Helotage

On our conditions, material & otherwise.

This article first appeared in Counterpunch.

Post-election rally in Paris

On the evening of our stunning victory, I listened to the speeches of our politicians: “glory to the people!”, “we must stay mobilized to push forward the program!”, &c. And then as the orators turned to depart the stage, Jean-Luc Mélenchon paced back up to the microphones and addressed the crowd, “I have heard that some of you do not understand the words of the Marseillaise. I am going to explain the two parts that may irritate your ears: the country was invaded by all the monarchies of Europe that sought to reestablish inequality against the Declaration of the Rights of Man. And so the people, armed, drove off the invaders: hence, 'To arms, citizens! &c.' And as for 'impure blood', don't grimace! In that day, the nobles were supposed to have 'pure blood', and we the poor people were supposed to have 'impure'. And so they bellowed, 'Oh? Impure blood? Come and see what you can get!' In this anthem—yes it is a song of warriors!—there is nothing other than the honor of the people marching to victory, fearing nothing and no-one!” And he led the crowd singing.

The New Popular Front (NFP) sees itself as having saved the Republic. This was not merely an election like any other, but a struggle for France, a contest over the definition of French identity. Against the racist and xenophobic far-right drunk on conspiracy theory and Islamophobia, the French left united to insist that this nation, this people, is not determined by skin color, neither by religion, nor by language: but is constituted as a legal community by its common good. And it is now the Popular Front that rallies the people anew around its program of free school lunches, increased wages, and repairing the damage done to society by neoliberalism.

This conception of France explicitly includes both immigrants in mainland (or “metropolitan”) France and indigenous peoples in the overseas collectivities, regions, &c. (“outre-mer”). This was brought up several times on election night by various speakers, and always with a universalizing angle: the natives of the outre-mer, the immigrants of the Paris suburbs, and even Mélenchon, the son of pied-noirs himself, are all striving for dignity, liberty, and justice. This universalism allows for the inclusion of members like Emmanuel Tjibaou, a militant in the Kanak independence movement elected to represent New Caledonia on the NFP ticket. For the French left, solidarity with the palestinian people is critically important; the flag of Palestine is everywhere flown as a symbol of universal, socialist, and republican values: liberty, equality, and fraternity.

LFI representative raises the flag of Palestine in the National Assembly

To anglophone leftists, this discourse may seem strange. To understand its inner logic requires following the historical thread of French socialism back from 2024 to 1968, 1917, 1871, 1848, and 1789. Gracchus Babeuf, Jean Jaurès, Léon Blum, & al. had their political imaginary bound up by this republican thread. As Auguste Blanqui put it: “The Republic means the emancipation of the workers; it means the end of the reign of exploitation; it means the advent of a new order that will free labour from the tyranny of capital” and “The oppressed rise up [...] they begin to struggle against this impudent aristocracy of parvenus. Since 1789 this struggle has been relentlessly waged, forever the same yet forever new.”

Throughout French history, from the days of Abbé Sieyès and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen to Simone Weil and The Need for Roots, the question of France, of how the Republic is constructed, recurs. We hear this resounding through the words of Manès Nadel, vice-president of the high-school student union, who at a recent NFP meeting got up and quoted Lenin, saying, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”, before going on to urge the audience, “we have two weeks left to finally produce in France the social Republic and to root in this Republic our social gains!”

Macron's gamble of a snap election cost him more than he thought possible; he united the left against him and fumbled legislative initiative to his newly-made enemy. Technocratic neoliberalism has been rebuffed by the risen “extremes”, a nightmare of Emmanuel's own making. His allies on the center-right are at daggers drawn and frankly look like fools—consider the miserable figure of Éric Ciotti, spending his TV-time beefing with local rivals while the party he nominally leads revolts against him.

And what more needs be said about the neofascists? They lost! The National Rally (RN) ran antisemites, racists, and a hostage-taker. Some of their candidates appeared to have not campaigned at all. As much as the RN has gained over the last few election cycles, as much as the bourgeois press has worked to normalize the party of Nazi collaboration then and now, the people of France continue to oppose the suit-and-tie skinheads. Le Pen and Bardella smell power, yet cannot taste it; even with the help of the media and influential figures, the RN is thin on the ground.

Apart from the municipal bulletin boards where all candidates, including the most quixotic, are allotted space for a poster, I saw almost no RN propaganda—and I myself was out and about in districts that the RN finally carried. My wife was handed one RN flyer on the last day of the campaign in a touristy area. The frazzled centrists pulled together a better ground game than the neofascists, but the NFP exceeded all my expectations. I met scores of activists from the coalition that I did not know previously while canvassing. Strangers approached me, even up to the final hours of Friday evening, and asked for stacks of flyers to distribute to their neighbors. There was a palpable urgency, not only among activists but also the veiled mothers and queer youth picnicking in the park; our solidarity was met with silent nods and warm smiles wherever the people were gathered.

NFP victory rally in Marseille

The Popular Front made a simple wager: unite the left and make the center follow along. First, the NFP mobilized social institutions—the unions and associations that organize the working class in this country. Second, the NFP rallied the politicians and parties against the threat of the far-right. Third, the NFP developed a strategic line, including a strong program, to shift the political terrain of France leftward for a generation. Lastly, the NFP tactically withdrew in concert with liberal forces to make as many districts as unfavorable to the far-right as possible.

Even in some places where the far-right won, like on Ciotti's own home turf, the NFP made a strong showing, gaining ground between both rounds even when the centrists did not drop out of the race. The RN and the NFP compete for voters, e.g., Gilets Jaunes who voted for Mélenchon in 2022 and Bardella in 2024. A major challenge of the French left remains how to communicate that the far-right is not reliable when it comes to pro-social reforms like the retirement age issue. This can only be achieved by proving that the NFP gets the goods.

The New Popular Front was faced with a hostile media and government, and we overcame the odds. We proved the pollsters and experts wrong: history is not written in advance. We showed what political strength the working class can muster. Now the NFP has to deliver. Our majority is only relative, and while several elements of the program can be accomplished by decree, it remains to be seen who beyond the ranks of the NFP in the National Assembly is willing to support which proposals.

Macron's project has been repeatedly censured by the French people. If he had shame, he would resign. Yesterday he definitively lost the last shred of whatever mandate he thought he had. The center is rejected. The right has splintered. The left now must push the advantage and implement the program of the New Popular Front: anything less than this would be a shameful betrayal of our victory.

Public services and social gains, won through hard struggle by generations of workers, are not the result of providential grace. They are not the property of the State. They belong to all citizens.

—Raoul Vaneigem

Demonstration in Paris

In 1958 General Charles de Gaulle established the Fifth French Republic with a semi-presidential constitution. This system of government can be seen as marrying the worst aspects of both parliamentary and presidential systems; Russia is an example of how such a system can degrade into despotism: the broad powers granted the chief executive are intrinsically corrosive to democracy. In 2016, the French bourgeoisie united behind a traitor to the Socialist Party, Emmanuel Macron. In 2024, the ruling class is split on whether or not to bring the neofascist National Rally (RN) led by Jordan Bardella and Marine Le Pen to power. The center-right has largely transformed into the far-right. The left has united. The center is scrambling.

The rule of Macron has been one of empty-progressive neoliberalism, that is, a reign of immiseration justified by hollow rhetoric and the threat of neofascism. Macron, like Hilary Clinton, loves nothing more than to run against the far-right. And if anything unites neoliberal politicians around the world, it is the kind of stupefying narcissism that shreds the social fabric only to be shocked by the predictable consequences. Macron undermined the basis of the French social peace and now warns of civil war. He is the architect of the chaos that has led his party into electoral revulsion, and he is responsible for bringing the neofascists to the brink of power—but he and his party are not the only actors in this drama.

Despite the strong support of the capitalist class in France and internationally, Macron has faced consistent opposition, notably from labor unions and the uprising of the Gilets Jaunes—the largest and most combative social explosion since May '68. Yes, Macron did achieve some of his objectives like raising the retirement age, but only at great cost and by increasingly extraordinary measures. In the case of retirement, Macron's government invoked Article 49 of the constitution to force the law through without a parliamentary vote in favor. This action led to months of strikes and millions of people in the streets during the spring of 2023. The fierce contestation of Macron's rule has also led to stunning defeats: the union of country-folk and ecological activists at the ZAD of Notre-Dame-des-Landes forced the government to cancel their planned ecocidal construction project there in 2018. The humiliating collapse of Macron's party in the 2024 European parliamentary elections has halted plans for gutting unemployment benefits—and led Macron to invoke Article 12 of the constitution, dissolving the French parliament for the first time in the 21st century.

The bourgeois press has aided and abetted Macron, as well as the far-right, by a double maneuver: first, they collaborate with the RN to present the party founded by Nazi collaborators and swollen with antisemites as normal, while tarring the left-wing France Unbowed (LFI) as antisemitic. Media bosses like Vincent Bolloré promote racist clowns like Éric Zemmour. Fear, hatred, and greed are promoted daily from the pages of legacy print to the cacophony of social media. Liberty, equality, and fraternity are defended only by the left which has risen to the occasion and united in the New Popular Front (NFP) to fight against barbarism and for a new Republic.

After the first round of these snap-elections, Macron's party has again been humbled. On next Sunday's second round, there are three possible outcomes: an RN majority, an NFP majority, or a hung parliament. The latter of these seems most likely given the information currently available. Macron's party has already begun to sound out possible coalitions with the “extremes” they condemned so vigorously before the first round. While the LFI appears unwilling to compromise its program, the RN has already begun to accommodate itself to the centrist camp, e.g., twisting up their position on the retirement issue, jangling keys before the bosses. And of course, Macron could invoke Article 16 and take exceptional, emergency, dictatorial powers.

2024 Popular Front rally in Paris

If these words above have concentrated on the political, it is because in the midst of this election the political predominates. The rise of the far-right can be viewed as a kind of protest vote, and the RN benefits from its outsider position. To many French people—especially in the deserted rural stretches of small villages—the idea of a “National Rally” that is condemned by the politicians in power has the whiff of rebellion. For them, Vichy was a long time ago, and besides, Facebook and CNews have rendered the RN palatable. The misery of neoliberalism, the destitution of their hamlets, can be easily painted as a betrayal of the Nation by shadowy elements. Islamophobia has supplemented antisemitism. A key element of this neofascism is that it denies its objective roots in historic fascism, it claims to have “changed”, it exchanges a discourse of the White Race for one of Western Civilization, it opposes “incompatible cultures”, &c. The support for the far-right is strongest among the least educated and urban fractions of society, just as the support for Macronism is deepest among comfortable retirees and urbane bourgeois.

The story of how the French left lost many workers to the far-right over the last thirty years is well-known, and the Ipsos sociological survey of the French electorate bears this out: wage-earners are split between the RN and the NFP, the far-right has more support in the private sector and the NFP in the public. The two “extremes” also split the unemployed vote. The NFP has greatest strength where left institutions like unions and associations are well-organized. The RN predominates in social deserts where politics is fully screen-mediated. The defense, maintenance, and promotion of pro-social institutions is therefore the principle work of the left, whatever the results of this election may be. For the right, the conquest of the media and sundering of social solidarity is imperative: this is why Bardella has put his finger on the issue of “loyalty” and questioned dual-nationals. The neofascists and centrists are united in their need to split the left from workers.

Yesterday the head of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) made the stakes clear, stating that if the far-right comes to power “the CGT will organize the resistance.” The program of the RN, or of a hybrid RN-Macronist coalition, or even of Macron alone as dictator will be opposed by the working class organizing in and with the Popular Front. The depoliticized technocracy which strove to maintain order in the last decade is weak. France is divided. The majority of French voters rejected the status quo. Now comes the opening salvo and the rush to realign state power. The question remains how the working class will advance.

Neither international nor French socialism has ever limited the means that can be used to conquer political power. Lenin himself has admitted that in England political power could be conquered perfectly well by the ballot box. But there is no socialist, however moderate he may be, who has ever condemned himself to expecting political power to come only through an electoral success. On that point, there is no possible discussion. Our common slogan is the slogan of Guesde, that Bracke repeated to me a little while ago: By every means, including legal means.

–Léon Blum

Sign reading "FRONT POPULAIRE"

I am a christian, and to be a christian entails radical ethical commitments: put secularly, I am a communist. It is for this reason that I support the New Popular Front both as a bulwark against the rise of fascism in France and as a tool of the working class to win real gains: put simply, the Popular Front is both ethically imperative and politically strategic. If the Popular Front fails to overcome the far-right on June 30th, then its ongoing mobilization will serve as the beginning of a long and perilous struggle against the antisocial union of the center and neofascists. If the Popular Front succeeds, we can reverse the worst of Macron's antisocial program and deliver prosocial reforms. In either case, now is the time to join the mass movement and push.

The rise of the far-right in France is an arduous tale, and I will sketch here the outline for those unfamiliar with the history but interested in the stakes: Marie Le Pen and Jordan Bardella's National Rally (RN) party is the rebranding of the old National Front (FN), a party founded by Nazi collaborators and Waffen-SS members Léon Gaultier and Pierre Bousquet among other reactionaries like Jean-Marie Le Pen, a man prosecuted and convicted repeatedly of hate speech, including Holocaust denial. The RN is a party with real links to fascist gangs like the Ordre Nouveau, GUD, and Aquila Popularis—not only historically, but presently: RN politicians like Rodolphe Cart have public ties to the latter two organizations. There is even a scandal concerning the RN, big business, and Daesh. This is why the “republican” forces in French politics before Macron often tried to block the RN from coming to power: the RN was not seen as a normal party like the others, but a threat to the postwar order: it is a neofascist organization.

As for Macron, a friend recently wrapped up his tenure neatly: “Emmanuel was so unpopular in his first term that he declined to defend his mandate on its merits and merely ran on 'it's me or the fascists' the second time.” I have been asked repeatedly why I think Macron decided that, faced with humiliation in the European elections, he dissolved the National Assembly and called snap elections with only a few weeks allotted for campaigning. I do not know why he did. My present opinion is that Macron wants to bring the RN to power and govern with them, probably in order to subdue the Left and also dirty the reputation of the RN by giving them some power that he can still guide: put another way, he may think that he can drain their popularity by weighing down their protest vote appeal with the burdens of responsibility. Whatever his motivation, Macron's decision has been aptly described as a reckless gamble.

While averting the far-right's rise to power is certainly motivating in itself, my support for the Popular Front is not a “lesser of two evils” or “holding my nose” electoral triangulation, but an earnest deisre to see the reforms proposed by the Front enacted. Let me list just a few here:

  • lower the retirement age to 60 years old
  • raise the minimum wage
  • provide free school lunch
  • impose an inheritance tax on the rich
  • index pay to inflation
  • make France carbon neutral by 2050
  • ban new highways
  • stop ecocidal water “mega-basins”
  • provide papers for undocumented immigrants
  • recognize the state of Palestine
  • arms embargo against Israel
  • cancel debts of Ukraine
  • work for a new constitution and more democratic Sixth Republic

Many of these proposals meet demands made by ecological movements like the Soulèvements de la Terre and leading labour unions like the CGT. The Popular Front has the support of more than 100 activist groups composed of feminist, queer, antiracist, &c. militants; the Popular Front also unites all the significant electoral parties of the Left, apart from some fringe sectarians. This is the largest Left coalition in decades, and represents a significant advance from the failed NUPES electoral bloc of 2022. Given the bizarre and at times comical fractures on the Right, the Popular Front can actually win—and that victory would belong to the working class.

Protest in favor of the NFP

There is a marked difference between the New and Old Popular Fronts in this respect: the Old was cross-class and deescalatory from the point of view of the workers' vanguard, while the New is driven by the workers' and allied movements, pushing the social-democratic fraction from talk to action. Moms I meet on the playground are asking me when the next protest is. Macron, Bardella, et al. have been unmasked as collaborators with the bosses. Useless electoralists have transformed into partisans of antifascism. Youth march under a red banner reading only “1871” alongside retirees. After the end of the COVID lockdowns, France has been increasingly contested: rural unrest, urban clashes, and now a nation-wide conflict: “which side are you on?” is the question of the day.

Now I have no guarantee to give, only my perspective as one who has witnessed a decade of struggle in this Republic: the New Popular Front is a critical opportunity to reverse the worst effects of contemporary neoliberalism. We have, ready-to-hand, a tool with which to break atomisation, to loosen the noose of ecocide, and to spread the struggle for freedom. I believe that all friends of liberty, all people of goodwill, have an ethical responsibility in this time and place to push the New Popular Front to victory over the forces of infamy and beyond its own limits.

The French electoral Left has two key problems: celebrity and conservatism. The problem of celebrity is something most anglophone readers can intuit: we have all seen both the upsides and downsides of politics as personality in the cases of Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, the Squad, & al. A Popular Front victory could be undermined by the chicanery of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Ruffin, and Fabien Roussel jostling for power. We have already seen the moral debasement and political ineptitude of some La France Insoumise cadres threaten the integrity of the Popular Front.

PCF bulldozer scandal

As for the issue of conservatism, it is well-known that the institutional Left has lost a significant portion of its base to the far-right. I read reactionaries like Eric Zemmour as honest in their admiration of old Left leaders like Georges Marchais who were cabapable of both brilliant showmanship and antisocial cruelty. There is a real and present danger that, in attempting to win back workers from the far-right, the Left could take on conservative or even reactionary politics. This tendency can already be seen in some Communist Party propaganda. The irony is of course that the Marchais era marked the beginning of the PCF's precipitous decline in membership. The success of the Popular Front requires opposition to this tendency from within and without.

Faced with all the above, how can the friends of honor and dignity overcome? In these weeks of strikes and protests, we first of all must be present and active as I have already said. We should use the opportunity that the suspension of sectarian partisanship opens to us to build a parallel, that is, a supplementary mobilizing force that autonomously organizes in the emerging context. Such a new force can do now what the gilets jaunes did pre-COVID: draw out and up the latent capacity of the populace into new modes and orders of struggle beyond the limits of the ballot-box. This opening, this teleological suspension of sectarianism, is too important to scoff at. We are living through a rift in neoliberal depoliticization, a moment where suddenly it is not only sensible but necessary to discuss politics with our neighbors and even strangers. In the words of a feminist activist I spoke to at the last march, “the question of politics, of what is this economy, is now being posed—not just the same old TV culture-war debates.” Is that revolutionary?

No-one knows or holds the secrets of the future. Even the most clear-sighted among us have only hazy premonitions at best, passing and vague glimpses. Only the revolution, in clearing the terrain, will reveal the horizon, slowly lift the veil, and open up the routes, or rather the multiple paths, that lead to the new order. Those who claim to have a complete map of this unknown land in their pocket—they are crazed. Those who seek to maintain the wild moors of our present moment until we have first drawn up the desired map—they are enemies of the human race.   —Blanqui

NFP sign

Primary

I recently came across this album of Harpsichord Works, written in the early 18th century by the Portuguese composer Carlos de Seixas and recorded by American musician Pamela Cook in the late 20th, by accident; I was searching for out-of-print recordings of the great master Scott Ross, and found this jaundiced LP. Unfamiliar with Sexias, I was surprised to find him praised by Scarlatti as one of the best musicians he had ever heard. And then I played the album.

Great art is not perfect, but perfects. I confess that the word “virtuoso” conjures in me a definite disdain, and I avow that showy productions of technical execution turn over my eyes. But these sonatas and toccatas are different: from the thundering cavalcade of “Sonata in A minor” to the languid arabesque of her sister “in E minor”, Seixas’—as well as Cook’s—mastery of the keys is evident; yet even from across the centuries it is his beating heart, not her dancing fingers, that strike me. These Works invert the stereotype of baroque music as festooned with gaudy ornament: here, hearers are stripped of their idle embellishments. No, this is not antiquarian “easy listening”, but the attention demanded is recompensed and more.

To be sure, I do not want to give an impression that the album is stuffy—in faith, it can be bracing. As Cook plays, we circumnavigate human affect: anon tender, anon ecstatic, here soaring, there searching; and it is the continuity of the clavecin that brings all to unity. A resounding peal in “Allegro in E Minor” alights into a gay ballet, and yet the whole hangs together. The balance struck on these pieces is fluid, like a fluttering hummingbird or a heaving barque: the composer and performer do not draw us a picture, but draw us through the picture. I sometimes felt rushed through a passage that I rather wished to have rested in a few moments more.

At other times I found myself baffled: Seixas’ “Sonata in G Minor” breaks out into a firefight, ringing out so many notes as almost to overshoot music and fall into din. Cook then follows with the “Sonata in E minor”, a cool and quiet abri. Lesser musicians could wear down the ears with such rolling and crashing energy, but the effects of this album are addictive rather than repellent: I often find myself turning its phrases over in my mind as I walk along the shore, especially these dramatic transitions. There is an affinity between the minor tonality and varied force of these tracks with the sea: those who have watched seabirds dive for fish or felt gales portending storm may understand the sober awe inspired when they consider the vast tracts of waves driven by the far-off moon and contested by the four winds.

I highly recommend this album, and will look for more of Sexias’ and Cook's work in the future. You can listen to the album entire on YouTube. For a more technical analysis of Seixas' œuvre, I recommend reading this dissertation by Dr. Brian J. Allison.

#music #review

Bombed Ukrainian cityscape

After the destruction of the Soviet Union, the constituent territories of the USSR were subjected to western interests. Ukraine was disarmed of her nuclear weapons with promises of western protection. Russia was made to accept reunified Germany’s accession to NATO with promises of limited future expansion. Both Russia and Ukraine hoped to join the west, to be integrated into NATO and the EU. All these promises were broken, all these hopes were dashed. Instead of a new world order premised on predictable rules and peacefully mediated through international institutions, the twenty-first century was inaugurated with unilateral action, pre-emptive invasions, and unremitting chaos from Afghanistan to Yemen.

Much has been made of Vladimir Putin’s alleged personal beliefs, and although he is the supreme commander of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and therefore directly responsible for this bloodbath, he is weak and constrained. Were he to fall from power, the same fundamental geopolitical reality would face whoever rose in his place. Putin as a man is easy to sum up: he’s a gangster, a thug, a killer. His worldview is evidently a post-hoc justification for whatever he feels necessary to promote his power. This was demonstrated by the bizarre and haphazard sermon given by Patriarch Kirill blaming the war on the west’s purported “gay parade” foreign policy. His Holiness apparently needed to come up with something quickly. The Russian ruling class is a mafia, not a theocracy. As Vladimir Pozner and others have pointed out for many years, Putin’s regime is itself a byproduct of failed western policy: by excluding Russia from the club of “normal countries”, Russian politics developed in an increasingly aggressive and authoritarian direction.

The tragic missed opportunity for rapprochement with Russia pales in comparison to the betrayal of Ukraine by the west. In 1996, the Budapest Memorandum traded security guarantees from the America, Britain, and Russia to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine in exchange for their surrender of nuclear weapons. None of these three countries were integrated into the expanded European Union. All three have subsequently been subjected to Russian regional hegemony. The west failed to develop any coherent policy toward Ukraine in particular. The infamous tape of American diplomat Victoria Nuland exclaiming “fuck the EU” indicated the west’s internal divisions on how to approach the Ukraine crisis, as did the failure of the Minsk agreements to ensure a lasting peace. The west wavered for years, leading Ukraine to believe that they would support her when push came to shove. This Ukrainian dream was dramatized by the comedian Zelensky in a skit where the President of Ukraine finally gets the call from Brussels welcoming his county into the EU–only to realize that they intended to congratulate the President of Montenegro. Western ambivalence has since portrayed itself across the ruined cities of Ukraine and in the lives of millions of refugees.

Ukrainian woman amidst the rubble

Freedom and democracy are vaguely proclaimed as immortal European values, while the price of gas is quietly and carefully calculated. Ukraine is a poor country and getting poorer by the day–what good is it for the German bourgeoisie to be weighed down with another PIGS country in exchange for more expensive fuel? Britain abandoned the EU in part due to resentment against Eastern European immigrants, and has shown little interest in welcoming any more. President Biden made hazy pronouncements in Warsaw that Moscow interpreted as a call for Russian regime change and that White House officials hastily walked back. While the west have enacted economic sanctions against Russia and funneled arms to Ukraine, the cries of Ukrainians for western help have gone unanswered. Kyiv has so far been judged not worth nuclear war. Ukraine has been handed over for destruction in a conflict that could have been averted had the west committed to the Minsk peace process that France and Germany brokered. There is no coherent or rational western policy towards Ukraine. The result has been an absurd war, and there is no clear way out of it.

The same contradictions that created the conditions for this war perpetuate it: Vladimir Putin’s regime has no alternative in Russia, the sticking points of the Minsk agreements on territorial concessions in Donbas and Crimea remain unresolved, Russia is too weak to simply compel Ukraine to submit, Ukraine is too weak to prevent Russian incursion into its territory, the west is unwilling to sue for peace and unable to defend Ukraine, and the war devours more lives daily. The liberal international project is not dead, it is death. There is no hope in it for a better world free from war. The bourgeois idealism of the Christian and social democrats that birthed the European Union has led to disaster. It is a fundamental mistake of analysis to think that Putin is the problem, that knocking him off the geopolitical chessboard would remedy the situation. Just as removing Bush did not stop America from decimating Western Asia, and the toppling of strongmen in the Arab Spring did not lead to democratic flowering, so too is defeating Russia in this war insufficient. The present world order can only produce more Syrias and Ukraines.

Devastated Ukrainian waterfront

#politics #analysis

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