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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Common enemy

I mentioned last time that in a Marxist model of history in which human societies are neatly divided into different sociopolitical groups (‘classes’), it is possible to find different societal configurations in which different classes align themselves in different ways for different purposes e.g. feudal socialism in which the feudal aristocracies uncharacteristically (and unsuccessfully) join forces with the working class by maligning the newly formed bourgeois elite in hopes of bringing them down, or petty bourgeoisie in which small property owners get incorporated into the working class (involuntarily) due to the massive influence exerted by the major property/industry owners. This type of realignment is indeed a very common phenomenon in military history where a shared or commonly identified enemy can more often than not bind different people together, and straight after the defeat of this common enemy (and hence immediate evaporation of this shared purpose), the underlying characteristics defining these groups resurface and they eventually split up and may even end up being enemies again. There is therefore no such thing as lasting alliance or friendship in politics since people are often only bound together by common objectives, after which there may not be a reason for this fleeting alliance to continue anymore. The most famous case is perhaps WW2 in which Soviet Russia, provoked by Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, joined forces with their much-hated Western Powers (who had almost ruined Russia in the Russian Civil War just two decades ago) in their common bid to defeat Nazi Germany, and an iconic moment was when the territorial hold of Nazi Germany shrank so much that the West and East fronts converged and the Americans and the Russians, the unlikeliest of allies due to their polar opposite ideologies, shook hands right outside of Berlin to give the Nazis the final defeating blow. Shortly after the Nazis were defeated, however, the Western and Eastern power disagreed on many points regarding post-WW2 Europe and Asia which not only led to many new territorial divisions but also espionage and military confrontation which came to be known as the Cold War. When there is a shared purpose in the form of a common enemy, alliances are formed, even between people with totally different interests and characteristics, and when this shared mission is accomplished and all benefits shared, there is no need for such alliances anymore and people return to their natural selves. Non-sentimental and practical. Brutal.

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