Emerging Powers – And Retiring Powers

EDITORIAL, 2 May 2011

#162 | Johan Galtung

From Geneva

There is much talk about emerging powers these days.

BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) abstainers over “no fly zone” in Libya; BRICS, adding South Africa for all major continents; BRICS+T with Turkey for the muslim world and peace politics.  Is Germany in it?  Could be in their interest, but sanctions might be heavy.  West defines BRIC in economic terms, still addicted to GD-NP (Gross Domestic-National Product) growth; which is also a good measure of “Gross Destruction of Nature Product” as it focuses on value added by the key culprits, processing and trade.

But in the name of justice and symmetry any focus on what is emerging invites a focus on the opposite: “demerging”, vanishing, retiring powers.  There is not that much space at the top, in the limelight. And one retiring power added greatly to its demise some days ago with that symbol of a social formation some centuries ago, feudalism, that royal wedding.  Give it to them; they do pageantry splendidly, with God, Queen, Patria all there, and masses thronging to be party to the past.  Protests outlawed.

Panem et circenses?  The Roman Empire formula?  Wrong, only circus.  The bread is withering away with the welfare state, like the USA turning to warfare with 400,000 in Washington not knowing where the next meal comes from.  They kill civilians to protect them in Iraq, Afghan licenses to kill, such people will be known as murderers.  Kate, however, looks sweet and bright.  Knowing the history of English kings she knows what she is in for.  Bless her.

England-Britain-Great Britain-UK–whatever–is dedeveloping.  A country in the process of underdevelopment; like the USA and the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) (possibly minus Spain).  Victims of a rampant capitalism, it is not strange that they jump backward for some short lasting, costly glory.

These eight lines probably carry most of the explanation:

* The more “free” the market, the more unequal the distribution.

* The more unequal the distribution,

** the more suffering, including starvation, in the lower classes;

** the less buying power for the middle classes;

** the more liquidity available to the upper classes.

*** The less buying power, the less real growth.

*** The more liquidity, the more betting and financial growth.

* The more gap between financial and real growth, the more crisis.

Robert Reich in Amerika am Wendepunkt, 2010: distribution is the key. As is the likely 10 to 15 trillion Obama’s debt increase in 2009-2011.

The upper classes rule, by definition.  A crisis is to them collapsing finance institutions, not collapsing livelihood for the lower and middle classes.  There are arguments for some bailout, but not in excess of stimulus.  And bailout costs; the PIGS are paying dearly for an economy-quake with Wall Street as ground zero.

That bubble is waiting to burst, with the gap between printed money and the value it is supposed to reflect-bubble; and the gap between government people service and debt service-bubble.

There could be a bubble synergy with a triple crisis; 2011-12.

Not strange that BRICS target economic reform with a “broad-based international reserve currency system” and rule out the use of force to solve international disputes (China Daily in IHT 28 Apr 11, also see IHT 21 Apr 11, comments on their third summit).

The West celebrates Alexander the Great, who changed the world known to the Greeks to a super-bubble empire before he died in 323 B.C. at the age of 32.  A major exhibition in Madrid with no questions asked, just eulogizing him and his horse Bucéfalo, no words wasted on what happened to common people conquered.  How Western.  But Afghanistan did its job as tomb also of his empire.

States and nations come and go, like we all do.  Childhood countries are fumbling to define their role (Africa?); puberty countries have uprisings against ruling and aging countries (Arabs? Muslims?); then there are adult, emerging countries, and tired, retiring countries. Such is life.  In that home for the elderly there is even a psychiatric ward for the mentally disordered who think they are exceptional, anointed by God as chosen.

Back to that William-Kate country.  Much good, yes; but also enormous damage emanated from that little spot in the North Sea.  Major problems in the world today are to a large extent of their making: Israel-Palestine-Arab states by Sykes-Picot, Balfour, Churchill; Iraq was a British post-Ottoman construction; in Afghanistan they did enormous damage through their belligerence; then there is “Anglo-Egyptian” Sudan and colonialism in general, in some countries with heavy settlement, like in Zimbabwe, creating enormous problems.  Thatcher and Major seem to have favored compensating the British farmers; but Tony Blair, the “socialist” reneged on the promise; wanting to eliminate poverty in Zimbabwe instead.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The list is much, much longer.  So they preach to the world from their retirement, playing golf like retired people often do.

Solution?  Learn from the Arabs,  wake up, revolt–nonviolently, not the CIA-NATO-Libyan way–throw out that crazy, cleptocratic, finance-betting capitalism by designing a real economy banking, turn the economy upside down, start from scratch at the bottom and hang on to it.  Use local democracy, NGO democracy, family, company democracy when national democracy is in the hands of cleptocrats living off commissions.  Learn from the BRICS-like capi-communism.

To retire is to have no other project than staying alive. To develop is to have a project, like livelihood for all. Worth doing.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 May 2011.

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5 Responses to “Emerging Powers – And Retiring Powers”

  1. I agree with Mr. galtung.

  2. kabiru sufi said says:

    yeah prof., I agree with u completely. I also foresee BRICS adding T for some obvious reasons other than those you highlighted. By the way who and who make up the PIGS? Why exclude Spain? Cheers.

    • PIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain. The EU countries affected by the Wall Street debacle and victimized by the IMF’s destructive force.

      Living in Portugal myself, I wonder which is more destructive: NATO or the IMF. Perhaps the latter because more subtle and insidious, structural violence, as opposed to NATO’s direct violence, more visible and obvious.

  3. I stand behind your thoughts Mr Galtung. I see that much of the global north, and especially so, the so-called wester hemisphere. To be in a sort of Kuhnian denial of facts. And that we are slowly having to realize that the hegemony of ignorance is coming to an end, and that the structure of a revolution taking place inside the mind is emerging on us. Vanity put into moral esthetics will have to go, and relative fact and reason will take it`s place.

  4. Lover NotaFighter says:

    There is no other way but for British ruling class to continue on with its philosopy for accumulating wealth. That is, to divide and then play ball with both sides.
    As Britain become less and less significant it has to lap up to US. And to remain at the top table, notice how it plays the scribe in formulating UN resolutions for Anglo-Saxon dominance.
    Global power balance will shift slowly but surely towards China and its allies (the Arabs/Mid-East/Africa/South America).