Speaking on 27 October 2022, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, delivered a revealing speech to the Valdai International Discussion Club. The discussion topic was A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone.
He unerringly encapsulated the concerns and the expectations of those who have expressed their hope for the emergence of a new multipolar world order.
Putin eviscerated the West's so-called "international rules-based order". Calling these rules "an incomprehensible black hole", he pointed out that they don't mean anything. He also noted that the US-led Western order, or "unipolar world order", often amounted to nothing more than an alignment of those pressured or bullied into falling behind US foreign policy objectives, rather than being any genuine partnership based upon mutual respect or the parity of nation states.
He vigorously attacked the cancel culture so prevalent in Western countries, pointing out the legitimately-drawn parallels between it and the book-burning of the Nazis. He also ridiculed the preposterous allegations that the Kremlin was somehow behind every criticism of the Western "rules-based order", no matter who made it or where they made it from.
Identifying the "doctrinal crisis of the neoliberal American-style model of international order", he accurately described the self-destructive, censorious oppression that masquerades as progressive liberalism in the West. He listed the travesties and often murderous aggression of a neocolonialist, self-appointed "élite" who demand total acquiescence to their homogeneous world view and obedience to their "rules".
Extolling essentially traditional conservative, Christian values, and acknowledging libertarian concerns, Putin reached out to moderate people in the West and said:
[W]e are hoping that pragmatism will triumph and Russia’s dialogue with the genuine, traditional West, as well as with other coequal development centres, will become a major contribution to the construction of a multipolar world order. [. . .] Russia is not challenging the Western elites. Russia is simply upholding its right to exist and to develop freely. Importantly, we will not become a new hegemon ourselves. Russia is not suggesting replacing a unipolar world with a bipolar, tripolar or other dominating order, or replacing Western domination with domination from the East, North or South.
This was certainly an effective sales pitch for the "multipolar world order" that is now regularly associated with the emerging Eurasian-centred strategic alliance; one that many dissident Western commentators appear to have bought into. And well might they have done so, because Putin's criticisms were justified.
The "international rules-based order" represents a lamentable approach to international relations. It is based upon nothing but the destructive, and frequently physically violent, use of economic, financial, monetary and military power. The "international rules-based order" doesn't really offer anything that is worth defending.
That does not mean, however, that the proposed multipolar world order represents any kind of improvement. It is understandable why many hope that it could; but when we scrutinise the multipolarity on offer, that hope soon dies.
Reasons to Doubt
There are many reasons for scepticism about the proposed multipolar world order. While Putin criticised the conduct of Western governments, he didn't mention any of the many shortcomings of his own administration. Nor did he cast the same critical eye toward the behaviour of his prospective "multipolar" partners, such as the governments of China and India.
The multipolar model espoused by Vladimir Putin and China's Paramount Leader, Xi Jinping, in their joint statement—made just twenty days before Russia began its official military campaign in Ukraine—sets the United Nations at the centre of a system of global governance.
Their stated multipolar ambition is to:
[. . .] protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order [emphasis added] [and to] seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role[,]
thereby enabling regional blocs of nation states—constituting poles—in a multipolar system of international relations to participate actively in:
[. . .] the relevant global governance process, [and] to jointly promote the harmonious development of humankind and nature as well as green transformation to ensure sustainable global development.
The pair said that multipolar global governance would focus upon "the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic" and "further increase cooperation in the development and manufacture of vaccines," by effectively enhancing "collaboration in public health and modern medicine".
They said they were "gravely concerned about serious international security challenges" and that Russia and China would "actively engage in global governance to ensure universal, comprehensive, indivisible and lasting security".
Putin and Xi added that they condemned "terrorism in all its manifestations" and would create "a single global anti-terrorism front, with the United Nations playing a central role" to coordinate and construct "multilateral counterterrorism efforts".
They intend to "deepen cooperation in the field of international information security", and reaffirmed "the key role of the UN in responding to threats to international information security". They wish to establish "a single mechanism", at the global governance level, to police "the use of information and communication technologies" and they support the "internationalization of Internet governance".
Both leaders said that it was important to accelerate "implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". They identified the following as the key areas over which global governance would rule, in the supposedly new multipolar world order:
- food security
- vaccines and epidemics control
- financing for development
- tackling climate change
- sustainable development, including green development
- digital economy
- infrastructure connectivity
If this list seems identical to the rhetoric you might have expected to hear from any Western politician on the international stage over the last quarter-century, then that is not because it sounds like the same agenda. It is because it is the same agenda.
Some seem to think that if Putin, Xi, Modi, Bolsonaro and Ramaphosa were to replace the Western leaders overnight as the nominal figureheads driving global governance forward, then the associated travesties we have come to expect would miraculously disappear or, at the very least, diminish. Presumably, the notion such advocates hold is that the governments of Russia, China, India and their aligned partners are intrinsically better than their Western, or unipolar (that is, seeking to dominate the whole world), counterparts.
China is currently arming the UAE and the Saudi régimes to attack the impoverished Yemeni people while looting the country's oil, as has been described eloquently by Isa Blumi in the most recent edition of UK Column's occasional Insight panel series. Russia is busy fighting another armed conflict, its sixth this century under the leadership of Vladimir Putin.
To speak of these wars is not to assert that the governments in either China or Russia are worse than those in the West. Nonetheless, to assume that a potential "world order" more aligned with these powers' international aspirations will be in any way beneficial for humanity requires a massive leap of faith.
To take that leap, one would also need to overlook the fact that the Western hegemony, so fiercely criticised at home and abroad, has advocated the very same multipolar world order for generations. Putin, Xi and the other prospective multipolar political “leaders” are not opposed to the construction of the New World Order; they are just the latest voices to promote it. All they offer is a new spin.
The Same Old Multipolar World Order
The allegedly modern multipolar world order bears an uncanny resemblance to the "three-power world" described by Professor Caroll Quigley in 1974. Quigley was referring to the plans of the Rhodes-Milner group, whose transatlantic partnership sought to establish three global power "blocs" between the wars. He reported that these were "the Atlantic Bloc (of England and the Commonwealth and the United States), a European empire led by Germany (an extension of Hitler’s Grossdeutschland) [and] Soviet Russia.” In that scheme, East Asia is envisaged as falling in with the Soviet/Russian bloc; Latin America as being under North American hegemony; and Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia as coming within the remit of a unified European continent. Quigley had long previously written a book-length study of the Rhodes-Milner group, The Anglo-American Establishment, which was only published posthumously due to its political sensitivity.
In 1956, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund commissioned Henry Kissinger to convene the Fund's Special Studies Project, whose panels investigated the global challenges and trends that were likely to shape future US policy. In the resultant publication of the collated panel reports, Prospects for America, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund described what they considered to be the best way to manage global development over the coming decades:
[. . .] a world divided into smaller units, but organised and acting in common effort to permit and assist progress in economic, political, cultural and spiritual life. [. . .] It would presumably consist of regional institutions under an international body of growing authority. [. . . ] The United Nations [is] the international organisation that today holds out the reasonable hope of being able to take over more and more functions and to assume increasingly large responsibilities. [. . .] The spirit and the letter of the Charter [. . .] gives more than lip service to the indispensable world order. [. . .]
The UN stands, finally, as a symbol of the world order that will one day be built. [. . .] We believe that this regional approach has world-wide validity. [. . .] What is needed immediately is a determination to move in the direction they imply. Regional arrangements are no longer a matter of choice. They are imposed by the requirements of technology, science, and economics. Our course is to contribute to this process by constructive action.
Like the Rhodes-Milner group before them, of which they were generational members, the Rockefellers' Prospects for America foresaw a world of regional blocs—one could call them poles—to be centrally administered by a fully functioning system of global governance that would operate through the Assembly, Councils and committee rooms of the United Nations (UN). The term "United Nations" itself was first used by Rockefeller-moulded Washington policymakers during the Second World War as a description of the Allies and of their planned post-war world settlement.
Prospects for America outlined a future multipolar world order which, six decades later, the World Economic Forum (WEF) would virtually copy in its Great Reset. In the book that encapsulates the WEF project, co-authors Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret offered analysis and suggested potential global policy and strategic developments—just as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rhodes-Milner group did before them.
It would be churlish to claim that these "suggestions," especially when a preference is expressed, don't in fact amount to objectives. The WEF represents more than 200 of the world's wealthiest and most powerful global corporations. It has the ear of the global political class and boasts of its ability to "penetrate" government cabinets around the world. This kind of power isn't exercised without purpose. The WEF's "course is to contribute to this process by constructive action".
The Great Reset effectively proposed the following:
The 21st century will most likely be an era devoid of an absolute hegemon during which no one power gains absolute dominance. [. . .] In this messy new world defined by a shift towards multipolarity and intense competition for influence, the conflicts or tensions will no longer be driven by ideology. [. . .] The most likely outcome along the globalization–no globalization continuum lies in an in-between solution: regionalization. [. . .]
In short, deglobalization in the form of greater regionalization was already happening. COVID-19 will just accelerate this global divergence as North America, Europe and Asia [a “three-power world”] focus increasingly on regional self-sufficiency rather than on the distant and intricate global supply chains that formerly epitomized the essence of globalization. [. . .]
There is no point in trying to restore the status quo ex ante (“hyper-globalization” has lost all its political and social capital, and defending it is no longer politically tenable). [. . .] The establishment of a much more inclusive and equitable form of globalization that makes it sustainable, both socially and environmentally, is the only viable way to manage retreat. This requires policy solutions [. . .] and some form of effective global governance. [. . .]
There is no time to waste. If we do not improve the functioning and legitimacy of our global institutions, the world will soon become unmanageable and very dangerous. There cannot be a lasting recovery without a global strategic framework of governance.
From a geopolitical perspective, the Great Reset capitalises upon the dissolution of a global hegemony, the collapse of global supply chains and the end of "hyper-globalization". Schwab and Malleret claim that "there is no time to waste" in the construction of an interrelated global system of "regionalized" power blocs (multipolarity).
Each of these poles will have more localised supply chains. They will stand somewhat in opposition, but will also collaborate on alleged global issues—perhaps most notably on sustainable development.
It is this multipolarity that provides the "opportunity" to establish fully fledged "global governance". Such global governance is "essential" in order to "manage the retreat" from the unipolar world order and overextended globalisation. "There is no point in trying to restore" the way the world was in 2019, claims the WEF, and it has no wish to defend the unipolar "international rules-based order".
Speaking at the G20 Summit in Indonesia recently, Klaus Schwab spelled out just this concept, setting the regionalisation—he called it “blocisation”—of multipolarity at the heart of the alleged “Great Reset”:
If you look at all the challenges, we can speak about the multi-crisis: the economic, the political, the social, the ecological and the institutional crisis.
Crisis, as ever, is the catalyst for change. Schwab continued:
But actually, what we have to confront is the deep, systemic and structural restructuring of our world. And this will take some time, and the world will look different after we have gone through this transition process.
The change brought about by crisis is always an opportunity. He added:
Politically, the driving forces for this political transformation, of course, is the transition into a multipolar world, which has a tendency to make our world much more fragmented. For this reason, events like this one, the G20, and so on, are the very important connectors to avoid too great of a segmentation.
The multipolar world order is simply inevitable, he claimed. The fragmentation must be managed—and, “of course”, in the Schwabian mindset, that means global governance. That global governance—a layer above national government—is represented, in this instance, by the G20. He continued:
I would say blocisation instead of globalisation of our world. [. . .] How do we deal with this transition that may last several years? Not just crisis management, not just reacting, but constructing the future with a purpose?
He answered his own musings:
We should use this transition time with a clear concept of how we want to come out of this transition time. We want to come out as a more sustainable, more resilient and more inclusive world. [. . .] Governments and business have to cooperate.
The current trend to regionalisation (blocisation) is the opportunity to forge a new world order—and this can only be achieved, according to Schwab, through global public-private partnership.
The global transition to multipolarity is what we are all currently living through. It was first envisaged more than a century ago, and has been actively pursued by globalist “leaders” and organisations, such as the Rockefellers and the WEF. It is presently being most vocally promoted by President Putin, President Xi and the President of India, Narendra Modi, among others.
For example, during his Valdai address, Putin said:
Russia believes it is important to make wider use of mechanisms for creating large spaces that rely on interaction between neighbouring countries, whose economies and social systems, as well as resource bases and infrastructure, complement each other. In fact, these large spaces form the economic basis of a multipolar world order.
Putin was talking about "regionalization". The "opportunities" that multinational corporations seek couldn't be more obvious:
The successful performance of the Eurasian Economic Union, the fast growth of the authority and prestige of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the large-scale One Belt, One Road initiatives, plans for multilateral cooperation in building the North-South transport corridor and many other projects, are the beginning of a new era, new stage in the development of Eurasia.
Some have said that the multipolar world will protect national sovereignty from globalist forces. Not so; the intended worldwide arrangement of poles is tantamount to a global patchwork of European Unions, not a brotherhood of self-determining nations. The idea that international bodies protect the sovereignty of individual member nation states is ridiculous; their unsackable administrations of international civil servants were designed to do the opposite, commencing with the League of Nations and its spin-off, the germ-idea of the EU, a century ago.
Putin is among those who favour a Eurasian pole in the world order, and he certainly doesn't intend either it or the Russian Federation within it to be sovereign.
Russia considers the creation of new international financial platforms inevitable; this includes international transactions. These platforms should be above national jurisdictions. They should be secure, depoliticized and automated and should not depend on any single control centre. [. . .] This rules out the possibility of abuse in a new global financial infrastructure. It would make it possible to conduct effective, beneficial and secure international transactions without the dollar or any of the so-called reserve currencies.
To be clear: Putin was advocating a new form of international monetary and financial system beyond the control of any nation state, including Russia. He is no fool, so his contention that this "depoliticised", presumably AI-administered, monetary and financial system would protect the world from financial "abuse" seems inexplicable if taken at face value.
Coincidentally, from the US-centred side, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) recently proposed precisely this kind of "depoliticized" system. The new proposed architecture will integrate "central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and tokenised assets—digital tokens that represent ownership of all or part of a stock, bond, or even illiquid assets" into the existing interbank settlement system. That system is currently overseen and administered by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
Putin, no less than SWIFT, was ostensibly suggesting handing monetary control entirely to the architects of this planned, global, automated international monetary and financial system. We can only speculate who he thinks the planners will be, but his (and SWIFT's) idea is undoubtedly music to the ears of the central bankers who regularly gather in the “innovation hubs” of Earth’s apparent supreme sovereign: the Bank for International Settlements.
With the prospect hanging low of effective global monetary and financial policy control over every nation on Earth, it won't matter to the BIS and its central bank members what individual nations imagine their "sovereignty" to mean, nor how their governments continue to sell that vision to their populations in their constitutional arrangements.
To claim—as a growing number has been claiming—that the multipolar world order is new, defends national sovereignty, or stands in opposition to the Great Reset is nonsense. This is the game for all the marbles, and it has been so for generations. We should not, therefore, be in the least bit surprised that power brokers in both the Orient and the Occident appear to be doing everything they can to facilitate the transformation of global power from unipolarity to multipolarity.
In the question-and-answer session that followed Putin's Valdai speech, the President continually called Russia's intervention in Ukraine a "special military operation". All Russians are compelled to avoid calling the Ukraine war a "war". Putin's administration has made criticising Russia's war an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment.
As evidenced by moves such as its so-called disrespect law and its draconian shutdown of independent groups that were seeking at least some publicly available pharmacovigilance of Russian Covid jabs (a medical oversight which otherwise doesn't exist in Russia), the Russian Federation has no more respect for freedom of speech, freedom of choice or informed consent than any Western government has.
No ruling class, anywhere in the world, wants an informed citizenry capable of critical thinking. There is no reason to imagine that the emerging multipolar world order is going to turn back the swelling tide of state censorship and authoritarian control.
This does not mean that there is no debate in Russia about the war. All governments seek to stamp their authority on the people precisely because they know the people are perfectly capable of ignoring it. Just as we still fight against state censorship in the West, so do the Russians—arguably with more success, born perhaps of longer experience.
Voyennoye Obozreniye (Military Review), while very pro-military and tilted toward Russian national security interests, has a huge Russian readership and has been consistently critical of the Russian Government’s approach to the war in Ukraine. Similarly, outlets like Svoboda Press and independent Russian commentators like Nakanune have openly criticised the Russian war effort and its objectives.
There is plenty of scepticism and political debate in Russia. Even the Russian mainstream media report military setbacks. There is also a wall of pro-"special military operation" Russian mainstream media propaganda, and widespread censorship of dissent on Russian social media.
For example, it is only the Russian independent media that have reported Putin's recent decision to encourage violent criminals and those accused, but not yet convicted, of violent offences to join the military campaign in Ukraine.
The media landscape in Russia is far more varied and nuanced than the Western mainstream media would have us believe. Despite the Kremlin's crackdowns, sweeping censorship laws and oppressive media regulations, it is ironic that there is often more criticism of the Russian "special military operation" in Russia than there is among some quarters of the alleged "alternative media" in the West.
There is very little chance of any balanced reporting of the Ukraine war from the Western mainstream media. It is now a monolithic propaganda machine, reminiscent of the infamous Soviet Politburo's "Information Bureau".
In the West, the G7's Rapid Response Mechanisms combine with projects like the Trusted News Initiative and the International Fact Checking Network to coordinate the production of a single, centrally administered version of the truth. The purpose of that churnalism is invariably to convince us that we face another in a neverending series of purported existential threats; the point being to destroy our will and control us through fear—menticide.
It is within this media landscape that the public, in both the East and the West, has to try to make sense of vitally important global events, such as the Ukraine war. If we peer beyond the propaganda, we shall grasp that—whatever its complex causes may be—the 2022 war’s pivotal role in the transition of the global balance of power is evident.
That is something we will discuss in Part 2 of this two-part article.