I wrote a friend, saying that I was against war in principle, that I took neither side in the Ukraine/Russia conflict, that killing anyone doesn’t take the human race forward, ever.
She wrote back:
“Whatever your ideologies and hopes for ‘non-violence’, I don’t see how closing your eyes to how or why it happens is a solution.And I don’t see how insisting people lie down and die when attacked from the comfort of an English home is ‘non-violent’?And equating perpetrators and recipients of violence doesn’t seem a very logical or fair theory to me either.Neutrality may be very self-comforting when faced with a ghastly situation, but I don’t see how it helps.”
I then wrote:
“Looking more closely at your message, as this whole thing bothers me deeply, this is what comes up for me:
I don’t see myself as closing my eyes to how and why violence happens – I do my best to understand what motivates it. That doesn’t mean I condone it. I can empathise with the despair without having to celebrate a violent response to it.
I don’t believe I equate perpetrators and victims. I see both sides as gangs of violent thugs acting out their emotional traumas on an international stage. Neither side has the awareness or the conditions under which that awareness might grow to see that the violence comes from unresolved unmet needs that become more and more distorted, the longer they remain unmet. I’m not neutral, as I keep on affirming. I’m against both.
I see almost every nation in the world acting out unfettered expansionist tendencies, as capitalism always demands, to secure markets, to secure supply chains, to dominate material resources, so that its products can compete and dominate in the world market. It’s the same on a personal level – those who can throw their weight around can avoid looking at their own personal (hi)stories to see where their personal physical, sexual and emotional health has been stunted.
We need, the earth demands it, that we learn to take personal responsibility for our health and well-being, both individually and collectively. We need to see that the challenges the planet faces, and those that we collectively and individually face, demand a level of awareness, consciousness, of self and other, that permits us to co-operate without feeling that we lose anything because we do so. The only people who can do this are those who are so emotionally and spiritually developed that they can see that nothing is lost when we co-operate and share our resources according to need – the original communist vision. I remain as radical as I always have been, and for me the revolution needed is one of consciousness, a recognition that we live on a planet that offers us personal and collective abundance if we have the courage to drop any demands that any of us rules the world, rules over any other, dominates resources, needs to consume any more than that which the planet can safely permit us, more than enough to survive and enjoy a fulfilling life.
In the UK, we consume 4.5 times as much as the planet can sustain if everyone on the planet was consuming as much as we do. In the US it is 6 or 7 times. We need to find a way of organising ourselves so that we optimise food supply (self-sufficiency is great), energy supply, etc, etc without depleting the world’s resources. In fact the human race is on a path to self-destruction if it does not do so. There is simply not enough to go round if we don’t back off from consuming as much as we do. And wars such as the one in Ukraine, or any war, is simply a statement of the fact that the human race has lost its way, is stuck in an imperialist capitalist expansionist economic and social model, in both east and west, and any support for military activity, for whatever reason, is to encourage this historically redundant, anachronistic way of organising society.