In April 2023, when the world was expecting counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops, there were few events that not only had impact on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but also provided additional information on the topic of this series of my articles — the threats to Russia and the West posed by China’s rise. Those events, from my point of view, did not receive due attention of political analysts and media.
Among those events were the visits of Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva and French President Emmanuel Macron to Beijing, of Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu to Moscow, the telephone conversation between Xi Jinping and Zelensky and the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Japan.
Though those events were discussed in the world media, the essence of the ongoing process remained hidden in the shadow of the expectation of offensive by Ukrainian troops. I have not found a single article that linked all those events together in attempt to show the process that determines the policies and actions of all the above politicians and diplomats.
So, let’s try analyze some of those events in this article to figure it out…
«For» and «Against»
The meetings in Beijing, Moscow and Karuizawa, Japan, were different from similar events by the frankness with which the leaders of the two camps, forming their own versions of the world order, demonstrated that they are building systems of international relations on diametrically opposed principles, and any compromise, if it is reached now, will be used to cover preparation of new stage of confrontation.
Analyzing the results of these meetings, we can state that the United States and its allies, on the one hand, and China and Russia, on the other hand, uphold world order systems that cannot coexist and are mutually exclusive. At the same time, none of the parties can explain the reasons for this incompatibility, preferring to engage in accusations of opponents.
The West accuses China and Russia of seeking to destroy the existing rules and the world order based on dominance of Washington that uses existing systems of financial, economic, trade and political relations between states in the unipolar world.
However, most states in the world, including significant part of the political, scientific and business elite in the United States and its allies, understand that the existing order is outdated and ineffective. On the one hand, it leads to further fragmentation of society and growth of contradictions in the Western countries themselves, and on the other hand, to chaos, new problems in international relations that the United States is unable to cope with.
In the modern world, the United States is unable to bear the burden of world leader. Akela constantly misses, and more and more countries blame the United States for their problems, and Washington does not want to be accused in all the problems of the world. Instead of looking for a way out through the modernization of the system of relations in the world, the current US leadership puts the blame on its opponents and accuses its rivals of creating problems. Contradictions and antagonism, enmity and threats are growing.
However, the transition to a new technological level of the world economy increasingly requires stabilizationof international relations and transformation of the system of world relations to allow acceleration of development of the economy of new technological order that requires cultural and historical factors, including moral norms, to play increasing, paramount role, and the intellectual resources of different civilizations to interact and concentrate on solving problems and further developing of the mankind.
“Without ideology, we are dead, dead!”
Neither the ruling groups in Washington nor their closest allies in Europe and Asia have come up with new ideas or images of the world they intend to create. They cannot explain the reasons why the order that ensured the dominance of Western civilization in the world for two centuries stopped working and faced with clear threat of destruction and replacement in the absence of communist or any other alternative.
Even several decades heyday of the Soviet Union did not lead to destruction of dominance of the West, because the communist idea, Marxism, in the form that was embodied in the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe, was the idea born of Western civilization.
Marxism, born in Western Europe in the middle of the 19th century, was not transformed either to requirements of the social, scientific and technological level of development of the second half of the 20th century, or to the mentality and conditions of Russian civilization. These were the main two reasons that eventually led to collapse of the USSR.
In the post-war years, Joseph Stalin realized that without the development of Marxism, without new ideology, the Communist party and the Soviet state officials started turning into bureaucratic herd that in their bestial instincts, surpassed “capitalist predators”, and in moral qualities dropped below morality of the Russian criminal world.
Those bureaucrats proclaimed state property «public» (by the way, the fake «idea» that state property is public that contradicted completely Marx’s ideas, was also imported to the USSR from Western Europe), put that property under their full control and started dreaming of transferring this control, like property itself, by inheritance to their descendants. At that point, Stalin said: “Without ideology, we are dead, dead!”
Stalin was right. In the late 1980s, the bureaucratic revolution took place in the USSR. Bureaucracy as a class came to power and, using secret services and criminal world restored capitalist ideology and with the help of the West, privatized socialist state and “public” property. The communist experiment in the USSR ended with collapse of the State and establishment of regime of dictatorship of state bureaucracy almost throughout the entire territory of the former Russian Empire. It was in Russia that dictatorship of bureaucracy in the form of state capitalism acquired its most advance form.
At the beginning of the 21st century, state power in the hands of the bureaucracy in the US and European countries, especially in the EU, exceeded the influence of financial, intellectual and business elites. And, the bureaucratic clans in power do not need ideology. To perform their will, they need mass media and artificial intelligence as instrument and tool to perform their will, and poorly educated, fragmented society, unable to understand and defend people’s interests controlled by AI.
All the options offered by Western politicians for the ideological support of the fight against China and Russia look like attempt to cover up the lack of new ideas. Opposing changes that Russia and China, and with them most other states on all continents, insist on, without presenting new ideas, the Western politicians keep their stand “Against”, but not “For”.
The West is focused on finding ways to fight against Russia and China, including in the information sphere, but is doing almost nothing to win in the sphere of ideas. By dominating the information field, the West has given the ideological sphere to its rivals, and that inevitably further weakens its position.
This is happening in civilization that is intellectually, according to its cultural traditions and historical factors, perhaps faster than other civilizations, is able to bring together emerging ideas, rudiments and sprouts of ideologies, including in non-Western civilizations, and create foundation for the new system of world relations.
Moreover, in the West, the attempts to generate new ideas have been made quite actively in the past two decades. However, those who seek and create new ideas and try to put them into life have limited influence on political decision-making groups in the US, UK and EU. They are not suppressed, but kept outside the zone of vital interests of those who stand «Against».
The West is missing its chance to be the initiator of the creation of new ideology as organizational basis of new world order and to become its ideological Centre, even if that future world is multi-polar, as China and Russia insist.
It is the retreat from the ideological field that can predetermine the defeat of the West, because the bureaucratic clans ruling in modern Russia, who advocate changing the world order, are forced to search for ideas that can attract those countries that having felt the wind of change, are ready not to build walls, but set sails.
In the Trap of Thucydides
G7 foreign ministers, discussing world problems, focused on threats posed by Russia and China. Even the development of relations between the G 7 states was considered from the standpoint of rivalry and confrontation with Moscow and Beijing, build up of pressure and new sanctions.
The main initiators of this approach were Washington and Tokyo, and the zones of confrontation and rivalry were Europe and the Pacific Ocean, where the vital interests of the United States and Japan are under threat. Instead of trying to reduce threats, to compromise and find ways to interact with their rivals, the G 7 focused on fighting.
Washington and Tokyo tried to convince the Europeans, along with building up of confrontation with Russia in Europe, to “turn to the East” and to concentrate on confrontation with Beijing, to consider the Pacific Ocean not as region distant to peoples of Europe, but as geopolitical battlefield of “global confrontation with the most dangerous adversary» — China.
At the same time, Japan and South Korea increased their activity in Europe, providing economic and military support to NATO and Ukraine, in particular, by increasing supply of weapons, including thousands of tanks and armored vehicles to Poland.
G7 closely followed the talks of their rivals in Beijing and Moscow. However, G 7 was primarily interested in the attitude of China and Brazil to the war in Ukraine, the situation around Taiwan and Western sanctions, but almost ignored topics that were discussed in Moscow and Beijing.
In Beijing, Xi Jinping and Lula da Silva discussed issues of cooperation, economic development and trade exchange between the two countries, as well as between China and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa) and 13 states that have expressed their desire to become BRICS members. These were the topics that belong to the category “For”.
In Beijing, questions of military cooperation were not considered, though in Japan, the G7 ministers have been picking up signals from Beijing on issues of military confrontation and sanctions that fall into the category “Against”.
The relations with the West and Japan were almost completely excluded from the discussion in Beijing. That came as surprise and disappointment for the West and its allies, who were present at the negotiations in Beijing only as background, backstage, as set of problems that should be taken into account, but not at the center of discussion, because the West and its allies in Asia had excluded themselves from the development of relations between China and Brazil.
The pragmatic position “For” in concentrated form was formulated by Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who at the press-conference was forced to voice his attitude towards the United States and Europe. Lula said: «Our strategic cooperation (between China and Brazil — BM) will only get stronger, and to improve them, we don’t need to break off relations with anyone.»
Lula is close to the US Democratic Party, and Brazil is one of Washington’s main partners. Lula paid his first visit after being elected to the United States. Brazil seeks to become permanent member of the UN Security Council, and that will be decided in course of the upcoming reform of this international organization, and without consent of Washington will not happen. Lula is not going to spoil relations with the United States, and neither China nor Russia insists on this. It is important for them to increase the representation of BRICS in the UN Security Council.
Looking out from the «trap» of the policy “Against”, the US, Europe and Japan came to conclusion that Russia, China and Brazil, the three members of the BRICS group, as it was written in «The New York Times”, continued to «strengthen the anti-American alliance», that China and Brazil “refused to condemn” Russia and “refused to supply” weapons to Ukraine, although the issue of “supplying” weapons to Ukraine was not even discussed.
The United States, Europe, Australia and their allies in Asia, found themselves in a trap described by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. Explaining the reasons for the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC) between Athens, that was democracy, and Sparta, that was ruled by oligarchy, Thucydides called the situation in which the ancient Greek states found themselves as trap, that the desire of Athens to subjugate the Peloponnesian Union, led by Sparta, made inevitable the alliance of Sparta with Persia, and consequently, the war that led to the defeat of Athens.
It was precisely against making this mistake that Henry Kissinger warned all these years, and without success.
The “Fifth Element” of the New World Order
However, Russia and China also cannot clearly and accessibly for other countries formulate the idea of the new world order that Moscow and Beijing demand. Both for the West that opposes the attempts of Russia and China to change the world order, and for states that share the desire for change, it is important to know on what principles Beijing and Moscow propose to build new system of international relations. However, Moscow and Beijing do not have clear idea, or are not yet able to formulate it.
Moreover, many commentators have impression that, speaking about the same problems, proposing joint solutions, China and Russia, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, see and understand their initiative of changes differently and set different goals.
Political observers in Russia and in the West came to conclusion that differences in the understanding and vision of the future world order by Beijing and Moscow are fundamental.
Russia is trying to create symbiosis of ideologies, but all that was generated by Moscow till now cannot yet be accepted and even be understood by other civilizations and peoples. Putin talks about multipolar world, and political scientists come to the conclusion that Russia is pursuing the goal of building world order that is based on several independent centers of power surrounded by zones of their influence and responsibility, opposing each other, but interacting and maintaining equilibrium system of relationships between them. These centers of power should be Russia, China, the USA, India and other centers of world civilizations with sufficient economic, intellectual, cultural, scientific and military potential, as well as political will.
However, the transition from unipolar to multipolar world order cannot be considered as a great idea or concept of the system of international relations. Fragmentation of the world structure and rejection of a single center of power and its replacement with several «poles» can make the world even more unstable and chaotic than the world order that was imposed on humanity by the United States and its allies. More, there is “highly likely” that it will make the world more unstable.
Actually, the multipolar world already exists, and the instability is growing dramatically. In multipolar world, the future totally and overwhelmingly depends on the moral qualities of political leadership of centers of power. It is difficult to imagine that the moral standards of the present world leaders can and will insure safe and stable future for humanity. Multipolarity can quickly end…
China also cannot present concept of development that is clear to other peoples and states. The concepts of “One Belt, One Road” and “One Destiny for Mankind” in the West, in Russia, the Middle East and South Asia do not cause rejection, but they are not perceived as clear and definitively formulated concepts for organizing new world order that will meet the interests of other civilizations, including western. Rather, these concepts are perceived as business and political projects based on Beijing’s interests.
Moreover, China formulates its approach in different ways, depending on place, event and who Beijing is in dialogue with.
In February 2022, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin announced the concept of the multipolar world, but eight months later, in October 2022, at the CPC Congress, Xi Jinping spoke not about multipolar, but about bipolar world, emphasizing that China needs the West. That statement was perceived by the majority of observers and politicians in Russia as refusal to recognize Moscow’s right to its zone of influence and responsibility, that is, to the Moscow’s pole in the world. Many in Moscow felt that Beijing viewed Russia as a satellite, junior partner, important and respected, but obliged to carry out the will of the leader.
However, in March 2023, in Moscow, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin again stated that they would “promote multipolar world order, economic globalization and democratization of international relations” on the following principles: no country is superior to another, no model of governance is universal, no state can dictate and impose its variant of international order. Analysts again started talking about the alliance between Moscow and Beijing.
Here, I would like to make one important remark.
Each civilization has its own understanding of the future, and the modern world is increasingly defined not by states, but by civilizations that shape the world according to their vision and understanding.
Ideas, even if they have common basis and essence, are perceived, realized and implemented by each civilization in its own way, and this is the quintessence, the “fifth element”, the spirit of the system of interaction between civilizations and the new world order that humanity is moving to.
As long as leaders and politicians consider relations in the world as interactions between states, classes, political parties and groups, as long as they do not take into account differences in understanding and perception of the world by civilizations due to cultural and historical factors, confrontation and rivalry in the world will prevail over interaction and cooperation.
In order to understand better the process of formation of new system of international relations that is taking place now, in order to understand what exactly the world order that the leaders of China and Russia promote and are being pushed towards by the cultural and historical factors of Chinese and Russian civilizations, it is necessary to return into the past, to the formation of Russian civilization, Russian Empire and the role of the system of trade routes that connected East and South across the Russian Plain with the West and Middle East, to the point where I stopped in my previous article…
One Way — One Empire
So, let us return in XIII-XIV centuries, to the historical period when Russia and China were parts of one Mongol Empire, that was built according to the principle that I wrote about earlier — according to the principle of “Matryoshka», the Russian doll …
Photo: The Mongol Empire
(To be continued)