Socialists are naturally concerned about whether or not political democracy exists under capitalism. The existence of some political democracy, limited and distorted though it must be by the class structure of capitalism, is central to our case for the peaceful propagation of socialist ideas culminating in the peaceful establishment of socialism by democratic political action based on majority socialist understanding. Freedom of discussion is the ideal, even indispensable, condition for the development of socialist ideas since it is only out of a full and frank discussion of their experiences under capitalism that the working class can come to acquire the majority socialist understanding necessary before capitalism can be replaced by socialism.
In the years since Russia followed Western advice from free marketeers to start privatising the state assets, a small number of people with links to officialdom became phenomenally rich. Having achieved power, Putin has sought to strengthen the Russian state and reassert Kremlin control of its regions and republics, where nepotism, corruption and crime abound. This increased militarisation of society, authoritarianism, and centralising of power, bonding with a tendency to see others as being either state or anti-state—just as in the USSR era when everything was categorised as Soviet or anti-Soviet. Putin’s desire is to return to Stalinist-style oppressive rule.It is because governments compete economically to help their own nation’s businesses (keeping wages, taxes and welfare low, weakening trade unions etc), so they must compete if they are to avoid others obtaining easy commercial advantages through armed intimidation and attack. Putin can also gain some domestic political advantage from nationalistic prestige and pride engendered in the population, but the overriding purpose of military expansion is to assist the possessors of productive assets. Because there are groups of oligarchs all over the world, populations are encouraged to see one another as “us” and “them”, or “the enemy”. The Russian people will continue to suffer from exploitation, poverty, deprivation, early deaths and assorted other troubles—including further dead sailors, soldiers and pilots.
Ukraine is one of the artificial “nation-States” set up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, containing within its borders not only people whose mother-tongue is Ukrainian but a considerable minority whose first language is Russian.
A mere glance at the map of Europe shows why, for strategic reasons, Ukraine could never hope to pursue an independent foreign policy for any length of time. One end of the country points into central, the other leads into Russia. The Russian invasion of Ukraine was motivated mainly by strategic considerations, the fear that the political changes begun in Maidan 2014 coup would lead to it to increasingly break away from the Russian empire.
In the post-war struggle between East and West to establish spheres of economic and political influence, global networks of alliances have been sealed with aid in the form of arms and supportive technology. The foreign policies of the two major powers have been essentially nothing more than preparations for war. It has continued despite the fall of the Iron Curtain. The barbarism of the war in Ukraine cannot be explained in terms of conflicting ideologies of malevolent leaders and nothing is more fallacious than the idea that increases in knowledge and the progress of what is called civilisation bring with them increased social harmony. The sterility and waste of capitalism are laid bare in its wars — men fall in their millions that shares might rise.
By disempowering all the presidents, the admirals, the generals, the ministers, the tycoons and any other minority who wants ownership and control of resources and people, choosing instead to possess and run these means of living ourselves. No more propertied class. No more leaders. No more us and them.