For Revolutionary Defeatism in Ukraine
We print below, edited for publication, a contribution submitted by comrade Ed Jarvis as part of Conference discussion.
Primarily as a result of a discussion I had with members of the delegation from the International Secretariat (I.S.), I have adopted the majority position of defeatism in the Ukraine war. I was triggered into writing this document by an SL/U.S. comrade who urged me to seek, as comrade Jim Robertson used to say, in the bowels of Christ to consider that I may be wrong. It turns out that it wasn’t exactly necessary for me to seek too deeply into those bowels to find the path to the truth.
There were certain key conceptions about the military defeatism position that I had serious concerns about. I openly and honestly presented these concerns to the International Executive Committee (IEC). As a result, members of the I.S. delegation discussed these concerns with me.
My initial concern with our line was, as I openly wrote in my document addressed to the IEC:
I interpreted this to mean that the struggle for national liberation was no longer to be supported. In other words, if the International Communist League had sections in Ukraine and Russia, we would be calling for the workers and soldiers military councils to stop all activity and reverse the direction of their guns.
The I.S. comrades made it clear that this is not what this formulation actually means. It doesn’t literally mean that struggle for self-determination of the Donbass is to be halted. It rather means that the liberation of the Donbass will require waging not simply a struggle against Nazi-led Ukrainian troops but also the military Russian forces engaged in the national oppression of non-Russian Ukrainians.
Such a perspective is essential for rebuilding Russian and Ukrainian workingclass unity, as well as providing the foundation for the national freedom of all Ukrainian nationalities. This, of course, can only be the result of the revolutionary conquest of power that results in the emergence of workers republics and voluntary socialist federations.
The other major concern that I had was the question of recognizing the legitimacy of Russia acting in self-defense against the longstanding encroachment by NATO toward the border of Russia. I thought that having a military wing of imperialism with a knife so near the throat of Russia was a legitimate reason to act in self-defense.
Viewing the question in this way, however, is a mistake. There must be no reliance on a capitalist-led Russian military to even defend Russia against U.S. imperialism and its NATO military extension. Under the leadership of a reforged Fourth International, it is the job of the international working class to stay the hand of U.S. imperialism and NATO.
Making these points more explicit in our propaganda on the war in Ukraine would win support for our position and help defeat our opponents, such as the Internationalist Group.