Notebook

A Future

Over the past few days, given the encirclement of Ukrainian forces in the region of Donetsk, there has been speculation in the media about whether negotiation with the aggressor will — should — ensue. It is useful to re-read Professor Timothy Snyder’s recent talk to the Kyiv Security Forum. It bore the title, Why Ukrainian victory is important for the world. Especially thought-provoking is Snyder’s tenth and final reason. It touches a tendency of retrospective myth-making whose influence is felt in other areas, too; indeed it shows signs of becoming culturally axiomatic. ‘Russian propaganda is all about the past, it’s all about how things are predetermined, it’s all about seeking some kind of moment at some point in history where we were right and everyone else was wrong. But that is not what we need. We need, everyone needs, a future. We need a politics of the future; we need an event that can break us out of our rut and which will point us towards a future.’ To opt, then, for prospect. This will mean assuming responsibility for life, nurturing a will to live, for others to have life.