To keep this trade alive, the German government has become a cynical standard-bearer for the sabotage of arms supplies to Ukraine.
A plan is needed to use these pipelines to serve defense needs. And in addition, the creation of a system of mini-refineries and simple distillation units, as the Chechens successfully did in 1994 in the victorious war against the Russian army. And the introduction of gasoline rationing and restrictions on private motor vehicles to ensure fuel for the war and the use of public transport.
The solution to the fuel crisis is to go against the interests of private companies, which today control the fuel market and profit from it. To leave the fuel sector in the hands of the market is to weaken the resistance; it is to help Putin. The war demands an end to neoliberal policies and the establishment of a war economy. All fuel production and distribution, all development and organization of the sector must be nationalized and centralized in the hands of the state under the control of the working class organizations and put at the service of the needs of defense, of the victory over the enemy, at the service of the liberation of the country.
Workers’ control against the commercial use of humanitarian aid
The struggle of the Ukrainians has aroused great solidarity among the peoples of the world. This is expressed, among other things, in the humanitarian aid flowing into the country. However, this aid is being plundered, as it is manipulated by corrupt business structures and officials. Several egregious cases of large-scale speculation in the sale of incoming aid have already been uncovered. But these cases are “a drop in the ocean”. Humanitarian aid is being offered everywhere, it appears on the shelves of retail businesses.
Is it any wonder that this happens, when the distribution of humanitarian aid is in the hands of businessmen and officials? “If you want to defend your homeland, buy the necessary products from me,” the businessman says to ordinary Ukrainians. This is the “contribution” of these birds of prey to protect our country! In reality, the capitalists are taking these indispensable products from the workers, who defend Ukraine with weapons in hand, and from the common people who suffered the most from the war. This is the worst kind of plunder! It demoralizes the struggle, corrodes the resistance, undermines its international support and serves the aggressor Putin.
This war of national liberation must be matched by a national war economy
A socially just distribution of all existing resources must be guaranteed. Otherwise, it will be a war of capitalists and merchants against the people. The traffickers of humanitarian aid deserve public execution with confiscation of assets. In general, to avoid fraud and speculation, workers’ control of humanitarian aid is indispensable. The capitalists have their reasons for robbing the workers, they always live from robbing the workers through exploitation. But it makes no sense that the workers plunder themselves to the detriment of their struggle and their country.
The “security organs” and “law enforcement” of this state will not stop profiting from humanitarian aid. Because their own officials, who serve the big capitalists, are involved in this business. To ensure the distribution of humanitarian aid in the interests of the common people and not of the bosses, it is necessary to create workers’ control detachments – from below, of representatives of the workers’ collectives elected in the enterprises.
International workers’ aid to the Ukrainian workers’ resistance
The international convoy of Workers Aid to the Ukrainian resistance, organized by the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggles and the campaign in progress, in which participate the CSP Conlutas of Brazil, Solidaires of France, Workers Initiative of Poland, Adl Cobas of Italy, Social Movement of Ukraine, with the support of the IWL-FI, have achieved numerous solidarity contributions, in money and in kind, collected among the workers and union organizations of the most diverse countries and continents, which were and will continue to be delivered to the miners-metallurgical workers of the Independent Union NPG, of Kryvyi Rih. All this enormous effort is an example of how to organize to ensure that the aid reaches the hands of those who need it and who are the ones who really defend the country with weapons in hand and feed the rearguard.
Make hotels and unoccupied housing available to refugees and displaced persons.
Putin’s barbarism drove millions of Ukrainians from their homes and places of residence. But the pain of refugees from the eastern regions of the country has become a “gold mine” for real estate business in other regions. Apartment prices in Western Ukraine have more than doubled, and in the Transcarpathian region they have more than tripled. The rental housing market has the same trend. Demand has increased, prices have increased. Nothing personal: market, business, barbarism. In the midst of war, housing has also become a source of capitalist profiteering. This leaves millions of people under the threat of living on the street or in inhuman conditions. It forces them to emigrate, leaves them out of the struggle and thus weakens the resistance and serves Putin. All empty housing should be temporarily provided free of charge to refugees.
Nationalizing all assets of Russian companies
It is very striking that the government is still “officially” discussing the need to seize the assets of some Russian companies and financiers, such as Sberbank. At the same time, simple Russian and Belarusian citizens living in Ukraine had their bank accounts blocked. When many of these people have lived in Ukraine for a long time, they consider this country their home, they are completely on the side of our people, in many cases they were forced to leave their country due to political persecution and help the Ukrainian resistance. Keeping the assets of Russian companies intact, means keeping “the hand outstretched” to negotiate with the Kremlin murderer. But at the same time it hits the workers, undermines the resistance and helps Putin. This must stop!
The working people must take the task of defending the country into their own hands.
The measures indicated are the indispensable minimum. The effectiveness of the people’s war and the prospects for the liberation of the country against the invaders depend on them. And of course, they go against the interests of the oligarchs and foreign companies.
Unfortunately, so far the government has not taken and does not take such measures. Is it even capable of taking them? The interests of the oligarchs (who do not even live in Ukraine) and the interests of foreign companies, for whom Ukraine is just a place to make big profits and nothing else, have to be satisfied.
On the contrary, an attempt is being made to combat fuel shortages “according to the laws of the market” by eliminating price restrictions. In other words, forcing the workers to pay and letting the companies win. Fraud and speculative maneuvers with humanitarian aid – also “according to the laws of the market” – have been the subject of investigation and criminal charges for some high-profile individual cases. But there is absolutely no rigorous system of measures for their ruthless eradication.
The housing market is officially allowed to continue to function according to the laws of the market, which become inhuman in conditions of war. While the workers defend with arms the sovereignty of the country, behind their backs the parliament voted and the government ratified the modification of the Labor Code in the interests of the bourgeoisie. When it is more necessary than ever for the generalized arming of the people to resist the enemy, the state prevents it in fact, aggravating the shortage of modern weapons caused by the imperialist powers. Because, it is evident that these powers fear more the military victory of the Ukrainian masses than the jackal of the Kremlin.
The government advisers constantly talk about the necessary “normalization of life” in some regions, while others are under occupation, as if they were two Ukraines. Ukraine is one! The whole Ukraine is at war! And the market, the anti-worker laws, the restriction of the people’s armament, the division of Ukraine into “at-war” and “peaceful” “parts” help the Russian invasion.
In this way, the interests of the oligarchs and foreign companies are placed above the needs of national defense, undermining the rearguard. And this favors the genocidal aggressor Putin! We say it clearly: as long as the defense is led by those who serve the capitalists, the heroic resistance of the workers and the common people will be stung by social injustice, undermining morale everywhere.
It is clear that to achieve national sovereignty we must rely on our own forces alone. The working class must take the tasks of defense and victory over the occupiers into its own hands, organize independently and move toward the establishment of its own government of the workers and exploited people.
Originally published 7 June 2022 by Corriente Roja
Translation by: John Joseph
By: Ukrainian Workers’ Group