Unfortunately, we are once again at war in Europe. What a culture we have that does not know how to resolve its conflicts peacefully! What a terrible history of wars we have in our culture!

By Juan Espinosa

I have read different analyses of this violent outbreak, but I am not satisfied with any of them. These analyses forget the history of millennia in which war was a central element in the construction of our culture. The tendency to resolve tensions through war is a constant among us. Some of these analyses even forget recent history. They say that European populations are asleep and manipulated by the great evil that is NATO and the USA with its all-powerful media. An astonishing assertion that is disproved only by recalling the events of a few years ago.

These media and these lies of the USA are the same ones that failed to get the European populations to support the war with IRAQ launched by the USA, Britain and Spain. Moreover, the social reaction in many European countries against that war was very strong. In some places, in Spain, it was strong enough to change the government in the next elections. And this with all the official media supporting the military intervention. We demonstrated very strongly against the war in Iraq, participating in that great social demand that swayed the 2004 elections. The incoming Zapatero government immediately withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq as promised.

So, people were awake and now they are asleep? Are we becoming numb?

I do not believe in the all-powerful media nor do I conceive of people as an easily led herd. Why should people be so easily manipulated while I believe I am not? This intellectual arrogance of some who differentiate and distance themselves from the people seems suspicious to me. It seems to me that in this situation some positionings and analyses are prior to the facts. The question would be, if people demonstrated strongly against the Iraq war, why are they not demonstrating now?

People are not demonstrating now because if they demonstrated in Russia they would be imprisoned without charges and without knowing for how many months they would be imprisoned. People are not demonstrating now because they recognise a fundamental right which is the right to self-defence. People are not demonstrating now because they recognise the absurdity of Russia’s demand for a safe space. Why should Russia be granted this right? Is this right to a safe space superior to Ukraine’s right to independence? The fact that some countries – by means of threats, aggression or the purchase of wills – have a safe space does not give Russia’s right any credence. Unless we give in and concede that the world must be ruled by two giant manipulative and violent empires that impose their super-rights by crushing the rights of others.

Why does such a simple truth as: the responsibility for aggression lies with the aggressor?

We all know that the character of the leaders is crucial in these situations. We all know that if Russia were ruled by people of a different spirit – for example Gorbachev, Khrushchev or Tolstoy – this war would not have happened. Many of us also breathe a sigh of relief that there is no D. Trump in Washington. Perhaps if he had won the last election the escalation of war would be terrible.

But even the escalation of war can be terrible if we step outside our naive vision. Given Putin’s metallic character the conflict could escalate, even to the launching of nuclear missiles. But another scenario could also present itself if we take into account the social fracture in Russia, similar to that which has occurred in the US and which was shown in all its rawness with the assault on the Capitol. This social fracture may also be reflected in the Russian military. This could lead to coups, attacks or even civil war. This scenario is not foreign to Russia’s history, just as it is not foreign to the history of other European countries.

We are in a world where the logic of violence and hypocrisy reigns. But many of us aspire to another logic, another atmosphere of relations and other values. We aspire to be personally and socially coherent with the activism of nonviolence. But nonviolence is not installed in governments and populations and we cannot naively ask for nonviolent behaviour in today’s world. On the other hand, I cannot analyse from the outside because I myself am part of the problem, not having overcome the violence in me.

As far as nonviolence is concerned, very few human beings serve as a reference: Tolstoy, Gandhi, Luther King, Silo. They are a reference for a behaviour of moral height and coherence. We hope that they will be listened to and reflected upon more because they speak to us of the root of violence and war. This root lies in the meaninglessness of life, in the contradictions of our lives, in the contradictions of the social system. All this shows a materialistic view of life.

To understand Tolstoy, Gandhi, Luther King and Silo, it is necessary to recognise that they have a strong spiritual quest, a contact with the source of the spiritual in the depths of their conscience or their heart. From this source flows their coherence, their dignity, their struggle, the brotherhood they defend and nonviolence as a method of social change. Without this spiritual source, their struggle would have no strength and no truth, in capital letters.