The trivialization of endless tragedies

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By DANIEL AFONSO DA SILVA*

Israel's war against the Palestinian people and the exposed fractures of a contemporary world in dissolution

A famous Latin adage informs that one should not play or play with the suffering of others. The unquestionably macabre face in human nature that re-emerged with the very high intensity aggression perpetrated by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, against the population of the Hebrew state of Israel as well as with the Western coalition in support of Israel's onslaught in the Gaza strip affirms that the content of this adage was simply disregarded over time.

The multi-millennial tension between these Jewish and Ishmaelite peoples goes back to the legend of Abraham, from Genesis, in the mysteries of the Bible. The materialization of hatred on both sides was reinforced in the misadventures of Emperor Nero in the 60s of the Christian era and, for more than a thousand years, it led to endless crusades for the control of sacred places. Which ended up clouding the imagination of everyone involved.

The missteps of reform and counter-reformation among katholikós in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries caused a carnage as lethal as the plague of previous times. European absolutism as an instrument of mediation to end these relentless religious civil wars led to the famous raison d'était which initially forged the obliteration of God's presence in everyday life and then completely removed the conviction of the Christian faith as a constitutive principle of Europe and the West.

Ambient Enlightenments in the 1792th and XNUMXth centuries did everything to accelerate this degradation of the values ​​of primitive Christianity. They fostered an obstinate criticism that produced an unprecedented crisis in the nature of modern reality itself two to three centuries after it began. The king's beheading fulfilled this entire purpose of trivializing transcendence with the promotion of a moral disconnection of the link between societies, the state and the divine. The representatives now had just one body instead of two. Consequently, suddenly, as Voltaire, Kant and Hegel desired, “les enfants de la patrie” [children of the country], also known as citizens – as, since XNUMX, he adduces La Marseillaise French – were invested with full responsibility for their own earthly fate. The search for happiness, thus, became an experiment of reason with deference to the divine relegated to the empires of an intermittent illusion.

Modernity, planned to rival the present God, thus seemed to confirm itself from start to finish. With the dividends of the recent industrial revolution, the most eloquent demonstration of the strength of this Modernity, the French and English and the like, main representatives of this new paradigm, gained a power of management and arbitration across the entire world never seen since the times of Emperor Romulus of Rome. Consequently, after the French revolution, from Paris and London and the like, work was done day in and day out to make this entire world a miniature replica or duplication of Europe and the West. The Europeanization, Westernization, desacralization and disenchantment of the world were underway. All in the name of reason.

The first great shock of this temptation of modern reason came from the Caribbean, from Saint Domingue, in 1804, from the troops of Toussaint L'Ouverture. At that moment, it became evident that in the consciousness of Coloniality – Prospero's mirror of Modernity in colonial spaces – lay the antidote to all the arrogance of modern reason. Thus began the phase of affirmation of divergent reason, the recognition of others and the emergence of the rest.

Even ignoring all this parallel truth, Hegel saw in the famous Napoleonic battle of Iena, in 1806, the beginning of a general mental shift with no return that seemed to lead History to its new end. Like in the corner of Camões. An end of History that indicated new beginnings. Where “times change, desires change”. Now without God, without faith and with a lot of immanence.

It took Napoleon arriving at the Russian Campaign in 1812 for the Hegelians to realize that, even with the change of times and wills, the reason of modern people was powerless in the face of the mysteries of the divine. The Russians mobilized courage where they themselves did not see it and resistance where they themselves were never able to perceive it.

You only need to reread Tolstoy to make all this clear.

The strength of those muzhiks who faced – and won – the greatest armada on the planet came from the depths of years, from the ends of time, from an endless devotion. It was neither earthly nor rational nor modern. It was the timeless conviction of being chosen by God. A God who imposed on them the will to fight to the last man to defend the essential nature of their Slavic world.

This second clash of realities, like the first in the Caribbean, was minimized and quickly forgotten after the Englishman William Pitty and the Frenchman Talleyrand-Périgord took the reins of the Vienna negotiations of 1814-1815 and led Europeans and Westerners to new illusions. of modern and Enlightenment reason that resisted until the general collapse of 1914.

After what was seen and still felt between 1914 and 1918 – Verdun, La Somme, La Marne, Chemin des Dames and other imitations of earthly hell – it also became natural to minimize the ordeal of the Paraguayan War, the bestialities of the northern civil war -American and the colonial holocausts across Africa and Asia between Napoleon and President Woodrow Wilson. But there was no way. The Great War of 1914-1918 unmasked Modernity and put an end to Europeans' ambition to Europeanize, Westernize and miniaturize the world.

Whoever doubted at first, a few years later, understood everything when Paris, London, Washington and the like were forced to form an alliance with Slavs, Africans, Middle Easterners and Asians to contain Hitler's ghastly rage and his innumerable small-scale reproductions in all parts of the world. Even so, this rage without grace or Grace – disgraceful, therefore – ended up taking the existence of more than six, seven or eight million Jews and leading more than 50, 60 or 80 million people to penury, exile and despair. humans. Everything symbolized in the Shoah, in raison d'était and in Enlightenment reason tout court. She was an unforgivable carnage. Which, because it was so, justified the creation of a Hebrew state for the Jews and the deprivation of Muslims from their spaces of claim in the Middle East.

This third clash of world views and reasons further divided the already divided world and reinforced transcendence as a separating factor.

Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, pretended that this was not the case. They continued to minimize their God in favor of their democracy. All the malaise of civilization among them heralded ruins that no one wanted to see. Without God, even if only one Dieu cache, Western culture was fragmenting. The fragmentation of cultures, in itself, has never represented a problem. The fragmentation of cultures through the undermining of their foundations entails a serious feat. Indicates the approach of its end. As Nietzsche later noted, Auerbach. With its God absent, the West was nothing more than a type of civilization that was disappearing. That was the message of the twenty years of crises, in a long dark night, from 1914 to 1945. A message for the West. Not for the others.

The management of nuclear deterrence throughout the Cold War allowed for the concrete mitigation of this feeling of Western ruins and the containment of that perception of separation among others, notably the Middle Easterners. Whenever any impulse changed there, NATO, the USSR or the United Nations mobilized to arbitrate everything and stop it so that nothing could be derailed. It was like this in 1956 in Egypt. So in 1967 in the War of Seven. So in 1973 on Yom Kippur, Great Forgiveness, of the Jews.

But the end of the Cold War changed everything. An immense void has in fact been installed among Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, especially in their dealings with others. A new end of History was announced. An air of triumphalism once again surrounded the spirits. Enlightenment reason, nullified by total wars and the malaise of civilization, showed signs of revival. It did not appear in flames, but its embers crackled again. But now transposed into newer concepts. Globalization, democracy and consumption. All with universal aspirations.

All of this led Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, to once again want to Europeanize and Westernize the world. As in Hegel's time. Like in Voltaire's plots. They thus made it clear that the world, after the fall of the USSR, could finally be flat, unipolar and without wrinkles. A true and complete miniature of the West. A world condemned to western way of life and meaning. No mental divergences or mood swings. As in a common dream, with love, modesty and values ​​sighing at the same time.

But nothing lasted that way.

The attacks of September 11, 2001, 9/11, announced the irreconcilable fractures of an entire world with a lot of history and no salvation.

The notable French historian Robert Frank identified in these 9/11 events the revenge of those who were historically removed from History – namely, the revenge of the faithful and unfaithful in the Middle East. Samuel P. Huntington, an American historian and political scientist, realized that it was the revenge of others, again the Middle Easterners, impervious to Western pretensions. The Bulgarian Tzevtan Todorov, of nostalgic memory, allowed himself to note that all of this signaled the return of the barbarians, the empire of drives and the imponderables of unreason.

What we see in this recent affront by Hamas against the Hebrews of Israel demonstrates the result of all this. Fragmentation of the West. Entropy of civilization. Modernity's Malaise. Post-Modernity Incontinence. Return of the barbarians. Return of unreason. Relentless clash between civilizations. Revenge, without forgiveness, of entire peoples, historically, flogged in their culture, faith and condition and forced to believe in globalization, democracy and consumption.

It doesn't need much to be said that the North American reaction to 9/11 was the well-known terrorist war on terror that brutalized all relationships between God's Middle Eastern elect. The pacification between Jews and Ismailis that had occurred since Oslo disappeared. The authority of the Palestinian Authority began to wane. The temptation of globalized Islam began to take hold. Osama Bin Laden and President George W. Bush set the agenda for everything. The us and them was installed. Nothing was ever achieved between everyone again.

President Barack H. Obama has tried to minimize the illusions of the universal imperatives of globalization, democracy and consumption among the Middle East. So he went to Cairo in 2009. He offered a reconciliation. He proposed a fresh start. He indicated empathy for otherness. But all in vain. It didn't work anymore. The African Cicero, who presided over Côte d'Ivoire, decided, later, to disrespect his country's electoral campaign and, with that, inaugurated the Arab Spring. The Ivorians initially rebelled. They flooded squares and streets. They attracted attention in protests. In response, President Laurent Gbagbo, resisting in office, decided to react. He put real tanks on the streets. He authorized the use of live ammunition in these tanks. And it allowed flesh and blood – and therefore also real – protesters to be shot in protests on the streets of ivory cities. How horror! Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, wanted to intervene. And they intervened. But the misfortune was already announcing itself without end. Another 9/11 dystopia. Another shock of unreason. Now infesting the entire Maghreb and Middle Eastern regions.

The Arab Spring, combined with President George W. Bush's terrorist war on terror and Osama bin Laden's Islamist fury, thus promoted the greatest human catastrophe since the total wars of 1914-1945. Hecatombs that internationalists, pompously, call humanitarian crises. Entire cities, at the beginning of the XNUMXst century, were destroyed, across Africa and the Middle East, in the name of the barbarisms of unreason. Entire countries, African and Middle Eastern, remained deluded by the mantras of consumption, democracy and globalization. Entire regions were conflagrated in the name of the Market God that these concepts give rise to. Thus, however, the largest contingent of miserable people in this world was created, generally wandering in lands foreign to their own and yearning for a simple place in the sun.

Those who saw all this from the capitals of the West – Paris, London, New York, Washington, Berlin – were perplexed and wanted to discuss a responsibility that was also theirs. His self-consolation came over time from all his silent effort to welcome parts of all this new misery in the world since the collapse of decolonization. But this everything, in this turbulent XNUMXst century, has become little. But that little has reared its ugly head in Western capitals after Hamas once again brutalized Middle Eastern interactions in recent weeks.

Since October 7, 2023, large European and North American cities have experienced Middle Eastern temptations. Suddenly, their populations found themselves to be mostly non-Western and they don't know what to do. Eternal guarantors of the Hebrew Israeli state, Europe and the United States were surprised by unprecedented domestic support from their fellow citizens for the cause of the Palestinians and the follies of Hamas. President Emmanuel Macron forced himself to issue decrees censoring pro-Islamist demonstrations in France. The leaders of Brussels, Berlin, London and Washington did the same. No one in what remained of the West assumed anything similar. A betrayal at home. No one knows whether it was Emma or Capitu. But, simply, a new shock of unprecedented symbolic unreason in the hearts of these still Western, European and North American, and therefore, deep down, Christians.

Add to the facts the recognition that these shameless supporters of Hamas's Islamist barbarisms are neither Leninists nor Trotskyists nor Stalinists or the like. It is the Islamists themselves who began to demographically populate Europe and the United States and managed to demoralize all calls for secularism and assimilation. What was once a debate about whether or not to carry a veil, has now become a debate about whether or not to allow support for terrorist actions of macabre venture in Middle Eastern lands.

Voltaire nor Kant nor Hegel imagined such a transgression of Western values ​​intended to be universal.

If this were not enough, after the savagery of Hamas, the legitimate reflex of the Hebrew state would be, in the name of its honor, to counterattack. And the counterattack began. Some of the Gaza Strip was closed. Everyone was deprived of water, gas and electricity. Buildings, squares and streets were bombed. All this in anticipation of an announced ground confrontation to hunt down every last man of the Hamas radicals.

In this land incursion – if it happens – Israeli forces will experience what Brazilian BOPE officers experienced in Rocinha, Jacarezinho, Nova Brasília, Vila do Vintém in Rio de Janeiro: an urban guerrilla without rules or solutions where the greatest casualties They are collateral and innocent. The problem is that this type of attack was – and continues to be – immensely condemned by Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, when used by Russian troops in Ukraine. Will it be approved in the Israeli case?

Lots of weights and lots of measurements. There's no way to bear it.

And, precisely, because it cannot be tolerated that Africans have rebelled in cascades in recent months and years in the Sahel and its surroundings when they noticed that Europeans and North Americans showed a zeal for democracy, consumption and the human rights of Ukrainians that never they signaled to engender towards Africans in Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, Congo, Burundi, Burkina Faso or Gabon. Even cynicism, lies and complacency, as Shakespeare already forged, will one day meet their end.

Many still ask themselves, in this sense and not in any other, the reason why a vast number of countries, notably African ones, once subservient to the dictates of the West, Europeans and North Americans, preferred to simply ignore Paris' demands, Berlin, London and Washington to make a relentless international condemnation of embargoes and sanctions against the Russian people. The answer has long been evident: the dreams of different people are divergent. The hands of clocks in the West and elsewhere do not tell the same time. Thus, almost none of the dissenters supported the European and North American offensive against President Vladmir Putin. And those who, unwittingly, hesitated and supported it, immediately retreated and declared neutrality.

None of this means that the infamous “Global South” is a reality. Any honest and minimally informed observer understands that this southernist image suggests an extremely dangerous simplification of the exposed fractures of a contemporary world in dissolution. China and Russia, for example, prominent figures in this southern arrangement, are in the Northern Hemisphere. Australia and New Zealand, unquestionable extreme-Western outposts in Oceania, are to the South. Syria, Iran and Qatar dream Slavic, Asian, Middle-Eastern, but never Western, dreams. Saudi Arabia still hopes, one day, to become American. Malaysia imagines itself becoming Saudi Arabia. Zambia is dating China instead of Russia, wanting to be a great Eurasian. Uruguay would give anything to not belong to the South or Mercosur. Chile, don't even mention it. South Sudan would very much like to be in the Northern Hemisphere. And Brazil and Argentina, which, evidently, have good hearts, have never managed to synchronize them to beat in the same tone.

This mosaic of a decomposing reality can also be evidenced by the difficulty that all these countries have had in positioning themselves in the face of the unquestionable carnage committed by Hamas. No one from the isolated southern regions gave Israel as strong support as Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar and Iran gave to Palestine and Hamas. Neither Russia nor China, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, preferred to speak out. They silently approved the joy of seeing yet another Western architecture – in this case, Israel – crumble. The Brazilian president, unquestionably the most experienced, most important and most expressive head of state among the leaders of the BRICS and the southern world, did not know what to say and has not yet decided on how to say what he did not say and imagined saying .

Note the magnitude of the problem.

And it should also be noted that everything becomes more serious when it is recognized that Egypt has repeatedly warned the Israelis – as it did in 1973, in the attacks on Yom Kippur – of the imminence of an Islamist attack of gigantic proportions. Why were you ignored?

A first explanation could lie in the superiority complex of a Jewish people who endured the greatest persecution recorded in the history of humanity. This feeling of superiority gives Israeli leaders extreme levels of pride and contempt towards others. Especially before their Maghrebian neighbors. Pride precedes a fall, as the Proverbs of Solomon said. The people of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem know this well. Therefore, looking closer, there are other, more tangible reasons for your indifference and non-action. In the recent enlargement of the BRICS, Cairo was appointed as another capital of this cluster of southern antagonists. It thus became reasonable for the Israelis to suspect the plots of Egypt's leaders.

Ultimately, one should not, in fact, play or play with the suffering of others. Anyone who has not yet recognized the pugnacity of this teaching should once again meditate on all these indeterminacies of these interesting, disenchanted and unforgiving times that Modernity, Post-Modernity and the XNUMXst century present.

The formidable French diplomat Maurice Gourdant-Montagne, former secretary general of the Quai d'Orsay [French Itamaraty] and special advisor to President Jacques Chirac, in this sense, comes from publishing a simply extraordinary book under the title Les autres ne pensant pas comme nous [in free translation, Others don't think as we think]. From the wording of the title, an unprecedented change of mentality in French-European-Western ideas is already evident.

Since the time of André Gide, the French, Europeans and Westerners have truly believed that Middle Easterners, Latin Americans, Asians and the like were French, Europeans and Westerners literate in another language. This reflection was like this for practically all centuries from the 1492th to the 1948th. Perhaps some still maintain it that way. But the rise of China, Asia and Eurasia and the projection of immense oases of prosperity across Africa, Latin America and South America indicate that the five-century parenthesis of Europeanization and Westernization of world affairs is ending. Everything that was experienced after XNUMX reached the XNUMXst century completely destroyed. None of this can be sustained anymore. And this has very serious implications for the international order. Or, as President Ronald Reagan announced, for the New World Order. It should be noted that the same United Nations Organization that has been unable to seal the fate of Russia versus Ukraine since XNUMX has also been unable to impose a sustainable peace on the faithful and infidels of the Middle East. Otherwise, they will only make the situation worse. And here, the case of Iran, in this intercourse, seems the most illustrative.

With the scalping of Al Qaeda and then the Islamic State, the responsibility for asserting global Islam fell to Tehran. The promoters of the Iranian revolution wielded this responsibility as the ultimate mission of their lives. The group called the Muslim brotherhood became its main ally in this globalization. And it has long ceased to be an enigma that this brotherhood embodies Hamas in Palestine.

Palestine remains a poor, limited and resource-deprived environment. Anyone who slowly reviews what the members of Hamas did on October 7, 2023 will be able to notice that it would be impossible for a local group impoverished by circumstances and amputated in its reason to have such a prominence in materials, intelligence and logistics as well as so many tactical and strategic for such an operation. It seems clear that everything came from Iran and its African and Middle Eastern coalitions for the Islamic cause. This means that a ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will depend on Iranian arbitration. Yes: a conversation with the devil will be necessary. Or, better yet, with others.

Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, identitarian, post-modern and with a woke disposition, since they began to kill their God in the XNUMXth century, began to despise the devil. Many don't even know it exists. The devil is, literally, others. Just like the hell Sartre said. The modern arrogance of Enlightenment reason has removed from the consciousness of the West, Europeans and North Americans, the commitment to recognize others. Others who definitely ne pensent pas comme nous.

All these recent achievements and facts throughout the XNUMXst century indicate that Westerners have begun to, as we see, become these others. The sunset of the West still lies in an uncertain future. But its loss of relevance becomes unquestionable day after day and leads its practitioners to considerable irrelevance. Irrelevant saw others.

September 11, 2008, the global financial crisis of 2008, the Covid-19 pandemic, the new phase of Russian-Ukrainian tension and now the skirmishes between faithful and infidels in the Middle East show that a new world has already been born. Without the old controls, without their authoritarianism or their constraints. No one can assume what will happen in all this. But one thing is certain: if overcoming the illusions of Western certainties is not accomplished soon, this wave of endless tragedies and stupefaction will continue. As if playing with fire, trivializing evil. Without a repositioning of the West, of Westerners, Europeans and North Americans, on the world stage, a new History will end. But this time, perhaps, his last.

*Daniel Afonso da Silva Professor of History at the Federal University of Grande Dourados. author of Far beyond Blue Eyes and other writings on contemporary international relations (APGIQ). [https://amzn.to/3ZJcVdk]


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