Since Russia invaded Ukraine, last month, many are asking how it can remain a member state of the United Nations, whose Charter (Article 2, Section 3) requires that “all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Besides its current invasion of Ukraine, Russia, under Vladimir Putin attacked Chechnya in 1999, invaded the Republic of Georgia in 2008, militarily intervened in the Syrian civil war in September of 2015 and violated the U.N. arms embargo of Libya, by sending military supplies and expertise to Khalifa Haftar, Supreme Commander of the Libyan National Army. More recently, since January of 2021, Russian supported mercenaries and military instructors engaged in combat operations in the Central African Republic, again in violation of an embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Russian mercenaries have similarly participated in the conflict in Sudan.
Furthermore, how can Russia sit as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, who “has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” while regularly using its veto to prevent the Council and General Assembly from fulfilling their responsibilities and acting in areas contrary to the interests of Russia itself?
Congress Asks if Russia Can Be Expelled from the United Nations…
These questions have led some, including many members of the U.S. Congress, to ask if Russia can be expelled from the Security Council and even the United Nations itself.
Article 6 of the U.N. Charter states that “a member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” Skeptics argue that Russia, since it has veto power, as a permanent member of the Security Council, can prevent the passage of such a resolution and thus its expulsion. But, as we recently saw on March 2nd of this year, the General Assembly may intervene and take action in a situation where there has been aggression, or a breach of peace, due to a veto by a permanent member of UNSC (Uniting For Peace Resolution of 1950).
Not only is there legal authority, but a precedent for expelling a member of the U.N. General Assembly and from the Security Council itself!
There is precedent for expelling a member of the UN…
The Republic of China was a founding member of the United Nations, after World War II, and sat as a permanent member of the Security Council. In 1949, after a long civil war, the Chinese Communist Party defeated the ROC in mainland China and forced their nationalist forces to retreat to the island of Taiwan. Yet, the Republic of China remained the representative of the Chinese people at the United Nations until 1971.
In July of that year, 17 member states, led by Albania, requested that a question of the “Restoration of the Lawful Rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations” be placed on the agenda of the 26th session of the U.N. General Assembly. They argued that the ROC represented unlawful authorities on the island of Taiwan and were not the legitimate representatives of mainland China. After several amendments and counter-proposals, aimed at keeping the ROC (Taiwan) a member state, while also approving the membership of the People’s Republic of China, the General Assembly voted to expel the ROC (Taiwan) and instate the PRC (Communist China) as a permanent member of the Security Council and the lawful representative of the Chinese nation. During the period of final voting, Great Britain and the USSR argued that they were not expelling the Republic of China, but recognizing the credentials of the People’s Republic of China as the rightful representatives of the Chinese nation. This same argument can now be used in the case of Russia, as there are valid concerns about the legitimacy of its own participation in the General Assembly and on the Security Council.
Russia’s membership in the UN may be illegitimate…
On February 24, 2022, just two days after Russia invaded his country, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Serhiy Kyslytsia challenged the U.N. Security Council to “instruct the Secretariat to circulate to the members of the General Assembly the decision of the Security Council of December 1991, which recommends that the Russian Federation be a member of this organization; as well as the decision of the U.N. General Assembly of 1991, where the GA welcomes the Russian Federation as a member of this organization.”
His reasoning is that Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the U.N. Charter states that “the admission of any such State to membership of the United Nations shall be by decision of the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.”
So, where is the documentation of a vote by either the Security Council, or the General Assembly, to approve Russia’s membership after the fall of the Soviet Union? To date, the U.N. has been unable to produce it.
“The U.N. Charter was signed by 51 founding member states, among which were the Ukrainian SSR, the Belarusian SSR and the USSR,” Kyslytsia said. “Yet, the RSFSR, i.e. Soviet Russia, didn’t sign it, although at that time Russia had its Ministry of Foreign Affairs separate from the Soviet Union’s one.”
According the the Soviet Constitution each republic was considered independent and separate from the USSR itself, so this lack of signature is important. As a part of the Soviet Union, Russia cannot assume the role of the USSR, itself, within the United Nations. Similarly, when Yugoslavia dissolved into multiple states, each one of them had to reapply for membership within the United Nations. Furthermore, as Kyslytsia pointed out, “there is nothing in the U.N. Charter about continuity as an insidious way to get to the members of the organization.”
Removing the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the United Nations Security Council, as well as the General Assembly, required the passage of Resolution 2758. The People’s Republic of China could not claim to be a continuing member, as Russia claims to be. Neither could the Czech Republic or Slovakia, after the break up of Czechoslovakia, nor the above mentioned successor states of Yugoslavia. Each of them had to reapply for membership in the United Nations.
Yes, Russia can be expelled from the United Nations…
Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has repeatedly violated the principles upon which the United Nations was founded and interfered with its mission of maintaining peace among its members. Valid concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of its membership in both the U.N. and on the Security Council. So, can Russia be expelled from the United Nations? Legal precedent would seem to say YES! At least its membership should be suspended until it has been found to be in compliance with U.N. Charter. Pursuing such an effort would put Russia on the defensive and illustrate the potential serious consequences of its flagrant violations of the values of the United Nations. Additionally, it would serve as a warning to other members of the U.N., especially some permanent members of the Security Council, who believe they can pursue an aggressive agenda against other nations and escape punishment. Only then can the United Nations truly be a force for peace and stability in the world.
President Zelensky of Ukraine has been compared to Winston Churchill and King David, but should we now also compare him to Judah Maccabee?
Recent reports claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine. Apparently, he feels they are going to be more effective that the nearly 200,000 Russian troops he already has in Ukraine. Or, maybe he figures that hired terrorists will be more loyal and brutal than young Russian conscripts being asked to fight neighbors and fellow Slavs. So, I ask again, does this make Vlodomir Zelensky, Ukraine's Jewish president, today's Judah Maccabee? For those who don't know the story of Hanukkah, let me explain.
Putin is recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukraine...
Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his three top generals. Seleucus Nicator came to rule the area around Syria, Lebanon and Israel, founding the Seleucid Empire. One of his successors, King Antiochus IV, ascended the throne in 175 B.C. Fearing the rising power of Rome, he decided to pursue the conquest of Egypt, in the hope that by increasing the size and power of his kingdom, he might be able to resist Rome. This sounds very similar to Vladimir Putin trying to conquer Ukraine due to fear of an expanding NATO. Antiochus was also called a madman and Putin's current sanity has been questioned too.
Before Antiochus could invade Egypt, he would have to first unite the diverse cultural and religious elements of his kingdom in order to consolidate political support for his cause. Under Alexander, Hellenization had been inclusive and allowed for cultural variation. But, for Antiochus, it became forced assimilation and a form of totalitarian rule with him at its helm. His interests and those of the nation were seen as the same. One could argue that this was a form of proto-fascism. Again, we see similarities with Putin, who sees his interests as one with those of Russia and does not recognize Ukrainians as culturally, or historically, distinct from Russians.
Hellenization became a form of totalitarian rule...
To succeed in his plan of annexing Egypt, Antiochus knew he would need to assimilate and reduce the influence of the Jews in his realm. As neighbors with shared history, the Jews had a loyalty to Egypt and would potentially fight on their behalf. Marching his army into Jerusalem, he forced out the Jewish High Priest, Onias III, and installed his brother, Joshua, who was loyal to Antiochus. Upon becoming High Priest, himself, Joshua changed his name to the more Hellenized name of Jason and began implementing Antiochus' will. Jewish cultural and religious practices were subjugated to those of the Greek mainstream society around them. Jews were forced to conform to the totalitarian vision of Antiochus. The Seleucid king also got access to the temple treasury to help fund his war efforts.
Although restless, the population was not at rebellion stage until Antiochus decided to sell the role of High Priest to Menelaus, who was not in the hereditary line of Moses' brother, Aaron. As a condition of his appointment, Menelaus promised to raise tax revenue. When he failed, he was summoned to Syria to appear before the king. While he was away, Jason seized control of the priesthood and attempted to gain control of government. Upon failing, he fled, and Antiochus reinstated Menelaus, as High Priest, and slaughtered thousands of rebellious Jews. The people revolted again, after the king had returned home to Syria, and he came back with his army to suppress them. He also outlawed the practice of Judaism altogether. This led to a three year rebellion, led by Judah Maccabee (known as The Hammer), that drove Antiochus from the Kingdom of Judah and created the first independent Jewish state in more than 400 years.
Putin wants to subjugate Ukrainians to a dominant Russian culture...
Again, we see similarities with Vladimir Putin, who wishes to subjugate Ukrainians to a dominant Russian culture, including repressing their Catholic faith in favor of his preferred Russian Orthodox Church. It's Ukraine's Jewish President, Vlodomir Zelensky, of the Servant of the People Party, that is uniting his people and standing strong against Russian aggression.
Some might argue with comparing Zelensky to Judah Maccabee. He is not just a hero to Jews, but a modern day hero of humanity. But, Jews everywhere can and should take pride that it is one of our own that is leading the battle for freedom against the onslaught of fascist totalitarianism.
We've all watched in horror, as the unnecessary war in Ukraine unfolds. The humanitarian crisis has grown daily, as Ukrainian civilians- men, women, and children- are caught in the path of destruction caused by Russian missiles, bombs and artillery. But there appears to be a slim chance for peace. Over the past week, some points of agreement have emerged that could lead to a plan for disengagement and withdrawal of Russian troops, as long as both sides are sincere in their proposals.
Some points of agreement have emerged...
On Monday, March 7th, Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov declared the following Russian demands that must be met before Russian troop withdrawal...
1) Ukraine must cease military action (one would assume this includes their efforts against Russian-speaking separatists in the disputed Donbas region)
2)Ukraine must change its constitution to enshrine neutrality (no membership in NATO, or likely the European Union)
"They should make amendments to the constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc," Peskov said.
3) Ukraine must recognize Crimea (seized from Ukraine in 2014) as Russian territory
4) Ukraine must recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics
If Ukraine commits to all of these conditions, "all of this can be stopped in a moment, " Peskov said.
An unnoticed, but interesting comment stated by Peskov is, "Ukraine is an independent state that will live as it wants, but under conditions of neutrality." This statement appears to contradict, or at least step back, previous claims made by Vladimir Putin, in his July 2021 letter, "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians," and during his televised speech just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where he argued that Ukraine was an artificial country and that "the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russian and Ukraine, between parts of what essentially is the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy." Perhaps the fierce resistance of the Ukrainian military and people has caused Putin and his government to reconsider this unity!
Zelensky suggested an alternative to NATO membership...
On Tuesday, March 8th, Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelensky's "Servant of the People Party," responded with a proposal of its own.
In it, they suggested a new security agreement, as an alternative to NATO, with the United States, Turkey, and neighboring countries (possibly including Russia) as guarantors with specific penalties for violation. This agreement would create legal obligations for Russia to recognize Ukrainian nationhood and refrain from threatening the Ukrainian people and government.
"The (NATO) alliance is not ready to accept Ukraine for at least 15 years," a party spokesman said. "We cannot use only the lines of our constitution (expressing Ukrainian desire to join NATO)... to defend our country."
With regards to Russia's demands of recognition of its sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the spokesman stated, "It is clear that we will not do that. But we need to decide how the lives of people in these territories will be regulated within our integral state."
The last part of this statement is revealing in that is suggests some kind of federal, or confederal, arrangement, with local autonomy and constitutional protections for residents.
This is very similar to what I proposed in my article for Fighting Fascism, "Putin Follows Path of Hitler," published on February 22, 2022. There I wrote, "Constitutional federalism, with local autonomy, is the solution." Stating that self-determination is key, I called for carefully monitored elections, with international observers, to insure a fair vote. "Possible choices include full union with Ukraine, incorporation with Russia, constitutional federation with Ukraine, confederation with Ukraine, or full independence," I said.
We should not ignore a diplomatic opportunity to save lives...
It is clear that the situation in Ukraine is likely to get far worse, before it improves. As Ukrainian resistance prevents a Russian victory, Putin's desperation and wrath is getting worse. We should continue to strongly stand with the Ukrainian people and provide al means necessary for them to defend themselves. We must also hold the Russian government, including Putin himself, for their actions and likely war crimes. But, we should not ignore a diplomatic opportunity to save lives. This past week has revealed the possible beginnings of a plan for peace, centered around the core elements of Ukrainian political and military neutrality and constitutional federalism for Russian-speaking regions in the east of the country. Chances of such a plan succeeding are still far fetched, but it may offer enough for Vladimir Putin to save face, both domestically and around the world, to cause him to withdraw his troops from Ukrainian soil. The alternative for him is a long and expensive war and international isolation and humiliation. For Ukrainians, it is the tragic loss of many more lives and the destruction of their country. So, we must try.
With his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has shown himself to be untrustworthy as a world leader and a threat to the international order established after World War II.
As his troops advance towards the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, the United States, Europe and the United Nations are seeking ways to halt the invasion and/or make the cost of occupying Ukraine too high for him to continue.
Some of the better suggestions have included:
1) Sending in lethal aid, so Ukrainians can continue to defend their county... Impressed by the strength and capability of the Ukrainian army and citizens to resist Russia, a growing number of countries have promised to supply them with weapons. We, as defenders of democracy, must keep the pressure on them to do so.
2) Removal of Russia from the SWIFT banking system, in order to cripple their economy and ability to trade... Some European nations, at first, resisted this move out of fear for the impact upon their own economies and peoples. But, under public pressure, they seem to be softening their stance and bans on some Russian banks to participate in SWIFT have now been announced.
3) Increasing U.S. oil and gas production and restoring American energy independence... Almost half of the Russian economy is based upon oil production, so increasing world supplies would reduce Putin's profits and ability to sustain an occupation of Ukraine. It would also lower Europe's dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, allowing leaders to stand up to Putin without fear of him cutting off the energy supplies they need.
Other suggestions have been made to thwart Russia's aggression, but there is an option, that I have not heard discussed, that comes right out of the Putin playbook. It is the classic move of all fascists, who justify military aggression as defending their ethnic countrymen, living abroad, from persecution. Both Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler used this tactic to explain their military expansion, as did Putin during his 2008 attack on Georgia, 2014 annexation of Crimea, and his current invasion of Ukraine. He falsely claimed to be protecting ethnic Russians from persecution and supporting their goal of self-determination. America and our European allies, too, can borrow this tactic and support separatist movements within Russia itself.
Borrow from Putin's playbook...
Many think of Russia as a homogenous nation inhabited primarily by ethnic Russians. But, this is not the case. The Russian Federation is a geographically broad country with a long history of imperialist annexation and absorption of a neighboring peoples. As such, there are many, ruled by Moscow, who yearn for freedom.
It is beyond the scope of this article to include all separatist movements within the borders of Russia, but here are a few examples.
1) Kaliningrad... If one looks at a map of Eastern Europe, they will see an oddly isolated Russian enclave, surrounded by Lithuania and Poland, and separated from the Russian heartland. This is the former East Prussian area of Konigsberg that was annexed and absorbed into the Soviet Union after World War II. The region does not share a long history with Russia, and its citizens identify more with Europe. They don't even refer to their enclave by its Russian name, but as the "amber country," in reference to its major natural resource. While 80% of Russian citizenry have never traveled outside of their country, 60% of Kaliningrad residents hold international passports and 25% of them have European Union visas. Local parents prefer to send their children to study at high schools and colleges in neighboring countries such as Poland and Lithuania. The Baltic Republican Party was founded after the collapse of the Soviet Union, before it was disbanded by Russian authorities and its leaders imprisoned. This has not eased the desire of local residents for federal autonomy and/or outright independence. Most citizens, including some local authorities, want to restore the regions historic name of Konigsberg. The constituent congress of the Kaliningrad Public Movement, which replaced the Baltic Republican Party, took place in February of 2005. An internet movement urging support for annexation by Lithuania launched in 2014.
2) "Stop Feeding Moscow!" is the recent slogan of separatists in Siberia, who want strong local autonomy and/or independence. The movement dates back to the mid-1800's, when the Society for Siberian Independence was formed. Following the arrest of its leaders, the movement was disbanded in 1865. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, a local Siberian legislature adopted the "On the Autonomous Region of Siberia" proposal, reviving the independence movement. The white and green flag of Siberia was created at this time.
3) Circassian nationalists with to see federal autonomy and/or independence within their historic homeland, located along the Black Sea, just north of the Republic of Georgia. The modern movement rose during the Soviet glasnost and perestroika eras of the 1990's, with nationalists pressing local authorities and forcing them to accept many of their demands. With the ascension of President Putin to power, the International Circassian Association was taken over and turned into a puppet organization of the Russian government. Those who opposed were imprisoned, or assassinated. Circassian nationalism faded, as a result, until 2010 when it was reborn and grew over the next few years. The movement saw growth in 2014, when the international Olympics competition was held in Sochi, Russia, where the Circassian genocide began. Today, Circassian nationalism is extremely popular among younger generations, both in their homeland and abroad. Youth study their language and history with devotion and make up the core of Circassian activists around the world.
Other regions where separatist sentiments thrive include...
The self-declared Kuban Republic, of south Russia, with its own flag and internet declaration of independence...
The Karelia Republic, in northwest Russia, that held a referendum to join Finland...
The Kuril Islands that circulated a petition to join neighboring Japan...
and Ivangorad, which collected signatures in support of joining neighboring Estonia.
The north Caucasus regions of Tatarstan, Bashkiria, Tuva, Buryatia and Chechnya, which fought two civil wars with Russia, all yearn for more freedom from Moscow too.
Many of these regions would be better supported
within a truly federalized Russia...
It is the belief of Fighting Fascism that all peoples have the right of self-determination. They deserve the right to determine their own destiny and not be dominated by a more powerful neighbor. But, this does not always mean independent nationhood, or merger with neighboring countries. Many of these regions would be better supported within a truly federalized Russia, with constitutional guarantees of their political and individual rights. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of post-Soviet Russia, told the republics to take on as much power and responsibility as they can handle.
Besides defending the right of self-determination for all peoples, support of these separatist groups would aid in bring down the fascist dictatorship of Vladimir Putin. A core component of fascist political philosophy is strongly centralized government and rule by an elite few. Constitutional federalism devolves power to local administration where citizens can have greater control of their lives.
Putin's stated goal is to restore the historic Russian empire, of 1922, with him as its ruler. That is the legacy he seeks. Forcing him to defend against separatism within his borders would reduce his ability to invade and annex other countries and loosen his control over Russia itself. By coordinating their efforts towards a common goal of federalizing Russia, with truly protected constitutional guarantees for both regions and residents, they can form a strong civil rights movement that Putin can't control, or stop. This would transform Russia and bring down his regime. It would be the end of Putin-land!
As I write, news reports tell us that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. More than 150,000 troops have gathered along Ukraine's border. Russian President Valadimir Putin claims to be defending ethnic Russians and to want a diplomatic solution, but this sounds eerily like Adolph Hitler's attack on the Sudetenland region of Czechoslavkia.
Putin sounds eerily like Adolph Hitler...
In a written response to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, dated September 27, 1938, Hitler complains of "the founding of the Czechoslovak State and the establishment of its frontiers without any consideration for history, or nationality. The Sudetenland was also included therein, although this area had always been German and although its inhabitants, after the destruction of the Hapsburg Monarchy, had unanimously declared their desire for Anschluss (annexation) to the German Reich. Thus the right of self-determination, which had been proclaimed by President Wilson as the most important basis of national life, was simply denied to the Sudeten Germans."
He then declared that, in his opinion, the League of Nations and Czechoslovakia had failed in its obligations to protect the rights and culture of Sudetenland citizens. "From day to day it became more evident that the Government of Prague was not disposed seriously to consider the most elementary rights of the Sudeten Germans," he said. "On the contrary, they attempted by increasingly violent methods to enforce the Czechization of the Sudetenland."
He said, "the German Government at first did not intervene in any way in this development and maintained its calm restraint even when, in May of this year, the Czechoslovak Government proceeded to a mobilization of their army, under purely fictitious pretext of German troop concentrations."
Hitler claimed the Czech government was mistreating Germans...
But Germany's patience had run out, he argued, as Czechoslovakia had shown itself to be uncompromising and negotiating in bad faith. "This was clearly shown by the course of the negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the Sudeten German Party with the Government. These negotiations produced the conclusive proof that the Czechoslovak Government was far removed from treating the Sudeten German problem in a fundamental manner and bringing about an equitable solution."
Stating conditions for the residents of Sudetenland "have become completely intolerable," Hitler claimed "political persecution and economic oppression have plunged the Sudeten Germans into untold misery." This had led, he said, to 214,000 Sudeten German refugees who had to leave their "ancestral country and flee across the German frontier, because they saw in this the last and only possibility of escaping from the revolting Czech regime of force and bloodiest terror."
Hitler explained to FDR that "these are the facts which compelled me in my Nuremberg speech of September 13 to state before the whole world that the deprivation of rights of 3 1/2 million Germans in Czechoslovakia must cease, and that these people, if they cannot find justice and help themselves, must receive both from the German Reich."
Hitler threatened Czechoslovakia in September of 1938, having just annexed Austria into Germany a few month earlier. Having annexed their southern neighbor, the Nazis held a "retroactive vote" in which allegedly 99.73% of Austrians voted in favor of joining the German nation.
Putin presents himself as the protector of ethnic Russians in Ukraine...
In 2014, Russian President Putin similarly annexed the Crimean Peninsula region of Ukraine. Afterward, the Russians too held a vote claiming that 86% of residents favored incorporation into Russia.
Today, Putin presents himself as the liberator of oppressed ethnic Russians inside of Ukraine.
In a letter released, by the Kremlin, on July 12, 2021, entitled "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians," Putin argued that "Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of the ancient Rus... bound together by one language, economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and- after the baptism of Rus- the Orthodox faith." He said "the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy." He blamed external circumstances and anti-Russian forces for this division of Russian territory and, like Hitler's sentiment about the creation of Czechoslovakia, argued that Ukraine is an artificial country built upon seized Russian lands.
After the invasion of Batu Khan, Russia found itself divided with the southern and western territories becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 14th Century, Lithuania's ruling elite converted to Catholicism and in the 16th Century, Lithuania merged with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Polish Catholic nobility, according to Putin, were granted large landholdings in former Russian territory and "the process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy."
"As a consequence," Putin said, "the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper Region... supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth."
Over the course of the lengthy war between the Russian state and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the ruling elite would switch alliance, Putin said, but "for the people, that was a war of liberation." After the signing of the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686, "the Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands of the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. Their territories were referred to as 'Malorosia' (Little Russia)."
Putin claims Ukraine is an artificial state...
"Malorosians," Putin wrote, "in many ways helped build a big common country- its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years."
But, Putin also finds fault in the Soviet Union, and Bolshevik leaders.
"Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks' supporters did not see themselves outside Russia," he said. But, these leaders "basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons."
Putin reasons that the Soviets were determined to further their international struggle, by erasing national borders and ethnicities and by diminishing the influence of "chauvinist Russia." In 1922, the USSR was created "as a federation of equal republics."
"In early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with refusal," Putin said. "Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as a part of Soviet Ukraine... The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of southeastern Ukraine."
Through a lengthy list of further examples, Putin illustrated his belief that "modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped- for a significant part- on the lands of historical Russia."
Although, as a student of history, I appreciate the lesson and in-depth explanation of his viewpoint, my response is So What! Putin, himself, acknowledged that "some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment." Just because they share history with Russia does not mean that Ukrainians wish to be a part of Putin-Land.
Although flawed, they have developed a democratic system and national identity that many are proud of. But, that does not mean that there are not others who, due to ethnicity and religion, culturally identify more with Russia. So, what is the answer to averting war? As the overriding theme of FightingFascism.com is that constitutional federalism can provide peace, by protecting the individual rights of all citizens, I would normally argue that the citizens of eastern Ukraine should have the right to vote. They could vote in favor of a constitutional federal republic as part of Ukraine, for a confederal arrangement with Ukraine, or for annexation with Russia. What is important is that the vote be legal and fair, so it is a true expression of the people's will. It should be scheduled far enough in advance that everyone is aware of their voting options and the impact on their lives. International observers should be present to confirm election integrity. The vote should reflect the will of the people without undue influence from Putin's Russia, Ukrainian officials, or the West. Self-determination is the goal.
Eastern Ukrainians should vote on their future...
But, as Putin has officially announced his recognition of the eastern Donbas provinces of Ukraine as independent, I fear it is likely too late to prevent an invasion and lives will be lost. But, I think a vote should be the position of America, NATO, the European Union and international community at large. This position reflects our democratic values and, hopefully, may be enough of a win for Vladimir Putin to convince him not to invade. Since he seems to be following the path of Adolph Hitler, though, I fear this may not be a realistic outcome. I pray for the health and welfare of all citizens in Ukraine, who are being bullied by a megalomaniac bully who feels that his interpretation of history is more important than their lives. Heil Putin!
In September of 1919, just months after the fall of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, Corporal Hitler was ordered to investigate a small group in Munich known as the German Workers Party. As a result of the recently crushed communist rebellion, the German army was very focused on preventing the growth of Marxism in Germany.
A worker-led, national socialist political party
Dressed as a civilian, Hitler went to a party meeting, held in the back room of a Munich beer hall, on September 12, 1919. With about 25 other people, he listened to an economic speech by Gottfried Feder entitled, "How and by what means is capitalism to be eliminated." As the speech concluded, he got up to leave when another attendee spoke out in favor of Bavaria seceding from Germany and joining Austria to form a south German nation. Angered, Hitler spoke out, uninterrupted for about fifteen minutes, against the man and his proposal. This was the first time anyone had noticed the future Fuhrer's speaking ability, and he captured the attention of Anton Drexler, one of the party's founders and its de-facto leader. As the Hitler concluded, Drexler rushed over to give him a pamphlet, he had written, entitled "My Political Awakening." He urged his new acquaintance to read it and to come to another meeting.
Sitting in his army barracks, the next morning, Adolph Hitler did read Drexler's pamphlet and was pleased to find a political philosophy similar to his own... the building of a worker-led, national socialist political party for the German people. But, he was hesitant to join the group recalling, in Mein Kampf, that "aside from a few directives, there was nothing, no program, no leaflet, no printed matter at all, no membership cards, not event a miserable stamp...." He also saw, though, the infant party as a blank canvas that, as Drexler said, could become a movement.
"This absurd little organization with its few members seemed to me to possess the one advantage that it had not frozen into an 'organization,' but left the individual opportunity for real personal activity. Here it was still possible to work, and the smaller the movement, the more readily it could be put into proper form. Here, the content, the goal, and the road could still be determined."
Continued Influence of Socialist Ideology
Deciding the content and the party's path is what Hitler did. Assuming a leadership role, he took charge of the GWP's propaganda efforts, and on February 24, 1920, he presented the party's Twenty Five Points platform. Within its contents, we can see the continued influence of socialist ideology on the young Adolph Hitler. Below are planks of the platform that reveal some of the party's goals and, as co-author, those of Hitler as well.
"We demand the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood."
"We wage war against the corrupt parliamentary administration...."
"No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all."
"Therefore we demand... that all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished."
"We demand that nationalization of all trusts."
"We demand profit-sharing in large industries."
"We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions."
"We demand... the immediate communalization of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities."
"We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose."
"The State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people."
"The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health."
"We demand the abolition of the regular army and the creation of a national (folk) army."
"Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed."
"We demand a strong central authority in the State...."
"Common good before individual good."
Each of these demands easily fits within socialist doctrine. Additionally, it was Hitler, himself, who changed the name of the German Workers Party to the National Socialist German Workers Party!
"Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same," remarked Adolph Hitler during a November 1941 speech in Munich, Germany. But wait, wasn't Hitler a Right-wing German nationalist? That is what we have been told by Left-wing politicians and academics since the end of World War II. But is it true?
Corporal Hitler Supported the Bavarian Soviet Republic....
While researching his 2011 book, Hitler's First War, German historian Thomas Weber discovered and revealed lost archives from the barracks, in Munich, where where Hitler served as a young corporal after World War I. Thought to have been lost during a bombing campaign, by Allied forces, these archives provide compelling evidence of Corporal Hitler's support for and involvement with the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic.
Defeat of Germany in World War I led to social tension and unrest throughout the country, culminating in the German Revolution of 1918. On November 7, 1918, the first anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, King Ludwig III of Bavaria fled the palace with his family and Kurt Eisner, a Jewish politician from the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) became president of the newly proclaimed People's State of Bavaria.
Hitler is seen carrying the coffin of Jewish Socialist Kurt Eisner....
Though he advocated for a socialist republic, Eisner separated himself from Soviet-backed communists, vowing to protect property rights. But, his administration proved unable to provide basic services and was defeated in the January 1919 elections. While on his way to resign before parliament, the following month, Eisner was shot and killed by German nationalist, Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley. From the archives Weber recovered a picture of the mourning crowd carrying Eisner's coffin in procession. Among those seen carrying the coffin is a young Adolph Hitler!
Eisner's death created a martyr for the Left, but left the Bavarian parliament in disarray. Members were shot by extremists and government became disfunctional. By March 7, 1919, the USPD's new leader, Johannes Hoffman, a former school teacher, managed to form a coalition government. But, before he could consolidate his rule, German communists and anarchists formed a counter-government in Bavaria.
Communist "Bavarian Revolution of Love"....
Inspired by news of a communist revolution in Hungary, they declared their own Bavarian Soviet Republic under the leadership of Ernst Toller. Toller immediately called upon the army to support the new dictatorship of the proletariat and to ruthlessly stop any counter-revolutionary activities against the new government. This caused Hoffman and his Social Democrat administration to flee Munich for Bamberg, which it declared the new capital and seat of government.
Toller described his rule as the "Bavarian Revolution of Love," while others called it the "regime of the coffeehouse anarchists." It was an incompetent administration that did not garner much support. As a Social Democrat, himself, Toller didn't command full allegiance from communists, who defected from his revolution and seized power just six days later on Saturday, April 12, 1919.
Having received the blessing of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, Communist leader Eugene Levine, the new head of state of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, started enacting more hardline communist reforms such as seizing cash, guns and food supplies. He also formed a "Red Army" from factory workers and placed ownership of factories under their control. Luxury apartments were seized and given to the homeless, and Munich church was confiscated and rededicated to the "Goddess of Reason."
Hitler elected to office in Bavarian Soviet Republic....
While researching the Munich archives, Weber discovered that the young Corporal Hitler, whom we know mourned the death of Socialist leader Kurt Eisner, sought and was elected to office in the new Bavarian Soviet Republic, as Deputy Battalion Representative. His election meant that he was pledging his allegiance to Lenin and the Soviet Union, and a photograph, taken by Heinrich Hoffman, shows Hitler wearing the red armband of support for the new communist regime. His duties included acting as liaison between BSR leaders and their Department of Propoganda.
Some argue that Hitler was an opportunist and not a true-believer of the Soviet cause. In fact, Weber fully admits that all Munich-based military units, including Hitler's regiment, were considered part of the Red Army. But most members never actively supported Levine's regime, as Hitler did. He loyally served for the entire lifespan of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and never defected to join the German Freikorps, as did some of his fellow soldiers, who fought to free Bavaria from communist rule. This failure to join the partisans fighting the "Bolsheviks in Bavaria" brought Hitler criticism from Otto Strasser, an early member of the Nazi Party, as well as from Ernst Rohm, co-founder of the Nazi Stormtroopers. Having stayed loyal to Levine and the BSR until the very end, Hitler was arrested and held along with other communists, during the street battles that brought the downfall of the Soviet republic on May 1, 1919.
The evidence of Hitler's socialist sympathies, although strong, remains circumstantial, if based only upon his years of military service in Munich. But, his Left-wing beliefs become more clear if we follow his political journey immediately afterward and throughout his reign as Fuhrer of the Third Reich. This journey began with his joining the German Socialist Workers Party just months after the fall of the Bavarian Soviet Republic.
"Our programs are definitely equal to our revolutionary ideas and they belong to what in democratic regime is called 'left."- Benito Mussolini
Academics and politicians from the political left claim that Fascism is a Right-wing philosophy and its founder, Benito Mussolini, a political conservative. But, the quote above, and others, reveal that Mussolini considered himself a man of the Left. Prior to World War I, he was an active Socialist in both Italy and Switzerland, promoting a Left-wing agenda as editor of multiple newspapers. Vladimir Lenin, himself, scolded the Italian Socialist Party for later losing the talented Mussolini from their ranks. Yet, Fascism, with its national socialism was very different from the international approach of Communism. So, what are the origins of Fascism? Is it a political ideology of the Right, or Left?
"Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State." - Benito Mussolini
By the late 1800's, many socialist activists had become disillusioned by the failure of Marxist principles to elevate the working class out of poverty and oppression. There had been no international workers revolution, as promised by Karl Marx, and capitalism and the bourgeoisie seemed as entrenched as ever. Some started looking for a better, more pragmatic socialism that didn't require an international uprising and the erasing of national identity. They sought results, not philosophy, and found it in the ideas of French Socialist Pierre Bietry.
Bietry had been an advocate for Socialist causes in France and a member of the Marxist French Workers Party, before becoming disillusioned, himself, in Marxism's lack of progress in transforming society. Socialism had become stale and a better alternative was needed. So, in 1902, he proposed his vision for Yellow Socialism, named to contrast it with the "Red" Socialism of Karl Marx. He rejected the idea that workers should unite in an international revolution to seize the means of production, advocating instead that workers and business owners should work, cooperatively, for the betterment of society. Both owners and workers would be mandated to belong to unions, called syndicates or corporations, that would be supervised and regulated by the state to serve the national interest. These unions, Bietry believed, would elevate workers out of oppression.
According to Bietry, a strong central government, run by a dictator, or ruling elite, was necessary to manage tensions between workers and management, so that fairness was maintained and society improved. He advocated a managed economy with cooperation between organized labor and nominally capitalist businesses. Private ownership of property was allowed, as long as owners used it to serve the national interest, as defined by the government.
"The State should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the State. It is his duty, not to use his property against the interests of others among his people." - Adolph Hitler
Bietry founded the Federation Nationale des Jaunes de France (National Federation of Yellows of France) in 1902 and its political wing, the National Socialist Party, in 1903. Interestingly, this is the same term that Adolph Hitler used to define his political party, a name that was abbreviated as Nazi.
Because their goal was to elevate the worker through trade unions and a regulated economy, Yellow Socialists became anti-immigrant, fearing that an influx of foreign workers would take jobs from native-born citizens and keep wages low.
Finding himself attracted to the teachings of Edouard Drumont, Bietry incorporated his anti-Semitism into his party's platform, claiming that Jewish bankers were rigging the economy to oppress workers for financial profit. Yellow Socialists tended to also see Jews as the foreigner, within, that couldn't be trusted. Ironically, as a member of the French parliament, Bietry is most well known for his vigorous defense of Alfred Dreyfus, the French Jewish soldier falsely accused of treason and executed.
"Fascism reaffirms the State as the true reality of the individual."
- Benito Mussolini
The positions of Yellow Socialism became especially popular in Italy, where academics, authors and socialist activists, such as Enrico Corridini, promoted its views. Corridini, in his writings, expanded upon the philosophy of Yellow Socialism, with his concept of Proletarian Nations. These were countries that, because of their poverty, found themselves at the mercy of their stronger neighbors. The citizens of strong nations would rise, he argued, and dominate the countries around them. Thus, he justified imperialism as the right of stronger nations.
By 1910, Bietry and his National Socialist Party were fading from the French political scene, but his views continued to exert influence throughout Europe. Benito Mussolini considered both Bietry and Corridini as influential in the development of Fascism, as did the Fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile.
"Fascism is a form of socialism, in fact, it is its most viable form."
- Giovanni Gentile
Following the collapse of the Soviet economy, Vladimir Lenin included market reforms and corporatist elements, similar to those of Yellow Socialism, into his New Economic Plan of 1921.
Today, we see the influence of Yellow Socialism most prominently in China and Russia where authoritarian rule is justified as the best way to regulate both the economy and workers for the strengthening of the nation and the well-being of its citizens.
Mussolini launched Il Popolo d'Italia, a new newspaper, in October of 1914. In his editorials, he came out in full support of Italian intervention into World War I. By December, he had denounced traditional "red" socialism, for failing to recognize that the war had made the nation more important than class distinction, coming out fully as a "yellow," or national socialist.
Class cannot destroy the nation...
"The nation has not disappeared," he said, in a speech he gave about nationhood. "We used to believe that the concept was totally without substance. Instead, we see the nation arise as a palpitating reality before us! Class cannot destroy the nation. Class reveals itself as a collection of interests... but the nation is a history of sentiments, traditions, language, culture and race. Class can become an integral part of the nation, but one cannot eclipse the other."
While denouncing orthodox socialism and its exclusive focus on class conflict, he affirmed that he was a national socialist in the tradition of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Giuseppe Mazzini and Carlo Pisacane.
National socialism formed the basic principals of his newly
formed political movement...
French socialists, who supported dissident Italian socialists that favored intervention into the war in support of the French, financed Mussolini, as did Italian armament company, Ansaldo, who helped fund his newspaper.
National socialism formed the basic principals of his newly formed political movement, the Fasci d' Azione Rivoluzionaria, who referred to themselves as Fascisti. Although small in numbers, their movement was regularly attacked by radical socialists opposed to Italy's intervention into the war. These attacks were so violent that even democratic socialists such as Anna Kuliscoff, themselves opposed to the war, said the Italian Socialist Party had gone too far in its efforts to silence opponents. These attacks would later shape Mussolini's views in support of the use of political violence, a tactic that would eventually lead to his rise to power.
He was promoted "for merit in war"...
Believing in action, Mussolini volunteered, himself, to join the Italian army. He was initially turned away, due to his history of radical socialism, but was called back on August 31, 1915 and reported to an elite unit, the Bersaglieri. His service was admirable, as illustrated by an Italian Inspector General Report which stated, "He was promoted to the rank of corporal 'for merit in war.' The promotion was recommended because of his exemplary conduct and fighting quality, his mental calmness and lack of concern for discomfort, his zeal and regularity in carrying out his assignments, where he was always first in every task involving labor and fortitude."
Wounded in February of 1917, when a mortar exploded nearby, he was evacuated from battle and was later discharged from the military, due to the severity of his injuries. He resumed his role as editor of Il Popolo d' Italia, but the sacrifice for country and discipline he had learned in the military would stick with him throughout his life.
The beginning of 1914 brings the start of World War I and a split in European Socialism. Traditional socialists believed in the primacy of class over country and followed the "Red" socialism, or Communist ideals, of Karl Marx. But, so-called "Yellow Socialists" believed that the traditional views had become stagnate and had not advanced the cause of the proletariat, or workers class. They felt the creation of a classless, nationless mob would reduce the living standards of everyone, including the workers they sought to help. While still believing in the cause of advancing the proletariat, they sought a new form of socialism that had the state heavily regulate both business and labor for the benefit of society as a whole. World War I brought this new approach to the forefront.
Traditional "red" socialism had become stagnate...
Socialists in Great Britain, France, Germany and Austria tended to follow the new "yellow" approach to socialism, feeling patriotic fervor and seeking their country's entry into the war. Italian socialists were divided, with prominent members such as Alceste De Ambris, Filippo Corridani and Angelo Oliviero Olivetti supporting Italy's entry into World War I, while the party itself took a more traditional view and opposed their country's involvement.
World War I would be a revolutionary war...
Mussolini, at first, supported his party's position, writing an article in 1914 entitled "Down With The War. We Remain Neutral!" But, his views changed with further study and review of the issue. He began to see opportunities for both himself and his fellow socialists. First, he saw the chance to liberate thousands of Italians from Austro-Hungarian rule, as well as to bring down the Hapsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties, whom he felt had oppressed socialism within their realms. He further accused the Central Powers of being imperialist and said their overthrow, as well as the repression of Ottoman Turkey, would create conditions favorable to the working class. He also predicted that the mobilization of troops needed for the war would lead to a social revolution in Tsarist Russia, ending that authoritarian monarchy. For Mussolini, World War I would be a revolutionary war that would unite all Italians and socially change Europe in favor of the lower working classes. His new views caused him to be expelled form the Italian Socialist Party, but his allegiance never faded. He would later claim that he never abandoned his Left Wing ideals stating, "Do not believe, even for a moment, that by stripping me of my membership card you do the same to my Socialist beliefs, nor that you would restrain me of continuing to work in favor of Socialism and the Revolution."
Samuel Griswold is a lifelong student of history and politics, whose studies have given him unique insights into the true nature of totalitarianism in all of its aspects... Fascism, Communism and Socialism. As an American Jew, who lost relatives in the Holocaust, he's lived by the pledges "Never Forget" and "Never Again." But, for him, these pledges mean to never let the policies that led to the Holocaust happen again. To prevent fascism from thriving, we must know how to see and define it. That is the purpose of FightingFascism.com, to draw attention and rally opposition to current fascist policies and governments.