[Updated] The dangerous tide of Russophobia (plus Richard Seymour on 'The Belligerati'/'An epidemic of dehumanization')
By John Clarke
March 20, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Counterfire — Putin’s invasion of Ukraine should certainly be condemned by all on the left but the broader context of global rivalry and Nato expansion can’t be left out of the picture. Certainly, the present invasion shouldn’t held up as a unique act of aggression, while the even bloodier role of the US led Western powers, in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan, is disregarded.
In this regard, a long simmering mood of Russophobia has now reached dangerous levels absurdity in the West. Those in power are certainly inflicting punitive and enormously damaging sanctions on the Russian economy but the extent to which a rising tide of xenophobic backwardness has emerged in response to this political lead is quite horrifying.
A comprehensive study of the scale and range of vindictive expressions of anti-Russian feeling that have been put into effect in Western countries would comprise of a sizable volume but a few examples will suffice here. Earlier this month, Madrid's Teatro Real cancelled performances by the legendary Bolshoi Ballet in a ludicrous effort to register opposition to Putin’s invasion. Soprano Anna Netrebko was forced to cancel upcoming engagements with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, when she refused to repudiate the Russian president.
No such coerced loyalty oath would have helped the noted Russian pianist, Alexander Malofeev, however, when he was cancelled by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He was not representing the Russian government and, indeed, has been a courageous critic of the invasion. He was, nonetheless, prevented from performing solely on the grounds of his nationality. Tchaikovsky’s responsibility for the attack on Ukraine is even more questionable, yet the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra went so far as to quash a performance of his music.
If the intended playing of the 1812 Overture, with its martial theme, was considered ‘to be inappropriate at this time,’ the Russian composer’s work offers a range of alternatives but these weren’t considered simply because the line of least resistance was to cave in to the present ugly mood.
Wave of ignorance
If the cancelling of talented musical artists is shocking and deplorable, the present wave of ignorance is also replete with examples of ridiculous pettiness. In Canada, the provincial government of Ontario has pulled Russian vodka from the shelves because, as Premier Doug Ford put it with rhetorical flourish, “The people of Ontario will always stand against tyranny and oppression.”
A chain of restaurants in France faced a campaign of threats and intimidation because it served a dish called poutine from Quebec and this name sounds rather like ‘Putin.’ This particular business issued a clarification stressing that the similarity was purely coincidental but a restaurant back in Quebec has actually removed poutine from its menu for the duration of the invasion to escape the backlash it has been subjected to.
Perhaps the depths of absurdity are to be found in the decision to cancel Russian language, history and dance sessions at St Wilfrid’s CE Primary School in Warrington. ‘Furious residents’ aggressively lobbied the local council to obtain this result. It is hard to imagine a more spiteful and futile way to lash out against the language and culture of another people because of the actions taken by a government. Yet, sadly, it speaks to the dangerous and disorientating impact that a carefully orchestrated mood of war fever can have.
The ability to counter this ugly mood is also, rather predictably, hampered by the readiness of social democratic parties to jump on the anti-Russian bandwagon with an unqualified enthusiasm they are unable to generate in solidarity with the Palestinian people and others in the firing line of the Western powers. Keir Starmer’s loyalty to the Nato alliance has, of course, reached the level of a shameless attack on the Stop the War coalition and a slanderous effort to present those raising voices for peace and de-escalation as a veritable fifth column.
Here in Canada, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) has also proven himself a loyal servant of the geopolitical interests of Western imperialism. Indeed, he has actively pressured the Trudeau Liberal government to go further in imposing penalties and sanctions on Russia. In this way, ugly xeonophobic sentiments have been encouraged and intensified.
War fuels racism
There are a number of previous examples of just how destructive such outpourings of backwardness can be, when they are whipped up by those in political power. The onset of World War One saw a hideous wave of anti-German hatred that served to line up mainstream opinion in favour of the slaughter that unfolded. In Canada, in 1916, ‘the southwestern Ontario community of Berlin ceased to be.’ The residents of the town ‘rooted in its century-old Germanic heritage was forced to deny its own existence.’ At the behest of ‘bullies and xenophobes,’ Berlin was humiliatingly renamed ‘Kitchener,’ an act that represented the kind of forced declaration of loyalty we are seeing today imposed on Russian artists.
When the people of European countries are subjected to an orchestrated campaign of hostility, fuelled by rivalry and war, the results are hideous enough. However, when overt racism is given an opening, matters become even more vile and reactionary. In both the US and Canada, during World War Two, the persecution of people of Japanese origin was as brutal as it was shameful. This led to internment, not simply of Japanese citizens, but of all those who were the descendants of immigrants from Japan, even if they held US or Canadian citizenship.
In British Columbia, 22,000 Japanese Canadians were effected by this racist initiative. Having first been subjected to mob violence, the community was then removed, after ‘a 100 mile wide strip along the coast was designated a ‘protected area’ by the federal government.’ For months, Japanese families were held in animal stalls before being shipped into the interior. Families were separated, with the men forced to work on road gangs and the women and children held in camps in wilderness areas.
The obvious more recent comparison we must draw on is the horrible intensification of Islamophobia that was ushered in by the war on terror. The impact of this exercise is still ongoing and needs little elaboration but it is a grimly instructive example of the violent passions that can be unleashed when political leaders and media work to whip up a lynch mob mentality towards a constructed ‘enemy within.’
The harsh truth is that the invasion of Ukraine is but one manifestation of an escalating global rivalry between the US led West and its key foes, Russia and China. Working class people in all the countries involved have no interest in this conflict. We should deplore an act of aggression like the invasion of Ukraine but we absolutely must not line up with ‘our’ imperialist side by giving support to the further eastward expansion of the belligerent Nato alliance. We work to build a movement that opposes war and that can defeat xenophobic war fever with international working class solidarity.
By Richard Seymour
March 22, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from NLR Sidecar — The defenestration of dignity and common sense may be among the lesser tragedies of war. But in late capitalism the cynical, the sinister and the stupid tend to be enfolded in the same apocalyptic drive. Consider, for a moment, recent gestures of solidarity with the people of Ukraine, currently suffering under Russia’s increasingly brutal assault. As Western states have imposed vigorous sanctions on Russia, though not as severe as those imposed on Iran or Iraq, others have taken their own initiatives. In the United Kingdom, some supermarkets have taken Russian vodka off the shelves. Netflix has put its adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, among other Russian-language dramas, on hold. Throwing its own small yet heroic spanner into the wheels of Russian militarism, the Journal of Molecular Structures has banned papers from Russian academic institutions. Finally, a string of multinationals like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have suspended commercial operations in Russia. McDonald’s cited ‘our values’ in justification.
Like the sanctions themselves, a form of economic warfare that hurts ordinary Russians, these actions make little material difference to Putin’s ability to wage war. Rather, they are expressions of a kind of identity-formation. On the one hand, we hear from the Wall Street Journal that Russia under Putin is returning to its ‘Asian past’, even though its methods of urban assault are comparable to those deployed by the United States and its allies in Fallujah and Tal Afar. And, similarly, from Joe Biden and neoconservatives like Niall Ferguson that Putin is trying to restore the Soviet Union, even though he declares ‘decommunization’ to be among his aims in Ukraine. Though most politicians and journalists would be too sensible to make this logic overt, hysteria about all things Russian entered warp speed on day one of the invasion, especially in the UK. Labour MP Chris Bryant set the tone by demanding, in a tweet he has now deleted, that UK–Russian dual nationals should be forced to choose nationalities. Tory MP Tom Tugendhat suggested that ‘we can expel Russian citizens, all of them’. He later claimed to mean only Russian diplomats and oligarchs, but that isn’t what he said.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian leadership is conveniently airbrushed and lionised, so that it can be identified as an outpost of an idealised ‘Europe’. Daniel Hannan, writing in the Telegraph, declared: ‘They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking.’ Charlie D’Agata of CBS, reporting from Ukraine’s capital, was struck by the same cognitive dissonance: ‘This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European city.’ On ITV News, a journalist underlined that ‘this is not a developing, Third World nation. This is Europe.’ Tabloid journalist Matthew Wright, on ITV’s This Morning, lamented Putin’s alleged use of thermobaric weapons in Ukraine. ‘To be fair,’ he acknowledged, the US had used it before in Afghanistan: ‘but the idea of it being used in Europe is stomach churning’.
This provincializes sympathy with Ukrainians under siege, reducing what might have become a dangerously universalist impulse – raising standards that could apply in Palestine or Cameroon – to narcissistic solidarity with ‘people like us’. The attachment to Europe is meanwhile libidinized through the figure of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky, ubiquitously declared a ‘hero’ on the front pages as he channels the Churchill myth. Caitlin Moran of The Times confesses a ‘crush’ on Zelensky. The New York Post reports that women on TikTok are going ‘wild’ for the Ukrainian premiere. In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker eulogises him as a modern ‘warrior-artist’.
There has been scarcely any realistic reflection on Zelensky’s record as a leader. One of the puzzles about Ukraine’s president is the counterintuitive relationship between his funding source and his election promises. His major donor was the brutal oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky who owns the 1+1 Media Group that broadcast Zelensky’s popular comedy vehicle, Servant of the People. Kolomoisky was an active proponent of war with Russia in Donbass who bankrolled the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and other militias responsible for war crimes. Yet Zelensky was elected on a platform of opposing oligarch corruption, ending the war in Donbass and making peace with Russia.
Since 2019, the president has made little progress on this agenda. Although he talked up his commitment to de-oligarchization, in practice this has meant pursuing those with alleged connections to Russia: sanctioning opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk – accused of having financial ties to Donbass separatists – and abruptly shutting down three TV stations for broadcasting Russian ‘misinformation’. Zelensky’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, had his assets seized on as yet unevidenced claims that he funded separatist rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk; and last weekend Zelensky banned 11 Russia-aligned political parties.
Indeed, anti-corruption activities appear to have been assiduously recast as an effort to root out Russian influence, consolidating Zelensky’s grip on power while protecting Kolomoisky. In early 2020, the president sacked prosecutor-general Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who had launched an anti-corruption drive whose targets included Kolomoisky. She was replaced by a former Zelensky adviser. Zelensky also appointed his old school friend, Ivan Bakanov, to head the Security Service of Ukraine; hired Kolomoisky’s lawyer as his administration’s chief of staff; and embarked on a sweeping reform of the security services which Human Rights Watch condemned as a power-grab. Zelensky has also beefed up his alliances within the state by appointing dozens of former colleagues from his TV production company to prominent positions.
What became of peace with Russia? The basis for this would have been Minsk II, signed in February 2015 after the collapse of the initial Minsk Protocol. The accords reflected the armed leverage that separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk achieved with Russian military backing. As a result, Ukrainian governments have always resented their terms while claiming to respect them. Whereas Russia insisted on upholding Minsk II’s commitment to ‘local self-governance’ and elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, Ukraine sought to delay the implementation of such provisions, at least until the withdrawal of Russian forces. To negotiate a peace with his larger neighbour, Zelensky would have needed to accommodate the latter’s priorities, which would have been extremely difficult given the disposition of Ukraine’s parliament. (He faced fierce criticism for simply agreeing to negotiate with Russia while its forces continued to occupy Crimea.) Thus, caving to both domestic and international pressure, Zelensky stuck to Ukraine’s traditional position – refusing to negotiate with Donbass leaders, rejecting federalization and opposing the Russian occupation of Crimea. Not only that; he also increased military cooperation with the US and UK, building new naval bases near the Black Sea which Russia viewed as hostile Western outposts.
In all likelihood, neither Russia nor Ukraine wanted to fully implement Minsk II. Russia could temporise over withdrawing its forces while increasing its influence in Donetsk and Luhansk, converting them into ever more surreally authoritarian enclaves. Ukraine was reluctant to pass the political provisions for as long as Russian military and political power in the region would turn ‘local self-governance’ into de facto autonomy. More fundamentally, as Volodymyr Ishchenko has argued, the Minsk dilemma reflected the broader failure of nationalist projects in post-Soviet Ukraine. In part because of the fragmentation of the capitalist class, no single project has been able to secure the assent of more than half the population. The liberal-nationalist wing that took power after Maidan, with the involvement of a small but influential far-right, was never accepted by the majority in Donetsk and Luhansk, historically the most prosperous, industrially-advanced and pro-Russian areas. While Russia’s actions since 2014 have drained support for it within Ukraine, and the invasion has likely destroyed it for good, this doesn’t mean that Zelensky ever had a chance of mediating the contradictions even if he wanted to. This failure caused his popularity to tank. Though elected with an extraordinary 73% of the vote, by June 2021 over half of the electorate didn’t want him to run again, and only 21% said they would vote for him.
Liberated from informed thinking by official forgetting, however, journalists may still partake of the romance of resistance. The lay priest of liberalism Ian Dunt suggests that passionate Europeanists should send money to the Ukrainian army, while hymning Ukraine as ‘the ideals of Europe, made flesh and blood’. That being the fantasy, there is considerable sympathy for those volunteers who, beseeched by Ukrainian foreign secretary Dmytro Kuleba and egged on by his UK counterpart Liz Truss, have gone to fight Vlad. ITV News treats us to an uncritical interview with British volunteers training with the ‘Georgian Legion’ in Ukraine, initially set up by ethnic Georgians to fight the Russians before being integrated into the Ukrainian army, to fight ‘a war of the West’.
Such sentiments have been canalised into demands for a ‘no-fly zone’ – that is, aerial warfare – in Ukraine, as well as increased military expenditures. The usual journalistic galaxy-brains complain that opposition to a no-fly zone is ‘appeasement’, raising folk memories of World War II as though they were the first to think of it, or demanding that Western powers call Russia’s nuclear bluff. It is clear, though, that the bureaucracies responsible for waging war in NATO do not currently want a no-fly zone, because it implies direct confrontation with a nuclear-armed power. The Pentagon even vetoed a Polish proposal to send Soviet-made MiG-29s to Ukraine on the grounds that it would be close to an act of war. Not for the first time, the punditry, in out-hawking the Pentagon, has become more royalist than the king. The only military assistance that NATO countries plan to offer Ukraine is intended to stimulate a protracted insurgency. As Hillary Clinton gleefully suggested, citing the example of Afghanistan in the 1980s without any hint of regret over two million lives lost and the birthing of a violent global jihadist movement, this would bleed Russia. It would also destroy Ukraine.
The belligerati have a surer bet with the demand for more military spending. In the UK, both Conservatives and Labour front-benchers are on board. In The Times, John Kampfner celebrates Germany’s hard turn to armament as bad news for Putin. In Sweden, where public opinion has for the moment swung behind NATO membership, the Social Democratic government has announced a surge in the military budget. The Economist notes, with some cheer, that European armament is driving European defence stocks sky-high.
This has little to do with rescuing the people of Ukraine from Russian incursions. The most likely endgame is, of course, a negotiated settlement. Zelensky, who may not welcome the devastation of an Afghanistan-style insurgency, is currently giving himself room for a diplomatic retreat, while Russia’s negotiating position is far from maximalist. It seems likely that Putin will have to acknowledge a diminished Ukrainian sovereignty, while Zelensky will have to accept that Crimea belongs to Russia and concede some special status for the eastern ‘republics’ of Luhansk and Donetsk. Given that Ukraine can’t win, NATO won’t directly intervene, and Russia can only triumph at great cost to its own position (and Putin’s standing with a spooked military leadership), there is no advantage to prolonging the war.
Though the current cultural ferment will not deliver Ukraine from Russian cluster-bombs and shelling, it has in part been harnessed to Britain’s culture war. A typical example is provided by Nick Cohen, who appears to write the same three or four columns on repeat. In The Observer, he claims that a new vital centre has seen off an historically pro-Putin far-left and far-right. This is, naturally, politically illiterate. Putin’s champions in the early days when he was pulverising Chechnya were those paragons of nineties centrism, Clinton and Blair. Putin was an active participant in the war on terror, of which Cohen was an especially mindless enthusiast. As late as 2014, Blair was calling for common cause with Putin. But the claim that the anti-war left is pro-Putin has been integral to recent moves at the top of British politics, particularly Starmer’s attempt to witch-hunt the Stop the War Coalition and crackdown on Young Labour for criticising NATO. The Telegraph, taking the gambit a step further, accuses the RMT union of being the ‘enemy underground’ and ‘Putin apologists’ for launching strike action on the London Underground.
To this extent, the culture war over Russia and Ukraine is more about the moral rearmament of ‘the West’ after Iraq and Afghanistan under the ensign of a new Cold War which declares Putin a legatee of Stalin, the resuscitation of a dying Atlanticism, the revitalisation of a moralistic Europeanism after the collapse of the Remain cause, and the stigmatisation of the left after the shock of Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, than it is about Russia or Ukraine. More broadly, it revives in a new landscape the apocalyptic civilizational identities that were such a motivating force during the ‘war on terror’, and which have lately fallen into disarray.
An epidemic of dehumanization
By Laboratory of the Future
The catastrophe is what became of us. And the epidemic is just a minor inconvenience.
— Eva Laterman, “Catastrophe”
March 22, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Against the War — One epidemic—of the coronavirus— had barely had a chance to draw to a close as another one arrived in its place—an epidemic of dehumanization. Thousands of seemingly peaceful and civilized people have shown that they’re able to achieve zoological hatred towards those of their own kind.
The wave of russophobia rising in Europe right now has already swept over the well-recognized input of Russian science and culture into the heritage of humankind. Even the usually acceptable Dostoyevsky, whom the Western elites adored for his sincere reactionary spirit, had not been spared. So what to say of the rest classics of Russian literature? And where does the blame of the late Russian composers, such as Shostakovich, lie?
That’s not to mention our own scientists, who have been tortured by sanctions by our own government for years and years. Some well-wishers have even started insisting that Alexandra Elbakian, the creator of the free scientific aggregator SciHub, close up shop. Everyone understands that it will be the grave of our poverty-stricken scientific youth.
International NGOs of various very peaceful profiles seem to be engaged in a competition—who will exclude Russia from their ranks first? Even the Hippocratic oath had not become an obstacle to chauvinist hysteria. The actions of OncoAlert, the international network of oncologists that have pulled out of all collaborations and congresses in Russia, makes us want to tell them—physician, heal thyself.
The official Russian propaganda responds with the same. Allegedly, Germany had not been denazified enough. As a result, the trite bravado of “we may have a do-over of WWII” has gained a menacing undertone. However, credit is due to our people: we don’t see mass threats to peaceful ex-pats, nor can we observe “people-targeting” sanctions against foreigners.
And all of this amid countries that are not currently at war. This makes the lies and hatred exchanged between Russian and Ukrainian war propaganda pale in comparison. Nonetheless, it is atrocious. The author was able to communicate with a guy in besieged Kherson. His hatred towards the Russian troops is easy to understand. But another thing is most frightening—the perception of reality as if it were a video game. On the one side, a hero armed with a machine gun and a Molotov cocktail, on the other—hordes of orcs from the horrific Eastern Mordor.
It’s also easy to understand the hatred of the opponent that stems from someone who was almost burned to death by Ukrainian nationalists in the Odessa Trade Union house in 2014. But when he goes on to justify asymmetrical cruelty with this tragedy—it dishonors him not only as a communist but as a human, too.
After all, one of the main goals of special propaganda is the dehumanization of the opponent. Just because an ordinary person is very unlikely to be able to kill someone just like them without special psychological conditioning. However, given the crudeness and low quality of propaganda in the current conflict, it’s unlikely that it could cause the current epidemic of dehumanization on its own.
Everyday lack of humanity
Here we’re reaching the most bitter aspect of it all—the current spark of international cruelty has been in the works since long ago. And not by some sort of world’s shadow cabinets, but by the everyday functioning of neoliberal capitalism. It’s easiest to observe this in the example of Western Europe, which had not taken up arms for quite a while. It would seem that a sated everyman who had been rid of necessary conscription should be docile like a baby lamb and good-natured like a labrador-retriever. Instead, however, we see a resentful, cruel creature receptive to the most aggressive lies.
We had seen a minuscule occurrence of the same paradox in Scandinavia in the 1990s. We can admire the gradually departing welfare states in Sweden and Norway all we want. But can we really call blissful the land that gave birth to the Satan- and nazi-worshipping black metal, full of sincere hatred, the land where Varg Vikernes and Andres Breivik committed their atrocities?
But if we’re against piling up collective responsibility on all the Russian people, we must also resist lumping the blame on all Europeans. Moreso because the deep heterogeneity and stark contrasts inherent to Europe are one of the reasons for the occurrence we’re interested in.
There is no democratic siblinghood of nations. European Union and other adjacent structures are deeply hierarchical organizations. From the advent of the world economic crisis, it has been quite evident even from where we sit. No one pushed the euro bureaucrats to unite Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain under the derogatory umbrella “PIGS.” Lately, to the great regret of the French elites, the E.U. had fully turned into something of a “Fourth Reich,” led by Germany.
Europe also has no equality or friendship of the peoples. Those savvy enough will be able to detect up to four kinds of Europeans who more or less enjoy their full rights. Outside of this hierarchy—migrants and refugees. Many of our compatriots will probably become such helots without rights, as well, following in the steps of the unfortunate Ukrainians. It’s long been known that the so-called political correctness is nothing more than a sophisticated form of social segregation. In fact, an ordinary European is taught to despise those not part of the nominal golden billion and estimate their lives as orders cheaper than one’s own.
And to expand this further, Europe has no social peace. Moreover, there isn’t even a fragile illusion of collaboration between classes, which was allowed by the welfare states of post-War Europe. Instead, you have the unemployment, the powerlessness of the remnants of welfare states, and the degradation of culture.
All the forms of inequality and segregation described above are, after all, just an element of class oppression. And this becomes more glaring as the old European nations continue their decay. European international institutions can not be held accountable to the ordinary E.U. citizens just like the Russian government—to the author’s compatriots. Some might rush to argue here, but stay patient.
Guns don’t kill; people kill
Because that takes off a large part of the blame from the masses for the wave of russophobia that has raised in Europe, even those who are now actively supporting the European government officials, oligarchs, and their ideologues, are merely weapons of foreign interests. And also, these interests’ victims.
For many in the formally-neutral Europe, this is not obvious yet. But look at Russia, already swept by the tsunami of the economic consequences of the “special operation.” This wave will inevitably reach Berlin, Paris, London, and even Washington, D.C. Admittedly, it will likely get weaker, but even that will be enough for many Westerners to sober up.
Let’s not confuse the subject with the tool. In the current situation, Russian and Ukrainian soldiers and officers are merely weapons of intentions alien to their interests. Partially, even Zelensky and co are simply weapons in the hands of more significant political players. But the Ukrainian elites have a particular criminal interest in this war, so they can not be let off scot-free, either.
Among other things, the proponents of the “special operation” absolve the Russian government of the blame by saying that Russia is a weak imperialist, put into a corner by the larger beast and forced to protect itself. However, anything can be condoned this way—the shellings of Donbass and the fascization of the Ukrainian government, too. Some analogies come to mind. In particular, the Russian website that lists “national traitors” seems to be a copy of the similar websites created in Ukraine after the Euromaidan or by Tikhanovskaya and her comrades during the political crisis in Belarus.
Enough has been said about the economic motives of each of the sides. We will leave it to the economists. The elites of Russia, Ukraine, and the general West have had enough lowly reasons, contrary to the advertised ideal considerations, not only to kickstart but also to prolong the conflict. Moreover, some of them are shared by all the participants in full solidarity. The “special operation” will write off everything, the world’s capitalists think: the botched internal politics, the inability to escape the world economic crisis, powerlessness to combat coronavirus.
Yes, the fat cats are fighting among each other, but they’re robbing all of us on comradely terms. No, there is no need to start looking for a global conspiracy or a rigged game here; the issue is the common interests. Whatever happens—profit must keep coming. And the oppressed, as the primary source of profit, should stay obedient to their masters: on the front or in the rear, in the burning Kharkiv or dead-broke Russian provinces, in poverty-stricken Romania or well-fed Belgium.
But the most horrifying thing being done to the ordinary citizens worldwide is that we’re being taught to see in our siblings in misfortune, not even opponents, but representatives of a different biological species. As to the organizes and beneficiaries of conflicts, they are keeping their previous level of relationships intact. Some excesses, such as a nutty U.S. senator offering to have the Russian president murdered—don’t count.
How can we speak about the siblinghood of the oppressed then? The most crucial mechanism of mutual dehumanization is the imposition of artificial national solidarity, faux unity of oppressors and the oppressed, hunters and prey. This has happened many times in history. Over the years of massive propaganda, many were made to think that classes were an invention of Marxists. It’s time to realize that it’s not so. Today we only have two options: class solidarity, and through it—human solidarity, or complete dehumanization.
In the atmosphere of all-encompassing hysteria and bullying, it’s imperative to remind people that life goes on and that staying human is the first and foremost necessity. Any representative of the Homo Sapiens species belongs to humanity first, to their class—second, and to a national or ethnic entity—tenth or something like that.
Fighting dehumanization to both sides of the front is crucially important. It’s something that’s in our power. It’s something that we can control. We have work cut out for everyone here. We must pull each other from the hypnosis of war propaganda, help build up ruined links, calm down those who are paralyzed by panic. The to-do list is endless.
The “special operation” will end, and we will have to live in its aftermath. But, if we let xenophobia and nationalist fervor take hold, ordinary people will keep suffering, and different kinds of predators and parasites will keep feeding off it. Only by preserving humanity and throwing off the stereotypes thrust down our throats will we be able to unite, survive in the hard times, and rebuild the looted, destroyed countries. And then to lodge our bill to those who started this nightmare.