Tuesday, 16 February 2023 — Geopolitics And Climate Change
In many nations of the non-West there has been/is a dangerously Western liberally enamoured part of the elite, and even of the general population, that would be more than happy to act as the compradors or Quislings of the Western elites. Living a very comfortable life while selling out their nations and general populations. Many are connected to the NGO-complex that acts as a Western-paid opposition, and may be more a member of a nation’s diaspora than have grown up within their home country’s political, economic and social milieu, or are simply the rich that would love to monetize their assets in US dollars and hob nob with the global Western elite across the world. In the parts of Eurasia outside the US-captured Europe, these West-loving liberals are slowly being squeezed out.
In Russia, this process started with Putin’s defenestration of the arch-oligarch Khodorkovsky in 2003, the richest man in Russia at the time and rumoured to be negotiating the sales of a significant chunk of Russia’s oil reserves to Exxon. That was when the West realized that Putin was more of a nationalist than a sober version of the corrupt traitor Yeltsin; the latter only winning his last election with extensive help from the oligarchs, Bill Clinton’s campaign team, and a massive IMF load with which to bribe the people. After Putin reset state-oligarchic relations he had to carefully manage and balance the ongoing relationship, and the remaining liberal elements in the state and media. More recently, he moved to shut down the Western NGO-complex and also to stop those that had spent most of their lives outside Russia and enjoyed dual citizenship from occupying the higher offices of state.
The recent “sanctions from hell” and the general outpouring of Western abuse against anything Russian has provided a wonderful opportunity for him to squeeze out the remaining liberal West-loving elements. The oligarchs have now found that their wealth is only safe within Russia, with the West happy to confiscate/steal their assets in the West; they need the Russian state much more than it needs them. The open hatred expressed by the West to everything Russian has hardened the general population against liberal elements and has shaken those elements. Some have changed their tune, and many have fled “autocracy” for self-inflicted exile in countries such as Georgia. The West has unintentionally facilitated the purging of the remaining liberal West-loving elements in Russia, strengthening the position of a Putin who enjoys the overwhelming support of the Russian people. There will be no putsch against Putin, no matter how hard Western elites wish for it.
The story of a young Russian blogger who runs the YouTube channel “Natasha’s Adventures”, which due to the YT algorithm exploded from 5k subscribers to 100k subscribers in a week in February 2021, is instructive. She attended the University of Minnesota for two semesters in 2020 through an exchange program funded by the US Embassy and “had an amazing time”. After she returned to Russia, she viewed herself as a “slave in the system” and attended protests for the Western-supported Navalny. She now has 374k subscribers and is making a very good living out of being a blogger fully dependent for her income on a US social media conglomerate and living in Georgia. In spite of her seemingly heartfelt fears of being arrested, having her YT earnings taken away and not being able to leave the country, she remained free in Russia and was allowed to travel to Georgia and even transfer her earnings out of Russia. The level of her false consciousness about the realities of the capitalist world, and her utter repudiation of her home country and government, are sad to watch. One day she may decide to criticize the US and find that her subscribers and the YT platform can be just as despotic as she thinks the Russian government is. The Russian government made a good decision in allowing such people to leave, a government and its leader that enjoy overwhelming domestic support.
During the incredible Chinese growth years of the first decade of this century, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was extremely lax in disciplining its own elements and those of the new billionaire class; political-economic control was traded for the rapid growth required for China to re-emerge as a global power. The result was increasing, and pervasive, corruption within the Party. Such corruption has been the downfall of a number of Chinese centralized states through history, and also threatened the replacement of the Party-state with a new oligarchy. At the end of the decade the two possible new leaders of the CPC to replace Hu Jintao were Bo Xilai and Xi Jinping; both seen as leading local anti-corruption drives and pushing a more “balanced” economic growth, with the former being much more of a public personality than the latter. The very strange Wang Lijun incident, which included Bo’s wife murdering a British associate of the Bo family, destroyed Bo’s career and placed him in jail for life. This opened the way for Xi Jinping, who replaced Hu Jintao in 2012 and immediately started a nationwide anti-corruption drive that lead to the dismissal, demotion and trials of many CPC officials; including very senior officials.
Most recently, the CPC has reined in many of the leading Chinese businesses, reminding them that the Party-state is the predominant political economic entity in China while taking down the leading businessman – Jack Ma of Alibaba. The Ant Group (previously named Alipay) is an affiliate company of Alibaba that was established by Jack Ma and is the second largest financial services company in the world, only second to Visa. Not only was the Ant Group privatizing an increasing part of the Chinese financial system, and Jack Ma had become increasingly critical of the Chinese state, but new business activities threatened to replicate the risky lending practices that lead to the US 2008 financial crisis. In addition, the massive personal data gathering capabilities of both Alibaba and Ant created a parallel population monitoring structure. The Ant Group initial public offering (IPO), which would have been the largest ever global IPO, was cancelled abruptly and a state investigation was carried out with the result that Ant Group became a financial holding company under the supervision of the Peoples’ Bank of China and its major product lines separated. Jack Ma has since greatly restricted his public appearances and most recently Alibaba has stated that he will be relinquishing his controlling stake in the company; reducing his stake from 53.46% to 6.2% of the company voting rights.
Together with regulatory and anti-monopoly challenges to other large Chinese corporations and a general crackdown on private data gathering (e.g. the Didi ride-sharing company), the Party-state has reasserted its societal pre-eminence and cut down to size Chinese corporations that were becoming monopolistically dominant. In many ways, the US general populace would greatly benefit from such actions by their own government given the increasing monopolistic and rentier nature of the country’s large corporations. Many of the leaders of the new wave of Chinese media and technology conglomerates have worked extensively in Western corporations and management consultancies, internalizing Western ways of doing business and running a country. The reduction in their status and power represents a reduction of Western influence and ideas within the Chinese elite.
It has been notable that within the Party Xi is leading a drive to increase the position of Marxist theory in policy making and reduce “bourgeois liberalization”. Gabriel Martinez quotes Deng Xiaoping with respect to the problem of bourgeois liberalization infesting the Party:
Since the fall of the Gang of Four an ideological trend that we call bourgeois liberalization has emerged. Its exponents idolize the “democracy” and “freedom” of Western capitalist countries and reject socialism. This cannot be tolerated. China must modernize, but she must not promote liberalization or take the capitalist path, as Western countries have done.
The path of bourgeois liberalization was firmly rejected in 1989 but has raised its head during the rapid growth of the first decade of this century and the emergence of billionaire business leaders and rampant Party corruption. As well as dealing with the corruption and the billionaire class, Xi has worked extensively to reverse the ideological growth of bourgeois liberalization within the Party. Martinez quotes Xi Jinping as seeing a lack of ideological discipline as one of the major reasons for the collapse of the USSR:
Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party fall from power? One important reason was that the struggle in the field of ideology was extremely intense, completely denying the history of the Soviet Union, denying the history of the Soviet Communist Party, denying Lenin, denying Stalin, creating historical nihilism and muddled thinking. Party organs at all levels had lost their functions, the military was no longer under Party leadership. In the end, the Soviet Communist Party, a great party, dispersed, the Soviet Union, a great socialist country, disintegrated.
There has also been a rejection of the neoConfucianist movement that represents a regressive drive toward the past rather than the future. The Western media and political and economic leaders have complained extensively that China is killing its golden capitalist egg, but the changes made look more like a healthy purging of corruption, a rebalancing between the Party-state and the corporations and billionaires and a rejection of the bourgeois liberalization that destroyed the USSR and then nearly Russia. The balance between the interests of the general population and the “merchants” has been one that has occupied the Chinese state for four millennia, with regular adjustments required to maintain a healthy balance and the legitimacy of the state. In the West, most especially the US, the table has been completely tipped in the favour of the oligarchs and the corporations to the extent that the state no longer operates with any real independence. The main political economic variable in the US is the relative power of the various capitalist fractions, as we see currently between the internationalist wing (Democrats and “centrist” Republicans) and the more domestic wing (the Trump coalition).
President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), together with the Biden administration’s bad faith negotiations (constantly raising the bar and adding new requirements) to reimplement it have at last shown the Iranian leadership that any attempt to negotiate with the West is pointless. The liberal Western-oriented faction (known as the “reformists” in the West) has been pushed aside and the nationalist and socialist faction has reasserted its dominance. The war in Ukraine, triggered by the West’s and its’ proxies’ actions in that country, have brought Russia and Iran much closer together in their fight against Western dominance. Together with the growing relationship with China, the three nations (the RIC) represent a tightening alliance with leaderships that have become much more oriented toward national development rather than any opening up to further liberal capitalist “reforms”.
The trajectory of the rule of the Vietnamese leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, very much parallels that of Xi Jinping; with a decade long anti-corruption drive forcing out senior officials, many of which were liberal West-oriented. As Bhadrakumar puts it:
It cannot be a coincidence that the party leaders who have been ousted mainly represented the “Westernist” faction or the so-called technocratic wing, which suggests that Trong is concerned about the party’s ideological and moral integrity as well. Trong reportedly has a strong distaste for the political patronage networks within the party.
The unwillingness of Vietnam to act as a Western proxy, and in fact its closer ties with China is underlined by Hayton:
I think it’s a warning that actually these people are not rushing to embrace the United States as an ally or anything like that, that they are very guarded of their own autonomy, their own ways of doing things, and that actually they see China more as an ideological partner than the US. Vietnam is not going to be rushing towards the US, but will rather work for peace and development with its neighbour.
The West has complained about the Cambodian government shutting down of “independent” media, but when looked at closely all of the supposed independent media have close funding ties and alignments to Western governments and organizations – a media “fifth column” for foreign-driven regime change. Both Cambodia and Laos are generally aligned with Vietnam and China.
There will always be a to-and-fro in this process, with some steps back (e.g. the Philippines’ new leader’s agreement to allow the US more access to bases in the country) but with the overall trajectory away from the liberal Western dogma and toward nationalist and national development orientations. The West is working hard to undermine those Eurasian governments that resist it, through such things as the funding and training of opposition groups, media and “grassroots” organizations. In Kazakhstan and Belarus its attempts at regime change notably failed in the past few years, driving those nations closer to Russia; most especially a Belarus that has greatly aided Russia with respect to Ukraine.
The New Atlas has done an excellent job of covering the ways in which the US uses an extensive set of tools to destabilize South East Asian governments that align more with China. The video below covers the case of the current National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, who is acting more as a US comprador rather than a national leader:
Anwar had been the protégé of long-serving Malaysian leader, Mahathir Mohamed, but was removed and jailed when Mahathir rejected the Washington Consensus approach to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997. Anwar fully supported the Western-driven policies that seriously eroded the economic dynamism and independence of the other nations that implemented them; such as South Korea. He served as chair of the IMF from March to September 1998, until he was removed from his government post by Mahathir. After nearly 10 years in the political wilderness, during which he was tightly aligned with and was supported by the NED and the West, he returned to Malaysian politics to lead the opposition. He was jailed again in 2015 but received a royal pardon in 2018 and re-entered politics. Late last year, after his party won 38% of the vote and managed to put together a ruling coalition, Anwar became the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
In this video, The New Atlas covers how the US and West have in many ways created the opposition in Thailand, an opposition that may take power in the next Thai election in 2023:
In Myanmar, the UK and the US have been involved in stoking ethnic tensions for many decades (Myanmar was previously the British colony of Burma). As part of their divide and rule practices, the British colonial leaders gave the Karen people preferential treatment, and many served in the colonial police and armed forces. Other minority ethnic groups supported the British, but as with the Karen they were cast aside once they were no longer useful; being incorporated into the independent Burma rather than given independence. This should be a lesson to all those ethnic groups that align with Western powers, such as the Kurds in the Middle East, but one that seems to be repeatedly forgotten. After independence, the nation’s armed forced waged a continuing war and ethnic cleansing against the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). The British colonial government also allowed the immigration of Muslims from what is now Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal coastal areas, stoking ethnic tensions with the Burmese Buddhist majority. During WW2 these escalated as the Muslims sided with the British and used arms that they were given to attack the Buddhist population. After the war they pushed to be part of Muslim East Pakistan instead of Burma but were incorporated into independent Burma; they are what is referred to in the West as the Rohingya. The military government that came to power in 1962 and removed Rohingya citizenship rights in 1982, identifies the population as “Bengalis”, and has increased repression against the Rohingya in recent years.
With the Western favourite, Aung San Suu Kyi, coming to power in 2015 sanctions against Myanmar were dropped and the plight of the Rohingya pushed to the background. As the New Atlas covers, she constructed an advisory council within her inner circle made up of Wester officials; including an ex British foreign office official, an Australian economist working on reorienting the economy away from China, and a British constitutional lawyer. A very strange arrangement given Myanmar’s position as an ex British colony, why would a now independent nation ask the Anglo-Saxon colonists for their advice on how to arrange their nation? This is very reminiscent of the Western advisors that surrounded Russian President Yeltsin during the 1990s. Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San, who is seen as the “father” of the independent nation. She spent her late teenage years in India due to her mother’s government appointment there in 1960 and went to Oxford University as an undergraduate where she gained a third-class honours degree. She then spent time in New York before marrying a British Oxford scholar and having two children that hold dual nationality. In 1988 after deciding to spend 28 years abroad, including her formative teenage and adult years, she returned to Burma and became involved in the democracy movement after the retirement of the nation’s long-time military leader. After election results were nullified, she spent 15 of the next 21 years under house arrest (she was given the option of permanent exile). The New Atlas covers the reasons for her removal in a military coup well: