Some readers may recognise the above slogan as a calque on the Socialist Workers’ Party’s old catchline ending in “but international socialism”. It appealed to the anti-establishment radical left who realised the old Soviet Union had failed to deliver the kind of Utopian communalism to which they aspired. How could we oppose American imperialism in Latin America, while turning a blind eye to abuses of basic human rights in countries controlled or occupied by the USSR? To do so, we had to favour a rose-tinted vision of life under Soviet rule while attributing all hardships at home to something we called capitalism. In reality, both systems saw extreme concentrations of power with plenty of regulations to maintain social order. Yet the Western mixed economy model proved better at spreading prosperity and lifting people out of extreme poverty, mainly due to better and more efficient technology.
Thirty-one years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the world appears once again divided between rival camps as the United States of America loses its role as the world’s dominant superpower. As Western governments resort to more authoritarian means of people management, some of us may pin our hopes on Russia, China and India as the new beacons of human progress. I very much doubt the Kremlin would have authorised the military occupation of Ukraine without the covert support of Asia’s two most populous countries.
In all major conflicts since the fall of the Iron Curtain, we have witnessed a familiar pattern of concerted media campaigns that serve not only to manufacture consent for military intervention, but to instil in the public mind the dominant narrative of an enlightened liberal international community battling barbaric despots. The Western media has at different times portrayed Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad as the latest reincarnations of Hitler. To counter this narrative, peace campaigners had to learn the often chequered histories of regional ethno-religious rivalry and imperial meddling. Objective truth in such disputes is seldom a clearcut case of good versus evil. The United States bankrolled the predecessors of Al Qaeda, the Mujahadeen, in the 1980s to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and initially supported Saddam Hussein’s regime in the eight-year Iraq-Iran war. Until recently it seemed plausible to assume the US-centred Deep State has destabilised many resource-rich regions to consolidate their commercial interests. This logic suggests that the Western working classes may have unjustly benefited from the exploitation of other regions. In the eras of Western imperialism and American exceptionalism, large corporations certainly did use some of the proceeds of their exploitation of third world resources to buy off the working classes, but then they opted to outsource most intensive manufacturing to China, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries with shameful human rights records. Since China has morphed into the world’s industrial powerhouse, it has increasingly relied on the exploitation of raw materials in Africa, South America and Siberia. Only the greenback’s role as the world’s reserve currency and the USA’s strong military ties with Saudi Arabia have prevented China from dominating the global economy. Now Saudi Arabia has agreed to sell its fossil fuels in Yuan and Russia has put the rouble back on the gold standard, cutting favourable deals with India and China.
As soon as Russian forces occupied Eastern Ukraine, Western governments acted fast to censor RT and turn up the level of anti-Russian propaganda with wild accusations of mindless atrocities attributed to Russian forces. However, the Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Iranian media have failed to toe the Western line. This is not a war between a mad dictator, personified by Putin, and the enlightened West. It’s the end of the New American Century and the beginning of the next phase in the Great Reset, something that could not happen without the active participation of the Chinese Communist Party. The Russian army may not be deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians. The Azov Battalion may well be responsible for many of the crimes the Western media attributes to Putin, but Russia has already lost some 16,000 lives in this war and has no need for more living space. That’s more than 13,000 thousand who died in the 8-year civil war in the Donbas and Luhansk. Just as American military interventionism has failed to benefit US citizens back home, Russian revanchism will bring neither peace nor prosperity for its citizens. The Ukrainian question could have been solved peacefully and democratically.
In many ways, Russian propaganda mirrors Western narratives. RT is certainly a sleek operation providing the semblance of objectivity, but their favourite game is to portray all advocates of national self-determination as Nazis. They may have a point with some elements of the Azov Battalion, but Ukrainian cultural attitudes are broadly in line with their neighbours' and their politically incorrect sympathies for defunct regimes a product of Stalinist repression and the Holodomor. Why is Ukrainian nationalism so much more dangerous than Polish or Lithuanian nationalism, both of which had been suppressed by the former Russian Empire? The whole thing looks like a pantomime with narratives tailored to different audiences. Russian and Chinese audiences may believe this is a result of NATO aggression and Russia is liberating Ukraine from Western-backed Nazis. The West claims the Russians are the aggressors behaving like Nazis, while offloading the blame for the impending financial collapse on Putin. This manufactured conflict provides the perfect backdrop for the eclipse of American hegemony with the full blessing of big tech.
I fear the main beneficiary of this futile war will be the kind of Sinocentric globalism that Justin Trudeau admires. If modern Russia has killed thousands in Chechnya and hundreds in Ukraine, China continues to kill thousands of Uighur insurgents with utter impunity. The Western European economy may struggle to cope with higher gas prices as a result of Russian sanctions, but it would grind to a halt without China. Our entire industrial base depends on cheap Chinese imports. The elites will use the new cold war to fast-track the Great Reset with the smart automation of most monotonous jobs, universal basic income dependent on social credit scores and total surveillance of all human habitation zones. Not only has Russia introduced digital health passes, but its main ally, China, has enforced the most extreme lockdown ever in Shanghai with children testing positive for the mild omicron variant removed from their parents.
For more on Russia’s role in the New World Order, I recommend the excellent debate hosted by the Off-Guardian with Ian Davis and Tom Luongo among others.