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Songs of the Black Sea


an older analysis of ours on the Ukrainian events(written back in March of 2014).

 What can be said about what is happening in Ukraine? We can stretch the events or squeeze them into our preexisting ideological context. Or the contradictory form of riots in Ukraine requires us to look back to the events to redefine our analyzes, and anyways to see why these people are getting killed. The conflict in Ukraine becomes more polarized. The scene of the conflict has moved to the east of the country, mainly in the areas of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrofsk.The conflict seems to be divided on the basis of national identity, ethnic and linguistic differences, etc. And indeed the separation has taken such features but obviously these are not the cause. The causes lie in the same contradictions of Ukrainian society as a totality, ie the state, the bourgeois society, the composition of capital in that society etc. The fact that the conflict has moved to the east is not accidental.

Initially, as many have emphasized the Ukrainian case must be understood as to the particular form that is the specific historical context of state-oligarchic state. In Ukraine, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the local officials of the party had the opportunity to accumulate  wealth vastly, and to gain control of key sectors of the Ukrainian economy and society. Since then the political scene in Ukraine became a huge stage of competition between the different “factions” of oligarchs, who were developing between them a complex web of competition and cooperation, while many politicians, such as Yanukovych became oligarchs after being involved in politics. This easily answers the question “why” things are the way they are in politics of Ukraine, etc etc. But this leads us to another question/answer which is obvious but crucial as well. The Ukrainian state could not function as a general capitalist, and especially on the most important function and task that needs to be done by a state: to carry out “smoothly” the centralization / restructuring of capitalist social relations during the crisis. The economy of the country was divided into entrepreneurs who were in furious competition with each other, with business cycles which belong to different regions of capital accumulation of the world economy, and with different capital composition. On them can be seen the first marks towards the crisis of the Ukrainian state in the context of the world capitalist scrisis. But a state exists only according and in relation to its society. And here arises a question that no one wants to answer: Why proletarians and other people are out on the street? If all, this is just another conflict between mainstream business circles of Ukraine, which constitute about 85% of GDP, why the conflict does not take the form as previously was, ie competition for influence in the government? So there must be something more than just businessmen fighting to each other.

The Ukrainian capitalist society exhibited some special characteristics with the passage of time. The “oligarchic” state and its economy were closed. International investments were few and European capital struggled to get into a market that the state was “not neutral”. Mainly during the Yanukovich regime (from 2010 onwards) the centralization of capital in Ukraine got very aggressive forms, with a policy that clearly favoured the strongest oligarchs of the east, and literally left no space to operate and compete with them for both EU firms and smaller Ukrainian firms. It was the opportunity he found the strongest part of the Ukrainian capital to strengthen its position in the midst of crisis (such as it happens in every country). Even the few European companies operating in the Ukrainian territory, seems to face the hostility of the state. Therefore the first who would like to react to this situation was the potential of small entrepreneurs, self employed, students, or the unemployed from the western regions, etc. This shows us why initially the Maidan had such a strong feature of inter-class character, claims against corruption, and the intense pro-EU character. The EU – as we have said before- was conceived in Maidan as “rationalization” of the capitalist competition and the state, to leave room for the little capital to operate. Follows that along with them many unemployed in the western regions [1], low-income workers and students were in the protests with an extreme democratic, pro european character, because they thought that a “healthy capitalism” would give them jobs. Essentially they were calling to reset, or to build a “healthy capitalism”, which would allow them to function as capitalist subjects and find the fulfilment of their bourgeois social relations as a working class inside an operating capital(they asked of “work” but in a way of “investment” of a healthy-all for all- capitalism),together with them, there were the small capitalists who were asking for “space” to invest. So these two social subjects came together as capitalist subjects but against the general way capitalism was developing in Ukraine-this was their central controversy that gave them such a power but also was limiting them from developing to a proletarian movement. Therein lies the deep democratic / liberal character of Maidan who does not ask anything different from the other squares of the world. It was a citizens’ movement, found in the square as an abstract community (citizens), who were calling the state to restore the democratic promise of “control on our own life”, equal opportunities for all etc etc, ie restore the “ideal” form of bourgeois social roles. Therefore the core of Maidan was the capitalist crisis as experienced by bourgeois subjects in the Ukrainian-version of capitalism, so that was a fetishized version of anticapitalism, a claim of bourgeois subjects against the dynamics of the Ukrainian capitalism. But these contradictions took the historical shapes that gave them the Ukrainian context. And here is the important thing.

As we have said, the nationalistic character of the squares movement, or their democratic character translates differently the same crisis, the same reaction to the dynamics of modern capital. But the particular circumstances of Ukraine, the internal conflict in the country of different regions of capital accumulation, and therefore the complete inability of the Ukrainian state to act as general capitalist played a key role. The movement of the Maidan was a movement of the  capitalist crisis but simultaneously tried to solve the contradiction of the Ukrainian state, which had been exacerbated by the capitalist crisis. The state was unable to continue to perform its role as a key mediator of the centralization of capital accumulation. Moreover, the industrial production in Ukraine is concentrated mainly in three areas in the east, Donetsk, the Dnipropetrofsk, and Lugansk regions.The higher wages appear to be there, while overall the eastern Ukraine appears “richer” than the western, with factories mainly on metallurgy, aerospace technologies, etc. and relatively less unemployment. These industrial units are involved primarily in the Russian economy, and their owners are the main supporters of Yanukovich and other pro-Russian politicians. Based on this data, it seems reasonable about why the Maidan translated the capital contradiction on national(istic) terms rather than on terms of (direct) democracy(as elsewhere): The state itself had such “colourizing” as there were fierce competition from different regions of capital (or potentially capital). Therefore we can say that the Maidan was the expression of a broader crisis that has existed for years in Ukraine, and this was the crisis of the Ukrainian state as a general capitalist, which was accelerated by the international capitalist crisis , and brought  the Ukrainian state to a point of no return about its obligations that were impossible to be carried out because of the contradictory nature of state-society relations. Based on the above, it is no coincidence that the rebellion started from the West to the East, the fact that the eastern provinces strongly resist new government of Kiev, and that the rebellion took the form of Maidan national emancipation, and on this basis proletarians together with trying to solve the contradictions of the Ukrainian state. [2]. In summary, therefore the Maidan and the entire rebellion was a rebellion against the crisis, it was fear of bourgeois subjects which come in conflict with the broader dynamic of capitalism, with the particular form it took in the current moment in Ukraine, that was the contradiction between the state as general capitalist and the centralization of capital in two different regions within the same state. This was experienced by a large proportion of Ukrainians as a crisis of the bourgeois subject of citizenship, ie crisis which appears in more and more countries between the open-democratic state and the necessary devaluation of labour and reconstraction of the bourgeois society by the  same state. This shows us that the Maidan is no different in content from the other squares in the world, but it is different in form. This content was expressed differently because it was formed under different conditions,  and other effects of class struggle.

The “movement” of the Anti-Maidan and the Maidan of Kharkov

The pro-Russian movement in the east of the country has come to be called anti-Maidan. I will not talk here about the form that this “movement” “has gotten in the provinces of Dnipropetrofsk, Donetsk or before in Crimea, but for the most social and political version of Kharkiv. In Kharkov, until recently there was the last running Maidan in country, which unlike Kiev never actively was associated with the Right Sector or Svoboda. After the fall of Yanukovych, the Kharkov Maidan continued mainly in the form of popular democratic assemblies, and when the war fever started to rise in the country, it took an antiwar character. This does not mean that it has lost its liberal nature, or that the main content is very different from the Maidan in Kiev, but that the form and the activity of the region makes it more easily understood through the particular-most familiar to us – forms it took. The Maidan of Kharkov does not openly support the new government, but has anti-war-and-pro-European character. Against this Maidan there is the popular pro-Russian movement of Anti-Maidan. Especially after the events of April 13, 2014 [3] it became evident that the Ukrainian state can not manage the situation while the protesters of antiMaintan showed themselves willing to defend the claim of federalization of Ukraine, by any means. The question thus arises as themselves the proletarians put it: in which part of the capitalist periphery they will be in? And this is key topic, because such as a choice for them is crucial. If Ukraine joins the Western region, the eastern regions of Ukraine will suffer irreparable damage both in relation to their exports to Russia, which is the main customer of the factories of the East, as well as to the ownership status of several companies as formed so far in Ukraine. It will also change the capital composition. This will lead these businesses to be closed by competition and thus many in the east will be unemployed. On the other hand, the connection with the EU on this part of Ukraine which was experiencing the devaluation of their labour power so far, the strong competition, and their inability of effective capitalist competition and the general inability to enter the society with satisfying conditions, while the “Ukrainian capitalism” posits different options, despite the hopes they had for an upgrade of their social status in the context of their “dream” about a “better capitalism”, this choice means repeating a case such as Bulgaria, ie the total dissolution of the economy as it was before, to facilitate foreign investment, integration of proletarians to capital relation as an extreme undervalued workforce, and perhaps a few opportunities for some, young, ambitious, competitors of the old “Soviet” capital. This does not mean that the “Eastern option” is better than the European. The issue as said above should be seen within the dialectic of crisis as a failure of the Ukrainian state to manage the centralization of capital between two different regions of capital accumulation. Both sides want to do the same, to integrate Ukraine into a single region of accumulation. The ways used for this can not be predicted but the important feature is that this movement is produced by the bottom: proletarians of both sides defend their capitals against the scrapping down by the overall dynamics of capitalism, for continuing to reproduce themselves as proletarians, cause they know that a proletarian without a capital is nothing. This is the common core shared by both movements, but what are the limitations of these practices remains to be seen. [4]

Apparently the Maidan as limit had the very essence of it, the abstract relations of social subljects. On the other hand, the Maidan Kharkov is not simply different from that of Kiev, but is the evolution of Maidan, without being the overcome of its content, however, it has not found as limit the politicization of the movement, ie the raising of a new government or the critisim of the state and government from a democratic perspective, but found it’s limit at the anti-war project and in the more social demands. Nevertheless this difference, as may important as it is, should not be exaggerated: Social practices grasp their meaning socially. That means, that the meaning of a social practise is what these practises are doing socially, what is the process they spark in a social level, and what is their main relation according to the central social relation which is capital relation.That means that probably these people of Kharkov Maidan/and their opponents of antiMaidan, both have the best intentions and they both want the best for their lives, and probably they both hate their poverty but the social practices that they are involved to as they exist within the contradictions of the Ukrainian capitalist society as it is, are a part of a wider capitalistic dynamic that is not under their own control, that means that their practices are not in any way against the status quo, but merely a change of the capital form. This doesnt mean that this practises, both of Maidan or antiMaidan have no perspective to evolve, but as they are now, they are fetishized social conflicts that stay within their fetish forms of capitalism.


[1] During the crisis, the centralization of capital gets specific characteristics in each social formation(country), depending on the course of the class there .In this process the most strong capitals compete more and more and they assimilate the smaller, and eventually find their place into the global regionalization of capitals. During the government of Yanukovych, this centralization of capital got very aggressive characteristics, through laws, deliberate absence of controls and inspections in various business and fierce control and inspections on other buissnesses, etc. this left no space to emergence of other capitals. Beyond this, the abstract relations, and the dynamics of capital that spawned the Maidan, show us why it was politicized, but also why such a large percentage of the people outside Kiev went to demonstrations, and why they were created extensive networks of “supply” with tires, food, etc., from the west of the country to the square. Also to mention that unemployment in western Ukraine is markedly greater than the east. Unlike the existence of fascists in the Square had two directions: On the one hand there was tolerance of them under the “national idea” and national translation of reaction to capitalist crisis, and the tolerance by the people to them in the context of militarization-they were seen as “muscle”.On the other hand, the completely different social relations that got the far right to the streets, especially the right sector, managed to unite the far right on the square with the rest of the people,but only in the context of abstract social relations. The right-wing went to the streets because of their chronic continuous exclusion from the security forces, abecause the oligarchic characteristics of the state permeated the whole state organization, and reached to it’s core, the police. The Yanukovich regime , trying to create a basis of interests in the east, recruited policemen almost exclusively from the eastern provinces, and had for long time ruled-out the Ukrainian far right, and various paramilitary organizations that were on the periphery of the army and police. These features provided the from of the Maidan, and brought the fascists to be comfortable and well tolerated in the square,but they found as a limit the “inner wall” that has every square movement, the abstract relations of coexistence of all subjects within the squares, the weakness to reach the reconstruction of specific social relations, ie the capital/working relations.

[2] It is important to see what is provided and what impact would have the signing of the pact with EU. The inability to sell the Ukrainian agricultural and industrial products in Ukraine, but also in Russia, as the result of European higher agricoltural production subsidies but also because of the most modernized industrial capital of Europe which is more competitive if border taxes were to be abolished with the EU signing. One of the key problems of Ukrainian industry in the east remains the inability of radical renewal of industrial constant capital, which remains generally of old technology. The pact with the EU also provided the restructuring of the legal code of Ukraine as to the ownership status of the business. This will radically upset the data of 20 years of ownership status, as grand capital of the East can be under the review process of the ownership status etc. Precisely because of his inability to radically modernize the Ukrainian capital of the east part of the ukrainian capital, was used to use as a vector centralizing force the state(by friendly governments), and not the direct market competition. In this context and as a part of the Ukrainian economy acquires closer relations with the West, it is no coincidence that the contradiction of the Ukrainian state was tried to be solved back to the past in a similar way, with the creation of a “South-Ukrainian Autonomous Republic” proposal by oligarchs in 2005, a proposal which had faltered. This then had the meaning of the relative autonomy of these areas from the policy of Kiev and the relative resolution of the contradiction of the Ukrainian state. Similar situation with today ie, proposing a form of federalism of eastern Ukraine

[3] On April 13, 2014 while taking place a protest of Maidan in Kharkov against the military operations against Russia, it seems that was called a protest at the same point of right-wing hooligans, which caused widespread clashes between pro-Russian demonstrators of AntiMaintan, and Maidan. On April 13, while the orientation of events throughout Ukraine had changed from support or not in the new government, to the persistence or not of eastern Ukraine in the country, and the possibility of military intervention in Russia in the east, the Ultras of city ​​called to protest (along with the local Maidan, which was very similar theme, albeit more antiwar features) for the “unity of Ukraine” (and at the events of Odessa, the Ukrainian protest had similar content). That day showed the reactive characteristics of antiMaintan, and on the other hand, showed the complete failure which  has reached the Maidan policy and the tactic of local anarchists in it. Even if they had collided with the fascists on 19 February, and the local Maidan had distanced himself from them at that time-in April 13- the turn of events in the whole Ukraine, and the marches for or against federalisation in the city of Kharkov , brought the Maidan and the Ultras ad hoc on the same side of the conflict and no matter what everyone claimed about their intensions and specific political views, although if they were against the war, or in favor or against a seperatist movement or simply a federalization, the conflict as was produced historically at this moment was whether to stay or not in Ukraine, whether to join in one or the other region of accumulation, and this conflict was taking the final characteristics of national conflict. For information about that here

[4] In this sense the movement of the Maidan and AntiMaintan should be seen as aspects of the same process as a reaction of urban subjects in the general dynamics of capital at this moment. Both sides claim the existence of capitals that the regionalization as centralization of capital threatens. The contradiction of the Ukrainian state and the controversial way in which functioned all these years the capitalist economy in Ukraine, and the relation of state-society had taken the form of oligarchic state, makes the reaction of urban subjects acquire so strongly features and characteristics of “civil strife” and to not take the form they took in other countries. In other countries we had not the separation of proletarians at full undervalued geographical areas and  relatively revalued, within a complex matrix of social relations-the oligarchic state and the two regions of capitalist centralization/accumulation-in conditions that absolutely exclude each others function. Neither in Arab countries mainly or in European countries have such a phenomenon.


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