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War and Sanctions. Some Economic and Political Lessons to be Learned From Materialist Anthropology



The political field seems to prefer the intellectual resources offered by Political Sciences and Economic Sciences because they fit well into the habits created by the daily practice of power. Assuming that it is not just about self-censorship, the current perspective offered by these scientific fields has some blind spots, and risks legitimizing an unfounded optimism regarding the effectiveness of the means used in the crisis generated by the Russian-Ukrainian war. That is why I consider the perspective offered by materialist anthropology to be very useful for describing the complexity of the power relations, and for a fine-tuning of what-is-at-stake. This perspective, which looks at long-term trends, can highlight the differences between imagined power (given by habits, abstractions and the assumption of continuities) and real power (given by the technologies and resources that matter, real scarcity and international competition). I concluded that the imagined power relations of today are a survival of the real power relations from the near past (when the GDP in the Western world was correlated with powerful local manufacturing and a complete dominance in high-tech research). Our mindset, habits and biases created a blind-spot that made difficult to grasp the complexity of the situation and to react accordingly.