The Crumbling World: The Anarchist World Order as Past and Future

On December 14, in St. Petersburg, TASS news agency hosted an expert round table dedicated to the annual Valdai Club report, "A World Without Superpowers".  Among the guests of the event was Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club. He spoke about the development of the ideas that served as the basis for the report.

According to Lukyanov, the beginning was the 2018 Valdai Club report “Living in a Crumbling World”, which predicted the end of a unique period in world history which saw the dominance of international institutions designed to prevent a repetition of the nightmares of the first half of the 20th century. They effectively kept the world free of major wars for a long time. The forecast came true faster than one could imagine - the system began to disintegrate before our eyes. First, the pandemic showed that globalisation can literally be “turned off”, while the world continued to function. Then came the year 2022, when the special military operation was the impetus that completed the crumbling of the world order. It turned out that things are possible that were unthinkable back in January - for example, the collapse of Russia-Europe energy cooperation.

“The 2022 report already reflects a new situation – the interruption of those ties that seemed almost uninterrupted and the final transformation of interdependence into a weapon,” Lukyanov said. The main idea of the report is that the period when there were countries in the world that determined its development - that is, superpowers - has ended. It seemed that after the "withdrawal of the USSR from the ring" that the United States and China would be those countries, but the authors of the report suggest that this is also an intermediate phase and that the new international environment, in principle, will not provide anyone with the opportunity to exert control. No one else can act as a guarantor of the implementation of the rules. Thus, the new world order is the same anarchy, which had been the norm of international relations for centuries. Only the 20th century made its own adjustments.

During the discussion, Stanislav Tkachenko, president of the "Post-communist systems in international relations" section of the Association for International Studies, suggested that international forums built on the Asian model would play the role of rigid interstate organisations and, accordingly, the role of diplomacy would increase. Stanislav Eremeev, co-chair of the Russian Society of Political Scientists, called for a new political and economic language, noting that the terms we use do not reflect reality well. Natalya Eremina, a professor at St. Petersburg State University (SPbU), pointed out that there have never been absolute guarantors, the international order played a relative role, and therefore the world is unlikely change dramatically.

Ruslan Kostyuk, a professor at St. Petersburg State University, analysed the position of the world's left-wing forces in relation to what is happening. Alexander Khodachek, president of the National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, called for a pragmatic approach and a focus on domestic issues. Sergei Tsyplyaev, authorised representative of the St. Petersburg University of Management Technologies and Economics, noted that our vision of the world has changed to a greater extent than the world itself, and urged not to bury either globalisation or the idea of superpowers ahead of time. Kirill Korolev, director of the Patria Historical and Cultural Center, compared what is happening with the forecasts of science fiction writers from the middle of the last century, and Alexander Konfisahor, associate professor at St Petersburg University, analysed current trends from the point of view of a geocivilisational approach.

A video recording of the round table can be viewed here in the TASS Press Center