19 October 2022
by Viktor Kogan-Yasny
A civilizational fracture is shaping up between various kinds of state-bureaucratic “fundamentalism” that we might characterize as the Z-state vs. the Euro-state. Common between them is a progressively deepening “existential conflict” in the fact that both types are built not on serious strategic content but on tactics framed by words that once had a certain loftiness and on a “political philosophy” that has degenerated to a narrow-minded level of bureaucracy that is not embarrassed by its cruelty, stupidity, and uncritical attitude toward information.
At the same time, “Z” and “Euro” are sick to death of each other for good reason, and, in addition, “Z” has been clobbered by a heaping host of aggressive, patent scare complexes that have turned into deadly action.
“Z” is aggressive, primitivized, and demagogic “political Eurasianism,” neo-Bolshevism. It is the outcome of the Stalinist matrix supplemented by the adventurism of the crude collapse of the Soviet Union and is based on bureaucratic expediency, through the “Belovezh forest” and the knowingly dishonest character of the economic reforms first of all in Russia but also in other countries of the former Soviet Union. Here, everything serves the regime, and as in the legends of the ancient Mongol khans and the stories about Ivan the Terrible, everything is its “resource”: the country’s citizens, nature, and economy. Convictions and beliefs are important exclusively on the level of their “utility” through the eclectic use of elements of their traditions and the possibility of manipulating them. The regime “lets people live” and acts as the sole relative guarantor of security and the social order, as the “universal employer” and “creditor.”…
“Euro” substitutes a strategy of permanent tactics that cannot bring about a major result, of bureaucratic inhumanity, and, accordingly, of stupidity and helplessness on the backdrop of its declared ambitions.
The seriousness of the process is confirmed by the consolidation of their bureaucracies, the minimization in them of manageable, adjustable conduct in the factor of those who send up trial balloons, “scouts,” which is much more observable, naturally, when it comes to “Z.” Civilization “Z,” if it really does come about, would be able to exist as a separate monolith despite the people’s poverty and the technological lag of 10, 20, even 30 years. It doesn’t need development. On the contrary, it needs uniformity, which serves as one of its principal bulwarks. It will be able to play to a draw with its neighbors as much as it likes, and that will be to its favor.
“Brutalization” as a factor of self-amplification, as a cause and effect simultaneously… One of the particular characteristics of the process is the intensifying rhetorical appeal to the collective “we” and “they” on the backdrop of a real amplification of the opposite, egocentric factor. In the mass political philosophy of today’s actions, they are actively using very schematic historical analogies to conditions that are nearly a hundred years old, while at the same time manifesting extreme schematism and indifference to human victims in their approaches to this terrible inhumane past. Appeals to the past encourage the mobilization, both moral and practical, of today’s divided societies, but they can scarcely help resolve the problems of today and the future. Woe to those politicians and journalists who do not have arguments and ideas about today’s war and its consequences other than appeals to the past. When a war is going on, the most immoral and destructive position is to be the “warmonger on the rostrum” who thinks that other people’s blood can solve his own political problems…
Often this goes along with the formation of completely unique, unexpected relations and associations that overcome virtually all barriers but are “mystically” helpless in the face of aggression, brute force, weapons, and propaganda… Force kills arguments, which never win in the context of rational cause-and-effect links. It’s so sad…
But what might a new historical miracle consist of that is similar to what happened under Gorbachev’s Perestroika, which set war aside and made global transformations possible? Perhaps in the fact that people, in taking decisions, will understand that in politics—even during war—no single person is ever completely right.
You can “cancel” a dangerous opponent in ideas and even in economics and in practical politics. But he will not cease to exist on earth as a result, will not cease to be a challenge, and the farther it gets taken, the more of one he is. The problem of finding a shared strategic interest, finding a way “to move in the same direction,” despite all the extremely substantive differences, remains, despite everything, and awaits, at the least, new attempts at its own responsible solution.
Here it is important in principle to insist that there are no good political and economic gardens just for oneself, there is no “good us” versus “bad you,” that in politics, unlike the most brutal wars, there are no total victors, and this is basically why politics exist, so that there are no such wars, and if we can’t safeguard against them, that means we didn’t work as we should have, didn’t think it through, didn’t safeguard against them, and this applies to everyone: there are no good ones. If there are the very worst ones, that doesn’t mean there are good and best ones. “We didn’t safeguard people” is a very serious, solidary reproach and, by the way, this holds true whatever the era or events it refers to.
You have to think about the future before it happens. Find a shared direction for everyone so as to safeguard people. Find a shared one while seeing the real difference between different ones and not trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. Authoritarian-police propagandistic manipulation of the difference between societies and peoples is monstrous and bears with it aggression. And the failure to understand the real social difference connected to history and way of life leads to mistakes, keeps us from approaching this difference substantively and turning it to good use and to the avoidance of conflicts.
The future cannot be built on business as usual with our leaders, or on alternative personalization in the search for the “good” instead of the bad, in order to “fire” the bad, or on windbag declarations that devalue the very process of the search.
Everyone capable of thinking independently and critically bears responsibility for independent critical thought and the rejection of any conformism and the “warmonger effect.” There will be mistakes, but the biggest mistake is to stop thinking. The field of positions shapes up like a game on a smartphone, but with live people all around—a doomed situation for everyone. Those who create and support it like this are acting immorally, and in some instances criminally.
A change in the critical situation requires independent, conformism-free thought and the formation on this basis of a new class of professionals capable of serving the civilian community and not authoritarian leaders, “interests,” and bureaucratic groups.
What am I talking about? The degree of brutal actions and brutal desires of revenge at fabricated addresses goes well beyond the limits of what is rational and possible…
Translated by Marian Schwartz