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War is within us – Paul B. Preciado

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War is within us – Paul B. Preciado

28 maggio 2022 08:56

I am in a house where war is talked about every day. This house could be called Spain, Europe or even world. The human world. My grandfather told me about the Battle of the Ebro (the biggest battle of the Spanish war between the Republican armies and Franco’s troops, which in 1938 accelerated the end of the civil war and hopes for the Spanish Republic) and let me touch the bones of his legs, hit by fragments of grenades. To my baby fingers they were like a horror book in Braille. Fragmentation bombs such as those that penetrated his legs had been invented around the fourteenth century by the Ming dynasty. In China, these bombs were made by condensing oil, ammonium salt, shallot juice, fragments of iron and pieces of porcelain around a core of gunpowder to create a ball of molten iron that was ignited and thrown. Bursting, it tore apart the bodies of the enemies. The scallion juice was later eliminated from the fireball, but the bombs continued to scatter pieces of porcelain everywhere. not voyne! (in Russian, “No to war!”)

In a village north of the Ebro, in one of the few houses left standing after the bombing of the Condor legion of the third reich, my grandmother prepared me a superlative slice of buttered bread every afternoon: “I hope, my daughter, (at the time the whole world thought I was a child and addressed me in this way), that you never know the hunger for war ”. My mother, heir to that fear and born during the years of the Second World War, built a huge pantry in our house with preserves, oil, sugar, rice, wine, stoves, candles and packs of matches. In case the war starts again. Entering the pantry of our house meant savoring the terror of war and at the same time reassuring oneself by counting the reserves. This repository of terror could have been called Spain or Ukraine, Moldova or Finland, Europe or even the world. The human world. not voyne!

State violence
For years my father, when in front of the television he received the news of any repressed demonstration by the police, he concluded: “The war is returning”. As if the war had never gone away, but had only hidden itself between us, ready to take advantage of the slightest conflict to return. Because of her invocative prayers, her dissuasive rites and her advance warnings I never really believed what they taught us in the history books at school, namely that after World War II we lived in a Europe immune to the risk of conflict. . Europe might have been pacified, but war was always between us. War always comes back because it never really disappears. War is always with us, in our pantry, in our cracked porcelain, in our television, in our bones. We carry the war within us. not voyne!

The war was always there. So my mother, the woman who hoarded food to keep me from starving, spied on me and denigrated me thinking that I was an unnatural being, neither man nor woman. War was also at school in the way in which “poor” children and “idiots” (of which I was a part) were placed in the care of priests and religious. The war was always there when one of my friends was raped by a group of boys at the exit of a nightclub. The last of her to have raped her he clung to her face saying: “You’re lucky we didn’t kill you.”

The war was also in the nationalist rhetoric against the homeless and sex workers. In the economic exploitation of the working classes. In the way the Spaniards treated migrants arriving from Africa or Latin America. They called them Moors, Negroes, Sudacas. And they made war on him: they had no right to rent houses or to work legally or to speak in public. The war continued in kitchens and homes, factories, psychiatric hospitals, prisons. I discovered that the war was also going on in the violence of the state, on the one hand, and in that of the ETA (the armed organization for the independence of the Basque Country dissolved in 2018), on the other. In our village the fascists and those of the ETA were half and half, almost equal. The choice was not easy. The escape, on the other hand, does. And so I left. not voyne!

The massacres have no borders
War lives with us, in our homes. Nationalism, misogyny and racism fill the pantry of terror that fuel war. The Europeans, the Americans, the Russians… they say they are pacified, but for years, beyond their borders, they have continued to throw fireballs that break the bones of the enemy: colonial, post-colonial, neocolonial wars. Algeria, Eritrea, Biafra, Mali, Sudan, South Africa, Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Syria, Ukraine. For years I have tried to understand why, in 1933 and during the Spanish Civil War, England and France did not find it necessary to mobilize in favor of the Republic, when Franco’s rebel forces were instead militarily supported by the fascist coalition. France and the UK did not care about Spain, because they did not understand that this war was their future.

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There is a common point between the passivity in the face of the war in Spain and in Ukraine: the idea that a country can be sacrificed in order to guarantee peace in Europe

In the case of the invasion of Ukraine, we might think that the situation is very different from that of Spain in the 1930s. On the other hand, European governments have expressed symbolic support for Kiev, the embargo against Russia is getting harder and the United States and the United Kingdom want to send weapons to support Zelenskii’s government. And instead there is a point in common between passivity in the face of the war in Spain in 1933 and the refusal to “intervene” in today’s Ukrainian conflict: the idea that one can also sacrifice Ukraine on condition that the war does not enter into Europe, the idea that feeding the war in Ukraine by sending weapons means preserving peace in Europe and preventing a third world war, as if this war (like all the other wars of the century) were not the same old war that never ends never. There are no, there never have been and there will never be borders for massacres, refugee flows, rape, starvation… There will never be borders for nuclear radiation. not voyne!

The only way to win the war is to stop the war. The only way to fight against fascism, nationalism, racism and misogyny is to stop arms production and force Russia to stop the invasion. We don’t have to send weapons. We need to send peace delegations to Russia and Ukraine. We must peacefully occupy Kiev, Lviv, Mariupol, Kharkiv, Odessa. We all have to go. Only millions of non-Ukrainian and unarmed corps can win this war. I already hear you reply that mine is a utopian position. But in reality it is any other solution that is dystopian. not voyne!

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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