The recent article of General Leonid Ivashov (1) deals with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of countries and its current and future potentials for changing the nature of civilization and the world balance of forces. In doing so, Ivashov has touched on some of the underlying macro-level historical-intellectual foundations of the developmental historical process. He cites the famous British philosophical historian, Arnold Toynbee, N.Ya. Danilevsky, and O. Spengler, and attributes to them the theory that distinct civilizations overshadow countries and ethnic groups as the actual players in global politics. He uses that theory in support of his own conclusions and projections about BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. While that theory itself is accurate and is supported by historical and empirical facts, his application of it to BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization is totally erroneous.
Among the three authors Ivashov cited, Toynbee is the most important and comprehensive in his studies of the evolution of different civilizations and their nature and effects on various groups, nations, and cultures. This author had read parts of his very lengthy book, “A Study of History“, nearly ten years ago. What he remembers is that Toynbee’s main thesis in that book revolves around the evolution of civilizations that results predominantly from the evolution of scientific, technological, and industrial development (technocracy). Even though, he touched upon the role of political economy in that book, he did that very briefly and inadequately. His overall and general theory of the overriding importance of particular civilizations on countries, groups of countries, nations, and other groups is valid and historically verifiable. However, its application to contemporary civilizations, as well as the identifying definitions of these civilizations, has some fundamental gaps that remain unfilled. In particular, he failed to properly and adequately assess the great importance of the two most powerful and interacting forces of political economy and technocracy in defining and determining the nature of various civilizations.
It has become increasingly obvious that political economy and technocracy are the two most important, powerful, and actual foundations of modern civilizations. Even though these are related to and interact with each other dialectically, at certain stages of technocratic development, political economy becomes the main force in determining the nature and directions of civilizations, technocracy, cultures, mass psychologies, and human nature. All the advanced capitalist societies of Western Europe and US reached that stage long time ago, under Western Capitalist Civilization (WCC). The former communist countries of USSR, Eastern Europe, and Peoples Republic of China had also reached that stage-under Communist Civilization (CC)- the actual nature of which was diametrically the opposite of WCC, in the most important areas of ownership of the means of production, imperialism, social justice, global peace, economic and political inequalities between social classes and individuals, distribution of national and international resources and divisions of labor, mass psychology, culture, and human nature. With the betrayal of communism and restoration of capitalism in these, the real different and alternative Communist Civilization has also been eliminated, at least for the time being. These countries have now also joined the Western Capitalist Civilization and are already well on the way in the reversal of all the achievements of the Communist Civilization in all the areas mentioned above, among others, including the acquisition of the characteristics of imperialism, as the advancing capitalism inevitably leads to imperialism in every society, with variable characteristics that are influenced by regional and international balance of forces and particularity of cultures and their histories. The law of the evolution of capitalism into imperialism was discovered almost one hundred years ago by that great genius of communism, V. I. Lenin, and has been verified repeatedly since then in various parts of the world (2). At present, the politico-economic and military realities of US imperialism are the best examples of the accuracy and precision of Lenin’s analysis and its various contents. He foresaw all that almost a hundred years ago and that is why the capitalists and imperialists have always considered him as one of their greatest enemies, even after his death.
All the countries of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization are structural parts of the Western Capitalist Civilization. They do not constitute a different and alternative civilization. That is true, in spite of the linguistic, religious, racial, cultural, and other historical differences between them, which play only a secondary role in determining the basic nature of civilizations and which are molded and transformed by the requirements of the two main determining forces of civilizations, i-e., the nature of political economy and the nature and level of technocracy. That has been quite obvious in the evolutionary history of Western Capitalist Civilization, as within it, there have existed all kinds of national, linguistic, cultural, religious, and other historical differences, but, in spite of these, its basic nature has been determined, overwhelmingly, by the above-mentioned two most powerful forces.
The fundamental error of Ivashov, and other geopolitical analysts like him, consists of attributing the qualities of different and alternative civilization to BRICS or Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which they do not have and will not have, if they continue on the path of capitalism within the Western Capitalist Civilization. It seems that now even in Russia and Peoples Republic of China, references to the great historical-intellectual works and achievements of Marx and Lenin have become taboos. Ivashov would not have fallen into that fundamental error if he had based his analysis on their historically verifiable and impeccable works and dialectical theories, instead of the positivist, abstract technocratic, and fragmented theories of the authors he cites, in support of his hypothesis. By doing that, he has shown the effects of the Western Capitalist Civilization-under which he is now living-on his own psychology, thinking, and feelings. It is certain that he would not have committed this blunder if he was still living in the Communist civilization. Ivashov’s optimistic projections are based upon the above fundamental error and are unwarranted.
In his article, Ivashov states,” A grand geopolitical project is beginning to materialize, and the statement on Libya issued by the BRICS summit reflects the alliances growing determination to respond with convincing political measures if the West’s expansion over the east continues.” BRICS actions have been inconsistent with any such determination. Four of its members abstained from voting on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of 2011, while, South Africa, a member of the African Union, voted for it. Russia and China did not even do the minimal by vetoing that resolution, which paved the way for the military invasion and destruction of Libya by the US and NATO, for the purpose of greater control and domination of its fabulous energy and other resources. Given the entire history of US and NATO imperialist countries- the ongoing invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, being the latest examples-how could anyone, with even a minimum of intelligence, common sense, and knowledge of this history, have not known the nature of imperialist plot and agenda involved in that resolution? While US and NATO are busy in achieving their most sinister objectives in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as rest of the world, mere statements, like those of the BRICS, hardly make any difference, especially when these are inconsistent with BRICS recent actions at the UN Security Council and their continued collaboration with and subservience to US and NATO.
Whatever conflicts are emerging between BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, on the one hand, and US, Western Europe, and NATO, on the other, are of inter-capitalist and inter-imperialist nature, within the Western Capitalist Civilization, at this stage of history. It is not even possible to call the former an Eastern Capitalist Civilization, as they are practicing Western forms of capitalism and technocracy, much less to label them as a different and alternative civilization.
1. Ivashov, L. BRICS and the mission of reconfiguring the world: An alternative world order. 4th Media, Beijing, People Republic of China. Web link: http://en.m4.cn/archives/12824.html
2. Lenin, V. I. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. Selected Works (English Ed.), Vol. 1, Part 2, 1952, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow.
Dr. Fazal Rahman is an interdisciplinary researcher and writer. He has worked as a scientist and administrator of R & D programs in several countries, like Brazil, Lebanon, Pakistan, Zambia, US etc. He can be reached at Unpollutedfaz(at}aol.com. Article completed on June 16, 2011.