Averting One’s Eyes

The War in Ukraine and the Politics of Remembrance

I have argued in The War in Ukraine and America that a negotiated peace between Russia and Ukraine would be welcome. And that the US should not attempt to prolong the war in the service of its own geopolitical interests since the war is, among being a noble struggle by Ukraine to win its sovereignty and freedom, clearly a US proxy war designed to weaken Russia. I agree with critics on the left that we need to see the war in Ukraine from various perspectives of US imperialist aggression and military actions in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia and many other regions of the world. But I have also maintained that Ukraine has a right to win the war on the battlefield and that it has the right to accept defensive weapons from wherever it can find them, including the United States. Victories by Ukraine on the battlefield will certainly help them win a stronger negotiated peace when that time arrives. I have warned against the problems of campism, of condemning anything – any position – that could, however remotely and unproven, be associated with American and Western imperialism or culture – an inverted nationalism of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And one can certainly identify campist positions among factions of the left, some of whom clearly support Putin against the US. Of course, you don’t need to be a campist to support Putin, you can be a white evangelical Christian Nationalist at war with the LGBTQ community that is cut in the mould of a Marjorie Taylor Greene (rumoured to be a possible vice-presidential choice of Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election).

There are numerous positions on the war in Ukraine pitched by leftist analysts, all of which have something for us to consider. Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk warns of the geopolitical opportunism of the US, ‘seeking to defeat Russia and deter China from daring to challenge the hegemonic unipolarity achieved after the Soviet disintegration in 1992.’ He concludes that it ‘is this huge investment in its militarist identity as the sole ‘global state’ that best explains this [US] cowboy approach to nuclear risk-taking and the tens of billions expended to empower Ukraine at a time of internal suffering in the US coexisting with this costly mode of international overreach.’ Falk seeks ‘rational, prudent and pragmatic courses of action, which from day one of the attack strongly supported the wisdom of making an all-out effort to achieve an immediate ceasefire followed by negotiations aiming at durable political compromises not only between Russia and Ukraine, but also between NATO/US and Russia.’ Falk argues that the US is putting the world at risk of global Armageddon, and thus its normative authority as a global superpower should be vigorously challenged. This attitude has led factions of the left intelligentsia to argue that the US needs to pursue an off-ramp to the war and get it settled as soon as possible in the interests of global peace, even at the expense of Ukrainian sovereignty and even survival. Some would like to see Western powers bypass Ukraine and broker a settlement with Russia directly. My position is that it is up to the Ukrainians to decide whether to continue defending their freedom and sovereignty on the battlefield. However, I am aware that the US exercises considerable influence on how and when such negotiations should proceed and what outcome should occur.

Yale Professor Timothy Snyder writes that the war in Ukraine will end ‘when Ukrainian military victories alter Russian political realities, a process which I believe has begun.’ Snyder believes that a Ukrainian victory will improve the world, and fear of a nuclear war among the US and Western powers prevents a clear-headed understanding of possible outcomes in Ukraine. He writes:

Right now, though, we have a certain difficulty seeing how Ukraine gets to victory, even as the Ukrainians advance. This is because many of our imaginations are trapped by a single and rather unlikely variant of how the war ends: with a nuclear detonation. I think we are drawn to this scenario, in part, because we seem to lack other variants, and it feels like an ending. Using the mushroom cloud for narrative closure, though, generates anxiety and hinders clear thinking. Focusing on that scenario rather than on the more probable ones prevents us from seeing what is actually happening, and from preparing for the more likely possible futures. Indeed, we should never lose sight of how much a Ukrainian victory will improve the world we live in.

Snyder does not want us to give into ‘nuclear blackmail’ since ‘this war is almost certainly not going to end with an exchange of nuclear weapons. States with nuclear weapons have been fighting and losing wars since 1945, without using them. Nuclear powers lose humiliating wars in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan and do not use nuclear weapons.’ He writes that acting out of a fear of nuclear war is, in effect, ‘bailing’ Putin out of a disastrous war of his own creation and would actually make a future nuclear war more likely. How so? Snyder answers in this way:

Making concessions to a nuclear blackmailer teaches him that this sort of threat will get him what he wants, which guarantees further crisis scenarios down the line. It teaches other dictators, future potential blackmailers, that all they need is a nuclear weapon and some bluster to get what they want, which means more nuclear confrontations. It tends to convince everyone that the only way to defend themselves is to build nuclear weapons, which means global nuclear proliferation.

Some would argue that Snyder’s position is dangerously capricious, but they are not likely to be the Ukrainians fighting for their freedom, which some see as a fight for Western democracy itself. Snyder outlines a number of possible scenarios that could stop the war, including Putin’s mobilisation of civilians to fight in the war, the battlefield realities facing Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries, the flagging morale of the Russian military, a weakening of Putin’s informational control of the media, power struggles in Moscow and Putin’s withdrawal from Ukraine in order to secure his own survival.

Averting Our Eyes

I recently came across an article in the Jordan Times by Slavoj Zizek, who described a new documentary by Slovenian filmmaker Miran Zupanič. It’s called Sarajevo Safari and details one of the most horrific episodes of the 1992–1996 siege of the Bosnian capital. The content is best described in Zizek’s own words:

It is well known that Serb snipers in the hills surrounding the city would arbitrarily shoot residents on the streets below, and that select Serb allies (mostly Russians) were invited to fire some shots of their own. Yet now we learn that this opportunity was provided not only as a gesture of appreciation but also as a kind of tourist activity for paying customers. Through ‘safaris’ organised by the Bosnian Serb Army, dozens of rich foreigners, mostly from the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy, but also from Russia, paid top dollar for the chance to shoot at helpless civilians.

Zizek goes on to characterise the rich tourists who assumed the subject position of the ‘hunter’ in this gruesome safari, a predator who occupied ’a safe perch above the city’ and could experience ‘the perverse thrill’ of knowing that this was not a video game but real murder and at the same be excluded from ‘ordinary reality.’ It was a toxic ‘melding of reality and spectacle.’ Zizek then asks in his typical Zizekian fashion: ‘[A]re not top politicians and corporate managers also engaged in a kind of safari? From their safe perch in the C-suite, executives often ruin many lives.’ He writes that Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, recently assigned a similar logic to Western political leaders.

Shrugging aside warnings by the US and NATO about the consequences of a Russian tactical nuclear strike, Medvedev argued that ‘the security of Washington, London, Brussels is much more important for the North Atlantic Alliance than the fate of a dying Ukraine that no one needs. The supply of modern weapons is just a business for Western countries. Overseas and European demagogues are not going to perish in a nuclear apocalypse. Therefore, they will swallow the use of any weapon in the current conflict.’

Medvedev’s toxic assertion that ‘no one needs Ukraine’ and his description of Ukraine as a ‘Nazi’ country and ‘hostile neighbour’ reflects Putin’s view that Ukraine is nothing more than a Russian colony, a Frankensteinian invention by that dastardly communist, V.I. Lenin, suggesting that ‘Western powers should bypass Ukraine and broker a settlement with Russia.’ Such a position contributes to the idea that a victorious Ukraine ‘would leave Putin cornered and therefore dangerous.’ Zizek warns against Medvedev’s logic which would lead to ‘Western leftists … playing directly into Putin’s hands on this issue.’ Zizek writes that ‘if we had followed the peaceniks’ advice and not sent arms to Ukraine, that country would now be fully occupied, its subjugation accompanied by far greater atrocities than those found in Bucha, Izium and many other places. A far better stance has been adopted by the German Greens, who advocate not only full support for Ukraine but also structural reforms to accelerate the transition away from oil and gas, which in turn will steer humanity away from catastrophic climate change. The rest of the Western left has been on safari, refusing an intervention that will not challenge its established way of life.’ On this note, Zizek turns (predictably, as one might expect of a Hegelian) to Hegel’s master-slave dialectic:

Peaceniks argue that Russia needs a victory or concession that will allow it to ‘save face.’ But that logic cuts both ways. Following Medvedev and Putin’s nuclear threats, it is Ukraine and the West that can no longer compromise and still save face. Recall that Medvedev predicted that the West would refuse to respond militarily to a Russian nuclear strike because it is too cowardly and greedy to do so. Here, we enter the domain of philosophy because Putin and Medvedev’s words clearly echo Hegel’s master-slave dialectic. If two self-consciousnesses are engaged in a life-or-death struggle, there can be no winner because one will die, and the victor will no longer have another self-consciousness around who can recognise its own self-consciousness. The entire history of human culture rests on the original compromise by which someone becomes the servant that ‘averts its eyes’ to prevent mutually assured destruction.

Medvedev and Putin presume that the decadent, hedonist West will avert its eyes. And that brings us back to the dynamic captured in Sarajevo Safari. Privileged elites feel as though they can intervene in the real world in strategic ways that entail no personal danger. But reality catches up with everyone eventually. When it does, we must not heed the advice of those concerned only with not provoking the beast in the valley.

So, we can see that there are many positions playing out around the war in Ukraine, and many of them are worth considering and debating in our classrooms, our conference centres, our churches, synagogues and mosques, and in the public square. Too much is at stake to remain silent. I, too, have a concern that the West will ‘avert its eyes’ in fear of provoking the beast, yet, at the same time, worry that the West will face brand new realities if, or when, Trump assumes the presidency in the next election in 2024. Already the Republicans are shifting their support away from Ukraine. If Trump gets into power again, anything is likely to happen, and his base inside and outside of government precincts will likely follow him wherever his madness leads the country. If the withdrawal of military support for Ukraine by the US brings about a negotiated peace, many leftists will praise Trump for becoming the Hegelian servant who averts his eyes, for he will have saved the world from potential nuclear destruction. Or will Trump, in Snyder’s view, have increased the chances of nuclear conflagration in the future, convincing other dictators, tyrants and future nuclear blackmailers that acquiring nuclear weapons will give them anything they want, thus bringing about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and increasing the chances of destroying the world? If Trump goes further in his support for Putin than he did during his first term in office and embraces him like a long-lost brother who has been misunderstood and unfairly wronged by the warmongers in the ‘communist’ Democratic Party, that could turn the current geopolitical tentpole into a petard that will hoist America’s allies far into a nightmare scenario, as Putin sets his sights on expanding his empire and Trump moves one step towards his desire to make modern civilisation in his own image. Will Trump not simply refuse to provoke the beast but actually marry the beast’s ambition with his own if it offered him the opportunity to make money? A shiny Trump Towers in the heart of Moscow, not too far from Patriarch Kirill and Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where Marjorie Taylor Greene can give speeches about what a wonderful Christian leader Putin is.

Could he sell that to his base? And would his version of the ‘deep state’ let him do it? And would this be seen by some leftists as a fair exchange for world peace, as Ukrainians are marched into the gulags, torture centres and ‘de-Nazified’ in concentration camps set up for them? Americans are facing their Golgotha moment as Fox News pundits warn their listeners about racism against white people, as race-baiting Republican governors are sending busloads of refugees to places perceived as ‘liberal enclaves’ and as neo-Nazism is on the rise. It’s spit-out-your-coffee alarming that Oath Keepers memberships roll now include hundreds of active law enforcement officials, Chiefs of Police, active members of the US military, pastors and politicians. Trump will have the potential to put Ukraine in the mix of his fascist enterprise building with little pushback from his own party.

A similar fear is echoed by Zizek:

What if Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, wins the 2024 presidential election? In addition to cracking down on dissent and political opposition at home, he might also enter a pact with Russia, abandoning the Ukrainians in the same way that he did the Kurds in Syria. After all, Trump has never been reluctant to stand in solidarity with the world’s autocrats. During Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan uprising, a leaked recording of a telephone call captured a senior US State Department official, Victoria Nuland, saying to the US ambassador to Ukraine, ‘F*** the EU.’ Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pursuing precisely that objective, supporting Brexit, Catalonian separatism, and far-right figures such as Marine Le Pen in France and Matteo Salvini in Italy. The anti-European axis that unites Putin with certain trends in the US is one of the most dangerous elements in today’s politics. If African, Asian and Latin American governments follow their old anti-European instincts and lean towards Russia, we will have entered a sad new world in which those in power stand in lockstep solidarity with each other. In this world, what would happen to the marginalised and oppressed victims of unaccountable power, whom the left traditionally has defended?

Redemptive Remembrance

I am frequently asked what a world consisting of a union of fascist governments would look like. At which point, I defer to George Orwell, who did a good job of answering that question after World War II in his classic work, 1984. I have a 1950 Signet edition of the book whose copy on the back cover raises the following question: Which one will you be in the year 1984? There are four choices: proletarian, police guard, party member-male and party member-female. The cover focuses on the latter choice and sports an artist’s rendition of a voluptuous woman wearing a button close to her cleavage that says ‘Anti-Sex League.’ Perhaps the message of the cover is meant to convey the warning: Be careful what you wish for, which, of course, would be in keeping with the advertising strategies of the American publishing industry at the time but missing the important nuances of Orwell’s book. One message that Orwell so brilliantly conveys is that people are too willing to give up their freedoms and others’ freedoms for their own sense of security. Orwell had the intention to call his book The Last Man in Europe as a salute to the core quality that distinguished man from the world around him, namely his potential to think for himself. A country whose population gives up its natural need for reflection, its independent mind, and its need for critical analysis for the sake of security and physical well-being provided by cult-like demagogues such as Putin and Trump faces the consequence of having to ‘avert one’s eyes’ to the point where one wilfully accepts blindness as a permanent state of political consciousness, what Freire would call semi-intransitive consciousness, when individuals follow strong leaders who will make choices for them. When that happens, humanity withers and fades away.

Edmond van Den Bossche describes the geopolitics of 1984 as follows:

The survival of each of the three Orwellian States [Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia] was based on the following interior and exterior strategies: the State had to subdue its citizens into a mindless mass which executed the will of Big Brother; the State had to fuel the hatred of the population against its enemy through a constant state of limited war; at all times the State should have the capacity to destroy the other States so that each one’s military strength would be a deterrent to all-out war; and, finally, the States should periodically change their alliances to prevent the union of two States against the third.

What compromises must be made to avoid nuclear catastrophe? What sacrifices are entailed in such strategies? And must they always be implicated in the act of averting one’s eyes, which too often in history has been synonymous with a wilful blindness, a motivated amnesia surrounding the consequences of making the choice between a lesser of two evils? War has become invisibilised, transformed into a self-driving feedback loop, part of the orderly concourse of nature, its historical antecedents masked, thereby making war more difficult to condemn.

The change that needs to occur in surrounding the dangers of war must come from all of the antagonists involved. We need to foster and realise potentialities within the discursive and material conditions of our communities. It requires struggling against the constraints that bind freedom and justice, which are responsible for dialectically re-initiating the case for war. We need spirited action in defence of peacemaking, which is not easy at a time in which universities are functioning as credential agents, creating production chains for facilitating consumer citizenship, rather than creating vibrant critical citizens through an intersectional politics driven by anti- challenges to racial capitalism. To chasten politicians and demand reverence for our responsibilities to ourselves and to other nations is not enough. Peacemaking is a contingent not a pre-planned strategy. We can build the car during the race if we must. To exert an influence over the production of war, we must find ways of speaking and acting outside totalising systems of thought by creating meta-critical and relational perspectives linked to the imperative of a unifying project of peace. Educators and cultural workers need to cross borders into zones of cultural difference rather than construct subjectivities that simply reassert themselves as monadic forms of totality facilitated by consumerist ethics and marketplace logic. We must always begin by remembering the casualties of war worldwide.

How do we comprehend memory in the context of the historical crimes of the past in a manner that will offer us hope for the future? To answer this question, I will return to some earlier reflections on the politics of memory as a means of grasping ways of thinking about historical narratives relating to war from a critical and emancipatory perspective. Walter Adamson’s used the term memory as a heuristic device to bring us into a deeper conversation with history. He developed a very illuminating distinction among what he calls modes of ‘memorising,’ ‘memory’ and ‘remembering.’ The mode of memorising is associated with the Enlightenment idea of a mental ‘faculty’ or memory through which individuals seek to recall or capture a factual record of historical events ‘as they really were.’ Memorising as a mode of realism and historical understanding considers the historical past to be something that already exists as a sociocultural artefact waiting to be discovered. The mode of memory is quite different and is associated by Adamson with nineteenth-century idealism, which asserted that while memory may not be able to provide an accurate (in the sense of ‘factual’) account of history, it can, nevertheless, provide individuals with an interpretive account of the past which is ‘better than the past understood itself.’ As Da Silva and McLaren put it:

Emerging as a break with historical tradition after World War I, remembering is to modernism and French ‘textualism’ what memory is to idealism and historicism, and memorising is to the Enlightenment and Cartesianism. Whereas memorising tries to recall what was, and memory dreams of discovering the master code – the Rosetta Stone – with which to uncover the correct interpretation of the past, remembering is a critical and redemptive mode which attempts not to understand the past better but to understand it differently.

This emancipatory mode is not interested in establishing our radical difference with the past but rather ‘seeks to restore our relation to it.’ Da Silva and McLaren expand on this idea that memory

is a critical mode in the sense that ‘it recognises that we are always operating within a changing horizon – of expectations, problems, needs – that leads us to ask different historical questions and to be offered different answers’ (p. 233). In this view, history is not conceived of as a linear succession of events in which oppressed victims are forced ‘to absorb an alien, desiccated, sterile memory fabricated by the oppressor, so that they will resign themselves to a life that isn’t theirs as if it were the only one…. Rather, history is engaged as a lived discourse within the fullness of time in the sense that it provides us with an ethical and political vantage point not for recovering or discovering the past but for entering a dialogue with the past. Remembering, in this instance, conceives of history not as a constraint on the present but rather as a ‘source or precondition of power’ that can illuminate our political project of emancipation.

Here history can be understood ‘as a source of imaginative power as remembering invites us to remember in different ways so as to comprehend our social and political situatedness, and in this sense, remembering bears an affinity to Benjamin’s concept of “redemptive history.” This notion is far removed from the simplistic notion of “those who fail to remember the past or ignore history are condemned to repeat it” and is closer to Freire’s notion of conscientização.’ Adamson, following Benjamin, insists that in the present era, remembering must take the form of a radical disruption – a blasting – that is strong enough to break through unconscious repression. For Arendt, remembering must always mediate between the sense impressions and thought. This invites remembering to summon forth a hope that can ‘arouse dormant emancipatory energies.’

As Da Siva and McLaren argue, ‘Redemptive remembrance contests social amnesia and challenges relations of domination. It recognises that social life is radically decentred, and individuals inhabit a cultural terrain that is unevenly and unequally occupied by conflicting discourses. It is a mode of social dreaming that has a redemptive capacity in that it not only recognises the partial, contingent, and uncertain character of all knowledge and the heterogeneity of social, cultural, and institutional life but seeks to transform knowledge in the interests of the power and powerless.’ There is an affinity here to the daydreaming of Ernst Bloch that sets out to rescue emancipatory moments from the ‘depravation of history.’ It is a dreaming that acknowledges that oppression is porous and that we should not dwell on the seamlessness of a social sin such as racism. Hegemony is leaky. Redemptive remembering speaks to a critical engagement of and resistance to the hegemony of war-making – ‘a society that possesses a crippling potential to disable the oppressed to a supplicatory attitude that is placatory toward regimes of domination.’

Redemptive remembering can free us from the mystification that results from living unreflectively in such discourses and material constraints, demystifying the present by allowing us to recognise ourselves as both oppressors and oppressed, ‘but it also carries traces of future possibility in its reconstruction of the present moment.’ In this sense, it is similar to Paulo Freire’s notion of critical reflection and social dreaming – an approach to the Aufhebung, a passing into the not-yet. Memories of when society was more hopeful have the potential to reclaim the revolutionary subject and the historical conditions of resistance, much in the manner of the utopian lilt of Walter Benjamin’s dialectical images in their attempt to ‘blast open the continuum of history’ in order to bring ‘to consciousness those repressed elements of the past (its realised barbarisms and its unrealised dreams) which “place the present in a critical position.”’ As Da Silva and McLaren argue, history becomes recognised ‘as more than an artefact of the past, or as simply the replacement of the temporal narratives of our political unconscious by the tyranny of the sign’ but as ‘the birth pangs of the liberating moment, of Freirean critical praxis, of awakening from the ‘nightmare’ weighing on the brain of the living from which Marx proclaimed our legacy of the past.’ In other words, memory ‘needs to be linked both to historical narratives that have become repressed, and an identity forged out of such a linkage that is firmly grounded in a commitment to the metanarrative and not the master narrative of human freedom.’ Here our memory becomes anticipatory in the sense described by Richard Kearney, a memory that ‘rediscovers in history many narrative prefigurations of possible truth, now repressed or forgotten.’ This becomes part of building an ethical imagination that presupposes the existence of a certain narrative identity that ‘remembers its commitments to the other (both in its personal and collective history) and recalls that these commitments have not yet been fulfilled.’ Here’ historical agency is understood as assuming authorship of one’s life, as a narrator who constantly revises and reinterprets one’s own story in relation to its historical and discursive connections to the cultural archives of the wider community such that personal identity is always located in the interests of the broader public.’. What we are considering here is redemptive remembrance as a form of counter-memory from which to interpret and judge the claims to truth and justice of any one story. Lipsitz describes counter-memory as follows:

Counter-memory is a way of remembering and forgetting that starts with the local, the immediate, and the personal. Unlike historical narratives that begin with the totality of human existence and then locate specific actions and events within that totality, counter-memory starts with the particular and the specific and then builds outward toward a total story. Counter-memory looks to the past for the hidden histories excluded from dominant narratives. But unlike myths that seek to detach events and actions from the fabric of any larger history, counter-memory forces the revision of existing histories by supplying new perspectives about the past. Counter-memory embodies aspects of myth and aspects of history, but it retains an enduring suspicion of both categories. Counter-memory focuses on localised experiences with oppression, using them to reframe and refocus dominant narratives purporting to represent universal experience.

Counter-memory moves beyond history and myth, especially the historical narratives of Western capitalist countries. In fact, counter-memory plays myths against history, pointing ‘the way toward a new synthesis, one that offers dignity interchangeably to all peoples without first forcing them into an imaginary identity constructed from a top-down perspective on human experiences.’ It is a communitarian hope that asserts the priority of dialogue over totalising discourses; it places our ethical relation to the other prior to our ontological, cosmological, and epistemological relation to war. Counter memory teaches that oppression is a form of interlocking issues, issues which, when taken together, constitute the ‘soul’ of our humanity that makes up the nation and impacts our relation to other nations. As Rev. William J. Barber II asserts,

Oh my – the poorest workers are organising like never before. There is something happening in this country, and I am glad of it because I am going to tell you: There is a flip side: Poor and low-wealth people realise that addressing these interlocking issues like systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of health care and the war economy are all critical to the soul of the nation. If people ever stop believing the nation has a soul, that’s the breeding ground for demagogues, autocrats. That’s how Hitlers, Putins and other folks get into office. That’s not healthy ground. We saw Jan. 6. I don’t want to ever see 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this country lose hope and start operating from a place of despair.

Counter memory requires developing and nurturing an epistemic disobedience towards the bio-political coloniality that imperils any possibility for productive dialogue over the political cartography of war that maps the epistemic margins and centres of possible futures that are not guaranteed to be dominated by the past. It is never too late to begin our dialogue, but we must try to make such dialogue happen before the shells start falling and the butchering of captive bodies begins. We do not have the right to impose our interpretations on the understandings of those Ukrainians who are being blown out of their apartment buildings and village houses during Putin’s missile and artillery attacks on civilian targets, but we do have a responsibility to listen with compassion to their stories. And to choose whether or not to ‘avert our eyes’ and what the implications for doing so means for the future of humanity. It would have been much better for humanity if we did not get into this situation to begin with.

On this note, it is clear that we need a critical pedagogy of peacemaking. One that is spawned in the messy lifeworld of dialogical engagement, that takes place in schools, places of religious worship, civic forums, colleges and universities, think tanks and board rooms where individuals are willing to contest the social, political and economic realities of everyday life. Where they can create new and more expansive domains of social interaction in which the economic analysis of capitalist exploitation can be joined with the sociology of knowledge and of class in order to understand ways of organising a social universe not contingent on value production. Where the inherent worth of all human beings is not premised on labour power. Such a pedagogy must be capable of mobilising a politics that challenges the hypertrophic domain of social alienation and political pessimism brought about by fourth industrial revolution technologies and that expands the frontiers of civic life where knowledge and cultural production can be directed towards holding power and privilege accountable, where mutual responsibility and widening international efforts at fostering sustainable cooperative relationships among nations can be achieved. As machine learning, automation and robotics, nano- and biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), quantum and cloud computing, 3D printing, 5G bandwidth, virtual reality, and new forms of energy storage dominate our digital lifeworlds through expansion and market capitalisation, we need a critical pedagogy that understands information as social power and is committed to resist its weaponisation domestically on the basis of race, class, gender and sexual orientation and internationally on the basis of political influence, imperialist expansion, the coloniality of power and the struggle for a unipolar, global hegemony.

Such a pedagogy can create an informed global citizenry dedicated to non-violent co-existence. We can fight to make this happen. And if it does, just maybe we will have a world to win.

Share this article on Social Media

Full Citation Information:
McLaren, P. (2022). Averting One’s Eyes: The War in Ukraine and the Politics of Remembrance. PESA Agora. https://pesaagora.com/columns/averting-ones-eyes/

Peter McLaren

Peter McLaren is Emeritus Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. From 2013-2023 he served as Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies, Co-Director and International Ambassador for Global Ethics and Social Justice, The Paulo Freire Democratic Project, Attallah College of Educational Studies, Chapman University, USA.