Imperialism and the struggle for power in the XNUMXst century

Image: Aleksejs Bergmanis


The imperialist projection capabilities and the forms of arrangement of the International System reproduce forms of capitalism

One of the most difficult tasks in the analysis of the International System, and especially in some more sensitive areas such as international political economy, is to dialogue with contemporary history and apply a correct periodization. My most recent research was initiated with the intention of highlighting the period that would be verifiable in post-2008 world capitalism and prior to the new Coronavirus pandemic, according to the classification of the World Health Organization (which declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 ). While not necessarily an object of controversy or the focal point for interpreting the Westernized world's turn and loss of power during and shortly after the disastrous administration of Donald Trump, this debate is necessary for a few reasons.

The most sensitive is because the concepts are real or, at least, have the intention of interpreting the real, lived as a concrete experience, and not just the imaginary universe (which also forms the lived reality). That is, I start from the premise that there is imperialism and there are powers with the capacity for imperial agendas, including advances on regional scales. The other very concrete situation and in dialogue with the first is that global power does not prevent regional or even continental play, even if it is very heterodox and hurts multiple interests simultaneously. An example of this is the case of Turkey in the Erdogan Era, still within the NATO umbrella and with an extremely aggressive foreign policy and simultaneously opposing several regional and global powers. We can claim these same capabilities for other G20 middle powers and countries with similar capabilities such as Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Although the military presence on a global scale is still exclusive to the United States, some other powers are also heirs of XNUMXth century colonialism and the Age of Navigation, such as France and the United Kingdom. There are also late empires that spread in the wake of the parent Empire, such as the US. This country is classified as a promoter of imperialism in most post-World War II studies and, in particular, at the end of the Cold War and Bipolarity.

Another practical reason for the debate on imperialism is to recognize its contemporary forms (getting away from caricature). Imperialism is not only an invasion of US marines, but also a superior form of capitalism, and in this Lenin was correct (at least in classification), but not only. Ancient empires often obey geopolitical and ethno-territorial logics much earlier than the modern formation of these States. For example, in the Russo-Byzantine tradition, the Soviet Union acted imperialistically in Afghanistan, following the trajectory of the Anglo-Russian imperial dispute in that same region (known as the Great Game). China's relationship with the newly unified Vietnam freed from US invasion (1979 Sino-Vietnamese War) was similar as well. It obeyed a logic of age-old rivalry, albeit under the new formats within the final stage of the cold war or the bipolar world. Generally speaking, the power game in Asia can be classified as such, with the exception of the Greater Middle East (Arab World and much of the Islamic World), where the struggle against Zionist colonialism and the perverse negotiations with the end of the Ottoman Empire take place. , as in the Sykes-Picot “agreement”.

Five Eyes System and questioned legitimacy

In the 1948st century, the imperialist projection capabilities and the arrangements of the International System, at least in the field of economics, reproduce forms of capitalism. Today, the USA and its Five Eyes System (together with Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and the European Union (the last two tied), no longer focus so much on the core area of ​​Asia. Despite being a positive note, much of capitalism is intertwined with the integrity of the global economy and is under some tutelage of US surveillance. India, Iran and Turkey, in the background, can also exert pressure on some scale, generating surpluses of power in order to articulate national interests with the domestic interests of other countries. It is necessary to say something delicate: it is a legitimate gesture that bordering countries or neighboring territories, as long as they are not populated by invading settlers (as in Occupied Palestine in 1967 and XNUMX), influence and are influenced by their other neighbors, making policy to beyond its borders and expanding areas of direct influence.

This legitimacy is radically different from waging wars of aggression, or employing Salafist and Takhfirist mercenaries (such as those of Daesh, self-styled “Islamic State” and hijacking agendas and causes that in principle would be just). Specifically acting against international legitimacy, we have the plight of Gulf Arab monarchies such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As a creator of widespread instability and permanent aggression, since its “invention”, the “State of Israel”, the colonial entity par excellence, is included. Another urgent debate would be about the middle powers of the G20 constellation and the like, expanding the concept of middle power (Middle Power).

Between diversity and global conformation, the planet is more complex than international business manuals. The constellation of autonomous or semi-autonomous countries and territories are political systems, forms of government and distinct regimes, but in terms of International Political Economy, the sum of the strategic concertation of fractions of the ruling class with the ruling elite can reproduce a projection in the International System or with this associate. Let us observe the race for the “African Eldorado”, one of the bases of the rebirth of our sister continent: China, France, Turkey and even Brazil (in a beautiful exercise of cooperation and competition on the African continent, but with criticism) dispute or competed for important spaces, in addition to the usual USA. There is South-South cooperation, but we always depend on local arrangements, domestic politics or even the correlation of forces with the “center of the West”.

It is also valid to debate the theme, since, almost always, the model of the XNUMXth century, where there is a set of local alliances that benefit from external pressure (or the denationalization of wealth and the loss of popular sovereignty) still exists and reproduces itself. The internal and associated domain can be motivated by interests, often of original ideological motivation (sense of belonging, colonialism and lack of decoloniality), and are positioned, concomitantly, to the internal distributive conflict.

It should also be noted that the complexity of the issue calls for a debate worthy of its threat, including very current versions, such as the almost always harmful effects of International Legal Cooperation (subjects permanently addressed by this analyst); the interpenetration of social networks and disinformation groups (Brazil and the relationship with neo-Pentecostals and ultraliberals from the Republican Party exemplify the problem); and also dangerous absurd theses of the “globalist conspiracy”.

Finally, conspiracy and external presence, as well as espionage and hybrid wars, are such evident and serious subjects that we cannot be irresponsible in confusing them with absurd and delusional “totalizing conspiracy theories”, without evidence or concepts. The debate is urgent as well as the correct conceptual classification.

*Bruno Beaklini is a political scientist and professor of international relations. Editor of the Strategy & Analysis channels.

Originally published on Maintenance Magazine.


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