the war of wars

Image: Asim Alnamat

By LORENZO Stained Glass*

The current moment bears similarities with what preceded the First World War

The war of wars, or World War I, whose outbreak was enthusiastically received in many European countries as a welcome opportunity to show bravery, collect honors and medals; beyond, of course, territories and riches – it was not yet imagined the scope that the conflict would gain, far beyond the front; there was not yet the war chronicle of “Nothing new at the Front” – it needed a trigger, apparently fortuitous, that is, the assassination of the crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo. The preparation for the conflict had been going on for some time, however, with the formation of rival country blocs and the expansion of the war industry.

Our current situation is similar to that one, that is, the rival blocs are defined, it remains to be established how the countries that now have the euphemism of the Global South would proceed, assuming they want to take a step towards overcoming colonialism; there are already countless new war products being marketed and tested; Furthermore, many signs and his inferences that the title “war of wars” may change hands are recognizable: President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Russia will choose a total war if it feels existentially threatened, that is, Russia does not lose wars; the defeat of Ukraine will imply a more accelerated decline of the American empire that will have to deal with the de-dollarization of the world economy and with its internal debt, leaving to know how the United States will deal with its eventual new status – the image of President Biden delivering submarines to Australia, wearing a shiny petroleum blue suit and wearing sunglasses very close to his face, blocking his eyes, like a villain in a James Bond movie, did not strike us, among many , a good omen; the escalation of the war also seems evident: the negotiation of American air support for a Ukrainian counterattack; the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons to the Belarus region, that is, they are in the process of doubling the stakes…

The question we all ask is how it was possible to reach such a situation again at a time when the world would need a lot of unity to fight the climate changes that are approaching at a gallop. The Europeans' passion for war, which leads them to exercise power over the other whose otherness is unbearable to them, does not seem enough.

The intelligibility of this state of facts can be sought in the investigation of the distinction and meeting of the notions of prophecy and prognosis (KOSELLECK, 1979). The ancient world, based on the prophecy of the end times, which guided history from a Christian perspective, of an eschatology that was always postponed – Paul awaited it from his living and Luther for the “next year” – guaranteed the dominance of the Church, which is inherently eschatological. The end of the world, always imminent, served as an ordering and integrating factor while remaining postponable, assuring an interpretation for the human future.

The emergence of the conception of a human history as a construction of the future, without the protection of a religious vision, is one of the hallmarks of modernity. We “abandon” the eschatological vision for the rationalization of the future, which is the foundation of the philosophy of history. Prognoses appear instead of prophecies. The difficult art of political calculation imposes itself to the point of pointing out that: De futuris contingentibus is not determinata veritas, that is, the truth about future events remains undetermined. In this sense, the difference between prophecy and prognosis is that the latter, associated with the political situation, already indicated an action to be implemented, that is, the prognosis engenders time towards what is projected, contrary to the eschatological prophecy that destroys time. We thus find ourselves with Leibniz, for whom the idea of ​​attempting historical predictability, identifying its causes, is based on elements of the present which already delineate, provoke and stimulate the changes that will occur.

It is in this way that struggles for political succession and exchange of hegemonic empire make evident our capacity for repetition that always brings together, once again, the predictable future to the past. In other words, the future is constructed in the present based on the past, which brings to the fore the phenomena of our desire and the mechanism of repetition.

To use an image, it is as if we were opening a path in a forest, predicting the best step, choosing the best relief, cutting the thinnest branches and facing the strongest, inevitable ones, with more attention and strength. We keep imagining the destination that only exists in our imagination, or in the future, since no one has been there yet.

In this perspective and in the present in which we find ourselves, the difference between prophecy and prognosis seems to become opaque, that is, we are in full condition to carry out in the near future the eschaton prophesied.

Case belli abound; a valid fuse is missing since the destruction of Russian gas pipelines did not achieve this role. If we think about the trigger of the war of wars, and the phenomena of desire and repetition, it is not out of place to remember an event that could still take place, that is, Iran, in some future, will have to eliminate a great western political figure as a reprisal of the assassination by the Trump administration of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Major General Qasem Soleimani.

*Lorenzo stained glass He is a professor at the Faculty of Letters of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

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