Virtuosidade de realismo político pericleano, assim plenamente endossado por Tucídides, que perdura na história de Atenas até “aproximadamente quinze anos após o início da Guerra do Peloponeso”, quando Alcibíades fez vingar seu projeto de invasão da Sicília (500). A história tucidideana passa então, pela apreciação da leitura de George Kateb, a advertir contra a face reversa, negativa, do imperialismo ateniense. Atenas, agora, perde a prudência e a dignidade de sua postura de superpotência, ciente de suas missões e limites, descambando por uma busca desenfreada e cega por poderio:
“The next political situation covered by Thucydides which we shall consider involved not the question of whether or not the time had come for one first-rate power to assert itself against the ambitions of another, but rather whether or not a first- rate power, in a time of truce, should seek to extend its power over peoples seemingly ripe for dominion. I refer to the debate over the projected invasion of Sicily by Athens. ...
“... But then Alcibiades reaches for novelty in his discourse. He says, ‘And we cannot fix the exact point at which our empire shall stop’ (VI, 18). These words suggest that no bounds can be set to it; and that, indeed, no bounds can be set to appetite once the prospect of satisfaction is opened up. Power has a dynamism of its own and subjexts those who seek power to laws of its own which they are helpless to resist. Alcibiades does seem to offer a prudential reason for for this limitlessness. He continues, ‘we have reache a position in which we must not be content with retaining but must scheme to extend it [the empire], for, if we cease to rule others, we are in danger of being ruled ourselves’ (VI, 18). He here anticipates what Hobbes was to say centuries later: ‘Also because there be some, that taking pleasure in contemplating their own power in the acts of conquest, which they pursue further than their security requires; if others, that otherwise would be glad to be at ease within modest bounds, should not by invasion increase their power, they would not be able, long time, by standing only on their defence, to subsist. And by consequence, such augmentation of dominion over men, being necessary to a man’s conservation, it ought to be allowed him’ (Leviathan, Chap. 13).
The only trouble is that such a support for the Sicilian expedition is wanting to Alcibiades. The conquest of Sicily is not needed to strengthen Athen’s hand against its Peloponnesian enemies; the Sicilians offer no treat to the security of Athens. The very reasoning which the Athenians used to justify their expansion in mainland Greece and the surrounding islands, and which then seemed convincing, is used to justify an attack on a remote island. It cannot seem convincing in this instance. ...
Like Pericles, Alcibiades is willing to have suspended the rules of ordinary morality when the ambitions of states are under consideration. But unlike Pericles, Alcibiades does not allow prudence to take the place of morality as a check on the ambitions of Athens” (501-2)
Assim, há um realismo político mais míope, que mera e exclusivamente atende às ambições obsessivas da política de poder, como o realizou historicamente o projeto expansionista de Alcibíades. Já o realismo político mais aprimorado, como o pericleano, se não arrisca a segurança da nação contra os reclamos de moralidade, jamais perde, com isso, o descortino da visão prudente. Pelo que George Kateb conclui sua recomendações finais que estimam a ainda extremada valiosidade dos ensinamentos da história tucidideana:
“In Alcibiades speech, then, a new style of politics makes its appearance in Thucydides narration. It is not the last time such a style will have a place on the world scene, and to read about it in Thucydides, and about its consequences, is a further enhancement of one’s political knowledge.
It is an ample vindication of Thucydides’ claim that what he had written was not ‘an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but ... a possession for alltime’ (503.
De Louis J. Halle, por 1952 (reverberado em 1967), a Georg Kateb, por 1964, o jogo de vozes que compõem as harmonias ecoadoras do discurso tucidideano desloca seus tons dominantes. Em 1952, a América tinha que refletir a decisão por que assumiria, como missão de seu destino histórico, os encargos da hegemonia mundial. Agora, em 1964, império americano já em curso, novas lições tucidideanas são solicitadas, especialmente se as vagas e apenas genéricas alusões advertidas por Kateb intrigarem as vicissitudes que levam da Crise dos Mísseis à Guerra do Vietnan. Somos nós, modernos, dá assim a entender Kateb, que corroboramos o valor da história de Tucídides, se bem aprendermos e devidamente seguimrmos suas lições! Já Chateaubriand, por inícios do século XIX, assim também o sentenciara.
Em Thucydides and the Politics of Bipolarity, datado de 1966, Peter J. Fliess lança sobre o mundo da Guerra do Peloponeso o olhar da Guerra Fria.
Logo na abertura do livro, um diálogo de epígrafes sela os avais de autoridades por que se descortina o experimento de uma tal hermenêutica tucidideana. Tucídides, confiante na permanência dos modos da natureza humana, projetara sobre o futuro a atualidade valiosa de sua visão histórica:
“The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time” (Thucydides, I.22.4)
A Tucídides, Fliess faz (cor)responder Jakob Burckhardt, assim revertendo a direção do olhar da história, por que agora a percepção do presente também ilumina a inteligibilidade do passado:
“Sources, however, especially such as come from the hand of great men, are inexhaustible, and everyone must re-read the works which have been exploited a thousand times, because they present a peculiar aspect, not only to every reader and every century, but also to every time of life. It may be, for instance, that there is in Thucydides a fact of capital importance which somebody will note in a hundred years’ time”. (Jakob Burckhardt, Reflections on History)
A inesgotável riqueza com que homens excepcionais apreendem em um texto a história de seu tempo reclama séculos de leituras para que se revelem todas as faces das realidades alí condensadas. Imagens do passado, despercebidas pelo trânsito do tempo, ganham consciência histórica quando o presente as (re)atualiza.
Justamente, a Guerra Fria, que o presente americano contemporâneo (meados do século XX) conhece, reaviva a memória do passado grego da Guerra do Peloponeso (século V a.C.) por similares experiências de um mundo bipolarizado:
“There has been a growing belief that valuable practical lessons can be learned from the study of political circunstances which, though remote in time, are not unlike those confronting the world today. It is for that reason that the great war between Athens and Sparta has received renewed attention in recent years among an audience that goes well beyond professional students of classics and ancient history. The period’s characteristic distribution of effective international power between two superpowers bear a striking resemblance to the bipolarization of power which has occurred in a global scale since 1945 and which has relegated all nations other than the United States and the Soviet Union to a different and inferior status.
... In comparing the international situations then and now, it must be understood that analogous positions were occupied by Sparta and the United States, on the one hand, and by Athens and the Soviet Union, on the other. It is also necessary to remember the basic differences between the Athenian democracy of the fifth century B.C. and the American democracy of today. The internal structure of the representative libertarian democracy seems quite different from that of the ancient radical democracy” (vii-viii) (nota: lapso nas identificações?)
Pela dialética dos olhares da história, primeiro projetado do passado tucidideano para o presente americano e então revertido no sentido contrário, conforma-se a ciência da política que conjuga suas lições, justo porque uma mesma humanitude atravessa a temporalidade:
“Despite these limitations much common substance remains. The role played by human nature in the course of historical events continues to be a modern problem. If, then, something is to be learned from history about man’s perennial problems and about the ways in which he has tried to cope with them, the job at hand is to distinguish between human and environmental factors, insofar as the interaction between man and his environment permits. This, it is hoped, will provide knowledge about political action which is pertinent to the analysis of contemporary events” (viii-ix)
Pela proposta de Fliess, uma espécie de “boomerang” histórico circula entre o passado e o presente atualizando lições para os perenes desafios com que o homem se depara na história. O olhar que, então, reflete a Guerra do Peloponeso pelo espelho da Guerra Fria, disponibiliza a consciência política que melhor possa vislumbrar o futuro da América.
Todavia, as lições que Tucídides nos ensina, reconhece Fliess, não são nada óbvias. Leituras que almejam situar suas reflexões nos quadros de perspectivas identificadoras consagradas, ou idealismo ou realismo político, provam-se deficientes, antes as manietando, pois, se, em sua história, Tucídides parece, por determinados momentos, sustentar uma ou outra posição, por outros, as solapa.111 Sua obra histórica conjuga ciência de realismo político com sabedoria de consciência ética, assim ambivalentemente entrelaçadas em suas apreciações factuais:
“To understand such apparent inconsistencies, one must remember that those engaged in the political struggle had to be prepared to act in accordance with certain necessities which were not of their making, even if such action did not conform to generally accepted moral standards. But that does not mean taht the realist, acting as such necessities demand, is absolved from observing moral standards altogether. The need to exercise power, at times even unjust power, cannot justify its abuse. The ambivalence in Thucydides’ drama arises from two sources: the political necessities inherent in the circunstances which man can neither harness nor evade, and man’s ambitious and passionate nature, which prevents him from exercising such rational choices as are open to him. In analyzing the politics of the period an attempt must be made to disentangle proper from improper uses of power, to distinguish between the inherent necessities and the area of free choice reatined by man” (ix)
As lições da história tucidideana, ao que arrazoa Fliess, recomendam, pois, um jogo dialético na condução da práxis política por que poder e moral mutuamente se delimitem. Por um lado, não há que comprometer os imperativos dos destinos do poder em sacrificando a segurança pela moral. Por outro, entretanto, não há também que arruinar a liberdade do comando em sacrificando a racionalidade prudente pelo extravazamento das paixões do poder abusivo. A missão do estadista requer acuidade primorosa de descortino político, capaz de discernir o delicado e tênue limiar que separa necessidade de liberdade na práxis governamental. Ao observar e atender aos reclamos de ambas, a política plenifica racionalidade. Em 1966, os dizeres de Fliess, que notavelmente ressoam semelhos aos de Morgenthau, reapreciam a contribuição analítica por que a leitura de Tucídides possa aprimorar tal acuidade, especialmente para tempos (modernos) de Guerra Fria.
Pela leitura de Fliess, a Grécia da Pentecontetia (re)aparece sob nova face, assim sobrepostos à sua história as questões e os dilemas vigentes nos tempos da Guerra Fria, uma vez traduzida sua semântica histórica quer pelos teores das categorias discursivas quer pelos retratos das ambiências imagéticas modernas:
“The first thing to be noted in surveying the period is the appearance of a new temper, gaining in intensity as time progressed, marked by an excessively competitive spirit. Outwardly the new temper manifested itself in the unprecedented enormity of military preparations made by Athens and Sparta as the redistribution of power was crystalizing. The reason for stepping up armaments evidently layin an entirely realistic assessment of the new politica situation, created by the emergence of two equal superpowers, in which an approximate military equilibrium seemed the only insurance of some measure of stability. It was tehrefore not so much a craving for prestige as a desperate concern for political survival that was responsible for the armament race. The possibility that the opponent might gain a limitless and enduring supremacy no doubt was frightening to both sides. In the tug of war that ensued, outside help could no be counted on. Although the lesser states were to play an important part in the contest, their potential material contributions were not such as to justify a realxation of efforts. Neither was there much hope that any third power or group of powers might gain sufficient strength to act as an effective balancer.
The contestants thus were forced to depend largely on their own devices. To relax vigilance and military preparations in a situation so fraught with uncertainty might have been disastrous. Even if Sparta on occasion seemed to slacken its efforts, it did so, as has been seen, largely because its hands were tied. As the conflict sharpened, but felt the urgent need to push ahead with increasing truculence in order to exploit every advantage vis-à-vis the opponent as well as third states. Considering the magnitude of the anxieties and animosities generated, it is hardly surprising that tensions were heightned almos to the limit of endurance. It is also easy to understand that in the face of the struggle between the giants, particularistic interests and the contentiousness of lesser states were wholly subordinated to the bipolar cold war contest” (54-55)
Recompostas as cenas da história helênica, o crítico moderno então empreende o exercício analítico que nela apreende o daignóstico da dialética das determinações que desencadeiam os fatos históricos, especialmente apreciada em termos dos choques por que conflitam os móbiles objetivos impostos pela dinâmica da política de poder contra os desígnios subjetivos reclamados pela ética de uma humanitude civilizada. O campo da política é assim enfocado como que cindido entre o domínio da necessidade, por realidade de poder exteriorizada, e o horizonte da liberdade humana, por leque de opções e alternativas disponíveis.
Assim Fliess interroga a história helênica colocando-lhe o encadeamento de questões que melhor aprecie as lições a dela serem tiradas, especialmente em termos de responsabilização dos agentes humanos envolvidos no processo de decisão política.
Poderia o bipolarismo ter sido evitado, caso os lideres de ambos os estados tivessem agido com mais circunspecção do que o fizeram? Que responsabilidades podem ser imputadas, ou a Esparta ou a Atenas, pela emergência do alinhamento bipolar? (p. 49-52)
Estruturado o bipolarismo, poderia a guerra ter sido evitada? Que jogo de circunstâncias fez romper o frágil e precário equilíbrio de poder entre as superpotências? Que opções e alternativas tiveram os estadistas de ambos os lados de contornar os impasses adotando políticas de maior sobriedade e espírito conciliatório? (p. 66-72)
Desencadeada a guerra, que aspectos, faces e obras ela revela, seja por repertório de táticas e estratégias miliatres empregues seja por panorama de objetivos e procedimentos políticos efetivados? Em especial, que ordem de realidades mobilizou o empreendimento bélico? Os imperativos da política de poder por seus reclamos de segurança nacional e consoante afirmação de supremacia? Ou os princípios de protestos éticos e ideológicos de virtuosidade superior que revestem a guerra por auras de legitimidade? (p. 121-137)
Que impactos tiveram as injunções da política enterior sobre a ordem social doméstica de cada estado? Em especial, como poderia ter sido evitada a desintegração do ethos por que essa ordem se fundamenta? Por quais desvios e descaimentos de poder abusivo se arruinou a política de moderação que a ética de uma humanitude civilizada preceitua? (p. 138-159)
Aferidas as respostas históricas que a Guerra do Peloponeso enseja, que lições, então, no entender de Fliess, Tucídides nos ensina? Que axiologia política sua história projeta enquanto ktema es aiei?
Primeiro, a necessidade da guerra, que se impôs como desencadeamento inerente à uma realidade política de bipolarismo:
“The principal question which comes to mind is the role played by the deficient statesmanship of Athens and Sparta. If it was the pressures emanating from the bipolar distribution of power rather than the preference of human agents that had brought on the war, and which during the war had greatly reduced the scope of free choice, can one fairly attribute the causes of the disaster either to the lack of moderation of the Athenians or to the passivity of the Spartans?
It may be objected that in the last analysis the war was futile, in that Sparta did not derive any long-range benefits from its victory. But even if this objection be granted, does it prove that the opponentes had it within their power to avoid war? States are not normally deterred from going to war, especially when obsessed by irreducible anxieties over their security, by the knowledge that they are not likely to incur material or political gains of any consequence. Pericles, to be sure, was not without responsibility in precipitating the war, and most of his contemporaries seem to have laid the blame squarely upon him. However, Thucydides judged him far more charitably. Although he concedes that Pericles wanted war, in his judgement he wanted it only because the actual combination of circunstances left no room for an alternate course of action.
If one wants to push the argument further, one may ask what would have happened had Athens and Sparta steadfastly refused to go to war. The question obviously is purely hypothetical. The period was not pervaded by pacifist ideologies, nor did avoidance of war at the price of appeasement have any foundation in the ethos of the Greeks. But assuming that Athens had yielded to Sparta’s demands in order to avoid war, pressure would very likely have been increased and eventually resulted in its reduction. Had Sparta refused to go to war no matter what the circunstances, Athenian power no doubt would have grown until it became an irredicible threat to Sparta’s security. But what if both sides had been equally determined to avoid war while insuring mutual containment? The answer lies in the failure of the fifteen years’ peace from 446 to 431, which was intended to insure such a state of affairs.
Thucydides refrained from condemning or absolving either side and from blaming the great misfortune on specific individuals or states. It is impossible to say with any assurance that he favored either Athens or Sparta. He does not permit himself expressions of partialiity to the belligerents or to a particular type of political organization. It evidently was his desire to unfold before the reader’s eyes the full complexity of the predicament that was confronting the Greek world. Astutely aware that the magnitude of the problems often eluded the possibility of human control, he condemned neither side for making war or for subjecting their fellow Greeks to imperial rule.
The fact that circunstances had greatly reduced the area of free choice and were frequently forcing the participants into courses of action which they might not have chosen had the pressures been less overwhelming does not of course mean that Sparta’s victory was a historical necessity or that it could have been anticipated. On the contrary, Athens prospects appeared considerably brighter at the outset than Sparta’s. If Athens failed nevertheless, the explanation is to be found in faulty statesmanship.
Athens, as we saw, had displayed a boundless activity, attributable both to its naval expansion and its democratic institutions, which produced unique military strength and impressive cultural achievements. But if Athens was to reap the full benefit of these advantages, it was in particular need of restraint lest it become the victim of overextension. This the Athenian institutions failed to provide. While the democratic constitution had generated a high level of morale, it could not maintain moral steadiness under the strain imposed by the protracted war.
The record indicates that Athens’ defeat war largely the result of an inability to keep its own house in order. Overextension and dissipation of power, a propensity to rash decisions in situations requiring circunspect action, oscillations between indecision and extremism, and distrust of its leaders stand out as the immediate causes of the city’s decline. The difficulties arising from the intelectual and moral ambivalance of the masses, who ultimately charted the course of Athenian policy, were aggravated by the factional hatred dividing the citizenry. This rather than Sparta’s superior virtue decided the war.
Whether Athens would have fared better under a different form of government, we can only conjecture. Any temptation to answer affirmatively must be tempered by Thucydides’ apparent refusal to confine his observations on the social and moral desintegration of Athens or to democratic sates. As far as one can tell, he was describing a condition prevailing throughout Greece, irrespective of forms of government. But events might perhaps have taken a different turn had Athens been able to devise more adequate imperial institutions and to contain its imperialist drive. In failing to placate autonomist resentments among its allies by taking them into partnership and devising democratic institutions for the empire, Athens deprived itself of an important strategic asset and added to the general demoralization of warfare.
The containment of expansion was a more difficult problem, as we have seen. But even so moderation eas necessary. In fact, the need was perhaps all the greater because up to a point strategic requirements favored expansionism. Pericles had clearly foreseen both the need and the difficulty of self-restraint, but his warning was ignored by his successors. In short, the pitfalls of Athenian policy consisted less in imperialism as such than in the inability to apply the restraints which prudence demanded. How much responsibility must be borne by defective institutions and how much by the moral climate of the period, it is impossible to say. The two are not clearly separable spheres. (p. 160-163)
Pela operação da hermenêutica de Fliess, as vozes da Guerra Fria preenchem os interstícios dos silêncios factuais da memória histórica tucidideana, assim (des)compondo viciosamente a historicidade de seus sentidos, assim aferidos não tanto por reconhecimento de similitudes, mas antes por transposição tautológica de identificações.
Não é então dificil especular os travestimentos históricos a que tal hermenêutica induz, se contextualizada pelo momento histórico da América de meados da década de 1960 a que ela (cor)responde. Guerras Persas e despotismo oriental, a promover a aliança de Atenas e Esparta pela causa da liberdade, vale por Alemanha Nazista e II Guerra Mundial, a promover aliança de EUA e URSS, a seguir ambas desfeitas e desdobradas em bipolarismo? Dilemas de uma Esparta, de tradicional política de isolacionismo, que então confronta os perigos do expansionismo ateniense a ameaçar sua segurança, parecem-se com similares impasses americanos face aos avanços soviéticos por inícios da Guerra Fria? E Péricles vale pr Kennedy? E descomedimentos e destemperos de imprudências imperialistas de Atenas em Melos e Sicília valem por similares americanos no Vietnan?