Last year we published that, after Washington’s costly defeat in Afghanistan, it was necessary to prepare for a new war; that long before China, it would come to a conflict with Russia. When the new war finally came, we tried to understand it. Apart from the donations that are like aspirins every time a country is invaded, the importance of our dialectical efforts, no matter how important the media in which they are published, is equally irrelevant.
There is a reality that neither Tyrians nor Trojans discuss in the international media: the war that we all carry inside which, to a great extent, explains a part of this new war and all other political wars. You will tell me that this belongs to psychology, that I shouldn’t get involved in these issues. Well, in the more than 530 articles that I have published since the neoliberal catastrophe in Latin America at the end of the 1990s, in all cases I illegally exercised the profession of essayist.
Let’s take a couple of cases out of thousands. As someone said a long time ago, I am going to start by talking about myself, who is the one I am closest to.
At the beginning of 2017, some friends from a Spanish media outlet for which I collaborated for many years asked me to comment on the case of the conflict in Catalonia. I insisted that, apart from being a fan of the culture and tragic history of Spain, I was not and am not an expert on Catalonia and that, from my outsider perspective, the Catalans should be allowed to carry out their referendum on the debated independence, as it was done in Scotland in 2014. A non-binding referendum, like the one Manuel Zelaya wanted to do in Honduras. As a result, as in the case of Honduras, I lost several friends. Let’s call it that, “friends”, although everyone knows those true friends are not lost due to political differences. Thus, in a few hours, I went from being, for years, “the most important intellectual in Latin America” to the category of “idiot.” I think in both cases they exaggerated, although of the latter no one can ever be so sure.
The same has happened with the Ukraine conflict. My position, as in the case of Catalonia, is nothing radical. Again, I assume and acknowledge that I am not an expert on Ukraine issues. I’m just trying to provide an outsider’s perspective, based on my limited historical and global knowledge (what isn’t this conflict but a historical-geopolitical clash?).
On the same day as Putin’s invasion, I published in various newspapers a comparison of Bush’s speech before invading Iraq and Putin’s speech before invading Ukraine. Of course, there are big factual differences, but at the time I understood, and do understand, that Putin was sending a message with the rhetorical parallel. The accusations of Russophobia were immediate. Shortly after, at the request of a couple of editors, I sent other articles, with similar results: I was a “lefty” who was justifying the death of hundreds of Ukrainians by mentioning the responsibility of NATO in its advance on the Russian border, the Ukrainian killings in Donbas, the Nazi paramilitarism of the Azov Battalion, the censorship in the Western media and the different standard to judge other invasions and massacres that are not only history but present, such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia… “This is not the time to talk about Western imperialism because Ukrainian victims are suffering”; “Racism against black refugees from Ukraine?”; “This is not the time to mention the policy of open borders for blonde people and closed borders for those from Africa or the Middle East; you are playing Putin’s game.”
Although all the criticisms are respectable, in a large proportion the comments not only showed that their authors had not read each article carefully but also fought arguments that were not in them or repeated others that were already there, as of right answers. Sure, much of it may be due to the same shortcomings of each piece. It is not easy to make everything clear when you have only a thousand words.
OK, all this is part of a necessary dynamic for any democracy, for any development of the freedom of the peoples. Thinking differently is in human nature and that is not what we want to correct in ourselves. The problem (case study) arises when political disagreements end years of friendship. This is where we have a global problem and the conflict zone is just a stage for personal anger and frustration. More so when it comes to unforeseen conflicts that reposition many people. When Russia bombed Chechnya and in a couple of years caused the death of 50,000 civilians, hardly anyone’s chest swelled. The Palestinians, Iraqis or Afghans “are all terrorists” and do not “have blue eyes”. Ditto countless other massacres by Western powers. We are used to it; our opinions do not take anyone by surprise.
As in the case of Catalonia, with Ukraine, I lost several friends. I repeat, it is not important, because true friends are not lost due to differences of opinion; nor is it a conflict about which I myself have had finished opinions for years. What matters, I think, is the psychological state in which we are all immersed, which is very similar to the moment when the euphoria of a drunk begins to descend the Gaussian Bell curve and transforms into an urgent need to fight with whoever comes across in front.
Of course, none of this is by chance. Conflicts of opinion always existed, and also in the past, a different interpretation of the sex of the angels was enough to end up with a massacre in civilized countries like Saint Bartholomew’s Night in France. But after some centuries of social progress based on the struggle for Equal-freedom, more recently we have been losing ground. The rise of fascism and Nazism are only symptoms of a greater reality: the kidnapping of Humanity’s progress by the owners of the means (productive means; information means).
Old story. Also, in this, social networks are playing a decisive role: bringing us closer, but not infrequently like someone who, on a highway, approaches other drivers—in a wrong way. Much of this is social engineering. Obviously, a few are capitalizing on all this hate and doing very well. Is it very difficult to guess what the secret agencies invest trillions of dollars in, for example, in mega software like Pegasus, those caves of the true power that have no faces like Biden or Putin and that do everything in the name of Security and Defense? Well, not in anything other than politics, because that is the weapon of the 21st century. The Third World War has already begun in cyberspace and it is much more powerful than any army and that ridiculous out-of-date antics of elite soldiers trained to last five minutes underwater.
The rest of us have an invisible but global problem. This war will pass and others will come, and the culprits will not only be Bush or Saddam, Hussein Obama, Osama, Biden, Putin or Rasputin, but people very similar to them who believe they are better than them only because they do not have the destructive power that they have: us, hating each other, divided, manipulated and fighting the wrong war.
JM, March 2022.