Western capitalism in check

Image: Nicolas Garzón


The war in Ukraine signals a shift in the axis of the world's political economy towards Asia

Faced with the military reaction of the Putin government in Ukraine to NATO expansionism, Western capitalist states intensified pressure against the Russian state, society and economy. Economic sanctions seek to target individuals, companies and state agents and institutions in various sectors, in order to prevent the Russians from enabling military operations.

In the banking sector, Western capitalists removed Russian banks from the Swift system, an international financial platform that performs interbank payments. In terms of transport, the closure of airspace and the abandonment of company operations in Russian territory were some of the measures. In the oil and gas sector, large Western oil companies are ending investments and activities in the country. Between others.

In the political-diplomatic dimension, the UN General Assembly, in an extraordinary session, approved a resolution condemning the Russian State. The document had a favorable vote from 141 countries, 35 abstentions, 12 absences and 5 votes against. In the political-ideological dimension, with the aim of demonizing the Putin government (and its allies), the western war propaganda machine daily asserts the conflict of good against evil, the heroic resistance of Ukrainians (whose cells are largely composed by neo-Nazis), war crimes, and the alleged quagmire the Russian armed forces got themselves into in the quagmire of local resistance. Let's take a closer look at these situations.

The government's approval rating and popular support for action by the armed forces rose in the country. Apparently, the Putin government knows how to work skillfully with historical facts such as the Napoleonic and Nazi invasions (this one which Washington had a blind eye to), as well as the Nazification of Ukraine and the expansion of NATO. The celebration of the Great Patriotic War national holiday, which represents the victory over Nazi Germany, is emblematic.

In the UN vote, the states that did not vote in favor of the aforementioned resolution represent about 4.1 billion inhabitants, including China and India. Most countries that did not vote against the Russians, which are in Africa and Asia, have friendly economic and political relations with Russia. It is worth remembering that the Soviets were the Europeans who helped in the decolonization of the African continent, for which Russia is a major supplier of grains and corn.

Russia's state and economy are not subordinated and dependent on Western capitalist powers, as is the case in Brazil and Latin America. Furthermore, its economic and political (capitalist) projection is more focused on the regional scope, where it establishes a series of alliances and cooperation. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is one of them, whose purpose is military aid to member states against any aggression against another. Consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, it was formed in the early 1990s after the end of the Warsaw Pact.

In recent CSTO moves, Belarusian and Russian armed forces held joint military exercises and deployed troops on their borders with Ukraine before the war. In Kazakhstan, to quell anti-government protests, Russian paratroopers were deployed at the president's request to help stabilize the country. OTSC was the authority invoked for this. However, Kazakhstan does not recognize the independence of breakaway regions of Ukraine. In contrast, the government of Syria is explicit in recognizing such regions controlled by separatists, even suggesting the deployment of troops. The Putin government was the main ally of the government of Bashar al-Assad during the civil war in Syria, considered fundamental to guarantee the continuity of this government. Russia even maintains military bases in the country.

The biggest ally of the Russian State is the Chinese State, despite its cautious positions on the war in the face of possible Western economic and political retaliation. Russia and China maintain close economic and military relations, based on the rulers' views of the West: a threat and in decline. On the war in Ukraine, the Chinese warned that NATO takes an aggressive position and does not respect the sovereign right of countries to defend their territory. In addition, they rejected sanctions against Russia and classified them as illegal.

It is important to mention that Russia and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an economic and military organization founded in 2001. The SCO is composed of eight member states: Kazakhstan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; and has three observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia. Its members – some are nuclear powers – comprise about half of the world's population and something like 30% of the world's GDP.

Another noteworthy relationship is that between Russia and India, which maintain fruitful economic relations, with emphasis on Russian arms exports. Indians import about 80% of their oil, but little from Russia. With the price of a barrel rising, Russia is offering oil and other commodities at a discount, which will help ease India's energy problem. All CSTO states, Syria, China and India did not vote in the UN in favor of the resolution condemning the Russian state.

We also point out that the Russian government made it official that it will not accept payments in dollars or euros for oil and gas, while Saudi Arabia, a major oil exporter and traditional US ally, is in advanced negotiations with China to fix the price in yuan of part of your sales. They are hard blows against the dollarization of the world economy.

In view of these (non-exhaustive) elements presented, which indicate a possible shift in the axis of the world political economy towards Asia, the Biden government proposes for the US armed forces one of the largest military investments in history, of US$ 813 billion for spending on “ defense". $682 million would go to Ukraine, primarily to fight the Russians. Another $6,9 billion would go to NATO. A sign that the supreme power of world capitalism will fight with iron and blood to maintain its status.

In the history of capitalism profound transformations take place in the international system with hecatombical political processes, accompanied by hunger, misery and death. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars established the world supremacy of Europeans, particularly England. The Great World War of the 1914th Century (1919-1939/1945-1917) made the USA emerge as the leading power of the capitalist West, while the Russian Revolution of 1949 and the Chinese Revolution of XNUMX projected their States to the status of anti-capitalist world powers.

The various imperialist wars led by the US on the periphery of the international system, such as the War in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and NATO interventions, such as in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the UN served to defeat the USSR and raise the US as a only global power in the recent period, almost undisputed, head and manager of world capitalism. This, now, seems to be in check and the war in Ukraine demonstrates elements of this, of a transition process.

* Caio Bugiato Professor of Political Science and International Relations at UFRRJ and the Graduate Program in International Relations at UFABC.


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