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Why The End Of Western Hegemony Is Not (Necessarily) The End Of The West

The West is losing influence on many fronts, embodied in the rise of the BRICS alliance as a kind of "counter-G7." But Western leaders will need to decide if they want to be part of this change, or its victim.

Why The End Of Western Hegemony Is Not (Necessarily) The End Of The West

BRICS leaders with new members and delegates during the closing of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

Pierre Haski

PARIS — It's a concept that comes up ever more regularly: the "de-Westernization of the world," a loss of influence that manifests in economic, geopolitical, and of course, demographic terms.

It arose again during last week's summit of the BRICS nations, this club of emerging countries that has now decided to expand from five to 11 members. Their main unifying characteristic is simply being non-Western, a negative definition that provides a common ground for countries as diverse as China, Saudi Arabia and Argentina.

This perspective could also be applied to the crisis in Niger and the removal of France from a part of its former empire, a resurgence of post-colonial issues leading to geopolitical shifts.

Yet we must be cautious not to jump to hasty conclusions. At first glance, de-Westernization is undeniable: the expanded BRICS represent 46% of the global population and over one-third of the global GDP. The Western G7 accounts for barely 10% of the population and 30% of the world GDP.

Numbers, however, rarely tell the whole story.

Assumption of division

Drawing a conclusion is difficult, primarily because the countries united within the BRICS, or even the entirety of the "global South" – as the established term goes – do not constitute a coherent bloc.

Within BRICS, China and Russia are pushing to turn the club into a "counter-G7," with a pronounced anti-Western ideological dimension. Others, like India or African nations, primarily see it as an instrument for South-South cooperation. They share the desire to escape from a world shaped and led by the West, particularly by the "dollar deity," but they fear being enrolled in a bloc dominated by Chinese ambitions; they don't want the looming Cold War to gain momentum.

Thus there is more than a single nuance between these two "stances," and Western countries would do well to notice this before an assumption of division between "the West and the rest of the world" takes hold.

Reorganising the world?

The first response is to listen to the legitimate demands for equality from those countries in the Global South. In June, during the Summit on New Global Financing Pact in Paris, Kenyan President William Ruto, who is anything but an adversary of the West, had a strong exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"There is a problem with your project," he told Macron. "You want to reform international institutions so that they continue to give us orders. We want institutions where we'll be at the decision-making table." These words articulate the current state of affairs.

This is an longstanding demand for equality, but one that has taken a more political, confrontational turn, especially in light of the Russian war in Ukraine and the refusal of some Southern countries to engage. Russia and China are riding this sense of injustice aimed at the West.

The reorganization of the world will happen, with the West if they accept it — or against them. From this standpoint, what is at play, within the BRICS or elsewhere, is more the end of Western hegemony than any kind of "de-Westernization" that is far from inevitable.

— Pierre Haski

In other news ...


In French financial daily Les Echos, journalist Tifen Clinkemaillié explores the massive impact of pop culture on the U.S. economy. Between Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and “Barbenheimer” (the nickname given to the simultaneous release of summer blockbusters Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer) alone, pop culture is expected to contribute $8.5 billion to the U.S. economy. Between transport, hotels, outfits and accessories, the average person who went to a Taylor Swift concert this summer spent $1,300 — and the cumulative effect is music to the ears of economists, some of whom “even feel that the danger of recession is receding,” Clinkemaillié writes.


Sixty years after Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, German daily Frankfurter Rundschau’s front page laments King’s “Unfulfilled Dream,” in a country where Black people continue to be victims of racism. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which King gave his famous speech, was “one of the highlights of the American civil rights movement,” the German paper writes, describing the echo King’s message found among German readers, while deploring that his vision “never became reality.”

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Iran's War On Abortion Rights, A Toxic Mix Of Theocracy And Demographic Panic

Ending a pregnancy has become a major complication, and a crime, for Iranian women who cannot or will not have children in a country wracked by socio-economic woes and a leadership.

photo of a young child surrounded by women in chadors

Iran's government wants to boost the birth rate at all costs

Office of Supreme Leader/ZUMA
Firoozeh Nordstrom

Keen to boost the population, Iran's Islamic regime has reversed its half-hearted family planning policies of earlier years and is curbing birth control with measures that include banning abortion.

Its (2021) Law to Support the Family and Rejuvenate the Population (Qanun-e hemayat az khanevadeh va javani-e jam'iyat) threatens to fine the women who want to abort, and fine, imprison, and dismiss the performing physician, if the pregnancy is not deemed to be life-threatening. The law also bans contraceptives.

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The measures are in line with the dictates of Iran's Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. He was already denouncing birth control policies by 2018-19, though conservative elements among Iran's rulers have always dismissed birth control as a piece of Western corruption.

Today, measures to boost families include land and credit incentives for young couples, but it is difficult to say how far they will counter a marked reluctance among Iranians to marry and procreate. Kayhan-London had an online conversation with individuals affected by the new rules in Iran.

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