Putin speaks of a multipolar world
The 10th annual International Security Conference in Moscow
The Tenth Moscow Conference on International Security, an annual event, was held on August 16-17, 2022. More than seventy countries participated, including China and Vietnam, in the conference hosted by the Russian ministry of defense.
The conference is an indication of the level of support in the world, in the military terrain as well as the economic, for the development of a multipolar world-system with regional centers of political-economic influence, leaving behind a world-economy and world-system dominated by the USA and Western imperialist nations.
In his address to the Conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that “the outlines of a multipolar world order are taking shape. An increasing number of countries and peoples are choosing a path of free and sovereign development based on their own distinct identity, traditions, and values.” He noted that “these objective processes are being opposed by the Western globalist elites,” which provoke conflict and chaos, seeking to subvert any alternative possibilities for the sovereign development of nations. “They are doing all they can to keep hold of the hegemony and power that are slipping from their hands; they are attempting to retain countries and peoples in the grip of what is essentially a neocolonial order.” Their approach can only lead to the cancellations of the cultures of entire civilizations, and the imposition of “neoliberal totalitarianism.”
The Russian President elaborated.
“The United States and its vassals grossly interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states by staging provocations, organizing coups, or inciting civil wars. By threats, blackmail, and pressure, they are trying to force independent states to submit to their will and follow rules that are alien to them. This is being done with just one aim in view, which is to preserve their domination, the centuries-old model that enables them to sponge on everything in the world. But a model of this sort can only be retained by force.”
Needing to generate conflicts in order to retain their hegemony, Putin declared, the Western globalist elites have used NATO to expand to the east, and they have used the Kiev regime to kill thousands of residents of Donbass, thus making necessary the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. Now they are stirring up trouble in the Asia-Pacific region. “The US escapade towards Taiwan is not just a voyage by an irresponsible politician, but part of the purpose-oriented and deliberate US strategy designed to destabilize the situation and sow chaos in the region and the world.” It is a “thoroughly planned provocation” that demonstrates “disrespect for other countries.”
The aggressive actions toward Russian and China, in addition, are political maneuvers by the Western globalist elites, designed to “divert the attention of their own citizens from pressing socioeconomic problems, such as plummeting living standards, unemployment, poverty, and deindustrialization. They want to shift the blame for their own failures to other countries, namely Russia and China.”
The only possible road in the face of this situation, Putin maintains, is “a radical strengthening of the contemporary system of a multipolar world,” based on recognition that “the era of the unipolar world is becoming a thing of the past,” and that “historic geopolitical changes are going in a totally different direction.” The Tenth Conference on International Security is an “another important proof of the objective processes forming a multipolar world, bringing together representatives from many countries who want to discuss security issues on an equal footing, and conduct a dialogue that takes into account the interests of all parties.” The emerging multipolar world creates new possibilities for working together with respect to common threats, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cybercrime.
Putin pledged that Russia, for its part, will actively and assertively participate in the further development of a multipolar world, working to improve existing mechanisms of international security and creating new ones, and strengthening the armed forces of nations by providing them with advanced weapons and military equipment. He notes the importance in this regard of the United Nations, which was initially intended and is supposed to serve as a mechanism for reducing international tensions and preventing conflicts.
In a speech by video link to the conference, Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe reiterated that the right course of action in the current period of turbulence is to build a shared world community through solidarity, working together, and rejecting hegemony and bullying. Accordingly, the Minister declared that the Chinese military is ready to work with the militaries of other countries to deepen cooperation in the areas of defense and security, and to implement the Chinese proposal for a Global Security Initiative.
The Chinese defense chief reaffirmed China’s condemnation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to China’s Taiwan region. In response, he declared, China is taking countermeasures.
In a related development, the Chinese Defense Ministry confirmed on August 17 that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will be among other foreign troops participating in a multilateral military exercise in Russia, known as Vostok 2022. The Ministry stated that the purpose of the multilateral military exercise is to deepen the practice of cooperation and coordination among the militaries. Among the participating countries are Belarus, India, Mongolia and Tajikistan. Russia conducts cooperative military exercises of this kind once a year.
China’s Global Security Initiative
The Tenth International Security Conference in Moscow and the address to the conference by Russian President Vladimir Putin complement China’s Global Security Initiative, mentioned by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in his address to the conference. The Global Security Initiative is a comprehensive approach to national security that takes into account issues of health and technological development in addition to armed national defense and related security issues. The Initiative is based on the premise that the security of each nation must be rooted in the common security of all nations, which requires universal respect for the sovereignty of all countries and for the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. For further discussion of China’s Global Security Initiative, see “China’s Xi Jinping has a better plan: But the Western media cannot see it, let alone report it,” April 26, 2022.
Both Russia and China, therefore, reject the unconventional war against sovereign nations being conducted by the Western imperialist powers, which are bullying countries with sanctions in order to maintain their dominant and privileged position in the world economy. In this vein, both China and Russia call for respect for the principles of the UN Charter.
China, taking into account the disrespect for the sovereignty of nations being practiced by the Western imperialist powers, sees the practical need to defend its sovereignty through military means. This is evident from China’s participation in the International Security Conference in Moscow; from China’s reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan; and from China’s participation in joint military exercises with Russia. In a similar way, Russia, in the context of NATO expansionism, saw the need to undertake the special military operation in Ukraine.
The economic response to Western Imperialism: South-South cooperation
Alongside the military response to Western imperialism, Russia and China are seeking to develop mutually beneficial trade with the nations of the South, attempting through these means to enable the Third World countries reduce their dependency on unequal trading relations with the Western powers, which makes them vulnerable to Western bullying. In moving in this direction, the foreign policies of China and Russia are embracing a historic principle proclaimed by the Non-Aligned Movement since its origins in the 1960s, that of “South-South cooperation.”
As formulated in the class period of the Third World project, the key to the development of true sovereignty by the formerly colonized nations is the development of mutually beneficial trading relations among themselves. During the 1960s and 1970s, this idea could be implemented in practice only to a limited extent, because of the limited financial resources and weak economies of Third World nations, particularly in the context of the constant hostile maneuverings of the imperialist powers. In that period, both the Soviet Unions and the People’s Republic of China gave support to selected Third World states, but they did not adopt support for the economies of the world as a consistent foreign policy.
During the last three decades, the unsustainability of the neocolonial world-system and the decadence of Western imperialism have become increasingly evident; the South, reacting especially to neoliberal economic policies, has retaken the founding principles and goals of the Third World project; China has emerged with a strong and healthy economy; and Russia has recovered its sense of national purpose. In this context, China and Russia turn to the development of mutually beneficial relations with each other and with the nations of the South, enabling them to reduce disadvantageous economic relations with the Western imperialist powers. Third World leaders today give testimony to this turn to cooperation by China and Russia, which are offering terms of exchange that are more favorable that what the West offers or imposes. (See “China and the Third World: The construction of an alternative, more just world-system,” 10/1/2021).
A multipolar and more sustainable world order
Thus, today we are seeing the emergence of an alternative to the Western-centered and controlled world-economy and neocolonial world-system, an alternative that is expressing itself with growing economic and military strength and with increasing ideological clarity. The classic Third World principles are today reborn in practice: South-South cooperation to attain sovereign economic development; and military collaboration among the formerly colonized nations to protect their right of self-defense and their practical exercise of self-determination. The phenomenon constitutes the emergence in practice, step by step, agreement by agreement, forum by forum, of an alternative, more just and sustainable world-system.
The nations that are constructing socialism (especially China, Cuba, and Vietnam) are emerging as vanguard nations in the development of the alternative world order. Having developed structures of people’s democracy, they are able to ensure that the political processes in their nations are under the control of delegates and deputies of the people, and not representatives of the elite. And having developed vanguard political parties, they are able to lead the people toward unified national purpose. In addition, with structures of state planning and direction of the economy, they are able to guide their national economies toward the satisfaction of collectively defined national needs and goals. On this foundation, they have developed foreign policies oriented to the development of an alternative world order, one that is based in respect for the principle of the sovereignty of nations and the principle of benefitting each by guaranteeing respect for all.
The nations constructing socialism today arrived to their world leadership position through the implementation of Western socialism in Third World anti-colonial contexts, evolving their strategies and concepts as their experiences accumulated through time, through analysis of achievements and errors. For further discussion of the characteristics of nations constructing socialism, see: “Political and civil rights in Cuba: The politicization of the issue of human rights,” June 24, 2021; “Political Structures in Socialist China: A people’s alternative to Western representative democracy,” October 8, 2021; “Socialist socioeconomic formations: Lessons from real socialism in the global South,” June 7, 2022; “China models a new type of socialism: The most advanced example of a new socioeconomic formation,” June 10, 2022; “The advance of socialism in Vietnam: The Doi Moi policy renovates socialist construction,” July 5, 2022; “Realist pragmatism in socialist Cuba: Cuba’s socialist-oriented mixed economy under state direction,” July 29, 2022.
Many progressive leaders in the world, in nations that have not developed socialist structures or have developed them in an incomplete form, are able to discern the health of those nations constructing socialism and the decadence of Western imperialism. They join in the process of constructing a more just and sustainable world order, becoming economic and political allies of China and Cuba. At the present time, such nations include Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Iran, among others. To some extent, nations come and go from this camp, or partially participate in it, due to the uncertainties of bourgeois structures of representative democracy.
As the nations of the alternative camp deepen relations with one another, they continue to have relations with the imperialist powers and to participate in international organizations. Their goal is the transformation, step by step, of the neocolonial world-system into a more just and sustainable world-system.
New Cold War
As the alternative multipolar world emerges in practice, the United States and the Western imperialist powers seek to preserve their position of dominance in the neocolonial world-system. This is an instinctive reaction based on collective memory of past days of power and glory, and not based on analysis of current political and economic conditions.
However, the restauration of Western power and glory is not very likely. The Western imperialist countries are economically disadvantaged with respect to China and Vietnam, in that, with capitalist political-economic systems, the Western states have limited capacity to direct their economies toward the attainment of national goals. Their states can direct their economies only in a partial sense, and they must do so in accordance with the particular interests of elites, which do not coincide with the interests of the nations.
This economic disadvantage of the imperialist powers is compounded by Western political decadence. Profound ideological divisions and confusion, rooted in decades of ideological distortions to justify imperialist policies, make nearly impossible the formulation of a clear political direction based in a defined program. Here again, the socialist nations, with vanguard political parties that have pedagogical functions and have legitimacy before the people, are much more able to mobilize the people toward the attainment of defined and reasonable national objectives.
With rudderless economies in productive and commercial decline, and with political elites falling into decadent post-modernism, the capacities of the imperialist powers to preserve their dominant position is doubtful, in the face of the challenge constituted by vanguard socialist nations and their allies, building in practice an alternative world order.
What should be done in the imperialist countries?
The imperialist nations need to shift political gears. They need political policies that advocate the development of sustainable economic productivity on the basis of a comprehensive program, thus reversing their recent relative decline. Moreover, they need to develop a foreign policy of North-South cooperation, thus accepting the emerging alternative world order as not only inevitable, but also as necessary for humanity.
The elites of the United States and the Western imperialist countries have demonstrated in recent decades their moral incapacity to attend to the needs of their nations and peoples. Therefore, in each imperialist country, the people must organize themselves for the taking of political power from the hands of the elite. If we use the recent taking of political power by people’s movements and parties in Latin America as our guide, we will be able to see in general terms what this will require. It will require the formulation of a discourse that understands and explains the existing economic and ideological conditions of the nation. It will require a historical and scientific analysis of the sources of global and national problems, well explained to the people. And it will require a concrete and comprehensive program that responds to the socioeconomic needs of the people.
It will require, furthermore, a rhetoric that is sensitive to the patriotic and religious sentiments of the people. Perhaps the reader picked up on Putin’s rejection of post-modern, totalitarian globalism, and his affirmation of the cultures of human civilizations. Such is standard fare in the anti-imperialist discourses of the Third World, where insightful political leaders attained the support of their peoples by appropriating and reconceptualizing Western political philosophy as they rejected Western materialism, individualism, consumerism, and cynicism in affirmation of the cultures, solidarity, and spirituality of their peoples. They proclaimed faith in the future of humanity as the moral duty of all, a humanity formed by sovereign nations that respect one another.
A free subscription option is available, with capacity to read, send, and share all posts. A paid subscription ($5 per month or $40 per year) enables you to make comments and to support the costs of the column; paid subscribers also receive a free PDF copy of my book on Cuba and the world-system.
Follow me on Twitter: Charles McKelvey@CharlesMcKelv14