The coming conflict of civilizations

It is commonly argued, primarily by these within the West, that the present geopolitical rivalries can’t be in comparison with the Cold War, as a result of there is no such thing as a conflict of ideologies. Communism has been vanquished and capitalist triumph is everlasting.

Their view is likely one of the ‘end of history’, as proclaimed by the scholar Francis Fukuyama. The drawback is, Fukuyama proclaimed the triumph of liberal democracy greater than three many years in the past. It’s honest to say the world has moved on a bit of bit since then.

It is tough to disclaim that ideological competitors is now making a comeback. And it seems as if within the coming many years the conflict of ideologies will solely develop into extra intense. All three up to date nice powers – the United States, China, and Russia – are competing for greater than materials energy. Representing distinct ideological faiths, they’re additionally in competitors for human souls. There can also be a fourth competing ideology – radical Islamism – however it’s now disembodied and lacks a ‘carrier state’ after the defeat of its most vociferous advocates.

The US now champions a liberal-progressivist ideology, which, in its most excessive model, is named wokeness. In wokeness, the 2 important ideological strands of the fashionable West which have their origins within the European Enlightenment – liberalism and communism – lastly reunite after a bitter internecine feud. When the opponents of wokeness examine it to radical Bolshevism, it isn’t with out purpose. In its struggle towards structural oppression, wokeness is finally about destroying social hierarchies for the sake of justice – and on the expense of order.

Taken to its extremes, this new Western ideological wrestle for fairness and equality results in common homogenization, inevitably destroying the range of social and even bodily identities. In a novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, one of many characters, a fiery Bolshevik, was dreaming a few post-revolutionary world during which the borders come crashing down and folks intermarry so there are not any dominant and oppressed teams any extra: “everyone’s appearance will be pleasantly brown – and everyone will be the same.” This Russian Bolshevik from the 1920s may be part of the woke squads in Seattle or Bristol within the 2020s.

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Why have Russians rejected the West’s ‘values’?

China and Russia are sometimes lumped collectively as ‘fellow autocracies’. But, in truth, Beijing and Moscow stand for very totally different ideological fashions. China’s is a synthesis of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist socialism blended with conventional Chinese methods, akin to Confucianism and legalism, all boosted by superior digital know-how. The West more and more fears China not solely as a result of progress in Beijing’s financial and army energy, but additionally as a result of fashionable China’s vastly profitable report of growth appears to validate the CCP’s ideology.

The coronavirus pandemic was a decisive second that demonstrated the effectivity of China’s system. While most Western states, in addition to Russia and India, disastrously failed to guard their populations from the illness, the world’s most populous nation successfully received the battle towards the virus. China’s system has a dystopian streak, however it’s presently the best one in relation to offering materials wealth for the plenty and defending human life.

It is true that China lacks particular person freedoms, however do people really want freedom, the burden of which is commonly insufferable for the typical man? The well-known monologue of the Grand Inquisitor in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov may nicely belong to somebody within the higher echelon of the fashionable Chinese Communist Party: “They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them!”

So the place does Russia slot in? There is a false impression amongst many within the West that President Vladimir Putin seeks to revive the communist Soviet Union. In truth, the present Russian ruler has repeatedly made clear that he’s very ambivalent concerning the Soviet mannequin. Putin, briefly, is not any communist – in actuality, he’s extra like a neo-feudal ruler. His system of top-down authorities, which is a hybrid of a traditionalist empire and a contemporary nation state, might be the one potential method Russia may live on as a single political entity.

Instead of Bolshevik radicalism, Putin’s choice appears to be the outdated Tsarist mannequin: No plans to construct an abroad empire, only a huge continental autocratic energy counting on nuclear weapons, ‘healthy conservatism’, and ‘time-tested tradition’. Putin’s system is completely against revolution. His rumored non secular confidant, the Russian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan Tikhon, has been incessantly warning concerning the risks inherent in uprisings and upheaval. The Russian chief himself brazenly detests instability as a elementary evil, having mentioned, “Russia’s political system is evolving steadily so as to prevent any revolutions. We have reached our limit on revolutions.” Putin’s phrases usually sound as in the event that they have been coming straight from conservative main mild Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’.

Putin’s Russia has its beliefs primarily prior to now. That’s a serious purpose why the ideology of recent Russia appeals to many right-wing conservatives in Europe and North America who see Russia because the final main state that adheres to the values of what was once European Christian civilization. Putin’s Russia has one other benefit. Among the competing ideologies, it’s the most interesting aesthetically. This could also be as a result of for Putin’s state, order is prioritised over justice. Justice, particularly the limitless justice of the ‘woke’, is commonly messy and even ugly. Order, particularly a hierarchical one, has a robust magnificence. Think of the aesthetics of The Lord of the Rings or Dune. Similar to Hollywood epics exploiting medieval narratives, a lot of the enchantment of ‘the Putin universe’ could also be drawing upon the themes of energy, masculinity, hierarchy, and miracle.

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Another attraction of the Russian system is that, regardless of being considerably imperfect by way of political and civil rights, it in all probability boasts one of many highest ranges of personal freedom on the planet. The state in Russia is mostly reluctant to intervene within the personal lives of its topics, if solely as a result of it lacks the capability to take action – and apparently doesn’t search this capability, outdoors of the latest Covid-19 measures, which have been opposed and overhauled in equal measure.

The Russian mannequin does have one main downside. It is ill-suited to ship financial and technological growth.  For a decade now, Russia’s economic system has been stagnating and it’s unlikely to take off any time quickly. However, the dearth of financial dynamism may be a systemic function Putin is completely conscious of, accepting it as an inexpensive value for political and social tranquility. To obtain breakthroughs in growth, it’s essential be keen to conduct huge societal-scale experiments, generally bordering on revolution. For all of the variations of their ideological credos, the West and the CCP-led China share the style for experimenting with their future. It is an irony misplaced on few that the brand new facial recognition system being developed in China to offer safety in public locations known as Sky Net, echoing the dystopian AI that haunts the world of The Terminator movies.

Humanity can now select between the West’s wokeism, Russia’s neo-feudal conservatism, and China’s barely dystopian digital socialism. It is way from a wide array on the menu, however it’s good to have a alternative anyway.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially characterize these of RT.

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