Geopolitics: a Philosophical Approach



These my brand-new reflections on geopolitics present it as a philosophical field, emphasizing the influence of geography on political strategies and the impact of geopolitical actions on collective identities and human conditions. It integrates classical philosophical thoughts on power and State acts, aiming to deepen the understanding of nations’ strategic behaviours and ethical considerations. This reflective approach seeks to enhance insights into global interactions and the shaping of geopolitical landscapes.


A Philosophy of Geopolitics

Part II


The neglect of substantial plurality precedes a deontological approach to historical action that denies any normative significance to any semantics of interest. The choice of “semantics” is deliberate: what we commonly encounter is a widespread aversion to a normative sense that is embodied in a subjectivity, or in a design, preceding the specific meaning conveyed by any particular historical interest. Every productive impulse, and thus every theoretical justification for it, which finds its essential basis in a specific historical reality, is systematically stripped of any normative prerogative, hence any ethical character, the right to be included in a properly ethical discourse. Looking back, what might appear as an externality in a discourse of self-understanding of the historical subject is in fact a natural corollary: how to establish an ethical claim on a postulated reality? If the very existence of a particular historical reality is accidental, incidental, and almost necessarily an obstacle to any anthropological optimism, how can its value be recognized in a sense that is inherently intersubjective and often universally so? Moreover, while it might be strong to claim, thinking of Aristotle, that every ethics is an “ontoteleology”, the thought of ethics cannot be divorced from the thought of its field of application, particularly the subject that realizes it within that field. What, then, is the ethics, or rather, the field of ethics, that the thought of our epoch suggests to us? Perhaps by filling the argument with the typically Western content of entrenched rationalism, we are directed towards an ethically normative sense of truth. Truth must command: in this preliminary and purely abstract sense, the postmodernists have offered a truly effective critical reading. Ultimately, despite some voluntarist deviations, the West and Western thought have based their philosophy of praxis on analysis, on the (presumed?) ethical power of fact, of truth. The ups and downs of ethical intellectualism? Perhaps it is more accurate to speak of its depowered version, lacking the psychological assumptions universally imposed by the Socratic precedent. In any case, we are inclined to conceive of political action as directly emanating from the “right principles” (here too, we refer to Sieyes) and their more or less precise possession. “Auctoritas, non veritas, facit legem” is typically suspended as the cynical muttering of the darkest of philosophers, or occasionally applied as an interpretative lens to the status quo of countries that do not enjoy our certification of civilization. We prefer the faith-based, justificatory reference to a meta-historical, and thus meta-empirical, reality that would inevitably crown a political praxis consistent with it, thereby reversing the order of causes, which requires a deontological code as the luxury afforded by fulfilling one’s key strategic duties.
If political action results from the accessibility or, conversely, the obfuscation of political principles, it nonetheless means that there is a gradation among political realities that populate history. We indeed have a thematization of subjectivity, but only from these premises, which provide just enough space for a transient subjectivity, oriented towards its own obsolescence. Thus, the nation-State, protagonist of the modern saga despite hasty announcements of its demise. The State remains, however, only a significant example of a broader cultural text that develops around the theme of subjectivity. Kant’s famous response to the question of what Enlightenment is—man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity—illustrates a historical sense of subtraction, of clarification, of a fundamentally deconstructive and fundamentally cognitive work. Years later, a thinker aligned with quite different positions, Joseph De Maistre, will lament the historically deconstructive, diabolical significance of those philosophes, whom he never distinctly separates from the political protagonists of the French Revolution. Rightly so. The first revolution to be exported was not the Bolshevik one, but the French revolution; the ideological meaning of this export is to restore man to himself, against the powers of the old order that hold him hostage. Modernity delivers us a formally transient subjectivity, as a vector that ferries man outside of history. The specific content of this form is a pedagogical, educational content. It is futile to enumerate the ideal of civilization that guided the Age of Empires. However, with the reductio ad Americam of the West, this imaginary has been replaced by that, quite sensible, of the global policeman. A minimal discontinuity, certainly, but perhaps still imprecise. The fundamental ideological cipher remains not so much to punish but to educate, often combined in the illusion that imposing a minimal moralia will steer the course of things towards the inevitable arrival of the other at oneself. A “Foucauldian” policeman, who imposes discipline only because he is interested in the educational and productive sense it embodies. A policeman who can produce a discipline that stands on its own, well aware of the right principles that sustain it. A policeman who, therefore, has a historical task that on paper remains transient, occasional.

Geopolitics embodies a profoundly different epistemology. Truth finds its place only in the mapping of reality, but it plays no leading role. Or rather, it plays no unifying, distinguishing role. It does not animate history. In the analytical practice, truth is dethroned, sidelined; mapping reality means identifying the conflicting interests that traverse it, maintaining a decisive agnosticism about the real possibilities of sacrificing them in the name of a rational, communicative type of pacification. For such an approach, everything is equally legitimate: emotion, symbolism, irrationality. Everything that exists in reality, concerning which, we repeat, the observer’s task is merely one of simple mapping. The meta-empirical approach is disavowed, belittled. The only truth is the effective truth.
The conditions for such a pure fidelity to historical matter lie in the recognition of the substantial nature of the subjectivities that comprise it. This fits within a broader approach that loses all meta-historical trust, all eschatological deformation. Beyond history, nothing. The historical fact derives its legitimacy from itself, and relations with history are finally pacified. The only law is the ability to impose oneself, hence the accusations of cynicism directed at geopolitics. This too is an epistemological approach: it is not an exact science to be contrasted with the pseudoscience of modern political philosophy and its sole surviving offshoot, the liberal variant.
Geopolitics presents at a unique moment the alternative to the dual problematic of subjectivity developed earlier. By recognizing an absolute value in the subjectivities that populate history, by disavowing any possibility of misinterpreting them as “mis-leadings” or of arranging them according to a hierarchy of legitimacy, it recognizes their plurality. Plurality and substantiality, therefore. The possibility of imagining a monistic meta-history vanishes, on the one hand because monism is a myth, and on the other because the demystification of this myth precisely passes through the idea of the perennial, plural, and conflictual fabric of history. That, in turn, presupposes the rejection of any “outside” of history: it is for this reason that geopolitics embodies the long-awaited overcoming of the post-historical posture that, rightly, all culturally sensible realities diagnose in Europe in general, and Italy in particular.
We repeat: the dualism between the current thought and geopolitics is not that between a pseudoscience and a science. Geopolitics is not the philosopher’s stone or a rigorous science: like all historical disciplines, it is rough and imprecise. Beyond its predictive outcomes, it is not premature to suggest the cultural import of the advancing epistemology it represents. Namely, not because, as a science, it will make its way by dint of scientific successes, but because, if it is true that the succession of worldviews is the result of the succession of historical periods, geopolitics may represent a vision more suited to the historical phase we are preparing to face. In the hope of confronting it with adequate concepts, for not knowing how to think reality is equivalent to not knowing how to inhabit it.





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