Discussion with a Ukrainian construction worker

I had a discussion with an unemployed construction worker today. He was in the army but was expelled after a month after they discovered that he’d been arrested some time ago for a minor charge. This really shows how the government is filled to overflowing with recruits, young people who want to join to fight the invaders. Because they’re so full, they can really choose who they want.

We talked about Zelensky, and he said that he did not completely support Zelensky. I got the strong impression that after the war is over, the focus will move to opposing Zelensky. In that sense, Putin has really done Zelensky a favor by increasing Zelensky’s support.

We discussed Zelensky’s role prior to the invasion. He said more or less that he had not thought an invasion was an immediate danger and had he thought otherwise he would have prepared differently. He said that Zelensky hadn’t wanted to cause panic among the population, but he agreed that it doesn’t seem there would have been panic, just better preparation. And as for the capitalists, they didn’t “panic”, they just fled Ukraine despite what Zelensky saiud or didn’t say!

There seems to be a general feeling that these debates are all just talk, talk, talk in order to avoid actually doing anythng. I must say that those Western “socialists” and “Marxists” who fancy themselves as theoretical geniuses but in effect oppose a military defeat for Putin’s invading army – these people certainly do nothing to dispel this general view.

But the discussion led to the question of what happened after Ukraine became independent and why. I have the strong impression that the great majority of people here wanted a “social state” capitalism – capitalism similar to how it was in Germany 30 or 50 years ago.

We also talked about the situation in the unions here in Ukraine and in the US. Here, the unions come from the old state-controlled unions from Soviet days. In the US, the origins are different, but the situation is similar.

We also talked about the relationship between fighting imperialism and fighting one’s “own” capitalist class. The view seemed to be that it’s necessary to fight the imperialists first.

Afterwards, the two comrades with whom I’m staying and I talked late into the night. Among other things, N., the woman comrade who’d told me that “nothing could be too angry” at those Western “socialists” who oppose arming Ukraine – got to talking about the situation for women here. She was telling me about the laws on rape, for example. It’s only considered to be rape if the woman can prove that she forcibly resisted, which can only be proven by having bruises and the like on her. As for a woman’s right to full self defense, that right doesn’t exist.

She also talked about the feminist movement in general here. Like such social movements in the US (including the feminist movement) it’s been largely influenced by identity politics. I mentioned to her the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court. A recent article in the NY Times explained that in order to reach that pinnacle of her field, she’d had to play the role of constantly moderating the protests of her fellow black students when she was in college. That was all too familiar to N. Here.

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  1. Fascinating, John. Today the “Peace in Ukraine” campaign had an online protest meeting, accompanied by some in person events. The predictable cast is involved, with Noam Chomsky, Medea Benjamin, Tariq Ali and Varafakis the most well known. It was good to have the list and see what they are up to. I don’t think this “movement” is going to get much traction as any person who has a brain would see this “campaign” and be immediately confused. Peace? With Putin? But Ukraine was invaded, for no cause? Negotiate what? It is disgusting.

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