James Bezan, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, and the Holocaust in the Ukraine

If you have never heard of James Bezan (lucky you!), let me fill you in. Mr. Bezan is the far-right Conservative Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake, in Manitoba. He is a Ukrainian nationalist, Russophobe and Sinophobe extraordinaire, and like the prehistoric dinosaur that he is, he is opposed to LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights. Basically, Bezan is a typical Tory, a wealthy white man … Continue reading James Bezan, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, and the Holocaust in the Ukraine

Review: “The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” – Arne Haugen

“The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” by Arne Haugen is the Das Kapital of Soviet nationalities policies, especially in Central Asia. Haugen, a Norwegian scholar, methodically and scientifically examines Soviet national territorial delimitation in Central Asia. In this book Haugen examines many of the issues raised in Western scholarly works on Soviet national territorial delimitation… Stalin the Omnipotent was Responsible for National … Continue reading Review: “The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia” – Arne Haugen

An Analysis of Soviet Economic Policy in the Periphery: Tajikistan in Context

Map Source: https://www.freeworldmaps.net/asia/tajikistan/map.html

Below is a copied and pasted version of a paper I published on Academia.edu (here) in which I examine the economic relationship between Tajikistan and the Soviet Union.

The economic relations between the Russian Soviet federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) (the centre) and the Soviet Union’s peripheral republics has frequently been described as ‘colonial’.

Nowhere is this colonial narrative more common than when discussing Tajikistan. The least industrially developed of the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics, there is no shortage of literature describing Tajikistan as a Soviet colony. According to Jesse Driscoll, “Tajikistan was never more than a frontier cotton colony.”[1] Similarly, Robert Strayer describes how the “imposition of a single-crop, cotton-growing economy on large parts of Central Asia during the Stalin years had created a highly dependent, almost colonial relationship with the more developed regions of the Soviet Union.”[2]

The theory of Tajikistan’s de facto status as a Soviet colony is attractive to scholars of Central Asia due to the civil war that engulfed Tajikistan between 1992-97. For decades scholars have debated the various factors that contributed to the outbreak of violence: regionalism, Islamic militancy and the spillover of the war in Afghanistan (one of the most famous mujahideen warlords, Ahmed Shah Massoud, was a Tajik), the overthrow of the Soviet Union, etc.[3] Yet, as Idil Tunçer-Kılavuz notes, none of these factors, collectively or individually, explain why Tajikistan experienced civil war, since all these factors also existed in Uzbekistan, including the existence of a powerful Uzbek warlord in Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, with cross-border connections.[4] “Uzbekistan resembles Tajikistan in many ways,” writes Tunçer-Kılavuz:

Unlike the other Central Asian countries, the territories of today’s Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have long been home to sedentary societies. The literature on Central Asia describes their societies as having been influenced by Islam to a greater extent than the other Central Asian countries. They have similar social cleavage structures in terms of salience of regional identities and the prevalence of Islamic sentiment. Both their economics are based on agriculture. They share the legacy of the same Soviet past, having lived under the same Soviet institutions and policies, and then separated from the collapsed state. Economic factors stated as the causes of civil war in Tajikistan were valid for Uzbekistan as well. Both countries suffered from poverty, and the end of subsidies from the Soviet Union. They had similar social structures, with largely rural societies. A large degree of intermingling between their populations has taken place.[5]

Continue reading “An Analysis of Soviet Economic Policy in the Periphery: Tajikistan in Context”

Marxism and the National Question: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context

Below is a copied and pasted version of a paper I published on Academia.edu (here) in which I attempt to apply Marxist dialectics and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. For the full bibliography, please visit my Academia.edu page.

(Featured image source: https://karabakhfacts.com/nagorno-karabakh-republic-artsakh-map/)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, social disintegration and political instability caused by the overthrow of the Soviet Union sparked numerous ethnic and territorial conflicts in many newly independent Soviet republics. Some of these conflicts never ended but became “frozen” (a slightly misleading but frequently used term) due to stalemate, leaving some regions de facto independent for the last several decades.

Among these “frozen” conflicts is that which involves Nagorno-Karabakh (officially known as the Republic of Artsakh). Between 1988-94, Karabakh Armenians, with the support of the Armenian SSR (later the Republic of Armenia), fought a brutal war against the Azerbaijani SSR (later the Republic of Azerbaijan). The war killed an estimated 20,000, and displaced another 1.5 million, making it one of the bloodiest post-Soviet conflicts[1]. In April 2016, fighting erupted between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, in which “dozens of Armenian and Azerbaijani tanks ‘squared off against one another in open battle.’”[2]

On the one hand, Karabakh Armenians, supported by Armenia, argue that Nagorno-Karabakh has the right to self-determination. On the other, Azerbaijani leaders, supported by the U.S. and most Western countries, Turkey,[3] and Israel,[4] argue that Nagorno-Karabakh’s secession violates the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

What can Marxism and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination tell us about the conflict vis-à-vis Nagorno-Karabakh? This is more than an exercise in semantics; Nagorno-Karabakh is the “most dangerous unresolved conflict in wider Europe,” writes Thomas de Waal, with the potential for a new “catastrophic war”[5].

In this paper I will attempt to argue, using Marxism and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination under specific conditions as my basis, that Nagorno-Karabakh should cede from Azerbaijan.

Continue reading “Marxism and the National Question: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context”

Books of 2019!

As of this writing, I have read 53 nonfiction books in 2019, although I am still working on finishing several others.

However, since I don’t expect to be finishing any of the books I am reading right now in the next month, I thought now wouldn’t be a bad time to do a annual recap of all the books I read in 2019 🙂

Here are all the books I read in 2019 (not in order):

  1. The Struggle for Algeria — Joseph Kraft
  2. The Condition of the Working Class in England — Fredrich Engels
  3. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide — Gerard Prunier
  4. The Origins of the Civil War in Tajikistan: Nationalism, Islamism, and Violent Conflict in Post-Soviet Space — Tim Epkenhans
  5. How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger — Susan George
  6. The East Pakistan Tragedy — L. Rushbrook Williams
  7. Balochistan: In Quest of Freedom — Syed Ramsey
  8. West Papua: The Obliteration of a People — Carmel Budiardjo and Liem Soei Liong
  9. War Economy and Crisis – Hyman Lumer
  10. The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context — Bahruz Balayev
  11. From Conflict to Autonomy in the Caucasus: The Soviet Union and the making of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno Karabakh — Arsene Saparov
  12. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism — Kwame Nkrumah
  13. Atomic Imperialism: The State, Monopoly, and the Bomb — James S. Allen
  14. The Sudanese Communist Party: Ideology and Party Politics — Tareq Y. Ismael
  15. Politics in Sierra Leone, 1947-1967 — John R. Cartwright
  16. Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution — Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy
  17. Against All Odds: A Chronicle of the Eritrean Revolution — Dan Connell
  18. Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared — Awet Tewelde Weldemichael
  19. A History of South Sudan: From Slavery to Independence — Øystein H. Rolandsen and M.W. Daly
  20. The Communist Movement in Nepal: Origins and Development — Bhim Rawal
  21. Ethiopia’s Revolution — Raul Valdes Vivo
  22. Memories — Andrei Gromyko
  23. The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq — Tareq Y. Ismael
  24. Namibia’s Liberation Struggle: The Two-Edged Sword — Colin Leys and John S. Saul
  25. The Baloch and Balochistan: A Historical Account from the Beginning to the Fall of the Baloch State — Naseer Dashti
  26. The Supreme Court of Canada: History of the Institution — James G. Snell and Frederick Vaughan
  27. The History of Siberia: From Russian Conquest to Revolution — Alan Wood
  28. Kenya’s War of Independence: Mau and its Legacy of Resistance to Colonialism and Imperialism, 1948-1990 — Shiraz Durrani
  29. Fifty Fighting Years: The Communist Party of South Africa, 1921-1971 — A. Lerumo
  30. Kyrgyzstan: Beyond “Democracy Island” and “Failing State”: Social and Political Changes in a Post-Soviet Society — Marlène Laruelle (Editor), Johan Engvall (Editor)
  31. The Balkan Wars, 1912-13: The War Correspondence of Leon Trotsky — Leon Trotsky
  32. Psychiatric Hegemony: A Marxist Analysis of Mental Illness — Bruce M. Z. Cohen
  33. Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White Settler Capitalism — Sam Moyo
  34. Amilcar Cabral: Revolutionary Leadership and Peoples War — Patrick Chabal
  35. Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan — A. C. Grayling
  36. Fiji: Race and Politics in and Island State — Michael Howard
  37. Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR — Abeed Khalid
  38. A History of Niger: 1850-1960 — Finn Fuglestad
  39. Tajikistan: The Trials of Independence — Shirin Akiner, Mohammad-Reza Djalili, Frederic Grare
  40. The Trial of Hissène Habré: How the People of Chad Brought a Tyrant to Justice — Celeste Hicks
  41. Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned and Academics Murdered — Raymond William Baker, Tareq Y. Ismael, Shereen T. Ismael
  42. A Tibetan Revolutionary: The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phüntso Wangye — Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, and William R. Siebenschuh
  43. State of Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic — Louisa Lombard
  44. The Problem of India — R. Palme Dutt
  45. Burkina Faso: A History of Power, Protest, and Revolution — Ernest Harsch
  46. The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Workingmen’s Association — Wolfgang Eckhardt
  47. Sir George Goldie and the Making of Nigeria — J. E. Flint
  48. The Fulani Empire of Sokoto — H. A. S. Johnston
  49. An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women — Karen Stote
  50. Tribal Nation: The Making of Soviet Turkmenistan — Adrienne Lynn Edgar
  51. The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic — Paul Bergne
  52. Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic — Ervand Abrahamian
  53. Russian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923 — Jeff Sahadeo

Most of the reviews I wrote for these books were published on other sites (another blog of mine, GoodReads, etc.). Below are reviews of what I feel are some of the most important books I read in 2019. Enjoy!

Continue reading “Books of 2019!”

Soviet Nationalities Policy and Territorial Delimitation: “Divide at impera” or something else?

Have you ever looked at a map of Central Asia and the Caucasus? If you answered ‘yes’, then you have more than likely wondered why the borders of many of the now independent states in these regions of the former Soviet Union are so confusing and seemingly irrational. The strategic and fertile Ferghana Valley, for instance, appears to be haphazardly divided between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and … Continue reading Soviet Nationalities Policy and Territorial Delimitation: “Divide at impera” or something else?

A Letter to Ralph Eichler, MLA for Lakeside

Dear Ralph Eichler, Congratulations on your re-election as MLA for Lakeside. At approximately 7:30 PM on September 18, 2019, I received a distressing phone call. The call was from my vocational counselor at Interlake Employment Services. (Her office is beside yours in Stonewall.) Due to draconian budget cuts imposed by the Progressive Conservative regime in Manitoba, led by the multimillionaire, Costa Rican-wannabe Brian Pallister, a … Continue reading A Letter to Ralph Eichler, MLA for Lakeside