The semantics of military mobilizations and what it means for Russia... - SÜLEYMAN SEYFI ÖĞÜN

The semantics of military mobilizations and what it means for Russia...

Russia turned a new leaf over the events in Ukraine. Word games are an inevitable part of civilization. Semantics, temporarily precede life most of the time. However, it is the realities of life that make the final decision. The events in Ukraine have been nothing but war since the very beginning. However, through word games, Russia used terms such as operation and intervention. The latest mobilization decision was a complete game changer. We are now clearly talking about war. 

While civil mobilizations are commonplace, a military mobilization is an exceptional state. People spend the majority of their lives in civil mobilizations. Getting an education, a job, getting married and having children comprise the lines of civil life’s primary mobilization. These lines take shape through the cultural codes that give them meaning. 


Military mobilization, on the other hand, works in two ways: First, societies support the army against outside threats during times of peace 

as preparation for likely war. There are those who choose military service as a career. The tangible problem here is the shortcomings in the execution of the profession. A doctor or an engineer will immediately see the practical responses of what they learned during their educational training when they start to work. The function of military service is war. The lack of war is, in fact, a lack of function. As this lack can dampen war skills, a continuous state of vigilance is necessary to keep those skills fresh. All sorts of indoctrinations, war games, and drills that will keep troops alert against a likely or imaginary enemy are initiatives aimed at this. Military mobilizations are limited to these during times of peace. 


In the age of modernity, a disposition that is associated especially with figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Otto von Bismarck, and aimed at tight overlapping between civil and military mobilizations emerged. The conceptual top of this overlapping is “military nation,” and the base is nation. The military nation is a concept that shortens and expedites the passage from civil mobilization grounds to the military mobilization ground. The response to this going beyond a familiarization and turning into association is militarism. The aforementioned overlapping inevitably caused a short circuit, and led to problems conceptualized as civil-military tensions. 


The familiarization of the two mobilization fields is not a Napoleonic fantasy. This feeds directly on the capitalist political economy. Capitalism gave rise to a societation based on a denominational division of labor. This was called nation. Nation is the name of a division of labor consisting of capitalist upper classes, middle classes, and the common, crowded, proletarian classes. According to Ernest Gellner’s on-point definition, nation is an industry-based production and consumption field. Though industry relatively differentiates capitalism through the democratic-libertarian softeners at the civilian level in time, it is, essentially, a production discipline. It reserves puritan family, school, workplace disciplines, virtuous discourses, and ensures civil societation and socializations as a whole. 


Strangely, it is capitalism that both founded and demolished this discipline. Capitalist crises wear out the orders they establish. Therefore, they gain a militarist nature in an almost infallible orderliness. The military nation is a crisis-solver. Overalls are removed, and military uniforms are worn.  It is not difficult to understand a mobilization shifting between the overall and uniform in disciplined industry societies. 


The issue is the wear out of industrial societies. This wear out has become further obvious with the switch between production capitalism and consumption capitalism. This is the replacement of the productive human (homo faber), described as ascetic, and altruist, with the egoist, narcissist, opportunist, and consumer (homo consumens). This is a cultural-moral transformation that gradually developed in the last half-century but peaked in the last quarter century. The production obsession made room for virtues. However, in the consumption society, the virtue claim cannot go beyond being the subject of a satirical sitcom. This transition has been accompanied by an increasingly growing gap between intelligence and the body. The mind reproduced itself in techno-virtuality, free from all concerns, but with a passion of the same extent, while bodies have fallen into a void. This void, though, is filled with a fetish aimed at bodies. It is filled with industries based on antiaging, nutrition, fitness, fashion, and cosmetic surgeries. 


We thought the collapse of production societies was liberation. Capitalism crises are the cause of this illusion. We thought the crisis was salvation. Yet the crisis has now surrounded us in all corners. Stagnation and inflation equalized. There is no return. Capitalism resorts to known means: It is escalating militarism. Yet, there is no longer any trace left from the productive discipline society. How will you get hedonist, selfish people who have been used to consumption to bear arms and fight? The curtain opened in Russia. But if the war grows and spreads to Europe, and especially to the Atlantic and the Pacific, what happens there will be no different from what is happening today in Russia. 


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