Apocalypse February 2022
The doomsday clock ticks more audibly tonight. You are seeing the world and current events, simultaneously missing the life immediately around you as you stare into a screen. I read a tweet about someone’s visit to Auschwitz, scroll to the next, a video of a nice Russian lady in a thong falling over on a frozen lake. I put to you that the constant jarring non sequiturs are probably not doing us good in the mental department. A victim is struck by a bullet fired from a gun held in a hand. Interesting how the end times came once we had developed the tech to capture every minute detail of it on camera, in crisp HD.
It’s cinema of bewilderment. A media feeding frenzy, a self-reinforcing cycle, rapid spread of simplistic explanations, given credibility by being seen being said by others, and so on. For example, Is he threatening a nUcLeAr StRiKe?! It makes me nervous, the chance of self-fulfilling prophesy. Macron spoke with Putin, said he was more rigid, more isolated. Paranoid, emotional, reactive. Detached from reality. Prone to outrageous theories and bizarre, unprecedented rhetoric, observed his domestic political opponents, speaking from either prison or exile. It was odd for Putin to insist that Ukraine should really be part of Russia and then expect people to tolerate fellow Slavs, often their relations, being bombed. Putin, like most autocrats, has a residual fear of his own people (1). Let’s not forget that Putin is not Russia, does not de facto speak nor act for the Russian people.
He needs to tell his troops to fuck off out of Ukraine and leave the people there to do their thing. So what happens? Wild, indiscriminate missile targets (shrugs if they miss, it’s about the explosions). Naked aggression. The massive military might of hundreds upon hundreds of young soldiers with not enough training, teenage boys in fatigues, wandering, crying, without a free choice, commanded to kill their neighbours and cousins. It’s old-school warfare that pits sheer numbers of bodies to counter low morale. It used to be called cannon fodder. The most violent he’s ever been, the weakest he’s ever looked. It doesn’t necessarily have to go according to plan. Do outlandish things, reset the goalposts, change what is normal.
But he’s cut himself off at the knees, cut off from the world. Having torched his credibility, backed into a corner, the sad prick flexes his nukes. Kyiv is still standing. President Zelenskyy is still in Kyiv. Putin doesn’t believe in democratic revolution, there must always be an adversarial foreign hand behind it. He effectively created Ukrainian civil identity by invading it in 2014, reinforcing it now, unable to see it. Determination to resist is a huge force multiplier. Patriotism sweeps the nation, actual patriotism! Glory to Ukraine, Glory to our heroes. Wladimir Klitschko says democracy cannot defend itself, it needs the will of the citizens, the commitment of everyone. Basically, there is no democracy without democrats. Should Zelenskyy fall, someone else would run the government.
Germany, suckered by vicissitudes of public opinion, belatedly stops blocking Dutch weapons deliveries to Ukraine. The SPD showed a naive neutrality that was in practice power to the invader, fracture in the unified voice of allied resistance. It didn’t last long anyway, Scholz suddenly pulled out 100,000,000,000 euros from somewhere for defence. Pandemic what? Energy prices what? Biden will do everything in his power to limit the pain that Americans are feeling at the gas pump. For all his flaws, the release of US intel anticipated the attack, called the bluff and flipped the discourse landscape. The UK flip-flops, hesitates, bloviates, rather than acting spends time apparently considering its options. On refugees, on oil tankers. A government so incompetent and slow it’s tantamount to assisting Putin’s invasion. Johnson says what is at stake is not just democracy in Ukraine, but democracy around the world. Too right. He spoke as straight as I’ve ever seen him, shows he can do it when he plucks up and puts a bit of effort in, but he still can’t help but puff himself up talking about being the best, the biggest, the fastest. Show don’t tell, you can’t. We are in fact shamefully behind. Cunts crowing about freedom perfectly fitting the definition of traitors, in bed with the enemy. The closeness of the British government to Russian money, Tory party bought and owned. Warnings sanctions won’t work because Putin’s money is in Knightsbridge. Wealth is taken out of the economy by the rich to protect it from taxation. Any law with a fine is a price. Everything in the pursuit of lucre, and get the crowd cheering for the market.
The neutral stance is standing with Ukraine, for its independence, for peace. Again, innocent people are being killed purely because of insane pseudo-imperial megalomania. Solidarity with free, independent, and sovereign Ukraine and with all Russians who have the courage to oppose this war. At this moment, the free and democratic world must show if it has learned its lesson from the passivity of the 1930s. Today, it is clear that any symptom of indifference is a sign of complicity (2). This is how refugees are created, until we change the situation which creates massive waves of immigration. We need to stand up for a basic equality of chances, keep in sight a global system of free movement, because there but for the grace of god go I, and there is, to be fair, something to be said for that.
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(1) Lawrence Freedman
(2) Auschwitz Memorial statement