On Saturday April 24th, in Kiev, with representatives from different regions of the country, the Ukainian Socialist League was founded. It is a branch of the International Socialist League. We reach the conclusion of a work of several months, where there were debates on theoretical, programatic and political orientation documents and the beginning of a new stage filled with challenges and opportunities.
The Ukrainian comrades laid the principle bases for the new organization. Some were forced to participate via Zoom due to the limitations imposed by the pandemic and others because they were dealing with the disease, but nobody wanted to miss such transcendent event.
The opening and welcoming was given by Oleg Vernik, president of the independent union Zakhyst Pratsi (Defense of the work, in Ukrainian), representing the Organizing Committee of the League. He also referred to the three generational strands of confluence for the formation of the Ukainian Socialist League (USL) and the optimism with which he sees the future of the organization. Then each of the participants introduced themselves and later told how they approached first Marxism and then Trotskyism, from the experience of the fall of the USSR, in some of the multiple struggles that have unfolded or in academic fields.
Oleg expressed special attention and gratitude to the Belarusian comrades of the ISL, without whom the creation of the USL would have been impossible. It was the Belarusian comrades who pointed out to their Ukrainian counterparts that, in the land of Leon Trotsky, the time had come to unite the militant union movement with the creation of a political organization based on the program of the ISL. He further stated that “the USL extends a hand of solidarity and aid to all Marxist organizations and circles that exist in Ukraine. Our young organization, instead of the traditional conflicts in the Marxist milieu, proposes the unification of our efforts in a single struggle against capitalism.”
Alejandro Bodart, coordinator of the ISL, addressed the event and intervened via Zoom, since at the last minute the cancellation of flights from Argentina prevented his trip to Kiev. Among other concepts, Alejandro highlighted the strategic importance of the birth of a revolutionary socialist organization for the future of the Ukrainian working class and the revolution in the whole of Eastern Europe. He elaborated on the historical magnitude of the capitalist crisis we are going through, worsened by the pandemic, and stopped to explain the depth of the inter-imperialist confrontations between the waning US and the rising China and its bloc, which fuels conflicts such as the one developing today between Ukraine and Russia. On the enormous existing social and political polarization, he stressed that as a counterpoint to the strengthening of right-wing expressions, we are witnessing a rebellion of the working class, women and youth in almost all regions of the planet, which we dare to define as the beginning of a pre-revolutionary situation at world level. Thus, the main task of revolutionaries is to contribute to overcome the crisis of the revolutionary leadership by building parties and an international organization, a task for which today there is a very favorable space as shown by the creation of the USL and the rapid growth of the ISL. After briefly explaining the ISL project, he closed by congratulating those present for the success of the event.
For my part, I was fortunate to be able to travel from Spain to participate in the meeting, in which I referred to the traps of campism, the limitations of the reformists and proudly expressed how our political relationship was developing: ” A while ago we began to walk a common path, with the meetings we had in Minsk and the founding of the International Socialist League that we materialized in Barcelona. And we have gone much further with virtual conferences and international campaigns. We raised our voice against the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. We condemn Lukashenko’s repression of the Belarusian people and Vladimir Putin’s repression of the Russian popular mobilizations. We stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Ukrainian miners for wages, promoted by the Independent Trade Union. We support the Belarusian miners of Soligorsk. We are outraged by the corporate looting revealed by the forest fires around Chernobyl. And we condemned the attacks of President Volodimir Zelensky and the ‘Servant of the People’ party on the labor rights of the Ukrainian working class, among many other common actions in solidarity with struggles in different continents. We got to know each other and strengthened our relationship in the class struggle and in the concrete practice of internationalism. And this is how revolutionaries genuinely relate to each other”.
The main report, which we reproduce in full together with this chronicle, was given by comrade Andrei Rumata. Young comrade Maria gave the report “Feminism and LGBT issues: the USL in the struggle for a socialist approach to solving urgent problems”, followed by an exchange of views on “Youth policy: our tasks and suggestions”. Comrade Sergei Rozanov presented the draft “Transitional Program of the USL “, programmatic bases provisionally adopted and to be further elaborated collectively until they are finally approved at a forthcoming event. In addition, the draft “Strategic Program of the USL “, elaborated by Andrei Rumata, was proposed for debate and will also be discussed and enriched collectively.
The step taken by the comrades in the land where Leon Trotsky was born is a symbol of the new stage we are currently living. It was a courageous step for several reasons of a present and historical nature. They managed to overcome the limitations and restrictions imposed by the effects of the pandemic, at a time when Ukraine is suffering the war threats of Putin, and the Donbas area is the scene of the expansionist ambitions of Russian imperialism. Meanwhile, the American and European Union imperialists are also fighting to extend their zone of commercial and geopolitical influence. The USL takes its first steps away from the petty interests represented by the imperialists of both sides.
At the local level, the USL is born confronting the Zelensky government which is bent on the task of submitting the country to the clutches of the Western powers, to the economic designs of the IMF and to solidify the capitalist relationships of production. While a handful of privileged people get richer, the working class suffers a harsh attack on its labor rights and the people get poorer.
The Ukrainian working people know of great deeds, strikes and mobilizations. And also of the clash with the oligarchic and neo-Nazi expressions, which are a minority but are aggressively active, as was seen in Maidan and is reflected today. The USL presents itself as a political opposition to the exploiting interests of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, supporting the workers’ struggles and promoting mobilization against bourgeois, oligarchs and ultra-rightists.
When the nefarious Stalinist Communist Parties collapsed and the USSR dissolved, the powerful took advantage of the debacle to officially ban communist symbols and propaganda. With its betrayals and bureaucratism, Stalinism was a collaborator of imperialism to stop struggles and crush revolutions; it caused confusion, demoralization and a great setback in the class consciousness of the workers all over the world. Since its integration to the International Socialist League, the USL is born as an expression totally opposed to Stalinism: it raises as banners socialism with democracy and internationalist solidarity among the peoples, making its own the tools of the Transitional Program and the postulates of Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism.
The Conference was a success that strengthens us to continue fighting with more optimism, with more confidence in the mobilization and organization of the working class and its revolutionary potential. We could end the deliberations in only one way: singing The Internationale in Ukrainian, fist raised. This was very significant, since this anthem has not been sung in Ukraine for many years due to “decommunization” and fear of reprisals. But fear is not a conditioning factor: the Ukrainian comrades are determined to fight for the interests of the working class of their country and of the whole world.