Five perceptions from the West that have been devalued by Russia's war against Ukraine

7 December 2022, 12:03 PM

The current war is giving Western Europe a chance to rid itself of outdated stereotypes of perception and patterns of its own thinking.

Like the First and Second World Wars, the current war has not only significantly reformatted the mental landscape of Europe, pushing its two most powerful states to the outskirts of the continent, but has moved its civilizational center to Ukraine. This war has also devalued a number of ideas and ideas still popular in the West.

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The first of these is the widespread "Moscow syndrome" there - a comprehensive sensual and mental dependence on the historically backward and socially archaic Eurasian state. Therefore, this war has put an end to the delusions of North Atlantic generals about a “strategic partnership” with the aggressor, destroyed the fantasies of Western politicians about “constructive cooperation” with it, broken their plans for the development of a European security system with its participation, and rendered meaningless their dreams of a Europe “from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Consequently, this war has also brought the sincere concern of officials of EU states to the same level as the “legitimate interests of Russia” and brought to the surface their feelings of “deep, deep worry” and “deep, deep concern.” It has also significantly weakened the admiration of Western European intellectuals for the "universal kind-heartedness of the enigmatic Russian soul."

Following the "Moscow syndrome," the long-standing Munich belief in the possibility of appeasing the aggressor has also been shaken, because in fact the "gathering of lands" by empires stops only with their collapse into nation-states.

According to that belief, the old “Vichy complex” – the tendency to collaborate with an attacker, sometimes very profitable, and sometimes just familiar and surprisingly pleasant for both – quickly began to lose strength. The next hits of Russian missiles on hospitals, museums, libraries, schools, universities and power plants in Ukraine highlighted the fallacy of David Lloyd George’s idea of ​​“trading even with cannibals,” since the cannibals spend their billions in proceeds on war, and therefore, instead of the desired “peace through trade,” Europe gets "war over trade." And the one who trades with cannibals unwittingly becomes a real sponsor of terrorism.

Then the old idea of ​​the "New Left" collapsed - the idea of "bridges instead of walls," since the invader's tanks are now driving along these bridges, so Ukrainian gunners are skillfully making these bridges "impassable"; walls protect from bullets and shrapnel from rockets, bombs, shells and mines, so Ukrainian children thoroughly learn the “rule of two walls.” (A rule instructing people to protect themselves from explosions while indoors by remaining between two walls, and thus away from windows - ed.)

In the end, the war has seriously undermined the foundations of political correctness, since it is absurd to admire the “otherness” of the Other / Alien, who has come from afar to rob, torture, and then kill you; it is impossible to be tolerant of a genocidal person; to immorally "balance" the positions of the executioner and his victim; and one cannot speak of the enemy otherwise than—terrible to say though it may be!—in the language of hostility.

And last but not least: this war for identity has greatly shaken the Western understanding of the nature of historical memory, so after Bucha, Borodyanka and Izyum, it is unlikely that any of Europe’s local intellectuals will decide, as before, to impute the “martyr complex” they once did to political Ukrainians, just as after the defense of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv - they shall no longer reproach them for "lionizing" their own history.

The stubborn resistance of Ukrainians of different ethnic origins to the invasion of the nomads from the East has caused delight among some Western Europeans and prompted them to support this resistance, while it has surprised and even angered other Westerners. ‘Why defend themselves,’ they say, ‘and thereby increase the number of victims and destruction?’ This reaction has shown the direction of the West’s value drift over the past decades – from freedom to security (“for the sake of peace, give the invader part of your country”), from dignity to profitability (for “business is business”), from willfulness to humility (because "money loves silence"), from values ​​to interests (because only "pragmatic" - and even "real" - politics matter), from the development of stability ("Give us peace at last!"), from instruction "The bad land, but my land" - to the conviction "Ubi bene, ibi patria" ("Where it's good, there is one’s homeland").

Thus, by destroying some ideas and perceptions familiar to Western Europe, the current war has thereby given it a chance to get rid of outdated stereotypes of perception and patterns of its own thinking, and therefore given it a good opportunity to return to its (European!) values ​​and at the same time develop a new, modern vision of the world, which is now changing so rapidly.

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That is, of course, if Europe wants to continue to be itself.

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