By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
There are few places on this wretched ball of shit we call earth that could benefit more from the concept of neutrality than the territory currently classified as Ukraine. For centuries these fields and forests have been the chessboards for one cruel imperial death match after another and the poor people who’ve had the misfortune of existing between the masters of the universe have long served as their unwilling pawns. Whether it was the Czars and the Ottomans, the Soviets and the Nazis, or now Putin and NATO, the permanently ravaged people of the Wild Steppes have long led an existence defined by being trapped between the locking horns of colliding giants. Their only real sin is living on an eight-lane highway between continents and for this they must suffer the wrath of the very worst that both have to offer. The unspeakable horrors of 2022 are but the latest chapter in this tragic saga.
As I’ve said here too many times to count, the only hope for peace that these people have if they are even to remain a singular people has always been a precarious balancing act of neutrality governed by decentralized regional autonomy. Western observers, in their infinite wisdom, present this fate as some form of capitulation to their ghoulish Eastern adversaries but monsters like Putin only advocate such a fate because the crumbling post-Soviet Kremlin is simply too goddamn poor to afford the puppet states of yesteryear. The truth is that there is nothing stronger than a people united only by the common dream of retaining their indigenous diversity while minding their own goddamn business and we could all benefit from embracing these values. Marshal Tito understood this a century ago and helped design both Yugoslavia and the Non-Aligned Movement for just that purpose.
I may have come a long way in my journey from worshipping communist strongmen to embracing my own unique blend of Queer post-left market anarchism, but any self-respecting armchair historian would be hard pressed not to at least begrudgingly admire the creative tenacity of an iconoclastic creature like Josip Broz Tito. A founding father of the Comintern, this noble Marxist Croat first rose to international infamy by uniting the seemingly un-unite-able people of the Balkans against fascist occupation with his shoestring Partisan Uprising and bogging the Axis Powers down in a quagmire in those perilous mountains just long enough for the Red Army to catch the upper hand in Stalingrad.
For this Tito became a communist rock star, the apple of Josef Stalin’s yellowy eye, but the good Marshal had zero intentions of ever being anybody’s fucking monkey-wrench. Instead, he defied Soviet hegemony and split from an irate Stalin in 1948 to forge his own kind of worker’s paradise in a land long hopelessly divided by the same kind of outside imperial interference that defines Ukraine.
Tito brought the diverse republics of the newly formed Yugoslavian Federation together by granting them autonomy in the form of decentralized communal governments who operated in a partnership rather than a centralized mono-state. Tito still played the strongman and had the final say but each region was given room to forge their own path just like each factory was given room to forge their own direct democracy and it was this very degree of radical independence that encouraged a land long plagued by war to work together because no one held enough power to go it alone. But for this sin against Bolshevik heterodoxy, Yugoslavia was forced to go it alone, isolated in post-war poverty from the neighbors they helped liberate on three sides in the Warsaw Pact. So, Tito said fuck the Warsaw Pact, fuck all pacts, and turned to the newly liberated colonies of the Global South for both inspiration and comradery.
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