I believe in peace. Nothing violates the dignity and existence of life like war. This is certainly clear, and there is not much controversial in such a statement. And yet, not everyone agrees.
There are those who believe that war steels character, that it is a necessary cataclysm to bring about a clarifying and cleansing fire to separate the strong from the weak. This philosophy has a name: Fascism. The pure, brute, uncompromising aestheticization of celebration of violence. It comes in many forms, can be found in many places, maybe unsuspecting ones. But this is what it originally means: the celebration of the power over life and death.
High Roman authorities like Consuls and Pretors had a wood bundle with an axe carried in front of them by lictors, to signify just that power. The bundles were known as fasces. Republican Rome and its descendants, like the French and American Republics, used this symbol as the signifier for democratically justified rule of law. Modern fascism has fetishized the other, more imperial Roman tradition, the celebration of power for power’s sake.
The most apt description of such a form of rule, whether nominally fascist, national socialist or soviet socialist, was delivered by George Orwell in his book 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” Ironically, the fetishization of power typically leads to morally and intellectually weak men (yes, mostly men) to rise over others merely through their willingness to be brutal. See Star Wars: Andor for a recent illustration of that phenomenon in fiction. We can safely watch this in our living rooms. Some people who cannot anymore safely watch an analogy to the workings of fascism have just had their home destroyed by an actual adherent to fascism waging a war on a peaceful country fighting for its existence since 2014.
What Russia is doing is to commit brazen, uncompromising and declared genocide.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – following Raphael Lemkin’s initiative to define genocide and thus provide the UN with an unwavering moral grounding – defines genocide as such in Article II:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Putin’s speech just before the war narrates how Ukraine does not exist as its own country. Read the Kremlin transcript. “I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space. These are our comrades, those dearest to us – not only colleagues, friends and people who once served together, but also relatives, people bound by blood, by family ties.” BLOOD. “Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. This was the case before the 17th century, when a portion of this territory rejoined the Russian state, and after.” SOIL. “So, I will start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing what is historically Russian land. Nobody asked the millions of people living there what they thought.” ALLEGATION OF THE ILLEGITIMACY OF UKRAINIAN IDENTITY. “A stable statehood has never developed in Ukraine; its electoral and other political procedures just serve as a cover, a screen for the redistribution of power and property between various oligarchic clans.” ALLEGATION OF THE ILLEGITIMACY OF UKRAINE AS A COUNTRY.
This establishes Putin’s desire to commit genocide against Ukraine, and he has used all the measures of the list, from a) through e) to make it so.
Putin’s Russia is not just waging war against Ukraine, it is conducting genocide, and will further its genocidal mission everywhere where it gains control. We have seen it happen. Russia refuses to back down and to negotiate in any way that would restore the legitimate borders of Ukraine and repair it to become once again an independent country.
Peace is the absence of war. Peace is also the absence of genocide. If Putin succeeds, genocide will win.
After Auschwitz, we all swore, never again.
There comes a point where your moral claims need to be reconciled with reality.
The time is now. Si vis pacem, para bellum: If you want peace, prepare for war.
Send Ukraine all the weapons it needs to win, sanction and punish Russia for what it is doing, and then create a new Russia that faces up to its long history of violence. Remember, Stalin and Hitler were allies and after Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Stalin followed suit roughly two weeks later, on Sept. 17, 1939. Yes, Hitler later attacked the Soviet Union, but both were kindred spirits. And so it continued in Russia. Putin is the new fascist of the day, and needs to be stopped.
If you want peace, you need to help those under attack. Otherwise, you are just doing the aggressor’s bidding. This is an either-or situation, with complete moral clarity.
Ukraine must win.
Ceterum censeo Ucrainam esse defendam. Слава Україні!