The West against Russia – today and always

Moscow / Image by Dmitry Trepolsky


When dealing with “Ukrainian War”, the single thought extends its dense obscurity over the so-called Western world

Perhaps never, as today, when dealing with the “War in Ukraine”, the single thought has extended its dense obscurity over the so-called Western world. The dominant explanation is simple – the invasion of Ukraine was an imperialist operation of territorial conquest, directed by Vladimir, the bloodthirsty neo-tsar, in the service of eternal Russian despotism. Therefore, the “free world” finds itself under an unwavering obligation to unconditionally support the attacked nation, until the total defeat of the offensive of the Slavic invaders and the restitution of the last inch of occupied territory.

The imperialist governments that support the campaign against Russia in Ukraine, with blood in their mouths, continue this narrative, although now with decreasing pride, as they are already aware of the almost certain inexorable victory of the Russian Federation, perhaps in the coming months. Metamorphosis in discourse accelerated by the need to support and build an identical narrative in defense of the State and government of Israel, which promise to apply in Gaza the “Final Solution” attempted against the European Jewish population in World War II.

In Europe, the USA and a large part of the so-called West, this unilateral reading, hammered on to exhaustion, is passively embraced by a large part of a population that has been kept in political alienation for decades and is the object of a long-running Russophobic campaign. Not infrequently, even a large part of Europeans initially adhered to this apology without knowing the rudiments of the recent history of Ukraine and Russia. Even though there is widespread distrust and contempt for Ukrainian immigrants who arrived before the conflict.

In Europe, the major media; right-wing, center-wing and left-wing political parties; international institutions; the vast majority of intellectuals, etc. publicize monotonous reports and interpretations about the goodness of the NATO-USA offensive in Ukraine, demonizing the Russian Federation and the leader, Vladimir Putin. And, if “in war, lies are like dirt”, in the construction of this monolithic certainty, not only uninterrupted distortions of events are promoted daily, but also the literal invention of them.

The ghost of Kiev

In the first days of the confrontation, the legend of the unnamed Ukrainian pilot, “The ghost of Kiev”, who, in his MIG-29, in just thirty hours, would have shot down six Russian planes and, in the following days, 36 others, traveled the world, illustrated… with aerial combat scenes from virtual games. [Zero hour, 25/02/2022.] He never existed. Until recently, the Russian army was unanimously announced with its ammunition, tanks, missiles, troops, economy, etc. exhausted, on the verge of dissolution. There is no limit or modesty in the effort to maintain the multimillion-dollar support for the Ukraine of V. Zelensky and imperialism, on the part of a European population that is experiencing a structural attack on its living conditions, mainly due to violent inflation, without recovery of the value of its salary. Anti-social offensive explained as due to the war on which the fate of Western civilization depended. In the former Europe of social welfare, poverty, still relative, is widespread.

In behavior sanctioned by the European Parliament, with authoritarian and racist features, not only the actions and armies of “satrap Putin” were attacked. All types of harassment were launched against the Russian population, banning university exchanges and the presentation of athletes, artists, plays and Russian music in the European Union. Russian tourists cannot enter European countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Federation by car, personal property, etc.

And, above all, to prevent any gaps in the construction of this campaign, intellectuals, journalists, artists, etc. are mercilessly anathematized. that deviate minimally from this consensus built with machete blows. Even those who only propose a discussion that leads to a better understanding of the complexity of the facts are excoriated. Teachers who diverge from the consensus are viewed as extremists in schools and universities. The few dissidents invited to speak in the media are carefully harassed by interviewers and surrounded by detractors.

V, the Kremlin vampire

Large European bookstores abound with publicity studies and academic books presenting, from different angles, the enormous pathological influence of Vladimir Putin. He is described as responsible for the so-called territorial and imperialist expansion campaign of Russian despotism that now threatens Europe. And, not a few suggest, perhaps, it is preparing to swallow Western civilization, arm in arm with China.

We are forced to sift through book production to find some publications that undertake a minimally dispassionate or informative analysis of the current “Russian” issue. I did this, in the middle of this year, without results, in Belgium, Portugal, Italy, France. But there are always exceptions. Among the rare non-apologetic books and pamphlets that I found published in those countries, one by Aleksej Puskov, an intellectual and high-ranking Russian official, both in the USSR and today, author of From Gorbachev to Putin: geopolitics of Russia.

I was surprised to come across the book. How was it possible that a well-edited commercial publication could have escaped the Index Librorum Prohibitorum to which the Italian publishing house also imposed itself? Despite the latter having excelled in pluralism, in a distant past. In the 1970s and 1980s, works by historians, economists, etc. were published in Italy. from Russia and Eastern Europe excellent. Today, don't even talk. But I soon understood that the choice of this informative work and its prompt translation and launch, in 2022, was not the result of chance.

The publication From Gorbacev to Putin: Geopolitics of Russia is due to an initiative by Sandro Teti Editore, from Rome. An editorial house with a unique history. In 1945, while the last fights for the liberation of Italy were still being fought, the then powerful Italian Communist Party launched a monthly magazine, for workers and popular people, which survives to this day, The Popolo Calendar – especially in the peasant world, the consumption of calendars, moonbooks, etc. was very common. O People's Calendar It was intended to illuminate and dispel the shadows that had covered narratives about history, culture, Italy, Europe and the world during the fascist twenty years.

A faithful militant

Despite the enormous public success, the PCI ended up losing interest in the magazine and handed it over, in 1964, to one of its activists, Nicola Teti, who founded the homonymous publishing house, also responsible for publishing important and learned encyclopedias. Under the new administration, the magazine continued to cover, with greater openness, the successes of the USSR, the so-called socialist world, Latin America, popular culture, etc.

Over the years, Nicola Teti did his best to maintain the magazine, under competition from identical commercial publications from large and wealthy publishing houses. In the 1980s, when I was working in Milan as an international correspondent, historian and companion Tiziano Tussi introduced me to Nicola Teti, at his publishing house. For some time, I published some articles for the magazine that was already a pale memory of the past, about colonial slavery, the history of Brazil, among other topics. All benevolently, of course.

In 2010, with the death of Nicola, his son, Sandro took over the management of the publishing house and founded Sandro Teti Editore, which maintained, certainly as a tribute to the past and his father's efforts, a renewed quarterly edition of the Calendar. The small, modernized commercial house specialized in publishing books on history, theater, literature, photography and Russia and so-called post-socialist countries.

The publication From Gorbacev to Putin: Geopolitics of Russia, by Aleksej Puskov was included in the “History” collection, by Sandro Teti Editore, under the responsibility of Luciano Canfora, a well-known and erudite Marxist historian of Antiquity, with numerous works translated and published in Brazil. Sorry readers for this deviation from the topic to be addressed, to remember and pay homage to Nicola Teti who, we can say, not only in metaphorical form, planted the seeds that allow us today to read Aleksej Puskov's timely book, in Italian, since , in Russian, at least in my case, it is completely impossible.

A precious preface

We will comment on Aleksej Puskov's book another time. Now, I will limit myself to addressing the beautiful preface by Paolo De Nardis, “Russia and the West”. This well-known Italian academic, more than commenting, with the help of the sociologist's analytical magnifying glass, on Aleksej Puskov's book, used a kind of critical binoculars to telegraphically peer into Russia's historical relations with European imperialism. A more than opportune detour.

Paolo De Nardis opens his brief introductory text by recalling Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-19975), erudite British historian, author of A study of history, monumental work, in twelve volumes, on the becoming of civilization. Still young, during the First World War, after studying history and teaching in English academic institutions, Toynbee joined the British intelligence service, participating in the Paris conference in 1919, which led to the Treaty of Versaille, with draconian impositions on the defeated imperialist nations. , with emphasis on Germany.

After the great conflict, Toynbee returned to academic activity, from which he left to comment on the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922, as an international correspondent for the British newspaper The ManchesterGuardian. That conflict followed the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, defeated in the conflict, which had a substantial part of its territories divided between France, the United Kingdom, Greece and Russia.

Toynbee's initial sympathy for the Greeks was then transferred to the Turks, who fought a tough struggle for national unity and independence, under the direction of Mustafa Kemal, against European imperialism, interested in the Balkanization of Turkey. Toynbee became a great admirer of the Turkish leader, who led the successful military resistance and then the modernization of Turkey, and was therefore treated as Atatuk – “Father of Türkiye”.

Bolshevik in defense of Türkiye

Paolo De Nardis recalls that the struggle to defend Turkish national unity, against the imperialist offensive, was supported, in 1919, in an almost isolated form, by revolutionary Russia, which was somewhat staggering, when it entered the destructive Civil War (1919-1923) . Which, it is worth remembering, records the Bolshevik Party's concern with resolving national and international processes and confrontations, with emphasis on defending the attacked national autonomy. Reality seen as a determination, not immediate, of the class struggle and the decisive clash between proletarians and bourgeoisie.

Toynbee continued his historiographical production and academic and public activities, as a prominent and unsuspected subject of the British Crown. In 1952, he was invited to give lectures on the BBC, English public radio, choosing a topic that came into strong conflict with the then “single thought” of British and Western imperialism, even though, in essence, the English historian criticized it in order to better defend it. .

The title chosen for the conferences was precise and synthetic: “The World and the West”. And, in this case, the order of the factors did, indeed, greatly alter the product. Toynbee argued that the world was hit and shaped hard by the West, and not this one by that one. And this, through incessant military action-pressure, without civilizing intentions, as proposed by the apologetic vision of imperialism. “It is not the West that has been attacked by the world, it is the world that has been attacked — and attacked violently — by the West.” [TOYNBEE, 1955: 10]

According to him, few regions of the earth had escaped this overwhelming process, which, at best, introduced them, in fits and starts, to a permanent “modernity”. Latin America, Africa, India, China and so on suffered the consequences of this global assault, on the part of a European expansionism aware of its power, thirsty for markets, raw materials and labor from other countries. uncivilized to be excoriated. [TOYNBEE, 1955: 11 and 12.]

The Father of Modern Türkiye

The British and imperialist intelligentsia turned up their noses when Toynbee proposed that Turkey had maintained its national independence mainly due to the work of Mustafa Kermal Ataturk. He would have initiated a radical modernization-westernization of the country, carrying out, in a way, partially, the Turkish bourgeois-democratic revolution, from top to bottom, to face the overwhelming expansion of imperialism. Mustafa's Turkey Ataturk it became a Republic, adopted a Constitution [1921], promoted the “emancipation of women, the deofficialization of the Islamic religion, and the replacement of the Arabic alphabet with the Latin […].” [TOYNBEE, 1955: p. 42-43.]

Toynbee's reading certainly illuminates some of the roots of the current ill will of the European Union's masters towards Turkey, which has always been seen as a space to be colonized, and not as a nation with the right to sit at the table of the great European nations. colonizers. This, despite already having the strength to support this claim, especially in the current recomposition of the world order of nations.

Much more serious was the English intellectual's reading of the history of Russia, given at the 1952 conferences, when imperialist aggression against the liberation war of the People's Republic of Korea, supported by Russia and China, was raging. It motivated strong attacks from intellectuals working in the service of English imperialism and its associates.

Toynbee presented the Russian political-institutional conformation as the result of victorious resistance to successive European attacks, with emphasis on the great Polish invasions in 1610; Swedish, in 1709; French, in 1812; German, in 1914 and, above all, Nazi, in 1941. [TOYNBEE, 1955: 16 et passim]. The English academic proposed that, under such pressure, to defend its national autonomy, Russia would have been forced to assume a centralist-autocratic state structure.

Westernizing autocracy

Above all, the threat to Russia's national existence arose from the initial inability of its feudal organization to give way to modernity, carrying out its bourgeois revolution, on which the world hegemony of Western Europe was built. Peter the Great, without carrying out radical transformations, had undertaken the minimum Westernizing autocratic reform that would have guaranteed Russia not to explode under the aggressions of European expansionism. [TOYNBEE, 1955: 19]

Toynbee saw communism as a Western doctrine, which the Bolsheviks used against the West. The USSR had succeeded the Tsarist Empire as a powerful barrier to the expansionism of European imperialism towards the East. Strongly focusing his analysis on the historical role of providential leaders, he proposed J. Stalin as promoting an accelerated modernization of the Soviet Union, in view of an upcoming military confrontation.

Toynbee's worldview prevented him from understanding the USSR's economic and technological revolution as a product of the nationalization and planning of the economy and the efforts of the Soviet working classes. Advances made despite the terrible excesses caused by the Stalinist and post-Stalinist bureaucracy, which had expropriated the workers of the leadership of the Soviet State.

The conferences were published in 1953 in the book The Word and the West, promptly translated into Portuguese and released by Companhia Editora Nacional, in 1955. [TOYNBEE, 1955.] Four years after the conferences, Nikita Kruschev would denounce Stalin's crimes, in an attempt to rebuild a new virginity for the USSR bureaucracy, which had participated actively involved in the debacle of the so-called Stalinist Era, with the “Father of the Poor” as the only scapegoat. A situation denounced many years ago by the non-Stalinist left.

Living space

Domenico Losurdo's pastiche defense of J. Stalin's harmful action in the USSR, to allegedly prepare it for the World War, relied heavily on Toynbee's vision, seventy years after its presentation, without registering the extent of his dependence on it . “The tyrannical course of technological Westernization undertaken by Stalin was finally justified, like Peter's, in the test to which he was subjected on the battlefield.” [TOYNBEE, 1955: 21]

On June 22, 1941, the invasion of the USSR by the German armies, as part of the construction of the “living space” that imperialist Germany would need, to be built through the devastation of the populations and territorial occupation of Eurasia, was not an invention of Hitler and Nazism. It was the effort to achieve the old project of European imperialism, by German monopoly capital wearing the Nazi uniform.

The reasons for the historical program of European imperialism of colonization and balkanization of Russia, relaunched in the 20th and 21st centuries, are due to its wealth of natural resources that Europe lacked and lacks, weighing heavily on the economy and therefore undermining efforts of the Old World to maintain its previous hegemonic status. In the past, in Eurasia, imperialist Europe coveted the premises of the extremely fertile lands and the multitudinous populations of those regions.

More recently, reserves of oil, gas, minerals of all types, etc., have gained prominence. With the war in Ukraine, the USA sought to consolidate its domination over the European Union, in general, and over Germany, in particular, forcing them to break with the incessant supply, especially of gas and oil arrived from the Russian Federation at low prices. . Under the promise that, after the defeat in Ukraine, Russia would once again transform itself, as during the Yeltsin Era [1991-99], into a “China business”.

Balkanization of Russia

It was generally proposed that Russia's military defeat would put an end to V. Putin's government-regime, the origin and end of all evil. Some analysts, with emphasis on the Ukrainians, shamelessly verbalized the real bet of the US-European Union imperialist bloc, when announcing the different nations into which the Russian Federation would be divided, after its military defeat. [PETRONI, 2020; KARAGANOV, 2020.] It is therefore not possible to quibble about the ultimate objectives of the current campaign against Russian national independence.

An operation, which has been coming for a long time, is planned in three stages. The first was completed with the destruction of the USSR, in 1991. The second, more recent, took place through the siege of the Russian Federation by NATO troops, since 1994, it experienced a leap in quality with the pro-imperialist coup d'état in Ukraine 2014. [MAESTRI, 19 April. 2022; 17/07/2022.] The third stage, already begun, also foresees three major movements, to be carried out in the context of the indirect confrontation with Russia.

The first movement would occur with the international diplomatic and economic isolation of Russia, demanded, promoted and imposed by the Yankee imperialist bloc, similar to what was done with Iraq and Yugoslavia. The second would throw the Russian economy and society into a deep crisis, mainly due to the very harsh sanctions radicalized after February 2022, with the start of the conflict. The conclusion of this general offensive would be a complete military defeat, on Ukrainian soil, of a country torn apart by isolation and economic crisis. Defeated and plunged into confusion, the explosion of the Federation would be promoted and Russia would be reduced to a small nation succumbing to imperialism. It was a campaign carefully planned in its smallest details by the United States, by England, by NATO.

Often, in practice, the theory is distorted. The “world” did not abandon Russia, with emphasis on China, India, Turkey, Africa and Latin America. The sanctions did not hit Russia as expected and hit the European Union harder than expected. The Russian economy has shown unexpected resilience. The Ukrainian armies supported by a weight of gold by the West have slipped and are currently exhausted, waiting for the winter, the always feared Russian general.

And, making everything worse, a serious and unexpected conflict broke out in Palestine which, at the very least, interrupts and weakens, to the extent that it is difficult to predict, the reorganization of the Middle East by US imperialism, in alliance with Israel. An operation advanced with relative success, in recent years, by imperialism, with the exception of Iran, Syria and Lebanon. And, contrary to expectations and plans, after more than two years of war, popular support for Putin in the Russian Federation remained and grew. What cannot be said about Western warmongering leaders.

Joe Biden continues from stumble to stumble, now caught up in two electorally toxic wars. English conservatives are suffering from growing popular discredit. Olaf Scholz resignedly waits for the electoral guillotine while the anti-globalization and anti-war populist right gains momentum. If the elections were held today in France, Marine Le Pen would be elected. Hungary's right-wing anti-Nato and anti-war policy has gained a new left-wing ally in the newly elected Slovak government. The new president of that country's parliament has a Guevara in his office. The Polish Law and Justice party, the Yankee spearhead in Eastern Europe, left the elections flayed and will possibly end up in opposition.

Defense of national independence

The fact that V. Putin took the lead in defending Russian national independence explains the wide support he enjoys among the population of his country. This also allows him to consolidate and advance, as far as possible, the orientation of his pro-capitalist, anti-worker and largely Great-Russian government. However, it is still difficult to predict the changes in the Russian social and productive structure that will result from the conflict.

Putin's popular prestige as a leader in the defense of the Russian national state will certainly make it difficult for the creation, in the land of the Bolsheviks, of a party or a leadership in the world of work that expresses its needs, not just national ones. Even more so when more than a few unsuspecting Marxist organizations defend “defeatist” policies in the face of imperialist action by the USA and NATO. Defeatism with catastrophic consequences for workers and the popular classes, not only in the Russian Federation, in the case of the US-NATO victory, just like what occurred when the Yugoslav, Libyan national state was destroyed, etc.

The world of work and the Marxist left must support the resistance of a nation attacked by imperialism, regardless of its government. In 1938, Trotsky hypothesized support for a Brazil under the guidance, which he defined as semi-fascist, of Getúlio Vargas, if it were attacked by democratic England. [TROTSKY, 1938.] Italian communists of the Third International went to defend the theocratic, feudal and slave government of Halié Salasié, during the attack on Ethiopia by Italian imperialism. [SCIORTINO, 2012.] The ideology of Hamas, Hezbolah, the Palestinian movements fighting against the Israeli Nazi-fascist attack and Yankee imperialism does not matter. The Palestinian resistance must have our full support as it defends itself from the attacks of Zionism and imperialism.

However, national resistance only reaches its full conclusion under the direction of the world of work, as occurred in the past in the USSR, China, Yugoslavia, Cuba, etc. Without it, even when a victory is achieved, it is commonly followed by a de facto regression of the conquered, with harsh consequences for the population and the social world. A US-NATO victory would result in a disaster of dimensions difficult to predict. However, the defeat of the US imperialist bloc and the victory of the Russian Federation, supported by China, will not open, as proposed and suggested, years of peace and a new and benign balance for nations. It will only allow a momentary sigh capable of eventually providing more time and better conditions for the reorganization of the world of work around the world. Only he can build an era of peace and progress for all people.

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Awakening the Dragon: The Birth and Consolidation of Chinese Imperialism (1949-2021) (FCM Editora).


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KARAGANOV, Sergej. “If lost, Russia rischierebbe di spaccarsi”. LIMES. Italian magazine of Geopolitica. Rome, no. 4, mag. 2020.

MAESTRI, Mario. The right to defence. the earth is round. 13 / 04 / 2022.

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PETRONI, Federico. Sconfiggere la Russia sì, ma fin dove? LIMES. Italian Magazine of Geopolitica. Rome, no. 5, mag. 2020.

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