The Rumble of the Big Time and the World Civil War
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On June 30, the Valdai Club hosted a discussion on the topic “The Global Ideological and Spiritual Landscape and Russia’s Place on the New Values Map of the World”. Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, who moderated the discussion, noted that value conflicts are a common occurrence in history, but that today they have a number of qualities that have never been seen before. This, in his opinion, is connected with the colossal scale of the modern world and with its extraordinary communication connectivity, or “crampedness”. It is now impossible to ignore other ways of life and value systems. “What has been happening in recent years can be called a world civil war, which is largely due to value systems,” Bystritsky said.

Konstantin Bogomolov, Artistic Director of the Theatre on Malaya Bronnaya, pointed to the great importance of the value conflict in the modern world, emphasising that the fault lines lie not only between Russia and the West, but also within the Russian and Western spaces. This conflict, he believes, does not grow from above, but from below, from the human level, and is very personal in nature. “This is a kind of internal disagreement of a person with this or that development of civilisation. A person now begins to feel the Big Time ... People, ordinary people daily begin to feel the rumble of the Big Time, they began to notice that they were involved in big processes,” the director said. “Now the big value system and the small value system, which is connected with comfort, with a small life, are in conflict ... We are breaking out of the small circle of time into the big circle of time, and this is what pushes us towards a new sense of values.”

Dmitry Trenin, Member of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, considered the topic of discussion from the point of view of international relations. He called the post-Cold War period a time of “rest from the heroic”. The world by default accepted the values ​​of the collective West - and this situation seemed quite comfortable to a significant proportion of the population. However, this period ended, and a period of struggle and war began. What was once a single world began to disintegrate. This fragmentation also covers the sphere of values. Until 2014, Russia sought to integrate into the West, but now it has become part of the global non-West, and is in a state of hybrid war with the united West. “We need to build a practical policy based on a balance of values ​​and interests,” the expert added. Speaking about the values ​​of the Russian state in the areas of foreign policy, he named among them the independence of decision-making, the rejection of the notion of world hegemony, pluralism, international dialogue and adherence to international law, understood as mutual obligations of sovereign states.

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos, Former Advisor to Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, called the collapse of the Soviet Union a catastrophe for all mankind, which led to the spread of capitalism and imperialism and caused the collapse of the value system. “Globalisation is not only a cultural phenomenon. It must be understood as an attempt to impose the dominance of capitalist relations of production and distribution and the corresponding forms of civilisation on the entire planet,” he stressed. “The biggest strategic mistake is that we have handed over power over our destiny to the collective West.” Constantakopoulos considers the return to traditional values ​​to be the collective hope of mankind. In his opinion, they can help countries and people survive modern military, economic and cultural upheavals.

Liu Zhiqin, Senior Research Fellow at the Chongyang Financial Research Institute of the Renmin University of China (RDCY), examined in his speech how the value system in China developed and outlined the current approach to the problem in the PRC. He recognised the coordination and unification of different value systems as an important challenge for the world. According to him, Western civilisation is often inclined to impose its own values ​​and suppress others, but China prefers to combine different value systems and build a new society on their basis. He named peace, harmony, unity and readiness to share experience and prosperity as key values ​​for China.

Andrey Fursenko, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, raised the issue of the importance of preserving intellectual diversity. In his opinion, diversity and intellectual independence is a common value that can unite the world and is necessary for the preservation of civilisation as a whole. He considers the narrow understanding of diversity, limiting it to certain sectors, which is now characteristic of the “collective West”, extremely dangerous. “Diversity is good when there are clearly expressed different positions and different points of view. If we start to become similar, then globally this is the path to intellectual degeneration,” Fursenko pointed out, adding that the West is now striving to level out the fundamentally different approaches of other cultures and this threatens the development of the world.

Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, discussed the formation of values ​​and the possibility of a conscious policy in this direction. “It seems that values ​​are a basic thing and interests should grow out of them, but at the same time we see that interests begin to influence values, begin to form values ​​and, to some extent, begin to replace values,” he stressed. In this context, Barabanov returned to the theme of Big Time, noting that such times give rise to new value waves that can either sweep away everything old or die out – and it is precisely this demand for a new value wave and for the elites to match it that is now being observed in some segments of society.