Yevhen Bystrytsky. The Project of War: From Identity to Violence

Yevhen Bystrytsky. The Project of War: From Identity to Violence. // Філософські діалоги ’2017. / Традиції та новації в наукових розвідках Інституту філософії. Зб. наук. праць. — К., 2017. — С. 112-134.




The war that has befallen us, our generation, has been extremely unexpected for several reasons. Beforehand nobody could even imagine that Russia would turn to open military aggression, annex Crimea and provide Donbass separatists with Russian military equipment and personnel. This war took the global community by surprise. It ruined the seemingly stable highest level international treaties of guarantee (such as the Budapest Memorandum) and forced the developed Western countries to reconsider their geopolitics. In international communication, this aggression suddenly replaced the official Russian rhetoric of solicitous kindred people, “Russia-Ukraine millennium-long common heritage of history and culture”, by propaganda of hatred towards social changes in the limitrophes of former Russian Empire. Extreme unexpectedness, a sort of cultural delirium of the Russian-Ukrainian war, actual deficiency of any ground that would provide a justification for Russian aggression, give us reasons to believe that here we face a new kind of war. According to its popular name, a “hybrid” war, unlike the “traditional” military murder, is a mixture of “genetically” different forms of social action.

We do have something to compare it with — and not only because almost every Ukrainian family preserves some personal memories about the Second World War and those who died or disappeared in its swirl. Several generations of Soviet people were indoctrinated with heroic myth about moral superiority of invincible Communist regime, the victor of Western fascism, which also entailed the belief that Western world is latently evil. This “master narrative” (to use the concept of J.-F. Lyotard), which praises the virtues of humanistic proletarian society, still comes to us in numerous products of mostly Russian media. However, to repeat again Lyotard, this master narrative also finds its historical delegitimation (as well as modern belief in omnipotence of rational, scientific projection of human world, or a claim that historical mission of one particular nation is applicable to \113\ humanity as a whole). One could state that the war currently experienced by Ukrainian people consummates historical distrust of justifications of all universal ideologies — and, maybe, not only for our particular world.

Basic preconceptions about national communities

There are several basic preconceptions that encumber our parting with both the customary image of the human world and the habitual explanation of the basic origins of war and military violence. Let us take only two of them, which are the most widespread.

First, there is a modern idea that it is in principle possible to rationally plan and gradually improve social structure, so that eventually we will attain eternal peace in global coexistence of nations based on common (cosmopolitan) laws and moral norms. However, the soundness of such an understanding, including its representation in today’s philosophy, is questioned by numerous examples of sudden bloody violence experienced by many people (not only Ukrainians) during the last decades. Is it true that contemporary war could be a totally rational project of violence? Is it true that the discourse of war is promoted in the public space only by conscious efforts of politicians and their devoted commentators (political scientists and experts) who pave the way to aggression for some rational reasons? Why public space is so vulnerable to propaganda: is this a mass conscious choice or, as some people suggest, a pathology of reason? But then what is this pathology of reason? Why and how reason, being something “rationally correct” by definition, could acquire a pathology?

The second preconception — actually, the flip side of the first — is extreme popularity (due especially to contemporary media and social networks) of notions about other national communities in terms usually applied to individuals. We speak about the national character of nations, people, ethnical groups as if they were individual agents (good, evil, just, unjust etc.). In doing this, we easily transform an obvious multiplicity of people into a single Subject, so that all members of a society become just one. E.g., Ukrainians share in social networks an arrogant remark of Jules Michelet, who said once in a pamphlet written in the mid-19th century: “The Russians lack \114\ the essential sign of humanity, a moral instinct, a sense of good and evil. Truth and justice have no meaning for them. When you speak about these things they are silent; they smile but they do not know what these words mean.” Those are words from a letter of Alexander Herzen to Michelet [28].

This comment, written on the occasion of Russian Empire’s destruction of Poland, is now quoted by some Ukrainian intellectuals as the final truth about Russian motives in the current war. On another side we could find negative characteristics of Ukrainians as one Subject done by Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Soviet well known filmmaker, in his diary: "We are a stupid people and small, we are a colorless people, our seeming disrespect of each other, our lack of solidarity and mutual support, our negligence towards our own fate and the fate of our culture are absolutely striking, and objectively absolutely not engendering good feelings in anyone, because we don't deserve them." [5] These words are taken out of the context of that diary note where Dovzhenko laid the responsibility for negative features of national mentality on the Soviet system. It is cited in some pro-Russian social networks as the attribute of the Ukrainians. [35] In those communal discourses about national character we see mostly negative characteristics of Others. Military propaganda aptly uses this feature in order to construct an image of the enemy.

Contemporary philosophical terminology speaks about national identity as something that denotes people’s belonging to their community and presupposes identity of qualities (virtues) peculiar to this community through historical time. People believe that national communities do have such constant properties, so that communities perceived as intrinsically aggressive are believed to have no virtues. This notion only aggravates the policy of discord, and, thus, nourishes war with morally and publicly “sanctioned” hatred. Evidently, its popularity is not accidental. Now, what exactly in our experience of identity, both from inside and from outside, incites people to patriotic defense of their community even at the cost of one’s life — i.e., by the means of war?

Experience of identity

Speaking about identity, we mostly mean certain communal or communitarian property of community or society. However, \115\ contemporary political and practical philosophy questions the adequacy of traditional notions about social construction as more or less rational project and maintains critical, nontraditional views on social and communal life. These multifaceted views distinguish at least two basic dimensions of large communities (nations or ethnic groups), regarding them as complex social systems and as something related to a community’s experience of its own identity.

Using the suggestions of Jürgen Habermas, I treat social systems as a set of interrelated subsystems, i.e. administrative, military, legislative, educational, political, public and other institutions. To simplify matters, one could regard as system-related not only institutionalized human relations, but also "second order norms" of social action: moral and behavioral prescriptions, legal systems, laws, legally established norms and procedures that regulate institutionalized relations. [8, 171-74]

The dimension of identity “proper” is to be found at such level of human coexistence that is not manifested explicitly in systematic institutions. Some complications could arise in relation to political identity, which forms the basis of a politically solid nation. To simplify again, we would regard it as another system manifestation, meaning those ideologically grasped, i.e. well-rationalized relations between society members, which engender its institutional organization.

This dimension of identity “proper” is much closer to the sociologized notion of the lifeworld (Lebenswelt) as used in interpretative sociology. Following Habermas in applying the concepts of system and Lebenswelt, let us recall the phenomenological importance of the latter as constant meaningful horizon of all existing things that gives them value and actuality. In this sense, identity is the acting force that forms this meaningful horizon. [8,126] This is because one of the pillars of identity is individual’s self-identification with certain community. This belonging to collective life makes one acculturated — that is, makes him/her a participant (and co-author, co-narrator) of traditions, customs, behavioral norms, ways of thinking and understanding both the outer world and him/herself.

The notion of the lifeworld as meaningful horizon specifies what is at stake: namely, the dependence of conscious acts (our perception of things, understanding of the world and other people) on those \116\ meaningful modalities that are created by particular identity. Thus, Habermas speaks about affective, emotional relations, needs and various intentions that form the horizon of natural interest. However, his interpretation of the lifeworld does not overcome the main obstacle for our understanding of identity: that is, its understanding not as the individual’s self-attribution to this or that community, but in the perspective of that communality of being which an individual cannot but belong to. Once we speak about the lifeworld in terms of horizon, we have to admit that any attempt at complete rationalization of the meaningful perspective circumscribed by this horizon is doomed to failure: the horizon always moves away, leaving such perspective unattainable. "...The lifeword that always remain in the background. [8,131]

Today’s social and political philosophy, which one might call post-modern (not to be confused with postmodernism as a philosophical current), has undergone the change of a starting point in interpretation of meaningful horizon given to an individual by the very fact of his/her belonging to a certain the lifeworld of cultural meanings. If we can never rationally grasp the horizons of a lifeworld, i.e. take a purposeful action and consciously control all cultural factors that subconsciously motivate and direct this action, the proper conclusion is not that we understand these factors only to some extent. Instead we have to admit the existential dimension of identity, that is, we have to speak about identity as a common dimension of being, which an individual belongs to and is immersed in by the very fact of his/her existence.

At the beginning of his philosophical career Charles Taylor expressed it with his usual elegant simplicity, speaking about a conception of the subject as essentially embodied, as embodied agent that is "a claim on about the nature of our experience and thought." [19, 122] And Jean-Luc Nancy, reconsidering the concept of community, appealed to Heidegger’s theory of co-being (Mitsein), where mitsein is one of the aspects of Heidegger’s basic notion of being-in-the-world as being in environment (Umwelt).[18, 1-15] This being as something that we are together does not coincide with our usual understanding of being as the existence of things around us (or, as the founder of fundamental ontology himself would say, the existence of chairs, tables, and desk in the auditorium where our discussion goes on). \117\

This transformation of the concept of the human subject, which actively opposes the world and cognitively grasps its meaningful horizons, into factual Dasein, and transformation of the phenomenological concept of the lifeworld into existential-co-being-in-the-world, gave Jean-Luc Nancy and Roberto Esposito methodological grounds for their interpretation of human community as another type of being as compared to being in terms of which we naturally judge about things. [6] The communal being is not grasped by the habitual notion of community as collective life that could be described and explained with usual predicates — that is, with those characteristics that we typically summon while speaking about people and things, describing their physical and even moral properties (virtues). When we habitually give uniform characteristics to other people and their communities, we do not take into account the ontological difference.

Benedict Anderson has expressed quite illustratively this singularity of communal being, which we call identity, in his classical book “Imagined communities”. He observantly remarked that we relate ourselves to national community as a completed whole, although in fact we cannot relate personally to a vast majority of our countrymen. [1] The peculiarities of perceiving this whole as a common reality become even more visible when we consider its historical continuance. As we go deeper into the past, our “we-identity” evidently loses properties of an empirically verifiable reality. Neither changed boundaries of one’s ecumene, nor ancient archeological artifacts can factually confirm the continuous existence of this very historical community which we call “ours”. Incidentally, this was the reason why Dmitry Dontsov (among other radical defenders of Ukrainian nation), realizing this fact, stuck to volitional appropriation of the “history of our ancestors” in order to establish an integral notion of complete national identity. Both in space and time, in order to relate oneself to a social whole, one has to imaginatively complete reality so that one could perceive the communal life as such a whole. [4]

Immanuel Kant considered imaginative power (Einbildungskraft) as "the transcendental power of imagination" due to which we imply the unity of synthesis that enables us to think concepts of objects. [16, A102] Following Anderson's understanding of imagined communities we can apply that power of transcendence to imagination of communities we belong to. Indeed, when we relate ourselves to the whole of \118\ human community, we overcome our always limited experience of things and circle of personal communication — that is, we transcend the actuality of our experience. This transcendence is (also for Kant) a sensory understanding (intuition) of the whole that embraces all things of “our world” taken together. Only imagination can cover “all” things in such a way that they would preserve their peculiar properties, i.e. synthesize a general scheme of the world of properties. Due to imagination (to some extent, even in the mode of fantasy) we remain submerged into the mundane reality, and at the same time we overcome its empirical limits of here and now. We could say that due to our imagination of identity we get an orientation point in reality, rising above the limits of individual experience. In this sense, identity as experience of “relating to” and grasping the whole is the basis of our ability to be in the world in all modalities of such being.

This, by the way, contradicts usual understanding of identity as a kind of centripetal force, directed towards the eternal return of the same essence. We can hear it, for example, from theorists of radical nationalism, who think until now in terms of Blut und Boden ideology. Identity also forms a spectrum of possibilities to turn our attention from traditional values and memory about ancestors to current reality and its elements. Imagined identity conditions the possibility of our factual “outer” experience here and now. Due to transcending force of identity, we are capable of self-awareness which also leads outside the circle of one’s individual imaginations. In terms of existential philosophy, we should speak about extasis — that is, constant state of “going out to...”. Identity as cultural horizon of our self-awareness is constantly recreated condition of possibility of our diverse being outside, in a the lifeworld and beyond.

Imagined is not reality in the sense of actual thing. However, identity as imagined reality is the initial condition of our external acts, our experience of things and people. As a condition of possibility of experience, identity always appears in a factual form as a factuality of particular actions and doings. In other words, the essence of identity — the whole that directs us outwards — always stays behind particular things and actions as imagined horizon of a meaningful whole. That is why identity is always projective. In this sense, project is transformation of imagined reality into actuality of physical things, doings, and factuality of being, which we customary call “objective”. \119\ Possibilities, accumulated by identity, acquire various forms of actualization and actuality.

Here we go to the basic question of the double sense of identity. Identity preserves its world because identity is created by centripetal vector of return to one’s values and meanings — the feeling and experience of “we-belonging” to the given community. At the same time, we also speak about projective force of identity, which creates possibilities of transcending the limits of actual experience. This contradictory point is the point of meeting of the two approaches to understanding the phenomenon of social whole the modern one and the contemporary one, including “pre-identity”.

Fear of identity: further development of the modern project of culture

Let us return to our analysis of basic preconceptions related to understanding of human — especially collective — actions and doings. The occurrence of war, which we have in mind, sharpens the question of people’s conscious motivations and rational planning.

Jürgen Habermas has authored the most developed theory of social interaction based on fundamental assumption that the lifeworld (Lebenswelt) that can be rationalized in the course of interpersonal communication. The primary purpose of communication is to attain the “truth” or objective, concerted, generalized understanding of the world to construct a social system. Habermas admits that communication (he thematically reduces it to linguistic discourse, exchange of speech expressions) is also embedded in various relations within the lifeworld. He certainly agrees that in the course of communicative interaction about the objective world, real things, and aimed actions, individuals express their own understanding. Habermas insists that we should take into account this factuality of expressions that flows from the lifeworld as a form of cultural being. The lifeworld exists as a reservoir of self-evident things taken for granted. Due to this existential positioning, communication relies on both experience and tradition already established in culture.

Habermas understands the lifeworld as a product of common life constituted through language and culture which are constitutive for it. They set the initial interpretations (pre-interpretations) of \120\ communicative interaction. Participants of communication "find the relations between their objective, social and subjective worlds already preinterpreted. When they are going beyond the horizon of their given situation and at the same time they cannot step into void. They find themselves in... another preinterpreted domain of what is culturally taken for granted". [8, 125] As the very medium of mutually understanding communication based on the lifeworld presuppositions gives its participants a possibility to reach (as Habermas puts it) a "peculiar half-transcendence” [8, 125] 13 that is, a possibility to overcome the limits of subjective and a culture's positions and attain mutual understanding. "Communicative actors are always moving within the horizon of their lifeworld; they cannot step outside it". [8, 126]

However continual local conflicts we observe today are not stopped by just communication efforts. Does it mean that the contemporary world requires more complete transcendence outside this or that "horizontal" understanding into “objective” and “social” worlds, which are external to a reality that is reflected by the concept of the lifeword.

Habermas develops this regulative idea of going outside every particular identity up to the notion of universal discourse that exceeds the limits of the separate lifeword. Global liberation from the dependence on particular cultural contexts in principle makes us capable to reach a maximal normative consensus basing on rationally motivated communication. Habermas notes that rationalization would not automatically create a conflict-free world, but would display validity claims as the conflicting "nongeneralizable interests". [7, 35] It can assist with resolution of a conflict in such a way that the basis of communicative action and social integration of the lifeword work together for it. [8, 173-74] So, conflicts would not be immune from discursive questioning of their rationality, although ending a dispute about various validity claims based on the lifeword presuppositions can be arrived at through rational dialog. Such the dialog supposes "the intention of convincing a universal audience" and the "dispute with rationally motivated arguments" [7, 26] when the better argument is decisive one. [8, 145]

Other great theoretician of communicative community, Karl-Otto Apel, was in line with Habermas’s idea and ideal of attainable \121\ universal consensus based on communication particular for ethical discourse [10, 162-68]

One should specially notice the historical context of Habermas’s and Apel’s idea of universal consensus. Habermas, being yet a student, publicly broke off with Heidegger although it was not complete break with a master. That criticism toward Heidegger was caused not only by moral shortcoming of the elder philosopher, who refused to publicly admit the guilt of Nazism and instead presupposed “the inner truth and greatness of the National Socialism movement”. [9, 159]

Let us generalize the post-war context when the main counterpoise to cultivation of “Aryan” identity including so called "Aryan physics" seemed to lie in the optimistic reliance on mutually connected rationalities of scientific worldview, technical progress, and "social rationalization" of market economy. The last young Habermas understood as the reappropriation of production of the worker that would allow him or her to invest some life "style" into his or her product. [17, 131-59] In this sense, Heidegger, who criticized scientific worldview and technology from the position of an alternative ontology, looked like a reactionary who broke with the world of Occidental rationalism. [9, 158]

Apel, Habermas's younger fellow student and colleague, also sharply condemns the practices of National Socialism, which brought to humanitarian catastrophe: ideological justification of Holocaust practices by "the final solution to the Jewish question" (Endlösung der Judenfrage). [2] Apel believes that the horrors of war and possible nuclear disaster, as well as other global problems of mankind can be repeated if we do not provide the transition from conventional to post-conventional universal ethics of responsibility. It is to resolve a problem of peaceful co-existence of the different cultures and problems of responsible cooperation between different nations in order to cope with the fateful crisis. [3]

In the light of these outstanding theories, with their basic presumption that in today’s world it is possible to attain a universal consensus via developed global communication and globalization of international legal norms [11, 57], etc., we return again to the question of inopportunity and incomprehensibility of the newest local conflicts. The fear of violence, motivated by tribalism, including Nazi like \122\ crimes against humanity that accompany local conflicts, engenders suspicion towards the very concept of cultural identity, which does not save us from the new bloody conflicts connected with defense and protection of one’s identity.

Existential modalities of identity

The universal equation of Modern philosophy answers resolutely the question we raise in all of its philosophical varieties: one should assume that in our experience there are pre-experienced structures (a priori forms) of understanding. Due to these presupposed structures (Kant’s transcendental apperception, Apel’s a priori of communication, Habermas’s rationalizing potential of communication), always unique experience can in principle transcend its own limitations by synthesizing separate facts into general and objective knowledge (science) as well as “true or fair vision” of historical and social phenomena (e.g. in humanities). However, the experience of identity, in fact, restrains such understanding of transcendence, because a man of culture, despite all reflective efforts, cannot go outside his/her own being in the world of his/her cultural belonging. In the contemporary atmosphere of permanent local conflicts, a clash of identities can become and becomes a decisive not rationalized “argument” to justify politics of warfare.

The contradistinction of modern belief into one’s ability to rationally resolve conflicts between different lifewords or using H.G. Wells's language the war of the world, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the real state of affairs along with scientific and technological progress that produces both new media technologies and military ones sends us back to philosophical discussions about the grounds of human experience. One of the important questions is how to comprehend the concept of experience in the two different perspectives. One is that of developing the objective worldview including the maximally rationalizing theory of society as it was intended by Habermas and Apel. Other is that of interpretation of the concept of experience in the context of identity phenomenon, i.e. human existence belonged to the world of culture or the lifeword. The main point of collision is how to assess the possibility to create universal knowledge, discourse, communication, etc., "the truth" acceptable for all cultures, out of always empirically limited, factual human \123\ experience in a particular culture. To discuss it we should make a step back and take a look at the philosophical situation of overcoming Modern philosophy of subject in another way than the theories of communication propose.

We can again recall Kant’s concept of productive imagination. I mean first of all well known hesitations about it in the two editions of “Critique of Pure Reason”. In the first edition transcendence on the basis of imagination seems to be limited to (only psychological) “function of soul”. However, in the second edition Kant remarks that in the theoretical and cognitive perspective of explaining the possibility of knowledge productive imagination should be considered a “function of reason”, i.e. its ability to synthesize the varieties of sensual contemplation into general concepts, which form the basis of scientific cognition as such. [20]

Martin Heidegger did overcome similar hesitations about what we might call the question of possibility of a priori belonging to cultural and historical "imagined" world-community (correlating with Kant’s theory of productive imagination). Heidegger states that we should not interpret the unavoidable apriority by approaching the question of our capability for transcendence from the theoretical and cognitive angle. A priori structures of understanding are conditioned not by an abstract capability formed outside or semi-outside, half-transcendence, of factual experience, but in a temporal and historical dimension. “A priori” means that one goes ahead of time, having certain grounds for experience “before” the very actual experience [14, 131]. Human understanding is a way of being-in-the-world, where this being is preset as a meaningful horizon of understanding before any actual experience. In every conscious act, action or deed, the “going outward” (extasis, transcendence) remains within the limits of those conditions of possible experience which are determined by cultural belonging. From this angle, we should speak about identity as a priori condition of possibility in particular sense and deny its universalistic interpretations. Consequently, the question of universal consensus should be approached with an understanding of what is possible for identity. An alternative approach, cultivated by modernity, leads to forcible colonization of identity either for the sake of civilization progress, or for factitious re-cultivation of an identity into "the higher" culture and its "higher man". \124\

Belonging to cultural factuality defines existential limits of collective and individual notions about themselves and the world. Identity as a priori condition of possibility circumscribes both communal and individual horizons of understanding. “...The structure of existentiality lies a priori”. [13, 69]

Using that peculiarity of a phenomenon of identity and taking into attention its specific apriority mentioned above we could call its varieties “existentials of identity” following Heidegger’s concept of categorization of human being-in-the world. The double, communal and personal, characteristic of identity as “being-in-the world” give us a chance to apply existential analysis here. The existentials of identity directly influence people’s everyday life within their particular culture, and thus may determine also social and political structure of a given society (the “life of polis”).

It is evident that the core existential dimension of identity is personal self-determination that inevitably draws a boundary between the ecumene of one’s cultural meanings and other cultural worlds. The feeling of “being kin” to one’s people is related to the horizon of other identities and developed notion of political sovereignty (which we can see matured already in the age of Enlightenment). In this sense a meeting with “Others” creates imagined horizon of reality of “we-identity” and makes real its resoluteness as the projection of one’s identity being upon the meeting’s event, “in which one is ready for anxiety.” [13, 343] One just needs an external “cause” in order to project this resoluteness into the “outer” world of things and people. With Heidegger also I use a notion of the project as one that reflects projection of our understanding of being upon something that belongs to a category of actual beings: “the connection between the experiencing of a being, the understanding of being, and the projection upon... which in its turn is present in the understanding of being... which qua understanding of being must itself... project being upon something.” [12, 280]

The “immune system” of identity is ready to defend its lifeword against any real or imagined but real danger, primarily against a threat from the Other. The fear of Other appears whenever one’s identity is threatened with destruction, e.g. via evidently menacing actions or corresponding preparatory rhetoric in mass media. \125\ Projected identities met or clash in the everyday world of objectified intentions, reify themselves into “communicative strategies”.

Resoluteness in defending one’s cultural world or the lifeword even at the price of one’s life indicates yet deeper existential identity: cultural apriority of care about one’s identity, because the loss of it is also the loss of meaning of both collective and individual life (one’s authenticity). [13, 348] Personal authenticity is not possible out of belonging to an identity.

Another evidence is given by suicidal terrorism in hypertrophic forms of contemporary religious and cultural fundamentalism, which is often considered a consequence of personal psychological transformations under the ideological influence of religion. An effort to preserve the cultural immunity of one’s the lifeword at the price of one’s death or even loss of the entire community, for the only reason to oppose the invasion of alien cultural values, shows the fundamental character of care as existential of identity.

This modality of care means something deeper than worries or frustration because of, say, certain threats to one’s well-being, and even to one’s physical life. What disturbs us here is the loss of something bigger than individual physical life. A person cares about his/her authenticity that cannot be abandoned. Kant would call it conscious defense and protection of personal dignity. However, the question here is not about conscious cultivation of an understanding of human being as a goal, in order to accept dignity as ethical definition of every human individual. Dignity is itself cannot exist separately from a place and a role of a person in a community world. The same relates to care. Care for one’s identity is a way of human existence within one’s cultural world, which originally (a priori as the cultural phenomenon) creates initial existential structure of human experience that may or may not be consciously realized in the forms of, say, patriotism or nationalistic political rhetoric. In this sense, the fear to lose one’s identity, related to the fear to have one’s existential authenticity disappear, is eventual a priori for any fear or worry about physical or psychological condition. What is at stake here is the deepest grounds of human existence and humanity as such.

Having pointed out some of the basic existentials of identity, which define its structure as a condition of possibility of human experience, we can now turn to the next question: how the imagination \126\ of one’s community and existential experience of one’s being are transformed into the project of war.

Projective function of identity

The current bloody war for the “Russian World”, as well as other no less bloody local conflicts of today driven by defense of religious, traditional moral, and worldview's values, is peculiar in that its propaganda directly addresses the images of identity (not to mention the Goebbels-style rhetoric of Russian warmongering).

The important question in the context of conversation about identity and war should be formulated like that: why a priori existentials of identity, decisively related to defense of being, are projected into terrorist and military actions directed towards elimination of being? Under what conditions identity, instead of opening multiple cultural horizons, entails reduction of all cultural values to a single requirement of Other’s death?

We have already remarked that preconceptions about other national communities often form stable characteristic images of a community, which are widespread in other cultures. Imagined communality is always transformed into certain schemes, even positive (or caricatured) fixed artistic images. Such schematism in perception of identities is usual in everyday experience of communications based on idle talks, gossips.

Using Heidegger’s concept of das Man, we could say that gossips reflect an average understanding of events at the level of everyday life. Such understanding does not require moral and intellectual efforts in order to distinguish rumors from reality. If identity is threatened, reality is defined by resoluteness to act outwards in defense of it; in such a case the most easily accepted characteristics of the Other are negative ones, if even they are totally fabricated. This also applies to media that technically consolidate and widely disseminate the average understanding. Publicly consolidated gossips eliminate conscience and replace it by fabricated “public opinion”, thus creating a stronghold of amorality for effective warfare. The dissemination of gossips is easily transformed into social machinery of propaganda (technological automatism of mass media coupled with virtual dissemination of “reliable” rumors and negative images of the Other, e.g. via Internet). At the same time, draconic limitations are applied \127\ to critical opinions of those who try to look deeper inside of identity and articulate it as a rich world of other possibilities of being.

Identity is a core being that creates conditions of possibilities for reification of this or that culture. Identity always exists in two dimensions: as existential modalities of the possibility of being and as implemented in 'thingness' characteristics of people and cultures of “here and now”. Imagined identity understands itself by projecting everyday understanding of things and people onto the world.

This projecting creates “ontological-ontical difference” (to speak according to Heidegger), which reveals important bivalence of the phenomenon of identity. On the one hand, identity appears as condition of possibility of human experience and its transcendence over the narrow limits of factuality; on the other hand, it always reveals itself in the form of rather uniform objective characteristics of cultural coexistence of people and accompanying artifacts. In other words, identity projects itself via objectivity of acts, doings and created cultural objects. Reified projections of identity are the primary source of uniform assessments, characteristics and images of cultural worlds and people.

Identity and methodology of avoiding the project of war

Thus, we attempted to show how the project of war is grounded in projective reification of basic existentials of identity: care about one’s self-preservation, fear to lose oneself, resoluteness of standing for oneself, and transformation of everyday understanding of being into gossips.

At the beginning of this article, we have already mentioned hybrid war. Being hybrid, this war can synthesize different dimensions of military actions. War to physical elimination coexists with more or less peaceful everyday existence. “In this block there is a fight, and in further blocs locals can purchase things in the working supermarket or be sitting in a cafe” – this is a typical picture of such a war, and not only in Donbas. Hybrid war combines hostilities with intense propaganda of cultural values by all involved parties, and thus overshadows the basic (existential) difference between propaganda and moral values. There is a combination of real war that exterminates enemy’s manpower with virtual destruction of enemy’s core values, \128\ first and foremost the existential possibilities of his culture, via manipulation of all available media resources. In this sense, hybrid war brings together bloody reality of numerous deaths caused by military and other concomitant kinds of violence (banditry, terror) and virtual reality of gossips about war. Media coverage of such war grounds its images on radically distorted picture of events. This distorted picture is regarded as indubitable and trustworthy because the consciousness of its recipients is worked over by virtual images — even in the full swing of hostilities observed by local inhabitants. The core of human being is forgotten. We know it as propaganda.

All these facts of the so called hybridity show that grounds of such wars go deeper. The only difference of hybrid war from the previous wars is that its propaganda is rooted in highly exaggerated image of defending one’s identity, rather than in political ideologies. Even in the case of Nazism, the reference to superiority of “Aryan” race was based on modern ideological notion of racial universality. Instead, hybrid wars refer directly to an image of a particular cultural identity (created historically and/or by propaganda), which stands in need of protection.

Hybrid war is the war of identities, insofar as it uses the particularity of experiencing an identity and its external manifestations for political and propagandist justification of aggression. Averaged primitiveness and total artificiality of propaganda-manipulated images, their effectiveness at the level of everyday understanding, etc., are consequences of reificated projection of identity. Does it mean that any defense of identity makes a path to war? Does it mean that the modern project of universal culture, universal consensus of meanings and values of different lifeworlds, should return?

Indeed, after the Second World War an appeal to “universal consensus” conditioned by reason, especially the one that based on the options provided by economic, technical, and scientific progress, arises at the ground of visibly possible peaceful existence of international communities. A striking example is European Union, which embraces countries that share common values, consolidated in the form of international treaties and gradually formed common civilizational customs, similar interpretations of religious and moral norms and traditions. Basing on this, numerous commentators speak about distinctive European identity. On the other hand, latest official \129\ declarations about the failure of multiculturalism, coupled with state protection of national sovereignties inside the European community, primarily in the dimensions of national and cultural identities (languages, traditions), show certain limits of such international consensus.

This is because the rationalization of discourse in intercultural dialogue without consideration of the ontological difference inherent in the phenomenon of identity leads in both directions at once: it creates conditions of “eternal peace” and fosters possible usages of identity in the projects of war. If the being of identity is neglected in creation of a social and political system within separate state or superstructures in a global cosmopolitan scale, whereas these superstructures pretend to substitute for the uniqueness of communal being, this inevitably entails determination to be together “against”, combined with all other existential inspirations of identity. Universality of law or morality, globalism of civilizational benefits cannot substitute for human essential belonging (or, if you want, human dignity’s belonging) to always factually unique cultural world of this or that historical community. Moreover, a customary methodology of universalism is used by the proponents of so called great cultures — that is, the cultures of economically or militarily influential nations — for decreasing the value of “lesser cultures” (as we see it in the propaganda of exclusive rights of the “Russian world”, foisted everyday by Russian informational machinery). This image of “brother nation” is responsible for the widespread naïve conviction that war between parts of a single “common culture” is impossible.

Thus, the fact that identity may be directed towards “protection”, “repulsion” of the Other and others, is easily used for projecting war in the contemporary world of global communication.

Even primary approaches to philosophical analysis of the phenomenon of identity show the danger of reduction of human existence to its objectified manifestations. Contemporary projects of war indicate that we enter the world where we urgently need philosophical understanding of ontological difference, in this case the one between identity as a condition of possibility and identity as a uniform image of the Other. The project of war will prevail if we will not gain a competent, especially political, understanding of the fact that culture, as well as person who belongs to another culture, is a horizon of \130\ open possibilities, not a definite and unchangeable set of cultural features. We oppose the project of war by war, international negotiations, financial and economic sanctions. However, we should also make it impossible at the level of theory.

(Translated with assistance of Dr. Oleksiy Panych and Maria Bystrytska)


1. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, New York, 2006.

2. Apel, Karl-Otto. Diskurs und Verantwortung: Das Problem des übergangs zur postkonventionellen Moral (suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft) // Suhrkamp, 1990, especially Kapitel 11.

3. Apel, Karl-Otto. How to Ground a Universalistic Ethics of Co-responsibility for the Effects of Collective Actions and Activities // Philosophica 52 (1993, 2) —

4. Dontsov, Dmytro. Dukh nashoi davnyny (The Spirit of Our Long Ago Time). Drohobych, 1991.

5. Dovzhenko, Oleksandr. Gospody, poshly meni syly: Schodennyk, kinopovisti, folklornu zapysy, lysty, documenty. Kharkiv, "Folio", 1994 [Lord, give me strength: Diary, scenarios, short stories, folklore notes, letters, documents. - Kharkiv: "Folio", 1994.]

6. Esposito, Roberto. Communitas. The Origin and Destiny of Community. Stanford University Press. — California, 2010.

7. Habermas, Jürgen. The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume One: Reason and the Rationalization of Society: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Beacon Press, Boston. 1981.

8. Habermas, Jürgen. The Theory of Communicative Action, Volume Two: Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Translated by Thomas McCarthy. Beacon Press, Boston, 1989.

9. Habermas, Jürgen. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Twelve Lectures. Translated by Frederick Lawrence // The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1995.

10. Habermas, Jürgen. Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. W. Rehg (trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.

11. Habermas, Jürgen. The Crises of the European Union. A Response. Translated by Ciaran Cronin. Polity., 2012, p.57. Cf.: The UN "should be reorganized as a politically constituted community of states and citizens and... should be restricted to the core tasks of peacekeeping and of the global implementation of human rights".

12. Heidegger, Martin. The Basic Problem of Phenomenology. Transl. Albert Hofstadter. Revised edition. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1988, p. 280. He continues clarification of the notion as projecting being upon something: “At first we can understand only indirectly that upon which being... if and when it is understood, must be disclosed. But we may not flinch from it, so long as we take seriously the facticity of our existence and our being-with other Dasein and see that and how we understand world, the intraworldly existence, and co-existence”. — Ibidem.

13. Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarre & Edward Robinson. HarperPerrenia-ModernThought, NYC, L., 2008. Cf.: “A priori means “from the earlier” or “the earlier”. Earlier is patently a time-determination”. — Heidegger, Martin. The basic Problem of Phenomenology. Transl. Albert Hofstadter. Revised edition. Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 1988, p. 324.

14. Heidegger, Martin. Kant and the Problem of Metaphisics. Transl. by Richard Taft. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1990, p. 164. Also: “...As the ground for possibility of selfhood, time already lies within pure apperception, and so it first makes the mind into a mind.” — Ibid., p. 131

15. Herzen, Alexander. Letter to Jules Michelet, 22 September 1851. —

16. Kant, I. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. and eds. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

17. Moses, A. Dirk. German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past // Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, New York, Melbourne. 2007.

18. Nancy, Jean-Luc. The being-with of being-there // Continental Philosophy Review. March 2008, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 1–15. Also in this connection: “As Heidegger declares explicitly, Mitsein and Dasein are co-originary: Dasein must be thought in its very possibility as being-together.” — Christopher Fynsk. Foreword. Experiences of Finitude // Jean-Luc Nancy. The Inoperative Community. Edited by Peter Connor, transl. by Peter Connor, Lisa Garbus, Michael Holland, and Simona Sawhney. Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 76. University of Minnesota Press, 2012, p.p. xvi-xvii.

19. Taylor, Charles. The Validity of Transcendental Arguments // Taylor Ch. Philosophical Arguments. — Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1995.

20. Tugba, Ayas Onol. Reflections on Kant’s View of the Imagination // Ideas y Valores (2015), 64(157):53 —

Bystrytsky, Yevhen — Prof., Dr., Head of the Department of the Philosophy of Culture, Ethics and Aesthetics, Institute of Philosophy, National Academy of Science of Ukraine (since 1991). Research interests: theory of knowledge, philosophical hermeneutics, philosophy of culture, social and political philosophy He is author and co-author of several books and many articles in philosophy and political sciences including 'The Political Analysis of Postcommunism' Texas A&M University Press, 1997. He writes for Ukraine's leading newspapers. His personal site:

Are contemporary local conflicts known as the hybrid war the rational projects? What is there in the conflicts that force people to perceive representatives of another nation as mainly enemies? Why public opinion while the conflicts is so acceptable to propaganda? What do integrate both propagandist campaigns and military actions into one act of violence not seen before? Transforming these actual questions into philosophical ones the paper elaborates the concept of identity. Author's approach is critical towards reification of the identity interpreted as a set of characteristics attributed to national communities or characteristics as if ones of the single Subject. It also aimed at critical understanding of the collective identity in perspective of the theories of universal consensus through rational communicative actions (Habermas and Apel). Relying upon Kant’s theory of productive imagination and Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities the article develops ontological approach to the concept of identity. It elaborates ideas of J.-L. Nancy and R. Esposito on community being as different from looking at it from the perspective of the common substantial characteristics. For that author uses Heidegger’s theory of ontico-ontological distinction, as well as existential analytics (existentials of resoluteness, care, and das Man). It gives an opportunity to see collective identity as common existential experience that is realized ’outwards’ by projecting itself on human doings. It also allows the author to point out ontological relationship between personal authenticity and collective or national identity. Finally the articles outlines how the projected identity creates condition of possibility for legitimation of the hybrid war that combines both blood violence and communicating propaganda to manipulate public opinion for motivation of conflicts.

Keywords: identity, imagination, existentials, reification, projection, hybrid war.

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Чи є сучасні локальні конфлікти, відомі як гібридна війна, раціональними проектами? Що є такого у цих конфліктах, що примушує сприймати представників іншої національної спільноти переважно як ворогів? Чому під час таких конфліктів громадська думка так сприятлива до пропаганди? Що об’єднує пропагандистські кампанії і військові дії в єдину дію насильства, не баченого раніше? У статті ці актуальні запитання трансформуються у філософські та розглядаються через поняття ідентичності. Автор розвиває критичний погляд щодо реїфікації ідентичності, коли ідентичність розуміється як сукупність характеристик, атрибутивних для національної спільноти, тобто характеристик, немовби, єдиного Суб’єкта. Цей підхід також поцілений на критичне розуміння колективної ідентичності у перспективі теорій досягнення універсального консенсусу через раціональні комунікативні дії (Габермас і Апель). Спираючись на Кантову теорію продуктивної уяви та поняття уявлених спільнот Бенедикта Андерсона, стаття розвиває онтологічний підхід до поняття ідентичності. В ній опрацьовуються ідеї Жака-Люка Нансі і Роберто Еспозіто про буття спільноти як відмінне від визначення останнього через спільність речових характеристик. Для цього автор залучає теорію онтико-онтологічної різниці Гайдеґґера та екзистенціальну аналітику (екзистенціали рішучості, турботи і das Man). Це надає можливість подивитись на колективну ідентичність як спільний екзистенціальний досвід, що проявляється «наззовні» через проектування себе на людські справи. Цей підхід також дозволяє автору звернути увагу онтологічне відношення між персональною автентичністю і колективною чи національною ідентичністю. Наприкінці стаття окреслює як спроектована ідентичність створює умови можливості для легітимації гібридної війни, яка є комбінацією кривавого насильства та комунікативної пропаґанди для того, щоб маніпулювати громадською думкою для мотивування конфліктів.

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Евгений Быстрицкий. Проект войны: от идентичности к насилию.

Являются ли современные локальные конфликты, известные как гибридная война, рациональными проектами? Что есть такого в этих конфликтах, что заставляет воспринимать представителей другой национальной общности преимущественно как врагов? Почему во время таких конфликтов общественное мнение так благоприятно к пропаганде? Что объединяет пропагандистские кампании и военные действия в единое действие насилия, не виданного раннее? В статье эти актуальные вопросы трансформируются в философские и рассматриваются через понятие идентичности. Автор развивает критический взгляд относительности реификации идентичности, когда идентичность понимается как совокупность характеристик, атрибутивных для национальной общности, то есть характеристик некоего единого Субъекта. Этот подход нацелен на критическое понимание коллективной идентичности в перспективе теорий достижения универсального консенсуса через рациональные коммуникативные действия (Хабермас и Апель). Опираясь на теорию продуктивного воображения Иммануила Канта и понятия воображаемых сообществ Бенедикта Андерсона, статья развивает онтологический подход к понятию идентичности. В ней разрабатываются идеи Жака-Люка Нанси и Роберто Эспозито о бытии сообщества, которые отличаются от определения последнего через общность вещных характеристик. Для этого автор привлекает теорию онтико-онтологической разницы Хайдеггера и экзистенциальную аналитику (экзистенциалы решимости, заботы и das Man). Это дает возможность посмотреть на коллективную идентичность как общий экзистенциальный опыт, проявляющийся «наружу» через проектирование себя в делах человеческих. Этот подход также позволяет автору обратить внимание на онтологическое отношение между персональной аутентичностью и коллективной или национальной идентичностью. В конце статьи рассматривается каким образом спроектированная идентичность создает условия возможности для легитимации гибридной войны, которая является комбинацией кровавого насилия и коммуникативной пропаганды с целью манипуляции общественным мнением для мотивирования конфликтов.

Ключевые слова: идентичность, воображение, экзистенциалы, реификация, проекция, гибридная война.

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