by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted
In an all-encompassing address to the plenary session of the 19th annual meeting of the Valdai Club, President Putin delivered no less than a devastating, multi-layered critique of unipolarity.
From Shakespeare to the assassination of Gen Soleimani; from musings on spirituality to the structure of the UN; from Eurasia as the cradle of human civilization to the interconnection of BRI, SCO and the INSTC; from nuclear dangers to that peripheral peninsula of Eurasia “blinded by the idea that Europeans are better than others”, the address painted a Brueghel-esque canvas of the “historical milestone” facing us, in the middle of “the most dangerous decade since the end of WWII.”
Putin even ventured that, in the words of the classics, “the situation is, to a certain extent, revolutionary” as “the upper classes cannot, and the lower classes do not want to live like this anymore”. So everything is in play, as “the future of the new world order is being shaped before our eyes.”
Way beyond a catchy slogan about the game the West is playing, “bloody, dangerous and dirty”, the address and Putin’s interventions at the subsequent Q&A should be analyzed as a coherent vision of past, present and future. Here we offer just a few of the highlights:
“The world is witnessing the degradation of world institutions, the erosion of the principle of collective security, the substitution of international law for ‘rules’”.
“Even at the height of the Cold War, nobody denied the existence of the culture and art of the Other. In the West, any alternative point of view is declared subversive.”
“The Nazis burned books. Now the Western fathers of ‘liberalism’ are banning Dostoevsky.”
“There are at least two ‘Wests’. The first is traditional, with a rich culture. The second is aggressive and colonial.”
“Russia has not and does not consider itself an enemy of the West.
Russia tried to build relations with the West and NATO – to live together in peace and harmony. Their response to all cooperation was simply ‘no’.”
“We do not need a nuclear strike on Ukraine, there is no point – neither political nor military.”
“In part” the situation between Russia and Ukraine can be considered a civil war: “When creating Ukraine, the Bolsheviks endowed it with primordially Russian territories – they gave it all of Little Russia, the entire Black Sea region, the entire Donbass. Ukraine evolved as an artificial state.”
“Ukrainians and Russians are one people – this is a historical fact. Ukraine has evolved as an artificial state. The only country that can guarantee its sovereignty is the country which created it – Russia.”
“The unipolar world is coming to an end. The West is incapable of single-handedly ruling the world. The world stands at a historical milestone ahead of the most dangerous and important decade since World War II.”
“Humanity has two options – either we continue accumulating the burden of problems that is certain to crush all of us, or we can work together to find solutions.”
What do we do after the orgy?
Amidst a series of absorbing discussions, the heart of the matter at Valdai is its 2022 report, “A World Without Superpowers”.
The report’s central thesis – eminently correct – is that “the United States and its allies, in fact, no longer enjoy the status of dominant superpower, but the global infrastructure that serves it is still in place.”
Of course all major interconnected issues at the current crossroads were precipitated because” Russia became the first major power which, guided by its own ideas of security and fairness, chose to discard the benefits of ‘global peace’ created by the only superpower.”
Well, not exactly “global peace”; rather a Mafia-enforced ethos of “our way or the highway”. The report quite diplomatically characterizes the freezing of Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves and the “mop up” of Russia’s property abroad as “Western jurisdictions”, “if necessary”, being “guided by political expediency rather than the law”.
That’s in fact outright theft, under the shadow of the “rules-based international order”.
The report – optimistically – foresees the advent of a sort of normalized “cold peace” as “the best available solution today” – acknowledging at least this is far from guaranteed, and “will not halt the fundamental rebuilding of the international system on new foundations.”
The foundation for evolving multipolarity has in fact been presented by the Russia-China strategic partnership only three weeks before imperially-ordered provocations forced Russia to launch the Special Military Operation (SMO).
In parallel, the financial lineaments of multipolarity had been proposed since at least July 2021, in a paper co-written by Professor Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai.
The Valdai report duly acknowledges the role of Global South medium-sized powers that “exemplify the democratization of international politics” and may “act as shock absorbers during periods of upheaval.” That’s a direct reference to the role of BRICS+ as key protagonists.
On the Big Picture across the chessboard, the analysis tends to get more realistic when it considers that “the triumph of ‘the only true idea’ makes effective dialogue and agreement with supporters of different views and values impossible by definition.”
Putin alluded to it several times in his address. There’s no evidence whatsoever the Empire and its vassals will be deviating from their normative, imposed, value-laden unilateralism.
As for world politics beginning to “rapidly return to a state of anarchy built on force”, that’s self-evident: only the Empire of Chaos wants to impose anarchy, as it completely ran out of geopolitical and geoeconomic tools to control rebel nations, apart from the sanctions tsunami.
So the report is correct when it identifies that the childish neo-Hegelian “end of history” wet dream in the end hit the wall of History: we’re back to the pattern of large scale conflicts between centers of power.
And it’s also a fact that “simply changing the ‘operator’ as it happened in earlier centuries” (as in the US taking over from Britain) “just won’t work.”
China might harbor a desire to become the new sheriff, but the Beijing leadership definitely is not interested. And even if that happened the Hegemon would fiercely prevented it, as “the entire system” remains “under its control (primarily finance and the economy).”
So the only way out, once again, is multipolarity – which the report characterizes, rather vaguely, as “a world without superpowers”, still in need of “a system of self-regulation, which implies much greater freedom of action and responsibility for such actions.”
Stranger things have happened in History. As it stands, we are plunged deep into the maelstrom of complete collapse. Putin in fact did nail where we are: on the edge of a Revolution.