On March 23rd, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, spoke to "students" (in Russian they are slushateli--listeners, a title of officers attending such institutions as General Staff Academy), officers of Russian Armed Forces, who continue their study in the Academy Of The General Staff (VAGSH). Lavrov's speech was grand in a tradition of Russian diplomacy of the past two centuries. There was a lot of Count Gorchakov in it. It was also a very Russian speech.
Lavrov's definition of (real) power was sharp and, without unnecessary humbleness on my part, the one I wrote about since the start of this blog (in reality much-much earlier):
Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.
Remember Correlli Barnett's definition? Definitions which real, not self-proclaimed, realists operate with.
But, within Russia's grand vision of a new global order, which Lavrov so calmly and firmly articulated, was one point which I find to be one of the main pillars on which Russian vision is based and which concisely defines the main global trend. Here it is:
The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape. Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.
How many times have we heard before from US "elites" that we all live in a post-industrial society? Well, we don't. We never did, in fact such a preposterous construct, courtesy of all those faux-scholars in economy, does not exist. We live in a full blown industrial world where the only currency which matters are not some balance sheets of some investment bank or brokerage firm, much of them being virtual money, but a sequence of enclosed technological cycles which spreads from extraction of resources to R&D and manufacturing of a final, often very complex, product. But this is not what was an American view of economy for the last decades. Today, we all can observe some of those, rather dramatically bad, results of living in make-believe world. Lavrov, of course, is being too... diplomatic when speaking of "becoming", there is no becoming--the rivalry simply exists and always existed. Today, in the age of internet, it is simply impossible to block and sabotage easily the values which still appeal to a majority of decent people of the "West". We saw which values deindustrialization brings, the values of an office plankton--from a mindless consumerism, lousy work ethics to a totalitarian ideologies of SJWs, ranging from promotion of sexual perversion to a destruction of a family, to mobs of tattooed pot-heads and drug junkies who are good for nothing. We also see what happens to public education in US (and Europe) which is dominated by social indoctrination at the expense of valuable social, scientific and aesthetic skills. We have too many young kids who are ready to talk about global "problems" and can not solve a simple quadratic equation or basic mechanics problem in Physics course. Wait, they do not teach Physics as a separate subject in most public schools in US. These are not "values" which work, they never did, those are "values" of decay and eventual death.
Restoration of an industrial base of any nation can not happen on the foundation, or lack thereof, of a financial capital and "values" it, together with Wall Street, promotes. Yes, one needs money to jump-start re-industrialization but at this stage it is yet to be seen if President Trump will be able to convince nominally American, in reality supranational and not bound by any interests other than own, capital to start to invests in the US. This investing may provide, now desperately needed, arresting impulse to an unfolding American catastrophe whose features, sadly, are becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day. New industrialization is not a panacea but an ultimately necessary condition under which any kind of workable new deal, a new social contract, may be worked out. This contract's pivot will be jobs, normal ones, in manufacturing, with decent pay, with decent safety net. Present system can not provide this. It is obvious that the system doesn't work anymore and it may resort, albeit Trump's presidency so far makes it less likely, to an insane last ditch attempt on "saving" itself--unleashing a major war. I can not see how it can reform. So, the choice for this system is not even a Boolean: it is to die and let new (in reality old) productive forces take its place. If not, US is doomed for steady decline and eventual disintegration--what it means in a nuclear superpower with her citizens armed to the hilt? I do not even want to contemplate. Lavrov, however, offers Russia's vision, and a hopeful one:
It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.
In general, listen to the speech. it is a great one.