This twaddle will be of great comfort to Ukrainians huddled in their cold cellars, I’m sure.
I pass the local hospital on the way to and from work. I have had a couple of operations there (an survived).
I resist the temptation to drop in to offer guidance, based on my experience, to the surgeons on operating technique because they might think me a bit of an a**e
I think that you are correct, but only because the greatest need of a Ukrainian in a cellar is not an essay on order: they have more immediate needs. But we, who are not in cellars under bombardment, do need to consider the basis of an ordered life. Otherwise, how do we distinguish right from wrong and how do we know that we are right to support Ukraine, even if only in our hearts is the best that we can do.
Chaos theory and multiple universes are the musing of academics with a lot of time on their hands and a need to display originality for annual meetings and conferences. A lot of ideas are born in the pub when the sessions are over and people get to talking.
Yes it’s a shame he brought his poor understanding of these fascinating intellectual ideas into the argument.
Chaos theory has nothing to do with the ‘many worlds’ hypothesis. And nor is it really about randomness. It is about simple systems creating complex behaviour which while in principle deterministic, after a short period result in completely unpredictable behaviour. Tiny changes in initial conditions have big effects down the road, often popularly known as the ‘butterfly effect’. Weather is a good example; we can reasonably forecast a few days from now, it is completely impossible to do for a year. Economic forecasts also display some of this behaviour.
I doubt the Ukrainians were the intended audience for this illuminating essay. Quite obviously Putin, like many autocrats, has surrounded himself with sycophants and “Yes men”.
It’s not often I read an article as poor as this on UnHerd.
Oh it’s not that bad, it’s just a bit meandering.
Your initial reaction was the correct one. Well, okay, I will read it again later.
For a bit of harsh reality as a counterpoint, I’m just watching a documentary, ‘The Fog of War’. Like so many American documentaries it is superb, I recommend it.
Is that on McNamara. I found it disappointing. It look like his career was built on one or two insights that were not really that revelatory.
I remember him saying that he arrived at Ford to find only 10 people working there with university degrees, like it was a bad thing.
The Unknown Unknown (Donald Rumsfeld) is much better
I would say it is about War, hence the title, not one man, though McNamara is the linking contributor, or rather he’s the conduit through which war is considered.
I will have a look
I just wanted to soften the blow.
This isn’t an essay, which is what it is labelled as. It is just a very naive opinion piece from someone who has a poor understanding of the siuation. It is like the wafflings of a university student who think they know everything.
A leftie who went to university in the sixties and taught in them in the seventies? What were you expecting?
And he seems to think precision of language and process such as that by his tutor is irrelevant, when it defines the world we live in because of those on the left picking holes in everything.
Perfect example of this yesterday, loads of leftie people and Remainers claiming Johnson was comparing the Ukraine war to Brexit, when he was comparing the yearning for freedom of both peoples.
“random” “unpredictable” “recklessness” “impetuous” On the contrary, Putin is disciplined, focussed, controlled, strategic and rational. He’s been laying the groundwork for this for years. Just because the narcisstic, egotistical, hypocritical West purport to no longer believe in military action as a means to an end (!) and refuses to see any other perspective than a grotesque, warped version of its own, then you end up with this drivel.
Romantic notions that Putin is somehow the opposite of “clueless” western leaders–just because he isn’t a western leader–hide his gross ineptitude. If Putin is “disciplined, focused, controlled, strategic and rational,”
–Why did he allow the West to take half his sovereign wealth fund?
–Why did he hide his intentions from his own commanders, so much so that they didn’t even have time to organize a road march into Ukraine?
–Why did he completely misunderstand the Ukrainian character, basing his whole operation on the premise that the Ukrainians wouldn’t actually fight?
If one actually examines Putin himself–versus the simulacrum that some on the far left and far right have constructed–one finds a leader who understands neither economics nor military affairs. A leader who has grossly underestimated nearly all of his opponents.
But people who know nothing about either Russia or Putin will continue speak this nonsense–because actually cracking a book or watching the news (MSM or not) is just too bothersome.
I gave up on this article after the 1st paragraph so I’m not going to comment on it. However, I would say that your last paragraph is problematic as it assumes that the news you are getting from western outlets is accurate as opposed to parroting Ukrainian propaganda. I’ll be honest: I have no idea what’s really going on. However, it is clear that while the Ukrainians and Zelinsky are winning the internet war hands down, on the ground it would seem that the Russian advance, while slow, is inexorable. And perhaps that’s why Zelinski, while talking big, now wants to meet Putin face to face. Further, while we hear of reportedly massive Russian losses (15,000 men so far) we hear of virtually no Ukrainian military losses. We do hear about civilian losses, but then the numbers reported by the UN are very small when compared to the losses reported for the Russian army. Yet, Mariopol is surrounded with no food or water, although the mayor refuses to surrender which has to be one of the most stupid decisions given the accompanying loss of civilian life.
You need to actually check a wide variety of news sources, not just assume everything you hear is propaganda.
–The “inexorable advance” stopped two weeks ago. Well short of surrounding Kyiv–or any other major city except Kherson.
–The Russian marines earmarked to take Odesa have disembarked, to repel a Ukrainian offensive against Kherson, the only major city taken so far by the Russians.
–The situation in Mariupol is heart-breaking. But it ties down much of the Russian army.
–The missile strikes Russia now uses cause far less damage than what either side inflicted and sustained in WW2. It can’t be decisive.
Any sane leader on either side would now negotiate. But at least one isn’t.
Fact is, the idea that a nation with a mid-sized population, no real industry except arms and oil, and an army untested in modern combat could take Ukraine was a pipe dream.
It’s only Putin’s pride–and fear–that keeps this war going.
You work from the assumption that Ukraine is Putin’s target.
More probably, that’s the West.
Is that why the Russians are currently at the gates of Kiev?
Is that why the Ukrainian 60,000 strong force could soon be completely surrounded?
At least I’m honest enough to not believe everything I’m told by the Western media, especially when they are all singing in unison, and talking heads are advocating for interventions that could very well result all too easily in a nuclear exchange.
I’m not assuming that everything I hear is Ukrainian propaganda, but a good deal of it is. Some may be true, but some may be boosterism. I would suggest you listen to today’s video interview by Freddie Sayers – the interviewee is saying nothing different from what I’m saying.
Lets fix it for you:
“You don’t WANT to know what is really going on” in Ukraine because your world view would collapse.
You are no different from communist fellow travellers in the West.
Some gave up the faith in 30s after show trials or after genocide in Ukraine.
Some after Russia alliance with Hitler.
Others after Orwell and subjugation of Eastern Europe in the 40s.
Some needed invasion of Hungary in 1956.
Slow learners waited till Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to decide to quit.
Clearly you need Russia to use nukes to stop pimping for Putin.
Although I think you would still claim it was justified.
I agree that news coming from Western MSM is often corrupt as shown by covid coverage.
But claiming that Russian media are somehow more trustworthy is a sick joke.
Blaming mayor of Mariopol for suffering of its citizens is another one.
There are levels of hell everyone might deserve.
But even Devil is amazed by your posts.
Andrew: that is the most insane and libelous comment I’ve ever heard. Give it a break. Why don’t you listen to today’s interview by Freddie Sayer. I’m not saying anything different from the interviewee.
So for heaven’s sake. I’m not pimping for Putin. But I’m also skeptical about what’s being reported in the Western media, especially here in the US where I live, which seems to parrot whatever the Ukrainians say. And you seem to have fallen hook line and sinker for this propaganda.
When it comes to Mariopol, the situation is clearly desperate for the inhabitants. One can either fight to the death or live to fight another day. Sometimes, in the words of the immortal Shakespeare “discretion is the better part of wisdom”.
Not to favour Putin but to remark ‘you don’t keep a dog and bark yourself’. El Presidente doesn’t ask if there’s enough fuel or food, mechanics to repair flat tyres and broken tracks. I would expect quite junior officers to address that. Unless, of course, they didn’t want His Excellency to succeed.
Which opponents has Putin underestimated ? Arguably the Ukrainians (though we don’t know what he expected) – certainly no one else.
If he’s a bumbler, today’s supposedly united and resolute West – excited kiddies in party costumes – are much worse.
So Putin is “order” and the West is “chaos”? I think that’s about right. But it’s not a binary choice, which is the point I think Eagleton is making. An obsession with order (eg his tutor, or Putin, perhaps some here) is as dangerous as our current love affair with chaos.
Surely all the time mankind attempts to maintain order out of chaos. But in the same way that emotions are as important as reasoned thought, so some chaos is essential for human happiness and creativity.
Too much order, and chaos will erupt violently, seemingly out of nowhere.
Too much chaos, and “that way madness lies”.
Now what was offensive that my comment should have been removed ? How odd.
I’ve almost given up commenting.
It’s come back now, just a bit disconcerting. Please don’t give up.
Now that I have just paid, Judy?
I’ve had two longish comments I wasted thought and time on removed. One was because I named something already named in the article. The other was about liberal nationalism in the nineteenth century. That’s time I’ll never get back! I really don’t feel like wasting my life this way. Glad to see you back though. Perhaps I’ll give it another try when I’m less p******** off.
Have you considered making a copy and re-posting when necessary? I did that once and it stuck. I have to admit that the moderating process is incomprehensible. I queried a deletion on another occasion and it was re-instated.
No idea how to do that, p.
Wandering around in the small hours!
I will email you instructions. Will take a little practice perhaps, as “mouse control” can be a finicky thing I find.
I have just acquired two cats from a local rescue centre. One is bold and the other hides. Such is the way with cats.
Love moggies! Masters of the universe. Supreme beings.
One got on to the top shelf in the kitchen and is sitting behind a collection of china ornaments – the wife’s precious things. It should be an impossible feat, but she did it. But how to get her down.
Putin is not strategic. He’s at best a tactician.
The original article isn’t very good. But your inane comment trumps it.
Jeffrey has made a good point. That it needs making tells us a lot.
If there’s any “good point” in there it is completely obscured by bitter and utterly misguided anti-western “drivel” (to use his own word). The tone of the comment tells you everything you need to know.
The fact that the West may have made mistakes in the past is no reason not to do the right thing now. Nor are the western mistakes at all in the same category as what Putin is doing.
I will repeat this yet again for the hard of hearing here – read Catherine Belton’s “Putin’s People” to remove any delusions about exactly who and what we aere dealing with here. Anyone who supports Putin’s regime is a delusional fool.
I will repeat again: Putin is not some strategic genius. He’s been sucked into a career terminating error by the US here. And it’s a catastrophe for Russia. The Chinese won’t believe their luck at the Russian stupidity here too – they’ve got exactly what they want – a weak and dependent Russia – without firing a shot.
So Putin’s been “laying the groundwork” for a catastrophic blunder for years – genius !
Belton? Read Richard Sakwa on Putin and the Oligarchs for real info.
A cool head would be a good idea. As would some manners. This isn’t Twitter.
I quite agree. My points are too long for Twitter (which I don’t use).
If you have some actual arguments, please enlighten us.
It’s not me who’s engaging in personal mud-slinging here.
I am not obliged to enlighten a toe-rag. Good bye and good riddance.
I agree 100% about Russia analysis.
I am less sure that China is happy about the West response.
It might be that all this talk of economic decoupling of China from the West and military buildup is just talk.
Then West is doomed and deserves to fail like Rome and Soviet Union.
‘Putin is disciplined, focussed, controlled, strategic and rational. He’s been laying the groundwork for this for years.’ His military campaign totally disproves your claims. Russian intelligence on Ukrainian forces capabilities and dispositions is very poor, and barely improving. The air campaign has been a shambles, with penny-packeting of resources, and poor coordination. The combined arms operations are uncoordinated, and their objectives haphazard and selected solely based on opportunity, rather than strategy. Indeed, there is no sign of a cohesive campaign strategy at all. And the logistic support is chaotic, almost totally divorced from operational priorities. The Russians are making progress on brute force of arms and brutality in targeting. This demonstrates, beyond doubt, poor planning at general staff level, hurried preparation, and political rather than military direction.
Which pronouns do you prefer personally?
This essay will talk about anything, from Kant to Wittgenstein, chaos to cosmos, anything at all except the fact we face: Putin’s mysticism. Putin is clear in that he wishes to recreate the “spirit” of holy Russia. He hates the Bolsheviks as much as what he sees as the decadent West. Look at the thinkers he reads and admires.
Eagleton has written one of those typical quasi Marxist diatribes that will focus on the faults of the West: nationalism (?), colonialism, valuing or not valuing ethnicity, cheap shots against Ulster Scots contrasted to gentle Gail’s, anything but face the fact that Putin represents an alternative view of human life that is dedicated to the replacement of ours. The idea that Ukraine is somehow chaos and that Putin represents the cosmos that will tame it is insulting.
Eagleton doesn’t believe that nations should reflect ethnicity, yet he speaks so kindly of Gaels who want to live together rather than with Ulster Scots. In other matters I believe he is probably quite content to see Palestinian Arabs live contentedly together as long as that is in the place whichJews regard currently as their one ethnic space.
The horror of Putin’s “Russianism” is obvious to Eagleton but rather than face it and call for its defeat by arms he would rather talk about us.
Yes, it is a cowardly piece of evasion from a Marxist who now sees ideals he once cherished crushing innocent people. Why this got published is beyond me.
Incoherent nonsense from a former Marxist revolutionary who now sees the reality of an ethos he used to espouse. No wonder he has nothing coherent to say.
So-called “chaos theory” deals with systems whose behaviour is random and unpredictable
This a classic non-scientist misapprehension. Chaos theory deals with systems that are purely deterministic – often based on very simple formulations. The issue in chaos theory is that any small difference in starting parameters can create radically different outcomes. For modellers, adjusting for the flapping of a butterfly’s wing can change the entire forecast even though everything is completely deterministically defined.
The Cheka believe it is the role of the rest of the nation to serve their purposes. Putin was born into the Cheka, his father and grandfather were Chekists. The Cheka were murdering 40,000 a month by 1918. Putin was surrounded by Chekists who acted as oriental courtiers. Putin’s actions are based upon hubris.
If Schroeder and Merkel were KGB assets could they have done more to help Russia? S and M closed down nuclear reactors: made Germany and Europe dependent on Russian oil and Gas, reduced defence spending to 1.2% of GDP and failed to maintain military equipment.
Perhaps Putin’s hubris was induced by Germany’s actions?
Freud has a lot to answer for.
I think I see what was going on – the whole essay was a metaphor for chaos itself?
Otherwise I’m not sure what the point was?
Obviously has no visiting grandchildren. Don’t drink and type would be my advice
‘It was amusing to get you to leave the room, knock on the door, and come back in again Eagleton. And getting you to write about it in an article 40 years later vindicates the joke ‘
I guess that – like most things – if you are going to write about chaos theory you need first to understand what it is. Otherwise – as has happened here – you end up with self-indulgent and pretentious twaddle.
Like Jeremy Corbyn arguing anti-semitism doesn’t exist in the Labour Party and after drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels.
And this piece of “ sub a level guff” is why I’m not renewing my subscription.
Not reading this staff anymore..! Of course Putin can not create order in Ukraine. He only cares on blocking the west creating the whatever order was trying to create. There are so many articles kind of naive, when coming from a deep western thought. If the west does not see the world from deferent points of view, there is no great future in this self-blindfold domination of the world. The west has created so much agitation in the recent years with the funny revolutions in north Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, the former soviet republics and very much so in Ukraine itself. Wake up western cowboys. It can’t run any longer like that. I am pro west, but the west isn’t pro west regrettably..! God help us..!
This is not a war on chaos it is a war on innocent babies, children, women and men.
“If everyone came from Cornwall”……..wouldn’t we have died out by now through inbreeding?
Beautifully written, but like others have commented, I’m not sure what the point is?
No, it is turgid, pompous and obtuse. It tell us nothing about what it purports to explain. That is the very definition of bad writing.
I haven’t read the article because the chilling picture of Putin tells me all I need to know. Those eyes! Brrrr!
The article is brilliantly interesting and entertaining.
The trouble is, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Putin or current events.
No, I think that was just his jumping off point
Shame on UnHerd for publishing such unmitigated gobbledygook.
Is this meant to demonstrate the relevance of philosophy?
“naive libertarians” – I don’t think that exists.
” If everyone came from Cornwall or the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world would be a lot more dreary but a lot less bloodstained as well.”
Really? I think not … there are so many examples to disprove this statement but perhaps the best analogy would be Scotland before the ‘Union’ with England.
The Scottish clans were constantly attacking each other … god help us if they had control of Scotland now …
I agree, that statement’s rather silly. I don’t know much about the DRC, but I recently read a book about Nigeria, about 120 years ago, I think it was. An visitor described a country occupied by tribes, or villages, which were periodically at war with one another, or raided. The groups varied, with some more aggressive and violent than others.
It gave young men the opportunity to prove their courage, and worthiness to marry. It provided wealth in the form of cattle or goats, and it provided money, because prisoners were used or sold as slaves.
It meant that the area never developed much, so the way of life didn’t improve, and was rather nasty, in some ways. On the other hand, it didn’t have the ghastly extremes of death and suffering seen in Europe in the last century.
I think it’s a situation actually quite common throughout the world at various times, including, I suspect, Kernow, and, for that matter, the border of England and Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries, about which I’m reading right now.
The historian A L Rowse wrote in his autobiography that in Cornwall, prior to the First World War, rivalry between villages was such that if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time you were risking your life.
I think it’s excellent. The world is not, never was, nor will it ever be understood, by binary thinking.
If you think this is excellent, you must have been reading a lot of drivel.
Lighten up! you lot, much of this is light hearted, some of it insightful, but enough of it is enjoyably funny!
I had hoped to find some reflection or insight into how difficult it will be to manage the disparate politics in post-war Ukraine. Instead I got the ‘Putin is a madman and that’s all you need to know’. Rather disappointing.
East of Poland, they are all madmen, liars and thieves, and that is all you need to know.
Along with the rampant censorship, this article is exactly the reason why I won’t be renewing my Unherd subscription, come May.
Whether or not this is best framed as a tension between order and chaos, Eagleton is right that one of Putin’s apparent motivations for the war is to unite all those he sees as ethnic Russians. Evidence for this is the pseudo-historical lecture that he delivered before the war. Another, probably more rational, motivation is to prevent Ukraine falling into the military and economic orbit of the West, which he sees as a threat to his own power.
Dreadful essay, a gross insult to the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine.
I suppose we strive to comprehend the mind of Putin because this helps us to work out the how and why of what is happening. However, I don’t believe it’s possible to do so. We are so far removed from the influences he has been and is subject to. His motivation remains a mystery.
But one thing is certain, how simple it is for the human mind to be brainwashed. For obvious lies to be accepted as the truth. Putin’s stranglehold on information will ensure that the Russian people will in future continue to blame the West and Ukraine for all their ills. No amount of contrary evidence will sway them. This legacy will then perpetuate the conflict mindset for generations to come.
What tedious bluster
Let me note that the Russians do not know a nation-state in our sense. Neither do state-forming nations. Russia is a mixture of several dozen nations, nationalities and ethnic groups. As a former citizen of the Soviet bloc, it is fascinating to me how little local knowledge Westerners have. Yet they have a clear view.
Some interesting thoughts, rather spoiled by his sneering disdain for the Ulster Unionists. Only some political units are entitled to democratic legitimacy it seems. While I don’t think the universe was created 6000 years ago, the Catholic Church certainly used to, and for some reason they have changed their mind.
This “essay” is just a bunch of unconnected paragraphs. The one that stood out for me suggests that developing nations are “surreally neat and tidy”. Is that true of Brazil, or India, or South Africa? Aren’t developing nations, by their nature, going through a period of rapid change, which is anything but neat and tidy?
I think he actually said developed nations are “surreally neat and tidy” (cf Switzerland )
The way I understood this was that someone returning from developing world would find West neat and tidy.
But that was after understanding it they way you did first of all….
Gastly, ugly little man.
Eagleton or Putin?
Do you mean Boris?
He only invades women bedrooms though.
Always by invitation.
He even hit on my girlfriend at the meeting.
I’m confused as to the reason this was written. Order vs. Chaos…..yes those are there choices human confront. One is inherently dangerous. Anarchic. Someone has to guarantee an order to society, Kings did it for centuries. Where does order inhibit freedom? The Soviets would have said our people are free. Free from hunger, from housing, from lack of health care…..In America you are free to be hungry if you wish, homeless if you wish a drug addict or gay….Different definitions of freedom do exist. Putin is trying to establish Order in Ukraine, a breakaway province of history. Ukraine is choosing chaos….and attempting to thwart order.