Bitter Victory

Is Victory Possible in the 21st Century?

Bitter Victory

Is Victory Possible in the 21st Century?


Terror, violence, and wars persist relentlessly, affecting every corner of our planet. Civil and civic, socio-political, economic, scientific, and cultural discourses are contaminated by the pervasive presence of militant rhetoric and warrior-like language. Our project aims to dissect and compare the evolution of victory doctrines and explore their implications on the termination of violence and establishment of peace.

Our Objectives

Reconstructing Principles of ‘Victory’ in Democracy

Democracy legitimizes itself by recognizing and respecting those fairly defeated in elections, in the fair exchange of ideas, and the fair competition of market economies. However, there is a growing public perception of political opponents as 'absolute enemies' who must be defeated at all costs, posing a threat to democracy. Our critical analysis of 'winning at all costs' is not just a scholarly pursuit but a crucial step towards defending the integrity of Western democracies, understanding future global conflicts, and promoting peace.

Redefining ‘Victorious’ War as a Social Ideal

The analysis of the meaning of 'victory' also extends beyond democratic societies to include armed groups and states that lack a democratic tradition. Our focus will be on redefining the principle of 'victory' within the strategies and ethics of warfare of these non-democratic entities as they engage in warfare or develop geostrategic ambitions. Understanding their perspective on victory is a theoretical exercise and a necessary step towards comprehensively understanding future global conflicts. In the near future, in addition to Russia and Israel, China will also become a central topic in discussions about winning and victory.


Petar Bojanić
University of Belgrade

Petar is Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory of the University of Belgrade. He is also a founding Director of the Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka, and President of the Institute for Democratic Engagement Southeast Europe in Belgrade.


Simon Menner, Camouflage, Sniper on top of the two big boulders in the lower right corner. Muzzle is visible (2019). Courtesy: the artist.

In this image, a professional sniper is hiding from view, aiming directly at the camera and, by extension, the viewer. Simon Menner's series, Camouflage, presents landscapes in which German snipers are hidden within the frame, turning each photograph into a deadly "Where's Waldo" challenge. But Menner insists that the real focus isn't on finding the snipers. Instead, the photographs reflect on how fear, terror, and surveillance permeate modern life.
Menner's work has been shown in exhibitions around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, CO Berlin, and Bauhaus Museum Weimar. His work has also been featured in major media outlets including Arte, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, BBC, New York Times, The Independent, CNN, Frieze, Vice, and Wired.


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