№18. Round table “New geopolitical trends and image of Russia in the world”

Published: March 30th, 2017

The crisis of the main systemic parties and the neoliberal model leads to the search for new ideas from parties and movements of the most diverse spectrum all over the world. Traditional party coordinate systems meets the aspirations of voters less and less, people are waiting for a renewed political agenda and in these queries, you can find elements of both left and conservative ideas. In these discussions, the factor of Russia plays an important role today.

A round table «New geopolitical trends and image of Russia in the world» was devoted to the consideration of new political processes in Russia and abroad.

The moderator of the discussion was journalist, political scientist, and member of the MEF organizing committee Marine Voskanyan. Political scientist Ivan Blot, philosopher, publicist Hauke Ritz, director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements Boris Kagarlitsky, political scientist Jonathan Tannenbaum, head of the bureau of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Moscow Kerstin Kaiser, senior researcher at the Institute of Critical Social Analysis of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Lutz Brangsh.

Opening the discussion, Marene Voskanyan noted that the old ideological coordinates are not working, and today, under the usual names of parties and movements, something completely different is hidden. The crisis of neo-liberal ideology should have affected its competitors, and this was the first question in the course of the discussion.

A guest from Germany Lutz Brangsh is sure that, despite the unjustified hopes that were laid on neo-liberals, the left movement is still going through the consequences of the fall in the last 30 years. The stable chat of the left-wing electorate, which makes up less than 10% of the population, is increasingly aware of the insufficiency of its weight on the political agenda and moves to the right flank.

Brangsh's colleague, Kerstin Kaiser added that existing social problems, both in Russia and in Germany, are pushing people towards the right-wing sector, as they are looking for a guarantor of their own security in the person of the national state. At the left parties, the international network is not adjusted, and they lose against this background.

The representative of the conservative wing, political scientist Ivan Blot shared news from France: in his opinion, the division into left and right is not as clear as it was before. Today, a new cluster of people has emerged that suffer from the effects of globalization, such as immigration and its threat to culture, crime and unemployment.

Director of the Institute of Globalization Boris Kagarlitsky supported Blot’s point of view. "The rebellion against neo-liberalism is at the same time a rebellion of the social lower classes against the left-wing liberal elites, which were integrated into neoliberalism and became its most important institutional necessary part," he stressed. According to the political scientist, the distinctive feature of neoliberalism is the fragmentation of society, entailing private interests and the market. It is this side of ideology that the left is criticized because it opposes the public interest. On the other hand, the left ideology in the form in which we observe it today is working on fragmentation too, dividing society into special coalitions groups formed according to agreements. Left-liberal ideas of this kind have a huge impact on culture in parallel with privatization and other neoliberal ideas in the economy. "These are not opposing trends, but two sides of the same trend," Kagarlitsky summed up.

The growth of anti-globalization sentiments is typical for the United States, "said Jonathan Tannenbaum, and his colleague Hauke Ritz said that it was the absence of "real ", uncooperative, institutionalized leftists that deprived the West of self-correcting mechanisms.

Political scientist Konstantin Cheremnykh noted the difference between the political vectors of the United States and Europe. American politicians, he said, do not turn to the ideas of socialism, preferring it to progressism. This word is understood as a combination of ecology, gender transformation, and anticlericalism.

Discussing Russia's image in the world, Kerstin Kaiser and Lutz Brangsh focused on public sentiment. If in the ruling circles of Germany the interest in Russia is dictated in many respects by economic considerations, then in the eyes of the public, Moscow's actions on the deployment of weapons cause suspicion. "In Germany, people look at Russia as the first enemy. Putin is an enemy. He is the symbol of the end of enlightenment, with 86 or 85% of the Russian population voting for him, if we believe in polls. Therefore, if the majority of the population votes for Putin, then all of Russia is not an enlightened country, not a modern, authoritarian one, "Kerstin Kaiser emphasized.

However, an authoritarian vector can also evoke sympathy, - Ivan Blot retorted. Thus, French youth find in the conservative image of Russia the contrast between anarchy and the unrest in France.

In the US, according to Tannenbaum, opinions on Russia are divided: conservatives see Putin as a hero, young people in the left wing are watched by the Russia Today television channel, isolationists urge not to build relations with Russia, while most people know very little about our country and do not Has a clear position on this issue.

Speakers of the round table agreed that the European Union, opposing Russia, defends its interests in Eastern Europe, which today is not part of Western culture in full.

Summarizing the speakers' speeches, Marene Voskanyan noted that today very different circles around the world have placed their hopes on Russia: traditionalists and socialists in Europe, conservatives in the east. In this situation, the primitivization of the discussion and the thoughtless labeling of labels, the consequence of which is the radicalization of the information space, becomes an alarming factor. The moderator called on the participants to develop a balanced analytical discussion in order to overcome this harmful tendency.