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The old world is dying. The new one is slow to appear. And in this light and shade monsters are born. (Antonio Gramsci)

It’s hard today. With everything that is happening in Ukraine, talking about the issues we care about and which we know, such as psychotherapy, seems inappropriate to me. But then, when I think about it, I realize that talking about the war in Ukraine forces us to talk about mental health. I don’t want to go into geopolitical issues, I don’t have the expertise, and I’m not particularly interested in it. I consider all wars absurd. But listening to the experts, there is the feeling that neither can they fully understand the meaning of this invasion. Many have wondered if Putin has gone mad. What does he wants to achieve. 

Obviously if someone asks me whether Putin is a healthy person I would not have any difficulty in answering, for years I think he is a very serious and dangerous paranoid delusional and its armour of anaffectivity is so thick that he does not even decompensate, it is imperturbable, his “cure” is to drive others crazy.

But the question of Putin’s mental health is being asked today, with respect to this war, as if in this invasion there is something beyond, something incomprehensible.

Mind you, we all know that NATO’s continuous and reckless expansion to the East has been a provocation that Kremlin has experienced as a threat. With roles reversed, America would never agree to have an armed hostile state at its borders, just think of Cuba.

All true, however, there continues to be a “leap” that can’t be understood.

Everyone knows and knew that Putin does not disdain the use of weapons at all, he has proven it several times. 

Yet this invasion left everyone dismayed. Until a few days before, despite what the CIA said, no one wanted to believe it. 

Mind you, for me all wars are absurd, I think like the late Gino Strada and we certainly cannot forget that the great Western democracies have committed horrendous crimes using lies to justify the invasion of other countries and many absurd wars were made with the idea of exporting the democracy. But this time there is a missing element even for those who consider wars “normal” or in any case inevitable.

These days I hear on television an almost unanimous chorus of “Western” people inviting to send weapons. I am not an expert on military strategies, but I think that sending weapons to the Ukrainians is madness that will lead to a carnage of human beings. Of course, I understand the spontaneous courageous resistance of the Ukrainian people, but I find it aberrant that this is being used to bog Putin down in a long war in which thousands of human beings will lose their lives.

It is difficult to have clarity in these moments but I believe that the only way that allows us to orient ourselves is to adopt a broader vision. The speech would be long and complex but what I would like to say is that East and West have basically shared the same thought. And with this thought you go nowhere. We can, over the years, attribute to one or the other the role of aggressor or assaulted, in an infinite debate, but the bottom line, the lowest common denominator is always to see the other, the different, as the enemy. Centuries of religious thought and rational thought have never allowed us to get out of this violent spiral. Perhaps something different was moving up? But what if it is this emergency of a new thought that triggers the need to put the clock back? It comes to my mind Putin’s words about the decadence of Western values, not to mention the “pearls of wisdom” that the Orthodox patriarch has given us. The images of this war in Europe are those of a century ago, as if they had to erase new images and convince us that everything is like it was before.

I quote Gramsci: “The old world is dying. The new one is slow to appear. And in this light and shade monsters are born.”

And so, I think of the young people of today, of this much reviled generation, of Greta Thunberg, of Erasmus, of the Internet, that have eliminated geographical, political and linguistic boundaries and discover that human beings are born equal all over the world, that the human reality made of affections, joys, emotions, sadness, falling in love, hopes is equal in all the young people of the world. I think of the young Russians of the metropolitan cities who got to know those who in their eyes had been painted as enemies and have discovered they are instead human beings like them and today they are in the streets to demonstrate heroically knowing that they risk hard prison for many years. Young people who in the difficult period of Covid have been able to rediscover and value the importance of human relationships.

Greta Thunberg, who I hear constantly being mocked and disparaged, talks to all human beings on the planet, without distinction. However, there is the certainty that she is crazy, they say she is autistic, while her closure to relationships is only a solid resistance to the violent and blind ideas that surround her, a bit like the Indian of the movie “someone flew over the cuckoo’s nest” who pretended to be deaf-mute.

Yes, I have great confidence in the young people of today who can be bearers of a new thought, which sees in the other, even in their diversity, a human being equal to them. And this diversity thus becomes an added value that arouses curiosity and interest and pushes the relationship.

This thought is what can put East and West in crisis, “allies” in thinking of the other as an enemy. Putin certainly does not go into crisis at the idea that someone can make war on him, he basks in war, it is the only thing he knows and “knows” that that is the human reality, as we have always been told that human nature is bad, we are all children of Cain. What could destroy him is to realize that he has failed his life, made only of hatred and cold calculation, without ever knowing what these guys clearly propose, going to fuck with the different, loving each other, playing together, studying together, teaching each other their language.

Obviously he is too crazy to realize these things, he “limits” himself to make these things disappear! But they can only disappear in his head because the world goes on and thinking to stop time is the madman’s delusion. But this new way of being of these young people can shatter even those sons of capitalism who have always thought that human realization is achieved by being cleverer than the other, by the exploitation of the weakest, by the grabbing of material goods, money, with the constant thought of cheating others.

They will find a negotiation that will put an end to this absurd war but it will be after a bloodbath that will result in a further raising of the barriers between peoples. Suffice it to say that there were, in Italy, those who thought of banning Dostoyevsky, as if Putin had something in common with Dostoyevsky! There will be a race to rearmament, talking about a return to fossil fuels already, etc. etc. All the New that was emerging must be wiped out carefully, there must be no traces. The hope of millions of young people around the world in a new human being and in a different life must be erased by the old who do not know how to put themselves in crisis and do not agree to step aside.

So guys it will be difficult, we need to find great internal resistance to cope with what we will face in the coming years. And to resist an “ideological” pacifism will not be enough but we will need an “aware” pacifism, fruit of relations with the different but also of valid readings. You will find so many difficulties, people who will laugh at you deluded because you believe that the human being can change. Don’t worry, you are in good company, even many people who will read this article will make these considerations. Remember the resistance of Greta Thunberg who, regardless of the fierce criticism, has always gone ahead, realizing that what could become the enemy able to make us really disappear, if we do not take care of it, is Nature, the non-human world. A bit like when, when we were born, we abandoned the tranquillity of the mother’s womb and the cold, the wind, the light, the noises (the bombings) would have terrified us (as some criminal would have) if we had not had the hope/certainty of the interhuman relationship.

Marco Michelini

Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article


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The old world is dying. The new one is slow to appear. And in this light and shade monsters are born. (Antonio Gramsci)