On May 14, at 15:00, the Valdai Club held an online presentation of its unscheduled special report, titled “Staying Sane in a Crumbling World.”
This is a serious attempt by one of the leading Russian intellectual centres to comprehend what the world will be like after the present pandemic in all its manifestations, including social behaviour, economic relations and international relations. The main question is whether the world will be safer or vice versa.
In a number of its publications in recent years, the Valdai Club has written about the beginning of a global crumbling and an inevitable slide to unilateralism in international politics. The newest report of the Club emphasises that the COVID-19 pandemic has essentially been a reflection of trends that have been brewing for a long time. The pandemic once again put on the agenda the question of national egoism, and also pushed into the forefront a new threat – a sharp aggravation of the conflict between the United States and China.
The authors of the report do not expect a repetition of the kind of confrontation witnessed during the Cold War era, but suggest the start, instead, of a new and irreconcilable type of competition. Such bipolarity, in their opinion, is the worst, but also the most likely scenario for the foreseeable development of the international system.
In the most paradoxical way, the new situation is set to replace multi-national goal-setting predicated on global governance and inclusive sustainable development with global risk management. The efforts of mankind will now be directed not at development, but at the permanent minimisation of damage.
The authors believe that although nuclear weapons remain the main factor preventing an inexorable slide into a global war, their deterrent potential is not unlimited, and the further degradation of international institutions will also take its toll.
Part of the report is devoted to an assessment of the risks this outcome poses to the global economy. Regardless of the scenarios of its development in the wake of the pandemic, an excess of resources will be replaced by a deficit, and an increasingly arduous struggle for them is inevitable, the authors of the report concur.
What will the world be like after the pandemic? How will the global agenda change? What future awaits multilateral alliances? Why is the new bipolarity the most likely outcome for the development of the world community? The participants of the presentation answered these and other questions.
Chen Dongxiao, President of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies;
Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation;
Thomas Graham, Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City;
Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi;
Timofei Bordachev, programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club, co-author of the report.