The heart of the conflict

Image: Andrés Sandoval
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By LUIZ MARQUES*

The media act as mouthpieces for the Pentagon-orchestrated narrative.

“What can history tell us about contemporary society?” The question is from Eric Hobsbawm. Until the eighteenth century, “the past was the model for the present and the future. Hence the meaning of the old man, who represented wisdom not only through experience, but through the memory of how things were done, and how they should be done”, stresses the historian in About the story (Company of Letters). A normative traditionalism served as a compass for generations. The idea of ​​continuous progress prevailed. The Industrial Revolution (1830) provoked ruptures and, in Auguste Comte, the belief that Sociology and Biology were the most important disciplines for understanding the famous “liquid modernity”.

The idea of ​​linear progress, dear to Enlightenment philosophers in the XNUMXs and positivists in the XNUMXs, enters a crisis in the XNUMXth century. The promise of sharing wealth did not materialize, the ideals of equal opportunities and results proved to be empty of practical meaning, even under the mystifying envelope of meritocracy. The environmental shock of economic growth, at any cost, has led to global warming and humanity on the brink of a precipice. In the Netherlands, “degrowth” strategies are being discussed to curb production. In Germany, there is talk of a “post-growth” so that communities have an active voice over the course of development, in order to preserve the environment and the biodiversity of species. It is the ecological challenge of our time.

“Paradoxically, the past remains the most useful analytical tool for dealing with constant change, but in a new way. Faced with the overwhelming reality of change, even conservative thinking becomes historicist. History embodies a process of directional change. The reasoning applies to the formation of the Russian empire, to explain the now re-incorporation of Ukraine (Ukraine, border). There was a Kievan Rus' (XNUMXth to XNUMXth centuries) before Moscow Russia (XNUMXth to XNUMXth centuries). With what the occupation carried out would be putting Ukraine back on the tracks of the “Russian way of being”. Perhaps one regrets the geography that collects despots, passing through Stalin in “real socialism”, but one cannot ignore the “spirit of the laws” and the cultural specificities of the region that became a war zone.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recovers the past by justifying the territorial offensive. Lenin and Trotsky gave up Ukraine at the end of the First War in order to seal peace agreements with the victorious countries, at the end of the warlike diatribe. In World War II, Ukraine landed in the nest of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). With the sunset, it became an independent nation. However, under belligerent pressure from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) in the last three decades. The siege involves the United States (USA) and the European Union (EU) in the march on the East. Professor of International Relations (Uerj), Maurício Santoro, sums up the situation: “the structural cause of this war is the dispute between Russia, the USA and the EU for the delimitation of their spheres of influence”. Nothing to do with the democratic cause versus the despotism.

Created in 1949 with the aim of containing the tentacles of the former USSR in western Europe, NATO should have disappeared with that one. But it survived and was reinvigorated, jumping from 12 to 30 associated countries in full pacification. It initiated negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia to join its ranks. Threatened, Russia, which was not integrated into the international system of the EU with the disintegration of “communism / Soviet” (which was, incidentally, neither one nor the other) intervened in Georgia in 2008. The West broke its promise not to harass the countries Eastern Europe after the Cold War.

George Bush encouraged countries bordering the Bear to join NATO to belong to the EU, and to impose a siege on Russia. Putin reiterated the numerous complaints of Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), opposing the expansion of NATO and the formatting of closed blocs, arguing the ideological approaches left over from earlier eras. As Winston Churchill said, "Americans only do the right thing when they have exhausted all other possibilities". Including wars.

US imperialism is dependent on warmongering industry. Harry Truman, who assumed the presidency with the death of Roosevelt, continued the Second War and was responsible for the tragic demonstration bombs, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Six years later, in 1951, he participated in the Korean War, having 35,5 casualties. Lyndon Johnson led the nation through its greatest failure, the Vietnam War (1964-75), with 60 casualties.

John Kennedy invaded the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. He was rebuffed by Cuban revolutionaries. Bush "father" bequeathed the Gulf War (1990-91) and, to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait, mobilized 500 troops. Bush “son” invaded Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). In response to the September 11, 2001 attack, he enacted the Global War on Terrorism. Obama inherited the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and promised the gradual withdrawal of invading troops. Biden, his vice-elect, put the tension that resulted in the Ukraine War on the imperialist curriculum. War is the rule.

The threat of the Third War shows the irresponsibility of the leaders of the great powers, who do not empathize with young people (mostly black) in the fronts of battle and death. The death throes of unipolarity are not only expressed via markets, but in the sirens of insanity via destruction. It is difficult to imagine effective support, with weapons and ammunition, for Ukraine. This would imply a direct confrontation with Russia, a nation with a huge nuclear arsenal, empowered by oil and the gas pipeline.

Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania border Ukraine, but don't expect a coordinated response. So far, only Poland has agreed to send weapons to Ukraine. Germany and France, yet to be seen. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, was elected with an anti-political and anti-political speech (in the election campaign he took pictures, machine gun in hand, pointing against the seat of Parliament), to the delight of Nazi-fascist groups. He flirted with NATO membership and access to atomic weapons. He's just a pawn hobbled by the real ones players, about the game. We've already seen that third-rate movie, with a buffoon and clique making guns with their hands.

“It is not too much to remember that at the beginning of February, therefore before the start of the Russian incursion, Putin and the President of China, Xi Jinping, released a statement in which they denounced the expansion of NATO, which is at the heart of the current conflict in Ukraine. The medium and long-term effects of the Western blockade may even aggravate Russia's economic vulnerability, but they also put on the horizon a possible broad trade agreement between Russians and Chinese that could result in the supremacy of the Chinese economy in the world," wrote Aloizio Mercadante in the magazine Focus Brazil. What appeared to be the result of voluntarism – everything indicates that it was a strategic move in the geopolitical chess studied in advance. The communiqué announced a rapprochement in several sectors, such as cooperation on the New Silk Road, diplomacy, foreign trade, combating the Covid pandemic and the defense of a “polycentric” world. That is, a multipolar world.

Shadows lurk over Brazil, with deepening economic difficulties and an outbreak of inflation. Petrobras, dismantled, operates with the logic of the Import Parity Price Policy. The oil and gas production chain has been subjugated by the interests of importing companies and shareholders that impose the dollarization of fuels. Despite its self-sufficiency in oil, with the discovery of the fabulous Pre-Salt reserves (“a gift”, it was said at the time), the country incredibly became an exporter of crude oil and an importer of finished products, abdicating investments in refining and in the integrated system of production, distribution and commercialization that generate gains and competitiveness in relation to other economies. With a barrel of oil above US$ 100 dollars, given the appreciation of commodity, the worst is foreseen, the increase in gasoline, diesel and gas prices due to the trap of the criminal double lesa-patria, Temer and Bolsonaro.

As if that were not enough, there is a risk of negative impacts on the importation of fertilizers from Russia, especially potassium chloride, a fundamental product for soil fertilization and essential for domestic agriculture. Brazil imports 80% of what it uses, Russia being the main supplier. This will impact the cost of agricultural production, putting pressure on food prices and dramatically on the basic food basket and inflation. What is bad will get worse.

Itamaraty's position on the conflict was of a platitude that does not play a relevant role in the security dilemma that torments Europe, under the knife of total blockbuster war. Complete victory of irrationalism, of mad unreason. On the other hand, the positioning of the most active globalized leader with deserved credibility, Lula da Silva, was comforting.

However, it is up to progressive currents, from civil society (“the stage par excellence of the political struggle”, according to Gramsci), to provide the impetus that is missing from the streets so that the powers that have nuclear weapons come to their senses. The task cannot be expected to be fulfilled by the media, which act as mouthpieces for the narrative orchestrated by the Pentagon. By assuming an unseemly propagandist vassalage, the media misinforms more than it manages to inform the public.

On top of the events, it is necessary that all and all who participated in the editions of the World Social Forum, in the golden cycle of repercussion of the alter-world movement, return and insert in the agenda the concept of “imperialism”, which is not limited to neoliberalism and nor is it located in the abstract cloud of an “empire”, waiting for an insurgent “crowd”. At the WSF, the tonic was the fight against neoliberalism. The rise of the extreme right, as an auxiliary arm of neoliberal policies, brought to the fore the fight against neo-fascism (Bolsonarism). On a local scale, the struggle is anti-neoliberal and anti-neofascist.

Nevertheless, the war in Ukraine laid bare US imperialist policy, already from the “hybrid wars depicted in Oliver Stone’s documentary, Ukraine in Flames, launched in 2016, which follows in the footsteps of the coup d'état in 2014 that overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych anointed by the people's vote in clean elections, in a maneuver by the US that slapped and hid his hand, without success, as denounced Stone . Dilma Rousseff was not the first victim of “hybrid wars”, with the complicity at the pay of NGOs, the press controlled by bankers and institutional castes in toga.

On a planetary scale, US imperialism is expressed through the military organization that has NATO as its spearhead, in opposition to the multipolarity necessary for human society. At the turn of the millennium, we saw the birth of a mobilization of bodies and consciences, social movements and political parties that raised the level of understanding about the domination of financial capital in the hemispheres and about the growing inequality that characterizes predatory capitalism in its anti-civilization and savage neoliberal phase. .

That the century XXI is the milestone of the struggle to overcome the tripod based on neoliberalism, neofascism and NATO's belligerence. The democratization of international relations is condensed in the slogan: less NATO, more UN. For the strengthening of the United Nations, as Lula stresses. It is a categorical imperative for the present.

Attention: without ceasing to support the democratic left opposition to the Kremlin inside Russia, By the way, see the interview of the Russian intellectual, Ilyá Budraitskis, author of “Dissidents among Dissidents”, about the roots of the Ukraine-Russia bellicose spiral and “the grand-Russian imperial character of Putin's vision, which he has just confirmed with his extraordinary speech on the 21st of January 2022"(Viento Sur, translated from the French magazine Inprecor). Isn't that what history is telling us about contemporary society?

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.

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