Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine

By | June 23, 2022

Slavoj Žižek writes:

For me, John Lennon’s mega-hit Imagine was always a song popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine that “the world will live as one” is the best way to end in hell.

Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of “imagine”. Imagine a world in which tensions are no longer resolved through armed conflicts … Europe persisted in this world of “imagine”, ignoring the brutal reality outside its borders. Now it’s the time to awaken.

The dream of a quick Ukrainian victory, the repetition of the initial dream of a quick Russian victory, is over. In what looks more and more as a protracted stalemate, Russia is slowly progressing, and its ultimate goal is clearly stated. There is no longer any need to read between the lines when Putin compares himself with Peter the Great: “On the face of it, he was at war with Sweden taking something away from it … He was not taking away anything, he was returning … He was returning and reinforcing, that is what he was doing … Clearly, it fell to our lot to return and reinforce as well.”

More than focus on particular issues (is Russia really just “returning”, and to what?) we should read carefully Putin’s general justification of his claim: “In order to claim some kind of leadership – I am not even talking about global leadership, I mean leadership in any area – any country, any people, any ethnic group should ensure their sovereignty. Because there is no in-between, no intermediate state: either a country is sovereign, or it is a colony, no matter what the colonies are called.”

The implication of these lines, as one commentator put it, is clear: there are two categories of state: “The sovereign and the conquered. In Putin’s imperial view, Ukraine should fall into the latter category.”

And, as it is no less clear from Russian official statements in the last months, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Finland, the Baltic states … and ultimately Europe itself “fall into the latter category”. [Continue reading…]

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