Saturday, 7 June 2014

DONBAS AND DUMBER

Badass in the Donbas: one of your buttons has just been pushed.

by Colin Liddell

America's "Shit Happens" Foreign Policy adopted by the 'Solaris State'


When the present problems between Russia and the West, centring on the Ukraine, first started to come to prominence earlier this year, the first thing I noticed was the increasing partisan pitch and self-delusion among all parties concerned.

The "pro-democracy" advocates had their KoolAid poured fresh from cartons courtesy of Kolor-Яevolutions-Я-Us, the Ukrainians Nats were all dewy-eyed about some alternative universe where "Great Ukraine" had always existed, and the more extreme Duginists had their Polandball-like doctrine "because Octopus" and Manichean intolerance for all who would not prostrate themselves before Putin the Great.

Now we're all supposed to get our knickers in a twist about events in the Donbas, the part of the Eastern Ukraine that – according to who you believe – is either an integral part of the Ukraine or a hothouse of Russian nationalism. We are also supposed to throw ourselves into the virtual front lines that have been erected across the nebulae of the internet with the same passion, fear, fury, and seasickness with which our forefathers stormed ashore in Normandy seventy years ago; taking sides, sharing posts, letting "the world" know about this or that injustice, kidnapping, murder, factoid of history, colour-coded map or other weaponized meme-friendly bit of internet detritus that may or may not be related to actualities on the micro or macro level.

The self-righteous uptightness and shrill nerdiness palpable in all this is only partly relieved by the lackadaisical aura emanating from the Oval Office. For once I am actually glad that there is a mulatto sub-hipster in the White House, as that’s exactly what these situations need – a degree of slackness, a hint of irony, an avoidance of the gleaming, righteous brow and the "ulp" sound that accompanies the swallowing of a particularly large dollop of bullshit; in other words critical distance. First, Second, Third positions be damned, I’m a Fourth Positionist!

The stupidity of simplistic dualtitties. 
Although I suspected several months ago that I would get drawn into various positions by my various nationalist sympathies and general schadenfreude against the pustulent West, I was also aware of a need to see beyond the passions, positions, poisons, and prejudices of the moment to the bigger picture or even the much bigger picture beyond the so-called bigger picture, the one that shows you how things really work. This is one reason I decided to title much of our commentary on the crisis using groanworthy puns – like the title of this article – even though this veered closely towards the disrespectful when people were dying under great passion. A few examples:

THE GREAT HATE OF KIEV
DON’T KIEV UP WITHOUT A FIGHT
SOCHI STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON
CRIMEA AND PUNISHMENT
ODESSA OR DISHONOUR

Not only that, but we even had a dog write for us!

Our correspondent in the Ukraine.
Underneath the overwrought emotions, I wanted to at least maintain the possibility that what was happening was as absurd, cynical, and multifaceted as it was tragic. But I now realize that the note of absurdity is not some mere afterthought, echo, or undertaste in this struggle. It is the very essence and heart of it, as it is indeed the essence of our times. We are now living in the Postmodern era, and Postmodernism has always taken absurdity as its template, but one of the most absurd things about postmodernism is that it is actually coeval and co-evil with modernity. In fact the two are complementary and symbiotic. Postmodernity helps modernity to survive against the traditionalist alternative it long ago usurped, but modernity's efficiency and excess also allows something as fickle, trivial, and self-indulgent as post-modernity to send out its outlandish foliage.

Modernity is anti-human, alienating, and therefore destructive. In its drive to reduce us to parts of a machine or a global system predicated on financial and bureaucratic imperatives, it destroys culture, religion, and identity, the emotional ectoplasm with which we connect to the cold hard surfaces of the universe. Post-modernity is of course a poor substitute, creating transitory and polymorphous identities and moments of "empowered self" to replace authentic and interconnected human existence. It also provides us with a kaleidoscopic irony rather than a perennial faith with which to stare at the Great Abyss.

Naturally post-modernity has also affected the way in which politics and geopolitics happen, even at the point of struggles between the most powerful nations. In the past modernity had two options is such cases: total war or shrill stand-off; death or stasis; WWIII or Cold War. In a purely modern world we would have already have been in World War III by now, but that would also have had to have been preceded by a period of Fascistic or Communistic preparation.

The truth is – and our leaders know this – fighting the kind of sustained, hard-edged war that our forefathers did in the 1940s is simply impossible. Vietnam was revealing and no blip. Rather than fight with sabers, all we can do now is fence with string. This has been encoded by some theorists in the concept of Fourth Generation Warfare, which, among other things, represents the postmodernization of war, just as Obama represents the postmodernization of American presidential politics.

Do do that voodoo that you do so well.
Now wars are fought by raising mobs, inserting mercenaries or special ops, controlling the narrative on social media, handing out balloons, and other cunning stunts  or () stunning cunts.

Our battalions are Facebook thumbs, our panzers comment threads, our missiles Twitter accounts. Blood needs to get spilled because every over-inflated currency has to be floated on something, but beyond that its largely voodoo, gobbledy-gook, bad PR, and trolling. You may need your own satellite news channel, NGO, or lowest-common-denominator protest group to participate.

Our ape-like ancestors had two marked proclivities to aid their survival, given the convenient tags "Fight" or "Flight." Viewed as opposing poles, we can say that in those groups that evolved a culture of fight rather than flight – the Europe of the phalanx, the legion, and the knight – the casualties were higher but the civilizational progress was greater, as fighting requires a greater degree of mental texture (discipline, morality, beliefs, values, etc.) than merely running away or being evasive.

In short our civilizational greatness floated on a sea of blood – our own and that of our enemies. Pre-postmodernity saw the last great effusion of this in WWII, but now we have switched to a Postmodern pattern of "flightiness," involving subterfuge, proxy war, minimum commitment, and shadow puppetry. Great powers are no longer great or brave, and certainly have no honour. Instead of raising their banners proudly, they instead employ indirect war and ironic geopolitics, and rely on serendipity and opportunism.

This has manifested itself as the "Shit Happens" Foreign Policy rolled out by the USA most successfully in the overthrow and killing of Colonal Gaddafi:
"This involves stirring the shit with a very long stick, so that when things don't work out, as they didn't in Syria you stay well back, hoping all the time that the wind doesn't blow in your direction. Then, when things do work out, like the overthrow of Gaddafi, you admit that you're pleased - heck you even set your mark on it by gracelessly laughing - but just in case you get blamed for it you also pretend that it would have happened without you, because, 'like, hey, shit happens!"
An important aspect of the "Shit Happens" foreign policy is its flexibility. In a geopolitical sense, you effectively throw mud at a wall and see what sticks. In place of principles and clearly defined legitimate interests, you have a variety of flexible goals and methods, and take whatever you can get away with while also distancing yourself from any negative fallout.

When it was successfully applied in Libya, this serendipity-based foreign policy was interpreted by the Russians as a masterstroke of American geopolitical sophistication, whereas it was more simply a case of cutting one's coat to suit one's cloth.

While this approach is ideal for a weak, overextended, and morally vacuous hegemon like the USA, recent events suggest that Russia is trying to mirror its rival. (I guess this has to be expected from the Solaris state!) Despite occasionally borrowing North Korea’s modernist WWII schtick, Russia is in a position not entirely dissimilar from America's. Yes, they have their tough guy president and youtube vids showing macho elements of Russia's special forces in action, but underneath that hard crust, the Russian snow isn't much harder than the American slush. Recent events in the Ukraine show that Russia too has adopted something of a "Shit Happens" geopolitical approach, using a wide range of 4G warfare tactics and moral hypocrisy to create as much instability as suits it, while all the time sitting back shrugging its shoulders and saying, "Shit happens."

Yes, it does, but not without arseholes. 


Does a bear shit in the woods? ...Well, actually, yes.

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