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Echoes Of The Great War – Only An Echo In The Elite Mind

Politics / GeoPolitics Jul 31, 2014 - 09:29 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Then and Now
There are plenty of similarities, and vast differences between 1914 and 2014.  Just for starters, what is called “public opinion” in western society practically did not exist at all in the run-up to world war in 1914. Today it exists but is heavily mutated and totally unpredictable compared with even 20 years ago.

As the “Clinton wars” of the 1990s showed, US and western public opinion was then totally malleable and predictable. The so-called “masses” were eager for war, for example the Bush Senior war of 1991 enticed by the absurd idea that “liberating Kuwait” and “bombing Iraq into the stone age” would bring wealth, happiness, prosperity and cheap oil forever! Western elites could count on the child-like greed and naivety of “the masses”.

Today we have a strange and mutant context. On July 28th, 1914, exactly one hundred years ago and one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were shot dead in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. For some historians this was the tipping point after which World War I was inevitable, but they are forced to admit the war was also the result of decades of political maneuvering, decisions and refusal to decide, technological militarization, and other factors.

This war was the end of the great European epoch, laying waste to empires and ruling nations. The steady thump of the war drum for war with Russia, today, threatens the end of the global economy, the accelerated breakdown of world order, and even the end of civilization if this conflict “goes nuclear”. As it almost certainly would.

Authoritarian Modernity Then and Now
Many persons today can accept that the crisis of post-1980s western society includes a complete failure of the Modernity Paradigm. Put another way, the social perception of “modernity” in current western society is a hollowed-out and invalidated paradigm. There is no widespread consensus that we live in a “better and more modern society”. The paradigm is dead.

One of the major drivers to world war in 1914 was the rise of Germany. Prussian statesman Otto Von Bismarck painstakingly crafted a modern and unified German nation state through the deliberate use of war, highly similar to the Nazi principle of Sturm und Drang. As a direct result the new unified Germany was  constantly fearful of encroachment threats from east and west, and was therefore committed to expansion.

After Bismarck, the coronation of Kaiser Wilhelm II sealed this policy and strategy as the Kaiser's doctrine of “unbridled ambition”. The shift from civilian modernity including science, technology and industry to military modernization was complete. At least a decade before 1914 all other then-Great Powers set about drawing up their own strategic war plans. Then as now however, these plans were driven by a host of factors ranging from the rational to the completely subjective and irrational.

The collateral damage in domains like the economy soon became serious as civil-versus-military spending and activity became confused and “concatenated” or dual-use. A twin track only able to converge in world war was in place.

Paradigms and No Paradigm
One hundred years ago, and even 20 or 25 years ago, it was possible for western elites to shuffle society's major and minor paradigms, and get away with it. The paradigms existed – for example Western technological, economic and military superiority – separated into national paradigms of superiority in the same domains.

As we know, and stated in black and white by US foreign policy statements for at least 25 years, the fear of “upstart rogue nations” developing nuclear weapons and long-range missile capability is now permanent. It is called the Weapons of Mass Destruction paradigm. As we  also know, or a check with IHS Jane's Missiles and Rockets (which is no longer public-access) will show, countries such as India not only possess a large stock of nuclear warheads but also possess fully-functional long-range missiles defined as having a range of at least 5000 kilometres.

Play with me, and you play with fire.

Western “intrinsic military superiority” as a paradigm is now dead. To be sure this is only dimly-perceived by “the mass” but the touching faith of the glove puppet media in the stupidity of the public, showing “the mass” images of antiquated military materiel in Ukraine, has declining credibility. Nevertheless, the attempt is made for the very simple reason that there is no alternative. Put another way, if you have a War Paradigm it must be cycled through the mass media on a permanent basis.

Totally unlike 1914 and due in major part due to the shredding of both major and minor paradigms in western society, for more than 25 years, the potential for the elites to generate dog-like baying for war among “the mass” is almost zero. Of course they can be counted-on to try!

To be sure Russia has large stocks of natural resources, such as oil and gas and Putin can be presented as another Saddam Hussein who thwarts the West's “right” to pillage resources in any “inferior nation”. With the overthrow of Putin (and of course his death, possibly by show trial), these resources will flow to the child-like and egoist, greedy middle classes of the west obeying the paradigm of I Consume Therefore I Exist. No doubt they will consume the “peace dividend” of oil and gas with moderation as their Low Carbon paradigm demands.

In Search of the Right Enemies
The various inter-related Western Superiority paradigms circulating in society are in any case heavily deformed, even shredded, for at least 25 years. The Chinese, for example, are grudgingly accepted as “almost human” because of their military, industrial and financial power. The potential or possibility of a western standoff with China, similar to the present run-up to war with Russia, would be almost impossible because China would violently react at a much lower threshold of goading by the west.

This is known but of course never stated, and exhibits the constant downsizing of “Western hegemonic ambitions” in a multi-polar world, which runs alongside the shredding of dominant social paradigms in western society. However, what we can note in the febrile and confused attempts by the western elites to “re-create 1914” is that selecting Russia as the “Dream Enemy” and ideal enemy, marks a major and almost certainly terminal stage in the western elite quest to find The Enemy.

Through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the western elite could select and identify the right enemies with selection criteria including their small size, lack of military capability, ease of invasion, potential “peace dividend” of resources to pillage, and  so on. For example Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others. They could then be “liberated” of course with massive civilian casualties. The wrecked economy left behind would of course rapidly slip down and out of the glove puppet media's daily offerings of propaganda and delirium.

Moving up and on to Russia as the designated enemy is a blatant act of pure folly by today's western elites, and will be recognized as so. After this humiliation of the western elites – as they are forced to back down and break ranks – we can expect and hope for “major developments” in their own societies.

The paradigm of the All-Powerful Ruling Class will take a serious knock.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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