Tribune. Unthinkable, war in the heart of Europe! Unthinkable, the evocation at the highest level of the use of nuclear weapons! Unthinkable, European democracy threatened from within and without by nationalist extremism, eighty years after its monstrous ravages! Unthinkable the election in the United States of a president threatening the rule of law! Unthinkable, in the 21st century, children murdered in their school because they are Jews! Unthinkable, the whole world at a standstill, confined by a new plague! Unthinkable, life on Earth threatened by climate change!…
And yet… Aren’t these rather unthinkable fakes, subjects that could and should have been thought about, for which we had sufficient elements for reflection, warning and prevention. Unthinkable? Isn’t this a rather easy way of forgiving ourselves for the laziness of our thinking, the tendency to shun inconvenient evidence, and often the forgetting of our collective experience and the underestimation of its powerful lessons? ?
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These unthinkable fakes are sometimes even unthought fakes, because some have been analyzed, but erased, denied, buried. We could even say that, with the exception of climate change, new on a human scale but rapidly and well documented, all the other “unthinkables” were anticipated, thought of or could have been.
“Nationalism is war”
The Cuban missile crisis (1962) was too quickly considered as belonging to a world that disappeared with the iron curtain. And the lessons of Auschwitz, strangely inhibited by denunciation du point Godwin or by the ambiguous feeling that we talk about it too much, did not help to avoid the genocide in Rwanda (1994), or the mass crimes in Yugoslavia (1991-1995) or in Cambodia (1975-1979). The war in Ukraine was also thinkable, in the name of the historical observation that “nationalism is war”, and it was moreover thought of in the logic of Russian actions in Georgia, in Crimea, in the Donbass.
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What a strange attitude to always dismiss the idea that a painful past that was truly unthinkable could happen again! What a rapid forgetting that the “der des ders” only waited twenty-one years to no longer be the last war! Or that anti-Semitic violence is never far away since it reveals or announces the recurring flaws of a society.
The four factors of our irresponsibility
The tendency not to see the return of the tragedy of history seems to us favored by the accumulation of several factors, among which four can be underlined:
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