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The U.S. Working Class Must Organize against the Reactionary War in Ukraine!

When we attended Labor Notes last summer we called on the growing labor movement to organize against the war in Ukraine. As the war continues to escalate, we reissue our call for the working class and labor activists to intervene against this reactionary war.

Left Voice

January 20, 2023
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It’s been nearly one year since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, starting a war that has brought death and destruction and displaced millions. NATO powers, especially the United States, have used the invasion to justify their proxy war to militarily weaken Russia. NATO’s interests are not with Ukrainian workers. NATO seeks to advance Western capital in Eastern Europe and pursue historic rearmament. Meanwhile, Putin’s invasion violently pits Russian workers against Ukrainian workers in an attempt to reestablish Russia as an imperialist power. This escalating war is plunging workers around the world into a future of uncertainty, poverty, and carnage. We are now facing the greatest risk of nuclear war in years.

Against U.S. and NATO, against Putin, against the Zelenksyy regime, and for the international working class, labor must oppose this reactionary war.

This Is No War for Democracy

Joe Biden has built support for rearmament of NATO and U.S. imperialism by framing this proxy war as one of democracy vs. autocracy. While the Russian government is indeed autocratic and reactionary, the Ukrainian government is no better, itself going so far as to ban opposition parties, ruthlessly crack down on labor rights, and stoke anti-Russian hatred. The U.S. government doesn’t care about freedom or democracy in Ukraine or anywhere else.

Right now in the United States, women and trans people are facing the most vigorous anti-democratic attacks in years, their basic bodily autonomy and human rights under threat. Throughout history, the U.S. government has used its police and military to infiltrate, attack, and suppress social and labor movements — from militant labor strikes to movements of the Black freedom struggle. Militarism abroad goes hand in hand with repression at home.

As the most powerful country in the world, the United States has one goal only: to maintain itself at the head of the international world order so that it can guarantee the best conditions for its capitalists.

An Attack on Workers of the World

The Russian invasion is clearly an attack on the people of Ukraine, and workers and the oppressed in Russia, Ukraine, and across the world face the worst burden. This is why we stand against Putin’s invasion and with the Russian people who are protesting this reactionary war. But the blood is not solely on Russia’s hands. NATO expansion over decades has escalated the capitalist competition to the point of war.

The U.S. and EU sanctions are punishing the Russian working class for a war it does not control. Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is fueling an economic crisis around the world. As this war continues, the working class in the Global South faces hunger and famine while workers here in the U.S. face ever-increasing costs of living. We are being told to sacrifice — by tightening our belts — while Biden and co. spend billions on war!

How Can Workers End the War?

Just as solidarity is key to fighting the boss and improving our lives here, solidarity must extend beyond any arbitrary borders. U.S. bosses collaborate among themselves to keep unions weak, and capitalist interests — the billionaire class — do the same thing on the world scale: collaborating to drive down wages, keep workers atomized, and ensure stable, pro-business governments.

The war is the latest chapter in which capitalist powers fight over control and influence of the world’s territories, spelling only misery for workers around the world. But our fight is not against the workers and oppressed in Russia or Ukraine — it is against the system that exploits us. Putin, Zelenskyy, and the U.S. government, none of whom care the slightest bit about working people, do not deserve our support.

Generation U — for union — must organize not only for workers in the U.S. but also against reactionary war and U.S. imperialism. 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. Workers joined mass anti-war protests and, in some cases, even took anti-war workplace action — like the ILWU’s port shutdown on May Day 2009.

Today, activists of Generation U must build on the radical anti-war traditions of our movement: challenging union support for NATO, opposing U.S. arming of Ukraine, and extending a hand of solidarity to working people everywhere. Ultimately, workers in the United States could join with our union siblings in Belarus, Greece, and elsewhere who refused to handle Russian and NATO arms.

We demand Russian troops out of Ukraine, U.S. troops out of Europe, an end to NATO, no sanctions, and not one more penny to the military or police.

The working class in the U.S. must stand up against our imperialist government, which oppresses our class siblings in Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and the rest of the world. The pandemic showed us that it is us workers who make the world run. As workers 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.

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Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

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