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We reproduce below a speech that was given by a FW at an anti-war demo in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, Russian anti-war protestors, and victims of imperialism globally

By ClydesideIWW - IWW Scotland, March 15, 2022

We organised this event so we could come together and categorically denounce the invasion of Ukraine by Russian imperialism and show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Today, we woke up to some promising news about a limited ceasefire, but this is not enough what is needed is a total ceasefire and for Russia to withdraw its troops immediately.

As someone who grew up in Lebanon, I know what it’s like to live in a country smack in the middle of two competing imperial powers. I’m familiar with the sounds of warplanes raining bombs. With hiding in hallways away from Windows just in case a bullet or rocket finds its way through them. I know what it’s like watching entire neighbourhoods bombed to ashes, with families trying to pull the mangled bodies of their relatives in the aftermath. These are experiences no one should have to go through and speak to the universal horrors of war.

Unfortunately, some reporters and politicians have resorted to racist comments to drum up more support for the Ukrainian people. They tell us we should care about Ukrainians because they are civilized, European, closer to home, or more like us. As if some lives are more valuable than others, or that war is natural and ok in certain parts of the world. But we care about the Ukrainian people not because we see them as closer to us, but because we oppose war no matter where it happens and no matter who is leading it.

We care about the Ukrainian people the same way we care about those in Russia bravely protesting against this war as they get beat and imprisoned. It’s the Russian worker who will feel the sting of our sanctions more than any oligarch or politician will. Because it’s always workers who suffer the most in war. They are the ones who cannot escape, who are sent to kill and die for their rulers. It’s them who are disposed of like pawns while being sold nationalist lies to enrich a few.

We should take our cue from those brave anti-war protestors in Russia and understand that the best way to fight against war is by fighting against it here at home. In the last week, we’ve heard our politicians talk a lot about sovereignty, democracy, and international law. But when have they really cared about that?

The illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 left more than a million dead in its wake. The war created the conditions for the rise of ISIS and other fanatical groups which spread to Syria. While they’re now opposed to each other, in Syria, the UK and Russian governments found common cause in killing Syrian civilians. As if they could correct their earlier mistake by dropping more bombs.

The 2011 NATO bombing of Libya destabilised several countries in Africa as weapons spread across the continent. Refugees escaping war found themselves victims of a revived slave trade or perished in their thousands trying to cross the Mediterranean. This while our government ignored them and passed laws to punish those who made it.

The UK government also has no problem making billions of pounds selling weapons to Saudi Arabia a kingdom that oppresses women and murders journalists critical of it and is waging a merciless war in Yemen with our support. Nor does it have a problem supporting the apartheid state of Israel. and the EU has no problem with entering shady deals with the despot of Turkey to stem the tide of refugees.

We shouldn’t expect governments to act any different now. They’ll always put their interest before anything else. I don’t say any of this to detract from what’s happening in Ukraine, but it’s to show how events are connected. Russia’s imperialism in Ukraine cannot be understood without talking about Russia’s imperialism elsewhere or by ignoring the imperialism of the UK, the US, the EU and NATO. And neither can be understood without considering how capitalism always leads to war as countries compete over access to markets and resources.

There is no question that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have a big impact over the next decades. Especially when it comes to militarisation. We’ve already seen historic announcements from the German government and the EU that they will increase their military spending, break with their neutrality and send weapons to Ukraine. Even Switzerland is abandoning its neutrality. All these imperialist countries, including Russia, have exhausted their room for expansion, all that is left for them is to wage war to force a further re-division.

But what happens next depends on us. We need to make sure that we don’t fall for cheap nationalist fervour and warmongering. We need to demand not only the end of war in Ukraine and the withdrawal of Russia, but also demand that our governments don’t transform this war into an inter-imperial one for the dominance of Europe.

Instead, we need to build links of solidarity with workers across the world to fight against war wherever it originates. We need to organise for the tough fight against our governments to make sure that they welcome all Ukrainians as well as all other victims of war. Most importantly, we need to be consistent and unwavering in our anti-war stance. It’s only by rejecting the conditions that make war viable in the first place that we can stop war from ever taking place.

Solidarity with the people of Ukraine! Down with Russian imperialism! And Down with imperialism no matter what flag it’s wrapped in!

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

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