Metaphysics of War
Metaphysics of War
Today I would like to share my views on the metaphysics of war and the philosophical comprehension of what is happening. Without such comprehension, we will not be able to grasp the full depth of the current confrontation. It goes without saying that I am carefully watching the information space, commenting on it live. However, today I would like to have a look at the current events from a philosophical perspective.
Basically, war has always been perceived as something necessary. Heraclitus calls it the "father of things." War has always constituted peace. If there is no war, there is no division, but there is no peace. Thus, in a sense, war is comprehended as a cosmological act. War theorists Thucydides and Socrates romanticized war. At the same time, a very interesting division is taking place. It seems to me that it is crucial for us today when analyzing the conflict. The wars are divided into good and bad.
Good wars are wars against an external enemy. They are acceptable according to Thucydides, or Socrates, or Xenophon. Besides, there are internecine wars that are viewed negatively. Later, in Plato's dialogue Laws, these will be characterized as external wars. Plato uses the Greek term "polemoy" (pólemoj), as opposed to internal war - discord. Naturally, the ancient Greeks justified wars with an external enemy. An external war was seen as a war with others, with strangers, with barbarians, who, generally, can be subdued. Whereas a discord war, which the Greek policies used to wage too, such as the war of Athens and Sparta, according to Plato and his predecessors, should have led to reconciliation, but by no means to destruction.
Talking about today's conflict, the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, the question arises. Is it an external or an internecine war? That's a very tricky question. Just yesterday, I spoke on the Republic TV channel. My opponent, a Ukranian colleague Polina from Kyiv, an ex-adviser to the Minister of Defense, said, I quote: "There is no such people as Russians, but if they exist, they have to be killed." After hearing it I concluded that this war (although it can rather be called not a war, but a peace enforcement) is no longer internecine, it is being waged with an external enemy. That is, those who oppose us, who commit acts of aggression, who have been committing acts of aggression against the Russian people for eight years and who forbade the Russians to live, forbade them to speak their language, forbade them to have their culture, they are no longer our brothers Slavs. This is some other entity.
I was occupied by this thought, i.e., an attempt to comprehend the conflict as a struggle with an external enemy, as a "polemoy". And this "polemoy" according to Plato must be waged very courageously. Also, war, according to Plato, is, in many respects, a consequence of human imperfection. Nevertheless, it must be waged fairly and it must establish the correct order. The higher is the contemplative principle, and the lower is the lustful principle.
If we look at the structure of Ukrainian power, we'll see that over the past eight years since 2014, US military subsidies have amounted to $20.5 billion in large military equipment equivalent. The same happens in other areas. Talking about the total volume of investments in civil society by foundations the way I see it, the total sum was much less there, up to $1.5 billion, I guess. But it is big money anyway.
If you look at these proportions then the question arises whether Ukraine is a puppet state ruled by a comedian, by the way, it is already ridiculous. What an interesting sacred symbol it is. For example, Heraclitus was called the "weeping philosopher" for he never laughed. Democritus, on the other hand, was called the "laughing philosopher" because he laughed all the time and he was a kind of a damned man for antiquity. It is no coincidence that his books were burned by Platonists and Pythagoreans. And by Plato himself, according to the legend.
Anti-Russia and its front is not just a political front, but rather an oppositional geopolitical pole. It is some kind of a proxy actor of the American principle, American civilization, American order, i.e., a globalist order. It also serves as another anti-Russian model, both existential and metaphysical. This is a model where values are turned upside down. Lust rules there, that is, the lustful lower principle that is associated with the idea of "stomach" in Plato. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced today that our country did not start hostilities, but on the contrary, Russia is putting an end to them. And the end of these hostilities is actually the restoration of justice.
You may recall, since you have already mentioned philosophical concepts, a concept of just war as well. It applies here. And by the way, this just war is taken as an argument by many neoconservatives when conducting military operations in the world. Look how differently we act. They just reduce to rubble all the neighborhoods, as they did in Iraq. Mass shelling of residential and non-residential areas. Their private military companies shoot civilians. On the opposite, we are acting for the sake of the living. Despite the misconceptions and mistakes, despite the fact that the Ukrainian people were fascinated and even hypnotized by the narrative, a different logos, which is alien to them, the Russian peacekeepers do not want them dead.
Everyone is saying now that this operation should have been completed in a day. No, it shouldn't have. Because it is a very complex process. However, on the whole, we see that the Russians behave very humanely when establishing this sacred order. Not in the way the lustful principle operates. Not committing war crimes.
In principle, these are the main points that I wanted to share with you. There is something to think about and discuss. It turns out that, on the one hand, the Russians are waging war with an external enemy, the United States. On the other hand, they understand that the bodies of the people from that other side are external to us. The bodies and the souls of these people are our own reflection. But this is a reflection that has wandered into a distant and completely wrong world of a different ontology, with a different hierarchy of values. Therefore, on the one hand, this is an external war, the war with an external enemy, with external civilizations, with the logos of Cybele, with the logos of lust, even with the myth of lust, with obsession. With consumption, too. What is happening in Ukraine is a true society of performance. As my colleague just noted before me, there is an asymmetry in the information war. On the other hand, this is an internal war as well. This is a kind of discord that should lead to peace. Actually, this is a discord between the two principles of one soul, as Plato put it. There are two principles of the soul: a herdsman and a horse. Thus, our Russian military are similar to a herdsman who is trying to pacify this raging black horse.
This is the interpretation I as a historian of philosophy and Platonism would suggest. I hope this topic to be developed further. It is necessary since our American colleagues, for instance, neoconservatives, base their theories on Platonism. Take Leo Strauss, the ideological inspirer of all neoconservatism. He is a one-of-a-kind expert in Plato's philosophy. Or, for instance, the idea of fakes he justifies. Leo Strauss says that Plato had the idea of a "noble deceit". Therefore, to establish a righteous world order, i.e., the American world order, it is quite acceptable to use some forms of this “noble deceit”.
No doubt, we can describe the conflict without metaphysics, without philosophy, but in this case something essential will be missing. Coming back to your question, Nikolay, whether this war is an atonement. I suppose yes, it is. Basically, the war is waged by the Russians in order to establish peace. In Russian, there were two spellings of the word "мир" ("world"): with a decimal "i", with a dot, and in the modern version - with an octal "и". One is just a given, and the other is the result of a war, a kind of a pact made after separation. So, this way of thinking is typical for us: first comes separation, then follows a reunion. And the Russians definitely want peace. In Russian philosophy of the late 19th - early 20th centuries, there was an idea of conciliarity. This conciliarity should manifest itself in relationships with Ukrainian people now. We are trying to overcome this separation. I wish true success to our army; I believe history to be coming true now. To put it in Heidegger's way, what is happening now is "Ereignis" or an "occurrence". Manifestation of Russian being in history.
And I believe that we should pray sincerely for those who are there, on the front line. Certainly, I would really like to call for prayer for the enemies, for them to come to their senses. But at the moment I'm not ready yet to admit it to myself. It's hard for me, it's difficult after watching all the videos, after threats that are coming. I believe that we should hold on with that for now and pray for our peacekeepers.
We should reflect on who we are. Because when we encounter ourselves on the other side, the Eastern Slavs, we see that they have contours of their own identity. Yes, it is completely artificial. Yes, it is not based on history. It consists of scattered images and combinations of liberal Nazism with globalism. It's interesting that this is a project funded by Soros. He supported the Nazis and the nationalists. The main criterion for him was hate of the Russian world. They, in other words, do have an identity. It is artificial, they cannot stick to it, it turns into madness, but, at least, it is expressed somehow.
We must ask ourselves what our identity is. In the Sun of the North, Nikolay and I have talked about the issue of traditional values and the draft decree, the discussion of which was temporarily suspended, but is still in the agenda. This is essential. I believe that the issue of thinking through our traditional values, our identity, ideology, comprehension of the new geopolitical situation is the number one priority for us. If the peace enforcement operation finishes successfully, we must know how to proceed. How to control this "grossraum" in terms of ideology, not military forces, politics or economy? This is exactly what Carl Schmidt calls a "grossraum".
What is this "grossraum" based on? This is an open-ended question. I suppose the answer stems from the passphrase, and the password would be "traditional values". However, we have to study and define these values very precisely because history is moving much faster than it used to. And now we have to pick up these meanings, these mythologemes, semantic nodes from our history at a speed a hundred times greater than we have already been doing it for the past eight years.
We must urgently form some idea, some vision of this ideology and understand who to rely on. On Slavophiles? I think yes, they are necessary here. On Pan-Slavist ideas? Sure. You might wonder why. They are incompatible with Eurasianism, aren't they? Let's make them compatible. Let's figure out how these concepts can be combined. Eurasianism? Undoubtedly. I believe that Eurasianism is the ideology to unite the vast space of Eurasia.
What else is necessary? We also need a religious dimension, a traditionalist dimension, a geopolitical dimension, and a metaphysical one, which we have just touched upon today. This is the task number one.
I am now addressing everyone who watches us and listens to the Sun of the North programmes. I encourage you to think in this direction. Because what we have now is an imbalance. The other side has arguments, ideology and obsession. And we have it all, too... But it is not manifested the same way. It means that we have overlooked something. Sometime in the period of eight years we didn't move forward when we should have done it. Perhaps we have missed something. But nothing is lost until everything is lost. I think all this work can be done quickly.
There are many prerequisites for it. I will designate only the small key points. These are Eurasianism, neo-Eurasianism, the Fourth Political Theory, overcoming the theory of Modernity, and traditionalism. Moreover, we must not forget about the whole compendium of Russian philosophy, from the Slavophiles and to the philosophy of the Silver Age. It must be studied and be a source for inspiration. Most likely, the idea of conciliarity and, perhaps, sophiology are the most important milestones of the Silver Age. As well as the works of Pavel Florensky.
I think these are the key points, or the keys that will help us to open the door to the Russian future that we need to build.
Translation: Ekaterina Dobrina and Alena Mokicheva. The Sun of the North translator's team