The French who coined the phrase above knew well the positives to be found in the unfamiliar and unusual.
In international relations however, there has been less pleasure than the potential for misunderstanding and subsequent aggression in differences between nations. In particular, the elites of the USA and other western nations in its orbit have recently fallen in line with a greater degree of intolerance when it comes to cultures other than that of the West.
A new meme arose out of 9/11 and the alignment known as the ‘Coalition of the Willing’, the group of nations who swallowed the lies told concerning Iraq and the supposed dangers it posed for the western world. Several more disastrous interventions took place all reinforcing and re-emphasizing that those of the West were one thing and they, another. Hundreds of thousands of lives were sacrificed and in an infamous phrase this was ‘a price worth paying’, mainly due to the fact that they were ‘not like us’, they were different, expendable, so different in mentality that those of the West need not be too concerned at their demise.
The regime change mentality along with that which embraced the concept of a ‘clash of civilizations’ and an extremely heightened sense that it was down to the survival of ‘them or us’ is exemplified in the phrase used by so-called Christians who almost exclusively viewed life through the Old Testament, “Kill Them All and Let God Sort Them Out’. This kind of mentality requires the complete demonization of a complete category of other humans in exactly the same mental state as the Nazis viewed all Jews.
The memes of the USA and UK preceding the recent additional concepts arriving after 9/11 formed the groundwork for the heightened sense of difference and intolerance with which much of the rest of the world was viewed. These earlier memes are well known and continue to wield a strong influence that creates a continuing intolerance for difference across the western world. These are of course the memes of exceptionalism, of superiority and of having the ‘correct values’. The mentality involved sets the western individual on high, looking down from his or her ivory tower of exquisite purity on the rest of humanity. It requires a permanent state of master and servant where those not willing to be servants must necessarily be punished sufficiently until they acquiesce.
Holding all those who do not agree and agree also to bow down before the “perfection” of the western way of life and the ‘western liberal values’ it espouses as ‘beyond the pale’ of so-called western civilization, creates an environment where war of one kind or another is inevitable. This is the future that faces the world now due to the fixed intransigence of the West, wholly transfixed by its concepts of self-awarded perfection and “holy” duty to deliver it to others, whether they express any desire for it, or not.
The attitudes of western elites can deliver only a global environment of intolerance for differences, attitudes wholly in conflict with the phrase with which I began this commentary.
So, does there exist an alternate vision of the world that may augur a world where stability and peace prevail based upon not only a tolerance of differences but indeed a delight in tem? I believe so and in my estimation we can see that future of mutual respect and tolerance for diversity being laid out for us consistently by two main actors upon the world stage currently.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have, in their many speeches, long exemplified their desire to usher in this future world where tolerance is prioritized over the aggressive intolerance and interference displayed by the West. Their vision is one where national sovereignty is inviolate and differences between nations are opportunities for mutual benefit in terms of cultural exchange, tourism, commerce and trade. Non-interference by nations in the affairs of others is a policy long held by both Russia and China. This was seen at its most public expression at the United Nations when both refused to sign off on the ambition of the USA and UK to attack and invade Iraq. Their view on these interventions has remained constant from that time to this.
China is building the most ambitious project ever seen in its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ which will exemplify the notion that diverse nations can come together in cooperation and move ever forward to enhance their cultural and commercial interests in a spirit of mutual respect.
The USA and UK show no such inclination and much of Europe, though not as extreme in their view, is tending still to add support to interventionist policies of intolerance and demands for adherence to so-called western values.
These are the two great thrusts of history evident on the world stage currently and which show no sign of being modified until one gains greater influence than the other. Currently, there is near balance between the two with the West, the long time most dominant, still holding most sway. China however is fast rising to fully balance the effect of western power and within the next decade to eclipse it. With Russia by her side and a strong alliance with all others threatened currently by western intolerance, China will have sufficient influence within Europe, Africa and elsewhere to ensure the new paradigm of respect for differences within the context of inviolate national sovereignty prevails.
We face a clear choice.
A virtually endless future of war against different national cultures and beliefs by a West itself riven by conflicting attitudes within its own populations.
A future of increasing stability where nations are no longer subject to destabilizing by others, nor attacked by military means, but through trade and tolerance for inviolate sovereignty, they are encouraged to connect with and move forward with their global neighbours.
The choice is stark and is coming ever more into focus as the West continues to ramp up its efforts to ensure it remains the dominant power and continue its project to mould the world into a mirror image of its unstable self.