Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog
Living in a rich Western country is by far not without problems. Sure, until now, I do not suffer from material worries. No sanctions are imposed on the country. No bombs are put on the roads or fall from above. Police is not knocking on my door and I can move more or less without restrictions (no, no, I will not cry because of some limitations due to the Covid-19 crisis). I am even not forced to hate anyone or to believe in anything. As long as I pay my taxes and do not violate the laws, more or less nobody disturbs me. You may call this a privileged situation. You may even dream of such a life.
The other side is less funny. Whatever newspaper I open – whatever day – I find at least one article which is profoundly anti-Chinese, or anti-Iranian, or anti-Russian, or anti-Syrian. On the whole, this has stopped upsetting me, but still, it is really boring. And then there is the absence of all sense of logic. When US-ships are far from at home, in the Persian Gulf or in the South China Sea, say, then this is just „normal“ for these professional journalists. But when Iranian ships are going to Venezuela, then this is much less „business as usual“. Or, for them, more or less every problem of the USA is a result of the craziness of Trump. But miraculously, as soon as the USA act against China or Iran or Russia or Syria, then the Trump’s craziness is like blown away.
There is a big mental problem in the West: a sickly conviction in the own superiority combined with systematically blaming others for the own weaknesses. No, no, you cannot say that this is just the fault of the ruling classes or of the evil monopoly capitalists. It is not that simple. Quite many „ordinary people“ think in this way. Of all sorts of education or profession. And they have no real excuse. Still, I will not condemn them. I will not throw the first stone. Nevertheless, I would like to be less alone with my feelings, my convictions, and my ideas.
Since quite some time, I have named four guiding principles for me: autonomy, humility, perseverance, and positivity. Let me explain them a little bit. Autonomy stands for a proper mind. Feel, act, think in your own way, on your own responsibility. Support President Assad as one of the outstanding leaders of our time, even when many of your own friends and relatives see him as a criminal. Be just astonished by the existence and the amazing strength of Hezbollah as one of the authentic miracles nowadays, even when the government of a neighboring country has declared Hezbollah as a threat and when you can see no big protest in this neighboring country against this cowardly act.
Humility is crucial for a citizen in a Western country. After centuries of world domination, every criticism (in the West) of non-Western countries should be taboo. Not because of the (wrong) idea that non-Western countries are without problems or better by principle. Just by humility; you cannot life in a rich Western country and give lessons to others. This also includes accepting that the driving force for a better world is not a Western one; as citizens in a Western country, we are only a supporting force, at best. During this Covid-19 crisis, I was very disappointed by some genuine anti-imperialist Western people who were admiring Western scientists and professors as heroes, due to some criticism against their government. But what about scientists and professors in China, Iran, Syria, or Hezbollah? Stop thinking that Western scientists and professors are better.
Perseverance was not always easy for me. As a gifted child, things were sometimes too simple for me. I had to learn not crying about every small problem. You have to work hard for many years in order to get expert in some domain, even when you are gifted. This Western style of life with all these amusements and conveniences is not very beneficial for perseverance. And this ideology of just believe in yourself and realize your dreams is very lightweight.
Positivity is truly important. Being angry and full of hate cannot help much. Even when there is a reason. For example, I usually avoid writing about Israel, I even avoid thinking about Israel. This is merely in order to keep my mental health. I prefer by far to write and think about Iran, Syria, Hezbollah. My aim is another world, which, by the way, is already existing. I agree, blaming is sometimes necessary. But blaming is also quite easy. Look at this Covid-19 crisis. You cannot expect that your government makes no mistake during this crisis. What would YOU do in such a situation? Ok, it is probably not your job to govern. But even in your job, new, unexpected situations arrive and you have to struggle in order to find a solution. This might be difficult, even when you are well intended.
Overall, this is the logic behind my four guiding principles and I have tried to describe the „state of the art“ such as it existed some weeks ago. But meanwhile, my perspective has changed. I am still judging these principles as positive; however, I am now convinced that they are somewhat outdated and much too defensive. A step forward is urgently needed. What follows is a first try – which surely has to be adjusted subsequently.
In March 2020, in a joint letter to UN Secretary General Guterres, the ambassadors of eight countries, namely China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, urged that the present pandemic should not be politicized. They underlined that the fight against the pandemic is difficult – if not impossible – for countries facing sanctions. The latter are described as illegal, coercive measures of economic pressure.
The common action of these countries is highly noteworthy. It is well known that they all have to counter Western sanctions of different degrees, ordered by the USA. Even if there are rather big differences among the eight countries, let me try to treat them as a unity, as the representatives of the now world, together with some other forces, Hezbollah and Ansarullah in particular. From their point of view, what can be said concerning my four guiding principles?
Autonomy or independence are derived values. They are related to somebody else, you are independent of somebody. In particular, one may be autonomous or independent with respect to Western hegemony. Obviously, this does not correctly describe the current situation. Independence is no longer the big problem. The new forces have already taken their own way. They are neither imitating nor competing the Western system. They just try to advance, based on their own historical experiences and their own wisdom. They know that Western hegemony would like to stop them. While they take this threat seriously, they are not at all paralyzed by it. The hegemonists have become quite predictable, with few creative ideas. Of course, the possibility exists that they will act still more desperately. But this is life and one has to be prepared.
Advancing on their own way naturally needs competences. This was one of the advantages of the West in the past. But the new forces rapidly cutch up and are already in the lead in some domains. In short, the main task of the new forces (I repeat that, simplifying, I look at these forces as a unity) is resolving the problems and obstacles which they meet on their way, prudently, confidently, creatively, competently. So, „autonomy“ has to be replaced by something like „firm self-confidence and competence“.
I would say that arrogance is the most typical behavior of Western hegemonists. Certainly, humility is not an adjusted answer, the hegemonists would just laugh about. Humility is too weak and too defensive. Manifestly, strength and courage are required. Of course, they have to be combined with caution. Yet, we may be assured that the new forces have accumulated enough knowledge about Western tactics and tricks. The Western arsenal is quite limited. Essentially, it consists of a big mouth and nothing behind. Nevertheless, one should not be impressible nor provokable. I would like to propose something like „robustness and solidity“ instead of „humility“.
Perseverance is not enough. The new forces need a long-term strategy. The Western hegemony has lasted for some centuries while we may say that the new forces exist since some 100 years. These 100 years were however quite wild and unbalanced. At least, a lot of experiences was acquired. In some sense, the „youth“ of the new forces is now over. They have entered the age of adults. They take more and more responsibility.
Related to perseverance is the question of rigor. In the ascending period of Western hegemony, rigor was essential. In the middle of the last century, rigor was still a strength of the West. This is now over. The new forces show more rigor. Their societies are more serious and much less exposed to Western amusements and decadence. You may look at Hassan Nasrallah and Netanyahu with respect to rigor and you immediately see that there is no comparison; to the point that something in me strongly objects putting these two names in the same sentence, it is like a sacrilege. Here is another illustration: Clearly, Karl Marx was exemplary as a rigorous scientist. But the European left of today see rigor, seriousness, and discipline merely as suspect. Quite to the opposite of someone like famous German supermodel Claudia Schiffer who knows very well that without discipline, there is no career.
So, let us replace „perseverance“ by „perspicacity and rigor“.
Finally, what may signify positivity for the new forces? What immediately comes to mind is confidence. Confidence in their case, confidence in their struggle, confidence in their success. For example the confidence of the Chinese that they will reach their target of eliminating poverty in their country at the end of 2020. Or the confidence of the Syrians that they will liberate every inch of their country.
Some weeks ago, on May 9, I was very impressed by the text written for this blog by Faina Savenkova, a child of 11 years from Lugansk. Above all by her confidence. This is really a deciding factor. It is as she writes: „I know for sure […] that the war will end sooner or later, and we will create a new future.“
Accordingly, let us replace „positivity“ by „deep confidence“.
I recapitulate. My guiding principles have emerged from „autonomy, humility, perseverance, positivity“ to something like „firm self-confidence and competence, robustness and solidity, perspicacity and rigor, deep confidence“. This is less static, less neutral, less defensive as well as more dynamic, more purposeful, more optimistic. And more in line with existing reality. We may trust in this new world. Which is in the process of being created, before our eyes.