X Close

Gaza, Ukraine and our quest for catharsis Faraway wars have become a form of therapy

Protestors in London (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Protestors in London (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


November 4, 2023   6 mins

The moment Hamas carried out its heinous terror attacks against Israel, the war in Gaza was instantly globalised, reverberating in the hearts and minds of people oceans away who were neither Israeli nor Gazan. Millions on social media picked a side, proudly displaying their solidarity flags and condemning their opponents as either evil terrorists or genocidal oppressors. Both foreign states and populations assumed reflexive positions, railing against antisemitism or settler-colonialism and identifying with the “victims” in a Manichaean struggle that cares little for historical context, nuance or open debate. They became virtual participants in the conflict, as if their own lives and futures depended on it, cancelling and dehumanising their oppositional other just as the most extreme Hamasi Islamist or Israeli Zionist would do.

The entire episode parallels the global reaction to the Ukraine war, in which solidarity with Ukraine as a victim of foreign aggression or empathy with Russia as a victim of Western hegemonic overreach divided the world. Some might view this phenomenon as a hallmark of human compassion and care — the result of greater awareness of human suffering owing to the power of modern technology. Still, there are numerous examples of brutal conflicts and atrocities that do not capture international public and governmental attention and thus remain local and ultimately ignored.

Judging by history, this global internalisation of distant wars by outsiders is a highly unusual, and rather pathological, development. It happens when both the ruling classes and the civilian populations across the world begin to perceive a far-off external conflict in existential terms and put themselves at the centre of it as a messianic protagonist. The question is: why?

On the one hand, the Ukraine and Gaza wars are distinctively modern — both because of the sheer magnitude of destruction and because they are conflicts of nationalism, a contemporary ideology that links the future of peoples to states. On the other hand, the global milieu within which they take place is one of a profound crisis of meaning and legitimacy exacerbated by the identitarian turn taken by both the Left and the Right since the Sixties, and the complete politicisation of all aspects of life in late or hyper- modernity.

In today’s globalised world, identity-based existence, muddying the boundaries between the political and the personal, has become a poor man’s substitute for the deep-rooted and embodied meaning that was previously derived from communal, traditional life and held in common within a culture. Stemming from an external locus of control, all modern identities thus reflect what Nietzsche called an inherent “ressentimental” drive and are constructed around overcoming the systemic oppression of an abstract and highly symbolic “us” by a privileged “them” that is subsequently cast as evil.

In this metaphysical account, being downtrodden is morally superior. Privilege and power are inherently evil. And one can become righteous by projecting oneness or identity with the virtuous victim. In both Israel and Ukraine, we can see how this ontological, if tragic, struggle for coherence within the modern self through self-identification with the “disempowered” is carried over into the realm of global geopolitics.

Regardless of the actual historical context of the globalized conflicts and the ostensible animosity between the partisans of the two sides, the underlying motivation for the opposite sides of these seemingly binary and zero-sum conflicts (who don’t actually experience the war and its violence) is a contestation over oppression and a struggle to determine the “virtuous” victim.  In other words, real wars over land, resources, and survival are co-opted by the rest of the world and transformed into wars of victimhood with which they can intrinsically relate. War thus becomes therapeutic and is turned inward as yet another means for identity formation in one’s internal quest for social identity.

For the civilian populations living abroad, therefore, these faraway conflicts are more than mere distractions: they are an opportunity for catharsis. They offer the fleeting possibility of escaping the existential angst of an atomised life lived under the automatism of modernity, and for feeling a sense of unity, purity and spiritual community forged in the virtual fires of war — all from the safety and comfort of their digital devices. As Ernst JĂŒnger wrote in an often-overlooked monograph War as an Inner Experience, “action in itself is nothing, conviction is everything” — and the lost mimetic souls of hypermodernity epitomise it.

But not only are these wars co-opted by the global masses seeking transcendence; they are also simultaneously internalised and instrumentalised by the establishments in foreign countries to buttress and justify their political regimes. Where civilian populations’ ontological insecurity stems from an essential need for meaning and permanence, the ruling classes suffer from an additional insecurity that is rooted in the need to legitimise their power (even to themselves) in a world where all institutional authority is increasingly doubted.

Modern statehood is predicated on political regimes, all of which, whether we are conscious of this or not, legitimise themselves according to modern ideologies that claim to be liberating and righteous. Even as modern universalist ideologies such as liberalism and Islamism dismiss each other as tyrannical and unjust, both these state ideologies, in different ways, profess to transform the world for the better by eliminating oppression as such.

Within the framework offered by globalised social justice, modern entities such as Ukraine, Israel and Palestine are removed from their concrete territorial contexts and transformed into pet projects and ideological proxies by different foreign actors. Ukraine thus becomes existential to the United States, even though the fate of Ukraine will never have a decisive impact on America’s national interest or the collective interest of Americans. Israel’s cause, meanwhile, is forever identified with the post-war liberal international order and the triumph over National Socialism: our commitment to it must thus remain sacrosanct and unwavering. Because the North Atlantic establishment essentialises liberal internationalism as part of its institutional identity, both Ukraine and Israel become places where Western political leaders can fight against the disintegration of the liberal order and hence baptise themselves in the cathartic waters of foreign wars.

Similarly, to the vanguard of the Islamic Republic in Iran backing Hezbollah (or the Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries backing Hamas), “Palestine” has for years symbolised what Ukraine now represents to the Atlanticist elites in the West: the physical embodiment of a world-transforming “cause” and the symbol for a self-righteous ideology animated by eliminating suffering, imperialism and exploitation. In both cases, the ideological proxies become the scene for a Last Judgement, a Rapture based on a highly religious framing about innocence and transgression, purity and stain. Each ruling class sees displaying solidarity and support — whether for Ukraine and Israel or Palestine — as a test for moral purity, and victory takes on an existential and millenarian meaning, signalling the final unveiling of history to justice and salvation.

None of this is meant to discount the fact that there are genuine geopolitical causes behind these conflicts, but to emphasise that, when it comes to their globalised nature, often ontological insecurity and ideology drive foreign powers’ geopolitical interest in that region in the first place. Just as the Palestinian cause serves as a lever for Iranian influence within an Arab world steeped in post-colonial trauma and paranoia, the historical trauma many Central and Eastern Europeans experienced under Russian communism makes them understandably anxious about Russian aggression and eager to join the Western camp. Nevertheless, for the major powers outside these regions, interjection in conflicts abroad is not simply a cold calculus in realpolitik, but an opportunity to bolster their legitimacy by siding with the state or cause which serves as their ideological proxy.

Together, the civilian and political drivers that motivate the global internalisation of local wars explain the strange phenomenon already perceived by George Orwell in the 20th century as “transferred nationalism”: “Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one’s conduct.” Transference allows one to be “much more nationalistic than he could ever be on behalf of his native country” and gain moral capital and social prestige while doing so.

Despite the protestations from the dissident Right and the anti-war Left, Ukraine is the paradigmatic example of this; consider the overwhelming consensus between the ruling class and its civilian base in the universities, media and the professional-managerial class as to the identity of the virtuous downtrodden (hint: it wasn’t the Russians), and how this consensus mirrored by European capitals galvanized the West behind Ukraine. Yet these exercises in generating ersatz nationalism for the political regime are not always seamless, and can quickly turn toxic and corrosive.

As seen with the Israeli-Gaza conflict already, trouble arises when a regime’s establishment and its sources of civilian support find themselves on the different ends of the oppression narrative spectrum. The current rift between the Biden administration’s unquestionable support for Israel as the victim of terrorism and a large section of the Democratic base condemning what they call the “Palestinian genocide” is a clear indication that they fundamentally disagree on the identity of the “virtuous victim” here. A similar dynamic can be observed in Britain’s Labour Party. In this way, internalisation of foreign wars can become a source of political instability and domestic strife.

Moreover, not only could such internalisation of wars abroad be a source of social discord, but the public and political fixation on them could motivate more than virtual engagement — resulting in physical intervention in distant conflicts that could possibly escalate them into real regional and even world wars, not to mention completely warp the national interests and security priorities of the intervening power. After all, ideology and fanaticism resent rapprochement and diplomacy.

In one of his final commentaries before he died in September, Christopher Coker, the international theorist and scholar of war, wrote: “the existential dimension [of war] is no less important [than its political side] for it also involves power, or more correctly perhaps, the empowerment, both material and spiritual, of those who do the actual fighting.” To this we must add: “and also the desire for empowerment by those who don’t do any of the actual fighting — but who nonetheless live vicariously through it.”


Arta Moeini is the Director of Research at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy and founding editor of AGON.

artamoeini

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

141 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

The emotional infants in the provided photograph holding their silly nonsensical catch phrase sign and wearing their carnival face paint are the very same people who claim that children deserve to be surgically mutilated by sadists with medical degrees or you’re a a hateful bigot.

If the world’s worthy cultures are to survive, it is these people who must be laughed at into oblivion, not written long essays about.

El Uro
El Uro
8 months ago

Whipping would also help

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

..racist and brutal then?

El Uro
El Uro
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

There is no racism here, it is simply a most economical and fast way to explain quite obvious truths to a certain type of people.
Let me give you an example that may shock you, but it is very important.
Children of a certain age like to throw tantrums. to roll on the floor and to demand something. This is a normal stage of development.
This happened to our daughter once. The wife was in a hurry, so she spanked her daughter on the butt by a rolled newspaper. The daughter was in winter clothes and the punishment was very loud. And only loud, my wife was very careful. The child was shocked and the problem of hysterics was solved once and for all.
The point of my example is that the punishment should be appropriate to the developmental level of these young people.

Last edited 8 months ago by El Uro
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

They’re adults. They may be adults with the emotional development of five year olds, but they still qualify for adult consequences.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
8 months ago

Here is the USA we need to get rid of Critical Race Theory training and indoctrination found in high schools, colleges, government and business. It teaches that people are in either oppressed or oppressor groups and the oppressor groups can never quite apologize enough. In many organizations this turns into a totalitarian feel with people fired, dismissed, shamed for the wrong views on race or gender.
Many of the same people would complain about a micro-aggression at school or work and more than happy to celebrate the murder and torture of civilians and kids by Hamas.

Mrs R
Mrs R
8 months ago

The same sickness destroying America is endemic over here to.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

How about those who celebrate the murder, toture and slaughter of innocent Palestinians? Identical? Yes, except for scale.. in that Israelis are 10 times worse*, for those who can count.
For those unfamiliar with the result of being blown to pieces by bombs and crushed to pieces by falling buildings ALSO tend to be beheaded, de-limbed, eviscerated.. they also die in agony including the 4,000 children in the arms of their distraught parents! Anyone who thinks this is the road to peace is either a fool or an evil degenerate.
* overtime the ratio is 24:1, Zionists being 24 times more heinous, wicked and demonic.. Yet people support them – I suppose NazÂĄs has plenty of support in their day as well.
Evil I can understand but supporting evil, the slaughter of innocent children is utterly beyond me.

Last edited 8 months ago by Liam O'Mahony
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

So you’re saying that using your civilians as meat shields after you have run back from your terrorist actions is wrong.
I fully agree, Hamas terrorism is directed at Gaza residents rather than at Israeli’s. Its them they have to convince to put up with them.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Hamas is using Gaza residents as cannon fodder. It’s the Israelis they burned and tortured. Hamas leaders want power, and they don’t care how many people die. They figure the Muslims will go to heaven.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Irrational religious beliefs abound. Two of those are the Chosen People and the Promised Land. If you’re against some irrational beliefs, are you against all of them? To paraphrase you, mutatis mutandis, swapping Israelis for Palestinians in your argument would arrive at equally true (i.e. not very true) statements.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Assuming what you say to be true, it’s also a crime to shoot thru the shield. International Law etc etc.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What about the Israeli children beheaded by Hamas? What about the Israelis Hamas terrorists burned to death? Did they deserve that? What about the 200+ prisoners Hamas still has being tortured etc ? It’s Hamas and Egypt refusing to let civilians leave. You celebrated Hamas’ victory, and want the Israelis to just shut up and die instead of defending themselves from further attack—and maybe save a few hostages from a fate worse than death..

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

I’m against all the things you’re against, and I reckon I’m even more against them than you. Additionally I’m against the killing of 200+ Palestinians (including 47 children) on the West Bank this year alone before 7-Oct by Israeli militias and the Israeli army. I’m against the thousands of Palestinians held without trial hostage in Israel. I’m against the atrocity of 1400 Israelis killed 7-Oct. And I’m against the atrocity of 10,000 Palestinians killed subsequently. Why are you so one-sided? Let’s have the Two State solution. You can’t blame Hamas for the Israelis rejecting that, Hamas arose as a political power after that. Let’s blame Hamas for what they are responsible. Let’s blame the Israelis for what they’re responsible. Let’s allow desperate people more than despair. That’s why Israel exists. That’s why Palestine must be allowed to exist.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
8 months ago

The problem here is that our Equality Acts (2010/15) embedded the notion of Nine (now Legally Super Privileged) Victim Groups & an Evil Oppressor structure and Force (sadly – British society/whites/male Patriarchy) into our State Law. This pulsed an anti discriminatory mania out into the public sector and then out further via the culture sector, notably the state broadcaster BBC. The EQA endorses – albeit inadvertently- the basic V v O radical assumptions of American CRT! You cannot wish this away. We are now in the grip of a Cultural Revolution; an equalitarian ideology that we can observe twisting horribly our response to Gaza and the protection of law abiding British Jews. You cannot extinguish the mind virus without first tackling the Laws – the Wuhan Lab source. Is it too late now? The Fake Tories have shown zero interest. And the equality cult is the only credo uniting the Labour Party which promises yet more new race legislation. I wonder what that will do for free speech and communal unity??

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Why nine? Did you pull that number out of the air? Where in UK law is this? The Right/Left have all gone insane.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

A tad racist perhaps?

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Racist how? She’s criticizing an ideology, belief in which is de rigueur for far left white ‘progressives’ such as yourself. Hate to tell you this but not all of us are cowed by the use of that word.

Last edited 8 months ago by starkbreath
David McKee
David McKee
8 months ago

The first third of this essay is fine, then it goes right off the rails. That’s a pity, and would have been avoided if it had occurred to the writer to ask himself, “Have we been here before?”

Indeed we have: the Spanish civil war in the 1930s; Gladstone getting his proverbials in a twist over the Bulgars; the romantics romanticising about the Greek war of independence, to name just three.

I suspect it comes down to the welcome rush of excitement in our dull little lives; the childish desire to see every conflict as the goodies vs the baddies; and the oversimplification that makes every faraway conflict so much easier to solve than our own.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Marvel comic, anybody ?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
8 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Indeed. The essay got bogged down and seemed unnecessarily verbose, as if Moeini liked the sound of his own voice more than what he was trying to convey.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
8 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

The faux pontificating and pseudo-intellectualizing by the philosopher class that sit at a great distance from the October 7 surprise attack and act of war is completely expected.
But as an intellectual myself, I find such eloquent bloviating utterly pointless in the face of what we saw and heard from October 7.
“They told us afterwards, after we left the room and they had worked on the body to identify it [that] after the terrorists murdered the parents in a very gruesome way at home, they then took the baby and literally put him into the kitchen oven.”
‘While the baby was still alive they put him into the oven and they cooked the baby alive. The body was burned and unfortunately, as far as I could see, the body became swollen as a result [a] heating element of the oven became attached to the body itself.”
/ Asher Moskowitz, of the United Hatzalah first responder group
“We saw a little baby in an oven. These bastards put these babies in an oven and turned on the oven. We found the kid a few hours later.”
/ Eli Beer, head of Israel’s volunteer EMS squad
Tell me, fellow intellectuals – does feel it distasteful and below our station in life to read these actions approved by the Palestinian Government of the Gaza Strip? Maybe we avert our eyes so our soul doesn’t have to face its own cognitive dissonance as we play a game of intellectual whataboutism?
What would we say to our own government had a country on our border sent in their fighters to do exactly this to your sister, her husband and their newborn? And then torture and kill another 1,400 citizens in similarly savage ways?
“Let’s not get too hasty,” intellectual equivocation is exactly the behavior that led to Hitler being praised by the New York Times in the 1920s.
I say ‘stop’ to such postmodernist stunts conceived in ivory towers that enable people to turn their eyes away from the brutal truth of evil.
For if we cannot call these actions the definition of evil, then there is no such thing as evil, or right and wrong, or law and penalty.
If one cannot draw a line and say it’s evil for a government to give a green light to its fighters to place babies of a hated foreign country in kitchen ovens so they can then turn on the oven to 350 degrees while they listen to a baby cry as his or her skin blisters, crackles and pops, or for the fighters to saw off a baby’s head as gurgles for oxygen, or burn innocent families alive, or rape and then kill teenagers at a peaceful concert, then that person who cannot draw that line also does not have a soul.
———–
From the New York Times on November 21, 1922…does its intellectual navel-gazing tone sound eerily familiar? When do we have the guts to say – and mean – “Never again”?

“[Hitler] is credibly credited with being actuated by lofty, unselfish patriotism. He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish. The keynote of his propaganda in speaking and writing is violent anti-Semitism. His followers are nicknamed the ‘Hakenkreuzler.’ So violent are Hitler’s fulminations against the Jews that a number of prominent Jewish citizens are reported to have sought safe asylums in the Bavarian highlands, easily reached by fast motor cars, whence they could hurry their women and children when forewarned of an anti-Semitic St. Bartholomew’s night.
“But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.
“A sophisticated politician credited Hitler with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: ‘You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.'”
/ The New York Times, November 21, 1922
Haughty ‘no big deal’ intellectualism before the Holocaust.

Last edited 8 months ago by Cantab Man
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
8 months ago

Excellent essay. It reveals yet again how the new equality cult which has gripped our State and its elite since the new EQA laws of 2010 (note the timing) has become a toxic mind virus and national threar. Again – if your laws determine that Nine Groups are Victims, that presupposes that there imust an evil Oppressor group at large, using its ill gotten power and ‘privilege’ to subjugate the Virtuous Victims, who have been granted special elevated and privileged position in law..and now in our culture too thanks to the Evangelical work of the captured BBC. White patriarchals..and their entire imperial/settler history, therefore have become despised. Jews are Apex Whites, the Wests Power Settlers in the sick twisted Identitarian Credo, and Palestinians are always the Ultimate Victims. The author is correct is seeing how this destructive divisive communal-shredding credo easily spreads and extends from the domestic to the foreign and merges the two in the minds of the Damned.

jane baker
jane baker
8 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I hate everybody. Not a joke,sadly true.

Liam F
Liam F
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Me too. But i try to be democratic. I hate everybody equally.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

And thanks for the laff, also, Liam!

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

I despise homo sapiens sapiens per se but but rather like some individual HSS’s

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Thanks for the laff, Jane!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Vae victis! Dediticii have NO rights.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

That’ll be pre Geneva Convention though Charlie.. When you throw out the ECHR will the Geneva Convention be next? ..How about the Magna Carta.. after all that’s what started the whole softie thing isn’t it?

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
8 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I’m also astounded at the dark irony and utter obliviousness expressed in the article’s accompanying photo.
“Children deserve fun not funerals”
…exclaims the sign being held by people who proudly fly the Palestinian flag. The very flag that, in part, represents the duly-elected Palestinian government of the Gaza Strip. This government (during a time of ceasefire and peace with Israel) planned and executed the most wicked, heinous and purposeful torture and murder of innocent little children and babies that the world has ever seen.
“As they opened the bag there was a gruesome sight, what appeared to be a baby. The body was really swollen [and had] what looked like a heating element attached.
“They told us afterwards, after we left the room and they had worked on the body to identify it, [that] after the terrorists murdered the parents in a very gruesome way at home, they then took the baby and literally put him into the kitchen oven.
“While the baby was still alive they put him into the oven and they cooked the baby alive. The body was burned and unfortunately, as far as I could see, the body became swollen as a result [and the] heating element of the oven became attached to the body itself.”
– Asher Moskowitz, of the United Hatzalah first responder group
“We saw a little baby in an oven. ‘These bastards put these babies in an oven and turned on the oven. We found the kid a few hours later.”
– Eli Beer, head of Israel’s volunteer EMS squad
—-
The darkest place of hell is reserved for any person who crossed into Israel to commit these official acts of war against Israel during a time of peace, for any person who serves within the Palestinian government that planned these atrocities, and for any person who continues to support them or tries to use pseudo-intellectual equivocation, ‘equality’ whataboutism or sophomoric obfuscation to minimize this act of absolute evil or to condemn Israel’s justified response.
The Palestinian government of the Gaza Strip is the world’s modern-day reincarnation of Nazi Germany. Their stated goal within their charter is the end of all Jews throughout modern-day Israel. And Israel is completely and righteously justified in their response. Any other country would do the same.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
8 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

Unfortunately, they have 2 million hostages.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Giving into terrorist demands will NOT save anyone. Appeasement is counterproductive and will only cause more deaths. Look up Chamberlain and Hitler. Psychos see kindness as a sign of weakness and redouble their attacks.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

The world’s greatest appeaser was Churchill. He said one should appease the weak and oppose the strong. The idea is not to strengthen the weak. The idea that Chamberlain was a straightforward appeaser is not true. The reality also is that one always negotiates, it’s whether one admits to doing so or not. Hamas and other terrorists or “terrorists” know this. It may turn out that Hamas, while acting badly (it was an evil atrocity – I agree) may have acted rationally by preventing the forgetting of them by the international community.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Cantab Man

I note the heart-rending account to which this is a response. But any one of us with an ounce of empathy need not read the account. We KNOW what the death of a child entails. No child should die. In what follows know that I allow no one any excuses. I merely demand that no deaths of children be ignored. Some are.
That one side is evil does not make the other side good.
But some of us lack empathy and that’s why we need to read the accounts of the Israeli children killed. But by similar reasoning those who lack any empathy with the plight of the Palestinians similarly need to be woken up: Where is the report in any Western media anywhere of any one of the 47 children murdered by Israelis militias and the Israeli army in the West Bank this year alone prior to 7-Oct? There is no account. Those of us who lack natural empathy therefore are allowed to ignore the plight of Palestinians. They only care about Israeli babies.
If you allow retaliation or revenge as an excuse then the 10,000 civilians killed by Israel since 7-Oct is justified by the 1400 killed 7-Oct. Never-mind the 7:1 ratio! “They killed our babies.”
If you allow retaliation or revenge as an excuse then the 1400 civilians killed by Palestinians 7-Oct is justified by the 200 Palestinians killed by Israelis prior 7-Oct. Never-mind the 7:1 ratio! “They killed our babies.”
Whose 7:1 ratio is allowed? Neither!

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago

I’ll believe the supporters of Gaza when they open their own countries to its refugees.

Until then, none of it means a pinch of shit.

Geoffrey Kolbe
Geoffrey Kolbe
8 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Well…. a lot of Hamas supporters are marching through the streets of English cities waving flags – and they are not Union Flags. A critical mass of Muslim sentiment whereby a viable political party advocating Sharia law in the UK cannot be far away. Then, I suggest, these current events might take on a more significant meaning…

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

Application has already been made to the Electoral Commission to register an Islamic Party but it was turned down because they didn’t fill in the application correctly. But it’s only a matter of time.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

And so it comes to pass. We thought the people warning of this were dismissed as conspiracy theorists.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago

If we learned anything at all from Covid, it’s that conspiracies aren’t theoretical.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago

Some conspiracies are total BS made up by con artists who get their power by tricking ignorant fools, ie Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, the Far Left also has more than its share of much younger, ignorant, brainwashed fools.
Opportunists in the medical industry took advantage of the Covid situation. This nonsense about them creating a virus deliberately (instead of a bunch of incompetents screwing up in labs) ascribes super powers to both garden variety con artists and dangerous idiots.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

Muslims make up 6.3% of the British population.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

6.3% represents a large voting block.
In the United States, Jews have traditionally voted as a block for the Democrat party. Jews are 2.4% of U.S. population. The Muslim population in the U.S. in only1.1%, but it’s growing exponentially, greatly benefiting from the open door immigration policy. So, looking into the future the Democrat Party sees Muslims as a key voting group, and they’re will to throw American-Jews under the bus in order to secure the Muslim vote, which has been in evidence since Obama’s first term in the White House.

Last edited 8 months ago by Abe Stamm
El Uro
El Uro
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Reconquista is the only solution, but this requires people who believe.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  El Uro

Who believe what? ..I hope you don’t mean Christian values? Sure nobody believes in those anymore.. if they did they’d hardly be urging on slaughter of the innocents.. that’s more a Jewish thing since Herod did it 2,000 years ago, unsuccessful then as well btw.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Herod was a puppet King chosen by the Romans. He actually died in 4 BC. It was the Roman governor (Pontius Pilate) who executed Jesus. The first Christians were actually Jewish like Jesus was.
The New Testament was written generations later after the split between Jews and Christians–by then the official religion of Romans desperate to blame someone else. What better blood libel than to blame the Jews for killing a famous fellow Jew–Jesus was a Jewish rabbi and supposed prophet who NEVER claimed divinity.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Yes, much of that is true, although I’m unsure what Jesus claimed. Another interesting thing is that one can hardly blame/credit the Judaism of today with what was done 2000 years ago. Judaism was much modified and re-imagined and re-invented (I’m a sceptic of all religions not just that of the Jews) in the centuries following Herod and Jesus. Note also that many of the Palestinians were also once Christians and they were once Jewish. Until very recently populations never moved much or far, they fell in with the new rulers. And the new rulers were never many in number, a conquering army would never be more than a few thousand. That was true with the Islamification of Palestine too. People stayed put, by and large, it was their allegiances which shifted, not the populations. That at essence is what supports the Palestinians claim to the land from which they were evicted. I’m unsure one is actually allowed to make this inconvenient point today.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Yes. 6.3% gives them a lot of influence, but not even close to make an actual party.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

To assume all Muslims will vote for a Muslim party is naive on the extreme.. Imagine a Christian party promoting Christian values, eg peace, love and brotherhood.. sure they’d be lucky not to lose their deposit!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Since when do modern Protestants promote any of that? Certainly Evangelical American Christians don’t. Most never even read the Bible–btw full of violence . They’re all into killing and revenge like their new holy savior Donald Trump.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

ya gotta do the maths bro – 2 more generations gives you- what 24 % at 4 kids per couple joined up with whatever other group/s can stand each other and you got real political power – just like the long hairs in Israel sitting on 30% of the vote – and the crap that that is causing ….

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

This is definitely maybe a possibility in maybe 30 years – maybe. It’s not happening anytime soon, and that’s what I was arguing against.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

That’ll save the US $6,000,000,000 a year ..badly needed to fix its crumbling infrastructure..

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Enjoy making up crazy numbers, don’t you. The infrastructure is already being fixed in America at a fraction of your crazed price–over the hysterical objections of House Republicans– starting in 2021 and continuing each year with new building projects.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/build/resources/state-fact-sheets/
https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/usdot-releases-state-state-fact-sheets-highlighting-benefits-bipartisan

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And reproducing more rapidly than non-muslims.

Arthur G
Arthur G
8 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Europe is going to face a choice. Either behave in an extra-legal way to expel of a lot of Muslims (all the unassimilated ones with pro-Islamist views, whether citizens or not) or fight a civil war in a generation like what Israel is facing.

Last edited 8 months ago by Arthur G
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

You’re reading too many comics..

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

It’s legal to expel terrorists. The UK did that after 9/11. The rest stay British citizens.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And growing. Good luck to the UK.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And many of those will be very mild in their beliefs.

Mrs R
Mrs R
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I believe that percentage is much larger.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

..of those, a significant number are practicing Muslims who oppose Sharia law.. and many are not even practicing Muslims. So the number supporting Sharia law is probably <1%.. but it makes a good headline in the Sun and similar rags I supppse.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That is VERY scary. How dare they!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
8 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

So true.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

So, all the countries the UK supports are welcome to come to the UK then as refugees? Will that include all the Commonwealth countries? Or is that “totally different ” as my ex wife used to say!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Commonwealth countries don’t have refugees. They’re just immigrants.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Your lie is propagated widely. The other lie I hear (incompatible with your own) is that there were no refugees, there were no Palestinians, it’s all a fabrication of the Left. The Leon Uris view of history (he was employed by the nascent Israeli state to write the history) is not taught in the history departments of Israeli universities. Many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were accepted as refugees in neighbouring countries, Jordan chief among them.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
8 months ago

The premise of the piece – that there is pleasure to be gained by human beings in involving themselves emotionally with events that they have no direct connection with – is correct. But the latest flare up in Israeli/Palestinian goes beyond that.
In Britain, Europe, the US and elsewhere, the stark reality of the nature of the millions of people that were imported in to our own countries, cities and towns has never been more evident.
Millions have arrived from the most violent, corrupt, conflict ridden countries in the world. Countries with repressive, intolerant cultures that seek to assert cultural dominance.
At the same time, the pathetic state of Britain and its institutions has never been more clear: our gutless police; our Leftist “progressive” class drooling like dogs at feeding time to support the faction most committed to destroying the West; our thick, historically illiterate students taking sides with those that call for the destruction of the Jewish people.
More than all, it is the Tory Party that bear most responsibility for what has befallen our country. They have stood by while all this happened. Not only did they never fight it, they nurtured, encouraged a facilitated it. Even now, as one of most sacred national occasions is about to be desecrated by a mob of fanatics and imbeciles, the won’t step in.
Nothing will get better in Britain until the Tory Party is destroyed and replaced by a unashamedly, patriotic, nationalist party that puts the British people and British interests above all else.

Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

And which party is that? Ukip? The BNP? I think it’s too easy to blame the Tories for the leftist agenda that has seized control of much of civilised life.

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
8 months ago

If you think I have maligned the Tory Party unfairly, perhaps you could suggest some of the policies the party who has held political power for the past 13+ years has enacted to prevent or remove the Leftist infiltration of our institutions?

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
8 months ago

I saw a video of Nick Griffin of BNP fame/notoriety on Question Time and much as I thought he was a prat at the time, much of what he was saying about community collapse and immigration sounded no more than common sense now.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Ditto Nigel Farage on GB News.

denz
denz
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

It was Nick Griffin who first alerted the general populace to the horrors of Islamic grooming gangs by being prosecuted for hate speech. There was a Labour government at the time.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Community collapse might also be a Tory bloop? ..starving communities of community support funding?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

When you say “British” people I assume you exclude British Muslims? How about British Hindus? Sikhs? I also assume you really mean white, don’t you? Nice…

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Oh, it serms I missed another undesirable group! Leftists.. How about moderates? Centrists? You’ll be luck to be left with anyone at all!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What makes you think you would be safe in your proposed scenario? Everyone comes from Africa if you go back far enough in time.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

Insightful but incomplete?

I am sure there is a lot in his argument that many individuals seek personal identity through identifying with a group and that, at this precise point in time, for many in the West this takes the form of being a radical progressive, conservative or whatever i.e. adhering to some transnational ideology rather than, as in the past, to a nation, class or religion.

He is also probably right in suggesting that the internalisation of these identities discourages rational moderate responses to crises. Instead many individuals are keener to proclaim their allegiances in extravagant terms than suggest solutions. The comments sections on various UnHerd articles about Gaza/Israel over the last month support his case all too well.

BUT

1/ The emerging anti-western coalition relies on older identities such as nationalism and, in the Middle East, religion as well.

2/ One could have made similar comments in the 1930s when many in the West became either pacifists or communists only to snap out of these attitudes when WW2 broke out.

3/ Geo-political calculation still drives much of what is going on. Successful foreign policy decision makers have always had to be adept at dressing up realpolitik as moral crusade in whatever form current fashion dictates.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Your point at 3 may not necessarily be true of Democrat plus Neo Con based U. S policies?
Tantamount to a good deal of overstretch both pre and post DJT.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

I would say the basic culture of US diplomacy is still an unsentimental “realist” defence of national interests but I would accept that merely begs the question of how one defines American interests e.g. the neo-cons see Israel as the US’s key “strategic ally” in the Middle East thus justifying x, y and z but an earlier generation of US diplomats framed American interests in the region differently. In any case, even the most “realist” statesman has to bend with the wind of domestic politics. I am not sure if we are disagreeing or not.

Overstretch? I would prefer “more stretched”. If your point is that the US will end up increasing its defence budget, I would agree. During the latter stages of the Cold War it ran at 5% of GDP. Despite the current level of threat being similar, it is still at 3%.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I interact with a lot of Republican leaning Americans on some other sites, and they are mostly outraged by the increasing US military spending. They feel the money needs to be spent on borders and migrants. I am not sure that is a majority opinion though.
My own reading is that the US is opening multi – pronged fronts ideologically. It is currently aiming at regime change in Bangladesh which is disastrous – as it will bring in a hard Islamist pro Pakistan regime and help Xi even more. Other than destabilizing the most pro US Indian government in history.
I fear the real front will be China fairly soon – either through a proxy war with India, or Taiwan.
In which case I am not even sure the ruling US dispensation has a ” plan”, and hence my concern that the foreign policy of the US is more ideological than realpolitik.
I really liked your excellent analogy between the present and pre World War One situation by the way. You should do a Substack!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago

War with almost the entire continent of Asia?! Are you including Russia, too? That’s far more wars than anyone in the U.S. military or weapons manufacturers ever dared have nightmares of. So absurd.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I’m an American. Our “diplomacy” sits in the laps of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and a handful of other arms manufacturers.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Don’t forget’Kosher Nostra’.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

I gave you an uptick Charlie!

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago

Just proves that hate is the same on the Right and the Left. You and your extremist Left wing friends are more alike than you are different.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

And, we are told Airac if I have the initials right. Allegedly, rhe influence is even greater than the MIC, or WEF.. but I have little to go on: it might be worth investigating further (by you – I’m Irish, so we a vassal of US policy with little influence – though we are 10% of the US population so maybe we do, or could have if we play our cards right?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

According to the former Joint Chief Mark Milley , the U.S. military budget will double if Ukraine loses. You can’t recognize a bargain when you see one. U.S. diplomats always knew Israel was their only ally in the Middle East. Better learn a little REAL history. Millions of pages are written on it. If you can even read a couple of pages, start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel–United_States_relations

Ticiba Upe
Ticiba Upe
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Identity with a group has always been the basis of joining gangs.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Ticiba Upe

The word you want is tribalism.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
8 months ago

I found the concepts in this article very interesting. Reading at   an insomniac’s hour in the morning, I had to take my time with the various ways they were expressed. Nevertheless, they certainly helped frame a phenomenon that (for me) initially revealed itself in the sixties when a bevy of students apparently unconstrained by ruthless lecture/lab timetables, became deeply and mysteriously involved with Mr Che Guevara – to the extent that they occupied the university lawns with prolonged sit-ins on his behalf. In spite of his heroic hairdo and snazzy beret, I could never fathom the man’s attraction – or how he became blended with the Vietnam war, South African apartheid etc etc. But now 
 Well now I am armed with a deep understanding and a fine new vocabulary in which to express it 
 Must just read one or two bits again 
 
    But more seriously, putting Guevara’s revolutionary hair aside, and thinking of the emotional involvement with Israel/Palestine that is currently overwhelming the airways and the streets of London, I felt a distinct sway towards the George Orwell point of view that the author mentions – the blood and soil component. This has become more obvious since Orwell’s time. There’s been a distinct effort to downplay nationalism as much as possible in favour of ‘liberal internationalism’. In fact, any manifestation of it here, England, is immediately denounced as ‘far right’, and spotting the flag of St George in the garden of ‘white van man’ is guaranteed to bring on a hissy fit in certain politicians – particularly those who are supposed to be predisposed in the working man’s favour. But nationalism lurks irrepressibly within us, acknowledged or not. Consequently, as the author states, the ostentatiously virtuous, amongst whom I would include the aforementioned politician, give it a vicarious outlet through a ‘compassionate’ investment in other peoples’ nationalism – because, as the psychologists assure us, we can always rely on the re-emergence of the suppressed.
As to why it lurks so persistently? Observing the ties that some who have long emigrated still feel for their historical origins, I sometimes wonder, fancifully because this is far from an exact science, if there is an epigenetic (if not frankly genetic) component analogous to the concept of intergenerational transmission of trauma (first observed/recognised in Holocaust survivors, please note) whereby the expression, if not the sequence, of our DNA is modified by our forefathers’ history and experience. A significant contributor, in effect, to emotional response. And, in the case of nationalism, blood and soil as biologically embodied, behavioural modifiers that are remarkably persistent in spite of global location or any change in the cultural mores that surround us. Hmm 
 Time for something to eat, perhaps.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

I think I know where you’re coming from. As I approach my fifties, I have greater understanding of my parents and even my grandparents. I also struggle with some of the issues they themselves struggled with due to mine and their childhood experiences. At some fundamental level I feel it is my existential duty to deal with the stuff that they left unfinished and to transcend them in some way.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
8 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

That’s a really insightful comment, thankyou.
I guess we’d disagree (from previous comments) on how that transcending might come about, but i feel it nevertheless holds true.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Murray
Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

I guess the problem lies in the identification of the Palestine cause with victimhood. I don’t know if you are on X but Imtiaz Ahmed had a rather interesting take on the issue.

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago

Because they don’t count beheaded Israeli babies as victims. The Left celebrated mass murder.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Robin Lillian

Neither do Palestinian children count as victims. Note I do not condone the 7-Oct atrocity. I merely point out the bad behaviour is not entirely one-sided. In the year 2023 up to 7-Oct over 200 Palestinians were killed WestBank by Israeli settler militias and the Israeli army. And among then were 47 Palestinian children. Never once did I see a Western headline about them. I wish to quote you mutatis mutandis: “Because [we] don’t count [Palestinian] babies as victims.” Again I am not an apologist for 7-Oct. I am NOT saying 7-Oct was justified. I don’t think revenge is just. Each side is evil.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

If not genetic then perhaps due to Morphic Resonance ala Rupert Sheldrake?? Personally, as I became semi enlightened I lost all nationalistic emotions and am now much more attuned to “the brotherhood of man”.. usually attributed to youth but I never really shrugged it off, nor Christian values either.. maybe they are related, eh?

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Rupert Sheldrake? Are you kidding?

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
8 months ago

Great article. Can I add a further example of the “oppression narrative spectrum”? Many in China are anti-Israel whilst at the same time approving of Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs. When I asked about this, my Chinese friends said that the most virulent anti-Israel people like to see China as a victim nation and think of Israel as being akin to Britain and other Western countries that (they claim) opressed China in the past. In other words, their assumption of victimhood prevents them from seeing Beijing as being in any way repressive. This urge for faux-victimhood seems to be a global phenomenon. Qui accuse s’excuse.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

A very interesting albeit wordy article. War framed in a teleological lens is also due to a surfeit of media attention and the increasing role of social media as an opinion formation device.
My concern is what the author refers to in his closing paragraphs-” ideology and fanaticism resent rapprochement and diplomacy”.
As attitudes in the public sphere harden, it is possibly getting much more difficult to work back- channels of diplomacy.
One can always argue that this always existed( and possibly what led to two World Wars in the 20th century).
Yet, in an age of globalism, and the proliferation of nation- states, where at least theoretically each country has a ” voice”, the rhetoric of extreme opinion is bound to affect realpolitik.
And make it even more difficult for ruling governments and policy makers to adopt Palmerstonian notions of ” no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests”.

Last edited 8 months ago by Sayantani Gupta
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Things could be worse, for example in Ahmedabad.
..right now!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

I am hoping England win!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago

I am torn after the ludicrous English (their good performance) shenanigans after being beaten by South Africa (their poor performance) but good enough to win. Woke sour grapes which SA has made much of in constant humour. Wenkant.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

England have crashed out ..let’s see what happens tomorrow! Fingers firmly crossed ..

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago

Sayantani
 I’m guessing you are on the opposite side. Good luck to the victor. Obviously I am supporting SA, but I have a great admiration for Indians!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

May the better( and luckier team) win! I like SA too!

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

Zampaed out?! Sorry to see England crash, though it was a thrilling match.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
8 months ago

Certainly better than predicted.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago

Let me hope they win whatever they play next! Founders of the game deserve some consolation!

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
8 months ago

Might I ask, if it’s not too personal a question (you may answer for your ethnic group in general if it is)..
How would you (they) identify in priority order using the list below (or, if say that group was verbally abused which would most upset you/them)…
British, English, Ethnic Indian, Hindu or are you somewhat ‘estranged’ from all of them, like I am mine, and just a brother/sister in the brotherhood/sisterhood of man?
I’m curious..

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Not sure I understand your query. I am Indian and I stay in India. Apropos of the ” cricket test of nationality” I thus always support my national team when it plays.
When it doesn’t I vary my options depending on which team is involved.

Paul Beardsell
Paul Beardsell
8 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

It is with some bemusement I note that those opposed to identity politics the most (and I am one of them) are so often those who trumpet nationalism too eagerly, or consider Muslims the Other on practically a racist basis. (That’s not me.) The irony should be explained by more than self-interest.

Last edited 8 months ago by Paul Beardsell
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
8 months ago

I analyze our wokey masters thus
From Carl Schmitt, the necessity of an enemy: the oppressors.
From Gaetano Mosca, the necessity for a ruling class to have a “political formula.” Our rulers are the Allies of the Oppressed Peoples against the White Oppressors.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
8 months ago

Good essay, and yes I am afraid many virtue signal without being aware of the real facts or the history.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago

I can’t speak from a European perspective, but I can say that Americans, born and breed here, know that Canada is north of us and Mexico is due south…and that’s about the extent of the country’s collective curiosity about global geography. Liberal coastal elites know that New York stops at the Atlantic, and California at the Pacific…but, none of them know, or care, where Kansas is…though they do know that Dorothy clicked her ruby slippers to return there.
The majority of Americans didn’t know where Vietnam was, and we still don’t. We don’t know where the Korean peninsula is relative to Japan and China. We didn’t know where Ukraine was located…and we’re still scratching our heads trying to figure out why if Ukraine succumbs to Russia, the citizens of Manhattan are going to being screaming in unison, ” The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming “. Don’t even get me started with the Middle East…most U.S. pro-Hamas demonstrators believe that Israel is the obscene size of Russia, rather than the diminutive size of New Jersey.
We Americans get sold on war by the Military Industrial Complex…it’s all marketing. If we killed the Vietnamese, we would be killing Communism. If we destroyed Iraq with Shock & Awe bombings, then Iraq would immediately morph into a democracy. Dead or alive, the Iraqis were yearning to live like Americans. If we help Ukraine defeat Russia, then the EU member states won’t have to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. If we defeated the Taliban, all the Muslim women of Afghanistan would have rights equal to the men…seriously, they would. And once the Afghan women triumphed, then the same would osmotically happen in the likes of Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, etc…female empowerment would righteously, magically cross international borders. Like I said, it’s about marketing good wars to the undereducated masses.
Manufactured wars aren’t within the purview of expertise espoused by academic philosophers. Christopher Croker wasn’t close by half in his theories on war. War is about making money…it’s mostly follows the theories of greed and acquisition (of property).

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Interesting. Do you think that the ruling elites misuse this lack of interest of the average voter in world matters to deeply entrench the military industry complex even more? And self perpetuate their own power?

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
8 months ago

Of course. An apathetic, self absorbed, globally disinterested, geographical ignorant electorate is essential for serving up perpetual wars. Congress works for its donors, not their constituencies…and the MIC is a massive donor to both Senate and House of Representative campaigns, for both Democrat and Republican members.
Americans never questions our role as the police force for the planet…which is mind-boggling given our neglected homegrown problems: open southern border, out-of-control crime, expanding poverty, a dysfunctional public eduction system, the highest cost/capita for basic healthcare, and-on-and-on. Why is the United States the primary funding mechanism for the proxy war with Ukraine? I can see why Poland is nervous, but not Virginia. I can see why Germany is concerned, but not Colorado. So, why is the U.S. the top dog of NATO? Answer: Because we supply most of the weapons via Boeing, RTX Corporation, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman.

Sayantani Gupta
Sayantani Gupta
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

It’s sad to hear this. Correct US foreign policies could really change the world…

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago

Putin is relying on U.S. citizens to lose interest. He figures that’s our weakness. All it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.

Last edited 8 months ago by Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Oceans no longer protect us. Not since 1492, and certainly not since Pearl Harbor. Or do you even know where Pearl Harbor is?

Robin Lillian
Robin Lillian
8 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Where does this stupidity end? Hitler was real and so is Putin. They benefit from your extremist paranoia, which is why their troll armies promote it.

Kate Martin
Kate Martin
8 months ago

The people who go furthest off the rails with their enraged detached radicalism are the ones who often need to fix shit in their own selves, families, communities, and more. Their radicalism is just procrastination in a way perhaps because of the dopamine hits they get off the emotionality of it all.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
8 months ago

They are being instrumentalised by the post-Marxist Left and/or struggling liberal, social democratic political parties who hope that Washington neoconservatism will somehow give them the support of the key arms, energy and security/reconstruction corporations necessary to hold on to the levers of power.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
8 months ago

The most downtrodden status has to be that of “refugee”. ” Palestinians” are now 4 generations of “refugees”. “They” have cornered the market.

Peter B
Peter B
8 months ago

Is war really “zero sum” as the author suggests ? It seems more likely that’s it’s actually “negative sum” – that there is a net loss from what is usually a highly destructive exercise. I struggle to see any net benefit from either Israel/Gaza or Russia/Ukraine in the next few years. Zero sum thinking is so limiting and often a fallacy.

Yoram Mimoun
Yoram Mimoun
8 months ago

Brillant article. But the point that foreign wars excite politico-religious ardours by being seen as universal causes, seems to lay in the very functioning of the human mind, and is not a consequence of social media or the gloom boredom of post-modern states. Modern media has indeed allowed to people to adopt these extreme positions by being aware in real time of the developments of war, but the mechanism seems to be totally natural. The crusade for instance occurred in such scales because of this mechanism of public identification to a war. Human brains tend to simplify complex position into a straightforward narrative that in return entails concrete actions, in the field of complex and unreducible reality. Hence, it’s not a phenomenon to decry, as the stupid reaction of the uneducated crowds, as it’s generally seen by observers or intelligent people who seek to understand the entire picture, but a natural given fact that should be taken in account in global decision making. 

Last edited 8 months ago by Yoram Mimoun
Kellen
Kellen
8 months ago

I enjoyed this essay. However, why no conversation about weapons proliferation and the money to be made by military contractors in war?

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
8 months ago

For Western Europe, what upsets me most is that our politicians have glommed on to this dynamic as a substitute for an actual political programme. They’re as a class so devoid of profile, bereft of ideas, innocent of any convictions, so utterly uninspiring and downright dumb, that they can’t possibly hold these convictions, they’re just projecting them, and lacking any internal moral compass, they’re doing so ineptly and artlessly.
Thankfully, the situation is so bad that it will come crashing down, like a carousel that has not been maintained in years and is being operated at ever higher speeds to gloss over its tattiness and to substitute thrill for experience.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
8 months ago

‘an Arab world steeped in post-colonial trauma and paranoia,’ Oh please! The Arab world has known nothing but empires and ‘colonialism’ for millennia. The European empire control was probably the shortest any had known. The only ‘trauma and paranoia’ affecting the whole region is caused by tribal, ethnic, class, and political rivalries, amplified and baked in by Islam’s infinite variety of conflicting ‘interpretations’, and the absolute certainties with which they are all held.

D Glover
D Glover
8 months ago

In Dances with Wolves US Army officer Kevin Costner joins the Sioux, qualifies as a brave, and fights for them.
In The Last Samurai US Army officer Tom Cruise joins the Samurai, qualifies as one, and fights for them.
In Avatar a CGI version of Sam Worthington joins the Na’vi, becomes a warrior, and fights for them.
It’s not hard to imagine a film where a westerner joins the Ukrainian army, then kills hundreds of Russians, rather like John Rambo killing gooks in Rambo: First Blood Part II . Or maybe he joins Hamas.
As it says at the top of the page

Faraway wars have become a form of therapy

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
8 months ago

Why the surprise when globalist elites have proliferated, lecturing that we must ignore our self interest and focus on global problems? It took root.
Why the surprise when caring about your country and its tenets is trashed as dangerous, anti-democratic nationalism?
The US is above all, a multi-everything country held together, intentionally, by a constitution that articulates the law of the land, the common bonds, the social contract, that allows individual freedom to function. Protecting that foundation is the only way the USA survives.
When America gives up on its principles, which incline it to protect a beleaguered, ancient, democratic partner, much smaller than it, with no direct benefit to it, it can no longer claim its continued heritage. It’s raison d’etre. Israel and Taiwan are both American promises… to ourselves.
Hubristic? Yes. Quixotic? Yes. Naive? Yes. But, it’s so who we are – or, were. It matters.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
6 months ago

I think this piece would be stronger if it tilted less into generality and abstraction. A few facts to anchor the argument!

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
8 months ago

I’m afraid I don’t buy this argument at all. We have to unpick several different things. One is that the modern guardians certainly get their satisfaction from taking sides in conflicts all around the world, and those sides reflect more their narcissism than the political significance of the conflict. Global travel, broadcasting and social media make foreign conflicts more available to be used in this way. But only some of these conflicts become “big news”. The reason for that is only that some of these conflicts present a significant danger to a large part of the population here. Yemen, not so much. Syria, not so much. Nigeria, hardly at all. But Ukraine is right on our doorstep and risks involving NATO. Hamas represents Islamic terrorism, which we know is a risk across Europe, and could possibly lead to a conflict with Iran. So I don’t agree that the wide interest in these conflicts, in contrast to the narrow interest in others, is the result of our quest for catharsis.

jane baker
jane baker
8 months ago

What this author writes is all true and I expect some of it applies to me but I feel that not all of it does. I can’t explain what I mean in the long words the author uses but I’ll try to explain. The minute I heard of the October 7th attack I knew,not thought,knew by intuition -this is the work of the CIA in order to publicly justify a genocide on the Palestinians. I didn’t think this because I’m clever,im not,but I’d been noticing little news stories that slipped through the obscuring curtain of the War in Ukraine and id been aware for some time that something was brewing in The Unholy Land. And I’d quite a few times had the thought – how do you fit a pint of water in a half pint jug? Maybe after a lot of science thought and workings out you just use the Occam’s Razor approach and discard half the water. See,I know what is being played out. No one knows I know. No one cares I know. I just know.
Id already been thinking for some time that it was time the Jewish people stopped giving us the “I’m a victim schtick”,this was before anything kicked off. That’s cynical,horrible, cruel but I think a lot of people are fed up with it,like a Mum who gives her kid a good smack if it won’t stop crying to give it something to cry about. But I’ve always thought the Palestinians are stupid people. They’ve spent the last 80 years in ineffectual and incompetent struggle. Instead of working together to create wealth they waste their time and strength digging those stupid tunnels. So I dont love or even like Palestinians. But the overwhelming injustice of how to theyve had their land mostly finagled or downright stolen off them,their houses confiscated,their water supplies diverted is wrong and they OWNED their houses,their land,their olive groves. They had legal title. They had papers,deeds,proper legal paperwork and it meant nothing. This is not the days of Joshua. So now the Jews have got the Palestinians holed up and surrounded and theyre going in for the kill. (I’m sure it’s more complex than that in reality). But The Yahoo reassures us,they are only going to clinically and competently remove the Hamas killers,not the innocent passers by. Now if I wanted to remove a generational existential threat I wouldn’t kill young men, especially ones that have a proclivity to blow themselves up by accident anyway. I would target wombs. And being as the Jews is far too clever by half I think that’s what they intend to do. And are doing. This is genocide and if you still watch tv it’s nightly entertainment just so you’re complicit.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

‘Genocide’?? Are you quite mad? Shame on you. We discuss you and your progressive disorder, your derangment above.

v easter
v easter
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Janet. What a magnificent synopsis.Blimey ,you’ve got it in one.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  v easter

Where is the laugh button


Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I’ve not ever personally met a Jew who considered themselves a victim. In fact the ones I met who’d survived the war came across as very gentle, strong and resilient to me; if they were resentful and bitter about their experiences I never saw it.
I have, however, come across many people with very comfortable lives who will quickly claim that they are ‘victims’ of some kind, thus permitting themselves to get away with mean behavior and nastiness towards others. You strike me very much as this type.

Last edited 8 months ago by Julian Farrows
v easter
v easter
8 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Why? People are saying these things. Its a vox pop. Possibly even a parody.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Yikes. Lighten up on the Adderall, lady.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
8 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I am struck by your courage to look at, reflect on, and admit your personal response to this tragic internecine conflict being played out in Israel and Gaza. Therefore those who assign to themselves the gladiatorial right to downvote your raw, unmediated honesty I believe could do worse than read and reflect on ‘Notes on Nationalism’ referenced in the above essay, embedded in “transferred nationalism”.