Norms and Values
Neo-Colonialism in the Era of Neo-Mercantilism

In 2022, the world changed completely. Economic and political factors, created by the great economic crisis of 2008-2020 and the unwillingness of the US financial elite to become disillusioned with their counter-cyclical monetary instruments and agree to domestic socio-economic reforms, came into force. Instead, the top brass of the United States and Britain chose the path of conflict and the imposition of neo-colonialism. Russia and China seemed to them the main targets to be returned to the periphery, in order that the West got resources to overcome its economic difficulties.

In 2022, Russia was chosen as the main target for the US and its allies. China has been left in relative peace for the time being. It was believed that if Russia was reduced to a neo-colonial position completely controlled by the Western financial elite, then the BRICS and other alternatives to the G7 would collapse. The result was to establish a new global order. The former vagueness of the "rules-based world" formula would go away. The "world based on rules" of the United States is a new order that does not require the consent of any other parties (an important difference from the "Washington consensus", built on an elitist compromise between the old centres of capitalism and "developing countries"), and reliance on established international law.


What does "neo-mercantilism" mean? What does this term mean for the US? The bottom line is that the neo-liberalism of financial globalisation of 1983-2013 is not being replaced by a new edition of American hegemony, but by a rigid new US colonialism similar to its super-hegemony. The new centres of capitalism have formed and will be protected and consolidated; they won’t crumble under the blows of US sanctions. The US, its junior partners and totally dependent members of the "team" will experience enormous internal difficulties.

For decades, neo-liberal scholars have instilled two false truths: history has an infinite number of paths and development has no options except for the "free market" with its inherent deregulation and the destruction of the social sphere of nation states. The inconsistency of these "truths" did not bother anyone, because neo-liberalism is grounded in postmodernism. Meanwhile, progress has a logic, a kind of main route, on which the US is no longer needed by other countries as a master or guide. The "free market" has already been replaced by neo-mercantilism, protectionism and a rivalry between states, with their growing role in the economy.

In 2014-2016, the US was the first to move towards protectionism, and most countries survived the Second Wave of the global crisis. It buried the notion that the "great recession" of 2008-2009 ensured the end of the global crisis.

The collapse of the markets in March 2020 revealed the following: 

1) the crisis was not over either by 2010 or 2017, its symptoms were only eliminated from time to time; 

2) the markets of the old industrial countries, the financial centres of globalisation, collapsed. This revealed the inferiority of their countercyclical policies and the great wear and tear of monetary instruments, although they were again restored in 2020-2021; 

3) the neo-liberal “Washington consensus” no longer existed in the world, and new development centres began to look for a way out without the G7 and other states from the US team; 

4) the contradictions between the old and new centres of capitalism have increased to an unprecedented level in the 21st century.
So, the world is divided: there are new and old centres, there is the area of the old semi-periphery and periphery where the bureaucracy fears US control or processes under US control. The areas of struggle are vast, and the struggle promises to be extensive, changing the West’s trade, management and technological links.

Internal neo-colonialism of the West

Where is the new colonialism of the US and its satellites succeeding? New Western values is the area of the triumph of neo-colonialism. Developing countries constantly hear from the USA, United Kingdom or the EU: "Freedom and democracy..." However, the real values of the Western political system (not to be confused with society) are not like that. The ideology and practice of late neo-liberalism have changed a lot. As a result, very little of the former natural rights and freedoms have remained. From the top, a new understanding of ideals has been introduced:

1) Democracy appears in the West not as the power of the majority, but a liberal power over the majority, supposedly in the name of good, which society itself is allegedly unable to recognise and accept. The key element is not submission to the majority, but submission of the majority.

2) The inequality of people before the law, based on the priority of the rights of minorities: a person and a citizen are nothing, special “small” groups are everything. An individual belonging to an honourable “infringed” minority is immediately elevated over an ordinary person in terms of real rights. The law and the authorities must protect him, regardless of whether he is right, because he is a "victim".

3) Inequality of minorities before each other from the point of view of law: some minorities are “oppressed” (racial, gender, and whatever the ruling circles want), while still others are “reactionary”, with an incorrect worldview, according to the authorities.

4) Anti-pluralism: many opinions are not needed, and widely declared misconceptions should not completely disappear (this is impossible), but those who maintain them are obliged to repent, ask for forgiveness before the rest and this must be done constantly. All those who disagree are subjects to unsubstantiated branding: intolerant, racists, fascists, sexists, communists, homophobes, totalitarians, gender-haters, etc.

5) No real private life: constantly growing intrusions into family and other private life are justified, with the aim of the moral destruction of "wrong" citizens. Children are removed from such families; in fact, on the basis of undemocratically established norms, which are at odds with the former norms of society (by no means archaic, but established during the modernisation period of the 20th century).

6) Bureaucratic segregation: unequal rights are maintained, based on the status of people and citizens, determined by the nationality of their passport, residence permit or even lack of documents. Irregular migrants have no rights, even if the media ‘honour’ their race, religion and culture. The neo-liberal bureaucracy's attack on human rights has led to a shrinking of civil rights, which is one of the intended consequences of such a policy.

7) Lack of freedom of conscience - the natural right to independent beliefs and values, which contributes to self-actualisation, has been eliminated by those at the top. Allegedly in the name of the just organisation of public and private life (not only of the state), beliefs are forcibly and without alternative instilled in the old and new generations, which includes, among other things, the acceptance of the nullity and guilt principle of the majority before various minorities.

8) A 19th century Victorian model of social rights: budgetary austerity and many anti-social reforms have helped to destroy or weaken the "welfare state" in the West. The principle prevails: everyone has as much rights and opportunities as he is able to buy, if he belongs to a privileged group.

9) Progress means nothing. Education and science are subject to the listed principles, they fall prey to ideological forces and are bureaucratised in order to suppress the resistance of thinking scientists, but not necessarily academia. The main effect is that the principle of social, scientific and technological progress is denied in practice and in rhetoric. Thus, the general level of educational attainment and the ability of people to think critically is artificially reduced.

10) The destruction of society is not the destruction of society. People are told that what they see is not degradation, but progress. Thus, de-industrialisation supposedly becomes a struggle to save the environment, and the rupture of trade ties, necessary for the survival of the economy, becomes a struggle for peace, security and freedom. Postmodernism allows for noble words to be used out of place, because the truth is denied as such.

History is not terminated

That's not all. These points reveal the value and practical foundations of the new Western order, the neo-liberal order at its worst. Is it possible not to call this the triumph of internal colonialism, aimed at blocking social development and any healing efforts? Against this background, the less than ideal systems of the new centres of capitalism look healthier and, most importantly, capable of evolving and winning the fight. This is the result of the great economic crisis of 2008-2020. However, the era it discovered has just begun and there are still a lot of events ahead.

These events doom the US as the old hegemon to defeat in the struggle. The very aggravation of this struggle in 2022-2023 suggests that the United States does not feel like a hegemon, but is only trying to regain its former position. To do this, the US needs to remake the world, break the logic of its development, impose a peripheral position on as many countries as possible. The trouble is that the United States has succeeded only in relation to the EU: the status of the “European common home” disappeared in 2022, the economy is being destroyed by sanctions and capital is fleeing to the United States. In the EU countries, as a form of protests, the struggle against US neo-colonialism is born in its latest edition. The situation is hardly normal, but the result is expected.

There is no point in telling everything ahead of time. One thing is clear: neo-mercantilism continues to develop, and American neo-colonialism has captured an “ally” of the EU, but this does not change the situation. The great crisis and power rivalry have changed the core of capitalism, and by this logic the United States is doomed to defeat in the struggle against the new centres.

Asia and Eurasia
Great Powers and Their Allies: The Experience of Global Confrontation
Timofei Bordachev
In the event that relations between Russia and its allies were assessed in comparison with similar practices in the United States and Europe, then Moscow would have every reason to express continuous dissatisfaction with the behaviour of its junior partners, with the exception of Minsk, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev. But is it possible, and is it necessary, to demand more from them?
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.