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MULTIPOLARITY IN AMERICA

Carlos L. Garrido

Jul 7, 2024

“The gradual crumbling that left unaltered the face of the whole,” writes the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel in his Phenomenology of Spirit, “is cut short by a sunburst which, in one flash, illuminates the features of the new world.” What he has described are the nodal points where, after the contradictions within totalities intensify, conditions are created for great ruptures for qualitative leaps into new worlds.


This is what multipolarity signifies. It is a geopolitical revolution, a qualitative leap into a radically new world. It is premised on the intensification of the contradictions inherent in the Western imperialist system, especially the unipolar form it took since 1991 when it had free reign to dominate the world after the fall of the Eastern socialist bloc. That was a time when the West proclaimed, laughably, that we had arrived at the “end of history.” The subject for this proclamation, of course, was Francis Fukuyama – but he spoke on behalf of the arrogance and hubris of the Western world as a whole. The West’s short-lived fantasy of the end of history has itself come to an end. As Vladimir Putin said in a seminal speech of September 2022, “The world has entered a period of a fundamental, revolutionary transformation.”


In proclaiming the end of history, the West showed an ignorance of the best insights its thinkers have provided to the world. How absurd is it that the civilization that gave birth to Heraclitus and Goethe and Hegel and Marx could come to naively accept such a static and historical position? It was Heraclitus who taught us that “everything flows and nothing abides” and that “everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.” It was Goethe, speaking through Mephistopheles in Faust, the greatest work in the history of German literature, who wrote that “all that comes to be deserves to perish wretchedly.” The unipolar world, dominated by the US and its NATO junior partners, came to be in the last decade of the 20th century. But, as Mephistopheles might have predicted, three decades later, we are seeing it perish wretchedly.


We are in a period of transition where the drive, as Pepe Escobar has written, “towards a multipolar, multinodal, polycentric world” is evident. Putin, in his speech at the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), called it a “harmonic multipolar world.” Here too, Putin is developing insights that should not be foreign to the West. “The world’s virtue,” wrote the great Pythagoras, “is harmony.” It is one that contains within it a relational complementarity between the many. It is a world, as Mexican economist Oscar Rojas has written, where nations and civilizations can function as Free Associated Producers – sovereign, unhindered by external powers seeking to unilaterally impose their will on the world.


Putin is also here following in the footsteps of the insights developed by China’s civilizational state, as Zhang Weiwei calls it, which has always emphasized “building a harmonious society” and a “harmonious world” (the latter popularized by Hu Jintao), phrases developed from the ancient Chinese concept of taihe (overall harmony). It is a worldview in line with China’s constitutional commitment to “work to build a community with a shared future for mankind,” a frequent expression used by Xi Jinping and top Chinese leadership. This future is premised on developing a world that breaks from the unilateral imposition of one nation’s will over another and instead centers itself on win-win relations between sovereign nations and civilizations.


The expansion of multipolar institutions such as BRICS+, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, and others are beginning to build the skeleton for the new world. The proposals for a new BRICS+ payment infrastructure and an “apolitical, transactional form of cross-border payments,” called The Unit, which is “anchored in gold (40%) and BRICS+ currencies (60%),” signifies significant steps toward de-dollarization – an integral component of breaking US global dominance and building a multipolar world.


As an American, I inhabit a world that is crumbling wretchedly. While I look cheerfully upon the development of the new world (what I have called a post-Columbian, post-1492 world), I recognize that it is the elite of my country, those who our politicians represent, who are fighting tooth and nail to preserve their global system and abort the birth of the new world.


The leaders of the West are right to assume that they are fighting an existential struggle. However, they’re wrong in postulating that what is at stake is "democracy" or Western values and civilization. Instead, what is actually at stake is their colonial and imperialist dominance over the whole world. What is actually at risk of perishing wretchedly is not the West per se, but the system – erected more than 500 years ago – which elevates the accumulation of capital to the level of supremacy, over and above the community, the individuals and families, and civilizational traditions. It is the system that brought forth the genocide of the natives, the enslavement of the Africans, the looting of the world, and the impoverishment, oppression, and indebtedness of working people within the West itself, it is this system, which stands as a vampire sucking the lifeblood of humanity, which is finding an end to its reign.


Where does this leave America? Where does this leave Americans?


​We must recall the famous words of Peruvian indigenous politician Dionisio Yupanqui, uttered in his 1810 speech to the Cortes de Cádiz, “A people that oppresses another cannot be free.” The American people have not been benefactors of the global dominance of their imperialist government. For all their government’s talk of democracy, freedom, and government of, by, and for the people, what the American people have actually experienced has been an oligarchy, dictatorship, and government of, by, and for the owners of big corporations, banks, and investment firms. The so-called representatives of the American people have, all along, been in reality the representatives of the exploiters, oppressors, and parasitic creditors of the American people.


What we have seen, as American political theorist Michael Parenti has written, is how the American empire has “fed off the republic.” In the words of Tupac, the American hip-hop sensation, the imperialist state has always had money for war but never to feed the poor. There are always hundreds of billions that can be scrambled for Neo-Nazis in Ukraine and for the Zionist entity to continue its genocide in Palestine, but never for infrastructure, for fighting poverty, illiteracy, and ignorance, and for guaranteeing housing and healthcare – there is never money for lifting the living standards of the hard-working people upon whose backs and labor the existence of the country is premised.


If multipolarity means an existential threat to the American elite, what does it mean for the American people? Quite simply – HOPE.


The real enemies of the American people are those who wish to colonize Russia, China, and Iran… those who sanction a third of the world’s population and who seek to loot the resources and super exploit the labor of foreign lands. It is those – currently being defeated by Russia and the Axis of Resistance in multinodal frontlines – who send our countrymen abroad to lose limbs, scar their souls, and sometimes return in caskets, all to murder people whom they had more in common with than the filthy parasites who sent them there and who profited from their misfortune.


The real enemies of the American people are those who keep us poor, indebted, and desperate, and it is this same enemy – and the system they’re a personification of – that the multipolar world is challenging.


The interests of the American people, therefore, are in line with the interests of the Russian struggle against NATO encroachment, of the Axis of Resistance’s struggle against the Zionist entity, and of China’s struggle against US encirclement, delinking, and provocations in Taiwan.


The interests of the American people, in short, are aligned with the bourgeoning multipolar world. It is in the interests of America to be a pole in the multipolar world.


America, as a young civilizational project, is in many ways similar to China. China’s ancient (yet highly modern) civilization emphasizes, as Zhang Weiwei writes, the “Confucian idea of unity in diversity.” But so does the American project, at least its best parts – the parts the people are most fond of. The Confucian idea of unity in diversity is captured in E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one), the motto of the United States. Here we find an acknowledgment of the importance of pluralism that is contained within monism, that is, of particulars that are contained within a totality through which they obtain their meaning, and reciprocally, influence its general trajectory.


The premises for accepting America as a pole within the multipolar world are, therefore, already present in the values the American people accept as common sense. We would be a part of that complementary many, of that multiplicity, which would both be conditioned by the new relations of a multipolar world but reciprocally capable of playing a constructive role in its development.


This could be the future the American people are incorporated in once the world dominated by their parasitic leaders is brought down. However, this transition will never be offered to us by those same interests who threaten humanity with a global holocaust via a third, nuclearized, World War to sustain their decrepit hegemony and global power.


America’s incorporation into this bright new future can only be, as was our revolution in 1776, a product of a deep struggle against the old, decaying world of our oligarchs and political class. It is a world that has to be won by the fighting spirit of the American people. As the cleavage in our country between the elite and the people becomes more pronounced than ever before, it will be the forces that can give the people’s varied forms of dissent some coherence, unity, and direction, which will ultimately win out. Only then can America be incorporated as a constructive partner in the building of a multipolar world. Only then, when our society is actually of, by, and for the people, will the impetus of global dominance be squashed, and America find itself as a participant in building a community with a shared future for mankind.


Carlos L. Garrido is a Cuban American philosophy instructor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the director of the Midwestern Marx Institute and the author of The Purity Fetish and the Crisis of Western Marxism (2023), Why We Need American Marxism (2024), Marxism and the Dialectical Materialist Worldview (2022), and the forthcoming Hegel, Marxism, and Dialectics (2024). He has written for dozens of scholarly and popular publications around the world and runs various live-broadcast shows for the Midwestern Marx Institute YouTube. You can subscribe to his Philosophy in Crisis Substack HERE.



​This article was first published in Al Mayadeen

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