Order and peace

Colosseum in Rome

Life matters nothing, because it leads to death which also matters nothing. Only glory matters, and the glory is Rome. But not for its conquests, but for its ability to establish perpetual peace. This is what Octavian Augustus was imagining in Hermann Broch's sublime work, "The Death of Virgil", published in 1945. Virgil lay before Caesar Augustus, sweating from the illness that foreshadowed the imminent end, next to the Aeneid, conceived for immortality, about to depart into the world of ashes and become part of the past. Even though Caesar, who was Caesar of civilisation in its entirety, demanded that he finish writing it, with his decrepit and still doubtful hand, and thus put the august end to that grandiose work conceived for that purpose: perpetuity. 

Perhaps the classical poet perceived, even more aggrandised by the prose of the German Jew Broch, that centuries after Rome's eternity seemed real, the end of peace would be perpetual. And perhaps he dreamed of other successive times, in which some masterful author would be able to gain access to the inaccessible description of the state of peace that we suppose at the end of all creation. In that unfathomable hallucination where everything becomes nothing. Where language no longer exists, which succumbs and falls apart, with no time to ask for forgiveness and say goodbye. 

The perpetual peace of Rome, later demystified in Western history by the more realistic peace of God. That aspiration, in the midst of 20th century world war, to achieve a stable and balanced order that would prevent the extermination and industrialised death that science and madness had conceived. But world order is not perpetual, just as Roman peace was not. It is a framework of coexistence established by the capacities of powers and actors, by treaties and regulatory norms, at least those that can be assumed, and by dominant trends, whether technological (digitalisation), economic (globalisation), social (demography), cultural (identity) or ideological (democracy). 

The constant rebalancing caused by perpetual change. In today's international dynamics, change is like an erupting volcano that never stops. The world order seeks a new definition where the capacities of the actors are rebalanced. There is no confrontation but competition and rivalry. There is a dominant, but not hegemonic, pole and other smaller but growing poles of attraction and power. There are five domains for security because the digital environment and space are open. There are millions of people with greater equity and millions with no equity at all. 

Order matters more than life, because it leads to peace. Augustus came to say to Virgil. But the poet could not understand. And he limited himself to describing in a sublime way the road that leads to the absence of any word. The luminous and useless road to immortality. A place where, before God, there was absolutely nothing. 

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