Thursday, August 18, 2022

Interesting Discussion on Ukraine and the Future


 As one knows, I tend to admire and have a little mind crush on Yuval Noah Harari. I was looking at his web site the other day - he posts upcoming events - and I saw the talk about The Last Forty Years and the Next Forty: Eastern Europe, Europe, the World. The talk / debate/ discussion was streamed and it is now on the website, so I listened.

There were quite a few takeaways, but a couple I wanted to share. However my brain is having a hard time getting ahold of the amorphous discussion and my thoughts are both confusing AND imperative. 

I have started this post 3 times now. It was a fascinating conversation but hard to break apart. So I will start with a small part of the discussion.

Regarding Ukraine - one of the reasons for the discussions - they made the point that our historical myths often guide our current actions. For example, the Nazis were one of the first existential threats to the USSR. They drove right to the heart of the country taking over Ukraine on its way.

Therefore, when trying to pull Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence, Putin makes a call back to Nazi's. Not the way Americans think of Nazi's - as a one off group of fanatics that invented the holocaust as a sign of hatred. But they way Russians might think of Nazi's, as a foreign attacking entity aimed at taking Russian soil. This is particularly useful for Putin as it identifies opposition to the war as opposition to the idea of Russia itself.

In a similar manner, America sees itself as the defender of last resort for the "West". (From our point of view) America stepped up to save Europe in 1917 in WWI, in 1942 in WWII ** and in the Cold War. And we are committed to doing it this time, and to support this feeling, Ukraine is making itself as "western" as possible. The VERY conservative country is even legalizing gay rights. Not as the right thing to do, but to fit in with Europe and the West.

This doesn't give us an easy path to resolution in Ukraine, but it does shift the dynamic of how we think about the war. 

And the information gives us a clue about where else historical myths might effect politics. For example, the varying myths we tell ourselves about the Civil War still cause issues between many Whites in the South and Whites in the North. (Black Americans don't disagree about the civil war.)

Anyway, it was thought provoking.

** - If you ever want to rile up a Brit, ask them when WWI and WWII started. For America it was 1917 and 1941. For Europe it was more like 1914 and 1938. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Naval Museum in Tivat Montenegro

Tivat, Montenegro is an interesting place. It started as a quiet seaside town that was focused on fishing until the 1900s.  Starting in the ...