October 4, 2006 (the date of publication in Russian)
Roman Bagdasarov, Alexander Rudakov
CLARIFYING THE REFERENCE POINT
What is Russia's right for membership in the Club of Developed Nations based upon?
The summit of G-8, convened this year in St. Petersburg, was followed with a perfectly predictable ritual comment in Western media. Each time when Russia is supposed to enter an institution with a mission of international control beyond UN's auspices, Moscow is viewed as a humble "candidate for membership in an elite club". Old members demonstratively apply various estimates to the newcomer's "fitness" for being present in the selected community, sometimes greeting him, sometimes threatening with expulsion, sometimes displaying a nice carrot. Is the newcomer trustworthy? Is he preaching the principles of democracy with sufficient zealousness? Isn't its leadership too corrupted? Isn't it, on the contrary, too sincere and outright? The general assumption is that the candidate would turn over himself to achieve the desired prize ticket.
Exactly in the same way, the G-7 treated its then junior member, Japan, in early 1980s. By the time when the ritual anxiety calmed down, it was found out that while the club's members were scrutinizing Tokyo, the role of the economic leader of Asia was overtaken by Beijing. Today, it is the will of China which dominates in the macropolitical configuration of the whole Eastern Asia, and neither G-7 nor G-8 is able to reverse this tendency.
The Club once assembled for the task of economic coordination in the times of currency instability, later transformed into a coordinating center for implementation of the agenda of globalization. With Russia as a new member, the Club is actually pursuing an objective to establish a nucleus of a world government, parallel to the UN Security Council. However, the framework of plans, discussed by G-8 leaders and their staff of advisors, raises a question whether the system of co-ordinates, adopted by the G-8, is adequate to the mission of global administration.
Russia, the largest of the world's countries, can be hardly satisfied with the role of a modest supplier, a stocker, guaranteeing reliable delivery of mineral resources. A more accurate definition of Russia as a link, connecting the polar semicircle of the Christian world – and thus guaranteeing balance in the rest of the universe, in accordance with Atlanticist mythology Ц is also not quite comprehensive. The two described approaches are not sufficient to discern Russia's part in the badly composed orchestra of the G-8, an orchestra in which Russia deserves to play at least as the first violin.
Beyond the hypnotic clichés of the endless "examinations", imposed to Moscow by the elder members of the Club, Russia's role emerges in a completely different picture – or rather in a different framework, more adequately describing the global state of affairs.
THE EXPERIENCE OF GLOBAL ADMINISTRATION
The obvious intention of the Club is to build up a system of global administration. This mission requires relevant experience, as any other effort of a strategic dimension. Such kind of experience is possessed only by countries with an imperial background. Italy and Canada don't have any at all. Germany and Japan were not allowed any kind of imperial activities since World War II. Now, let's concentrate on the remaining powers – exactly the winners of WWII. The fact that all of them are countries with an imperial experience has never been used as a point of reference.
THE ESSENCE OF STATEHOOD: ITS PROGRAM, IMPLEMENTATION, AND SELF-REFLEXION
In order to determine the essential features of the states with an imperial experience, one has to analyze both the elements of the national program of implementation of imperial interests (which introduces a certain existential mode), and self-reflection, characteristic for a state-building nation (1). This description allows to avoid a linear view, available from the analysis of exceptionally operative functions. Viewing a state as an organism, we acquire a new method of modelling their behavior, similarly to a living subject, – which involves perception by other subjects, as well as self-perception.
The self-perception of a state's organism is expressed by the intellectual elite. Other representatives of a nation may be not conscious of the character of their statehood, though acting in accordance with a relevant mode.
Though the proposed approach seems schematic, it allows to encompass a number of spheres altogether – such as history, economy, geography, and social anthropology. In accordance with the character of description, each of the analyzed countries may be perceived through a specific essential feature.
GREAT BRITAIN: A DESTABILIZER
The state organism of the British Empire pursues its goals primarily by means of economy. The British colonization has been closely associated with interests of trading corporations. In particular, the East Indian Company (1600-1858) represented an autonomous entity within the British state. Exactly this entity governed the colonies of India. The highest possible role which Great Britain could convey to a dependent territory was a status of a commercial colony, entrusted to Singapore. Meanwhile, the industrial development of dependent territories was deliberately restricted, in order to prevent a challenge to the metropolis. Thus, the empire was functioning as an instrument for regulation of commerce. The effort of the North American for independence from the British crown was exactly a reaction to the attempt of Britain to prevent their industrial development.
Establishing control over India, the British Empire curtailed its national cotton production, thus transforming the most developed country of the region into a mineral appendix. In this case, India's struggle for independence also involved the impetus of re-establishing its industry, which became possible only in the post-colonial period.
Until today, the self-reflection of the British establishment is similar to a "club thinking", with a relevant privacy and hierarchic structure. The relations with dependent countries were developed in the same way, private connections with the local elite serving as a cornerstone (thus guaranteeing an indirect rule of most of the protectorates). Through the prism of the British view, the process of globalization is seen as a deal among a narrow global, predominantly financial establishment.
Looking at the territories with a long-time background of British domination, we see an international system of mutual triggers, of "powderkegs": India-Pakistan, Afghanistan – Central Asia.
The archipelago of "hot spots", spilled across the world, exactly coincides with the map of former British colonies and mandate territories. In Palestine, the war between Jews and Arabs continues for over half a century; the same is true about Burma with the massacre between Karens and Shans. Yemen remains a hostage of instability and civil warfare. Iraq: no comments. Take the African continent. Nigeria has survived a civil war and an ethnic conflict in Biafra, with implications in global oil prices until today. In Sudan, we see the tragedy of Darfour, where a UN contingent is going to be deployed. Uganda still remembers the genocide, unleashed by Idi Amin. An ethnic bomb in South Africa is going to explode the continent at any moment, as the contradictions between the Zulu and the Bantu are more troublesome that the earlier conflict of the black and white population.
Surprisingly or not, London traditionally supports those very forces across the globe which undermine stability. The same is true about London's policy vis-à-vis Russia, from Alexander Herzen up to Boris Berezovsky and Ahmed Zakayev. Centuries make no difference (3).
All the mentioned examples suggest that we are dealing with a program, embedded in the very matrix of British statehood. Particular politicians, even in a rank of a Prime Minister, are not able to change this program. The essence of this pattern of destabilization is quite simple: there is the Island, and there is "the rest of the world"; the less stable is the "rest", the higher are the guarantees of the security of the "Island's fortress".
From the above quoted examples, it is also clear that Britain's commercial colonialism is as far from efficient instrument of control of large territories. India is rather an exception, as the British have withdrawn from the subcontinent a generation before the end of the colonial period (for the XX century, a period of a generation is a huge span).
What was really efficient in British colonial policy is seen in the commercial colonies, reproducing an ancient pattern. Singapore, Gibraltar, Hong Kong are the most spectacular examples. However, Melbourne and Sidney in Australia, Wellington and Oakland in New Zealand, as well as Boston and Charleston, where the history of the United States starts from, emerged as commercial cities of the same pattern.
FRANCE: DOMINATION OF IDEALS
In the XVII century, it was France (personified by the Cardinals of the crown) which took charge for stabilization of international relations, elevating to the role of Europe's arbiter. However, this effort undermined the integrity of the French nation. It became possible to overcome the Reformation's split among the Catholics and the Huguenots only when the state doctrine omitted its religious element. France's secular, rationalistic culture became a standard for the whole Western culture during the era of Enlightenment. At that time, the French developed the major libertarian ideals for the whole West. The French elite is structured on the pattern of an academy, where specialization and intellectual qualification are playing the dominant role.
As an imperial organism, France addressed both to military and financial methods of control of subordinated territories. Even such colonies as Algeria and Tunisia, as well as Syria in the times of the French mandate, originally developing as agrarian provinces, acquired a serious impetus for upgrading their economy, enjoying a deliberate policy of technological supply. A direct governance from the metropolis, along with assimilation, as well as a gradual method of transition to self-governance in the period of decolonization, has left the Francophone post-colonial states in a relatively stable internal shape. After France's withdrawal, the former colonies inherited a relatively developed infrastructure of economy.
Still, due to permanent domestic turbulences, rivalry with Germany, underestimation of religious implications, along with some other factors, the French imperial model has been even less effective than the British.
THE UNITED STATES: A JUDGE?
The United States have absorbed both the British skills of economic expansion and the French humanistic views. However, on the contrary to the secular France, religious factors are still playing a significant role in US foreign policy.
In the United States, ultimate reason is generated in the court, where the mysteria of justice is performed in a style of an ancient drama. On the other hand, the triumph of justice culminates in consumerist unification, expressed in the standard of supply. Therefore, a supermarket emerges as the real temple of America, from where it victoriously marches across the universe.
Thus, the Americans are unified only on the lower layer of public values, while on the level of spirit, on the contrary, they are separated. The paradox is that the coexistence of the people, who are kept together primarily by economic necessity, guarantees integration only on the superficial level, while in the internal world, they undergo increasing segregation. The autonomy of individuals, ethnic communities, and confessions from one another is carelessly advertised as a positive achievement. The degree of separation seems to be even higher today than in the times when the elements of the American society were not yet integrated into a single space of statehood. The organism of statehood thus devolves to a mechanism (machine).
To apprehend the genesis of US imperial policy, it is worth mentioning that the United States and Britain never disagree in global policy-making, even on secondary issues. Take the strikingly calm and essentially peaceful transfer of British spheres of influence under the control of America – in Europe, in the Gulf, at the strategic bases in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, allowing America to control the seas in the same way as they were once controlled by the United Kingdom.
The essence is in the deliberate decision of the United States to inherit the British technology of imperial control. At the new stage of history, Washington permanently reproduces the old scheme: the "Island" and the "trading cities", and chaos in the rest of the world, guaranteeing the Island's security. The only difference is that in the American version, the role of "trading cities" is entrusted to whole countries of an insular or peninsular type, like Taiwan and South Korea. The perfect reason for borrowing the imperial technology from another state is the absence of imperial practice in the earlier experience of the United States.
However, one more paradox emerges in the domain of self-reflection. The implanted experience of Great Britain has come into contradiction with the ideas of the Americans about themselves. Since the times of Woodrow Wilson, the United States contends for the role of a global arbiter, and presents itself as the successor of the Enlightenment's ideals (4). This contradiction among ideals and methods leads to catastrophic failures in US policies.
Contending for the function of the top world's bailiff, the United States has failed to solve any of the world's crucial problems. With the exception for World War II, where the US was allied with the USSR and Britain, Washington hasn't managed to win a single large-scale military conflict. The wars of the second half of the XX century, as well as the beginning of the XXI century, where the US was involved, either turned a defeat (North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam), or introduced a long-term instability in the area of intervention (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan).
One more paradox, illustrating a program failure of the US policy, is Mexico. The power, contending for the role of a locomotive of human progress, confesses of its inability to spread its civilization standards even to the territory of its closest neighbor. Erecting a "Great Chinese Wall" along the Mexican border, in order to prevent illegal immigration, Washington displays a real geopolitical paranoia. The psychological effect of self-identification with Britain is so powerful that the US is separating itself with an artificial wall in order to continue perceiving itself as an Island – contrary to geographic reality.
The contradiction between ideals and methods, between the real space and its subjective reflection also results in a lower respect towards the United States across the world than the popularity of Britain in its brilliant Victorian period. Britain demanded subordination to itself, as to a power dominating in the economic, military, and cultural aspects at the same time, and that was obvious. Meanwhile, the United States also demand to be perceived as the top moral authority, the torch of freedom in the world, – but this provokes sarcasm and alienation; moreover, this ambition serves as an additional pretext for resistance. The opponents of American control intuitively recognize that this split of identity reflects the fatal weak point of US imperialism.
The US society is equally unable to overcome the contradiction between the borrowed program and self-reflexion (as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and other neocons are trying to do), and to behave in a cynical, British-style all along, crushing rivals by force. For the US nation, that would be a too dangerous ideological and psychological trauma. The very essence of the American mission would be put under question; there would be nothing to teach children at school. Such a change would drive the United States to the verge of collapse not of the statehood but the American nation itself, which is still – like the multinational Soviet people" Ц is rather an ideological than organic definition.
As an empire, the United States has not yet acquired positive experience. As a self-declared world leader, America has not succeeded in the peacekeeping mission of a relevant dimension. Meanwhile, the political infantilism of America reminds of Europe of the times of Clovis. Probably by the time when the US statehood reaches an internal and external organic identity, the present period will be viewed as an analogue of a "Dark Age".
With regard to the presented description, we can proceed to Russia's role in global administration. This is the subject of the second part of our essay.
1. Definitely, the same – in a smaller dimension Ц could be seen in an ordinary state as well. However, an ordinary state lacks some major functions of a developed organism, such as a need for expansion Ц in ideological, linguistic, cultural, territorial and financial terms.
2. This approach is traditional for Russian political science, starting from the works of Nikolay Danilevsky.
3. In 2005, the London memorial of the Crimean war was decorated with a plaque, which reads: "Dedicated to the memory of all those who either sacrificed himself for the freedom of his inherited lands in the Caucasus, or perished during the re-settlement to Ottoman Empire due to the victory of Czarist Russia in the Great Crimean War, ensuing in May 1864. Let the successors of the martyrs be forever spiritually, and once bodily associated with their native land" (http://i-grappa.livejournal.com/202311.html).
4. It is even popular in the United States to calculate how many years and days the American Revolution is older than the French.
5. This subject deserves a special discussion. In this essay, we should point at the parallels between standards of education and the model of mass culture (which in XVII-XIX century France was represented with belle lettre, and in America – with the Hollywood cinema).
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