The Restart of International Politics after August 2021

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 10 Jan 2022

Antonino Drago – TRANSCEND Media Service

6 Jan 2022 – A disruption has occurred in the superpower state, the USA. In the 1950s, Lanza del Vasto predicted the “fall of the western hero”. The US is such a powerful “hero” that no enemy can attack. But it is a decadent powerful state and therefore it is subject to fatalism. And precisely because it is Western, its fatalism is of an active type–like Oedipus, the hero who carries out the prophecy of his destruction, thus becoming a self-destruction.

Already in 2020 the US state was displaced by the onset of the pandemic. Superb of its health power too, that State (with President Trump) did not take the due countermeasures; and thus penalized its population to suffer the pandemic. Therefore this state has lost its traditional world leadership in the social innovation in the world; rather, China, Cuba (and even a little Italy) have become reference states on how to deal with the pandemic.

But above all, in August 2021 in Afghanistan, where the US had proudly wanted a war for “revenge” and not for “justice” (Pope Woytila), this military superpower had to admit that it was defeated by a small backward nation in a fierce war that lasted almost twenty years and that left a social disaster; and his military retreat was a memorable escape as a unconditional surrender.

There the expansion of his world state-empire ended; the “American century” also ended there.

In addition, in September in Afghanistan exactly what that war wanted to avoid happened: the birth of another state of an Islamic type (which was not a puppet state, such as that of Saudi Arabia).

Let it be clear that the new Afghan state is not the ideal one even for the Islamic development model; it represents a divergent segment with respect to the line of historical development; because it will take time for the Taliban to clarify what kind of state they want to build; just as it will take decades before the historical experimentation of those Islamic states that are already born will be completed: the Iranian one (exorcised both by the West because it is harshly anti-US, and by the Muslims because it represents only the Shiite minority), the politically dark one of Iraq, the open to democracy states of Tunisia and Morocco and the waving state of the Turkish Erdogan. All these Islamic states represent historical segments that are divergent from each other and also from global advancement. But today the important political fact is the addition of the state of Afghanistan to those already born; this addition, suffered by twenty years of war, has made the presence of a non-Western and programmatically Islamic type of state irreversible, non-concealable and non-englobable by the Western state.

So, the political disruption of 2021 did not come from the renewal of the states of the second development model, the socialist ones (which had begun to appear a century ago); nor from the birth of the state of the fourth development model (the non-violent Gandhian one, operating mainly from below; which today is only anticipated by the world movements for peace and ecology); but it came from the state of the third development model, the one which is based on human relationships (of group and ethnicity) and on a religious authoritarian power (Islam = obedience).

In the international context, this novelty is supported by two strong political pressures that the Islamic world exerts on the traditional concept of the Western state:

  1. The historical pressure of the 2011 revolutions (those of the “Arab Spring”), which (at least at the beginning) had chosen not Al Qaeda’s terrorist armed struggle, but nonviolent actions; and not the State of the Caliphate, but a new concept of Islamic State: democracy plus Sharia; they prepared the birth of the third development model on the international political arena, after the liberal and socialist development models had already been born in history;
  2. The pressure of migration. The West blocked the Arab Spring by maintaining its oppressive democra-tures (eg in Egypt), or by fighting wars (by proxy, in order to have dominion over the goods of the Earth). So every Muslim, if he cannot express himself in his own country, by the millions moves to cross hell (at the risk of dying there) in the hope to reach a country where he can survive in a democracy. The overflowing illegal immigration of tens of millions of people radically puts the Western-style state constitution into question, because it continually empties the political importance of its basic characteristics: the territorial borders and its jurisprudence (of the passport).

After the restart that each person had to make at the first impact of the pandemic, now there is a restart of world politics. The novelty of the type of Islamic State cannot be geographically confined to some particular territories, because it brings a precise political novelty: the very existence of States of the third type will no longer allow a global conflict between just two super-states; because it involves the prospect of a pluralism of all types of state; who will have to tolerate each other by resolving international conflicts with the constant exercise of diplomacy and non-violence. Furthermore, the novelty is not of a local nature because in the history of the conception of the state, the Islamic one wants to subject democracy to Sharia, Islamic ethics; therefore this State appears completely incompatible with the tradition of the Western world, which for a millennium has built the State on the sole legal rationality, materialized with social institutions; and therefore for centuries (with Hobbes, Machiavelli and Lenin) theorizing the separation of ethics from politics.

This separation has been implemented even more today, when the Western state finally entrusted all social organization to the rationality of science and technology; which today rule over the peoples without being subject to some kind of ethics (apart from the rules of conduct for participating to the world liberal market). So the fact that Islamic states place religious ethics before civil law represents the resumption of the importance of ethics against Western ethical decadence; and, in general, the resumption of ethics against an ethically uncontrolled modernity.

This novelty is not geographically local also because it concerns ecological politics in the world. The limited measures only to contain the pandemic (and then the UN COP 26 conference in Glasgow in November 2021) have shown that the Western type of state is incapable of dealing with current disastrous relationship of present humanity with nature; it has become clear that its rationality – claimed as universal – and its jurisprudence – claimed all-encompassing – are essentially insufficient in the face of the suffocating aggressiveness of technological innovations. Today innovations can upset associative living: technological progress allows a single person to unleash unprecedented disasters (portable nuclear backpack bombs, biological cloning and chimeras produced in a small laboratory, killer drones, poisoning of urban aqueducts, etc.).

To address these innovations, it is necessary to rely on ethics rather than on the law (even if inspired by universal rational principles and agreed at international level). In particular, only ethics will be able to coordinate billions of people to implement an effective environmental policy both in preventing global evils and in maintaining the balance of nature not so much for a few years, but for centuries, as required by our inhabiting the Earth. So it is necessary to innovate every state by introducing into it ethics (by starting with the ecological obligations). Thus, on the international arena, the present birth of the Islamic State, which makes ethics the basis of social coexistence, puts pressure on ethics to play a role in the politics of each state and above all in international politics, which, in addition to ecological problems, meets many other unresolved ethical problems. (Note that the Italian Constitution is very advanced compared to those of other countries because it introduces ethical elements: “work”, “repudiation” of war, “sacred duty” of collective defense, etc.)

It is remarkable that even in this new perspective, Pope Francis appears to be a central figure. It is true that with respect to the political disruption of the birth of the Islamic state, its Vatican State, which remained firmly Western in nature, represents a divergent if not opposite segment; the anthropological limit of Pope Francis did not allow him to put his Vatican State in crisis; nor to suggest a precise critique of Western legal rationality and ultimately of modernity. But he gave primary importance to immigration; he made international politics through both Abu Dabi document and the encyclical Fratelli tutti, which bring together Christians and Muslims on the ethics of at least a universal brotherhood; all that anticipated the importance of the birth of the Islamic State.

Moreover, since ecological disasters are the cause of this ecological pandemic, he anticipated a precisely ethical response to the pandemic through the encyclical Laudato sii. It can be said that in these eight years of his papacy his Ark has sailed on sight because Francesco-Noé did not know where to go. But in fact, his being at the helm has retained the ability to advance substantially; he concretely agreed with the instance of the Islamic religion which is applying an ethics (even if disputable) not theoretically, but in the social practice of his type of state, despite the opposition of the major world institutional powers, also science and technology. In this sense, even after the latest disruption, Pope Francis retains all his great moral authority, now in his prophetic role of approaching his Ark to a new international society.

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Prof. Antonino Drago – Member of the TRANSCEND Network, formerly at the University of Naples. Allied of Ark community, he teaches at the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU: I have a Master degree in physics (University of Pisa 1961), I am a follower of the Community of the Ark of Gandhi’s Italian disciple, Lanza del Vasto, I am a conscientious objector, a participant in the Italian campaigns for conscientious objection (1964-1972) and the Campaign for refusing to pay taxes to finance military expenditure (1983-2000). Owing to my long experience in these activities and also my writings on these subjects I was asked by the University of Pisa to teach Nonviolent popular defense in the curriculum of “Science for Peace” (from 2001 to 2012) and also Peacebuilding and Peacekeeping (2009-2013); then by the University of Florence to teach History and Techniques of nonviolence in the curriculum of “Operations of Peace” (2004-2010). I was the first President of the Italian ministerial committee for promoting un-armed and nonviolent civil defense (2004-2005). drago@unina.it.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 Jan 2022.

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