What does the Ukraine War have to do with the Culture War?

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By Jordan Peterson from the DailyWire.com

We are now several months into the conflict with Russia. I say “we” because we are all pretending here in the West that the real war is between Russia and Ukraine but (nod nod wink wink) if we clandestinely, in some sense, provide full support to Ukraine then maybe the Russians, foolish and backward as they are won’t notice and we can simultaneously pretend that we aren’t flirting with the prospect of a long, arduous and inconceivably destructive war. I want to say at the outset that I think what Putin has done is unconscionable; God only knows what the impact will be, as all four of the horsemen of the apocalypse are on the march again. I think that the collusion of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church is even more unforgivable. Be that as it may, I also believe that the attempt to deeply understand the motive forces for this war, as it is very difficult to set things right (let alone avoid a similar future catastrophe—or even to stop this conflict from spreading) in the absence of such understanding.

I have spoken publicly (on my YouTube channel and podcast) with American policy expert Frederick Kagan, who was recommended to me by some of my conservative associates in the US—people with extensive political experience and, simultaneously, knowledge about foreign policy. Kagan is rather hawkish in his outlook and reputation, and was criticized for this (as I was for hosting him) in the social media comments sections accompanying my YouTube channel. Our joint episodes, by the way, have been viewed or listened to by at least three million people. I’m saying this just to provide evidence that these discussions have some impact in the broad public sphere.

Dr. Kagan essentially put forward the thesis that Vladimir Putin is a prototypical authoritarian, and that Russia’s foray into Ukraine might properly be viewed as an expression of the imperial expansionism that typified the Soviet Union: so, Cold War, round two. Accompanying this view is the interpretation of Putin as a thug in the Hitlerian mould, carrying a chip on his shoulder, interested primarily in self-aggrandizement, and capitalizing on Russian patriotism and an associated populist appeal to fortify his pretensions to empire and desire for an unlimited extension of personal power. This perspective, which appears to characterize what might be called the Western “patriotic” response to the Russian incursion, has its very real justifications. It appears part of uniting in response to an enemy; part of justifying what is necessarily a binary decision process: are we at war, or not? If yes, then the question arises: is the enemy bad? By definition. Otherwise the war is unpardonable—and if we believe that to be the case, we will enter the fray demoralized and compromise our chances of victory.

But one of the primary justifications for a war, perhaps, is that we have something to gain. I see that we have little to gain in the current situation, and certainly much we could lose. Russia is a nuclear power, and we run the very real risk of backing them into a corner. And that, bad as at is, is only one of many the options for disaster that currently face us.

Many people watching my exchange with Dr. Kagan suggested that I broaden my understanding by reviewing the work of Dr. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, who offers an alternative interpretation: one that more specifically highlights the faults of the West. Dr. Mearsheimer’s remarkably prescient 2015 University of Chicago lecture Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault? (available on YouTube, and now watched by thirty million people—an unheard-of number for an academic lecture). I was concerned that Mearsheimer might be a Russian apologist, in some relatively simple manner, although that does not seem to be the case. In a singularly lucid one hour presentation, Mearsheimer explained that NATO and EU expansionism into Ukraine (the invitation proffered to Ukraine to join the EU; the formal statement of the desirability of NATO’s extension into Ukraine) has already and will continue to pose an intolerable threat to the Russians, who view Ukraine both as an integral part of the broader Russian sphere of interest and as a necessary buffer between the Europe that has invaded Russia to terrible effect in 1812 and 1941 and that is no more trustworthy to Russian eyes now than previously. Mearsheimer compares the former element of that view to the US Monroe Doctrine, which makes the Western hemisphere sacrosanct with regards to, say, the movement of Soviet missiles to Cuba) and the latter to the stark realities of the difference in the importance of Ukraine to Russia (crucial) and to the West (irrelevant, except for the transmission of Russian natural gas and any and all current exploitation for the purposes of shallow moral posturing). Mearsheimer states, starkly (and this explains a fair bit of Putin’s potential motivation) that Russia would rather see Ukraine destroyed, razed to the ground, than comfortably ensconced in the Western sphere of influence. And he said that not last month or last week in response to the Ukraine incursion but seven years ago in 2015. 
Mearsheimer also claims that the Ukraine president Yanukovych, deposed in 2014 in the aftermath of widespread pro-EU protests, was the clear favorite and choice of the Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who overwhelmingly occupy the southeastern section of the country, while Zelensky, the current president, and supporter of all things Western, was and is supported by the Ukrainian speakers, who live in the northeast. Add to that, as well, the fact that the Ukrainian-speaking supported government has placed increasingly draconian restrictions on the language rights of the Russian speakers in the northwest (a fact all Westerners balancing the complexities of multiple languages in their own countries should be particularly sensitive to and understanding of). All of this to say that Putin and the Russians have their reasons for concern over the situation in Ukraine.

We could reasonably add to these two theories of the conflict some observations about the energy front. Russia is a petro-giant, providing almost 15% of the world’s supply of oil and natural gas, and extremely dependent on that single resource, whose revenues make up almost 50% of the state budget and perhaps 30% of total GDP. Almost half of the Russian fossil fuels exported make their way to Europe, which has allowed itself to become dangerously dependent on such outside sources for one of its primary necessities (not least because of its faux-moral stance on issues of “the environment”). It’s not so easy for the Russians to get their oil and gas to market, partly because the behemoth country is remarkably land-locked, in a practical sense. They’ve had to build extensive pipelines to do so. The two of those that serve the European market, upon which the economy of Russia is fundamentally dependent, pass through what are now other countries. This is not convenient, to say the least, for the Russians, and has caused no shortage of conflict between them and Ukraine, specifically, and has certainly encouraged constant Russian interference in Belarus (which in some real sense is a puppet state of its larger partner).

When the Soviet empire collapsed, the huge oil fields around the Caspian sea suddenly found themselves in the hands of the new countries of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. After 1989, these resources attracted major attention from western energy companies—and untrammeled production from the new countries posed a threat to Russian domination of the European energy market. This has produced unending tension in the region, not least around Azerbaijan, which has run its own pipelines to thirsty Western markets through Georgia (invaded non-coincidentally by Russia in 2008), Turkey, and Albania, thus partially circumventing Russian control over petro export. The fact of this relative independence has also allowed Azerbaijan to move further away from the Moscow-centered sphere of influence, and sets a worrying example in the Russian view to other developing post-Soviet countries in the area. Add to that the fact that 80% of Russia’s oil and gas exports once had to pass through Ukraine—although this problem has been remediated somewhat—and the stage was and is set for trouble. This became particularly evident in 2005 with the Orange revolution and the rise of Viktor Yushenko’s overtly pro-western Ukrainian regime. Shortly thereafter, the Russians demanded that Ukraine turn over ownership of the pipeline system traversing that country to them. This request was refused. In response, and during the winter, the Russians briefly turned off the taps supplying Ukraine with the petro resources upon which that country was also acutely dependent.

It is also the case that Ukraine has immense and relatively recently-discovered (ca 2010) petro resources of its own, particularly around the Caspian sea and in the northeast—enough natural gas, for example, so that it could have become a major supplier of that resource to Europe (and thereby pose a threat to European reliance on Russian resources). Ukraine also possesses—although perhaps not after the current war—immense storage capacity for petro-resources, another asset that could limit the influence that Russia can exert over its European customers, by providing a buffer against any suddenly imposed limitations of supply. In the last decade, Ukraine has been actively pursuing agreements with ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron to develop and export their new resources. The 2014 pro-western revolution in Ukraine, toppling what was then the pro-Russian government there, did little to set Russian minds at ease. The consequent invasion of Crimea placed a substantial proportion of the new Ukraine petro reserves in Russian hands. The later invasion of the Donbass region (in the aforementioned northeast), putatively to support pro-Russian separatists there, was perhaps motivated by analogous reasons.

So that’s three hypothetical reasons for Russia and Ukraine: First, Putin the imperialist Soviet-era/Hitlerian thug; second; Russia threatened by careless and provocative Western expansionism into a country we really don’t care about (except when our unearned moral virtue is challenged) but which is key to Russian identity and security; third, Russian concern about maintaining its primarily petro-funded economy, particularly in relation to the European market. But even three reasons are not enough to account for the fact of this war, and its emergence here and now. There’s a fourth, precisely germane to why I entitled this essay Civil War in the West (in the West, note, not in the Russian empire).

A few weeks ago, one of my viewers, or readers, or listeners sent me a copy of the great Russian novelist Dostoevsky’s A Writer’s Diary. Dostoevsky regarded A Writer’s Diary, twice the length in its entirety of his longer works of fiction, as his pre-eminent achievement. It is a hybrid work, which he began publishing as a series of columns in a conservative weekly journal called The Citizen. It is the work of the accomplished journalist the great Russian author was, in daring combination with the works of fiction which he employed, parable-like, to buttress his intellectual and more political points. In it, Dostoevsky outlined his view of his homeland’s destiny, which he saw as crucially inseparable from Russia’s role in Christendom (that archaic notion). Russia is neither Catholic nor Protestant, but Orthodox in its religious matters, and that fact remains of serious importance, in my opinion, to a proper understanding of the terrible situation we in the West (including Russia) now find ourselves in. Dostoevsky concerned himself with a philosophical or, more profoundly, theological issue: the crisis of meaning in that West, (addressing an issue that has become of key psychological and social importance again today).

His Crime and Punishment is a psychological investigation focusing on questions of right and wrong, or good and evil. Are human beings, devoid of religious presuppositions, now free to make their own choices, even in matters of murder? In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky asks: Is everything permitted, now that God is dead? In The Devils (also known as The Possessed) he asks: what forms might belief take—and to what end—when the strictures of traditional belief are burst asunder? What dread demons might take the place of the displaced YHWH? Dostoevsky fervently believed in the necessity of a revival of Christianity, in the more psychological sense central to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis, the transformative process whose aim is individual likeness to or union with God, and he believed that the Russians would need to play a central role in that revival. Everyone reading this might be thinking “what could such arcane things possibly have to do with the practicalities of the current war?” but that is an indication of our superficiality and ignorance here in the West and not with the relevance of such things to the state of the world.

When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote The Gulag Archipelago—the book that shook the foundations of the Cold-War-era world—he suggested, like Dostoevsky, that it would be necessary for the Russians to return to the path of incremental organic development that had been manifesting itself prior to the revolutionary disruptions of the Communist catastrophe. That meant a return to Orthodox belief. There is every sign of a revival of Christianity in Russia, including a veritable storm of church building and cathedral construction. Putin himself is a practicing Christian, and it appears that he has been strongly influenced by such ideas. The degree to Putin’s worldview and actions are shaped by his professed Christianity, is a topic subject to appropriate debate, but the same can be said about the views and actions of all who adopt or claim to adopt a faith. I certainly feel more comfortable knowing that Putin regards himself however indeterminately as subordinate to something beyond himself, as the alternative is dreadful to contemplate (that would be the absolute moral presumption of someone such as Stalin). Regardless of the depth or genuineness of his belief, however, it is beyond dispute that the Russian leader frequently speaks of his country’s role as a bulwark against the moral decadence of the West, and that he speaks in philosophical and theological terms to a degree unthinkable in a Western leader (all of whom tend towards a condescension in some matters that has reached its apotheosis in Canada’s Justin Trudeau, New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden and US VP Kamala Harris). He also collaborates in his thinking with a genuine philosopher, Alexander Dugin. You can say or think what you want about Dugin as a philosopher, but the fact remains that such thinking has exercised a deep influence on Putin and Russia.

Putin regards the current West as decadent to the point of absolute untrustworthiness, particularly on the cultural and religious front. He is driven by economic and political necessity to trade with us (and us with him), so that Russian can be supplied by much-needed hard Western currency and Europe, in particular, with fossil fuel. But Putin tells his people that he sees us falling far too far under the sway of ideas very similar to those that produced the revolutionary frenzy of the Communist movement (and detailed so presciently by Dostoevsky in The Devils and analyzed for their catastrophic consequence so carefully by Solzhenitsyn). And whether he believes this or not—and I believe he does—he is certainly able and willing to use the story of our degeneration to make his people wary of us and to convince them of the necessity of his leadership and to unite them in supporting his actions in Ukraine. And something akin to this can be said of the attraction that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds for the Hungarians and the Polish President Andrzej Duda for the Poles. LePen makes a similar appeal in France.

And are we degenerate, in a profoundly threatening manner? I think the answer to that may well be yes. The idea that we are ensconced in a culture war has become a rhetorical commonplace. How serious is that war? Is it serious enough to increase the probability that Russia, say, will be motivated to invade and potentially incapacitate Ukraine merely to keep the pathological West out of that country, which is a key part of the historically Russian sphere of influence?

To answer that question, I’ll turn to the analysis of a recent sequence of significant events in the US, with broader ramifications for the development of political thought in the West as such. When the Biden administration began the process of identifying a new Supreme Court Justice, a singular message was initially trumpeted: it is time for a black woman to take her place in the highest tribunal in the land. I thought this was a terrible strategic error, speaking as someone who would rather see the Democrats sane than deluded. Why not first announce the search for the most credible candidate, and then report the discovery of the candidate with ethically fortuitous sex and genetic structure? Why wouldn’t that sequence make the most sense, from within the Democrat fortress itself: the fact of qualification made primary, and the secondary providence that such qualification could be provided by someone who would also simultaneously serve as a beacon to the striving minorities and underprivileged. But, no: sex and race were first. This begs the question: does qualification even matter?

Now, technically speaking, announcing restriction of the candidacy to woman and black means the restriction of the potential pool of candidates by 50% (the approximate relative prevalence of women vs men) and then that half by an additional 87%, as black citizens of the US constitute 13% of the population. So that is an a priori restriction of the probability of picking the most competent candidate by [100-(.5*.13)] = 93.5%. That’s a tremendous restriction. That means that it is so important to pick a black woman (not my words) that 18 of 20 potentially qualified contendors will be dismissed out of the gate. And that restriction, which is unwarranted except for the direst of reasons, in my estimation (given the crucial importance of the position) is an error in addition to the error of putting the cart before the horse in the first place. This is true particularly because the relationship between competence and performance is non-linear: an excellent candidate for a given job is not merely slightly better than a very good candidate, but often incomparably better. The difference between someone at the 99th percentile and the 99.9th percentile in terms of competence is the difference between the best person out of a hundred and the best person out of a thousand. This is a difference so big that the consequences can be (and have been) world-changing; a difference that is particularly important when the position in question is of crucial significance.

I tweeted out something to this regard, and was immediately upbraided by some of my intelligent, capable and admirable Democrat friends—people with no small influence in Washington. They said, “you are correct in a technical sense, but you radically underestimate the degree to which such appointments have been made for political reasons in the past; reasons that also reduced the pool of potential candidates to an arguably equal degree, a priori, but which weren’t linked so obviously to race and sex; you are inflaming racial tensions by objecting, and that’s not helpful, etc. Furthermore, she does meet or exceed threshold for acceptability on grounds of pure qualification, and the advantage of her minority status is a genuine and defensible mark in her favor, given the historical context.”

I take the people who told me this seriously, and backed off. In some sense, I thought, “Ok. I’ll give you all that. I still think it was utterly foolish and pandering of the worst and most unforgivable sort to announce the necessity of a “black woman” first, but your criticisms of previous appointments may be on point. I also think that the chance that she was the most qualified candidate available is close to nil, but she did seem arguably acceptably credible, given the unreliability of previous nominations.” And I think that most people who think like me, including those directly involved in the hearings which lead to her eventual qualification, felt the same way. She was certainly not subject to the same roasting over a slow fire that characterized the hearings for the previous Republican nominee Kavanaugh. But it remains true that sex and race trumped qualification, and that a moral case was made for that decision. And that in and of itself does not provide indication of Western derangement.




When the selfsame candidate was asked directly, in an interview, during the confirmation process, the very straightforward question, “what is a woman?”—which, granted, was a gotcha question (which only goes to show the severity of our current level of derangement and so is no excuse for failure to answer)—she said, “I’m not a biologist.”

That is not a good answer.

Now, she well knew that the question was a setup, as did the interviewer who posed. She knew, as did the interviewer, that she would be pilloried no matter how she answered it. In consequence, she evaded the issue entirely (but in a manner specifically designed not to antagonize the appalling radical left). And I’m even willing to grant her the moral right to do that, given that no one wants to be pilloried and that no one should be subject to mobbing merely because they give an answer to a question the answer to which is evident to anyone who maintains an iota of sanity and integrity.

But here’s where I’m not willing to go, even given that.

As the confirmation process reached its conclusion, we were enjoined by the Biden administration and the woke allies it panders to shamefully and unceasingly to celebrate the positioning of the desired nominee on the basis of the initial call for her nomination: that is, on the basis of her sex and race—at precisely the same time that we were also enjoined to remain entirely dubious, again on moral grounds, that any such category as “sex” even validly existed.

There is a principle—the principle of non-contradiction—acceptance of which, in principle, serves as one of foundations for the practice of discourse itself. That principle is the assertion that it is fundamentally unreasonable—irredeemably irrational—to claim that A and not-A are identical. Why? Because if you can claim that a thing is what it is and what it is not simultaneously then you can claim anything whatsoever, and if you can claim anything whatsoever as true, then it is impossible to talk with you. You have departed from the sphere of reason and reasonable discourse. You have departed from the realm of the rational. This means that you have become deranged. This means that you have become degenerate. This means that all who fail to call you on your deranged degeneration have become rowers on the same doomed boat. This means that you and all those who do not call you out have become insane.

This is against a well-established background of such insistence upon the mandatory acceptance of contradiction. In our society, all sexual proclivities and desires no matter how rare, dangerous or socially disruptive are not to be merely tolerated but must be celebrated (Pride Month) outright (or else) and regarded as hedonically desirable and absolutely harmless but sex is simultaneously so dangerous that every such interactions (to take a single example) between young men and women on college campuses is to be regarded as deeply and patriarchally-exploitative in its intrinsic nature (tantamount, even if voluntary, to rape, re Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon) and therefore necessarily proceeded by the establishment of explicit consent formulated to a degree of precision that would hold in court under adversarial challenge. In our society, furthermore, the differences between men and women are held to be purely cultural, even at the level of physiology (there are no markers, even genital, that allow for the reliable discrimination of infant boys from girls) while whatever differences may still be held to remain are trivial, biologically, negligible in the impact of their existence on destiny, and easily, properly and necessarily modifiable culturally but so vitally and singly and crucially important to “identity” and mental health alike that misgendering is a crime and that surgical intervention on minors is a positive good not to be questioned under punishment by law as an intervention in the increasingly common case of childhood gender dysphoria.

Such contradictions do not bother the radicals—and they are far more radical than they even know—who wish fervently to destabilize our society, to end capitalism, to destroy the free market, to bring down the oppression of the Enlightenment, to undermine and demolish the Judeo-Christian or even Abrahamic axioms that undergird our culture and to dance in the resultant flames with glee while doing so. And if you don’t think these ideas are under assault in some serious way you are blind, and willfully so, and heading for a pit. Truly.

And are not the Russians (and the Hungarians and the Poles and the Indians, to a lesser degree) watching and thinking “those people have gone out of their minds”?  

And we have—to say it again. Clearly. The culture war in the West is real. And culture is losing. And Russia is part of the West. And the culture war is now truly part of why we have a war. And it’s a real war. And it is certainly the case that we do not therefore have all the moral high ground, for some part of the reasons that Mearsheimer details and for these reasons of insanity. In fact, how much of it we have at all is something rightly subject to the most serious debate. And I’m saying this as someone who also takes the advice of someone like Frederick Kagan seriously.

Thus, the Russians think, in some combination of convenient-for-them and accuracy in relationship to us (on top of their imperialist ambitions and their nationalistic populism and the potential thuggery of their leader; all that taken into account) “those Westerners are so out of their mind—possessed by the very same ideas that destroyed us for a century (and didn’t they?)—that we simply cannot trust them. Those Westerners are so out of their mind that a devastated but neutral Ukraine is preferable to a functional bordering state aligned with the US and Europe. Those Westerners are so out of their mind that we’ll push the world to the brink of a nuclear war and potentially beyond to keep them off our doorstep. Because we’ve been there before and we’re not going back.”

And that is exactly what Putin tells his people, and they believe it. And in some sense, therefore, it doesn’t even matter if Putin believes it, although I believe he does (along with whatever else he might believe in relationship to personal ambition and self-aggrandizement and the willingness to aggress and the desirability of a resurgent Russian empire). And the Russians believe that they have a moral duty—that they have the highest moral duty—to oppose the degenerate ideas (philosophy; theology) of the West. And there’s something about that that is not wrong.

And that is why the incursion of Russia into Ukraine is, more truly, a civil war in the West.

If our leaders had one iota of sense, in my opinion, they would be doing nothing right now but dispensing with the too-convenient identification of Putin with Hitler or Stalin and focusing with single-minded intensity on determining exactly what the Russians would accept as a minimum precondition for peace.

Perhaps the declaration of Ukraine as a neutral state for a minimum period of twenty years.

Perhaps a new election in Ukraine subject to ratification by joint Russian-Western observers.

Perhaps a pledge on the part of the West to not offer to Ukraine any membership in NATO or the EU that is either not simultaneously offered to Russia or moving forward on terms acceptable to Russia.

And if not any of these offerings (and I may be dreadfully naïve for reasons I do not know about such matters and therefore wrong in my specific suggestions) then something else that will bring peace and the sooner the better. The Russians are a nuclear power. The Russians have a sphere of influence. The Russians are already integrated into the world economy in a manner that cannot be compromised without devastating global consequences. And, all protestations to the contrary: none of us give a damn about Ukraine and never have (remember the Holomodor? Do you even know what it was?) while, for the Russians, Ukraine is akin in some important sense to Russia itself—even more so that the Monroe Doctrine Western hemisphere is the US. I’m not saying that Ukraine is part of Russia, or that the Ukrainians agree with the Russians. But our current concern is very self-aggrandizing and unreliable.

And this is particularly true, given that we in the West that opposes Russia have very much to lose in this battle. We have not yet woken up fully to what that loss will look like. Allow me, therefore, to prognosticate both pessimistically and, worse, realistically. I believe that all of the following consequences are already inevitable:

First: Skyrocketing energy prices: I firmly expect oil prices to hit $300 a barrel, or worse, in the upcoming year or two. Perhaps I am wrong in such a prognostication, but the Russians still have control of some very important taps, and will be hard-pressed not to employ that strategic advantage as their position in Ukraine and on the world stage deteriorates, as it inevitably must. These higher energy prices will of course hurt the world’s poor and developing countries hardest, as well as those who in the West must rely on low wages or fixed incomes. The idiot environmental policies that we insist on pursuing (not least in Justin Trudeau’s increasingly dysfunctional Canada) are exacerbating this problem unforgivably, and it has become obvious in countries such as the UK and Germany that the hypothetically compassionate and working-class-positive Green types and their ilk are perfectly willing to sacrifice today’s actual poor to the hypothetically thriving poor of their imaginary future utopia.

Second: Severe food shortages or even famine for a minimum of 150,000,000 people, and substantial pressure on the price of basic necessities even in the developed countries (as, for example, Ukraine alone produces 20% of the world’s high-grade wheat and will soon be unable to ship that food, or to store what will be this year’s much diminished crop). These shortages (and worse) will hit hard as early as the fall of 2022. Add to this problem a looming scarcity of fertilizer (~30% produced by Ukraine and Russia), which will affect harvests and prices worldwide, and we have the makings of a humanitarian disaster on a scale not experienced since the 1960’s.

Mass migration: the countries most affected by the aforementioned food shortage will be precisely those North African and Middle Eastern nations from which the last mass migration that so stressed Europe (to say nothing of the emigrants themselves). Expect immense mass movements of desperate people by November of 2022 and all the exacerbation of religious and nationalist tension and internal polarization along political fracture lines that accompanies a sudden and uncontrollable influx of people.

We cannot do without the Russians on our side here in the rest of the Western world. The Chinese communists loom, too (remember them? We haven’t even discussed this side of the problem). And the CCP system is antithetical to ours, in every manner, despite the admiration expressed for their system by some of the most short-sighted of the West’s leaders—that’s you again, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And the Chinese are subtle and patient, in a manner we no longer understand. And we are shallow and foolish and short-sighted and narcissistic and ungrateful. Our wealth—our unearned birthright, to a great degree—deludes us into believing in our competence and moral superiority. And the fact that you’re born into wealth does not indicate that you are able, upright, and responsible.

I cannot see how we can defeat the Russians, in any real sense, because they will not allow themselves to lose; because the consequences even of an overwhelming military victory for “our side” will be internationally disastrous; and, finally, because the quarrel that lies at one part of the bottom of this war will not disappear at all and may even worsen even if the Russians somehow “lose.” With regard to that final point: the war of ideas that has given rise to the current real war will continue its destruction and nihilistic progress even if the Russians capitulate and agree to the re-establishment of the pre-invasion boundaries. It is not obvious that while that war of ideas continue that the Russians will even allow a prosperous Ukraine, allied more closely with the West, on their border. And it’s wishful thinking to imagine that this war will end with the ignominious departure of a Putin in disgrace. Not only is he popular, but he is arguably much less terrible than almost any leader that has preceded him for a century in Russia. That may be damning with faint praise, but it’s something necessary to understand in relationship to the promulgation of any naïve and foolish optimism.

This is a war that cannot be won, in the most fundamental sense, by the “mere” defeat of Russia. This civil war in the West can only be won on the intellectual or even the spiritual front, and the victory will be defeat of the radical ideas of Marxist inheritance that are currently destabilizing our societies—Russia and Ukraine included. It is the job of classic liberals, small-c conservatives and, more importantly, adherents to the Abrahamic traditions to bring about that defeat, in the realm of ideas, where the true battles most truly rage. In the meantime, instead, we fight our petty battles in the West, worrying about our privilege—while enjoying it fully—obsessing about the woke triumvirate of diversity, inclusivity and equity, wallowing in the immature narcissism of our solipsistic identity debates, whiling the time away, as something truly terrible comes for us down the pipes. We are at great risk of destabilizing the amazing inter-dependent world prosperity that is so unlikely, was so difficult to attain, and which we have enjoyed for only a few short decades. And we are taking that risk so blindly (and willfully so), so stupidly, so childishly, and so pridefully. 

The hunger of millions will soon be upon us—and that is not all. Can we not get our priorities right and step ourselves back from that precipice? With the proper vision and aim all could have all that is needed and perhaps even all that is wanted. Instead, we could have hell—just as we’ve had it before. Do we really need to go there again?

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