Сто години след Първата световна война лидерите на Европа върват насън към нова, тотална война. Както и през 1914 г., те вярват, че войната в Украйна ще бъде ограничена и краткотрайна. През 1914 г. в европейските канцеларии се говори, че войната ще продължи три седмици. Тя продължи четири години и доведе до смъртта на повече от 20 милиона души. Както и през 1918 г., днес преобладава мнението, че е необходимо да се наложи наказание на агресора с цел превъзпитание, за да остане той сломен и унизен за дълго време. През 1918 г. победената сила е Германия (и Османската империя). Имаше и несъгласни (Джон Мейнард Кейнс и няколко други), според които пълното унижение на Германия би било катастрофално от гледна точка на възстановяването на Европа и на трайния мир на континента и в света. Предупрежденията им не бяха чути и двадесет и една години по-късно Европа отново влезе във война. Последваха пет години на разрушения, в които загинаха повече от 70 милиона души. Историята не се повтаря по един и същ начин, но изглежда и че ни учи на нещо. Тя илюстрира и подчертава приликите и разликите. Позволете ми да предложа две илюстрации.
One hundred years after World War I, Europe’s leaders are sleepwalking toward a new, all-out war. As in 1914, they believe that the war in Ukraine will be limited and short-lived. In 1914, the word in Europe’s chancelleries was that the war would last three weeks. It lasted four years and resulted in more than 20 million deaths. As was the case in 1918, the dominant view today holds that it is necessary to inflict exemplary punishment on the aggressor, so as to leave it broken and humbled for a long time. In 1918, the defeated power was Germany (and the Ottoman Empire). There were dissenting voices (John Maynard Keynes and a few others) for whom the complete humbling of Germany would be disastrous in terms of the reconstruction of Europe and of a lasting peace on the continent and in the world. Their warnings were not heeded, and twenty-one years later Europe was again at war. There followed five years of destruction that left more than 70 million people dead. History does not repeat itself, nor does it seem to teach us anything, but it does illustrate and highlight similarities and differences. Let me offer two illustrations.
Russia’s open intervention in the Ukrainean conflict is yet another reminder that the left-wing forces need to think with greater complexity about the world
Bojidar Kolov is a doctoral fellow in Russian Studies at the University of Oslo and a master’s student in Religion, Politics and Democracy at the Stockholm School of Theology. His interests lie mainly in the interplay between religion and politics as well as in psychoanalytic political theory.
The article was written a short time before the Russian recognition of the two separatist republics in Eastern Ukraine, but the events somehow proved its message.
In the midst of the information war and looming conflicts between the West and Russia, the pressure on every politically active person to “position him/herself” is increasing tremendously. Public discourse is polarised, rigidly fixed camps are formed, nuances are lost, any attempt to complicate the issue is read as (counter-)propaganda in favour of one side or the other in the conflict of totalising narratives.
Against this backdrop, a disturbing trend is emerging on the left – not only in Bulgaria, but among many on the left around the world. Left-wing anti-imperialism – directed primarily (and quite legitimately) against the expansionist policies of Western capital – unfortunately often suffers from incoherence. By focusing their efforts on sophisticated critiques of NATO propaganda, denouncing the long hand of the US military-technical complex, and pointing to the toxic presence of the far right in Ukrainian politics, a sizable portion of the left seems to remain blind to the Kremlin’s unambiguously neo-imperialist policies. In their desire to oppose the well-oiled propaganda machine of Washington and London, they often completely ignore the Putin regime’s atrocities against the poor, pensioners, queer people, ethnic minorities and smaller nations in the so-called “near abroad,” Eastern Europe, Syria and in Russia itself. Resistance to the neocolonial policies of Western capital often seems to miss the fact that Russian capitalism is one of the most oppressive in the world, that Moscow’s foreign policy is textbook imperial (following the “brightest” European examples), that the left in Russia and the countries under its influence is almost completely marginalised, and that Putin and his friends in and outside Europe have long embraced the far right.
A look into the EU in itself and EU with regard to its neighbours
The future of European Union has been a matter of heated debates for years. The second episode of Cross-Border talks takes a close look at the community’s place in international relations… with special focuses to both East and West.