Nagorno-Karabakh: too complex?

Submitted by AWL on 13 October, 2020 - 4:01 Author: Jim Denham

The Morning Star editorial of Monday 5 October was entitled “Nagorno-Karabakh: a complex conflict that must be seen in context”. In fact the editorial gave little factual information and no political steer whatsoever on the dispute.

After an initial, inconclusive, section on Nagorno-Karabakh, the rest of the editorial was a rambling discourse on internationalism in general, often virtually indecipherable.

However, I suspect that the following gives a significant clue as to the true meaning of the editorial:

“ There is a certain narrative on the liberal left that sees each of the present-day regional conflicts that stud the perimeter of the Euro-Asian landmass as essentially discrete.

“ Thus we are asked to see the Ukrainian situation which has put the heirs of Nazi collaborators in power as a question of democracy.

“ We are asked to understand what is happening in Belarus as question of electoral fraud and as a special concession to the left, trade union freedoms.

“ Hong Kong’s troubles are presented again as a question of democracy, with the former colonial power which ruled for decades without the pretence of democracy the favoured arbiter.”

Leaving aside the Morning Star’s oft-repeated (and slanderous) claim that the uprising in the Ukraine was the work of “the heirs of Nazi collaborators”, this seems to be saying that democracy and freedom (even the freedom of workers to organise) is of secondary importance when set alongside the need to choose the “correct” side in the “East-West axis in which China is the most active force but which is rapidly creating new economic and political realities that challenge the Atlanticist pretensions of the US and its European allies”. And in choosing sides, we should discard “simplistic pictures which posit an abstract moral framework for understanding any of these conflicts”.

Behind the jargon and gobbledegook, the message is actually quite clear: such concepts as democracy, freedom and human rights must be discarded: all that matters is to take the right side — the side of (in the words of the editorial) “China and Russia and... their emerging economic ties with other states like Pakistan and Iran.”

Presumably, it’s because the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict doesn’t fit neatly into this “campist” view of the world that the Morning Star avoids taking a clear position, despite an editorial line that is hostile to Turkish imperialism.

Other factors

Other factors that have been suggested are:

1) They don’t want to criticise the USSR’s nationalities policy, which made such a mess of the region

2) Don’t want to implicitly praise Gorbachev, who did organise armed interventions to stop Azerbaijani pogroms against Armenians in the late 1980s (Baku raised a statue to the pogromists killed by Soviet troops)

3) Are sensitive to Moscow’s contemporary attitude to the war, which is basically: “please put this back in the box, both of you go back to the status quo from last month... and also keep spending tons of cash on Russian weapons”.

A letter to the Morning Star (which, to their credit, they published) made a further point that the editorial completely ignored:

“The problem in Nagorno-Karabakh is quite simply that ethnic Armenians are absolutely terrified of being a minority in a Turkic state. This attitude is due above all to the attempted genocide of Armenians by the Turkish state a century ago, which has never been recognised as such by the modern Turkish state or its allies such as Azerbaijan.”


Submitted by jean gournian (not verified) on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 10:26

Artsagh is Armenians homeland where Armenians have lived hundreds of years in there. The Turks have renamed it to Nagorno karabagh. Nagorno-Karabakh was given by Stalin to Azerbaijan as part of a deal with Turkey to influence them to turn communist, Lenin and Stalin agreed to give up Armenian majority regions of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Gazakh and Nakhichevan to the Azerbaijani SSR.

Of course it meant nothing to them and they couldn’t care less about the discrimination Armenians there would face under Azerbaijani leadership. This kind of discrimination they faced that caused them to lose their majority in Nakhichevan and for the population of Armenians in the greater Artsakh area to be pushed to the boundaries of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, until of course they would liberate themselves when they passed a referendum to declare their independence from the Soviet Union on the 2nd of September, 1991.

Submitted by edward (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 11:48

thank you, workers liberty. i am a working class rural virginian who has lived and worked a long lifetime (living and working long and hard and well enough to have a managed a way to retire from daily work). my husband and i never owned home. we were able to purchase a house to end our lives in a even more rural area of Virginia than where we worked: retiring - on fixed income in a high-rent area was impossible to consider. I have found productive ways to raise vegetables in the small place we now own. we are finding new friends, some who have 'trump 2020' signs in their yards and some with manifold 'biden-harris' signs, 'black lives matter signs', etc. we are able to talk with anyone to learn about who they are and share who we are: an old married man-man couple (that is still novel to many.

what does that self-reflection have to do with this piece: i appear to have a naif working class 'common' sense that many american elites who call themselves 'socialists' do not have or desire to have. in fact for decades when i brought up ideas for ways to meet and ally with working class folks, particularly rural working class folks, the ideas were struck down as 'we don't have that much time or resources', 'we are focusing on other things' ("other things, than working class people", I would say?). more recently - another reason that we moved from charlotesville virginia (famous to some because of the university (a particularly good medical school, now, which is where I worked), thomas jefferson (for all his flaws an insightful strategic thinker, with also some valuable political ideas), or recent mass racial violence (that many regard to be catalyzed by perfectly ridiculous Democratic 'progressives' in elected and appointed office in the city).

American 'progressives' in most of my experience, distantly and currently, have no common sense at all: no alertness to what are very much, and what are not very much, concerns, issues, and problems of working class folks. such 'progressives' - many who now call themselves 'socialists' - especially, or very much especially, exclude working class rural people from their concern, making the absurd observation that 'rural people are White' (wrong!, particularly in rural American south; yes, they are that deluded to make such an observation!) ; and often adding to that observation that 'we don't care about them' (how about that for abandoning working classes!).

i have had a 'feeling' that my 'trip' of a lifetime - and for which I had actually been saving money, and trying to find way to support myself to go - might be to visit and live a while in Armenia. i don't really know why. it is probably just a romantic idea. i spend/spent lots of time with buddhists: perhaps they are right about reincarnation and i have some sentiment about Armenia for that reason.

so, thank you for saying what's what and what's not in this piece about how ideological frameworks can avoid, or suffocate, analyses that arise in the common sense of working folks. please continue to know and listen well to the common sense of working class folks.


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