The War in Ukraine

Image: Octoptimist


With peace negotiations already under way, it is the West itself that is sounding the drums of war, not without a good dose of cynicism.

In the West, liberal analysis has already begun to "speculate" about the psychopathological reasons for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, as can be seen in a recent video from the Limes – Italian Journal of Geopolitics. It won't be surprising if the Brazilian corporate media uses the same argument in a little while.

It is the West's way of hiding its own responsibilities, ahead of NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe from the 1990s onwards and the Maidan Square coup in 2014, which overthrew pro-Russian President Viktor Janukovic and revived Ukrainian Nazi-fascist squads, partly integrated into the country's army (such as the Azov Battalion, in action in the Donbass region).

It is not the case to extract from here a canonization of Vladimir Putin, as if he, instead of a follower of the conservative traditionalism of Alexandr Dugin − in one of the many variations of Bonapartism that marks the current organic crisis of capitalism[1] −, was the highest representative of Bolshevism, as a certain left seems to think in their hearts. Who in some circles even exchanges Lenin's doctrine for that of Oswald Spengler.

Even China, Russia's strategic ally in the ongoing redefinition of world geoeconomics and geopolitics, did not subscribe to Putin's decision to move from the cold war to the hot war. This is what can be concluded from the statements made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who nevertheless considered NATO expansion and Western sanctions against Russia unacceptable. It is as if Russia has embarked on an inadvertent inversion of Clausewitz's maxim.

Putin's complaints are, however, more than fair. They are a reaction to the “primitive accumulation” regime that imperialism, under US planetary command, “recreated” in Eastern Europe after the fall of “real socialism”, marked by widespread privatization, super-exploitation of labor and militarization.

It is these complaints that the West wants to cover up with the “psychopathological deviance” thesis. A way of not talking about the correlation of forces and class struggles, as Gramsci noted in his critique of the reactionary positivism of Lombroso's medical anthropology − with its clear territorial dimension, a product of imperialist relations.

And yet, it seems to have been precisely these correlations of forces that Vladimir Putin, if he followed Marxism as the Chinese do − which is not to be confused with the “philosophy of the pure act”, the Gentilian “pure praxis” −, would have better evaluated before of abandoning the terrain of diplomacy, or of politics properly speaking, to enter that of the war of movement as if it were already “the whole war”.

It is, strictly speaking, the terrain of hegemony, of the consensus that overrides coercion (without completely eliminating it, or transforming it into self-coercion). A far-reaching change in the correlation of forces conditioning the politics of the post-1848 world. And that, at least since the last Engels − not to mention Lenin, Gramsci and Togliatti, great theorists of hegemony −, Marxism has learned to raise as one of its pillars.

A few days after the beginning of the Russian campaign, there is, however, an objective fact about which no one can remain silent. With the negotiations already underway, it is the West itself − as crippled by Bonapartist regimes as Putin's, including the leading country of imperialism[2] − who continues, not without a healthy dose of cynicism, to beat the drums of war while talking about peace, sending arms to Ukraine and launching an irrational hate campaign against Russia.

Milton Santos was right when twenty years ago he said it was characteristic of the “systemic perversity” of globalization – itself “a period and a crisis” −, among others founded on the “tyranny of information”, “spiritual and moral evils such as selfishness, cynicisms, (and) corruption”.[3]

* Marcos Aurélio da Silva is a professor in the Department of UFSC Geosciences.



[1] For the definition of Bonapartism, I rely on Losurdo, who associates it with “an atomized and amorphous society”, presupposing “personal power” and the “personal charisma of the leader”, which “proclaims itself above all parties and social classes”, as well as − very important − political contexts where “praxis” is “a clear antithesis of theory” and theorists are seen as “simple doctrinaires clinging to ideas, systematic constructions or, even, to 'metaphysical questions '”. See Losurdo, D. Democracy or Bonapartism: triumph and decline of universal suffrage. RJ: UFRJ Publisher; SP: Editora da Unesp, 2004, p. 197-8.

[2] On the wide spread of Bonapartist regimes that marks the crisis of current capitalism, we follow chapter 4 of the book by Stefano G. Azzarà, Goodbye postmodernism. Populism and hegemony in the crisis of modern democracy, currently being published by Insular based on our translation.

[3] Santos, M. For another globalization. From single thought to universal consciousness. RJ/SP: Record, 2009, p. 15, 20 and 33-4.


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