Distributed Heartland: Towards a Multipolar Geopolitics

Author: Alexander Dugin

Transcript prepared/edited by Jafe Arnold

Dugin’s Expertise – Geopolitica.ru 

Today we must begin discussing a geopolitical problem which, in my view, is central to the construction of a multipolar world. Those who know geopolitics, know that one of the main laws or concepts of geopolitics is the notion of Heartland. All the classical schools of geopolitics – including the models of Mackinder, Spykman, Haushofer, Brzezinski, etc. – recognize a deep dualism between Heartland – the Continent, the Civilization of Land – and the Civilization of Sea, embodied today in the Anglo-Saxon world, first and foremost the US and its maritime policy. The Civilization of Sea, or Sea Power, attempts to surround Heartland – the Continent, Eurasia – from the sea and control its coastal territories. Sea Power strives to deter the development of Heartland, and thereby realize its domination on a global scale. As Mackinder said, “he who controls Eastern Europe, controls Heartland, and he who controls Heartland, controls the world.” This idea was subsequently developed by Spykman into: “He who controls Rimland (the coastal zone from Europe to China and South-East Asia), controls Heartland, and he who controls Heartland, controls the world.”

The fight to rule Heartland – by Sea Power from without, or in Heartland itself from within – is the main formula of geopolitical history, the very essence of geopolitics. Geopolitics is the battle for Heartland. All schools of geopolitics are founded upon and proceed from this model.

In the bipolar world of the Cold War, Heartland was represented by the Eastern camp, first and foremost the USSR, while Sea Power was the Western camp (Western Europe, the countries loyal to the West in the Middle East, etc.). Heartland, in the face of the USSR, lost this war in the early 1990’s, which marked the beginning of the unipolar moment. The defeat of Heartland in the Great War of Continents initiated the unipolar moment, a unipolar architecture in which the civilization of Sea and Sea Power achieved total domination. Fukuyama thus proclaimed the End of History. Sea Power ruled Heartland externally, such as by means of the Fifth Column at the head of Russian state, as was the case in the 1990’s. Heartland was blocked. Since Putin came to power, Russia has once again begun to step onto the path of sovereignty, and NATO has continued to blockade Russia. In the 1990’s, the battle against Heartland was won by Sea Power, and Heartland was “withdrawn from the system.” Thus began the unipolar moment: the global victory of Sea Power.

Today we often speak about a multipolar world and how Russia, despite its terrible losses, has preserved its identity, come to its senses, returned to itself, returned in history, and has ever so slightly squeezed itself out from under the total domination of the Fifth Column within Russia itself. At the same time, the unipolar domination of Sea Power has somewhat retreated, as Russia has won certain gains. It is obvious that Fukuyama declared the End of History and the global victory of liberalism prematurely. We were indeed close to this being the case, and we can say that we have lived in the unipolar world, but this unipolar world could not be made eternal, could not affirm itself, and thus became but a moment, an episode.

Just as the multipolar world arises, so does a contradiction. If we take into consideration only one Sea Power and one Heartland, then when it comes to speaking of a multipolar world, Russia cannot possibly be the only Heartland. Russia cannot achieve a multipolar world on its own. In the very least, multipolarity entails four or five of the most important poles in the world. Russia could be the center of this multipolar world or only one of its poles. But Russia cannot be the only Heartland.

Over the course of numerous discussions, conferences, speeches, lectures, and articles, I have come to the conclusion that it is high time to introduce the notion of an apportioned, or “distributed Heartland.” To this end, I think it is important to attentively examine the German geopolitics of the 1920-’30’s, which proclaimed Germany to be the European Heartland. Of interest to us is not so much Germany itself as the very possibility of considering an additional Heartland.

Naturally, there is the Russian, Eurasian Heartland, but it cannot assert itself as Land Power alone. As follows, it is necessary to look attentively into a European Heartland, a European pole: for example, a Franco-Germanic alliance, or the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis. Continental Europe can be seen as one Heartland which could and should be friendly towards the Russian Heartland, while being an independent phenomenon.

A Chinese Heartland is an altogether different question. China, after all, is Rimland, a coastal zone. If we recognize China as bearing the status of a Heartland, then we are recognizing China as an independent strategic space. If we qualify China as Heartland, then we are emphasizing the conservative aspect of China – China as Land Power. But if China declares itself to be a Heartland against Russia, just as Hitler’s Germany declared itself to be the heart of Eurasia against Soviet Russia, then conflict will immediately arise.

If Russia retains the status of an independent pole, then this “distributed Heartland” acquires a completely different meaning. Then it is possible to consider such Heartlands as a Russian Heartland, as in all traditional geopolitical maps as the “geographical pivot of history”, and a European Heartland. We also arrive at considering a Chinese Heartland, and this means that we consider China as a traditional, conservative, independent, and sovereign state as it is today – and it will only become more so in the future. In the very least, it is important to reconcile the Chinese Heartland with the Russian Heartland, and partially even the European Heartland. But even this is insufficient to constructing a multipolar world. We necessarily have to consider an Islamic Heartland (covering the historical spaces of at least 3-4 empires, stretching from Turkey to Pakistan). The concept of a distributed Heartland can further be expanded to India, and projected onto Latin America and Africa as well.

As follows, there should be an American Heartland in the multipolar system. We have become too accustomed to thinking in the terms of classical geopolitics that the US and Anglo-Saxon world can only be Sea Power. In a multipolar world, America will not be able to play this role, its global maritime range will naturally be reduced, thereby changing the very nature of America. As follows, an American Heartland should arise which, in a multipolar system, should not be seen exclusively as in opposition to other Heartlands. The vote for Trump represented the contours of this American Heartland.

If we begin to conceive of Heartland as a distributed type of culture associated with the reinforcement of conservative identity, then “Make America Great Again” is the thesis of an American Heartland. Stop being a Sea Power, and you will be Great Again. As a Sea Power, you will be miserable, the Deplorables, but you will be Great Again when you become an American Heartland.

Distributed Heartland is the imperative of the new geopolitical model, of multipolar geopolitics. I think that this concept deserves very serious cogitation, pondering, and description. There should be a number of conferences, or an even entire volume devoted to this inevitable question. The efficacy of this concept of distributed Heartland is, in my opinion, extremely important, insofar as the construction of a multipolar world now demands clearer and more precise roadmaps.

In my opinion, the notion of a distributed Heartland is the main, most key moment in the development and materialization of the Theory of the Multipolar World.

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Dugin in Shanghai: China in International Relations

“China in International Relations: Geopolitics, Globalization, and Hegemony” 

Author: Alexander Dugin

Transcript prepared by Jafe Arnold

Lecture #4 delivered at the China Institute of Fudan University, Shanghai, China, December 2018 [VIDEO]

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Today’s lecture will be dedicated to Chinese identity in different fields of science. In the first lecture I explained the main structure of the science of international relations, the main concepts, theories, schools, and debates. In the second lecture I explained what geopolitics is. We have explored the geopolitical vision of Sea Power vs. Land Power. In the third lecture I explained multipolarity and multipolar theory, which insists that there should be more than 4 poles, or at least 4 poles – the US, China, Russia, and Europe – and not only one, Western pole. Today, I will try to put China in all of these fields of research in order to better understand what modern China is in these three contexts.

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We are going to study the main, most important, or I would say central question: What is China? But we cannot start from the parts in order to come to the whole, because we cannot understand the meaning of the parts without knowledge of the whole. We cannot proceed in the opposite way either, because we do not know the whole. We need to use the philosophical method of hermeneutics in order to discover what China is through the process. We do not know what China is – nobody knows. China is a mystery. We are not going to reveal or explain this mystery, but we are going to enter this mystery, to try and think about Chinese identity, and put China’s identity into different philosophical, geopolitical, and intellectual contexts, to find China’s place in the world, but at the same time to define what China is here. The world is presumed to be whole, while China is only a part, but without knowing what China is or what the world is, we cannot find find the place. We are going to proceed together in this hermeneutic approach from Schleiermacher.

We should establish some hypothesis on what China is, after which we can make a kind of reality-check. This is not a dogmatic definition of China, but a kind of presumption or phenomenological approach. In order to understand this, we need to make some very important statements. Every statement here is of crucial importance.

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China is a civilization. That means not whole Civilization, obviously, as there are civilizations outside of China. China is one of the many civilizations. Being a civilization, China represents something complete and perfect, autonomous, and self-sufficient. To be a civilization means to have one’s own measure inside, not outside. A civilization can measure its control and define its own values, progress or failure, using its own tools. Civilization means many things. It is the highest point of more complex, integral concepts. It is something that Professor Zhao Tingyang, whom I met in Beijing and I have a great impression of, means by Tianxia (天下). Tianxia (天下) is not a country, it is a system or civilization.

In geopolitics, China is a Big Space. For example Canada, which is a big country, is not a big space, because it could not represent this space as unified, centralized, historically united. North America is a big space, not Canada. Not every geographical big space is a geopolitical big space, but China is. China historically controls a big geographical zone that is united politically, socially, culturally, historically, religiously, by writing, by Han identity, and so on.

China is a culture. Chinese culture is more than the Chinese state, because the people of Taiwan and some non-Chinese, non-Han people share more or less the same culture, such as the Vietnamese, the Koreans, and partly the Japanese. Their identities and cultures were formed under the huge impact and influence of Chinese culture. Chinese culture is something supra-Chinese, something more than Chinese, because this culture can be given to others, and they can share this culture, such as the writing system for example.

China is a power, because it has political, economic, demographic, geopolitical, strategic, and military resources. It can oblige others to do something. If someone wanted to attack China, China could respond in any way. China is a power that can defend its sovereignty.

China is a pole in the multipolar system. I will explain later what concretely this means. When we are speaking about multipolarity, we immediately imagine the Western pole without any doubt as to it being a civilization, power, and big space. But next to the West today, China is also immediately a most important pole in the world.

China is hegemony, but obviously China is not the only hegemony, or leading force. There are other hegemonies outside of China. China is a regional hegemony. It could lead and exercise leadership in some circle around China beyond its borders, but not too far. In some definite space, the same with culture, civilization, and power, China is a kind of center of hegemony that, compared to other countries that are close to China, is a real leading force.

China is an empire, not only in the traditional sense, but also in the idea of unifying national, political units. An empire is not one political state, but something more – a system. Tianxia  (天下)can be mentioned here. It is something that unites more than one political subject and can expand its influence over greater space.

Thus, finally, China is Tianxia (天下).

All of these definitions should not be considered in an absolute sense, as all these definitions can be applied to China only if we add “one of several, not unique.” It is one civilization, but there are others. It is one big space, but there are others. It is a culture, but there are other cultures. China is a power, but there are other powers. China is a pole, but there are certainly other poles. China is hegemony, but there are other hegemonies. China is an empire, but there are other empires. That is precisely what we argued with Zhao Tingyang concerning the meaning of Tianxia (天下). I will explain later, but the idea in my opinion, the point of divergence with Zhao Tingyang is that China is one possible Tianxia (天下), not the only one, as there are other global structures. For example, there is the American concept of a global world; there can be imagined the multipolar concept of a global world, and there is one Chinese investment in globalization in the form of a universal organization based on the Tianxia theory (天下 体系). We need to understand this project as one of several. Zhao Tingyang, who is the founder and author of Tianxia theory (天下 体系), has said that his concept has been hijacked by some American professor who has written a book on the American Tianxia. According to this professor, only the American Tianxia is the real Tianxia and China’s is only a provincial version. This means that you can propose your global system, but you cannot be sure that it will be accepted by everybody else, at least theoretically.  There is a fight for Tianxia (天下). This is already important because American scholars are beginning to borrow Chinese concepts – that is a very great and positive sign, a real sign of multipolarity.

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The identity of traditional China can be summed up with other definitions. We are speaking about cultural identity. The Yin-Yang system (陰陽) is based on some important sentences, axes, or laws. Relations are more important than ontological units. It is not of importance what is one thing and what is another, but how they relate to each other – relations and the relativity between two things, rather than these things themselves, because there is no eternal essence. It is not essentialism. Things are changing and relations between them are changing as well. But relations are more stable than things themselves. That is a completely non-Western vision. The Western vision is that things or essences are much more important than relations. Relations could change, but things not. China is quite the opposite. Nature can be flexible, but relations stay. That is the Yin-Yang (陰陽) concept of relations. That is the Yin-Yang (陰陽) vision. Relations are eternal. Harmony should prevail. Harmony is balance, not the victory of Yin over Yang or Yang over Yin. There is no radical opposition between them. There is a kind of play. All oppositions are relative.

Order is based on ethics more than power. Ethics is the highest of things; it is balance and the recognition of the rules of the “play.” Ethics are not a result of the balance of power, as in the Western attitude. There is neither pure subjectivity nor pure objectivity. This is an application of the concept that relations prevail. There is no Western Cartesian subject, nor Western object. There is something subjective in nature, in human culture. You cannot trace here such a radical dividing line as in Western culture. That is why you, Chinese, have such a great admiration for stones. Stones are made by nature. You see the subjective element in stones, for example in Confucius’ temple here in Shanghai which I’ve visited here with Dr. Wang Pei. These stones are considered to be works of art, because nature is the artist, and man is a little bit of nature.

The Dao () is everywhere and nowhere. You cannot say that there is a God, Beauty, or a most important value. When you show your ideal, you lose it. When you speak the word, you lose the word. This is a kind of appreciation of silence. As Dr. Pei Wang has reminded, if you listen to silence properly, you can hear the sound of thunder. If you say that the Dao () is everywhere or just nowhere, that is a lie. The Dao () is outside, as the highest value that encompasses and surrounds everything and is at the center of the thing. It is relational.

Matter and spirit form a kind of “fold.” You can go the way of matter and come into the spirit. There is no strict dividing line between soul and body, because matter and spirit are not in opposition, but are relative. They are something that you cannot define radically as in “here is the body, and there is the soul.” They are intermingled in some way. So there is not only care for the body, because in caring about your body, you are caring about your soul, and vice versa. That is the Tai Chi (太极拳) principle. This is the Chinese way of understanding things.

The prevailing symmetry in Chinese identity is the Center vs. Periphery, not Top vs. Bottom. At the center is the Yellow Emperor Huangdi (黃帝) and there is the periphery. But there is no radical opposition between Top vs. Bottom. Rather it is a matter of concentration and degrees of ontological concentration.

Extremities are dangerous. When you come to the extreme, you lose relations with the whole. Going to extremes, you can lose relations with Being, the Dao (), harmony, and the game of proportions.

Time is circular; it is not linear. The year starts again exactly at the same point where you begin, the New Year.

There is inclusiveness, not exclusiveness.

These are the main characteristics of Chinese identity. When we go to Western identity, we lose something important, these two points: the Yin and Yang.

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We are coming to a radical dualism that is completely different from Chinese identity. If we try to describe the Western, not Chinese, we will see almost immediately totally different sentences: relations are secondary, and essences are of more importance; competition and struggle, not harmony, should prevail; all oppositions are radical and irreducible. There cannot be an intermediary term between, for example, Good and Evil. There is a dividing line in all the structure of this non-Chinese identity. Order is based on power, not on ethics. Power comes first, while ethics is of secondary importance. There is pure subjectivity and/or pure objectivity – all systems of Western thought are based either on subjective idealism, which in its radical form denies the reality of the external world, or objective materialism, in which case the subject is regarded only as a reflection or mirror of matter. The subject and object are always outside of Chinese culture and philosophy.

Transcendence with God or without God. Transcendence is the absence of something common between the creator and creation. That is a basic aspect of monotheistic religion: God is transcendent, which means that he is incompatible with reality. Only God is; reality is not. In the materialist version, there is the same, only reality is; God does not exist. That is the modern version of the same transcendental attitude. In the modern sense, only material reality exists. As Nietzsche has said, God is dead – we have killed. him So transcendence at the same time prevails in the normal monotheistic theology of Western religions, or without them.

Matter and spirit are two natures. That is an absolute principle of Western identity.

In terms of symmetry, there is the top and the bottom, hierarchies, and taxonomies of different kinds, in which everything is included only based around the vertical line. The top is everything; the bottom is nothing. The top is Paradise or Heaven; the bottom is Hell.

Extremities are constitutional and very important in Western identity, because they create the space, because they go first.

Time is linear. Time is an arrow. Time is not seasons, but is an event that can never, or very rarely, be repeated. The difference between the event and the season is that an event does not repeat.

Exclusiveness, not inclusiveness, means that you organize reality by making strong differentiations between elements. The only way to understand something is to analyze it. What is analyzing in Greek? It is division, separation. To understand a thing, you should kill it and separate it apart, and afterwards try to re-combine and revive the dead system.

That is duality. Chinese culture is non-duality. This is important, because this means that Chinese identity is clearly not Western, but is also not sub-Western or would-be-Western. It is a completely different world organized on a different basis.

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Now we see how deep Chinese identity is. When we speak about the China State, 中国(Zhōngguó), we can say that there is a national identity supported by the Chinese state. This means that the things I have mentioned exist only because of the state, the Confucianist state, the Imperial state, the Communist state – through all of Chinese history, there was a state that promoted these values, the values of Chinese culture, with an educational system, traditions, and way of life – everything was based on these continuations of Chinese identity. But when we go to China Town (唐人街) in the West, there is no China State. There is no necessity to follow this route by going abroad, and one can easily accept the values of other cultures. Sometimes there are no obstacles. But in Washington, in modern days – I was there in 2005 – near the White House, there is a huge Chinatown where everyone is Chinese – with Chinese restaurants, Chinese names, Chinese food, and Chinese speaking Chinese. They are not obliged; there is no state obliging them to be Chinese, but they prefer to stay Chinese. So here we have something more than an artificially constructed identity. We have something deeper than that. If we say that by changing the Chinese state, you will receive another culture, then Chinatown is a great example that this is not so simple. Sometimes Chinese live abroad 10, 20, sometimes 30 years, return to China and they are totally devoted to the Communist Party, to Chinese identity and Confucianism.

That is the great resistance of identity. Identity is not only about the state, nationality, and education; it is much deeper. Chinese identity can be preserved, developed, affirmed, and conserved in different situations and societies. Between the Chinese in China and the Chinese abroad, there is an important dialectical relationship. Chinese identity could exist outside of the state, and if you were to ask Chinese outside what kind of order they prefer, they will almost totally prefer the Chinese order and way of life. That is existential. “Chinese” is defined by Chinese culture, not by the outside, external structure of the state or society. The meaning of Chinese identity is such that it is already included in it. Outside, things can change, while inside there can be a balance – this is the relations-state. For example, you could modernize some part of your society, but other parts will be more conservative, in order to preserve the balance. That is flexible, not radical; this is an inclusive, relations-based, and very stable Chinese identity. It is eternal, like the seasons, or the Mandate of Heaven – you could lose such with one emperor or system, but you will certainly find it with another. You can return to the same point and start the next cycle, the next year.

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What we get from this analysis, this comparison of the China State and Chinatown, is that Chinese identity is deeper than both. The China state, and the Chinese living outside of China, have a main, common denominator. I call this the Chinese Dasein (汉的此在). Dasein (此在) is Heidegger’s term. I do not think we should use here the concept of Zhōngguó (中国) because it is too political, national, or related to the State. We should use here Han (), that is precisely the core of the Chinese Dasein (汉的此在). You can transform into Han nomads from the North or the population of the South of China, but Han is the core of Chinese identity. Han-Being is existential and ontological.

We can describe the Chinese Dasein (此在) using Heidegger’s methods in terms of Being-Chinese. You cannot be without being Chinese first. Being Chinese, you understand what Being means for Chinese, but without that you have no access to this existential understanding. Being-in-the-World, Im-der-Welt-Sein, is translated here as Being-in-the-Chinese-World. The Chinese world does not mean Zhōngguó (中国), the Chinese State, but is the world you interpret, see, and create over the course of this interpretation. You can live in a Chinese world while living inside or outside of China. Being-With, Mit-Sein in German, another concept of Heidegger’s, is the core of Chinese identity, as you cannot be alone, but always surrounded by other Chinese. You are with your family, ancestors, with the Other, the Chinese writing system, your thoughts. That is the Chinese dialogue. You are always with. With what? With something Chinese.

Being-Toward-Chinese-Death is the most radical definition of Being-Here, or Dasein (此在). I once told the last living disciple of Heidegger, Professor Friedrich von Hermann in Freiburg, that I believe in a multiplicity of Daseins – there is not only one universal Dasein for everybody, because there are different cultures and their own different descriptions of Being-Here. He said that Heidegger would not approve of that, because Heidegger believed in the universality of Dasein (此在), and the argument for such is the universality of Death. I responded: Not at all! In different cultures, there are different deaths. For atheists, death is the end of everything. For Christians, the way of death is based on the soul and post-mortem journey into Heaven and Paradise. These are completely different experiences. I think that there is or should be a Chinese understanding of Death inscribed in the Chinese culture of the return of the ancestors. The family, the house, the tradition are more important than Death. Entering into Death or coming to the world, there is this circular rotation. It is not a kind of interruption of continuity. There is continuity in Death. There could be a Chinese Death, a very special one. Being Russian, I could speak more about the Russian meaning and way of Death, but I leave it to you to explore this existential of Chinese Dasein (此在) more.

As for the Chinese Logos, this is is a more evident part of Chinese identity because it is explicit. If existential identity is implicit, or hidden on the existential, basic level of presence in the world, then the Logos is quite clear. In traditional society, we have the Chinese Logos with Confucius, Laozi, and Chinese Buddhism – these are the three great systems of Chinese culture and traditional society. Tianxia (天下) is precisely a traditional concept, not imagined byProfessor Zhao Tingyang. In the Zhuangzi text there is a chapter called “Tianxia.” It is the 33rd and the last in traditional division of the whole book (Miscellaneous Chapters —雜篇 Zapian).

Ethical order and meritocracy. Professor Daniel Bell has written a very interesting book on the Chinese model of meritocracy, which I recommend – “The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy”.[1] 

And so, there are very explicitly developed systems of how to understand the basic identity on the level of Logos. All the definitions we used in the beginning can be found here, very rich, with details, in books, systems, and schools. This is a huge cultural and intellectual heritage based on Chinese identity.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 9.40.02 PMIn modern society you have another form of the Chinese Logos: Mao Zedong, socialism, and Chinese modernity are a kind of new form of the Chinese Logos adapted to new challenges in your history. In your present situation, this is just as important as the heritage of traditional Chinese identity. These are new names for things. Confucius said that we need to improve the names of things. Mao Zedong has improved some names to adapt them to reality without destroying relations between things, while continuing the same Chinese identity. In this situation, Deng Xiaoping added to this vision some new features, such as opening to the West – but not in order to give up your identity, but with the flexibility to empower your identity, to stay Chinese in the new global world.

It is not globalization that is using China. It is China that is trying to use globalization. This is very interesting, but very dangerous, because in coming into a world that is not Chinese and is organized on a completely different set of concepts and values, it is easy to lose identity. Maybe not for you, as we have discovered that your identity is so strong that you can accept this challenge. This is the difference between Chinese and Russian history. Russian identity is not so strong. Coming to meet the West, we have failed, we lost our country, and almost lost our soul. In the last moment, Putin appeared. Our situation was extremely critical in the 1990’s, and entering into globalization, we accepted it too deeply, we let it enter too deep into our system and it almost destroyed our society.

Now we are coming to future Chinese society, what I call the Great Synthesis of the traditional and modern society. That is precisely what Comrade Xi Jinping declares. He declares the Chinese Dream. China’s Dream is not only an imitation of the American dream, with consumption and comfort, but is a dream to re-affirm your eternal identity in new conditions, to join traditional society with its values and modern society. It is precisely Confucianism and Maoism – the traditions of ancient China and modern China. That is a kind of Chinese post-modernity or Chinese future. That is the Logos based on Chinese Dasein (此在).

In order to reinforce and empower this Logos for future Chinese identity, you could use some European authors who are very critical of the European Logos and European Modernity, which are very useful to promoting your understanding of the West.

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René Guénon, the founder of Traditionalism, and his defense of sacred tradition and radical critique of modernity are important to defending your traditional values, such as Daoism, Buddhism, and all the traditions of your society. It is a defense of Traditional society.

You can use Martin Heidegger’s new or fundamental ontology, which is already being done in Chinese society as I have remarked with great pleasure, and I am happy that Heidegger is very well known here. That is something incredibly rich and important.

Carl Schmitt’s political realism helps with reading many different aspects of Western political thought.

I would also recommend the ideas of the New Right, Eurasianism, Geopolitics, the sociology of hierarchy (first of all the French sociologist Louis Dumont), and the concept of Conservative Revolution.

The Great Synthesis should include revolutionary and traditional elements. These are all considered more or less on the Right, but as for the Left, I think that anti-capitalism and the anti-capitalist ethics of Karl Marx are extremely important, maybe not the technical aspects of his thought which is a little outdated. Anti-imperialism is an important concept as well. Mao Zedong, as the founder of Chinese socialism, included the peasantry and traditional society in the revolutionary class, whereas in Russia Lenin excluded the peasants from the revolutionary class. That was the reason for the near genocide of the Russian people. You were much more clever.

And I suggest Antonio Gramsci, many of whose ideas, such as Caesarism, are very important now and applicable to the present situation. The historical pact of intellectuals and Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, are of use as well.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 9.40.14 PMThe next step is China in International Relations.

Liberalism in IR is based on the full spectrum-domination of Western values. We should not mistake this situation. All the classical theories of Liberalism in IR are based on the idea that Liberal Western values should prevail on the global level. You have no chance to have Chinese identity or Chinese sovereignty within this concept, because Liberalism in IR explicitly thinks that there should be the dissolution of the nation-states, the dissolution of all forms of collective identities in favor of only one type of identity – the individual – and that there should be an international structure or institution over states whose authority should be recognized as law.

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That would mean the end of China not only as a state, but also Chinatown – the end of Chinese identity as a community. Sooner or later, the liberals will remark that the Chinese prefer their cultural identity, and they will attack that, try to destroy it. This is not religious because all the religions of the West are more or less destroyed already by Liberalism in the West. When the Liberals remark that there is something not so much Western and individualistic with Chinese identity, then they will begin to attack not only the state, but also Chinese culture.

Liberalism in IR excludes China. It is unadaptable. It is a projection of Western hegemony,  the Western system of values, and unipolar model which, in the eyes of Liberals, should be imposed on a global scale.

Realism in IR is Western-centric and modern, but at least it recognizes the right of China to preserve her sovereignty. Realism does not enter into the details of civilization. Civilization does not matter to realists. But realists think that if there is a power that can defend itself, then we should take it into consideration. That is a little better than Liberalism. They will compete with you, maybe fight, maybe conclude an alliance or peace, but a priori this is not planned destruction [of China] as in Liberalism.

Marxism in IR is completely different from what you might think. It is not the idea of Soviet or Chinese international politics. Marxism in IR is based on the idea that all nation-states should be dissolved and global capitalism should prevail; there should be the destruction of all societies, and the transformation of humanity into two classes with no nation, identity, state, or type of civilization. This is cosmopolitanism. The global population is made into a mixture of cultures, peoples, ethnic groups to create a post-national, post-ethnic, post-national confusion of all races and ethnic groups, in order to divide them into two classes: the global proletariat and global bourgeoisie. That is applied to IR by authors such as Wallerstein.

In Wallerstein’s global system, there should be the transformation of the global world with one center of developed countries and the periphery of underdeveloped countries. In between them, China, Russia, India, Brazil, and the semi-periphery, should be destroyed, but the oligarchic, capitalist part of these semi-periphery countries should be integrated into the global elite, and the others should become more and more poor. Immigration is an ideological concept to promote this, a tool, to accelerate this process. Through mass migration, they will transform the world into a culturally homogenous structure with the only dividing line being between poor and rich – and after this will start the global proletarian revolution. Thus, in the short term, Marxists in IR serve the Liberals because they say that first capitalism should prevail. They regard Stalinism, Sovietism, Russian socialism, Chinese socialism, and Maoism not as authentic socialist experiments, but as kinds of “National Bolshevism” or “National Marxisms.” They think that you do not have socialism, but a kind of national-bureaucratic, totalitarian state ruled by a political elite that should be destroyed. Marxists in IR are not friends. Beware of these “Marxists” and “Leftists.” They are a Fifth Column of Liberals in IR. China has nothing to do with them.

The English school is rather interesting – above all, the IR author Barry Buzan. The English school thinks that there should not be a global government, as the Liberals insist, but a set of rules established by a club. The most powerful countries should accept, as a club, some rules and relations that will be a kind of constitution of the club. A club is not an authority, but a matter of self-respect and social position, not something that you are obliged to follow. You are not obliged to follow the rules of the club, but it is “better” that you accept them to increase your status. The “great countries” of the G20 and G7 are a club. Their decisions are not obligatory, but are important to follow. If someone is thrown out of the club, as we, Russia, were after Crimea, we are supposed to feel “awkward” – not in the face of an authority that can punish us like a criminal, but in the face of a kind of “moral disapproval from the club.” The English school of IR explains this perfectly.

Post-positivst theories are useful in order to deconstruct the Western imperialist narrative in IR. The post-positivists propose almost nothing, but their radical criticisms and deconstruction of discourse with post-modern tools are very useful when we have to defend our identity. It is a tool for defense and offense. If a Chinese specialist in IR can understand what post-positivist IR theories are all about, they will be completely free from any kind of complexes – they could speak with any Western critics of the Chinese system using their own tools. This is a marginal sector of IR that is growing in importance. I recommend above all two authors that should be carefully read and which are very important for Chinese IR in general: that is the Australian scholar now living in Great Britain, John Hobson, and his The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics. He is anti-racist, rather left-wing and a Gramscianist, but his work is perfect, remarkable. He is accepted as a normal scholar, as not too much of a radical, but his work is quite a miracle in its criticism of all kinds of IR theory based on the manifestation of Eurocentric and racist -isms. His offers the best criticism of racism that I have met in the field of IR. The next, maybe more technical author is Stephen Gill and his work, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission, which is a Gramscian application of deconstruction to the temptation to create global government on the part of some American internationalist, liberal institutions.

You can use these two books in order to not only defend Chinese identity and politics, but as well to lead the intellectual attack on those who come and say that you have no human rights, no democracy, a totalitarian system, and so on. You can immediately cite a few pages from these two books and they will disappear, because their discourse against yours would be a defense of pure imperialism, racism, and nationalism. This is very important from a theoretical point of view.

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There are some versions of Chinese International Relations theory. I think that there is a Chinese way of globalization. Professor Zhao Tingyang thinks that the global world and global governance should be organized based on the Tianxia principle. I don’t believe in that, but it is a very good idea if you insist on your own globalism: “Let’s hear what we, Chinese – strong, powerful, rich, a rising power – have to say with our own version of globalization.” That is a very smart move and very interesting concept, but I hardly can imagine that the globalists who have a completely different understanding of what globalization is, could seriously speak about that.

The Chinese realism of Yan Xuetong as a concept is not pure realism. Yan Xuetong proposes that a realistic understanding of the balance of power, alliances, should include an ethical dimension, something completely unknown to realism. This is a kind of “moral realism” (王道外交) or “ethical realism”. That is Chinese vision of realism in which there is not only the relation of powers, badao, but also an ethical dimension, wangdao.

As for the Chinese analysis of the British school, I could say that the China Model of Professor Zhang Weiwei is kind of that. “Let us have some rules for international behavior, some club, but do not impose on us your rule in an authoritarian way. We can hear you, we are open to debate and dialogue”, and Professor Zhang Weiwei represents this brilliantly with his travels through the West. He perfectly well explains Chinese identity without letting others convince him or insisting too much on the Chinese truth. This English club-school way of promoting Chinese identity is very inclusive, mild, harmonious, polite, and Confucian. 

One interesting idea of Qin Yaqing insists on the Guanxi concept that relations are more important than essences. We need first of all to concentrate on relations between countries and try to moderate relations and meta-relations without going into the essence of “good”, “bad”, “real power”, “pretending power”, etc. On the basis of relations, we can construct some specific balance for the system of IR.

So, while there is not yet a Chinese IR theory, but there are some fruitful approaches.

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Now for China and geopolitics. In classical geopolitics, on Mackinder and Spykman’s maps, it is absolutely clear that China represents Rimland, the coastal area of Eurasia. All zones of Rimland are divided between the pivot area, Heartland, and Sea Power. But at the same time, Rimland, and such a huge part of Rimland as China, could have its own Heartland, its own continental core, next to its coastal component. China is its own world that could apply geopolitical principles to China herself. It is too great to be only a part of Rimland. It could also be an independent part of Heartland, having its own Rimland or coastal area. In traditional geopolitics, Heartland and Land Power are Tradition, and Sea Power is modernization. The same is in the case of China: China’s coastal area is much more modernized and involved in capitalism, while the inner part is more traditional.

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China, as Rimland, is a zone in the balance of global power between two civilizational powers, Land Power and Sea Power, fighting together for control [over Rimland] from Europe through the Middle East and Central Asia to China. All of this region is a kind of zone for world rule.

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There are two classical formula:

“Who controls Eastern Europe, controls Heartland; who controls Heartland, rules the World.” (Mackinder). This version of Mackinder’s was from the beginning of the 20th century.

In the middle of the 20th century, when the importance of other places of Rimland came to be understood in the process of de-colonization, another geopolitician and follower of Mackinder, Spykman, transformed this geopolitical formula:

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“Who controls Rimland, controls Heartland; who controls Heartland, rules the World.” (Spykman)

If Eastern Europe was the most important space to contend Heartland and Russia, according to Anglo-Saxon global politics, then Rimland is in a much broader sense, but with the same logic of the opposition between Sea Power and Land Power.

Now there is a formula for the 21st century, when China is the greatest power of Rimland:

“Who controls China, controls Rimland; who controls Rimland, controls Heartland; and who controls Heartland, rules the World.”

We have this new definition and formula because now that China is not an object, as Rimland was 60 or 70 years ago, and China is a giant, a rising power, it is no longer going to be controlled by external powers. It is quite out of the question and impossible in the present situation that Russia could pretend to control China, and there is no desire, will, resources, possibility, capacity, or ability to do so. The West, Sea Power, is also more and more understanding that it cannot control China.

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Thus, maybe as Graham Allisson says, there is a growing danger of confrontation precisely because the most important part of Rimland today is not controlled by the West. That is a serious challenge to Sea Power. That is Allissons’s interpretation of Thucydides Trap.[2]

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There is only one thing that could change. If China will recognize herself as Heartland, it will rule herself and maybe Rimland, and maybe thereby including the Russian Heartland, the world. But now we cannot imagine that as a result of occupation, expansion, imperialism, and so on. It is only free will, based on China’s free decision. It is very interesting how the balance of geopolitics during the century has changed. I think that the rise of China changes everything.

China has a Land Power dimension (the North, West, rural area, Traditional Empire, and the Chinese Communist Party). China has a Sea Power dimension as well (the East, Coast, capitalism, trade, modernization, globalization, G-2 project). Going in the Sea Power direction, China could be part of the globalist construction. But there is also the core China, the Central China [the Middle Country, Middle Kingdom, Central] dimension of China that is precisely what unites the two sides of China – the Land Power and Sea Power. This is the key to the geopolitical future.

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Western hegemony is represented in strategy, civilizational values, technology, liberal democracy, and universal type of social organization, such as cosmopolitanism and individualism and so on. Unipolarity is something that happened after the fall of the Soviet Union. In that moment, Fukuyama wrote his famous text on the End of History because, according to him, there was only one pole, one system, one hegemony, and no one at the time could imagine a challenge to it. That was the unipolar moment based on the clear domination of the West. That was not globalization as a sum of different cultures and peoples coming and living together and sharing values. The Western values – liberal democracy, global capitalism, individualism, cosmopolitanism, and the Western modern and post-modern liberal understanding of man – were taken as universal and imposed on everybody. The last formal power that fought against that, the Soviet union, had fallen. That was the logic of unipolarity.

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The unipolar world leaves China as a civilization no place. The unipolar world gives a place to Chinese as individuals, but only as how they understand Chinese should be: they should be individuals striving for comfort, a career, good living, materialist standards, and being part of the global world with the same iPhone, jackets, interests, movies, entertainment, food. Chinese as individuals will be accepted as any other, but Chinese identity will be rejected. The password for the unipolar world is “I am an individual, let me in.” You cannot join the unipolar world as Chinese individuals with all the baggage of your Dasein (此在), your existential ground, your Logos, your Communist Party, and Confucius.

This is the special exclusiveness of liberalism. The main book of modern Liberalism and Neo-Liberalism, is Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies. There is class war in Marxism. There is race war in National Socialism. And there is the war between the Open Society and its Enemies in Liberalism. This is absolutely racist. If you are considered to be one of these enemies, you are out, you are excluded, you are called a fascist, communist, Stalinist, Maoist, and so on, the Gulag and Auschwitz and so on, you are just barbarians. You can enter only accepting what they think you should be, not what you are or want to be. They will try to control your desires, your will, your interests, your sympathies, choices, and demands. You should follow their rules, protocols, system, and only after that will you be a “friend of the Open Society.” The Open Society is an exclusive concept.

What is the difference? Fascists regard other fascists positively. Communists can consider other communists friends. If liberals consider all other liberals friends, then this is the same. But fascists started to destroy the other races, considered to be un-human. The communists, in our experience, almost destroyed millions of our population, considering them to be bourgeois or not revolutionary. Liberals destroy the enemies of the liberal Open Society by bombing Libya, destroying Iraq, and so on. Everyone who is against the Open Society should be eliminated, destroyed, killed. That is nothing new, maybe something simply more or less human, but we should clearly understand what unipolarity and Western hegemony mean. They might be friendly, but they are hiding a knife. We should be aware of this in the very least.

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Here we can see a soft version of unipolarity. The West proposes to the other powers, Europe and China, to be friends, as in the G2 or NATO concept. But what goes on in other parts of the world? Bloody chaos, civil wars, radical political and religious extremist forces, killings – as has already happened in North Africa. The same fate is destined for Russia in the writings of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who said that Russia should be Balkanized. When Bush was in Moscow once in the early 2000’s, he said to Putin: “Please wait, you will have the same democracy as in Iraq.” That was precisely when the US was in the process of killing hundreds of thousands of people there. Putin was very shocked because he somehow imagined Russia’s future differently. But that is the idea of what will go on outside of these zones – a kind of manipulated chaos.

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There are three ways for China to deal with hegemony.

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1. It could accept Western hegemony, which is not so strange, I think. Since Deng Xiaoping’s concept of transformation, there is some kind of threat of Chinese society going to deep into the consumer society, the Western way of life, and capitalism and globalization, towards finally accepting Western hegemony. If we do not care about Chinese identity, maybe accepting Western hegemony is the solution, or at least an option. If every Chinese accepts this global society, with some skills and talents allowed for the Chinese people, maybe there will be some solution, but there will be no Chinese identity. Some people care about Chinese identity and sovereignty; others don’t. I do not think that there are too many of them, but theoretically this could be so, because hegemony is not only the strategic domination of the West, it is also values and standards. So a liberal, pro-Western, pro-Popper, pro-Soros trend could be identified in Chinese society. I presume that there could be some educational structures, professors, and trends in cultures – maybe not dominating, because you have the Communist Party, the main guard of Chinese identity and the present Logos, and tradition. Nevertheless you have taken in a little poison, and poison can be active in some cases.

2. You can affirm and develop Chinese regional hegemony. That is the realist, nationalist trend. You could call this the badao, with wangdao adding an ethical dimension. That will be your Chinese way. But I think that this is the best way for China to consider hegemony. You could say that your hegemony is more or less in some area, maybe in some ways outside of Chinese borders and including other spaces, but you could also make differences – in one situation, political, in another economic, in a third hegemony could be cultural. Hegemony is not bad in itself. But the most important thing is to have a just model for hegemony. For that balance and harmony, Chinese culture has many experiences. Balance is a part of Chinese identity. Chinese hegemony could be based on your own character and identity, not on some universal rules of hegemony.

3. Lastly, you could try to put Chinese hegemony on a world scale, to propose a Chinese globalism. I have heard a kind of fear or idea among serious people in the US, the West, and Russia of the myth of Chinese globalization. Maybe you have no idea or project to impose hegemony on a world scale, but others think that you have such plans. You need to accept them, because if someone thinks that there is something, that means that on the social level there is something, maybe only in their minds, but that is how the world is shaped – by projections of our thoughts. You should not say that you have no such [hegemonic] idea. There are many people in different cultures who are absolutely sure that you have such ideas. You need to take that into consideration. If you know that there are such people, you will speak to them more carefully. You should somehow promote your version taking into consideration how they regard China.

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The theory of the multipolar world, mostly developed by us in Russia, by the Eurasianist school and Russian school of geopolitics, means acceptance of differences between civilizations. Civilization is the main actor in IR, not the state. The difference here is of huge importance. For example, if we develop Huntington’s idea and recognize that it is civilizations and big spaces that are the main actors, then we have a totally different vision of IR system which is not yet present in the manuals of IR. This is not only because it is at the first stage of development, but because it contradicts any kind of globalist, Western understanding.

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What is civilization? Civilization is a relative absolute, or an aspect of the absolute. I would like to stress this. What does it meant to be an aspect of the absolute? It means to be absolutely absolute – but not alone. If you are fully, totally Chinese, you could understand something or someone who is not Chinese only if you have fulfilled this absolute dimension of identity. Then, from the center, not the outside, you can understand the Other. The only way to arrive at a real “globalization”, a real understanding of each other, is to start with ourselves. We cannot understand the Other if we do not understand ourselves. If we are not ourselves, we cannot deal properly with the Other. Then we would be only half Chinese, half Russian, half English, or half German. The real German should be based on the German Dasein (“Being-Here”), German Logos, German Tradition, German Identity. Only in the depth, core of this identity, can they understand others.

All problems are not in this deep realization of identity, but come when we start to pretend that we have already realized this identity, when we are only halfway along the path. People who enter a new religion are more radical and fanatic than people living in that religion for all their life. This is a kind of “too early” reaction. Nationalism, racism, xenophobia, the hatred of the Other, are possible only on the middle-path towards oneself. When we are arriving at ourself,  we cannot be xenophobic, nationalist or racist. When we have fully realized our identity, our self, we are much more open to the other, because we consider, for example, that it is not only Russia that is absolute, but that by being more and more Russian, by discovering more and more the profound Russian identity, we are arriving towards the Absolute. Here, at that central point, we can meet the real, perfect, absolute Chinese. The Absolute Chinese meets Absolute Russian in the center of their civilization. We could compare Laozi or Confucius with Dostoyevsky or the Russian Orthodox Christian tradition. By realizing relative aspects of the absolute, we are coming to the meeting-point of civilizations – not outside, not being totally destroyed as a cultural unity and fragmented into individuals. Individuals cannot understand other individuals, because the pure individual is the most “primitive” form of being, totally limited to simplistic desires. The individual is like a robot, as a robot is a man without tradition or identity, a simulacrum of man.

Civilizations should be understood in the plural. There are Chinese, Russian, European, Islamic, African, Latin American, Western civilizations that can interact, peacefully coexist, try to exchange their identities. For example, to become Russian, you can come to Russia, learn our language, accept our values, if you want or you do not have to. This concept of civilization is therefore inclusive. But we cannot propose a single unique civilization for all of humanity. Maybe it will be the result of the Absolute, when everyone will go to the center of themselves, and we will arrive at the meeting-point of unique civilizations, but in order to do so we must make the long path within ourselves. That is the main meaning of the multipolar world.

A pole is a Big Space + civilization, an idea + power, autarchy + sovereignty, hegemony + culture, force + authority.  These are the formal concepts for understanding what a pole in the multipolar world theory is.

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So, what could be the Chinese version of the multipolar world? This means the application of the same principles to China’s case. China is Identity + Sovereignty. If you stress sovereignty too much, you can lose identity, and if you stress only cultural identity, you could lose the practical capacity to defend your sovereignty. China should unite identity and sovereignty, and that is precisely what modern China is doing and what Xi Jinping wants to do. That is Greater China, the Chinese Dream.

China is a civilization, which must be affirmed. There is the danger that if you forget this, you will be treated as population, masses, and individuals. But you should educationally promote your civilization as such. You should call it a civilization.

China is a regional hegemony in South Asia and the Far East – and beyond, as long as your power, will, and capacity let you expand your hegemony. But such should be linked to your understanding of what is justice, what is balance. If you expand too much, you can overstretch your hegemony. Hegemony should be put in just limits. That was precisely our case. From time to time, Russia overstretched our empire and we couldn’t manage. We should expand only within the limit in which we can assimilate, rule, manage, as well as develop our relations with the people who join us – we should always give them something, not humiliate them. I think that is important in dealing with Xinjiang and Tibet now. You should have them under your control, but you should understand them as the Other and include them somehow. That demands always updating and adjusting.

China is much more than a state, and that is where Zhao Tingyang’s concept is of radical importance: affirming China as Tianxia. The growth of this Tianxia should be in harmony. You could say: let’s not start with the global, but start with our region, let’s install practically now the Belt and Road project, let’s install it here, demonstrate how it works, and if humanity will be seduced by this Tianxia moment, maybe others will accept it. The importance is to start with China within your possible capacities to introduce this inclusive concept based on relations, justice, ethics, and hegemony. China should be recognized as a pole in all senses. There you have already the basic aspects of a Chinese version of multipolar world theory.

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Here on this map we see the basic civilizations which could sooner or later be the poles of the multipolar world. Some of them are already present, such as the West, or European civilization if it will be affirmed as independent outside of globalist American hegemony, and there are the Eurasian, Chinese, and Islamic worlds – the latter of which is trying to affirm its identity, up to now not so successfully – and Africa. It is interesting that in South America multipolar thinking is very developed There are many theorists there, many partisans of multipolar world theory and South or Latin American identity.

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Chinese International Relations theory can be based on multipolarity. In that sense, all the other  factors that I have already mentioned can play an important role. Tianxia theory applied on an original scale could create this constant pole. The theory of moral realism of Yan Xuetong could be as well applied not only to China as a country, but Chinese civilization, and here his idea of ethics plus power acquires its implicit meaning. There are also analogues of the British school, with the relativization of Western rules for the club in which China is supposed to impose rules in the club that China would like to be a member of. In the present situation, the G7 is a Western club which imposes rules that are alien to Chinese culture. Here Zhang Weiwei and Qin Yaqing’s concepts can be very useful.

Here we can see a kind of beginning of the multipolar world in the form of 4+.

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If China is on the side of Land Power, then the world order is already multipolar. We are not so far from multipolarity. If China chooses multipolarity, this is not necessarily an alliance with Russia. China could be Heartland herself, as Europe could be a continental Heartland as in classical geopolitics, and there is of course the Russian Heartland. These three heartlands could cooperate and create multipolarity very soon. This is an invitation to other civilizations as well.

And so, to end, the geopolitical axiom of the 21st century is: Who controls China, controls Rimland; who controls Rimland, controls Heartland; who controls Heartland, rules the World.

We, Russia, cannot change our position in geopolitical space. We can exist as Eurasia, as Heartland, or we could not exist. We have no choice. It is difficult for Europe to make a choice in the present situation with the present elites. The only great power that in the present situation can make a choice, and has enough power to do so, is China. China has the choice as Rimland. Heartland cannot. America cannot, although it is trying to get out of this globalization and Sea Power with Trump – not Trump himself, but his words and the votes for him – the American people tried to get out of this globalist concept, to reaffirm themselves as an American pole, not global. That is a very good sign. But now it is really only China that can make the choice.

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There are three solutions or choices for China.

China can be controlled by the US/NATO. That means that the West will rule Rimland, Heartland, and the World. If the globalists manage to promote their control over China through globalization, through influence on the young generation, technology, global capitalism, and liberal theories, they could rule the world.

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In the old version of geopolitics, China could be controlled by Russia (Heartland). This is absolutely impossible today. It was not so impossible in Tsarist times, or including in Soviet times, when Stalin tried to help Mao and Russia influenced China. But today there is no way, will, desire, possibility, or resources to do so. We cannot control China. China is so huge and developed that this is out of the question. Our weakness is therefore a very good thing for multipolarity. If you logically, rationally no longer fear Russia, you are free to accept us not as a threat, but as an ally, not as asymmetrical as before. The Turks have understood this. The Turks from time to time still commit some errors, but as they they have come to understand that Russia is no longer a threat, they have become “pro-Russian” oriented on many things. It would be great if China would learn this lesson.

Finally, China could be controlled by China herself. In that sense, China should emphasize its Heartland identity, its traditional identity represented today by the Communist Party’s order in Chinese society.

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If the choice will be made in favor of China, that will mean multipolarity. On the one hand, there is the West that proposes its own system of values, identity, and civilization, while on the other hand there is the Russian Heartland, which does not propose anything a-symmetric. Russia does not propose anything, except that China Become China Again and to Make China Great Again.

Footnotes:

[1] Daniel A.  Bell, The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy, Princeton University Press, 2015.

[2] Graham Allison,  “The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?”, The Atlantic (24/9/2015). 

Dugin in Shanghai: Multipolarity, Unipolarity, and Hegemony

“Multipolarity, Unipolarity, and Hegemony: Theories and Concepts”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Transcript prepared by Jafe Arnold

Lecture #3 delivered at the China Institute of Fudan University, Shanghai, China, December 2018 [VIDEO]

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Today’s lecture is very charged with meaning. The content of this lecture is very dense. I am going to present a new approach to International Relations. I made the first lecture here on classical and post-positive theories of International Relations, and in the second lecture I presented the basic principles of Geopolitics. Now I will evoke and use these concepts of International Relations as well as Geopolitics in order to explain what unipolarity, multipolarity, and hegemony are.

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Let us establish some relations. In order to understand what multipolarity and the Theory of the Multipolar World are, we need to understand what unipolarity is. Unipolarity is precisely what we have in concrete politics after the fall of the Soviet Union. That was declared the “unipolar moment.” 

Multipolarity is the concept or theory that challenges this unipolarity. There is a kind of opposition or confrontation between the unipolar and multipolar world visions. Unipolarity is based on some theoretical principles – geopolitical, ideological, and economic – and the same will be the case for multipolarity.

But unipolarity exists, whereas multipolarity does not exist yet – it is in transition, but not yet achieved. We are speaking about something that is in reality, but that is ending, and something that is new, that hasn’t yet come or been totally realized. We are in a transition from unipolarity towards multipolarity. We know what unipolarity is, but we do not know what multipolarity will be. This is an open, very passionate question. It is a little bit of a futurological perspective.

There are many theories from International Relations. One of the most famous theories is that of the bipolar world system proposed by Kenneth Waltz, with the division into capitalist and socialist camp, or West and East, which, according to Waltz, represented a kind of balance. In this system, one pole limits the other, they can cooperate, and their dialogue, confrontation, and opposition creates this system. The Third World was possible because of bipolarity and a kind of space between the two. Thanks to the bipolar system, everybody else could exist “on the margins” of this general world system.

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But when the Soviet Union collapsed, the new idea of unipolarity was promoted by some realists in International Relations, first of all Robert Gilpin. Instead of a bipolar system of plus and minus, of two poles interacting in opposition, for example in which the Americans and the West are the plus, and ourselves, the “Eastern”, being the minus, Gilpin proposed a different concept or system for International Relations in which there is one pole, the absolute center of everything, i.e., there is no more minus, only the center on the rise. Robert Gilpin won his theoretical debates with Kenneth Waltz, because Waltz supposed that bipolarity would last forever in some way, because it was a more conservative, stable world system. Gilpin proposed the possibility of a unipolar situation.

Unipolarity gained ground in theoretical debates in International Relations after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That moment was precisely declared the “unipolar moment” by Charles Krauthammer. The “unipolar moment” meant the creation of the concept of a unipolar system with one pole and a periphery in concrete reality. But Krauthammer was not sure if this would last forever, or if it would end in time. He was not sure if it was a world order or some temporary situation. So he called the “unipolar moment” by this very correct term. After the end of the Soviet Union, there was precisely a confirmation of the unipolar system, for example on other levels, such as declared by Francis Fukuyama as the “End of History.” There were no confronting poles or systems, there was only one system: liberal capitalist democracy with the market society, with the West recognized by everyone as the “global leader.” Thus, there was the West and the Rest. The Rest should follow the West – that was the essence of unipolarity. There is only pole, one system, a global system – that is globalization. So unipolarity was the understanding, in realist terms, of the same concept as globalization, the End of History, or the unipolar moment.

It is interesting that in the very beginning of the 2000’s, this same Krauthammer declared that maybe the unipolar moment has ended. This was after the 9/11 attack by Islamic terrorists on the New York Trade Center, and after Putin’s coming to power. Then it seemed that the unipolar moment was no longer a unipolar world order, that something went “wrong” with unipolarity. “Normally” there should not have been such a thing as the terrorist attack of 9/11, because there was no state that could attack the United States, no civilization, no political system, no nuclear weapons – nothing structural or symmetric with American power and American domination. Russia at that moment was in a very low situation with Yeltsin, and was on the verge of collapse after the Soviet Union. But Putin began to reaffirm Russia as a sovereign country. This was a kind of challenge to the unipolar system. For example, in 2007 Putin made his Munich speech which challenged precisely unipolarity and Western hegemony. In 2008, despite American support for Georgia, Russia intervened in Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2014, we reunified with Crimea, and then we intervened in Syria. In parallel, there has been a huge rise in China’s model – as Zhang Weiwei says – China’s model was a kind of new hegemony appearing on the horizon.

This means that there was something moving against unipolarity. Yet unipolarity still prevails in the global analysis. Unipolarity is ending, but the unipolar moment is lasting, it is still here. It is absolutely clear to everybody that something is wrong with unipolarity, that unipolarity is unstable and in decline, but it is still here, and no other political or international system has arisen. We are living in the end of unipolarity.

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 1.39.17 pmUnipolarity includes different aspects. For example, we could divide unipolarity into groups of concepts – open or “explicit”, and hidden, “secret”, or “implicit” unipolarity.

Open (explicit) unipolarity is Neoconservatism in the United States and the Project for a New American Century promoted by the Neocons. They declare that the Liberal word should rule the world, and that Liberal countries should prevail and openly dominate everybody else. America should rule the world, and give the example and install the norms for other countries and cultures. Niall Campbell Ferguson, an English scholar of IR, has declared that we need to use the word “empire” to qualify what unipolarity is: it is a modern or post-modern Western empire that should dominate the whole planet. Ferguson says that we should not hesitate to use the word “empire”, which has been demonized and criticized, but we are now living in an empire. The metropolis, the center of this empire, is the Western world, the Rich North, and there are other “provinces” of this “empire” that should be ruled from the center. So let us speak about the Western, post-modern, global, liberal, capitalist, neo-colonial empire in all of these senses. This is open, explicit unipolarity as it is presented in IR debates.

The Pentagon’s vision of unipolarity is clear if we take a look at the strategic map of the planet. We will see American military bases all around, except in China and Russia. That is a concrete manifestation of unipolarity. The United States has tried to control the Pacific, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Arab world, and with NATO. The Pentagon vision is still absolutely unipolar. American national interests and American security are considered by the Pentagon to be a universal value. In their vision, it is your duty, for all of you and us, to defend American interests. Everyone who challenges American domination is a “terrorist” and is treated theoretically or practically as very dangerous. Any man, movement, or country who does not agree with this Pentagon vision is an enemy. That is open unipolarity. Regarding Europe, this idea is translated into Atlanticism and represented by NATO. NATO is the European world under the military control of the United States. That is one of the expressions of unipolarity. NATO is a unipolar organization which tries to control the world for the benefit of only one pole. That is explicit, manifested unipolarity.

There is another, “hidden”, “secret” or “implicit” unipolarity, that is globalism, multilateralism, and the so-called “No Polarity” promoted by the chief of the Council on Foreign Relations. We roughly call this “globalization.” Globalization means that all systems, societies, peoples and countries in the world will accept the Western way of progress, development, human rights, democracy, and liberalism. And when this happens, there will be no great differences between the United States, Russia, China, or Africa. Everyone will be “equal.” But in what sense? Everybody will become Americans, Western, and everybody must like liberal democracy and human rights. This is a special kind of globalism. It is not a dialogue between countries, cultures, and civilizations. For example, Russia has proposed Russian values, and China has proposed a Chinese identity. But there should not be any collective identity in this concept of globalization. Everybody should be equal precisely because everyone should only be statistical individuals – no cultures, no religions, no ethnic roots. That is the idea of “human rights”, to put together citizen and man. Every man is already a citizen. There are no countries, no nations, only the “global society” and “global civil society.” This is not openly unipolar, because globalists do not say that America will rule the world, but that “you, citizens of the world, will rule the world in a global government” in which everyone will “participate.” Everyone will be equal “if you accept our system of liberalism, democracy, progressivism, human rights, individualism, and our culture” – you will no longer be treated in a hierarchical manner. The “world citizen” or “cosmopolitan” is a program that is unipolar on the level of values. That is pure unipolarity in a special, hidden sense.

Multilateralism is the geopolitical application of globalism. Multilateralism is a form of unipolarity, but it consists of the proposition that the United States should rule the world “with.” This is a kind of sharing of responsibility for ruling the world through proxies of the United States. Multilateralism is precisely giving to others the responsibility to rule the world with the United States as proxies, as vassals of the US. There are different countries that want to do this because they will have some special preferences within the global world-system.

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 1.39.24 PM.pngStrategic unipolarity includes Atlanticism, Sea Power in geopolitical terms, and full spectrum dominance doctrine, which affirms that in order to dominate the world totally, the West should not only use hard power or military power, but also soft power, culture, technology, network services, networks, and social services, that should control other societies from the inside, not only from the outside. That is the idea of full spectrum dominance – domination of the air, the cosmos, space, sea, land, and inside human brains. That is a project of controlling human behavior, psychology, being, and human minds, by coding them through different methodologies.

Here is the geopolitical vision of unipolarity with the United States in the center.

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This is also the classical geopolitical map of how Sea Power should control Land Power. From the seas and oceans, Sea Power – the United States and the global West – should control Land Power. The idea is to fight for Rimland, which is the zone between Land Power and Sea Power, the coastal zone. This is the classical vision which is still the main basic map of the Pentagon. The Pentagon understands the world more or less with this map. China belongs to the coastal area, to Rimland, so it is considered to be neither a radical enemy, nor a friend, but a zone to control.

Here is implicit unipolarity,  multilateralism, quite different from unipolarity.

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In multilateralism, there is the main power, the global hegemon, and two main satellites – Europe and China. Europe is inscribed and embedded in the latent structure, and for China the globalists have proposed the G2 project. Hillary Clinton came to Beijing in order to propose this to the Chinese government. That is more or less the idea of how the world will be if unipolarity and multilateralism prevail. In the other spaces, there should be only chaos – not pro-American governments, because they don’t need pro-American governments, which are too difficult to manage, and they have indeed already destroyed pro-American governments in Tunisia and Egypt. They don’t care anymore if you are pro-American or anti-American, because you should all only follow the Americans, or you will die in bloody chaos. And they have started this bloody chaos in North Africa, promoting cultural revolutions, supporting all kinds of terrorist groups in order to have reasons to intervene. By creating chaos in this region, unipolarity conserves its power. Russia has the same destiny. If we read carefully Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard, he has written that Russia should be torn apart and Balkanized, transformed in conflict between different ethnic and religious groups.

There are two parties in the United States and global government – the explicit unipolar and implicit unipolar. There is the “soft” version, and the previous map is the “hard” version. These are the pigeons and the hawks.

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Ideological unipolarity entails the universalism of Western values and Human Rights ideology with the concept of human vs. citizen. The concept of human in Human Rights theory is against the nation-state and against the concept of citizen. If you say that the human being has the same rights as the citizen, you destroy citizenship. Migration and the defense of migrants are not purely humanitarian, but ideological. It is the idea to destroy the concept of citizenship, nationality, and the state. That is one of the main goals of the so-called human rights movement. It is purely ideological – as much ideological as Marxism or National Socialism. It is pure propaganda, nothing humanitarian. If you share human rights values, you are globalists on one side, sharing an ideology just like racism in National Socialism or communism and the proletarian position in classical Marxism. Human rights is a liberal ideology. It is not neutral. It is not self-evident. It is purely ideology, just as belongingness to the Aryan race or the capitalist or proletarian classes is. If you are in favor of human rights, you are already totally controlled by ideology.

The deconstruction of the nation-state is the main goal of Liberalism in IR. Globalization is the technological and economic process, and globalism is the ideology of the unification of humanity under a world government. They are different, but are not in contradiction. By promoting the same technology and economy, at the same time you are preparing the ground for political integration – from globalization to globalism there is one step. They are two levels of the same process. You could promote the theory that we need global government in order to avoid war and the destruction of the humanity, or you can put it into practice without expecting that everyone will accept it. So globalism and globalization are two different things, but are converging forces.

Liberalism in International Relations is the theoretical basis for this ideological unipolarity, as it is itself an ideology. The idea of world government is not an obsession of conspiracy theorists. It is part of the classical manuals of International Relations. If you carefully read any and all of the manuals on IR, you will discover that Liberalism in International Relations affirms that there should be a world government, a supranational system that will replace states in the future and progress in order to secure world peace. This is not a conspiracy theory – it is purely a theoretical term from IR as an established discipline.

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Hegemony has different meanings. First of all, there is the strategic dimension. This Greek word means “leadership” – a hegemon is a leading force or leading power. Hegemony could be understood and read as unipolarity as in Gilpin’s system. If we use the term hegemony in its singular form, with one hegemon or one empire, then we are speaking about unipolarity. In the singular, hegemony represents the concept of a dominating pole – that is the Western pole.

Relative hegemony is an interesting concept of Mearschmeier, an American specialist in International Relations, who tries to impart a kind of relative approach to hegemony. According to Mearschmeier, there is no clear or abstract law as to whether we should have one or many hegemonies. It is an open question: let us consider hegemony as an existing phenomenon without predicting that there will be only one, two, three, or four.

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In the case of the globalist vision, hegemony acquires a purely ideological dimension. It is not leadership in the military and strategic domination, but it is ideological and cultural, a domination of values and cultural patterns. Therefore, you are under hegemony, because you follow rules that are not established by you. These rules are so-called “universal” because the West was capable of imposing these on everyone else.

The Neoconservative version is the same as unipolarity – the strategic, open, explicit hegemony of the American Empire. Or there is Trump’s vision for the New Liberal Order which is a little less defined, and not so much scientific. But Trump says “Let’s Make America Great Again.” What he means – nobody knows. He is against the globalist version, which he criticizes. His is not so much Neo-conservative, because he was criticized during his election campaign by Neocons very severely. This is a rather “rare” hegemony, which might not be hegemony at all. Trump uses some concepts with no clear meaning. This is important, because it could serve as a kind of transition from hegemonic order to post-hegemonic order.

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The main question of hegemony is whether there is one hegemony or hegemonies. The same question is whether there is one civilization or civilizations in the plural. This letter “s” at the end of the word changes everything – whether you are an enemy or friend, black or white, old or young. If there is only Civilization, there can be but one ideology, but if there are civilizations, there are completely different, even opposite ideologies and world visions. Whether we recognize the multitude of civilizations and hegemonies, or if you consider only one hegemony or empire, one letter divides two world visions.

In the Western mind, there is an implicit hierarchy dealing with different kinds of societies – either in the historical way, or in International Relations. There is a hierarchy in International Relations in a cultural sense as well. All types of societies are clearly divided (by the West) into three categories: Civilization, which is the West, Barbarity, which is the East, and Savagery, which is the South. Civilization is “good” and “perfect order”; Barbarity is not so good and only semi- or quasi-ordered; while Savagery is not order at all. Before the end of the Second World War, before racist National Socialism, the West used the metaphors of skin [color] in order to explain this hierarchy. Civilization was “white”, Barbarity was “yellow”, and Savagery was “black.” That was a normative racist attitude. But after the end of the Third Reich, it was impossible to use this racist approach anymore, and everybody became “internationalists.” This racist mark was abolished and “forgotten.” But the sense of the hierarchy is the same, only in other terms. For example, there is the technologically developed West with Human Rights, liberalism, individualism, and social security. This is a kind of law that cannot be challenged. There is the most developed society that is Western civilized society, there is the second world of the BRICS countries trying to keep up with the West to have the same standards but still in “delay”, and there is the Third World that cannot enter Civilization. Even without biological racism, we have the same concept of racism in this distinction, because there is only one Civilization, only one example, only one norm – the West. Corruption, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism are reserved for the Rest under the West or the “second-hand West”, such as Russia and China. In Wallerstein’s doctrine, there is the core, the Rich North, the semi-periphery, and the periphery. We deal with this hierarchy everywhere – today without “Racism” proper, but racism is embedded in this attitude.

If we consider this concept carefully, we can deconstruct all the discourses in International Relations on the West. John Hobson’s book on the Eurocentric conception of International Relations explains that perfectly.

The very idea of hegemonies and civilizations is based on the fact that there are many civilizations, not only the Western one. Other civilizations are neither barbarous nor savage, but merely of different types. If we are dealing not with barbarity or ‘under-civilization”, the West loses its universal, normative meaning. It is one among different possible civilizations. This hierarchy is destroyed, deconstructed, because there is no common universal measure of more or less “developed.” If you consider living in the forest with animals and without technological devices your choice or destiny, you have all the rights to do so and we will not teach you how to behave – that is a very humanistic attitude.

If we accept the fact of civilizations, then all of this system, the Western colonial system of hegemony and unipolarity, explodes immediately, because it loses ground in International Relations – there is the total decolonization of the world. There could not be any hierarchy between civilizations – all civilizations are equal, not in the sense of similar, but in that their differences cannot be put into an hierarchical taxonomy. We need to accept them as existing not only in different spaces, but different times, ontologies, and anthropologies. We cannot judge one civilization by criteria taken from another.

For example, in your case, the Chinese could think that some rites or rights in Christianity, liberal society, or in African tribes are disgusting or unacceptable. You will treat them from the Chinese point of view. The same for them: they could find something completely unacceptable in your civilization or ours. But nobody can say “you are wrong, we are right.” There are no unique, universal criteria. We need to accept this diversity in a positive way. Let it be like it is. That means a total, absolute epistemological revolution against Western universalism. And that demands de-colonization.

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Antonio Gramsci used the term hegemony in an ideological sense. How could a Marxist, supposed to be a materialist and explain everything in terms of economic relations, arrive at an ideological understanding of hegemony and capitalism as hegemony? Gramsci proposed a very interesting vision which is very important for the Chinese. Economics is at the base, while politics is on the top as, according to Marx, economics is essential for politics, which are only the expression of economics. But when Gramsci analyzed the Soviet experience and Leninism, he arrived at the conclusion that in the Russian Empire there was no proletarian class. Our country, Russia, in the beginning of the 20th century, was not industrialized and there was no proletarian class. So a revolution from a Marxist point of view was impossible. Marx and Engels affirmed exactly the same thing for Russia and the East – before their full capitalization, including through their colonial experience, towards which Marx was very positive and even in favor of, because it brought capitalism into pre-capitalist societies and prepared the future proletarian revolution. But what was Leninism? How was a proletarian revolution possible without a proletarian class?

Gramsci explained by his theory that sometimes the will of a political group can go ahead of economic processes. In some situations, political will can replace the economic basis and transform the economy in order to satisfy all the conditions of Marxism – to create artificially a proletarian class out of peasants. The other way was Mao’s theory, who recognized – against Marx – the peasantry as a revolutionary class, which was much more honest and sincere in Mao’s case, less so in the case of Lenin, but Gramsci grasped this well. Gramsci developed this idea to affirm that sometimes culture is more important than politics. You can be active in culture without being linked to a political, proletarian communist party and without any relation to politics or economics. You can create a kind of historical pact. Intellectuals can make a pact with capital and serve capital without being part of the bourgeois class. You can serve capital in your mind. Or, even being rich, prosperous, and a part of this bourgeois system, you can choose the working class and fight against capitalism. Thus, culture has the same autonomy from politics as politics has from economics. That is maybe the case of China: you are using capitalism, but in order to promote your society and your ideals.

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Hegemony in Gramsci means that the West and global capitalism try to use not only economics and markets, and not only the political expression of such, democracy and parliamentarism, but also culture. Precisely those intellectuals who make the historical pact with capital are the worst.

Hegemony is first and foremost a cultural phenomenon. This means that it is not a political ideology, but a kind of metaphysical decision. You can be in favor of capital as a system, as a metaphysical principle of the total liberation of the individual from any kind of collective identity, or you can choose fidelity to the working class, country, society, identity. It is up to you. Nothing can oblige a human being to serve political or economic interests. The intellectual, who represents all of society, since everybody according to Gramsci is a little bit of an intellectual, represents the integrity of human society as professional thinkers. But an intellectual cannot think outside of the main metaphysical choice between capital and the working class.

So, hegemony is first and foremost a metaphysical principle. You could be on the side of hegemony while living in a socialist society, or being poor, or being a member of a Communist Party. To choose hegemony is an inner orientation. Hegemony penetrates society not only with political and economic structures, but in the mind and heart. It is a metaphysical virus. Hegemony is metaphysical liberalism, under which you work only in its favor.

Now we finally arrive at multipolarity.

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In order to clarify what multipolarity is, we need to establish some oppositions. Multipolarity is against unipolarity. Multipolarity is against globalism. Multipolarity is against multilateralism. Multipolarity is against hegemony in the singular. Multipolarity is against hegemony on three levels – first of all strategic, i.e., against the American military domination of the world with American military bases everywhere in the world except for American soil. America for Americans – maybe that’s what Trump meant. “Yankee go Home.” Multipolarity is against ideological hegemony as globalization, liberalism, and human rights. Multipolarity is against hegemony in Gramsci’s concept as a metaphysical, historical pact made by organic intellectuals. The last definition is that multipolarity is pluriversal – this is a concept introduced by Carl Schmitt. In universalism, there is one unique concept of norms and values. “Pluriversal” means free movement in different directions without one measure for all kinds of societies.

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Multipolarity in geopolitics also deals with Carl Schmitt’s concepts of Big Spaces or Grossraum, and it is here that we come to the concept of “pole” in multipolarity.  How do we define a pole? A pole is a Big Space and a civilization. A pole is not only strategic or political; it is linked to a civilization as a culture or special type of society with special values. At the same time, it is not only a culture, but also a strategic space. Thus, in the concept of pole, we have both meanings: power and idea. The ideological and cultural levels and military force are inscribed into the pole in space, in political geography, and in cultural geography at the same time.

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Here we can see a very approximate map of different big spaces that should or could be poles of the multipolar world order. Some of them are already poles – such as the United States of America. The European big space could exist, and has many possibilities to become an independent pole; China is certainly the main precedent for an independent pole; and Putin’s Russia is trying to be a pole by acting independently from others. That is clear enough in the fact that Russian sovereignty has been regained in Putin’s time. And there is, for example, the Indian big space: economically and demographically India has the possibility to become such a pole. Latin America thinks in the same terms. The Islamic world tries, at least on the theoretical level, to become a pole as well. Africa is less developed and the Pacific big space are less developed. This does not mean “developed” in the sense of culture of civilization – they have their own great civilizations – but as a pole, on the level of power, they might only become poles in the future multipolar system. That is the map of the multipolar world order. I have already shown the maps of the globalists, the Pentagon, and CFR. This is the Russian map of multipolarity.

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But what is important on the practical level is what we have now, or what we will have tomorrow, and that is a kind of aspiration towards multipolarity. We can see three poles accepted more or less in the multilateralist, globalist version – the American zone, the European zone, and the Chinese zone. But as we have seen, the multilateralist approach is hidden unipolarity and thinks that there should be chaos everywhere outside of these three.

The majority of Western experts and analysts are totally biased, because the science of International Relations itself is totally biased and Eurocentric. Before being accepted into academic society, you have conclude your pact with capital. They try to use the Gramscian concept as well – they do not let persons who do not share their Western-centric vision. One Canadian-Jewish man, Michael Millerman, wrote a philosophical thesis on my ideas, and he was threatened with being thrown out of the academic field and Western universities because he treated my ideas in a neutral way, and not blatantly. His was a more or less balanced or neutral philosophical analysis, but he was threatened by the academic society with being thrown out, because if you are on the Western side, you should only criticize and demonize the opponent – that is the normal rule.

In mainstream political analysis, there is no recognition of the fourth pole of Eurasia – it is absent in all descriptions of future reality. There are different versions on the fate of Europe, how China will be, whether it will become the main enemy of the United States, and there are many details that differ and different viewpoints that are accepted. But when they approach Eurasia and Russia, there is a univocal decision of all scholars that there will be “no Russia” and ‘no fourth pole.” Because if there is this fourth pole today, then every situation in the world order changes – it is not bipolar world order at all, because Russia is big even after losing half of its territory and population after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With us as a pole, the meaning of China, the meaning of Europe, and the possibility for all other countries and civilizations to affirm themselves as independent poles, is gained. That is a crucial point. Russia, once more in history, is in the right place at the right time. That is the key problem for multipolarity.

If we accept that there will be no more Russia, only a Balkanized, chaotic territory as was more or less the case in Yeltsin’s time, then we have unipolarity, hegemony, and globalization, and China and Europe are proxies of the West in the multilateral world vision. But with the fourth pole, we have a completely different situation thanks to the existence of this fourth pole, which could not be universal, which could not be dominating through hegemony over China or Europe – we just cannot, we have no universal ideology or ideology at all in Russia. Our weakness could be used in our favor, because now we are in a position when we can save Russia by saving others – Europe and China – from Western domination. Without this, we cannot be sure of our future. That is a purely pragmatic vision.

With this fourth pole, we have real multipolarity, with the opportunity for the independence of Latin America, possible independence for the Islamic world, possible independence for the African world, and India – everybody acquires the chance to transform into a pole and defend their own civilization. This time, Russia proposes neither colonialism, as in Tsarist times, nor some ideology. We just want to defend ourselves as a civilization different from both Eastern and Western. In the concept of multipolarity, Russia is not a country or Western country, but an independent civilization that is partly Western, partly Eastern, but neither Eastern nor Western – a particular Russian civilization.

The acceptance of this fourth pole changes the whole picture. Now we have multipolarity. Starting with these four poles, we can go further and propose a special role to India, the Islamic world, and Latin America, as is more or less represented in BRICS.

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Here we can see the difference between the multipolar and multilateral maps. They are completely different approaches. I call this “more-than-three-polar” world or “4+ world” the precise dividing line between two world orders that can be established in the future.

Now we are in a transition. We are at the bifurcation point, we can go either way. Nothing is granted. We are living in the end of unipolarity, but we have not yet created a multipolar world order. This process is open. We could be successful or unsuccessful. We are here precisely in-between.

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 1.40.58 PM.pngThis state of things is more or less consciously understood by some academic groups in the world. We can call that the “multipolar world theory.” My own book in Russia, The Theory of the Multipolar World, which has been translated into French, is in the process of being published in English, and has been translated into Portuguese, Spanish, and other languages, presents this theory, and tries to put all of these elements that I have explained together.

Eurasianism is also being developed by our group as a political philosophy that insists that Russia is not a country, but a civilization and part of multipolarity. The Fourth Political Theory is another theory developed by us in Russia, along with French and Italian intellectual groups, that invites to overcome the classical Western political ideologies – Liberalism, Communism, and Fascism. The Fourth Political Theory invites to go beyond Liberalism, and to be anti-Liberal, but not to be Communist, Fascist, or Nationalist. It is outside of them, because the Fourth Political Theory does not recognize the universalism of the modern West. For us, it is an invitation to provincialize the West, to show that it is one province of the world, not the center. There are many centers and provinces in multipolarity. The Fourth Political Theory is the political expression of multipolarity.

In China, Professor Zhao Tingyang, with his concept of Tianxia Tixi, has developed the concept of a special Chinese model that is not only pure domination by force of strength, badao, but as wangdao, by moral and ethical hegemony. The concept of wangdao describes not only China as a state, but also other countries that China influences not necessarily in a direct, hegemonic way as in badao. This is a very multipolar approach among Chinese scholars. Yan Xuetong is a realist in International Relations, but his defense of Chinese identity can be regarded as part of multipolarity. At the same time, he challenges the concept of pole and prefers to speak about “units.” Your famous Zhang Weiwei offers a very important defense of the particularity of the Chinese way of development. It is a defense of Chinese identity. There is also Qin Yaqing, who applies to IR a conceptualization of different interactions, casual and ordered, that form a kind of “game”, based on different factors that can be summarized in the traditional Chinese divination system.

In Europe, there is the New Right school. The European New Right is anti-liberal and anti-capitalist, and also includes Traditionalists. It is not the classical, American, or British “new Right” that is liberal. Alain de Benoist is the main philosopher of this school. They have developed a multipolar vision in which Europe should be an independent pole – completely independent from the United States of America, and very friendly towards Russia. They are promoting this in a theoretical way with the concept of Pluriversum, as they are followers of Carl Schmitt. They are a very influential and interesting group of thinkers.

In Latin America, there are different multipolar schools, for example the theory of “foundational non-subordination” promoted by Marcelo Gullo Omodeo in Argentina. There is the “Meridianalism” of Andre Martin in Brazil, concerned with the Global South, which is very close to the Eurasianist vision. There is also Norberto Ceresole, who was a Left Peronist and very influential on Hugo Chavez, his main ideologue, and a partisan for the unification of the Latin American space.

What is interesting here is that there are theories of multipolarity dealing precisely with where the possible poles are. We can see this in Russia, trying to develop multipolarity and affirm herself as a pole, in China trying to be more and more independent from Western hegemony, in Europe, which is trying to challenge Atlanticism, unipolarity, and American domination, and in Latin America. What is strange is that we lack an Islamic concept of a multipolar world. We have only a caricature in the Salafi version of the Caliphate that should be global, and that is impossible as well as theoretically unexplored. But an affirmation of Islamic identity and accepting of the realities of the world is lacking – I do not know why. My works have been translated into Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. There is a huge interest, but I do not know any serious theoretical constructions defending an independence of Islamic civilization. Everyone in Islam is in favor of that, but I am speaking not of the mood in the Islamic world, but of theoretical constructions. The same is the case in India. India pretends to be a very powerful hegemon in South Asia, but there are no texts – it is a very profound, metaphysically developed civilization, but it does not show any signs of a theoretical multipolarity.

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So, the theory of the multipolar world, the multipolar approach, challenges Eurocentrism, Modernity, Universalism, and Hegemony. It is based on the presumption of a multitude of civilizations and refuses a hierarchy of them. The multipolar approach is based on anthropological pluralism, a positive evaluation of diversity and a new reading of the concept of Other. The Other is not the same or “more or less the same”, it is completely unknown to the West, for whom the Other is “worse” in the traditional racist colonial attitude, or in the liberal attitude the Other is the same. The West lacks a third definition of the Other. Globalists say the Other is exactly the same as ourselves, while racists, colonialists, and nationalists say that they are better [than the Other]. Nowhere here is there the Other, because both are completely obsessed with themselves in a hyper-egoistic attitude. They put the Other only as the worst or the same, but where is the Other? The meaning of the Other is lost.

The theory of the multipolar world is an anti-Eurocentric project for the re-provoncialization of Europe, a return to the pre-Columbian vision. If we regard the pre-Columbian vision, we immediately discover that there was a perfect world order from a civilizational point of view, with no colonialism or Western domination. There were traditional empires – the Iranian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Chinese Empire, Arab Empire. Everybody was in the perfect place from a civilizational point of view, but Western Modernity imposed colonialism and hegemony on the planet. The separation between America and Europe that is part of the multipolar world is itself a kind of return to the pre-Columbian time. Now, in the present day, in Syria, the ancient empires have reemerged – we see Iran on the rise, Turkey on the rise, and we can see Russia and China. This is a sign of the return to the pre-Columbian world.

The theory of the multipolar world is anti-modern because modernity is Western. We could say that we propose an alternative modernity or alter-modernity, but we do not agree that modernity is destiny. Modernity was a choice of part of Western society and civilization that led to catastrophe. Maybe it was the path of the historical destiny of the West, but it was not our destiny. Modernity is a Western concept. The theory of the multipolar world rejects the principles of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is optional. Here I suggest reading the French author René Guénon, a French-born Catholic, a philosopher who converted to Islam in Cairo and spent the rest of his life there, entering a Sufi order. He is the greatest author, the founder of the Traditionalist school with a radical critique of modernity and Western universalism. I also recommend Julius Evola.

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Finally, the theory of the multipolar world is counter-hegemony. The theory of the multipolar world regards the main actor not to be the state, but the civilization. Relations between civilizations are considered more or less in a realist perspective, but the difference between realism and multipolar world consists in the main aspect: the theory of the multipolar world deals with civilizations and Big Spaces, not states like in classical realism. But it does affirm sovereignty. In the multipolar world theory, there is a shift from the sovereignty of the state to the sovereignty of the civilization, after which we can apply realism to the differences of subjects. A pole is a Big Space plus civilization.

The geopolitics of multipolarity entails another shift in our understanding of geopolitics. Classical geopolitics thinks in terms of Sea Power, represented by the West, and Land Power, represented by Heartland, Russia. Now Sea Power, in the geopolitics of multipolarity, is unipolarity, hegemony, and globalism, but Land Power is no longer only Heartland. Land Power is all systems of poles except the United States. Everybody is Heartland in some symbolic sense. This is not bipolar geopolitics, but a multipolar geopolitics that considers Land Power to be traditional civilizations. Land, in Carl Schmitt’s interpretation, is first of all tradition, roots, fixed space that is the civilizational living-space. This is a very important change in the concept of Land Power in the multipolar version of geopolitics.

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 1.41.24 PM.pngHere we can see civilizations corresponding more or less to Big Spaces and strategic analysis. Eurasianism and the Fourth Political Theory are a part of this.

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Dugin in Shanghai: International Relations and Geopolitics – Lecture 2

“Geopolitics: Theories, Concepts, Schools, and Debates” 

Author: Alexander Dugin

Transcript prepared by Jafe Arnold

Lecture #2 read at the China Institute of Fudan University, Shanghai, China, December 2018 [VIDEO]

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Geopolitics is a separate branch of strategic analysis. There are some links between International Relations theories and geopolitical theories, but Geopolitics is an absolutely original and independent field of strategic thinking and analysis. In this lecture, we are going to speak about the paradigms, concepts, schools, and main debates of geopolitics.

Geopolitics can be defined as a discipline that studies the relations and interactions between Spaces (Territories), States, Civilizations, Peoples, and Economics. This is a much broader context than that in International Relations, because theories of International Relations study only state-to-state relations. Geopolitics is much broader. First of all, it is centered around the relations between the state and space (territory) – and not only, but also culture-to-culture and people-to-people, all put into space. Space in geopolitics plays the same role as time for history. Geopolitical analysis is based on the centrality of space.

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Space, in any sense, not only the material, is synchronicity. It is something that happens simultaneously. It is a synchronistic, not diachronistic approach. Historically, Geopolitics was developed from political geography and “anthropogeography”. It is a kind of political and human geography. Both terms were introduced in the 19th century by the German professor Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904). Political geography means the relation between the state and territory, or space. The same Ratzel also used in his research the term anthropogeography, which means human geography. The anthropos, or man, is the most important here. In International Relations, nobody speaks about man or the human, but only the state. In Geopolitics, this is not so. Geopolitics tries to involve more levels of analysis than International Relations. This is why there have been problems with this discipline, because some scholars think it is too broad and includes too many levels in one concept, and so is not a precise science.

The next element in Geopolitics was the idea of the Swedish scholar Rudolf Kjellen (1864-1922). He proposed the idea that the state is a living being. This was an organic attitude towards the state. If there are living beings that move, then states move, or they have certain relations to the earth. This is an organicist concept. Kjellen and Ratzel belonged to the same philosophical school of organicism. They considered life, including political life, as something natural, not mechanical, but organic.

So what is the space of Geopolitics? It is qualitative, not quantitative. It is not “physical” space or “scientific” space. The quality of space is something like “life-space.” The concept of living space, or Lebensraum, was introduced by Ratzel. Afterwards, the term was used to mean a space which a growing people needs to occupy in order to satisfy needs. But that was a practical, pragmatic use of the term. Originally, Lebensraum, in the context of Ratzel’s ideas, meant precisely the space that lives – “living space”, in an organic attitude that is qualitative. Space is  quality, where orientations do matter. This is much more of Aristotelian space than the space of modern physics. This is quantum-mechanical space, with different orientations. Space is different if you go to the North, South, East, or West – they are not relative concepts. There is a kind of absolute South or absolute North, absolute West, or absolute East. This space is a kind of category charged with proper characteristics. Space or territory is destiny. With such an attitude, space obtains a kind of historical meaning. Space is not indifferent; it is a very special, organic category. Space is also more important than time. This remark, as well, makes Geopolitics a post-modern discipline, because modernity is centered around time, history, and how everything is changing in the irreversible process of time and progress.

Geopolitics affirms that the most important category of human life and political relations is space. If you, your country, your culture, or your people, live in one kind of space, it will have special values, special politics, and special political organization – if, for example, you live on an island or in a coastal space, you will be obliged to have a different political system, cultural set of values, and so on.

Space, as the foundation of strategy, was also evaluated by the pragmatist and American admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914). The term “Geopolitics” was used for the first time by the Rudolf Kjellen; “political geography” and “anthropogeography” by Ratzel, and “geostrategy” by Mahan. These are the founding fathers or forerunners of Geopolitics.

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But properly speaking, Geopolitics as a discipline was formed later, in the beginning of the 20th century. The context of the birth of Geopolitics was British imperial strategy. The real founder of Geopolitics was the British Sir Halford Mackinder, an English imperialist and partisan and promoter of reinforcing the British empire. He thought about the basic principles of the British imperial strategy, and tried to conceptualize them, basing himself on the political geography of Ratzel and the geostrategy of Mahan, and other authors – some British, some Americans.

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The context is very important. Geopolitics as a discipline was born in the context of the British Empire in the beginning of the 20th century when the British Empire was still flourishing – not at the end or amidst decline, but at what might have been the peak of the British Empire, when the Britons ruled the world through the oceans, and had such colonies as India, China – which was almost a colony, not formally, but under Great British influence – Japan, Iran, the Middle East, Turkey, and almost all of Africa. Whereas the German colonies there were very small, the French and Britain shared most of Africa. The British Empire was alive and flourishing. The context of Geopolitics was thus the “Great Game.”

The “Great Game” was the idea that the most important enemy of the British Empire, just before the “age of geopolitics”, was Imperial Russia, which exercised growing control over Central Asia and threatened English colonies in the Middle East and India, trying to go South to Afghanistan,  and also considering Russian expansion in the Caucasus – all of this growing power of Russia was considered the main enemy of the British Empire. This was the “Great Game.” Many aspects of global international geopolitics during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries can be explained in terms of the Great Game.

It is British imperial strategy, including the Great Game, that was the context of the birth of Geopolitics. The British Empire needed to control trade routes on the continent, but mostly throughout the oceans and seas, as the power of the British Empire was based on the control of trade routes. That was almost the “law” – that the British Empire control trade routes throughout all the world. That was the basic aspect of British strategy, the system of colonies, as Britain controlled and exploited many colonies in Africa, Asia, and so on. The idea, one of the main concerns of British imperialism, was to conserve the British Empire. Geopolitics was born as the theoretical reflection on Anglo-Saxon imperialism. It was a purely Western, imperialist approach. That was the context. It is very important to put science and methods in concrete historical conditions.

The real founder of Geopolitics, Sir Halford John Mackinder, was a political geographer as well as founder of the London School of Economics. He was one of the leading thinkers of British imperialism. In trying to put together all the threats, principles, perspectives, and “logic” of British imperialism, as well as trying to prepare its future in a practical way, Mackinder came to the first vision that was a kind of result of previous approaches to political geography. He published in 1904 in England a very important text composed of small articles, called The Geographical Pivot of History. In these articles, Mackinder laid out the real basis and principles of Geopolitics. We can speak of political geography before Mackinder, but we can speak of Geopolitics sensu stricto only after Mackinder. The line is drawn between the preparation and the creation of the scientific method. Mackinder is a central figure, and that is the main view up to now. His actuality is absolute. We cannot dismiss Mackinder. There is no Geopolitics except Mackinder’s – like in Islam, there is no God but Allah. Mackinder created this science, this method, based on previous ideas, theories, and doctrines, but here is precisely the essence of Geopolitics: Mackinder affirmed that there is a fundamental opposition between two global powers – and that is Geopolitics, precisely.

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There is Land Power, identified as Heartland, the “geographical pivot” or “axis” of history. All history moves around this pivot, this axis, this Heartland. History is a process, a dynamic, and here is the point of “no dynamics”, the static point, the pivot, around which the wheel moves. That is Land Power.

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There is Sea Power, which is precisely history. History, or time, is Sea Power. Eternity or the unmoved point is Heartland or Land Power. They represent two kinds of civilization. Land Power is based on constancy and eternity, as Land is fixed, doesn’t move, it is fixed space. It is fixedness itself, which is what Mackinder understood by Land Power. Sea Power is something that moves.

This dualism served Mackinder to explain the meaning of history. According to Mackinder, the fight or dualism between Land Power and Sea Power is the key to understanding history. We can see that this is exactly a kind of explanation or theorization of the Great Game. But this is  also Mackinder’s generalization, because it is not only an explanation of the Great Game. The Great Game – which saw the British Empire trying to control the seas and oceans against the Russian Empire – was a concrete, historical, strategic moment. But Mackinder generalized that the Great Game reflects something deeper, something universal, the basic principles of how human history goes on. This is the basic principle of Geopolitics.

When Mackinder tried to apply his ideas to history, he discovered that there is not only the British and Russian confrontation of the last centuries that can be explained by this geopolitical map, but he saw Sea Power in history, and identified Sea Power in: Athens, as coastal, as  a maritime sea power, in Carthage, the opponent of Rome in the Punic Wars, in Venice as the sea power and trade civilization, in the Dutch colonial empire, and finally in Great Britain. This was a kind of geopolitical continuity between different forms of Sea Power in history. So it is not only an explanation of the Great Game, but is a law. All Sea Powers in history were based on trade, on oligarchies, on technical development, and on control over seas, not land – because Sea Power never goes too deep into the continent. They control the continent by controlling the coast. The coast is much more important than the continental mass. That is, in the final analysis, the control of all space where humans live “from outside”, from the seas and oceans. The standpoint of Ocean, Sea, or Water, is the main element. This is the power of Water, where you cannot trace borders. There is nothing fixed in Water. The ocean, sea, and lakes are ever-changing space. You cannot domesticate creatures living in water. You can only fish them. You cannot feed yourself freely in the water. You need a ship – something artificial. That is the difference between the nature of Water and Earth. Earth is stable. You feel good, safe, and secure on the earth, and you can domesticate animals. The Earth is a kind of natural ambience, while the Ocean is unnatural. You need some kind of technology in order to be there, such as a ship. There is a kind of alienation from space, from ambience, that is at the center of Sea Power. Sea Power already in Mackinder’s work obtains a kind of metaphysical or cultural dimension. It is not only about the Great Game and British imperial strategy – it is about something much deeper. This was expounded only in small remarks in these articles, but it was absolutely underlying.

Land Power in history is quite the opposite. It is Sparta fighting against Athens in the Peloponnesian War. It is Rome against Carthage in the Punic Wars. It is Austria, Germany, and Russia against Western – English and French – imperialism. This analysis is much broader than concrete situations. Mackinder proposed the key to deciphering the logic of history, namely, that all human history is based on this kind of cosmology or mythology, a political mythology of two opposite principles fighting against each other and trying to win – sometimes Sparta wins, sometimes Athens, sometimes Rome, sometimes Carthage, and so on, sometimes Russia, sometimes Britain. There is a balance, an everlasting war of continents.

Already in Mackinder’s works, Sea Power means trade, liberalism, democracy, progress, technical innovation, oligarchy, science, adventure, the entrepreneur’s spirit, and capitalism. All these marks or characteristics created capitalism. Capitalism was born in Britain during its colonial experience. Sea Power is linked to liberal capitalism, to democracy. Sea Power thus also obtains a political and ideological dimension already in Mackinder. This is why Sea Power is “good” for capitalism. Here arises the self-fulfilling prophecy: Sea Power is progress, Land Power is regress or stagnation. Land Power represents force, conservatism, hierarchy, order, ascetics as morals, aristocracy, religion, ethics, and stability. If we compare these concepts, then it is not necessarily socialism. It is something that is not liberalism. It could be a traditional empire, a pre-modern or conservative society, but it could be socialism as well. Everything that is not capitalism and liberalism can be Land Power. This is precisely geopolitics.

The modern geopolitics of the 21st century is the same. It is still good old Mackinder’s point of view. Here we see the main terms and concepts of geopolitics.

Rimland is a very important concept, because it is the coastal zone. In geopolitics, Rimland is precisely the most interesting part of the structure of space, because there is sea space, land space, and Rimland space, which is something “between” land and sea. The coast of Rimland can be controlled from the sea, or from land. Who controls Rimland, controls everything.

Here we can see the famous map of Mackinder, which was published in National Geographic in his article “The Geographical Pivot of History.” Here we see all of geopolitics in one map. It is so “classic” and so fundamental that today all who study geopolitics and apply geopolitical analysis to the modern situation still use this map, drawn in the beginning of the 20th century. This map, drawn more than a hundred years ago, is so actual that it is a kind of prophetic map. What we see here is Sea Power in what is called the Outer and Insular Crescent. This is the territory controlled by the British Empire and the Anglo-Saxon world.  There is the pivot area, the same as Heartland, which is the landmass of Land Power. Here resides Land Power. And there is the Inner or Marginal Crescent, which is Rimland or the coastal area.

World history begins when both Land Power and Sea Power have acquired planetary dimensions. Earlier, the fight was on a reduced scale, but now it has acquired a planetary dimension, and there is only one explanation for what is happening on the planetary level: Sea Power is fighting against Land Power, trying to control the Inner or Marginal Crescent. The object of the fight between the two geopolitical powers, according to Mackinder, is the control of this zone, which could be controlled in one of two ways. The first is by Sea Power, which means that the metropolis, the center of the British Empire, is the master of all this space. Really, actually, in the beginning of the 20th century, all of this space was controlled by the British Empire. They needed (and need) to control Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Iran, India, at least the coastal part of China, Japan, and the part of the Far East that belongs to Russia. The idea was that the Inner Crescent, or Rimland, should be controlled by Sea Power, and that is the way to global domination by the Anglo-Saxon world. The conceptualization of the British Empire led Mackinder to this conclusion, and drawing this map was the foundational act of the creation of Geopolitics.

But what should Land Power do in the field of history? Mackinder honestly recognized that Land Power will fight back. Land Power, or Heartland, will try to do quite the opposite: to expand its power to the West, to conquer Western Europe, or all of Europe, impose its influence in the Caucasus, the Middle East, and Turkey, trying to use the territory of declining Turkey, and Heartland will try to destroy the British Empire’s control over Afghanistan, Central Asia, and India and, coming to China, to eject British Empire there, as well as in Japan. This was a kind of Great Game, balanced on a planetary scale with – most importantly – some philosophical dimension. Mackinder’s law was: Whoever controls Eastern Europe, controls Heartland, and whoever controls Heartland, rules the world. For Mackinder, it was crucial to control all of Heartland, or Land Power. Eastern Europe is only part of the truth, because all the Inner Crescent should be controlled by Sea Power.

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But let us concentrate on this part of the sentence: “Whoever controls Heartland, rules the world.” This is the most important point. If Heartland is controlled from outside, the world is ruled by Sea Power. That means the democratic ideal, progress, modernity, and capitalism on a global scale. If Heartland is ruled by itself, by Land Power, it is something opposite: eternity, tradition, order, hierarchy, conservatism.

In Mackinder’s eyes, Heartland is an object. This object begins with Eastern Europe, as in the Inner Crescent, the coastal line of Eurasia. If the control of this coastal line or zone is strong enough, there is no possibility for direct confrontation between Eurasia, or Heartland, and Sea Power. Heartland becomes an object. But of Heartland. But if Heartland begins to be a subject, affirms itself as a geopolitical subject, is awakened or wakes up on its own, then there is a problem for the global domination of the British Empire. This was the main rule of geopolitics from then on. The fight for Eurasia is an application of this principle.

Mackinder’s follower, Nicholas Spykman (1893-1943), developed his theory of a kind of enlarged version of Mackinder’s, with the emphasis put on Rimland. Spykman said: Whoever controls Rimland, controls Herartland. Whoever controls Heartland, rules the world.” Mackinder was concentrated on Eastern Europe – after all, he was a high commissar of the entente in Ukraine, trying to divide and separate Ukraine from the Russian Empire. The same idea was taken over by Brzezinski and put into practice in 2014 on the Maidan. We are living inside Mackinder’s world, and we cannot get out of it. 

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Spykman said that we need to attach the main importance to Rimland in general. In order to rule the world in general, we should separate the Far East from Russia, exercise all control over China from the sea, control the Middle east, Northern Africa, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and all Europe, and lessen Heartland’s zone of control.

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This is the map of the American mind. American strategy follows all of this line. These maps were drawn in the beginning of the 20th century, and this one in the 1920’s. They are so actual today. In the Anglo-Saxon vision, Sea Power is the subject and Land Power is the object. In 2005 I met Zbigniew Brzezinski in Washington, and there was a chessboard between us. I asked: “Mr. Brzezinski, do you consider the game of chess to be for two players?” He said: “No, it is for one.”  That is the typical Western understanding, the Anglo-Saxon vision, of geopolitics. Chess is a game for one player, i.e., there is only one subject, and the other is not a player, but an object, whose hand must be moved. That is the basic attitude of the Anglo-Saxon vision of geopolitics. The main goal of Anglo-Saxon geopolitics is to surround Heartland by controlling Rimland, preventing Heartland from gaining access to the warm seas and breaking through the coastal blockade. The main goal is to rule the world by controlling Eurasia from the sea.

The future decline of Great Britain and the rise of the United States was predicted already in the end of the 19th century by some British imperialists, such as Sir Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902) and his group, the Round Table. Admiral Mahan, as I have already said, considered the US to be Sea Power. It was not evident that the US was a Sea Power when Mackinder wrote his first article. He considered North America to be a kind of Land Power – isolationist, outside of global politics,  and not in competition with Great Britain, but a marginal, peripheral space. But Mahan considered the United States, based on the growth of its navy, to be Sea Power. After Woodrow Wilson involved the US in the First World War, there began a very important geopolitical event or process: the shift of the center of Sea Power from Great Britain to the United States of America. That was accomplished over 20 years from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War. During this gap of time, all of Great Britain’s colonies were ‘given’ to the United States. There was a shift of the center of global domination inside the Anglo-Saxon space from Great Britain to the United States. That was the main event on the geopolitical level.

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Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 1.19.05 PM.pngVery symbolically, Mackinder’s last article was published in an American journal, Foreign Affairs, whose editor’s organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, was created by the American elite just after the First World War in order to promote the Wilsonian vision of the United States as a global power operating in defense of capitalism, democracy, and so on. That was a theoretical, intellectual shift of the center of decision-making and the subject. This was a kind of transition of Sea Power. After that, Great Britain became the “old power”, the “senior”, “old man” tending his garden who offers some advice, but is not the real subject.

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The real subject, from now on, from the first half of the 20th century, has shifted from Great Britain to the United States. Everything that Mackinder said about the strategy of Great Britain was applied, point by point and word by word, to the United States of America, above all in the second half of the 20th century. Before the founding of the Council on Foreign Relations, the United States did not “think of the world”; they had no foreign relations, and were absolutely concentrated on their internal issues before the First World War, before Wilson and his 11 points which declared that the United States of America should be a global power and global defender of liberalism, capitalism, democracy – precisely Sea Power. After the Second World War, the United States became the main, the only Sea Power par excellence. The rest became objects or tools in the hands of the Americans.

The first to carefully read the ideas of Mackinder were the Germans – not the Russians, who were involved in other intellectual and political problems. The Germans awakened to geopolitics and, within the first 20 to 30 years of the 20th century, began to read Mackinder and accept geopolitics.

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First there was Karl Haushofer (1869-1946), a German political geographer and general who was military attaché in Japan during the 1920’s. He brought back with him from Japan an interesting word 地缘政治 chi sei gaku, or “geopolitics.” He discovered and accepted the ideas of Mackinder afterwards, and recognized Germany, just as Mackinder affirmed, to be part of the Continent, to be Land Power.

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Thus Haushofer began to develop the concept of how to create a Continental geopolitics, not as an object of Anglo-Saxons, but as a subject that will fight back consciously, not only as a tool, but as a kind of conscious power. His idea was exactly opposite to that of Hitler, as Haushofer said that there are only two possibilities for Germany. First, Germany is part of the Continent, or Land Power; it is conservative, traditional, hierarchical, and so on, has almost no colonies or “progress”, but is a traditional society. And if this is so, according to Haushofer, then Germany must be aligned in an axis, on which Haushofer published the article “The Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo Axis.” So, in order to be Land Power in its proper dimension, Germany should be allied with Russia – then, Nazi Germany should be allied with Communist Russia. This was the law of geopolitics that went against Hitler’s idea. But Haushofer said that if you want to follow the rules of geopolitics, you could come to the side of Sea Power, and in that case, Germany should conclude a treaty or alliance with the British and the Americans. But you cannot fight [on two fronts], or you will be destroyed – that was Haushofer’s prophetic saying. Geopolitics is therefore a kind of prophecy that is always fulfilled, whether ignored or open. Hausehofer told Hitler to find a way for an alliance with Russia, as was tried in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, or with the West, as was tried with the Munich agreement between Western countries and Germany. The only thing that was geopolitically impossible was to fight on two lines – this was a geopolitical heresy, according to Haushofer. That was the German school that enriched geopolitics by creating new doctrines, new texts, new intellectual analysis, based on the acceptance of Mackinder’s analysis.

But a deeper understanding of geopolitics, Land Power and Sea Power, was given by another German philosopher, who is much more serious and profound than Karl Haushofer: Carl Schmitt (1888-1985). Schmitt was the greatest political thinker of the 20th century. He is known in all countries and universities of Europe, except in Germany, where he is prohibited. In the United States there is huge interest in Schmitt, and his follower Leo Strauss is considered the teacher of the Neo-Conservatives. There is a huge following of Carl Schmitt on the left as well, on the part of both the post-modern European left and the Latin American, by communists, anarchists, etc. He is the most read author in political science, and I am very happy that he is very well known in China. In Russia he is very popular as well.

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In his book Land und Meer, Carl Schmitt deepened the understanding of what Land and Sea are. He used the biblical names Leviathan, the serpent of the sea, and Behemoth, the Land Power. The fight between Sea Power and Land Power was presented by Schmitt as the eschatological fight between Leviathan and Behemoth, two great monsters, that correspond to two opposite world-visions, or Weltanschauungen in German. He made a clear identification between Sea Power and modernity, capitalism, liberalism, democracy, materialism, modern science – all of these were a kind of ‘result’ of Sea Power. Carl Schmitt gave to the concept of Sea Power a huge, new meaning, that was a development of what Mackinder already had in mind, but was so brilliantly exposed that it transformed geopolitics into a philosophical approach and political philosophy, not only on the strategic map.

The same was declared by the British conservative author – a Catholic like Schmitt – Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), who had two wives, both of whom were Serbian. Here as well, geopolitics acquired a metaphysical dimension. The Great War of Continents was considered to be a kind of eschatological, biblical battle for the End Times. It was not only about who controls Heartland and the world, but about what the goal of controlling such is. Carl Schmitt asked what is the goal to control – not power in itself, not only in a pragmatic sense, not as a power play, but as something deeper, as the final battle for the End Times, which in the Christian vision means the Kingdom of the Antichrist or the future Kingdom of Christ. This was a Christian, moral attitude added here. With that dimension, geopolitics obtained an eschatological dimension. Eschatology is the science of the end times, or what should happen as the result of history, at the end of history, in the Hegelian, not Fukuyaman sense.

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 1.19.44 PM.pngThe result of the Second World War was that Hitler totally neglected Karl Haushofer’s advice. There was no more Germany, no more Hitler, no more National Socialism, because of the suicidal war that cost humanity many millions of victims. Just after the Second World War, the Cold War started, where there was again a pure illustration of the classic map of geopolitics. There was the Soviet camp, of which China was a part, the socialist camp, against the capitalist camp. There was a moment when the Soviet camp and communist, anti-capitalist countries acquired the geopolitical dimension of Behemoth. Communism was Behemothic in some ways. It was Land Power. That’s why communism won not in the industrial, liberal countries which had a big amount of proletarians, but in peasant, agrarian countries like Russia or China – because they were Land Powers. Communism won in Land Power, in the context of anti-liberal, anti-Western, anti-Sea Power. That is the geopolitical explanation of the Cold War.

But the science of geopolitics, and the destiny and fate of this science, was different. In the United States, it was considered to be the main strategy, used always. They did not stop ever since Mackinder and Spykman’s times to use geopolitics as a basic vision of what is going on in the world and politics. But with the German effort to create an alternative geopolitics with the Continent as the subject, this experience bore a kind of demonization due to Haushofer’s relations with Hitler and the crimes committed by the Nazis. The Continental part of geopolitics was destroyed as a “pseudo-science”, while the Anglo-Saxon part of geopolitics continued to be accepted as a main strategy. So, after the Second World War, geopolitics came to have two meanings: (1) something completely rational and positive in the United States, and (2) something impossible, Nazi, and fascist outside of the United States and England. This is precisely like someone who wants to always win in a game of chess – the best solution is to not teach the other how to play. This is the “game of one”, as Brzezinski honestly explained.

Geopolitics was demonized for Europe, but taken as a normal tool for elite-learning in the United States. That is why Brzezinski, Kissinger, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations think exactly with the same map and concepts, but geopolitics is prohibited for the others. It is as if there are two geopolitics: “geopolitics” in English, which is a good, correct, and rational science, and German Geopolitik which is pseudo-science. If you look at Sea Power from Land Power, it is “pseudo-science.” If you look at Land Power from the standpoint of Sea Power, it is “science.” This is completely biased by virtue of standpoint.

Unluckily, in the Soviet Union, because of Haushofer’s reputation as well, geopolitics was considered a “bourgeois science.” It was prohibited as well, so we lost Continental geopolitics altogether. There was Sea Power geopolitics, while everyone else was left without geopolitics. So there was a reduced geopolitical awareness on the part of Land, considered to be an object. We do not teach dogs or cats human language or science, so we consider them to be “stupid.” The same is the case with geopolitics. While some declare that geopolitics should be reserved for the Anglo-Saxon ruling elite, they treat the others as enemies who should not be taught this “pseudo-science.” This is why there are so many debates on geopolitics, because it is a prohibited science for the Other, while in the Anglo-Saxon world, it is flourishing as a normal and necessary tool for the learning of the Anglo-Saxon, American elite.

After the fall of communism, Soviet, Russian society lost an understanding of what is going on. Everybody felt that something had gone wrong, but nobody had any explanation. We lost a line. We were no longer communists, but were capitalists and liberals left wondering why NATO is expanding, not accepting us in their club, continuing to still treat us as an enemy after the destruction of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet countries. We were “liberating” Eastern Europe, including some parts of the Soviet Union, while NATO tried to get them, still expanding. Before the North Atlantic alliance was a sea power, fighting on the geopolitical level of Land Power represented on the ideological level by the communists. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was no longer any “reason” to fight, but the battle went on. This created a kind of stress, an intellectual shock for our political elite, our army, and secret services, because Russian liberals tried to become part of the global world. They didn’t care about sovereignty, tradition, or conserving Russian values, everything of which was for them negative. But the real state, the Russian Deep State, had to react somehow.

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The collapse of the communist system disarmed Moscow ideologically, as they could not explain or understand foreign policy. The foreign policy and military strategy of the USSR was based on the concept of confrontation between the socialist camp, the East, and the capitalist camp. The reason of this confrontation was seen precisely only in ideological terms. Outside and beside ideology, there should have been no conflict, yet conflict still continued. When this ideological vision was lost, Russia unilaterally disarmed itself and pretended to be as capitalist, democratic, and liberal as the West. There was no ideological reason to continue opposition. But the West continued to expand NATO to the East, swallowing Eastern Europe and strangling Russia. That created a cognitive dissonance. Something didn’t fit. There was a kind of schizophrenia in the state and society. Why were they against us, when we were no longer against them? We were not defeated in this situation, so it was our free will to stop the confrontation, but they continued the confrontation. Why? Where is the rational, logical reason?

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It was precisely at this moment, in the beginning of the 1990’s, that geopolitics was discovered in Russia in the Military Academy of the General Staff and elsewhere. This was done with our help, because I was not a communist; I was very interested in other philosophies, and I discovered conservative values before the fall of communism, being a little bit at a distance from the ruling ideology. Very few people were prepared to respond. I established in the late 1980’s relations with some conservative and traditionalist circles in Europe who were very interested in Carl Schmitt and geopolitics. And when there was the fall of communism, we tried to explain to our generals, our military men, what happened from a geopolitical point of view. That was the only reason: to give a rational explanation of what was happening now, after the end of the Soviet Union, outside of communist ideology, to answer how we can explain this confrontation, opposition, and fight outside of ideology. The liberals in the government and society rejected this approach, because they continued to follow the rules of the West. Geopolitics was a “forbidden” or “pseudo-science” – Soros came to Russia in order to say that “geopolitics is all wrong” – meaning for Russia and for China, but not for them.

Little by little, we have succeeded in establishing geopolitics as the main strategic approach of the Russian Federation. Through the deep state, through military circles, through patriots, we have succeeded in making geopolitics very famous, known, and now in all universities and institutions in Russia, in both the humanitarian and social sciences, they teach geopolitics. That is how geopolitics became the main theoretical field in Russia.

In Shanghai in China, a few months ago in June, I met Dr. Feng Shaolei (director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University) at a press conference with Prof. Zhang Weiwei organized by guancha.cn, and he said that he had just returned from Russia’s Valdai Club and met Mr. Putin. This Chinese professor asked Mr. Putin: “What is the theoretical basis on which you make your political orientations?” Putin responded: “Geopolitics, not ideology.”

We started in the 1990’s, but there has been a serious paradigm shift with Putin. Now, geopolitics is the prevailing attitude in Russian strategy. That is how the Russian geopolitical school was established, as a continuation of Haushofer’s ideas, except for the role of the subject in geopolitical dualism, as in the case of Russia we had much more of a foundation and many more reasons for this: since Germany was the European Heartland, we are the absolute absolute Heartland, according to Mackinder. This is the Eurasia concept, born at that moment.

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This was the acceptance of the title, rank, or position of a subject on the geopolitical map. This was the acceptance of the relevance of classical Anglo-Saxon geopolitics and the basic dualism of Mackinder. With the affirmation of Heartland as a subject, Behemoth becomes conscious in that moment. There was the identification of the US and NATO as antagonistic forces, but recognized as subjects too – that is a difference. In Eurasian geopolitics, we recognize that Sea Power is a subject. There is not only a one-subject/one-object game. There are two subjects. We are against them, but we recognize them as a formal enemy in accordance with Carl Schmitt’s theory. They constitute themselves as such for us and help us to understand ourselves, as in the pair of Carl Schmitt’s concept of Friend and Enemy. We consider that they have the right to exist, but they have no right to rule us and the space that we consider naturally ours.

All of Putin’s politics is about that: the restoration of sovereignty, getting them out of our space, not letting them impose on us their principles or their Sea Power strategy, because we have a different identity. Taking into account the German Continental tradition, which was ambivalent and not so much really Continental and taking into account the metaphysical depth in Carl Schmitt was very important in the creation of the Russian school of geopolitics. Then we discovered that, already in the beginning of the 20th century, in the White Russian emigration, there was a movement that was called the Eurasianist movement and, to my astonishment, one of the founders of this movement, Petr Savitsky, who was a geographer, had read Mackinder and had already made the first efforts to propose the understanding of Russia as Eurasia, as Heartland, against Sea Power. This was a continuation of the Slavophile tradition in Russian culture.

Starting from the Anglo-Saxons and passing through the Germans, we have discovered in our own proper Russian tradition a marginal [affirmation of such]. Before, the Eurasianists were almost unknown, because they were anti-communist, and therefore were not known in Soviet Russia, but they were in favor of the Soviet Union against the West – they were marginalized in the emigration because they were not in favor of the West, and were anti-Nazi and anti-CIA, while the other part of the White emigration collaborated with Western special services in order to fight communism. The Eurasianists were a small minority in this emigration because they were in favor of Soviet communism for geopolitical reasons, because of hatred for the West, but they were not communists. Thus we re-founded the Eurasianist movement, because we discovered that there was someone like us who precisely predicted earlier that there will be a moment when communism will fall as an anti-Russian ideology – too materialistic and without an understanding of identity, tradition, spiritual traditions, the Christian tradition, having been destroying all that – and after that should come the Eurasianists, in order to continue the fight for independence and sovereignty, which was a positive side of the communist regime, including in Stalin’s opposition to the West and Soviet opposition to the West in general. We discovered our own Eurasianists from a very special way or path, from the Anglo-Saxons to the Germans to our proper roots.

While the first program on this was published in 1997 in my Foundations of Geopolitics, the first texts were published just after the fall of communism, in 1991 in a magazine called Den’ [“Day”], whose editor in chief was Alexander Prokhanov, now the president of the Izborsky Club, one of the main conservative think tanks [in Russia]. That was precisely when we started the promotion of Eurasianism, and the creation of the Eurasian movement came 10 years afterwards. The beginning of the creation of the Russian geopolitical school and Eurasian attitude started just after the fall of the Soviet Union, and that is precisely what the first Eurasianists thought would happen.

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Now for the counter-strategy of the Eurasian geopolitics. If there is one subject, then there is a second one. There is Sea Power and there is Land Power. There is the old Rimland. There is the fight for control, because Sea Power wants to make this zone broader, and Land Power seeks to make this zone smaller. What is important is that now Russia is not the Soviet Union; it is not one of two poles. We have no capacity, no possibility, no resources, and no ideology to impose ourselves as the main ruling power of Rimland. That is a very important shift from bipolarity in the Sea Power-Land Power dualism to multipolarity.

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We can make this Rimland safe for us without colonizing it, which is just impossible, by creating friends, an alliance, and helping in a symmetric way different powers to grow and become more and more independent from Sea Power. Now this explains why we have no real desire or capacity to follow the Tsarist or Soviet strategy of more or less bipolarity, and we have no ideology. There is no ideology in Russia – Russia is pragmatic, it is a little bit liberal, but not liberal like in Sea Power, a little bit nationalist, patriotic, and conservative, with a partly traditional society under the growing role of the Orthodox Church and a growing feeling of identity. But that is not ideology: we could not go to Iran and say “accept our ideology”, for we have nothing of the sort, and we could not go to Turkey, India, or China with tanks, and we cannot export anything of the sort.

But how, in that situation, can we save ourselves from Sea Power? By way of friendship, accepting the Other as they are, accepting their identities. For us is not so much important for Rimland to be pro-Russia or not – most important is that Rimland should not be pro-American. That is the main question. You could hate us, but if you don’t like the Americans, if you are not under their control, and if you are independent, that’s enough. We can support you, while being completely indifferent. We don’t suggest any ideology, direct rule, or domination, because we don’t have the power to do so. Compared to the Soviet Union or Tsarist Empire, our weakness is our main privilege. We are playing with our weakness. When the Turks see us, they understand that in such a situation we could not make war against them – we have no idea, no reason for such. If they are Muslims, and we are Christians with many Muslims inside of Russia, we have no problem with them if they do not attack us. When the peoples of our ancient enemies, like Turks or Persians, start to understand that Russia does not represent a threat anymore, they start to see in us a kind of possible ally. And little by little, this alliance is growing. In Syria we have organized such an alliance in a very practical way. This is the fight for the Rimland. Iran is totally anti-Sea Power and Turkey is becoming such. The more anti-Sea Power that Erdogan is, the more he is a friend of Putin. That is all the geopolitics that are actual now.

The main shift was precisely with Putin, who has accepted this vision. Yeltsin and the liberals rejected this vision. Why? Because they were tools of the West, and nothing else. They were not Russian politicians properly speaking, but Western politicians trying to dissolve Land Power. They are called the Fifth Column in Russia, as they tried to open the door for the enemy and let him in.

The new Heartland strategy cannot be bipolar anymore. It can only be multipolar, with all sincerity. This is not a kind of “hidden” version of old bipolarity, as such is impossible in the present situation. We cannot let Sea Power rule Land Power. That is essential, in the end. We can make this possible only with the help of other poles.

At the same time, we have discovered the ideas of another Schmittean concept: Big Spaces. Big Spaces are more or less “poles”, but some Big Spaces are already fully established, some are in the process of being created, while some are in the process of decline.

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Here is a map where there are the different Big Spaces which we have started to deal with approximately, in a practical sense. Of course, they could be arranged differently. If some are too weak, they can become part of the stronger ones. This is a very dynamic situation, not something fixed. Nevertheless, this map representing Big Spaces is the same as Huntington’s map of civilizations. These Big Spaces roughly coincide with “civilizations.” Hence the concept that a pole in the multipolar world should not be a country or power in the ancient understanding, but new players, who should be civilizations. The forms or strategic expressions of these civilizations are Big Spaces. The content and sense of these are civilizations. We see in these Big Spaces, in this concept, the main power lines of Russian politics.

What we want from the European Big Space is one thing: for NATO to get out, and to create with us a kind of Eurasian strategy. For that reason we are helping everybody who shares with us this idea and who is against Atlanticism – Left or Right, it doesn’t matter. Hence the support for populists. That is our counter-strategy. Putin affirms the concept of Greater Eurasia-Greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok. That is the idea towards Europe. But that is not all: we need something to propose to the Islamic continental Space, including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and we cannot impose on them our vision, Christianize them, or impose some idea – nobody wants that. We should accept them as Islamic and try to establish a strategic alliance with them. The same goes for the Arabo-Islamic space, the same with India, the same with China, the same with Japan. I am speaking of all possibilities.

Why does Putin want to give the Kuril Islands to Japan? In order to try to transform Japan from an enemy, under the control of the West, into a neutral power. Maybe it will not happen, but what is important is the logic I am trying to explain, of how the logic of Big Spaces is reflected in Russia’s concrete foreign policy. That is pure geopolitics. We are coming into the Trans-Saharan space as well together with the Chinese. We are trying to help some forces in the South American Big Space, in the Central American Big Space, and if the North American Big Space will be limited by this region, they can be our friends. Why not? They are very interesting guys, when they are put in their natural civilizational borders. When Trump began his campaign, he promised to stop interventions, to take American forces back from all around the world and to concentrate on inner problems. We didn’t believe him, but we applauded him. That is absolutely the right way to Make America Great Again.

We are not alone in this world with our plans. There is another map, much more terrifying I would say, which is what the globalists of Sea Power want to do. This is a completely different vision. We are shifting from the standpoint of Land Power to that of Sea Power.

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What they propose is a completely different situation. They cannot ignore the Chinese anymore, so their idea is to include China in their future plan, proposed as “G2” by Hillary Clinton when she came here and was accepted very politely, but without much success. China is thinking about what to do in this situation while dealing with all the geopolitical possibilities, not ready to accept anything too early or too easily. But the globalists are ready to include China as a capitalist, liberal Sea Power, with Shanghai, this coastal area of prosperity, but maybe without the inner part of Xinjiang, Tibet, and continental China with its peasantry and traditional society, that is the main basis of the Communist Party that cannot be accepted in the Americans’ plan. So they will bother to change the situation, to push more liberalization, capitalization, and “human rights” here; that is the work of the network of Soros, the Fifth Column, and the Sixth Column, as everywhere. China is to be the main satellite in this concept, with certain conditions. The other main satellite is the European zone. This is more or less the wishful thinking of the American political elite, to see the world as such. They have already sown chaos in North Africa, and in the Middle East, such as by creating a Kurdish state, trying to diminish the influence of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and destroying everything, but not creating anything instead.

Chaos strategy does not suggest creation or a new political system or order instead of the destroyed political systems. It is manipulated, moderated chaos – a new way of strategic thinking. If we carefully read Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard, it is written that they need a balkanized Eurasia, to transform it into a zone of permanent conflict between different groups – between Muslims, between ethnic groups, between Russians and Ukrainians, for example. This was Brzezinski’s idea. Chaos is already sown in Africa, so they don’t have to bother too much about that, while now the Russians and Chinese are coming here to bring another order, maybe not the best, but not bloody chaos as is the current situation. There are different points – smaller proxies, partly India, partly some pro-Western little states, and Israel for aggravating and make the chaos bigger. Smaller proxies, like Ukraine for example, are not allies in this concept, but just points in order to make chaos bigger. That is more or less how they understand the situation.

That is why the concept of peace and independent poles is absent in any of their plans for the future. It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. They don’t let even a quadripolar system have any appeal; they cannot let it happen, even theoretically, because they know the power of words. They destroy any mention of quadripolarity. All the books of American experts, strategists, “fortune-tellers” as a I like to say, and political analysts try to destroy and eliminate these poles. There should be only chaos, and by having chaos, they can create a world in which they can still have global power and rule the world. They will not properly rule Eurasia with a better government – they don’t need Russia at all; they blame Russia and Putin not because they don’t like Putin, but because they won’t let Russia be. This is ontological. It is Sea Power vs. Land Power. Nothing personal. Putin could follow some concrete agreement with them, but they don’t regard Russia as a subject, only chaos.

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But if we recognize the pole of Eurasia, we see a completely different situation. First of all, the European and Chinese zones immediately become independent. They lose their certain dependence on the West, while not exchanging this dependence for dependence on Russia. In Japan, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have tried to explain this to the Japanese, but they said: “You want to establish Eurasian rule instead of American rule. When the Americans go out, you will come.” I said: “You have not understood the main idea.” If they are here, there will be only chaos. China and Europe will be dependent on the West, whether recognized as “multilateral allies” or something else, but with Russia here, you will be independent – from them, but from us as well, because we cannot threaten you. Everybody else obtains independence.

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Independence is not happiness or a happy end. It is a challenge, because you should be strong and have an identity. Independence is the burden of the multipolar world. It is not a gift. It is a chance to affirm identity. For the partisans of identity, culture, and the spirit of civilizations, it is a gift, but for governments, it is a huge burden, because you are responsible for organizing and managing without ready-made solutions. Now, in the unipolar world, they suggest you should follow their rule, do this and that, and everything will be alright – maybe not now, perhaps you should pass through some shock therapy, and so on. But independence is real freedom and a real chance, a chance that is open. History does not end there. History is open.

Today, geopolitical dualism acquires a new dimension. It is not anymore bipolar as in the West vs. Heartland. It is unipolarity and globalism vs. multipolarity, the order of civilizations or Big Spaces.

Can we identify the Eurasian project with the famous Chinese win-win strategy? Certainly not. Because Sea Power is going to lose its domination and leading role, as was the case in the unipolar moment. They had the chance after the fall of communism to have global domination and rule. They enjoyed this chance, this possibility, over 10 years. But with 9/11 and Putin’s coming to power, their domination has been limited. So why not a win-win? Because someone has to pay for multipolarity. If there is multipolarity, someone has to lose. Will Continental Heartland pay for multipolarity? Or will there be the global domination of the West, that will lose? This is a win-lose strategy that is an open, continental fight in which there is no neutral solution.

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One solution is multipolarity. On the other side is unipolarity and globalization. That is not a win-win. But at the same time, the exit, the success, or the end of all this is not granted. It is open history. The end of history has ended. I spoke about this with Fukuyama in Washington, and he has since recognized that he was in too much of a hurry to declare that the end of history has already happened. Now the end of history is finished. There is no more end of history. History is here, with all the possibilities, dangers, all the risks, all the open ends, and moving ends within the context of open history. In history, there is no win-win. Someone should lose. The conclusion, according to the Eurasianist world-vision, is that Sea Power should lose this time, and we should win.

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Dugin in Shanghai: International Relations and Geopolitics – Lecture 1

“International Relations: Theories, Paradigms, Concepts, Schools, Debates”

Author: Alexander Dugin

Transcript prepared by Jafe Arnold

Lecture read at Fudan University, Shanghai, China, December 2018 [VIDEO]

Slide02

This lecture will include all knowledge of International Relations. It is dedicated to the discipline, the science, that is called International Relations. The general course will have four lectures. The first lecture is dedicated to International Relations as a discipline. The second, to geopolitics. The third, to the theory of the multipolar world. The fourth will be dedicated to China in all these fields of theoretical and academic thought.

But we cannot follow the logic of this course without knowing the basis of International Relations, geopolitics, and multipolarity. We need to understand that International Relations is a Western discipline. What does “Western discipline” or “Western science” mean? Now, in the present situation, we should be very careful, because knowing what post-modern is, modern critiques, and modern anthropology, we should carefully distinguish what is “Western.” The Western science and Western approach often tries to impose itself as the universal one. This is the imperialist aspect of the Western mind. It is racism that is implicitly present in any kind of Western thought. Western thought is ethnocentric and, more than ethnocentric, it does not recognize itself as ethnocentric. This kind of implicit racism is worse than explicit racism. Western liberals say “we are defining universal values”, but when you ask them what they mean by “universal values”, they begin to explain Western values as universal – individualism, libertarianism, progress, materialism. There is no place for metaphysics, the spirit, no belief in the soul or afterlife. This is a product of Western civilization, an historical product, that pretends to be universal.

Slide03

When we forget that International Relations, and many other, indeed, almost all sciences which we study at university, are Western, then we are losing a very important aspect. We fall into the trap of regarding this discipline, theory, and science as something universal. We need to always remember that we are dealing with the Western vision – in International Relations more than elsewhere. Because that is the Western vision of how things are.

Slide04

Above all, in China or in Russia today, if we consider ourselves to be subjects of history, not simple objects of history made by others, then we need to always remember this distinction. This does not mean that we should refuse Western science, resist against Western science, or ignore Western science. It means that we must always remember that it is a Western ethnocentric vision. We need a kind of theoretical Chinese wall in the epistemological field.

When you stop some internet connections at the border of your country, you are trying to make a distinction between what is wrong and what is possible for Chinese culture. We need to establish the same wall in the epistemological field.

International Relations deals with the State as such. This is very important. In the very name of this science, this discipline, there is the concept of “nation.” In the Western understanding, the nation is a political value. The West thinks of politics in terms of the “national State” that is normative since the Westphalian peace, and is the normative attitude. The Nation is the national State (Etat-Nation), it is not the people or an ethnic group. International Relations are relations between these States. What kind of State? Modern, Western States. This is the first, very important principle. When we are dealing with the concept of the State, we are dealing with historically Western concepts about how political reality should be organized and studied.

This is a modern paradigm. “Modern paradigm” means Western, but not in all the history of the “West”, but only in modernity. Modernity has transformed the Western mentality and has taken only part of the traditional Western mentality of the middle ages or antiquity and transformed it into a new kind, a new version. International Relations was born as a discipline in the beginning of the 20th century. It is Western and modern. Western modernity is different from Western pre-modernity. This is very important from an historical point of view.

The next point is that there is always an implicit hierarchy in International Relations. We can say that this is a “hidden” hierarchy. The Western concept of International Relations is based on the idea that there are examples of a “normal” State and “normal” relations, and that is precisely the Western world. All the rest are thought to be un- or underdeveloped and under-Western, but striving and tending to become Western. This is a kind of hierarchy.

These are the four principles which we should always remember in studying International Relations, and, I would suggest, other sciences as well. International Relations is a Western and modern discipline. The science is not universal, but is historically, geographically, and ethnically defined. It reflects Western ethnocentrism or “Eurocentrism.”

International Relations is not universal, but reflects the standpoint of the Western part of humanity. This remark opens up the possibility or question of how non-Western International Relations theory should look. Are they possible? Are they desirable?

International Relations is essentially a modern discipline which deals with the modern State and international system created under the Westphalian treaty, when there was a very important shift from pre-modernity in the international political system to modernity, when national, sovereign States were accepted as normative actors in global politics. This was not the case before, when religion and dynasties played an essential part. There was no concept of purely rational calculation of national interests or the sovereign body as the State. Instead, the State had a mission, a religious mission, a religious dimension – such as with Catholic politics in Europe. With the end of the Thirty Years War, a new political system was established that was accepted as universal, normative, progressive, and necessary for everybody else.

Slide05

IR was born in the beginning of the 20th century in England and Switzerland as “tentation” to conceptualize international political science, and now it is established as an acknowledged academic science and discipline in the West, and in imitation of the West elsewhere. When I was teaching International Relations in Russia, it was exactly as it was represented in the rest of the world.

Slide06

So, International Relations studies the relations and interactions of States. The fundamental subject is State-to-State relations, not people-to-people or culture-to-culture. The State is considered as the modern Western State – sovereign and secular. Secular means that there is no religious aspect or mission recognized in the State, so it is purely rational. Sovereign means that there is no higher government above the State. The State is the highest point. There is no god above the State, and the State is the prophet of itself. This is a kind of absolutization of the liberty of the State to do anything and everything. There is no other authority. That is the basic concept of sovereignty. Sovereign is he who has no other ruler or legitimate instance above himself. That is Jean Bodin’s definition of sovereignty. It was applied first in the Protestant concept of politics, and directed against the authority of the Catholic Church, which pretended to be a supranational authority above the State, and after that it was recognized as normative. Sovereignty is modern in its essence, and it is anti-empire.

For example, in Chinese history, according to Professor Zhao Tingyang [1] (赵汀), badao (霸道) and wangdao (王道). Badao (霸道) is power based on the force of hegemony, which does not recognize any other authority. Wangdao (王道)is a kind of moral and spiritual or mystical power of the emperor. This is not only the biggest, but is completely different, a qualitative change. This is not sovereignty. It is a mission. Wangdao (王道) is a mission. Sovereignty is modern and is badao (霸道).

The State is conceived as separate from religion, ethnic traditions, culture, and civilization. The State is national. But what does national mean in the modern political sense? The State is based on individual citizenship. The concept of the normative State considers the individual to be the subject of the State, and all individuals, united in the nation-State, are citizens. He who is not a citizen is outside of the State. All citizens are politically equal. The concept of nation-State is bourgeois and modern. It is not traditional. It does not recognize classes or other forms of professions or different layers of society – they have no political meaning in the modern national State. Nationality is based on individual citizenship.

The modern State, as the subject of International Relations, without a mission, is rational, egoist, and has clearly calculable national interests. It is a rational body. The nation is a rational creation [which exists] in order to organize individuals and to propose to them some kind of order and structure. If individuals are not happy with that, they can change it. Hence the concept of “social-public treaty” (contract). Because the State has nothing transcendental, nothing above it, no mission, it can be reshaped, recreated, destroyed, and created anew, if individuals or citizens decide to do so. It is based on a public treaty or agreement, that is the contractual nature of the modern State. It is almost like a contract agreement between, for example, economic groups. They can decide to put together their capital, and they can decide to stop and to create a new firm. So the State is conceived or is thought to be a kind of commercial firm. This is bourgeois in its roots.

This modern State is believed to be sovereign, so there is no higher authority above it. And the modern State is opposite to empire. It is opposite to the religious State, to the archaic community. It is based on the concept of progress. It is regarded as something that comes historically “after” empire, religious States, and archaic communities, all of which are considered to be pre-modern,  while the modern State is “new” and the “more progressive” form of political organization. So the modern State, as a bourgeois concept, obtains or acquires a sense of meaning only in the context of “progress.” If we challenge the concept of progress, everything will fall apart. No modern State has any sense outside of progress. Progress, modernity, and the modern State always go together. The concept of progress is embedded implicitly in the concept of the modern State.

The implicit hierarchy in International Relations conceives all States as being “Western” or “similar to the West”, “modern”, and “equal”, and deals with them as such. Reality is different, because States, as they are, not as they are thought to be, are not equal. There are big States, huge States, and small States – all of them are “sovereign”, and all of them have a place in the United Nations organization, but Monaco and small Luxembourg – sovereign States – and China, for example, are incomparable, like the huge sun and a small grain of sand. They are not equal.

Slide07

But, interestingly enough, the hierarchy of International Relations contradicts the basic concept that every sovereign State is equal to one another. [2] Nevertheless, it exists, and there are debates in International Relations on how to explain and represent this hierarchy. The old Western racism comes into play here. [3] Racism was formed during colonial times and, little by little, step by step, acquired three layers. Normative racism consists of the first class of humanity – “white” humanity, a second, “yellow” class of humanity, and the third class, the lowest of all, is “black” humanity. This was reflected in the so-called “anthropology” of the 19th century, in Morgan, for example, with some explanations for these terms. “White” means “civilization”; “yellow” means “barbarity” or “quasi-civilization”, something like “civilization”, but not “civilized”, and “black” means “savagery”, or “savages” with no image of civilization, living in wild forests as gatherers, small farmers, and hunters.

Now we can see the exact same in International Relations – although formally without racism, because it was discredited by Nazi Germany – where we have an implicit, unofficial hierarchy that divides all countries into three groups: the First World, or the center in Wallerstein’s system [4], which is the Rich North. This is precisely the Western, white, European, American civilization. This is an old racist concept, in which the “whites” are the First World because they are “more progressive”, richer, more “developed”, have more “human rights”, are more liberal, freer, and happier. This is the old, normative ethnocentric history of the imperialist, hegemonic, colonial system. Although now it is not linked to “racism”, the First World is a purely racist concept. It is a transposition of the old racism onto the new, liberal political plane. The Second World in Wallerstein’s system is called the “semi-periphery”, represented by China, Russia, Latin America, India, and some eastern States, presented as “barbarity.” The West says that they are “corrupt”, “authoritarian”, “totalitarian”, and do not have proper “human rights.” They have dictatorships and corrupt Caesarist regimes, but they are like “us” – that is the First World – “in delay”, and we will “help them” to develop human rights, liberal values, transparency so that they will, one day, maybe, catch up with us and will be “white.”

Then there is the Third World. This is the “periphery” and, as Thomas Berger and Huntington said, this is the “rest” of the “West and the rest.” It is undeveloped and under the influence of the hegemonies of the second and first.

This is a more or less implicit hierarchy. We cannot understand anything in International Relations if we ignore this implicit hierarchy. The most sincere authors, such as Krasner [5], Hobson [6], and others, recognize this. But this is a little bit of an awkward moment, because to recognize the implicit hierarchy of International Relations is the same as to recognize the “racist” nature of the liberal way of thinking. This is a problem for “political correctness”, so they try to avoid this aspect. But it is implicitly, always, in any case present.

Now we will see the content of the science of International Relations.

Slide08.jpg

International Relations as a discipline has different schools. They are different in many senses. The first, fully established, “classical” school is the positivist school. What does “positivist” mean? Positivism means that this school recognizes that there is an “external” or “material” reality that is the subject of International Relations. There are States, interactions between States, nations, and economies, and these exist somehow independently of how we describe them. There is the “positivist” fact that can be regarded, studied, and explored without our subjective relation to it. This is a pre-quantum-mechanical vision. It is “good old materialism” that regards that everything goes by itself, and the human presence is here to describe or deal with the positive reality that is always there outside of and independent of our interpretation. Our interpretation depends on reality, which is not dependent on our interpretation, but is as such.

Slide09

There is also the post-positivist school, which has been gaining more and more ground in the science of International Relations. It is based on post-modernism, such as Michel Foucault’s epistemology, which challenged the existence of the positive fact and described the positive fact as an epistemological struggle. The will to knowledge is the will to power, according to Michel Foucault. This is the basis of post-modernist, hyper-critical ontology, that does not believe in the existence of anything outside of our explanation. This is a quantum-mechanical attitude. In quantum mechanics, the position of the observer is linked to the process itself. Processes with and without observers are different. This is a concept introduced into post-modern philosophy based on the deconstruction of discourse. According to post-positivists, there are no International Relations. There is only discourse on International Relations. There are no States without explanations, documents, and texts. Everything is written, everything is in speech and discourses, and by changing discourse, we change reality. This is very important. I suggest Chinese students to study post-modernism very carefully. It is a growing field of research, and without understanding the basic principles of post-modernism, we cannot understand anything in the present West. Because the present West affects us, we would not be able to understand ourselves without understanding post-modernity. The semi-periphery does not pay sufficient attention to post-modernity. We need to study it because, otherwise, we will be easily tricked in many aspects.

Slide10

The post-positivist school does not believe in the existence of independent material reality. They think that material reality is created in the process of speaking, thinking, and discussing this “material reality.” This is the late concept of Wittgenstein that there is no positive fact, because the positive fact is always embedded in the interpretation. This is the so-called “language game” that creates meaning. Without meaning, there is no thing. The thing is born in the process of the language game. This is the basic principle of post-modernity.

The post-positivist school challenged the status quo in modern science generally, and in International Relations. Post-positivists attack the positivist school as “idiots” affirming things that belong to the past. Post-modernists are progressivists as well, but critical progressivists. The majority of them are from the left, such as from Cultural Marxism, from Trotskyism, from nihilism, and different forms of the leftist, socialist, and pro-communist schools. That is why post-positivist challenges exist in the world order. This is a little revolutionary, because it tries to transform the epistemology of International Relations and, thus by this means, transforms the reality, which is the same as the discourse about reality. This is the test in Derrida’s version. There is nothing but the text. If we change the text, we change reality. This is the revolutionary aspect of post-modernism and the post-positivist school.

The positivist school is fully established with a hundred years of debates, schools, different conferences, and hundreds and thousands of books and manuals written in favor of one or another theory. And there is controversy.

But post-positivism in International Relations is new, is gaining more and more ground, and needs to be taken into consideration. At any conference dedicated to International Relations, there will normally be a representative of this school. They create scandals and may look marginal, but now they are part of an established attitude. In modern manuals dedicated to International Relations, a part is always reserved for expositing post-positivist doctrines. It is not an innovation anymore. Now it is already a part of the discipline, developing and growing,  remaining controversial and scandalous, but as a part of the discipline.

There is a third kind of school of International Relations that does not exist in the form of an accepted academic theory in the proper sense yet. But it is has been born and is beginning to expand. Only the first steps are being made. I call it the multipolar school that is in the process of creation. It does not exist as an established school, but this approach is making its first steps. It is precisely to this concept that I will dedicate the third lecture, explaining it in more detail, but in order to have a general vision of International Relations, we must introduce it.

Slide11

The multipolar school challenges Eurocentrism, modernity, universalism, and the global hegemony of the West. It forms a kind of parallel to some post-positivist structures. It is based on the presumption that there is a multitude of civilizations, which is not the case for post-modernists. Post-modernists are universalists, progressivists, and believe in liberation, democracy, and enlightenment, but they try to “enlighten enlightenment”, to “develop development”, and to “make modernity more modern.” They think that modernity is not modern enough. They try to liberate and bring to its end the process of liberation. Post-modernity is a kind of futuristic modernism.

The multipolar school does not accept linear progress nor the normative status of the West. The multipolar system deals with different civilizations, with no hierarchy at all. It is based on the complete incomparability of different civilizations, which we need to study without regard for any normative status for the West. That is the new aspect of multipolarity. It is based on anthropological pluralism and a positive evaluation of diversity. Here the concept of the Other is decided completely differently than in the traditional Western approach. We can say that the multipolar approach is not Western, and is an anti-Western school of International Relations. That explains why it is not so much developed and why it is not present in manuals, and why it is not mentioned during discussions and debates. It stands outside of globally “understood” Western-centrism. It is not Eurocentrism. So it is not by chance that this theory has been developed in the semi-periphery. Based on the new anthropology of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and of Eduardo Kohn, which affirms that archaic traditions have their own ontology and gnoseology and that we need to accept them as human and not as sub-human, as in progressivist, racist, Western-centrist epistemology.

Slide12

But as for the main, positivist school of International Relations, there are two main schools: Realism, represented and founded by Morgenthau and Carr, and Liberalism, represented by Angell, US President Woodrow Wilson, and Zimmerman. At any normal university, you can pass exams if you understand realism and liberalism, because these are the main approaches which they teach about International Relations in conventional, normative, Western (and non-Western) institutions.

What is realism in International Relations? Realism is the idea that there should not and cannot be supranational organizations. Realists believe in sovereignty in the sense as I have explained it. Because realists believe in sovereignty, they think that there is chaos in International Relations. Chaos in International Relations is something other than “chaos” in normal language. It is not disorder, but is the absence of a higher level of authority which could legally oblige the State to do anything. States are absolutely free, and if you cannot oblige them to do one thing or prevent them from doing another or punish them legally, then you can only punish and oblige illegally. So International Relations as a field is always based on this chaos, because sovereignty is sovereign, and by recognizing sovereignty as an absolute principle, there can be only relations of power. If you are more powerful, you can oblige another, but not by law, legally, but by force. That this is possible and normal – that is realism. You measure forces. For example, how can survive countries and States survive? Either there is something that is “bigger” or “biggest” that is against the other “bigger.” For example, there is small Ukraine and big Russia. Russia attacks Ukraine, and Ukraine calls Washington and says “please, come here, we are attacked by Russians”, and the Russians don’t come. There is always an open situation. But when Ukrainians repress Russians living in Ukraine, they call Russia: “Moscow, please, come here, we want to go back to the motherland.” Everything here is not “legal” or “equal” – these are relations of power. If you can do it, just do it. Take Crimea, take Taiwan, take Hong Kong, if you can do it. You cannot wait when you will be strong enough. That is the realist attitude. You can accept that you will be disappointed with some position, and you can be a loser, or you could gain; you could deplore or you could start a war, and you can conclude a peace. War is not destiny in that situation, but it is possible, and it is real during all of history.

Slide13

That is realism – the idea that everything will be like this forever, as in history, as now, and as forever. The greater part of American experts are realists. When we speak about the West, and above all the United States or Great Britain, at least half, maybe more of them, are openly realists. That is not nationalism, not fascism, but is called realism in International Relations, which represents a school of thought which is implicitly Eurocentric, and was created in Europe based on the normative concept of the State and sovereignty.

The other “half” are liberals. What is liberalism in International Relations? It is different from liberalism in arts, politics, and the economy. Liberalism has a very special and precise meaning in International Relations. It is not a liberal, funny hipster guy who is open and friendly, while realists are hawkish, evil, and aggressive. In International Relations, the term liberalism has a concrete and precise meaning. What does it mean? It means that there is progress in International Relations, which proceeds from State systems, or from a realist system, towards a new world system with a world government. The idea of liberalism in International Relations recognizes the necessity of creating a supranational level of decision-making that should be legally applied to every State. This is the creation of another type of State – a State above a State. In this sense, when the global government is established, everyone should follow the order of the global government just as citizens should follow the orders of nation-State governments. It is the same system, but established on a global, planetary level. This is explained with the concept of progress. Both realists and liberals accept progress, but realists accept it in some relative sense, while globalists believe in progress more than anything else. There is pacifism as well in liberalism, because they might consider war to be the worst and try to avoid war by means of manipulation and destruction of those who think otherwise than they themselves. War for them is to kill those who don’t accept global government.

Slide14

This idea, as well as human rights theory, is based on liberalism in International Relations. It tries to make citizens and humans equal, which is possible only on a supranational level if we recognize the same rights of a citizen, as part of the nation-State, and man as a human being with no concrete connection to political status, in a cosmopolitan version. If you recognize both as legally equal, then you need a global government in order to empower and force this. You need a kind of level of authority that should oblige different nation-States to treat human beings as the global government of liberals thinks they should – legally. Liberalism tries to weaken nation-States, to reduce their sovereignty, and to install an international order instead of chaos. That is precisely the other half of Western scholarship of International Relations.

Liberalism in International Relations is globalization, cosmopolitanism, individualism, human rights ideology, progress, and the idea of destroying nation-States and destroying any form of citizenship in order to create “citizens of the world.” In order to do so, you should dissolve nation-States, because they pretend to be sovereign.

The debate between these two schools represents the history of the twentieth century. The creation of the League of Nations after the First World War, the creation of the United Nations, the Hague Tribunal, the European Union, and the European Court of Human Rights – all of these moments were forms of implementing the theory of liberalism in International Relations. This is not by chance, by agreement between States, but is an idea of liberalism in International Relations. It is a theory based on progress and the affirmation that the Nation-State is not the best thing, as realists affirm, but a stage in human social, political, and cultural development.

Slide15.jpg

Globalism and globalization are first of all a theory, a thought, not a fact. They are a discourse represented by liberals. Liberalism in International Relations openly advocates the creation of a world government and the deconstruction of Nation-States. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is part of manuals, which you can see if you carefully read any existing manual on International Relations in any country. Perhaps with astonishment, you will discover that the concept of global governance is not a conspiracy theory or the idea of some small elite trying to impose it, but is an openly recognized theory – one of the two main theories of International Relations.

There are two other schools, which are also positivist. One is the English school, which is a kind of “middle way.” Representatives of the English school say that there should be the sovereignty of States, and no world government, but more progressive States should create a “club” that will not punish, but exclude or put pressure on others – such as when the G8 was transformed into the G7. Russia was punished by the “club” in the English school. It was illegal. There is no such institution – it is a club. They can accept some and exclude others. This is a constant of the English school – there can be order, but based on agreements and the rules of the club – not law, not global government, but a global club. Hedley Bull, John Burton, and Barry Buzan, who is one of the brilliant scholars of the English school – I like him very much – and who explains the transformation of the international system through history, in an historical sociology of International Relations.

Slide16

There is the Marxist school in International Relations. But it is not so familiar to you or to us because it is not Stalinist, Maoist, or Soviet. It is rather Trotskyist. Our Chinese and Russia politics and traditions in China and Russia were based on realism, with some special “details” about progress, socialism, and social systems, but they were more or less openly Russia-centric or China-centric. But the Marxist school in International Relations is something different. It affirms that there has been a global world from the beginning: capitalism. Capitalism is global, and the divisions between nation-States are a kind of formality that does not represent reality. Capitalism was born in the West, and it should expand to all the earth. And only when everybody will be capitalist and will be liberal, there will be no more nations, peoples, or races, but only classes – two of them: capitalists on top, international in nature, and proletarians below, also international. Marxists in International Relations are against the Russian and Chinese examples because they are a kind of “national version” of communism. They insist that International Relations – everything – should be absolutely international – no nationality, no tradition, no languages, only class relations between the international bourgeois and the international proletarian. And when they say international, they mean that capitalism should win. And after that will come revolution. But first of all, it should be global. So they are very close to the liberals: they say “let them win, and after that we will come.” This is Negri and Hardt’s concept of the multitudes and Empire. [7]

Slide17

These are more or less the two main schools, representing the majority of discourse in International Relations. In the United States, for example, everybody is either liberal or realist. That is the normal position, even if they debate. Trump is a realist, and Hillary Clinton is a liberal. So there can be good realists, bad realists, crazy liberals – this does not mean anything. We are speaking of ideas.

Slide18But the post-positivist schools are much more interesting in my opinion. There is the normativist theory that affirms that if we create a norm, then it does not reflect reality, but creates the reality, and everybody will follow the norm. If you try to punish people who violate some rule on the street, little by little this norm, which does not reflect anything, creates people who very carefully behave “correctly” because of these norms. By changing norms, we change reality – that is the modest version of post-positivism.

Slide19.jpg

Critical theory, such as that of Cox [8], Gill [9], and Linklater [10], tries to criticize the ideas of the liberals and realists which are inconsistent from the post-modern point of view, showing that they defend the status quo and are biased – politically, intellectually, structurally. Critical theory shows how discourse in International Relations is biased. That is their main purpose. Post-modern theory, such as that of Ashley [11] and Der Derian [12], says that International Relations consists of texts and only texts. This is an application of Derrida to International Relations. If you deconstruct texts, you will see that there is nothing behind them. Everything is based on corrupted information currents. If you change the information currents and rearrange the “facts”, you immediately receive a completely different image and reality. This is the “tail wearing the dog.” Soft power is an applied part of this idea. Post-modern theory is based on the deconstruction of the discourses of International Relations.

Next is the feminist theory of Enloe [13], Tickner [14], and Donna Haraway [15]. Feminists in International Relations affirm that all International Relations have been made, conceived, described, proposed, and promoted by males in what is a kind of hierarchy…If we put a female instead of male, she presumably will create peace, prosperity, friendship, and good relations between countries. There will be no State, no patriarchy, no hierarchy, no verticality in International Relations. There will be a completely different description of reality. If a woman will not pretend to be a man in dealing with International Relations, and if the woman tries to wrest “the woman” and describe reality from a woman’s point of view, then there will be a completely different construction of International Relations. This is a relativization of male dominance in International Relations. This is a growing theory, and I suggest that feminism should be taken seriously. It is not a joke; it is part of modern civilization.

In the historical sociology of International Relations, Hobden and Hobson [16] try to put the discourse of International Relations in historical contexts. They criticize the Western-centric, Eurocentric point of view.

And there is the constructivist theory of Onuff [17], Katzenstein [18], and Wendt [19]. They affirm more or less the same as the others. They say that we need to construct, and not only deconstruct, International Relations. Onuff’s main thesis is the “world of our making.” We live in a world which we make. There is no world. The only world that exists is the world we are making. This is the main idea. We are dealing with a fixed, frozen hallucination or imagination. There is no positive reality, so let us construct the world we dream of, the world we want. This is possible because we are living in an imaginational order.

Slide11 (1)

The multipolar school, which I will only evoke some aspects of, includes Eurasianism and the Theory of the Multipolar World and Fourth Political Theory, which is precisely what I am working on. There are many texts which are more or less accepted as the position of the Russian strategy in International Relations and the Russian tradition of realism. This is gaining popularity in Russia. You can see how Putin has introduced the Eurasian Union. Multipolarity is very important and has been approached by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov. That is something I am working on.

There is the Chinese school, including Zhao Tingyang (赵汀阳) [20], Qin Yaqing (秦亚青) [21], Yan Xuetong (阎学通) [22], and Zhang Weiwei (张维为) [23]. The concept or approach of these authors is not only realism, but Yan Xuetong is mostly a realist. Nevertheless, all of them try to establish the particularity of Chinese civilization, and I like above all the concept of Tianxia Tixi (天下体系), which regards the historical relations of China and other people not as a pure hegemony, not as an order of force or imposition. For example, Vietnam is a very interesting case. It accepted all of Chinese culture up to the details, but never recognized the direct right of physical, brutal rule, fighting against Chinese attempts to submit, at the same time being part of the Chinese universe, as opposed to the case of the Japanese who subjugated Korea. The empire of Tianxia (天下) is not only China as such as a State, but China as a pole of civilization with multiple layers. The idea of defending it in the present situation is a revolutionary idea, because it challenges all other discourses, just as Eurasianism challenged Western-centrism. There are many similarities between them.

There is also the European New Right of Alain de Benoist, the French GRECE and French New Right. They are not liberal, but are right anti-liberal, not nationalists, but Europeanists, not Catholic or Christian, but pagans, with the very interesting idea to recreate European civilization by returning to pre-modernity. Because they are living inside of globalization and modern Western civilization their remarks and theories are very important for the countries and cultures outside of the West.

La Teoría de la Insubordinación Fundante [24] is a very interesting theory of Marcelo Gullo Omodeo from Argentina which represents the idea that, basically, Latin America should not submit to North America and global world order. This is an idea that is very famous and developed in Latin America. It is growing in importance. Marcelo Gullo Omodeo is part of this multipolar discourse which is completely new in International Relations.

And there is the Brazilian author, Andre Martin, with his O Meridinalismo, which is the important idea that the South should be a united alternative to the North, not following or trying to catch up with the North, but creating different links between Latin America and, for example, Africa, and South Asian countries. This is a very interesting concept based on multipolarity.

What is important in all of these is that they challenge Eurocentrism. They consider International Relations to be provincial in its present State, a provincial Western concept with hegemonic, universalist, colonialist, imperialist pretenses. They try to reduce Western theory of International Relations in a much broader context, defending the rights of peoples and civilizations instead of modern States or global government. They are liberals and realists and post-modernists.

We can also consider the debates in International Relation, such as that of Realism against Liberalism in International Relations. That is a major part of the science. The discipline of International Relations is dedicated to this question: how liberals think that universal peace is possible if we reduce the sovereignty of the State, and how realists respond that such is not the case, because everyone will try to use this international institutions in their favor. The realists say that the United Nations fails, while the liberals say that it is better than the absence of international institutions. There are thousands of books on this. Precisely what is going on in International Relations on the practical level in the West is only about that. The Americans speak honestly about this and call things by their names. They have no shyness and speak about hegemony, realism, chaos, internationalism, confronting arguments, and attacking each other. But they are honest in that, and only they are. When they come to Europe, there is pure political correctness. There is no realism in Europe. In Europe it is impossible. In Europe realists in International Relations are “fascists”, with whom there can be no good relations. There is an overwhelming liberalism in International Relations in Europe. In manuals, certainly, you will read the debates of realism and Morgenthau, Carr, and chaos in International Relations, but in official debates in European diplomacy, there prevails exclusively liberalism in International Relations. And the realization of it is the European Union, which is a supranational structure that shows how to turn liberalism in International Relations in reality. They are not joking. They are liberals. Before there were different points, such Gaullism of Charles de Gaulle, for example. There was realism in the history of Europe, and all of its modern history were struggles, wars, and fights between Nations, but now liberalism is absolutely and overwhelmingly prevailing. Realists don’t recognize that. That is hypocrisy. They are promoting human rights always and everywhere, including when they simply destroy some countries in order to rob them, as with Libya, for example, but that was all about “human rights.” You can kill in favor of human rights, invade, destroy, and support radical Islam if it corresponds to “human rights.” Americans can say “it’s our business, business like business, nothing personal” and close our eyes to Saudi Arabia in some situations because they are our allies, and open our eyes when something is happening in Russia, and when nothing is going in Russia, we will just imagine and create a story.

In that sense, I suggest America as an example of a normal and honest field of debate between realists, who are recognized as an absolutely normal part of this society – half of American politicians are realists – and the other half are liberals, who try to demonize the realists now, and this is the European case, as in Trump’s election. He is a realist, he is honest, they are allies, America First, and the liberals go “no no, that is nationalism.” And they, the liberals, have lost. That is a sign that realism is half of the population of the political spectrum of the political elite of the United States, and they recognize that – “nothing personal.” There is a pure and honest International Relations school in the United States of America. In Europe, there is now no such clear possibility. Liberals try to demonize the realists, call them “fascists”, “extremists”, “Putin’s agents”, “Russian hackers”, and so on. But now, for example, in Italy, Hungary, and so on there are realist governments. There are left and right realists. Realism exists in Europe in spite of the European rules of political correctness and globalism.

The other debate – more interesting and charged with irony and humor – is that between positivism versus post-positivism, which is philosophical, but which in International Relations acquires a special dimension. I suggest philosophers, and Chinese philosophers, to pay attention to post-modernism in International Relations as broader than post-modernity. It is not only abstract philosophy and playing with concepts as in Deleuze’s plateau or Lacan, but in the everyday life of International Relations you will see how post-modernity works.

The next terms of debate are universalism and Eurocentrism versus the plurality of civilizations. This is precisely the multipolar theory that is only in its first stage of development. The main principles of realism are:

absolute sovereignty

  • chaos in International Relations,
  • national interests which discount everything based on rational calculation,
  • mercantilism in foreign trade, which means that the State should control foreign trade by taxes,
  • no supranational legitimacy,
  • anthropological pessimism

It is interesting how realists explain that the State should be because men are “evil”, and in order to put them order, we should have a State – otherwise they will behave in an unpredictable way and destroy everything. So they are pessimists and try to put humans in their place based on mutual agreement. They do not believe that human nature can be changed in progress. Humans are more or less the same.

The main principles of liberalism are:

relative sovereignty

  • from chaos to order in International Relations creating a supranational legal system, international interests should prevail – which is something incomprehensible to realists, for whom there are no international interests as there can be no international interests
  • liberalism in foreign trade, direct seller-buyer links with no State monopoly on foreign trade, no taxes, and no regulation in foreign economic policy
  • and universal peace is an imperative. War is worst of all, if it is not a ‘holy war’ against the enemies of the open society
  • world government, political globalization, and internationalism (and sometimes “pacifism”)
  • anthropological optimism, or the idea of progress, that humans can be better, more peaceful, more friendly, more hipster, more equal
  • education and progress should be political means destroy Nation-States using epistemology in order to promote their vision
  • human rights and the individual are the universal norm. There is no concept of the citizen as in realism, but the individual is a global concept.

If we put these together, we can see quite a symmetric opposition – term against term, affirmations against negations. What realists affirm and accept, liberals in International Relations challenge and deny. We see a symmetry in this debate and, to say the truth, we can find some intellectual bases in both. It is not a case of “stupid” against “wise.” This is one form of mentality against another form of mentality. You can choose your position.

For the English school or “middle way”:

States are sovereign

  • there is no legitimate supranational organization, but chaos in International Relations should be organized somehow nevertheless. This can be done through the concept of the club of the most powerful. The club of the less powerful has no influence.
  • States form the International system, and this system can be reflected, corrected, and indirectly controlled by the club.
  • Potestas indirecta (in Latin), a concept developed by Carl Schmitt

For Marxism in International Relations:

  • the capitalist system is global
  • Nation-States are fictions,
  • the differences between realists and liberals are useless and misleading, and the division between the capitalist States are lesser than vertical antagonism between the bourgeois and proletarian.
  • Capitalism, globalization, cosmopolitanism, and the reduction of society to the individual status are necessary. This creates real internationalism.
  • Contradictions in the capitalist system will grow – this is the difference with liberals, for whom contradictions will decline.
  • The growth of the middle class is a lie according to Marxists, and pauperization will become total.
  • All peoples and cultures of the world are obliged to repeat the economic development of the West. In that sense, they are racists.
  • In the globalist future, the proletarians will also become global, will rise from the global revolution and will overcome the bourgeoisie. This is the difference in the far future.

The main principles of post-positivism are:

  • the theoretical fields of International Relations are an artificial construction.
  • There is no independent reality, and the subjects of International Relations are not States, peoples, and civilizations, but are created in the process of discourse. By speaking of International Relations, we are creating the subject of International Relations.
  • All discourses are necessarily biased – you cannot have neutral or scientific, objective discourse, because you serve one or another power. International Relations reflect not the State but the will of their creators.
  • International Relations is the fight for domination and hegemony, and nothing else. This is pure political propaganda. All International Relations, according to the post-positivists, is nothing but direct political propaganda in order to submit all of humanity and install their operational system instead of others.
  • There is a need to create a new critical theory against discourses of power in International Relations. There is hard criticism of of all positivist theories as varieties of dominant, authoritative discourse – this is a post-modern concept.
  • There are a variety of proposals that should be based on post-positivist version of IR. It is very diverse, not united.

 

Footnotes

[1] Zhao Tingyang (2005). Tianxia Tixi: Shijie Zhidu Zhexue Daolun [Tianxia System: An Introduction to the Philosophy of World Institutions]. Nanjing: Jiangsu Jiaoyu Chubanshe.

[2] Krasner S. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

[3] Hobson J.M. The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory, 1760–2010. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2011.

[4] Wallerstein I. Geopolitics and Geoculture: Essays on the Changing World-System. Cambridge:Press Syndicate, 1991.

[5] Krasner S. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

[6] Hobson J.M. The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory, 1760–2010. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2011.

[7] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Harvard University Press, 2000; Idem. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, New York: Penguin Press, 2004.

[8] Cox R.W. Production, Power and World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

[9] Gill S. American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991

[10] Linklater A. Critical Theory and World Politics: Citizenship, Sovereignty and Humanity. L, NY: Routledge, 2007.

[11] Ashley R. The Eye of Power: The Politics of World Modeling // International Organization. Vol. 37. No. 3 Summer 1983.

[12] Derian Der J. Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed, and War. NY; London: Blackwill, 1992.

[13] Enloe Cynthia. Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics.London: Pandora Press 1990.

[14] Tickner A.B., Wæver O. International Relations Scholarship around the World. N.Y.: Taylor & Francis, 2009.

[15] Haraway Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” // Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York; Routledge, 1991. C. 149–181.

[16] Hobden Stephen, Hobson John M. Historical Sociology of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

[17] Onuf Nicholas. World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations. Columbia: University of South California Press, 1989.

[18] Katzenstein Peter J. Civilizations in World Politics: Plural and Pluralist Perspectives. London, UK: Routledge, 2010.

[19] Wendt Alexander. Social Theory of International Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1999.

[20] Zhao Tingyang (2005). Tianxia Tixi: Shijie Zhidu Zhexue Daolun [Tianxia System: An Introduction to the Philosophy of World Institutions]. Nanjing: Jiangsu Jiaoyu Chubanshe.

[21] Qin Yaqing. (2007). “Why Is There No Chinese International Relations Theory”// International Relations of the Asia Pacific. vol. 7, No.3.

[22] Yan Xuetong. (2015). Shijie quanli de zhuanyi: zhengzhi lingdao yu zhanlue jingzheng [The Transition of World Power: Political Leadership and Strategic Competition]. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe.

[23] Zhang Weiwei. China Wave, The: Rise Of A Civilizational State. New Jersey: World Century Publishing Corporation, 2012.

[24] Marcelo Gullo Omodeo. La Teoría de la Insubordinación Fundante. Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2008.

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China and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

 

Contemporary Chinese political scientists derive their doctrine of multipolarity from the Cold War era, and in particular the five principles of peaceful coexistence which formed the basis of the 1954 treaty with India. These five principles are:

1.     Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty;

2.     Non-aggression;

3.     Non-interference in internal affairs;

4.     Equality and mutual benefit;

5.     Peaceful coexistence.

China began actively participating in the development of the multipolar strategy under discussion today more than 30 years ago, for which there exists a specific Chinese term, duojihua – 多极化, meaning multipolarity or “multipolarism.”[1]

      In an article from early 1986 entitled “Prospects for the international situation”[2], Deng Xiaoping’s national security advisor, Huan Xiang, who also boasted experience in diplomatic service abroad and cooperation with Shanghai academic circles, indicated that insofar as the Cold War conflict had become relatively stable, the world’s superpowers were effectively losing the ability to control their own camps, hence the beginning of political multipolarity. The first step in this direction was the emergence of the strategic USSR-USA-China triangle following which, in the author’s opinion, a quintipolar world would appear including Japan and Europe.

         Two years before this article’s publication, Huan Xiang noted in 1984 that: “The old world order has already disintegrated and the new world order is now taking shape, but up to now it still has not yet completely formed.. U.S. domination of the Asia-Pacific will end … Japan knows what role it should take, but it still hesitates… China must go through a long period of hard work . . . 30 to 50 years time will make it truly powerful.”[3] Huan also pointed to what the confrontation between the USSR and USA was leading to: “The two largest military powers are weakening and declining . . . militarily they are developing in the direction of multipolarization . . . if the Star Wars plan develops, multipolarization could develop toward bipolarization, and could again return to bipolarization. If secondary ranked countries want to carry out a Star Wars plan, it will be very difficult. The position of those countries will immediately decline.[4]

         In January 1986, however, any uncertainty regarding the future structure of the world evaporated[5] and its transformation and transition acquired clear traits and stages. In Huan Xiang’s words: “Future international politics and economics are facing a new period.”[6] By 1986, Huan Xiang was no longer alone in his forecasts. Another author published an article in China’s National Defense University’s journal entitled “The development of global strategic multipolarity.”[7] After some time, multipolarity was already regarded as the trend of the 21st century.[8]

         It bears noting, however, that this concept of multipolarity eventually came to be met with opponents, albeit not immediately. In 1997, senior analyst for the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yang Dazhou, published an article entitled “My opinion on the global structure after the Cold War” which subjected the traditional Chinese view on multipolarity to thorough, detailed criticism.[9] The article’s main arguments consisted of the following theses:

–     The United States will maintain its superpower status for at least three decades.

–     The United States will maintain its alliances with Japan and Germany.

–     In the next two to three decades, there will be no period of “uncertainty.”

–     There will be no extended transition period from this trend towards multipolarity.

–     There already exists a “pluralist” global structure of “one superpower and four powers.”

–     Only the United States is a genuine “pole” capable of resolving key issues in any region, as exemplified in the case of the Dayton Accords. “The United States plays a leading role which no other nation can replace…it is the only country which is a ‘pole.’”

–     China “does not possess sufficient qualification to be a ‘pole.’”

–     For more than 20 years, no other nations, including Third World countries, will become major powers capable of challenging the five strongest. Thus, the phrase which many analysts adhere two of “one super, the rest strong” is actually inappropriate.

–     It is unlikely that large local wars will break out between nations.

Of course, these theses drew criticism first and foremost from conservative Chinese circles, such as the military. The editor of the National Defense University’s journal, International Strategic Studies, subsequently decided that an article by General Huang Zhenji would be suitable as a response despite the fact that it was rather sharp in tone and “unusual” in style.[10] General Huang mentioned excerpts of Yang’s article without directly quoting it and confirmed the original point of view on each of these points:

–     The US’ decline is inevitable and underway.

–     The US’ global influence is already severely restricted.

–     Quintipolar multipolarity is inevitable, especially in terms of the growing tensions between the United States, Japan, and Germany (as was evidenced by fresh meetings of the highest level between the European Union and Asia which excluded the declining United States).

–     The emergence of the “Third World” has changed global politics and will contain the United States.

–     Local wars are certain even though “peace and development” will be the main trend in the “uncertain” transitional period of coming decades.

Here it is also necessary to note how the Chinese have understood the global political order of the past two centuries while taking into account the fact that the country was effectively a colony and under occupation until only the second half of the 20th century. China’s authorities believe that global politics is a system or “strategic pattern”, among which they distinguish five different pattern periods:

1.     The Vienna System: 1815-1870;

2.     The Transitional System marked by Germany and Italy’s unification and the Meiji reforms;

3.     The Versailles System: 1920-1945;

4.     The Yalta System: 1945-1989;

5.     Transition period…

As can be seen, such an approach shares common elements with Braudel and other authors’ concepts. However, there are some differences, namely, minor differentiations which allow us to draw conclusions on the different criteria for evaluating the global system that are peculiar to the Asian (non-Western) type of thinking.

By the end of the 1990’s, three approaches to future multipolarity had been developed in China. Xi Runchang from China’s Academy of Social Sciences who, like Yang Dazhou, said that there will be “one superpower and four strong powers”, suggested that this pattern represents the new global structure: “Currently there has already basically formed a new embryonic structure supported by the five powers . . . in the 21st century, this new structure will further form and be perfected.[11]

         Yan Xuetong from the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies presented a second scenario known as the “theory of the completion of the main project of multipolarity.” Yan argues that the “The basic establishment of the great nations’ strategic relations in 1996 caused the post-Cold War transition from a bipolar structure to a one super many strong structure to be completed.[12]

          Song Baoxian and Yu Xiaoqiu’s works from the same institute suppose a third scenario closer to that envisioned by Huang Zhenji and the conservative camp in which “multipolarity is formed” and other countries besides the five strongest only become stronger. They argue that “the development of trends of multipolarity is accelerating” and “a new group of powers is arising” which will play “the role of restricting the five main powers” thus making the trend of multipolarity as the global structure more attractive and diverse.[13]

         In 1997, another senior analyst at the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies, Li Zhongcheng, summated these three differing views on the future global structure put forth by the institute and Academy of Social Science’s analysts. Li does not criticize any of the authors, whose ideas he merely presents, but his own expressed views are evidently closer to the third purported scenario.[14]

         Yan Xuetong from the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies became the one who genuinely attempted to develop an alternative approach to questions of multipolarity, as when he wrote: “The new international structure has some special characteristics, the most important of which is the replacement of ‘poles'(ji) by ‘units’ (yuan). The nature of ‘poles’ is long-term stable confrontation, but the nature of ‘units’ is that the dominant position of key countries is determined by the nature of specific affairs.”[15]

         These distinctions deviated from the conservative line. For example, a large part of Yang Dazhou’s article centered on challenging this point of view by means of the tactic of establishing and clarifying definitions for such key words and phrases as “pole”, “transition era”, “pluralization” (duoyuanhua), “multipolarization” (duojihua), “large nation” (daguo), and “power” (qiangguo). Dazhou defined a “pole” as something founded on the standards of the Cold War era when the only poles were the United States and Soviet Union. Accordingly, the “four strong powers” are not poles because “when compared to the Soviet Union, there still is a great distance.”[16]

         In a similar vein, in his argument against those who claimed that the world is in a transition era set to continue for an indefinite period of time, Yang argues that any transition is by definition not uncertain: “Some people believe that the post-Cold War transition period could continue for 20, even 30 years. This type of argument is not appropriate; a ‘transition period’ always has an ending time. Suppose the ‘transition period’ goes on for 20 or 30 years, then this itself already constitutes a new structure different from that of the Cold War period.”[17]

         Overall, Chinese analysts have argued that China should not be purely passive, but can and even should aid the inauguration of the multipolar trend and accelerate its tempo.

For example, China is purported to be in a position to help Europe become a pole. One Chinese author has claimed that the EU wants to play a more important international role as a “powerful, independent pole” in the unfolding multipolar world, and thus is “seeking to at the same time strengthen its ties with the world’s major powers”, hence the release of the important political document, “Building a Comprehensive Partnership with China” in March 1997. The Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Studies’ Feng Zhongping calls this “strategic partnership.” In Feng’s opinion, these new relations with China will “help the EU in its long quest to establish itself on the world stage and become and independent ‘pole’ in global affairs.” The basis for the EU possibly becoming such a “pole” is explained by “China’s status in the unfolding global balance of power.”[18]

         A similar argument was advanced by Shen Yihui, who claimed that the “EU should count on China’s support” because “the establishment of closer ties with China will allow Western Europe to play a greater role in international affairs.” Shen adds that China can not only help the EU gain authority in world affairs, but also that improved relations between China and the EU could help the latter in other problems.” In economic terms, he argues, “the Chinese market is needed to catalyze economic growth in Europe.” Even in the sphere of security, “China can be used to create a fortnight security zone around the EU.”[19]

         Subsequent years have shown that Beijing has been met with certain resistance despite the fact that China has partially penetrated Europe’s market. It should also be noted that current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin, highlighted the concept of multipolarity, economic globalization, and the development of science and technology as the fundamental global trends of the era.

Footnotes: 

[1] John Lee, “An Exceptional Obsession”, The American Interest,  May/June 2010,  http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=80

[2] Huan Xiang, “Zhanwang 1986 nian guoji xingshi” (Prospects for the 1986 international situation), in Huan Xiang wenji (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994): 1291. Originally published in Liaowang, no. 1 (1986).

[3] Huan Xiang, “Yatai diqu xingshi he Mei-Su de zhengduo zhanlue” (The situation in the Asia-Pacific region and U.S.-Soviet rivalry strategy), in Huan Xiang wenji, 1115. This article originally appeared in Guoji zhanwang (International Outlook), no. 14 (1984).

[4] Huan Xiang, “Xin jishu geming dui junshi de yingxiang” (The influence of the new technological revolution on military affairs), in Huan Xiang wenji (The collected works of Huan Xiang)(Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994), 2: 1263. This article was originally published in Liberation Army Daily, June 7 and June 14, 1985.

[5] It cannot be ruled out that this Chinese author’s opinion was influenced by the shift in the USSR’s political course. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed the post of General Secretary of CPSU and subsequently launched Perestroika.

[6] Huan Xiang, “Wo guo ‘qiwu’ qijian mianlin guoji zhengzhi jingji huanjing de fenxi” (An analysis of the international political and economic environment that China is facing during its seventh five-year plan), in Huan Xiang wenji (Beijing: Shijie zhishi chubanshe, 1994): 1300.

[7] Gao Heng, “Shijie zhanlue geju zhengxiang duojihua fazhan” (Development of global strategic multipolarity), Guofang daxue xuebao (National Defense University Journal), no. 2 (1986): 32-33.

[8] Luo Renshi, “Strategic Structure, Contradictions and the New World Order,” International Strategic Studies 19, no.1 (March 1991): 1-6.

[9] Yang Dazhou, “Dui lengzhan hou shijie geju zhi wo jian”, Heping yu Fazhan (Peace and Development) 60, no. 2 (June 1997): 41-45.

[10] Huang Zhengji, “Shijie duojihua qushi buke kangju” (The inevitable trend toward multipolarity), Guoji zhanlue yanjiu (International Strategic Studies) 46, no. 4 (October 1997): 1-3.

[11] Xi Runchang, “Shijie zhengzhi xin geju de chuxing ji qi qianjing” (The embryonic form of the world’s new political structure and its prospects), Heping yu fazhan (Peace and Development), no. 1 (1997), cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi (Trans century world politics) (Beijing: Shishi chubanshe, 1997): 29.

[12] Yan Xuetong, “1996-1997 nian guoji xingshi yu Zhonguo duiwai guanxi baogao” (A report on the 1996-1997 international situation and China’s foreign relations), Zhanlue yu guanli (Strategy and Management), supplementary issue (1996-1997), cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi, 31.

[13] Song Baoxian and Yu Xiaoqiu, “Shijie duojihua qushi jishu fazhan” (The world’s multipolarity trend continues to develop), Renmin ribao (People’s Daily), December 28, 1994, cited in Li Zhongcheng, Kua shiji de shijie zhengzhi , 32.

[14] Wu Hua, Shen Weili, and Zhen Hongtao, Nan Ya zhi shi–Indu (The lion of South Asia–India) (Beijing: Shishi chubanshe, 1997): 2.

[15] Yan Xuetong, Zhongguo guojia liyi fenxi (Analysis of China’s national interests) (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1996): 55.

[16] Yang Dazhoug, “Dui lengzhan hou shijie geju zhi wo jian,” 43.

[17] Ibid, 42.

[18] Feng Zhongping, “An Analysis of the China Policy of the European Union,” Contemporary International Relations 8, no. 4 (April 1988): 1-6. Feng was Deputy Director of the Division for Western European Studies at CICIR.

[19] Shen Yihui, “Cross-Century European-Chinese Relations,” Liaowang, no. 14 (April 6, 1998): 40-41, in FBIS-CHI-98-114, April 24, 1998. For an additional article discussing improving Sino-EU relations see Wang Xingqiao, “A Positive Step Taken by the European Union to Promote Relations with China,” Beijing Xinhua Domestic Service, July 1, 1998, in FBIS-CHI-98-191, July 10, 1998.

Iran and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

At the turn of the millennium, Irani’s President from 1997-2005, Mohammad Khatami, proposed the concept of dialogue of civilizations. Initially being a counter-thesis to Samuel Huntington’s work, The Clash of Civilizations, Khatami insisted on and argued for the need for discussion between different religions and cultures, especially during his address to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly (1998-1999) when he officially declared 2001 to be the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. The peculiarity of Mohammad Khatami’s theory of “dialogue of civilizations” rests in that it offers a systematic, scholarly, and practically feasible and purposeful use of exchange between civilizations to overcome barriers of alienation between different players on the global political scene to prevent crisis situations in the world taking into account the modern level of technological and communication development and with an eye towards global problems which threaten the very existence of mankind.[1]  Khatami said:

We should not forget that cultures and civilizations always have interaction and mutual influence. New abilities were formed due to their interaction. Non-dialogue paradigm leads to a deadlock, to overcome which we inevitably appeal to the dialogue approaches. Constructive indicators of dialogue certainly must not be limited only to the spheres of politics and culture. Not all constructive indicators of culture are only cultural ones; since economic, social, cultural and educational aspects participate in this formation. Therefore, promotion of dialogue of civilizations should be recognized as a multi-sided necessity.[2]

In 2001, however, a terrorist attack struck New York and the American neoconservatives subsequently triumphed in their insisting on the necessity of military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism and finding (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. The harsh dualism put forth as an ultimatum by the George W. Bush Administration to the tune of “those who aren’t with us, are with the terrorists” buried any efforts at establishing such a dialogue of civilizations.

During the presidency of Khatami’s successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran became yet another pretext for the West’s contrived “concerns.” Meanwhile, on the other hand, Iran became an object of interest for all those forces resisting Washington-led unipolar globalization. High prices and demand for oil contributed to Iran’s economic development, although sanctions imposed by Western countries and later the UN hampered the Iranian economy. Despite this, Iran demonstrated political resilience to outside influence, remained loyal to its ideological principles, and affirmed its right to be an influential player in the region. In addition, Iran under Ahmadinejad began actively cooperating with those Latin American countries which adopted an anti-imperialist foreign policy course.

The fact that these countries’ leaderships, and first and foremost Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia adhered to socialist views did not hinder the establishment of an alliance which set for itself the goal of political multipolarity based on respect for the sovereignty of states and their peoples’ cultural traditions. Cooperation with Russia, China, and African countries was also amplified.

Moreover, similar views came to be shared by other senior politicians of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In May 2006, the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Yahya Rahim Safavi, stressed that “Today, taking into account countries such as Russia, China, India, an Iran, the world is moving in the direction of multipolarity contrary to the desire of the USA.”[3] Ahmadinejad continued Iran’s course towards multipolarity during his second presidential term as well. At the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in October 2010, Ahmadinejad said:

The inefficiency of capitalism and existing global governance and its structures has manifested itself for many years, and the majority of countries and peoples are in search of fundamental changes for the sake of justice in international relations…The world is in need of the logic of compassion, justice, and universal cooperation, not the logic of force, domination, unipolarity, war, and intimidation…The Iranian people and the majority of peoples and governments of the world are against the current, discriminatory global governance. The inhumane nature of this governance has brought it to a standstill and requires radical revision. Universal cooperation, pure thoughts, and divine and humane governance are needed to remedy the situation in the world and to transition to peace and prosperity.[4]

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, also stressed the pursuit of multipolarity. During his speech at the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran in August 2012, Khamenei pointed out the need to reform the UN, drew attention to the West’s unilateral imposition of its programs undermining the principles of democracy, the destructive work of monopolized mass media, and problems of weapons of mass destruction. Khamenei proposed the doctrine of a “Middle East without nuclear weapons” by which, of course, he meant Israel as an outcast in this issue, and highlighted the need to improve “political productivity in global governance.”[5]  Without a doubt, such a venue as the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit is not only for political reports advising the need for high morality and justice, but is a platform for criticizing neo-imperialism. It is a powerful pooling of leaders and senior officials of states from all continents to meet and take advantage of a decent opportunity to reach agreements, discuss the prospects of joint projects, and reduce possible friction in diplomatic relations.[6] Iran’s role in this regard is very indicative.

If Iran de facto is and has been before a geopolitical center, then the changing international situation has opened the possibility for it to transform its status and rise to the level of a geopolitical pole. If Iran is approached not only as a sovereign nation-state, but as a center of Shiite Islam, then we undoubtedly see that Iran’s influence in a number of countries with Shiite populations makes it a geopolitical subject of a different level and significance. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine are states which depend on support from Iran through various mechanisms.

The Iranian international relations expert Behzad Khoshandam posits that 2016 was a turning point for Iran in regards to choosing its international course, which was finally confirmed to be that of multipolarity. This is due to several interconnected factors: (1) the signing of the nuclear deal with six countries (a manifestation of the logic of Iran’s strategic patience in political, trade, economic, and other interests); (2) rapprochement with Russia; (3) Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections; (4) understanding the hostile intentions of the numerous countries conducting proxy wars against Iran (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel); (5) and the overall serious turn towards Eurasia.[7] To this we can add the strategic agreement with China announced in January 2016 which includes Beijing actively supporting Iran in acquiring full membership in the SCO.[8]

Indeed, in the opinion of Iranian scholars, the country’s national interests are best protected in none other than the multipolar paradigm of global politics. Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri from Tehran University believes that only in a multipolar international system can regional cooperation and balanced relations with all powerful states help countries achieve their national interests.[9]

The Iranian political scientist Massoud Mousavi Shafaei from Tarbiat Modares University has proposed that Iran take advantage of the fluidity of the international system and the emergence of new conditions for active operations in different regional environments. Insofar as Iran is located between the Middle East and Central Asia, it indeed does have a choice. The Middle East is submerged in chaos, ethnic conflicts, wars, and terror, and this crisis will likely continue for an indefinite period of time. In these circumstances, the restoration of order in the region under the leadership of a single hegemonic power or even under the pressure of large powers is seen as practically impossible.[10] Given that the US instrumentalizes most Arab countries to contain Iran’s geopolitical ambitions, this thesis is justified. Washington simply will not allow Iran to be more actively engaged in the region even if Iranian intentions are altogether benevolent and noble. Therefore, in Massoud Mousavi Shafaei’s opinion, Iran must reorient itself and its geo-economic logic towards Central Asia and Southeast Asia. However, this does not mean an end to Iranian presence in the Middle East necessary to defend its vital national security interests.

The opinion has also been expressed that Russia, Iran, and China “all feel that [a] multipolar world is the only condition for future development of our planet and its inhabitants. They have experienced again and again that unilateral dictates emanating from US, instead of solving problems, generates more and more of them. So it is obviously in their interests, to get united on the issue of multi-polarity, and insist – through various institutions like US, or press, or even new military alliances – that the business as usual – is not going to be accepted.[11]          

Iran understands that joining the multipolar club inevitably means pressure from the West. Thus, Tehran can expect new challenges, as can the other architects of the multipolar world order. In this vein Tehran University Professor Jahangir Karami has noted that although Russia can effectively restrict the US’ unilateral approach through the UN, NATO expansion challenges Russia’s efforts, as was the case with the crises provoked in Ukraine and Syria aimed directly against Moscow.[12]

Nevertheless, Iran has a long history of withstanding Western hegemony and other forces from the first contacts with the Portuguese in the early 16th century to the seizure of the US Embassy during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Indeed, opposing US sanctions and working to develop their own economic approaches and conduct in international affairs are characteristic of Iran’s course towards multipolarity.

Footnotes: 

[1] Мелихов И.А. М. Хатами: межцивилизационный диалог и мусульманское сообщество/ «Дипломатический вестник», серия «Дипломатия, наука и общественность». № 9. 2001.

[2] Seyyed Mohammad Khatami. Dialogue among Civilizations. High-Level Conference. Eurasia in the XXIst Century: Dialogue of Cultures, or Conflict of Civilizations? Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, 10 and 11 June 2004. Paris, 2005. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001465/146593E.pdf

 [3] Иран и Российская Федерация: Россия, Китай, Индия и Иран – линия мощной силы, 10 мая 2006. http://www.iran.ru/news/politics/39484/Iran_i_Rossiyskaya_Federaciya_Rossiya_Kitay_Indiya_i_Iran_liniya_moshchnoy_sily

[4] Выступление президента Ирана на 65-й сессии Генеральной Ассамблеи ООН, 04 октября 2010 http://www.iran.ru/news/interview/68545/Vystuplenie_prezidenta_Irana_na_65_y_sessii_Generalnoy_Assamblei_OON

[5] Выступление аятоллы Хаменеи на саммите Движения неприсоединения.// Геополитика. 31.08.12 http://www.geopolitica.ru/Articles/1483/

[6] Савин Л.В. Иран, Движение неприсоединения и многополярность. Геополитика.ру, 17.09.2012 https://www.geopolitica.ru/article/dvizhenie-neprisoedineniya-iran-i-mnogopolyarnost

[7] Behzad Khoshandam, Iran’s Foreign Policy in 2016, Iran Review, DECEMBER 28, 2016      http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-s-Foreign-Policy-in-2016.htm

[8] Iran, China Announce Roadmap for Strategic Partnership, Farsnews, Jan 23, 2016.       http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941103001266

[9] Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri, Russia Bracing for Multipolar International System, Iran Review, September 21, 2015  http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia-Bracing-for-Multipolar-International-System.htm

[10]   Massoud Mousavi Shafaei, Iran’s Foreign Policy Needs Paradigm Change: Transition from Middle Eastern Terror to Geo-economics of Asian Hope, Iran Review, JANUARY 31, 2017 http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-s-Foreign-Policy-Needs-Paradigm-Change-Transition-from-Middle-Eastern-Terror-to-Geo-economics-of-Asian-Hope.htm

[11] Prof. Golstein: ‘Russia, Iran, China Feel Multi-Polar World is Only Condition for Future Development’, Jul 17, 2016    http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950421000941

[12]          Jahangir Karami, Russia, Crises in Syria and Ukraine, and the Future of the International System, Iran Review, APRIL 15, 2014    http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Russia-Crises-in-Syria-and-Ukraine-and-the-Future-of-the-International-System.htm

Multipolarity and India

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

Indian theories of multipolarity also deserve attentive study. The Indian political scientist Suryanarayana believes that multipolarity is conceivable as a stable principle of international relations only between states that have developed organically as “power houses.” Implicit in this notion is a criticism of colonialism, neocolonialism as well as the chimerical political culture vividly exemplified in the US which, with its strategic notion of the “Frontier” and historical statehood, cannot represent such an organic power house.

By engaging in economic reform,” it is assumed, “India will have the opportunity to develop and exploit its large population and economic opportunity to become a global power in an increasingly multi-polar system, thereby allowing for an ambitious foreign policy permitting India to protect its interests in South Asia and act as the preeminent power in the region.” It has also been noted that India has earned “high political credibility in most parts of the world on top of its growing economic stature, it seems reluctant to capitalize on this. Unwilling to break with the creeds that have guided its foreign policy since independence but, rather, trying to conserve them by adapting them to the emerging new multipolar order.” Upon attaining a new economic level, moreover, India will inevitably strengthen its military and political presence in the Indian Ocean.

University of Colorado Professor Peter Harris believes that multipolarity will be directly linked to a shift in the balance of forces in the Indian Ocean. Harris writes:

Today, centuries of relative unipolarity are giving way to noticeable multipolarity. India’s announcement of a base in the Seychelles is another important step in this direction—a sign that New Delhi is doubling down on its blue water navy and attendant power-projection capabilities.  From the Seychellois island of Assumption, which is already equipped with an airstrip, the Indian military—even if it is limited by geography to maintaining only a tiny military presence—will boast a central position in the Western Indian Ocean, close to the East African coastline and astride the important maritime trade route that runs from the Mozambique Channel to the Arabian Sea.

It is not just India that is beefing up its presence in the region, of course. Late last year, China announced the creation of its first permanent overseas base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea, and Beijing continues to expand its naval capabilities (most recently by announcing the construction of its first Chinese-made aircraft carrier). With the United States also present in Djibouti—as well as Bahrain, Diego Garcia and elsewhere—this means that at least three of the great powers are demonstrably seeking to expand their military reach in the Indian Ocean.  And middle powers such as Britain and France also boast considerable military assets in the wider region…

International Relations theory helps to delineate three scenarios that might play out. First, the great powers could cooperate to combat piracy, maintain geopolitical stability, and keep sea lanes open. This is the hope of liberal academicians, who see few conflicts of interest between the various powers in terms of their vision for the ocean’s future; on the contrary, a common stake in policing the commons should provide great impetus to maintaining regional stability. Second, however, the Indian Ocean could become the focus of great power competition and even outright conflict, as distrust and divergent interests push states to shun collaboration. This is the pessimistic prediction of most realist scholars.

But third, the Indian Ocean could become the scene of a new sort of world order—or, to put it more accurately, world orders—as rival great powers go about organizing their own spheres of influence that exist discretely and distinctly with one another’s. Such a world was outlined by Charles Kupchan in his book, No One’s World, in which the author argued that the coming international system will be characterized by decentralization, pluralism, and co-existence…

Whatever the form of international governance that emerges in the Indian Ocean, then, it will have to accommodate the reality that several great powers have vital interests in the region. Come conflict or cooperation, political order in the Indian Ocean will have to be multipolar in character — if, indeed, it is not already. The prospects for peace and harmonious cooperation under such circumstances are not altogether bleak, but they are not endlessly auspicious either.  In many ways, twenty-first century geopolitics begins here.

In their joint article, “The multipolar Asian century: Contestation or competition?”, Samir Saran, a senior research fellow and vice president of the Observer Research Foundation (India) and Ashok Malik, a senior research fellow at the Australian Lowy Institute for International Policy, also assign India an important place in the future world order and focus on the Asia-Pacific region as a possible source for the formation of a multipolar world. Saran and Malik suggest three possible scenarios:

Should the US choose to bequeath the liberal, international order to Asian forces, India will be the heir-apparent. India would not, under this circumstance, play the role of a great power — because Asia is too fractious and politically vibrant to be managed by one entity — but simply that of a ‘bridge power’. India is in a unique and catalytic position, with its ability to singularly span the geographic and ideological length of the continent. But two variables will need to be determined. Can the US find it within itself to incubate an order that may not afford it the pride of place like the trans-Atlantic system? And, can India get its act together and be alive to the opportunity it has to become the inheritor of a liberal Asia?

The second possibility for an Asian order is that it resembles the 19th century Concert of Europe, an unstable but necessary political coalition of major powers on the continent. The ‘big eight’ in Asia (China, India Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, Russia and America) would all be locked in a marriage of convenience, bringing their disparate interests to heel for the greater cause of shared governance. Difficult as it would be to predict the contours of this system, it would likely be focused on preventing shocks to ‘core’ governance functions in Asia, such as the preservation of the financial system, territorial and political sovereignties and inter-dependent security arrangements. Given that each major player in this system would see this as an ad hoc mechanism, its chances of devolving into a debilitating bilateral or multi-front conflict for superiority would be high — very much like the Concert that gave way to the First World War.

A third possibility could see the emergence of an Asian political architecture that does not involve the US. This system — or more precisely, a universe of subsystems — would see the regional economic and security alliances take a prominent role in managing their areas of interest. As a consequence, institutions like ASEAN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the AIIB, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation will become the ‘hubs’ of governance. The US would remain distantly engaged with these sub-systems, but would be neither invested in their continuity, or affiliated to its membership.

There also exists the point of view that India will represent the third pole of a multipolar world (besides the US and China) by 2050. Given that the author of this model is Hindu, such a theory is of a clearly prejudiced character. On the other hand, a tripolar system a priori cannot be multipolar. What’s more, India’s leadership considers Russia to be one pole of the multipolar world, as was stated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Moscow in December 2015, who said that he sees in Russia a “significant partner in the economic transformation of India and the creation of a balanced, stable, inclusive, multipolar world.”

However, the Indian view of multipolarity implicitly harbors negative perceptions of China due to territorial disputes and, in a broader context, due to the civilizational competition between these two countries. Russia is also an often subject of criticism. For example, the retired Indian diplomat M. Bhadrakumar has remarked: “Russia and China give lip-service to their shared interests with developing countries and they profess ardor for a polycentric world order, ultimately they remain self-centered, comfortable in the knowledge of their assured veto power in the UN and their sequestered place within the discriminatory nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Unsurprisingly, they are paramountly focused on perpetuating their privileged position as arbiters of regional problems.”

Nevertheless, the understanding that the window of opportunities could expand considerably under none other than multipolarity continues to push India in this direction. As Amee Patel has pointed out in the context of India-China dialogue: “While improved relations could alleviate each nation’s challenges, a further motivation is given by India’s shared resentment toward the international system.”

 

Multipolarity and Polycentricity

Author: Leonid Savin

Translator: Jafe Arnold 

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

The very term “multipolarity” is of American (Anglo-Saxon) origin, and in the third chapter we examined similar concepts that have been developed in other countries. As various scholars have indicated, varying interpretations of multipolarity have provoked certain conceptual dilemmas. For instance, a report on long-term global trends prepared by the Zurich Center for Security Studies in 2012 noted that:

The advantage of ‘multipolarity’ is that it accounts for the ongoing diffusion of power that extends beyond uni-, bi-, or- tripolarity. But the problem with the term is that it suggests a degree of autonomy and separateness of each ‘pole’ that fails to do justice to the interconnections and complexities of a globalised world. The term also conceals that rising powers are still willing to work within the Westernshaped world economic system, at least to some extent. This is why the current state of play may be better described as ‘polycentric’. Unlike ‘multipolarity’, the notion of ‘polycentricism’ says nothing about how the different centres of power relate to each other. Just as importantly, it does not elicit connotations with the famous but ill-fated multipolar system in Europe prior to 1914 that initially provided for regular great power consultation, but eventually ended in all-out war. The prospects for stable order and effective global governance are not good today. Yet, military confrontation between the great powers is not a likely scenario either, as the emerging polycentric system is tied together in ways that render a degree of international cooperation all but indispensable.

The Swiss scholars involved in this summation approached the issue from the standpoint of reviewing security issues in a globalized world and tried to find an adequate expression for contemporary trends. However, there also exist purely technical approaches and ideological theories which employ the term “polycentric”.

The concept of “polycentricity” had been used before to describe the functioning of complex economic subjects. Accordingly, if management theories are springboards for geopolitical practice, then this model’s basic elaborations already exist. In a literal sense, the term “polycentric” suggests some kind of spatial unit with several centers. However, the term does not specify what kind of centers are in question, hence the obvious need to review various concepts and starting points before discussing polycentrism.

Four levels of this concept can be discussed in the context of political-administrative approaches. The analytical-descriptive level is needed for describing, measuring, and characterizing the current state of a spatial object by means of precisely determining how long a country or capital can be “polycentric.” Secondly, this concept can be understood in a normative sense which might help, for example, in reorganizing the spatial configuration of an object, i.e., either to promote/create polycentrism or support/utilize an existing polycentric structure. Thirdly, when it comes to spatial entities, it is necessary to specify their spatial scale, i.e., at the city level, city-region, mega-regional level, or even on the national or transnational levels. Upon closer examination, the concept of polycentrism thus challenges our understanding of centers in urban areas, since such can concern either their roles and functional ties (relations) or their concrete morphological forms (the structure of urban fabric). This differentiation between the functional and morphological understandings of polycentrism constitutes the fourth dimension.

In the contemporary situation which features the presence of city-states and megalopoli that can easily compete with some states in the classical understanding in the most varied criteria (number of residents and their ethnic identity, length of external borders, domestic GDP, taxes, industry, transport hubs, etc.), such an approach seems wholly appropriate for more articulated geopolitical analysis. Moreover, in the framework of federal models of state governance, polycentrism serves as a marker of complex relations between all administrative centers. Regional cooperation also fits into this model since it allows subjects to “escape” mandatory compliance with a single regulator, such as in the face of a political capital, and cooperate with other subjects (including foreign ones) within a certain space.

To some extent, the idea of polycentrism is reflected in offshore zones as well. While offshores can act as “black holes” for the economies of sovereign states, on the other hand, they  can also be free economic zones removing various trade barriers clearly within the framework of the operator’s economic sovereignty.

It should also be noted that the theory of polycentrism is also well known in the form of the ideological contribution of the Italian community Palmiro Togliatti as an understanding of the relative characteristics of the working conditions facing communist parties in different countries following the de-Stalinization process in the Soviet Union in 1956. What if one were to apply such an analysis to other parties and movements? For example, in comparing Eurosceptics in the EU and the conglomerate of movements in African and Asian countries associated with Islam? Another fruitful endeavor from this perspective could be evaluating illiberal democracies and populist regimes in various parties of the world as well as monarchical regimes, a great variety of which still exist ranging from the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy to the hereditary autocracy of Saudi Arabia which appeared relatively recently compared to other dynastic forms of rule. Let us also note that since Togliatti the term “polycentrism” has become popular in political science, urban planning, logistics, sociology, and as an expression for unity in diversity.

In 1969, international relations and globalization expert Howard V. Perlmutter proposed the conceptual model of EPG, or Ethnocentrism-Polycentrism-Geocentrism, which he subsequently expanded with his colleague David A Heenan to include Regionalism. This model, famously known by the acronym EPRG, remains essential in international management and human resources. This theory posits that polycentrism, unlike ethnocentrism, regionalism, and geocentrism, is based on political orientation, albeit through the prism of controlling commodity-monetary flows, human resources, and labor. In this case, polycentrism can be defined as a host country’s orientation reflecting goals and objectives in relation to various management strategies and planning procedures in international operations. In this approach, polycentrism is in one way or another connected to issues of management and control.

However, insofar as forms of political control can differ, this inevitably leads to the understanding of a multiplicity of political systems and automatically rejects the monopoly of liberal parliamentarism imposed by the West as the only acceptable political system. Extending this approach, we can see that the notion of polycentrism, in addition to connoting management, is contiguous to theories of law, state governance, and administration. Canada for instance has included polycentricity in its administrative law and specifically refers to a “polycentric issue” as “one which involves a large number of interlocking and interacting interests and considerations.” For example, one of Canada’s official documents reads: “While judicial procedure is premised on a bipolar opposition of parties, interests, and factual discovery, some problems require the consideration of numerous interests simultaneously, and the promulgation of solutions which concurrently balance benefits and costs for many different parties.  Where an administrative structure more closely resembles this model, courts will exercise restraint.”

Polycentric law became world-famous thanks to Professor Tom Bell who, as a student at the University of Chicago’s law faculty, wrote a book entitled Polycentric Law in which he noted that other authors use phrases such as “de-monopolized law” to describe polycentric alternatives.

Bell outlined traditional customary law (also known as consolamentum law) before the establishment of states and in accordance with the works of Friedrich A. Hayek, Bruce L. Benson, and David D. Friedman. Bell mentioned the customary law of the Anglo-Saxons, ecclesiastical law, guild law, and trade law as examples of polycentric law. On this note, he suggests that customary and statutory law have co-existed throughout history, an example being Roman law being applied to Romans throughout the Roman Empire at the same time as indigenous peoples’ legal systems remained permitted for non-Romans.

Polycentric theory has also attracted the interest of market researchers, especially public economists. Rather paradoxically, it is from none other than ideas of a polycentric market that a number of Western scholars came to the conclusion that “Polycentricity can be utilized as a conceptual framework for drawing inspiration not only from the market but also from democracy or any other complex system incorporating the simultaneous functioning of multiple centers of governance and decision making with different interests, perspectives, and values.” In our opinion, it is very important that namely these three categories – interests, perspectives, and values – were distinguished. “Interests” as a concept is related to the realist school and paradigm in international relations, while “perspectives” suggests some kind of teleology, i.e., a goal-setting actor, and “values” are associated with the core of strategic culture or what has commonly been called the “national idea,” “cultural-historical traditions”, or irrational motives in the collective behavior of a people. For a complex society inhabited by several ethnic groups and where citizens identify with several religious confessions, or where social class differences have been preserved (to some extent they continue to exist in all types of societies, including in both the US and North Korea, but are often portrayed as between professional specialization or peculiarities of local stratification), a polycentric system appears to be a natural necessity for genuinely democratic procedures. In this context, the ability of groups to resolve their own problems on the basis of options institutionally included in the mode of self-government is fundamental to the notion of polycentrism.

Only relatively recently has polycentrism come to be used as an anti-liberal or anti-capitalist platform. In 2006, following the summit of the World Social Forum in Caracas, Michael Blanding from The Nation illustrated a confrontation between “unicentrism” characterized by imperial, neo-liberal, and neo-conservative economic and political theories and institutions, and people searching for an alternative, or adherents of “polycentrism.” As a point of interest, the World Social Forum itself was held in a genuinely polycentric format as it was held not only in Venezuela, but in parallel also in Mali and Pakistan. Although the forum mainly involved left socialists, including a large Trotskyist lobby (which is characteristic of the anti-globalist movement as a whole), the overall critique of neoliberalism and transnational corporations voiced at the forum also relied on rhetoric on the rights of peoples, social responsibility, and the search for a political alternative. At the time, this was manifested in Latin America in the Bolivarian Revolution with its emphasis on indigenism, solidarity, and anti-Americanism.

It should be noted that Russia’s political establishment also not uncommonly uses the word “polycentricity” – sometimes as a synonym for multipolarity, but also as a special, more “peace-loving” trend in global politics insofar as “polarity presumes the confrontation of poles and their binary opposition.” Meanwhile, Russian scholars recognize that comparing the emerging polycentric world order to historical examples of polycentricity is difficult. Besides the aspect of deep interdependence, the polycentricity of the early 21st century possesses a number of different, important peculiarities. These differences include global asymmetry insofar as the US still boasts overwhelming superiority in a number of fields, and a multi-level character in which there exist: (1) a military-diplomatic dimension of global politics with the evolution of quickly developing giant states; (2) an economic dimension with the growing role of transnational actors; (3) global demographic shifts; (4) a specific space representing a domain of symbols, ideals, and cultural codes and their deconstructions; and (5) a geopolitical and geo-economic level.

Here it is necessary to note that the very term “polycentricity” in itself harbors some interesting connotations. Despite being translated to mean “many”, the first part (“poly-“) etymologically refers to both “pole” and “polis” (all three words are of Ancient Greek origin), and the second part presupposes the existence of centers in the context of international politics, i.e., states or a group of states which can influence the dynamic of international relations.

In his Parmenides, Martin Heidegger contributed an interesting remark in regards to the Greek term “polis”, which once again confirms the importance and necessity of serious etymological analysis. By virtue of its profundity, we shall reproduce this quote in full:

Πόλις is the πόλоς, the pole, the place around which everything appearing to the Greeks as a being turns in a peculiar way. The pole is the place around which all beings turn and precisely in such a way that in the domain of this place beings show their turning and their conditions. The pole, as this place, lets beings appear in their Being and show the totality of their condition. The pole does not produce and does not create beings in their Being, but as pole it is the abode of the unconsciousness of beings as a whole. The πόλις is the essence of the place [Ort], or, as we say, it is the settlement (Ort-schaft) of the historical dwelling of Greek humanity. Because the πόλις lets the totality of beings come in this or that way into the unconcealedness of its condition, the πόλις is therefore essentially related to the Being of beings. Between πόλις and “Being” there is a primordial relation.

Heidegger thus concludes that “polis” is not a city, state, nor a combination of the two, but the place of the history of the Greeks, the focus of their essence, and that there is a direct link between πόλις and ἀλήθεια (this Greek word is usually translated into Russian as “truth”) Thus, in order to capture polycentricity, one needs to search for the foci and distribution areas of the essence of the numerous peoples of our planet. Here we can once again mention strategic cultures and their cores.

Russia and Multipolarity

Author: Leonid Savin 

Translator: Jafe Arnold

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book…

Many ascribe the first steps in developing a strategy for multipolarity in international relations to Russia as well. Indeed, this claim has some merit. In Moscow on April 23rd, 1997, Russia and China signed the “Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order”, and on May 15th the declaration was registered in the UN.1 The document asserted that the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China will strive to promote the development of a multipolar world and new international order. The text also remarked that international relations had undergone profound changes at the end of the 20th century and affirmed a diversity of political, economic, and cultural paths of development for all countries and an increasing role for forces advocating peace and broad international cooperation. Furthermore, the document reads: “A growing number of countries are beginning to recognize the need for mutual respect, equality and mutual advantage – but not for hegemony and power politics – and for dialogue and cooperation – but not for confrontation and conflict. The establishment of a peaceful, stable, just and rational new international political and economic order is becoming a pressing need of the times and an imperative of historical development.

In addition, the declaration voiced the notion that every state has a right to, proceeding on the basis of its unique circumstances, independently and autonomously choose its own path of development without interference from other states. In the words of the statement: “Differences in their social systems, ideologies and value systems must not become an obstacle to the development of normal relations between States.” At the same time, it was emphasized that China and Russia are switching to a new form of mutual relations and that such is not directed against any other countries.

Hopes then arose that the UN would play an important role in establishing a new international order, and developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement were named as important forces contributing to the formation of a multipolar world. The Joint Statement of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on the International Order of the 21st Century, which was signed in Moscow on July 1st, 2005 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and PRC President Xu Jintao, logically continued this line.2 This declaration was a response to the US invasion of Iraq, a reaction to this challenge which was intended to strengthen efforts to organize a new international order. One part in the new declaration read:

The main trend of the world today is not towards a “clash of civilizations”; rather, it underscores the imperative of engaging in global cooperation. The diversity of civilizations in the world and the diversification of development models should be respected and safeguarded. Differences in the historical backgrounds, cultural traditions, social and political systems, value concepts, and development paths of countries should not become an excuse for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Different civilizations should conduct dialogue, exchange experiences, draw on each other’s experiences, learn from each other’s strong points to make up for their own shortcomings, and seek common progress on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance. Cultural exchanges should be increased in order to establish relations of friendship and trust among countries.

Russia and China drew attention to the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the intensification of cooperation between BRIC countries and later BRICS, which is seen as an attempt at establishing individual rules for the game at least in each country’s zone of strategic interests.

In the sphere of its own strategic interests, as proclaimed by President Medvedev following Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, Russia uses the Eurasian Economic Community as an economic integration instrument and military cooperation within the CSTO. Directly introduced into Russia’s foreign policy doctrine in 2000 was the provision that “Russia will seek the creation of a multipolar system of international relations which genuinely reflects the diversity of the modern world with its diversity of interests.”3

It should be noted, however, that Russian politicians, diplomats, and scholars’ understanding of the need to develop a theory of multipolarity has its roots in a crisis situation. First, there was the collapse of the Soviet Union which was accompanied by ethnic conflicts. A similar collapse occurred in Yugoslavia and led to several foreign interventions and the transformation of the regional political map. NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and the Albanian proclamation of Kosovo were a painful blow not only to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which at the time consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, but to the European geopolitical system as a whole. In addition, the collapse of Marxist doctrine and the negative experience of IMF and World Bank reforms in Russia led to an understanding of the need to develop a distinct foreign and domestic policy. Although the inertia of the Soviet era made itself felt, certain attempts were made at rethinking Russia’s role and place in the global political system.

September 11th, 2001 also affected perceptions of the global system in a new vein. It is no coincidence that in an article from September 2003, a Russian advocate of multipolarity and political heavyweight who served as prime minister in 1999, Yevgeny Primakov, noted that “what followed the events of September 11 showed more clearly than ever the confrontation between two trends. On the one hand, there was the preservation of the world order, save for some modernization, founded on such a mechanism for multilateral actions as the United Nations. On the other, there was ‘unilateralism’, or the bet that decisions that are vitally important for humanity can be taken by one country, the United States, on the grounds of Washington’s subjective perception of international reality.”4 Primakov pointed out that the EU was becoming a center of power comparable in its capacity to the US, while China, Russia, India, and Japan were also in no hurry to trail behind the wake of events set by Washington. Also highlighted in this regard is the UN’s role in the formation of multipolarity. Previously, Primakov had observed that “the uneven development of states will manifest itself primarily in antagonistic forms…historically, no dominant power can establish a unipolar world order.”5

Here it is important to note that Yevgeny Primakov had at the time already condemned the US leadership, pointing instead to rapidly expanding opportunities for other countries and alliances. “The fall of the USSR as a counterbalance to America does not give reason to believe that the US is an undisputed winner and, accordingly, that the world should be unipolar with only one center in Washington. This contradicts the very course of global development. For instance, China and India’s respective GDP’s are larger than that of the US. US leadership in scientific and technological progress as one of the main conditions of the unipolar world is also being actively contested today.”6 This is confirmed by statistical data: “By 2011 four major centers of scientific progress had formed – the USA (31% of global spending on scientific research in terms of purchasing power parity), the European Union (24%), China (14%), and Japan (11%).”7

Primakov argued against liberals and globalists, affirming that:

The transition to a multipolar system is a process, not a single change with a finished character. Therefore, great importance is attached to various trends, sometimes contradictory ones, manifesting themselves over the course of this transition. Some of them have their source in the unequal development of states and the successes or failures of integration associations. The fluctuating ratio between, relatively speaking, the course towards restarting relations and the inertial line of states’ conduct inherited from the Cold War and ingrained during the period of outright confrontation, is directly impacted. This relation between two tendencies manifests itself in the political, military, and economic fields as well. Therefore, the correct conclusion that a multipolar world order does not in itself in the conditions of globalization lead to conflict situations, or military clashes, does not exclude the altogether complex environment in which the process of the transition to such a system takes place.8

Being a supporter of the creation of the Russia-India-China triangle that could balance out the aggressive behavior of the US and other challenges, Primakov is rightfully considered to be one of the first Russian practicians of multipolarity.

Thanks to his official position and numerous foreign contacts, Russia’s position vis-a-vis the future world order was successfully conveyed to the widest range of decision-makers possible and consolidated in the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.9

Alexander Dugin’s doctrine of neo-Eurasianism was another ideological and intellectual platform which gave impetus to the development of multipolarity. The program of Eurasianist ideology asserts:

At the level of a planetary trend, Eurasianism is a global, revolutionary, civilizational concept which, in gradually refining itself, is to become a new ideological platform for mutual understanding and cooperation for a wide conglomerate of different forces, states, peoples, cultures, and confessions which reject Atlanticist globalization…Eurasianism is the sum of all the natural and artificial, objective and subjective obstacles along the path to unipolar globalization, at once elevated from the level of simple negation to being a positive project, a creative alternative.10

Although classical Eurasianism was concerned solely with the fate of Russia which it characterized as “Eurasia” by virtue of its uniqueness, vast territory, and central situation between “classical” Europe and Asia, Alexander Dugin’s concept has supplemented this ideology with new methodologies and scholarly concepts. Thus, Eurasianism has acquired a global dimension and moved beyond the borders of the Eurasian continent. In this new understanding, “Eurasianism is a philosophy of multipolar globalization designed to unite all the societies and peoples of the earth in the construction of a unique and authentic world, every component of which would be organically derived from historical traditions and local cultures.11

Rather close to this formula is the opinion of another Russian scholar, Boris Martynov, who noted that newly emergent multipolarity cannot be of any other dimension than civilizational. Martynov emphasizes:

Inter-civilizational communication is already a reality of the modern world in which different economic and financial institutions, non-state structures, and religious, business, and public associations and, finally, individuals as representatives of their civilizational archetypes are increasingly active apart from states and alongside their lasting multi-profile and multilevel international contacts of various kinds…In addition, the advantage of a system of multipolar world order in view of the unipolar and bipolar ones lies in that it must be based on law to function. The correctness of this observation is obvious in the case of the unipolar world which operates on the basis of the ‘understandings’ of the main player in the global system. This is true for bipolarity as well, where each of the two ‘equally-responsible’ subjects strive to ensure themselves a ‘free hand’ in their zones of influence regardless of international law. However, law is needed for interaction between several major players wielding approximately comparable might and influence in order to guarantee a reasonable modus vivendi between them. This is especially true for such a complex system as civilizational multipolarity.12

However, far from all Russian scholars and diplomats have assigned a positive nature to emerging multipolarity. For example, the director of the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute for US and Canadian Studies, S.N. Rogov, has claimed that “the new polycentric system lacks common ‘rules of the game’, norms, and institutions which could effectively regulate interaction between centers of power, including both cooperation and rivalry.” Thus, in this view, the trend towards multipolarity generates “instability and unpredictability as to the evolution of the modern system of international relations and threatens to send the situation spinning out of control.”13 This claim is clearly based on the mondialist paradigm which insists on a strictly limited ideological standard.

Nonetheless, Russian efforts seem to generally be strong attempts at re-building a world order which respects all nations, states, peoples, and cultural-religious traditions.

____________
 

1 Russian-Chinese Joint Declaration on a Multipolar World and the Establishment of a New International Order, adopted in Moscow on 23 April 1997. Letter dated 15 May 1997 from the Permanent Representatives of China and the Russian Federation to the United Nations  addressed to the Secretary-General, Distr. GENERAL A/52/153, S/1997/384, 20 May 1997

3 Концепция внешней политики Российской Федерации. Москва. 28 июня 2000 г. // Системная история международных отношений в четырех томах 1918–2003 / Под редакцией А.Д. Богатурова. Т. 4. Документы. М., 2004. С. 538-539.

4 Евгений Примаков, Мир без сверхдержав, 2 сентября 2003 http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/n_1560

5 Примаков Е. М. Мир после 11 сентября. М., 2002. С. 155.

6 Александр Бондарь. Евгений Примаков: «Мир будет многополярным», Столетие, 28.03.2008http://www.stoletie.ru/ekskliuziv/evgeni_primakov_mir_budet_mnogopolyarnim.htm

7 Никонов Я. И. Компаративный анализ подходов к организации финансирования стратегии инновационного развития национальных экономик за рубежом // Вестник Томского государственного университета. № 392, 2015. С. 145.

8 Примаков Е. М. Мысли вслух. — М.: Российская газета, 2011. С. 159–160.

9 Е.М. Примаков. Вызовы и альтернативы многополярного мира: роль России. М.: Издательство Московского университета, 2014.

10 Дугин А. Г. Евразийская миссия. Международное евразийское движение, М., 2005. С. 11.

11 Ibid, 33.

12 Мартынов, Борис. Многополярный или многоцивилизационный мир?// Международные процессы. Том 7. Номер 3 (21). Сентябрь–декабрь 2009. http://www.intertrends.ru/twenty-first.htm

13 Рогов С.М, Россия и США: Уроки истории и выводы на будущее // Россия и Америка в XXI веке, № 1, 2006 http://www.rusus.ru/?act=read&id=15