Wednesday, 2 November 2022 — Strategic Culture Foundation
Author: Veniamin Popov
Western civilization is facing more and more problems. Over the past few decades, there have been many symptoms of a de facto decline of Western powers.
Perhaps most clearly, these crises were reflected in the latest report of the so-called Club of Rome. Its authors believe that today’s “crisis is not cyclical, but intensifying. It is not limited to the nature around us but includes a social, political, cultural, moral crisis, a crisis of democracy, ideologies, and capitalism.”
The Club of Rome believes that in the 1980s there was a degeneration of capitalism in which financial speculation became the main source of profit. This was one of the causes of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
Ninety-eight per cent of financial transactions are now speculative in nature. Between twenty-one and thirty-two trillion dollars are stashed in offshore jurisdictions. The West is in a stalemate, and its intellectual helplessness breeds even more confusion and vacillation. Many of the myths that have become commonplace are crumbling. For example, those about white supremacy or American exceptionalism.
At the same time, the collapse of the Soviet Union as a force in opposition to the West has somewhat postponed and even delayed the build-up of the organic contradictions of the capitalist system, yet the very process of increasing problems cannot be stopped.
At present, perhaps the most salient manifestation of the West’s worsening crisis is the situation with the UK. The once mighty empire, ruler of the seas, has recently become, as the US newspapers so aptly put it, a laughing stock: several prime ministers have come and gone in recent years, each one worse than the last.
The current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, an Indian, is a natural outcome of historical development as the former British colony has become a major center of economic development, and so now the government of the United Kingdom is headed by an ethnic Indian. Incidentally, it is very likely that he will be the last premier of that kingdom, especially given Scotland’s insistence on secession from the UK. (The British themselves are skeptical about Sunak’s ability to straighten out Britain’s economic situation, while the US media makes a clearer diagnosis: Sunak will not save the country).
Today it may seem as if the countries of the West are uniting against Russia, but this lauded unity will crumble within a year: everyone will be on their own. This will be particularly evident against the backdrop of the energy crisis. In general, the struggle for resources is becoming one of the main features of global development. The Anglo-Saxon nexus in countering continental Europe is becoming increasingly clear.
Economic competition will become more prominent, and it is worth recalling that the technology race that is now unfolding has many limitations. Thus, Russia is not only a major producer of oil and natural gas, but its raw materials – zinc, copper, nickel – are essential for the next generation of cars. Russia is the world’s largest producer of platinum group metals used in hybrid and hydrogen cars; and Norilsk Nickel is the Russian mining giant and the leading supplier of chemicals for lithium-ion batteries.
It is worth recalling that China, too, has become a leading supplier for clean technology: it controls more than half of the world’s current supply of lithium-ion batteries, cobalt, zinc and lithium mining capacity. China produces most of the world’s solar panels and is a leading supplier of “rare earth elements” used to make magnets for wind turbines.
The West has shown itself incapable of bridging the glaring gap between the rich and the poor, it has not been able to deal effectively with coronavirus infection. Moreover, during the period of fighting the virus, the number of billionaires in the Western powers increased markedly, while the number of the world’s poorest people, including those suffering from malnutrition and hunger, increased.
This phenomenon has been extensively discussed in the Western media and in the media in developing countries.
Wang Huning, one of the main theorists of the Chinese Communist Party, in his recent book America vs America, narrowed the inevitability of the decline of the US down to its degradation and individualism. The Chinese development model, on the other hand, especially since the 20th Communist Party Congress, has become increasingly popular in the developing world.
Many political analysts in the Arab states write of Washington’s arrogance, its desire to keep exploiting the wealth of the Third World as before, to force them to act not in their own interests, but in those of the US ruling circles.
It is noteworthy that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement on the need to civilize the rest of the world was so harshly criticized in many Asian and African countries – it was directly compared to the 19th century colonialist encomium “The White Man’s Burden.” No one today wants, or will put up with, the racist colonial policies of the West.
Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya reported on October 20 on the offensive behavior of President Biden, who refused to shake hands with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a visit to Jeddah in August 2022, after which the Americans tried to blame the Arabs for rising oil prices. All this, according to the channel, is the result of US incompetence and arrogance: “Biden’s efforts are backfiring both economically and politically. He looks amoral.”
The process of resisting US dominance is gaining momentum in various parts of the world. As Al Jazeera TV put it, “the return of leftist governments in the region [Latin America] is a clear indication of region-wide rejection of US policies.”
The process of polarization is intensifying within the United States itself and this will be shown with renewed force in the forthcoming parliamentary elections on November 8. Other American problems are escalating as well: racism, drugs, etc., so much so that even Democratic Party supporters such as Ross Douthat are writing “on blunders of Joe Biden.”
It is very clear that the miscalculations in the energy policy of the European ruling structures will lead to big problems for the continent’s economy and, in the words of Ben van Beurden, CEO of the British company Shell, will inevitably result in a decline in industrial production.
Ultimately, this situation will cause more divisions in the EU and the gradual removal of those ruling elites who have led the EU to such deplorable results.
Russia’s imminent victory in Ukraine will inevitably cause a new wave of confusion and vacillation in the Western world.
Veniamin Popov, Director of the Center for the Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Candidate of Historical Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”