Do you know who you’re allies with? Foreigners. An alliance is an established relationship between two foreign tribal structures. Such as clans, nations, pacts, confederations or treaties.
I would never describe myself as an ally to anyone, because I do not like to regard people as foreigners. I have never had a homeland, I have lived under both cultural and national precarity my whole life. I do not like to regard people as foreigners, because to do so is to regard myself as foreign. This is a problem I believe, it builds a structure of otherness.
This idea, this notion of allyship, came out of the bowels of settler-colonialism. Wherein a nation is mutilated, drawing up a dividing line with the scar tissue of slavery, segregation and exploitation. Wherein the anatomy produced is one in which the organs of such a mutilated body are classified as black or white, or native and settler.
Wherein the colonial powers proclaim a dual nationhood. A lesser and a greater. Townships and Bantustans. States and reservations. Developments and projects. This dual nationhood becomes evident in the slogans of reaction: “Defend the white nation!”
To be an ally is therefore to recognise the white nation, to say that you are not going to dissolve the borders and unify them. That you will not make the country whole, that you do not wish to prosper as one people; That you will not heal the scar, but rather that you wish to reconcile such a dual nationhood; Separate but equal.
The last thing you would want is for these two tribes, foreign to one another, to remain as such. One is built by exploitation, violence, transgressions and plundering. The other is built by suffering, slavery, diaspora, dispossession and alienation.
It is rather to unify which offers a new beginning; The Aufstanden. It is only in death that we may see resurrection. What shifts the paradigm is solidarity, is to end allyship and to build anew. All great things are built by their history, and it is only through producing such a history that an authentic emancipation is possible.
When the French protestants joined the Haitian slaves in revolution we see a wonderful example of this in the new Haitian constitution which proclaimed that all citizens were to be recognised as black under the eyes of the law, regardless of colour.
And the reason why is because these were not mere empty words. All the Haitian citizens of this new republic had risked their lives, fought, shed their blood and stood shoulder to shoulder against tyranny. This is not a bond which can be formed with platitudes or ideology, it requires shared and authentic struggle. Do not give an activist the task befitting of a revolutionary. A protester dedicates an afternoon, a Bolshevik dedicates a lifetime.
Because it is the same thing we see in the Soviet victory against fascism, and the Yugoslav victory against fascism. The Yugoslavian peoples were far from friends prior to this war of liberation, and the same was true of the Soviets. Georgians and Russians, Bosnians and Croats, Serbs and Albanians. There were many historic enemies who became united by their newfound history.
And history is a dangerous weapon. Today in Ukraine, the government has a lot of sympathies with Neo-Nazis. They have changed school curriculums and national holidays to celebrate the enemies of the past. The Ukrainian independence day marked the victory against Hitler, this has since been removed, and people who celebrate this day in public risk being taken to prison.
In fact, one time when I was riding a taxi to the city clinic, I spoke to the cab driver, and it turns out he was an Albanian ethnonationalist. He shared a disturbing anecdote about how he once participated in a pogrom to defend his borders from “the Africans and the Arabs.”
This is what Albania looks like under neoliberalism. Similar racist violence have happened since 1991 both in Chechnya and Georgia, as well as during the Hungary uprising decades prior, during which the anti-Soviet rebels would blame their discontentment on the Jews, and would write slogans such as “You won’t even make it to Auschwitz this time.”
The Ukrainian police will frequently side with the OUN; The Ukrainian Organisation of Nationalists. This is a group that is not only sanctioned, but even protected by Ukraine in spite of the fact that they collaborated with the Nazis.
A lot of people in the US think of Europeans as a monolithic people, full of out of touch snobs and shallow cosmopolitans, but the reality is actually very different. Following the coup d’etat against the Soviet Union, and the NATO genocide in Yugoslavia, we are slowly being colonised. As military bases and economic treaties from the US begin to dominate our governments and civics.
We are the newest neocolonial project of the US, and this propaganda which depicts all Europeans as western Europeans is part of that effort, because western Europe are the compadores. Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Britain and Austria serve the same function to the US as Honduras, Brazil and Columbia does in Latin America.
These are governments who serve as military depots for the empire.
That is why the US system of race is becoming more and more propagated in Europe. As comradeship is censored, purged and criminalised over the defanged feel-good platitudes of activists and NGOs.
The typical European view is that if you live in a country, then that’s your country. People have a national status separate from their culture. If you are from an immigrant family, if you are an immigrant? Okay. Cool. I’m sure you got some interesting stories. But you are first and foremost a fellow citizen, you are not a foreigner.
In the US however, even black people who have lived in the country for innumerable generations are still given an African status, as if they just stepped off a plane from Sierra Leone. Obviously if they want their own culture, that’s fine, but I don’t think they are classified as Africans by the US government for the sake of sensitivity and good will.
Because they got African-Americans, Latin-Americans, Native-Americans, these are skin colours, not cultures. It conflates Peruvians with Argentinians, it conflates Navajos with Aztecs, it conflates Congolese with Tanzanians.
And then you got Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, German-Americans, and cultural codification. One gets to be a culture, one gets to be a race. That’s messed up, and the trick isn’t to reduce both sides to races, but the opposite; To elevate both sides to cultures.
Cultures are interesting, and enjoyable, and universally relatable. Culture is Cuban piano music, Salvadorian food, Mexican poetry. Anyone can appreciate this, and it invites people to thrive in eachother’s company. Very different from race, which is stereotypes, prejudices, generalisations and ultimately pseudoscience.
And in Southern and Eastern Europe we know this. That’s why we make culture into a celebration, and race into a joke. One reason political correctness is introduced by American media is to make race serious again, but it won’t succeed.
Because in our history we know that actions speak louder than words. That it is not activists who defeat racism, nor is it intellectuals, but rather partisans. Armed rebels which united Jews and gentiles alike against fascism. This is our history, and no amount of finger wagging from western liberals will change this. If you ever put that finger on us, we’ll break it.
Frequently I get pro-US detractors accusing me of being paid by the Russian government. I wish this was true, since I would love to do this for a living. I also wish this was true since Russia needs more Marxist writers.
But it’s not true. In fact in several articles I have expressed support for Russia’s main opposition party: Namely the communist party.
I do not support the United Russia Party, and I do not support Putin. I don’t even support the Russian Federal Government. But nonetheless I can see why the west is so agitated by Putin.
Because Putin is not just some banana republic businessman who will take bribes and invite foreign investors. He is a nationalist, and he favors Russian independence. He does not want Russia to become yet another checking account for the United States.
And even though I think he has often reactionary policies, I can still see this reality for what it is. He refuses to invite the American liberals to the table, and he is certainly a lesser evil than people who represent the hegemony of sweatshops and pogroms.
I do not think Eastern Europe needs yet another NED-backed Neo-Nazi with a clean shaven face and a navy blue business suit, who smiles for western journalists in their puff pieces, and then turns around and scowls to the audience in demagogue speeches about gypsies and immigrants.
In fact a few years back I had a Ukrainian friend visit me, and as a custom he brought a wonderful gift. It was a selection of fine chocolates, and he told me the story about how these are the chocolates produced by Petro Poroshenko. He is seen as possibly the most corrupt politician Ukraine has ever witnessed, and he made his fortunes through the confectionary business.
So I was rather amused, and I did enjoy the oligarch’s quality chocolate, even if its flavor was rather thought provoking.
I don’t think Russia can just sweep in and save Ukraine, especially not with its present government. But I do think its a false dichotomy to say that Ukraine must either be a puppet of Putin, or a puppet of America. I support the Ukrainian working class, who is willing to take to the streets and risk prison in their fight against the crooks and fanatics at the OUN.
And I get how this might seem a little bit far removed from the subject of allyship, but I am describing what happens when these historical legacies erode. How dangerous this unification is to the powers that be. How quickly things can turn from paradise to purgatory.
Instead of being allies, be compatriots, be comrades, be united. Do not treat one another as foreigners, let yourselves be one people with many cultures. Let the international solidarity of working class people take its natural course, as the labours of workers build every civilisation and society, and are unified in their toils and shared prosperity. This is the key forward.
It is not about what sets you apart, it is about what you have in common.