The new U.S. administration will demonstrate fewer efforts to drive the world toward a brighter future, which will lead to some easing of the international order. However, one factor will prove dangerous in the future.
The unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton in the U.S. election was probably the most notable event on the world political stage to sum up the closing year. The loss not only has its own serious consequences, but reflects a certain wider Western trend.
The ideology of global liberalism, although still not yet defeated (as of yet), has started to falter. Its all-conquering mentality seemed to march forward in a way that was reminiscent of Soviet-era posters that read, “Communism’s victory is inevitable,” and which has now stalled.
This ideology is still very strong and influential. Its engine is not broken, and it has not decayed, but it has notably slowed. What can be said about this ideology? If we could reduce it to a number of poster themes, they would look something like this.
First of all, over the lifetime of humanity, there is continuous and largely linear progress. Some nations advance toward further progress, while the rest have to catch up and reach their own level.
Secondly, this progress is associated with the ideals of the Enlightenment, as seen by modern progressives — people rejecting dictated traditions, customs and religion, overcoming national identity, and learning to build their lives on the basis of “only reason.”
Thirdly, those who are more advanced in this manner historically assume the duty of helping the rest of humanity accept its progressive values, views of the world and way of life. The persistent push for abortion, “gay marriage,” and other whimsical frills within this paradigm of perspectives are not much in themselves, but are tools employed to destroy former religious and cultural identities.
People, having labeled this project carefully, call it an attempt at global ideological dictatorship, while at the same time its supporters speak about the “promotion of justice and human rights around the world.” This liberal project has stalled; in Europe, for several reasons, but above all in the United States itself.
American voters found enough reasonable and conservative people who did not want their country to become an instrument for the promotion of openly godless global ideology. Several hysterical reactions by those who were defeated included a search for “Russian hackers” who allegedly managed to suppress American democracy, which suggests that this loss was extremely painful.
Roughly speaking, about a month before the American election, the European Parliament approved a resolution on the “countering of Russian propaganda.” It is difficult to imagine that not long ago, the European Union felt like such a successful and attractive project that no one would question it. Brexit, the refugee crisis, and the growth of Euro-skepticism in different EU states in just a year sharply devalued the stock of this organization.
The new administration of the United States is in no way “Pro-Russian.” It will apparently show less interest in attempting to drive the world to a brighter future, which will lead to some easing of the international order.
Yet another factor presented itself throughout 2016 and will present a danger in the future: terrorism. Citizens of Russia, the United States, and countries within Europe can recall several high-profile crimes against them. Paris, Brussels, and Berlin were attacked, one of which is a symbol of peace and security.
The terrorist group Islamic State matured amid chaos caused by abandoned efforts “to promote democracy” in the Middle East. It became the ideological center of attraction for embittered losers around the whole world, and efforts to destroy it were strongly undermined by leaders in the U.S. and its allies who were unable to decide what they wanted.
Considering whether to continue to “promote democracy” and “overthrow brutal dictators” could get rid of the Islamic State group would also yield an unintended result of promoting democracy itself.
Russia adopted the “Amendments to Yarovaya Law,” which introduced definite restrictions on missionary activity.* From the start, the amendments were subject to criticism due to the danger that they could lead to local authorities putting pressure on religious groups that have no extremist tendencies, and thus only alienate people before garnering loyal supporters.
Alas, the fears are justified — most recently a scandal arose involving the seizure and the destruction of religious literature (in particular, the Bible) of the “Salvation Army.” It occurred as a result of a court decision in Vladivostok. As noted by the head of the legal department of the Moscow Patriarchate, Xeniya Chernega, “it was a large anomaly, causing concern.”** Perhaps we should talk about making amendments to the law such that the destruction of the Bible does not apply.
Good news came in the last few days of the year. According to President Vladimir Putin, parties involved in the Syrian conflict agreed to a ceasefire and are willing to begin peace talks.
The peace process in Syria is very complicated, but it’s important that it occurs. The world as a whole remains confusing and dangerous, and of all those who directly or indirectly affect the developments still need to act with caution, prudence, and wisdom. However, we have a reason for hope — and that’s what matters most.
*Editor’s note: The author appears to be referring to a package of counter-terrorism amendments initiated in part by United Russia Party member Irina Yarovaya changing Russia’s Criminal Code and Code of Criminal procedure with respect to free speech and use of the internet and internet data.
**Editor’s note: This is a reference to the Moscow Patriarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Xenia Chernega.