The touring exhibition of art works from Ukraine 1900-1930s is on show in Brussels at the Royal Museums of fine art Brussels in November December 2023. Before Ukraine became swallowed up in the Sowjetunion there was a very active independent artist world that had close links to all capitals in Western Europe. All art disciplines were covered. The paintings of Vadym Meller from 1919 (Aquarell on carton) show designs for a dance performance to the music of Chopin. The modern designs and vivid colors reflect the conscious reference to art movements across Europe. The inspiration from dance to painting is a recurrent theme in impressionistic paintings, abstract paintings and into our own time period. Ukrainian art from early on in the 20th century had a broad scope beyond the narrow focus on art controlled by the soviets. Well worth enlarging our vision to take into account these creative masterpieces from Eastern Europe as independent voices.
As the Russian aggression in Ukraine continues its war in Ukraine, it is important to analyse the impact of the prolonged war. Certainly, Russia underestimated the length of the war in the first place. We shall be soon in the 20th months of the aggression. It is not only an aggression on Ukraine territory and Ukrainians, but also a disaster for all those fighting on Russia’s side. Many young recruits to the army did not expect to be drawn up and be compelled to fight on front lines of a war. Most of these young people will not even really why they are risking their life. Russian imperialistic behaviour is not what they imagined to be their future role.
Putin has changed the story book of millions of youth, for those of the soldiers and those who left the country in time to evade been pulled into the horrors of war. With so many months passing while at war, each birth cohort of Russians completing their schooling and serving in the military will face existential threats to their very survival. It is likely to be a lost generation that cannot think of other opportunities rather than passing through the hierarchies of the military ranks. It was not their war at the beginning, but Putin and the old military commanders who are responsible for the mess, but youth pays the highest price in terms of foregone other professional careers and development rather than death or mutilation.
The defence by Ukrainians with better equipment arriving day by day is likely to increase the losses of the Russians, where many still do not know why they are sent to fight. The price for Russia to pay for the aggression is rising every day Ukraine manages to defend itself. Other countries in the neighbourhood of Russia were very surprised of the ruthless imperialist approach by Russia. They stepped up their defences considerably to guard against another extension of the conflict. The toll is on youth even beyond Russia and Ukraine.
It is great to see so many publishers and authors at the Frankfurt book fair 2023. Because of the massive Russian misinformation not restricted to Russia, but in Western countries, too. Awarding a prize to those activists that sort truth from fake news is very important in this respect. 200 square meters of exhibition space reflects the size and quality of publishing. Lots of translations are underway as well. freedom of publishing and the press is something we usually take for granted until it is gone.
In einigen Städten gibt es ganze Listen mit Städtepartnerschaften. Diese werden mit sehr unterschiedlicher Leidenschaft gepflegt. Berlin-Kiew ist eine Partnerschaft, die erst seit 2022 wieder richtig wichtig geworden ist. Solidarität mit den Menschen, Schicksale teilen und Unterstützung gewähren, wenn es nötig ist,.Das alles lässt sich einfacher bewerkstelligen bei etablierten Kontakten. Verantwortung für Vergangenheit und zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen überwinden viele Barrieren. Die deutsch-französischen Partnerschaften bilden ein weitgespanntes Netz, das viel zur Verständigung der Menschen beigetragen hat. Deutsch-polnische Partnerschaften ergänzen seit einigen Jahren die gegenseitigen Besuche und Kontakte, die die so wichtige Aussöhnung zwischen den Völkern befördert, gerade in Zeiten von konfliktbeladener Regierungspolitik.
Es reicht nicht, wenn Schulklassen einmal von West nach Ost oder umgekehrt fahren. Zum beiderseitigen Verständnis braucht es mehr Anstrengungen. „Spiele ohne Grenzen“, die populäre Art mit Spaß bei der Sache einen Wettstreit inszenieren, das hat in den 70er Jahren gut funktioniert. Feste feiern mit interregionalem Austausch ist ebenfalls eine interessante Alternative. Straßennamen Plätze mit dem Namen der Partnerschaft helfen wenig für wirkliche Verständigung. Okay, die Nazis hatten die Städtepartnerschaften zu übler Propaganda missbraucht, zur Indoktrination und Machtdemonstration in anfangs noch widerspenstigen Regionen. Gerade deswegen müssen wir andere Modelle der Verständigung anregen, die das Menschliche in den Vordergrund stellen. Lange Zugfahrten können Anregungen bringen, aber wer kann schon so viel Anregung noch vertragen.
In political science the stability- instability paradox is much discussed (paper with game-theoretic analyses). The reliance on nuclear weapons, supposed to enhance stability in the world order, is rather driving the instability making conventional wars even more likely. Michael Beckley argues that containment of China’s expansionary policies is needed to avoid even more disastrous confrontations (Foreign Affairs, 2023 Nr.5).
Different from the German cold war doctrine “Wandel durch Annäherung” Beckley argues that commerce has not brought US and China closer together, but it is actually driving them further apart. After decades of trade imbalances with China the economic power of China can be felt as overwhelming. But there are multiple risks to its economic model and strategic interests to secure raw materials from across the world. Aging of China is another economic and social fallacy difficult to overcome with short-term measures.
We are about to witness another couple, triangular or more relationship to establish as “enduring rivals”. This may last for centuries rather than decades, although the French- German couple has managed quite successfully to turn such rivalry into an “entente” relationship of importance to the whole European continent. The shift in emphasis of US foreign policy is going to be significant. Containment with Russia has worked, so why should it not work with China as well. The likely answer is demographics again. The size of the internal market of China is sufficiently large to continue a splendid isolation after heavy one-sides trading is over. State control of the internet and social scoring of the population is also a powerful tool to suppress the formation of free will and independent opinions. After all, instability in external relations might even be used to ensure internal stability. Such strategies are common to all political systems. The stability- instability paradox is staying with us and this is rather stable even if the discussion changes continents. (Image: Comical battlefield Map 1854, by Berendsohn shown at Waterloo, Museum 2018)
Das Datum ist mit dem Gedenktag der Unabhängigkeitserklärung der Ukraine verbunden. Gerade die Aggressionen Russlands wollen diese Unabhängigkeit zurückdrehen. Das wird nur mit viel Kraft und Ausdauer gelingen können. 18 Monate im Krieg mit Russland war uns unvorstellbar. Wir werden unablässig unterstützen müssen, damit die Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit aller Teile der Ukraine wieder hergestellt werden kann.
Das Datum sorgt für zusätzliches Gedenken. Jetzt beginnt die Einleitung von durch Atomkraftwerke verunreinigtes Wasser in Fukushima. Das, was nie passieren sollte, hat sich doch als Tatsache bewiesen. Verunreinigtes Kühlwasser wird auf die Welt verteilt durch Einleitung in den Ozean. Private oder nationale Profite werden eingestrichen, aber die Kosten eines GAU (größter anzunehmender Unfall) werden auf die Weltgemeinschaft verteilt.
Ein Tag zuvor hat Indien, anders als Russland, seine Raumkapsel auf dem Mond ohne Bruchlandung aufgesetzt. Großmachtstatus verlangt auch überdurchschnittliches wissenschaftliches Engagement. Das lässt sich mit einer Mondmission sicherlich demonstrieren. Neue Demonstrationen von Unabhängigkeit durch große oder wirtschaftlich erstarkte Staaten werden eine multipolare Weltordnung befördern. Das passiert nicht von heute auf morgen. Es könnten sich vielfältigere Verhandlungsmöglichkeiten auf internationaler Ebene eröffnen. Noch mehr Geduld in der Diplomatie wird nötig sein. Gleichzeitig ergeben sich aber auch größere wirtschaftliche Druckmittel auf Staaten, die internationales Recht verletzen.
In the last few years we have witnessed a new surge in the investment in nuclear energy on the global level (IEA). Ever since the foundation of the initiative “International physicians for the prevention of nuclear war” in the 1980s, there have been relentless reminders of the devastating effects of such a war. In 2023 we are all aware of the real risk of attacks on the biggest nuclear power plant located in Ukraine. Nevertheless we continue to invest heavily in power plants that constitute a massive risk at times of war between irresponsible nations. Besides the publication of many high quality papers in The Lancet there is regularly space to keep the awareness of the dangers of nuclear war at a high level. Too many politicians shield themselves from dealing with such realistic dangers in the interest of supposed cheap and save energy for all. Both is no longer the case. Nuclear energy is expensive and unsafe in peace and horrible in war times. We cannot afford to abstract from these rising risks. The hype about anything nuclear like in the 1980s is grossly displaced (image of book below).
The UN strategic development goals (SDGs) list after the eradication of hunger as number 2 no hunger by the year 2030. Following the report of FAO, the UN 🇺🇳 organization in charge of nutrition in a larger sense, the world is moving further away from reaching this goal in the 4 last years. The Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted supply chains and caused higher prices for basic ingredients. The poorest countries were most vulnerable to such price increases when even in the rich world government deficits were rising sharply. Before sufficient relief arrived Russia’s war in Ukraine destroyed crops, interrupted again supply chains from Ukraine to many of the poorest nations. Energy prices are a substantial part in the production of fertilizers for agricultural products. Same story Russia disrupted the whole supply chains for food production at affordable prices for the poorest parts of the world. Additionally, Indian food production was lower due to the drought, Pakistan had extreme flooding. Both countries are important export nations for feeding the world. Continuing climate change is likely to put global food production under additional pressure. Price rises will hit the poorest again and again. Feeding animals with crops that could otherwise alleviate hunger in other parts of the world puts the rich world’s consumption patterns also into the spotlight. Fighting global hunger is largely a question of how wealthy nations deal with nutrition. The struggle to fight obesity and hunger under the joint concern of malnutrition unites all parts of the world. Time to act together on both topics.
In peace times we tend to forget about the deal making function of diplomacy. The Russian war in Ukraine brings back the fact that war times are a strategic operation from before the start, from start to end, and even afterwards. More than 500 days into the Russian aggression a lot of strategic efforts on all sides are concerned with the best strategies to pursue in order to prepare for starting positions for diplomatic peace talks. As Russia is currently pursuing again 4 nights and days of missile attacks on Kiev around the 14th of July (AFP), Ukraine is showing its continued resilience to Russian bombings assisted through modern missile defence systems.
Russia seems to demonstrate its willingness to continue assaults far into the terrain of Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces, step by step, increase the immense costs of a prolonged war to Russia. Russia is sacrificing a whole generation of youth for the neo-imperialist claim on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine currently demonstrates the ability and willingness to fight back its territory even in a protracted war.
Both sides battle for starting positions in case negotiations for the time after the hot war are about to begin. Russian bombing of Kiev might address more the western allies of Ukraine who might be more reluctant to send personnel to start rebuilding the country beyond financial efforts. Russia’s loss of soldiers, lots of material and facing the militarisation of the whole country incurs another historic loss for completely the wrong reasons.
Another analogy to the strategic game of chess becomes obvious. Many games end with a “remis” or a 1/2 point for each side. In chess it is an outcome of when 2 strategists weigh the chances of loosing as high as winning even if they continue for hours to play. It is the endpoint of an evaluation of own strategic options as well as those of the opponent. The handshake to conclude a remis needs careful preparation. Part of this is to demonstrate the ability to be able to sustain a prolonged battle despite the costs as a kind of threat to the opponent. We might believe that not much has changed since Thucydides and Clausewitz. However, Putin’s forceful opening of the war irrespective of loss of lives and against international law has lost its impetus and, with the turning of the tide. Ukraine is slowly winning back land, square mile after square mile. Strategic thinking is back in the foreground, but this is exactly the moment when diplomacy comes in. Negotiating for peace is the art of warfare. It is a formidable task to reach a peace deal when bombs are still killing people every single day. (Image: AI using Bing.com Text: ).
“ Herr, die Not ist groß!/ Die ich rief, die Geister/ werd ich nun nicht los.“ Dieses Zitat aus dem Zauberlehrling von Goethe aus dem Jahr 1797 könnte im Juli 2023 von Putin ausgerufen worden sein. Als der von ihm geförderte und üppig finanzierte Chef der Wagner-Armee Prigoschin plötzlich auf Moskau losmarschierte. So sehen das viele Analysten zu Beginn des scheinbaren Angriffs auf Moskau eigener Söldnertruppen. Frei nach Goethe fragen wir uns also: Wer und Wo ist der Meister? Wer ist hier der Zauberlehrling? Aber schon Goethe hat seine Ballade rasch und ohne Überraschung aufgelöst. „In die Ecke, Besen, Besen! Seids gewesen. Denn als Geister ruft euch nur zu seinem Zwecke, erst hervor der alte Meister.“ So entpuppt sich am Ende Putin wohl als der Meister und Progoschin „nur“ als sein Zauberlehrling.
Das ist nicht die herrschende Meinung der Redakteure und Editorialisten (Süddeutsche, LeMonde). Literatur der Romantik sollte besser aus der Tagespolitik herausgehalten werden. Weit gefehlt. Sie weitet den Blick auf Herrschende, meist Autokraten, und ihre tragischen Lebensverläufe.
Jetzt mal eine ernsthafte Vision(?) eines Politikberaters. Da die Mission von Prigoschin mit Unterstützung oder angeordnet von Putin in Butcha als abgeschlossen galt, und das Staatsheer diese Aufgabe übernommen hatte, wäre Prigoschin arbeitslos geworden. Den treuen Chefkoch Prigoschin aus St. Petersburger Zeiten, der Putin in seinen Restaurants schon hätte vergiften können, hat seinem Meister vorgeschlagen, Putins faktischen Schutz vor einem Anschlag oder einer militärischen Einsatzgruppe zu testen.
Militärisch gesprochen, läuft das entweder unter einer „false flag attack“, eines mit russischer Flagge getarnten Angriffs, oder einer „white flag attack“, dem Vorspiegeln einer geschützten friedlichen Mission (vgl. trojanisches Pferd).
Aus der Sprache der Börsianer kennen wir ebenfalls die „weiße Ritter“ Attacken. Dabei versucht ein anderes Unternehmen, eine InvestorIn oder eine im Hintergrund agierende Person (Progoschin), eine feindliche Übernahme eines Unternehmens zu verhindern. Dabei sind Mehrheitsbeteiligungen am Zielunternehmen oder Fusionsangebote die gewollte Lösung und Abwendung der feindlichen Übernahme.
Im Internetzeitalter kennen wir die bezahlten Hacker, die eine Webseite eines Unternehmens oder Behörde auf Schwachstellen testen und damit Datenschutz, Erpressung und Ausfälle vermeiden helfen.
Klingt alles kompliziert, ist es aber nicht. Es ist einfach Teil des modernen Arsenals von Strategen à la Clausewitz. Schachspielen mit echten Söldnern ist grausam und kostet echte Menschenleben für den Machterhalt. Der militärische Probealarm wurde getestet und der Schutz um Putin, den Meister mit seinem Zauberbesen kann verbessert werden. Sein Zauberlehrling Prigorschin ist wohl vielleicht sogar vom Springer (Schachfigur) in einen Turm eingetauscht worden. Vielleicht ist er aber schon längst die Dame an der Seite des Königs oder eben einer der Geister im Umfeld von Putin.
In the Handbook of political theory, Chandran Kukathas (2004, pp.250) explains the uneasy relationship between nationalism and multiculturalism in politics and political theory. The Russian war in Ukraine can be considered as a way of suppression of multiculturalism in Russia by negating the right of Ukraine to be an independent nation. As Russia is not allowing “group rights” (Offe, 1998) for Ukrainians or other minorities like the Chechens within Russia, the secession of regions is a permanent threat to the survival of the Russian state.
“How the many can live as one remains a salient question in political theory” (Kukathas 2004, pp.261). Democracies have squared this circle with reference to federalism. Remember, the very foundation of the United States of America has been built on the Federalist papers. Organising regional diversity is at the heart of democracies’ success and failure. In most democratic political systems 2 chambers have contributed to make the voices of the regions heard at the central level. It remains an obvious question to doubt the possibility of authoritarian states to ensure unity despite diversity.
In non-explanatory theory, if we consider those still a theory, we could derive a hypothesis that authoritarian states will eventually fail to accommodate multiculturalism or allowing sufficient diversity and still survive as political unity. The history of the fall of empires is full of examples in this respect. Another more internal threat has been and still is corruption. Corruption was on the list of issues mentioned in the June 2023 uprise and defeat of the rebel military group “Wagner” in Russia. Non-explanatory political theory might still offer some clues, rationale and hypotheses to stimulate the analysis of international relations. The survival of democracies and/or authoritarian regimes estimated on the basis of huge data bases are hard to come by or lack crucial indicators or timeliness. Such reasoning makes the referral to Clausewitz as theorist of war still a common point of reference. The recent example of Russia , however, shows acting in the national interest can easily be claimed by multiple actors in international politics. (Image: House of European History, Brussels).
The gallery curated by Dr. Justyna Napiórkowsak in Brussels has another ongoing exhibition with art work from Ukrainian artists. As before in the exhibitions on the war of Russia in Ukraine, they put a major emphasis on the independence and resilience of Ukrainian art despite the ongoing war. To keep a diary of atrocities, but also survival and resistance to violence by Ukrainians, is a great effort. It stems primarily from artists that struggle to find adequate material to keep working or not to succumb to the participation in active war or military defence efforts. Using soft colours, water colours, has a rather symbolic meaning, after the inundation caused by the explosion of the huge water reservoir on Ukraine’s territory. Producing art in form of a diary, like reporting daily to yourself and the outside world as well as later born persons, has an important historic function, too.
No less than the “Diaries of Anne Franck” comes to our mind when thinking about a diary during war time. Russia’s attempt to eradicate Ukrainian culture is bound to fail. We shall cherish the Ukrainian diaries from the war time now and later. Thanks for reminding us of this collector’s duty to support the artists, writers and people of Ukraine.
2 Pinot 2 Riesling. That could be the long version of 2P2R. However, this far from (politically) correct. The not-joking scientific medical journal “The Lancet” (Vol.401 Nr 10391) has next to the article on “Laughter is the best medicine” coping with trauma, the serious matter of how best to deal with pandemics. Remember 2P2R as the important lesson from the pandemic. Prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery (2P2R) are key. And don’t forget about primary health care or essential (medical and other) workers. This is, in short, the message from Arush Lal and Nina Schwalbe (Paper Link). Lots of social topics involved in this correspondence from the authors. Prevention is a big issue and, as in the health system, fighting continuously for sufficient resources. Prevention is in most cases less costly than curing a disease. Preparedness has direct costs. Masks and ventilators need to be produced, stored and monitored in their functionalities. Response has to be immediate, masks in China a important but do not allow us to respond fast to local emergencies. Recovery can be long and costly as well, just as we learn from Long-COVID patients.
Now we need to define properly what is included in primary health care. Medical doctors, nurses and technicians of hospitals have to reach patients and hospitals in pandemics or need child care, food etc. and, maybe, also laughter to avoid trauma. Remember 2P2R, but best in company with your loved ones, but not on your own.
„Zugunsten des Krieges kann man sagen: er macht den Sieger dumm, den Besiegten boshaft. Zugunsten des Krieges: er barbarisiert in beiden ebenfenannten Wirkungen und macht dadurch natürlicher; er ist für die Kultur Schlaf- oder Winterszeit, der Mensch kommt kräftiger zum Guten und Bösen aus ihm heraus.“ (Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches Nr. 444 S. 668).
Wir werden der Ukraine ermöglichen, ihre Kultur zu erhalten und gestärkt durch den Krieg zu bringen. Das können wir ermöglichen und gleichzeitig der von Putins Russland eingeleiteten Barbarisierung seiner eigenen Bevölkerung entgegen wirken. Nietzsche hatte das recht klar durchdacht und die Gefahren des Krieges kühl berechnet. In seinen aphoristischen Betrachtungen (u.a. Menschliches, Allzumenschliches) nachzulesen, lohnt immer mal wieder. Es schärft den Blick für zu schnell Vergessenes.
Die Einen dumm, die anderen boshaft gemacht. Es lässt sich damit nichts zugute des Krieges sagen, außer es werden Tendenzen, negative wie positive, verstärkt. Der Prozess der Zivilisation (Norbert Elias) wird auf barbarische Zeiten zurückgeworfen. Nur mit Erhalt und Förderung der Kultur kann dem begegnet werden. Die Ukraine ist auf einem vielschichtigem, demokratischem und kulturellem Weg in die Zukunft.
Proud to be part of the European Trade Union Congress. We take so many things for granted that we no longer really aware of the importance they have for our daily lives. Trade unions are part of these things. We only start to miss them when we no longer can count on their impact on legislation or collective bargaining as well collective agreements. In Ukraine 🇺🇦 lots of things we take for granted were destroyed by Russia from one day to the other. We learn from their courage to defend our common values like the freedom of association to form a truly independent trade union and to decide yourself which other unions in Europe to associate with. The Ukrainian unions made their choice and they are proud and committed members of the ETUC as of May 2023. Great to have met you in Berlin. We have a lot to defend together. Basic human rights and workers including their families need their and our support. This will remain a priority as well as a challenge. Thank you for the sticker on the wall of greetings for 50th anniversary of the ETUC.
Jahrestage sind die Geburtstage von Organisationen oder zeitgeschichtlichen Dokumenten. Der 23. Mai ist so ein Jahrestag. Alle BundesbürgerInnen sollten an diesem Tag die Verkündung des Grundgesetzes im Jahre 1949 feiern. 75 Jahre sind das in 2024. Die Ostdeutschen hatten mit den Füßen abgestimmt, dem Geltungsbereich des Grundgesetzes beizutreten. Eine gesamtdeutsche Verfassung lässt noch auf sich warten. Provisorien halten oft ganz gut.
160 Jahre SPD, feiern wir etwas verhalten, ob der enttäuschenden Wahlergebnisse der heutigen Sozialdemokraten beispielsweise in Berlin (außer in Bremen Mai 2023). Der Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein (ADAV) von 1863 in Leipzig begründete die lange Tradition und der Kampf für Rechte der Arbeiter. Zu dem Jahrestag der Sozialdemokratie passt der am 23.5.2023 in Berlin stattfindende Kongress, gleichzeitig zur 50 Jahre-Feier des Europäischen Gewerkschafsbundes (EGB). Viele Sozialdemokraten haben dabei Anlass beides zu feiern. Ferdinand Lassalle, Gründer des ADAV, forderte aufgrund seiner These vom „ehernen Lohngesetz“, die Armutsbekämpfung zu einem Hauptthema zu machen. 160 Jahre später feiert der EGB in Berlin auf seinem 15. Kongress die erfolgreiche Arbeit für eine europäische Richtlinie für Mindestlöhne. Manche Sprünge brauchen sehr viel Anlauf.
Weiter hinten in der Warteschlange der Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie der Jahretage reiht sich der 25. Jahrestag der Europäischen Zentralbank am 24.5.2023 in Frankfurt ein. Auf allen Feiern gibt es einen persönlichen Vortrag des deutschen Bundeskanzlers Olaf Scholz (gerade zurück aus Hiroshima und Südkorea). Sein Ausrufen der „Zeitenwende“ (Artikel in Foreign Affairs) wird deutlich in dem tösenden Applaus für die Aufnahme der Ukrainischen Gewerkschaften in den EGB (Bild unten) auf dem EGB-Kongress, der quasi im Laufschritt von der DGB-Vorsitzenden Yasmin Fahimi eröffnet wurde. Jahrestage können wehmütige Blicke in die Vergangenheit sein. Dem EGB-Kongress ist ein zukunftsweisender Auftakt „à la Zeitenwende“ gelungen.
Ever since the visit to the exhibition “Care, Repair, Heal” at the Martin Gropiusbau in Berlin the image of flying protheses rests with me. Repairing the human body is feasible in many fantastic ways. The inner wounds, however, are less visible and sometimes hurting even more. In recognition of the thousands of victims again in the Russian war on Ukraine’s territory and the atrocities causes by mines to injure humans, we have to assist in caring, repairing and healing. This has not changed since the Great War or the Nazi-induced mass murder and mutilations. Humanity is unable to bann such landmines despite international conventions trying to achieve this.
The strong image produced by the protheses as clouds in the sky (Kadar Attia) remind us of the lasting effects of war. Images we had associated with the mutilated soldiers and civilians of the 2nd world war, many still around us in the 60s or 70s, are coming back to Europe. Writing about the 20th century, Aurélien Bellanger described in words a similar traumatising vision of flying protheses in his story of the lonely poet and philosopher. We cannot repair history, but we can work towards reducing useless additional suffering. It is part of the absurdities of our world that technology has created masterpieces to assist us and reduce suffering, but at the same time technology is applied to create the worst suffering as well. Rather than thinking of this relationship as 2 sides of the same coin, I prefer to hope for dialectic evolution towards a better synthesis solution using enforceable international law. Yes, I still have a dream! …
Thucydides (born around -460) has received a lot of fame for his “thick description” of the Peloponnesian War. He deserves continued praise even for inspiring statisticians. The account of events without emotions, but with lots of details, is often perceived as the beginning of historiography and history as science as well as empirical political science. The entry of “Thucydides” in the Encyclopedia of Social Measurement (2005, p.805) by P.A. Furia and A. Kohen cites the derivation of a causal or explanatory effect based on his historical account as a foundation of scientific approaches based on empirical data. “The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon (i.e. Sparta), made war inevitable” (Thucydides, I 23). The empirical assessment of the growth of power is subject to controversial accounts. Power may derive from population, wealth, industry, weapons, munition or general military capabilities or skills. The assessment would also need to consider relative rather than absolute strength of just a one-sided approach. Here we are in the middle of the Russian war on Ukraine from 24.2.2022 onwards. Statisticians discuss, whether it is just a single variable that has the overall explanatory power for the beginning of the war and what other intervening variables might be important to take into account to avoid a selection bias. Beyond this materialist explanation we might stress the importance of the sociological concept of “collective fear” (links to approximation through trust, xenophobia) of the strength of Athens as the underlying causation of the beginning of war. The ideation of perceived strength gives rise to the construction of many intervening processes (Coleman’s macro-micro-macro linkages), which make a simple causal attribution just to material strength an illusion or risky shortcut explanation. The Thucydidean Method (p.806) exemplifies much of the dilemma and spice of social science analyses. Scholars of diplomacy challenge the empiricist perspective in arguing that the breakdown of diplomatic discourse several decades before was at the beginning of the causal chain. Here again we can make links to the preparation of war by Russia through strategic diplomacy as well as the risks taken through a break-up of diplomatic channels of communication. The perceived strength of the opponent in war might play a decisive role at the beginning and at the end of war. The charisma of leaders, democratic decision-making and political alliances with neighbouring states, Sicily at the time of the Peloponnesian War, were further intervening processes. This is perhaps not all too different from today, if we consider the role of Belarus in the aggression of Russia against the Ukraine. In fact, Thucydides seemed to be convinced that under similar circumstances human behaviour would reproduce itself. Therefore, thick description of historical facts might still inform political leaders today and tomorrow.
(Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, XV pp. 752,
Der neue Pauly, Enzyklopädie der Antike 12, pp.505 image below).
The opening of the exhibition on war crimes committed by Russian soldiers took place in front of the European Parliament today. The images frighten us as they reveal human atrocities. Destruction on a large scale with so many lifes lost will take a long time to overcome the grief. The images of the commemoration and the minute of silence show the solidarity of the whole of Europe with the Ukrainian people. The European Parliament has the patronage of the exhibition which is curated by Justyna Napiórkowskiej. Commissioner Reynders expressed the commitment of the EU to support the Ukraine 🇺🇦 in their capacity to fight back and the rebuilding of the country. Stand with Ukraine.
In cultural performances it is always interesting to refer back to titles given or attributed for example to music pieces. Dumky is the title of Antonin Dvořák’s 4. Klavier-Trio opus 90. In the late 19th century Antonin Dvořák found inspiration in the notion of Dumky. Rather than just composing a “Trauergesang with few joyful intermezzi” he creates a new form for this Trio containing, quite unusual, 6 parts. Dvořák plays around with structure and sharp swings from “piano to forte” parts, “moll to dur” intonations reflecting sorrow and joy in frequent and refreshing short sequences. It feels sometimes like fireworks, but at times the sorrow of soldiers and their families becomes evident as well. However, the music proves resilient. Knowing that Dumky is a Ukrainian word and notion, the choice of one of the masterpieces of Antonin Dvořák close to the 24.2.2023, the day of the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine is a commemoration of the sorrow caused by war and ways to overcome it. The “Concerts de Midi” of the Musée des Instruments de Musique” allowed us to travel through Ukraine a bit and experience the longing for better times. Joy will eventually prevail there again just listen to Dvořák’s version of the Dumky. Superb and effectful presentation of the work by the “Trio Impression” made for a memorable lunch break in the city centre of Brussels. The (virtual) visit of the Museum should be one of the attractions of visitors to Brussels as well, not just for the Art Nouveau architecture, but for the inclusive “global music” collection.
360 days of traumatising war of Russia in Ukraine. Yet, Ukrainians manage to stem the invasion this time for a year. My generation of baby boomers in Western Europe no longer knows the day to day horrors of war. A photo-realistic exhibition organised by Dr. Justyna Napiórkowsak together with the Ukrainian Embassy in Brussels brings to us more than images of destruction. The Exhibition builds on a transparent organisation. All day and night long you can feel and reflect in front of the gallery windows of what war means to people affected. Rather than passing over the daily horrific news, it is important to take in images that will last within you. Since the exhibitions excels in linking to strong own emotions, the images tell lasting stories. Communicating about war is difficult. This exposition at the “Mont des Arts 8” in Brussels, not far from the “Place des Martyres” is symbolic. Ukrainian artists are going to stay with us, showing us what “The year of resilience. courage, determination and solidarity” mean in the Europe of today. Ukrainian youth, like the whole population, demonstrates all of this in posing for their 2022 graduation photo (Stanyslav Senyk, 2022) actually within the ruins of their city. They seem to sing: “We shall build this city on rock and roll” again. Ukrainian culture is unique. Putin’s Russia is still living in the 50s state of mind. The Russian soldiers might soon have their 60s moment “make love, not war”. For persons with Russian roots in Eastern Europe it feels like what you believed or were told was a friend before is now turning around and you shooting at you including committing war crimes (Geneva convention) on you. The exposition is a “homage to Ukraine”, Ukraine’s resistance and resilience. Teaching us lessons, lessons we should like to learn fast for the survival of democracy and our way of life based on freedom not coercion. The sociology of war informs what the term “Zeitenwende” means. Look at it, rather than look away. As previous College Master at Jacobs University Bremen graduation ceremonies were very personal and emotional events meeting students, many with their families. Ukraine 3.0 will prevail eventually. Thanks, Justyna for putting images 360° and 360 days next to this optimistic message.
The years spanning from January 1940 to December 1949 are probably the worst to cramp into one decade. However, there are a few historians that use this approach to throw new light on a distant series of historical events in the 40s. The European perspective is dominated by war years and still has to deal with the unimaginable atrocities committed by Nazi-Germany until the end of the Second World War. From a more global historical perspective the war in the pacific also leaves lasting political changes, which are important to understand international politics and affairs of today. After a disastrous beginning with war for the USA for the decade, on the 10-12-1948 the United Nations (Charter Ratification 24-10-1945) General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the timeline at the end of the 40s we find the founding of NATO (4.4.1949) and (12-8-1949) the Geneva Convention which specifies internationally accepted laws of warfare. The beginning of the Cold War (Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945) with strategies of containment and confrontation (Thomas Tandy Lewis, 2011 p.220), Berlin blockade determined a long-lasting concern for a balance of power across the world. The 40s were a market period of de-colonisation as well. The U.S. enabled struggles for independence to succeed with a sticks and carrots politics towards their wartime allies. The Marshall Plan for European Recovery is the most prominent example of this period. Ronald Goldberg (2012) includes a chapter on the home front in his summary of the forties in the U.S.A. After the 2nd World War all countries had to re-establish their societies and economies that had suffered due to lack of sometimes even caring for the most basic needs. Important lessons have to be learnt from the 1940s (Dave Renton, 2000 p.144) concerning how Fascists could rise and why, for example Britain, could resist the fascist movement. Anti-fascism in Britain during the 1940s and the importance to stop beginnings of an undemocratic political movement early and with the help of the police are 2 elements of the lessons learnt. Goldberg argues that it is less the Fascist ideology that conquered the minds of people, but the organisation as a political and para-military movement that is the more important threat to democracy.
Looking back at the end of every year to what happened in the last 12 months gives mixed feelings in annual repetition. Developments of nature and biodiversity are sometimes troublesome (variants of viruses like omicron). Despite wars and man-made disasters most people have a capacity to bolster with optimism. To view a glass as half-full rather than half-empty is a common description of two different perspectives on the same fact. Additionally from a longitudinal perspective it matters, whether you started from a full glass beforehand or from the empty glass. In experiments we would need to clarify the role of the starting point and evolution before the statement on the 50-50 state of affairs.
In the French enlightenment, represented by Voltaire‘s “Candide ou l’optimisme“, a critical view on the optimism of Leibniz is expressed. The optimistic claim of Leibniz, “we live in the best of possible worlds” is questioned by Candide who believes taking care of his own little garden is probably the best he can do to preserve nature and the world. These two apparently opposite perspectives and conclusions on the potential of human action we find reflected still nowadays in politics and world affairs. Do we stand up to defend human rights or do we believe the fight is futile? The optimism embedded in Ukranian culture, for example, demonstrates the power that might come out of optimism. It would even go as far as stating that optimism is a precondition for democracy, always striving for the improvement and spread of democratic procedures. Creating opportunities to more freedom to do something is the driving force besides ensuring to curb infringements on one’s freedom. Optimism is a close ally of imagination, imagination of all people living in peace. A nice sunset gives hope for a nice sunrise as well.
The first association with nature for me is the nature surrounding my childhood. Rivers, forests, vineyards, mountains. Maybe a little bit of German romanticism surrounds this. I still enjoy occasionally listening to some nature romantic songs (Lieder) from Schubert, Schumann, Flotow or Mahler. Beginning with adolescence natural sciences took over, but what does natural really mean in the natural sciences. In the “Encyclopedia Britannica” the term natural has already been dropped. What has been referred to as natural sciences is just found under the term sciences. The social sciences or psychology are not included under entry of sciences. One of the high reputation scientific journals is still named “nature”. Only a small fraction of the papers deal with what ordinary people would associate with nature. The nuclear fusion or nuclear energy research and applications in practice figures still prominently in there. Ever since Tschernobyl, Fukushima or Hiroshima, horrific dangers are associated with nuclear energy. The power plant of Saporischschja in Putin’s war, dominates public concerns in 2022. The natural sciences frequently are certainly not researching in the interest of nature. Hence, the social sciences need to deal with the social consequences of (natural) scientific advances. Science and technology have an intrinsic link to each other.
The loss of biodiversity is the most obvious demonstration of how cruel our own species is towards any other form of live. Not only is demography reminding us that with 8 billion of us we might further contribute to our own overpopulation, we might sooner or later destroy the whole planet either slowly with polution or through weapons of mass destruction. Poor nature, instead of pure nature is our destiny. Our western lifestyle is not sustainable and we have no right to impinge on the rights and resources of future generations of us or those who have not poluted the planet like us in other parts of the world. So, when did it all start to go wrong? Probably our creed for more of everything has been nurtured for far too long. Less is more has to replace it somehow. This is also part of our nature.