Author: Michael Khazin
An attempt to describe a modern situation on ideological grounds of global geopolitical processes. The text is a preliminary one and needs to be thoroughly discussed.
It is common knowledge that the world is standing at the edge of the crisis. However, as it always happens on the turning point of the historical trends, the main determinative factors are rather ideological than economic ones. So, aiming to describe future world development trends it is expediently to look back and make a retrospective review of ideological battles of last centuries: it will help to break away from current affairs and routine and to take a detached view.
To describe a situation we shall use terminology of "project analysis" designed by S.I. Gavrilenkov and M.L. Khazin. The key term of this analysis is a "global project", more information about the grounds of this analysis are available on the site www.worldcrisis.ru in the articles3 of the abovementioned authors.
The whole second half of the XX century passed within the frames of the opposition of two global projects (GP): the "West" and the "Red" ones. This resistance was so long and difficult in the connection that it was a draw on main three ways of opposition of GPs: it is clear that in economical sphere the financial "West" project had an advantage over the "Red" project that fundamentally was a commodity and non-financial one and was not able to compete in this sphere. In the ideological sphere at first the "Red" project had an advantage because it emphasized social justice in contrast to gains and "Protestant ethics" that could not give an advantage to the "West" project in people’s opinion.
As to the third sphere of opposition, demographical one, no party had an obvious advantage. Thus in the average no party could "prevail". The situation changed when the principle of "peaceful co-existence" (invented in 1956) from an abstract thesis turned out to be a guide to action under L.I. Brezhnev. As the result of its use the "Red" project in the person of its leader – the USSR – rejected its main advantage itself. After that its defeat was predetermined.
However, the total triumph of the "West" project lead to a very interesting result to describe which we need to turn back to the beginning of the history of this global project. It should be reckoned from XVI century when as the result of the "gold" crisis (connected with the delivery of great amount of gold from the New World by Spain and Portugal) the basic system of the economy at that time – natural feudal economy – was broken. It was connected with the fact that the gold that played the role of Unified Measure of Value (UMV) turned out to be unable to guarantee stable economic turnover in the conditions of the sharp reduction of price for gold as a commodity. As a result of this dreadful crisis that fundamentally changed the economic structure a new global project appeared: the "Capitalist" one. In its ideological form its distinguishing feature was that for the first time for a thousand and a half of the years it seriously changed the Bible dogmas that were obligatory to all European projects of that period: initial Christian as well as Byzantine and Catholic ones. Namely, the prohibition of usury (money-lending) was cancelled; the lending rate became the basis of the "Capitalist" global project. This principal change interfered the main goal of the project: in place of justice (obviously understood substantially different in all Biblical projects including Islamic one) the "Capitalist" project aimed to make gain (mercenariness).
The "pure" variant of the "Capitalist" project had existed up to the end of the XVIII century when at the same time two new ideas appeared that much determined the way of development of humankind for the next 250 years. The first one was the idea of "financial capitalism". The core of it was in realization of the centuries-old alchemists’ dream of creating gold (UMV of that time) and the content of that idea brought to the simple thought that if it was impossible to make gold (as UMV) in a retort then the gold should be replaced by something that could be made in a retort and at the same time there should be invented a special system to protect a "retort" from uncoordinated infringements. Not go into details, that can be read (for example) in the book by S. Eghishyants "Deadlocks of globalization. Triumph of progress or Satanists games", today the UMV is US Dollar, the retort of which is US FRS, a private company, owners of which are the descendants of the people that 250 years ago invented this idea. And the mechanism of IMF, the World Bank and other international financial organizations is devoted, first of all, to prevent other states of the world from monetary emission of their currencies.
It should be mentioned that the idea of financial capitalism substantially changed not only the economy but the human psychology. It is connected with the fact that all previous global projects created new assets at the expense of either labor or use of natural rent, and in financial capitalism the main assets appear "at the tip of the pencil" (or rather printing-press). If in the beginning of the XIX century the share of financial assets in all assets did not reach a half, but in the end of the XX century share tangible assets consists tenth and hundredth share of a percent. It is well demonstrated at the example of oil: the volume of oil futures are surpassed the real extractive oil in hundreds and thousands times.
The second global project that appeared in the end of the XVIII century was the "Red" one. From basic, dogmatic point of view, it represented turn back to old, "biblical" values because it restored the dogma of restriction of usury (in the form of socialization/ collectivization of means of production). But this project has one difference from the previous biblical projects – it is anti-religious in an emphatic manner, so it does not include any mystic part. As compensation it devotes much attention to progress of social technologies. But the main point is other. The success of the "Red" project (and it is not historically doomed to lose, it is not dead yet and in the nearest future it is most likely to revive actively) shows that the system of internal dogmas of the "Capitalist" and the "West" projects is unstable. From economic point of view for the last project it is easy to explain (see below), but in this case it is important another aspect: it is not peculiar for evolution to return to the old. Stability of the "Red" project shows that in the XVI century in the period of formation of the "Capitalist" project the progress of the mankind was most likely to have taken the wrong way (temporary, of course) and need some corrections.
The misfortune of the "West" project is that it "by definition" is time-limited. The "superstructure" of financial assets can not increase without end, in some moment it will collapse. In the scale of the USA this once happened – in 1929. The collapse of world socialistic system extended the dollar zone to the whole world and further it could not rise – it means that the end of economy based on unrestrained emission of dollars is not far off. That means a vigorous and strong crisis the analogue of which is the events in the XVI century (after that the UMV never went through such crisis) and collapse of the "West" project. In which way will the situation occur?
Above all, what can happen at the "project" territory of the "West" project, i.e. first of all the USA and the Western Europe? If you look thoroughly at the president Bush policy, attempts to change the economy model can be seen clearly. Roughly speaking, he (evidently or tacitly) examines a question of return to the "Capitalist" project, exit from economic crisis at the expense of return to "original Christian" values (in contrast to liberalism and political correctness), isolationism and "dropping" from the US budget the "burden" of support of international financial system. In other words, it means the exit of the USA from the "West" project. The nearest analogue, to all appearance, is the "exit" of Russian Soviet Federal Socialistic Republic from the USSR organized by Yeltsin in the end of 80th –beginning of 90th of the previous century. It should be mentioned that tough ideological opposition that takes place now in the USA is connected with that the "team" opposite to Bush plays the role of defender of the interests of the "West" global project and aims to keep the US dollar as the UMV and international unit of account.
The situation in Europe is similar, but they are building not national but supranational project – the European Union. It should be mentioned that both these projects are not global, at least they are not supposed to extend far from their "natural" borders that can certainly exceed the administrative borders of the respective states, but substantially limited (global project, by definition, includes all the world as its zone of its influence).
Certainly, the project elite of the "West" project do not like this situation. But there is little they can do as the character of the economic crisis is absolutely objective. But they still have one resource - it is fear. That is the reason for the great escalation of the terror. This a sign to all – take a look and stop, trust us otherwise you will have the same bad things as they were in Beslan. The other thing is that it is very unlikely to stop but the specific of the project elite is that they do not examine any variants where they do not exist.
In which way will the situation occur further? New prophets are not seen so the choice will have to be made from the existing projects. As the coming economic crisis dramatically brings down living standards in all western countries (that are now substantially overstated at the expense of the phenomenon "overconsumption" connected with the US dollar emission), then the idea of "gain" will be changed to the idea of "justice" in many respects. That means strengthening of the "Red" project and further reinforcement of the "Islamic" one. The author does not presume to predict what will happen in the USA, but as to Europe, there is only one question: is socialistic idea able to assimilate the Moslem population or Europe flows into the Islamic world? It should be mentioned that so far it is succeeded to assimilate Islam only within the frameworks of socialistic ideas, in connection with it I suppose that exactly in Europe the "Red" project will expanded strongly.
It should be mentioned that in the nearest future there is no hope to expect the renaissance of the original Christian projects (the Byzantine one in the form of Orthodoxy and the Catholic one). The things are that so great crisis, as the collapse of the world system of division of labor, the collapse of the united dollar area, will demand energetic or even aggressive actions from all the participants. The policy of the Christian projects is mainly determined by their dogmas that affirms humility as one of the main merits. In other words, the renaissance of these projects is probable but not in the near-term or middle-term outlook. It may happen in much longer period of time.
There is another reason why the "Red" project has to take on special significance in the nearest future. The things are that lending rate allowed in the XVI century created a new phenomenon in human history – "technological society". Rapid technological progress of the last centuries, that in particular lowered the death rate and allowed to increase the population, was caused by this phenomenon. It can not be excepted that an obligatory rule for this phenomenon is simultaneous combination of the lending rate (percent) and biblical system of values because even Japan and China (where biblical system of values is not widely spread) in general develop their technologies only at the expense of the western countries that are investors and consumers of the products. In no way it can not be said about Islam - all attempts to create a technological civilization based on the inner base of Moslem peoples became unsuccessful.
At the same time, today the mankind is not ready to renounce technological achievements. All the more it is important that there was one exception from this tough rule. The technological civilization was built in the USSR, in the state where the lending rate was forbidden not less strictly (and perhaps even more) than in Moslem countries. This unique experience will have to be used as the future crisis of the UMV is most likely to cause temporary (at least) renounce of the use of the lending rate. It is connected with that the collapse of the united dollar emission area will most probably to happen by degrees. At the first stage the world is most likely to divide into several (from 3 to 5) currency (emission) zones: of US dollar (that sooner or later will be emitted by the Treasury Department not a private company), euro and yuan. It can not be excluded the possibility of appearance of other two zones: of so called «gold dinar» and Russian ruble. As a matter of fact, the last is absolutely obligatory from the point of view to keep Russia as a one (united) state but it is unlikely under the present management of our economy.
As the modern system of division of labor presumes that the markets are global then this system will be certainly less profitable and most likely to continue its collapse. As the result some states aiming to undertake their obligations and protect their sovereignty will limit tougher and tougher the right of the private companies and person to appropriate the profit, i.e. first of all possibility to receive emission profit. Finally this trend will practically inevitably lead to legislative or even ideological prohibition to private use of the lending rate. Coming back to the main theme it should be mentioned that in Europe in the nearest decades the strong expansion of the «Islamic» project will meet three main oppositions. The first one is from the dying «West» project and this combat will be merciless and uncompromise. The second one – from national states less or more united within the framework of the EU. There the pressure of the «Islamic» global project will be lower because by definition national projects can not oppose a global project for a long time. And the third level of opposition will be from the part of the renascent «Red» project and there the relations will be very difficult. From one side the «Red» project can assimilate Moslem population of Europe (as it was done in the USSR) and as regard to it the «Red» project represents the main danger to the «Islamic» project. From other side some of the features of the «Red» project are to supported as much as possible as they will have to provide preservation of the technological civilization in Europe. The result of these processes will be most likely to appearance of a new global project in Europe, some symbiosis of Islam and socialism that can be conditionally called «Islamic socialism».
Taking a look at situation in Russia it should be mentioned that the only difference from European situation is more developed principles and mechanisms of the «Red» project. And it represent a great danger to the «West» project, as all constructions described in the previous paragraphs for Europe will happen much faster and it will seriously speed up the final collapse of the «West» global project. As a consequence the «west» project directed much of its force to the urgent destruction of the relics of the «Red» project: mercenary (hired) managers of this project (Gref, Kudrin, Zurabov, Shuvalov and so on) began to push aggressively urgent entrance of Russia in WTO (who will need it in 2-3 years?), destroy public system of provision of pension, healthcare system, educational system. Such behavior of the «West» project is clear. During the thousands of years Russia was only project state and could not exist without it. But the destruction of the «Red» project left her «in vacuum» for the first time, no project values are not seen yet, frankly speaking values of the «West» project did not succeeded to be inculcated to our people. But taking into consideration the remain defense and technological and educational potential it can not be allowed any other global project to catch this territory – for this it is needed to turn it to desert populated by aggressive and non-constructive tribes. Unless the «West» project was «one and indivisible» it could be fought at technological level. But the most probable victory of Bush at the elections in the USA requires tough and resolute measures. What we see in real now.
It should be mentioned that in theory there is another way to develop after the collapse of the «West» project – to renounce the remain biblical dogmas. But in that case the problem is to form a new system of dogmas of project scale. The example of China that stood for a serious period of time at the crossroads is very indicative. China could independently lift up the dropped flag of the «Red» project but to all appearances rejected it. China could formulate a new global project (for example based on modification of Buddhism) but it will inevitably lead to rejection of the technological society that was unacceptable. It can not be excluded that for the last reason China does not want to refuse the communistic rhetoric and the respective elements of state management.
But now in fact China is developing towards creation of the national imperia. It solves a lot of tactical problems but in principle closes the way of expansion to the whole world. China limited its territorial and ideological claims.
In conclusion the following should be mentioned. The inevitable collapse of the «West» project will lead to a difficult process of fight between many existing global projects aiming to strengthen their influence or just reanimate themselves. But to all appearances at the first stages the main ones will become two: the «Islamic» one and the «Red» one. The first one – by virtue of its obvious power, the second one – as a guarantor of reservation of «technological civilization». And if Russia wants to play some role in the world in the nearest decades and just remain as a state it is absolutely necessary for us to reanimate the mechanisms and technologies left after socialism and to try to create a new Russian project ideology (including on the basis of the «Red» project).
(written on 09.30.2004, published on 09.30.2004) перевод: О.Быкова