As Western hegemony comes to an end, the bloc could eventually be forced to redefine itself as the western peninsula of Greater Eurasia
By Glenn Diesenprofessor at the University of Southeast Norway and editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Uzbekistan has caused a geo-economic earthquake, as Eurasian giants such as China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Iran integrate their savings to new levels.
Meanwhile, Turkey wants to be the first NATO country to join the group.
The repercussions of the meeting are also felt in Europe. Specifically, as I sit here at the Budapest Economic Forum, hosted by the Central Bank of Hungary, I can feel the spirit of SCO Samarkand, as a Eurasian future is being charted.
The collapse of the international economic system
Liberal international economic systems tend to form when there is a concentration of economic power under a strong leader. With an immense concentration of fiscal weight, the collective West was able to act as a “benign hegemon” that could provide public goods and create confidence in a stable international economic order. It was the European Union Hungary integrated into in the 1990s, when the United States was the sole superpower and the EU was seen as a locomotive of economic and social prosperity across the continent.
However, three decades later, the world is a very different place. The relative share of the EU in the global economy continues to decline as industrial competitiveness deteriorates, debt reaches unsustainable heights and the future of the euro looks bleak. In the United States, the economic situation and political stability issues are also of concern.
Brussels is also unable to facilitate broader cooperation. The bloc was never able to accommodate Russia, the continent’s largest state, prompting a revival of Cold War dynamics. Britain’s demand for the political sovereignty of national parliaments to be preserved could not be met and so Britain left the EU. It now appears that there is no room in the European tent either for the conservative aspirations of Hungary and Poland. As the bloc threatens to withhold billions of funds from Hungary, it becomes more difficult to preserve political independence.
When an economic hegemon is in relative decline, the international economic system begins to fragment. To defend their position in the international system, the United States and the EU use economic coercion against their allies and adversaries. The West is disrupting the supply chains of rival powers such as China and Russia to prevent their rise, while friends and allies such as India, Turkey and Hungary are also being punished for failing to show of geoeconomic loyalty. Subsequently, the unipolar era is over. The West is no longer able to act as a benign hegemon by providing public goods or administering a trust-based international economic system.
Rise of Eurasia
The international economic system is fragmenting as the economic dependencies formed over the past decades are militarized. A multitude of issues ranging from disruptive technologies to war and environmental degradation threaten the world, but the necessary cooperation is waning. It is evident that the unipolar order is already over and a multipolar order is emerging in its place to rekindle economic connectivity and restore stability.
This is facilitated by the Greater Eurasia Partnership, which involves the development of a new multipolar geoeconomic ecosystem. The countries of the Eurasian supercontinent are developing connectivity between their technological hubs and their financial hubs, while physically connecting to huge infrastructure projects to form new transport corridors.
Budapest’s objective is to become a key node of the new Eurasian geo-economic ecosystem and to revive economic connectivity in a multipolar format. Hungary was the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to sign a currency swap agreement with China, and the first in Europe to join the trillion belt and road infrastructure initiative dollars from China. Not only is Budapest getting closer to Asia’s engine of growth, but it is also acting as a bridge between East and West.
Hungary is also resisting new sanctions against Russia to maintain access to energy resources. Simply put, Eurasia is reviving globalization.
A conservative path
Hungary’s Eurasian trajectory is also consistent with its conservative aspirations. After decades of communism and the development of Marxist man, Hungary naturally seeks to restore the role of national culture, the Church and traditional values in its national consciousness.
As new technologies and unbridled market forces cause disruption, there is a need to balance change with continuity. Conservatism therefore anchors stability in the eternal while the emphasis on family, faith and traditions connects the past with the future, to prepare society for disruption.
Yet liberalism in the collective West is not particularly tolerant of conservative values. While the liberal nation-state was once a vehicle for success, liberalism has begun to decouple from the nation-state in recent years. The liberal man quickly frees himself from his own past through multiculturalism, radical secularism, the abandonment of the recognition of the family as the main institution of a stable society and the aversion to traditional values.
On the other hand, cooperation in a multipolar Eurasia does not imply the export of a political system or of conformity around “values”. The different civilizations of the Eurasian house seek economic and cultural connectivity, while preserving their respective cultural specificity. As a conservative country, it becomes paradoxically easier for Hungary to preserve its European specificity in the multipolar Eurasian format.
Hopefully, Hungary will lead the way for the rest of Europe in terms of transitioning from the adversarial unipolar order to a cooperative multipolar format – like the western peninsula of Greater Eurasia.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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