Two years ago, the Valdai Club issued a report, titled “Living in a Crumbling World”, in which it suggested that multilateral cooperation is on the decline. Any crisis of international institutions leads to increasing anarchy – each state is left to rely on itself to solve the problems of survival. The developments of 2020 so vividly confirmed this hypothesis that they surprised even the authors themselves.
COVID-19 is a temporary phenomenon, like all pandemics. However, what was happening became a catalyst for processes that had been brewing for a long time. A sovereign state remains the only institution capable of acting in an organised and efficient manner. The illusion that the state may disappear from world politics, giving way to trans-boundary supranational entities, has finally been dispelled.
The role of the state is also increasing in the economy – in the dispute between public and market interest, the balance is shifting towards the former. Timely responses to non-economic shocks, which are provided by the state and not by the market, are becoming an important economic indicator. Though the economy is global, the politics are still international.
The familiar ideological schematics, especially with respect to the “democracy vs. authoritarianism” dichotomy, have lost their meaning. The crisis has shown that the capacity of states is determined by a different coordinate system. It is more connected with culture and tradition than with political structure. Ethical pluralism – the absence of a “correct” set of values, which everyone should follow – will be one of the main notions of the coming period.