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Neither NATO Nor Putin: An Anti-war Program for an Anti-war Protest

The following is a flier that Left Voice distributed at the March 18 rally in DC with the anti-war program we believe we must all take up.

Left Voice

March 19, 2023
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On March 18, members of Left Voice attended anti-war rallies in D.C. and Detroit initiated by ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, and The People’s Forum, and endorsed by more than 200 organizations. With ever-increasing NATO involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, the threat of a new world war looms larger than at any point in recent memory. A strong anti-war movement is urgently needed, and we welcome the current mobilizations. 

With many socialists in the United States capitulating to NATO’s imperialist aims in this war, it is progressive to clearly denounce NATO and the role of U.S. imperialism in particular. This becomes especially important as the war rapidly escalates with Poland now sending fighter jets to Ukraine, Finland slated to join NATO, and all parties preparing for greater conflict, as represented by the Biden administration’s recently proposed $880 billion military budget — a proposal which clearly seeks to prepare the resources of U.S. militarism for conflict with China.

Recently, right-right figures like Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz have used populist rhetoric to paint their violent “America First” nationalism as “anti-war.” It is vital that the Left claim the mantle of true anti-imperialism by rejecting isolationism, domestic state violence, and anti-China chauvinism being pushed by sectors of the Right. The March 18 rallies played an important role in denouncing U.S. imperialism and NATO and taking space away from right-right opportunism.

At the same time, we do not support all of the slogans put forward by Saturday’s protests. We do not agree with the call for “negotiations” which create illusions that bourgeois governments can, or would, “be reasonable” and find a just solution. We also disagree with the tacit apologia for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expressed by the rally organizers’ choice to not mention Russia in any of the demands for the March 18 actions. The working class should support neither side in this reactionary proxy war. We call for building a working-class, internationalist, anti-war movement which clearly rejects the policies and politics of NATO, Russia, and the Zalenskyy government.

Rather than calling on the nationalist, anti-working-class governments to barter a peace deal, our main appeals should be addressed to the working masses who are being forced to fight and die. The international working class has the power to end the war through mass action, including strikes and labor-boycotts of war materiel. Soldiers — both Russian and Ukrainian — could take the lead by fraternizing with each other and refusing to fight. Instead of remaining silent about Russia’s reactionary aims of the war, socialists have an obligation to build international class solidarity by denouncing these attacks and calling for Russian troops out of Ukraine, as well as demanding NATO out of Eastern Europe. 

Left Voice attended these rallies because we saw it as an important space to discuss anti-imperialism, internationalism, and a working-class perspective for world peace. A truly just peace will arise only when working people bring an end to capitalism — a system that breeds war and oppression. Below we publish a flier which we distributed at the March 18 rallies in D.C. and Detroit with the anti-war program we believe we must all take up.

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Neither NATO nor Putin

One year ago, in an escalation of longstanding tensions with murderous imperialist NATO, Russia invaded Ukraine. This set off a series of events that has thrown the world into a new stage of global conflict in which the growing competition between great capitalist powers is played out on the battlefield. The war is bigger than Russia and Ukraine: the U.S. and NATO intervene to weaken Russia and reestablish their imperialist domination. The working class and oppressed across the world have been thrust in the middle, bearing the worst consequences of repression, sanctions, displacement, inflation, famine, and the destruction of war. We must be clear that this war does not serve our interests.

Russia’s invasion is a further attempt to subjugate Ukraine and expand its influence in the region to find new avenues for its capitalists. The war has been used to violently oppress Ukrainians and also to conscript and repress Russian youth, workers, and the most marginalized sectors of society. In the face of this reactionary move, we must demand Russian troops out of Ukraine. 

But this is not the only dimension of the war. The conflict takes place in the context of a crisis of the Neoliberal world order led for decades by the United States. Capitalist challengers are vying for better positions in the conflicts to come.

The United States and NATO do not care about “Ukrainian self-determination.” They see the war as a means of weakening Russia and checking the growth and influence of China. The United States and NATO have used the war in Ukraine to send billions of dollars, tons of weapons, and military training to Ukraine. They have strengthened ties to the Zelenskyy regime and increased Ukrainian dependence on the West.

They have used the war to increase their military budgets and a massive program of rearmament. These will be used as tools of repression against the working class and poor internationally. Funding the police, ICE, and other violent institutions of the state, increased defense spending also means more attacks on workers and oppressed people in the United States. Not one penny or one person for capitalist war! For an end to imperialist rearmament!

The impact of wide-reaching sanctions on Russia – just like the sanctions the U.S. imposes on Venezuela and Iran — are brutal for the millions of working and poor people who live in Russia but did not choose Putin’s reactionary offensive. We must fight for an end to all sanctions which are a tool to repress our class siblings across the world. 

Critically, the war has also been used as justification to strengthen the alliances within NATO — with the United States at the helm — and to expand NATO influence in Eastern Europe, thereby strengthening the foundations of their domination. U.S. and NATO out of Eastern Europe! 

This is a reactionary proxy war being fought by two capitalist camps. Our fight is not against the workers and oppressed in Russia or Ukraine — it is against the system that produces wars and exploits us.

For an Independent and Internationalist Solution to the War in Ukraine

What is the way out of this war? It is not by siding with Russia, which has invaded Ukraine for the gain of its capitalist class and violently represses dissent. It is not by siding with the Zelenskyy regime and the U.S. and NATO behind it; Zelenskyy allies with the U.S. and NATO to make new profits for Ukraine’s ruling class and repress workers and dissent. The U.S. and NATO seek to reassert a Neoliberal world order that they dominate.

This means that we cannot trust capitalist governments to negotiate an end to a conflict their rotten system created. Negotiations do not lead to peace but to capitalist governments redrawing the world in their interest while the working class and oppressed face the consequences. A true solution to the conflict means undermining the very system that gave rise to it, mounting an offensive against Putin, NATO, and Zelenskyy. The international working class must pave the way forward through class struggle; because it is this class that is forced to fight the wars, that makes everything we need for society to run, and that creates the profits capitalists covet.

What can end the war is the coordinated efforts of the international working class and massive mobilizations against the war. We have small but significant examples of what is possible — in the anti-war protests in Russia and Europe; in worker actions against arms shipments in Italy, Belarus, and Greece. But the seeds for a larger fight are also being planted. Capitalist governments’ intent to put the costs of the war on the working class and oppressed have sparked protests across Europe, Latin America, and Asia — particularly in the U.K., France, and Peru. These struggles can become a crucial part of efforts to connect social crisis to the war and fight our class enemies together.

In the United States, a staunchly anti-imperialist policy is indispensable. It is crucial to link this perspective to a burgeoning labor movement that is fighting against worsening living conditions produced by this capitalist, global Neoliberal system. Generation U — for union — is fighting for unions and better working conditions, against exploitation and oppression in the workplace. Imagine if they took up the fight against the war, connecting imperialist aggression abroad to exploitation and repression in the United States. We must reclaim a militant anti-war struggle from within our schools and workplaces, and in the streets. A decade or more ago, the AFL-CIO, as well as independent unions like the dockworkers of the ILWU, passed resolutions against the hated U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, joined anti-war protests, and took workplace action.

Today workers and oppressed people in the U.S. must stand up against this reactionary war and the part played by our imperialist government, which oppresses our class siblings in Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and the rest of the world. For us in the heart of the imperialist beast, we must use all our strength to fight to end this reactionary war and ring the death knell for U.S. imperialism.

Neither NATO nor Putin – No to Capitalist War

U.S and NATO out of Eastern Europe

Russian Troops out of Ukraine

For an Independent and Socialist Solution in Ukraine to Confront Russian Occupation and Imperialist Domination.

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Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

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