Clash Between Russia and the West a Fight Not Between Two Ways Forward but Between Past and Future

September 4, 2014
"The current conflict is one “archaic and the anti-modern,” on the Russian side," says an economist at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Photo: RIA Novosti

Staunton, September 4 – The sharpening clash between Russia and the West is not a new cold war because it does not have the ideological content that the earlier conflict did, Viktor Krasilshchikov says, but that does not mean that it is simply a contest between the national interests of the countries involved.

Instead, the IMEMO economist argues in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the current conflict is one “archaic and the anti-modern,” on the Russian side, and “the contemporary world” as represented by the EU and the US. It is not, as was the Cold War, one between two alternative “projects of progress.”

“Contemporary Russia in which life expectancy is lower than in Honduras or Guatemala and which has only memories of its former achievements in science and education cannot present to the world as a whole or its nearest neighbors an alternative developmental project as was the case in the era of the USSR,” he continues.

Consequently, “it is clear,” Krasilshchikov says, that the current conflict will not end with a Russian victory, even if its “archaic” program wins “the occasional tactical and local victories.” If anyone in Moscow really wants to launch a new cold war, then “first of all it will be necessary to radically change Russia and offer the world an alternative model of globalization.”

Such a task, he concludes, “will not be achieved with the help of the Russia Today television channel and [other] propagandistic tricks.” Instead, it will require a fundamental redefinition of what Russia is and what it should be, a redefinition that will then have to be followed by a transformation of its domestic and foreign policies.