Friday, April 08, 2022

Death and Life

Future generations of historians will grapple with this — at what point did Ukraine's craving for a peaceful democratic future become inextricably intertwined with that of the whole Western world's? 

Some will say it always was; that we just didn't realise it, but sometimes we also need to recognise when the cat was indeed inside the bag before making a definitive appearance. 

There was a time when the notion of establishing Ukraine as a neutral buffer state made some sense. No more. 

As we saw with the pandemic, there are always commentators who wish to  pretend nothing has really changed. Many apparently believe some sort of dirty compromise can now resolve this, even if it means Ukraine surrendering territory or its future aspirations — yet things have moved on beyond a stage where a simple cease-fire will suffice. Hatreds which will last generations have been stoked in the region and beyond it, the security of all now depends on the manner with which this crisis is resolved. 

We all now need this to end with the defeat of "Z", and in a manner that leads Russia to sincerely renounce "Z" for good. Until that happens, we are at war, one way or another. 

Civilisation has always had two rather distinct antagonists: you could refer to them as the reverse and the adverse. There is the outright barbarism on the outside that it is never quite able to fully suppress, and then there are the noxious by-products on the inside that sometimes result from its own internal contradictions. 

The latter have been implicit in our own modern world for some time, but it is the unleashing of certain kinds of murderous conflict that entwines them with nihilistic barbarism in a way that dramatically amplifies the level of threat faced everyone in the civilised world. 

For we have seen how renovated fascist worldviews have been slowly polluting our polities for decades (almost imperceptibly for those who choose to not to look directly at them) yet with the invasion of Ukraine they have rediscovered that terrible license for unconstrained and unconcealed inhumanity — and therein lies the existential menace which will now be extremely difficult to dispel. 

Those of us currently safe from the bombs are perhaps fortunate that in order to get at us — to realise this vision of a "united Eurasia from Vladivostok to Lisbon" and then some — Vladimir Putin and his ideological fellow travellers first have to go through Ukraine, a country which is clearly braver and possesses rather firmer, "old fashioned" convictions about freedom and the human values that are worth fighting for than some of the more complacent nations to its west. 

Our leaders have been guilty of imagining the history of the future without realising that there was still a good deal of history of the past to work through. 

In a matter of weeks the strategic priorities have shifted with unmistakeable new imperatives crystalising. 

Ukraine must not fall. 


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