Unveiling State Censorship: Support IYSSE Toronto Meeting

Take a stand against state censorship by opponents of the US and NATO war on Russia! Click here to sign the petition against the far-right campaign to cancel the IYSSE anti-war meeting in Toronto. All of our GTA readers and supporters should also show their support by attending the meeting this Sunday, June 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the Toronto Public Library — Lillian H. Smith Branch, 239 College St Auditorium (basement level) , Toronto, M5T 1R5.

Workers and youth around the world must mobilize to defend the right of the International Youth and Student Movement for Social Equality (IYSSE) to organize a meeting in Toronto, Canada, to oppose the war waged by the United States and NATO against Russia. The event, titled “The War in Ukraine and How to Stop It,” scheduled for Sunday June 4, was the subject of a fierce censorship campaign by the far-right Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and backed by the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario.

We invite all readers to sign the IYSSE petition asking the Toronto Public Library to honor its commitment to allow the meeting at its Lilian H. Smith branch, and to send statements of support to the World Socialist Web Site .

Members and supporters of the UCC contacted the public library and launched a concerted social media campaign to denigrate the IYSSE as a supporter of Putin’s reactionary nationalist regime, “anti-Ukrainian” and accomplice in an alleged genocide. They also threatened with violence the organizers of the meeting, including the National Secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Canada), Keith Jones, who will be the main speaker. One of the most explicit threats came from the grandson of Stepan Bandera, who led the Fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) during World War II. The OUN collaborated with the Nazis during the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union and was complicit in the Holocaust.

It was Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton who provided the political establishment’s most prominent support for the censorship of the meeting. He denounced the IYSSE as seeking to “justify Putin’s war of aggression” and “whitewash war crimes”. Brad Bradford, a candidate in the upcoming Toronto municipal election who has semi-official support from the Progressive Conservative provincial government, also called for the meeting to be canceled.

McNaughton’s lies are laid bare by the very tract he quotes to launch this slander. The leaflet explicitly denounces the “reactionary and perilous” invasion of Ukraine, “launched to defend the interests of the Russian oligarchy”. However, he claims that the war was “initiated by the United States and the NATO powers in order to pursue long-standing objectives”.

The open intervention of a government minister in the campaign to ban an anti-war meeting organized by the IYSSE marks a new stage in the efforts of ruling elites around the world to censor opponents of imperialist war. It follows an unsuccessful attempt by the UCC in March to block an IYSSE meeting at the University of Waterloo, also in Ontario, and efforts by far-right Ukrainian nationalists and their supporters in Australia , New Zealand, Germany and the United States to disrupt meetings organized by the IYSSE to lay the groundwork for a working class-led international anti-war movement.

Throughout May, the German media vehemently denounced Roger Waters, as the Pink Floyd co-founder presented his ‘This Is Not a Drill’ anti-war tour to tens of thousands followers in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt. Because of his principled stance against the war, Waters was investigated by police in Berlin on spurious charges of anti-Semitism and relativizing Nazi crimes.

As it wages a perilous escalation of war with Russia, bringing the world ever closer to the precipice of a catastrophic nuclear conflagration, the ruling class of the United States and its NATO allies feel compelled to give up any semblance of democratic rights within its borders. The intensified crackdown on war opponents coincides with the imperialist powers endorsing provocative strikes by the far-right Ukrainian regime against targets in Russia. Moreover, the worsening crisis of the Kiev regime on the battlefield increases the likelihood that NATO troops will be deployed there to take part in the fighting, thus preparing the ground for a direct confrontation between powers equipped with nuclear weapons.

The relentless logic of escalating the war undermines all the false propaganda used by the imperialists and their Ukrainian nationalist lackeys to justify it. The same far-right nationalists who accuse the IYSSE of being “anti-Ukrainian” are defending the continuation of a war that has already claimed the lives of 200,000 Ukrainians and forced millions to flee their homes.

The determination of the UCC and the Ontario government to ban the Toronto anti-war meeting makes a mockery of the media’s incessant bla-bla about the need for war to defend “democracy” in Ukraine, where the political parties that oppose war are banned and where the fascist Stepan Bandera is hailed as a national hero. In reality, this is an imperialist war, waged by the United States, Canada and their European allies to subjugate Russia to semi-colony status and plunder its natural resources.

It is not surprising that Canada is playing a leading role in the campaign to censor anti-war voices in Ukraine. For more than 75 years, the Canadian state has systematically cultivated ties with Ukrainian fascists. In the immediate post-war period, thousands of Nazi collaborators and war criminals were granted the right to settle in Canada. Canadian historian Irving Abella rightly pointed out that an SS tattoo on the arm served as a passport to enter Canada in those years.

In the decades that followed, successive Canadian governments funded and promoted the UCC both as an ideological pillar of their Cold War anti-Communist policies and to shift politics to the right within the large Ukrainian and foreign diasporas. Eastern Europe in Canada, traditionally strongholds of socialist and left-wing ideas (see: Fascist Friends of Canadian Imperialism).

The historical roots and contemporary importance of the relationship between Canadian imperialism and far-right Ukrainian nationalism are embodied in the person of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland’s maternal grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was a prominent Nazi collaborator and the editor of the only Ukrainian-language newspaper allowed to appear under Nazi occupation, Krikivski Visti. His mother participated in the drafting of the post-Soviet Ukrainian constitution. She was just one of many ardent nationalists to be redeployed by Ottawa to Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union to instill virulent anti-Russian nationalism in the country.

The UCC has close ties to the Liberal government. In addition to Freeland, a former UCC chief executive was recently appointed as chief of staff to Defense Minister Anita Anand. In a press release issued in March calling on the federal government to clamp down on anti-war activities, UCC leaders boasted that they had consulted extensively with Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino about the censors “pro-Russian” events and messages on college campuses.

In a statement on Twitter denouncing the attempt to censor the meeting, PES (Canada) National Secretary Jones highlighted the close ties between the UCC and the state. He wrote: “If the UCC can act so brazenly demanding political censorship and smearing war opponents as ‘apologists’ for Russia, it is because it has close ties to the Trudeau government and the entire political establishment. Proponents of the war claim that the United States and NATO are defending ‘democracy’ in Ukraine. Yet they cannot tolerate a debate about the historical roots of the war, as it would quickly reveal that their narrative of an ‘unprovoked war’ for which Putin is solely responsible is a web of lies.”

The imperialist war in Ukraine, and the ever-deeper structural crisis of global capitalism from which it emerged, compels the ruling elites of all countries to attack what remains of the democratic and social rights of working people:

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has relied on a brutal police crackdown on mass protests to push through a savage attack on pensions deemed essential to fund hundreds of billions of euros in additional military spending.
In Britain, the government illegally imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for more than four years in a high-security prison for exposing war crimes by imperialist powers, and the government effectively banned strikes in large swaths of the economy, including health care and transport, under newly introduced draconian legislation.

In Germany, the Socialist Equality Party has come under attack for its principled opposition to war and German rearmament, including when Facebook banned a video exposing the historical origins of the war in Ukraine in March 2022. and a failed attempt to cancel an IYSSE anti-war meeting at Frankfurt’s Goethe University last month.
The increasingly open use of censorship and dictatorial forms of government by ruling elites in all countries expresses their weakness and isolation rather than their strength. Confronted with the insoluble contradictions of the world capitalist system (between the global character of production and the nation-state, and between the private ownership of the means of production and its social character), the rival ruling classes of the imperialist powers have no other choice than to seek additional markets, resources and profits by redrawing the world. This leads inexorably to world war.

But these same contradictions are driving millions of workers around the world to wage revolutionary struggles, creating the possibility of a progressive resolution to the crisis. The mass struggles of the working class that are developing against the rising cost of living, for decent and secure jobs, and for access to vital public services, must be linked to the fight to end the imperialist war and the capitalist profit system that gave rise to it.

A prerequisite for building such an international anti-war movement in the working class is the defense of democratic rights against attacks by the ruling elite and its far-right accomplices. The latter are determined to violently crush popular opposition. This is why the advocacy campaign of the IYSSE anti-war meeting in Toronto must be seen as an urgent task for workers and young people everywhere.

We invite all our readers to sign the IYSSE petition to support the right of the PES youth movement to hold its anti-war meeting this Sunday.

This article is originally published on wsws.org

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