Edge of Change (Issue 015)
14 June 2018
Robin Varghese argues in this essay that the Marxist theory, despite its obvious shortcomings, managed to predict with astonishing precision the essential problems of contemporary capitalism: inequality rising despite of growing efficiency and stagnant or falling living standards of the absolute majority due to the “race to the bottom” in terms of wages and working conditions. He shows that these problems are not temporary aberrations but rather represent an inherent “bug” of the capitalist system in its unfolding: the attempt to marry capitalism with a strong welfare state taken in the Post-WWII period, turned out to be ultimately unsuccessful. However, since capitalism means constant destruction and rebuilding of the socioeconomic relationships, a mere return to the past is futile: in order to mitigate the negative side effects of it, a new strategy adapted to the realities of the 21th century, should be devised.
15 July 2018
The New York Times piece explores the critical and even provocative stance taken by President Trump towards NATO, particularly the role of Europe within it. The author argues that since NATO represented a tectonic shift in understanding security, from “a war of all against all” to a win-win logic of mutual trust and multilaterality, the current challenge threatens to undermine this order that has been enormously effective for securing stability in the West and its partner countries. So, European leaders now have to quickly adapt to Trump’s attitudes and ensure the order doesn’t break down; overall, current situation looks as a bifurcation point wherein all kinds of outcomes seem to be quite possible.
16 July 2018
Cas Mudde in his The Guardian column persuades the reader that Trump’s foreign policy which came as a shock for European political elites and wider citizens alike, should not be treated as a temporary aberration. He shows that hoping for America’s “return to normal” is naïve since Trump actually expresses the worldview and intentions of a large swath of American elite, just in more vulgar and unconstrained manner than usual- and many of his “respectable” predecessors contributed to the weakening of that very liberal order they now protect so desperately. And indeed, no European confusions can make Trump less popular at home, given the specifics of American politics and the character of his major audience uninterested in the subtleties of global politics.
17 July 2018
The piece throws light upon the unexpectedly close relationships between Israel and many far-right parties of Europe (from Italy to Ukraine), allegedly anti-Semitic. The authors show that today anti-Semitism may co-exist with the endorsement of Israel, particularly its position in the Palestinian conflict; the new Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Salvini from Lega di Nord, openly endorsed Tel Aviv during his visit there a year ago. While the Israel-EU ties deteriorate amid growing accusations of human rights violations and building of illegal settlements, Tel Aviv’s readiness to invest into fringe political forces across Europe becomes much more explicable.
17 July 2018
The article discusses the recent Helsinki meeting and its possible outcomes. This piece begins with small analysis of Mr. Trump’s statement about the U.S. foolishness and stupidity that worsened Russo-American relations. Mr. Trump’s Helsinki performance was described by a Republican senator, John McCain as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” The U.S. president believes that the world would benefit from close Russo-American relations and this idea was reflected during his meeting with Putin. Although generally the meeting doesn’t seem to bring positive changes, the talks about nuclear weapons and increased possibility of signing an extension to the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is evaluated as a significant achievement.
18 July 2018
The article published at the Foreign Policy Centre analyses the concept of “nation-army” actively promoted in Armenia since 2016. The author shows that its call for a total militarization of the Armenian society did not reverberate much with the population unhappy with endemic corruption and misgovernance; she argues that it was purely top-down and only imitated a wide social movement.
19 July 2018
Simon Jenkins discusses economic implications of a no-deal Brexit. In case of a no-deal Brexit UK would revert to WTO rules. Although “taking back control of borders” would help to achieve stricter immigration control, this anarchy would have disruptive appeal to those careless of other people’s jobs: ports would clog up, tourism would plummet and even new deals with the rest of the world could not compensate the losses. Frictionless trade, which was promised by Theresa May, would be achievable only under a customs union and single market. So in order to avoid grave economic losses brought by Brexit, “frictionless” should be negotiated and Westminster should realize that a customs between EU nations cannot be avoided.
19 July 2018
This essay offers an unconventional view of the major trends in contemporary world politics, arguing that they lead to a radical stratification of the countries of the world into different groups according to their sociopolitical systems’ flexibility and speed of change. In such a world, however, the position and role of any state (even those like North Korea) would be set in stone and “normalized”, while the prosperous and innovative part of the world would gain their benefits from cooperating with them. So, the author claims, unlike the period of Cold war when both camps were interested in internally transforming their rival, nothing of this kind should be expected in the “brave new world”: the rhetoric of progress and human rights would be abandoned in favour of pragmatism, while technocracy would almost totally replace classical politics everywhere.