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The Incoherence of some Communists

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov leads a public rally in support of annexing southern Ukraineby Jon Hillström. There is a lot of incoherence many communists when it comes to the invasion and war in Ukraine. People will claim to be "anti-war", that they support neither Russia nor Ukraine then try to frame it as an inter-imperialist proxy war despite the fact that it was directly caused by Russia's unilateral decision to invade. Often enough the same people will (1) oppose any and all sanctions on trade with Russia and (2) oppose supplying any arms or equipment to Ukraine.

Such a position leads to the situation where Western capitalists selling electronic/computer components to the Russian military-industrial complex (comparable to the US, making up >20% of global arms exports and 20% of all manufacturing jobs in Russia) which turn up in cruise missiles and drones that end up hitting shopping malls, apartment blocks, maternity hospitals etc. is apparently acceptable but sending missile defence systems that actually prevent such weapons systems from killing civilians is not?

Ironically the rationale is for 1) is often that any sanctions will harm workers, economically but, apparently, Western capitalists helping to physically harm workers is acceptable if they're Ukrainian. Not to mention the plight of those directly working in the factories and the economic stimulus said jobs provide is also used by the Western MIC and its supporters to justify defence spending/exports.

The rationale often provided for 2) is that it will initially be always that sending weapons is helping to prolong the war (unlike supplying the Russian defence industry). They don't seem to have processed the fact that Russia suffered major defeats and incredible losses of its elite combat units (Spetznas, VDV, Naval Infantry, Guards Tank Armies etc.) to the extent that they ended up putting soldiers from its strategic missile forces or sailors from the Baltic and Pacific fleets on the frontline; and this was all before Ukraine ended up receiving large amounts of Western weapons, and the Russians were pushed back significantly before most supplies of heavy weapons had even arrived.

This argument is just completely at odds with empirical reality as even assuming Western weapons had not reached Ukraine the best-case scenario for Russia would not have been a quick victory but a grinding war for Kyiv, Kharkhiv, Chernihiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia and other major cities in Ukraine which, assuming the best case scenario for resolving the outcome of the war quickly would have been incredibly bloody, not just in terms of military casualties but in terms of civilian casualties. In Mariupol survivors estimate that 120,000 died and looking at the devastation, and remember that most of the civilian population were unable to evacuate. Even when evacuation corridors were agreed on the Russians shot at civilian convoys trying to escape (with both artillery and small arms) so many of those buildings were still occupied when they were destroyed. Russia prevented rescue attempts, medical supplies, food, water etc. making it into the city, even after they captured it. Thus, a speedy resolution with Ukraine on the back foot would've been the Seige of Mariupol played out multiple times but in even bigger cities. There would also have a higher chance of the war spilling over to a full conflict with NATO as Russia ends up fighting near Poland (there have already been missiles landing across the border).

With this argument disputed the next line of argument for 2) is that will be that it is empowering the military-industrial complex. Apparently, it's only acceptable to empower the Russian military-industrial complex. This inconsistency and clear support for the belligerent party aside, it completely ignores the fact that most of the weapons and weapon systems being supplied (with some exceptions) are considered obsolete in Western militaries and have been mothballed (or due to be) and replaced already so generally isn't fuelling an uptick in production by the military-industrial complex. Even without this the dollar value of what is being sent is a small fraction of the overall military budget of the US and other countries.

What is fuelling an uptick in the production of military equipment is countries significantly increasing defence spending and ordering large amounts of new equipment and ammunition as a result of seeing Russia's decision to unilaterally launch a war of aggression to increase its land/captive population and this would be happening regardless of military aid to Ukraine even in the case of a swift Russian victory (in fact arguably more so).
Clearly, these two positions combined are neither anti-war (having no hope of preventing or ending the war) or even neutral (as it supports supplying one side over the other) and I don't understand why people justify them as such.

There are lots of slogans repeated "the enemy is at home", "revolutionary defeatism" etc. which just means that pigeon superstition and pretending it's 1917 has replaced any sort of critical thinking or analysis on these issues.
The enemy is at home? Sure, and you're fighting them on the front of supplying anti-missile weapons or sanctioning the Russian arms industry? Those are issues which are really easy wins with the general public and not something which is *deliberately* used as a distraction from domestic issues which are actually relevant *and* far easier to fight your enemy on (see for example Boris Johnson doing as many trips and statements possible on the Ukraine war as his approval ratings were plummetting). Not to mention it's LARPing as a participant in the war and not a bystander in a neutral country unaffected by the conflict. Revolutionary defeatism? Right, because if Ukrainian troops turn their guns on Kyiv the Russians aren't going to march in and slaughter them. That's going to precipitate a revolution right there, not just in Ukraine but all over the world, because it's 1917 again apparently. Definitely not pigeon superstition.

What's hilariously ironic is how the justification for this myopic focus is also so often "I don't have any influence on Russian policy", You don't have any on your particular nation-state's policy either, let alone that of Ukraine. And neither are you going to take up a position in support of Russia over Ukraine via the free market in front of images of Ukrainian cities flattened and mass graves being exhumed, and believing that not having a strong stance against sanctions or military aid. let alone considering them critically rather than reflexively rejecting them, is going to empower NATO to start a war with Russia or bomb some poor third-world country is baffling and narcissistic, just pure delusions of grandeur.

This is not a proxy war between imperialist powers. Ukraine are fighting of their own volition, not that of the US, it was Russia who made the decision to invade unilaterally. The US government/military didn't expect them to have any hope of preventing a swift Russian victory and on the eve of invasion was advising the Ukrainian government/military on fighting an insurgency war against the Russians. Ukraine have been trying to prepare for this invasion since 2014 with minimal Western support. If the West was intending for Ukraine to fight Russia in order to crush Russia's military they had ample opportunity to escalate things or strengthen Ukraine's military forces between 2014 and 2022 but they didn't.

The best example of this is in artillery. The US/West may be supplying Ukraine with artillery ammunition now but between 2014 and 2022 there was an insane covert game of Go being played out in Eastern Europe over the remaining stockpiles of Soviet-era 152mm artillery shells which Ukrainian artillery relied on, and as soon as such shells came onto the market Russia would outbid any price Ukraine would offer; as Russia had huge stockpiles and domestic 152mm production this was solely to prevent Ukraine from acquiring any. In the few cases in which Ukraine did manage to successfully purchase 152mm shells the Russians covertly bombed the shells before they reached Ukraine, killing a man in Bulgaria and destroying a depot in Czechia, killing two nearby residents. They also attempted to assassinate one of the dealers involved with a nerve agent, which is just insanely reckless and it's surprising that these poisoning operations haven't ended in mass casualty events. If the US etc. were interested in using Ukraine as a tool to blunt Russia's military they could've easily stepped in and supplied them with Western artillery, ammo supplies, and training, but they only started supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons after the invasion.

I'm not even that sure about what position makes sense, but what I am 100% sure about is that people taking this position (both 1) and 2)) have not engaged their brain in the slightest, instead relying on reflexive leftist dogma/contrarianism. I have yet to come across a convincing or coherent argument for such a stance, they all tend to be founded on a leftist thought-terminating cliche. It doesn't help that they have a very loose knowledge of the causes or courses of the war, are willing to entertain bizarre counter-factuals, and generally just massively downplay facts that are inconvenient to their arguments that ends up justifying or denying war crimes in a way that is indistinguishable from, for example, fascist boomers e.g. completely saturating a city that has ~400,000 civilians trapped in it and ~5,000 troops defending it with artillery to the point that there isn't a single apartment block left is just "collateral damage", or all the torture chambers and mass graves found in areas liberated by Ukrainian forces are "just what happens in war" as if British and American troops in Normandy were dragging civilians into basements and ripping their fingernails out with pliers in every town they liberated, or not something done systematically in concert with the FSB rather than just ill-disciplined soldiers.

The latter argument is particularly nonsensical when you note that Ukrainian forces aren't setting up such torture dungeons, but it is necessary to pretend that there is no real difference between rule from Kyiv or Moscow (just try telling that to the many civilians who survived being tortured). Sure maybe it's capitalism either way but it's easy to be blasé about the choice between capitalism and capitalism with torture dungeons when you are perfectly safe from the torture dungeons, and telling the people who are faced with such a choice is not just insulting but is unlikely to convince them to stop fighting and practise revolutionary defeatism (and it doesn't help that there isn't an existing revolutionary movement for this to make any sense).

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