Norms and Values
Neo-Colonialism of the Gilded West
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy Boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On February 16, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “Russia and the Struggle Against Neo-Colonialism: The End of the Western Dictate?” The discussion’s moderator Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, called the problem of neo-colonialism and the struggle for global equality one of the key issues in modern international relations.

Vasily Koltashov,
director of the Institute of the New Society, analysed the origins of neo-colonialism. He considers the unpreparedness of Western elites for reforms to change the neoliberal order an important factor. Having decided not to reform, they, saddled with immense debt and unprepared for a new world, took the path of seeking resources outside, which became the basis of the neo-colonial agenda. In order to implement plans to rescue Western economies without social reforms, the West decided to destroy new centres of development, including Russia, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa. However, this plan did not work, encountering resistance from Russia, which as a result found itself at the forefront of the fight against neo-colonialism. The golden billion” lost its former shine and turned into a “gilded West”, and a redistribution of resources began within the Western system.

Rasigan MaharajhChief Director of the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology, raised the topic of national liberation and modernisation. Despite the liberation of the colonies, the neo-colonial system continues to infringe on the rights of new states. He pointed to the importance of taking into account the global context when it comes to sustainable development goals, particularly the inequalities caused by neo-colonialism and neo-liberal ideology. For development rules for all, it is necessary to take into account the situation in specific countries and regions, particularly in Africa.

Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, considers the dollar-dominated system, which has become the cornerstone of the new imperialism, one of the most important obstacles to world development. According to her, this system emerged when the US had ambitions and excess liquidity amid the crisis of the British pound’s domination. However, the United States was unable to turn the dollar into a single global currency; it was getting weaker, and Washington tried to solve this problem by “inflating a bubble” in the financial market. The result was even greater destabilisation, and now the United States has to resort to an arms race and confiscation of foreign resources to support its financial system. The key to changing the situation is to abandon the dollar system, Desai said.

Keith Bennett
, a researcher and consultant on China’s international relations and co-editor of the Friends of Socialist China platform, is convinced that the problem of neo-colonialism and ensuring equal development can be solved through the creation of a multipolar world. He pointed to the resistance to neo-colonialism by such countries as China and Russia. Neo-colonial forces are now stronger than ever, and neo-colonialism is responding to their resistance with a new cold war, the expert argues.

Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, noted that the agony of Western neo-colonialism is noticeable within the UN, and in connection with the situation around Ukraine, it has escalated. This neo-colonial approach was quintessentially illustrated by Josep Borrell’s remark about the “European garden”, as well as the attempts of the West to force non-Western countries to adopt its sanctions against Russia. The West is fighting any attempt at dissent, but more and more, developing countries are not ready to put up with its mentoring. As new centres of power have emerged, the world has changed and is moving away from the “rule-based order” with the West having to recognize the equality of other participants in the process, the diplomat believes.