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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 ...


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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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Lebanon On The Brink: Where External And Internal Threats Collide

A ghost state, an economy in ruins ... Lebanon has still not recovered from the explosion at the port of Beirut a little over three years ago. With war looming on its southern border, the country teeters near total collapse.

Photo of protesters during a rally organized by family members of victims killed in the 2020 blast in Beirut port, in front of the Justice Palace earlier this year.

Demonstration organized by family members of victims killed in the 2020 blast in Beirut port, in front of the Justice Palace earlier this year.

Nicolas Barré

BEIRUT — “Go to Place de l’Etoile, you'll find me there.” At the appointed time that morning, the square where the Lebanese Parliament is located is deserted. The silence of an abandoned city reigns, like in a Hitchcock scene, broken only by the raspy meows of two furious cats. Since the explosion at the port of Beirut on August 8, 2020, the surroundings of the building have been the image of a ghostly power. Vacant.

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On the facades of elegant buildings reminiscent of a Lebanon glowing with activity, the windows without panes are like open vents revealing only darkness inside, with electricity long cut off. On the corner, the Häagen-Dazs window is a pile of glass. A mess of overturned chairs suggests the hasty departure of customers, who haven't returned for three years.

“Look, there’s no one here! Our political class is barricading itself, it is afraid of the people!," declares Melhem Khalaf. This member of Parliament from Beirut receives people seated at a small table that he set up himself on the sidewalk, a stone's throw from the steps of Parliament.

It looks like another movie scene. At the end of the lifeless artery, one of the Lebanese army's roadblocks filters the rare entries into this protected enclave in the heart of the capital.

Khalaf is one of the dozen deputies elected during the May 2022 legislative elections without being affiliated with one of the religious communities that have long hung over Lebanese political life. With a group of lawyers, this president of the national bar association is fighting so that the investigation into the port explosion, so disturbing for Hezbollah, the militia party in control of the area, will one day be properly carried out.

Who still believes in justice, in politics, in the rule of law in this Lebanon shattered by decades of civil war and crisis?

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