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‘Putin is Hitler’: why we use analogies to talk about the Ukraine war, and how they can lead to peace

9 5 24
29.03.2022

The war in Ukraine has produced a disorienting array of analogies. Vladimir Putin is Hitler. Volodymyr Zelensky is a Nazi. Ukraine could become like Afghanistan or Korea. Russia should accept its borders, just as post-colonial African countries did. The invasion is no different to what the west did in Iraq. The Ukrainians are like the Irish fighting for independence from the UK – but also like Brexiteers resisting the EU.

Meanwhile, other countries bordering Russia, and Taiwan, wonder if they could become “another Ukraine”.

Analogies are a key part of how the war in Ukraine is being justified and understood. The invasion is such a seismic (and for many people, surprising) event, that we have a particularly strong appetite for comparisons. Analogies are ubiquitous in human discourse and have always played an important role in politics and international affairs.

Analogy is embedded in our thinking and language. Cognitive psychologists talk about “analogical reasoning”, in which we use what we know about one situation to infer information about another. We use this to understand our circumstances and plan action – a child avoids cauliflower........

© The Conversation


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