On Saturday 3 September, as many as 160,000 protesters (more than double the 70,000 admitted by imperialist media) came out onto the streets in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Their demands were simple: end Czech involvement in the war in Ukraine and restore trade with the Russian Federation to resolve the soaring cost of living.
This demonstration was followed by another on 17 September, with a further mass mobilisation planned for Wednesday 28. Organisers are predicting that as many as 300,000 protestors could thus be mobilised for the upcoming event, which will take place in eight cities simultaneously, with big screen link-ups to Wenceslas Square.
Increasingly, the core demand of the protestors is the removal of the current comprador regime and its replacement by one that is willing to serve the national interest.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this development in the consciousness of the masses. Whilst it may be obvious to our regular readers that skyrocketing energy bills and rampant inflation are being hugely exacerbated by European sanctions on Russia, most ordinary working-class people throughout Europe are unaware of this fact.
The corporate media, as always, has done its best to obscure the cause of the suffering, regularly claiming that President Vladimir Putin has cut off trade relations from his side in order to “hold Europe to ransom”.
In reality, the opposite is the case: following the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the European Union – in aid of the interests of its US imperialist allies – cut itself off voluntarily from access to Russian commodities – assuming that this cessation in trade would hurt Russia’s economy so badly as to bring the country to its knees and its government crashing down.
This proved to be a major miscalculation. Russia has been steadily building new trade links with China and other, more reliable, partners to the east for some time, and has easily been able to replace its lost European buyers.
Meanwhile, EU countries are now running out of natural gas and other crucial supplies that they are unable to source elsewhere – leading to massive energy price spikes that in turn look like tipping already crisis-ridden imperialist economies into deep recession, accompanied by a wave of bankruptcies and all the accompanying human misery that comes with what bourgeois economists euphemistically refer to as a ‘market correction’.
Nonetheless, in spite of all the anti-Russian media propaganda, many Czech workers have been able to identify the real source of their suffering: the pro-US stooge regime that runs their nation – and the EU and Nato institutions that enforce US imperialist hegemony over them.
The result is beginning to look like a reverse version of the so-called ‘Prague Spring’ of 1968, this time with the protest movement directed against Nato – the Czech people’s real class enemy – instead of against their Soviet allies.
The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia was one of the few voices from the left that mobilised for the protest, with the party’s former vice-chair and current presidential candidate Josef Skála speaking from its platform and attempting to bring some much-needed socialist understanding to this broad popular movement.
Needless to say, the corporate media has vacillated between ignoring the demonstrators entirely and trying to dismiss them as extremists and ‘Kremlin agents’. The Guardian ran an article characterising the protest as a “coalescence of far-right and extreme left elements”, playing on the threadbare ‘red-brown alliance’ trope so beloved of western anticommunists.
Most often used by US Democrats to tarnish all opposition, the aim of this label is to scare socialists into isolating themselves from the working masses by railing against any engagement with supposed ‘nazis’ – ie, with working-class people who may once have voted for a right-wing party or otherwise hold some conservative social views. The irony will certainly not be lost on our readers, well aware of how the activists hurling such slurs at poor workers are almost invariably fanatical supporters of a stooge regime in Kiev that is riddled with and dominated by actual (rather than imagined) nazis.
The significant involvement of certain right-wing and anti-immigrant elements in the Czech demonstration led many so-called leftists to dissociate themselves from the protest. The Guardian article rammed this message home with a quote from a liberal Czech commentator who claimed that the protestors’ aims were “suspiciously reminiscent of Donald Trump’s agenda”; not the most subtle reference to the US ruling class’s ‘Russiagate’ and ‘fascism’ fake storms.
How exactly demanding an end to weapons deliveries to Ukraine is ‘suspiciously reminiscent’ of a president under whose watch the USA was merrily arming the Kiev junta is not explained – except that, until he was forced to drop this approach, Donald Trump made himself odious to US monopolists by suggesting that it might be possible for the USA to take a friendly (instead of implacably hostile) attitude towards Russia.
Despite this very predictable line of attack from the Prague regime and its western supporters, the protestors seem unfazed and promise to hold more demonstrations until their demands are met.
In another encouraging sign of increasing consciousness amongst Czech workers, a counter-protest in defence of Nato and in support of continued Czech aid to the Kiev regime was a total flop, attracting just 50-100 die-hard liberal ideologues.
As winter sets in and the cruel boomerang effects of Europe’s sanctions bite deeper on the workers at home, we can expect to see such outpourings of rage spread across the European Union, calling into question the rule of Europe’s decadent US-allied imperialist ruling classes.