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The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of the Diasporas

Slava The Ukrainian Socialist

Dec 3, 2022

Voluntarily or not, people move. Approximately 281 million reside outside of their birthplace, and this number is constantly increasing.  When a group of people resettles outside their original homeland, the community is called a diaspora. The term "diaspora" is derived from the Greek and translates as - "to sow over, to scatter”. It was originally used to describe the dispersal of Jewish people from their historical homeland. Today, the term is applied to various nationalities. Common to all diasporas is an attempt to maintain their cultural identity. To this end, diasporas establish various support organizations in the host countries. From churches, museums, and cultural centers to banks and credit unions, these institutions serve to help new immigrants feel more at home, even when thousands of miles away.

However, little attention has been paid to the strong influence diasporas can have when a conflict occurs in their home country. Does their involvement tend to resolve or worsen the situation? Most wars today are fought in underdeveloped and poor areas, and diasporas can raise money and transfer it to their homeland. Even during peaceful times, the money migrants send home is usually a lifeline for their families. These remittances help cover necessities such as food, medical expenses, and emergencies. In times of crisis, financial help from the diaspora becomes even more critical. According to the World Bank, Ukraine was the largest recipient of remittances in Europe last year, estimated at $18.2 billion, a figure that is expected to increase this year by another 20 percent. Economic support remains vital post-conflict, when the diaspora can invest heavily in its homeland to stabilize the economy and help rebuild the country.

Beyond financial support, different diaspora organizations also lobby the host country’s government to shape policies, support or challenge the current government, and to fund political parties or social movements. 11 organizations were registered in the USA to work on behalf of  Ukraine in 2021. Ukrainian lobbyists contacted members of Congress 13,541 times last year. According to Quincy Institute for reasonable statecraft: “To put this in perspective, the Saudi lobby - known for being one of the largest foreign lobbies in D.C. - reported 2,834 contacts, not even a quarter of what Ukraine’s agents have done.”

Another way diasporas may influence the conflict in their home country is by advocating for an economic boycott of an enemy state’s exports, so as to weaken its capacity to wage war. For example, Arab countries have boycotted Israeli goods and services for years. This year, The Ukrainian World Congress similarly called on all Ukrainians around the world and their friends to boycott Russian goods and services. They also pressured international companies to withdraw from the Russian market.

We have also witnessed demonstrations in big cities of the western world, organized by the diaspora in support of their birth country or against the government “back home.” Protesters take to the streets to raise awareness and demand action from authorities. In most cases, government officials respond in support of the diaspora’s demands. This creates the illusion of the “tail wagging the dog.” But how is it that every time the diaspora's interests conveniently align with those of imperialist powers? Perhaps these diasporas are being manipulated to serve the ruling class agenda, assist intelligence agencies, and amplify media propaganda.

Two recent instances involved the Ukrainian and Iranian diasporas. Both received overwhelming support from the general population and the government, even though the conflicts were completely different. The Ukrainian diaspora is demonstrating in support of the ruling class “back home” and for help from western countries in their fight with Russia. The Iranian diaspora, on the other hand, is protesting against the “regime” of their homeland. They are not asking to help their country but rather to sanction it, hoping that international boycotts and pressure will help the people of Iran to overthrow their government. These demands exactly serve the interests of western imperialist powers. It’s not surprising that the US and its allies have done so much to help Ukraine, given they were meddling there for so long to prevent Russian influence over the country. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia became the new enemy, which is why the “pro-Russian” government of Victor Yanukovich had to be overthrown. But the coup d'etat of 2014 was not enough; a full-fledged war was required to weaken Russia. This proxy war benefits the US. Its military-industrial complex can use Ukraine as a new market and testing ground for weapons, politicians can launder money, and the imperialist power can maintain the status quo. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian diaspora doesn't seem to realize how it has been used to promote the interests of the elite.

Since Iran is another enemy of the west, all kinds of methods are now being used to accomplish what was done in Ukraine – namely, to overthrow its government. Diasporas are exploited not just for demonstrations but also for social media propaganda. Thousands of fake stories and claims are spread online; even while later debunked, their damage is already effective. All of this is done to push the official narrative. Somehow, we never see the Saudi diaspora demanding to free women in Saudi Arabia from mandatory hijabs. Only those diasporas whose home countries are on the US’s extensive enemy list are allowed to demonstrate.  So the Good and the Bad of diasporas are nothing compared to the Ugly - the imperialist powers exploiting immigrants to promote their agenda.

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