What is happening now in Kazakhstan, a popular uprising or another “color revolution”? At the moment, users of Ukrainian social networks are actively discussing this issue.
Despite all the differences, we are very similar in our social, economic and political systems – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Belarus. After all, we all came out of one overcoat of the former USSR. That is why we rightly compare the crisis processes in our countries.
All “Maidans” – that is, large-scale protests that have taken place in our countries – had different triggers, but they were always due to the same underlying social reasons. So many active people would not go out to protest merely for cookies.
The first Kazakh workers’ Maidan took place in 2011 in the city of Zhanaozen, which is the epicenter of today’s explosion. This also had social reasons.
There are deep contradictions between the capital that has merged with state power, on the one hand, and the mass of social groups exploited by it, on the other. These contradictions are the foundation of Maidans in all our countries.
With all the Maidans, there is a problem that arises objectively – whether anyone wants it or not – and it is that members of the ruling class use the situation to fulfill their own needs.
Maidans turn into color revolutions when the result is a change of the president’s name without changing the conditions that gave rise to the protests. That is, without changing the bankrupt social system of capitalism.
The result of these inter-elite chess moves is the strengthening of the omnipotence of national and transnational capital, the strengthening of the authoritarian regime (only with another figurehead), the suppression of civil liberties, more IMF bondage, and the final loss of independence for the country.
Ukraine after 2014 is a striking and sad example of this development.
However, in reality, another result is possible, and that is for the Maidan to change not only the president and the government, but eventually the social system itself via the overthrow of capitalism. Only thus will the root causes of social protest be removed.
It all depends on who is able to shape the agenda of the protest movement.
In Ukraine in 2014, or in Belarus in 2020, the agenda was shaped by the local nationalist and neoliberal bourgeoisie, far-right and Western-dependent “grant eaters.” And now in Kazakhstan, the pro-Western opposition is talking about two ways that protests can go:
“The country can go along two paths: revolution (topple and put everyone in jail) or urgent reforms – political and economic,” it states in social networks.
Surely, Kazakh grant-eaters want the latter path out of the dilemma: “The second legitimate path requires the dissolution of parliament, the dissolution of the ruling Nur Otan party, the deprivation of all immunities of [former president] Nazarbayev and his family members, rapid political reforms by presidential decrees, registration of opposition parties and the organization of parliamentary elections on a 50/50 basis. Then we need to carry out a constitutional reform.”
In fact, this plan offers the Kazakhs a redistribution of power without any social change. This is what happened during the events in Ukraine.
The way things will really go in Kazakhstan depends on whether the workers of Zhanaozen and other Kazakh cities, shot down in 2011, can unite. Will they be able to create a left-wing political entity and develop their own social program, avoiding the influence of the right-wing “opposition”? This is very important, but, as we understand, it is very difficult.
However, there is no other way out. Capitalist exploitation and “market reforms” are the real causes of the Kazakh Maidan. And the movement’s goal should be to eliminate these factors, not the redistribution of power among financial and political groups.
Everything that is happening in Kazakhstan today has direct analogs in Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries. And since social problems in Ukraine have not disappeared, but only intensified during the post-Maidan regime, we are also facing new popular uprisings.
Like it or not, the Maidan will objectively arise – because neither the parliamentary way nor elections can solve social contradictions.
The main thing is that it must be a social Maidan – a social revolution, which cannot be confused with its political imitations in the interests of the imperialists and oligarchs.
We cannot go on living as we do today. But we don’t need market reforms, we need social change.
Translated by Greg Butterfield
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