The Aspen Institute Kyiv held an Aspen Dialogue, “War as a Condition of a Person, Community and Society.”

“The first to break were those who believed that everything would end soon. Then – those who did not believe that this would ever end. Those who survived were those who focused on their own affairs, without expectations of what else might happen.” – Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor

This quote was repeated several times yesterday, February 21, during the Aspen Dialogue “War as a Condition of Person, Community, and Society” for members of the Community. The Aspen Institute Kyiv organized the event. The discussion was based on the classic text “On War” by Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz. 

Participants shared different opinions during the seminar, as the event brought together representatives of business, government, and civil society. That is why the conversation was rich and full of non-trivial perspectives. Here are the key points:

  • War is “an extreme intensity of forces,” as Clausewitz pointed out. However, the participants disagreed on whether the maximum tension had passed or was still ahead. Some noted that it is impossible to be in a state of tension all the time, so there should be a wave-like movement. At the same time, a sustainable society should have a particular group of people who can monitor and set the rhythm. 
  • Most participants recognize that the will to win is a significant factor in achieving success. The more trust there is in society and the vision of the future shared by the majority, the greater the will. However, the issue of spiritual strength should not be neglected in favor of physical and military resources. According to the participants, the ideal formula for success would be the will, resources, and a high-quality communication strategy. 
  • War is becoming an increasingly “normal” phenomenon of everyday life. Society and every one, wherever they are, must rebuild their lives and activities in the context of war and the approaching victory. At the same time, society must understand that the state of war is not the norm but a deviation from it, and therefore, the concept of “getting used to it” is false. Regarding the prospects for the development of events, the participants suggested that freezing the conflict could be more dangerous than a “hot” phase of the war, as it could lead to a hybrid absorption of the subjectivity of our state.

Andriy Kulakov (Program Coordinator for the Aspen Institute Kyiv Community) and Denis Poltavets (Director of Program Development) moderated the discussion.

We are grateful to the participants for their insightful and sincere opinions. Follow the announcements for the Community’s next events.