site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of December 26, 2022

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

11
Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

To anyone who has discussed the issue with pro-Ukraine people.

Why do people support Ukraine fighting against Russia, with a strange militaristic fervor, instead of supporting surrendering / negotiating peace?

Anglin makes the points that:

-the war is severely impoverishing Europe due to high energy costs

-the war is destroying Ukraine ( population + territory / infrastructures / institutions)

-continuing the war increases the chances of a world war

Is it cheering for the possible destruction of Russia?

Something to do with the current leadership of Russia, anti-LGBTQ, pro-family policies?

Is it about the 1991 borders of Ukraine, issues with post-Soviet Union border disputes?

Notion that 'if we don't stop Putin now he will never stop no matter what'? Is it something about broadly standing up against aggression of one state vs another, supporting the 'underdog'?

The issue with that one which seems to be central to Alexander's March 22 post is that there isn't much that seems capable of stopping Russia.

Sending another 100k Ukrainians to the meatgrinder for that end seems a little bit harsh coming from people with very little skin in the game.

Just signaling what they are told is the correct opinion?

Is it about saving face, sunk cost at this point?

What would be the best case scenario for a Ukraine/State Department victory?

To my understanding, Putin is not the most radical or dangerous politician in Russia, and an implosion into ethnicity-based sub-regions would cause similar problems to the 'Arab Spring'. Chechens for example would not appear very West-friendly once 'liberated' from Russia.

Not only that, but economic crisis in Europe could generate additional security risks.

  • -13

This is one of those perspective posts on people who say the west is wasting money https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-12-30/elon-musk-becomes-first-person-ever-to-lose-200-billion?leadSource=uverify%20wall

The money we put into Ukraine is half of the money one of our American dudes has lost the last few months. This is one of those hot takes that just exemplifies how much richer we’ve become than Russia. And a good reason why Ukraine would want to be one ally versus Russia.

Elon didn't actually lose money. If I created a company with a billion shares, sold one for $1, I'd be a billionaire. If that company folds the next day, my net worth would plummet. But there was no actual value lost.

With Ukraine, actual cash, goods, services, missiles, are being used up. The economic impact is people actually losing money, not making productive use of their labour, or that labour being diverted elsewhere. Infrastructure and lives are being destroyed. Time is being lost.

This will be a setback for Europe. Though it'll probably be a net benefit for America.

I agree with your analysis. And these are just market values and not real losses (I’ve always thought Tesla was a great company but overvalued) but for a perspective thing I still think it makes sense.

The important thing to remember is that the vast majority of those goods, services, missiles etc... were manufactured during the Cold war with the specific intent of holding off a Soviet invasion of Europe. Rather than being a waste or "setback", every Javelin fired at a Russian AFV and every Stinger fired at a Russian aircraft is an achievement of purpose. My take is that every neo-soviet killed by NATO arms in Ukraine makes Europe safer so praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

Pro-Ukrainians don’t usually grapple with the hard issues that make Ukraine a unique and complex case.

  • America meddling in Ukrainian elections. America promoted an insurrection in the Ukrainian capitol, changing the results of their presidential election, by funding fake news media that pushed debunked stories. (The irony should not be lost on us.)

  • NATO expansion onto the doorstep of Russia, the enshrining of NATO membership into the Ukrainian constitution, and joint naval drills and training for when membership became safe.

  • The cultural continuity between eastern Ukraine and Russia

  • The soft “cultural genocide” of indigenous ethnic Russians in the east of Ukraine via oppression on Russian-language small businesses and journalists, forcing them to speak Ukrainian in shops, publishing in Ukrainian on the front page whether offline or online.

  • The will of the people of Crimea to join with Russia in 2014, not just evidenced by their election but by our own government’s polling done by the the broadcast board of governors. This was unacceptable to Ukraine.

An obvious hypothetical is, what would we do if Cuba decided to host Russian nukes? How about if Canada joined a “defensive” alliance with China? We would obviously do the same thing that Russia is doing with Ukraine. When a rival superpower uses corruption and media propaganda to influence elections of your neighbor, which results in a push toward joining their military bloc, you take action. It’s that simple.

If you support America’s exclusive hegemony, this is probably a good idea (fuck Russia!). If you support Western civilization, this is probably a bad idea.

Because none of that is factual.

  • West had limited involvement in maiden. It was mostly their own decision. Probably because they look west and Poland is getting rich and they look east and there’s a bunch of poor peasants

  • nato isn’t a threat to a nuclear power. And as this was has proven Ukraine has no choice but to join nato be an independent country

  • there’s some truth to suppression of Russian culture

  • Russia has at no point offered Crimea or the Eastern regions independence. Russia at no point has had a goal of less than regaining the all of Ukraine. Those regions were used as attempts to interfere with Ukranian politics and eventually reestablish control of kyiv

  • Not all countries get to control their neighbors. If we stop with an assumption that every country gets to dictate terms of their neighbors then every country would be at war constantly trying to establish that. Russia is clearly NOT capable of projecting force outside their borders anymore.

  • looking at history theirs a huge difference between being in American sphere of influence and in Russias sphere. Russians sphere well has things like Holodomore happen to them. The American sphere even when we do bad things has limited bad things happen to the people of the country. One can look at population charts and places like Iraq/Afghanistan barely see population drops and then they boom, while places like syria or Ukraine see huge pop drops when Russia gets involved.

Also saying something is a complex case and your opponents don’t think about those things isn’t true. We do think about those things. We just don’t find those as dominating factors.

You write

Because none of that is factual.

and then almost immediately

bunch of poor peasants

Which fraction of pop of Russia involved in agriculture, what do you think? It's not a first time you throw 'peasants' just for fun.

Not referring to being farmers. But a more general being poor.

I can just use Russian own propaganda to justify my position. They literally tell us their people are

poor.

https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1604548265802096641?s=46&t=cJUMoctDB-RQWpQq-S5_qQ

looking at history theirs a huge difference between being in American sphere of influence and in Russias sphere. Russians sphere well has things like Holodomore happen to them. The American sphere even when we do bad things has limited bad things happen to the people of the country.

I don't necessarily disagree with your general point but this is just a lazy argument. There are obviously breaks in political continuity in Russian history that aren't present in American history. For better or worse, contemporary Russia isn't the USSR or the Russian Tsardom.

If I made an argument that a country being under German influence today is a bad thing because Nazis and Holocaust, people would rightfully laugh at me.

This is not to say that being under contemporary Russian influence is a good thing - it's probably not - but actually make the argument about why this is the case and don't just make lazy appeals to history. And preferably an argument that doesn't refer to the supposed 'innate barbarity' of the Russian people that I've seen crop up a lot.

I literally quoted population charts of Iraq/Afghanistan versus Syria/Ukraine. And the Holdomore. Yea I could have gone out and likely found 50 more examples but honestly some times you don’t feel like writing novels. Sure I could have quoted more bad things Stalin did. I could have quoted how serfdom in Russia became nearly indistinguishable from chattel slavery which no civilized country was doing to people of the same skin color. And I can quote the current war and the human rights abuses being committed in Ukraine and direct targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure with artillery.

Holodomor occured because of economist policy of that government. Turning Holodomor into a tribal issue is a way to make more hostility and real corpses in future.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine private ownership of land wasn't working until as recently as 2019. In many ways post-1991 Ukraine was more sovok than post-1991 Russia

What Russia isn’t responsible for causing a famine because it was just “economic” policy? What kind of logic is that? A government is not responsible for their own economic policy that led to millions dying in famine.

You'd think there would be more than a few "unique and complex" aspects to take into account to the other direction, such as:

  • the long history of Russia/SU violently stamping down on Ukrainian national consciousness reflected in things like Czarist language bans, the Stalinist anti-Ukrainian turn etc.

  • the pre-2014 (one might even say pre-2022) process of slow death Ukrainian language in face of Russian minority's unwillingness to use Ukrainian in daily life necessitating the use of special privileges for Ukrainian language to prevent this language death

  • Russia's long history of considering the ex-Soviet states as its special playground for intervening at will right out of gate (Abkhazia/South Ossetia/Transnistria), as well by fomenting hybrid operations in eg. Baltic countries, considerably contributing to the attraction

  • Russia's specific past confirmation of Ukraine's borders including Crimea as valid, flagrantly violated in 2014 and then violated even moreso in 2022 (whatever polling of Crimea's population is immaterial when considering this violation - the German seizure of Sudetenland in 1938 was surely supported by the great majority of local population, that did not make it any more valid)

  • the general role of the seizure of Crimea in hypercharging the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and turning it into an Ukrainian/Russian one - something pro-Russians, as a rule, almost seem to treat as an individual event with no particular connection to the rest of the conflict

Even if one still would believe in the justification of the seizure of Crimea, opposition to Ukraine's NATO quest (a post-Euromaidan development BTW - NATO membership was not at a stake at any part of Euromaidan, and even the immediate post-Yanukovich govt at first eschewed NATO), opposition to Ukraine's language laws, one might still expect these things to be taken into account or noted in some way, but no, it's all just about Ukrainians hating Russia and Russian language for seemingly no reason at all and eight-years-of-bombing-Donetsk, again, for seemingly no reason at all.

Speaking for myself: Russia and russians, present company excepted, creep me the fuck out. Something about the way they talk. It's outright alien. Call it racism if you like, but letting Russia gain more influence in Europe is no more appealing to me than letting China or wokists do it.

This is not something that I would have wanted a war to start over, but now that the war is already on I really can't see a scenario in which Russia gets its way as desirable.

What's more: Ukraine is ours now. It may not have been previously, and it's not worth much to us in practical terms, but sides have been taken. The fact of being on the same side is more strongly binding than any rational justification for war or peace.

Combine all of that with the general anomie of the West and why the hell shouldn't we want for the war to continue? Losing wealth? We still have lots to spare, and the excitement is worth it. Playing into America's hands? Maybe, but the US is NATO and NATO is golden. NATO is what kept Europe from being one big East Germany, or worse, one big Ukraine.

NATO is what kept Europe from being one big East Germany, or worse, one big Ukraine.

East Germany is still Germany.

You can't have Europe without Europeans. NATO has been turning Western Europe into one big American city, and they have a tendency to spontaneously combust.

That's not NATO, it's the people of Europe being infected by fitter memes. Look around - all the people of the world are attracted to them, including Russians.

By fitter memes do you mean American or Islam?

American in this instance.

The way I see it Islam is also fitter than European culture, but more through its demographics and politics than by outsiders wanting it.

There is some data suggesting that in the general population Islam is losing ground to beliefs and attitudes more aligned with current Western culture, e.g. irreligiosity is increasing and fertility rates are declining.

This might reverse in the long term with the rise of subgroups who are immune to Western memes and might outcompete mainstream society by way of better birthrates, but as far as a timeline of e.g. 50 years into the future is concerned I'd be pretty confident in predicting that we will see a Middle East where the societal importance of Islam greatly declines. This is entirely anecdotal and subject to selection bias, but from my dealings with Gulf Arabs I've got the impression that they're more concerned about Ronaldo and Messi than Sharia Law.

Aye, but that's the Global-American meme winning out, not the specifically European one, is it?

That and Russia’s eat making capacity appears heavily limited (and reduced from the start of the campaign). Fear of future Russian aggression should now be lowered heavily. Therefore a negotiated settlement that provides some tangible results for both sides seems in the best interest of the world.

Ukraine may balk but if you turn off the funding spigot then Putin can wait out Ukraine and win big. So the US should exert its funding power to get Ukraine to make reasonable concessions.

Ukraine may balk but if you turn off the funding spigot then Putin can wait out Ukraine and win big. So the US should exert its funding power to get Ukraine to make reasonable concessions.

What would you consider reasonable concessions that are not "accept Russia's terms"?

Recognize crimea as Russian (ie recognize the status quo ante facts)

Agree to hold a referendum in donabass region after Russia pulls out. Third party troops there to help mitigate any pressure exerted. Both parties can send observers. Both parties live with outcome. Referendum permits losing side to migrate to losing side’s country.

That's a win for Russia. No way will Ukraine accept that now. And it also does nothing to deter Russia from rebuilding and rolling over western Ukraine in the near future.

Well, Ukraine wouldn’t accept that assuming basically a blank check from the western powers. But if the funding spigot is turned off, Ukraine’s position is weakened.

Personally, I don't find that unreasonable, though I don't think my opinion (or the West's) should outweigh Ukraine's.

My understanding is that Russia isn't currently willing to settle for that.

My house my rules. That is, sure Ukraine you can do what you want but likewise we can do what we want and turn off funding. But if you want funding to continue then you need to accept certain conditions etc

Issue is your deals not on the table. Most Americans think something along those lines are fair. But Russia hasn’t come anywhere close to offering those terms.

My understanding is there have been very little negotiating on either side. Question is why (eg is it Russia isn’t willing to come to the table, or Ukraine won’t negotiate at all regarding territory concessions).

They're fighting for different things. Ukraine wants to take back territory and is succeeding marginally with little hope of ultimate success. Russia is fighting for reputation, their initial effort to take the whole country failed and now they just want a small win to point to and a decent interval before pulling out. Like Nixon and Kissinger in Vietnam, the war is lost but they can't lose like that. Until the outcome becomes clear for one side, no negotiation is practical.

More comments

Russian official statements have never given any indication that a cease fire would require less than recognizing any currently controlled territory (and still claim ownership of Kherson). Imo current lines are not long term defensible for a restart of the war for Ukraine.

Why would the Ukrainians surrender or seek peace terms when they're winning? Typically, belligerents only seek peace when war has settled into a stalemate or when the risks of continuing the war become very large. Neither of this is true for Ukraine. In addition, Russia still controls territory the Ukrainians regard as theirs.

European politicians support the war because Eastern Europeans are still afraid of the Russian bogeyman, despite barely being able to project power on it's own front step. American politicians support the war because they're making bank off energy exports to Europe. British politicians support the war because they are stupid.

they're winning

Russia still controls territory the Ukrainians regard as theirs.

How's that win?

If they're winning, why are they still begging for money?

They are winning, not they have won. It's a process.

If they started negotiating today, they'd get some sort of a deal. If they kept up the war effort for another month then started negotiating, they'd probably get a better deal (even including a month worth of damage) because they would be in better position. That has held true from the first day of the invasion to today, and will likely continue on into the future.

They're begging for money and arms because it works.

Plus, also, even if they straight-up won tomorrow, they'd probably still need money to rebuild and to compensate families who've lost children or adults to the war.

rebuild and to compensate families who've lost children or adults to the war.

???

Dead people don't need houses. Ukrainian casualties mean they need money less, not more.

And that's before we even get to the question of why my tax money should be the money that Ukraine gets.

And that's before we even get to the question of why my tax money should be the money that Ukraine gets.

What makes you think it's your tax money that's the money that Ukraine gets, as opposed to your pro-war fellow citizenry's money?

Your money tax money could be the tax money covering the roads and services that directly and indirectly support you. There's more than enough government expenditures to go around.

Complete and utter sophistry.

Money is fungible. Tax dollars (and the future taxes on which the us government borrows) fund the entire budget. You can’t say tax dollar X funds project A and tax dollar Y funds project B. Fungibility means tax dollar X and Y funds projects A and B.

If the government budget was smaller, there would be less tax (or less inflation). Or alternatively if project B is cancelled, then project C can occur.

The initial argument was stating that the government spending on Ukraine was unjustified because it is effectively ultra vires. Responding that some citizens like the spending thereby justifying the spending means no government spending can be ultra vires as some citizens will always support some government spending (see lizardman constant).

No, I don’t think that is a winning argument, especially for a government of supposedly limited powers.

The response to “but some citizens want X and X is outside the scope of government power so we should ignore that limit” is “some citizens should form a group that funds X. This happens all of the time. Why is Ukraine unique in that regard?

If it's sophistry in one direction, it's for the same reason it's sophistry in the other. It is precisely because money is fungible that the argument that one's personal money is going to unacceptable cause X ('why should my money be going to Ukraine') is as valid as the refutation that you might as well say it's to a preferable cause Y ('no, your money is going to services you use'). Money doesn't start as fungible for government services, but stop being fungible and start being individual onus for other causes.

Nor does the American (or any other modern) taxation system work on the principle of 'figure out what the fiscal year's requirements are, then decide tax rates for the year,' so arguments that if Expenditure A was absent a person's taxes would be correspondingly doesn't hold water. No modern government works on the principle of 'only citizens who want to support X have to pay taxes to support it,' and that's a pretty basic misunderstanding of how governments works to confuse government taxation and expenditure systems with the structure of a purpose-structured non-government organization. This doesn't even touch on how much of the aid to Ukraine is actually conveyed, ie in the form of government inventories not seeing use and often slated for destruction without use.

Of course, this diversion too is all sophistry to avoid the pretty blatant and obvious answer as to why Citizen Whomever's tax money should go to Ukraine: because the representatives elected by Citizen's fellow Citizens voted so in accordance with the laws and established legitimate processes of the land, to the general support of Citizen's fellow Citizens, and Ukraine is not unique in this respect. Citizen Whomever's money is also going to water treatment, electrical infrastructure, schools, hospitals, police, tax incentives, procurement, government worker salaries, and so on. This is fundamentally the same complaint for all government expenditures for things an individual tax payer doesn't like. Not liking what the government spends taxpayer money on is not the same as taxpayer being spent unjustly.

More comments

Dead people don't need houses.

Perhaps not, but the ones who are still alive might like to have an intact train station again, for example.

As someone who has previously argued that the situation leading up to the invasion Ukraine is far more complicated that most pro-Ukrainian warhawks would like you to believe, and you do make a few valid points I still strongly disagree with your post, and more specifically your responses in this thread.

While I previously defended Russia's actions in a realist sense (and still stand by that post), that doesn't make Russia's actions moral. Make no mistake, invading another country and causing death and destruction is still an immoral act, even if one wants to argue it's the least worst option for Russia's future geopolitical prospects even when counting the risk of failure. Ukraine is of course going to defend itself and it has a right to do so, regardless of questionable geopolitical circumstances leading up to the invasion.

If you want to critique the uncritical pro-Ukrainian warhawkish-ness, you are far better of criticising American foreign policy in Eastern Europe for the last three decades. While Russia obviously bares primarily responsibility for the invasion, the US also bares responsibility for creating an extremely hostile geopolitical environment, and has pursued policy that has not at all been conducive to peace and prosperity to everyone involved (certainly not the Ukrainians), to provide dubious geopolitical benefit to themselves (and when you consider the impacts to the global economy and the US itself is probably a net loss, to say nothing of the billions of dollars spent actually funding the war). Additionally it seems that that much of the 'international community', especially the US, seems more interested in prolonging the war than actually finding a path to peace. Lip-service to peace may be given, but it seems like that there is always a more 'favourable position' to achieve before peace should be negotiated. There is also a certain subsection of ultra-warhawks who seem more motivated by wanting to completely destroy Russia, as if that would be any way moral, and of course only good things have ever come out of failed states, right?

Anyway, the point is that Russia isn't the 'good guy' in this situation, even if there are genuine criticisms to make against the US and the pro-Ukrainian warhawks. You made a few good criticisms in the original post, some of which I echoed above. You should stick to those core criticism and stop with the more blatant Russia apologia.

I don't 100% support Russia in all cases. There are many things I don't understand about Russia, and a lot of the propaganda does not resonate with me.

My main issue with this whole situation is that Ukraine is making a claim to power 'We should independently be able to control our own destiny'.

Fair and good, go and fight Russia.

But that claim is not the only claim, the following one is 'So now give us money'

Clearly Ukraine does not have the material means to follow up on its ambitions.

From what I gathered so far, most commenters here support Ukraine, but they do not mostly support Ukraine because they believe that Ukraine should be independent, to my understanding.

Some like @Dean seem to support beating down Russia out of attachment to principles like 'nuclear non-proliferation' and 'preventing annexations'. Fair enough, but that's not making a moral claim, you're supporting the ethical system enforced by the top guy that you so far have been lucky to be on the good side of.

Once Ukraine has successfully 'beat down Russia', will they be independent?

Will the 'reconstruction money' come with no strings attached?

No requirements to Westernify, Americanize, Netflix your society like the Marshall plan, the EU subsidies, the occupation of Japan and West Germany?

I doubt it.

In my opinion, from the demographic, cultural, nationalist point of view, siding with the West is a sure way to end the Ukrainian nation within the next century.

Hence the absurdity of this supposedly 'nationalist' drive.

My intuition tells me that Zelensky is to Ukrainian nationalism what Sam Bankman-Fried is to ethical altruism.

I don't 100% support Russia in all cases.

Simply put, I don't believe you.

I believe him on that. I don’t think Russian supporters in the war are real fans of Russia. They seem to be anti-neoliberal regime. I tend to see two groups that buy into the arguments - those on the left typified by NakedCapitalism

Blog and those on the right who tend to broadly classify as anti-global homo types. For both parts they basically believe the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but they’ve all realized that Russia isn’t actually good but a useful fool they hope Can knock down the American Regime.

Ukranian prosperity has always been with choosing war Russia (though they didn’t choose this war if they knew this path led to war they were smarter to choose war). The income differentials between Poland and other former Russian spheres that went NATO versus Ukraine/Belarus/most of Russia is extreme.

Forgive me, but I don't think the war devistating Ukraine and absolutely crippling their country in the hopes that maybe a couple decades from now they join the EU (who knows how the EU is doing in 10 or 20 years anyway) and hopefully get something out it economically is/was the most optimal of all possibilities.

Ukraine isn’t a real country under Russia control. It’s impoverished country that would face constant emigration.

And these aren’t “maybe you get rich” - everyone else who embraced NATO got rich.

I love how the “realists” school never looks at actual data. Russian control just means exploitation of some natural resources and rich oligarch’s while everyone else leaves or is just a poor peasant.

Russian control is a guaranteed death of Ukraine. Fighting gives them a chance.

I guess where I disagree with most people here is that I don't believe that war with Russia was a certainty and that peaceful scenarios where everyone benefits was possible (that doesn't require Ukrainian submission to Russia), had the last 30 years of foreign policy and geopolitics in Eastern Europe had been handled better. And that pursuing a road to peace asap now is ideal rather than trying to 'destroy Russia'.

I think NATO has always been false as the cause of Russian invasion and I believe Russian nationalist readily admit this. Russia wasn’t going to let Ukraine culturally and economically align with the west. That is what the war is about. And aligning with the west is necessary for Ukraine to be a real country with a vibrant economy.

Nato never even went into Ukraine. It was all culture/economy right now.

I feel like the “realist” don’t get this. Alignment with Russia long term just mean a few rich oligarchs and a mail-order bride style poverty. That was death.

Russia couldn’t maintain their sphere of influence because their culture, politics, and economics sucks. No one wants them as an ally. Which meant they were either going to lose their old allies or Russia could do what they decided to do which is basically widespread genocide to bully Ukraine into being a colony. Fortunately Russia doesn’t have the military power to enforce that position.

Longer term I feel fairly comfortable predicting that Ukraine will conquor Moscow. Maybe 30 years. Poor Russian peasants will eventually look towards a rich Ukrainian middle class and want the same thing. That’s always been the threat to the regime in Moscow.

Maybe this is my own biases speaking, but it seems to me that war with Russia was always certainty in the same way that breaking up with an abusive spouse will inevitably be a shitshow. The only people who believed otherwise were the high IQ idiots who were autistic enough to buy into all that "political realism" nonsense.

So you want Ukraine, which was invaded and has been defending itself surprisingly well, to pre-emptively surrender because Europe has high energy prices now? After Europe spent thirty years making themselves dependent on Russian gas despite everyone with a brain telling them that it would be used against them.......

What masterful realpolitik.

If this is the best argument the pro-Russian side has, it truly is devoid of anything convincing.

Ukrainian defeats seems ineluctable to me.

My primary concern is the people getting killed because the Ukrainian nationalists and the EU and US cannot give in on this one border.

Mediterranean border is fine, Mexican border is fine, Ukrainian border is sacred.

Russian gas, Middle-Eastern gas, American gas, there is always some type of dependency to manage.

The Russians aren't that bad compared to some of the other alternatives.

-the war is severely impoverishing Europe due to high energy costs

-the war is destroying Ukraine ( population + territory / infrastructures / institutions)

-continuing the war increases the chances of a world war

This phrasing of "the war" strikes me a bit like when people say, "COVID devastated the economy" as a way to avoid blaming the decision-makers whose reactions to COVID where what caused the economic damage and not the virus itself.

It looks a bit different if you rephrase these points as follows:

-Russia is severely impoverishing Europe due to high energy costs by continuing its war in Ukraine

-Russia is destroying Ukraine ( population + territory / infrastructures / institutions)

-Russia continuing the war increases the chances of a world war

If the first formulation leads one to the answer that it is for greater good to end the war, what does the second formulation suggest, and how are they different?

What would be the best case scenario for a Ukraine/State Department victory?

To my understanding, Putin is not the most radical or dangerous politician in Russia, and an implosion into ethnicity-based sub-regions would cause similar problems to the 'Arab Spring'. Chechens for example would not appear very West-friendly once 'liberated' from Russia.

It depends on who the beneficiary is. The US would benefit from someone like Putin remaining in charge. Russia would still be a bogeyman for Europe but wouldn't pose a credible threat. Putin would be busy dealing with regional separatists, disgruntled vets, a growing -stani diaspora and an economy burdened by 100% reparation/import fees.

Your question is worded as if nobody on The Motte is pro-Ukraine and we have only perhaps talked to such people. Also you seem to fail to consider genuine belief that Russia is in the wrong here. Just a bizarre lack of comprehension of a very normal, widespread opinion

People have been elucidating the reason why Americans and Europeans, in general, keep supporting Ukraine in many individual posts; one of the main pillars of the global international order is countries not altering their borders unilaterally through invasion and annexation, and whatever other violations to this principle there have been, none have been as flagrant as what Russia is doing now.

However, beyond that, is there any wonder why I, as a Finn, would have a special reason for hoping Russia loses, and loses badly? It's not just an abstraction when one lives in a country next to Russia, which used to be a part of the Russian Empire, which was for a long time in Russia/SU's claimed sphere of influence, which went through another "border adjustment" by Russia in 1939/1940. The said border adjustment, incidentally, meant my father had to leave his home while two years old, an event he would still recount on the phone while drunk and crying to his adult children decades after it happened. The said border adjustment removing my native Eastern Finland of what would have been its natural biggest city and a potential hometown for me, Viipuri, and turning it into a peripheral Russian wreck of a town. And a hundred other similar reasons.

What is crucial for Finland's future is one thing: Russia finally learning that it is not a special country. It does not have a sovereign right to adjust its own borders on a whim. Not for the "protection of Russian minorities", not for "russkiy mir", not for its ephemeral "security", certainly not because - as one tends to hear from countless Russian patriots when discussing this - because Russia's bordering countries just are puny and useless and will be dominated by one country or another anyway, so might as well be Russia. And there really seems to be no other potential way for Russia to learn this lesson than getting drubbed in Ukraine, and drubbed badly.

People have been elucidating the reason why Americans and Europeans, in general, keep supporting Ukraine in many individual posts; one of the main pillars of the global international order is countries not altering their borders unilaterally through invasion and annexation, and whatever other violations to this principle there have been, none have been as flagrant as what Russia is doing now.

This line of reasoning is thoroughly unconvincing as long as Lincoln remains a beloved historical figure.

Having briefly spent some time on confederate twitter, I noticed the typical progressive low-effort culture war snipe is some variation of "we Sherman'd you once, and we'll do it again."

The threat here is quite explicit: You belong to the empire, independence and self governance -even democratically enacted- are a form treason, which is so heinous as to justify killing civilians and burning their houses down. (bonus points for Ukrainian flag in username)

This isn't limited to the worst elements on twitter or the left. Tom Cotton claims the confederate flag is a terrorist symbol while helping to spearhead efforts to aid Ukraine.

It's a very common strategy in the leftwing/neocon playbook to trot out Libertarian principles when it suits them and abandon them when it doesn't, that is almost certainly what is happening here. Scott, for example, noticed the CSA/Ukrainian dissonance and just decided to ignore it in typical Scott fashion (IIRC).

It does not have a sovereign right to adjust its own borders on a whim. Not for the "protection of Russian minorities"

Yes, indeed, it would seem only the United States is to morally grounded enough to forcibly annex independent states on behalf of minorities, according to Americans anyway.

It was not Lincoln trying to adjust the borders of the United States unilaterally. It was the Confederacy that tried to do that. Lincoln was all about preventing that happening. If there's some equivalent to Confederates here, it would be the DPR/LPR separatists (though of course they're not equivalent, there's multiple differences there, too).

Yes, indeed, it would seem only the United States is to morally grounded enough to forcibly annex independent states on behalf of minorities, according to Americans anyway.

It was after WW2, and due to WW2, that the current international system, along with its respect for existing borders, was born. To my knowledge America has not annexed new territories since WW2.

It was not Lincoln trying to adjust the borders of the United States unilaterally. It was the Confederacy that tried to do that.

Huh? By democratically seceding? Why do Ukrainians have a God given right to an independent polity but the southern states do not? Do you imagine that if the South had not fired on Fort Sumpter, Lincoln would have moved the troops out eventually and respected the will of the Confederate peoples?

It was after WW2, and due to WW2, that the current international system, along with its respect for existing borders, was born. To my knowledge America has not annexed new territories since WW2.

Yet our historical mythos remains unaltered in a post WWII order (despite many other historical events getting revamped to match modern morality). Actually its much worse, confederate statues and flags were far more tolerated prior to WWII than they are now, we have gone in the opposite direction. It's all "who whom".

By democratically seceding?

The war of course started not with the secession itself but with confederates attacking federal assets (Fort Sumter.)

I'm pretty sure holding military assets in a foreign country against their wishes is an act of war itself, so it started before that.

Why do Ukrainians have a God given right to an independent polity but the southern states do not?

Ukraine's independence has been formally recognized - by the global community, and most crucially by the Russian Federation, in its role as the continuation of the centuries of Russian statehood and as the state that de jure assumed the role of continuing the Soviet Union's role in the said global community. Indeed - again, de jure - Russia and Ukraine have been separate subjects for 100 years now, first within the Soviet Union and then, after the said state stopped existing, as independent countries, even if de facto Soviet Union might have been just Russia by another name. When Russia is violating Ukraine's sovereignty, it is doing so in explicit violation of treaties and structures it has formerly recognized as valid. Indeed, even now, Russia recognized Ukraine as an independent country, even if it claiming large parts of it as a part of RF.

Confederacy, on the other hand, was never recognized as independent, either by US or any other country. That's the crucial difference.

The actions of the North, to be clear, were "in explicit violation of treaties and structures it has formerly recognized as valid". The constitution does not give the president the right to send troops to forcibly abolish the existing democratically elected government in the case that they choose to secede, and my ancestors would not have signed it if it did. It was originally a free association of states, not unlike the EU (and my state has an almost identical population to your country).

Typically, when you send troops into a place to depose the existing government and install your own puppet government, we call that "invasion". You can characterize it differently, if you wish, such as "quelling a rebellion", but this your original point was that Russia was violating a modern guiding principle for the international order, which was "Don't invade and annex other countries". That you are willing to split hairs over exactly what counts as an invasion instead of leaning in on the more general principle of "People ought to be able to self-govern, if they so choose, and attempting to force them into your polity is wrong" further reinforces to me the idea that no such principle actually exists in the modern world.

No matter how you characterize the American Civil War, it did not happen during the current post-WW2 world order, which is what I'm talking about here - the world order characterized by an international opposition to invasion for annexation, that opposition being the result of preceeding history.

My point is that we didn't end up in a world that was opposed to boat tipping on principle, but rather other effects came into play that made tipping the boat a generally undesirable activity. In other words, I think you are mistaking description for prescription.

The evidence for this is that modern society venerates people who conquered and annexed their outgroup using very similar rhetoric to Putin, and I believe they would very likely do it again if the situation allowed for it.

At that time the supremacy of the federal government over states hadn’t been established. It was much more like the European Union today. The civil war would be akin to Brexit happening and the EU declaring war on the UK. The notion of federal borders versus state borders was in question.

The US of this era was obviously already more federal a country than EU of the current era for the simple virtue of having a federal army, including the possession of forts like Ft. Sumter.

Even the specific interpretation of US constitutional arrangements before and leading up to the American Civil War - a topic where there are and have been multiple legal interpretations, then and now - is immaterial here, though. The 1800s was an era when countries, including the US, generally considered annexation by force to be a valid method of expanding their power. This led to a considerable amount of warfare and suffering, culminating in the World Wars. This is justifiably considered to be very bad, and the international norm of not considering annexation by force to be valid is a vast improvement. The precise threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine is taking a considerable step towards a return to the Bad Old Times, should it be approved by other countries.

If we agree annexation by force to be bad, how do we feel about annexation by secession? By treaty? By demographic shifts due to birth rates and/or migration? By cultural invasion?

Once all the borders on Earth are set in stone as far as war is concerned, Power will find another way to get the territory it wants. It skirts legibility if all methods legible to the law are blocked. It fights unseen wars through peacemongering. It still consumes all as fuel, as rust is slow fire.

Getting countries to utilize their quest for power through means other than open warfare and annexation is a feature, not a bug.

Well I’m specifically referring to your point that it was the confederacy trying to adjust borders and not the states.

While I agree that the EU today is weaker than the Feds then; States Rights were still a thing then and wasn’t a settled issue. The constitution itself only about 80 years old would have been geared more towards the borders being the states properties.

I do agree no changing borders has been a mostly a good thing atleast by force. Though it is different with breakaway republics doing it democratically.

It just feels like an incorrect interpretation of history that a states land at the time was the property of the states and not the Feds. That was very much in debate at that time.

Even today I am not convinced that a right to secession does not exists in the Constitution. And it really just comes down to who has more powerful ability to project force.

Yes, indeed, it would seem only the United States is to morally grounded enough to forcibly annex independent states on behalf of minorities, according to Americans anyway.

The Confederacy was not annexed. There was no disagreement before the war that the South was part of the United States. The disagreement was over whether the South had the right to secede.

Russia may claim that Ukraine is and always has been part of Russia, but the Ukrainians obviously do not agree, and neither does the rest of the world.

I agree that prior to secession it is clear the South was part of the United States.

But immediately after secession but before the war is ended is this sort of fuzzy area where the winner gets to declare the legal state after the fact. It turns out that the secession was illegal and the South was always part of the US, but only in retrospect after they lost. Had they won, then the moment secession was declared would have been the moment an independent nation was legally formed which would have meant that Lincoln's actions would have been an invasion by any reasonable definition.

This puts your second paragraph in context.

Russia may claim that Ukraine is and always has been part of Russia, but the Ukrainians obviously do not agree, and neither does the rest of the world.

Whether the Ukrainians agree or not is no more relevant than whether the Southerners agreed or not. What actually matters is what force Russia/The Union are capable of projecting onto their reluctant citizens.

The only guiding principle here is "It's okay when we do it, it's bad when they do it." just as it always has been throughout human history.

It turns out that the secession was illegal and the South was always part of the US, but only in retrospect after they lost.

This view is not consistent with the requirement that the states be re-admitted to the Union. Of course, what actually happened is the North, being the victors, did what they wanted, consistency be damned.

I agree that prior to secession it is clear the South was part of the United States.

Then you've conceded the point. Russia is making ahistorical claims; "Putin claims Ukraine belongs to them" is not some ambiguous claim that only becomes true or false depending on whether or not Russia wins. We know Ukraine does not legitimately "belong" to Russia, regardless of whether Russia succeeds in taking it. Obviously if they take it then they win, ownership being 9/10 of the law and all that. But we disagree on the universal legitimacy of "might makes right."

Whether the Ukrainians agree or not is no more relevant than whether the Southerners agreed or not.

It's entirely relevant when you are making an apples-to-oranges comparison like this.

The question of whether a population is allowed to secede is not the same as the question of whether a population is allowed to resist being annexed.

Casting the Union in the same role as Russia and Lincoln as a direct equivalent to Putin is understandably an attractive proposition for Confederate apologists, but the Confederacy was not in anything like the same role as Ukraine.

The only guiding principle here is "It's okay when we do it, it's bad when they do it."

No, that is not the only guiding principle here.

"Putin claims Ukraine belongs to them" is not some ambiguous claim that only becomes true or false depending on whether or not Russia wins. We know Ukraine does not legitimately "belong" to Russia, regardless of whether Russia succeeds in taking it. Obviously if they take it then they win, ownership being 9/10 of the law and all that. But we disagree on the universal legitimacy of "might makes right."

I may not have been clear, I do not believe "might makes right" is morally correct. I think we are in agreement here. If you are making a narrower Sovereign Citizen adjacent argument then I would love it if you would expound on that because I don't think I've ever read anyone on the motte argue that before. If it's some third thing then I don't understand your post. Ownership is 9/10s of the law if the guy with the most guns says it is. I don't endorse this point of coarse, I would prefer if I could avoid federal taxes by claiming status as CSA citizen, but the guys with the guns say otherwise.

The question of whether a population is allowed to secede is not the same as the question of whether a population is allowed to resist being annexed.

I don't understand your point here. (Sorry, I may be a little slow). This seems closer to the sovereign citizen thing.

Has claiming "You do not have the right to invade and annex me" ever prevented anyone from getting invaded and annexed? What does it mean to be "allowed" to resist being invaded an annexed? Who is doing the allowing?

I'll repeat here what I posted further downthread to Steffari:

Typically, when you send troops into a place to depose the existing government and install your own puppet government, we call that "invasion". You can characterize it differently, if you wish, such as "quelling a rebellion", but this your original point was that Russia was violating a modern guiding principle for the international order, which was "Don't invade and annex other countries". That you are willing to split hairs over exactly what counts as an invasion instead of leaning in on the more general principle of "People ought to be able to self-govern, if they so choose, and attempting to force them into your polity is wrong" further reinforces to me the idea that no such principle actually exists in the modern world.

...

Casting the Union in the same role as Russia and Lincoln as a direct equivalent to Putin is understandably an attractive proposition for Confederate apologists, but the Confederacy was not in anything like the same role as Ukraine.

Hmm, I never really considered myself a "confederate apologist". I think most of the modern criticisms are largely accurate, they just pale in comparison to the deeds of the yankees, who subverted the will of a democratically enacted government, deposed them and installed their own, then proceeded to spend the next thirty years culling the native population. That you consider these to be beloved heroes and good people on the right side of history is the point I was attempting to make to Steffari about the principles held by westerners.

I am not sure where you're getting Sovereign Citizen from.

Obviously, countries can and do invade other countries without "permission." We generally consider that a bad thing.

Our point of disagreement is that you think people being forcibly prevented from seceding is the same thing as being invaded and conquered, and while I realize Confederate apologists think this is true, I think there are convincing moral, legal, and historical arguments to the contrary.

That you consider these to be beloved heroes and good people on the right side of history

This kind of hyberbolic straw man is a very annoying and disingenuous rhetorical gambit. I am not very sympathetic to the CSA, but no armed conflict is ever that black and white, and I would not agree with anything as simplistic as "the Union were all beloved heroes and good people on the right side of history." Do I think the Union was, for the most part, in the right? Yes, just like I think Ukraine is in the right today for resisting a Russian invasion, but that doesn't mean I think Ukrainians are all good-hearted heroes and innocent victims or that I'm unaware that Ukraine was and is an extremely corrupt and by many measures oppressive country itself.

Don't project lack of principles onto other people with this sort of flat characterization.

The point can be made without bringing Lincoln into it. If you were to poll liberals and ask "Nation A finds out their neighbor Nation B is has been raiding and enlsaving members of a foreign nation. Do you think it is morally acceptable for Nation A to invade and annex B in order to prevent this from occuring?" My priors here are that you'd get an overwhelming yes, in direct contradiction to the claim Steffari made.

Don't project lack of principles onto other people with this sort of flat characterization.

Sorry, I meant the general you, since you are arguing on behalf of a society that does think those things. I don't doubt that your personal views are more nuanced. What I don't understand about your point of view is whether you believe secession was simply the incorrect mechanism for the Southerners to use or if you hold a more general stance that the Southerners should not be allowed to self govern (but the Ukranians can).

More comments

Ukraine had UN membership from founding of UN...

The CSA was not recognized by as a country by others, even by UK. Post-1991 Ukraine has decades of peaceful life and got recognition by everyone.

Sure, that's a valid point, but in practice recognition is largely enforced through whatever borders a polity is capable of maintaining militarily (or having another nation maintain on their behalf). South Vietnam and South Korea are good examples of this playing out post WWII, their differing outcomes being a result of how their respective wars played out. Had Russia enough power to project their will, it's not clear to me that the rest of the world wouldn't just quietly drop recognition of Ukraine, since it wouldn't serve any benefit to them. (Thankfully for Eastern Europe, this doesn't seem to be the case.)

For the CSA's part, every other country remained neutral. CSA had powerful trading partners in Britain and France and they opted to wait to see how it played out, not wanting to upset trade deals with an emerging nation in the event of a CSA victory, or hurting relations with the Union by backing a rebellion in the event of a CSA loss. This is a similar diplomatic stance that the US held towards Europe as well, attempting to remain neutral as possible in 19th century European wars.

That's a very bad argument. If, for example, Kurds can carve out and keep a Kurdistan for themselves, it's theirs. If the UN doesn't recognize it, that's an argument against the UN, not Kurdistan.

...but it seems to me how it works in practice.

To anyone who has discussed the issue with pro-Ukraine people.

Why do people support Ukraine fighting against Russia, with a strange militaristic fervor, instead of supporting surrendering / negotiating peace?

There's nothing strange about nations resisting invasion to anyone with a passing familiarity with history, and nothing odd about people supporting a victim of unjust aggression to anyone with a familiarity of social dynamics.

Anglin makes the points that:

-the war is severely impoverishing Europe due to high energy costs

Anglin is anticipating, not describing. Europe is not impoverished, and the past year has demonstrated that the energy doomers on both sides were significantly over-estimating the near-terms impacts of energy disruptions.

Germany is not going to have a great time, but that's because Germany's economic model relied on a number of assumptions of below-norm energy prices and globalism dynamics that increasingly no longer apply. However, Germany was also on the course for a major economic fundamentals shift this decade anyway due to German demographic shifts resulting from their top-heavy age distributed work force exiting the work force.

-the war is destroying Ukraine ( population + territory / infrastructures / institutions)

Anglin is failing to attribute agency. 'The war' is a consequence, not the actor. The Russians are destroying Ukraine, and have demonstrated they will continue to do so even even in areas not part of the front in ways that do qualify as genocide under post-WW2 international law. Since a lot of people don't view the cultural genocide clauses and mass abduction of children to destroy ethnic groups as 'really' genocide, we can just go for 'crimes against humanity.'

-continuing the war increases the chances of a world war

Anglin is being amusing, and does not make a credible argument for who else in the world would be a meaningful participant on Russia's side, considering how limited (and mercurial) the support of even Russia's closest international allies has been.

Is it cheering for the possible destruction of Russia?

It probably would be cheered, but that's generally because of the recent invasion and crimes against humanity.

Something to do with the current leadership of Russia, anti-LGBTQ, pro-family policies?

The invasion and crimes against humanity are problems with the current leadership, yes, but not particularly pro-family.

Is it about the 1991 borders of Ukraine, issues with post-Soviet Union border disputes?

The invasion and crimes against humanity are problems since 1991, yes.

Notion that 'if we don't stop Putin now he will never stop no matter what'? Is it something about broadly standing up against aggression of one state vs another, supporting the 'underdog'?

The invasion and crimes against humanity have been self-justified by the Russians by historical revaunchism ideology in terms that applies to several other regional states, meaning no relevant ideological self-limiting factor to just Ukraine, yes.

The issue with that one which seems to be central to Alexander's March 22 post is that there isn't much that seems capable of stopping Russia.

This seems curious to raise now, since one of the obvious trends of the conflict has been the Russians were quite literally stopped in multiple respects in multiple axis, including an infamous 40-mile traffic jam that preceeded a total retreat from the most important front of the war's opening in under a month. Not only did the Russians strategically culminate in most fronts by the summer, but the consistent trend of the last 6 months has been the Russians not only being stopped, but actively reversed and losing territory.

Sending another 100k Ukrainians to the meatgrinder for that end seems a little bit harsh coming from people with very little skin in the game.

The West has sent 0 Ukrainians to the meat-grinder, and has no ability to send any more, because the West does not control the Ukrainian state, both of whose constituency maintains extremely high support to resist to the state whose maximalist goals would result in even more rampant crimes against humanity against the Ukrainian nation.

Just signaling what they are told is the correct opinion?

It's strange that the greatest Russian military catastrophe since 1941, surpassing even the Chechnya and Afghanistan embarrassments to the point that the Russians are turning to North Korea of all places for military procurement, would be confused for 'just signalling.'

Is it about saving face, sunk cost at this point?

Sunk cost implies that significant costs have been incurred for no meaningful gain, which assumes a conclusion.

Western military support for Ukraine has not been a significant cost to the states providing, and has directly resulted in clear effects on Russia's intended military-political goals in the conflict. Western economic costs have been higher than the military costs, but neither impoverishing or obviously not worth opposing an attempt to fundamentally change European security politics to re-introduce wars of conquest.

What would be the best case scenario for a Ukraine/State Department victory?

Russia immediately leaving Urkainian territory, returning the kidnapped Ukrainian children and other forcibly relocated persons, paying reparations to the victims corresponding to the costs of the war including the forced conscription in occupied territories, and begin a long series of internal accountability efforts bringing war criminals to justice in international forums, hopefully accompanied by internal political reforms dismantling the security state responsible for planning and executing the war.

To my understanding, Putin is not the most radical or dangerous politician in Russia, and an implosion into ethnicity-based sub-regions would cause similar problems to the 'Arab Spring'. Chechens for example would not appear very West-friendly once 'liberated' from Russia.

The Chechens, however, would not be capable of invading European states or attempting ethnic cleansing on the scale that the Russians are attempting to.

The problem of a Russian break out isn't that various successor states wouldn't be western friendly- this is functionally no change from the current macro state- but rather the issue of nuclear proliferation. Which is why the west isn't making efforts to destroy the Russian Federation as a polity, which would be reflected in efforts to target the internal security state aparatus.

Not only that, but economic crisis in Europe could generate additional security risks.

Security risks from economic crisis in Europe are considerably less concerning than the security risks of a revaunchist invader willing to attempt wars of national eradication when he thinks he can win it during a window of opportunity, but the poor sense to not know when that is not possible.

There's nothing strange about nations resisting invasion to anyone with a passing familiarity with history

Well, yes there is something strange about it. A person is far more likely to die if he's at war than if he's under occupation; a person is far more likely to have all his infrastructure smashed if he's at war than if he's at occupation.

So why do people keep not surrendering?

It's not historically unusual for people to keep dying for abstract concepts like "statehood", but it certainly is strange from a cost-benefit analysis. History is unreasonable.

nothing odd about people supporting a victim of unjust aggression to anyone with a familiarity of social dynamics.

Anyone having empathy for any actors in wars a thousand miles away is extremely historically unusual and strange. For all of human history up until about T-100, what the Cossacks were doing in Zaporizhia would have elicited a shrug from anyone outside of Tartary. Why's anyone mad now?

Well, yes there is something strange about it. A person is far more likely to die if he's at war than if he's under occupation; a person is far more likely to have all his infrastructure smashed if he's at war than if he's at occupation.

So why do people keep not surrendering?

It's not historically unusual for people to keep dying for abstract concepts like "statehood", but it certainly is strange from a cost-benefit analysis. History is unreasonable.

If the model fails to match reality, the failure is in the model, not the reality. People sacrifice for abstract concepts all the time because they place value in these abstract concepts over other abstractions like 'infrastructure', and whatever model of darwinian evolution you prefer has consistently upheld this as not just a reasonable group dynamic, but a dominant one. History is not unreasonable- it's unreasonable to suddenly expect people to diverge from their norms.

...which is, of course, a common theme in history, as various groups who think themselves above such baser thinking regularly fall victim to the same when they're the ones in such contexts, and their abstractions of what's reasonable give way to impulses much more real. States do not fight for their infrastructure- nations fight for their homes. Failing to understand the distinction is failing to reason with the known reality.

nothing odd about people supporting a victim of unjust aggression to anyone with a familiarity of social dynamics.

Anyone having empathy for any actors in wars a thousand miles away is extremely historically unusual and strange. For all of human history up until about T-100, what the Cossacks were doing in Zaporizhia would have elicited a shrug from anyone outside of Tartary. Why's anyone mad now?

Because people outside of Tartary are now able to be aware of it, of course, and with that awareness comes political pressure and expectations to do something about it.

For most of human history until about T-100, the technology did not exist for people to know about happened further away. Within a century of the telegraph, most of the traditional empires present at the time were dead or on their way out the door. Within a century of the radio, all of the traditional empires were. The information revolutions brought the far-away places no one could know or care much about into closer awareness, and as the technology spread, so did the pressures to care.

What changed was not human nature, but the technological revolution of communications that allowed human nature to extend it's range of awareness.

Goes a bit further back than that as just an interesting sidenote. Lajos Kossuth toured the US and was hailed as perhaps the greatest living hero in the world in 1850 (with Russia also playing the villain here as well). We even named towns after the guy! We don’t have a Zelensky Iowa yet.

Anyone having empathy for any actors in wars a thousand miles away is extremely historically unusual and strange. For all of human history up until about T-100, what the Cossacks were doing in Zaporizhia would have elicited a shrug from anyone outside of Tartary. Why's anyone mad now?

Strange? Yes, it was strange when, for example ... inhabitants of Western and Northern Europe deeply cared about some stones in the Middle East they never saw, thousands of miles away, cared enough that they not only sent money, but went in hundreds of thousands to near certain death in order to liberate them.

Unusual? Not, even in pre modern times without internet, TV, radio and newspapers.

For all of human history up until about T-100, what the Cossacks were doing in Zaporizhia would have elicited a shrug from anyone outside of Tartary.

Au contraire:

"It was Ivan Mazepa, the leader of the autonomous Cossack state in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and not Peter I, the victor of the Battle of Poltava, or Charles XII, the defeated king of Sweden, who captured the imagination of French artists and literary figures from the Enlightenment well into the nineteenth century. The legend of Mazepa's ride on the back of a wild horse into the steppes of Ukraine, in particular, and details about his subsequent ascent to the Hetmanate fueled a veritable creative fervor in Europe that resulted in the creation of over 300 works of art, literature, and music on the subject. The epicenter of this artistic output was France, beginning with the romantic generation, whose influence continued with the help of numerous French publishers and lithographers: of the forty-four publishers in Europe printing lithographs with a Mazepa theme, twenty-nine were located in Paris and five elsewhere in France. (4) The wide diffusion of this imagery, especially mid-century (when the introduction of the steam-powered mechanical press allowed for the printing of 1,000 sheets per hour), was such that in 1892 a reviewer of the French opera Mazeppa, by the composer Marie de Grandval, remarked--in an "art-imitating-art-imitating-life" way--that there was a time when "one could not enter into the slightest village cabaret without finding, on the walls, Mazeppa tied to his horse." (5) By contrast, only a handful of plays, short stories, or novels were published on the subject of Peter I or Charles XII during the nineteenth century, with only one work tangentially on the Battle of Poltava itself. (6)"

Well, yes there is something strange about it. A person is far more likely to die if he's at war than if he's under occupation; a person is far more likely to have all his infrastructure smashed if he's at war than if he's at occupation.

So why do people keep not surrendering?

It's not historically unusual for people to keep dying for abstract concepts like "statehood", but it certainly is strange from a cost-benefit analysis. History is unreasonable.

Is it perhaps the cost-benefit analysis that is unreasonable, and not the dedication to abstractions? As Dean notes below, cost-benefit utilitarianism is itself an abstraction, and even if nationalism is irrational (which it certainly can be), there are nonetheless people who consider the spiritual death of their nation to be worse than the actual material death of their individual selves. An occupation is not merely a change in what flag flies on top, who sits in the big chair, or where the taxes go: it's a form of colonization, where you try to replace the occupied's memes with your own, and where you have to shoot all who resist.

Fairly sure this was not an uncommon topic in the Less Wrong of 10 years ago. How do you have a functional military in your rationalist utopia when it is always rational for the individual to flee and/or surrender? Except if everyone does that, your utopia gets conquered by the nearest group of marginally less 'rational' barbarians.

There's nothing strange or unreasonable about history being full of groups of people willing to risk their lives for the abstract concepts of their group. Because groups without such memes generally don't last long enough to leave a mark on history.

And from a game theory perspective, the credible pre-commitments of MAD are how all military defense functions, really. If you attack us, we commit to fighting a bloody war instead of rolling over. Even though the cost for the defender will be greater, the cost for the attacker will be much greater. And the only way to make that pre-commitment credible is to follow through even after the deterrence has failed. Because it is an iterated game, both from the defenders perspective, assuming they survive, and evolutionarily - "fuck with me and we'll both end up worse" is credible coming from humans because humans have evolved to follow through often enough.

Since when is it rational to flee? The evolutionary imperative is to spread your dna (your algorithm or code). If you die but a million people who share significant parts of your code survive then it is rational to die.

Humans already live forever. When you reproduce your reproduction shares a percentage of you. Reproduce enough and you not only survive but multiples of you survive.

The rationalist model here is just wrong. It’s rational to die.

How about fleeing to another [more affluent] country, taking the necessary steps to have your descendants take control of that country and then exact revenge on the initial threat?

Would that be a successful strategy?

I can’t tell if your just trolling with AI.

Do you have a specific example in mind? I suppose I could uncharitably assume you are talking about Jews, since you are fond of Darkly Hinting about them, but in that case you should speak plainly and also explain which country they have taken control of.

Otherwise this seems like a low-effort hypothetical just for the sake of being argumentative.

That's not how it works. See "The Tragedy of Group Selectionism" by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Because Eliezer wrote something it’s not a fact?

Also one of the arguments used is that foxes don’t limit their breeding. Which doesn’t apply to humans since we often do the discussed behavior of fighting and personal sacrifice for their tribe.

I'm replying to a post that's wondering why people don't just surrender to save their lives. And the very point of those discussions on LW was that any model of rationality that easily destroyed can't be all that rational. Which is why the last paragraph of my post gives a game-theoretic reason to fight.

But humans very much do not live forever. You are not your genes, your consciousness is their byproduct and will die with your physical body. And your desires are only indirectly linked with genetic success (adaptation executors vs fitness maximizers and all that). Plus, for genetic success it's much better to get other people to die for you instead.

Yea and I disagree with your game theoretic analysis.

I think it’s just genes. And we do live forever. And my model really explains behavior that seems irrational to you.

Fairly sure this was not an uncommon topic in the Less Wrong of 10 years ago. How do you have a functional military in your rationalist utopia when it is always rational for the individual to flee and/or surrender? Except if everyone does that, your utopia gets conquered by the nearest group of marginally less 'rational' barbarians.

As smart people as Less Wrong crowd thought about this problem before, Future Rational Utopia just needs to learn from their experience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrier_troops#Red_Army

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%97%D0%B0%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B9_%D0%BE%D1%82%D1%80%D1%8F%D0%B4

There’s no peace deal on the table. It feels like your just building a strawman. You don’t end a war just to leave military positions that can turn into a hot war whenever Russia decides to.

If Russia put together a peace deal that is viable and would end hostilities for a generation then Ukraine should consider it. They haven’t. The only offer Ukraine has received is a ceasefire until Russia is ready to start the war again. From Ukraines perspective it’s better to win or lose now. Not have purgatory and new war in a year.

Is it that likely that a ceasefire would just lead to another war? And on your other point, what kind of peace deal would prevent war for another generation? Like, do you expect Russia to totally disarm or something?

If Ukraine fights this out I would estimate a 20-30% chance of complete Russian disarmament. That’s a scenerio where losing the war costs Moscow legitimacy for their colonial possessions and the splintering of the Russian empire into unit sizes without an ability to project force.

Current lines are not defensible for Ukraine. Old 2014 lines would be defensible for Ukraine right now especially with added western tech transfer and a degraded Russian military.

Any thing I’ve seen from Russia right now in terms of ceasefire seems to be to buy time to rebuild combat effectiveness. Also for the broader west a ceasefire isn’t good because it means we need to spend more money keeping the lights on in Ukraine before rebuilding for real.

Is it that likely that a ceasefire would just lead to another war?

Depending on how you want to categorize the intervention, last February was the second, third, fourth or even fifth incursion by Russia against Ukraine in the last decade. First being Crimea, second being the NovaRussia 'uprising', third being the 2014 direct military intervention to save the NovaRussia uprising into what remained of the separatist micro-states which saw a major defeat of the 2014 Ukrainian army, the fourth being the various escalation-spikes in the not-so-frozen conflict, and fifth being the most recent.

The Russian Federation as an institution has set out goals that a cease fire on current terms would not meet, with very heavy-handed measures intended to ensure no major Russian political figure of significance could backtrack (the annexation of not-occupied territories, the early-war 'we all support Putin' public statements, the various filtration measures including systemic torture and executions that no figure has repudiated, the abduction of Ukrainian children and systemic adoption by Russians), while Putin in particular has demonstrated a pretty consistent and unchanging view on an end-state that doesn't exactly accept the status quo.

While there could be an argument that Putin could be indefinitely persuaded until his death that he isn't ready to attack Ukraine yet again, this is undermined by the fact that- by the public reports of those world leads who've met with him- Putin seems to really believe he can still win this current war, even as the strategic tools Putin had been counting on this war (specifically European gas dependence) will not apply in the medium-term future. In this context, Putin's use of a cease fire would be operational so that he could still operate before full European gas dependence, not indefinite like the Korean War.

Sure, if you want to count the events of 2014 as being three separate wars. But what matters is not how long the battle has gone on for, but how it's going now, and it's going really badly for the Russians.

In this context, Putin's use of a cease fire would be operational so that he could still operate before full European gas dependence, not indefinite like the Korean War.

The same claim is always made by hawks against ceasefires. The North and South Koreans at the time opposed ceasefire - it was only due to pressure from their great power patrons that they accepted the armistice. They would gladly have continued fighting. Hawks, at the time, warned against it, saying that the dastardly North Koreans would attack again once they saw a chance. In that time an entire generation of Koreans has grown up and become old. You think Putin has another fifty years of life in him?

The same claim is always made by hawks against ceasefires. The North and South Koreans at the time opposed ceasefire - it was only due to pressure from their great power patrons that they accepted the armistice. They would gladly have continued fighting. Hawks, at the time, warned against it, saying that the dastardly North Koreans would attack again once they saw a chance. In that time an entire generation of Koreans has grown up and become old. You think Putin has another fifty years of life in him?

This, uh, is an awkward choice of historical comparison, considering North Korea absolutely did attempt on multiple times to attack South Korea in ways intended to topple the government, ranging from decapitation strike on a Blue House to attempted insurgencies to a provocation campaign intended to drive the Americans to withdraw so that the North Korean buildup could go against the relatively less built-up South.

The 'hawks' were absolutely correct that North Korea would attack again once they saw a chance, as demonstrated by them doing so, and so the hawk-influence on an armistice as opposed to a treaty was vindicated.

I think Russia made an ultimatum based on the Minsk agreement right before the war, telling Ukraine to stop their little game of seeking favors with the West or else.

Ukraine also had the option of not bombing civilians for years in Eastern Ukraine and they chose not to. From the perspective of civilians in the Eastern Ukraine, Russia has only joined a war that Ukraine was waging against them for years.

There is no realistic path for an independent Ukraine victory in my opinion, it's a matter of Americans and Europeans deciding that tanking their own economy is not worth preserving the borders of some random post-soviet state.

From Ukraines perspective it’s better to win or lose now.

From the Ukrainian man's perspective, it's better to see their leadership surrender than to get sent to the die in a war that they have nothing to gain from.

  • -11

From the Ukrainian man's perspective, it's better to see their leadership surrender than to get sent to the die in a war that they have nothing to gain from.

I think you have the Ukrainian man's perspective wrong. The Ukrainian man doesn't necessarily love Zelenskyy to the point of laying down his own life for his leader, but he does value telling the Russians to fuck off enough.

This sort of argument has been brought up many a time this year, and it's pointless for many of the same reasons that utilitarian or "realist"/"rationalist" arguments tend to fall flat: for many people, there are things that matter more than GDP or trade agreements. You may think it irrational for Ukraine to not lay down and take their annexation, or for the West to refuse the Rusgeld, but you simply don't see this from the perspective of others.

You mention Ukrainian aggression towards their seccessionists and trying to make friends with the West, and I will simply note that that is just Cold War-era tensions mixed with a good old fashioned culture war. Russia launched this invasion in the first place because they (or, rather, the idea/memeplex of Russia) have lost the culture war in Ukraine.

I think you have the Ukrainian man's perspective wrong.

I probably do.

Russia launched this invasion in the first place because they (or, rather, the idea/memeplex of Russia) have lost the culture war in Ukraine.

Maybe they did, but that should not translate into bombing civilians with strong ties to your much bigger and stronger next door neighbor.

Wars still need to be fought. It's very impressive that the comedy actor Zelensky was able to parlay billions of dollars from the EU and US, but all it takes is for the general sentiment to turn in either or both for 'his' country to go down the drain.

Furthermore, if the average Ukrainian man is a strong nationalist willing to die for Ukraine (whatever that is), that he considered very very different than the next door Russian neighbor his ancestors shared hundreds of years of destiny with, he's in for a big surprise when he finds out what kind of people the EU and NATO have been importing on their side.

Nationalism is not really a strong value for the NATO camp, and aside from the Reddit brigade, there aren't that many people that care enough about the personal, individual fate of any Ukrainian to put their life on the line for them.

Any other year, they would have assumed the man to be some kind of patriarchal racist/xenophobe, and to an extent probably correctly.

Maybe they did, but that should not translate into bombing civilians with strong ties to your much bigger and stronger next door neighbor.

Russia is much bigger, but not much stronger, as demonstrated by their offensive culmination in the first three months, before major land combat systems began being shipped to Ukraine in earnest.

The Soviet Union was much stronger- hence the access to Soviet economic stockpiles fueling the contemporary Russian military- but this outside-actor advantage has been countered by the Western economic stockpiles fueling the contemporary Ukrainian military. Given that the Soviet stockpiles are increasingly finite, while the western economic production is forecasted to remain overwhelming even with the economic difficulties forecasted,

Wars still need to be fought. It's very impressive that the comedy actor Zelensky was able to parlay billions of dollars from the EU and US, but all it takes is for the general sentiment to turn in either or both for 'his' country to go down the drain.

Fortunately for Ukraine, the Russians have been very effective at fortifying general sentiment of the western alliance network to maintain support, which has in turn allowed western supporters to develop the internal political-interest coalitions to continue support for reasons beyond sentiment.

It turns out, when the patrons of influential interest groups becomes a pariah, domestic political actors will take the opportunity to tear said groups down and apart as part of the churn of internal politics.

Furthermore, if the average Ukrainian man is a strong nationalist willing to die for Ukraine (whatever that is), that he considered very very different than the next door Russian neighbor his ancestors shared hundreds of years of destiny with, he's in for a big surprise when he finds out what kind of people the EU and NATO have been importing on their side.

Citation needed for existence of 'years of destiny', but also irrelevant- if he's in a position to be surprised, he will have already beat the Russians decisively enough to have the time and space to turn attention to western europe and care about something like that.

Nationalism is not really a strong value for the NATO camp, and aside from the Reddit brigade, there aren't that many people that care enough about the personal, individual fate of any Ukrainian to put their life on the line for them.

That's the neat point- there don't need to be. The Ukrainians don't need foreign manpower on the front line.

Any other year, they would have assumed the man to be some kind of patriarchal racist/xenophobe, and to an extent probably correctly.

Fortunately, Russia has a way of helping other people come together in a more inclusive way.

Fortunately for Ukraine, the Russians have been very effective at fortifying general sentiment of the western alliance network to maintain support, which has in turn allowed western supporters to develop the internal political-interest coalitions to continue support for reasons beyond sentiment.

If democracy is still a thing, I expect some (limited) turnover in Western Europe to the tune of 'why should we keep paying for Ukraine', and in the US, 'what happened to BLM, it's all about Ukraine'.

Most people don't really care about preventing far away countries from encroaching into other far away countries' borders.

It's hard to simultaneously say that Russia is weak and cannot sustain the war and that we need to give billions to defend against Russia, or else Russia will keep fighting these wars that they are too weak to fight.

The realist/rationalist should support the Ukraine war. I take those labels and support the war.

Poland right now is on pace to have higher per capita income than england in 10 years. That could be Ukraines future in NATO. You get rich. Now their some shithole peasant people useful to the west as 23 year old wives for 50 year olds.

"Ukraine also had the option of not bombing civilians for years in Eastern Ukraine and they chose not to."

Do you think they "bombed civilians for years in Eastern Ukraine" just for the evulz?

Ukraine fought back in a war initiated by separatists and instigated, indirectly or directly, by Russia. If Ukraine hadn't fought back, the separatists would have kept pushing and pushing, beyond the January 2022 frontline already in 2014 or 2015

Kind of the opposite of pushing, really. The Donetsk and Luhansk separists, who started their uprising in April 2014, were only spared a quick defeat in 2014 due to the direct intervention of conventional Russian forces in August, about five months later. Before they did so, the separatists were basically being blockaded in the cities they controlled, as the broader pro-Russian/anti-maidan uprising the Russians were expecting fell flat.

Eastern Ukraine since 2014 is absolutely one of those contexts where the war only lasted as a long as it did due to external life-support and regular intervention. Donetsk and Luhansk had more in common with Kabul than Ukraine vis-a-vis Russia, right down to the tepid-at-best local support making local fighters dependent on external military forces.

If the goal was to protect ethnic Russians, the best course of action would have been to let the separatist states fall. Not only would there have been no war around the two cities, but they would have been quickly re-integrated into the post-Maidan political system, which actually would have allowed pro-Russian interest groups a chance to affect internal Ukrainian politics, rather than Russia's attempt to force the Minsk II constitution order change as peace terms. That method had the effect of taking all the pro-Russian influence groups out of Ukraine's politics, a mistake that was noted at the time as a gamble.

Kind of the opposite of pushing, really. The Donetsk and Luhansk separists, who started their uprising in April 2014, were only spared a quick defeat in 2014 due to the direct intervention of conventional Russian forces in August, about five months later. Before they did so, the separatists were basically being blockaded in the cities they controlled, as the broader pro-Russian/anti-maidan uprising the Russians were expecting fell flat.

Well, yes, that's exactly because Ukraine - or perhaps, one might say, Ukrainian nationalists - fought back. What I meant was that the separatists certainly intended to expand to a vastly larger area than what they controlled in Jan 2022, as indicated by the early attempts to establish DPR/LPR like entities in Herson, Kharkiv etc.

To summarize - you think Ukraine is a non playable character. No ability to create their own destiny.

Second Poland has very real strategic issues here. Their not letting Russia militiarize Ukraine on their border. If the US and most of Western Europe left Ukraine right now Poland would have to make a serious decision of going 100% all-in on Ukraine. Poland cares about these borders. And a bunch of other smaller post Soviet countries in NATO all of which would have to decide on going to full hot war with Russia. Whether the US joins or not half of nato would likely end up in a hot war with Russia.

Minsk’s agreement guaranteed Ukraine sovereignty. They were guaranteed by Russia independence in their economic concerns.

Economic issues for Europe have been muted. Oil/natty prices back down.

Russia rapidly becoming a non-country.

Ukranian men can make their own decisions. They prefer freedom and dead Russians. Victory at this point is basically guaranteed and it’s Russia that’s going to be worried about their borders not Ukraine.

Honestly don’t get why westerners object to US in Ukraine. It’s pocket change. I get it that Russia isn’t globo homo. But I’m also not globohomo. And Russia isn’t the ally I want against globohomo.

Honestly don’t get why westerners object to US in Ukraine.

World War 3 will last half an hour.

US soldiers are on the ground demonstrating weapons systems to Ukrainians. The first American serviceman to lose his life will be a cause celebre and a causus belli.

Come on this isn’t serious. US isn’t launching nukes because a military contractor lost a life. You using an assumption that we are dumb and lack self control.

America could lose 50k soldiers and still refuse escalation to nuclear war.

deleted

And if you always surrender to nukes then a shithole country and culture like Russia would rule the world.

Scott dealt with this in a long think piece before.

Russian pilots flew missions in the Korean War, no? That didn't escalate, despite that falling under the same conditions in this frame.

You using an assumption that we are dumb and lack self control.

Would that this were a convincing counter-argument...