Questions Russian experts didn´t want to answer

Global Review wanted to make some interviews with Russian experts Prof. Alexander Rahr recommended to us Dr. Kulikov, former head of the Russian think tank „Dialogue of Civilizations“, Prof. Grinberg and Dr. Andrey Konoplyanik ,a representative from Gazprom .The interviews didn´t realize, but we want to document the self-telling questions our Russian counterparts didn´t want to answer.

Global Review: Dr. Kulikov, during the Cold War the fight was between communism and capitalism. The Communist perceived the world as class struggle between the capitalist and the international working class. After that Francios Fukuyma wrote his  „The end of history“ claiming that all conflicts of the world would be solved by the international victory oft he only possible society model, the liberal Western capitalist democracy. Globalization would create a new international middle class which was per se liberal and would generate international democracy and prosperity. What was wrong about Fukuyama´s thesis?

Global Review: Isn´t it a wrong assumption to claim that the middle class is per se liberal and democratic? In Germany the middle class in the Wilhelinian Reich was authotarian, antiliberal, nationalistic and imperialistic. Heinrich Mann´s book „Der Untertan“portrayed this sort of middle class bourgeosie. The US sociologist Walter Lipset analyzed fascism as the radicalization of the middle class in the economic crisis of capitalism. Trotzki spoke of the petty bourgeosie (in German: Kleinbürger)  as driver oft he fascist movemnet. Isn´t the liberal democratic middle class more a romantic myth oft he Amercian dream and way of life? Isn´t Fukuyama´s idea of the middle class as revolutionary subject of world history which will lead to the victory of liberal democracy world wide not very similar to the historical materialism in Communist ideology and the role of the workiung class as revolitionary subject of world history that will bring an international communist world reolution?  Isn´t the middle class ideology the historic materialism of the liberal democratic West? ?And is there a correlation between class, function in the economy, income and political attitudes? Be it the middle class, be it the working class or the upoer class? The middle class is mostly defined by income and education. But does this relate to certain political attitudes?

The middle class idelogy is now also very fashionable in China. The American dream is now Xi Jinpiung´s Chinese dream. Funny to see how the Chinese interpret Arthur Miller´s „Death of a salesman“–while MIller was critiziing the illusions of the American dream, wrote a anticapitalist critic, the Chinese interpret him as a successful middle class businessman with family values who wants to give his sons his entrepreumnerial spirit.

Global Review: Like Russia and the East today the West in the 60s was still very conservative. This changed because of the 68 student movement which popularized liberal values, sexual liberation and is also called „the real democratization of the West“. However in many Western countries we experience now a backlash. But is there one Western civilization or is there a conservative and a liberal Western civilization?

Global Review: The last paradigmatic book was Samuel Huntington´s „Clash of Civilizations“ (in German: Kampf der Kulturen—in German civilization means Kultur/ culture) claiming that the world was divided in 8 civilization circles (in German: Kulturkreise), and that the Confucian and Islamic civilization would unite and fight against the Western Christian civilization.You as member of the Russian think tank „Dialogue of Civilization“seem to believe that such a clash is not inevitable—what are your arguments against Huntington´s thesis?

Global Review: The director of the Policy Planning staff of Secretary of State Pompeo , Dr. Kiron Skinner held a speech at the Security Forum oft he New American Project claiming that the Cold War between the Sovjetunion and the West was an conflict between two Western civilizations, but the New Cold war with China was a conflict with a non-Western civilization. This sounds that she perceives Russia and Putin as part of the Western civilization, while in the case of China we have some sort of Clash of civilizations ala Huntington. At the moment most experts see the category for the West being a liberal democracy with the values of Enlightment, an open society ala Popper or Soros and the East is mostly defined as authotarianism. Russian geostratgeist Karagonov speaks in his article in Russia in Global Affairs of an „genetic orientation of the East towards authotariatism“. Marx and other Western thinklers in the 19th century already spoke of Asian despotism and Wittfogel explained the Asian despotism in Russia and China by his theory of hydraulic societies. This is a clear contradiction. Is Skinnert´s cultural approach leading to anywhere? How could this contradiction be overcome? Aren´t Russia and China ideological hybrids between Western and Eastern civilization and Russia more of the West as it is an Eurasian power and China an Asian power which wants to become a global world power? Is Marxism part of the Western civilization or just the ideas of Enlightment? Weren´t fascism and nationalsocialism parts of the Western civilization? How influential are the ideas of Dr. Skinner as a director oft he Policy Planning Staff? Is this more an abstract academic discussion as Trump doesn´t care about this and his categories as a mercantalist geoeconomistare  that an economically weak , but military strong Russia is not the main competitor fort he USA, but that an economically strong and military ascending power as China is the main competitor and enemy for the future US world order? And what is Putin´s point of view in these discussions?

Global Review: Other US expert doubt the concept of civilizations. Daniel Pipes said: „Huntington made some very major mistakes which have become increasingly evident in the two decades since he aired his thesis. For example, he thought U.S. tensions with Japan in the 1990s resulted from civilizational differences; a decade later, those tensions disappeared, replaced by far more severe problems with Europe, even though the United States and Europe form part of the same civilization. The real divisions, as always, remain political, not civilizational“. Henry Kissinger always said when asked what he thinks about a clash or dialogue of civilizations: „Who do I call if I want to get in contact with a so called civilization—which telephone number has the civilization?“. Are conflicts not that much products of differences between civilizations, but between politcal interpretation of civilizations?

Global Review: Dugin and Karagamov want to create Eurasian mentality or civilization..But isn´t this the cocept of Asian/Eurasian despotism they have in mind? Eurasian civilization as antithesis to liberal democracy and universal human rights and democratic values? Was the liberal Europe then not part oft he Eurasian civilization?  Intercultural experts in Germany already had a problem to discover 1 Asian mentality. The last who tried it was Oskar Weggel with his book „The Asians“, but exactly the Asians refjected his point of view. Mahatdir in Malaysia and other tried it with „Asian values“, but were also not successful.Does such a concept not lead to a clash between authotarian and liberal civilization and systems and be the opposite of  a dialogue between civilizations or a peaceful coexistence and copperation for strategic interests for menkind?

Global Review: Huntington claimed in his book that all new authotarian movements would focus on civizational identity and that religion was the defining moment of identity. In the USA  Trump important voters are the 80 millions US american Evangelicals and the religious right  , same with Bolsanaro in Brasil, the Polish PiSwith Cathoilocism, the Islamists with Islam and while  the atheist Sovjetcommunists had abolished religion , Putin and the Russian orthodox church have now a very close connection like the Tsars had and the seperation between state and religion seems to become weaker. Are religions the defining moment of any civilizatiion or is the secular, agnostic civilization which has seperation of state and religion the defining moment?

Global Review: While Kissinger was not a fan of the concept of civilizations, he on the other side claimed that the Russian civilization had always an expansioonist missionary ideology. Be it the idea oft he 3rd Rome, bei t the communist world revolution and even Putin doesn´t accept Obama´s view of Russia as a regional power, but wants to become an independent international pole in a multipolar world? How would you define the Russian civilization?.

Global Review: While the former communist spoke of class struggle, Gorbatchev fort he first time spoke oft he interest of menkind, especially in the face of a possible nuclear war. Communists saw this as revisionism and betrayal and teh German state philosopher Carl Schmitt always said: „Who speaks of menkind, is a lier!“. As the wordld is getting more and more interdependet and globalized, financial crisis,ecological problems become more internationalized. Is it logic to speak of common interwests of menkind or isn´t it an illusion as the competition between great powers and nationa states becomes fiercer and a world state is not in sight?

Global Review: Is the nation state still a modern concept or wouldn´t it be better to have a world state or a world federation with a regulated capitalism and socual and ecological standards? The Christians, especially the Jesuits always dremaed of an Christian world state, the Islamist of an  Islamic world state and an world ummah, Lenin and  Trotzky also thougt of a communist world state with an international planned economy . However nationalism was also part oft he former Communists. Stalin wanted „socialims in one country“, the Sovjetunion and China under Mao didn´t merge into one big SuperSvjetuioon, Northkorea had ist Juche ideology, Pol Pot´s Cambodia an autarc agrarian communism with a strong racist nationalism. Ist he nationa state or a world state the concept oft he future? And do you think globalization in the long run will create one world civilization?

Global Review: Professor Grinberg, in which phases would you define the transformation of the Russian economy from the stateplanned economy oft he Sovjet Union and GOSPLAN, to the laizess faire capitalism under the Jelizin rule with the big bang privatization programme under US adviser Jeffrey Sachs to the nowaday´s Russian economy under Putin? What has changed, how powerfl are the oligarchs, what are the biggest companies in Russia and how hast he structure oft he Russian economy changed since the 90s? How strong is the influence oft he state and is there some kind of modernized Gosplan which leads the Russian economy?

Global Review: What does the Russian new and IT-/hightech industry look like? Are there competive IT companies or has Russia hightech parks or ist own Silicon Valley? Is Russia developing artifical intelligence, suoper- and quantumcomputers and technlogy or has it to import these technlogies? Is Russian high tech industry promoted by state-led industry policy , the military or even a state fuind o rare private companies the backbones? Is there something comparable as China´s Made in China 2025 programme

Global Review:  Is Russia prepared for industry 4.0 and digitalization and how do you think they will change the structure  and the perspective of the Russian economy?

Global Review: The agriculature in the Sovjetunion had to import grain from the USA to survive. How dependent is nowaday´s Russia´s agricultural industry and what has changed since the 90s?

Global Review: How exportorientated is Russia´s economy and how influential are sanctions by the West? As trade with the EU and China seems tob e important, Russian trade with the USA or other regions seem not tob e important. Prof. Rahr said that Putin and most oft he Russian elite see the future of Russia in a resource empire fort he next decades –do you agree?

Global Review: Russian former Yukos oligarch and dissident Chodorkovbsky writes in his book in the chapter „The Future of Russia“ that Russia hast o modernize by the influx of foreign investment, technology, the transformation of the Russian authotarian mentality to create a new creative innovative entrpreneural spirit in Russia. However he clams that Russiashould not develop traditional industries or become the working bank for foreign companies liek China , but to leapfrog the economy and only develop new induiustires and  IT technologiy companies.What do you think about the ieda of „leapfrogging“ an economy. Are there any historic examples for this and is this possible in Russia or not a very risky approach?

Global Review: What about foreign investment in Russia and Russian investments worldwide? What is their share and their structure? What role does Russia play in the world economy?

Global Review: As the energy and oil industry is a backbone of the Russian industry, how did the structure of the Russian oil industry change since the collapse of the Sovjetuinon? Are the oil and energy companies now private owned, nationalized, state owned, joint ventures? Which are the biggest oil companies, how much do they produce, export and what are their main consumers and world market shares? How do they produce—they produce as much as possible, according to quotas or a plan like GOSPLAN?

Global Review: Some experts in the West say that the Russian oil industry was outdated and had to be modernized. Former oil oligarch Chodorkovsky claimed that a modernization of the Russian oil industry was only possible by Western investment and he wanted to sell 50% of Yukos to Western oil companies and create joint ventures. Putin wasn´t happy and prevented what he thought would be a sell-out of Russia´s strategic resources. Does Russia rely on Western technology to modernize its oil industry and has it joint ventures with foreign companies in Russia and worldwide?

Global Review: In the 90s and 200sa there were ideas about a free trade zone from LIsbon to Vladivostok, but they never became reality. Russia has now foundede the Eurasian Economic Union. What do you think are the perspective oft he EEU? Could you also imagine an Euraisan economic bloc with the SCO or with China and India?

Global Review:What do you think are the future perspectives of Russia´s economic relations with the USA, the EU and China? Will Russia become an independent strong pole in a multipolar world or polycentric new world order or is there the danger that it will become dependent of one of these powers?

Global Review: Till 1989 the Western Seven Big Sisters controlled the world oil and gas market, but now you also have Russian opil companies, Chinese oilcompanies and others. Hast he energy market become multipolar? Which are the biggest global players and what is Russia´s role in the world energy market?

Global Review: There is a lot of talk about the the decarbonization of the world economy, renewable energies,  electro mobility and climate protection. Will oil and gas become unimportant for the world economy in the future. And what about the longterm oil and gas resources—will we face Peak Oil in a distant future? What is your prognosis?

Global Review: How dependent is Europe from Russian oil and gas and how reliable is Russia as an oil supplier? Do you understand the critic about North Stream and do you think an European Energy Union will ever materialize or will energy policy mostly be practised by the different nation states in Europe? How big are the Russian energy resources for the future and how long could they be a reliable supplier for Europe?

Global Review: As China and India also need oil and gas, can Russia supply Europe and the Asian markets at once or could it get in production problems?  What are the plans oft he Russian energy companies for Europe and Asia for the future? And what role plays the USA and the OPEC as oil producers and suppliers fort he future world energy market?

Global Review: Could under a Trump-Putin deal which defines Russia as a resource, oil and gas empire with defined spheres of interests,a new OPEC or some sort of energy alliance become possible? As the USA have become an energyexporting state, Russia is and will be, Venezuela has the biggest world oil reserves in the world and in Guyanna similar amounts of oil have been discovered and in Texas, the Perm region new giant oil reserves have been discovered, maybe an energy alliance between the USA, Russia, Venetuela, Guyanna, Brasil and maybe Saudiarabia could be possible. An Anti-OPEC which makes the the West independent from the Greater Middle East and the OPEC which faces failed states and Islamism. Therefore such an energy alliance could be beneficials to tese countries, guarentee energy security to the West, unite the Americas and end the Cold war between the USA and Russia. Do you think such a scenario is feasible or realistic as Trump doesn´t like multilateral institions and Russia has not become member oft he OPEC, but remained an independent oil exporting state?

Global Review: Mark Zuckerberg wants to create a new crypto currency Libra using his 2, 7 billion Facebook members. Libra is based on a curency basket with US $, Euro and Yen and on a portfolio of short term state obligations to prevent a volaitility of this new currency as the oszilating bitcoin . While the bitcoin was rejected by most goverments in the West and the East, the Facebook currency seems to get more approval. Still the potential for criminal moneylaundering or terrorist activities, data protection are discussed. Do you believe in the future of such a new world currency and what influence would it have for Russia and fort he international financial system? As we already experienced the financial crisis 2008, he might now be facing an new international financial crisis as the debts by many countries with China reached 6 trillion US $ and become a danger to world economy as a study by Harvard professor Carmen Reinhart and the econiomists  Christoph Trebesch und Sebastian Horn at the Institute for Worldeconomy in Kiel claimed. Wouldn´t it be good idea to promote a Western-Russian cooperation to prevent the next international financial crisis as Dr. Kulikov proposed?

Global Review: Russia has signed the Paris Climate Agrrement. But Russia is an oil and gas exporting and producing state which might have no interest in a decarbonized world society. How does Putin combine ecology and economy? As China is deforresting the Siberian forrests, this means with the destruction of the forrests in Brasil, Papa New Guninea, Indonesia, and other patrts of the world this will fuel the cilmate change in a dramatic way. Shouldn´t there be a Western-Russian ecological cooperation to rebuild the forrests of Siberia and to modernzie the Russian economy in an ecological way?

Global Review: Dr. Andrey Konoplyanik : How did the structure of the Russian oil industry change since the collapse of the Sovjetuinon? Are the oil and energy companies now private owned, nationalized, state owned, joint ventures? Which are the biggest oil companies, how much do they produce, export and what are their main consumers and world market shares? How do they produce—they produce as much as possible, according to quotas or a plan like GOSPLAN?

Global Review: Some experts in the West say that the Russian oil industry was outdated and had to be modernized. Former oil oligarch Chodorkovsky claimed that a modernization of the Russian oil industry was only possible by Western investment and he wanted to sell 50% of Yukos to Western oil companies and create joint ventures. Putin wasn´t happy and prevented what he thought would be a sell-out of Russia´s strategic resources. Does Russia rely on Western technology to modernize its oil industry and has it joint ventures with foreign companies in Russia and worldwide?

Global Review: Till 1989 the Western Seven Big Sisters controlled the world oil and gas market, but now you also have Russian opil companies, Chinese oilcompanies and others. Hast he energy market become multipolar? Which are the biggest global players and what is Russia´s role in the world energy market?

Global Review: There is a lot of talkk about the the decarbonization of the world economy, renewable energies,  electro mobility and climate protection. Will oil and gas become unimportant for the world economy in the future. And what about the longterm oil and gas resources—will we face Peak Oil in a distant future? What is your prognosis?

Global Review: How dependent is Europe from Russian oil and gas and how reliable is Russia as an oil supplier? Do you understand the critic about North Stream and do you think an European Energy Union will ever materialize or will energy policy mostly be practised by the different nation states in Europe? How big are the Russian energy resources for the future and how long could they be a reliable supplier for Europe?

Global Review: As China and India also need oil and gas, can Russia supply Europe and the Asian markets at once or could it get in production problems?  What are the plans oft he Russian energy companies for Europe and Asia for the future? And what role plays the USA and the OPEC as oil producers and suppliers fort he future world energy market?

Global Review: Could under a Trump-Putin deal which defines Russia as a resource, oil and gas empire with defined spheres of interests,a new OPEC or some sort of energy alliance become possible? As the USA have become an energyexporting state, Russia is and will be, Venezuela has the biggest world oil reserves in the world and in Guyanna similar amounts of oil have been discovered and in Texas, the Perm region new giant oil reserves have been discovered, maybe an energy alliance between the USA, Russia, Venetuela, Guyanna, Brasil and maybe Saudiarabia could be possible. An Anti-OPEC which makes the the West independent from the Greater Middle East and the OPEC which faces failed states and Islamism. Therefore such an energy alliance could be beneficials to tese countries, guarentee energy security to the West, unite the Americas and end the Cold war between the USA and Russia. Do you think such a scenario is feasible or realistic as Trump doesn´t like multilateral institions and Russia has not become member oft he OPEC, but remained an independent oil exporting state?

Über Ralf Ostner

Ralf Ostner geboren 1964 in Frankfurt am Main, 1984 Abitur in Bayern--Leitungskurse: Physik und Kunst/ Schülerzeitung. Studium der Physik (Nebenfächer: Mathematik, Chemie), Wirtschaftsgeographie (Nebenfächer: BWL, VWL) und Studium der Sinologie. 1991 Abschluss als staatlich geprüfter Übersetzer in der englischen und chinesischen Sprache am Sprachen- und Dolmetscher-Institut/München (Leiter der Chinesisch-Abteilung: Herr Zhang, ehemaliger Dolmetscher von Deng Xiaoping und Franz-Josef Strauß).Danach 5 Jahre Asienaufenthalt: China, Indien, Südostasien (u.a. in Kambodscha während des ersten Auslandseinsatzes der Bundeswehr, Interviews mit Auslandschinesen, Recherche im Karen-Guerillagebiet in Burma, Unterstützung einer UNO-Mitarbeiterin während den Aufständen in Nepal und bei UNO-Arbeit in Indien), Australien. Danach 5 Jahre als Dolmetscher, Delegationsbegleiter und Übersetzer in München. Abendstudium an der Hochschule für Politik /München (Schwerpunkt: Internationale Beziehungen). Abschluss als Diplom-Politologe (Diplomarbeit: Die deutsch-chinesischen Beziehungen 1989-2000 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der SPD-Grünen-Regierung). Delegationsbegleitung von Hu Ping, Chefredakteur der chinesischen Dissidentenzeitung "Pekinger Frühling" (New York)und prominentester Vertreter eines chinesischen Liberalismus bei seiner Deutschlandtour (Uni München, Uni Mainz, Berlin/FU-Humboldt) bei gleichzeitigem Kontakt mit Liu Liqun (Autor des Buches "Westliches Denken transzendieren"/ heute: Deutschlandberater der chinesischen Regierung).Chefredakteur der Studentenzeitschrift UNIPOL . Projekte am Goethe-Institut und bei FOCUS TV. Seit 2000 Übersetzer (chinesisch-deutsch), Graphiker, freier Schriftsteller und Blogger.
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