“We need a working class movement to change the world”- Denys Pilash interview Part II

Video of second part of three part interview with Denys Pilash. Transcript is below video. Part One of the interview is here. Part three will follow.


John Reimann
Here’s the second part of the interview with Denys Pilash. We will pick up where we left off at the previous interview. And here’s where we left off by way of review: Putin is kind of like the nexus, the gathering point, like the hub in a wheel for the far right, including fascist forces all around the world, including here in the United States.
Denys Pilash
Many, many have overlooked this actual importance of Putin’s Russia as some kind of beacon for the International far right. And actually, Putin’s Russia is some kind of very important sponsor of a number of military dictatorships. So for instance, the military junta in Myanmar, waging this bloody war against their own people. It relies heavily on the support of China and Russia. In Africa again, if we take this general situation, that ousted dictator Omar Bashir, in Sudan, he was the first to let Wogner Group inside Africa in exchange for support of his murderous regime that was quite notorious for genocidal acts and wars were waged inside the country. And now we have another conflict in Sudan, where both sides, both the military junta, and this forces, the former Janjaweed forces that are led by the former vice chairman of this junta, they both rely on Russian support. And they both have ties with with Wagner. And some of the generals were in Russia, in Moscow on the day of the invasion of Ukraine, and they confirmed their full support for this. And you can continue all this. So like military, coupsin Mali, and Burkina Faso, they have been, again, the dictatorships that came to power, they are in very close relation with with Putin’s Russia, and they’re heavily relying on the presence of Russian military, you know, assistance. So it seems that yes, it’s combined with lots of most most reactionary and authoritarian forces throughout the world. And all of them are founded this nexus in Putin’s Russia.

John Reimann
We shouldn’t forget Cyril Ramaphosa, who, you know, had joint naval maneuvers with with both Russia and China, and also had the blood of the Marikana miners on his hands. It’s no accident. I mean, Trump ideologically is aligned with Putin, but also he served for many, many years, he was a money launderer for the Russian oligarchs in the United States. And who was the biggest oligarch in Russia – it’s Putin.

John Reimann
We then went on to another question. And that is true internationalist,s of course, understand that Ukraine must have arms to fight the invasion. And they’re getting those arms from sources such as Biden. But we know that the Biden support for Ukraine is unreliable. And there’s also the question of what happens after the war. So that leads to the question, what role can international socialists and independent working class movement play in supporting Ukraine?

Denys Pilash
People in Ukraine, we also don’t need to have some kind of illusions that Western leaders are so supportive of Ukraine because of their pure heart and their big interest in in Ukraine. It’s actually just for this international conjuncture, our interests of having some some arms to defend ourselves and their interests. They coincided. But no more, I think it’s the case of Syrian Kurds in Rojava. That were the foremost force to defeat the so called Islamic State. And then they were abandoned actually, by their allies from the US. It’s very telling. So [as long as] your interests in a way coincide you will get the support, but afterwards, you are on your own. And this actually means that yes, we don’t we don’t trust those Western governments so we need to instead to re invent, to rebuild the true internationalist leftist movement, the movement of peoples and movement of working peoples, a movement of oppressed peoples is that, at least, should put this pressure on on their own governments.

But at its best, we need to think about our common goal to overcome the existing neoliberal capitalist system and how we can achieve it. And now we get to the situation when many, many sectors on the left they are dominated by way of campist thinking of trying to root for the powers that they feel is lesser evil. And actually, when you mentioned Ramaphosa and Ramaphosa, who went this full turn from an anti apartheid activist, trade union activist, who was bravely fighting against the racist regime in South Africa, and ultimately it becomes part of the elite, becomes a capitalist himself. And he inflicts the this forceful suppression of the striking miners in Marikana. So, this is some kind of full circle made by by representative of this compromising former left in a country of the global south.

But, again, what we’ve experienced since the start of the full scale invasion, we have failed, we have met both this complete ignorance and on many in the so called left, especially those who came from the Stalinist tradition, but we had no high hopes in them, but also some others who claim to be more reasonable in their analysis, but they ultimately provided no analysis, but just some cliches that meant nothing. And they replaced some kind of class analysis with geopolitical one that tries to find all this, this power seems anti Western enough. So we put in West our anti anti imperialist hopes to this actually other imperialist or sub imperialist. Because actually, it’s also some manifestation of your inner failure to change something from inside. So you root for some outer power that will change the situation. And ultimately, these people, they abandon all the principles of solidarity and freedom and egalitarianism, for the sake of this campist way of thinking.

But we also experienced enormous solidarity from all over the world. And actually those people, socialists, Marxists. anarchists who bothered to actually speak to actual Ukrainians, who bothered to think with their own heads had and not rely on some outdated cliches or some, you know, patterns of thinking. They provided lots of help, both like symbolic solidarity, and also political solidarity, in some cases, also practical solidarity. So like in your case, and what you’re doing and other people in Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign, and in some other North America based groups…. And we can continue with lots of European ones, like some Left Alliance in Finland, the Left Party in Sweden, green left Alliance in Denmark, both socialist left and Red Party in Norway. Also, obviously, those parties in Central Eastern Europe that have a more clear understanding of the history of Russian expansionism, like Razem in Poland. They were very supportive from day one. And also many, many parties, especially those who have been connected to some kind of Trotskyist anti Stalinist, democratic Socialist traditions, like the Portuguese Left Bloc or the new anti capitalist party in France. They also showed a full understanding of the situation here in Ukraine. And they also participated in many solidarity networks like the European network for Solidarity with Ukraine, that is now going beyond Europe. And we have this every month meeting of the global network of solidarity, or as one that is more focused on labor union solidarity. And there we have also people from throughout the world, from from Brazil, from Argentina, from South Korea, from Japan, from from New Zealand. So you find also that there is this kind of very genuine solidarity.

And these people are very consistent in they were opposing those imperialist invasions that were started by, by the US, like the invasion into Iraq. And they in the same way, they also oppose all other expansionist and imperialist invasions. Yeah, including Israel and Palestine, including Turkey, against the Kurdish people, including Saudi Arabia, and also Iran, what they do in the Middle East in general, and in Yemen, in particular. So yes, these are people who have a very clear, internationalist position. And if you want to be, if you want to build a wall that would be based on other principles, then this capitalist one, you need to, obviously to practice these principles in your everyday activity. And you cannot just neglect entire people’s millions of people, because you see them as merely some pawns on the geopolitical chessboard, and you Deny their agency, you deny that they are actual living people. And you also deny that this bizarre majority of working class people.

John Reimann
I asked Denys, what his views were on what kind of role if any Sotsialny Rukh, or Social Movement, could play in helping to regenerate a healthy, socialist tendency, internationally.

Denys Pilash
And there were lots of other countries and their leftist groups that also experienced this dilemmas of solidarity and lack of it. So but I think that really from from our position, and from the spontaneous solidarity networks that actually emerged in in Europe and throughout the world. So yes, we can see this as some of not exclusively the only ones, but some of those embryos of future movements that can span like over over the regions and build these bridges, very important bridges, between peoples in different contexts, but who share the situation or surviving in the situation of War conflict, but also just ordinary, everyday capitalism. So I think that we need to re re evaluate what, what is now accomplished by different groups that claim themselves leftists, and actually concentrate on those who, who actually do the work in the grassroots.

So there are people who are really involved into everyday struggles on the workplaces, in the unions, different social movements, people who are engaged in some ecological climate activism throughout the world, and who, and there are also people who present themselves at some inner circles have their friends as gurus of progressive sort, but actually, who got detached from from the actual movements. So we need to go back to the ground and actually to build this new left internationalism from below. Yes, to try to go from the grassroots and from what emerged in a not very organized way. So it was very, very spontaneous. But ultimately, we found ourselves inside lots of these networks that ask questions not about Ukraine, and not just about supportive of us here, but also who try to go beyond and to make our concrete problems, as it were so highlighted by this war, show how they connect with everyday grievances of people throughout the world, and how those demands that we put forward, like cancellation of Ukrainian foreign dept, like destroying the system of tax havens of capitalism, that is also used by Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, like actually moving forward beyond fossil fuel capitalism, how they actually connect into global picture of global democratic and socialist alternative to the current world order.

So I think that if we come back to this basics, and we speak with and collaborate, cooperate with, with movements in other parts of the world, and especially, I think it’s quite important to show people in different contexts [of those] who have different specific imperialisms that they face and different specific challenges. But ultimately, we can see that the patterns of these dependencies, the patterns of inequalities, they are pretty [much] the same, like inside the capitalist world system. So in a way, we need to explain to people in Eastern Europe, the situation of the people in the so called Global South, and also to explain to the people in the so called Global South
situations, people in the post Soviet space. So in a way, it’s a it’s a huge task. But it’s something that is inevitable if you want to, to actually change the world.

John Reimann
So this is a good stopping point for this segment of the interview with Denys, in the next segment, which will be the last segment, we’ll be talking about some specific programmatic ideas for a working class socialists campaign, which can link up the class struggle at home with support for Ukraine. Specifically, we’ll be talking about the campaign to seize the assets of [not only] Russian, but also Ukrainian oligarchs, who have invested their ill gotten gains through money laundering schemes in the United States and elsewhere. So we hope you’ll stay you’ll tune in for the this coming last segment of the interview.

Categories: Europe, socialist movement, war

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