On the Way to a Better Tomorrow

The general feeling of disharmony and lack of mutual understanding throughout the world is increasing. This is not only (and not so much) due to disagreements, for example, between countries, but due to a growing rift in values, in the understanding of where we are all going and why, as well as what kind of civilisation we want in the modern world.

Recently in Switzerland, a referendum was held on whether people may cover their faces in public places for non-medical purposes. To put it simply, whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the hijab, niqab, burqa and so on. The result, I must say, surprised a significant number of Swiss politicians, and even upset them. They tried in every possible way to outplay the Swiss People's Party, that is, right-wing politicians who had invited the Swiss to take part in this referendum. They tried, but the majority (51.21%) supported a ban on covered faces. The slogan of the victors was stop extremism’.

However, the result of the referendum itself is the business of Swiss citizens. After all, there are similar restrictions, for example, in France (albeit with some differences), and not only in France. The reaction to this referendum is more important, and in this reaction, one feature stands out that produces a mixed impression. Many media outlets, especially those that can be tied to the left-liberal camp, were clearly critical of the results of the referendum. Numerous articles (discreet and less so) have argued against the referendum, citing the position of Amnesty International, various organisations, academics, etc. All of them, of course, condemn the results of the referendum. And only in some publications one can find, for example, information that there are Muslims who supported bans on face covers, because they are for the emancipation of women, including Muslim women, or understand the arguments of the majority of Swiss who supported the ban.
In general, we can say that there is a certain disregard for the result of such a democratic procedure as a referendum.

Of course, even CNN is hard-pressed to directly criticise an opinion voiced in a democratic plebiscite. It is quite obvious, however, that the opinion of the media elites (and their role can hardly be overestimated) directly contradicts the will of the Swiss majority, at least in this case.

No less curious is the development of the George Floyd case, more precisely, the case of the police officer accused of his murder, Derek Chauvin. The battle turned into a question of jury selection. Potential members of the grand jury were given questionnaires with a lot of interesting questions. For example, did they support the BLM movement, did they participate in protests against police violence, and if they did, did they carry posters. In total, the questionnaire was 16 pages long. In itself, this is not bad: you need to figure out whether the participants in the process are biased or not. It is best for people to be open-minded and understand the merits of the case rather than make political verdicts. Alas, this, apparently, does not work. Since the media (which have been politicised for a long time) have launched a campaign that actually insists on the politicisation of the case, this outcome was inevitable. The police strangled an innocent person, they say. Those who do not support this opinion are condemned as unworthy members of society, or worse, and they should not be allowed to make decisions.

It turns out that due to party political preferences, in the case of Switzerland, trust in the institution of direct democracy is undermined, and in the case of the Floyd trial, the foundations of justice are crushed.

In general, the value split and radical struggle, especially on the part of the left, turns out to be a big problem, and especially for Western society, which claims to be a kind of standard-bearer of democratic values. Joe Biden explicitly calls on his allies to unite in support of freedom and democracy.

In fact, everyone should unite around the basic values ​​that have shaped modern civilisation. The problem is that today, there are vacancies not only for leaders when it comes to the civilisational development of the modern world, but also for civilisational development in itself.
It seems that the very general narrative of global development has been lost, and that new descriptions of that model are needed, if not for everyone on Earth, then at least among the confident majority.

I’ve already written that in spite of all the confrontation between the socialist and capitalist blocs forty years ago, both the USSR and the United States, at least declaratively, strove for common values: freedom, equality, fraternity, prosperity, and the creative development of people. The dispute was not about freedom or non-freedom, the dispute was about ways to achieve approximately the same understood future. They asked: do we need private property, a multi-party system, or the separation of powers?

When the barriers collapsed and the Warsaw Pact disintegrated, illusions arose that everyone would now agree and we would rush by leaps and bounds into an exciting future of scientific progress and humanism, overcoming the most chronic conflicts by relying on shared, humanistic values. This, as you know, did not happen.

Moreover, the process of globalisation (no matter how we understand it), which is necessary for general development, has disintegrated. The system of world leadership, that is, a reasonable hierarchy, without which there can be no real development, has been more or less destroyed. The world's elites have become disunited, old fault lines have grown wider and new fault lines have emerged.

Even the elites of the most developed countries have been forced to switch to self-defence and, as a consequence, to a desperate struggle for their position.

The examples I have cited above are a reflection, in my opinion, of these processes, despite all their contradictions.

Well, it seems that everyone is for overcoming inequality, and for freedom of religion, free political views, and freedom of expression; but only as long as these views do not undermine the temporary consensus of the left in the Western media and intellectual elite, for example. The fear of losing this consensus stems from the fact that the real alignment of forces in modern mankind is very complex, that the most complicated process of modelling the future is going on right now. Hence the sceptical and dismissive attitude towards the referendum in Switzerland or the desire to remove those who disagree with leftist views from the jury in the Floyd case.

Surprisingly, such an attitude can undermine the seemingly most stable societies.
The blindness of the elites is simply amazing, in their selfish struggles they seem to greatly overestimate the reliability and strength of the societies in whose bodies they grappled with each other.

Alas, people have witnessed this before, for example, during the First World War. At that time, relatives, members of the ruling houses of Europe, fought among themselves, and the consequences were fatal for many of them.

Incidentally, the current fight against the pandemic and the vicissitudes of vaccination very vividly, albeit sadly, illustrate this process. As it turned out, no sense of global leadership has emerged. Even the seemingly close-knit European Union is not quite coping with the challenge. There is no need to think about global consolidation to overcome the consequences of Covid.

Nevertheless, this is not the first, and God forbid, not the last test of mankind. The deepest crises have been resolved through intellectual and political breakthroughs: the ability to see the situation in a new way.

Therefore, as it seems to me, the most essential question today, from my point of view, is how the development of human civilisation will take place, who will put forward initiatives in this area, what they will entail, and how they will be supported. A lot depends on this: the regulation of emerging problems, the settlement of conflicts, technological progress, etc.
There is no clear answer to this question yet. Leadership positions are vacant. There are still applications.
Quo Vadis?
Andrey Bystritskiy
We are faced with the threat of a kind of “war of all against all”, a global, world civil war, a multidimensional matrix of conflicts of different origins. Moreover, there is a suspicion that the ability of the world’s elites to settle, and resolve even the most acute conflicts will not be enough to achieve a positive result, writes Valdai Club Chairman Andrey Bystritskiy.

Message from the Chairman