Realpolitik: Between Assignments

"Between Berlin and Rome" from Kladderadatsch 16 May 1875.

by Andrea Brandt





Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher I believe once asked, can philosophy solve problems?  My answer is that it’s relative to the situation. How much philosophy can a person tolerate while under siege with blood dripping from an open wound? That is a reality observed when reporting in the field. I write about what I see and hear as accurately as possible That’s based on the assumption I don’t get killed or captured, tortured and die. I celebrate afterwards that I survived. Das Existenzielle is Realpolitik among freelance journalists in war zones. 

In the morning I stumble out of bed, shake my head, dip my face in cold water and get dressed. I take a shower in the evenings. I like to be clean between the evening sheets. In the early a.m., I think of the next assignment. I worry for five minutes that I set aside for worry each morning. Then I move on. I don’t have more time than five minutes a day to be filled with angst. It’s too costly. And that leads me to money.

I catch up on the news from fellow freelance journalists’ perspective if possible- the war in Ukraine, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the struggles in Somalia and Ethiopia. And there’s the global slave trade, starvation, the tragedies are ceaseless. And my experience in Cyrpess…news is never ending. Covering a story is my adrenalin.

I constantly have to balance what I have with where I am at. My mother was frugal. My dad not so much. I take after my dad. My mother was smarter with money. Money has always had a way of intruding itself into staying alive. Breathing. Eating. Sleeping. Money like arithmetic is international and local. Money is political and empowering.

Money accumulated for politics when called by the ancient metaphor of war chest, implies violence.  The phrase is traced back to when people like Hannibal carried chests filled with the spoils of war. Today it finances campaigns and financial instruments are exchanged in the dark, away from scrutiny. War rooms to describe political strategy sessions is another veiled violent term implying bloodshed. International bankers negotiate with people in countries wishing to survive by almost any means. Money and financing a war, skirmish, or terrorist group, measures little. Money is an instrument of negotiation. It’s in the bank’s interests to control the investment, flow, and the debt.Italy

A few years ago, when a notable American visited Italy to excite a politician, he used volatile and nationalistic language that in turn was used by that politician. Nationalism is more pervasive than one would wish. Money was involved. Money is a pivotal chess piece.

The world is both chaotic and needing harmony. Diplomatic, Diplomatique, diplomatisch, and diblumasiun may all sound philosophically similar – tactics and political meanings differ. Pragmatic or Realpolitik is at the forefront. Angst is created by being politically and socially unrealistic. Ideals have their place but the boardroom and bedroom are not philosophical playgrounds. Translation:  I get into bed with whom I please, including when and where, with a nod to the other’s interests.

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