After an interview with President Vladimir Putin in the Financial Times a month ago, the theme of the future “liberal world order” in its idealized version is constantly present in London’s political discourse. Increasingly, the emphasis is on the topic of moral and political leadership in the modern world.
For decades since the war, America has been the undisputed leader of the Western world, including instilling the liberal values of occupied Germany. Europe followed in everything. This state of things seems to be coming to an end. Following the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Angela Merkel was predicted to become the new leader of the Western world. The words of the Chancellor of Germany that Europeans should take their fate into their own hands and rely primarily on themselves caused a wide resonance. But many admit that the world order, defended by the West, needs to be modernized according to the well-known maxim – if you want everything to remain as it is, change!
The decline in the confidence of the population of Western countries in the policies of their governments and the elites in general, growing material inequality and the destruction of the pillars of Western democracy, the middle class, all this as a result of global integration processes based on the liberal economy, aggravates the contradictions in society and threatens democratic foundations. At the same time, direct democracy, which the elites tend to associate with authoritarianism, insures representative when it does not work. This was clearly shown by the British referendum on Brexit.
Since then, “everything has mixed up” in the western house, which has entered a transitional state after the comfort of the announced “end of history”. That is why Trump is in a sense a revolutionary figure, not only for America. He is able to thoroughly shake up the whole American system, and with it the state of affairs in the world, in the isolationist-protectionist vein. The renewed world order and a new format of relations between Russia and the West will only begin to take shape according to the results of this “Trump revolution” (here he is promised re-election in 2020). By and large, it remains to be shown, as experts point out, whether capitalism of the 19th century is compatible with widespread democracy of the 20th century.
It is simpler for the Anglo-Americans – they take the initiative in their own hands and go further along the path of economic liberalization. Things are more complicated in Europe, where it is necessary to uphold the foundations of the liberal “end of history” understood by Europeans much more broadly – not only as a neoliberal economy, but also as a welfare state in which they have lost interest in Washington. Both that and another are incompatible – actually, from here and the crisis of the western society, which marks the resumption of the course of history.
By London standards, Russia remains among the main challenges promoted by the West values. It is believed here that Moscow is seeking recognition of its real role in world affairs and is opposed to the basic foundations of a “liberal order” led by the West, which has developed de facto, but has never become the subject of a truly collective settlement after the end of the Cold War. The West admits the possibility of humanitarian intervention, regime change, destabilization of rogue countries, primarily through sanctions pressure, which has become the main means of conducting hybrid wars.
Here they cannot openly admit that the Russian Federation adheres to the norms of the postwar international law and order with the central role of the UN. The main thing for Russia is that these standards be applied universally, and not selectively. However, the outcome of the “all against all” competition announced by Trump, and this must be directly recognized, will not be determined by the effectiveness of the corresponding efforts of Moscow, but by the course and results of the transformation processes that unfolded in the West a quarter of a century later than in the Soviet Union.
The notorious “Russian interference” in the internal affairs of leading Western countries was so actively discussed only because protest moods, dissatisfaction with the prevailing governance model – essentially uncontested, have already gained significant proportions. If the West can solve its systemic problems, and citizens believe in the viability of national governments and in the effectiveness of its proposed policies, this topic will go away by itself. In order for Russia to accept the western version of the world order, Some British experts believe that it is first necessary to restore confidence in their own countries towards the liberal democratic values that they are promoting, modernize the party and political system, and also propose effective solutions to pressing global problems, such as climate change, which have come to the fore for many.
If successful, talking with Russia, according to the UK, will become easier. The Russian leadership, even if not immediately, “recognizes the realities” and gradually reformulates national interests in the spirit of a new Western consensus, the parameters of which are not yet visible. I add that any such consensus can only be effective provided that it is truly collectively agreed upon, that is, with the direct participation of Russia, and therefore will already be pan-European, will become the basis for the political unity of our continent.
In the meantime, Moscow has no motive to agree with the rules-based world order, which it considers to be exclusive by definition, unviable and proposed by countries whose models of internal structure still have to prove their worth under changing conditions. “Challenging liberal values,” experts say, Russia is fighting to ensure that Western countries do not impose on others principles of world order that lead to chaos, as evidenced by the examples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, migration and financial crises, and finally , Washington’s downfall of key arms control arrangements.
Moscow is not going to gain some ideological and political revenge over the West. Revenge takes the story for its proclaimed “end.” The West must prove its ability to adapt to new conditions that, in principle, arose in 1989, but declared themselves crisis only 20 years later. As at the beginning of the 20th century, globalization, with its enumeration and uneven distribution of benefits and costs, would still be in conflict with the tasks of the internal development of states. To overcome these contradictions, this time the war is not needed, it is necessary to restore social cohesion, which is easier to do at the national level, that is, within each individual country. And here, indeed, the advantage among the Anglo-Americans is the meaning of Brexit and Trump. Europe will also need to maintain the integration project, which is an order of magnitude more complicated, which explains the acuteness of the struggle around Britain’s exit from the European Union.
In the next 10 years, the economic and technological power of states, combined with social policy, will form a new geopolitical redivision, where the technological factor will play a key role. The “rule-based world”, as it was seen in the West at the end of the 20th century, will come into ever greater contradiction with the cultural and civilizational diversity of the real world, where only international law can be a universal regulatory principle, as always in history.
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