The nineteenth century was called “the century of utopias”, of great visions of the future, of hope for a better world, “on a human scale” and for a united “human family”. Yet, the twenty-first century opens the third millennium under the banner of “dystopia”, that is, ”anti-utopia. “In short, it is a time without ideals, counter-ideals, and false ideals.
The term “dystopia” appears in the title of a conference held in Rome today, Friday, July 8, by the Italian Society of Military History, in the Aldo Moro Hall of the Chamber of Deputies, to present a study that bears the title “Future Wars”, overseen by Virginio Ilari, and the subtitle “History of Military Dystopia.”
In concrete terms, it simply means the loss of the great hopes, ideals, and visions for the humanity, which produces a general feeling of distrust in the institutions and in the future, which dominates the hearts and the lives of ordinary citizens, while the specialists foreshadow war scenarios. We are a “dystopian” society, without plans for the future, strategies, values of solidarity, freedom and justice, which have guided the Great West and the European dream. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union can be also explained this way. So, where are we going?
In Terris talked with Alessandro Politi, one of the authors of the book, and one of the speakers at the conference, an analyst of international policies and strategies, professor of geopolitics, geo-economics and Intelligence, director of the Nato Foundation, the only non-government research center affiliated with the transatlantic alliance.
Alessandro Politi, let us talk about the future of Europe. Shall we expect peace or war? And what kind of war?
“Even before the release of Britain’s decision to leave the Union Europe, Europe was in danger of turning into a big, opulent former Bosnia. The great European project failed with the Lisbon Treaty. Perhaps, the time was not ripe, the political class was certainly not up to it. This political class is not adequate and the British case emphasized it. BrExit has the merit of having pushed the discussion on the status and future of the EU out of its routine and out of the same old chatter. And Europe’s future risk is not only a financial war, probably not on the pretexts of Syria or Ukraine, but on that of the Pacific. The divided Europe also has effects on structures and safety systems. The European crisis also affects NATO. The connection between the two of them implies that the strength of the first one affects the force of the other.”
In fact, some people believe that NATO is facing a crisis and needs reforms…
“When Trump declares that NATO is obsolete, he talks nonsense. It is true that the Atlantic Alliance should be reconsidered in a political key, not a counting one. European Allies should be able to propose a reformed revival of the transatlantic pact. Otherwise, the North American interests will all shift towards the Pacific. Iraq and Syria are secondary scenes in the strategic plan of the United States, which concerns Iran’s repositioning in the ‘parlor’ of the Gulf politics. The issue with Russia does not find solutions, but only temporary adjustments, which are used to manage immediate situations in a targeted way, without a real interest of the US in Europe. At the Warsaw Summit, the US position has been detached. It is up to the Europeans to propose a strategy of alliance and make decisions.”
In the last half century, the nature of the conflicts has changed in the West. They have ceased to be military and became economic and financial conflicts among high finance groups. The battlefield is mainly the stock market. She says that there is a risk that we can return to military confrontation also “at home”, in Europe. Who would gain from it and with what purpose?
“A world war does not spring directly from interests, but because one or more countries feel that their political identity or cultural, social, and economic lifestyle is threatened. To avoid it, you need a large alliance between world powers, that is, between the US, Russia, and China. First of all, peace agreements must be intensified in multilateral forums, whenever there si room for less rigid bilateral agreements.”
The end of the great utopias seems to have led to the victory of anti-utopias, the prevalence of individual interest or groups of belonging, mainly in terms of monetary profit and oligarchic political power. What are the looming scenarios, in terms of great ethical and social visions, commitment and collective responsibility for the construction of a human society that pursues the “common good”?
“There is a huge need to re-ideologize politics, with healthy and good ideals instead of false or dangerous ones. The ideologies of liberalism, capitalism, and individualism led to the disasters we are currently experiencing. With widespread poverty and economic and rights disparity ever, where 1 percent of the world’s population owns over 90 percent of the wealth. We need new utopias to guide the construction of a better world. There is Pope Francis’ great utopia of peace, for instance. The Encyclical Letter Praised Be is a global strategy document, the only strategic document of our time. We should study and apply it to geopolitical institutions. Instead, we run the risk of bad utopias today, of a dystopia that leads to the manipulation of collective sentiments. The science fiction film Inception (written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan in 2010) has become real at present: there is information control and a manipulative, dangerous, invasive, and all-pervading management, stronger than the old totalitarian police”.
The great universal good projects for the humanity always have a religious component, are based on faith and hope in the afterlife – Thomas teaches -. Even the danger of absolute evil for the world, such as Isis at present, make a reference (unfair) to the will of God. What is the relationship between religion and the (old and new) utopias?
“The relationship between religion and utopia becomes sterile when religion is manipulated by politics and by the interests of the power. Religion is in the world, not of the world. When the spiritual leaders let themselves be seduced by the charm of worldliness, the damage is immense. One does not need references to transcendence to be interpreters of the common good. There is autonomy in responsibility itself. Even those who are immersed in the horizontal dimension know that the common good must be the supreme good, like a guiding star, otherwise the humanity risks even extinction. A non-formalistic religion, capable of living in the history without being reduced to history alone, is likely to produce visions of the world that help to live, not to die.”
Terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have caused an urgent need for a single European Intelligence, which would share information and security tools. Is this question not related to the other one – equally urgent -, of a political union of the European States? Let us say, in a Helvetic Confederation style?
“I think BrExit has now shown unequivocally that the merely functionalist European integration is a blind alley, a dead end. A shared political project is essential. Whether we have to review old ideas of federation or confederation, perhaps even rethinking the idea of nation, it is a different story. The future of 400 million European citizens cannot be guaranteed by a patchy, fragmented, and incomplete integration. The political class is obviously not able to handle the complexity of this task. It is up to our society to find suitable representatives to build a different, better Europe, which will restore the right weight to the needs of the human beings, not just the material ones. A Europe where it will be nice to live.”