A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHAOS: FROM ANCIENT GREECE TO POSTMODERNISM. PART 2
A new world chaos
The conflict between two world orders
It would seem that the SMO is talking about a conflict between two world orders - a unipolar one, represented by the collective West and Ukraine, and a multipolar one, defended by Russia and those who are somehow on its side (primarily China, Iran, North Korea, some Islamic states, partly India, Turkey, but also Latin American countries and Africa). This is indeed the case, but let us look at the problem from a perspective that interests us and find out what role chaos plays.
Let us immediately emphasise the point that the term world order clearly appeals to explicit structure, i.e. it is the antithesis of chaos. We are therefore dealing with two models of the cosmos: unipolar and multipolar. If so, we are dealing with a collision between worlds, between orders, structures, and chaos has nothing to do with this.
The West offers its version: a centre and a periphery, where the centre is itself and its value system. Russia and (more often passively) the countries that support it would be an alternative cosmos: many civilisations, many worlds. One hierarchy versus several hierarchies, organised on autonomous principles. Most often on a historical-religious basis. This is exactly how Huntington imagined the future.
The clash of civilisations is a competition of worlds, of orders. There is a western-centric model and a pluralistic one.
In this context, SMO appears as something quite logical and rational. The unipolar world, almost consolidated after the collapse of the bipolar model since 1991, does not want to give up its leading position. New power centres struggle to free themselves from the power of a decaying hegemon. Even Russia might be in a hurry to challenge him directly, but you never know how weak (or strong) he really is until you try. In any case, it is quite clear: there are two struggling cosmos models, one with a clear centre and one with several.
In any case, there is no chaos, and if we encounter something like that, it is only as a phase transition situation. This would partly explain the situation in Ukraine, where chaos is in full swing. But the problem also has other dimensions.
Hobbesian chaos: the natural state and Leviathan
Let us take a closer look at what constitutes a unipolar Western-centric world order. It is not only the politico-military domination of the United States and its vassal states, especially NATO. It is also the implementation of an ideological project. This ideological project corresponds to progressive democracy. The meaning of progressive democracy is that there should be more and more democracy and that the vertical model of society should be replaced by a horizontal one - in the extreme case, a networked, rhizomatic model.
The founder of Western political science, Thomas Hobbes, imagined the history of society as follows. In the first phase, people live in a state of nature. Here 'man is wolf to man' (homo homini lupus est). It is an aggressive initial social chaos, based on selfishness, cruelty and power. Hence the principle of war of all against all. According to Hobbes, this is the nature of man, because man is inherently evil. Evil, but also intelligent.
Man's intelligence told him that if he continued to remain in his natural state, sooner or later people would kill each other. It was therefore decided to create a terrible man-made idol, Leviathan, who would impose the rules and laws and make sure everyone followed them. In this way, mankind solved the problem of wolf coexistence. Leviathan is a super-wolf, certainly stronger and crueller than any man. Leviathan is a state.
The tradition of political realism - first and foremost in international relations - stops here. There is only the natural state and the Leviathan. If you don't want one, you get the other.
Chaos in international relations in the tradition of realism
This model is rather materialist. The natural state corresponds to aggressive chaos, to enmity (νεῖκος) - Empedocles' alternative to love/friendship. The introduction of Leviathan rebalances enmity by imposing rules and regulations on all 'wolves' that they dare not violate on pain of punishment and, at the limit, death. Hence the formula proposed much later by Max Weber: 'the state is the only subject of legitimate violence'. Leviathan is consciously stronger and more terrible than any predator and is therefore able to stop a series of irreversible aggressions. But Leviathan is not love, it is not Eros, it is not psyche. It is only a new expression of enmity, a total enmity raised to a higher degree.
Hence the right of any sovereign state (and Leviathan is sovereign and this is its main characteristic) to start a war with another state. Having pacified internal enmity, Leviathan is free to wage war externally.
It is this right to go to war that becomes the basis of chaos in international relations, according to the school of realism. International relations are chaos precisely because there can be no supreme authority between different Leviathans. They are at the macro level repeating the natural state: the state is selfish and evil because selfish and evil is the man who founded it. Internal chaos is frozen to reveal itself in the war between states.
Political realism has not been completely overcome even in democracies and is considered a legitimate point of view in international relations.
This is not all. Hobbes was followed by another important thinker, John Locke, who formulated a different school of political thought, liberalism. Locke held that man himself was not evil, but rather ethically neutral, a tabula rasa. If Leviathan is evil, its citizens will also be evil; but if Leviathan changes its character and orientation, it is able to transform the nature of people. People in themselves are nothing; they can be made into wolves and sheep. Everything revolves around the ruling elite.
If Hobbes thinks of the state before the state and predetermines its monstrous character (hence the Hobbesian chaos) and compares it to the state, Locke examines the already existing state and what might follow if the state itself were to stop being an evil monster and become a source of morality and education, and then disappear altogether, transferring the initiative to re-educated - enlightened - citizens. Hobbes thinks in terms of past/present. Locke thinks in present/future categories. In the present, the state is evil, selfish and cruel (hence the wars and chaos in international relations). In the future, however, it is destined to become good, so its citizens will cease to be wolves and wars will cease because mutual understanding will prevail in international relations. In other words, Hobbes proposes a dialectic of chaos and its relative removal in Leviathan (with a new invasion of inter-state relations), while Locke proposes to resolve the violent nature of the state by remaking (re-educating, enlightening) its citizens and abolishing war between nations; but the enmity inherent in Hobbes, Locke proposes to replace not with love and order, but with trade, exchange, speculation. The merchant (and not the prophet, priest or poet) replaces the warrior. At the same time, trade is called douce commerce, 'gentle commerce'. It is gentle compared to the brutal seizure of booty by the warrior after the conquest of the city. But how brutal it is is demonstrated by Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
It is important to note that Locke thinks of the pure post-state commercial order as something that follows the age of states. This means that the collective mind hypostatised in Leviathan is not abolished at all, only lowered to a lower level. A re-educated and enlightened citizen (former wolf) is now himself a Leviathan, but only a new one. By re-educating his subjects, the enlightened monarch (synonymous with the enlightened state) re-educates himself.
World government as an Enlightenment project
Hence the theory of political democracy. The state educates its citizens, eradicates aggression and selfishness and becomes itself altruistic and pacifist. Hence the main law of international relations: democracies do not fight each other. And again: if states are no longer selfish (sovereign), they are able to democratically establish a world government with supranational authority; it will ensure that all societies are good, that they only trade with each other and that they never wage war against each other. Gradually, states will be abolished and a One World, a global civil society, will be born.
Economics: Locke's Chaos
It seems that in Locke and the subsequent tradition of liberalism that takes up his ideas, chaos has been eliminated. But this is not the case. There is no military chaos, but there is economic chaos. Therefore, there is no aggression, but there is chaos. Yes, and aggression and hostility remain, but they acquire a different character, namely that imposed on society by the commercial (capitalist) state. Specifically, the Western European state of the New Era.
That the market should be free and the economy deregulated is the central thesis of liberalism, i.e. modern democracy. Chaos is thus reintroduced, but only in a different guise, with aggression cut off and selfishness directed. Leviathan is identified with reason (it was founded on its basis), and reason is thought of as something universal. Hence Kant, his transcendental reasoning and calls for universal peace. This reasoning is not abolished (along with the overcoming of Leviathan), but transformed, softened, collectivised (Leviathan is collective) and then atomised into many units, written on blank sheets of atomic individuals. Post-state man differs from pre-state man in that the mind is henceforth his individual domain. This is how Hegel understood civil society. In it, the common rationality of the old monarchy is passed on to the multitude of citizens - the bourgeoisie, the city dwellers.
Therefore, in liberal theory, since Leviathan is rationality, the distribution of rationality to all individuals eliminates the need for it. Society will be peaceful as it is (as predicted by the Leviathan above), and will realise its wolfish tendencies in the form removed - through commercial competition. The liberal racist social Darwinist theorist Spencer says the same thing in a harsh form.
Gentle commerce, douce commerce, is gentle chaos, chaos in the context of liberal democracy.
New democracy and governance: the gentle chaos of dissipation
In the West, there is a balance between Hobbes and Locke, a pessimistic and retrospective conception of the state (and of human nature itself) and an optimistic and progressive one. The former is called realism, the latter liberalism. Both modern, western-centric and modernist theories coincide in general, but differ in particularities. Firstly, in the interpretation of chaos. For the realists, chaos is inherently evil and aggressive, and it is to combat it that the state - the Leviathan - was created; but chaos has not disappeared and from internal has become external. Hence the interpretation of the nature of war in realism.
Liberalism shares the interpretation of the genesis of the state, but believes that the evil in man can be overcome. With the help of the state, which transforms (enlightens) and then also enlightens its citizens, to the point of penetrating their code, their nature. In this sense, the state, especially the enlightened state, acts as a programmer to install a new operating system in society.
With the success of liberalism, the theory of a new democracy or globalism began to take shape. Its essence is that nation states are abolished and wars disappear with them, while man's aggressive and selfish nature is changed through social engineering, which transforms man - turns the wolf into a sheep. Leviathan no longer exists and the old aggressive, wolfish chaos is abolished. Thus begins the chaos of world trade, the mixing of cultures and peoples, uncontrolled migration, multiculturalism, the merging of everyone and everything into one world.
But this creates a new chaos. Not aggressive, but soft, 'gentle'. In this case, control is not abolished, but relegated to a lower level. Whereas government (governement), even in the old democracy, was an elective, but hierarchical and vertical structure, now it is governance, or 'governing', where power enters the governed, merging with it until it becomes indistinguishable. Not censorship, but self-censorship. Not control from above, but self-control. Thus the vertical Leviathan moulds itself into the horizon of the scattered atomic individuals and enters into each of them. It is a hybrid of chaos (natural state) and Leviathan (universal rationality). Indeed, this is how Kant thought of civil society. The universal is poured into the atoms and is now no longer an external instance, but the individual reasoning of the enlightened citizen who curbs his aggression and moderates his egoism. This is how violence is placed within the individual. Chaos does not divide the power and the masses, not the states among themselves, but man himself. It is Ulrich Beck's risk society (Risikogeselshcaft): the danger now comes from the ego and its schizophrenic splits, which become the norm. This leads to the schizo-individual, the bearer of the particular chaos of the new progressive liberal democracy. Instead of harming others, the 'chaotic' liberal damages himself, beats himself up, splits and divides. Gender reassignment surgery and the promotion of sexual minorities in general could not have come at a better time. The gender option, the freedom of choice, pits two autonomous identities against each other in the same individual. Gender politics allows 'chaoticism' to take full effect.
It is, however, a special chaos, devoid of formalisation in the form of aggression and war.
Chaos' as the human norm of the new democracy
It is precisely this order of the new democracy that the West seeks to impose on humanity. Globalism insists on commercial (free market) chaos combined with LGBT+ ideology, which normalises the split within the individual, postulates 'chaoticism' as an anthropological model. This assumes that rationality and the prohibition of aggression are already included in 'chaoticism' - through the mass demonisation of nationalism and communism (especially the Soviet, Stalinist version).
It turns out that the unipolar world and the corresponding global order is an order of progressive chaos. It is not pure chaos, but neither is it an order in the full sense of the term. It is a 'governance' that tends to develop horizontally. So the thesis of a world government turns out to be too hierarchical - leviathanic. It is more correct to speak of a World Government, an invisible, implicit World Government. Gilles Deleuze rightly pointed out that in the age of classical capitalism, the image of the mole is optimal: capital works invisibly to undermine traditional, pre-modern structures and build its own hierarchy. The image of the snake is better suited to the new democracy. Its flexibility and movements indicate the hidden power that has entered the atomised mass of the world's liberals. Each of them, individually, is a bearer of spontaneity and chaotic unpredictability (bifurcation). At the same time, however, a rigid programme is built into them that predetermines the entire structure of desire, behaviour and goal-setting, like a factory with functioning desire machines. The freer the atom is in relation to the constellation, the more predictable its trajectory becomes. This is what Putin meant by quoting Dostoevsky's The Demons in his passage on Shigalev: 'I begin with absolute freedom and end with absolute slavery'. The Leviathan as a global idol, an all-powerful man-made demon, is no longer necessary, as liberal individuals become little 'Leviathans' - 'chaotic' specimens, free of religion, class, nation, gender, and the hegemony of such a progressive-democratic West does not represent order in the old sense or even democratic order, but precisely the hegemony of 'peaceful' chaos.
Pacifists go to the front
To what extent is this Lockian chaos peaceful? To the extent that it is not faced with an alternative, namely order. These can be Western orders, even the old Hobbesian democracy (which could be collectively called 'Trumpism' or 'old liberalism'), and other types of orders, generally non-democratic, which the West collectively calls 'authoritarianism', i.e. the regimes of Russia, China, many Arab countries and so on. Everywhere we see other articulations of order that openly and explicitly oppose chaos.
Here is an interesting point: faced with opposition, the Western liberal neo-democratic pacifist goes mad and becomes extremely militant. Yes, democracies do not fight each other, but with non-democratic regimes, on the contrary, war must be ruthless. Only a 'chaotic' without gender or other collective identity is a human being, at least a human being in the progressive sense. All others are the backward and unenlightened masses on which the vertical order, the cynical Leviathan or even more autonomous and autarkic versions of the order is based. And they must be destroyed.
Thus the unipolar world enters into a decisive battle with the multipolar world, precisely because unipolarism is the culmination of a will to end order altogether, replacing it with a post-order, a New World Chaos. The internalisation of aggression and the schizocivilisation of 'chaos' are only possible when there are no borders in the world - no nations, no states, no 'Leviathan', i.e. no order as such, and until there is, pacifism will remain absolutely militant. Transgenders and perverts are given uniforms and sent into eschatological battle with the opponents of chaos.
Gardarin pigs of chaos
All this casts a new conceptual light on SMO, Russia's civilisation war with the West, against unipolarism and in favour of multipolarism. The aggression here is multidimensional and has several levels. On the one hand, Russia is demonstrating its sovereignty, which means it is accepting the rule of chaos in international relations. Whichever way you look at it, this is a real war, even if not recognised by Moscow. Moscow hesitates for a reason: this is not a classic military conflict between two nation-states, but something different: it is a battle of multipolar order against unipolar chaos, and the territory of Ukraine is precisely the conceptual frontier. Ukraine is not order, it is not chaos, it is not a state, it is not a territory, it is not a nation, it is not a people. It is a conceptual fog, a philosophical soup in which the fundamental processes of phase transition take place. Anything can arise from this fog, but so far it is an overlay of different chaos, which makes this conflict unique.
If one considers Russia and Putin as realists, the SMO is a continuation of the battle for the consolidation of sovereignty. But it implies a realist thesis of the chaos of international relations and thus the legitimisation of war. For a truly sovereign state, no one can forbid doing or not doing something, because that would contradict the very notion of sovereignty.
But Russia is clearly fighting not only for a national order against the chaos managed by the globalists, but also for multipolarism, i.e. the right of different civilisations to build their own orders, i.e. to overcome chaos with their own methods. Thus, Russia is at war with the New World Chaos only for the principle of order - not only for its own, the Russian one, but for order as such. In other words, Russia seeks to defend precisely the world order that opposes Western hegemony, i.e. the hegemony of internalised chaos, i.e. globalism.
And there is another important point. Ukraine itself is a purely chaotic entity. And not only now: in its history, Ukraine has been a territory of anarchy, an area where the 'natural state' prevailed. A Ukrainian is a wolf to a Ukrainian, and all the more a wolf to a Muscovite or a Yabloko. Ukraine is a natural area of anarchic free will, a total nomad camp, where chubby atomised autonomists seek profit or adventure, unbound by any structure. Ukraine is also a chaos, hideous, inhuman and senseless. It is ungovernable and unwieldy. Chaos of wild pigs and their girlfriends.
These are the pigs of Gardar, into which the demons cast out by Christ entered and plunged into the abyss. The fate of Ukraine - as an idea and project - comes down to this very symbol.
SMO, a war of polysemantic chaos
It is therefore not surprising that different kinds of chaos have clashed in Ukraine. On the one hand, the Western-managed global chaos of the new democracy has supported and oriented the 'chaotic' Ukrainians in their confrontation with the Russian order. Yes, that order is still only a promise, only a hope. But Russia, from time to time, acts just like its carrier. We are talking about empire, multipolarity and head-on confrontation with the West. Most of the time, however, this vector is presented in the form of sovereignty (realism), which made SMO possible. We must not lose sight of the deep penetration of the West within Russian society - the chaos in Russia itself has its own serious underpinning, which undermines the vector of Russia's identity and the assertion of its order. The fifth and sixth columns in Russia are supporters of Western chaos. Both are sharpening and corroding the will of the state and the people to win in the SMO.
Therefore, Russia in SMO, being primarily on the side of order, sometimes acts according to the rules of chaos, imposed both by the West (New World Chaos) and by the very nature of the enemy.
The Russian Chaos
Russian Chaos. It must win, creating a Russian order.
And the last thing. Russian society carries within it a chaotic beginning. But it is another chaos, the Russian chaos. And this chaos has its own characteristics, its own structures. It is the opposite of the New World Chaos of the liberals, because it is not individualistic and material. It is also different from the heavy, fleshy, corporeal, sadistic chaos of the Ukrainians, which naturally breeds violence, terrorism, trampling all the norms of humanity. Russian chaos is special, it has its own code; this code does not coincide with the state, it is structured completely independently of it. Russian chaos is closer to the Greek original, which is a void between heaven and earth, not yet filled. It is not so much a mixture of warring seeds of things (as in Ovid), but an anticipation of something great: the birth of Love, an appearance of the Soul. The Russians are a precocious people for something that has not yet fully manifested itself. And it is precisely this special kind of chaos, pregnant with new thoughts and new actions, that the Russian people carry within them.
For this Russian chaos, the picture of modern Russian statehood is narrow and even ridiculous. It carries with it the seeds of some inconceivable great reality. A Russian dance star.
And the fact that the SMO includes not only the state, but also the Russian people themselves, makes everything even more complex and complicated. The West is a chaos. Ukraine is chaos. The Russian people are chaos. The West has an order in the past, we have an order in the future. And these elements of order - fragments of the order of the past, elements of the future, contours of alternatives, conflicting edges of projects - are mixed with the battle of chaos.
No wonder SMO looks so chaotic. This is a war of chaos, with chaos, for chaos and against chaos.
Russian chaos. It is he who must win, creating a Russian Order.
Translation by Lorenzo Maria Pacini