Global Revolt and Global Order

09.12.2016

As part of a special session of the Russian International Studies Association annual convention, the Valdai Discussion Club presented the preliminary text of its report “Global Revolt and Global Order”, which had been presented at the Valdai Club session in Sochi last October. Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, told the discussion participants that the Club will continue to work on the report and the final version isexpected to be released in January. However, the authors’ conclusions were of such importance that the Club decided to hold a discussion prior to the release, he said.

Valdai Club Academic Director Fyodor Lukyanov said that the bulk of the text was written last October. It means that the “revolutionary” result of the US presidential election was not yet known and the authors assumed that it would be won by Hillary Clinton. However, the proposition itself suggested that personalities do not matter that much, as global shifts in the leading societies are already underway and will continue regardless of political circumstances. Two fundamental processes are overlapping: the crisis of the global model that the West tried to build after the end of the Cold War and the frustration of broad segments of the most developed societies with the results of political and economic development over the past quarter-century.

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Lukyanov compared the current developments to the global socio-political processes of the late 1960s, when new social groups burst into political systems and demanded “the right to have a voice.” Back then, the ruling classes of major western countries were able to efficiently co-opt the protest elites into the system of governance, which led to the West’s success in the Cold War. The USSR, which also experienced socio-political shifts, failed to find the right approaches, relying on suppression.

Two decades later, this led to crisis and collapse. The question is whether the current elites will find a way to adapt the so-called “populist movements” to mainstream politics and shift their own course to accommodate the opinion of the masses. So far, they do not seem to be able to, but France could become the first example of this next spring.

Fyodor Lukyanov pointed to the fragility and jeopardy of the current situation, in which uncertainty is growing everywhere. The report's authors conclude that all actors should be extremely cautious and focus on domestic issues. In the international sphere, they should stick to the remaining universal institutions to preserve at least basic manageability.

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Valdai Club Programme Director Oleg Barabanov discussed the return of ideology to international politics. According to him, the global financial crisis created a new type of citizen who realized that he has to struggle for his fate on the ruins of the mortgage loan paradise. This became an incentive for the search of an ideological basis, and the anti-neoliberalism protest generated a rightwing wave, which is a mix of demands for social guarantees and rejection of unification and universalization coming with the wave of neoliberal globalization.

Alexander Losev, CEO of Sputnik Capital Management, pointed to the shifts in the financial and economic sphere. According to him, globalization approaches have run out of steam and it is widely believed that in order to overcome the crisis, it is necessary to fence off, not to integrate. An era of new mercantilism is coming, adjusted for the current interdependence. 

Losev is apprehensive of the emergence of processes similar to those in the 1930s, when overheated markets and the collapse of exchanges led to a surge in radical fascist sentiments. Protectionism will gain an upper hand no matter what, he believes.The event's moderator, Valdai Club Programme Director Andrey Sushentsov, invited all participants to continue the discussion in January, when the Valdai Club will present the final version of its report.

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