18-07-2022: For the first time, there was no joint photo of the respective foreign ministers of the G20 Summit held this year in Bali, Indonesia. Foreign ministers from the West refused to be photographed with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, over Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Yet the West was not calling the shots, by any means. There was no joint communique issuing from the G20, as no consensus could be reached due to the refusal of the representatives of some countries of the “Global South” to condemn Russia for defending itself from NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) proxy war. The G20 stuttered on, but the lack of joint outcomes highlighted the gravity of the latest Cold War, and the danger of an approaching global conflict. This Cold War differs from the original in that this one contains a rising and powerful economic East, up against a declining and almost moribund West which is in the throes of losing the predominance and prestige it once enjoyed.
The West vs The Rest
In fact, the latest Cold War is not just “East vs West”, but rather the West vs the rest of the planet. It is only the West (Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia etc.) which is hell bent on waging a destructive and losing proxy war against Russia via Ukraine. Only the Western countries have applied economic sanctions on Russia, many of which have rebounded against them. Almost all non-Western countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have either supported Russia, or declared themselves neutral. And in the highly charged geopolitical context, neutrality here effectively means de-facto backing of Russia, and resistance to attempted Western domination. In fact, what geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar has tagged as “BRICS+ vs NATO/G7”, is in practice the non-imperialist bloc forming much needed trade and economic alliances against the reality of a dangerously unstable US led imperialism. It should go without saying that working people the world over have a vital stake in the defence of the non-imperialist bloc, without endorsing its various political leadership bodies.
The non-imperialist bloc today forms a formidable challenge to the faltering attempts to maintain global pre-eminence by Washington and Brussels (the headquarters of the European Union or EU). The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – had already posed the beginning of a systemic alternative to US/EU dominated commerce. Now, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is rising in importance alongside BRICS. The EAEU was formed in 2015 as an effort to form a tariff and customs free economic union amongst its members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. It somewhat facilitates co-operation in important fields such as industry, energy and agriculture. The EAEU compliments the larger Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which comprises nine states: the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia are observer states, while Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners. While the EAEU is largely led by Russia, the SCO is largely led by the PRC, but co-operation is key, in economic, political and security spheres.
The SCO proclaims the goals of mutual trust among member states, promoting cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology, education, energy, transport, tourism and environmental protection. Importantly, it pursues “peace, security and stability” in the region. Given the absence of imperialism amongst all its members, these goals are not just about advertising. There is much cross over between the EAEU, SCO and even the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which was formed in 1991 as a union of the republics making up the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The CIS today comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Georgia exited the CIS in 2009 after provoking Russia into a war at the behest of the US state, while Ukraine dropped out after the US backed Nazi coup overthrew the then elected government in 2014. It could be argued that the EAEU was formulated as a replacement for the CIS, although the CIS itself remains.
PRC the economic power behind BRICS
The BRICS countries as they are represent over 40% of the world’s population, and around 24% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Yet this could easily expand, as Iran and Argentina have become the latest countries which have formally applied to join BRICS, and could well attend the 15th BRICS Summit, scheduled to take place in South Africa next year. Undoubtedly, the economic powerhouse that underpins BRICS is the socialistic economy of the PRC, which has already surpassed the US economy if measured in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). As the world’s largest bureaucratically deformed workers’ state, the free market does not rule in mainland China. Roads, rail, shipping, steel production, electricity, telecommunications and many more sectors are state owned and administered by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The private enterprise which does exist can be closed down and/or expropriated at any moment if the CPC decides its ventures are not aligning with the national Five-Year Plans. This has laid the basis for phenomenal economic growth over the last 40 years, which would be unimaginable if the PRC was somehow “capitalist”, as some critics claim.
The PRC attained a staggering 14.2% GDP growth rate in 2007, and in 2010 overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest economy. Only the PRC could launch anything like its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or New Silk Road), a global plan for infrastructure development currently worth 4 trillion dollars, and rising. A stunning 138 countries have signed on to the BRI, from developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, throughout Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Many of the developing nations which have signed onto the BRI had been plundered and/or abandoned by US/EU led imperialism for decades, and would not have any opportunity to advance without the ports, railways, roads and other infrastructure that will result from co-operation with the PRC via the BRI. While some PRC based firms will benefit financially from the BRI projects constructed in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the PRC is not purely driven by capital return, and thus can offer infrastructure construction in exchange for much needed raw materials.
NATO/G7 drives Covid repression
Hopelessly outdone and in a desperate bid to halt the dynamic rise of the PRC’s economic power and Russia’s military power, the ruling classes of the NATO/G7 (USA, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Japan and Italy) countries rolled out a fraudulent “pandemic” in order to resuscitate their basis of finance capital at the expense of small business and the working class. This required unprecedented repression of workers which blurred the line between liberal democracy and fascism for a two-year period, some of which still remains in place. While it is true that the governments of Russia and China and many other non-imperialist countries played into the Covid narrative by enforcing scientifically absurd abominations such as lockdowns and mass vaccinations, the driving force was the dire economic state of Western capitalism. Yet the economic systems of the US and the EU are in such peril that even a Covid wealth transfer from the working class to the world’s billionaires of $5.5 trillion and the termination of millions of jobs and the virtual abolition of free speech and the most elementary of bourgeois democratic rights was not enough to avert a resort to imperialist war.
After being prepared for years, in early 2022 NATO unleashed its Nazis in Ukraine in a bid for regime change in Moscow. NATO comprises 30 countries mostly in Europe, but in practice it is Washington’s anti-Russia hangover from the first Cold War. Yet now NATO has for the first time named China as a “systemic challenge” alongside the supposed primary threat from Russia. If it wasn’t on the cards already, this move brings a catastrophic world war a step closer. Ironically, the G7 was originally the G8 until it expelled Russia after Crimea re-joined its home state in the wake of the US backed Nazi coup in Ukraine in 2014. To add to the Western warmongering, the US, the UK and Australia have formed AUKUS, which the Australian government euphemistically terms a “tri-lateral security partnership”. Yet plainly it is an Anglo/US platform for war against Red China. In fact, some have commented that NATO’s war in Ukraine is just the pre-cursor to the real conflict with the PRC.
Despite the conservative CPC leadership assisting the West’s deceitful coronavirus mantra at each step, Washington has re-named the Asia-Pacific as the “Indo-Pacific” to further facilitate its war aims against Red China. India is walking a tightrope between being a part of BRICS and the non-imperialist bloc as well as maintaining membership of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the “Quad”), alongside the US, Australia and Japan. The Quad had formerly existed as a response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but in recent years has been repurposed to openly challenge the PRC in its own region. In practice, both the Quad and AUKUS are yet more preparations for war, or war provocations, of Beijing via the South China Sea. On top of this, in October last year ailing US President Joe Biden announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) as a rather hapless attempt to counter the vast scope of China’s BRI. Yet there is little chance of this, as public details of IPEF projects are scarce or non-existent, and thus far appears to be another propaganda effort which fails to get off the ground, such as the other supposed alternative to the BRI – the already floundering Blue Dot Network.
Some on the left posit a multipolar world as the antidote to a unipolar globe dominated by US imperialism alone, and presumably one which would negate any developing new Cold War. However, the achievement of a multipolar world, where no one power predominates, and all countries great and small respect each other’s sovereignty – is not possible as long as imperialism remains. A short definition of imperialism is the expansionist policy of finance capital. It is capitalism at its monopoly stage, and where it must expand internationally as it is unable to expand at home, due to its inability to vastly increase the wages and thus consumption of “their own” working classes. This “expansion” is today taking the shape of not only Washington and Brussels’ preparations for a cataclysmic military confrontation with Russia and China, but also an ongoing series of colour revolutions and covert regime change operations in any number of countries throughout Eurasia, Africa and Latin America.
Multipolarity is arguably what the Russian and Chinese governments try in vain to achieve through forums such as the United Nations (UN), and even the World Health Organisation (WHO). The CPC bends over backwards to protect their own socialistic rule at home by a combination of diplomacy and exerting pressure on workers at home (e.g., Covid lockdowns), while Russia defends its rebuilding system domestically by imagining that the West will eventually be forced to adhere to international conventions. Both concepts are unattainable even if it was desirable. As NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine currently demonstrates, US/EU imperialism is willing to risk everything – even the collapse of their own economies via uncontrollable inflation and backfiring sanctions – in order to bring down any nation which is even slightly independent, let alone a challenge to its waning supremacy. The utterly diabolical Covid plot, which involved potentially deadly injections of workers at the cost of unemployment and ruin, is just one example which demonstrates how utopian it is to imagine that such architects could be dealt with in a rational manner. When a ruling class takes the opportunity not only to throw millions of workers out of work, but to underhandedly exterminate whole portions of them, one can be sure that this class is willing to kill to preserve what remains of its rule.
Workers should defend the expanding BRICS+ economic, political and security blocs insofar as they strive to stave off and hold in check the dangerous predations of NATO/G7 led imperialism. At the same time, the leaders of the BRICS+ group offer no viable political alternative in and of themselves. That is to say, the BRICS+ group are non-imperialist, but by no means are they anti-imperialist. Ultimately they seek to co-exist with imperialism, rather than overthrowing it. The latest Cold War must be the last Cold War. Nuclear war, ecological collapse, skyrocketing inflation, food shortages, “pandemic” repression, totalitarian rule, censorship – all of these scourges and more are accelerating and none can be eliminated without the overturn of private production for private profit. What is required is the abolition of capitalism via socialist revolution in the West, combined with proletarian political revolutions in China and the remaining heavily bureaucratised workers’ states. Indispensable for this task is the forging of internationally linked Leninist vanguard parties animated by L Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution. The world’s resources for the world’s people can only be assured by the raising of the proletarian masses to political power in the East and West.
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