The war of the universes. The clash of democracy and autocracy.

In 1897, Herbert Wells wrote his science fiction novel about the Martians' invasion and the war of the universes. However, 125 years later, we can see that the world would rather be destroyed by "homo sapiens" than by aliens.

After the Second World War, the peoples of Europe found the principles and values under which they could coexist peacefully: economic cooperation, solidarity, and the protection of human rights - these are the pillars of a new world order. Japan and the Asian tigers have also gained recognition, having chosen the path of science and innovation instead of militarization.
Yurii Myronenko

A new system of international law and human rights has developed in the world, guided by the ideas of social and liberal democracy. The drafts of such a system were established at the Yalta Conference and approved by the United Nations Conference in San Francisco in 1945. Obviously, the new paradigm of international law was not perfect, but it embodied both compromise and advancement, reflecting the experience of developed countries.

One should note that the formation of the new world order in the XX century took place alongside the process of decolonization of nations. As a result, not every country was prepared for a new global agenda. While Western countries went through various stages of transformation of their economic and political systems by trial and error, the decolonized peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America had no such relevant experience.

As a result, not all countries have established democratic political systems, since not all countries have completed the stages of internal social transformation.
A number of countries, such as China, Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Russia, experienced the dominance of radical religious and nationalist ideologies, or military or revolutionary dictatorships. These countries are united by authoritarianism: the absence or restriction of people's power, freedom of speech, and equal rights regardless of nationality, religion, gender, or orientation.

This state of affairs is based on the fact that these countries, in spite of the previous experience of their governments, have not fully completed the stage of democratic transformation.

Ataturk's reforms laid the groundwork for the beginning of the transformation, however, his authoritarian methods of governance failed to contribute to the formation of Turkish democracy. Meanwhile, the attempts to separate religious and secular power in Iran and Syria had not led to the establishment of a democratic state model.
The dominance of the communist political regime in China was enshrined by the actual division of China into the People's Republic of China and the partially recognized Republic of China (Taiwan), since the democratic world sought to establish a new agenda after World War II and ensure peaceful coexistence of peoples, prioritizing the economic development of democratic countries.

It was expected that the economy would overcome propaganda, thus becoming the main method of the Cold War. This is how the world saw the division of China and Korea, two powerful political forces that were engaged in arms and economic competition, with local military conflicts fuelling them.

In 1991, the Cold War ended virtually with the Soviet Union's defeat. The world map was updated with 15 newly independent states that were able to conduct reforms in their respective countries. However, they were not always successful.
The problem of the supposedly democratic world was the misconception that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union was certain, and therefore little attention was paid to promoting the transformation of the Russian political and economic system, potentially through investments in infrastructure, educational projects, and think tanks.

As a result, given the failure of building a liberal economy in Russia, there has been a rapid fall in living standards, and the country has been stuck in internal ethnic conflicts, resulting in a new "Weimar syndrome".

Amid the economic and social turmoil in Russia, "siloviki", who have been blamed for Russia's problems and the collapse of the USSR for the past 20 years by the "collective West" and the current global order, came to power. And over this time, they were preparing for a great war to redraw the world.

The turning point for the post-Soviet world order was Vladimir Putin's speech at the Munich Conference on 10 February 2007, when the Russian president for the first time criticized the current world order and called for the formation of a "multipolar world". It is based on the growing influence of regional powers, the unacceptability of using fuel resources for geopolitical domination, and the further expansion of the NATO military and political alliance.

Certainly, the economic development of states on different continents and the development of regional alliances contribute to the formation of various centers of geopolitical influence. And the concept of a multipolar world has a number of positive aspects.

However, Putin's concept is different. The allegedly existing world order does not meet the interests of all nations, including those with different ideas about the rights of women and sexual minorities, the role of religion in society, and the state governance. The Russian "multipolar world" paradigm lacks the right of nations to self-determination, including the right to choose their own civilizational path. This right is limited to territorial and historical affiliation with a power center - a civilization, which, in Putin's doctrine, numbers up to ten. A sort of neocolonial world is the true goal of the Russian concept. These are the theses of Putin's multipolar world reflected in the works of the ideologues of modern Russian imperialism, Ilyin and Dugin.

Eventually, the statement regarding the prohibition of the use of military methods of resource wars solution was actually violated by Russia. In fact, Putin's concept is a mixture of imperialism and internal grudges over the actions of the United States.

Putin's concept is based on the unfair economic division of goods and territories and Cold War stereotypes about the US attempts to establish hegemony in the world. To this end, anti-globalization sentiments have been growing in various countries worldwide for a long time.
Anti-globalization activists remind the United States of its unsuccessful military operations in Afghanistan, Libya, and Vietnam, ignoring the transformations of American (and, indeed, European) society. After all, today's millennials and boomers would rather drink coffee at Starbucks, fight climate change, and travel than fight for democracy in another country. This was the thesis that prevailed in American society before the Russian invasion, and it is the message on which Trumpism in America is based today.

Meanwhile, Russian society is shaped by different values, which are grounded in the right of force rather than the rule of law. In a system where armed aggression against a neighboring state and cynical violation of international law is called a "rebellion against globalism". Such anti-globalization rhetoric is supported in various countries by leaders willing to increase their influence in the geopolitical arena without altering their methods of governance.

This refers to authoritarian political regimes, such as China, Iran, Syria, and a number of other regimes in Asia and Africa, which perceive the Russian war, if not as a rebellion against globalism, then as a wrong reaction to the wrong, in their opinion, world order.

At the Munich Conference in 2021, US President Joseph Biden announced for the first time that Moscow had taken malicious and coordinated actions to undermine democracy in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

"We're at an inflection point," Biden said, "between those who argue that given all the challenges we face – from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic – that autocracy is the best way forward, they argue, and those who understand that democracy is essential – essential to meeting those challenges."

Already in December 2021, the first Summit of Democracies, initiated by the United States, was held, which clearly marked the beginning of a new phase of confrontation between democracies and authoritarian regimes. All this was happening against the backdrop of Russia's preparations for a full-scale invasion.

And on 24 February 2022, a new page in the history of the world began, marking not only the final breakdown of the old world order but also the actual establishment of a conflict between two worlds.

A year later, on 20 and 21 February 2023, Biden confirmed his words: the war in Ukraine is a war of democracy against autocracy. It involves the military arsenal of the democratic world, as well as the autocratic regimes of Belarus and Iran, which provide infrastructure and weapons to support Russia's aggression.
The context of the Russian-Ukrainian war is much broader, and today, amid the talks about China's potential military support, it raises greater concerns. For example, on 24 February 2023, China introduced its own vision, with no details yet, but the fact of ignoring this vision may become a formal justification for supporting Russia. With the message: we offered you peace, but you sent weapons to Ukraine to undermine the geopolitical balance.

This poses a potential risk of further development of the military conflict and expansion of its borders. Today, we can clearly state that the war between the democratic and authoritarian worlds has already begun. Time will tell whether it will escalate into a global war.

In fact, humanity has two options available: either to disappear in a war of all against all or to establish a common global order with common democratic rules.
Of course, there is still an alternative to a "hot" world war.

The concept of a "multipolar world" may be interpreted properly if based on the principles of international law laid down in 1945. To this end, the world countries, despite their differences, have to unite in condemning Russia and restoring the violated international law. This approach should include a revision of the collective security system and expansion of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, currently unfairly represented solely by the winners of World War II. The latter should include nations with significant economic potential and leadership in the respective regions, as well as relevant international organizations.

On the one hand, it would strengthen the influence of regional powers, but on the other hand, reset the international order that collapsed after the first missile attacks against Ukrainian cities.

The UN should become a truly credible platform for all countries with effective tools to influence the breachers of international law. Of course, it won't eliminate the inherent contradictions between the world's nations, yet it can lead to civilized competition in various fields, resulting in internal progressive changes through evolution.
One can only hope that the instinct of self-preservation will show us all the correct path.
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