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[Credit to Dmitry Leikin, whose brief post at d3.ru served as the source and the inspiration for this piece.]
There are times when a loud cry of “The emperor has no clothes!” can be most copacetic. And so, let me point out something quite simple, yet very important.
The old world order, to which we became accustomed over the course of the 1990s and the 2000s, its crises and its problems detailed in numerous authoritative publications on both sides of the Atlantic—it is no more. It is not out sick and it is not on vacation. It is deceased. It has passed on, gone to meet its maker, bought the farm, kicked the bucket and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-world order.
If we rewind back to the early 1980s, we can easily remember how the USSR was still running half of Europe and exerting major influence on a sizable chunk of the world. World socialist revolution was still sputtering along, with pro-Soviet regimes coming in to power here and there in different parts of the globe, the chorus of their leaders' official pronouncements sounding more or less in unison. The leaders made their pilgrimages to Moscow as if it were Mecca, and they sent their promising young people there to learn how to do things the Soviet way. Soviet technology continued to make impressive advances: in the mid-1980s the Soviets launched into orbit a miracle of technology—the space station Mir, while Vega space probes were being dispatched to study Venus.
But alongside all of this business-as-usual the rules and principles according which the “red” half of the globe operated were already in an advanced state of decay, and a completely different system was starting to emerge both at the center and along the periphery. Seven years later the USSR collapsed and the world order was transformed, but many people simply couldn't believe in the reality of this change. In the early 1990s many political scientists were self-assuredly claiming that what is happening is the realization of a clever Kremlin plan to modernize the Soviet system and that, after a quick rebranding, it will again start taking over the world. People like to talk about what they think they can understand, never mind whether it still exists.
And what do we see today? The realm that self-identifies itself as “The West” is still claiming to be leading economically, technologically, and to be dominant militarily, but it has suffered a moral defeat, and, strictly as a consequence of this moral defeat, a profound ideological defeat as well.
1. How can they talk of the inviolability of private property while confiscating the savings of depositors in Cypriot banks?
2. How can they talk of safeguarding the territorial integrity of countries while destroying, in turn, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine?
3. How can they talk of free enterprise and then sign contracts to build ships but refuse to deliver them because of pressure from Washington, as happened with Mistral ships which Russia ordered from France?
4. How can they talk of democracy and then use naked threats against the premier of Greece—the birthplace of European democracy—forcing him to ignore the unprofitable results of the Greek national referendum?
5. How can they talk about fighting racism while in the US they are constantly shooting mass quantities of unarmed Negros, all the while forbidding people to call them Negros.
6. How can they accuse the Serbs of genocide while refusing to acknowledge what they did to supposedly “independent” Kosovo, which has been turned into a European criminal enclave specializing in the production and distribution of narcotics?
7. How can they claim to oppose extremism and terrorism while training, arming and financing ISIS and the Ukrainian Neo-nazis?
8. How can they talk about justice while the US maintains the largest prison population in the history of the world and has executed many people subsequently discovered to have been innocent?
9. How can they talk about freedom of religion after the US federal government exterminated the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and then imprisoned the survivors, even though the government's allegations against the sect have subsequently been proven to be false?
10. How can they accuse others of corruption after the colossal financial embarrassment of 2008, in the run-up to which obvious financial bubbles that were ready to bust were assigned the highest ratings?
What has happened is the worst thing that could have possibly happened: in full view of the entire world, “Western values” have been demonstrated to be null and void.
If you think that these are just some specific examples of difficulties or mistakes that could potentially be overcome in some dim and foggy future, then you are wrong: this is all of the “Western values” worth mentioning, and they have all been invalidated by observation. Note the past tense: they already have been invalidated. Are there any “Western values” left intact? Oh yes, just one: the rights of sexual minorities. But it is not possible to maintain Western civilization on the strength of gay marriage alone.
Is it any wonder then that the rest of the world is trying to put as much distance between itself and the morally bankrupt “West” as it possibly can, as quickly as it can? China is working on developing its own model, Russia is striving for self-sufficiency and independence from Western imports and finance, and even Latin America, once considered the backyard of the US, is increasingly going its own separate way.
The ranks of the fools who are still buying the West's story are shrinking, while the ranks of the rebels are growing. There is the truth-teller Edward Snowden, who was forced to flee to Moscow to avoid persecution back home. There are European parliamentarians who recently broke ranks and visited Crimea. There are French and German military men who are volunteering to defend Eastern Ukraine against Western attack. There are the many European businessmen who came to the Economics Forum in St. Petersburg to sign trade deals with Russia, never mind what their politicians think of that.
On the other side, the rapidly emerging new world order was recently on display in Ufa, capital of the majority-Moslem Republic of Bashkortostan in Southern Urals, Russian Federation. Leaders of more than half the world's population came there to sign deals, integrate their economies, and coordinate security arrangements. India and Pakistan set their differences aside and walked in through the door at the same time; Iran is next. “The West” was not represented there.
Now that all Western values (other than the rights of sexual minorities) have been shown to be cynical exercises in hypocrisy, there is no path back. You see, it is a matter of reputation, and a reputation is something that one can lose exactly once. There is a path forward, but it is very frightening. There is the loss of control: Western institutions can no longer control the situation throughout much of the world, including, in due course, on their own territory. There is the abandonment of the Western narrative: Western pontificators, pundits and “thought leaders” will find that their talking points have been snatched away and will be reduced to either babbling apologetically or lapsing into embarrassed silence. Finally, there is the loss of identity: it is not possible, for the non-delusional, to identify with something (“The West”) that no longer exists.
But the most frightening thing of all is this: behind a morally bankrupt civilization there are morally bankrupt people—lots and lots of them. Their own children, who will be forced to make their way in the world—however it turns out to be—will be as disrespectful of them as they were of their own vaunted civilizational values.