Russia: An internationalist voice against the Chechen war

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We are publishing a leaflet by the Moscow anarcho-syndicalist group KRAS in response to the massacre that took place when Chechen separatists took control of a Moscow theatre last October. We don't agree with all its formulations, especially the classical anarchist ones which seem to imply that the main problem facing the working class is not the capitalist mode of production but the principle of 'Authority', or that the system can be brought down by a general strike alone. But we want to express our solidarity with its basic internationalist spirit, its opposition to a war that is against the class interests of both the Russian and the Chechen workers. We have redrafted the English translation sent to us with the aim of making it more accessible, and hope that we have not altered any of its political content.

No war between the peoples - no peace between the classes!

The nightmare in Moscow, which is a prolongation of the tragedy in the northern Caucasus, is deeply symbolic. Nearly 200 innocent civilians were very calmly put to death by both of the warring sides - Russian imperialism and Chechen nationalism. Once again it is obvious: there is no 'just cause' in the struggle between states or would-be states (such as the 'national liberation' movements). There are only victims and butchers. And the butchers are the rulers and commanders on both sides! For them human life is nothing - only power and profit interest them. Putin (note 1) needs popularity ratings. Russian politicians need a 'united and indivisible' empire. The oil kings need the northern Caucasus oil pipelines. Maskhadov (note 2) needs a republic submissive to him (small, but his own). Basayev (note 3) needs an Islamic republic state and the Islamic fundamentalists need a 'holy war'. But why is any of this in your interests - the interests of those who live in the asphalt jungles of Moscow, the slums of Grozny or the refugee camps of Ingushetia; the interests of the victims of the barbaric bombing and military 'cleansing' in Chechnya or of the fascist act in the Moscow House of Culture?

The workers of Russia and Chechnya have no reason to fight against each other. You have a common enemy: the rulers of Russia and Chechnya, the politicians and the bosses, the generals and the bankers. They are the ones who devised this war. They must answer for it. And we the common people must ask the questions in the name of the living and the dead.

We reject the call for negotiations between the 'legal' authorities of Russia and Chechnya (note 4). These authorities are criminals. Not only because every authority is criminal, based as it is on commands, fear and obedience, on ignoring human life. But also because they were the ones who stoked this fire. They are guilty! We shouldn't call on them to negotiate, but to disappear!

We say, categorically and unconditionally, NO to the Russian empire, to all prattle about 'united and indivisible' Russia. But we also say that all talk about the 'rights of nations' or 'national self-determination' is dangerous delirium (note 5). It benefits only the rich castes of the 'oppressed nations' who want to free themselves from the dictates of other bosses and be the undisputed rulers of their 'own' populations. And to this end these potential rulers use their future subjects as cannon fodder, using the pretext of 'national liberation' or the 'national interest'. The upper classes of different nations are responsible for the wars that kill each others' slaves. It is up to the exploited people of all countries and ethnic groups to get rid of all demagogy about 'national liberation', to realise that the enemy is not your neighbour, that the only answer is the struggle for authentic liberation, ie a social liberation.

It is time to stop looking for solutions in the habitual logic of nations and states. It is time to remember that TO ABOLISH WARS, IT IS NECESSARY TO ABOLISH THE DOMINATION OF HUMAN BEINGS OVER OTHER HUMAN BEINGS - TO ABOLISH AUTHORITY! You must stop choosing between the plague and cholera, between the arrogant imperialism of the great powers and the rapacious authoritarianism of petty local chiefs, between the multinational corporations and the grasping 'national' bourgeoisies. There is only one way to stop wars: to subvert its organisers, the leaders and beneficiaries on both sides.

It makes no sense to beseech the ruling criminals for peace. It could be a step forward merely to obtain the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, although this would not eliminate the grounds of the conflict and the inevitability of a new war. But the authorities would not even grant that without pressure and the opponents of war don't yet have the strength to force such a move. So should we just be quiet and put up with it?

Of course not! Our slogan is: direct resistance by the working class against the economic and political system of the State and Capital. And we can all contribute towards this: don't join the army and exhort others not to join; hinder in all possible ways the normal functioning of the military machine, of the war industries and war institutions; agitate against militarism, nationalism and authority; unite with other people who think and act in the same way. We have to look for such people on the 'Chechen' side as well, to organise cooperation with them. We have to call for fraternisation between the Russian soldiers and the Chechen fighters, for disobeying the orders of our insane superiors. And when a movement from below develops from these 'small actions', then we can think about the next step - a general strike against war up to the fall of the system which breeds war!


Moscow anarcho-syndicalists


(1) V Putin is the Russian president who won the elections on a wave of support for the Chechen war. Back

(2) Maskhadov is the president of the Chechen Republic who has been leading the movement for independence from Russia. Back

(3) Basayev is a Chechen warlord and leader of the Islamist faction of the Chechen independence movement. Back

(4) 'Negotiations between Putin and Maskhadov' is the main slogan of the Russian 'anti-war' movement. This movement is organised by a coalition called the Committee for Anti-war Action (CAWA), which is dominated by bourgeois liberal groups and parties. The left-wing 'Campaign against the Chechen War' collaborates with the CAWA and also supports the call for negotiations. This 'Campaign' coincides more or less with the Praxis group around the Victor Serge Library in Moscow, which edits the newspaper Chelovechnost ('Humanity') and is composed of former or current Leninists and also some libertarians (including one former member of our organisation). Back

(5) 'Self-determination for Chechnya' through a referendum under 'international control' is another demand raised by the Praxis group. Back