Nazis invade Drag Queen Story Hour in Ohio, with Republican politician’s support / by David Hill

With pistols on their hips and swastika flags in hand, Nazis, Proud Boys, and other white supremacists invaded a Drag Story Hour in Wadsworth, Ohio, to stir up hatred. | Photos via Twitter

Originally published in the People’s World on March, 17, 2023

WADSWORTH, Ohio—The playground equipment stood empty at a public park here on Saturday, March 11, as more than a dozen Nazis stood at attention and bellowed in unison multiple rounds of full-throated “Sieg heil!” salutes, aping Hitler’s legions of 80 years ago.

They were part of a large crowd that had gathered ostensibly for the “protection” of children who were there to participate in a reading group. The supposed threat endangering the kids of Wadsworth? Drag queens armed with children’s storybooks.

Approximately 50 participants gathered for the “Rock and Roll Drag Queen Story Hour,” which included a group reading of a children’s novel, “Elle the Humanist,” followed by “a Rock-n-Roll celebration of drag and life’s beautiful diversity,” according to the event’s organizers. The event was planned as a fundraiser for a local LGBTQ charity in remembrance of the victims of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last November.

Wadsworth City Council had granted a permit for the event earlier in the week, although the council president subsequently suggested that legislation would soon be introduced to prohibit “adult-type entertainment that involves children” in the future.

Wadsworth Brewing Company had withdrawn its commitment to host the event after receiving multiple threats, leading the organizers to apply for a permit to gather at Wadsworth Memorial Park.

The reading group and drag event was met by the organized vitriol of at least 200 fascists, Christian fundamentalists, Proud Boys, Patriot Front, White Lives Matter, and various unaffiliated opponents of LGBTQ rights. Attendees reported a large number of cars with out-of-state license plates in the parking lot.

Both local and national right-wing groups had planned the coordinated intimidation of participants in the Rock and Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour for weeks leading up to the event.

Prominent right-wing organizers included Republican politicians such as Kristopher Anderson, candidate for the Ohio State House of Representatives in 2022. Anderson and his supporters shouted slogans against so-called “grooming” alongside proponents of overt Nazi imagery, open racism, and homophobia. At least one member of Anderson’s group was detained by police after assaulting an LGBTQ rights supporter.

Placed alongside his current work organizing mob intimidation of LGBTQ people, Anderson’s previously stated political positions plainly illustrate the alliance between fascist violence and pro-business policymaking: “Tax climate, regulatory environment, labor laws, and workforce development are all issues for businesses that Kristopher can help address at the State House.”

Local Republican politician Kristopher J. Anderson offered support to the right-wing forces that invaded the event. A prominent Trump supporter, Anderson ran for the state House of Representatives in 2022. | via Twitter

Video captured at the event circulated widely on social media throughout the weekend. Most striking were images of local police standing in defense of a large contingent of white men in red and black outfits carrying a large banner stating “There Will Be Blood” in an elaborate gothic font. The men chanted Nazi slogans and generally displayed belligerent and intimidating behavior for a contingent of cameras.

Other prominent imagery referred to the right-wing mythology of “grooming,” using a variety of homophobic and racist slurs. Before conservatives engineered their fake anti-drag queen hysteria, the term “grooming” was typically only used to refer to the practice of predators who prepared children and other vulnerable people for sexual abuse.

Men in tactical gear circulated throughout the large crowd. Ohio allows the open carry of firearms in many public places; it was unclear how many opponents of the Drag Story Hour may have been armed.

The four-hour demonstration came amidst a coordinated national right-wing campaign targeting the LGBTQ community with intimidation and violence under the auspices of concern for child welfare. Recent survey data suggests that sympathy for these ideas has permeated a large proportion of the Republican voter base, with as many as 45% of Republican voters agreeing with the statement that discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity represent “grooming” behavior.

The violent persecution of homosexuality was one of the first campaigns of the Nazi Party and its supporters after their ascension to power with the support of finance capital in Germany in the 1930s. In addition to the near total destruction of the German LGBTQ community, the Hitler movement galvanized and normalized the use of state violence to dispossess vulnerable individuals and was subsequently extended to an even wider population.

David Hill is a member of the Mike Gold Collective in Columbus. He follows labor, housing, policing, and workers’ issues in central Ohio.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, vigilance is needed against fascism’s modern heirs / Morning Star (UK)

Auschwitz-Birkenau | Photo credit: Marcin Czerniawski – Unsplash

THIS week, when atomic scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock 10 seconds closer to midnight, they were referring to the very real threat of nuclear war.

But as we mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, we must recognise that with nationalism, racism and Holocaust revisionism all on the rise, there are other senses in which Europe is edging closer to midnight.

January 27 marks Holocaust Memorial Day because it was the date of the liberation of the largest of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz, by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.

But the Holocaust started well before the Nazis decided on industrialised mass murder in gas chambers. The slaughter began as the German war machine moved east in 1941.

Tsarist anti-semitism had confined Jews to a “pale of settlement” in the west of the Russian empire, precisely the areas — including Ukraine — that would be occupied by the Wehrmacht. More than a million Ukrainian Jews were killed in the second world war, most not gassed but shot by Einsatzgruppen SS paramilitary death squads that followed the German soldiers.

Ukraine is a battlefield again and accusations of fascist barbarism fly thick and fast.

For Western pundits like Simon Tisdall or Timothy Garton-Ash, Vladimir Putin is a fascist menace who, like Hitler, must be fought to the finish rather than appeased.

Western war propaganda has tended to portray every passing adversary as Hitler — any reluctance to wage war against Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gadaffi was derided as an echo of Munich — but the stakes when it comes to Russia, the world’s largest country and possessor of its largest stock of nuclear weapons, are immeasurably higher.

Moscow for its part accuses Ukraine of being a fascist state, pointing to the openly neonazi ideology of units like the Azov Battalion, at the demolition of monuments to the victorious Red Army and the state glorification of Nazi collaborators the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Stepan Bandera.

It is true that the post-Maidan regime in Ukraine has sought to rewrite the history of the second world war, from post-coup prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s 2015 claim that “the Soviet Union invaded Ukraine and Germany” to the law defining the UPA as “independence fighters” and making questioning the “legitimacy of their actions” — which included the murder of 100,000 Jews and Poles — a criminal offence.

But it isn’t the only one. Drawing the battle lines against Russia involves sanitising far-right regimes across Europe.

Poland’s pressure on Berlin to supply tanks to Ukraine sees it rehabilitated as a state of the democratic “front line” — as, distressingly, did its standoff with Belarus over refugees last winter, when it protected “European democracy” by forcing freezing asylum-seekers back across a barbed-wire border in the forest.

Warsaw’s attacks on women’s rights, its alliance with openly anti-semitic nationalists and its ban on historians referring to Polish complicity in the Holocaust lie forgotten.

Italy’s prime minister comes from a group directly descended from Mussolini’s Fascist Party — yet again, liberals are happy to ignore this.

The Putin threat means we should not trouble ourselves that “some Italians take a lenient view of the Mussolini era,” Garton-Ash assures us.

But Europe’s march right has grim consequences for refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and black communities facing rising racist violence.

Britain is no outlier here. As Holocaust survivor Joan Salter pointed out in a courageous confrontation with Home Secretary Suella Braverman this month, the government’s language on refugees and asylum-seekers drips poison: and those urging we turn the boats away today are the heirs to those who closed the door to Jewish refugees as Hitler’s armies occupied Europe.

As we remember the millions of Jews and Roma murdered by the Nazis, the words “never again” could barely be more poignant. The fight against fascism is not ancient history. It is our urgent task today.

Moning Star: The People’s Daily (UK), January 27, 2023,

At Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s 10th anniversary conference: Current struggles and future prospects for the left in a time of right-wing resurgence / by André Frappier

In October, the New York office of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung celebrated its 10th year of operation | Photo by Behance.

Originally published in Canadian Dimension on December 8, 2022

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung held its annual meeting in New York on October 28-29, the 10th anniversary of the opening of its New York office. A number of international delegations were invited and I had the honour of representing Québec solidaire.

Under the heading “Step by Step, Feeling the Ground – Transatlantic Left Dialogue and Internationalism in Our Time,” panelists tackled crucial issues for the left in the current political environment. The discussions ranged over assessments of the left in power, the left in parliamentary opposition, colonialism, reparations, affirmative action, multilateralism and international organizations. Fighting the extreme right was seen as the most urgent issue. Speakers compared political notes and debated strategies for the internationalist left.

Four members of the New York office opened the meeting with an explanation of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s origins and a survey of the main issues for the left today.

German political foundations are unique institutions established under government policy and funded by the Foreign Office and the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is the foundation set up by the left-wing Die Linke party under that policy.

It opened its first four international offices in 2003 in Moscow, Warsaw, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo. For financial reasons, no new offices were opened in the following four years. Then the Mexico City office was opened in 2007, followed by a major expansion over the 2008-2012 period, during which 12 more offices were set up, including the one in New York City. The Stiftung currently has 17 offices worldwide.

The anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the changes in the political landscape over the past 10 years. Panelists agreed that the situation has deteriorated. It was not so long ago that the United States elected its first Black president, stirring excitement and spurring hopes that the country would move in a better direction. At the same time, the US was still in the throes of the mortgage crisis.

Speakers considered Occupy Wall Street in 2011 to be even more significant for the left in the US. It was a transformative movement that changed the left’s outlook; without it, Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the subsequent growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) would not have been possible.

Ten years ago, Hungary had the only far-right government in Europe. Most European extreme right parties were fringe. Today, not only does Hungary have an authoritarian regime that is immune to effective challenge from within the political system, but Poland shifted to the far-right in recent elections.

The extreme right has displaced centre-left governments in Sweden and Italy, where a new fascism has emerged. Marine Le Pen garnered more than 40 percent of the vote in France. The US has seen the rise of Trumpism, which had its roots in the Tea Party movement. There is growing fear in US that the election of a Republican president in 2024 could spell the end of liberal democracy there, or what’s left of it.

The challenge before us today is to find strategies for fighting back against the global rise of the far-right.

Photo supplied by André Frappier
Confronting the far-right

The panelists analyzed the conditions that paved the way for the rise of the far-right and looked at fightback strategies. The positions they articulated reflected current debates on the left, particularly on the question of alliances: how and with whom?

The starting point for the debate was an assessment of the situation in Western Europe—specifically France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Norway—and Eastern Europe, namely Hungary and Poland. Italy figured prominently in the discussion. In 2018, Giorgia Meloni’s party took only four percent of the vote, but now Fratelli d’Italia has become the largest single party with 26 percent. The fragmentation of the left was seen as part of the problem, but low turnout was also a major factor. In 2006, 16.4 percent of eligible voters stayed home; this year, the number was 36 percent. So for the first time in the post-Mussolini era, Italy has a national government led by a party with fascistic roots—not just a right-wing populist party, but a party born of the Italian fascist tradition. Its program rejects equality for homosexuals and calls for an end to immigration. There is fear that Meloni’s success will galvanize extreme-right parties across Europe.

The far-right is also making headway in Germany. Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a relatively new party founded in 2013 by Eurosceptics, shifted to an anti-immigration platform in 2015 and has brought together a wide spectrum of right-wing currents: national conservatives, the hard right, neoliberals, Christian fundamentalists, ethnic nationalists, homophobes, antisemites, and anti-feminists. AfD has two main wings: an economically liberal, socially chauvinist tendency that seeks a coalition with the mainstream conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and a radically different current that eschews bourgeois government coalitions in favour of street action and alliances with violent fascist groups. This wing’s goal is a more successful Beer Hall Putsch. It is at odds with the neoliberal tendencies in the party and presses social demands, but exclusively for Germans.

This wing is especially strong in the former East Germany. After the collapse of the Eastern bloc and German reunification in 1990, the former East Germany was hard hit by social decline, poverty, unemployment and humiliation. It was fertile ground for authoritarian ideologies and chauvinist responses. Today, the picture in Germany is bleak for the left: in the last federal elections, Die Linke took 4.94 percent of the vote and the AfD 10.3 percent.

Brazil under the Bolsonaro government was raised as another example of the far-right ascendant and the left besieged. The right-wing parties in Brazil had realized they couldn’t win at the polls, so they sought other ways to undermine democracy. They succeeded: Bolsonaro was able to win because Lula was in jail.

Some panelists argued that the decline of Brazil’s mainstream conservative parties was responsible for the victory of the far-right, which had succeeded in occupying the space once held by the traditional right. They suggested that the lesson had been learned and this was why Lula chose a pro-business running mate.

Some traditional figures and political parties, and even the mainstream media, had concluded that things had gone too far and felt that democracy and the country’s main institutions were in danger, for Bolsonaro had dismantled a number of institutions, including the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Ministry of the Environment, and bodies that upheld women’s rights and fought racism. The Supreme Court was also under attack by Bolsonaro and his allies.

Other panelists argued that bourgeois forces are not a firewall against right-wing movements. Many European leaders congratulated Meloni on her victory and promised cooperation. We must not rely on liberal parties, they urged, but rather build our own strength in opposition to both neoliberalism and the far-right. Europe’s left-wing parties must build a common front against the right and present a comprehensive social alternative to neoliberal politics.

The left in power: the rise and challenges of the Chilean left

Chile was a country where the outlook for the left had seemed dire, but in 2011 a mass popular movement changed the cast of Chilean politics. The seeds had been planted earlier but they came to fruition in the student protests of 2011 and 2012, which laid the foundations for the emergence of a new left.

For the first time, at least in Chile, a left-wing movement had its base not in labour but in other social groups. This may have been a consequence of the fragmenting effect of neoliberal development on the social fabric. The injustices and inequality generated by neoliberalism gave rise to many grievances, which however were often confined to narrower segments of society. The students were one such segment. Their emergence as a political force could not have been predicted 15 years ago, but they came to exert a powerful influence on national politics and became the backbone of a new left coalition that was able to reach out to other social groups. Subsequently, pensioners forged a mass movement against the privatized pension system; a new feminist movement arose and is now able to bring millions of young women and allies onto the streets every year. But these new mass movements reflect, in a way, the fragmentation of neoliberalism itself.

Though the left in Chile is now strong, it was suggested that it has not been able to frame a strategy grounded in a unifying set of demands and reforms with appeal to a broad strata of workers and the poor. When the constituent assembly drafted a progressive new constitution, the new left was unable to persuade working class and poor voters that it was an instrument for advancing their interests. Voters remained skeptical of the reforms for a number of reasons and the proposed constitution suffered a crushing defeat in September, with 62 percent of Chileans voting against it.

The challenge for the Democratic Socialists of America

In New York State, there was a Democratic supermajority in the State Assembly and a Democratic majority in the State Senate, but nevertheless the Democrats lost control of the state government in 2011 when eight or nine senators who had run on the Democratic Party ticket and won election as Democrats split off to form the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and caucus with the Republicans, handing the Republicans de facto control of the Senate.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2018 was a catalyst for grassroots organizing across the country and particularly in New York City, home to the DSA’s largest chapter. Many left-wing Democrats ran for office. A left coalition including the DSA and the Working Families Party fielded candidates against the IDC senators and defeated most of them. The result was a banner legislative session for the left in New York State, starting with the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the rights established by Roe v. Wade and provided some of the strongest protections for abortion access and reproductive rights in the country. Important progress was also made on immigration rights.

In 2020, there was still a robust left-wing movement in New York State and nationally but, argued some panelists, the Democrats were forced to capitulate to the right and adopt centrist positions in order to elect Joe Biden. At the same time, Democratic socialists continued to build; five more socialists were elected to the New York State Assembly and one more to the Senate. The left in general has been growing and becoming more critical of the Democratic Party’s leadership.

Die Linke has maintained close relationships with social movements and left-wing organizations in Québec and Canada for years, and has also provided financial support for activism through the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. It is an exemplar of international solidarity from which we may well draw inspiration. Against unfettered globalization, the deepening climate crisis and the reenergized extreme right, the left must reach across borders and build unity to confront the challenges ahead.

André Frappier is a regular contributor to CD and a member of the magazine’s coordinating committee. He also serves on the editorial board of the online weekly Presse-toi à gauche and has been a member of the FTQ Montréal Labour Council for many years.

Right wing’s anti-LGBTQ hate creates atmosphere for Colorado Springs shooting / C.J. Atkins

Tyrice Kelley, center right, a performer at Club Q, is comforted during a service held at All Souls Unitarian Church following an overnight fatal shooting at the gay nightclub, in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday, Nov 20, 2022. | P. Seibold / The Gazette via AP

At least five dead. More than two dozen others injured. The LGBTQ community again shattered.

The mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs late Saturday night has echoes of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, where 49 people were murdered. We can only be grateful the damage done by the gunman in this latest incident, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was more limited.

The date of the attack—the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance, honoring the victims of anti-trans violence—seems to have been chosen intentionally.

Reports have it that two people present sprang into action to defend the crowd as bullets tore through the air, disarming the shooter, beating him with his own gun, and restraining him until police arrived.

“It’s an incredible act of heroism,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told the Associated Press. Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said, “We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

Certainly, their resistance should be applauded, but no one out for a night at the bar with friends should have to be on edge, prepared to fight for their lives at any moment.

Seth Stang, a 34-year-old trans man who counts two friends among the dead, said outside a makeshift memorial at Club Q on Sunday:

“It’s like having a bucket of hot water dumped on you…. I’m just tired of running out of places where we can exist safely.”

But that is the reality for queer people in America when a constant bombardment of hatred and scapegoating is rained down on them by the fascist wing of the Republican Party and its Evangelical base.

That point was driven home for this writer just this past summer in small-town Oklahoma, where, for the first time, I saw the host of a drag show wearing a pistol in a holster on his hip. The absurd thing is that such an action didn’t seem unwarranted by anyone present. It was a symbol of the normalization of living in constant fear, like children accustomed to the notion that a school shooting could occur in their classrooms.

Authorities say Aldrich has been tight-lipped since being taken into custody, sharing no hints of his motive. Speculation is of course swirling as to whether family politics might have played a role; his grandfather is California State Assemblyman Randy Voepel, a confirmed MAGA Trumpite.

Voepel cheered on Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt, comparing it to the American Revolutionary War. “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.”

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert regularly spews anti-trans and anti-gay hatred.

Even if Voepel’s politics did influence his grandson’s decision to become a mass murderer, the California lawmaker is just one soldier in the right-wing’s army of hate. All the leaders of this fascist movement have blood on their hands after what happened at Club Q.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, who represents Colorado in the House of Representatives, offered her “prayers” Sunday morning. Typical. She has spent years vilifying LGBTQ people, calling Muslim members of Congress “the jihad squad,” celebrating gun culture, and spreading QAnon conspiracy nonsense. But when the violence finally explodes, she pretends to be the caring Christian.

Boebert was intimately involved in the Jan. 6 effort to destroy U.S. democracy. She led a pre-attack tour for one of the groups that invaded the Capitol, and she voted against certifying the 2020 election results. She barely won re-election in the midterms earlier this month, nearly becoming a casualty when the GOP’s “red wave” failed to materialize.

Anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric has been a building block of Boebert’s political career. She called the Equality Act—a bill which would make LGBTQ rights permanent—an effort to enforce the “supremacy of gays, lesbians, and transvestites.”

Boebert says LGBTQ people are “perverting” America and that no kid should be allowed to come out until they are 21. When schools offer LGBTQ-inclusive curricula, she calls it a case of “the Left grooming our kids” sexually. “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars,” she tweeted.

The rogues’ gallery of Republican hatemongers includes many more besides Boebert, though. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, determined to out-Trump Trump, pushed his “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law just months ago, making it illegal to mention sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom. He’s almost guaranteed to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

The right-wing propaganda machine amplifies and repeats the hatred of these elected officials. Fox News commentators Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham regularly make anti-trans and anti-gay hit jobs a feature of their programs. “Liberals are sexually grooming elementary students,” scream the TV headlines. “Puberty blockers are not healthcare.”

The constant promotion of a political agenda saturated with the demonization of a particular group and then the outbreak of violence against that group cannot be separated. One begets the other—just look at the history of fascism.

There is a direct correlation between the far-right, Evangelical wing of the Republican Party waging a “culture war” against trans kids and drag queens and the shooting that happened in Colorado Springs. The leaders of the GOP helped cause this.

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday, referring to Boebert and others in the GOP, “You have played a major role in elevating anti-LGBT+ rhetoric and anti-trans lies while spending your time in Congress blocking even the most common-sense gun safety laws. You don’t get to ‘thoughts and prayers’ your way out of this. Look inward and change.”

But we have no reason to expect Boebert and the rest to change their ways. Their entire careers have been built on this kind of hatred and division. As for gun laws, with a Republican majority set to take charge of the House in January, there will be no movement on that issue, either.

The rainbow flag flies at half-mast with a black mourning banner attached. | AP

But even the gun laws already on the books can only work if local law enforcement and prosecutors enforce them. A year and a half ago, Aldrich, this weekend’s shooter, was arrested for threatening his mother with a bomb. The entire neighborhood had to be evacuated, and police spent hours negotiating with Aldrich to convince him to surrender.

But did prosecutors charge him with kidnapping or menacing? Apparently not. And did authorities trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, an ordinance allowing them to seize the weapons of persons deemed a danger to themselves or others? No. Aldrich was allowed to keep the guns and ammunition he possessed when he took his mother captive.

No one can say whether triggering the red flag law against Aldrich would have prevented his attack on Club Q with an AR15-style assault rifle, but there’s the possibility five lives might have been saved.

Today, we mourn the lives lost in yet another mass murder. Six years after the Pulse massacre, the amount of work to be done to combat the hatred of the right is even greater.

The Equality Act still hasn’t made it out of Congress, stalled in the Senate since February 2021. Anti-trans and anti-gay bills litter the agendas of state legislatures across the country. Too many transphobic, homophobic, racist, and Islamophobic politicians and preachers still have platforms to spread their hatred.

“I could have lost my life—over what?” asked survivor Joshua Thurman, who hid in a dressing room to escape the gunman Saturday night. “What was the purpose? We were just enjoying ourselves. We weren’t out harming anyone. We were in our space, our community, our home.”

But this is not just a community of victims. Queer people—in all their racial, ethnic, national, sexual, and gender diversity—are also fighters. We have to be in order to survive.

While Republicans like Boebert and DeSantis mimic figures like Hitler and Goebbels, we should look to the queer anti-fascists who fought back against these Republican role models. People like Willem Arondeus, an openly gay member of the anti-Nazi resistance in German-occupied Holland during World War II. Because of his sexuality, for decades his name rarely appeared in the history books.

However, Arondeus was one of the most dedicated and creative organizers of the Dutch Underground. In 1943, he and a group of resistance fighters—including other gay and lesbian comrades—blew up a public records building containing documents that the Gestapo used to track down Dutch Jews and other targeted groups.

Willem Arondeus, a queer anti-fascist fighter in the anti-Nazi underground in the Netherlands during World War II. At his execution, he defiantly declared: ‘Homosexuals are not cowards.’ | United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Arrested and put on trial, Arondeus remained defiant. His message to the fascists just before they executed him: “Homosexuals are not cowards.”

That is still true today, as the two courageous Club Q patrons who took down Aldrich in the midst of his shooting spree showed. Queer people are not cowards, and we will unite with other oppressed people and allies to take down those who want to commit violence against us. And using our ballots, we will take down those who encourage that violence—in 2024 and every time the polls are open.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

People’s World, November 21, 2022,

Elections 2022: No time to let up in the fight against fascism / by Jarvis Tyner

The Trump forces have spent billions of corporate dollars to rob the people of their means to fight for their basic rights, including the right to vote. They are stepping up propaganda, gerrymandering, and the disenfranchisement of citizens. They are trying to eliminate any peaceful paths to real economic and social justice.

Through his actions and words, Trump proves every day that he is undeniably a committed fascist. The media is full of private discussions he has had with his top officials where he admits his admiration for Adolf Hitler. Who does that?! And who welcomes Nazis to their rallies, or permits them to make Nazi salutes at their meetings?

Trump has financed and legitimized political violence. He has destroyed the Republican Party by making it an openly fascist party, and has built his despicable movement by promoting vile racism, anti-Semitism, male supremacy, and hatred of LGBTQ people, immigrants, and foreigners. He has financed and promoted a most dangerous gang of right-wing thugs, who tried to steal an election and carry out a coup under his direction.

As we vote, we must remember that voter suppression and red-baiting are designed to demoralize and splinter movements, to turn us against each other and a people’s agenda.

Most importantly, we must remember—and refuse to forget—that these efforts are unbelievably cruel, because they are targeted directly at the people whose very lives are at risk. They are targeted at victims of class exploitation, racial, gender, and sexual brutality. They are targeted at those trying to survive in the ghettos and barrios, the elderly, the children, the incarcerated, and the victims of poverty. They are targeted at many tens of millions in impoverished communities who are denied their right to clean air and water, free medical care, dignified affordable housing, and to a free, high-quality education.

It is a left agenda that supports these rights, making it the only agenda that the people will support. That is why the right and its media are flailing, and, like the old German Nazis and other fascist movements around the world, the far right and their media are using anti-communism to unite the center-right with themselves.

They are calling mainstream progressive initiatives communist, but these broad left policies are really just decent and moral policies.

Unfortunately, some people shrink in the face of being labeled communist or socialist, although the Communist Party is aligned with those fighting for democracy.

Anti-communism is a diversion that is ahistorical and an insult. It confuses the very nature of who we are. What have we been fighting for, for over 100 years? We stand against racism, wars of imperialism, anti-Semitism, male chauvinism, and poverty. We believe in medical care for everyone, free, high-quality education, and the role of government in protecting human rights and providing vital services.

Making the rich richer is an assault on the well-being and survival of working- and middle-class people. That’s not what we are after.

The problem for the Trump forces is that they do not support basic pro-people causes, and so they naturally do not have support from the majority of voters. That is why they try to demonize progressive agendas. That is why they must lie and cheat to win. And that is why, if the democratic and progressive forces are inspired and effective, they can win the majority of races.

Those around Trump must be defeated, and they can be defeated. Step one is to defeat them at the polls.

We have had successes before, and we will have successes again. If we look south to Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been some very important victories against fascist advances of the extreme right. Popular movements, progressive parties, and youth and student groups have worked to restore democracy, despite great odds against them.

The tide is turning.

We hail the historic victory of Lula DaSilva, the heroic leader of the Workers Party of Brazil. Lula had been jailed for over 500 days on trumped-up charges. He was replaced by Bolsonaro, an extreme right-winger who swiftly imposed fascist policies that claimed the lives of thousands. Yet, after years of campaigning for “Lula Livre,” Lula was released from jail by the courts, and despite aggressive media misinformation campaigns, just days ago he secured another election victory. A record number of voters came to the polls, and Lula emerged victorious, despite massive efforts to steal votes by the opposition.

In Bolivia, the people voted out a U.S.-backed coup regime reigniting the Movimiento al Socialismo. In Honduras, the people elected the first woman president, the wife of a former president who had been ousted in a U.S.-backed coup. In Colombia, Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing guerilla fighter, and Francia Márquez—a Black woman, human-rights defender, and environmental activist—were elected president and vice president, respectively.

The tide can turn here in the U.S., too.

While a lot of the early polls reported more people supporting Republican issues over Democratic issues, and therefore a likely win for the GOP in many cases, other factors cast doubt on their reliability. Results from early voters showed Democratic supporters outnumbering the Republicans. Then it was widely reported in the media that most of the early polls were coming from Republican pollsters! Their aim might have been to rev up the right and demoralize the democratic forces.

This battle can be won!

The Communist Party has a big role play now, as it has in the past. We are the party that fought against white supremacist terror during the “Red Summer of 1919,” and against the framing of Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s.

We are the party that fought to free the Scottsboro Nine and that fought for justice for Emmett Till.

We are the party that led the organization of millions of industrial workers into the CIO.

We are the party that fought for the defense of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

We are the party that fought in solidarity with the South African anti-apartheid movement, that fought to free Angela Davis, and that fought to end the Vietnam War.

History proves we have always been, and will always be, on the side of the working class and on the side of democracy.

It is our solemn duty to do all we can to defeat the Republicans at the polls on November 8th and in 2024. Donald Trump and his violent, criminal movement must be defeated, and fully prosecuted for their crimes.

Jarvis Tyner is the former executive vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party’s national board. Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism, and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appeared on the media, campuses, and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality, and the socialist alternative.  

People’s World, November 7, 2022,

To defeat imperialism, build a movement for peace / by Joe Sims

The following remarks were presented by Joe Sims at the CPUSA International Conference 2022: Dismantling Imperialism in the 21st Century, Sept. 10, 2022

Good afternoon, comrades,

And greetings to all and especially to our fraternal parties and those who have joined us from abroad. We’re glad to have you with us. We hope everyone is staying safe and strong and staying in the fight because we’ve got some big battles ahead.

And speaking of big battles, comrades, just over a week ago our party celebrated 103 years of struggle. Our 103rd birthday! Can you imagine? And it’s been quite a century. Think about it: This party has witnessed the October Revolution; two world wars; the birth of the CIO; the defeat of colonialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the death of legal Jim Crow in our country — which we helped put in the grave.

We’ve lived through two Red Scares and the civil rights revolution, and we were able to see Nelson Mandela walk free. In these years, we watched with anguish the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also with tears of joy Cuba’s liberation, Vietnam’s triumph, and Venezuela’s ongoing transformation. And I haven’t started talking about China.

We are also well aware that these were the 100 years in which U.S. imperialism declared the American century, the era when the U.S. ruling class would shape a new world order.  But this new order led to the disorder of the Cold War and U.S. intervention in nearly every corner of the globe. And do I need to remind you today this was made possible by the largest and most expensive military build-up in history. In 2021 alone the defense budget nearly topped $800 billion.

But the costs are nearly incalculable, not only measured materially in the millions of lives lost in military interventions or in the destruction of the environment but also in loss of intangibles like hope and trust, a belief in human equality, and, most recently, in the loss of a woman’s right to have control over her own body.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who, years ago, in his famous speech at Riverside Church opposing the war in Vietnam said, “The security we seek in foreign adventures, we lose in decaying cities. The bombs dropped in Vietnam, explode here at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.”

And he was right. It’s happened over and again: In the 1970s with nuclear armed Pershing missiles placed in Europe while steel towns shut down in Ohio; in the 1990s with Black Hawk helicopters going down in Somalia while NAFTA closed down jobs in Michigan; and in the 2000s when, instead of searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, they should have been searching Wall Street for the weapons of mass deception used to rob Black and Latino homeowners in that sub-prime rip-off  — they almost brought down the world economy and we still haven’t recovered from it.

And it continues today. The U.S. ruling class has not given up its designs for an American century. But achieving it is a much more difficult proposition now than before. While U.S. imperialism is in many respects still dominant, it faces stiff competition from other imperialist centers in the European Union, Japan, Russia, the Middle East, and other countries. The planet’s multipolarity is growing. And of course, China’s ascendance has everyone taking another look.

In these circumstances, global problems like climate change and new ones like the COVID pandemic abound. But despite their severity, imperialism seems intent on using the same old bullying tactics and attempts to dictate terms. The Trump administration targeted China, seemed to curry favor with Russia, and rattled Europe while attempting to isolate Cuba and overthrow Venezuela. And many have asked why, while promising a change, the Biden policy seems a not-so-faint echo of Trump’s, particularly with respect to China. Notwithstanding their denials, a Cold War 2.0 is in the making.

This Cold War thinking was pointedly challenged by progressive forces before the Ukraine war started. Citing the urgency of climate change, 33 environmental organizations challenged the Biden administration to end the trade wars and reach out to China and seek agreement on global warming. Bernie Sanders joined with them. A few months before that, half of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against what proved to be a successful GOP/Blue Dog effort to increase the defense budget over and above what Biden initially asked for which was way too much in the first place.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed everything, at least for the moment, and a ruling-class consensus seems to have emerged. But the question for us is how deep that consensus lies and by what means can it be shaken. And this requires a long, hard, and objective look at the balance of forces in the country and where the greatest pressure can be brought to bear to effect it. The big question is how, in these circumstances, can a peace movement be built, and along what lines?

What are the circumstances? Well for one, the fascist danger, while set back two years ago, has not receded. There’s a slow-moving coup taking place in states across the country with the aim of suppressing the vote and, if that doesn’t work, overruling it. The majority faction in the Republican party now takes the position that they will not accept losing an election. Period. They believe that anything goes, including taking up arms to prevent an election loss from happening. As we’ve been saying for some time, that’s fascist by definition.

On the other hand, the Democrats, while now correctly characterizing the MAGA danger, also equate all who stand up to U.S. imperialism with the same authoritarian brush. What do we do? Is it plague on both your houses? Do we stand aside? Or do we get busy and, by our mass work, fight to create conditions in which we are able to move developments in a better direction? To put it another way, under what circumstances will we be in a better position to build a mass movement for peace? Will it be under the rule of that fascist movement that has just outlawed abortion, now threatens to overturn gay marriage, denies climate change, and now threatens to pardon the January 6th insurrectionists? Or will it be with the people’s front that, with all of its inconsistencies, half measures, and hesitations, support choice, voting rights, union rights, and being allowed to marry whom you love?

But what about the almost identical foreign policy, you ask? And you have a point. But to address it, let’s draw a lesson from history. Let’s remember what happened with Martin. Remember that speech I quoted earlier? He was murdered a year later. But before he died supporting Memphis sanitation workers on the picket line, he taught an invaluable lesson. You see, he understood that the African American people needed allies, even inconsistent ones. The equation was pretty clear. The GOP opposed civil rights. So did the Dixiecrats. But a section of the Dems supported ending segregation. All of them supported the war in Vietnam.

But Martin and others set themselves the task of building a mass movement that isolated the GOP, shamed the Dixiecrats, and made some switch sides. The result was the Civil Rights revolution. It was a big democratic breakthrough. But that was just the beginning. Martin then turned his attention to questions of war and peace. And he started to leverage that democratic breakthrough for the cause for peace in Vietnam. Oh, it was tough going. In fact, all hell broke loose, and important sections of the civil rights community balked. But Martin had a notion, and the movement for democracy joined hands with those opposing the war. Martin was murdered, but the writing was on the wall, mainly because the Vietnamese won the war on the battlefield. But the U.S. peace movement played no small role.

A year later in 1969 Nixon began withdrawing troops, and in 1973  Madam Nguyen Thi-Binh led the Vietnamese delegation to Paris and the peace treaty was signed.

The issue before us today is similar. The MAGA GOP opposes civil rights, abortion rights, and marriage equality. Some of the Dems are wavering; others understand the stakes. And like Vietnam days, most of them support a rotten foreign policy. But just as Martin and his coalition needed broader allies back then, we need them today.

We must continue to build a mass movement around democratic and class questions — a movement that isolates the GOP and neutralizes those wavering — and win important democratic victories in the next Congress. This is how we can build the leverage, like Martin taught us, from these democratic breakthroughs that can advance the cause of peace.

But to do this we’ve got to do more than vote. We’ve got to overcome the crisis of inaction. That means we’ve got to strike, register to vote, occupy, rally, and protest. And we’ve got to be creative in our tactics. In New York our comrades are going to set up picket lines at the offices of corporations who are contributing to campaigns of the over 100 GOP members of the House who supported the coup.

And we’ve also got to run our own candidates. But right now the deadline is November. Now I know some of us are not going to want to get tainted by getting involved in electoral work this fall for fear that it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth. I understand that. But I also know that those who fear the bad taste of things are likely to fail. Bourgeois politics ain’t pure; in fact, it can be down-right dirty. But know this: We’re fighting fascism — not your garden-variety conservatism. We want expanded workers’ rights, abortion, voting, and other democratic rights; we want peace; and we want a clean and healthy planet. But to move forward, we have to shove aside the threat of fascism. You’ve got to be in the fight to win it. So let’s unite in the fight against fascist imperialism, neoliberal imperialism, and imperialism in all its forms. Let’s open up space for a democratic breakthrough. Let’s build the people’s front for a new anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-working-class new tomorrow. And let’s build the Communist Party. Solidarity forever!

Images:  Anti-war protest at MLK monument in D.C., CodePink (Facebook); Foreclosed home, respres (CC BY 2.0); Trump speaking at rally, Jan. 6, 2021, Voice of America, Wikipedia (public domain); Signing of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Cecil Stoughton, Wikipedia (public domain); Poor People’s Campaign March on Washington, June 18, 2022, Dylan Manshack.

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People’s World and loves biking.    

The Italian road to fascism / by Luca Tavan

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the fascist Brothers of Italy party.

Originally published in Red Flag, 09.04.2022

At the end of 2021, Italy was crowned “country of the year” by the Economist magazine. The new “national unity” government of former Goldman Sachs investor and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi was lauded. For once, Italy had “acquired a competent, internationally respected prime minister”, and political parties from the centre-left to the far right “buried their differences to back a programme of thoroughgoing reform”. 

To add to the glow, Italy won the Eurovision song contest, over-performed at the Olympics and took home the European Football Championship trophy. 

Now, just eight months later, Draghi’s government has splintered and collapsed. New elections, called for 25 September, are expected to bring a coalition of far-right parties to power. This is a dangerous situation, produced by the crisis of Italian capitalism and the failure of the political establishment. 

Italy is often regarded as an exceptional European country for its propensity for rolling political crises and its perpetual economic backwardness. But looking beyond superficial differences, Italian politics is an extreme example of a series of trends in contemporary global capitalism: social decay and alienation, cost-of-living crises, the collapse in legitimacy of the political class and an insurgent far right. It contains warnings about the future trajectory of global politics if a combative left is not built that can provide an alternative to the discredited mainstream and the fake radicalism of the reactionary right. 

The right has thrived in the atmosphere of social decay and crisis in Italian society. The country is in a constant state of emergency economic management, teetering on the brink of collapse. In early 2021, Draghi was appointed to lead an unelected “technocratic government” with the backing of the Italian capitalist class. Draghi’s objective was to push through harsh austerity and the economic restructuring required to unlock a promised €200 billion in EU pandemic-recovery funds. He oversaw the lifting of all major public health restrictions to prioritise industrial production and tourism profits, despite COVID deaths in Italy being the second highest in Europe. Welfare access was tightened and the pension age was raised. Taxes were slashed for businesses, and future spending cuts are planned to make up the budget shortfall. 

Draghi is a trusted pair of hands for the capitalists. As head of the European Central Bank during the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, he said that he would do “whatever it takes” to defend the single European currency and the neoliberal economic restrictions that underpin it. In practice, this meant sacrificing European workers on the altar of financial markets, imposing austerity and trashing democracy. When Greek workers elected an ostensibly anti-austerity coalition in 2015, Draghi threatened it with economic strangulation until it signed into law a new tranche of cuts to social spending. 

Draghi’s cabinet, run by central bankers and economists rather than elected politicians, was the fourth such government in Italy since the early 1990s. Obedience to “fiscal discipline” and rigorous adherence to EU economic restrictions is like religious dogma for mainstream Italian politicians. The centrist Democratic Party has played a leading role in creating this catastrophe. The party was formed in the 1990s, primarily by ex-Communists who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, embraced with an evangelical zeal Clintonite third-way liberalism. 

Since then, more than €110 billion in public assets have been sold, and interest on loans and bailout packages has pushed public debt to €2.6 trillion. More is spent servicing the interest on this debt than is spent on public education. For three decades, workers and young people have been promised that if they swallow tough economic reforms, renewed prosperity will result. But real wages and per capita economic growth have been declining since 1999, and Italy’s industrial capacity has collapsed 25 percent. A generation of young people has languished; many have simply left the country in search of work. 

The result is increasing misery for Italian workers. The country’s official unemployment rate is 8.4 percent; youth unemployment is nearly triple that. The number living in poverty has risen to 5.6 million, the inflation rate of 8.4 percent swelling the ranks of the working poor. 

The catalyst for the Draghi coalition’s collapse was the decision of one of its constituent parties, the Five Star Movement, to draw a line under some of the government’s most controversial reforms. Five Star is a populist party, founded by an Italian comedian as a protest movement against the political class in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Refusing to place itself clearly on the left-right spectrum, the party has struggled to reconcile its anti-establishment rhetoric with participation in a series of right-wing government coalitions since rising to prominence. Five Star’s collaboration with the same establishment it denounces has led to waves of defections and a declining vote, from a high of 32 percent in the 2018 elections to 10 percent today. 

Worried about elections scheduled for mid-2023, Five Star revolted against Draghi’s most recent spending package, citing environmentally destructive policies and a lack of economic support for workers and the poor. This initiated a rolling crisis that led to media magnate Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right Lega, both erstwhile supporters of the government, to withdraw support. The next day, Draghi resigned, triggering new elections. 

The main beneficiary of the government’s implosion has been the only major party to stand aside from it: the fascist Brothers of Italy. The party, led by Giorgia Meloni, has experienced a meteoric rise: from polling just over 4 percent of the vote four years ago, Brothers is now polling 24 percent. It is now almost certain that, a century after Mussolini’s march on Rome, a party descended from his National Fascist Party will lead the next government. 

Meloni’s proposals include a naval blockade to prevent the entry of migrant and refugee boats, massive tax cuts and an attack on social welfare. At a rally in Spain earlier this year for the far-right party Vox, Meloni vowed: “Yes to the natural family! No to the LGBT lobbies!”

The Brothers lead a far-right coalition joined by Matteo Salvini’s Lega, which was just a few years ago the leading light of the far right, but now stands as a junior partner to Meloni’s outfit. Berlusconi, the 84-year-old Trump prototype, who built Forza Italia as his personal political vehicle in the early 1990s, is staging a comeback as the third major partner. Together, they are polling at 46 percent. 

Business circles have expressed concern about how the new right-wing coalition might govern—but not because of its historic ties to fascism. Capitalists are worried by Meloni’s and Salvini’s history of anti-EU rhetoric, and the latter’s support for Vladimir Putin. But Meloni has been quick to reassure them that a government under her leadership will be pro-NATO and pro-EU. Those who really stand to lose from the victory of the right are not central bankers in Brussels or American military strategists, but workers, migrants and oppressed people.

At the time of writing, the Democratic Party is attempting to rebuild credibility by presenting itself as the bulwark against the far-right threat, assembling a centrist electoral coalition to stop the Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi triumvirate. This cynical manoeuvre will fail. The Democrat-led coalition, which is joined by the Greens and other small parties, is trailing the far right by 16 percentage points in the polls. Even if they pull off an electoral miracle by temporarily blocking the right’s path to power on 25 September, a Democrat-dominated government will worsen the social crises that underpin the rise of the right in the first place. It would be committed to continuing Draghi’s austerity, compounding the social misery of Italian capitalism. 

A few decades ago, Italy was home to the largest and most vibrant radical left in Europe. The collapse of the left into centrist liberalism has resulted in the far right appearing to be the only alternative to the unpalatable status quo.

A principled objection to the far right won’t come from representatives of the business world or politicians of the centre. The far right draws strength from state-sponsored racism and tolerance of Italy’s fascist history in the political mainstream, which helps normalise its positions. 

In late July, the murder in broad daylight of a Nigerian migrant and street trader by a white Italian in the town of Civitanove Marche, while onlookers watched and failed to intervene, shone a light on the brutality of anti-migrant racism in Italy. This case was not an aberration but part of a spate of violent attacks. Black migrants make up a highly oppressed and exploited substrata of the working class in Italy. Migrant workers, mostly from Africa, make up half of the country’s agricultural labour force, working in slave-like conditions and living in makeshift camps and sheds in rural slums. They are a regular target of racist scapegoating from both the right and the Democratic Party, which has used the right-wing slogan “let’s help them in their own country” during immigration debates. 

Four years ago, former Lega candidate Luca Traini opened fire on Black migrants in the centre of Macerata, shooting six. He then drove to the Archway of the Fallen, a Mussolini-era monument, and performed a fascist salute while awaiting arrest. The brutality of the attack brought denunciations from the entire political establishment, including, with gross hypocrisy, Lega leader Salvini. While in government, Salvini blocked the entry of rescued refugee boats and pledged to deport half a million “illegal immigrants”. Traini was using vile fascist methods to put into practice Salvini’s disgraceful legislative agenda. 

Traini’s decision to stage his final stand at a fascist monument is unsurprising. The rehabilitation of Italian fascism by the political class and intellectuals has been occurring since the 1990s. Revisionist histories of World War Two abound in Italy, apologising for Mussolini’s Salo Republic, and denigrating the anti-fascist resistance. By 2013, Berlusconi was confident enough to declare that, despite his racial laws and alliance with Hitler, “Mussolini did good in many ways”.

The fascist menace is going to be defeated only by a combative left. The absence of any significant organised left-wing force for the past fifteen years has left the field open to Meloni, Salvini and Berlusconi. With the political establishment out of answers in the context of a deep and irresolvable crisis, radical traditions that reject austerity, defend working-class living standards and connect class politics to an uncompromising struggle against social oppression have to be rediscovered.

Luca Tavan writes for Red Flag from Melbourne, Australia

Opinion: Why “vote against fascism”? / by Callum Wilson

“Vote against fascism” is an excellent slogan and an even better strategy. While many of those who I would say are ultra left would decry such a call for action, I ask, why?

I am from and live in Pennsylvania. Of the two major candidates running for governor, Josh Shapiro (D) and Doug Mastriano (R), it is clear that Mastriano represents a fascist-aligned danger, if the man cannot be called a fascist himself. His platform fits with the standard MAGA call to arms: ban education that is deemed “woke” (read includes Black people and or LGBT people), eliminate mail-in voting, push voter IDs, and increase the number of “poll watchers” to guard against supposed voter fraud. Mastriano also supports a total ban on abortion and even the arrest of doctors who perform the procedure. His platform also mentions appointing a “Secretary of State with experience in securing elections from fraud,” mimicking Trump’s cries of election misconduct.

Should we not agree to vote against such a candidate and the repulsive ideology and forces that they represent? This is what “vote against fascism” means. Why, then, is there such a backlash against the call to “vote against fascism?” There are differing schools of thought on this, both un-Marxist-Leninist.

Voting gives us a say in the kind of terrain on which we struggle. 

The first is that “voting doesn’t matter.” The saying goes that if voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it. This logic ignores two facts: first, the expansion of the electorate had to be fought for, and second, voter suppression continues to this day. The election of Trump is what allowed for the Supreme Court to be packed with far-right judges, which has taken us to where we are now. Voting matters and gives us a say in the kind of terrain on which we struggle. Would a Clinton victory in 2016 take us to socialism? Of course not, but it would have led to more favorable ground on which to struggle, the same way that the Biden victory in 2020 has allowed for an albeit uphill battle, but one that has given us an administration more favorable to labor than the previous one.

Sometimes we hear from ultra-left forces who say “revolution now!” but will be disappointed to find out that’s now how revolutionary change works. The great October revolution was not accomplished in a single day or even one year. It took decades of organizing to topple the czar and more to build a socialist nation.

The second, and perhaps the more outlandish reason not to participate in electoral struggle is that “the USA and or the Democratic Party is already fascist.” While none can deny the increasing authoritarian rule of Republican states, and that liberal politicians and baseline democrats are capable of great oppression and cruelty, this is not fascism. Georgi Dimitrov gives us a very clear definition:

“the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital. Going on to say “It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.”

Somehow I cannot believe that a lukewarm Democrat like Pete Buttigieg or even the worst, like Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin, fit this definition. Even liberals can plainly see the fascist nature of Republicans who view the January 6th coup attempt as “legitimate political discourse.” Despite the rare exceptions like Republican Senator Liz Cheney, the GOP is far more right-wing than in the Nixon era. And those deemed “heroes” like Cheney and the testifiers at the January 6 hearings have enabled the Trump regime all along by remaining silent for four long years. Proud Boys, intimidating poll watchers, and the mob of rioters are poised to be the storm troopers of fascism and the Republican Party.

Not differentiating progressive Democrats from fascist Republicans is dogmatic adherence to the long-discredited “social fascist” theory.

The CPUSA has never said “vote blue no matter who.” The conservative Democrats should be primaried and challenged by progressives, democratic socialists, and Communists. But not differentiating progressive Democrats from fascist Republicans is dogmatic adherence to the long-discredited “social fascist” theory, which equated social democracy with fascism. The social fascist theory led to the Communist Party of Germany to ignore the rise of the Nazis, focusing more of their attention on the SPD (Socialist Party of Deutschland). This theory was held during the third period of the Comintern, and by the fourth period was replaced by the popular front against fascism, which remains the bedrock of our platform to this day.

So what did Dimitrov, leader of the Comintern and later Socialist Bulgaria, have to say about voting and bourgeois democracy?

We are not Anarchists, and it is not at all a matter of indifference to us what kind of political regime exists in any given country: whether a bourgeois dictatorship in the form of bourgeois democracy, even with democratic rights and liberties greatly curtailed, or a bourgeois dictatorship in its open, fascist form. While being upholders of Soviet democracy, we shall defend every inch the democratic gains which the working class has wrested in the course of years of stubborn struggle, and shall resolutely fight to extend these gains.

How great were the sacrifices of the British working class before it secured the right to strike, a legal status for its trade unions, the right of assembly and freedom of the press, extension of the franchise, and other rights. How many tens of thousands of workers gave their lives in the revolutionary battles fought in France in the nineteenth century to obtain the elementary rights and the lawful opportunity of organizing their forces for the struggle against the exploiters. The proletariat of all countries has shed much of its blood to win bourgeois-democratic liberties and will naturally fight with all its strength to retain them.

How easily this can be translated into our own conditions. The struggle to end slavery and Jim Crow, the struggle to form and join a union, for the right to vote itself, were all won with much blood and struggle. History does not repeat itself and the GOP are not the Nazi Party incarnate, this is true. But to deny their growing fascist character does not make you more radical, it makes you naive to what is happening.

Voting in elections is a tactical choice, not a moral one.

There is a faux-Maoist and ultra-left tendency to reject political action in favor of vague adventurism without ever presenting an alternative strategy to stop fascism. They substitute moralizing for clear-eyed analysis of the political forces at play in any given moment. In their view, “both sides are the same” and one’s soul is tainted for voting in an election for bourgeois candidates. Voting in elections is a tactical choice, not a moral one.

Ultimately, the reason some on the left reject electoral struggle is they don’t agree with the concept of the all-people’s front. They view sectarianism as a virtue and take pride in their insular nature. This reflects a lack of confidence in the multiple people’s movements — for voting rights, against police brutality and mass incarceration, and for a livable planet, to name a few — and in the working class itself. The need for an all-people’s front is grounded in actual experience and the scientific formula of Marxism-Leninism, not moralistic idealism.

But there are others who rightfully ask: where are our candidates? And the answer that is: wherever there are clubs and districts. Run for office, run as a Communist, be a loud and proud red. We are starting to dip our feet back into the water of electoral work. We need Communist city council members, Communist union leaders, Communist mayors. Run and vote, comrades! Challenge Republicans where the Democrats are too callow to fight, and challenge the Democrat obstructionists Manchin and Sinema. We need more politicking and less sloganeering.

So this November I will vote against fascism and I encourage all my friends, family, and comrades to do the same.

Communist Party USA, August 4, 2022,

May 9th, a milestone of the Great Antifascist Victory of the Peoples / A statement by the Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative

In a statement about the 77th anniversary of the Great Antifascist Victory of the Peoples, the 9th of May, the Secretariat of the Initiative of Communist and Workers’ Parties issued the following statement:

We proudly commemorate 9 May, a milestone of the Great Antifascist Victory of the Peoples. We pay tribute to the millions of people who sacrificed their lives, fought with guns in their hands, and struggled against the fascist imperialist Axis of Germany–Italy–Japan and their allies. 

We honour the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union and the glorious Red Army, which suffered 20 million casualties, and the invaluable contribution of the Communist Parties that led the national liberation and anti-fascist movements around the world.

We are inspired by the Antifascist Victory of the Peoples and strengthen our daily struggle against the EU and bourgeois governments, against all those who provocatively attempt to distort9 May and turn it into “EU Day”. We continue in defiance of those who try to turn black into white by equating communism with the monster of fascism and falsifying History so that the peoples, especially the youth, forget the Antifascist Victory of the peoples and its historical lessons.

The Second World War, like the first one and the current war in Ukraine, is a result of imperialist contradictions and competition for the re-division of markets and spheres of influence. The people pay a heavy price for the condemnable Russian invasion of Ukraine, like the previous US-NATO-EU interventions that led to it: dead and wounded people, refugees, extremely expensive energy and fuel, and high prices. The pretexts used by imperialists of the bourgeois classes for the imperialist war in Ukraine are accompanied by anti-communism, unhistorical sermons, and alleged slogans of de-Nazification. The history of the Antifascist Victory of the Peoples and overall of the Second World War clearly proves that Nazism–fascism is a creation of the capitalist system itself. That is why the struggle against fascism is inseparable from the struggle against the capitalist system that gives rise to it. We repel the attempt made by bourgeois forces to arrogate the anti-fascist struggle and Victory of the peoples. Their utterly false and hypocritical “anti-fascism” is replete with anti-communism.

That is why today the right side of History is found in the camp of the peoples against the camp of the imperialists; it is found in the struggle in every country against the imperialist war in Ukraine, the struggle for the immediate cessation of the participation and involvement of each country in the imperialist war.

We draw lessons from the Great Antifascist Victory. Socialism once again proved its superiority by the indisputable fact that in the same territory where the massacre of peoples is taking place today, different peoples and ethnicities had been living together for decades in the USSR. We continue with the unshakable belief that socialism is timely and necessary, that it is the only answer to the barbaric capitalist system, which gives only poverty, wars, and refugees.

In Defense of Communism, May 8th, 2022,

“One less traitor”: Zelensky oversees campaign of assassination, kidnapping and torture of political opposition / by Max Blumenthal

Above: The torture of left-wing activist Alexander Matjuschenko on March 3 in Dnipro, recorded by Azov members. Below: President Volodymyr Zelensky poses during a media engagement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has framed his country’s war against Russia as a battle for democracy itself. In a carefully choreographed address to U.S. Congress on March 16, Zelensky stated,

Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided. The destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy.

U.S. corporate media has responded by showering Zelensky with fawning press, driving a campaign for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and inspiring a flamboyant musical tribute to himself and the Ukrainian military during the 2022 Grammy awards ceremony on April 3.

Western media has looked the other way, however, as Zelensky and top officials in his administration have sanctioned a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination of local Ukrainian lawmakers accused of collaborating with Russia. Several mayors and other Ukrainian officials have been killed since the outbreak of war, many reportedly by Ukrainian state agents after engaging in de-escalation talks with Russia.

“There is one less traitor in Ukraine,” Internal Affairs Ministry advisor Anton Geraschenko stated in endorsement of the murder of a Ukrainian mayor accused of collaborating with Russia.

Zelensky has further exploited the atmosphere of war to outlaw an array of opposition parties and order the arrest of his leading rivals. His authoritarian decrees have triggered the disappearance, torture and even murder of an array of human rights activists, communist and leftist organizers, journalists and government officials accused of “pro-Russian” sympathies.

The Ukrainian SBU security services has served as the enforcement arm of the officially authorized campaign of repression. With training from the CIA and close coordination with Ukraine’s state-backed neo-Nazi paramilitaries, the SBU has spent the past weeks filling its vast archipelago of torture dungeons with political dissidents.

On the battlefield, meanwhile, the Ukrainian military has engaged in a series of atrocities against captured Russian troops and proudly exhibited its sadistic acts on social media. Here too, the perpetrators of human rights abuses appear to have received approval from the upper echelons of Ukrainian leadership.

While Zelensky spouts bromides about the defense of democracy before worshipful Western audiences, he is using the war as a theater for enacting a blood-drenched purge of political rivals, dissidents and critics.

“The war is being used to kidnap, imprison and even kill opposition members who express themselves critical of the government,” a left-wing activist beaten and persecuted by Ukraine’s security services commented this April.

We must all fear for our freedom and our lives.

Torture and enforced disappearances “common practices” of Ukraine’s SBU

When a U.S.-backed government seized power in Kiev following the Euromaidan regime change operation of 2013-14, Ukraine’s government embarked on a nationwide purge of political elements deemed pro-Russian or insufficiently nationalistic. The passage of “decommunization” laws by the Ukrainian parliament further eased the persecution of leftist elements and the prosecution of activists for political speech.

The post-Maidan regime has focused its wrath on Ukrainians who have advocated a peace settlement with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, those who have documented human rights abuses by the Ukrainian military, and members of communist organizations. Dissident elements have faced the constant threat of ultra-nationalist violence, imprisonment, and even murder.

The Ukrainian security service known as the SBU has served as the main enforcer of the post-Maidan government’s campaign of domestic political repression. Pro-Western monitors including the United Nations Office of the High Commission (UN OHCR) and Human Rights Watch have accused the SBU of systematically torturing political opponents and Ukrainian dissidents with near-total impunity.

The UN OHCR found in 2016 that “arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of such conflict-related detainees were common practice of SBU… A former Kharkiv SBU officer explained, ‘For the SBU, the law virtually does not exist as everything that is illegal can be either classified or explained by referring to state necessity.”

Yevhen Karas, the founder of the infamous neo-Nazi C14 unit, has detailed the close relationship his gang and other extreme right factions have enjoyed with the SBU. The SBU “informs not only us, but also Azov, the Right Sector, and so on,” Karas boasted in a 2017 interview.

Kiev officially endorses assassinating Ukrainian mayors for negotiating with Russia

Since Russia launched its military operation inside Ukraine, the SBU has hunted down local officials that decided to accept humanitarian supplies from Russia or negotiated with Russian forces to arrange corridors for civilian evacuations.

On March 1, for example, Volodymyr Strok, the mayor of the eastern city of Kreminna in the Ukrainian-controlled side of Lugansk, was kidnapped by men in military uniform, according to his wife, and shot in the heart.

On March 3, pictures of Strok’s visibly tortured body appeared. A day before his murder, Struk had reportedly urged his Ukrainian colleagues to negotiate with pro-Russian officials.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, celebrated the mayor’s murder, declaring on his Telegram page (see below):

There is one less traitor in Ukraine. The mayor of Kreminna in Luhansk region, former deputy of Luhansk parliament was found killed.

According to Geraschenko, Strok had been judged by the “court of the people’s tribunal.”

The Ukrainian official therefore delivered a chilling message to anyone choosing to seek cooperation with Russia: do so and lose your life.

On March 7, the mayor of Gostomel, Yuri Prylipko, was found murdered. Prylipko had reportedly entered into negotiations with the Russian military to organize a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of his city’s residents–a red line for Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who had long been in conflict with the mayor’s office.

Next, on March 24, Gennady Matsegora, the mayor of Kupyansk in northeastern Ukraine, released a video (below) appealing to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his administration for the release of his daughter, who had been held hostage by agents of the Ukrainian SBU intelligence agency.

Then there was the murder of Denis Kireev, a top member of the Ukrainian negotiating team, who was killed in broad daylight in Kiev after the first round of talks with Russia. Kireev was subsequently accused in local Ukrainian media of “treason.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that “there would be consequences for collaborators” indicates that these atrocities have been sanctioned by the highest levels of government.

As of today, eleven mayors from various towns in Ukraine are missing. Western media outlets have been following the Kiev line without exception, claiming that all mayors been arrested by the Russian military. The Russian Ministry of Defense has denied the charge, however, and little evidence exists to corroborate Kiev’s line about the missing mayors.

Zelensky outlaws political opposition, authorizes arrest of rivals and war propaganda blitz

When war erupted with Russia this February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a series of decrees formalizing Kiev’s campaign against political opposition and dissident speech.

In a March 19 executive order, Zelensky invoked martial law to ban 11 opposition parties. The outlawed parties consisted of the entire left-wing, socialist or anti-NATO spectrum in Ukraine. They included the For Life Party, the Left Opposition, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Union of Left Forces, Socialists, the Party of Shariy, Ours, State, Opposition Bloc and the Volodymyr Saldo Bloc.

Openly fascist and pro-Nazi parties like the Azov National Corps were left untouched by the presidential decree, however.

“The activities of those politicians aimed at division or collusion will not succeed, but will receive a harsh response,” President Zelensky stated.

As he wiped out his opposition, Zelensky ordered an unprecedented domestic propaganda initiative to nationalize all television news broadcasting and combine all channels into a single 24 hour channel called “United News” to “tell the truth about war.”

Next, on April 12, Zelensky announced the arrest of his principal political rival, Viktor Medvedchuk, by Ukraine’s SBU security services.

The founder of the second largest party in Ukraine, the now-illegal Patriots for Life, Medvedchuk is the de facto representative of the country’s ethnic Russian population. Though Patriots for Life is regarded as “pro-Russia,” in part because of his close relations with Vladimir Putin, the new chairman of the party has condemned Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.

Members of the state-sponsored neo-Nazi Azov Battalion’s National Corps attacked Medvedchuk’s home in March 2019, accusing him of treason and demanding his arrest.

In August 2020, Azov’s National Corps opened fire on a bus carrying representatives of Medvedchuk’s party, wounding several with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Zelensky’s administration escalated the assault on his top opponent in February 2021 when he shuttered several media outlets controlled by Medvedchuk. The U.S. State Department openly endorsed the president’s move, declaring that the United States “supports Ukrainian efforts to counter Russia’s malign influence…”

Three months later, Kiev jailed Medvedchuk and charged him with treason. Zelensky justified locking away his leading rival on the grounds that he needed to “fight against the danger of Russian aggression in the information arena.”

Medvedchuk escaped house arrest at the onset of the war between Russia and Ukraine, but is a captive once again, and may be used as collateral for a post-war prisoner swap with Russia.

Under Zelensky’s watch, “the war is being used to kidnap, imprison and even kill opposition members”

Since Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24, Ukraine’s SBU security service had been on a rampage against any and all iterations of internal political opposition. Leftist Ukrainian activists have faced particularly harsh treatment, including kidnapping and torture.

This March 3 in the city of Dnipro, SBU officers accompanied by Azov ultra-nationalists raided the home of activists with the Livizja (Left) organization, which has organized against social spending cuts and right-wing media propaganda. While one activist said the Azov member “cut my hair off with a knife,” the state security agents proceeded to torture her husband, Alexander Matjuschenko, pressing a gun barrel to his head and forcing him to repeatedly belt out the nationalist salute, “Slava Ukraini!”

“Then they put bags over our heads, tied our hands with tape and took us to the SBU building in a car. There they continued to interrogate us and threatened to cut off our ears,” Matjuschenko’s wife told the leftist German publication Junge Welt.

The Azov members and SBU agents recorded the torture session and published images of Matjuschenko’s bloodied face online.

Matjuschenko was jailed on the grounds that he was “conducting an aggressive war or military operation,” and now faces 10 to 15 years in prison. Despite enduring several broken ribs from the beating by state-backed ultra-nationalists, he has been denied bail. Meanwhile, dozens of other leftists have been jailed on similar charges in Dnipro.

Among those targeted by the SBU were Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich, members of the outlawed Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine. Both were arrested and jailed on March 6 and accused of “spreading pro-Russian and pro-Belarusian views.”

In the following days, the SBU arrested broadcast journalist Yan Taksyur and charged him with treason; human rights activist Elena Berezhnaya; Elena Viacheslavova, a human rights advocate whose father, Mikhail, was burned to death during the May 2, 2014 ultra-nationalist mob attack on anti-Maidan protesters outside the Odessa House of Trade Unions; independent journalist Yuri Tkachev, who was charged with treason, and an untold number of others; disabled rights activist Oleg Novikov, who was jailed for three years this April on the grounds that he supported “separatism.”

The list of those imprisoned by Ukraine’s security services since the outbreak of war grows by the day, and is too extensive to reproduce here.

Perhaps the most ghastly incident of repression took place when neo-Nazis backed by the Ukrainian government kidnapped Maxim Ryndovskiy, a professional MMA fighter, and brutally tortured him for the crime of training with Russian fighters at a gym in Chechnya. Ryndovskiy also happened to be Jewish, with a Star of David tattooed on his leg, and had spoken out on social media against the war in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s SBU has even hunted opposition figures outside the country’s borders. As journalist Dan Cohen reported, Anatoly Shariy of the recently banned Party of Shariy said he was the target of a recent SBU assassination attempt. Shariy has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S.-backed Maidan regime, and has been forced to flee into exile after enduring years of harassment from nationalists.

This March, the libertarian politician and online pundit received an email from a friend, “Igor,” seeking to arrange a meeting. He subsequently learned that Igor was held by the SBU at the time and being used to bait Shariy into disclosing his location.

For his part, Shariy has been placed on the notorious Myrotvorets public blacklist of “enemies of the state” founded by Anton Geraschenko–the Ministry of Internal Affairs advisor who endorsed the assassination of Ukrainian lawmakers accused of Russian sympathies. Several journalists and Ukrainian dissidents, including the prominent columnist Oles Buzina, were murdered by state-backed death squads after their names appeared on the list.

Common Ukrainian citizens have also been subjected to torture since the start of the war this February. Seemingly countless videos have appeared on social media showing civilians tied to lamp posts, often with their genitals exposed or their faces painted green. Carried out by Territorial Defense volunteers tasked with enforcing law and order during wartime, these acts of humiliation and torture have targeted everyone from accused Russian sympathizers to Roma people to alleged thieves.

Ukraine’s SBU studies torture and assassination from the CIA

Vassily Prozorov, a former SBU officer who defected to Russia following the Euromaidan coup, detailed the post-Maidan security services’ systemic reliance on torture to crush political opposition and intimidate citizens accused of Russian sympathies.

According to Prozorov, the ex-SBU officer, the Ukrainian security services have been directly advised by the CIA since 2014. “CIA employees have been present in Kiev since 2014. They are residing in clandestine apartments and suburban houses,” he said. “However, they frequently come to the SBU’s central office for holding, for example, specific meetings or plotting secret operations.”

Below, Russia’s RIA Novosti profiled Prozorov and covered his disclosures in a 2019 special.

Journalist Dan Cohen interviewed a Ukrainian businessman named Igor who was arrested by the SBU for his financial ties with Russian companies and detained this March in the security service’s notorious headquarters in downtown Kiev. Igor said he overheard Russian POWs being beaten with pipes by Territorial Defense volunteers being coached by SBU officers. Pummeled to the sound of the Ukrainian national anthem, the Russian prisoners were brutalized until they confessed their hatred for Putin.

Then came Igor’s turn. “They used a lighter to heat up a needle, then put it under my fingernails,” he told Cohen. “The worst was when they put a plastic bag over my head and suffocated me and when they held the muzzle of a Kalashnikov rifle to my head and forced me to answer their questions.”

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the first head of the SBU after the Euromaidan regime change operation of 2013-14, nurtured close ties to Washington when he served as general consul to the Ukrainian embassy to the U.S. during the George W. Bush administration. During that time, Nalyvaichenko was recruited by the CIA, according to his predecessor at the SBU, Alexander Yakimenko, who served under the Russian-oriented government of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.

In 2021, Zelensky appointed one of Ukraine’s most notorious intelligence figures, Oleksander Poklad, to lead SBU’s counterintelligence division. Poklad is nicknamed “The Strangler,” a reference to his reputation for using torture and assorted dirty tricks to set-up his bosses’ political rivals on treason charges.

This April, a vivid illustration of the SBU’s brutality emerged in the form of video (below) showing its agents pummeling a group of men accused of Russian sympathies in the city of Dnipro.

“We will never take Russian soldiers prisoner”: Ukraine’s military flaunts its war crimes

While the Western media has focused squarely on alleged Russian human rights abuses since the outbreak of war, Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Ukrainian social media accounts have proudly exhibited sadistic war crimes, from field executions to the torture of captive soldiers.

This March, a pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel called White Lives Matter released a video of a Ukrainian soldier calling the fiancee of a Russian prisoner of war, seen below, and taunting her with promises to castrate the captive.

Ukrainian soldiers’ use of the cellphones of dead Russian soldiers to mock and hector their relatives appears to be a common practice. In fact, the Ukrainian government has begun using notoriously invasive facial recognition technology from Clearview AI, a U.S. tech company, to identify Russian casualties and taunt their relatives on social media.

This April, a pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel called fckrussia2022 posted a video depicting a Russian soldier with one of his eyes bandaged, suggesting it had been gouged during torture, and mocked him as a “one-eyed” pig.

Perhaps the most gruesome image to have appeared on social media in recent weeks is the photo of a tortured Russian soldier who had one of his eyes gouged before he was killed. The accompanying post was captioned, “looking for Nazis.”

Video has also emerged this April showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting defenseless Russian POWs in the legs outside the city of Kharkov. A separate video published by Ukrainian and U.S.-backed Georgian Legion soldiers showed the fighters carrying out field executions of wounded Russian captives near a village outside Kiev.

It is likely that these soldiers had been emboldened by their superiors’ blessings. Mamula Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion, which participated in the field executions of wounded Russian POW’s, boasted this April that his unit freely engages in war crimes: “Yes, we tie their hands and feet sometimes. I speak for the Georgian Legion, we will never take Russian soldiers prisoner. Not a single one of them will be taken prisoner.”

Similarly, Gennadiy Druzenko, the head of the Ukrainian military medical service, stated in an interview with Ukraine 24 that he “issued an order to castrate all Russian men because they were subhuman and worse than cockroaches.”

Ukrainian officials present woman tortured and killed by Azov as victim of Russia

While Western media homes in on Russian human rights violations at home and inside Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has authorized a propaganda campaign known as “Total War” that includes the planting of bogus images and false stories to further implicate Russia.

In one especially cynical example of the strategy, Ukraine 24–a TV channel where guests have called for the genocidal extermination of Russian children–published a photo this April depicting a female corpse branded with a bloody swastika on her stomach. Ukraine 24 claimed that it found this woman in Gostumel, one of the regions in the Kiev Oblast that the Russians vacated on March 29.

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, and Oleksiy Arestovych, the top advisor to President Zelensky, published the photo of the defiled female corpse on social media. While Vasylenko left the photo online, Arestovych deleted it eight hours after posting when confronted with the fact that he had published a fake.

In fact, the image was pulled from footage originally recorded by Patrick Lancaster, a Donetsk-based U.S. journalist who had filmed the corpse of a woman tortured and murdered by members of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion in a Mariupol school basement they had converted into a base.

At 2:31 in Lancaster’s video, the woman’s corpse can be seen clearly.

As weapons pour into Ukraine from NATO states and the war intensifies, the atrocities are almost certain to pile up–and with the blessing of leadership in Kiev. As Zelensky proclaimed during a visit to the city of Bucha this April, “if we do not find a civilized way out, you know our people–they will find an uncivilized way out.”

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican GomorrahGoliathThe Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions. Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

MR Online, April 19, 2022,