Notes on wars and shallow pacifism

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By YURI MARTINS-FONTES*

The greater the previous balance of opposing forces in times of “peace”, the lesser will be the audacity, the bellicose outbursts of the most powerful.

“Do not stop an army that retreats to the house; the enemy will fight to the death. A cornered foe must be left a way out… Do not press too hard on an enemy in despair” (Sun Tzu, The art of war).

Brief decalogue on wars, in times of warlike intensification and shallow pacifism. A reflection on the Marxist category of totality, which is much more than the sum of the parts (since in motion). And some suggestions for less ethereal buzzwords.

 

Preamble on the warlike present

There is no way to understand an armed conflict taken by emotion, by the feeling of sadness caused by the misfortunes that are always present in each of its battles; without looking in detail at the interests and main hidden forces behind so many puppets.

These are very strange times when, instead of hearing socialists, humanists, “Marxists” say in unison “for the end of the NATO offensive, so that the Russian bombings (of the cornered) stop”, or even “for the overthrow of the Ukrainian coup d’état”. 'orange' and a swastika in sight”, one hears frantic purisms, just like that carelessness that has been resonating in aseptic environments: “for the end of the Russian bombings and (as soon as possible) of NATO”. In this “demanding” watchword – or perhaps a divine command – it would only be necessary to include something like “for the immediate end of capitalism, the fingers in the global eyes, and also for the extinction of all evil and iniquity in the universe – and it has what to be today!”.

As Karl Marx demonstrated: after the isolated observation of the various aspects of social problems, which are too complex, it is always necessary to refer to the greater reality, to the concrete totality that relates such problems. And this care should be even more considered as the debate involves themes of humanitarian urgency, be it hunger, epidemics, the destruction of the planetary metabolism, be it war power and despotic control of the world.

 

Notes on the wars

No one in their right mind likes or appreciates a war – the desire for competitiveness is one of the pathological aspects of the capitalist system;

Not always the one who gives the first slap is the one who attacked first - or the villain; behind the outbreak of war (actually), there are latent (potential) and broader conflicts;

Although it is extremely complex in its causes, immediate motivations, possibilities of outcome and future consequences, in the face of an open war, already started between two fronts, there are only two ways to go: supporting one side or the other; and for a socialist, that weaker, more oppressed side, even when dealing with two capitalist “enemies” [*And contrary to what the Estadão says, at present there is not such a “difficult choice”];

To shout for a draw, for the “peace of the gods”, to immediately demand the immediate humanization of the millennium-old dehumanized human being is – at best – to whisper to the birds that fly;

Opting for neutrality, for supposed peace (completely outside the possibility of peace), refraining from making choices in an exposed conflict, even with historical awareness of the interests that compose it – including third parties directly or indirectly involved in any of the fronts–, means always and only (as Sartre well remembers): supporting the strongest;

Encouraging the resistance of a fragile army from the outside, without offering it real conditions for victory, without taking a clear position in the outbreak of confrontation, only serves to prolong skirmishes, to deepen in the end the losses of both opponents, victorious and defeated ( including causing more damage to civilians between fires) – a situation that only interests third parties, other enemies not directly involved in the current conflict, but desirous of the next one;

The greater the prior balance of opposing forces in times of “peace” – the unstable and armed peace that has been called the cold war –, the lesser the audacity, the bellicose outbursts of the most powerful.

Deadly weapons, which threaten the species as a whole, are the greatest proof of the human defeat that is the present hegemony of modern-bourgeois instrumental reason; better never existed; but if it exists, and above all, if it is in possession of enemies, may it be that some enemies of those enemies also have them; or so to speak: bombs, better not to have them, but if you have them, better in pairs;

Worse than the monopoly of ideas, the press, the economy, souls, the discourse on what is or is not culture and civilization, is the monopoly of geopolitical power (since it guarantees a good part of the rest);

For the peripheries of the world, it is better to have two bosses – or powers – trembling, happily toasting.

 

That said, let the hearts of pacifists join in! But without staying so shallow…

For the end of war – of wars – of epidemics and disasters induced by greed! For the end of hunger, the vile use of misery as a weapon of war!

For the cessation of everyday atrocities – for an independent, integral Palestine, without the ignominy of a apartheid neofascist adorned with democratic sequins! For free Afghanistan and Iraq, for rebuilt Libya… and Serbia-Yugoslavia!

Also for the end of economic sanctions, these indirect guns – but so direct – that violate non-aligned economies in search of autonomy: for the right of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran to go their separate ways!

And likewise – since everything can be dreamed, shouted and, why not, put on paper: for a Brazil free of this damned coup whose delay has been tormenting us for almost 6 decades, and almost without interruptions.

But of course, so that ethereal-socialist ramblings keep their wax wings away from the sun, let's return to the theme of open fire, because on Earth the plate is hot too. So: for the end of the general bombings, in particular, not to forget, of the massacres perpetrated – at this very moment in which these lines are being written – by NATO and Israel yesterday in Syria, in Gaza, today in Yemen, in Somalia! By the way, these are more bloody atrocities than the one that now erupts in Europe in free fall, subaltern to the USA, fascistized. However, a certain left – including the “Marxist” –, less sensitive to the “barbarian” civilizations (which are said to exist beyond the Mediterranean) did not have time on their agenda to observe, while he spoke passionately about the urgent Eurocentric peace, in the interval a glass of Bordeaux wine or two.

Socialists of all fields, from anarchists to social reformists – including the so-called leftists, anti-capitalists, humanists or even supporters of other purer adjectives – would gain in interpretive quality of reality if they apprehended at least a basic idea with Marxist communism , with the thought of praxis: the notion of totality, of dialectical imbrication between the whole and its parts. These parts whose meticulous analysis, although extremely important, cannot be sufficient in itself, but must be referred back to the whole, included in the understanding of the whole, in order to help recompose, based on new perceptions of the different aspects of the real, the conception of the concrete totality – and in conflicting movement –, in which we are inserted.

In short and finally: for everything ethical and beautiful and good and harmonious that the critical-critical imaginations, ladies of the most perfect judgments and values, can dream of. But also: for everything that is more urgent, more down-to-earth, more objectively earthly than the less indolent practical collectivities can accomplish, albeit with flaws. And that one day, hopefully, we can do better the necessary, the basic, the unavoidable – and in a better way. Theories are only proven in practice – as Marx said, in his famous and brief sentence that synthesizes the philosophy of praxis and founds effectively contemporary thought.

For the end of modernity, of mechanical scientism, of technical, competitive progress, which, in spite of human beings, is calculated on profit.

*Yuri Martins-Fontes He holds a PhD in history from FFLCH-USP/ Center National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). author of Marx in America – the praxis of Caio Prado and Mariátegui (Avenue).

 

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