Ukraine and World Order
David Pan, Telos
Last week, I surveyed the Telos archive of essays on Russia and Ukraine that provide insight into the ideological roots of the current conflict. These ideological aspects also indicate that the war is not just a regional dispute but involves a broader conflict about the future rules of world order. The risk of escalation is a consequence of the way in which the conflict could alter both the physical and economic security of Europe, Asia, and the United States for the foreseeable future. Given the state of the war, it is difficult to conceive of a scenario in which Russia would make the concessions that would allow NATO countries to reverse policies meant to permanently exclude Russia from their economies. With signs of an emerging economic alliance between China and Russia, further and lasting de-globalization seems to be one of the enduring legacies of the war. Ideologically, the increasing authoritarianism in both Russia and China indicates a return to Cold War oppositions, with both Russia and China isolating themselves from the West in their own information bubbles. In a roundtable discussion with Timothy W. Luke and Mark G. E. Kelly on today’s episode of the Telos Press Podcast, we present diverse accounts of the meaning of the war and its consequences.
|Telos 199 (Summer 2022): China and the West is now available at the Telos Press website.The comparison of China and the West is in the first place a cultural problem to the extent that it requires a knowledge of both traditions and the ways in which they have related to each other. There has been a long history of interaction that has shaped the global economy from the times of the silk routes to the early modern push to find an alternative trade route to China in the European age of discovery and conquest. But the cultural comparison between China and the West today is inevitably overshadowed by a political dynamic in which the opposition reveals a rivalry that no longer exists, for instance, between Japan and the West. Indeed, the “West” in the opposition between China and the West could even be interpreted to include Japan or Taiwan. While the political opposition between China and the West may be reduced to the difference between authoritarianism and liberal democracy, this political dichotomy leads to cultural differences that result from the incompatibility between the two public spheres. While different public spheres will always manifest inconsistencies in terms of the problems and concerns that structure discussion and debate, China’s contemporary restrictions on free expression have separated it from the rest of the world in a more fundamental way by establishing an alternative version of historical facts. China’s alternative reality is not a consequence of its grounding in its distinctive cultural tradition but of the political decisions that have cut it off from the rest of the world. The attempt to compare China and the West must therefore take into account this politically enforced disjuncture.