Four Levels of Reading the Current International Transformation
If we put aside the Western propaganda – and those promoting it – which denies that there is any change in the international balance of power, turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to the new reality, considering that what has been going on for the past 15 years is just a temporary setback that has befallen the American cowboy’s horse; if we put that aside, we will find ourselves before a very complex, multifaceted, and multi-layered global phenomenon.
In attempting to understand this phenomenon or let’s say “peeling it” one layer after another in pursuit of its essence, one could consider four basic layers, from the surface to the core. We believe, all these layers are correct, and all of them are going on simultaneously, though each of them is an expression of a different time range and of one of the aspects of the essence. These layers are:
1- The multipolarity (30 years).
2- The global financial-political system (100 years).
3- The global geopolitical upheaval (400 years).
4- The socioeconomic formation (thousands of years).
First: The Multipolarity
Many see the shift in the international balance of power through a “state” lens; that is, as a conflict between countries, and between alliances that those countries enter. On this basis, the alliance between Russia, China, and others appears as a tool in confronting the Western alliance with its American head. As for the goal, it is to reach some form of bipolarity or multipolarity that prevailed before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This way of seeing what is going on, reduces and dwarfs the current transformation to a transformation that spans about three decades. That is, it sees that what is changing now is the American unipolarity that prevailed with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Undoubtedly, this approach has some validity, but it quickly reveals its superficiality with the first attempt to further explore the phenomenon, and dive deeply into it. This type of approach deals with conflicting countries and alliances, by considering them to be islands isolated from each other, as if it is a story from the historical tales that narrates a struggle between bygone empires (and we say a tale because the real story, even of ancient historical conflicts, is definitely not that simple).
Among the factors that cannot be overlooked in reading contemporary conflicts, are the role of major corporations, the role of central banks as well as the global financial system, and the role of unequal exchanges. Even when we look at each of these conflicting countries separately, we will not find before us a simple authoritarian pyramid consisting of the ruled and the rulers isolated from other countries, their peoples, and their rulers.
Above all, the litmus paper that reveals who is the actual ruler in a country is the method of production and distribution of wealth in that state. The actual rulers are those who put their hands on the greater part of the produced wealth, and manage the economic, political, security, informational, and cultural, etc. processes, to serve the distribution pattern that works in their favor.
Within this criterion, the actual ruler in the Western center countries are not the presidents nor the governments, but the major corporations and central banks.
In other countries around the world, the ruling is a partnership among three parties whose percentage of participation in ruling varies from one country to another:
1- Major Western corporations and Western central banks, led by the US Federal Reserve, are partners in ruling all countries around the world (at least from the point of view of the global role of the dollar as a tool for sucking the added value around the world, as well as the role of unequal exchange in deepening this plundering, and in working to define the productive identity of the peripheral countries, often towards perpetuating them as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured materials).
2- Major corporations and central banks of the relevant country. These rule as a “speculative partner” for the Western center. They plunder the peoples in the countries in which they rule, for their own pockets and the pockets of the Western center, and they constantly try to increase the plundering in an absolute and relative way. That is, increase the degree of plundering of their peoples, while trying to reduce the share of the Western center from that plundering, and even dream of reaching a consensus, albeit through conflict, with the western center, to have a greater share not only of the local plundering, but also of the international plundering.
3- Representatives of the interests of the productive classes, and these are the least involved in ruling in all countries of the world, although there are indications in a few countries that their share is increasing (China is perhaps the most important example of this, and the transformations of indicators of wealth distribution internally are one of the most important criteria for this issue, as well as the quality of production activity and its position within the international division of labor in which China is establishing itself as a producer and exporter, and as an importer of raw materials).
Within this picture, the conflicts that seem only external, between countries and alliances, are in essence primarily internal conflicts, with various external extensions. Therefore, talking about the transition from unipolarity to bipolarity or even multipolarity is almost superfluous and irrelevant.
Second: The Global Financial-Political System
The second layer in reading the phenomenon, is imposed by the facts of unequal exchange and the supremacy of the dollar as a global currency. That is, the nature of the global financial-political system, and all it produces of overlapping of ruling and conflict systems, between the West and the East, and within each country across the world.
This layer extends the time span within which the current global transformation can be read, bringing it back to Bretton-Woods 1944. That is, to the moment when the first foundation of the current political financial system was laid. Noting that its second and third pillars, i.e., the unequal exchange and the US military spread around the world, were not fully settled before the mid-1960s, or even the 1970s.
Within this layer of the phenomenon, it happens that the interests of major corporations and “eastern” or “state” central banks temporarily intersect with the interests of the peoples of the peripheral countries, and even with the interests of the peoples in general, within the framework of their work to break the hegemony of the dollar and the unequal exchanges.
One of the obvious aspects of this temporary intersection is that the interest of the Western center, in the context of its structural capitalist crisis, requires it to go towards fragmenting local markets to the end. This is in order to transform the entire world into a single market for it alone. This requires destroying and fragmenting the very countries that protect those markets, fragmenting their peoples, and even fragmenting the major corporations and banks that are in control therein.
The simultaneous disadvantage and advantage of this intersection is that it is extremely temporary and fragile. The actual aim of the internal plunderers outside the Western center is to maintain the percentages of plunder they collect, as well as to attempt expanding to participate in the plundering of others. However, the objective law of the tendency of the rate of profit to decrease as the organic composition of capital becomes more complex, as well as the existing method of international division of labor, make the spoils that are being fought over get smaller and smaller, and the conflict more and more intense. This is what opens the door historically to the fourth layer, which we will talk about later.
Third: The Global Geopolitical Upheaval
The conflict of shares and influence between local and international plunderers, especially with the decline in the ability of the Western center to control, militarily and economically, opens the door to reconsidering the way international labor is divided. This laid its first foundations not with the two world wars, but centuries before that, and clearly with the outbreak of the waves of classical Western colonialism.
These waves, the beginnings of which date back to the sixteenth century, or even the fifteenth, though in their early stages were mere conquests to plunder raw wealth, especially gold and silver (and implicitly the importation of slaves), they developed – with time – a global trade and economic system through which they tightened control over wealth and its production.
The password in this control, was the sea routes. The kingdoms of the high seas – especially Britain, France, and before that Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands – in order to ensure long-term control, and because they are practically isolated in the smallest continent of the world, put on the agenda of historical tasks before them the destruction of continental powers, and preventing them from communicating with each other using all possible ways.
What is said about the British “divide and conquer” policy may be based primarily on this idea. In all the colonial countries, there was insistence on a set of fixed policies:
1- The coast thrives, and the interior gets desertified and impoverished, then separation between them gets reinforced by all possible means, including the use of ethnic, national, religious, and sectarian tools, etc.
2- The destruction of the historical land trade routes, especially the Silk Road, the prevention of the development of any intra-regional trade among the continental powers, and the sowing of various kinds of problems and disputes within the borders, to the extent that it is difficult to find in Asia and Africa, any two neighboring countries without at least border problems.
The emerging powers today, with both sides of their internal ruling (i.e., the internal plunderers and the plundered), are deeply aware of these issues. The “Belt and Road”, “Eurasian”, and “BRICS” projects and alliances, and others, are tools of a geopolitical upheaval in the way international labor is divided. An upheaval whose theme is: changing a global geopolitical reality that has persisted for nearly four or five centuries.
Fourth: The Socioeconomic Formation
Going back to what we concluded in “Second: The Global Financial-Political System”, and in connection with the global geopolitical upheaval, the intensity of the internal conflict in the various countries, especially those that are in the process of ascension, will increase on a daily basis.
The “financial elites” are in crisis in the East and West, whether it is the elites of the Western center or the elites of the peripheral countries. While both of them struggle for goals that have no place among realistic possibilities (primarily due to the tendency of the rate of profit, and its interaction with various other laws of capitalism and implicitly the end of the possibilities of horizontal expansion), their struggle itself, will increase their weakness, and will open the door more for the advancement of the third category of rulers, that is, representatives of the productive classes.
We may witness this more rapidly in the countries that are directly targeted by fragmenting and ending, and here we mean Russia and China, which will not be able to defend themselves to the end, without eradicating the illusions of the financial elites, leading eradicating them.
This process, in the historical sense, is undoubtedly a long one, but we are living through one of it important and critical chapters. In essence, it is a process of radical change not only to the international balance, nor to the global political financial system only, nor only to the international geopolitical reality, but in addition to all of that, it is a change of the socioeconomic configuration prevailing on the planet.