Social democrats, the supposed defenders of peace and the working class, have gone all-in cheering for the devastating war in Ukraine By Denis Rogatyuk, a Russian-Australian journalist and writer based in Latin America, international director of El Ciudadano media platform, one of Chile’s largest independent media sourcesUkrainian President Vladimir Zelensky (L) and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (R) sit in a F-16 fighter jet on August 20, 2023 © Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

After the breakout of the First World War, the Second International and the numerous socialist organizations affiliated with it across Western Europe threw their weight behind their governments’ new military adventurism and became completely oblivious to the suffering of their fellow man at the hands of their countries’ economic and political elites.

More than a century later, many of their modern-day counterparts have joined the chorus of Western governments, and their respective military-industrial complexes, in their proxy war hymn against Russia. And some of them have gone as far as giving a standing ovation to a literal member of the Waffen-SS, Yaroslav Hunka, when he was presented as a “veteran who fought for Ukrainian independence against Russia during WWII” in the Canadian parliament. It seems that even praising Nazis has become an acceptable part of the Western progressives’ discourse against all things Russian.

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While many of the social democrats of the 1970s and 80s throughout Western Europe strongly opposed NATO’s expansionism and the presence of US military bases, the modern-day progressive and green parties go out of their way to roll out the red carpet for foreign soldiers on their soil. The examples are numerous. There’s Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister from the Greens, who made headlines around the world for admitting that Germany is “fighting a war against Russia,” the former prime minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, who attended the funeral of a well-known neo-Nazi leader in Ukraine, Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, the first to pledge F-16 jets to Kiev, and Spain’s Pedro Sanchez, one of the first to promise Zelensky Leopard tanks. In the United States, the Squad – a group of relatively young members of Congress elected in 2018 and 2022 on a progressive left-wing platform – was once considered something of an alternative to the Democratic Party establishment, but has equally fallen under the spell of the siren war song of President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Except for criticism of the delivery of cluster munitions and depleted uranium shells and supporting Bernie Sanders’ proposal to cut military spending, the Squad has consistently voted in favor of progressively bigger and bigger military aid packages to Kiev, while largely ignoring the threat posed by the various neo-Nazi armed groups in Kiev’s employ.

Even the trade unions, long considered the backbone of the anti-war movement, are not immune to the whims of the mass Russophobia and the warmongering spirit of the progressive and liberal leaders. The British Trade Union Council’s resolution urging Rishi Sunak’s government to commit further arms deliveries and financial assistance to the regime in Kiev is a stab in the back for the Stop the War coalition and millions of British workers who view the cost-of-living crisis as far more important than the delivery of military aid to a government that has thrown the rights of its own workers back to the 19th century with the new law 5371.

The (not so common) common sense

Before the outbreak of WWI, one sole voice of reason against the coming mass slaughter was heard in the German Bundestag – that of the communist Karl Liebknecht. Today that honor falls to Sahra Wagenknecht, the dissident left-wing deputy of the Die Linke party, who has consistently criticized the sanctions against Russia and the weapons deliveries to Ukraine. In the UK, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has vehemently opposed any military support for the government in Ukraine, while also criticizing Russia’s actions. In Ireland, the Irish Neutrality League has been established as a countermeasure to the attempt by the Fianna Fall-Fine Gael-Green coalition to train Ukrainian army units on Irish soil. Across the Atlantic, the presidential candidate Cornel West has made the dissolution of NATO one of his campaign pledges, while blaming the military alliance for instigating the Ukraine conflict in the first place. Thankfully, there are still voices of common sense found among the Western left, although nowhere near enough to stem the tide of anti-Russian hysteria.

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The greatest inspiration for the left ought to come from the left-wing governments of Latin America, both new and old. Presidents Lula Da Silva of Brazil, Gustavo Petro of Colombia, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico have rejected the demands of the US to send military assistance to Kiev, have consistently opposed any talk of sanctions against Russia and, in the case of Lula, suggested that Ukraine should end its demands for the return of Crimea in exchange for a peace settlement. The left-wing presidents of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua have been even more supportive of Russia’s position and strongly opposed to the US and NATO’s actions around the world.

What is to be done?

It is truly distressing to see how the alleged defenders of workers’ rights and supporters of world peace have turned into keyboard warriors engaged in live-action role play where they imagine themselves as heroes in their battle against “evil” Russia, with Ukraine as their vanguard. Never mind that every week, hundreds (if not thousands) of young Ukrainians are snatched from their families, thrown into a quick training course and sent off to the frontlines, fighting and dying seemingly for the wishes of their country’s elite and the moral fulfillment of the Western virtue signalers. Ironically, they have also consistently ignored the catastrophic damage to the environment and the acceleration of climate change as a result of their governments’ military adventurism.

Instead of making grandiose speeches demanding that their countries’ military warehouses be emptied in defense of one of the most corrupt regimes in Europe, there are more pressing causes that Western progressives should pursue. Number one on the list is the escalating cost-of-living crisis, with spiraling energy and fuel prices, which could be mitigated through the nationalization of the biggest energy companies that have profited the most from the carnage in Ukraine. There was once a time when millions of people would have protested at the mere thought of American planes and German tanks on the fields of battle in Europe. It seems that thousands more will have to die before the modern-day social democrats realize the error of their way, just as in the aftermath of WWI.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.