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No Barbarism Without Poetry

From Russia to Israel, mythical nonsense is being used to stoke sadistic impulses and justify indiscriminate lethal violence toward enemies. The collective abandonment of reason, and where it leads, is all too familiar - and yet remains all too appealing.

LJUBLJANA – When the basic pact that holds society together is crumbling, which appears to be happening worldwide, wild rumors and conspiracy theories proliferate. Even, or especially, when the message is obviously nonsensical, it can evoke deep-seated fears and prejudices.

A perfect example of this, which I have noted previously, occurred in late August 2023, when a priest known as “Father Anthony” ceremoniously doused holy water on a 26-foot-tall statue of Stalin in Russia’s Pskov region. Though the Church had suffered during the Stalin era, he explained, “thanks to this we have lots of new Russian martyrs and confessors to whom we now pray and are helping us in our Motherland’s resurgence.” This logic is just a step away from claiming that Jews should thank Hitler for creating the conditions that allowed for the State of Israel. If that sounds hyperbolic, or like a bad joke, consider that some Zionist extremists close to the Israeli government openly advocate exactly this position.

To understand the success of such perverted argumentation, we should first note that, in developed countries, unrest and revolts tend to explode when poverty has ebbed. The protests of the 1960s – from the soixante-huitards in France to the hippies and Yippies in the United States – unfolded during the golden age of the welfare state. When people are living well, they come to desire even more.