The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ukraine:
When Everything Moves

Mar 3, 2014

At the end of November 2013, a few hundred students contested the power of President Yanukovych in the streets, and the riot police could not break their struggle. That was enough for the movement to engage many more people from all social groups and regions of the country in just a few weeks.

Certainly, in the grand square of Kiev, there were more students, middle class people, small business people, rural laborers, and the poor than workers from the big companies in the capital or from the East. But the fact is that a few tens of thousands of people gathered together and protested, at the risk of their lives, to say “no!” to a corrupt government that killed to protect the tycoons who pillage the economy, the oligarchs....

To the extent that we can judge from afar, one actor, and an important one, remains absent from the scene: the working class. Many different forces have emerged in Ukraine, including a reinforced extreme right. But as often happens when a population begins to mobilize, the working class has not appeared. No force, no known organization has addressed the working class in these events....

Even so, the nature of events, by breaking the routine, makes a political awakening of the Ukrainian working class possible in a way that was not true before.

If the mobilization continues, the movement could help the working class to understand and mobilize to defend its interests against the old government and against the new one which is supported by the West, the right, and the extreme right.

From a distance, we cannot say if and how this could happen. But we can say that events are not going in the right direction....

The party of the extreme right, Svoboda, ally of the new government, wants to ban political strikes. If they do this, will it provoke the workers to react to defend their rights? If so, the new government and its Western masters will inevitably push back, using the crisis into which the country is plunged as an excuse....

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to make predictions in this case. The only thing that we can say is that because of the popular mobilization in Ukraine, there is a chance for the working class to become conscious of its forces and its interests. In any case, this is the only chance for the workers to escape the fate reserved for them by the rich and the politicians.