We continue to share the voices of anarchists from central and eastern europe. The first is a statement from the Czech Anarchist Federation (AF), in response to the International Anarchist Federations (IFA) statement on the war. The second is an interview with members of an anti-authoritarian military unit fighting against the russian invasion.
The Committee on Relations of the Internationale of Anarchist Federations (CRIFA), which met in Marseille on 19-20 March, discussed, among other things, matters relating to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Although there are different views among the member federations on some points, they agreed to continue the discussion. The debate resulted in common positions which were summarised in a compromise statement entitled “Against war, for global solidarity” (full text at the end of this article).
The Czech Anarchist Federation (AF) agreed to the statement because it expresses some general principles that are our own, but is nevertheless very dissatisfied with it internally, and is therefore engaging in further discussion. We come to the joint debate with a statement of our positions, a reference to our activities and the points we consider to be essential. But this is not just an internal debate within the Internationale of Anarchist Federations (IFA), our comments are directed towards the wider anti-authoritarian movement (in particular) in Europe.
So here are the very brief discussion points from AF:
1) We understand the joint IFA statement as a compromise, but it does not fully express our positions.
2) We advocate first and foremost that movement shlould listen to anarchists in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
3) We consider any disregard of their positions and decisions to be arrogant, unempathic, and an expression of ideological supremacy, which we find unacceptable. Eastern Europe has been treated this way by the Western power bloc for long. We do not intend to tolerate anything like this in the international anarchist movement.
4) We fully support both combat and non-combat activities of anarchists in Ukraine. We are familiar with their attitudes and dilemmas. We appreciate their difficult decisions. We refuse to ideologically judge them from the comfort of peaceful areas.
5) We recognize the need to quickly repel the Russian invasion, for the sake of the working class in Ukraine, as well as in Russia and Belarus. The only way to stop this war is through the military defeat of the Russian army. There is currently no sufficiently strong anti-militarist movement in Russia and Belarus to effectively sabotage the attack, and this situation cannot be expected to change in the near future.
6) We find it impertinent to claim that both sides of the war in Ukraine are the same. Putin’s regime is infinitely more brutal than a capitalist democracy, where there are at least some possibilities for the development of anti-authoritarian networks and relationships. Moreover, the Russian army has absolutely no respect for any international human rights conventions; on the contrary, it systematically massacres the civilian population in order to undermine the morale of the defenders. Supporting the armed struggle against the occupiers is therefore a duty for anyone who does not want to completely discredit themselves in the eyes of the Ukrainian people.
7) We disagree with the claim that this is a war between Russia and NATO. Some NATO states are pro-Russian (Hungary), most are staying away or employing only declarations and limited sanctions, aiming to not damage the domestic capital. NATO’s practical support for Ukraine is utterly trivial, hesitant and alibist. NATO has practically sacrificed Ukraine with this approach, leaving the entire burden of the Russian invasion on Ukraine and its people.
8) We actively support the repression-stricken anarchists in Russia and Belarus.
9) We regret that at the international level, anarchists are not able to take a clearer position and, as a whole, provide practical help to the comrades of the affected countries. We are afraid that the defeatist statements will discredit many organisations and collectives in the eyes of our friends from Eastern Europe. We regret to say that Eastern European organisations will unlikely for example cooperate more with the IFA in the face of its failure in responding flexibly and with empathy. This will create a vicious circle of domination by federations not directly affected by the current conflict.
We could, of course, elaborate more, but we do not consider it expedient. We want to listen and provide practical solidarity instead of slogans that appear to be useless in the face of reality.
We want to show that the positions of anarchists outside the imperial centres of Western civilisation are valuable and deserve respect. We understand anarchism as a set of principles capable of responding dynamically to what is happening around us, not as a rigid ideology with no connection to reality. We want to primarily see people and communities, not our own egos trapped in ideological and cultural frameworks.
IFA: Against the war, for global solidarity
The Committee of Relations of the International of Anarchist Federations (CRIFA) met in Marseille on 19-20 March 2022, and discussed matters on the ongoing war in Ukraine. Although there are different views on some points among member Federations, on which we commit to continue exchange and constructive discussion, important common points emerged from the discussion.
We condemn the criminal aggression to Ukraine promoted by the Russian government, alongside all militarisms, and we stand in solidarity with oppressed people from both sides of the border, promoting active support to the victims of the conflict, to refugees, deserters and prisoners from all sides of this war and of its potential expansion. In the contexts in which our different federations operate, we must expose and oppose the role of NATO, the US and the EU in also creating the preconditions for allowing the Russian state to attack its weaker neighbour with the complicity of its puppet, Belarus. We denounce the rise of authoritarianism across the world in recent years, which has seen the growing role of armies in public policies. With the current situation, we especially stress the growing militarization of society in the context of increasing rearmament across the EU, amidst generalized calls for a European Army, to the detriment of social expenditure.
The poor and oppressed people of the world are always the losers in wars. They have become cannon fodder and have been uprooted from their homes, and face poverty and sickness as a result of this war. At the same time, the global bosses continue to work to control the world’s resources. We stand against global capitalism and nationalism that are the causes of war. Instead we have to fight the class war, countering the war industry and public spending on war, and the whole logic of war, and to promote wider horizontal mobilizations of workers and collectivities.
We likewise stress the danger of making the mistake of defending “our” nation or “our” country, highlighting our anti-nationalist and defeatist/refusal positions, as our enemy is in “our” country and it’s “our” national state or national bourgeoisie. Instead we aim to build solidarity amongst all proletarians, and stress the global character of capitalist states.
Confirming our historical values of internationalism, solidarity and global kinship across borders, we confirm our opposition to all crimes and massacres perpetrated by the capital and the state, from the genocide of Black and indigenous peoples that continues today in Brazil, Latin America and all across the Global South, to the destruction of the environments perpetrated by the logic of states, profit and markets which is threatening the very life of our planet.
In the perennial war of the oppressors against the oppressed, we see the worsening of the living conditions of poor people around the world due to the pandemic and regional wars that began in recent years, as a consequence of the growing cost of basic commodities and further spending on armaments due to war economy. We especially stress the tragedy of migrants, marginalized and racialized people who are denied the most basic rights, and we stand alongside the last, the forgotten, the discriminated, against states, capitalism, fascism, racism, patriarchy and exploitation.
Ukraine. A contribution by the anti-authoritarian platoon in Ukraine.
Hi! We have compiled answers to some of the most common questions asked to the people in our platoon: are we anarchists and what do we do – it’s all here. We’d like to share it with those who follow our activities and support us.
Are you anarchists?
A large part of the people in the platoon, about 50%, identify themselves as anarchists. These are people with different backgrounds: some came from revolutionary groups, others from cultural-educational and social projects. But it is not correct to call the whole platoon anarchist. It would be more correct to say that we all have anti-authoritarian views, we all fight against Russian imperialism together, and we all value direct democracy. That’s why we’ve introduced the system of elected committees borrowed from the Kurdish insurgents, and we hold meetings in our units where everyone can voice criticism, including about the activities of commanders. We also held democratic elections for the media committee.
Who is part of the platoon and why are you at war?
Initially the platoon consisted of anti-authoritarian beliefs, anarchists, a few socialists, anti-fascists, and soccer hooligans. Gradually our squad was replenished. In the area where we are now, we have been joined by local people, you could say without any clear political orientation. They simply share our desire to fight against the Russian aggression and at the same time fit in well with the group. We also have a number of specialists we have brought in, from whom we gain combat experience.
There are no racists or homophobes among us, and there are several women in the platoon, who support the feminist agenda in practice.
We were all driven to war by a desire to resist Russian imperialist aggression. We are here to defeat the invaders and to defend the Ukrainian people, their freedom and independence.
What are you doing right now?
At the moment we have a training phase, and we are also on regular guard duties. Earlier, we went on operational missions within the region, such as catching saboteurs and paratroopers, guarding critical points, setting up roadblocks, assisting units of the Ukrainian armed forces with reconnaissance using quadcopters (drones) and transporting refugees and other civilians out of harm’s way.
Is it possible to join the platoon?
Right now we are not calling for new people to join us, because at the moment our region is calm. But we are looking for combat formations in other regions in the near future, so soon we will probably have a possibility for new people to join us.
Can we call you “Resistance Committee”?
“Resistance Committee” is a Telegram channel that only relates to a small part of our unit, despite the first posts that identified it with the entire platoon. Nevertheless, the media committee of our unit has recently had access to this channel, so we can spread the word about us there.
How can we support you?
In the near future, because of some bureaucratic problems, we may have problems with food and fuel supplies. Then we will need additional funds.
We also need a night vision unit for the platoon and some people need bulletproof vests.
To raise money, our comrades are running a “Good night imperial pride” campaign. You can get in touch with them on social media: