Ukraine, Imperialism, and the sophism of liberal “left” media.

Western media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has reached epic proportions of bias and despicable hypocrisy, and once more, the western liberal “left” media spectrum is busily laying the groundwork for imperialist-friendly narratives.

Having last year no-platformed a Syrian nun who had the audacity to protest against western-sponsored takfiri mercenaries in Syria, chief pseudo-dissenter of the British liberal “left”, Owen Jones, has kindly decided to educate the masses on the finer points of the Ukrainian crisis.

True to form, and synonymous with the vast majority of western media, Jones begins his narrative with crass revisionism, claiming that Western governments have been “restrained” in their response to what he describes as a “Russian invasion”. Yet, and quite obvious to most, the events in Ukraine did not commence with Russia adding to its troop numbers in the Crimean peninsular. In reality, the chain of events leading to this particular crisis began when state-members of the European Union, led by the United States and its NATO partners, instigated a violent coup d’etat, through the fomentation and manipulation of a disillusioned minority, alongside the overt sponsorship of Nazi-sympathising oligarchs and their fascist shock-troops. This is not to mention the equally relevant economic origins of the crisis, nor the decades of NATO-instigated war, ethnic division, and social antagonism in the former Soviet bloc in the desired aim of militarily “containing” Russia. When viewed in the wider historical context, Russia’s supposed “invasion” of Ukraine is in fact a muted reaction to the aggressive policies of the Western states. Jones and the liberal “lefts” blatant disregard of the historical process in turn bolsters the false portrayal of a “restrained” western Empire competing with an insubordinate lesser state, in this case Russia.

To omit such vital historical context, the consequent processes, interconnections and their correct chronology, and then duplicitously begin the narrative from the falsehood of a “Russian invasion”, is to engage in the most vile form of historical revisionism.

Moreover, by engaging in the semantics of western bourgeois media and falsely portraying Russia’s limited military manoeuvres in Crimea as an “invasion”, “leftists” such as Jones help to buttress western imperialisms false moral equivalence. In actual fact, the two principal geopolitical actors, the Russian state on the one hand, and the US Empire on the other, are nothing close to comparable in the context of the current crisis in Ukraine, or any other modern conflict. To equate Russia defending – arguably warranted – “interests” on its own borders and allied regions, with aggressive imperialism acting as the catalyst, is beyond stupidity, it is purposeful semantic trickery, propagated in order to demonize “them” and “their” actions, while legitimizing “us” and “ours”. Such use of poorly disguised social chauvinism to form bias narratives is but typical of the bourgeois British liberal, intrinsic within supposed “leftist” media.

Unfortunately, Jones’ muddleheaded sophism has only just begun. Having distorted the underlying historical processes and causes of the crisis, whitewashed the culpability of western imperialism thereby equating it to the lesser target state, in turn building a false moral platform for imperialist aggression, Jones now turns to fascist apologia. While correctly pointing out the “AK-47 wielding.. right-wing extremists” and the subsequent seizure of power via illegal and anti-democratic means, Jones then immediately attempts to mitigate their central role, and the equally important role the fascist shock-troops played in the “victorious uprising”, as he now calls it. “This was not a coup,..” claims Jones, “..but a genuinely popular uprising in the country’s western and central regions, if not in its east and south.” The contradiction is evident in this sentence alone; what exactly is a “genuine uprising” that only reaches the “western and central regions” of any state? Furthermore, what is Jones’ material evidence, let alone criteria, for determining an uprising in less than half of a country is “popular”? Further still, what is Jones’ legal, nay, logical reasoning behind avowing a coup with the title of “Government”?

Such slogans and terminology represent nothing more than liberal quackery of the highest order. Jones has no idea just how “popular” the heavily manufactured protests and opposition groups are, or ever were in Ukraine, or whether they amounted to a big enough demographic to be labelled as the crude abstraction of a “genuine uprising”. Contrary to Jones’ rosy portrayal, more than half of Ukraine totally ignored the Maidan anti-government protests, the eastern half of the country is almost universally opposed to the fascist coup regime in Kiev while local authorities are quite literally asking for Russian aid and protection, not to mention the further intricacies of what has for centuries been a Russian-aligned, virtually autonomous region of Crimea.

Does this sound like a “genuine”, or even “popular” “victorious uprising” of an entire state of forty-plus million people, or does it resemble a violent coup, verging on organised ethnic antagonism, orchestrated by imperialism?

Perhaps the (declared) $5 billion dollars the US State Dept has put towards engineering regime change via the fascist groups now seizing power may have helped the “uprising” become a “victorious” one. No doubt the US-EU bourgeoisie doling out cookies and hand-picking the “Governments” new leadership benefitted its domestic “popularity” in Ukraine enormously. Or perhaps the xenophobia, Nazi iconography and overt racism espoused by Svoboda’s henchmen became so “genuine” that there is no longer any room for a dissenting voice; effectively rendering the fascist vanguard and its acolytes “popular” enough to call a Government. Maybe the former Zionist occupiers leading various neo-fascist thugs in Ukraine helped them gain some “popularity”, or the snipers randomly killing both police and protesters – allegedly employed by the opposition – helped to align the disparate factions of dissent into a “genuine” grassroots unified movement. Then again, perhaps not. Regardless of all this reaction, fascism, thuggery, alienation and social antagonism, imperialism can surely rely on the empty phrases and liberal sophism of western bourgeois media to afford their proxies the veneer of respectability.

According to Jones, there have been no “systematic” attacks on Russian speakers, and although the coup regime are illegally seizing power, including every top position in the Duma and what remains of the military and police, they “do not own the whole revolt, and will only be strengthened by Russian intervention”. To suggest that no party “owns the revolt” is a meaningless abstraction. Does Jones seriously believe that no faction is leading, or “owns”, the coup? That no specific faction is currently enforcing its will unabated with the direct support of western imperialism?

It only takes a cursory glance at the tons of reports and prior documentation (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) that expose Ukraine’s “uprising” as being both led and dominated by reactionary fascists sponsored by imperialism. Yet Jones is either too stupid to see this vanguard long in “ownership” of the revolt, or he is deliberately marginalizing them from the reality of the situation to afford Empires’ proxies with unwarranted moral platform. Whats more, the insinuation that Russian “intervention” against said fascist proxies, will inevitably increase their power is completely bereft of the context of who actually empowered and sustained them up until, and no doubt beyond this very moment! In Jones backward narrative, it is as if these fascists came to power entirely of their own volition as a result of Russian provocation, forget the direct aid and sponsorship of western imperialism. Again, the historical context of the initial causes, and the western actors responsible for the ascendance of fascists in Ukraine has been erased, and replaced with the anachronism of a Russian reaction.

In the western liberal “lefts” moral equation, killing millions through decades of western Imperial aggression and Russia’s bloodless “invasion” of Crimea “are all symptoms of the same phenomenon”. There is of course some concrete truth in that, but for Jones to use the comparison in the Ukrainian context is fraudulent and deliberately misleading, it distorts the historical and material causes of this specific conflict. To then further posit the simplistic notion that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… would have undoubtedly happened anyway” in turn bolsters the skewed perspective of western imperialism, neglecting cause and effect and vital historical context that expose real culpability. It is to demand Russia’s hyped “invasion” should be judged minus the imperialist provocation that instigated it, while further neglecting the decades of western imperialist slaughter, expansion and provocation preceding the latest violent upheaval. Russia is therefore deemed equally, if not more so, culpable for the Ukrainian crisis, while the perception of the predatory western imperialists has been sanitized, and their massive culpability reduced dramatically from the equation.

A further example of the sophism and superficiality so inherent to the modern liberal media class came in the form of a pseudo-moralistic rant from RT “Journalist” Abbey Martin. Immediately lauded by western media liberals for her “principled”, yet ahistorical, and uninformed outburst denouncing the Russian Governments “military intervention” in Ukraine, Martin went on to explain that although she knew little of the situation – why would she? – she opposed “all military intervention”. Well, how principled one might say, but what exactly is the “principle” of non-intervention other than a utopian liberal absurdity? Moreover, what is the worthwhile principle behind denouncing a military manoeuvre you know little of, or can even attempt to explain? Such pandering to empty humanitarian slogans and simplification of complex sociopolitical processes can only be explained by the commodification and subsequent self-gratification that petty bourgeois liberals crave when chasing their individualist desires. Fight the man, doesn’t matter who, or why, just make sure people see you doing it.

Dumbing-down media coverage of complex issues and historical revisionism within all “sides” of the bourgeois media gamut is of course not exclusive to the recent coverage in Ukraine, precisely the same deceptive methods are employed on an endless scale for the same reasons listed above. Libya and Syria provide two further recent examples of how the media’s supposedly “left” and liberal outlets and pundits often fulfill a vital role in legitimizing imperialist aggression; western media’s almost overwhelming support for the imperialist plunder of Iraq arguably provides us with the definitive modern illustration.

Critical historical processes and the chronology of events have been manipulated, misinformed, diverted through false moral platform, or omitted entirely to form western-friendly narratives that remove imperial culpability. Demonization campaigns that effectively “other” peoples, governments and targeted leaders are commonplace in the liberal “left” spectrum of western media just as they are in the “right”. Perhaps the greatest example of the liberal media’s subservience to corporate power is provided by the Guardian newspaper. Its lurid role in promoting religious fundamentalist proxies of western imperialism in Libya and Syria, and the masses of misinformation and bias narratives propagated on their behalf, again exposes the almost complete lack of disparity between the “right” and “left” bourgeois western press. In both cases, and increasingly in Ukraine, media manipulation of timelines, and liberal apologia for what are essentially reactionary proxies of imperialism became critical tools in maintaining western public acquiescence, or worse still, ignorance and support of aggressive western provocations and covert war. Bar a few dissenting voices in the opinion pages, the Guardian’s supposedly liberal “left” coverage of western imperialism is now virtually indistinguishable to that of the shameless right.

No longer can overt militaristic imperialism be forced upon the western masses as it was in the immediate post-9-11 era, hence, covert proxy-war has taken center stage. A most crucial tool of the western bourgeoisie in achieving the concessions and acquiescence of the masses during this current period of covert imperialist violence, has once again exposed itself in the form of the petty bourgeois opportunists, the “social democrats”, the liberal “lefts” of the modern epoch and their corporate media lackeys.

Ominously, and without a shred of self-awareness it seems, Jones warns us: “there is a frightening tradition of conservatives and liberals helping fascists into power.” Indeed, here, Jones is almost correct, but curiously fails to analyse the definitive classes currently aiding fascists into power in Ukraine, ie: the petty bourgeois western liberal class and its bourgeois neoconservative counterparts, both essentially factions of western imperialism. Neither is there any attempt to analyse or distinguish the class which has played the pivotal role in aiding fascists into power in the service of the bourgeoisie throughout modern history, perhaps the result of such an analysis would be too close to the bone.

16 thoughts on “Ukraine, Imperialism, and the sophism of liberal “left” media.

  1. You have too “geopolitical” understanding and logic for the situation in Ukraine. From the perspective of Ukrainain citizen I would tell that whatever superpowers have planned for the country (all these “fascists”, “nazis”, etc.) has nothing to do with what actually happened. I can assure you that Ukrainian society is strongly immune against fascism and especially nazism. There of course some radicals but they are not popular and not well tolerated by the Ukrainian people who paid enormous price to combat Nazis some 70 years ago. Till 1 March all that happened in Ukraine was absolutely internal affair even if somebody claimed that “5 billions were spent” by USA, NATO, SEATO, etc. We all know how such billions are spent by clever people. 99% of the money presumably went directly to Cyprus. Actually Ukrainians were fighting exactly against proto-imperialistic regime personalized by Yanukovitch “family” and that’s why those radicals were supported by millions around the country, and that’s why radicals became at the spearhead of the fight. If Russia, driven by its own imperialistic greed would not intervene, the radicals will be forgotten by now and again put on the margins of the society where they persisted for centuries. It is exactly Russians who are interested to support the Ukrainian radicals now and to foster the instability on the country. Although well done your analysis is misleading in the conclusions as it does not keep in touch with human perspective and therefore is totalitarian itself.

    • ”I can assure you that Ukrainian society is strongly immune against fascism and especially nazism.” I can assure you that in the western Ukraine at least, fascism has a long and tawdry history. One could start with the theories of Dontsov, but in historical terms the key figure was Stepan Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) and its armed wing the UPA, Ukrainian Insurgent Army which carried out systematic pogroms involving tens of thousands of civilians in Galicia – princiapply, Poles, Jews, and Russians during the Second World War. In addition to the UPA there were other militarised Nazi formations including the Waffen SS Galicia Division whose surviving members have a reunion in Lviv every April. There are statues of Bandera all over the Ukraine and the one in Lviv is lovingly adorned with flowers. Praviy Sektor, Svoboda have been around for some time having emerged from this political cesspool. And they are quite brazen about their Nazi beliefs.

      Bandera of course is hated in the east of the country as he was seen as a collaborator with the invading German forces in 1941-44, but that didn’t stop the Yuschenko-Tymoshenko regime awarding him the status of ‘Hero of the Ukraine’ which was revoked by Yanukovich.

      But now Poroshenko openly “UPA soldiers – an example of heroism and patriotism to Ukraine.”

      So don’t tell me that fascism/Nazism has no foothold in western Ukraine.

  2. Phil,
    Your article nicely captures the outrage leftists feel when betrayed (as usual) by their liberal friends – a betrayal that always happens in conditions of war and peace. The community of interest that liberals feel with the warmongers is what we US libertarians call the Welfare/Warfare state.

    The only consistent anti-interventionists on my side of the Atlantic are libertarians. All the liberals will as usual line up behind any brutal adventure cooked up by the DC Establishment.

    What is the solution?

    This crisis is really about the possibility of NATO bases in Ukraine. Russia would view this as an existential catastrophe. This fear is the root cause for their belligerence and actions in Crimea.

    A long-term solution would be the de jure Finlandization of Ukraine. I think that all parties involved would find this an acceptable solution.

    • Hi Mark,

      I commend your endless – somewhat futile – attempts to distort Marxism and delude the working class. But unfortunately, Marx, Engels, Lenin, and many other Marxist theoreticians have long exposed Libertarianism and other various strands of bourgeois ideology as the idealistic nonsense it is.

      I’d also appreciate if you could find a single example of Marxist-Leninist – Liberal “friendship”, otherwise it looks awfully like a strawman you’re buildng a fallacious argument from. Followed by some empty sloganeering trying to attach welfare to warfare – Orwellian indeed. Marxist-Leninists are, and have always been, vehemently opposed to all forms of Liberalism, your understanding of Marxism reeks of Trotskyist distortions. Lenin spent the majority of his life battling bourgeois liberalism and opportunism within the supposed “left”.

      With regard your analysis of Ukraine, you posit the theory that the crisis has resulted in the mere “possibility” of NATO bases in Ukraine. What a mere trifle indeed. The US-led drive for military expansion (read: western predatory Imperialism) in Eastern Europe and along Russia’s borders is a decades-long affair, yet while acknowledging, and in turn diminishing, the catalyst for the Ukrainian crisis you fail to mention exactly *why* the US and its NATO partners engage in military expansion, subverting the cause (capitalism) with abstract codswallop about Russian “fear”.

      Having removed the catalyst (western Imperialism) for the current crisis in Ukraine and replaced it with “fear”, effectively rendering cause and effect and historical materialism obsolete, you engage in the same crass revisionism as that of your “liberal friends”.

      Libertarians fail to correctly understand militarism and the causes of war because they fail to understand that modern war is the result, the “vital expression” of Imperialism, ergo: the highest form of capitalism. All antagonism stems from the inherent contradictions within capitalism, “competition” and the quest for class dominance.

      The Russian bourgeoisie’s fear and “belligerence” are in fact reactions to US-led Imperialist aggression and expansion, but you have completely removed that from your analysis, therefore disavowing US Imperialisms (capitalisms) culpability.

      One wonders how Libertarians would feel with nuclear armed Russian military bases in say.. Cuba? Haven’t we been here before?

      Cause and effect:

      The impotus behind US-led NATO militarism of E. Europe and the Balkans, as if its not obvious enough:

      An example of Marxist-Leninist opposition to Liberalism (there are hundreds more):

      Lenin on militarism:


  3. Phil,
    First of all, thanks for the lengthy reply.

    I looked at the links you provided.

    I think that the counterpunch article does accurately summarize the history around NATO’s march to the east.

    I followed your twitter link and read the Voice of Russia article at

    I found the schemes of the IMF that were alleged in that article so strange that I was moved to investigate further.

    The article says that Chevron corp. has been promised ownership of Ukraine’s gas pipelines. Germany will get the steel industry: “The Donbass coal industry will be handed over to Ruhr’s subsidiary in Finland”.

    I looked high and low all over the Net. Every instance mentioning these alleged facts trace back to the same person’s (apparently unsubstantiated) allegation. Also, I could not find any mention anywhere of a German or Finnish steel company named “Ruhr”.

    The allegation is credible in the sense that it could be true, but is apparently not true, or at least not substantiated by convincing facts or multiple sources.

    “Marxist-Leninists are, and have always been, vehemently opposed to all forms of Liberalism”. Yes, I agree. My remark was about “leftists” in general. Marxist-Leninists are theoretically immune to the opportunistic temptations that make the “left” (in a general sense) ready to accommodate wars of aggression.

    Regarding your last two links, Lenin is correct that capitalism has and will breed war. His antagonism to social democrats and others who might be called liberals in today’s parlance is duly noted.

    My opinion is that the capitalism Lenin saw as the hotbed of war is not the capitalism libertarians seek. I anticipate that you would consider this to be a bourgeois illusion. Be that as it may, I do have great respect for Lenin’s ideological honesty and opposition to all forms of left-opportunism. Marxism-Leninism and historical materialism have a lot to teach the careful observer.

    I think that you read more into my analysis than I intended, so I’ll try to be clearer. The cause of the destabilization of the Ukraine is meddling by the USA which uses NATO as a means of dominating Europe. NATO is an anachronism, an alliance without an enemy, but one that needs an enemy.

    As the USA maneuvers to abandon its former policy of encircling Iran, it needs a bogeyman for Europe. Russia was formerly (in the recent past) useful to the US because Russia cooperated with the US occupation of Afghanistan and encirclement of Iran.

    Russia’s new (again) role as a foil for NATO is now more valuable than its help facilitating US policy in central Asia. Russia’s “fears” are rational and based on a history of aggression and promise breaking by the USA and its close allies in Western Europe.

    I have no doubt that the desire of some in the US establishment for military bases in Ukraine is more than a “possibility”.

    Lastly, I want to point out your very succinct expression of one view of imperialism because you stated it so clearly and because I think it is so wrong:

    “Libertarians fail to correctly understand militarism and the causes of war because they fail to understand that modern war is the result, the “vital expression” of Imperialism, ergo: the highest form of capitalism. All antagonism stems from the inherent contradictions within capitalism, “competition” and the quest for class dominance.”

    Libertarians don’t think that the warlike aggression of the state is the result of class struggle for dominance. We believe the class struggle is by and large over and the ruling class (in the USA) won (circa 1930s). We view the US state as an instrument of the triumphant ruling class designed to perpetuate and enrich that class.

    In our opinion, the entrenched ruling class should be removed, but we differ from Marxists in that we think that the dictatorship of the proletariat will be even worse than the dictatorship of the ruling class! Well, this is where we of course would disagree.

    On the other hand, libertarians and Marxist-Leninists have one thing in common, that is, they both adhere to a rigorous theoretical construct and both distain opportunism.

    As for Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba, I saw that movie when it first came out and have no desire for a sequel.

    – Mark

    • Have enjoyed this article and these comments. One small point from us here at the RY Blog in that we should not imagine that the US has given up any of its designs on Iran, and not fall into the trap of imagining that anything strategically has changed for the Iranians.

  4. Pingback: Western left-opportunism, and “denying agency” in Syria. | Phil Greaves
  6. Pingback: From the NonProfit Industrial Complex with Love » McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street | Part XII: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”

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