Commentary. Faced with the destruction of a European country, the states of the European Union are arguing about the prices they should keep paying to the invader. Turning off the taps would mean, while not exactly a war economy, certainly a drastic reduction in civil consumption.

Cut the gas and starve the bombs of hypocrisy

The photo we chose to publish on Sunday on the front page, with the dead from Bucha, which was in all the newspapers on Monday, is the symbol of this war that is raging against the civilian population of Ukraine. In addition to the ferocious slaughter, to the cities razed to the ground by bombing, there are also the specialties of every invading army: rape, torture, mass executions. These are strategies of annihilation at which Putin’s army seems to be particularly adept, with its teams of ruthless mercenaries, with its medieval siege tactics to starve out cities, with the cynical massacre of its own young recruits.

The horror, witnessed by independent journalists and photographers, is being denied by those in the Kremlin, according to whom the massacres in Bucha (and presumably also those we’re going to discover in other cities) are a “fake attack,” “staged” by the West, as Foreign Minister Lavrov said on Monday. And this denial all by itself would be enough to convince us that it’s true, as Moscow has been denying reality since the months before February 24 (“Russia doesn’t threaten anyone. The movement of troops on our territory shouldn’t be a cause for anyone’s concern,” said Peskov), just as it denies the existence of the war itself, after denying the existence of Ukraine as a free nation in the first place.

Nonetheless, as Pope Francis never tires of repeating, let him without sin cast the first stone.

Can it be those who are calling for Putin to be tried for war crimes while they’ve repeatedly refused to join the International Criminal Court (something the U.S., Russia and Ukraine have in common)? Or those who are preaching peace while they’re among the main financiers of the war industry (the U.S., Russia and China)? Or Europe, which is showing itself to be generous and welcoming towards the millions of Ukrainian refugees, when until a short while ago it was working on repelling as many as possible from Africa and the East?

Among the devastating displays of hypocrisy, the most harmful one is about gas, oil and coal.

Faced with the destruction of a European country, the states of the European Union are arguing about the prices they should keep paying to the invader, even though it is clear to everyone that only by turning off the taps, only by completely stopping the €1 billion per day going to the Tsar’s Gazprom, would sanctions fulfill their purpose: namely to give negotiations a chance and stop the war. That would force the dictator who has engaged in a clash of civilizations against a people he has called “Nazis and drug addicts” to show his cards.

Instead, we are now witnessing a sort of third-rate realpolitik, with the countries, with Germany in the lead, backing away from the social and political fallout that European societies would be forced to face if they applied the mother of all sanctions, cutting off the flow of Siberian gas.

Because turning off the taps would mean, while not exactly a war economy, certainly a drastic reduction in civil consumption; which, coincidentally, is also something necessary to save the planet.

These days, some are beginning to whisper about it: Macron is talking about banning Russian oil and coal, and Letta dares to say no to gas, which is what President Zelensky has been asking for since the first days of the Russian butchery.

But to drastically reduce the need for Russian gas (which in Italy accounts for just under 50%) still seems to us to be something far-fetched, an offense against GDP, because it would mean revolutionizing everything, and first of all our model of development.

It would mean taking a path of austerity, which is viewed by the obsolete ruling classes as pauperism and moralism, instead of what it would really represent: a challenge against the model of deadly growth without development, the beginning of an alternative.

Of course, weaning ourselves off a significant portion of gas should be an operation managed with great care, measuring its impact on different social classes, just as it should be directed towards a voluntary reduction of civil consumption while ensuring what is necessary to maintain core production and essential services in good order.

We all remember the endless talk about the economic reconversion during the time of the pandemic (which is still here with us), about the necessary reversal of the pyramid of priorities.

Now history confronts us with equally difficult choices as during the pandemic. And these should be made with the same authority and decisiveness employed by many governments back then, starting with the Italian one – instead of transferring more and more resources from welfare to increasing military spending from one day to the next.

Peace doesn’t come for free; pacifism is not a walk in the park, and what has been called “active pacifism” even less so: the kind of pacifism that has no doubts about which side to take, which rejects accusations of bothsiderism, which considers the struggle of the Ukrainian people as resistance against the invader. A pacifism that wants to take weapons away, indeed, but first of all from those who are using them to attack, not to defend themselves. And one that is willing to take away the decisive weapon of economic blackmail from the hands of the ferocious dictator. All military strategies, all geopolitical scenarios come after. Not before.

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