The US Secretary of State, Kazakhstan and anti-Russia hysteria

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, launched an unhinged tirade at Moscow, denouncing the decision by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) to deploy troops to Kazakhstan at the invitation of that nation’s president. The CSTO is a post-Soviet military-political alliance involving six former Soviet republics, committed to military cooperation. The political situation in Kazakhstan has stabilised after a tumultuous few days.

Others have deeply analysed the turmoil in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic which has a large continuous land border with Russia. It is worthwhile for our purposes to examine the reasons behind the loud denunciations by the US administration of Russian intervention, because it throws light on imperialist hypocrisies. Blinken, while on the subject of the CSTO’s intervention, commented that once Russian troops are stationed in your nation’s territory, it is very difficult to get them out.

The boorish hypocrisy of his statement is staggering, considering the numerous countries which have been the target of US interventions, and the spreading of American military bases around the world. However, a few days after the CSTO deployment to Kazakhstan – from which nation CSTO troops have already begun to withdraw – news reports from the US made clear that the CIA was quite prepared to assist an insurgency inside the Ukraine. The latter is embroiled in a dispute with Moscow, and has become a base for European white supremacist groups.

Kazakhstan, like all the ex-Soviet republics, has structural economic inequalities. Its socialist assets, in similar fashion to other former Soviet states, were privatised back in the early 1990s with the restoration of capitalism and market mechanisms. Under the leadership of long term former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan opened up to transnational corporations, including American energy companies.

Nazarbayev also cultivated friendly and cooperative relations with both Moscow and Beijing. Kazakhstan eagerly participated in the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, an inter-state economic project to expand Chinese investment and infrastructure projects around the world. Kazakhstan has extensive natural and mineral resources, and is the host of the Baikanour cosmodrome, the space and astronomy port built by the Soviets in the 1950s. It still plays a crucial role in the Russian space programme.

It is relevant to highlight the extensive experiences Russia has in participating in peacekeeping efforts, both in former Soviet republics and overseas under the auspices of the United Nations. In 2020, Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, as part of a Moscow-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Since 1992, Russian troops have maintained a peacekeeping role in the self-declared republic of Transnistria. The latter, a Russian-speaking region of Moldova, did not want to secede from the USSR in 1991. Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic, gravitated to its larger neighbour, Romania, with whom Moldovans share linguistic and cultural ties. With armed clashes breaking out, Moscow arranged a ceasefire and deployed peacekeeping soldiers.

In numerous African nations – the Sudan, Chad, Sierra Leone – Russian troops have participated in peacekeeping missions, and maintaining order between armed groups. Moscow is not a novice when it comes to following international law. Russian intervention in Syria, while militarily significant, was largely defensive in origin and sought to preserve Russian interests only in that nation. That is only a brief evaluation, and can be debated, but this article is not the forum for an extensive discussion on Syria.

There is no doubt that pervasive inequalities prompt large-scale protests and uprisings by the disadvantaged. It is also true that Kazakhstan – a country closely watched by Moscow – borders the Chinese region of Xinjiang, which has become the target of Islamist rebels and Uyghur militants. Kazakhstan is not immune to these developments.

Blinken is upset, not because the Kazakh people are struggling in difficult conditions, but because the CSTO intervention in Kazakhstan put an end to the prospect of a colour revolution. The latter is a tactic of the US to effect a ‘soft power’ change in a particular country, and install a pro-Western amenable regime – such as the 2014 Maidan ‘revolution’ in the Ukraine.

The structural inequalities in Kazakhstan are the result not of any ethnic or racial failings of the Kazakh people, but the deliberate consequence of years of implementing capitalist economic programmes, supervised by the IMF and the World Bank. The experiences of all the other ex-Soviet republics bears out this view. In Russia itself, in the wake of capitalist restoration in the early 1990s, there followed mass pauperisation, criminality, rampant ethnic conflict and humanitarian dislocation.

Instead of wasting our time and energy on faux outrage about Russian troops in Kazakhstan, let’s focus on the original crime – the economic policies promoted by the West which resulted in a humanitarian and social collapse. Blinken should turn his attention to the internal rot of the capitalist system in the United States before shouting condemnations of other nations.

Antifa and the false equivalence with the Alt-Right

When Antifa – an abbreviation of anti-fascist – gets lumped into the same category as white supremacists and neo-Nazis, it is time to demolish this malign and false equivalence. No, Antifa is not one single organisation; no, it is not the ethical equivalent of the far right.

Slanderously cynical and egregious falsehoods – equating those who advocate genocidal racist violence and those who promote ethnic equality – cannot remain unanswered. The ultranationalist Right, an agglomeration of white supremacist and ultrarightist groups, incites violence against the majority of humanity, and dehumanises nonwhite peoples. Opposing such an outlook, and the economic system that perpetuates racial divisions, is the diametric opposite of the pinstripe-suited Alt-Right.

Antifa is not a single group, but a description of loosely-organised, community based autonomous groups united by a common platform of opposition to racism and ultrarightist groups. The latter make no secret of their desire to attack migrant communities and minority religious groups. Ultranationalist terrorism has been, and still is, a fact of life in Britain and the United States.

Accusations of external fundinga tired old cliche

Ultranationalist groups, when confronted by movements for racial and economic equality, resort to an old, worn tactic – accusations of funding by controlling self-interested and malevolent forces. In the heyday of the US civil rights movement, the usual scapegoat trotted out as a ‘secret financier’ was the Jewish people. Portraying egalitarian movements as the dupes of malign external forces serves to delegitimise the goals and motivations of the accused groups.

In this era of updated antisemitic vitriol, liberal billionaire George Soros is targeted, accused of bankrolling Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and similar antiracist groups. There is zero evidence that Soros is contributing to any Antifa group, but that has not stopped the ultrarightist camp from using Soros as a convenient bogeyman, replacing the role of Rothschild in the right wing imagination.

Accusing Antifa of being the brainchild of a ruthless, conspiratorial billionaire derails the serious conversations we need to have about racism and economic inequalities in settler colonial societies. In fact, in a kind of mirror image way, ultranationalist groups are projecting their own trajectory and origins onto their opponents; ruthless billionaires have financed ultrarightist and white supremacist organisations as a counterweight to the organised labour movement.

When Antifa groups, drawn from their local communities, march in the street, they do so to promote an inclusive society – one that welcomes ethnic and religious minorities as equals. When the far right marches in the street, they do so to promote a racially exclusive society, intending on starting a race war to drive out nonwhite communities.

Rebranding political extremists is a practice of the corporate media

Since the early 1990s, the ultranationalist Right in the US has received international support – from their co-thinkers in Eastern Europe. Nazi collaborators from the World War 2 period have been systematically rehabilitated, along with their doctrines. American rightist groups have become emboldened by the success of their fellow white supremacists overseas.

We should also be mindful of the role of the corporate media in helping to rebrand Nazi collaborators as freedom fighters. American and British ultranationalist groups have marched alongside their neo-Nazi political brethren in Poland, the Baltic republics and Eastern European nations. While xenophobic groups despise those they view as foreigners, they actively support foreign-born racists.

This makes the necessity of Antifa more urgent; when the far right demonise migrants, and call for racist violence, it is ineffective to simply respond with centrism or blaming ‘both sides.’ Antifa draws from a longstanding and much ignored history of antiracist organising, confronting fascist groups wherever they arise.

The doctrines of the far right are deployed today

The far right has tried to revamp its image from that of bullyboy skinheads to that of pinstripe-suited intellectuals. However, scratch beneath the surface, and we can find the same inhumane ideas that motivated the fascist parties of old. When the director of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, suggests that the current Covid morbidities are largely acceptable because they occur among the already elderly and differently-abled, she is drawing from the long history of eugenics in the United States.

Resurrecting the spectre of eugenics in the US, rationalising the fatalities caused by Covid in the elderly and differently-abled as the inevitable deaths of a burdensome segment of the population, directly descends from Nazi-era eugenical,thinking. In fact, prior to World War 2, the United States was a world leader not only in legalised racial stratification, but also in legislating eugenics measures to control people deemed to be the ‘surplus’ population.

No, Walensky is not a fascist – but being of the sensible centre, she should know what kind of ideas she is circulating. In fact, all of us require a political education to understand the kinds of ideologies advocated by Antifa and its ultranationalist opponents. Drawing a false equivalence between the activists of Antifa and neo-Nazi groups only serves to obfuscate the rising problem of racism today.