Ukrainians were ruled by Russia and experienced the coercive genocidal impulse behind Russian universalist Enlightenment rationalism from the horrors of 1708-12 and the 1820s (Arakcheev’s military colonies), to those of 1919-1949. They accordingly have a tradition of anti-colonialist thought, like all peoples who experienced modernization through domination, that is relevant to today’s events. This should be remembered today, when so many in the European “democratic” and “anti-Stalinist” left condone instead of condemn Putin’s renewed Russian imperialism and its neo nazi fifth-column in Ukraine. Accordingly this article reviews the little-known Ukrainian anti-colonialist Marxist critique of Russian tsarist and Bolshevik rule up to 1923. It summarizes some of the key ideas of Ukrainian Marxist anti-colonialist thinkers noting that they can be placed alongside men like Amilcar Cabral, Tan Malaka, Frantz Fanon and Aime Cesaire.
This article also draws attention to the fact that although there is a Ukrainian Marxist revolutionary tradition behind the current anti-Russian struggle, there is no influential Ukrainian socialist party to speak of. There only exists the old soviet Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU), formed in 1918 as a sub-branch of the Russian Communist Party (RCP). This party was overwhelmingly non-Ukrainian in its ethnic composition until the 1950s and has always stood for Ukrainian subordination to and integration with the former imperial power – Russia. Today because of its leaders’ opulent lifestyle and generous financial backing from politically pro Russian oligarchs the CPU is popularly known as the Capitalist Party of Ukraine. It now supports Putin’s imperialism and the Russian Eurasianist neo-nazis.