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September 19, 2021

Political therapies

Despite all post-modernist innovations, the left vs. right cleavage persists with surprising vigour in both politological comments and self-identifications of political movements. Any press news following an election in any country (at least in Europe and the US) presents the results as a victory of the left or of the right, with a certain pace of alternation. The ‘extremes’ – far right and far left – are also obtained from an augmentation of their respective characteristics. This political polarisation therefore seems universal. And yet, it emerged in certain historical European circumstances and evolved in time. Its metamorphoses have been, however, more or less guised under a handy scheme that presented the advantage of being able to play the role of a convincing political cosmology, by that causing various successive ideological strata to mingle and become difficult to infer.

But, in order not to come up unprepared against situations that flagrantly conflict with expectations conceived based on such scheme, it is worth the effort of a conceptual nuance and mostly of certain contextual analyses. If we look at the war in Ukraine, we may be surprised by the fact that there are volunteers on both sides. Not locals or Slavs, but Westerners, Italians for example. Some enrol to ‘fascist’ brigades, others are on the Russians’ side in the name of ‘anti-fascism’. Like in the civil war in Spain. But what’s the connection between the old ideological disputes and current developments in the former Soviet space? USSR and, later, Putin’s Russia, took over the argument in a new geopolitical context with new nationalistic ambitions, promoting its sole as a unique political-spiritual alternative to a derailing West – and built the legitimacy of its quasi-colonial empire upon the sacrificial heroism of the fight against Hitler’s Germany and its fascist allies. Moreover, this ‘anti-fascism’ was the ideological dominant feature of the Western left during decades. Ukrainians are now being denounced as ‘fascist’. Even ex-Romanian President Ion Iliescu crushed people’s opposition in 1990 accusing the public of fascist tendencies. And he called upon the ‘proletarian’ militias of the miners to drown the protest of the people of Bucharest in bloodshed. And still we can ask ourselves: are the left and right-wing political parties of today simple heirs of ideological conflicts which seem dated from other points of view? Or  can we also look at this from a different perspective: doesn’t this ideological corset sterilise good efforts of political innovation? The lesson of the past century is one that teaches us just how perverse seemingly fundamental polarities can be. No matter how disturbed some may be, Ernst Nolte opened a painful debate, because the (political) Evil can augment by perfidiously integrating itself in a war that appears to be just and legitimate. In a certain way it is inevitable in diplomatic-military strategies. In order to gain an ally, despicable aspects are overlooked, and then it needs to be combated at significant price. But, if such a tactical Machiavellianism cannot be refused, at a value level matters ought to be addressed with the courage of responsibility. If C.V. Tudor, for example, was demonised for many years in Romanian politics, didn’t arguments used also contribute to a certain extent to an even bigger ideological confusion? Because, if you treat an illness like another illness and you only win because you quarantine the sick person, it is just a temporary victory. Not exorcised, a political culture ‘infested’ with detestable values will, sooner or later, reborn in new, shapes, in new contexts. The ‘therapies’ of political; mentalities are not a luxury. The West fully proves this, as it tries to return and reintegrate, with the help of professionals, the Islamists gone to war. It is an extreme case, but behind it stands a type of approach that\ paid off in the past: a political culture should not be destroyed, but recovered and ‘corrected’. Some would say it is just an embellishment of the ‘devil’, But, in reality, it is a specific anthropology: human personality must be recovered from its possible derailments, some serious with a dangerous ‘self)destructive potential. It doesn’t only mean recognising that the ‘enemy’  – whoever it may be – can be guided by their reasons worthy of taking into consideration, but also that someone’s ‘mistake’ should not annul our availability for re recuperating them. But the key to success is a good positioning of one’s own ethical principles, because it takes both flexibility and a determined commitment. We must clarify with more accuracy the values we militate for – to avoid as much as possible the always current risk of confusion, often with quite a few consequences, – and, at the same time, look at the conflicts of values in which we engage in a dialectic manner. The world is in continuous change, either we want it or not and we should not be left behind, especially if we have public responsibilities.

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