I think the fact that war is not news for a historian will not surprise any of the readers. Wars have been and will remain part of what is commonly called international relations for a long time. But a certain limitation of the language contains phenomena so different from each other in this word that in fact, the big question is how much its use makes sense at all. Even though all wars carry violence, they are extremely different from each other. Different in scale, in goals pursued, different in terms of the archetypes they awaken in the collective imagination. To qualitatively distinguish wars from each other, a certain skill is required.
What I will discuss today is a certain theoretical model, a brief squeeze from my scientific work over the past 10 years. With great probability, I unreasonably simplify, but I do not have a better model for you, and everyone now requires a semantic description of reality. Therefore, I ask you to be curious about the idea that will be presented in this text, and perhaps at least for some readers the fog of uncertainty will become a little less impenetrable, and the concepts and ideas that I understand in this material will serve as a kind of beacon for thought in a sea of chaos.
There are only four types of war. Each type is a kind of limit of a certain idea, of course, if you analyze each specific case in its historical context, you need to be extremely accurate in the assessments and not simplify. These types are not found in their pure form. Rather, they are a kind of main points on the coordinate system, which allow us to somehow navigate past and present events and see their ontological and target meaning.
The classification of war types is based on two parameters. Both of them are short questions to which the observer, the participant, and most importantly, decision-makers about the beginning, progress, and conditions for the end of wars, should ideally be able to respond. The first question is: against whom is the war being waged? The second question: what is the war around (what is the subject of the conflict)?
Two answers are possible to the first question. War can be waged against another and Us. Yes, do not be surprised, the enemy in the war is not always a subject who is different from us. Here I, perhaps, need to explain what I mean when I say “using the concepts We and the concept of Other”. There is a certain duality in these words, which is directly related to the problems of war.
I'll start with the obvious. In reality, any social phenomenon, regardless of the depth of experience of another kind with which it can be associated, has a spatial dimension. Each person occupies a certain physical space. Each community is limited by the physical number of its members and the physical place they occupy. Each existing state has a physical dimension - a territory limited by borders and population. Every nation as a collective subject could not exist without people who consider themselves part of this subject. Moreover, this space is meaningful to the community living in a certain territory and this understanding always happens. It is obvious from the observation that space has different characteristics - each piece of territory is more or less unique in terms of climate, soil quality, availability or absence of natural resources, and so on. These material differences cannot but affect the lifestyles of people living in this space. In any community, there are many symbolic layers through which the interaction between the individual and reality is carried out. But for these symbolic layers to exist, there must be a place in the beginning.
It is obvious that in the intersection of socio-symbolic and physical realities, largely due to the heterogeneity of the latter, there is not one place, but many places. These spaces affect communities, as the heterogeneity of space contributes to the heterogeneity of cultures and communities. The limit of this influence, which stems from the huge scale of space in comparison with a group of people, was the birth of the phenomenon of the Other. Another, in primary experience, is just someone who does not live in the same space as I or We.
But that's not all. The fact is that we perceive not only the space of material phenomena, but also the space of ideas/archetypes/identities, in a word, meanings. And this second space is also in a state of hierarchies concerning its elements. If there were only one universal meaning in the world of ideas, then in principle there would be no phenomenon of international and running ahead of the 4 types of wars there would be only two left. But no, at the level of ideas and values multiple groups are different from each other. And, more importantly, it is through the prism of these ideas that the idea of Us and Others is formed. The very concept of security is directly related to our perception of reality.
A simple example: it is unlikely that Israel would be worried about the emergence of a base with U.S. nuclear missiles off its coast, but the possibility of Iran's nuclear weapons is an existential threat to this country. There is no fundamental difference in material reality between nuclear warheads, but from the point of view of the world, the idea is a determining difference. It is the meanings that determine whether we perceive an action as a threat or not. In the theory of international relations, the approach that specializes in this problem is called the theory of ontological safety.
But where does another one in the world of Meanings come from? Everything here is not so unambiguous either. The classic of constructivism Alexander Wendt, for example, believed that contact with the Other is the birth point of Us. In other words, only at the moment of collision of what will become Us in the future, with what we will perceive as Others in the future, and We and They arise at the same time.
Following many authors, I will not agree with Wendt and even more so with Carl Schmitt. Let me remind you that the latter generally considered the division into Friend and Enemy to be the foundation of any political attitude itself - the relationship around power. So, what's my disagreement. There are neither Us nor the Other on Schmitt and Vendt before the contact took place. But this contradicts logic: for something to come into contact, something must already exist at least. To exist at least as a potential, as a symbolic structure created by a certain group of the intellectual elite (even if all this elite is three priests in the primitive tribe). Moreover, it is from how We are formed to the Contact that both participants will largely determine the outcome of this interaction. But then the question remains - where do We come from?
I would venture to offer the following answer to this question. The phenomenon of collective being has its nature in the experience of a life of a conscious subject in the face of death. Time is a necessary condition for the event. An event is a joint existence of intelligent subjects, no matter two of them or millions. Any event is a religious phenomenon. Religion is not necessarily in the sense of "related to a specific organized religion, the church", but religious as "related to the transcendental". This truth was formulated by Eric Vogelen: "the existence of any community in which there is a hierarchy depends primarily on the fact that members of the community understand themselves as integrity" (Fogelin, Political Religions).
And this is exactly what is the understanding that exists BEFORE contact with another - otherwise, in fact, there is no contact. We realize ourselves as "we" through contact with the Other - the Enemy. But this recognition is preceded by the event's awareness of oneself as such. First, through the formulation of a collective attitude to the transcendental community, determines itself, and only that is why it is possible to recognize itself from the collective Other.
The above given is directly related to the problem of war. So we figured out the concepts of We and the Other. What's coming out from the point of view of the theory of War. Conflict is possible both within the group - that is, within Us and between groups - between Us and Others. And these are very different types of conflicts. And symbolic We are also a whole structure of hierarchies. Let's take as an example later the Middle Ages: We are members of Pax Christiana - a particular church (Orthodoxy/Catholics/Protestants - the subject of a particular monarch - vassals of some aristocrat/citizens of some city, etc.) - these are all the conflicts within these We will be different depending Let's say in the event of a conflict between two kingdoms: it is simultaneously a conflict within Us as Christians, and between Us and the Other as the subject of different kings. Why is it important - because in this case there is still an opportunity for the language based on which negotiations can be conducted. If we and our opponent - Others even at the highest level of abstraction, then peace between Us. There can be no other, only a truce - but about that later. For example, in the case of a conflict between the Christian King and the Muslim emir.
And now the answer to the second question: war can be waged around some material interest, and can be conducted around a question of sacred significance - that's what I propose to call foreign policy
The phenomena of extended interest "happen" naturally. They require neither the existence of states, nor the structure of the international system, nor international global organizations, nor a balance of power or interests, nor even a way to interpret reality. Extended interest arises due to the peculiarities of the spatial difference between groups of people. Sometimes it happens that some interest of the group goes beyond the usual space of its existence.
The simplest example is the trade: the road along which goods move physically begins in one place and through many localities turns out to be in another. When the physical space of the road intersects with the space of human communities, there is a field for interaction between them. This interaction can be violent (robbery/protection against robbery) or opposite cooperative (exchange of goods and formation through this international market). Interaction can be spontaneous, organized through traditions (hospital practices), or formalized legally - for example, roads, such as agreements on the rules for the use of the trade route, tax system, duties, and so on. But the determining sign of extended interest is always a spontaneous character, it germinates from the interaction of individuals around physical phenomena in space. In this sense, going to a neighbor for salt for soup and the contact that arises around it, going to the forest for firewood, to the river for drinking water are examples of elementary long interest.
The question of the sacred is a question of conflict regarding the principles and ideas that create Us as a group - those sacred meanings that make the group a separate event, not part of the other Self. The very fact of the existence of conscious life in an event in the face of time and death creates a phenomenon of what I propose to designate as foreign policy. Since historically many events have created many different symbolic systems, and there is still no precedent for a sacred system for describing reality one for all living people, the bearers of these different ideas are forced to touch and interact with each other. The phenomenon of this interaction and the whole complex of relations arising around this interaction is called foreign policy. Metaphorically, if spatial interests are a question of the interaction of My body and the bodies of Others, the issue of foreign policy tries to explain the principles of communication between the communication of Our Stories and the Stories of Others.
Interim conclusion: War can be waged between Us and the Other and Within Us. War can also be waged around some Material Interest or the Subject of Foreign Policy. Accordingly, there are 4 options for assembling these answers:
Let's start with a simple one. The first type is the war against the Other around material interest: a combination of two concepts: the term Polemos proposed by Plato is a war between the Greek Polis and Barbarian, and the principle of "war continuation of politics by other means" Clausewitz.
What distinguishes this type of war. First of all, it's a war without rules. There is no need to observe any laws concerning the barbarian: "our citizens should treat barbarians - as the Hellenes now treat each other [that is, burn, rob, enslave]" (Plato, State 471,b). It does not matter how much the local population suffers to achieve Our political goal - for example, establishing control over the export of rare Goods. But secondly, since the war has a measurable goal - cruelty in it is not an end in itself, and as this goal is realized, violence comes back. In general, this type of war is very common in history - British colonial empires, nomadic raids on Slavs to rob or acquire slaves, Viking raids, etc. This is an extremely important point: in a war of this type, violence is a tool for achieving the task and as a rule, it is proportional to it, the implementation acquisition of the plan, completes violence. This does not mean that such conflicts have few victims - no, but it means that there is an understandable rational logic that controls violence.
How do you win this war? Through an adequate assessment of your own and your opponent of strength capabilities and better management of their resources.
The second type of war: is the war within Us, but still around Material interest: a combination of the concepts of stasis (civil war within the policy) and the Clausewitz principle.
This is probably the most worthy of this word is applicable in this topic, a type of war. First, the very concept of the rules of war is applicable only when we speak the same symbolic language with the enemy. It can just be a custom of honor that prohibits, for example, blood revenge for those who fell in battle, or international conventions prohibit certain types of weapons. In any case, the degree of complexity of the rules and the reliability of their observance is directly proportional to the degree of commonality between Us. The more we consider the enemy to be part of Us, the more in case of a conflict around material interest, we tend to play by the rules.
Historically, during the dominance of monarchy and feudalism as a way of political organization of the event, most international conflicts could also be described as a conflict of the second type - the issue of ownership of a monarch to inheritance, which happened to be a territory extended in space. From this point of view, there is no fundamental difference between the conflict between grandchildren living in different cities around the golden chandelier and the suburban area of the deceased grandfather and the right of the King of France to the Duchy of Savoy, inherited by him on his second cousin. These are based on legal issues, which, yes, require forceful reinforcement, but around which a compromise is fundamentally achievable. Thus, if issues of extended interest are not the subject of survival of the event (for example, the situation of control of one tribe over the granary during the famine, or the desire of one side to settle fertile lands previously belonging to another event), their discussion by representatives of the events makes practical sense outside the communicative act itself, and the purpose of negotiations may be to resolve the dispute.
In general, this is the most humane type of war. Since the war is waged in a sense against their own, regarding a specific issue, both sides understand that at the end of it they continue to live together, and this makes violence as controllable as possible. Yes, it can be extremely large-scale with a huge number of victims, but at the same time, for example, some tools allow you to limit 90% of victims to combatants.
The second type of war includes most wars between European monarchs in the XVIII century before the French Revolution and wars between kingdoms within Pax Christian. Victory in such a war depends on an adequate assessment of forces, on the abilities of commanders, on the number of resources in your hands. But the price of defeat is not so high - in the worst case, you lose only the material subject of the dispute (road, port, right to own the city) and pay compensation.
The third type of war: against the Other and around foreign policy. Crusade.
Wars of the third type arise due to the above-mentioned symbolic heterogeneity of the space of ideas and the desire of some symbolic systems to spread beyond the group. In this regard, it is necessary to introduce the concept of an eschatological project - a group of events that preserves a single eschatological - symbolic system of meanings. For example, the idea of Pax Christiana - as a world of Christian states can be considered as a single eschatological project, just as the project of the Islamic world - the Ummah. As a result, foreign policy is impossible between events within one eschatological project, and all relations between them address only the issues of correlation of extended interests and coexistence in space. These issues can be resolved through conflict or negotiations, but as long as there is an agreement between events on sacred symbolism, we will imagine peace between them, and dialogue between them makes sense as a means of achieving peace. This compromise is possible precisely because there is a point of principled agreement beyond the existence of events - a single transcendence that can act as a measure of Truth and its guideline.
What happens when there is a clash between different systems of meanings around sacred questions? It turns out that there is no compromise between them. Communities can discuss interests, but not the sources of their political language, since logically the right to determine what is the source of the Truth of a political event cannot be divided. Precisely because the question of being in the face of death is also the question of Truth as such, it can only have mutually exclusive points of view. In other words, in a warlike the Crusade, the idea around which the event of Another or Our event was previously consolidated should die. As a result, one symbolic system should disappear, and the population that was its material reason should be absorbed into another community.
Therefore, this is the ultimate war, because, a war without rules (polemos), is a war in which compromise is impossible. A war in which violence has no rational limit is a war to the last subject bearer of identity, a total war, a mass war. There is no political goal that is proportional to violence in the war of the Crusade. And examples of these wars come from antiquity. When the kingdom of front Asia attacks another city by the state - kills its God the King, destroys its idols and priests, and steals all survivors to their city - the first "Crusade" takes place.
During truce periods, wars are going on in a non-violent phase - at the level of struggle of ideas and propaganda of different values. The driving forces of foreign policy can be not only states. Church institutions, missionary work, non-governmental organizations, groups to promote a specific ideology have historically assumed the functions of foreign policy pressure itself. In the most abstract sense, any actor promotes a certain symbolic picture and the need to transform another event following it. In this sense, there is no universal system of values yet, humanity is doomed to the Crusades - there is no consolation for pacifists. But, and this is the most important forgotten truth, worse than the open Crusade, only the Crusade can be unconscious. Every force that distributes sacred values should count down on the scale of bets in this game and be fully responsible for its mission! The historical fault, for example, of the European Union and NATO is not that they spread their values and expanded, but that they repeatedly refuse to bear the ultimate responsibility for their sacred project, believing that the whole world AAAA already lives on its own a single system of values.
Victory in War III depends in the short term on who is stronger on the battlefield - there is always a risk of simply physical destruction of all carriers of another identity. But if this does not happen, then in the long term the idea/system of values will always win, which is closest to real-truth. Therefore, many symbolic systems tend to be reborn from the ashes.
The final and most terrible type of war: is civil war around foreign policy. Religious War. Its examples are wars between sects within Christianity (Albigensian Crusades), the Thirty Years' War of the XVII century. Civil and World Wars of the XX century.
Just as wars of the third type are wars in the limit without rules, these are the most total wars up to the last man. These are wars with the most unlimited violence since the Other in it is not just a stranger, but a heretic is the one who was Us but changed Our Truth. Again, this is the worst type of conflict.
Separately, I note that this state of civil war always awaits any political community. We are always on the verge of this war - that's why there is a sphere of politics. For example, the idea of democracy is a much way to keep those forces that feed the fourth type of war under control through institutions and procedures. But if we forget that we are always on the bridge of civil war, if we forget that the basis of our event is our symbolic unity, we launch mechanisms of self-destruction within Us - the mechanisms of the Cold Civil War.
How can you win this war? Again, firstly, to avoid the complete physical destruction of the group, and secondly, to reread the prophet Isaiah - to remember the need to constantly check how much our symbolic core corresponds to reality. The Prophet appeals to the citizens of the state of Judea, who, as we would say today, in a difficult geopolitical situation, is on the verge of its survival. Under the threat of invasion by its neighbors, Babylon, the Jewish kingdom was looking for a way to preserve itself, becoming a junior partner and ally of another Great Power - Egypt. The symbolism of Egypt in the Old Testament is associated not only with historical reality but also with the image of an extremely powerful state as such. Isaiah directly says that the hope for strong states, while maintaining practices within the community that has made it vulnerable to destruction, is meaningless:
Isaiah 30. 1-3 "Woe to disobedient sons, says the Lord, who make conferences, but without Me, and make covenants, but not according to My spirit, to sin. Without asking My mouth, they go to Egypt to support themselves with the power of Pharaoh and hide under the shadow of Egypt. But the power of Pharaoh will be a shame to you, and refuge under the shadow of Egypt will be dishonor."
That is, Judea is already in a state of internal disintegration, as its goal has consistently set a deviation from wisdom/contact with reality - sin. And empty she hopes to solve her problems without proper self-reflection, they will turn into even more terrible unpredictable consequences - shame and dishonor. This situation of Judea is not accidental, but a consequence of a specific choice, the understanding of which is key to answering the central question of this text. In the following lines, the synthesis of all the intellectual movements we have done so far:
Isaiah 30. 9-11: These are a rebellious people, false children, children who do not want to listen to the law of the Lord, who say to those who see, "Stop seeing," and to the prophets: "Do not prophesy righteousness to us, tell us flattering things, predict pleasant things; get off the road, turn away from the way; remove them from the eyes of our Holy One of Israel."
Contact with reality is lost as a result of the inversion of empathy and bringing it to absurdity, as a result of the desire to listen and say pleasant, not true things! The nature of speech is the transfer of truth between people or at least the search for this truth in public space. But any truth in one way or another contains an element of oppression, as it cuts off illusions - lies. Next, we are free to make choices - you can, armed with will and courage, meet the world as it is and find a way to a meaningful life in it. You can see the irreconcilable tragedy of being, try through pleasant speeches to escape from reality to a utopia - to a non-place. When such flight becomes widespread at the level of public symbolism, when the world is accused of all suffering and all failures, which befalls a person, when humility in the face of reality becomes forgotten and the rebellion is proclaimed the basis of the event:
Is. 30.13 then this lawlessness will be for you like a crack threatening to fall, found in a high wall, with which destruction will come suddenly, in an instant.
The unpredictable consequences of some erroneous decision made as a result of a deliberate rupture of contact with reality give rise to multiplying entropy, accumulate over some time, and then suddenly for the observer and as if from nowhere lead to a point of catastrophe. So, you can win a war of the fourth type only if you are able not to lie to yourself and are in very close contact with reality, simply because of the fact that any mistake is equal to destruction. Even if reality is painful, even if it requires thinking and not feeling, requires predicting the opponent's moves and not just hating him and considering him unable to make a strong move, requires looking to the future and the eternal, and not relying on the flattery of the past.
In conclusion, I will demonstrate what is happening now in Ukraine in terms of the proposed model of war. It all depends on whose position you are looking from.
Putin is undergoing a type 4 war. The internal civil conflict against Heretics - Ukrainians who dared to change the faith of the Russian World, as he understands it and should be returned to it by force. Now it is obvious that this is how the Russian president perceives what is happening, which he honestly warned in his way in the summer of 2021, in which Ukraine was designated as anti-Russia. Moreover, simultaneously with this war, the Russian president is in a defensive conflict of the third type, being in a state of the Crusade against the West, defending in it the right to exist the sacred system of meanings that underlie the subject of "historical Russia", and which have been under continuous attack by Western propaganda for the past 30 years. As analysts, we need to understand that regardless of what is happening in reality, this is how the Russian decision-making elite sees the present moment and it is from this picture of the world that it makes decisions, up to the most apocalyptic ones. Since there is no marginal price that can be paid in wars about the sacred - any price is acceptable for the sake of the Sacred - we can expect the worst scenario.
On the part of the United States, China, and Turkey, there is the First type of conflict - over material interests with the External Barbarian. It is possible to separately describe the whole game of these subjects, but it is obvious that each of them rationally solves its political tasks, regardless of the price that other participants will play in this war. The problems and lives of barbarians do not concern civilized people - they have not recognized empathy, but are subject to the calculation of the benefits and costs of political action.
There is a second type of conflict on the part of the European Union - a civil war with the former part of Europe, which suddenly began to behave, breaking all reasonable principles and rules, and therefore this part must be stopped. But since Russia has historically always been perceived as a special, exotic, but integral part of the European space, the EU is trying to wage this war according to the rules, incurring only losses in it so far.
From the point of view of Ukraine, there is a war of the third type - the defensive Crusade, primarily from Putin's Russia, but in fact from other forces also - the country is fighting for its unique history, and Ukraine does not yet have real unconditional allies. The key to victory or defeat in this war is only in Ukraine. Let's NOT say pleasant things to each other: the country's situation is extremely difficult, as peace in the third type of conflict is impossible. Defeat is at least the temporary death of the entire non-tyrannical volitional beginning of the entire great tradition of Russia. That's bad news. Logically, either victory remains, or if a complete victory on the battlefield is possible for either side, then a truce.
In conclusion, in conflicts of type three and four, the truce can sometimes last decades and even centuries, and if this time is spent on creating a system of meanings and practices more adequate to reality than your Enemy, then this time won can be the key to strategic success and revival from the ashes. In history, this was constantly the case - the Arab East defeated the Crusaders, Finland survived the USSR, the state of Israel became the leading country in the Middle East. N this requires the filigree work of elites at all levels, the ultimate inner honesty of each member of society, and the ability to understand the logic of all participants in the war better than they understand it to work on the contradictions and mistakes of opponents. The latter requires words, meanings, and descriptive models, and I hope that the text proposed to you will contribute to this tough challenge.