A new ‘Holy Roman Empire’ has formed across the world. It is a new ‘nomos’ of territorial and resource acquisition. ‘Nomos’ was the phrase Carl Schmitt borrowed from the Greeks to outline the scope of the new Europe.
In this realm borders have collapsed and ‘civilisational’ diasporas; economic, political and in cyberspace, harken in the real dark age -that of modernity. The world’s existential crisis is not only the makings of the mad Tsar, but a competition for the ‘Grossraum’ (empire building) of resource scarcity and areas of influence.
The ‘nomos’ is not written over maps or borders. It is spherical rather than linear; it revolves around several dimensions as civilisational states ebb and flow, lapping up on the shores of the world. Competition extends into space and technology. Traditional ideologies of left and right become superfluous; the new technological materialism, ushers in a tsunami of crises, wrapped in a uniformity of elite manipulation of the political.
The consensus amongst the western media is one of Russian aggression and aggrandisement, and this is correct. However, the underlying tectonic plates have shifted through a concerted new alliance. This alliance is a ‘New Holy Roman Empire’, not sitting in the heart of Europe, but on the peripheries, and attempting to control it. #
The alliance of the US and Britain is ‘Atlanticism’ dressed in the old robes of liberality, but the main player being the new ‘grossraum’ of elite competition. The origins of the alliance, as well as being material and resource orientated, are also sold as cultural; the US, post -Trump, placing itself at the epicentre of the ‘liberal’ order.
For liberalism’s values are essentially ‘against’ the other; they presume a moral superiority, they are missionary, exporting. It is no wonder that George Soros is a big fan of Atlanticism and keen to dismantle the main threat to the US: the ’Molotov-Ribbentrop’ marriage of convenience between Russia and Germany. For him, a strong European powerhouse like Germany, shifts power to Europe.
The US has the strategic support of Britain; however, whilst the US is driven by ‘raison d’état’- the British are driven by Palmerston’s assertion of self-interest dosed with a vindictive streak for enemies. Therefore, Britain’s enemies are Russia and Germany in equal order. All of course, dressed up in the pretty verbiage of liberal values. The essential ‘realpolitik’ is to weaken Germany, to stoke the flames of Europe’s eastern borders, but most of all to destroy a Russo-German collaboration which would establish a super powerful ‘Grossraum’ in Europe. Germany, already the dominant force in the EU, is, despite its post war liberal fawning, essentially a ‘culture’ state like Italy,
The Russian response is an assertion against it, less subtle, but all part of the structure of the two hegemonic blocks: the Atlantic alliance of the US and UK, the Chinese/Russian ‘Grossraum’. The Ukraine represents the grinding tectonic plates of the hinterland.
However, it is represented almost universally in US and British media as a fight of ‘authoritarianism’ versus ‘democracy’. Yet, in 2015 the British ‘Guardian’ described the Ukraine as ‘the most corrupt nation on earth’. The trend towards ‘authoritarianism’ is a chimera as it has occurred in all political systems, not only ostensibly authoritarian ones.
The geopolitical policy of the west is shrouded in the language of ‘humanitarian’ global moral rights. War, away from the battlefield, amounts to a battle of medias, and here the cannon fodder is the modern man, confined to the realm of the economic.
Yet liberal democracy suffers from an internal weakness as it confronts the civilisational states: the lack of homogeneity. For whilst differentiation and individualism benefit the necessity for isolated beings in the economic realm of the marketplace; the world of ‘realpolitik’ suits homogeneity, irrespective of any moral take on this position.
The ’value’ driven world of the ‘knowledge class’ of the west is at odds with the ‘productive’ class which represents a schism shown in the shift to populism and democracy in European states (Italy, Sweden, Hungary). The neoliberal dream of ‘deterritorialization’, the pushback against the nation state and civilisational realms, considered part of the ‘raison d’état’ of a globalised market, is seen as a major threat by Russia.
Therefore, the Russian policy of pushback vis a vis Ukraine has been long nurtured by Russian analysts. It is not a recent reaction of some hardliners in the Kremlin, or an idea dreamed up by the mad Tsar. It is deemed sacrosanct that a globalisation on the scale so far seen, is a strategic disaster for Russian interests, due to the hegemonic effects of US financial and technological monopolisation of the world. Consequently, the war in the Ukraine for Russia, pursues a dual purpose. One is the extraction of NATO from Eastern Europe.
The second is to foment a crisis of confidence in globalisation and an attempt to build new blocks of cooperation in the east. Russia, China, and a resurgent Germany would represent an existential threat to US interests, already suffering internal dissonance and social breakdown. US institutions are failing to represent a heterogeneity which had existed post World War 2.
The US, due to this internal dissonance, always needed a ‘foe’; this enemy was at once Communism, then Islam. This, at the same time, allowed the massive budget spending and war economy as an exportable commodity. The lend- lease to the Ukraine is the global tax on such a system.
As Lenin had apparently noted, although the quote was never attributed to him, at the heart of the western mission is a contradiction, and this contra purpose is more noted when liberal democracy attempted to legitimate capital through a liberal global values-based system. ‘When the time comes to hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope’.
The reason why the Ukraine conflict is so essential to Russian interests has its roots in the legacy of the Russian revolution. In essence the soviet republics were never part of a civilisational Soviet Union. It was a forced marriage; and outside of European Russia, the nomenklatura of the Soviet Union had little in common with the Kazakhs or the Tartars.
This is why the conflict with the Ukraine has existential connotations for Putin and Russia. It could lead to the collapse of the ‘soviet’ system. Everywhere the world is facing down a return to ‘populism’, to federalism. In the US this is a fundamental reaction to state aggrandisement of the liberal knowledge class.
Although ‘populism’ is highly democratic, as seen in the recent win for the ‘Brothers of Italy’ party, it is savaged by the liberal knowledge class as it poses a threat to their economic extraction of state funding through blocs like the EU and centralised corruption. Likewise in other regions of the world, from the ‘soviets’ to Iran, to the UK, there is a democratic nascent urge to divest from centralisation.
The elites of the world are battling each other for resources and financial aggrandisement. A removal of the elites would benefit a move to a Westphalian system of federation and autonomy for homogenous, civilisational states. The ‘Treaty of Westphalia’ in 1648 heralded a definition of respect for borders, religious tolerance and an end to the ‘Thirty Years War’ and the Holy Roman Empire.
A new system based on these tenets could revitalise Europe; one which demolishes the liberal universalism of the EU and respects ethnic diversity. At Westphalia precedent and tradition was merged with law and reason. We stand now at a similar juncture, a schism of intolerance. The liberality of the Enlightenment descended into the dogmatism of modern liberal democracy. Dostoevsky noted the descent into nihilism and materialism of modernity:
‘If nations fail to live by superior disinterested ideas, by the lofty aims of serving mankind, and merely to serve their own interests, they must unfailingly perish, grow benumbed, wear themselves out, die’.
Brian Patrick Bolger studied at the LSE. He has taught political philosophy and applied linguistics in Universities across Europe. His articles have appeared in ’The National Interest’, ‘The Montreal Review’, ‘The European Conservative’, ’The Salisbury Review’, ‘The Village’, ‘New English Review’, ‘The Burkean’ , ‘The Daily Globe’, ‘American Thinker’, ‘Philosophy Now’. His new book, ‘Coronavirus and the Strange Death of Truth’, is now available in the UK and US.