For two weeks now, Russia Today and Global Times have been celebrating every day. What could be better than riots in the big American cities! What could be more effective than a picture of a building burning at night, around which activists of all stripes joyfully dance! And how can you stand the fact that protests unexpectedly spread to the European cities!
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was shocked by the use of tear gas against protesters in the United States (in Moscow it is abundant because rare demonstrations are quickly dispersed there) and urged Washington not to violate the right of Americans to protest peacefully on June 7.
“It seems that now our American colleagues should be somewhat distracted from the instructive tone that they have been disseminating over the years in relation to other countries, and look into a mirror,” she added. The same statements come from Beijing, where in spite of everything, they still forbade the residents of Hong Kong (under the pretext of a coronavirus) to hold commemorative events on the occasion of the Tiananmen Square tragedy on June 4, 1989.
Curiously, Russian and Chinese advocates of the order are not aware that what they consider the weakness of liberal democracies is actually their strength. That many young people in Russia and China would dream to come out with protest and look at this movement not with horror, but with envy. Black Lives Matter crossed the Atlantic and is now united by the West, which was split by Donald Trump with his doctrine of “America First” policy.
A strong split has appeared at the top of the power of states, called the “Western bloc” during the Cold War. Transatlantic relations have become an object of study for historians, and key European leaders “took a break” until November 3, when the US presidential election is due. They hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Chancellor Angela Merkel foiled Trump’s G7 summit on the pretext that he couldn’t come because of the pandemic. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US president responded by threatening to withdraw 9,500 American soldiers (from a total contingent of 34,500 in Germany) and reduce their permanent presence to 25,000, even during the rotation period.
US relations are spreading poison even within the EU: without waiting for official confirmation of such a decision, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hastened to declare that his country would be glad to accept American soldiersб withdrawn from Germany. All this indicates that Trump might come to the office once again: NATO’s potential end, an escalation of Europe’s split over Russia and China, the confrontation between the US and China, problems with resolving world problems such as climate, trade, and pandemic, without US cooperation.
Nevertheless, a completely different situation is developing in the lower classes. Despite the polarization of the electorate under the pressure of populists, the values that form the backbone of Western democracies still remain that backbone. Thanks to the banner of equality and freedom (these values are the legacy of the Enlightenment, as well as the American and French revolutions), protesters against racism and police violence were able to enthrall those who are not directly its victims, including the Pentagon elite.
Authoritarian regimes see only the destructive component of this movement, robbery, and violence. As for the other side, freedom of speech and the rule of law, they prefer to ignore it, because it is not beneficial for them: didn’t the desire for freedom already brought down the Soviet empire 30 years ago?
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy admitted at an online seminar organized by the Marshall Foundation on June 5 that the unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis shed light on old US wounds. Anyway, they demonstrate our ability to openly look at these wounds so that all this can serve as a basis for change.
This comment is also true for European countries, where many people support the Black Lives Matter. As it was two years ago with the #metoo movement against sexual harassment and for gender equality, the dynamics of the Black Lives Matter comes from below, from civil society, imposing its will on governments and parliaments of democratic countries. Both of these movements came from the United States, and their impact was reinforced by the social networks that also originated in America. It is not surprising that autocrats seek to establish as tight control as possible over social media.
This is another, more pleasant version of the slogan "America First." It also has its own excesses, for example, a culture of political correctness, which is spread by social networks (sometimes aggressively) and does not tolerate contradictions. It also goes for export.
In any case, whatever the decline of the West, the rise of China and the claims of Russia so far have not been able to generate values that would cause such large-scale social movements outside their borders.
Read the original text at Le Monde