CONVERSATION: Western Hegemony is Nearing its End
UPDATED: The French President’s recent internal speech “foretells the future events that are likely to take place,” a WhatsApp share says. “The opinions expressed are entirely those of the current French President Emmanuel Macron,” it said.
The long read text of the share stated that “this article is reproduced from the public account of Guo Rong (ID: xuu5336):“
I asked few observers and analysts to comment on the observations made in the article while ignoring the veracity of the claim that those were Macron’s indeed.
“Macron’s original remarks are lengthy, but worth reading,” an analyst based in Asia Pacific says. “The meat of his postulate is in the 2nd-3rd minute.”
“I think his (Macron’s) take on global shift to East is spot on. The sands have been shifting, while the boys from the Wild West were hunting terrorists in a global hunt assisted by (may be forcefully) by their European Allies. A Chameleon survives, not because it is the smartest or the strongest, but because it adapts…a word for the Europeans,” a Pakistani analyst comments.
An Islamabad-based analyst says, “Macron is on the spot when he defines the decline of Western civilization: end of West’s cultural dominance. Which essentially means that the Western way of political, economic and social life is no more an attraction for other nations.
“That said, however,” the analyst adds, “much of the world’s approach toward international relations emanates from Western paradigm: Realism and balance of power. So, while the Western civilization is under decline, there is none other that represents an alternative and distinct cultural challenge to West’s liberal world order .
In his view, “If and when that change would occur, it will create global ripples.” He says, “sources of that change lie in two regions. One is China and second is the Muslim world.” Because, he says, “these are the only two regions having strong civilization roots that have outlived colonialism but still remain true to their original identity.” According to him, “The Chinese civilization has a state represented in the form of CCP. And the Muslim world have yet to witness the re-emergence of Caliphate as an institution of political and cultural management.”
PS: Will update the post as and when others digest the “internal speech’s” substance and observations. My digestive system is slow! My take in October 2020 was this illustration below. –Irshad Salim, Aug. 22, 2022
BODY TEXT of the WhatsApp share on Macron’s internal speech –translated into English from Mandarin:
Recently, at an internal meeting, Macron made a general analysis of the current international situation. He sighed: “Western hegemony is nearing its end!” How do you view the great power shift in the world today? Macron’s closed-door speech was extremely valuable.
Macron: We live together in this world, and the envoys here know this world better than I do.
Yes, the international order is being upended in a whole new way, and I’m sure this is a major upheaval in our history, and it has far-reaching consequences in almost all regions.
It is a transformation of the international order, a geopolitical integration, and a strategic reorganization.
Yes, I must admit that Western hegemony may be coming to an end.
We have become accustomed to an international order based on Western hegemony since the 18th century.
This is an Enlightenment-inspired France from the 18th century.
This is a 19th century Britain led by the Industrial Revolution.
This is an America that emerged from the 20th century rising from two world wars.
France, the United Kingdom, and the United States have made the West great for 300 years.
France is culture, England is industry and America is war.
We are used to this greatness that gives us absolute dominance over the global economy and politics.
But things are changing. Some crises come from our own mistakes in the West, while others come from the challenges of emerging countries.
Within Western countries, the many wrong choices the United States has made in the face of crises have deeply shaken our hegemony.
Note that this didn’t just start with the Trump administration, other presidents of the United States made other wrong choices long before Trump, Clinton’s China policy, Bush’s war policy, Obama’s world financial crisis, and quantitative easing policy.
The wrong policies of these American leaders are all fundamental mistakes that shake Western hegemony. However, on the other hand, we have greatly underestimated the rise of emerging powers.
Underestimate the rise of these emerging powers, not just two years ago, but as early as ten or twenty years ago. We underestimated them from the beginning.
We must admit that China and Russia have achieved great success over the years under different leadership styles.
India is also rapidly emerging as an economic power, and at the same time he is also becoming a political power, China, Russia, India, these countries compare to the United States, France and the United Kingdom.
Let’s not say anything else, just their political imagination is far stronger than today’s Westerners. After they have strong economic power, they start to look for their own “philosophy and culture”.
They no longer believe in Western politics, but began to pursue their own “national culture”. This has nothing to do with democracy or not. India is a democratic country, and he is also doing the same, looking for his own “national culture”.
When these emerging nations find their own national culture and begin to believe in it, they will gradually get rid of the “philosophical culture” that Western hegemony has instilled in them in the past.
And this is the beginning of the end of Western hegemony. The end of Western hegemony does not lie in economic decline, not in military decline, but in cultural decline. When your values can no longer be exported to emerging countries, that is the beginning of your decline.
I think the political imagination of these emerging countries is higher than ours. Political imagination is very important. It has strong cohesive connotations and can lead to more political inspiration. Whether we can be more daring in politics, the political imagination of emerging countries far exceeds that of Europeans today, all this deeply shocked me.
China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty, and more will be lifted out of poverty in the future; but in France, the market economy is increasing income inequality at an unprecedented rate.
The anger of the middle class in the past year has brought about profound changes in the French political order, and since the 19th century, French life has been in a kind of balance.
Personal liberty, democracy, a wealthy middle class, these three are the tripods that balance the politics of France, but the crisis is born when the middle class is no longer the cornerstone of our country, when the middle class thinks its interests are being compromised .
They will have fundamental doubts about democracy and the market system. Can such a system still give me a better life?
They have the right to be so skeptical and have the right to join a radical political movement.
In the UK, the fall of the political system is even more pronounced.
The resounding slogan of Brexit, Take back control, says it all.
The people believe that their own destiny is no longer in their own hands, so they want to “take back control.”
And the direct way to “take back control” is to leave the EU. They hate the EU, they hate the old-fashioned politics, and they want something more politically imaginative.
In the final analysis, the political system of the past failed to benefit the British, and even made their lives worse and worse, but the political leaders at the top did not realize this.
So, they failed.
As for the United States, although Americans belong to the Western camp, they have always had different humanitarian standards (implying religion) from Europe.
Americans’ sensitivity to climate issues, to equality, to social balance, does not exist in the same way as Europe does (implying that the gap between rich and poor in the US is much larger than in Europe).
There is a clear gap between American civilization and European civilization. Even though the United States and Europe are deeply aligned, our differences have always existed.
Trump’s coming to power just magnified the original differences.
I must stress that Europe is different from the United States.
Of course, the European civilization plan cannot be decided by Hungarian Catholics or Russian Orthodox Christians, but Europe’s long-term follow-up with the United States to expel Russia from the European continent is not necessarily correct.
The United States needs to confront Russia and Europe, but does Europe need it?
Europe cooperates with the United States to expel Russia, which may be the biggest geopolitical mistake of Europe in the 21st century.
The result of expelling Russia is that Putin has no choice but to embrace China, and this just gives China and Russia a chance to warm up.
Let one of our competitors combine with another to create a huge trouble, which is what the Americans do.
If Europe hadn’t expelled Russia, Russia’s policies would never have been so anti-Western. Now, in terms of geopolitics, it is impossible to give so much help to the great powers of the East.
But Europe’s problem is the military.
Because of the existence of NATO, it becomes very difficult for Europe to form another European army, and as long as the “European army” does not exist, Europe will be controlled by the political orders of the United States.
Sadly, when I talked about this with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, we were all pessimistic. In Europe, no one has the ability to form a European army, and no one has the ability to form a European army. Policy, give investment.
But the European military is the key point to check and balance the United States. Without the European military, Europe would have no real independence at all.
Yes, the United States is an ally, our long-term ally, but at the same time, he is also an ally who has been kidnapping us for a long time.
France is a powerful diplomatic power, a permanent member of the Security Council and the heart of the European Union.
Taking Russia out of Europe may be an absolutely far-reaching strategic mistake.
If France cannot pull Russia back into Europe, it will also be reluctant to continue its engagement, fueling tensions and isolating Russia.
At present, neither Russia nor that eastern power has any interest in forming an alliance, but no one is sure if the Western world is pressing harder and harder.
Will China and Russia still say with certainty that we will not form an alliance?
Is the enemy of our friend necessarily our enemy?
Russia is the enemy of the United States, so must he be the enemy of Europe?
We need to build Europe’s own new trust and security architecture, because if we don’t ease relations with Russia, there will be no peace on the continent.
Americans say a country that invests heavily in weapons and equipment, a declining demographic, an aging country.
Americans ask me, should we be afraid of this country? Should we reconcile with such a country?
I asked the Americans, how about swapping the positions of Russia and Canada?
In addition to economic turmoil and geopolitical turmoil, the third major turmoil we are now experiencing is undoubtedly the technological revolution turmoil.
Big data Internet, social media, artificial intelligence, when big intelligence spreads out in globalization, the progress of information technology is developing at an unprecedented speed.
One problem with the globalization of intelligence is the globalization of emotion, violence, and even hatred.
The technological revolution has brought us profound anthropological changes, and it has also created a new space for us, a space that requires human beings to re-examine and formulate rules.
This is a new technology rule space that the world has never touched, and it is also a rule of the Internet international order that everyone should agree with and participate in.
But before this new set of rules is fully established, the new technological revolution has brought us not only economic imbalances, but also anthropological class contradictions and ideological contradictions.
Ultimately, it will bring heavy tearing and instability to our proud democracy.
All the envoys here can see that economic turmoil, geopolitical turmoil, information technology turmoil, and democratic turmoil.
All these upheavals are happening at the same time, but what do we do?
What do we need to do now? Are we going to continue to be viewers, to be commentators, or to take on the responsibilities we have to take?
But one thing is for sure, if we all lose our political imagination and let the habits of the past decades or even centuries dictate our strategies, then we…
A president of a republic, a minister, a diplomat, a soldier, everyone in this room continues to do it the way it was in the past.
That is for sure, we’re going to “lose control.”
And after “out of control”, what awaits us is to disappear.
Civilization fades away, Europe fades away, and the moment of Western hegemony fades away with it.
Ultimately, the world will revolve around two poles: America and China, and Europe will have to choose between these two rulers.
Europe, will lose control completely, so I believe in only one thing so far, and that is bravery – the political strategy of daring to break through and take risks.
This kind of political strategy, which is different from the old Europe in the past, will lead to the failure of many things now, and there are also a large number of commentators in the country, and critics say that it will not succeed.
But what is fatal is not the comments and criticisms, but the loss of “brave heart” and “imaginative thinking”, and I think that only by trying some brave and imaginative politics can profoundly reflect the French national spirit, the best method.
Only France can re-establish a profound European civilization; only France can consider the issue of European survival from the perspective of European strategy and international politics.
The French spirit is a tenacious spirit of resistance and the pursuit of a different world. The spirit of resistance will never succumb to the inevitability and adaptability of affairs.
This kind of implementation is carried out in the extraordinary spirit of the French people’s soul, and it has shaped the historical trend that only France can change the historical trend that Europe is gradually being swallowed by “two poles”.
Next, France will have several important agenda directions. The first is the “Eurasian Agenda”.
France will promote a better integration of China’s new Silk Road with the European Connectivity Strategy, but this integration must be done with respect for our sovereignty and rules.
Ten years ago, we made some mistakes in the integration of Europe and Asia. When Europe was dealing with the major financial crisis, in order to obtain assistance, it was forced to carry out privatization to reduce some of Europe’s sovereignty.
From Italy in the south to England in the north, but we don’t blame smart Chinese, we can only blame ourselves for being stupid.
In addition, in the face of the rise of China, France must also establish a “French strategy” with the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
This is a “supplement” to France’s strategy of welcoming China’s Silk Road.
If we help our opponent in one place, then we have to check and balance it in other places. This is the usual way of politics.
France must establish “French influence” in the Indo-Pacific region to balance the rise of China’s power in the region. After all, France has millions of residents and nearly 10,000 soldiers in the region.
France wants to become one of the main maritime powers in the sea.
The second important agenda of France is to give priority to the establishment of European sovereignty.
I have talked to many people that European sovereignty is by no means an empty word, but we have already made the mistake of leaving the voice of sovereignty to the nationalists.
Nationalists by no means represent our sovereignty, which is a good word, and represents the core of our democracy. But if the government loses control over everything, there will be nothing left for sovereignty.
So nationalists have the right to have their voices heard, but they in no way represent European sovereignty.
For decades, Europe has built a strong and friendly market, but at the same time, we are also the most open and naive.
And when we discuss European sovereignty, we must also include the United Kingdom very deeply. Regardless of the final outcome of Brexit, European sovereignty includes the United Kingdom.
The other direction of European sovereignty is national defense. Regarding European defense, there has been no progress since the 1950s, and it is even forbidden to discuss.
But it’s time to build an initiative with more national defense sovereigns, relying on European funds and European armies.
I think this is the best time in decades to discuss “European defense sovereignty”, which requires all the envoys here to work harder.
Another focus of European sovereignty is Europe’s thinking about borders, which will also extend to the topic of population and immigration.
As Europe has experienced an unprecedented migration crisis since 2015, we must move away from the emergency management regime for refugees in order to create a sustainable talent landing mechanism.
More importantly, we should work with the International Organization for Migration to revive the immigration filtering work we did in Paris.
The last part is about economic and financial sovereignty.
We are now actively talking about Iran and continue to defend our claim to the Iranian agenda.
But the U.S. dollar has its “specialty”; even if we decide to protect Iran, our companies will depend on the U.S. dollar to move forward.
Note, I’m not saying we have to fight the dollar, but we need to build a real “sovereignty of the euro”.
But this process is too slow, we are progressing too slowly.
And in the establishment of digital c, Europe also needs to reconsider, because digital currency will also affect future economic sovereignty.
Reconstructing European sovereignty, economic sovereignty, national defense sovereignty, and border sovereignty is the only way to truly strengthen European integration without interference from other countries outside.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us have a strong and coherent diplomacy, and at a time when Western hegemony is being challenged, we should use our respective political imaginations.
Take control of Europeans’ own destiny and return control to our people.
I count on you to play an important role in diplomacy, and I am grateful for these requests.
I will always be by your side to keep France at the heart of leading a range of important political issues.
Make our envoys have a strong representative power all over the world to defend our national interests, surpass our national interests, and let our values spread all over the world.
I thank you. Long live the Republic, Long live France.
- Emmanuel Macron
Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, G. R. Baloch, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani