Three major unions opposed the motion to condemn Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. That yet again makes one wonder about the validity of our political taxonomy.
According to it, most Western supporters of Putin’s brand of fascism straddle the far Right edge of politics. Now, whatever else our unions in general and the three dissenting ones in particular can be accused of, right-wing sympathies aren’t it.
In fact, the leaders of the Transport Union (RMT), the Education Union (NEU) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) would fit as snugly at a congress of the Soviet Communist Party as they do at our own Trade Union Congress.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that opposites attract. When they do, they aren’t really opposites, even if they seem that way. It’s just that the common thread running through them may be hard to discern.
The lunatic fringes at either end of the political spectrum are opposite only terminologically. In essence, they are ideological twins, united by their common hatred of the West and hence common adoration of any foreign enemy. For example, in France both the extreme, Trotskyist Left of Mélenchon and the extreme fascisoid Right of Le Pen are dedicated Putinistas.
In this case, the three extreme Left union leaders repeat word for word the pronouncements of supposed right-wingers or even such self-proclaimed conservatives as a certain Mail columnist. And both groups sing from the hymn sheet composed at the Kremlin.
Thus the three unions, fronted by RMT leader Mike Lynch, castigated the “imperialist interests” on “both sides”, which is why we shouldn’t be arming the Ukraine’s “far right”. Now, what we must remember about extremists of any kind is that even those few capable of thinking before talking never take the trouble to do so.
That Russia is bent on imperialist expansion is indeed self-evident. But can Mr (Comrade?) Lynch name a single action of the Ukraine or a single statement by her government that testifies to imperialist ambitions? He can’t – nobody can.
Britain arms the Ukrainian people – regardless of their politics – desperately fighting for their country’s survival. Suggesting it’s only the “far right” that’s opposing Russian fascism would be a sign of ignorance if it weren’t one of visceral subversiveness.
FBU representative Jamie Newell added that: “We do not believe the escalation of war offers anything to the working class in Russia and Ukraine.
“Whilst the motion mentions opposition to imperialism and imperialist interests, they exist in both sides of this conflict… During this year’s congress, we’ve heard about the rise of the far right – these elements exist in both Russia and Ukraine.
“We oppose these groups and we do not support arming them now only for them to become a threat in the future.”
Mr Newell seems to see the war of Russian aggression as an extension of the eternal struggle between proletarians and capitalists. I appreciate that this lot can only think in Marxist terms, but applying them to the situation in hand is simply cretinous.
The motion to condemn Russia, explained Mr Newell, must be rejected because it would “only serve to line us up with a Tory Government who is waging class warfare against our people…” Mr Marx, call your office.
Such an impassioned oration deserved a rousing finale, and it duly arrived: “Common interests of Ukrainian and Russian people are not served by our country providing military and practical aid. Remember that a bayonet is a weapon with a worker at both ends.”
Ukrainian and Russian people, Mr Newell, have no common interests, certainly at this time, when Russian fascists are murdering hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in a war of naked aggression.
And where in the history of modern warfare did he find proof of only workers being at the end of a bayonet? In fact, during the First World War, the greatest civilisation catastrophe of the West, the British upper classes suffered disproportionately higher casualty rates.
Modern wars, unlike those of the past, involve the whole nations. If the West stops arming the Ukrainian nation, it will be overrun by the Russian one. Would that be in the interest of the Ukrainians?
Mike Lynch, when he isn’t busy paralysing the country with crippling transport strikes, peddles Putin’s propaganda with gusto, without even bothering to change the exact words. In a recent interview, he explained that the EU “provoked a lot of the trouble in Ukraine”, which caused the Russian invasion.
And – be ready to throw up your arms in horrified disbelief – “There were a lot of corrupt politicians in Ukraine. And while they were doing that, there were an awful lot of people [there] playing with Nazi imagery… and all that.”
The parties that attract chaps playing with Nazi imagery poll between one and three per cent in the Ukrainian elections and between 20 and 25 per cent in Russia. And yes, the Ukraine does have her fair share of corrupt politicians, as does Russia.
The difference is that all Russian politicians are corrupt and evil because they condone and promote an evil war. Their Ukrainian counterparts, on the other hand, are inspiring and leading the noble effort of keeping Russian fascism at bay, defending not only their country but all of Europe against the invasion of barbaric hordes from the east.
This brings me back to my original point about extreme right and extreme left converging to such an extent that one has to consider abandoning our political terminology. The real confrontation isn’t about Right and Left, Tories and Labour, Republicans and Democrats.
It’s about good and evil, which seldom exist in undiluted form. Today’s West, for example, for all its moral decadence, cultural death wish and intellectual vacuity, is still relatively good – and certainly good in what Aristotle called potentiality.
Putin’s Russia, on the other hand, represents pure, unalloyed evil – as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Mao’s China did in the past, as North Korea and Xi’s China do at present. And in any clash between relative good and absolute evil, all decent people must be on the right side.
That category, by the looks of it, doesn’t include some of our union leaders. They provide one of many arguments in favour of abolishing the unions, as a clear anachronism at odds with modern economies. But we’ll discuss this at some other time.