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February 15, 2018 No.
7337

Russian Intellectual Lukyanov: 'The Philosophy Associated With Trump Is Becoming The Norm, A Natural Part Of The Global Picture'

Russian intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov,[1] who serves as research director of the Valdai Discussion Club, surveyed the results of the annual Davos World Economic Forum that took place on January 23-26, 2018. Commenting on U.S. President Donald Trump's presence in Davos, Lukyanov stated: "Trump's slogans at the beginning of his political career evoked laughter, shock, indignation and the certainty that all this will fade away. Now the philosophy, associated with Trump, is becoming the norm, a natural part of the global picture. And this is also recognized by all." Lukyanov observed that Trump's primary message at Davos was: "What is good for America is good for the world, if you want peace and prosperity - invest in America."

According to Lukyanov, if America, with its "power", "influence", "capabilities" and "share in the world economy" proclaims itself "First", it thereby sets the tone. "So everyone will have to follow it and also become 'first of all.' It's hardly worth rejoicing about it. But we must be ready," pointed out Lukyanov.

Below are excerpts from Lukyanov's article, titled "WEF-2018: Everybody First":[2]


Fyodor Lukyanov (Valdaiclub.com)

'[Trump] Acts Everywhere As A Sales Agent Of His Own Country'

"The annual gathering of the world smooth operators, the global vanity fair, the capitalistic bacchanalia of neo-liberals... these are definitions of the World Economic Forum, which was held in Davos since 1971 (under its current name – in the last thirty years). For a beginner, the meeting makes a strong impression, and I visited the forum for the first time.

"In terms of the number and concentration of discussions there is little to compare with Davos; the level of representation is also extraordinary. The resort town's narrow streets, immortalized by Thomas Mann in the 'Magic Mountain', do not cope with the influx of visitors from around the world, which leads to logistical logjam. This year, the usual problems at least tripled - the visit of the U.S. president is always a major event, and if his name is Donald Trump, then the agiotage is even bigger, as well as the security measures.

"To describe Davos in general is impossible - too much there happen all at once. Therefore, I will try to summarize the atmosphere, starting from the main speech of the American president. Whatever the contradictory feelings he may evoke, no one argues that today the world depends on this person more than on anyone else.

"Trump delivered a rather calibrated speech - unambiguous in its main message. One year after the inaugural speech where the 'America first' principle was proclaimed as an official credo, he demonstrated , that the turbulent events of the past twelve months had not in any way shaken the worldview and goal-settings of the U.S. president. The main message was expressed in Davos especially clearly: what is good for America is good for the world, if you want peace and prosperity - invest in America.

"The President of the United States acts everywhere as a 'sales agent' of his own country, he is not ashamed that he serves as a conductor of egoism (some will say it is healthy egoism, others will not - it's a matter of taste). Trump's favorite word is bargain, his favorite activity, to which he always refers to - is trade. Not in the sense of turnover, but in a broad sense: bargaining, hammering out better conditions that are [in turn] legitimized as right and worthy behavior. [This applies] not only for the United States, [but] for everyone, even for each country that will become 'first of all.' In other words this is bargaining for the sake of a balance of interests.

'If America… Proclaims Itself First, It Thereby Sets The Tone. So Everyone Will Have To follow It And Also To Become First Of All'

"The toasts in honor of mercantilism, proclaimed by Trump, raise objections almost everywhere. In Davos almost all expressed opposition to his egoism and the protectionism associated with him: [including the] leaders of India, France, Germany, and representatives of China, Russia, etc. But an inconspicuous psychological change occurred at a first glance. Trump's slogans, at the beginning of his political career, evoked laughter, shock, indignation and the certainty that all this will fade away. Now the philosophy, associated with Trump, is becoming the norm, a natural part of the global picture. And this is also recognized by all.

"Trump is the operator of the United States' transition from extrovert to introvert. In the 21st century isolationism of the past is impossible, but the refusal to dictate to everyone the rules of life and behavior, as Trump insists, is the incarnation of an isolationist idea for an irreversibly interdependent Earth. A multipolar world, about whose necessity and inevitability so much has been said since the end of the last century, finally appeared in a somewhat unexpected form. [It did not appear] when other poles were activated, but when the top of the pyramid suddenly declared itself to be only pole among them. Of course, it is the strongest and still an exceptional [pole], but it is not 'ruling the world', and is certainly only the first among the formally equal.

"The most curious process of recent times is the fading of objections in the American political environment against Trump's conceptual guidelines. That is, his personality continues to split the society and elite, it arouses numerous emotions - rage, anger, shame, hatred, anything. But it's more about his style and manners that are really most unconventional for a U.S. president. Anyway, the focus on national interests and the power approaches cause increasingly less opposition. In particular, this is evidenced by the reaction to the two recently released documents - the National Security Strategy and the Defense Strategy. Trump will leave the White House sooner or later, but that does not mean that America can/wants to return back to the previous line. Another era has come, and Trump is more like an instrument of history than its motor.

"European leaders and even China can repeat endlessly that they will not allow placing globalization and openness in question, no matter what the United States does. But it does not work that way. If America, with its power, influence, capabilities and share in the world economy proclaims itself 'First', it thereby sets the tone. So everyone will have to follow it and also to become 'first of all.' It's hardly worth rejoicing about it. But we must be ready."

 

[1] Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

[2] Globalaffairs.ru, January 31, 2018.