The end of globalization or even the beginning of de-globalization has been spoken of more and more frequently in recent times. The world, in which the will to compromise and unity prevailed, unfortunately came to an end. By February 24 at the latest, the Russian act of war woke us up to a world dominated by conflict.
In order for the West – that is, we – to be able to cope with this, it is essential that we not only accept this notion, which some of us find uncomfortable, but that we also understand that with the era of globalization another great era is also coming to an end: the Era of post-heroism!
It is true that in the era of peaceful globalization the heroic cult has grown – but more so in the film world than in real life. The film works creatively with the notion of heroism, and the creators try to adapt heroism as a topos to the new, diversified but unified zeitgeist with some remakes, such as the new version of The Magnificent Seven.
The reality, however, remained committed to compromise: heroes were just too individualistic to fit the mold of compromise. It has to be said that life in this world, a world without real heroes but with leaders who are able to compromise, led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, was very pleasant.
The only flaw is that it is now coming to an end. The Russian war of aggression requires a different reaction than understanding, patience and a willingness to compromise, not only from Ukraine but also from the West.
The Russian war in Ukraine demands that we be strong and resolute. And that takes perseverance and courage. In other words, this war requires us to discover within ourselves a tendency towards heroism.
How this heroism should look in practice – not in the film – is only slowly becoming apparent. It is undisputed that the appearances of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj as well as the deployment of the Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers correspond to the highest standards of heroism that can be found in the West.
It is therefore not surprising that the Ukrainian heroes are spoken of in the highest terms in the West and that their heroism is a great inspiration and encouragement for the West so that we too are not afraid of the conflict with Russia, or at least less afraid.
Our conflict with Russia is not primarily about human lives and gaining territory, as is the case with Ukraine. It’s about our values and their future. After almost four months of war, it is becoming apparent that the conflict with Russia, both militarily and in terms of values, will last a long time. In all probability he will therefore also need different forms of heroism.
But in order for Ukraine to survive the war against Russia, it needs both military and economic support from the West. In order for the West – that is, us – to be able to survive this conflict with Russia, it takes courage to do what is right and do it for as long as it is necessary.
It will not work without good economic strategies that also ensure the basic support of the population, as well as diplomatic skills that make it possible to win over strategic partners in other parts of the world. In these areas, too, you will not get by without your own heroes and the corresponding actions.
These heroes will probably not be as visible and exposed as the Ukrainian president. They may operate in secret, using mathematical models, diplomatic language, or unorthodox ideas rather than weapons and strong rhetoric.
But they should all have one thing in common: They should all help the West to overcome fear and to survive economically and in terms of security policy in a world “without Russia”, i.e. without Russian raw materials and Russian help in the fight against climatic changes and terrorism – because Russia has not been reliable since February 24 at the latest.
Every politician, chancellor, president or minister, every engineer, every diplomat who contributes to the fulfillment of this goal will be a hero. Maybe not like Zelenskyy, but just as important.
Because the same principle of “unity in diversity” also applies to heroism today – just as it does to the European integration process. Bertolt Brecht said: “Unhappy is the country that needs heroes”. Nevertheless, I am convinced that it is long overdue to learn to appreciate our heroes!
Tomáš Kafka is the Czech ambassador in Berlin and also works as a writer and translator.