By: Red Phoenix Correspondent International, Polina Brik
Russian president Vladimir Putin warns the West not to intervene in “internal affairs” of Russia and not to cross any “red lines”, among escalating confict between Russia, the EU, and the US. This came after the Biden administration proclaimed its military support for the Ukrainian government and additional sanctions on Russian individuals and enterprises. While we cannot be certain of the highest level information known only to imperialist elites, our goal is to elucidate the words of the state propagandists on the matters of war and peace.
Nationalist idealism is being reinforced by the ruling classes in face of economic and political uncertainty, accompanied by the silencing progressive voices such as criminalizing protests in Russia. Such nationalism was used by the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his team to manipulate the public opinion into thinking that the military operations on the border of Ukraine are done for the sake of protection of Russian sovereignty from the NATO instigators (it is partially true that there is a intra-imperialist conflict there with different interests represented). “The US will have to reckon with Russia, Putin said”, reports RIA News, a major news outlet in Russia. President Putin said during a meeting with representatives of the public of Crimea and Sevastopol, “We, although they [the Westerners, Americans] think that we are the same as them, but we are different people. We have a different genetic and cultural-moral code. But we know how to defend our own interests. And we will work with them. But in those areas, in which we ourselves are interested. And on those conditions that we consider beneficial for ourselves.” (March 12, 2021) Public opinion is being manipulated by the means of television, newspapers, all sorts of other media, professors of universities, and pundits. In his annual address to the people, president Vladimir Putin reassured that the Russian national interests will be protected, blamed the Bolshevik revolution for closing down the relations with other countries and continues to praise Russians as superior people: the Moscow Times reports that “Russia Is a ‘Distinct Civilization,’ Putin Says”. Of course, when there is nothing more to rely on, when people don’t see any economic improvements in their lives, relying on one’s genetic superiority becomes a very useful tool for obscuring class relations and shifting everything on one’s national and genetic identity and exceptionality of a nation.
While less ethnically oriented but certainly national and cultural exceptionalism is also echoed in the words of American politicians. The kind of nationalism that we see in the West is also supported by the liberal fetishization of the “freedom of speech” to support the imperialist popular idea of America as the international supervisor, “the keeper of peace” of all the political events. This also manifests in menacing fear toward “Russian and Chinese intruders”. With no surprise, this practice of national chauvinism is being continued into the Biden administration, as we already see in the actions of the state to continue Obama-era imperialism in such unequivocal support for NATO ally Ukraine in face of the Russian danger in the regions of Donbass and Luhansk. Nationalist ideology is something that has been massively adopted in Ukraine and is popularized (far-right groups are viewed as protectors of the Ukrainian nation) since the Maidan (mass protests for the integration of Ukraine in the EU, followed by the war in Donbass and Luhansk and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia) events in 2014, and it allows the followers of such ideology to raise their material level at the expense of oppression of representatives of other nationalities and ethnic minorities!
Yet, national patriotism is also seen throughout Russia too, of course. Russian common political opinion is disseminated primarily from its media and leadership, more so than western countries, which maintain a popular illusion of “freedom of choice” with regard to political opinion. First, they scare the population about the “inevitable war” which would resolve all of Russia’s problems. One famous Russian demagogue and the head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, told the press that “Without war, there is no way to get out of the dead end: from the economic crisis, the pandemic, the ecological crisis, everything is just escalated.”
On April 15, 2021 news broke out about Russia’s buildup of troops and materiel on the border of Ukraine and in Crimea, a peninsula that has been annexed by Russia (Crimean citizens joined Russia as a result of a popular vote, but there are talks about fraud- no major Western power has recognized the results of the referendum). Today on April 22, the news of thawing relations came in, as Russia pulled its soldiers and weapons from the Ukrainian border once they were done with their glorious military exercises and show of power. The military exercises came as a response to NATO’s build-up on the Russian border. With militaristic and imperialistic agenda in mind, Russia continues to “protect its interests” in face of Western imperialism.
US imperialists, in turn, are interested in weakening their economic competitors as much as possible, primarily Russian interests in the territory of Ukraine. Therefore, US imperialism is interested in provoking hostility and forcing the EU and Russia to fight each other, primarily on the territory of Ukraine and in the regions bordering it. Russia’s position is that it is “defending itself” against US aggression, which is partially true considering that US capitalism has been developing for decades and decades, while the Russian capitalist class started appearing in the 1970’s with the rejection of socialism via the Khrushchev economic reforms. Therefore, it is partially true that the US is a strong competitor of Russia on the “global arena”.
But the axiom –regular people have no say in what the ruling elite do or why they do it– still holds. It is not a national but a global bourgeoisie that exists, and the capital flows from one capitalist country such as Russia, to another one such as the US. The home market is still inevitably bound up with the global market in capitalism. Despite the military actions that the world witnessed this week, the economic factors which operate in modern society ensure the continuation of exploitation. This includes imperialist and national wars. Since war is waged by both imperialist camps for the sake of redivision of the economic spheres of influence, and not for defense or for the liberation of the people, the working class has no right to prefer one bandit to another.