The “Global South”, “multipolarity”: what about class?

Jim Denham (Workers Liberty) 28 November 2023

The Morning Star used to hedge articles on the Ukraine war with a formal condemnation of the Russian invasion. Sometimes, too, there’d be a reminder to readers about the reactionary nature of Putin’s regime. No longer.

A recent (3 April) editorial contains no hint of criticism of the invasion or of Putin. In fact, it gloats over the fact that “a resolution before the United Nations calling for Russia to withdraw from Ukrainian territory failed to attract votes from all but a tiny handful of states outside the North Atlantic alliance.”

The obvious satisfaction taken in this vote (described as a “setback” for “the imperial alliance”) is strange, given that Russian withdrawal remains the official policy of both the Morning Star and of its political masters at the Communist Party of Britain.

The answer to this apparent contradiction lies how the editorial explains the UN vote: “Abstentions, including from a host of African, Asian and Latin American states, and some big players like Brazil, India and South Africa, confirmed the increasingly settled views of the global South.”

The “global South” is a phrase that turns up in the pages of theMorning Star with increasing frequency, although it is never quite clear what exactly it means and who is included. It seems to be a less loaded term for what used to be called the “Third World”. At times it seems to mean any “non aligned” country, and sometimes the so-called BRICS group — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Another concept has been cropping up in the MS with increasing frequency and evident enthusiasm: “multipolarity”. For instance China’s brokering of the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia was hailed in the paper as foreshadowing “a new period in history. One where the multipolar world is an undeniable fact, to the great benefit of the world’s population.”

None of these geopolitical concepts has anything to do with socialism or class struggle. Nor do they have anything to do with human rights — a phrase often misused by Western powers, but positively opposed (or redefined into economic well-being) by China and other proponents of multipolarity. In Multipolarity, the Mantra of Authoritarianism (2022), the Indian Marxist feminist Kavita Krishnan explained how advocacy for multipolarity against a US-led unipolar order has, in effect, defended authoritarianism across the world.

In a particularly telling passage, she writes:

The Russian fascist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin (much like Putin) states that “Multipolarity [...] advocates a return to the civilizational foundations of each non-western civilization (and a rejection of) liberal democracy and human rights ideology.” Modi has repeatedly attacked human rights defenders as anti-Indian while declaring that India is the “mother of democracy”, and India’s democracy must been viewed not through a “western” lens but as part of its “civilisational ethos.”

The influence goes both ways. Dugin favours the caste hierarchy as a social model (Dugin 2012). Directly incorporating the brahminical Manusmriti’s values with international fascism, Dugin sees “the present order of things”, represented by “human rights, anti-hierarchy, and political correctness” as “Kali Yuga”: a calamity which brings with it the blending of castes (a miscegenation which in turn is brought about by women’s freedom, also a calamitous aspect of Kali Yuga) and the dismantling of hierarchy. He has described Modi’s electoral success as representing a victory for “multipolarity”, a welcome assertion of “Indian values,” and a defeat for the hegemony of “liberal democracy and human rights ideology.”

Yet the Left continues to use “multipolarity” without betraying the slightest awareness of how fascists and authoritarians couch their own aims in the same language. Unsurprisingly, Krishnan’s important essay has never even been mentioned by any publication associated with the CPB. It’s a safe bet that it never will be.


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