Ukraine is a Slave to the First World
[Originally published in English on the website Red Star OverDonbass, translated by Greg Butterfield, this article underscores the destructive transition in Ukraine up to and after the western-backed coup by the neoliberal Maidan movement. Further, the author dares to explore the relationship between the imperialist core and dependent countries in the context of modern capitalism-imperialism in a way that most in the west tend to avoid. As always, the following is made available here for the purposes of study and struggle.]
A few days ago, a scandal erupted over Trump’s latest racist outburst, when he expressed his lack of understanding why the U.S. should accept migrants from African “shithole” countries. As a professional showman who loves vivid images, and an amateur in politics who cannot hide his true face, he blurted out the views of the American establishment.
By appraising the multibillion-dollar capital concentrated in the United States and the advanced countries of the West—with high standards of living of their ordinary citizens—it is easy to understand that this wealth cannot be maintained only by the domestic resources of these countries. Somewhere there must be unskilled laborers who deliver this feast with their labor.
This is the basis of the principle: For the First World to live well, the countries shyly and slyly called “developing” must work for it.
Globalization, in its current neoliberal form, was designed to implement and legitimize the division of labor of the New World Order. In fact, this represents a single set of economic and political rules for all countries that are forcibly included in the process of globalization—on terms favorable to the states of the First World.
But if economic interests prevail over political boundaries, and sovereignty is sacrificed to the global market, the creators of such a system are naturally transformed into the principal economic agent in your territory—the master of your national industry and labor.
In this global market without borders, transnational corporations exploit the labor and natural resources of “developing” countries, with the subsequent export of capital to the metropolis—and this brings to the objects of exploitation not development and prosperity, but poverty, turning their countries into sweatshops where their depreciated labor is employed.
As a result, neoliberal globalization creates a system of global inequality, in which the First World is fabulously enriched by the impoverishment of the economic periphery.
The comprador elite of Ukraine, which cloaks itself in nationalism, but for years has lived at the expense of foreign grants, aspires to integrate into this system—and as a vassal tribute they have presented our 40-million-person country with its economic, natural and labor resources at the feet of transnational capital.
To make the peddled country attractive to this capital, domestic compradors devalued the work of Ukrainians with antisocial reforms—starting with devaluation and inflation, freezing of salaries and pensions, the growth of prices and tariffs. These slavers have driven Ukrainians into utter poverty to make them work for a pittance. “Devaluation of the currency means that for 300 dollars, people will work eight hours, five days a week. For foreign investors, in particular, this may be a unique opportunity,” Sergei Leschenko, a Euro-optimist deputy, cynically told the Financial Times.
But does this system differ in principle from foreign imperialist intervention, which Ukraine has repeatedly experienced in its history? In the final analysis, not at all. When the aggressor seized our land by force, imposed its occupation order, exploited our production and labor force, stole them to work in Germany, it pursued exactly the same goals.
However, armed invasion is unattractive and compromises its organizers. But if they use the local elite instead of foreign troops, arrange a coup d’état by its hands, carry out devastating reforms and devalue local labor, buy up enterprises for a pittance, then it is possible to portray a case where the country voluntarily strives for neoliberal globalization. In practice, however, the same predatory policies and exploitation take place as in any occupied country.
Such territories are not only a source of free resources and cheap labor for the new occupiers. They are turned into place for the disposal of harmful wastes of their production, for example, by building an international nuclear burial ground in Chernobyl, which Ukrainian politicians and officials concocted to earn money. Trump’s “shithole country” is an offensive but very precise definition of the future that Ukraine is destined to have in imperialism’s system of global inequality.
Such a system is terrible not only for its blatant injustice, but also for the fact that Ukrainians do not have the opportunity to find help and guidance against the merciless exploiters. The whole world is divided into the poor masses and the super-rich minority—there are no alternative centers of influence in the New World Order, from which it would be possible to effectively combat their slavish position. Ukrainians can see that Western media and human rights advocates prefer not to notice the total ruin of our society, and the stiff suppression of the dissenters, which borders on the good old pogrom.
Immediately after the coup, the comprador elite behaved self-confidently and brazenly, believing that it did not face any risk. Such elites have long been independent of changes of government in their countries—on the contrary, they themselves form the power, creating the illusion of free choice of citizens. Our politicians imagined themselves as partners of the leaders of globalization—they naively failed to understand that they were instruments, executors of another’s will—and only so long as they strictly followed the requirements of the Masters of the First World. But the more they became dependent on foreign ambassadors and international financial structures, the less careful they were.
As a result, for the West, the Ukrainian rulers turned into “rats,” stealing the profits and property of their patrons. And there is no doubt that they will be removed – it’s only a matter of time, and an inevitable prospect for those who rule our country today.
What will happen next is not yet clear. Of course, the investors of the Maidan regime want to squeeze the maximum profit out of even such a toxic asset as modern-day Ukraine. But neoliberal reforms are causing increasing resistance from Ukrainians. Up to the point that at a factory built near Vinnitsa, Japanese investors cannot find workers for the beggarly wages offered.
The ruling parties today have negative ratings, and to hold elections for new political forces with the same neoliberal program would be possible only through large-scale falsifications, which would surely provoke mass protests. Therefore, the heads of the comprador elite slowly calculate the paths of retreat from the castoff country. Businessmen and activists are gradually migrating to Europe and the U.S.—and eventually, the leaders of the regime will flee after them.
But we, the Ukrainians, will remain—to lift from the ashes the country devastated by them, as it was every time after the military and economic aggressions of the “civilized world.” We have no other land. And when we rebuild Ukraine without a parasitic comprador elite, only then will it be possible to talk about equitable integration into a new global world that respects the interests of our working people.