THOUGHTS ABOUT THE UKRAINE CRISIS

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Integral World: Exploring Therories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Elliot BenjaminElliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 230 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.

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Ukraine/Russia

My Attempt At a Balanced Perspective, Part 3

Elliot Benjamin

The bottom line for me is that I am horrified at the rampant mass killing and disregard for human life that Russia has demonstrated in Ukraine.

For the most part I have no major disagreements with all that Brad Reynolds wrote in his recent 2-part essay series about Ukraine/Russia on Integral World [1]. I was glad to see Reynolds take the time to extend his continuous and extensive comments on the Ukraine/Russia Integral World essays by Dillard, Meyerhoff, and myself, which I actually suggested that Reynolds do in one of my own comments [1]. Much of what Reynolds presented in this essay series is a more comprehensive and informative report about what Frank Visser wrote about “the dark ideology of a sacred greater Russia” [2]. But there is a continuous theme in Reynolds' essay series, which is to discount all the Russia/Ukraine essays of Joseph Dillard, and to a lesser extent Jeff Meyerhoff, which Reynolds views as being unjustifiably and unethically pro-Russian [1]. Reynolds made no explicit mention of any other “pro-Russian” Integral World writer in his essay series, other than his phrase “and other critics,” but he has accused me of siding with Russia and Dillard in one of his comments to my most recent Russia/Ukraine Integral World essay, which he had previously also done in a comment to one of my earlier Russia/Ukraine Integral World essays [3]. I would therefore like to clarify my position here, as well as my affirmation of being open to various alternatives.

The bottom line for me is that as I have unequivocally conveyed in virtually all my Integral World Russia/Ukraine essays, I am horrified at the rampant mass killing and disregard for human life that Russia has demonstrated in Ukraine [1], [3], [4]. I have taken Dillard to task for not demonstrating more compassion and concern about this, and although I understand that the United States has committed their own share of reprehensible actions in this regard, this in no way excuses Russia for their deplorable actions [1], [3], [4]. However, Reynolds is perplexed how I can voice my horror over what Russia has done and still give Russia a justification for bombing Ukraine [1]. So let me clearly and without any doubt confirm that I by no means think that Russia has had any justification for bombing Ukraine. The way that I have conveyed my openness to the realist perspective is just that I can see how the expansion of NATO may have been a part of Russia's concerns in regard to Ukraine seeking to join NATO [1], [3], [4]. But this in no way excuses Russia for their deplorable and deadly actions. Similarly, yes I do believe that there has been, and is, a destructive Nazi element in Ukraine, and that Ukraine has their own problems with authoritarianism and corruption, but once again this by no means justifies Russia's going to war with Ukraine [1], [3], [4]. I have also voiced my agreement with assisting Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion through continuing to supply it with defensive weapons [3]. So where is the crux of my disagreement with Reynolds?

For Reynolds, he has a major concern that if Ukraine were to give in to any of Russia's demands regarding giving up parts of their land, this would lead to Russia invading other countries within the next few years, and that it is essential that this is prevented as we need to learn from the mistakes that were made in appeasing Hitler that led to World War II [1]. And Reynolds may be right here. This is the crux of the disagreement between Reynolds, and Dillard and Meyerhoff, that I think is most important [1]. But although I have no firm confidence in what may or may not happen, what I see is that Russia has not engaged in a nuclear war or attacking any NATO countries, and I think there is every reason to believe that they would not do so in the future. Not because of any ethical concerns on the part of Putin, but simply because Putin knows it would be suicidal for Russia to do so. It is essentially for this reason alone that I do think the concerns that Reynolds has voiced and his comparison with Hitler and Nazi Germany, are not viable. On the other hand, the continued war is going on and on and is wreaking unspeakable worldwide destruction and chaos, and I think that both Dillard and Meyerhoff have painted a compelling and accurate picture of this devastation [1]. Thus all things considered, I am choosing at this point to go along with the realist perspective as described by Noam Chomsky, which does necessitate Ukraine being willing to make some land concessions to Russia in order to formulate a peace agreement, but I also think that the United States and the West should continue to support Ukraine militarily with the goal of Ukraine being in the strongest possible position to engage in a peace settlement with Russia [1], [3],[4].

I thus see myself as continuing to try to find a balanced perspective here. I don't agree with Dillard in regard to his praise of Putin and Russia, but I also don't agree with Reynolds that we should continue to support Ukraine indefinitely without promoting a peace settlement that by necessity I believe would need to involve Ukraine giving up some of their land.

And I find it interesting that Reynolds paid tribute to former United States security advisor Henry Kissinger towards the end of Part 1 of his essay series:

“As Henry Kissinger stated in an interview in May of this year: 'We are now living in a new era' because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.” [1]

However, what Reynolds did not include was the fact that Kissinger has advocated a peace settlement that involves Ukraine giving up part of their land to Russia, which is very consistent with Chomsky and the realist perspective [1], [3], [4]. It also surprised me to see Reynolds, towards the end of Part 2 of his essay series, voice his own concerns about how the war may be going in favor of Russia, which incredibly actually sounded a bit to me like the position of Dillard:

“Granted, the trends are moving in difficult directions (as of June, 2022): Russian forces are close to taking over eastern Ukraine, high oil and gas prices guarantee that money will continue to flow into Russia and create dissent in Western nations (particularly in the United States whose populace hate high prices almost always blaming the President alone, which is foolish, some European nations are seeking 'off-ramps' conceding some gains to Putin in exchange for ceasing hostilities, Moscow is offering to release Ukrainian grain (needed to prevent famine) in exchange for ceasing hostilities, plus, importantly, Ukraine still doesn't have the necessary weapons to launch an effective counteroffensive. No one knows how this is going to turn out. . . . Over three months into the invasion, war fatigue is setting in as the international alliance is already straining.” [1]

I am certainly not finding fault with Reynolds for his very uncharacteristic display of doubts and concerns, even if it uncannily sounds a bit to me like the position of Dillard, a position that Reynolds has repeatedly voiced his outrage against [1]. Rather, this makes Reynolds more human to me, voicing his own doubts and concerns that is certainly very understandable to have. And my main reason for writing this essay response is to clarify that I have my own doubts and concerns and that my position has evolved and I expect it to continue to evolve, as more happens in this whole horrific dilemma

“I thought he [Putin] was, his basic convictions were, a kind of mystic faith in Russian history, as he conceived it, and that he felt offended in that sense.” (14:00)

Notes and References

1) See Brad Reynolds, Putin's War: The Battle of Worldviews, Part 1 and Putin's War: The Battle of Worldviews, Part 2, www.integralworld.net and also Frank Visser (2022), Thoughts About the Ukraine Crisis: An Overview of Essays. www.integralworld.net for a listing of all 25 Ukraine/Russia Integral World essays that have thus far been written. See also the comments by Brad Reynolds, Joseph Dillard, myself, and others on a number of these essays.

2) See Frank Visser (2022), Putin's Dark Ideology of a Sacred Greater Russia. www.integralworld.net

3) See Elliot Benjamin (2022), Russia/Ukraine: My Attempt at a Balanced Perspective, Part 2. www.integralworld.net; and see the references therein.

4) See Elliot Benjamin (2022), Russia/Ukraine: Realist Vs. Idealist. www.integralworld.net; see a description of Kissinger's perspective in Reference 4 of this referenced essay; see a description of Chomsky's perspective in the references of a number of my essays in [1].






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