Center of Educational Technologies

Challenges in the 21st Century

Igor M. Ilinskiy

(Moscow University for the Humanities)

The key word of this conference is challenge. A challenge is here taken to mean something that may serve as the cause of rising or intensifying some phe­nomena or events. The reference in particular is to such phenomena as extremism, xenophobia and violence. These are the things we are going to talk about. The conference has in fact been convened to try and identify 21st-century challenges and find out what stand as the principal sources of extremism, xenophobia and violence.

It is well known than man’s capabilities of foreseeing the future are still lim­ited. What may seem predictable enough often never comes true. On the other hand, what even the wisest of human beings could not conceive of does happen and shake the world. Attempts to look into the future were made in the past and in particular at the beginning of the 20th century. Polls of prominent scientists were undertaken. Some of their forecasts proved fairly accurate. But none of the wise men could predict the invention of the computer and television. Now, these two developments have contributed to shape the image of this century more than any­thing else — at any rate to a very considerable extent.

Attempts to crystal-gaze into the 21st century may prove much of the same type. Reality will most likely defeat most of the present-day futurologists. Yet it would be a great mistake if we gave up thinking about future at all. What is ex­tremely important when we come to think about the future is to take a general aPproach to judging realities and trends that we are witnessing today It is possible to judge what may come tomorrow from the position of optimism, in bright colors.

It is easy to fall into the other extreme by painting the future only as a series of catastrophes. I think the words ‘optimism’ and ‘pessimism’ are irrelevant here. The world must be judged as a real one. At any rate, the nearest future will be nothing but a continuation of most of the realities and trends that have manifested themselves in this century. It is in this light that I think we must understand the notion of challenge in the theme of discussion at this conference.

The outgoing century — if we leave out of the account its great discoveries and achievements, because we are not going to talk about them here — was perhaps the most ruthless and bloody one in human history. There were over 140 large- scale and small-scale wars, including two world wars, in its duration. There were hundreds of social and national conflicts, including revolutions. Its death toll runs into over 110 million, of which 70 million of peaceful citizens, and the disabled over 450 million.

Remarkably enough, the Western democratic countries accounted for about 70% of all big wars and conflicts of the 20th century: the United States 30%, Brit­ain 40%, France 28%, Israel 28%. The USSR accounted for 5% in the hostilities in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Damansky Island, Afghanistan and Chechnya. China accounted for just 2%.

The Cold War is a theme apart, of course. The USSR suffered a devastating defeat in it. There is a vast amount of literature on the subject. I, for one, have expressed my vision of it in the pamphlet «Culture of War and Culture of Peace» published in 1999 in connection with the International Forum of Mayors. Copies of it have distributed to the participants of the conference.

The beginning of the 21 st century is just 42 days away. Strictly speaking, it is no future; it is what we are already living in. Now, what do we see happening now? If we look at things realistically — and I suggest we should show this approach, the one of objectivity, during the conference -1 think what is gaining full momentum all over the world, including across the expanses of Russia, may be called another world war. If the Cold War were called the third world war, it will be the fourth. It is by no means a catastrophically-minded approach to reality. It is realism. When the Second World War was in full rage, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill at the Teheran Conference in 1943 came to discuss the processes that might develop after the victory over Hitler Germany by agreeing to start discussing the worst options. I think when we want to forecast the future of Russia and the world as a whole, we must begin by identifying the most formidable calamities that have already be­fallen or might befall this country and the humanity as a whole.

If we are peacemakers and we call ourselves such, then we must be well aware what warfare as understood today means. To most people who visualize warfare as tanks, bombs, frontlines, assaults, etc. present-day warfare is absolutely unknown. For war and peace are parallel notions that define each other. Peace is the absence of war. War is the absence ofpeace. Human life over the past decades has developed in such a fashion that people have not even noticed that they all have been caught in war, that they all are living in a state of war. It is a war which is called peace. Thus it has become a case of doublethink. It is not simply a paradox; it is a case of sheer absurdity. We are living in an absurd world. War today is peace and peace is war. Many take this absurdity as a norm. We shall not be able to get out of this absurd situation unless we understand that a war has remained a war in essence: it has a goal, combat and ways of combat. The notion of victory has remained. It is the very essence of any war.

Now, warfare has changed drastically in content, in form and in tactics. The definitions of a goal, combat, violence and victory have changed. The concept of war has become quite different. It no longer connotes a short duration. It connotes protraction. The Cold War lasted nearly half a century. It has brought with it se­crecy, invisibility, silence, lies and other qualities. The goal of a war today is no longer to destroy the opponent’s armed forces and occupy its territory as was be­fore. It is to destroy the opponent’s economy and system of information, demoral­ize its population and paralyze its will power. As a result, one’s armed forces, even if they survive, will prove incapable of conducting armed hostilities. The notions of ‘frontline’, ‘rears’ and ‘flanks’ are no longer meaningful. At a time when any state and its borders are open for transition of capital, trade, finances, etc. and, above all, ideas and information, the enemy’s territory as a whole, its system of government and, above all, its bodies of political power, economy and mass media become a scene of war.

How does this happen? We had an opportunity to see it in action during the Operation Desert Storm and in Yugoslavia. The size of territory, a great strategic advantage earlier because of its being able to make the industrial and defense cen­ters in the rears inaccessible for the enemy, which helped us to win the war with nazist Germany, is now quite meaningless.

The very notion of «victory in war» has changed. Victory today does not necessarily mean defeat of armed forces in combats and battles or occupation of territory. These things are now done by the enemy itself, as was the case during the Cold War and is happening these days. The only thing to be done is to have one’s ‘own’ people in government, created economic problems and brainwashed the population. Nothing more is needed to score a victory in war.

I’d like to refer to what Allen Dulles, director of the CIA in 1953-1956 and ideologist of the cold war, in one of his 1945 books dealing with the American post-war doctrine against the USSR, published in 1945. Nobody has ever worded it more frankly or more cynically. In particular, he said that the human brain as man’s creation is capable of change. When they induced chaos in it, he went on, they would be able to invisibly substitute people’s values for false ones and compel them to believe in these false values. They would find our comrades-in-thought and allies in Russia itself A grand-scale tragedy of the demise of the most disobe-! dient people on earth would be played out episode after episode until its mentality has become distinguished beyond repair. They would create chaos and turmoil in the government of the state. They would, imperceptibly (sic!) but actively and persistently, prompt the self-rule of bureaucrats, bribe-takers, as well as unscrupu­lousness, treachery, nationalism and hatred between peoples and, above all, hatred and enmity toward the Russian nation. They would, he said, cultivate all this skill- j fully and unnoticeably. All this would thrive rampantly. (What he said next is espe­cially important -1. /.). Only few, very few, would be able to guess or even under­stand what is going on. But they would, he said, put such people in a helpless state and make them ridiculous. They would find ways to belie them and declare them dregs of society. They would unearth the spiritual roots of the nation. They would vulgarize and destroy the basic principles of national morality. They would demor­alize generation after generation in this way. They would take control of people from their childhood and from their youth. The main stake would be put on young people. They would, he said, corrupt and defile them. They would make them cynic, vulgar and cosmopolitan. That how they would do, he said.

And they have done so. They have done it with Russia just within a span of eight years. The industry and agriculture are in disarray. The armed forces have been weakened to the limit. The people have been made fools so that it is easier to manipulate them. The population is in a state of unprecedented mass psychosis and society in chaos and disorientation. The media are in the hands of obedient oli­garchs. Quite a few key figures in the country’s political leadership in those years were and remain the United States’ direct creatures, and many are subjected to direct Western influences. Of course, Russian is not occupied. But then it does not need to be. For this reason it is possible to say that it is a free and democratic country. At the same time, the country is made a drug-addict dependent on anyone else’s technologies, food supplies and finances, and likewise is dependent on those who supply it these «drugs», without which the people cannot live.

Is it not what the West wishes to see or Dulles talked about? Why should rockets, bombs or paratroops be used today if the goal in many ways has already been achieved?

What is there in store for Russia? What challenges is it facing? Challenge is the key word, as I said at the beginning of my speech.

Leading politicians in Russian and elsewhere assert that the world is entering the most dangerous phase of its development. There are five major forces that are pushing the world community into a new condition, namely: fixation of unipolar­ity; globalization of the world economy; weakening of the nation states; search for civilized identity; and polarization of poverty and wealth.

The implication is that the world is under the control of five permanent fac­tors — power, wealth, chaos, identity and injustice. The outcome, they predict, will be a new world order, a new geopolitical, economic and civilization picture of the world. The major forecasts made by these geopoliticians for the next 30 to 50 years do not provide any signal about the end of the world, but do predict large-scale conflicts, including some global, world-scale ones. What do they mean? Conflicts over what? They mean conflicts and wars over spaces of the earth’s surface, mineral resources, markets, as well as imperial ambitions of the United States as the leading world power, the geopolitical rise of China, the collision between the West and the Chinese and Islam civilizations, the West and the non-West, the North and the South, to name just a few.

It is natural to ask where the main danger may come from. What may its main source be? What may be the attacking side? What may be the aggressor? What may be «the empire of evil»? As far as most of the 2 lst-century war scenarios go, the United States and NATO will not attack, but will be on the defensive. They present themselves as campaigners for international law and morality, democracy and freedom, and human dignity. They present themselves as vehicles of good and as judges over evil. In other words, they act justly, lawfully and morally. Russia, on the other hand, is often seen as a traditional aggressor fanatically set to expand its territory and the power of its revived empire, violating all norms of law and morality, expressing the evil principle.

Is this the case in reality? H. Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, was frank enough to admit that Russia, whether a communist or a democratic country, remains an enemy which has to be isolated, intimidated, controlled and held point- blank. He said, in particular, that the new history since the fall of the Berlin Wall was nothing but the closing stage of the cold war whose aim was to split Russia, and that it was necessary not to stand on ceremony with the defeated, but treat them as subordinates.

Another well-known geoplitician, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has given reasons for the need of carving Russia into three regional formations: European, Siberian and Eastern, which should make up a confederation with a fairly uncertain political status. He calls Russia «the main exchange card of geopolitics». He claims that the new world order and the hegemony of the United States are being created against Russia, on account of Russia and on the ruins of Russia. He believes that after the fall of Communism the chief enemy of the free world is the traditional Russian

Orthodox Church leavened on chauvinism and expressed imperialistic reflexes.

Indeed, at top-level meetings and in political documents there has been a great deal of lip-service about allied, de-ideologized relations between Russia and the United States and other Western countries which are said to have taken the place of the old-time relations. Alas, this is far from the truth. Analysis of the real political processes set in motion by the West and, in particular, the United Stated, testifies to the contrary. A good case in point is the movement of NATO eastward. Pressure on the East European countries, the Baltic countries and later on the CIS countries has proved one of the chief factors of more enmity or cooler attitude toward these countries and Russia. Ukraine has been declared to be a sphere of US interests and guarantees, and Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Turkmenia and Uzbekistan are being increasingly hitched to the US military machine.

In the US President’s 1994-1998 defense directives, the revival of a big Rus­sia is treated as a direct threat to the US to be removed by any means, including military ones. In the pamphlet «Culture of War and Culture of Peace» I have mentioned earlier, I refer (on pages 42-43) to US President Bill Clinton’s report at a secrete meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee on 25 October 1995. What he said there is downright shocking. I might also have referred to what Madlen Albright, US secretary of state, or John Major, the former British prime minister, once said on this matter. All of their sayings, unfortunately, carried some threat to Russia.

That is the chief challenge to Russia in the 21st century, and I believe it is in this light that we must talk about extremism, xenophobia and violence. There are, of course, a great many internal challenges and threats to this country. There is no doubt about it. I don’t refer to them simply because they are not the subject of the present-day discussion and I have no time to do so. The present-day challenges are at the top of the agenda because they threaten the country’s national security as a whole.

All this makes it possible to claim that the Western countries and, above all, the United States did, do and are going to do everything or many things they can to restore and intensity the anti-Western sentiments, which have just started fading away in Russia, in order to revive the image of the enemy and foreigner and hence the fear of them. I realize that this is being done not on purpose, and that this results precisely from their striving to reach their own aims. The citizens of Russia — at any rate those who understand it — now have something to fear of. This is no fear of what have stemmed from our internal evens, such as fear of unemployment, fear of the future in general, fear of the street, fear of the neighbor next door, etc. It is fear I of depressing external forces. At the dawn of perestroika and reforms, the numbers! of those who had swung westward and who were minded in the favor of the West were unnaturally large — some 45 to 50 percent. They actually believed that Russia! now had the friend Bill and the friend Kohl and that we were partners and allies and that the West would help us. But the mist of delusion had done quickly In 19971 already, the proportion of Russian citizens who viewed NATO and the US as theiri opponents had risen to 40%, as compared with 25% in 1992, and the proportion of those who did not believe in the good will or neutrality of the West as a whole had risen to 70%. Today, these figures are much higher.

What are we to do in years to come? To put it in a nutshell, we must set ourj home in order. Saving Russia means recovering its national integrity and national! might. When we have done so, nobody will dare to contemplate any conflict with! our country. Only a strong Russia will guarantee its security and a peaceful life for j its people.

As for the Moscow Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences, each of usj here should do what they ought to and can do. I think it’s the most important thing.I Generally speaking, the future and well-being of our country grown «from below»,! not «from above». Our education and enlightenment efforts within the Moscow! Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (it was named the Institute of Youth! before 15 November 2000) are to make students love their country and their people! and avoid feeling aggressiveness or hatred towards the surrounding humans, nations! and environments. One should not love or hate anybody or anything deliberately or without thinking — whether foreigners, or aliens, or the West, or the East, or America, or even Russia. We confess an education of understanding, i.e. we attempt to make young people not only know what and why is happening in the world and in Russia, I but understand why things are happening this way and not otherwise and how they are to behave in relation to other people, so that they may behave toward them in the same way. That is why the Academy has an Open Faculty to allow dozens of leading politicians and prominent scientists in various fields to speak their opin­ions. It also has the «Youth for Culture of Peace and Democracy» International Institute, the Russian Intellectual Club, the Research Center and the A. A. Zinoviev School acting under its auspices. We conduct various opinion polls and studies to make out what students value and what they want in life. That is why the Academy’s campus was declared to be «Culture of Peace Territory» last year. We have estab­lished common rules of life. We have established a Code of Honor for instructors and workers, and a Code of Honor for students. These will be discussed at one of the sections of the conference.

Such are my views which I would like to put across to the participants of this conference at the beginning of its work. Of course, I don’t absolutize my conclu­sions and am well aware of the relativity of the ideas I have expressed. There are many outstanding scholars and practitioners here. They will put forward their own views and positions on this score. The purpose of the conference is precisely to allow us to exchange opinions and try to find the truth, for the sake of which, strictly speaking, people get together at any conference.


Source: Молодежь России перед лицом глобальных вызовов на рубеже веков (Как противостоять агрессивному экстремизму, ксенофобии и насилию среди молодежи) : Материалы Международной конференции, 18–19 ноября 2000 г., Москва, Россия / под научной и общей редакцией И. М. Ильинского. Перевод на англ. яз. М., 2001. С. 13–21. ISBN 5-85085-643-9