…by Galima Galiullina for VT
First published 11 April 2021
We live in a period of incredible tension between the centers of power of the modern world and the smoke of the coming battles is noticeably in the air. Is there a chance to avoid a catastrophic turn towards another a big war, and what can relieve this tension?
To answer this question, we will not turn to the military strategists of the leading powers or to the statements about the current situation of the leaders of these powers. We will try to look at the swirling chaos of events in the prism of the philosophy of war and at the same time guess where the war of philosophies is leading.
We will proceed from an understanding of the differences in the philosophical understanding of war by the peoples of three countries: Germany, the United States and Russia.
German philosophy of war
The Germans saw war as a necessary, albeit cruel, tool for solving the main task – expanding the living space for their nation. At the same time, they were convinced that only Germany could unite Europe and give its development constancy and continuity by the strength of its spiritual community.
Max Scheler, philosopher of war, known for his apologetic essay “The Genius of War and the German War” (1915) admires war as a cumulative experience of the nation, during which the spiritual unity of the nation transforms it into a Germany that recognizes peace as an infinite possibility.
The philosopher exclaims in ecstasy: “What a bright genius – a war that expands the world like this, makes history and the future so huge, bright and rich?”
Max Scheler is full of faith in the supreme right of the Germans in the First World War. “This war is just and sacred because it follows from the European destiny of Germany, the only bulwark and protection of European dignity.” This is how the roots of Nazism are formulated beautifully. Max Scheler understands the Germanic nation as an organic, unified spiritual person, who is even more united by the suffering of war.
The philosopher explains Europe’s hatred of Germany as the initiator of the world war by the moral degradation of Europe and convinces that victory in the war will allow Germany to unite the degrading European peoples into a unified race of competent citizens with dignity and purpose.
Scheler believes that one should thank the war for the fact that it exposed, and did not condition, the moral regression of Europe, noted by many even before the war, but always pharisaically disguised.
He is silent about the inevitability of the death of thousands and millions of young people in the war, but he gently leads to the idea of self-sacrifice in the name of great Germany, explaining that the human soul is immortal, while countries and states are mortal. At the same time, he is convinced that “death – in a thousand forms, which it takes in this “ bloody ” war in our entire history, appeared to our soul differently than it appears to the soul of the Eastern peoples, who do not yet know this spirituality of the individual soul.
Our tears were flowing differently; we have a sharper and more accurate awareness of what has disappeared for us with every single loss. ” So, the philosopher leads to the idea of sub-humans inhabiting Russia, which was more deeply developed later by the ideologists of fascism.
And now Goebbels draws a new world: “The world as we want to see it: a beautiful, orderly, socially fair, a world that, perhaps, still suffers from some shortcomings, but on the whole, a happy, beautiful world filled with culture, which Germany has defined for everyone smart enough to realize it in its full measure.
On the other side there are 180 million people, a mixture of races and peoples, whose names are unpronounceable and whose physical essence is such that the only thing that can be done with them is to shoot them without any pity or mercy … These people were united by the Jews by one religion, one ideology, called Bolshevism with the task … to crush Germany and the whole world. ”
The militant spirit of the German nation allows aggression to be formulated as an absolutely correct decision:
“A statesman who sees that war is inevitable and cannot dare to strike first is guilty of a crime against his country.” – Karl von Clausewitz leads to the idea of the inevitability of aggression.
Victory at the expense of merciless bloodshed is unconditionally approved. That is why the strategic goal of ousting Russia to Asia in World War II was achieved by the incredible brutality of the actions of the fascist army on the territory of the USSR against not only prisoners, but also civilians.
This was formulated by the classic of the German philosophy of war: “War is a dangerous business. And delusions that have good nature as their source are the most pernicious for her.
The use of physical violence in its entirety does not in any way exclude the assistance of reason; therefore, the one who uses this violence, not being ashamed of anything and not sparing blood, gains a huge advantage over the enemy who does not do it. “
War as the most vivid manifestation of the will to power was a favorite theme of German philosophers, the very idea of will as a key characteristic of the strength and vitality of a nation is inherent in Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
The achievement of unlimited power as the apotheosis of the will aroused and excited the imagination and strained the spirit. Nietzsche was not a participant in the militaristic euphoria. He appealed to those who wish to be a warrior, not a soldier. To Nietzsche, a warrior in his view for his thoughts.
“I see a lot of soldiers; how I would like to see many warriors! “Uniform” is what they wear; let not what they hide under it be a uniform! You are looking for your enemy, you are waging your war, a war for your thoughts! And if your thought does not resist, nevertheless your honesty should celebrate victory over this too! “
Nietzsche was the singer of the apotheosis of the will, but of a different will than Scheler or Schopenhauer understood it. Will was necessary for the warrior to fight for his thoughts and on the difficult path to the superman. His superman was not a variant of fascist fantasies, he was the result of a warrior’s struggle against the vile sides of his personality.
That is why Nietzsche did not see Russia as an enemy of Germany or Europe either. After all, both Orthodoxy and Islam, the two leading religions of Russia, understand the war and the way of the warrior in this way. “The strongest and most amazing of all willpower is manifested in the huge middle kingdom, where Europe seems to be returning to Asia – Russia. ….
For the emergence of any kind of institutions, there must be a will that impels an instinct, anti-liberal to the point of brilliance – the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for whole centuries, to the solidarity of past and future generations … Nietzsche continues, If this will is there, then something like the Roman Empire, or like Russia, arises – the only country that currently has a future … Russia is the opposite of the pitiful nervousness of small European states, for which, with the founding of the “German Empire,” a critical time has come. ”
Russian philosophers and writers about the war
It is interesting that the Russian idea of will (Volya) is fundamentally different from the German one. Will (Volya) for a Russian is an opportunity to live the way his soul wants. This is freedom from coercion. Free will has always been the dream of the Russian people. Will was the main condition for happiness.
The will that Nietzsche wrote about in relation to the Russians, the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for history, the will to solidarity between generations can rather be called the archetypes of Russian consciousness.
Russian philosophers were looking for the meaning of war as an ultimate event in people’s lives. Ivan Ilyin writes in “The Spiritual Meaning of War: “Is it worth living by what we live; is it worth serving what we serve? The war, like nothing else, raises this question with tremendous force and puts into it a simple and profound answer: “to live is worth only for what is worth and die for.”
For the meaning of the war is that it calls everyone to rebel and defend to death what he lived until now, what he loved and what he served. Whatever you have done up to now; whatever you do; whatever you serve – in a word, whatever you live – be able to die for what you lived. ”
Ivan Ilyin analyzes a just war, when the enemy attacked your homeland and you choose who you should be in this war – a deserter or a volunteer. “This is what the spiritual meaning of war teaches us: “live so that during your life you love something higher than yourself .”
Ilyin’s idea of rebirth through victory is very important for those countries that have found themselves in the grip of the neo-colonial system: victory can be achieved only as a result of the spiritual uplift and spiritual tension of the living internal forces. And this upsurge is in itself the beginning of the revival.
As a country of the Heartland, Russia has always been a coveted land for conquerors with great ambitions. After making sure during several large-scale wars that Russia remains invincible, the West did not accept this fact and decided to join forces.
Deceitfully violating the promises made to Gorbachev during his active attempts to build friendly relations with the West, NATO has surrounded Russia with a dense Ring of Anaconda and, according to the latest data, the participants in the meeting of NATO foreign ministers on March 23-24, 2021 agreed on the need to further consider Russia as a major security challenge for the collective West. The confrontational mood of the North Atlantic Alliance has reached its climax over the past 7 years.
Following the law of geopolitical dualism, Alexander Dugin rightly asserts that “the West as a civilization denies us the right to be a different civilization, and this is war.” And since, according to Western views on Russia, it must be destroyed as a civilization, Russia has only one answer consistent and faithful to its philosophy- to always win.
At the same time, the military doctrine has invariably been imbued with the spirit of humanity at all times. Anton Kresnovsky, an ideologue of the Russian military doctrine, wrote: “The Russian national military doctrine should bear the imprint of the highest humanity. And the essence of the Russian national military doctrine is the superiority of spirit over matter.
As an Orthodox people, we look at war as evil – as a moral illness of mankind – the moral heritage of the sin of our ancestors, just as the illness of the body is its physical heritage. We cannot prevent this evil with any pompous words, no paper contracts, no hiding our heads in the sand. … And if this is so, then we need to prepare for this evil and temper the country’s organism, increase its resistance. This is the business of the legislator and the politician. “
The Russian mentality is reflected in the language: in the Russian language there is no word that reflects triumph and tranquility over the agonizing body of a defeated enemy. And this is not because of the poverty of the language, it is just that Russian people do not tend to triumph and tranquility over the agonizing body of anyone.
American philosophy of war
“Victory should not arouse in us self-confidence and self-righteousness, pride and national self-esteem; it should not arouse in us an absurd and monstrous confidence that we are the only “chosen” people, the highest and best of all that existed, that “hegemony” and leadership of all other peoples are now “passing over” to us; it should not awaken in us predatory instincts and vengeful feelings and lead us to the path of political and even more spiritual suppression of our enemy; it should not lead us to the cult of strength and militarism, ” wrote Ivan Berdyaev, a Russian philosopher, about victory.
But, American ideologues have acted differently. They made the most of the victory in the Cold War for two purposes: the political and spiritual suppression of the Russians and the consolidation of the position of the hegemon in the global arena.
“To use the terminology of the more brutal times of ancient empires, the three great responsibilities of imperial geostrategy are:
- in preventing collusion between vassals and keeping them dependent on common security.
- maintaining obedience of subordinates and ensuring their protection.
- preventing the unification of barbarians. ” – so,
Brzezinski continued with strategic guidelines for the United States the ideas of Ayn Rand, an apologist for liberal capitalism, that “today any free nation has a moral right, if not an obligation, to attack Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other” slave corral. ” Treating other nations as silent beasts and barbarians has become a dominant constant in the hegemon’s philosophy of war.
48 years ago, in the same spring, the last American soldier left Vietnam. The losses amounted to 58 thousand killed and 300 thousand wounded. In the United States itself, an undetermined number of veterans of that war have committed suicide with numbers ranging from under 10,000 to more than 50,000. Whatever the number the suicide rate of veterans of this mid-20th century war indicate a substantial increase due to disturbances in the psyche of participants.
Vietnam was devasted but remained undefeated on the battlefield. But later, the American mental weapon did its job to effectively transform history: today, young Vietnamese do not know that they fought with the Americans. Just like young Japanese are convinced that the USSR dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Doubt arises whether the humane foundations of Russia’s military doctrine are sufficiently reliable to preserve the country’s independence in conditions of total ideological confrontation?
The country, which has declared Russia an existential evil, is going to eliminate as much as possible humane grounds from the existence of a battle. Microsoft has won a $ 22 billion contract with the Pentagon to build 120 augmented reality headsets for U.S. Army soldiers. Microsoft HoloLens headsets were first designed for PC gamers, combining virtual images with the real world. The headsets provide a real-time display on the windshield, on which artificial intelligence prompts the targets for the soldiers’ weapons and guides weapons to targets.
In 2019, more than 100 Microsoft engineers wrote in an open letter: “We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide US military hardware to the military by helping the government of one country “increase lethality” with the tools we have created. We have not signed up to develop weapons, and we demand to express our intentions on how our work will be used. ”
Killing the citizens of the enemy country will be just a game. You can spend several hours pressing the buttons of your laptop, kill dozens or hundreds, but preferably thousands of people, return home and have a delicious lunch with your family. This is how Iranian general Qasem Suleimani and a five-year-old baby in Donbas, torn to pieces by a Ukrainian drone in these April 2021 days, were killed.
The most profound explanation of the American philosophy of war is given by Noam Chomsky. The scientist is 93 years old, and his honesty and depth of analysis can be trusted. The extermination of the Indians was a terror, and this crime has not yet been condemned. What is called the War on Terror was started under Reagan. All that Reagan called terrorism was in fact the resistance of other countries to terrorism by the United States.
The United Nations International Court of Justice condemned the United States for the misuse of force, that is, for international terrorism. The New York Times responded with an appeal to ignore the court’s decision because it is a hostile forum. The court is hostile because it rightfully condemned the United States.
And who cares what this court has decided if it is hostile? So, the practice of international terrorism, having reached its climax during the Reagan era, has become common practice today, Chomsky is convinced. Professor continues: The Doomsday clock in recent years is critically close to midnight. The United States withdrew from all treaties that somehow limited the movement towards total disaster.
Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. Trump withdrew from the treaty on the elimination of medium-range missiles and did not enter into the new START treaty. Both parties supported the development of new, even more lethal weapons. So far, only a miracle has saved us, Chomsky says. But the miracle cannot continue indefinitely.
The idea of an “exceptional nation” inspired the creation of an invisible yet treacherous and powerful weapon. The mental weapon, created by the German American psychologist Kurt Levin in line with the concept of strategic non-contact war, taught the hegemon to zombify entire nations, forcing it to perceive not the true, but a distorted picture of the world. Methods of strategic non-contact warfare were successfully tested in the carpet bombing of Dresden in World War II, in Operation Shock and Awe in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, Libya, and Yugoslavia.
The devilish weapon of Kurt Levin was remarkably worked out on the Americans themselves, instilling in them a sense of a worldwide conspiracy against them and the need to fight for ever greater freedoms. And now, feeling with horror that the world they are used to is collapsing before their eyes and is being destroyed inexorably, they cannot do anything against it. But they are immediately given a ready-made image of the enemy who destroys their world – these are, of course, the Russians.
The bestseller with a circulation of 5 million is called “The Russian,” with a serial killer walking on a crimson river of blood on the cover. Not a single Western media showed the funeral of a five-year-old boy in Donbass, but they are extremely worried about Navalny’s condition, who every day finds more and more diseases.
I would like to believe that one day, by some miracle, all American soldiers will return home from distant countries and try to forget the eyes of those whose villages and cities they have plunged into fire and horror.
Soviet soldiers who returned from Afghanistan in 1989 left fond memories of those whom they helped to enter the bright path of progress. The graves of the dead soldiers are not abandoned; flowers are still laid on them. And veterans keep photographs that capture memories about that war.
The 21st Century Dilemma
What about us, frozen in anxiety of anticipation – will the last war of mankind break out or not? I found the answer in Heraclitus.
The war of Heraclitus is a fire that comes as retribution for injustice and lies, destroys in its flame the intricacies of witnesses of lies and weavers and, as a result, establishes a divine, legal, order. “All fire, when it comes, will judge and take over.”
The inevitability of punishment for lies and injustice does not reject personal efforts to live according to the rules of divine laws. Then there is a chance to live as a free person. And not human judgment will put everything in its place – fire will do it.
The time will come, and smart fire will consume everything and establish order, the philosopher promises. Is the time at hand? Where are the voices confronting the mind-numbing orchestra of media calling out the supposed reason for going into another war? I hope, in America no sane person wants to embark on yet another war involving our troops. Does somebody hear voices of Philosophers?
Galima Galiullina, PhD., Washington