The Invisible Armada


Notes on the War in Ukraine

By Alain Brossat

06 May 2022

1- The motif of tradition is to be handled like dynamite, because of its very ambivalence. In any case, it is not true that any reference to a tradition is by nature conservative or reactionary. When Walter Benjamin refers to the history of the oppressed and the tradition of the vanquished, it is all one and the horizon of his thought (of his messianism) is emancipation. A revolutionary thought is hardly conceivable in the absence of a reference to a tradition, which is neither an attic nor an antique store, but a set of memories and elements of knowledge directly linked to the collective experience of those from below and which constitutes the retrospective horizon in which a revolutionary approach to the present is situated.

When there is a break in tradition, the hold that revolutionary thought can exert on the present is weakened, this break leads to disorientation and contamination of radical thought by other discourses, other traditions, more tenacious – starting with that of the enemy. This is very precisely what is exemplarily verified in this sequence which opened with the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. From the mass of comments and analyzes of the situation thus created, emanating from various Western sources - journalistic, academic, essayists... - emerges a handful of texts contrasting strongly with everything coming from the mainstream and that rehashes the usual banalities on despotism in Russia, Putin's congenital totalitarianism, the conqueror's barbarism...

Let us cite, among what has come to hand: "Today's Crisis Over Ukraine Was Predictable and Avoidable" by Jack F. Matlock, former United States Ambassador to Moscow (, 02/15/2022, i.e. even before the start of the Russian invasion); “How did we get here? by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Portuguese sociologist (Criticallegalthinking site, 02/28/2022); “John Mearsheimer on why the West is principally responsible for the Ukrainian crisis” by John Mearsheimer, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Chicago ( The Economist , 11/03/2022); “Postsocialist Wars and the Masculinist Backlash” by Rada Ivekovic, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Saint-Etienne (Alienocene site, Journal of the First Outernational, March 2022); finally, the very remarkable “The West at War: On the Self-Enclosure of the Liberal Mind” by Boris Buden, a post-Yugoslavian philosopher living in Berlin ( Journal, April 2022).

It should be noted in passing that all these references are in English, without this being the effect of the author's conversion to Globish – we are far from it; but it is quite simply that it is discovered on this occasion, or rather confirmed, by the test of this political and warlike sequence, that in French language, the reverse shot has disappeared, even where the circumstances would require it most imperiously. In France, from now on, the perception of events which, par excellence, call for autonomy of judgment and unbound discernment of mass effects is placed under the regime of sacred union and general mobilization (of minds) – from the Charlie Hebdo affair to the war in Ukraine, via the Bataclan, the assassination of Samuel Paty and the Hong Kong crisis. The reverse shot has become an insanity and an aberration, a crime against thought, the same police of statements governs what emanates from the most diverse authorized centers, placed under the regime of the most illusory pluralism: from LundiMatin to Valeurs actuelles, passing through Médiapart, Le Monde and Le Figaro; everywhere the same interchangeable mantras which stigmatize the authoritarianism of the Beijing leaders, the Putinian despotism, the jihadist barbarism, the same ritornellos which maintain the confusion about the Covid and "freedoms", etc.

But let us pass on this pathetic figure where we see the French language becoming at the same time a minority and minor language in international exchanges (having lost all its assets and its prestige at the expense, in particular, of English and in the Deleuzian language, a language stuck in the most burdensome major and molar condition, incapable henceforth of becoming the vehicle, in its communicational uses, of any decisive difference whatsoever... Let us go back to the thread of our reasoning and notice this: the authors of all the articles mentioned above agree in remarking that if one cannot find any defensible "reason" for the invasion of Ukraine and even less, for any reason, to consider Putin like a political friend, one cannot for all that adhere to the rhetoric of the enemy (despotic, authoritarian, totalitarian, barbarian...), Manichaean rhetoric and oversimplification, putting into circulation by the propagandist agencies of the global West, on the occasion of this war - as if it were a clash of civilizations in which Zelensky embodied the Good and Putin the Evil.

But the strange thing for me is that, on this background of agreement, none of these authors explicitly mention (Buden gets close to it but does not really say it) the primary reason why, no matter how hard we can undertake to understand the perspective in which the action of the Russian leader is situated, taking up the relativist adage "everyone has his/her own reasons", we cannot treat Putin as a friend or, more precisely, we can only consider him as an enemy: the simple fact, massive and indisputable, that he was one of the most determined, decisive architects of the restoration of capitalism in Russia, as Yeltsin's zealous successor, the architect of a counter - revolution intended to revoke, cancel, deny, trample on the Russian Revolution understood here as a heritage not in the antiquarian and patrimonial sense of the term (the day-off Revolution) but messianic and returning against all odds in fleeting and intermittent outbursts in the landscape of the ruins of the history of the revolutionary movement in the 20th century[1]. Formed in the mold of what succeeded the terror apparatus of Stalinism, Putin handed over the keys to his country's economy and natural resources to the oligarchs, restored the spiritual power of the ugly Orthodox Church, of grand Russian nationalism, organized kitsch nostalgia for the Tsarist empire, persecuted the righteous dedicated to documenting the mass crimes of Stalin and his terror apparatus, etc.

This point is essential, its scope today extending well beyond the Ukrainian issue. In the context of the new Cold War - and already not cold at all, at the point of friction between Atlanticism and post-Sovietism, awaiting other points of warming - the pragmatic alliance forged between Putin's Russia and Xi's China is likely to open the way to all kinds of confusion – like “birds of a feather fly together”, authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes are made for getting on together, etc. Now, these superficial affinities are in truth the tree that hides the forest and it is here, precisely, that the rupture of tradition - the thread of the revolutionary tradition, which has nothing in common with an orthodoxy, as an analytical and conceptual grid has been lost - manifests itself in all its devastating magnitude. Indeed, what should be obvious, in the general configuration of the adverse groupings and alliances that are being put in place today, is that the alliance between the Russian regime and the Chinese regime brings together two powers that an essential factor separates – a factor which, precisely, refers to tradition.

The Chinese leaders, for their part, through all the twists and turns of their successive orientations and postures, all the twists and sometimes aberrations of the line adopted by the Chinese Communist Party since taking power in 1949, have never broken with the heritage of the revolution, have never denied and rejected it – even though they have so constantly abused and instrumentalized it in the most revocable way. All these supposed experts who, in the West, have never ceased to gloat about "Chinese-style capitalism" and have deduced from it that the Chinese Communist Party has become the executive committee of the China enterprise have stuck their finger in the eye to the elbow by confusing the gigantic NEP promoted by Deng Xiao Ping with the restoration of capitalism. Recent developments in which we have seen the Chinese equivalents (somehow more civilized) of the Russian oligarchs promptly put in their place, like the illustrious Jack Ma, sufficiently show that the Chinese Communist Party remains the exclusivist political power that sets the direction and directs the country, without this entity resulting from the Chinese revolution at any time being dissolved in any form of state capitalism.

It is obviously not a question of saying here that the current leaders of the Communist Party and of the Chinese State come straight out of the indelible tradition of Chinese communism (such a thing does not exist, the Chinese Communist Party is, among other things, made up of the sum of its twists and turns, its purges, its factional struggles...), but rather that, contrary to what happened in Russia, from Yeltsin to Putin, there has been no explicit and manifest break in this tradition. What the effect, let's say, journalistic, frivolous and superficial, in the West, is that if Xi Jinping can be continually caricatured as an emulator of Mao Zedong, the rapprochement between Putin and Lenin is much rarer, and for obvious reasons. Putin is the gravedigger of the Russian revolution and his tradition is that of the Black Hundreds, augmented by that of the Stalinist executioners. In the Chinese context, if you want to find the heirs of the counter-revolutionary tradition, that of warlords and large landowners, it is rather in the direction of Taiwan that you have to look...

There is therefore no reason to consider the Chinese leaders and the "China" that they embody as enemies, this against all that the propaganda of the perked up "free world" tends to incite us to [2]. The trick that consists in making of China the enemy of "democracy" in general, inasmuch as it has become the number one rival of the United States and perceived as the first of the dangers for Western hegemony, that string is a bit too obvious, like the “free world”-democracy-NATO equivalence chain... The fact that China has set an alliance with Russia for reasons that are quite obvious is not sufficient for making of it an enemy; this in the same way that the fact that Putin, gravedigger of the Russian Revolution, is an enemy does not make his imperialist democratic enemies our friends – quite the contrary.

As Rada Ivekovic points out, Putin's methods of conquest and destruction make him an emulator of the United States - Russian aircraft and artillery destroy Grozny, Aleppo and today Ukrainian cities like those of the United States destroyed Iraqi cities, massacred civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere under the pretext of fighting terrorism. But this analogy is not enough to place these two powers, in the exercise of their destructive violence, on the same level: the master, the hegemon, the one who has the initiative, is the United States and its sequel – here the European Union, in East Asia Japan, etc.

On the other hand, the United States exports its violence, as a military machine (that it is above all else) in a geo-strategic context where its territory is and remains, as it almost always has been, a sanctuary (hence the astounding effect of this little pinprick that was, on a historical scale, 9/11). By contrast, one of the mainsprings of Putin's acting out in Ukraine is the knowledge, the memory of Russia's vulnerability as a space and territory – the memory of the tens of millions of dead of the Second World War intertwined here with the trauma of the collapse of the USSR in which Russia itself was very close to being engulfed.

Putin's hypersensitivity to threats weighing on the integrity of his country, the fragility of its borders and therefore his hyperreactivity to the prospect of Ukraine's integration into a hostile military alliance, is not a pure phantasmagoria; it is the effect of a real situation; this perception of a direct threat can in no way be compared to the way in which the United States increasingly explicitly considers that Taiwan is attached to its vital space as a key position in the first "chain" supposed to protect its large space (Grossraum) in the Pacific and therefore, conversely, see any threat to Taiwan as the forward position of the "free world" in the South China Sea as representing a mortal danger to their very integrity.

It is therefore not only because, always, the hegemon dictates the agenda and its competitor in a minority position and in deficit of recognition (in the face of the politics of contempt) is condemned to follow the movement in a generally mimetic mode doomed to failure (as we see today in Ukraine), that the armed violence respectively implemented by the United States and Russia are not on the same level. It is also because both groups do not at all give the same meaning to expressions such as "vital threats", "existential threats". For the United States, for Western powers in general, anything that is likely to constitute a danger or an obstacle to their interests, anywhere in the world, is likely to be defined as an existential threat. This according to the exact same imperialist-universalist logic which wants the other sovereignties to "adopt" the enemies of the United States as their own enemies, failing which they expose themselves to seeing the United States treat them as enemies...

With the fall of the USSR and the Soviet empire, Russia has absolutely lost all capacity for universalizing their particular interests in this decisionist mode, it is encysted in a logic of laborious reconquest of lost positions and promotion of regional interests, whether in Ukraine, Syria or Libya.

It is not a question of trying to find in this way mitigating circumstances for the indefensible war of (re)conquest undertaken by Putin in Ukraine; what is at stake here is an analytical and not a moral question. That Putin is and remains, in this configuration, a clumsy epigone of the hegemonic bloc (and in particular of the United States) condemned to react without ever having the trump cards of the current game (as shown by the way in which he got miserably locked in the Ukrainian affair) - this is what should forbid taking the step of assigning it first place in the hierarchy of state crime, by reducing the analytical question to the conditions of an unobtainable morality, as Rada Ivekovic does: "While Putin's Russia is directly guilty of the attack on Ukraine, the West shares with Russia the responsibility for this tragedy” [3].

2- The very fact that we are overwhelmed by a mass of information of all kinds on the status of the war in Ukraine is not enough for providing us with the means to understand what is at stake in this conflict and to exercise our judgment about it, with full knowledge of the facts. In the Global North or, according to another imaginary geography of the present, in the West - as opposed to its "rest" (the West and the rest) - it is exactly the opposite that is true: a distinct relationship is established between the fact that almost all of this "news" is delivered under the regime of the sacred union against Putin and the disorientation of the judgment exercised by ordinary mortals; a patent relation is established between the profusion of information and the fact that the first hinders understanding and obscures judgment [4]. As I pointed out above, a handful of good articles is enough, roughly, to discern the broad outlines of this affair – but still it is necessary to get your hands on them, needle that they are in the haystack of all the messages related to this global event and globally contaminated by the virus of the propaganda conveyed by the apparatuses of contemporary democracy. The problem here is less than ever fake news, it's fake values, those conveyed by this democratic propaganda whose tireless turn consists in making us take the interest of the part for that of the whole, the perspective of the western narrator for God's vertical gaze on the general interest of generic humanity.

What can be seen today in the democratic countries of the Global North is that with regard to this conflict, war propaganda has definitely taken precedence over information in its ordinary sense, with in particular the disappearance of the reverse angle shot and the erasure of any critical approach to the policies of the Western governments involved in the conflict as well as the position of the Ukrainian rulers. What takes the place of information about this war is now placed under the sign of a state of emergency, with the selection of news, self-censorship and the placement of reports and comments under the sign of the most uninhibited (Atlanticist) unilateralism.

As, in the face of Putin, the old anti-communist string finds itself a little relaxed [5], they will dig shamelessly and without imagination from the inexhaustible stock of clichés about Russian autocracy, the spontaneous despotism of its leaders, the incurable barbarism of its morals, the native brutality of his soldiery, etc. - an old story that comes to us straight from the Marquis de Custine (De la Russie, 1839) and which had already been served up to us quite a bit by a doddering sovietology, in France in particular, in the 1980s [6].

What should act as a warning signal here (but doesn't, since what remains of public opinion in Western democracies has become accustomed to it) is the perfect homogeneity of powers, in the occurrence: the confinement of media power in Atlanticist unilateralism is here equal to that of the political elites, while the intellectual, cultural and academic elites docilely follow the movement [7]. All on the front line, as in 1914, no critical distance in the face of news and images that hit the mark – as if, precisely since the First World War, we had not learned to interpose our critical sense between shocking images, billboard titles, heroic stories and our perception of events. As if we were foolish and naive enough to ignore that little Zelensky with his week-long beard, dark circles in his eyes and his khaki t-shirt, admonishing the leaders of the Western powers, it's storytelling above all…

3- As strange as it may seem, I am ready to defend the idea that from the point of view of an ontology of the present, the knowledge and understanding as deep as possible of the historical, cultural and political ins and outs of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not, for us, let's say, citizens of nowhere, the main issue in this affair. This is no ordinary dispute over territories, populations and languages, it is an age-old dispute captured well by the schoolbook cliché – “Ukraine, the cradle of Russia” [8]. Once we have overpopulated the picture of this dispute with all sorts of dates, references and memories, old and recent, we will not have made decisive progress in understanding the present situation and the real springs of this war. If there is an object that can be said to exist only through the different ways of telling it, it is this one; ways of telling that are caught up in an inextricable melee where the outside observer really has a hard time finding himself.

See just a few of the so-called documentary films devoted to the Maidan movement in 2014, and you will understand how, failing to be able to grasp any truth of the event, the sagacious observer will be able, at the very least, to spot the most obvious forgery and manipulation [9]. The best we can do, from the outside, is to touch the granite hardness of the dispute - but again, this does not explain anything, in particular, about the present conflict - why it is breaking out today rather than five years ago or in ten...

Just a hint, since it is fashionable here for everyone to use their scholarly reference: in 1943, even before the Soviet Army had finished liberating the territory of the country, Alexander Dovzhenko, one of the great names of the first generation of Soviet cinema, is putting the finishing touches to a documentary film already entitled Ukraine in Flames, Victory in Soviet Ukraine [10]. A film in the form of a lyrical and propagandist montage of war images shot mainly by Soviet Army operators [11], highlighting the horrors of the German Occupation, the burned villages, the massacred civilians, the pain of women, and exalting the resistance of a people with beautiful collections of images of the faces of peasants, soldiers, peasant-soldiers, proletarian-soldiers, without forgetting all the same many officers, generals and medal-winning dignitaries, the omnipresent Khrushchev (the child of the country) in uniform adorned with medals to the chin, and then, just as intrusive, the homages to Stalin, the Father of Victory, in all forms and in all sauces... Well, this Sulpician film in which, moreover, one would look in vain for the slightest mention of the extermination of the Jews by the Germans and their local allies, no more, obviously, than of the ordeals undergone before the war by the Ukrainian population, in particular the great famine of the early 1930s - this arch-Stalinist film in its very explicitness, was then promptly banned by decree from the summit of the Soviet state for "Ukrainian nationalism". Its only fault being finally, but major and unforgivable, to consider the Ukraine at war, if not as an object separate from the Soviet Union, but at least, singular: if Khrushchev speaks Russian there, obviously, the peasants, them, speak Ukrainian.

Dovzhenko, it is the lyricism of the earth – the very title of the film by which his name is inscribed in the annals of world cinema [12]. With Ukraine in Flames, he therefore tries to make a tragic sequel to his film, where what is at issue is Ukrainian land and its inhabitants martyred by the German Occupation and the misfortunes of war. But that's already too much for Stalin and his clique, who can't ignore the fact that any evocation of the sufferings imposed on this country by a brutal master, an invader, is likely to convey more than one subliminal message... Exit the film, then of Dovzhenko – himself of Ukrainian origin.

This small stone added to the pile of stories documenting the abyssal depth of the Ukrainian-Russian dispute, however, casts only a very faint light on today's events - so obvious that what is essential for their understanding is the knowledge of the global structure of the confrontation that overdetermines this armed crisis – or, conversely, of the antagonism that is raging today, and of which this war is the microcosm. This is what is by far the most damning in the current war in Ukraine: its character, so manifest as part of a whole, its inaugural and predictive power, its character as a diagnostic and prognostic sign in our present - in short, everything it announces and promises us – it bodes well, very promising, indeed!

What this crisis condenses is distinct: it is the impasse in which a world finds itself locked up under the sign of a single principle, of a universalizing norm which happens to coincide with a block of power(s) and particular interests. What leads straight into the wall is this passion for the One-only with variable geometry and multiple faces, this figure of a faceted universal, sometimes Capital Democracy, sometimes "free world", sometimes "values" (freedoms, human rights), sometimes the West, but also, in practice, NATO - a military alliance, “defensive” as it is offensive – but which, under these masks, remains constant in its party to downgrade everything that differs of it, that stays out of its grasp, resists and opposes it.

The imperialist universalism of contemporary democracy is totally allergic to otherness, any form of otherness, which has the effect both automatic and inevitable that any difference or any adversity becomes for it a figure of the enemy. And since the enemy, in this mental configuration, is not only on the ground but also in the empyrean of values, then he can only be a criminal and not an honorable adversary. Ergo, Putin, advancing his pawns in Ukraine after having said and repeated that the passage of the latter under the thumb of NATO would be for Russia casus belli, and in a context where the people in power in Kiev were more active than ever to tilt their country into the Western (Atlanticist) camp, Putin, in doing so, can only be a war criminal and an enemy of humanity, a despot to be dethroned as soon as possible (Biden).

Now, those who embody this virtue, these principles, this unbreakable democracy, these values, are those who never in the course of their own history marked out by imperial crimes of all kinds, have recognized the least of these nor, less again, accepted to be accountable for them before any international jurisdiction.

The war in Ukraine, in this sense, is the stumbling block on which the presumption of the promoters of the democratization of the world as the happy ending of History and the advent of Reason has finally been shattered. Putin, for the reasons indicated above, cannot in any way be considered a friend or an ally, but at least his sinister Ukrainian campaign produces this effect of awakening and returning to reality: it comes to remind sleepwalkers of the democratization of the world, with the infinite presumption which sustains their phantasmagoria, that a human power, in its expansion, always ends up colliding with another power, that there is neither History nor politics without otherness or adversity. Putin is “rogue”, certainly, but as is the ringing of the alarm clock which comes to pull us from the most voluptuous of daydreams to bring us back to reality – we will have to get up and face the obligations of the day.

The characteristic of the narrative of the world arranged by the "great narrators" of contemporary democratic theodicy is to recount the present like a noir novel or a western - with its good guys, its vindicators, its justice-loving cops, its good impartial judges and the whole gallery of villains, sadistic criminals, perverse rapists and other serial criminals. This moralizing infantilism of the narrative of the present perfectly manifests the collapse of the very legitimacy of this fable and its props – the alleged coincidence of hegemony and the universality of values. For the fable to hold up a bit, an elementary condition is that the sheriff, the vigilante, the honest cop have a certain demeanor, in a word, have some class. But what about when the sheriff becomes downright rogue (Trump, anticipated by more than one Clint Eastwood film) or doting (Biden)? The double link is obvious here, and it is this which delivers the key to the situation in which the war in Ukraine finds its exemplary character: the more the imperialist universalist fable of the democratization of the world placed under the sign of Reason in History leaks from all sides, and more and more multiply, in the games of force and the fabrication of narratives (propaganda) implemented by the Western powers, the forcing and passages to the act – they do not listen, they don't look left or right, they go straight ahead, propelled by the invisible hand of democratic Providence...

What has replaced knowledge of the universality of division in all its forms, in the minds of Western rulers and elites of all kinds who are inseparable from it, is the holistic passion for closed totality, for the closure – the democratic totalization of the planet as the end of History and the completion of the moral and political progress of humanity [13]. This fanaticism of closure based on the denial of division and of the existence of limits to the empire of those inhabited and set in motion by this compulsion has strong affinities with the fascist phantasmagoria that devastated the 20th century. The Western elites aligned with the American war machine dream today of a "total-democratic" enclosure of the planet, just as the Nazi leaders dreamed of a German Europe and saw themselves very close to having achieved it when their empire stretched from the Atlantic to the Black Sea...

What has changed is the scale of the holistic phantasmagoria: the Nazi leaders were not mentally equipped to think about their ambition of the closure on a planetary scale, the Axis formed with the military-fascist regime and expansionist Japan was a classic military-strategic alliance, with each side striving to expand into its own great space; the holistic phantasmagoria of the leaders of the Third Reich, like those of the Japanese militarist clique at the time of Pearl Harbor, unfolds on a regional, continental scale, and not beyond. Today's universalist imperialist democracy dreams of closure on a planetary scale. The more it sinks into the impasse of this deadly presumption, the more it becomes an authoritarian police placed under the sign of urgency and exception, the more it functions according to the rhetoric of the enemy. This is indeed reason enough to consider the democrats of the present, those who preside over the destinies of the democracies of the Global North, as the carriers of a democratic fascism in the making. It is not for nothing that with Trump, today's most sinister neo-fascism has been written on the palimpsest of democracy in America.

But one could just as easily say that this (intrinsically fascist) dream of the democratic closure inseparable from Western hegemonism is not new. We can easily discern its premise in the obscure disaster of Hiroshima-Nagasaki: Japanese militarism crushed, the American leviathan knew that the world, henceforth, belonged to it and the dream of closure was already there, with its cast shadow – from now on, everything is possible (for us), everything is permitted. The passage to the atomic act, repeated, as if to certify that the first nuclear urbicide was not an inadvertence or an accident, transmits this very message: from now on, everything is allowed to us, the world belongs to us and it will be modeled on our conditions – those of universalist imperialist democracy. Simply, the implementation of the holistic project had, for a few decades, to be postponed by the consolidation of a force which opposes its own expansion and draws limits to the colonization of the world by the empire and the civilization of the United States – the Soviet superpower. As soon as this obstacle disappeared, with the fall of the Soviet empire at the turn of the 1980s, the holistic project was relaunched at full steam and we are now hostages to its full expansion - the wind is blowing like a storm in the wings of the angel of democratic history gone mad.

Which is precisely why Boaventura de Sousa Santos, as a lucid diagnostician of the present, can write that “One hundred years after the First World War, European leaders are sleepwalking towards a new total war (“a new, all-out war”) [14]. If the war in Ukraine could well be the opposite of a limited and localized conflict, but the fuse in which a generalized conflagration was lit (which we will eventually call Third World War...), it is precisely because it is the fork where the path of war opens on which the somnambulists who govern us are engaged. For the Portuguese sociologist, the comparison is obvious with the outbreak of the First World War: in August 1914, the sleepwalkers of the time were convinced that the affair would be settled in a few weeks. It lasted four years and cost 20 million deaths...

The strange and derisory thing is that, on the side of the manufactures of the narrative of the present, on our side of the world, everyone is already busy learning the lessons of the conflict by rejoicing loudly to see Putin bogged down, discredited, weakened and, who knows, engaged in a process over which his political survival is at stake. But this is to suppose that this war remains circumscribed within the limits where the givers of lessons would like to see it remain, precisely, those who see with a light heart Ukraine being the land of sacrifice on which the Russian despot sees himself beaten, humiliated and sent back to the futility of his ambitions.

And it is here that unilateralist and autarkic wishful thinking shows its limits: the first of the realistic lessons that emerges from this conflict, at the present time, is that it is here to last, even to go on endless and that it now constitutes (much more than the ten-year war in ex-Yugoslavia) a festering sore on the flank of Europe, constantly susceptible to rotting and spreading. And then, still from a realistic point of view, the lesson to be drawn from the conflict is that the process of integration into NATO in which, in fact, the Ukrainian leaders had already committed their country is, to say the least, halted: it is not tomorrow that Ukraine will enter "the borders of NATO" - or else if it does, it will be at the cost of a war escalation this time putting the United States and their allies and subordinates directly engaged in the confrontation with Russia.

It is in this sense that the detestable operation undertaken by Putin produces a sudden awakening effect on this Western opinion anesthetized by the rosy romance of the democratization of the world; yes, there is still not only political, ideological, historical otherness and difference, and the Western military pact comprising three nuclear powers is not the only contender for the role of narrator of the present. Of course, in the immediate future, the demonization of the person through whom the scandal of the return to reality arrives is going on and what now takes the place of opinion in the democracies of the Global North trots along behind Atlanticist pipers and swallows the worst insanities; this, including those which revolve around the assimilation of Putin to Hitler, and of today's Russia to Nazi Germany, regardless of what constitutes one of the objective bases of the grievance today nourished by the Russian leaders towards the United States and the West European leaders: the oblivion and the sovereign contempt in which the latter treat the determining part taken by the Soviet State in the destruction of the Nazi power and the extent of the sacrifices made by the Soviet population in the course of this ordeal.

In short, the page of history that is being written in Ukraine today could well be somewhat more complicated than that imagined by the authors of fairy tales who see the present as doomed by decree of a Providence that those who promote it no longer dare to say divine (but it's all the same) to the completion of the democratization of the world and the bringing to heel of the last bastions of despotism which oppose it. In all respects, this tale bears the mark of the senility of those who apply themselves to engrave it in stone. After 2,000 to 3.000 deaths officially counted since the start of the war in Ukraine, Biden, sticking to Zelenski (whose job it is to raise the stakes) gravely declares that we are here facing a flagrant case of genocide – the coup of Xinjiang in a post-Soviet version. If it's genocide, then on that count, how many genocides has the United States committed since Nagasaki, from the Korean War to the Iraq War to Vietnam to Afghanistan and without even counting the proxy wars like in Timor, Palestine and Yemen?

On this point, the North Korean leaders, committed to "true-speak" as they are, were perfectly right to recently draw attention to the distressing senility of the President of the United States. The problem is that this is a perfect metaphor – the detail that brings it all together of a policy (of a regime) of the discourse of a totally erratic democratic imperialism – not so long ago, the word genocide was practically reserved for the designation of the unique event, in the order of catastrophe and absolute crime, the Holocaust... and here it is now destined to play the utilities in the propaganda of (new) lowest level cold war... Somnambulism does not spare the language, nor the order of discourses.

4- As Pierandrea Amato has put it very well, the word “freedom” has become one of the most corrupt words in the political language and the Ukrainian affair confirms this brilliantly – if one can say so. From now on, when this term occurs in a statement, a conversation about the present, we must immediately ask ourselves and ask those who throw it in our face what it is associated with, in what chain of equivalence it enters. We know today that the lasting and determining association (from the point of view of lifestyle and civilization of mores) of the automobile with freedom, as it imposed itself in the 1960s, in the industrialized countries and then gradually throughout the world, was a disaster – in every way. We have recently seen how its association, sponsored by big philosophical heads à la Agamben with the rejection of the health emergency in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic, was also disastrous, leading to its hardening in the form of an antivax movement - as persistent as it was obscurantist. And we see today, on the refractive surface of the war in Ukraine, where its association with the struggle of the democracies against despotism leads us: to its sequestration by NATO, as if living in freedom, for us Europeans, this could only be understood as living “within the borders of NATO”, a military alliance entirely sponsored by the United States and acting as closely as possible to their supposed interests.

It is precisely this kind of pernicious association that leads us to be held hostage by the Schmittian mood of American democracy – to have to divide our own world into friends and enemies according to decrees taken behind our backs by the US hegemon. And why should Putin and the ayatollahs be our enemies more than the Zionist supremacists who preside over the destinies of the State of Israel or the keffiyeh potentates of the Gulf petro-monarchies? And why should Zelensky, who is today the darling of global democracy (as other fanatics of Ukrainian nationalism were, once and a short time ago, of regimes today reviled as distinctly criminal) be our friend as long as his name is associated with "freedom"? [15]Are the two-tone Bandera emblems that dotted the Maidan rallies those of “freedom”?

There are more and more numerous, in what is today epoch-making, the occasions when the word "freedom" works the streets, so that we would be inclined to decide, even in the form of a joke, that in principle and barring exceptions, "freedom" is something which, according to the spirit of the times, we would rather be against. We experienced this again very recently with the presidential elections in France: those who quite naturally associate their freedom (“citizenship”) with voting are in the vast majority those to whom this form is perfectly suited to intermittent “citizen freedom” – it leaves them plenty of time to take advantage of their interminable (political) civic holidays, between elections, to attend to their small and big business. Hence their fanatical intransigence towards those who do not conceive of their political commitment or their interest in common life under the conditions of this minimalist availability – those whose militancy is not sponsored and supported by the State and who, for this reason, are reluctant to the electoral farce... It is because the latter are there to remind them that the little electoral effervescence which possesses them every four or five years, is really the minimum program of the passion for “freedom”, the most skeletal utopia of liberation there is [16]. When we come to see, on the eve of the second round of the presidential election, supposedly freedom-loving people take to the streets shouting "Rather a vote that stinks than a vote that kills!" with the aim of urging their fellow citizens to vote for the outgoing candidate, we measure the height at which the association of freedom and so-called representative democracy stands today.

It is exactly the same, even worse if that is possible, with this love of freedom which awakens on the occasion of the war in Ukraine and the anti-Putin, anti-Russian campaign to which it gives rise in the democracies of the Global North. If freedom is what consists in favoring the constitution of pro-Zelenski mercenary militias [17], an inverted image, in the Ukrainian mirror, of the war of the Russian Wagner Group, if it is what consists in seizing paintings of masters belonging to private collectors, action of very sinister memory, under the pretext of "punishing" the supposedly Putinian oligarchs, so once again, it would rather be no thanks - freed from this freedom, we will live lighter.

5- The war between Russia and Ukraine takes place in a context dominated by the cancerous proliferation of remedial nationalisms, based on frustration, the need for compensation, consolation - and vindication - all equally rancid and more or less enraged, inseparable from resentment and hatred of the foreigner. It has been a long time since, as the fate of the micro-nationalists hatched in the context of the intra-post-Yugoslav war has already amply demonstrated, nationalism has lost, on European soil in particular, all propulsive force and quality, in its supposed association with emancipation. All these doddering neo-nationalisms rely on state-fetichism and the dream of all those embarked in them finds its practical form in the multiplication of police forces, borders, obstacles to the free movement of people, those from below and the migrants particularly, bureaucracies and the rise of sectarian particularisms, parochialism, insularism, isolationisms of all kinds, this from Catalonia to Russia and Ukraine, from Taiwan to the imaginary Zemmourland which prospers in our latitudes. In the context of this war, therefore, revamped Grand Russian nationalism versus Ukrainian nationalism backed by NATO and infiltrated by the spirit of Banderism is even more than white hat and white hat – it is a contest of infamy, blessed, moreover (and aggravating circumstance) by the local Churches and their prelates.

Generally speaking, on European soil, neo-nationalism is inextricably linked with molecular fascism (aspiring with all their might to the molar), uninhibited xenophobia, white supremacism and revisionism particularly applied to colonial history. Wherever these people have a chance of succeeding in business, a form of neo-fascism takes root in the state. Is this reason enough to indulge in the “stinky vote” in the hope of warding off the “killer vote”? - obviously not, since the first is the royal road that leads to the latter. On the other hand, it is the occasion and the moment or never to put oneself in battle order – one finds everything at the bottom of the ballot boxes, false ballots, old cigarette ends, double bottoms, mouse droppings – except a people. However, only a standing people and they alone can repel fascism.

The day will come when people will be surprised that this superstition has been able to exercise its influence for so long, and over so many people who are in principle equipped with discernment, leading them to vote every five years for a character whom they will then unfailingly revile for the next five years, before driving him back (unless it's his clone), a toad in her mouth, for the next five years over which, just as unfailingly, they'll vomit him out more than ever…[18] From what dark depths, the beneficiaries of this grace that is late birth (the chance to be "born after...") may have arisen this passion so enduring for this so tenacious rite, expiatory and self-punitive? And if fascism is there, as well (and it is, just look in the face of this massive reality that is the majority vote of cops and military in favor of neo-fascist candidates, on the recent election's occasion), which can be quite naïve to imagine that a tightrope walker emerging from nowhere, the perfect incarnation of the imposture of contemporary Potemkinian democracy, will be the providential man who will spare us the ordeal of having to face it?[19]

6- The way in which, miraculously, the borders, Eastern first, then all the borders of Community Europe opened up to the compact waves of Ukrainian refugees shows how powerfully, presently, the promotion of universalist imperialist democracy has become inseparable from the defense and promotion of the white race and from what associates, in opposition and contrasts with what dissociates from it. Poland, in particular, knowingly left the extra-European refugees channeled towards its borders by the Belarusian regime client of Russia to die at its borders, of cold and hunger, just as it welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms. Hungary and all EU border states likewise. However, not so long ago, in the 20th century, Ukrainians were considered by Polish nationalists (whose direct descendants are today ruling the country) as inferior humanity, pests and invaders. It is therefore blatant that today, at the time of migrations placed under the regime of the divide between Global North and Global South, a new "democratic" Aryanism is taking shape - the quality of White is the sesame (the biological passport) which opens access to the immune spaces of the Global North to a refugee – just as it closes it off to a supposed “darkie” from the Global South.

It could not be better said that, from now on, market democracy is, in the European space, intrinsically and constitutively white. It is not for nothing that, so to speak, put to the test by the European crisis, the Polish and Hungarian leaders who, until quite recently, were the ugly "illiberal" ducklings of Community Europe, have turned into paragons of truth – this is because in terms of migration policy, it is ultimately they who speak the truth and act accordingly: a democratic and integrated Europe is a space intended to welcome Whites of all conditions – as for the “others” who are already established there, they will always be doomed to the precariousness and mistrust to which their original deficit condemns them – and as for those who still aspire to be welcomed there, they can go to hell. The borders of Europe, sinisterly coinciding with those of NATO, were reformed on the occasion of this ordeal, like those which (fantastically) separate civilization from barbarism. The resurgence of this divide says a lot about the extent of the regression and the movement of decivilization (precisely) in progress – in our very latitudes...

7- The leaders of the United States, the strategists of NATO, the chief Eurocrats don't give a damn about Ukraine, the people who live there, its cultural heritage, etc. - just as the former don't give a damn for Taiwan, its population and its tropical charm. But it turns out that for them, these two entities have all the qualities required to be what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls "countries of sacrifice", spaces and territories on which we will ensure that crystallizes, condenses and freezes the confrontation with the enemy to whom it is important, in the present, to remind who is the master, by inflicting on him a lesson whose, by definition, the extent nor the exact form could not be fixed nor especially delimited a priori...

Ukraine and Taiwan are those hotbeds of tension and points of intensification of accumulated and stratified disputes about which those who remain masters of the game against all odds intend to push the adversary to fault, by practicing a distinct and deliberate policy of attrition, intended to wear out their nerves and lead them to this kind of fatal passage to the act which will draw up against them, as by mechanical effect, the globalized democratic opinion and an "international community" under influence. A strategy or tactic that has already been crowned with success in Ukraine and whose designers ardently and more and more openly desire that it find its "natural" extension with an unfortunate initiative by Beijing against Taiwan or in the China Sea.

8- The other common point that a war in East Asia would have with the conflict in Ukraine and of which Taiwan would be the condensation point, is the combination between a modern war (mobilizing the latest technology available, drones, stealth planes and other means of jamming, electronic decoys and, why not, "tactical" nuclear weapons) and a kind of civil war, that is to say a stasis between intimate enemies, infinitely close, if not exactly of the “same” – both in terms of history, culture and language; an explosive combination, if ever there was one, and a promising one of particularly pernicious and destructive forms of violence – the intimate enemy can only be a hyper-enemy, so that no rule or convention encourages the parties in conflict to exercise any restraint in the use of sharp violence against him – massacres of civilians, prisoners, propaganda, disinformation, manipulations, etc., as we see today in the theater of war in Ukraine.

It would be exactly the same and probably worse (if the thing is conceivable) in the case of a direct conflict between these two worlds infinitely close in their very antagonism that are the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China ("Communist" China), a conflict constantly aggravated by foreign interference, particularly from the West.

9- The whole game of Western rhetoric today, in the face of the war in Ukraine or rather the (providential, in this sense) occasion of it, consists not only in placing Putin in the category of rogue leaders (whose dismissal, in this sense, would be an issue of public health for civilized humanity), but to make Russia itself a criminal state and the equivalent in this respect of the Nazi state. However, the very notion of a criminal state is highly contentious, for a multitude of reasons relating in particular to the “universal” relativity of the crimes committed by modern and contemporary states throughout their history. The absolute exceptionality of the criminal state is infinitely difficult to attest to and the risk is therefore that in all circumstances this notion will be used and manipulated as a weapon of war, a tool of the war of narratives, in the context of such or such a confrontation between States or power blocs.

One thing remains constant, in this environment: it will be very difficult today to determine the criterion or to collect the elements which, indisputably, would attest that Putin's Russia is a criminal state, unlike if not all the others, but at least, in particular, Western democracies and the United States. It should be shown that what Putin "does" in Ukraine and to Ukraine, those others who point the finger at him in the name of universal rules and principles and speak of today's Russia as a criminal State have never "made" the equivalent of it (or worse...) – and it is not tomorrow that they will manage to administer its indisputable powers.

Here again, the only valid principle pertaining to the pragmatics of "universal" common sense (the best shared) is that everyone, first thing, look in one’s own backyard, sees the mote in their adversary's eye but not the beam in their own, etc. We are far, very far from it...

[1] At the point where we are today, it seems useful to recall here that the history of the 20th century, despite all the revisionisms that have flourished during its last two decades, is situated under the a sign of the revolution and of the regime of historicity that goes with it, a regime in which the revolution, as figure and category, is inseparable from a history of emancipation. Conversely, as Boris Buden points out, it takes a little more than the name of a flower to make a revolution, whether in Taipei, Hong Kong or elsewhere...

[2] "Enemy" must be understood here in its specifically "political" sense - for the rest, the religion of the State and that of economic "prosperity", of productivism which are those of the Chinese leaders distance us from them as much as it is possible.

[3] Rada Ivekovic, article cited above. Borrowed from the famous book by Karl Jaspers, Die deutsche Schuldfrage , this approach to the problem tends to make Putin the equivalent of the dignitaries of the Nazi state, while the anonymous West would find itself in the position of the German population. who, having been forcibly embarked on the criminal history of the Third Reich, should face up to this past in the aftermath of the war and assume its historical burden. But, apart from the fact that Putin's assimilation to Hitler is today a mantra of "democratic" propaganda, we do not see how the repeated refusal of Western leaders to commit themselves not to opening the doors of NATO to Ukraine would not be likened to an action , or even a passage to the act. The dilatory action (good words in the form of a policy of contempt lavished on someone who has long since ceased to be considered as the representative of a legitimate adverse power), these words which only commit those who rely on them do fall into the category of sovereign gestures – they emanate from a cold decision. A step further, we will say that they come under the concerted project of cornering the adversary at fault – acting out – which will inevitably lead him to be exposed to the opprobrium of the so-called “international community”. It's exactly the same game that the Western powers are playing in the China Sea and, more particularly, with regard to Taiwan. In both cases, the master of the game acts in a perfectly sanctuarized position – tens of thousands of kilometers from the focus of the conflict, from the object of the dispute. Moreover, the title of Jaspers' book is incorrectly translated into French as La culpabilité allemande ; what he says is quite different: The question of the German guilt (or fault). A question to be worked out, therefore, rather than an accusatory evidence to be asserted.

[4] Among other things, what will be involved in the war in Ukraine, to bury under the waves of news under influence, is the solid affinity that has been established throughout the crisis pandemic between thanatocratic imperity in a democratic version (on the Trumpist model) and in an authoritarian version (à la Poutine). The least we can say is that in this configuration and tested by this health crisis, the divide between the democratic and its opposite has been scrambled to say the least ...

[5] It is nevertheless this clique which tried to erase the name of Lenin from the historical memory of Russia and to restore the horrible imperial Saint-Petersburg in place of Leningrad. For that alone, these people deserve to be tied to a pillory for eternity, in front of the Winter Palace.

[6] The funny thing is that it was then, on the eve of the volatilization of Soviet power, to talk loud about its expansion, about the conquest of the world in which it was launched - just like about the insatiable appetite of the Chinese ogre today – sovietology one day, sinology the next, and always the same donkey bridge...

[7] Depressingly, it appears that in this kind of situation, academic specialists and other experts are rather an aggravating circumstance than an illuminating power: their reactions and hot comments generally only add water to the mill of authorized storytelling by adding a touch of scholarly erudition. The experts, coming here from the lost continent of Sovietology of yesteryear and in the past, are servile intelligence par excellence – with, as always, its (rare) exceptions...

[8] But this is not just a dispute between two separate entities – Russia and Ukraine – it is also an internal dispute within the two entities, which is particularly sensitive in Ukraine.

[9] For example: Ukraine on Fire (Igor Lopatonok, 2016); Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom (Evgueny Afineevsky, 2015).

[10] Alexander Dovzhenko, Yulia Solnetseva: Ukraine in Flames , 1943.

[11] But also film documents shot by Wehrmacht operators and abandoned during the retreat...

[12] Zemlia, The Earth , 1930.

[13] For a Western reading of the universality of division, see Nietzsche, The Birth of Philosophy in the Age of Greek Tragedy, translated from the German by Geneviève Bianquis, NRF 1969 (1938): attract (…) only a Greek was able to give this idea as the basis of a cosmodice; it is the good Eris of Hesiod erected into a universal principle, it is the agonal thought of the Greeks and of the Greek city, that of the gymnasiums and the palaestras, of the struggle between political parties and cities among themselves, but generalized to infinity, to the point that the cogs of the cosmos are now moving within it”, p. 49.

[14] “Europe, the return to the periphery of the world” (April 11, 2022).

[15] The fact that we say that one should call an enemy an enemy does not make us Schmittians – not at all. Schmitt's political philosophy rests on a distinction which consists in dividing the world into friends and enemies. What we are saying is very different: what is important in the first place to explicitly designate as enemies are the powers or the political entities that we have particular reasons for designating as such. The others, in general, are certainly not our friends, including those whose position in the world, arguments and interests we again have special reasons to take onto consideration in the present – China or North Korea, for example. Generally speaking, no state power is our friend. But we have no pressing reasons to implement, as of today, an enemy policy against the Swiss, Peruvian or Burkinabe governments. By contrast, Putin and Zelensky, Biden and Bennett, certainly.

[16] This charge is particularly aimed at the fiery young generation of Melenchon fans, who are now seized with clockwork regularity by the same crisis of electoral radicalism – every five years – before they go back to their flat screens and bar outsides. The electoral rhythm fits perfectly with the “citizen” paradigm which has taken over from militant ideals. We could call it the quartan fever of melenchonism, except that it occurs not every four days but every five years.

[17] When mercenaries appear on the occasion of such and such a conflict, we are sure to find them afterwards, interminably, on other occasions, civil wars, local conflicts; dirty wars, obscure missions of all kinds. Mercenaries and militias are called upon to be ever more present like the maggots on the cheese of contemporary “delocalized” wars, proxy wars of all kinds. We can remember here that the fascist and white mercenary was interminably the shadow cast by Françafrique.

[18] The electoralist mantra of the “dam”, more precisely of "damming”.." distinctly associates freedom or what is supposed to remain with the providential intervention of a protector, a guardian, Macron, in this case, as a defender of freedoms in the face of what is supposed to kill them – the fascist blonde. We can clearly see here, by contrast, how a simple song like the Internationale draws a path that goes beyond anything that can crystallize in the frightened association between freedom and protection. It is indeed in the simplest terms that the International notes that freedom or emancipation cannot be placed under the condition of either a god, or a Caesar, or a tribune and that it can only arise from the dispositions of people (the “producers”) to save themselves . By simplifying the language of Badiou, we will say here that the International is, in the order of our political present, this event which presents the universal in the form of a singularity, an event which here takes on the appearance of an old thing (the old-fashioned hymn of commies of all kinds) and which, however, overturns all the poor evidence of a present as flimsy as it is inconsistent: we need a protector, at all costs, whatever he is, was he to vomit, etc.

[19] As well, France is already today an "occupied" country in many respects - with its packs of armed men (and women) under brown influence, its fascist governing parties, its collaborators, its militias, its media of xenophobic agitation, its professional and amateur informers, etc. But as we get used to everything, it would seem, the occupied continue to go about their business, electoral and otherwise.