By Jon HELLEVIG
I think it was Eric Kraus who pointed out that it is not quite correct to refer to the increasing Western hostilities against Russia as a Cold War, because that connotes the idea of an antagonism between opposing ideological camps, as used to be the case between the Soviet block and the West. Rather, we must reach further back in history and recognize the latest Western pressure on Russia as a classical pursuit of imperial dominion. The fact is that the West, led by the USA and what we rightly should refer to as the EU elite, are assailing Russia in its capacity as the last roadblock to establishing their absolute hegemony in the world, the New World Order. But these Western powers are themselves empires in their death throes. They are ratcheting up the pressure on Russia now, because in a few years it could be too late for them. The West is fast shrinking in significance relative to the rest of the world. This is demonstrated by comparing the GDP of the Western powers as represented by the G7 countries (USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy and Canada) with the GDP of emerging powers of today. As recently as 1990, the combined GDP of the G7 was overwhelming in relation to that of today’s 7 emerging powers: China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and South Korea (not necessarily constituting one political block). In 1990, the G7 countries had a combined GDP of USD 14.4 trillion and the emerging 7 had a GDP of USD 2.3, but by 2013 the tables had been turned, as the G7 had 32 trillion and the emerging 7 had 35 trillion. Just imagine what the situation will be ten years from now! This is one of the West’s greatest fears.
There are fundamental reasons for the decline of the West. Those countries have simply lost their competitive advantages relative to the rest of the world. The Western system used to be superior over the rest of the world in a number of fundamental areas: democracy, market economy, freedom of press, education, technology, rule-of-law, banking and finance. Now these phenomena have been equally embraced or even superseded by the bulk of the emerging world. At the same time the West has had to relinquish some of its colonial powers. Therefore the emerging world will inevitably catch up with the West in economic strength and the accompanying power. Giving the balance in their favor in world population, the West risks being marginalized, a process which is going on with breathtaking rapidity.
I will focus my analysis on the lesser empire, the EU, the junior partner of the New World Order.
Europe has squandered its competitive advantages
Europe prospered thanks to a range of competitive advantages that it possessed as a result of social and technological progress since the Middle Ages, perfected in the competition between independent states. But since the 1960s, the European governments have steadily squandered that legacy with a series of misjudgments which now have started Europe down a path of decline and increasing poverty beyond repair. The European elite has proven itself incapable of grasping the historical roots of this success, and did not assign due credit to the hard and right-minded work of the preceding generations. Instead, it determined that the European success must be credited to a supposed racial superiority of the Europeans. Europeans think that it is ingrained in their genes that they do things more wisely than the rest of the world, whatever foolish policies they embark on. These have all culminated in the increasingly totalitarian EU and its curious form of government, which we may term Eurosocialism.
This Euro-integration has wiped away the foundation of past prosperity – competition in all spheres of life. And with this, each of the elements of competitive advantages has been ruined. All human activities – business, social, and increasingly personal – have been crammed into narrow and rigid standards of conformity. Coupled with a punitive system of taxation, this means in business that entrepreneurship has been extinguished and big corporations have been awarded concessions in numerous fields of activities. In social life, this has meant the destruction of the traditions of democracy and liberty. The individual has seen his freedoms eroded and has been converted into an Orwellian object of state power.
In the post-war period up to the 1990’s, the West could boast democratic systems while almost all other countries of the world were constricted by one or another form of self-destructive government, from Marxist to fascist and religious dictatorships. But today, all countries but a few have embraced democracy in one form or another at the same time as Europe is fast dismantling its own. (Even though it lacks multiparty elections, I consider that China has embraced several features of competitive democracy). Coinciding with the transfer to some version of democracy, the world has also embraced a market economy (which in itself cannot exist in a totalitarian state). This, at the same time as Europe is wrecking its own.
Stepping back from democracy and market economy, Europe has even more catastrophically relinquished another crucial competitive advantage – free press. Democracy and market economy, freedom and liberty, require a free press to keep the system going, but today the European press has fallen into the hands of a few oligarchic corporations with an increasingly propagandistic agenda. The press in Europe is no longer reporting on politics, rather, it is making and controlling politics. This Western press provided us with a prime example of its propaganda with its biased and mendacious reports in the run up to the Sochi Olympics. Having experienced the propagandistic attack on Sochi, we were already well prepared for the distorted reporting on the Ukrainian crisis. When information and news reports have been converted into one-sided disinformation and propaganda, then one is bound to make ill-informed decisions.
The emerging world has also caught up with the West in standards of education and the use of state-of-the-art technology and innovation. Even the West’s judicial system is deteriorating to the point that it often takes years to resolve a commercial dispute.
Finally, the last ace of the West is gone: its superior financial system with banks, stock exchanges and financial instruments. Asian financial hubs can now offer the same. And most crucially, the main line of defense of the Western hegemony – its currency monopolies – is now being eroded. The US dollar and the Euro are losing their role as the undisputed world reserve currencies.
Economic and social burdens instead of competitive advantages
Not only have the Western countries lost their competitive advantages but simultaneously accumulated a myriad of economic and social burdens: exorbitant levels of debt on all levels, states, corporations and households; rigid social structures with interest groups hanging on to the acquired benefits from brighter days; social tensions due to chronic unemployment and failed migration policies; gloomy demographic prospects forcing to postpone retirement and cut pensions, etc.
Together with those earned competitive advantages, the Western countries are also losing their unfair competitive advantage – that of being colonial powers that have exploited the rest of the world. And there’s the rub; the assault on Russia is precisely about the West’s attempt to hold onto this last bastion of advantage over the world: the military hegemony. To uphold it, or to recreate it in a more absolute fashion than ever, the West must conquer Russia. If Russia falls, then the rest of the free world would succumb as well.
In a free world, the economies of the Western countries will gradually shrink as the rest of the world emerges. This decline is what the increasingly belligerent Western elite wants to reverse with an attempt to establish world hegemony, a new colonial order.
Jon Hellevig is a business consultant and political observer. He is the co-editor and co-author of Putin’s New Russia and several books on philosophy and political and social sciences.