Growing animosity between Russia and Ukraine makes it difficult to agree on a ceasefire.
Russian President Vladimir Putin persists in military intervention, claiming he is liberating Ukraine from a regime that, like the fascists, kills its own people.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mobilizes the entire population to fight against aggression and claims that the Russians behave like Nazis when they kill civilians.
Mainstream Ukrainian and Russian media use military propaganda to call the other side Nazis or Fascists, pointing the finger at their right-wing and militaristic abuses.
All such references simply argue for “just war” by appealing to the image of demonized enemies of the past rooted in an archaic political culture.
Of course, we know that such a thing as just war cannot exist in principle, because the first casualty of war is truth, and any version of justice without truth is mockery. The idea of massacre and mass destruction as justice is beyond reason.
But knowledge of effective nonviolent ways of life and a vision of a better future planet without armies or borders are part of the culture of peace. They have not spread enough even in the most developed societies, let alone in Russia and Ukraine, states that still have conscription and give children a patriotic military education instead of a peace education for citizenship .
The culture of peace, underinvested and underpopularized, struggles to confront the archaic culture of violence, based on bloody old ideas that force is just and the best policy is “divide and conquer”.
These ideas of the culture of violence are probably even older than fasces, the ancient Roman symbol of power, a bundle of sticks with an ax in the middle, implements for flogging and beheading, and the symbol of strength in the unit: you can easily break a stick but not the whole lot.
In an extreme sense, the fasces are a metaphor for violently gathered and expendable people deprived of individuality. The batting governance model. Not by reason and incentives, like nonviolent governance in a culture of peace.
This metaphor of beams is very close to military thought, to the morality of killers ousting the moral commandments against murder. When you go to war, you should be obsessed with the illusion that “we” all should fight, and “they” all should perish.
This is why Putin’s regime is cruelly eliminating all political opposition to its war machine, arresting thousands of anti-war protesters. This is why Russia and the NATO countries have mutually banned the media. That is why Ukrainian nationalists tried to ban the public use of the Russian language. That is why Ukrainian propaganda will tell you a fairy tale about how the whole population became an army in people’s war and will silently ignore millions of refugees, internally displaced people and elderly men 18 to 60 years old hiding from compulsory enlistment when they are banned. to leave the country. This is why peace-loving peoples, not elites profiting from war, suffer the most on all sides from hostilities, economic sanctions and discriminatory hysteria.
Militarist policy in Russia, Ukraine and NATO countries bears certain similarities, both in ideology and practice, to the horribly violent totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. Of course, such similarities are no excuse for any war or trivialization of Nazi and Fascist crimes.
These similarities are broader than the obviously neo-Nazi identity, despite the fact that some military units of this type fought on both the Ukrainian side (Azov, Right Sector) and the Russian side (Varyag, Russian National Unity).
In the broadest sense, fascist-type politics tries to turn the whole people into a war machine, the false monolithic masses supposedly united in an impulse to fight a common enemy that all militarists in all countries are trying to build.
To behave like fascists, it is enough to have an army and everything related to the army: obligatory unified identity, existential enemy, preparation for an inevitable war. Your enemy doesn’t have to be Jews, communists and perverts; it can be anyone, real or imagined. Your monolithic belligerence doesn’t have to be inspired by an authoritarian ruler; it can be a message of hate and a call to fight delivered by countless authoritative voices. And things like wearing swastikas, torchlight parades and other historical re-enactments are optional and barely relevant.
Does the United States look like a fascist state because there are two sculptural reliefs of fasces in the hall of the House of Representatives? Absolutely not, it’s just a historical artifact.
The United States, Russia and Ukraine look a bit like fascist states because all three have military forces and are willing to use them to pursue absolute sovereignty, i.e. do what they want on their territory or their sphere of influence, as if force were required. law.
Also, all three are meant to be nation states, which means the monolithic unity of people of the same culture living under an all-powerful government within strict geographical boundaries and because of that having no conflicts. internal or external weapons. The nation-state is probably the dumbest, most unrealistic model of peace you can imagine, but it’s still conventional.
Instead of critically rethinking the archaic concepts of Westphalian sovereignty and the Wilsonian nation-state, all of whose flaws have been exposed by Nazi and Fascist statecraft, we regard these concepts as indisputable and lay full responsibility for World War II to two dead dictators and a group of their supporters. No wonder we find fascists nearby again and again and wage war on them, behaving like them according to political theories like theirs, but trying to convince ourselves that we are better than them.
To resolve the current two-pronged military conflict, West versus East and Russia versus Ukraine, as well as to stop all wars and to avoid wars in the future, we must use techniques of non-violent politics, develop a culture of peace and provide access to peace education for future generations. We should stop shooting and start talking, telling the truth, understanding each other and acting for the common good without harming anyone. Justifications for violence against any people, even those who behave like Nazis or Fascists, are of no use. It would be better to resist such misguided behavior without violence and help misguided activists understand the benefits of organized nonviolence. When the knowledge and effective practices of peaceful living are generalized and all forms of violence are kept to a realistic minimum, the people of Earth will be immune to the disease of war.
By Yurii Sheliazhenko, World BEYOND War, March 15, 2022
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org
and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include war is a lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org
and WarIsACrime.org. It hosts Talk about the world radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a recipient of the United States Peace Prize.
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