Structure and dynamics of the international scene

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By TADEU VALADARES*

Considerations on changes in the planetary geopolitical and geoeconomic field

"Il est difficile de dire la verité car il n'y en a qu'une, mais elle est vivante, et a par consequent un visage changeant” (Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena).

Today, amid the macro changes the world is going through, it seems evident that, despite all the efforts of the Atlantic alliance, there is no way Russia will be defeated in Ukraine, if we think in bilateral terms, strictly military. On the other hand, if we take into account the other records of the intricate geopolitical and geoeconomic in which the war is inserted, it is equally clear: the real “metamilitary” meaning of the Russian victory will remain somewhat hidden for a few more years.

But one thing is indisputable: to sustain this predictable military victory over the long term, Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin is now obliged to create or strengthen economic bases capable of ensuring its own survival as a great power in open and permanent conflict – economic- commercial and scientific-technological – with the so-called West. This refounding process comes from further afield. Launched by Vladimir Putin at the beginning of the century, it has been accelerated this year in response to the challenges created by the economic war imposed on Moscow. In this recent scenario, Russia started to promote profound internal reforms to the specific variant of capitalism that began to take shape ten years after the dissolution of the USSR, that is, after the succession of Boris Yeltsin by Vladimir Putin.

The project to remake the country implies, since its launch, the complete restructuring of the State and society, from top to bottom. Amidst the coming and going inherent to the succession of conjunctures, the governing circles faithful to Vladimir Putin and his mobilized base of social support are strategically engaged in this.

It seems increasingly evident, especially or even as a result of the decision that led to the war in Ukraine: the effort to updating of capitalism in Russia will accentuate the internal-external ideological struggle that, in its singular dynamic, places Russia as a certain other 'vis-à-vis' the model, equally ideological and occasionally mobilizing, of State and society prevailing in Western Europe.

In Russia, the efforts of the State and society go far beyond economic matters. It favors Russian-style nationalism, exacerbates conservatism in terms of customs and uses more and more of an easy resource, the ostensible instrumentalization of popular Russian-Orthodox religiosity, one of the main cements of this – if we use conventional sociological jargon – audacious attempt to “conservative modernization”. Or reactionary.

Put's attempt to build a much more powerful Russia cannot be limited to simple, complex as it may be, optimizing the economy. That is, it is not possible, in the geoeconomic plan, to keep the country only as an exporter of commodities and, on the geopolitical level, as a great nuclear-armed military power. The Putin project, whose partial realization has already completed two decades, also cannot be based solely on Russian scientific creativity and its varied technological applications.

The country's survival as a great power necessarily demands the inscription in bold, in the complex and problematic modernizing equation, of other factors, ideas and aspirations of an extra-economic nature.

Via ideological apparatuses of the State and mass psychology, this set of actions and proposals increases the dimension and weight of tradition, simultaneously strengthening the elective affinities between the project of state and economy that define capitalism in Russia, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the desires for restored grandeur with social welfare prevailing in the popular imagination.

It should be added: such an articulation is deeply anchored in regressive ideas, anti-enlightenment in the broad sense, anti-communist in the strict sense. Thus, as can be seen, material and 'spiritual' factors would be intertwined which, functionally interacting, will be fundamental for the improved and expanded reproduction of the system today submitted to the imperative of permanent reform under conditions of maximum external pressure.

In contrast to internal challenges, in the field of Realpolitik something essential has already become obvious: the accelerated consolidation of the Eurasian geopolitical pole, the only one that can oppose, for decades and decades more, perhaps for the rest of the century, to Western hegemonism today under the circumstantially intensified dominance of the USA and the recovered NATO. This turbocharged resurrection of NATO is one of the main immediate consequences of the outbreak of the biggest European war, albeit disguised as a bilateral conflict, since the Nazi aggression in 1939.

In this design, NATO also confirmed, even doctrinally, the role that it assigned itself with long-term validity: that of the most important coercive instrument of the USA, with intensified action on a world scale.

This is how I see the international scene, its structure and dynamics. It is within this frame that I try to understand the greater meaning of the war between Moscow and Kiev. I am not strictly interested in the conflict itself. Above all, I look for what it manifests as an announcing event, on the battlefield until now restricted to Ukraine, of the crucial change that is being established in the planetary geopolitical and geoeconomic field. This is because war generates foreseen and unforeseen consequences that go far beyond military clashes between direct and indirect contenders. This is because the war, by contributing decisively to the restructuring of the power game in Europe, affects the course of the world.

I take it for granted that the conflict will extend beyond this year, as important as the final vector of the ongoing battle in the Donbass is. At some point in the coming year, however, I risk speculating, if the geopolitical logic and the history of localized conflicts that broke out since the 50s are any guide, the longed-for moment will come when all the parties directly interested – Russia, Ukraine , the USA, NATO, the European Union, the Secretary General of the UN, China eventually –, taking into account the prevailing situation on the ground and the degree of exhaustion of the contenders, will be willing to draw up various proposals for a ceasefire.

If one of them consolidates, the first real opportunity will open up for us to move from the generous “votes of the heart” to the cold effective reality of the “world's direction”. Something provisional, the future ceasefire. Something temporary that might become permanent, in the style of the demilitarized strip on the Korean peninsula.

If that happens, the most obvious result of the “special military operation” will be, at the very least, Russia's control of much more than Crimea and Donbass. It will be easy for Moscow to proclaim that the objectives have been achieved at least on a military level.

For Ukraine territorially diminished, and industrially, economically, politically, demographically and socially debilitated, it will only remain, as a horizon line marked by historical frustration, to submit completely to the European Union and NATO, but in an especially incomplete way in the institutional record . In other words: full entry into both alliances, something practically impossible, unless obtaining waivers of difficult juridical-diplomatic elaboration and much more improbable political adoption.

In the world of effective reality in which there are only capitalisms, each of the main ones anchored in the respective state despite the power of the large so-called multinational corporations, the Atlanticist version will weaken. In this path towards accentuated decay, that of the American empire will be propelled mainly by internal conflicts, those that everything seems to indicate there is no turning back.

The process will be complemented and accelerated, at the international level, by the adverse paths to American hegemony that have already accumulated since the turn of the century, which are already a structuring part of world history in fieri. One imperialism will decline, while Eurasian variants of capitalism, including Russian, Chinese and Indian, will rise. The question that remains: do new types of imperialism as a supreme stage await us, in the second half of the century?

The Sino-Russian alliance without limits, the main geopolitical engine of all the great transformations that have been announced for some time, will become, in the long time of the cunning of history, the enemy brother of “Western capitalism”, its other, its adversary, its enemy and your competitor.

Compared to today, it looks like the world will be relentlessly more dangerous in 30 years' time. No illusions persist in me as to the near-inevitability of this tragic path. No illusions, above all, when in the analyzes – “scientific” or speculative as they may be – we highlight some of the main threats that today are expressed as manifest crises or clear global disruptive trends: the ecological or environmental, generated by the capitalocene; the risks of major conventional wars and, in them, the likely use of tactical nuclear weapons; the exhaustion of the liberal-democratic ideology originated in the Enlightenment; the symmetrical and complementary failure of all the great social revolutions, from the Mexican to the Chinese; the absurd concentration of income, wealth, corporate property and corporate and state power on a planetary scale; the subtle technological strength of the mechanisms of social control and repression available to states the more “advanced” they become; It is, Last but not least, the inexistence of real solutions of a progressive nature, effectively capable of, beyond rhetoric, incorporating the totality of all of us, the 8 billion, into the generically human.

That, on the one hand. On the other hand, this scandalous, immoral and unethical regime of increasing shortages of all kinds amidst the abundance of superfluous consumerism. Its incessant action affects the vast majority of the world's population, especially the subaltern or popular classes, and all peripherals, the eternally expendable, the eternally sacrificed. Pathology is planetary, omnidirectional. Moreover, conjuncturally and structurally aggravated by the swarm of reactionaries of all kinds. All barbarians, even if analytically differentiated or differentiable.

Everything seems to come together, therefore and in an astonishing way, not yet completed the third decade of the century, for the outbreak of a great disaster further ahead. On the horizon, increasingly heavy, the darkest of the great storm clouds that is progress: the one that indicates, in the conjunction effect of so many crises, the threatened continuity of the Homo sapiens on the blue planet. What, two generations ago, it was impossible to think, started to present itself, with each passing year, as surreally probable.

Opposing everything that emerges under the guise of the inevitable has become mandatory. And I conclude: in this regard, it is essential not to forget Brecht's short poem.

Reading a late Greek poem

At the time when their fall was certain\ On the ramparts the lament for the dead had begun\ The Trojans adjusted small pieces, small pieces\ In the triple wooden gates, small pieces.\ And began to take courage, to hope.\ The Trojans too, then.

* Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.

 

 

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