The war in Ukraine and the far right

24 de April 2024 - 22:54

Speech at the opening of the conference "No Pasaran", held in Lisbon between 19 and 21 April, by Luís Fazenda, member of the Left Bloc and European Left Political Secretariat.

Luís Fazenda

Democratic greetings to all present!

In the recent decades we have seen the rise of far-right forces. They first mobilized under the banner of anti-immigration, and then raised a reactionary nationalist project. This project is now aimed at seizing power and no longer simply political agitation. This is especially true since the crisis of global capitalism in 2007/8 and the major protests against the economic austerity programs. This anti-globalization, invoked by the far right, is not only anti-socialist, it is also anti-liberal, and aims to absorb liberal governments.

This neo-fascist movement is following in the footsteps already interviewed by Gramsci in 1921. According to him, the assault on power came more from Mussolini's parliamentary ranks and less from the violent militias. We are all familiar with this development. Since the 70s. The small neo-Nazi parties that practiced street violence have given the way to mass fascist parties and electoral apparatus.  The strategy is to occupy the state and hollow out democracy from inside. And since there is a European superstructure today, the same strategy is being replicated in Europe, as Meloni said. Although they are nationalists, the ultra are internationalists in order to advance authoritarian states that protect economic oligarchies and reduce some social policies to welfarism. And they are all militarists, understanding this as an exalted expression of reactionary nationalism.

The current approach to militarization is hostage to the war in Ukraine. I was asked if I could read the implications of this war for the growth of the extreme right. And that's what it's all about.

Russia's criminal and unjustifiable invasion up to the gates of Kiev, then entrenching itself in the south-east of the country, establishing a crown of domination from the Donbass to Crimea, has created a whole series of political consequences. Or was it not "the war the continuation of politics by other means".

First: most of Europe's far-right parties are Putin's allies, objective allies in the attempt to destroy a "decadent civilization", as Putin says in his universal fight against "gender ideology". In Portugal, the far-right party, out of opportunism, claims to support Ukraine and last week even the conservative prime minister reminded it of its friendships with all the pro-Putin parties. All these parties have relied on Russia's generosity. As we know, all the economic sanctions aimed at Russia by the European Union worsen the living conditions of Germans and French and other Europeans. This absurdity automatically translates into an increase of votes for neo-fascists. All these far-right parties will be the "moral victors" of the conflict if Ukraine is left to its own devices. Ukraine's ordeal would be Orban's laurel wreath and Macron's donkey ears.

Secondly, militarism on the loose in Ukraine feeds Putin and his far-right regime. It boosts nationalism and the capacity of the power elite. It's no surprise that Putin has the support of a large section of the Russian people. I remember that during Portuguese fascism, in the middle of the war in the colonies, we could see how Salazar still had broad support among the people. This is the difficulty and the ingredient of reactionary nationalism.

Thirdly, militarism contaminates liberal and social-liberal governments in the West. Under the pretext of responding to the war and a hypothetical Russian threat, governments are rushing to arm themselves. The bourgeoisie of the central countries has not yet given in to the extreme right, or at least a large part of it, and is betting on NATO for the inter-imperialist conflict with Russia. This spiral between the pretext of defense and the arms race leads to a bazaar of military spending. Increasing militarization can only lead to growing political reactionism under the pretext of defending the homeland.

Fourthly, the liberals and the far right used to invoke terrorism to limit public freedoms and now they have found a much better target for their purposes. In the invasion of Ukraine, they have a physical and existential threat that provides all the justifications for any bonapartism.

Fifthly, the state of invasion puts Ukraine in a bracket of any democratic process, as before it was a mockery and far from the criteria of any rule of law.

Donald Tusk announces the pre-war. This is the desperation of the liberals, the Macronists in their latest European incarnation. We cannot accept it. European leaders cannot trace a tragic spiral. We need to oppose the circle of terror to the circle of negotiation. The imperialist NATO must cede neutral status to Ukraine, Ukraine must back down on its claim of Crimea, for which it has no historical reason to confirm, Russia must accept international jurisdiction over the territories of Donbass to determine its sense of self-determination. These seem to be, among other things, bases for attempting a ceasefire and for peace talks. If the European Union gains some autonomy from American imperialism, this could be the task of Macron, Scholz and Tusk: the pre-peace. Of course that Orban doesn't support it and the extreme right tends to see a negotiation as a brake on European militarization. Contrary to the hoax that Europe is a military dwarf, it currently spends as much on arms as China and much more than Russia. We don't need an escalation of NATO's militarization instead of a reduction of the powers' arm arsenals.

The struggle for peace in Ukraine, as well as in Palestine or other regions of the Middle East, is a far-reaching aid to fighting and stopping the extreme right. It is the quest to neutralize one of the generators of the neo-fascist current.

In these difficult times, we don't seek unanimity but unity in action. Unity only strengthens a progressive and international cause.

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