We Need a Vaccine for Something More Dangerous Than the Coronavirus

Democratic slogans swaying on the surface of mass protests can often lead to outright fascism and totalitarianism. So it happened in the first half of the last century in Italy, and in Germany, and in Spain, and in Russia. So it can happen in the USA today, and not only there, writes Valdai Club chairman Andrey Bystritskiy.

A coronavirus, like any small biological creature, can in itself destroy any one us individually, but in general it is difficult for it to affect the whole humanity. But with this coronavirus, people themselves can do a lot of damage. And moreover, they are already doing it.

The coronavirus outbreak highоlighted a wide range of problems, many of which, although they were noticeable, still seemed to indicate that there was time to find a solution. I would name among them the following: information and its circulation; mass behaviour and global socio-political problems; the collapse of the world leadership system and the world order as it is. All these problems, of course, are directly related, but the development of each of them still has its own features.

Lets start with the collapse of world leadership. This is most evident in case of the United States. There is no particular doubt that this country played one of the leading roles in the world after the Second World War. At that time, the Soviet Union was its undisputed, formidable rival; now China claims to be the main competitor. Nevertheless, today (at the time this text was written) the USA is considered a leading world power: militarily, scientifically, economically and even culturally. Before the coronavirus, there were quite few doubts as to how the US was able to play such an important global role. Moreover, these doubts were expressed in the United States itself. In this sense, the Trump presidency is, in fact, a direct statement by the United States that the country wants to reconsider its role, to avoid global responsibility. In a sense, the previous president, Barack Obama, spoke about this. In another language, in a different manner, but about the same thing.

The idea of the collapse of the current world order, the transition of countries to a system of independent survival was in the air. The Valdai Club, for example, dedicated a whole series of its reports to this problem, including the last one: “Staying Sane in a Crumbling World”.

But now, from my point of view, it is possible that the “crumbling” of the world has been rapidly accelerated, that the process of destruction, due to the interdependence of all elements of the modern world, has crossed state borders, and in many cases we already see attacks on individual countries, against their societies. And this is somehow in the spirit of the coronavirus, which enhances all the “malaises” of an individual organism.

This is an occasion to be extremely perturbed and vigilant. The collapse of the world order, that is, of a certain world hierarchy ruled by rules, may be happening right before our eyes at an accelerating pace. If so, to what extent are the people ready for such challenges?

Let’s just imagine that the current riots in the US are not a trifle (and they don’t appear to be trifling). What if we see something similar to the processes observed the Russian Empire on the eve of revolution? How many in Petersburg or Moscow on January 1, 1917 could have suggested that within two months, the Empire would disappear? That liberals flirting with radical movements would ruin the country? Alas, only a few saw this. And besides, no one believed them, even worse — they simply ignored them. But my intention is not to repeat banal axioms about learning history lest it repeat itself. In fact, nobody has learned anything. Is the world ready for the fact that suddenly, by accident, the United States in its current form will collapse, “fade,” as Vasily Rozanov more than a hundred years ago wrote, in a mere “three days”?

Let us suppose that the unrest in the United States does not cease, that left-wing Democrats continue to encourage radicals, they do not calm down, and the authorities, in the meantime, lose power. Many say that this likelihood is very low. And this, of course, is true. But still there is a chance. This means that people who are unusually aggressive can come to rule the world’s largest nuclear power. I note that the similarity with the Russian Empire is not only in the split among the elites and general myopia, but also in the fact that all the protests, as well as the policies of the leaders of the Democratic Party, are actually socialist, extremely leftist, and egalitarian. Moreover, they clearly see their movement as global. There is no new “Internationale” yet, but due to the new information and communication environment, it may not be necessary, due to its network-type nature.

If the new American left-wing radicals gain power, the world will be presented with a terrible problem. First, they will have nuclear weapons and a powerful army. And if the latter falls apart, it will only turn out worse. Second, they will deal a crushing blow to the global financial system. What will happen to the dollar and its circulation? How grave will the dollar’s devaluation be? What will happen to the banking system? Third, the intolerance of the American protesters, both the elite and the “simple people”, suggests that here we are witnessing a step towards real fascism, and a totalitarian system. In general, there are a lot of questions.

At one time, during the collapse of the USSR, the authorities of the new Russia were able, at a minimum, to take control of nuclear weapons, to prevent their proliferation, and keep them from falling into the hands of all kinds of irresponsible adventurers. In Russia in the late 80s and early 90s, there were many smart and responsible people, inspired by humanistic ideas.

We see nothing of the kind in the USA. Naive idealists, evil radicals, and simply criminal and semi-criminal elements are rampant on the ground. All of them are racial minorities. But no single one is so good to impose its will, as a minority. Especially an intolerant and totalitarian one.
In general, it’s time to prepare for how we can live without the United States, how to build a world structure without Washington, and also how to deal with their nuclear weapons, in any case.

Of course, this is only a possible scenario, and not the most likely one. But you need to think about it.

By the way, in any event, even in a best-case scenario, one should think about building a new world that would not revolve around the fate of the United States. Of course, it would be great if the United States overcame its internal problems and turned out to be a useful partner for everyone. But will it be so?

Moreover, here we immediately encounter the unpleasant fact that the unrest similar to that in the US is going on all over the world. The ideas of the left have blossomed again, and the incredible openness of the information networks available to us has contributed to this in many ways, exacerbating global socio-political conflict.
Revolt of the Masses-2019
Andrey Bystritskiy
Many people will remember the year 2019, but one of its most important features has been the impressive growth of what can be called social activity or even aggression. And perhaps this is also a sign of growing global chaos.
Message from the Chairman

Everything external changes through the internal, and vice versa. But – we began to forget about it – 2019, the year of the appearance of COVID, was also a year of quite significant social unrest. The formal reasons for the turmoil were different. Hong Kong is not like Lebanon, and the “yellow vests” in France were not similar to protesters in Ecuador. But there is a similarity in general; it was the result of the fact that huge masses of people were drawn into politics due to the radically new information and communication environment. The new openness has led to a clear crisis of relations throughout the world community, a crisis that is largely a consequence of enormous social and economic inequality. This inequality turned out to be especially painful against the background of leftist and even socialist rhetoric prevailing in the media: for many years it was considered unusually correct to emphasise the superiority of humanistic values, the unity of humanity, and the responsibility and even the guilt of developed countries for the state of affairs in the world. As a result, the world hierarchy of values was eroded, as well as what José Ortega y Gasset once called the “uprising of the masses”. The essence of this rebellion, its nature is in two elements — the loss of the old identity, and the longing to redistribute everything, especially property. Envy and a desperate, suffocating desire for revenge are an essential element of this global political broth. If responsibility for the state of affairs is transferred to others, adult infantilism still develops. I should shnote that children are usually cruel. Especially if they are not taught and educated.

Democratic slogans swaying on the surface of mass protests can often lead to outright fascism and totalitarianism. So it happened in the first half of the last century in Italy, and in Germany, and in Spain, and in Russia. So it can happen in the USA today, and not only there. In a certain sense, ISIS (banned in Russia) can be put on a par with the so-called democratic protests. In all these cases, we are not talking about fixing and improving something, on the contrary, about the total destruction of the existing order. The Hong Kong protests, for example, were largely suicidal and based on a rather naive premise of the stability of the world. Moreover, they were even predicated on a picture of the world in which there is a mighty West and its stronghold — the mighty USA — which are able to step in and force the Chinese authorities to make concessions. Almost everything is wrong in this picture: there is no such West, there is no such USA, and there is no such China or even Hong Kong itself. But the illusory nature of goals does not at all mean the possibility of a successful destruction of existing reality. Just look at the results of the Russian revolutions of 1917. So we can recognise the existence of a threat to democracy and freedom, one might say, on a global scale. And the main source of this threat, oddly enough, is not the state, but active, radical-minded and close-knit groups, dedicated to the most decisive redivision of world roles.
In general, the case doesn’t mirror that of USA, as such. Nevertheless, the current situation can only serve as a catalyst for an incredible degree of global social and political unrest, wars and terrorism.

The third point is information and our ability to use it. In a sense, the most important problem today is not the coronavirus, but a disease of information cruelty, which no one knows how to deal with. The world, home to seven and a half billion people, has turned out to be adrift in a sort of global information ocean, in which no one knows the rules of navigation. Of course, on the one hand, we are observing an incredible freedom of information, but on the other hand, an essential part of this information is erroneous, having fallen prey to inadvertent or malicious lies, or outright manipulation. It is difficult to imagine how in such a situation people, often high-ranking ones, can make the right decisions.

We can say that we’ve overestimated the ability of people to independently understand everything, assuming that this ability existed. If it had, crazy communists and crazy fascists would not have ruled the world. Alas, people are superficial, weak in mind, and amenable to suggestion. Information chaos now seems to me much more dangerous than a viral infection.

Even in this story, the erosion of professional media is important. We see independent media disappearing before our eyes. At the same time, they’ve become something like political parties, or like collective propaganda publications. There is no need to provide examples of the dismissal or expulsion of journalists for maintaining points of view that diverged from the views of the left-wing journalistic subculture, which has seized many media outlets that were once considered world-class. De facto, today’s CNN is less akin to media, but a branch or even the headquarters of the Democratic party. The same could be said of the New York Times. But this is not only an American phenomenon. Simply, the mediatisation of the world leads to the fact that information resources strengthen their role. A hundred years ago, it was written that the newspaper was a kind of organiser and propagandist. Today, alas, this has again become relevant. With the help of media resources, a kind of expropriation by minorities for freedom, a liberal agenda has taken shape. They can exist only in one edition, approved by the leftist global intelligentsia. Actually, why this came to be is an interesting question. A kind of journalistic renaissance is needed, the restoration of journalism, which can be trusted and which informs, but does not participate in the battle, is, in my opinion, absolutely necessary. Whether this is possible is another question.

In general, it seems to me that we have fallen into a kind of vicious circle — the world order is collapsing — the powerful forces of mankind, including nuclear weapons, are at least partially unattended — for many reasons, billions of people are dazed — they are wandering in a maze of false information as an easy victims for manipulation, primarily aggressive and totalitarian, since it is most accessible and plays on the fears and aggression of a person — this creates a poisonous cocktail of rage, disobedience and the desire to destroy — the world order is finally collapsing, and with it, the whole of civilization, that people worked so hard and long to build.

An abridged version of the story was published by the Expert magazine (in Russian).

Once Again on the New Journalistic Renaissance
Andrey Bystritskiy
Possibilities of manipulating the audience in modern conditions, when billions of people are already submerged into the new information communication environment and actively spread information in it, about themselves, about the surrounding world and on their impressions of what various other sources of information tell them.
Message from the Chairman