Monthly Archives: January 2015

Celebrating a liberation without the liberator

Today we read about Putin and the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. I find two main versions of the story, the first one saying that Putin “Won’t attend…” (NYT) or “won’t go to…” (rt.com) the ceremonies in Poland. The main reason is claimed to be that no formal invitation has been sent to Russia. On the other hand, according to this version, no personal invitation has been sent to anyone, just notices to all embassies of EU nations and other countries that have contributed to the museum, among them Russia.

The other version is found in the usually very Russophobe Dagens Nyheter saying that Putin “is debarred from” the event. DN refers to a source in the Polish Foreign Office telling Reuters that formal invitations to specific countries have been sent by the authority responsible for the museum, together with the International Auschwitz Council. Countries not receiving a formal invitation, among them Russia, have just got an informal message, a so called nota verbale. The reason, according to the source, would be that Polish leaders didn’t want to formally invite Putin given the Ukraine conflict.

If the second version is the correct one, we will probably never hear about it again. In any case the commemoration of the liberation will take place with several heads of states and other distinguished officials, but in the absence of the proper representative of the liberator. It’s more remarkable than the US president being absent from a D-day 70 year commemoration. Russia had after all sacrificed millions and millions of lives before Auschwitz could be liberated, while their western allies had fought poorly motivated Germans on the west front for slightly more than half a year, during which time the Nazi army repeatedly had sent divisions from the west front to support the more important eastern front.

When they gather on January 27 it must feel odd for any of the highly distinguished guests attending – who happen to have some knowledge and scruples – that the highest representative for the nation in focus of the celebrations is not present. But on the other hand, our propaganda has worked persistently through the years, and the day will come when we are completely unaware of Russia’s role in WWII. Some are already there, like Hillary Clinton (at Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show) asserting that United States defeated the Nazis.

 

2015 – the year of human beings, or business as usual?

Looking forward  to what this new year will bring one may wonder if there indeed will occur some unexpected changes for the better in world affairs. For five hundred years we, the Europeans and our off-shoots, have held large parts of the world in a violent grip, mainly for the purpose of enriching and empowering ourselves.

We started by continuously slaughter each other in Europe, thus making war our favorite hobby. With development of modern weapons we got an upper hand globally, and made war a science. From that point on we started to afflict the world with unspeakable horror in order to enlarge and secure our imperialistic conquests.

As late as in my first years in school, some 60 years ago, imperialism was described as a benevolent enterprise, almost a sacrifice made by the white man to help and lift the bewildered herds. The fact that we blessed the poor savages with our civilization by enslaving and slaughtering them was not really recognized. Nor did we hear that our missionary work, much lauded by our teachers, was just a matter of exchanging one superstition for another.

We have in many ways continued to use blinkers to shade off the unpleasant consequences of our efforts to dominate the world. The prime concern has always been to keep the poor majority of people down (if necessary with mass killings). We used small elites in the conquered regions to ensure that wealth and recourses from around the world ultimately landed in the hands of our rich elite.

Our rampage naturally fostered resistance and uprisings. Up came “communism”, a repressive system perfect as a pretext for continued military actions against egalitarian movements wherever they appeared. We left millions of corpses on battlefields all over the world, and hundreds of millions more as a consequence of an economic system that deprived people of elementary living conditions. And we ended up praising ourselves as some kind of saints, affording the world “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

Blatantly racist colonialism’s prime time ended in the 1960s, leaving room for more indirect, but no less effective, means of domination. In just recent years these methods too have met successful resistance here and there, perhaps most significantly in South America. With the convenient pretext “Soviet Communism” gone there were further hopes for our violent tendencies to calm down, but such niceties doesn’t fit our epigenetic habits.

“Communism” had been “the single question”, the all encompassing phenomenon we had to aim all our military capacity against. But that turned out to have been a lie for 40 years. As soon as the Berlin wall fell, we (US supported by EU) started to create capitalist Russia as the new suitable target, first by seceding large parts from the former Soviet territory, then by expanding NATO into Russia’s borders and installing offensive missile bases in Eastern Europe.

Finally we reached Ukraine, and the probably much anticipated Russian reaction took place. Our warmongers, for all their different reasons, got the fodder they had longed for.

And that’s where we are today. Let’s see if reason, sensibility and consideration can play a part this coming year 2015.