The following analysis contains sharp criticism from a Marxist perspective of a number of Russia’s internal economic structures and contradictions. The piece questions the viability of any One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative with a Russia pursuing a multi-vectored capital-driven foreign policy which ultimately will come into collision with the ‘hard-wired’ relationships which the OBOR will ultimately demand. We are under no illusions that this piece will raise some eyebrows, but it’s an important debate to begin, and one we look forward to seeing unfold in this, the editorial and analysis section, of FRN. – Joaquin Flores, EiC
”May Thesis”: The Russian Federation’s place amongst One Belt, One Road (OBOR) member-states is a precarious one which requires substantial critical analysis. However, recent activity within United Russia, the ruling state bureaucracy, raises criticisms on how the country’s actions hinder the project’s course. They are open to informed debate in a democratic manner amongst proponents of the initiative.
Standing on the eve of a global crisis, with Russia centre-stage and the United States at the edge of its’ precipice, Moscow should address its shortcomings, in relation to the means of production, to determine which course it should take in future actions.
For the success of the Russian Federation, as a member of the OBOR and a nation-state working towards the betterment of the human race, this article proposes the following 10 points that need to be addressed:
1. USE the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to construct a new economic order, which, in turn, will birth a new global system. The OBOR, to which 64 nation-states are members, including all G7/ G8/ G20 minus the United States, would be the perfect vehicle for achieving this. This requires a harrowing quantitative leap forward, but will prove wholly and qualitatively liberating in the end.
Russia and its BRICS counterparts must communicate their firm commitment to the JCPOA through all international platforms, and are tasked with facilitating the following processes for all OBOR member-states:
– redistributing global capital from Wall Street to other international financial centres.
– divesting capital away from USD and safeguarding investments
– implementing SWIFT alternatives such as the Chinese CIPS and Russian SPFS
– adopting other fintech and blockchain technologies
– reaffirming support for the JCPOA in the UNGA/ UNSC, in its original form (2015).
Doing so eliminates the bulk of challenges instigated by US capitalism and forces the European economy to realign itself based on the new material conditions, and sets the stage for a future possibility: OBOR member states can gradually transform the global economy from a capital (M-C-M) to commodity (C-M-C) circulation model emphasizing infrastructure, technology, agriculture, precious and rare earth metals, and others commodities. Once the means of production operate in this manner, OBOR member-states can employ a commodity-only (C-C) market under socialist production via exchange and pricing mechanisms. See Marx’s “Economic Manuscripts”, Ch. 1, Section 2 for more.
2. INCREASE overall contributions to the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). As of 2018, the top contributors are China (31% total shares, 26.6% voting power) and India (8.7%, 7.6%). However, China and India are currently less suited for a stable alliance despite their growing rapprochement following the Doklam conflict.
Conversely, Russia contributes 6.8% of total AIIB capital and 6% voting power, and remains the 3rd largest AIIB member, but is China’s most intrinsically linked partner. Additionally, both are permanent members of the UNSC, whereas India is not. India is also a major recipient of AIIB funds, yet remains the most belligerent in terms of foreign policy.
For this reason, it is imperative that Russia assumes greater responsibility and exercises caution towards India until 1. the OBOR has substantially passed the stage of overthrowing American capital and 2. Sino-Indian ties have resolved, especially the Chinese-Pakistani Economic Corridor (CPEC) and others.
Should tensions escalate again, Russia and China should vote to replace India with Pakistan and Iran, whom are more conducive to OBOR expansion westward. The Baluchistan-based Gwadar port and Iran’s roles in the JCPOA/ South Pars 11 (SP11) project and Syria are important factors to consider.
3. INTEGRATE North Korea into the OBOR to secure the Korean peninsula. Pyeongyang must rapidly industralise through joint ventures on two fronts: North-South, and the Koreas and OBOR partners. Industrialisation will integrate Pyeongyang into the new economic order, increasing its productive capabilities and later, contributions. It should come as no surprise that the 2017 AIIB meeting was held in Jeju, South Korea, as a precursor to this imperative.
Furthermore, Pyeongyang will need security guarantees as it denuclearises following the disarmament of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Cuba. One possible solution is granting Pyeongyang limited entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) or creating a “United Koreas” bureau to oversee matters. This must become a priority at the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit, non-negotiable to the US. An unstable North Korea endangers the OBOR.
4. CREATE an intergovernmental security alliance to resolve the ongoing Syrian crisis. In conjunction with the Astana peace talks, Damascus needs a strong and unified state apparatus to repel foreign attacks from Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia.
Such meetings have taken place on 22 Nov. 2017, 4 April 2018, and 28 April 2018.
This interregional cooperative must create, in writing and practise, a P6+2 alliance (Russia, Turkey, China, Iran, Syria, Iraq + Afghanistan and Pakistan) specially designed for restoring Middle Eastern order by facilitating and defending reconstruction and security efforts. This will later set the stage for extending the OBOR into Europe. No stability, no OBOR corridor to Turkey.
5. COMBAT all forms of imperialism and maintain a consistent foreign policy. Russian president Vladimir Putin, whilst a strong and charismatic leader, vacillates between conducive and detrimental stances. His administration cannot indefinitely support Syria and Yemen’s fight against Saudi imperialism and later supply weapons to Riyadh. It cannot advocate Palestinian statehood one minute and then celebrate Victory Day alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu the next. Neither can it deepen cooperation with China at unprecedented levels whilst selling India $10B in weapons during the Doklam conflict.
This is a telltale sign of bourgeois opportunism and populism, with no clear international strategy other than feral survivalism based on a fundamental ignorance of dialectics. Russia must focus on overthrowing US capital, command and build its own, and build a stable geopolitical orbit around its borders whilst avoiding opportunism at all costs. It should do so whilst continuing to criticize, expose, and denounce all forms of imperialism, whether they come from allies or opponents, and snuff out its expansion in all its forms, using any means possible.
6. REDEFINE multipolarism, which under its present iteration creates ambivalent “entangling alliances” within this new order. Multipolarism as it stands is nothing more than a liberal bourgeois rehash of competing empires and says very little about the nature of “challenging” Western hegemony with regard to Latin America, for example. Bourgeois multipolarism at first glance may appear as little more than a rebranding of the old imperial ‘spheres of influence’, but this is unsustainable in a world with so-called ‘developing economies’ which in many ways have already caught up with and surpassed the West.
The Kateon think-tank mentions the following,
The most common treatment for “multipolarity” means only an indication that in the current process of globalization, the undisputed center and core of the modern world (the U.S., Europe, and the wider “global West”) is faced with certain new competitors – thriving or simply powerful regional powers and power blocs belonging to the “second” world.
Firstly, this vague definition fails to clarify the nature of “competitors” and their relationship to the means of production. Are they the vanguard of finance capitalism dividing the world for exploitation as Lenin described, or the “super imperialism” model of Karl Kautsky? Should Moscow, Beijing, and Mumbai use the OBOR to build socialism or merely “challenge” Transatlantic capitalists with more capitalism?
If the world needs multipolarism, then certainly it must be one that avoids a return to the arcane pre-Westphalian model of bourgeois empires vying for dominance through unabated war; nothing more will come of it. It is not in the interests of the “second world” to simply “challenge” the first, but to increase productive forces, negate capitalism, and establish socialism through a vanguard proletariat class. Thus, multipolarism must ultimately be universally defined as the Chinese have, for it to be viable. The real question then is between bourgeois or proletarian multipolarism.
Furthermore, bourgeois multipolarism sanctions the errors of “bridge territories”, or countries that have historically exploited their ambivalent geopolitical positions between the East and West, often ending with catastrophic results.
Armenia, for example, underwent regime change after a colour revolution last April deposed former PM Serzh Sargsyan, who is guilty of vacillating between the Comprehensive and Enhance Partnership between the EU and Armenia (CEPA) and position within the Eurasian Union (EaEU).
This was not so much due to opportunism on Armenia’s part than a complete breakdown of Russian-Armenian ties leading up to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Moscow selling arms to both Yerevan and Baku, notwithstanding Armenia’s stagnant economy. Now, neoliberal opposition PM Nikol Pashinyan, who carries minimal support of the people, is dismantling the Armenian state, piece by piece.
Similar events unfolded March 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine, with the Euromaidan colour revolution, which ousted former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich for his philandering between his 2013 EU association agreement and billion-dollar trade ties to Russia. Western capitalists did not hesitate to exploit this weakness and install US puppet Petro Poroshenko, whom clings onto power at all costs,
Thankfully, Turkey came to its senses after shooting down a Russian SU-24 and siding with the US-backed coalition in 2015. This error nearly cost PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan his power after those same “allies” sponsored a coup against him in 2016. With too many orbits, Erdogan was nearly drawn and quartered by their pull.
The objectives of the OBOR and bourgeois “multipolarism” are diametrically opposed. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) predicated its entire existence on the concept of an anti-capitalist multipolarism which was committed to the negation of the old centers of European and American capital, and was unsurprisingly dismantled by the very superpowers it sought to challenge.
Furthermore, whilst power is shifting in favour of China, with the Philippines, the Koreas, Singapore, and Vietnam reaching a detente, Russia struggles to maintain its geopolitical orbit. Moscow should fix this; the sooner, the better (Hint: DotP).
7. PROTECT workers’ rights. The OBOR is not a project of the bourgeoisie, but the Communist Chinese; therefore, it must begin and end with the peasantry and working class. Capitalists should not use the project as a springboard to exploit the proletariat or alienate them from their labour. To address this, create a Bureau of Worker’s Rights for the OBOR. China should lead this initiative. If ignored, great crises will ensure.
There is no OBOR without the proletariat.
8. DENOUNCE the US and Israel’s actions to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and the killing of over 60 Palestinians and wounding of thousands during Great Return March protests. Remove Israel from the list of OBOR members and follow through with pledges to support Palestinian statehood. Turkey has already expelled its Israeli ambassador, openly condemned Israel’s crimes and is urging the Arab world to unite. Russia should follow suit and put its money where its mouth is. 70 years of torment is enough.
9. PRIORITISE development of pipeline projects throughout the Asian continent before moving into Europe. The EU simply is not keen on Gazprom monopolising its oil sources, which are out of line with its Paris Agreement goals and geopolitical ambitions. Without eliminating the EU’s sanctions regimes and massive trade deficit on part of Brussels, Russia can simply engage in profit-sharing with Tehran via the JCPOA to gradually pull Europe towards the OBOR orbit.
10. ALIGN goals in tandem with those of the Chinese Communist party. Support all working-class and oppressed countries, from Latin America to Africa and Asia, in their fight for total independence. Liberate these nations once and for all.
The Russian Federation stands at a crossroads and must decide which path it will take. Will it be, once again, the dead-end path of social-chauvinism, or travelling the new Silk Road, the potential route to a new global system?
It’s time to choose a side.