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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

The Paladins observations on Labour Day amidst the war in Ukraine

Karl Marx famously thought that wars were a capitalist invention periodically invoked as tools for the ideological and physical suppression of the Proletariat, through investing them with false ideologies of nationalism and the trite opposition of one group of people to another. In a true communist society, he posited, different nations would never go to war because those false ideologies would melt away in favour of a single unifying labour movement.

Hence, Marxist thought entails, there could be no genuine war between Russia and Ukraine if people were liberated from the repressive ideologies of class that caused then to imagine that Russian and Ukrainian people were opposing one another. The fighting would just melt away, as the common man on both sides came to realise that the dispute is the product of bourgeois political classes manufacturing internecine disputes that do not reflect the common interests of labour.

Marx's ideas do not entail support for Russian foreign policy nor support for the values of the Soviet Union. Marx never imagined that the Russian Empire would be the first region to embrace communism. He considered nineteenth century Russian society to be too feudal; it would take a period of progression through capitalist economics before Russia was ripe for a communist revolution. Instead the country most ripe for a communist putsch was the United Kingdom, where he saw colossal Victorian-era inequality as the necessary catalyst to a socialist uprising and the introduction of communism.

Marx's idea that the working classes formed a distinctive transnational singular political interest that might overthrow society's oppressive rulers gave rise in substantial part to the organised labour movement, the growth of trade unions, international collective bargaining about pay and conditions of working people, and hence Marxist thinking is substantially responsible for the holiday that most of the world celebrates today 1 May, Labour Day.

Labour Day is a celebration of the common interests of ordinary working people across the world. Where there are disputes between peoples, they must be recognised as artificial and we should think instead of ourselves as members of a common humanity who all share the same goals: a comfortable stable and prosperous existence as human beings.

That spirit has been lost in the war in Ukraine, as two ethnically similar nations engage in caustic hate speech and virulence each towards the other as a result of the war that has been brought upon them by politicians and ruling classes. The common people - the ones doing the fighting - should come to realise that they are being exploited and that their imagined hatreds each of the other are nothing but the concoctions of politicians' artifice.

We call on all the armed forces operating in UkrainIan military theatre to respect this notion of a common humanity on this, the day set aside in most people's calendars, to celebrate shared workers' values.

The people of Ukraine do not need war. They need jobs, income and a modicum of prosperity, so as to lead useful and satisfying lives

Therefore on this Labour Day, let nobody fire a shot in Ukraine. Instead let Ukrainians and Russians spend the day meeting and talking to one another, emerging from their literal or proverbial trenches, whereupon they will see the common interests and humanity that binds us all as individuals.


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