Well, that was easy!  Yes, writing that headline was quite straightforward; over the past few days, the political formulae fell into place as we watched the ominous events unfold on the Crimean peninsula.

So what does it all mean?  “Defend Ukraine”?  But the Ukrainian government is teeming with rabid Ukrainian nationalists and outright fascist scum!  “Defeat Russian Imperialism”? Isn’t that the slogan of the US/EU/NATO/UN brigands who you want to keep their “hands off the Ukraine”?  Is Russia an imperialist country?  Aren’t there still many in the Russian government and military who honor the USSR?  And aren’t the Russians moving into the Ukraine because they are upset at seeing Ukrainian fascists tearing down statues of Lenin and beating up Russian-speaking Ukrainians?  Aren’t the Russians standing up against the fascists by defending the memories of the heroic Red Army soldiers who kicked Hitler’s Nazis out of the Ukraine and sent them back to a fiery and well-deserved death in Berlin?

The main crisis facing the revolutionary workers movement of today is the crisis of leadership!

We are not Marxist theoreticians of the calibre of Lenin and Trotsky – not by a long shot.  But we should have learned enough Marxism to take a crack at parsing this not very complicated political question posed in Ukraine.  (By comparison, the war in Syria is much more complicated). A socialist party should be composed of worker-militants every one of which can step forward at any time and lead the party in a revolutionary Marxist manner in a time of crisis.  The idea that some “great leader” must arise before the working class can even begin to take a step forward is commonly-held… hogwash!  The purpose of a revolutionary Trotskyist party is not to elevate a handful of “infallible leaders” to a ridiculously lofty position above the entire population of the world.  We have seen far too much of that kind of political ladder-climbing in the past century and a half!  Most of the once-revered “great leaders” turn out to have been not at all great – in fact they were downright repulsive when you look at them up close.  There have been notable exceptions, all of whom have been slandered and whose names have been traduced – even by honest working men and women, in the most shameless fashion  – Lenin and Trotsky to name two of the greatest; but for a successful workers revolution to take place it must have, not leaders who seek some day to have monumental sculptures erected in their honor in public squares everywhere, but humble fighters who dedicate their lives to the struggle for the emancipation of the working class worldwide and who seek no personal glory or fame whatever.  Marx, Engels, Liebknecht, Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky were men and women of this type.  They all earned their honors through their lifelong, selfless work on behalf of the working class and peasantry all over the world; as great as they were even they made mistakes – some very serious.  They were not afraid to make mistakes, and they never pretended that they were infallible; and when they made mistakes, they frankly admitted them, corrected themselves publicly and renewed their journey on the new path.  We too will make mistakes and we are not afraid to admit that; we hope that we will be able to honor our illustrious predecesors, if not by achieving the level of their brilliant theoretical work, then at least in their fundamental honesty..  We do not have all the answers to all the world’s questions in a trophy case in our offices; nor will we find answers to all the world’s future problems in the century-plus-old writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.  They proved their mettle and their intelligence and the overall correctness of their political leadership through battle after battle – and to victory over Tsarism.  No socialist in the US has ever led such battles as they did.  Revolutionary Trotskyists do not seek personal glory and immortality, we are seeking the emancipation of the world’s toilers from capitalist wage-slavery!  And in the case of the crisis in the Ukraine, we must determine, not the path to the most widespread popularity through flattery and lies, but the most promising political road for the workers in the US, Ukraine and Russia and the rest of the world to follow in the long term – a path on which every single step taken by the working class of all these countries, working in closest revolutionary internationalist co-operation, will blaze a trail towards the victory of the workers and peasants of the world over capitalism!  We must find that political road to follow along which the workers movement of the world will surge forward, smashing fascism, racism, imperialism along the way, blocking every attempt made by the capitalists to pit worker against worker in predatory wars  and avoiding all the many other snares being constantly set before the revolutionary socialist workers movement.  THAT is what we have tried to do with these slogans.  As heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden told an interviewer last month when he was asked “Why did you do this?”: “It was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this.”  That is why we formed this party: because the United States doesn’t have a revolutionary Trotskyist party worth a damn, sadly.  There are parties out there, but they have proven to be absolutely incapable of inspiring the workers of the United States with the majesty of the original Marxist ideal: to create a world where the exploitation of man by man no longer exists.  Where war, poverty, homelessness, and needless human suffering is relegated to “the dustbin of history”.  So here we are, suddenly become “Marxist theoreticians”!  Somebody’s got to do it; and anyone CAN do it who has studied and learned the lessons of the great workers revolutions of the 20th century and who believes, as we do, in spite of all the disasters that have befallen the Marxist movement in the past 100 years of its “success”.  While it may be true that all the edifices that have been built so far by Marxist construction workers (utilizing tools and methods that had never been utilized in the real world before!) have proven for the most part to have been poorly built and faulty, we have examined the blueprints and find that it was not the original architects of Marxism/Leninism that failed, but its construction superintendents.  We can and must do better – either that or we can just count the days until the capitalist greedheads launch WWIII.  Sitting around wringing hands will accomplish nothing; begging the capitalists’ bought-and-paid-for politicians to “do the right thing” is a waste of time.  The working class must produce Marxist leaders who, learning from all the errors and tragedies and betrayals committed by our predecessors, will do the job RIGHT this time!  It CAN BE and it MUST BE done!

“The workers of the world have no country” so long as they live under the wage-slavery system of capitalism.  This law of Marxism – which was written before the great proletarian victories in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam – is the formula that the revolutionary socialist workers movement raises upon its banners in order to destroy nationalism and petty national chauvinism, and to unite all the workers of the planet as the sisters and brothers that we truly are.   Revolutionary socialists, if they are truly Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist – do not rally to the national flag of any capitalist state.  Marxists seek to overthrow “their” bourgeoisie, who are the true “owners” of every capitalist country.  In the US, this means that we do not support the US military, no matter where they go and no matter what they do, because we realize that the US troops – though they include our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters – do not answer OUR orders, but instead answer the orders given by our mortal enemies: the US capitalist class, the  US billionaires, in whose service our children and grandchildren have been either economically drafted into the military or  forced to enlist.  The American capitalists and their counterparts in every other capitalist nation-state use THEIR military forces, not to benefit the workers here or anywhere else, but to DEFEND THEIR INVESTMENTS, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC!  The US imperialist capitalist class doesn’t give a shit about “the rights of the Ukrainian people” any more than they care about the rights of any other group of workers anywhere, including the United States!  All the US capitalists see in the Ukraine are raw materials, land and an exploitable workforce, which, if it was in the hands of the US capitalist class, would be filling the US billionaires’ vaults with even more money instead of all that wealth going to their economic and political counterparts in Putin’s Russia.

So, it is the duty of revolutionary Marxists in the US and Russia to say: “down with our ‘own’ bourgeoisie and its government and military!”  That means we as revolutionary workers in the US give not one iota of support to the US capitalist military killing machine that is using OUR CHILDREN to murder our SISTERS’ AND BROTHERS’ CHILDREN all over the world!  We want to rip the military forces of the world out of the hands of the capitalist classes of the world and place them “under new management”: the revolutionary working class!  And so, in the Ukraine we say: DEFEAT RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM! and we call on revolutionary Marxists in Russia and the Ukraine to say the same thing!  We say to “our” bourgeoisie: “US/EU/NATO/UN HANDS OFF THE UKRAINE!” because we KNOW that the US and European capitalists are all too willing to engage in the bloody slaughter of our Russian and Ukrainian brothers and sisters in order to seize the raw materials in those countries and to enslave the survivors of the war, placing the workers of Russia and the Ukraine into vassalage under the greedy capitalists of the US and western Europe!  This longstanding Marxist/Leninist policy is called “revolutionary defeatism”: it is very unpopular while the workers of the world are still under the spell of nationalism and while they still reflexively salute the flag of their capitalist masters and slavishly “rush to the colors” whenever the capitalists see an opportunity to seize some new territory, and enroll the workers of their respective nations to slaughter their brother and sister workers in every other nation!

To our Ukrainian brothers and sisters we offer the hand of friendship by opposing the Russian imperialists’ intervention into the Ukraine in search of  raw materials, profits, and to secure the markets for Russian goods that exist in the Ukraine.  But we do not hold out the hand of fraternal friendship to the Ukrainian fascists, whose racism and vicious nationalism, whose anti-Semitism and love for Nazi war criminals like Bandera places them outside of human civilization! So we say to the Ukrainian workers: yes! we will fight side by side with you against the Russian imperialists: but we will not have fascists in the ranks of the revolutionary socialist workers!  Drive the Nazis out of your organizations!  “SMASH FASCISM! FOR WORKERS SOCIALIST REVOLUTION IN THE UKRAINE!”

“For workers socialist revolution in the Ukraine”? YES!  This is the only real solution to the economic and social crisis in the Ukraine; capitalism not only has no solution to the problems of unemployment, poverty and war, it is the chief cause of all these things.  Only when the greed-based system of capitalism is overthrown and replaced with an egalitarian, democratically-run socialist workers republic can workers finally be freed from the endless struggle for survival that characterizes life under capitalism.  Ukrainian nationalism has no solutions for the economic crises facing Ukraine: on the contrary: their “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” nonsense and their “Ukraine uber alles” philosophy would serve to cut Ukraine off from the rest of the world economically and politically and would exacerbate the economic hardships facing Ukrainians.  The Bandera-worshipping Ukrainian fascists would turn the Ukraine into an ethnic cleansing zone, pitting workers of different nationalities against each other in a fratricidal bloodbath.  Marxism, which recognizes the scientific fact that every human being on this planet is actually a “long=lost-relative” of every other human being on the planet, and which seeks to unify the working class population worldwide is the ONLY political philosophy that makes sense in a globally interconnected world.  SMASH FASCISM!  WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!


  1. I dislike Russian Imperialism and Putins Oligarchy; however, Russia is NOT taking the free republics of East Ukraine. Russia has occupied Crimea, but if you want legitimacy; you must admit Crimea is almost entirely made up of Russian Navel bases, and losing them to the Fascist Coup would leave Russia crippled on the Black Sea. Donetsk and the the rest of New Russia will decide themselves to join the RF; yet, i feel they will form their own two republic union. I say this because i agree with this article, but NOT the publishing of its whole. Stocking anti-Russian Federation sentiment now, is forcing a Civil War within the Civil War…YET AGAIN! DO not drag the “Old Man’s” name down again, like the Anarchist’s did in Spain; forcing most to blame followers of LD.

    -Comrade Com. John Reed Brigade, US International Brigade representative (Seattle)


    • Thanks for the comment, Dari!

      When we wrote this article some months ago the situation on the ground in Ukraine was not as clear as it is today (and it still is quite murky to us); but we must always try to seek a revolutionary path that will enable us in this case to unite the workers in Ukraine, Crimea and Russia in common struggle to overthrow capitalism in all these regions and to fight for socialism.
      The Ukrainian and Crimean revolutionary socialist workers must join together and fight the fascists and try to crush them. The Russian working class should do everything they can do to aid this work while maintaining opposition to the Putin regime, whose “principled dedication” to the struggle against fascism is completely unreliable if not laughable on the face of it. The Urainian working class should oppose any attempt of Ukraine to join NATO, not in order to “defend the New Russia” but to defend the working class from being made pawns of US?EU/NATO imperialism. A victorious workers socialist revolution in the Ukraine and Crimea would almost certainly find itself being attacked by US/EU/NATO forces AND Putin’s forces! That is why the revolutionary struggle in Russia should be to maintain a policy of complete class independence of the workers from the completely untrustworthy capitalist Putin regime. Agitation has to be carried out within the Russian armed forces to back the workers in any revolutionary struggle that occurs to overthrow capitalism in Russia and replace the Russian capitalists’ oligarchy with a revolutionary socialist internationalist workers republic.
      Your phrase against creating “a civil war within the civil war” is confusing. What is the relationship of class forces in the civil war in the Ukraine now? The Russian-backed rebels fighting the Ukrainian government are of questionable political loyalties – at least we have read absolutely nothing that would indicate that a coherent political programme of the anti-Ukraine government rebels even exists never mind that it’s a Marxist revolutionary programme of overthrowing capitalism in the Ukraine. (If you have reliable information to the contrary please send it; unfortunately it will have to be in English in order for us to be able to assess it properly and fairly.)

      At this point we would demand that the Russian-backed rebel leadership fighting the Ukrainian fascist-backed government clarify its political orientation and programme before we would call upon Crimean and Ukrainian workers to support them. It seems from what reports we’ve read that they suffer from a lack of local worker support for precisely this reason – no one in Ukraine knows what class it is that they are actually fighting for.

      To blame the Trotskyist movement for the failure of the revolution in Spain was slanderous then and it’s even more so now that we have the benefit of historical hindsight. The doorstep upon which the responsibility for the failure of the revolution in Spain most definitely must be laid at is that of the Stalinist Communist Party of Spain and the Stalinized Comintern. This lesson must be driven home with crystal clarity especially in the former USSR, where the tendency among “communist” workers is to look with uncritical longing for a return to the “good old days” of the USSR under Stalin, the gravedigger of the Revolution. Stalinism, due to its counterrevolutionary abandonment of revolutionary Marxist internationalism as embodied in the slogans of “building socialism in one country” and “peaceful coexistence with capitalism” led inexorably to Gorbachev’s abject surrendering of the USSR to the capitalist class – “if you can’t out-compete them, then join them”. A resurgence of Stalinism offers the workers of the world nothing but betrayals and a future of “two, three, many defeats” a la Spain in the 1930s and the USSR in the late 1980s. So if we need to create a Trotskyist revolutionary intervention in the midst of a civil war (“a civil war within a civil war”) we will do it because without a revolutionary Trotskyist-Leninist vanguard party leadership armed with a revolutionary internationalist Trotskyist-Leninist programme at the helm of any revolutionary struggle of the working class there can be no victory for that working class – period!



  2. Oh my. You guys are trying to do the right thing, but how crazily complicated you make the whole Ukraine issue. Ethnic Russians (in eastern and southeastern Ukraine) who simply want to live in peace are fighting an ultra-nationalist regime, and so have manned the barricades. Mountains of U.S. and Western propaganda have suggested the “long hand” of Putin, so you feel obliged to show you are opposed to his “imperialist aggression”. Too bad. Otherwise, everything was right: The post-Maidan government is ultra-nationalist, with neo-fascist elements, and is carrying out an ethnic cleansing policy in the east/southeast of Ukraine. Why do people need to embrace a revolutionary program before they can be defended from genocide? Because Putin is helping them? Or because there is no “revolutionary component” in their (presumably pedestrian) concentration on survival? But, we don’t want victims anywhere to be “free game” simply because they don’t subscribe to socialism, do we? Can’t we defend the victims of Charleston against a racist shooting, even if it turns out they later received arms from Venezuela, or Russia, or some other “imperialist” power? Do we need to resort to “dual defeatism” and “denounce both sides”? Doesn’t this amount to a bit of unintended deference to the State Department? KS


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