Prof. Žiga TURK: Chomsky and Pinker, Peterson and Orban are getting Ukraine wrong

Chomsky and Pinker, Peterson and Orban are getting Ukraine wrong

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Prof. Žiga TURK

Professor at the University of Ljubljana. In 2007–2008, the minister for development, economic and social reforms, and in 2012–2013, the minister of education, science, culture and sports in the governments of Janez Janša. Currently a public intellectual, think-tanker and social media commentator of local and European affairs. "Andersdenkend".

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We support Ukraine. We stand united against Russia. We want a just peace. Who are we? Are we liberal democracies or are we the West? If we are liberal democracies, why are Ukraine’s most staunch allies “illiberal” Poland and Johnson’s UK, and not liberal democratic Germany or France? If we are the West, how is it that Hungary is not with us, and how is it that Jordan Peterson thinks Putin will save the West from itself?

.Some of those who have been the strongest promoters of liberal democracy, are at best appeasing Russia or at worst siding with Russia. I am talking about Chomsky, Pinker and other enlightened western intellectuals.

When they say liberal democracy, they think progressive democracy. They think not just government by consent of the people, checks and balances, the rule of law, self evident human rights, but also dissolution of the nation state, redefinition of family, cultural globalization and an ever-expanding list of human rights.

On the other hand, the West is about religious inheritance of Christianity and Judaism and cultural inheritance of Athens and Rome. It is about free individuals whose freedom is limited by time-proven rules and sovereign nations who are free to run their internal affairs as they see fit, but as a part of the West, long ago known as Christendom.

Free individuals, free nations, but not absolutely

.The free, yet rule abiding individual is an agent of cultural, scientific and technical innovation. Who enabled the West to invent the modern world. The sovereign nation is an agent of innovation of political and governance modes where too the West invented a most efficient one –democracy; pluralistic democracy rather than liberal democracy, where the plurality of ideas compete, within limits of cultural traditions and most carefully pivoting beyond those. As opposed to liberal democracies’ march forward in the direction of History which they seem to know.

Neither the freedom of the individual nor the sovereignty of the nation should be understood, in proper Western tradition, as a vehicle of selfishness. The order that spontaneously emerged in the West channeled the energy of perhaps selfish individuals into the benefit of their community. While the Western entities competed with each other throughout history they stood together against an outsider: Greek city states stood united against the Persians, Christian kingdoms stood united against the Arabs and the Turks. And we should be standing united against Russia.

Orban and Peterson getting it wrong

.In capitalism there are limits to personal selfishness, stated very clearly by the Christian religion. In international affairs there have been limits to the selfishness of the Christian nations. Mr. Orban should therefore know better when he is trying to cut a deal with Putin in favor of his Hungarians.

Jordan Peterson should know better too. He sees the conflict as if Russia is trying to save Ukraine from being another “degenerate” liberal democratic country. He is framing conflict as if it is about the right of Ukrainians to have a pride parade. Which is exactly how the more woke liberal democrats would frame the war – that it is about liberal democracies vs. autocracies and about the right of Ukraine to be a liberal democracy – the only “good” political and ideological system that should be exported to every country in the world.

This is wrong. The fight in Ukraine is about their national sovereignty. And after that one is won the Ukrainians will decide for themselves how they want to run their own affairs. They will decide what will be in the kids’ textbooks (see Hungary), how to get rid of communist judiciary (see Poland), and of corruption. They may even choose to let Brussels decide what is best for them. Or they might find themselves in a position that Brussels will be deciding things they thought Brussels would never be deciding. But the point is this is for the Ukrainians to choose, not Moscow.

We are the West

.We who support Ukraine are the West in the best of our traditions. Some Western heresies, such as progressivism, support Ukraine as well albeit for the wrong reasons. Just as some conservatives appease Putin for the wrong reasons. We should not let the internal divide of the West jeopardize the big picture and our external unity.

What is characteristic of the West is that we always had internal debates. One between conservatives and progressives, or conservative democrats and liberal democrats, is just the current version of it. It would be very wrong if one side would look for Putin’s help in this conflict. Because he already helped. He has demonstrated that most of the complacent, pacifist, internationalist, multicultural, woke globalism was an illusion; that geopolitics is back, that sovereignty of nations matter, and that, if need be, one has to fight for it with brute military force.

Prof. Žiga TURK

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