Give other cultures a chance: The world of not imposing values

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Text: Žikica Milošević

The West is falling apart in terms of economic cooperation (at least Trump’s America is drifting away from the rest of the allies in G-7), and the unlikely harmony is emerging in the East, in the mighty land mass of Eurasia.

WESTERN VALUES

Donald Trump might have been the world’s worst nightmare when it came to the Iran nuclear deal, but he surprisingly the North Korea issue quite well, after all his half-childish tweets like “my button is bigger, so are my rockets”. In this part of the world we are not that affected by the economic relations between the USA, the rest of the big economies from the G-7 and the other “first league players” like the Netherlands, Spain or Sweden. We are in the second league, anyway, so the waves are crushing on the G-7 and the westernmost members. But this is the big deal over there! Billions are at stake, and when the elephants fight, the grass is the first to suffer.

In the West, from 1945 onwards, the main cohesive factor was the fact that the core was formed by all the countries from the Judeo-Christian tradition, the liberal parliamentary democracies, like the UK, the USA, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada etc. All the others were basically defeated countries in the World War II that had to adopt liberal values, namely Germany, Italy, and Japan. The others that joined were also the “converts” from non-democratic values such as the former dictatiorships of Greece, Spain and Portugal. The values they all shared were quite obvious – gradual globalisation, anti-isolationism, and anti-damping economies.

True to his “America First“ saying, Trump is not refraining from building walls between the US and another NAFTA member, Mexico (it’s only a promise, so far), imposing taxes against the EU and Canada as his closest allies (cue angry tweets against Justin Trudeau), and insisting that De Niro is “a person of low intelligence” since has failed to notice the record low unemployment in the US. Trump thinks he is right, ready to face six other leaders from the G-7 and then leave, make a surprising peace deal with the Koreans, and even causing someone to nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Erratic as he may be, Trump is here to stay at least for the next two and a half years. Some have even proposed forming G-6, with America kicked out. Lo and behold, the relations between Russia and the EU suddenly became warmer. The trouble is that the Western world is so compact in values and the way of thinking and doing business that the slightest disharmony leads to big waves. Unpleasant ones, at that!

EASTERN VALUES

The East decided they did not agree on so many things. The religions are very different – from Eastern Christianity to Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. The state systems are also so different – some Eastern countries are full-fledged parliamentary democracies, some are republics with strong leaders, some are single-party states, some are Islamic republics, and some secular and even atheists. No common ground at all. Also, in some countries the market rules, while in others, the almighty state controls everything. Or the majority, at least! So, the first Eastern idea was that there is no idea encompassing them all. Or, rather, they are a mosaic of ideas, that used to be in conflict for centuries, but now want to cooperate. What is the reason behind this? Why all of a sudden? They are fed up with being poor and underdeveloped. They want to lead the world. They don’t want to impose their values on others, because theat is futile anyway.

At the upcoming 18th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—the first summit since the expansion of its membership in 2017 when India, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan joined – India and Pakistan, that used to be fierce enemies for decades, joined the club under the Chinese leadership, although they had serious misunderstandings with some members (India, at least). That was pushed aside!

In the meantime, they have launched the SCO University, and cultural and educational cooperation programmes. Investing and amassing welath are the main goals, as well as getting to know each other and respecting one another. Not imposing values, like in the West. Also, if someone “derails” a bit, it’s no big deal. Arts, media and youth-exchange programmes are the next step. The basic ideas are “reciprocal trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, as well as new concepts of security and cooperation” as advocated by China, and visible in One Road, One Belt initiative.

INCLUSIVENESS IS GROWTH

The SCO has become inclusive and is ever growing, with a possible extension to Iran. Maybe the West was more like that after the WW2. It seems like Orwell’s Eurasia is emerging, albeit in a in a benevolent form. The West is yet to resolve the bitter inner conflicts. We wish godo luck to both of them! Give peace and different cultures a chance!

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