Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The following is a Google translation of an article from the Ukrainian anarchist news site Zaraz. I have edited it for English grammar. The report is from some Crimean anarchists who participated in last Saturday's demonstration in Kherson in solidarity with the workers occupying the Kherson farm machinery plant (see previously here at Molly's Blog).
Workers of the Kherson engineering plant held a rally.
Report by anarchists from Simferopol.:
Throughout the night before the rally we did banners and a variety of posters and an action plan for the next rally. By the morning we made some 15 posters with the slogans - «The workers and students together», «Kherson Today and tomorrow the whole Ukraine», «One solution - the resistance», «Workshop: Plant, wages, worker control», «Revolution NOW» etc., and one big banner - «Do not give up, keep up the strike».

In the morning at 10 o'clock we met a fellow from Kiev and immediately headed for the seized plant, which is approximately 5 minutes walk from the station. We divided work previously prepared for us in terms of posters. We were a bit surprised by the lack of peparation of the workers in the campaign plan (on their part very few posters were done and few flyers were made to hand out passers-by, etc.) While awaiting the start of the meeting, we chatted with the workers, and they were genuinely pleased that we came, the more so as in Kherson the «new generation» has reacted to all that has happened. Having something like this very important event Ukrainian activists, anarchists should have come... and it is, it is a pity that in such a relatively discontented country like Ukraine, only a few people came.

At 11:00 with the deployment of flags and posters, along with the workers we went to the building Oblgosadministatsii chanting various slogans on the road. On the road workers and bystanders repeatedly asked why we had the nlack flag. Some were openly hostile, some after the «explanatory work» were satisfied. There was even one woman, who tried to expel one of our activists from the demonstration, yelling «we do not need any anarchists, we are in this for ourselves; we do not need any party». Of course, this kind of aspiration of working towards independence made us happy, but it was funny to hear, because just ahead PSPU flags and CPU flew. At the meeting, we listened to the speeches of a great number of Lords and party functionaries, rather than mates. It was frankly a little boring and depressing. Party functionaries only remember the Soviet past: how wonderful it was, what salary, what benefits, and most importantly - factories owned by the state. Of course, then in respect of workers and their rights things may have been somewhat better. But let's look back in history: workers were not interested in labor, because it did not pay too much, compared to how much they had to work. There was no enthusiasm in the work - it was a lot like a bad marriage - working then felt like no strain because the money was in a lot of theft in the workplace. Workers considered their property, and partly it was just. In general, the system, despite some advantages, was rotten. Moreover, it does not depend on what government led the state. It was directly dependent on the state. The state, as well as a private owner is an exploiter and cares about the workers only insofar as it benefits them. Given that there must be an owner it can be concluded that the State treats the workers a little better than a private owner. but they only care about their credibility, their profits and legitimacy. Therefore, we think, it would work better to achieve socialization and not nationalization of the factory, but the question is: Are they ready for this? . «The liberation of the workers is the work of the workersthemslves »; the workers should keep this in mind: and not trust their lives and working conditions to a bourgeois or the state. We sincerely hope that they will not llisten to the promises of parties who need glasses, and be his electorate at the next election.

After the rally, we, along with the workers, went back to the factory. We liked the fact that people were already good and friendly to us and to the flag. What struck us and outraged us , is that the owner of the plant remains the owner and gets to decide who and who does not go. Inside, we heard an ardent speech about the painful labor, their speech was much more interesting and sincere than at the rally. Followed by a «Agrarian Bourgeois>> from a nearby farm. He praised the production plant, and wished them to save the plant itself, so that it would be revived and operated as before. After the meeting we ate. It was not so tasty, but a pleasure from the fact that we were treated so well - as honored guests.
Although, in our view, we saw on the part of workers a certain passivity, indecision, and a apathy relative to what is happening. Perhaps their behavior is due to the «Soviet past», where trade unions did not have autonomy, and organizational decisions were not taken collectively but imposed from above. Maybe this can explain the lack of enthusiasm, and perhaps just a moral hesitance at such radical change. More bullshit that workers can not make decisions independently and on all questions, they should please contact their leader.
And although the rally was not as radical as we like, and a little staged and politicized inn general - liked it. At least from the fact that people started to show class consciousness, and a reaction against the very failed bourgeois parties .
Crimean anarchists
And here is more analysis from the Livasprava blog, once more Google translated and edited for English grammar.
The occupied Kherson engineering plant is not just an isolated case of struggle for their rights. . In fact, we are perhaps witnessing the rise of new parties and a labor movement in our country. If so, in the future history books of Ukraine, this occupation may hold much more importance than the other events of modern history, including the «orange revolution», and the names of its leaders - comrades Nemchonka and Trubaeva, - will be known to future students as well as any Tymoshenko and Yanukovych Yatseniuk.
The capitalist crisis, which began after a period of revitalization of the economy end of the 1990s and early 2000's, painfully struck the workers. Здесь, в Херсоне, на ХМЗ люди не получали заработной платы еще с сентября 2008 года. Here, in Kherson, on the HMZ people had not received wages since September 2008. To the brutal and inexorable logic of the market economy, individual wealth, it is disadvantageous to maintain production at the plant, and Mr. Oleynik decided to dismiss all workers, and sell most of the equipment for scrap.
Perhaps for someone giving the Marxist assertion that the interests of private owners come into conflict with the interests of employees and society as a whole, it sounds abstract, but here in the HMZ, this truth is clear to everyone. The destruction of the plant - this attack on the life of 1,5 thousand workers who have nothing to feed their families and live in Kherson. HMZ is one of the enterprises which are the backbone of the urban economy, and the entire economy of Ukraine. As well as in the case of liquidation of the country will lose in HMZ its own base of high quality agricultural production. However, this destruction, which is disadvantageous to thousands of people, benefit one person- the private owner. And in terms of capitalism, the interests of one is above the interests of thousands of people.
Hence the demand put forward by the workers: nationalization of the plant under the supervision of the work community and government support for sales of equipment. Liberal critics of the workers' initiative contend that the plant products of poor quality, so it makes no sense to spend money to save the businesses, and government support for marketing is needed only because the alleged bad products can not be sold on the market. According to the logic of liberals, the state still must go to the aid of private banks, but not employees, and the real production.
In fact, products of the factory are high quality. HMZ combines are better than, for example, Rostelmash cars We know that combines from the Kherson refinery work not only in Ukrainian agriculture, but many farms in southern Russia. . Of course, the liberals, who saw only the harvester in the picture, will write that «if they do not buy, then it is not necessary». But the fate of many industries shows that the market is not the best way to determine what you need and what you don't. For example,building is now shut down, but not because there is too much housing , but because the crisis reduced demand and people can not buy. So we need government support, and better the nationalization of the industry. But that should not become nationalization for the enrichment of government officials. It needs workers' control. However, there is the prospect of workers' power to grow from a number of these attempts like what we see today in Kherson.
The academic left is called the treatment of working HMZ a bourgeois state error. But the choice for workers is not available. First, they have had several months of not receiving wages.
Secondly, working under the circumstances they would not be able to organize the supply of spare parts, electricity generation and sale of products without the assistance of the state. The owner removed all the finished products and even some of the equipment. Besides this product, its purchase, before the crisis was subsidized by and conducted on the basis of credit under the state guarantees. In a crisis the industry will not be even less able to do without government support. Of course, the problem and the bourgeois state is not solved in a single plant. But this is the first step. Workers across the country feel that they should support the initiative . One of the slogans written by - «Today in Kherson - tomorrow across Ukraine!».
Thirdly , to dispel the remaining illusions of the workers about the current state, you need to bring to the State demands which are contrary to its class basis. Nationalization and workers control is something which bourgeois state can not now do without compromising their social basis the capitalist class. These measures are a first step towards the development of the class consciousness of employees, and thus to establish a workers' government. (Here Molly must, of course, part company with the author of the Livasprava blog. A so-called "workers' government" is merely the fig leaf behind which hides a ruling class of bureaucrats. True workers's control-self-management- is utterly incompatible with the intrusion of the state's own control via nationalization. In the end one or the other will win out. The countries of the ex-Soviet Union saw exactly that as true workers' control was whittled away to nothing in the course of a few short years- long before the era of Stalin. You can't fit square pegs into round holes. It is not "nationalization and workers control". It is "nationalization or workers' control". )
This task is left - at every stage to explain that without a revolution and the capitalist mode of production being overcome the root problems of workers can not be resolved. At the same time not succumb to the extreme left and the illusion to believe that such a revolution could happen spontaneously, without a number of attempts, phases, stages, without the struggle of workers, which is now partial.
One such step is the establishment of the Coordination Committee of struggling groups in Ukraine. The idea of establishing the Committee came from the HMZ workers, who called for the establishment of a coordinating body, in their address to all workers. Now we have received feedback on the initiative of enterprises, Lugansk, Donetsk, Lviv region.. It is important that the people after almost two decades of capitalism are beginning to understand that only a collective, organized struggle can lead to victory. (What ? No call for a "Party" and a "workers government" ? Perhaps the events are just not developing like leftist leaders would ideally like them to. )
A Final Molly Note:
While it is obvious that I disagree most emphatically with the LivaSprava author about what "stages" a workers' revolt must go through I still find this blog to be one of the most useful sources for what is happening now in Kherson. It's just that certain desires of this individual should be seen as just that-desires- and not as some necessity. There are certainly other ways to proceed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I planned to translated on my own but you saved a lot of effort. I corrected some misunderstandings which were due to autotranslation and put it up to http://avtonom.org/index.php?nid=2262
hopefully not too many grammar errors added.

Thanks also for promoting Azov movie. Check up this movie as well:

Anonymous said...

Can you contact the Waterford workers and create soli\darity? The world is aware of them, but so few sources have reported on the Kherson Sit down strike!