The Schiller Institute held an extraordinary conference on June 30-July 1 in Bad Soden, Germany, bringing together representatives from 35 different countries to deliberate on the ways to put a definitive end to geopolitics and base international relations on win-win economic cooperation. Contrary to the multitude of other conferences on similar themes, many participants observed, those of the Schiller Institute are unique in that they are focused on finding concrete solutions to the problems and not just palabras. What became clear to all over the course of the two days, its that no solution is possible within the old paradigm – be it with regard to the war danger, the financial collapse, or the migrant crisis.
The first strategic panel included high level participation from Russia and China, as well as two strategic thinkers from France and Germany, while two Americans presented their assessment of United States policy.
The afternoon session was devoted to the development of Africa and the reconstruction of the Middle East, with a special emphasis on the current situation in Yemen. The idea that Europe needs to work with China to develop Africa, which the Schiller Institute has fought for for decades, is finding a growing resonance now.
Europe was dealt with on the second day, both in terms of what is terribly wrong with the dominant policy today, which is an integral part of the trans-Atlantic financial system, and the tremendous opportunities that await European countries if they manage to break out of the geopolitical straitjacket.
The concluding panel explored more specifically cooperation with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, notably in south-eastern Europe.
The tone for the two days was set by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in her keynote address on the “Coincidence of the Opposites, and the World of Tomorrow”. She chose that theme in reference to Nicholas of Cusa and his “coincidentia oppositorum”, which posits that to solve the various political problems of today, one must rise above the apparent contradictions to the level of the common aims of all of mankind , in which the “one” is a higher order than the “many” apparently opposing interests.
The conclusion of her presentation reverberated throughout the ensuing discussions:
“The world is in an incredible turmoil. It’s very complex, and I do not believe the problems will be solved by having a zillion partial solutions. We need a higher level of reason which will unite all of humanity. I think we have reached the end of an epoch, the end of geopolitics. And we must reach the New Paradigm where we think in terms of the coincidence of opposites; what Xi Jinping has called a ‘community for a shared future of humanity.’ If Europe is to survive, we must organize the European countries to join this effort.”
Mme Zepp-LaRouche was followed by Vladimir Morozov, Program Coordinator of the Russian International Affairs Council, who stressed the need to rebuild mutual trust among major powers, which is a long-term endeavour. He also stated polemically that although the unipolar world is about to end soon, a multipolar world is not a better alternative. In fact, he explained, multipolarity is just “another version of the Vienna Congress, a world order dominated by the balance of power and divided by several power centers, competing for the limited global resources.”
The alternative proposed by the RIAC is multilateralism, as opposed to multipolarity. The key difference, Vladimir Morozov explained, is that “multilateralism is based on the balance of interests rather than the balance of power.” On the upcoming Trump-Putin summit, Morozov said he was cautious as to the immediate results of the summit, although the meeting itself represents a breakthrough after a six-year period of no talks at all at the top of the two countries.
The second speech, “Globalization in Reverse and the Challenge for China’s Foreign Policy in the New Era,” was given by Dr. Xu Jian, Vice President of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and Senior Research Fellow and Director of the CIIS Academic Council. The ongoing changes in the world order pose a number of fundamental challenges, he pointed out, such as how to overcome social injustice, inequality and uneven development in the world aggravated by globalization and the market economy. China is committed to the principle of peace and development, as President Xi Jinping has stated repeatedly, but it does face the challenge of what Xu called “three dangerous traps”: the “Thucydides Trap” defined by Joseph Nye, of exerting too much strength, the “Kindleberger Trap” referring to powers, that are too weak to provide global public goods, and the “Cold War Trap” over ideological differences.
China’s foreign policy, Xu stated further, is based on two pillars: one is to build a community of a shared future for all mankind, and the other is to build a new form of international relations, based on mutual respect, fairness, and win-win cooperation for all sides. The new world order is still far from being achieved, he noted, but that should not prevent mankind from working toward achieving it.
The entire proceedings of the conference can be viewed on the English language Schiller Institute webpage, which has also posted a more complete report on the speeches.