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Seventy years ago, the most devastating war in human history came to an end, at a cost of over fifty million lives. Even though the war affected a good portion of humanity, it is mostly the Atlanticist’s version of the war that dominated global narrative. The USSR {Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, which then included, amongst other countries, all of the Stans (Uzbekistan, etc.), Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, etc.} lost over 25 million people, to say nothing about the loss of lives in other Eastern European countries. The US and Britain also lost about a million combatants between themselves, excluding casualties from other western allied partners.
The Indian subcontinent contributed over 2 million soldiers to the war effort. The Chinese, some argue, have even lost more people than the USSR, if one includes the Asian war theater as part and parcel of the WWII misfortune. Like many things in the prevailing world order that are heavily tainted by the potently effective and profusely spread writings of dominant interests; the history of WWII was and is still portrayed, mainly, as a heroic struggle between the evils of Fascism, Nazism & Communism (continental Europe, including Russia) on one hand and the ever-heroic good doers of the major Atlanticists, namely the Anglos and their larger offshoots! In this regard, suffice is to observe the multitude of American/British movies (Hollywood, et al.) that continue to spew out various delusions and misconceptions about the most devastating war in history. Be that as it may, the facts on the ground are quite different.
One can reasonably argue that the WWII actually started when the Japanese Imperialists provoked the ’Mukden Incident’ back in 1931; after all, it was not long after this Manchurian incursion that the Japanese joined the Axis consortium. Based on this rather extended and openly violent phase of the world system, we contend; it was the Ethiopian patriots (Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the first being Adwa) who initiated a determined 20th century resistance against the widespread European bellicosity that had been unleashed on our continent. Of course, this aggression was pursued under various nomenclatures. Slavery and colonialism preceded the ascendance of fascism/Nazism in WWII, while apartheid and neocolonialism proceeded the war! See Putin’s speech on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ next column.
We believe it is important to retain individual as well as institutional memories of atrocious events such as WWII, Vietnam, Iraq, etc. so that humanity is compelled to restrain itself from repeating the same old mistakes time and again. We admit, this is easily said than done; nonetheless, the attempt must be braved. To this end, we believe what the Russians are trying to do is commendable. While the powerful states of the West are trying to alter the narrative of WWII to fulfill another of their selfish and temporal craving, namely the Ukrainian trophy, the Russians are attempting to personalize/internalize the war (WWII) and its whole tragic episode by incorporating its memories in the lives of the living. Russians who lost family members during the war were encouraged to parade all over the country, with portraits on their hands of their closest martyrs, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War. Here is how one of the organizers of the ‘Immortal Movement’ put it. ‘The main aim of the movement is to immortalize family memory. The idea of the ‘Immortal Regiment’ is to bring people together and reminisce about the sad nature of wars.’
The gross failure of the ‘League of Nations’ in stopping belligerences between member states resulted in WWII. The Ethio-Italian war of 1935 should have served as a warning salvo to WWII. Sadly and once again, this great lesson is lost on all and sundry! Following the same cowardly path, the UN seems destined to repeat the same old grave mistake yet again. Wars are being waged by the so-called ‘the willing’, under various guises (war on terror, etc.), in spite of all international norms and laws. The powerful have taken it on their own to dictate the very terms of violent engagements. It might be a truism that empires cannot be maintained without resorting to continuous violence, but one has to be sternly warned; unlike those days of trench wars, the consequences of modern all-out wars can be unimaginably devastating!
Accepting inevitable changes in the working of our fast disintegrating world system is by far a better proposition than blindly resisting it via wars of one kind or another. We believe the powerful are better off adjusting to a mode of life that is more peaceful, more egalitarian, more democratic, more compassionate, more sustainable, etc. than engaging in Neanderthal masochist hubris! Given the prolonged kaleidoscopic history of humanity’ s collective existence, our wishful thinking might well be a tad too optimistic. As the German writer put it, rather more honestly: “The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. “ Goethe. Good Day!