Ukrainian miners in pre-war protest againt attacks on labour rights

Ukraine: A Left-wing Theory of Victory?

You can’t win a war without a war economy

Paul Mason
12 min readDec 3, 2022


During the past three months, miners in Volyn have protested against what their leaders allege is management corruption. Nurses in Ivanovo Frankovsk have protested against unpaid wages. At the Lviv academy of Typography students demonstrated against the institution’s closure, as what they say is part of a World Bank-funded asset grab.

Meanwhile in Kryivy Rih, miners at four mines carried on working underground despite the shutdown of electricity supplies, in order to go on extracting ore — and had to be rescued by the authorities.

In short, the class struggle is alive and well in wartime Ukraine; and so is the heroism and self-organisation of its working class.

Resistance to attacks on labour rights have not dimmed workers’ support for the war effort. But as Russia adopts a strategy of humanitarian catastrophe, degrading energy infrastructure to the point where Ukrainian cities become unliveable, we may be approaching a crunch point.

The more Ukraine achieves battlefield success using American military technology and money, the more diplomatic leverage it hands to the Biden administration to determine the conditions of victory.

Likewise, the more it tries to run a war economy without state direction — relying on foreign aid, its own central bank and deregulated labour markets — the more it requires the Ukrainian working class to shoulder the burdens of war.

That’s the preoccupation behind two reports produced this week: the first is from PeaceRep — a UK Foreign Office funded project based at Edinburgh University; the second from the Atlantic Council’s Strategy Consortium headed by George Bush’s former national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

Despite their radically different political starting points, the two reports throw into sharp focus the same central questions:

  • What is Ukraine’s theory of victory?
  • What is the USA’s theory of victory?
  • To what extent do they align?
  • Does the present political economy of the war facilitate victory or — as proposed by PeaceRep — raise the prospect of Ukrainian state failure?



Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Author of How To Stop Fascism.