Marxist theory

Democratic Socialists of America and the Political Crisis of Socialism

The fact that tens of millions of US workers still support Trump shows the massive confusion that exists. Part of the reason for that confusion is the absence of any significant working class socialist movement. In fact, the socialist movement itself is in many ways even more confused!

Take the example of the largest “socialist” group in the United States: Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). In general it supports middle class liberals. For example, in my city (Oakland), it

Nikki Fortunato Bas. This liberal is in bed with the real estate developers, yet she is supported by DSA.

is campaigning for a city council member (Nikki Fortunato Bas) who supports a huge redevelopment project (the Howard St. project, AKA the Oakland A’s stadium) which amounts to privatization of public land and accelerated gentrification.

Historically, liberals like these have made common cause with the supporters of the bureaucracy of the old Soviet Union. Stalinists” they are called, named after the leader of that bureaucracy, Joseph Stalin. It serves the interests of both the liberals and the Stalinists in that it gives the liberals a radical veneer while it links the Stalinists to some in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. (Of course, the liberals have never hesitated to turn on the Stalinists when it suited them.) So, today, the “International Committee” of DSA plays that role by giving cover to Putin. They will be holding a webinar on the war in Ukraine.

Unreconstructed Supporter of Stalin
ne of the speakers is Pawel Wargan who apparently is an unreconstructed Stalinist. Wargen apparently looks to Stalin for political guidance. “Social democracy, as Stalin warned nearly a century ago, is the moderate wing of fascism,” he has tweeted. It was exactly that disastrous policy that helped divide the German working class and allowed Hitler to come to power.

The web of Putin supporters and genocide deniers, including DSA International Committee panelist Vijay Prashad

Genocide Denialist
Another panelists is Vijay Prashad. According to Newsline Magazine 
Prashad works closely with Neville Roy Singham and is associated with Chinese imperialism. That same article documents how Prashad denies the genocide against the Uighur people.

Sopo Japaridze
Sopo Japaridze is Georgian and works with Open Democracy, which apparently
opposes repression, bigotry, and right wing religious influence around the world, However, apparently none of this is a problem in Russia, if you read their web site.

Yurii Sheliazhenko
The only panelists who is actually in Ukraine is
Yuri Sheliazhenko. A co founder of the United Peace Movement (UPM), Sheliazhenko has expressed this view of the invasion:“people need peace education and need hope to overcome fear and hatred and embrace nonviolent solutions. Underdeveloped peace culture, militarized education which produces rather obedient conscripts than creative citizens and responsible voters is a common problem in Ukraine, Russia and all post-Soviet countries. Without investments in development of peace culture and peace education for citizenship we will not achieve genuine peace.”

Panelist Yurii Sheliazhenko

What does this really mean?

An article in Workers Liberty, Sheliazhenko makes it clear. Zeliazhenko wrote: “He (Zelensky) pursues a military solution, and he fails to call Putin and ask him directly to stop the war.” That is like blaming a woman who fights a rapist rather than simply “asking” him to stop.

The real meaning of Sheliazenko’s pacifist idealism is revealed in these two comments of his: He defines Zelensky’s aims in the war as: “(Acceptance of) the Euro-Atlantic choice of Ukraine; her sovereignty over the Donbas and the Crimea; and the cessation of ties with Russia, following her punishment for imperialism and war crimes.”

He defines Putin’s aims as: “Multi-polarity; (recognition of) Russian security concerns in the post-Soviet region; demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, including non-alignment with military alliances; absence of nuclear weapons; recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea; independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics; non-discrimination of Russian people and culture in Ukraine; punishment of anti-Russian far-righters.”

There is no way to reasonably interpret this view other than that it is a political cover for Putin’s invasion. That is what Sheliazhenko’s pacifist idealism amounts to – a call for Ukrainians to lay down their arms so that the fascist loving Putin can roll right over them.

And why shouldn’t Sheliazhenko in practice support Putin as do fascists throughout the world? After all, he has closely associated with an anti-Semite through his United Peace Movement (UPM). Another co-founder of the UPM is Ruslan Kotsaba. According to that same Workers Liberty article, Kotsaba has said that Jews “felt that they had a penalty to pay, for the fact that they bred Nazism, the fact that they bred Communism. They bred Lenin, Marx, Engels, all these Blanks [reference to name of Lenin’s Jewish grandmother], these Trotskys, Kamenevs, Zinovievs, Stalins, Hitlers, etc.

“They deserved a severe penalty because of the Ukrainian Holodomor….” In another social media post Kotsaba was asked his views of a number of Ukrainian politicians. He replied: “I don’t have any problem with half-Jews. I am of the opinion that that the half-bloods should not suffer any disadvantages because of their non-Ukrainian origins.”

In other words, Sheliazhenko’s close associate is an anti-Semite, and especially in Eastern Europe anti-Semitism is the hallmark of fascism. Since Sheliazhenko gives political cover to Putin, and since he associates with this anti-Semite, one must wonder whether Sheliazhenko’s idealistic pacifist babble isn’t a cover for political sympathies that are similar to those of his associate, Kotsaba.

These are Experts?
These are the types that the DSA International Committee puts up as experts: An unreconstructed Stalinist and somebody who writes idealist pacifist babble to hide his sympathy with Putin and his association with fascists. It is little wonder that this DSA International Committee event will be a “webinar” rather than an actual meeting, since an open discussion is not allowed in such webinars.

How can socialists ever expect to build any base in any section of the working class with such politics and such methods?

1 reply »

  1. Thank you for this very informative piece. Sheliazenko has also been a frequent guest on Hypocrisy Now, where they are more and more returning to their true course of support for Putin’s fascism and Russian imperialism. His “give peace a chance” monologues have been very useful to DN in spinning the illusion that Goodman & all support Ukraine, or are at least neutral. Your exposure here also exposes them there.

    Thank you,

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