07.09.2020
The Theory of Universal Racism
№3 2020 July/September
DOI: 10.31278/1810-6374-2020-18-3-182-199
Alexander V. Lukin

National Research Institute–Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Head of the International Affairs Department,
Head of International Laboratory on World Order Studies and New Regionalism

Аffiliation

SPIN RSCI: 6899-4298
ORCID: 0000-0002-1962-2892
ResearcherID: L-4986-2015
Scopus AuthorID: 7102949872

Contacts

E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Office 404, Bldg. 1, 17 Malaya Ordynka, Moscow 119017, Russia

Abstract
Today the Western world seems to be witnessing the approach of a new totalitarian all-embracing theory that warrants the analysis of any social and historical phenomenon strictly from a “racial” (or anti-racist) point of view. Accusations of racism have been extending from public life not only to individual branches of knowledge, but also to science as a whole. These trends provide some insight into how international relations theory will evolve in the United States and Europe. The ideology of universal racism essentially consolidates American centrism by extrapolating the local American and partially Western European problem of racism to the entire world history, inflating it to the extent where it turns into the main, dominant factor of social development. Relying on its own tradition and inherent international nature, the Russian scientific school, together with non-Western modern and traditional approaches, can play a leading role in the criticism of this new American centrism and reverse racism, while maintaining objectivity and normality in international relations studies.
Keywords
racism, the U.S., totalitarianism, education and science, international relations theory, Western-centric bias, non-Western theoretical approaches
A New Version of American Cultural Dominance
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The current “anti-racism” campaign in the United States is the apex of the long evolution of American society towards the adoption and dissemination of a certain system of views, which has been forming for a long time, but until recently did not raise serious concerns abroad.

However, since the U.S. has a significant global cultural influence, this system extends globally and, if adopted by the international community, can turn the world into a place where living and acting will become quite difficult. Essentially, a new all-embracing totalitarian theory is looming ahead, according to which all social and historical phenomena will have to be analyzed from a “racial” point of view, just as the Marxists analyzed them through the lens of “class struggle.”

Having begun with demands for quotas for African Americans in all spheres of life, because of which employees are selected not by their professional skills, but race (which is nothing but outright racism), the campaign has moved on to absolutely absurd, but already enforceable, requirements to forbid some words which have nothing to do with skin color, such as “black” and “white” in “black lists” and “white lists,” or “master” and “slave” in “the master bedroom” collocation or in computer technologies. Some have even called for correcting the rules of chess, because they allow White to make the first move. This could be funny if the new ideology were not spread so vigorously and consistently, capturing new countries and continents. It is probably true that educated people regarded as funny early works by Lenin and his colleagues, who claimed that the entire world history was a war of classes; members of the educated class also flirted with the Marxists at first, and mainstream politicians and wealthy entrepreneurs played nice with them and thought that they could use them to their advantage. But it all ended in a civil war, the expulsion of former supporters among the clerisy from the country, labor camps, and executions of those who disagreed and later those who agreed as well.

Like any totalitarian ideology, the “fight against racism” is gradually penetrating more and more spheres and obliterating whole divisions of knowledge. The United States and Europe have basically banned anthropology insofar as it studies races and differences between them. This creates an absurd situation: on the one hand, according to ideology, some races oppress other races, but on the other hand, it is impossible to study the differences between them, because this would be racism.

In January 2020, Yale University canceled a basic course called “Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present,” which had been very successful for many years, claiming it was too European-centric. According to Tim Barringer, head of the Department of the History of Art, it will take a few years to develop a new course, which will discuss interaction between European art and non-European traditions, and will also consider art in its connection with “questions of gender, class and ‘race’,” study its role in Western capitalism, and, of course, climate change will be featured as a key topic (Hedeman and Kristoffersen, 2020). It is unlikely that such a vast and politically correct program will leave any room for the history of art per se.

Now, however, accusations of racism extend not only to individual branches of knowledge, but also to science as a whole. According to the new ideology, if there are no or not enough researchers with black skin in any field, then it is entirely racist. At the same time, as befits totalitarianism, those at fault start to repent. Here is a featured excerpt from an editorial in the influential American journal of biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology Cell: “We are the editors of a science journal, committed to publishing and disseminating exciting work across the biological sciences. We are 13 scientists. Not one of us is Black. Underrepresentation of Black scientists goes beyond our team—to our authors, reviewers, and advisory board. And we are not alone. It is easy to divert blame, to point out that the journal is a reflection of the scientific establishment, to quote statistics. But it is this epidemic of denial of the integral role that each and every member of our society plays in supporting the status quo by failing to actively fight it that has allowed overt and systemic racism to flourish, crippling the lives and livelihoods of Black Americans, including Black scientists. Science has a racism problem” (Cell, 2020).

Further the editors make an anti-scientific, but quite politically correct statement that “race is not genetic,” and outline a number of self-correction measures, which basically boil down to admitting black Americans to the editorial board and publishing black authors’ articles on a priority basis. This reasoning may sound progressive for Americans who have little experience of thought control. But to those who are familiar with the history of China, they strongly resemble the practice of “self-criticism” dating back to the Mao’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”

And to us in Russia, this is reminiscent of the Bolsheviks’ class approach to science, whereby they advanced the loyal “cadres” not by the color of skin, but by social origin. I myself remember the times when I had to fill in the “social origin” field in the questionnaire when enrolling at a university or applying for a job.

I came “from a family of public servants,” which was not very good because those who were “from a family of workers” had an advantage. In science, this approach precipitated terrible disasters, such as the rise of the notorious Trofim Lysenko, who declared genetics “the whore child of imperialism.” As a result, advanced Soviet genetics was devastated for decades, and many outstanding scientists perished in Stalin’s labor camps. American geneticists should remember this.

This totalitarian trend is also making its way into social science, including the study of international relations. When some advocates of the new ideology accused the influential Copenhagen School and its leaders Ole Wæver and Barry Buzan, trying to change the Western-centrist bias in the theory of international relations, of racism, of “methodological whiteness” and “anti-black thought,” it looked amusing. However, two things were disturbing. Firstly, an article criticizing their theory of “secularization” appeared in one of the leading journals in the field—Security Dialogue—published in the United States, and secondly, the article did not discuss their theory on the merits. Criticism was built in a way similar to that used in an article on harmful bourgeois philosophy used to be published by the Soviet Party propaganda journal Kommunist and well-known to us in Russia. The main idea of the authors was that “much orthodox and critical Western social and political thought is predicated upon epistemological and ontological premises that are not simply Eurocentric but racist, specifically white supremacist” (Howell and Richter-Montpetit, 2019). They proved it as follows: Authors who have ever spoken about the progressiveness of the West or Western civilization in comparison with others, including the advocates of the Enlightenment, are guilty of “civilizationism” (superiority of one civilization over another), but the basis of “civilizationism” is racism, so all theorists talking about the advantages of the Western political system such as Thomas Hobbes, Emile Durkheim, Carl Schmitt, Hanna Arendt, and Michel Foucault are racists, and those who refer to them are also racists. Clearly, these arguments have nothing to do with scientific analysis. Firstly, the authors do not define racism, and use the term ‘racist’ to refer to anyone with whom they disagree, in much the same way Bolsheviks used the term ‘enemy of the people.’ Secondly, in fact, not all supporters of enlightenment were civilizationists at all (Rousseau, for example, generally opposed civilization, and Voltaire even embellished China, using it as an example for France). Thirdly, the theory of Western superiority is not necessarily linked to racism, it can be built on a completely different basis (for example, religious or stadial). Fourthly, quoting someone, even a racist, does not mean at all that the quoting person is also a racist: at some point racism was widespread, so to some extent almost everyone was a racist, and therefore we should stop studying many of our predecessors completely. As is always the case, the article contained numerous factual errors and incorrect interpretations. For example, the statements of some authors, which Wæver and Buzan cited in the way of criticism, were portrayed in the article as reflecting the Copenhagen School’s views.

Further developments showed that the publication in Security Dialogue was by no means a single funny incident. After the start of a new wave of “anti-racist protests” in the United States, provoked by the death of George Floyd on May 25, similar works began to be published in large numbers and turned from something exotic into a routine event.

On June 4, Meredith Loken, an unknown assistant professor of the University of Massachusetts, tweeted: “Race is not a ‘perspective’ on IR to spend a week considering in class. Race is integral to the modern state system, to diplomacy, conflict, trade, global governance. Race is key to understanding how IR theory developed and consequent policy prescriptions” (Loken, 2020).

Perhaps in another situation this rather meaningless statement would have remained just an attempt by a recent graduate to create a general theory of everything on the basis of the only principle she knows, but it fit into the general trend. A few days later, in an article published on the website of the influential Foreign Policy magazine, which is close to the left-liberal establishment, she was supported by James Goldgeier, a well-known international relations expert, a Brookings Institution visiting fellow and former Dean of the American University School of International Service, and Carmen Mezzera, Executive Director of the Association of Professional Schools for International Affairs. In their policy essay titled “How to Rethink the Teaching of International Relations,” they agreed with Loken and said that curricula should focus on studying races in the first place, but could be supplemented with some other factors that are part of the new ideology: climate change, growing economic inequality, and artificial intelligence (Goldgeier and Mezzera, 2020)

On June 19, the same website published another article written by inspired Loken in cooperation with Kelebogile Zvobgo, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, and titled “Why Race Matters in International Relations: Western Dominance and White Privilege Permeate the Field.” The authors presented a new, rather ignorant, but politically correct version of world events. Arguing that “race is not a perspective on international relations; it is a central organizing feature of world politics,” they claimed that “anti-Japanese racism guided and sustained U.S. engagement in World War II,” “broader anti-Asian sentiment influenced the development and structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” and “During the Cold War, racism and anti-communism were inextricably linked in the containment strategy that defined Washington’s approach to Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.” In their opinion, today “race shapes threat perception and responses to violent extremism, inside and outside the ‘war on terror’” (Zvobgo and Loken, 2020).

Disproving each of these absurd statements would make no sense. It will just be suffice to recall their statement that the U.S.’s decision to join in World War II was somehow connected with racism, and for some reason anti-Japanese racism, although it was Japan that attacked the United States. But these statements are indicative of the level of discussion being conducted in leading American magazines.

Further, the authors, who have not yet shown their worth in science, blast three basic concepts of international relations: realism, liberalism, and constructivism, stating that all of them “are built on raced and racist intellectual foundations.” “Core concepts, like anarchy and hierarchy, are raced: They are rooted in discourses that center and favor Europe and the West. These concepts implicitly and explicitly pit ‘developed’ against ‘undeveloped,’ ‘modern’ against ‘primitive,’ ‘civilized’ against ‘uncivilized.’ And their use is racist: These invented binaries are used to explain subjugation and exploitation around the globe.”

The first two concepts “were built on Eurocentrism and used to justify white imperialism.” Constructivism “is perhaps best positioned to tackle race and racism” since “constructivists reject the as-given condition of anarchy and maintain that anarchy, security, and other concerns are socially constructed, based on shared ideas, histories, and experiences,” but all of them “rarely acknowledge how race shapes what is shared.” In conclusion, the authors demand organizational measures: to integrate the study of races and racism in all international relations programs, to recruit more “diverse” (American euphemism for nonwhites) graduate and faculty candidates for teaching them, and to make racial research a leading topic in the International Studies Association and other influential international associations and forums (Zvobgo and Loken, 2020).

On July 3, the website of the same journal published another article titled “Why Is Mainstream International Relations Blind to Racism? Ignoring the Central Role of Race and Colonialism in World Affairs Precludes an Accurate Understanding of the Modern State System,” which is a compilation of comments by nine international relations experts, who, unlike the authors of the previous article, are presented as “leading thinkers” in their field. Just like their lesser-known colleagues, they stated that understanding the modern system of interstate relations was impossible without recognizing the central role of race and colonialism (Bharma, et al., 2020).

Their statements provide some insight into how studies in international relations will evolve in the United States and Europe.

Firstly, the racial factor has been the main factor in the study of international relations at least since the formation of nation-states, and possibly even earlier. According to Gurminder Bharma, a professor at the University of Sussex, “race isn’t a factor that enters so-called nation-states from the outside. Rather, they are racialized from the very moment of their emergence as imperial polities and continue to reproduce racialized hierarchies to this day” (Bharma, et al., 2020). Racism, therefore, becomes the main factor of social development (at least since the modern era), something like class struggle was in Marxism, the Oedipus complex in Freudianism, or “gender inequality” in feminism. Races and racism will always be sought everywhere, even where they never existed, just as Marxists looked everywhere for classes and class struggle.

Secondly, racism will be understood extremely extensively, not in the usual sense as the theory of superiority of one biological race over another, but as an attempt to justify the dominance or simply the “progressiveness” of the West. From this point of view, racism is not only the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan or the colonial theory of the “white man’s burden,” but also the theory of democracy as the highest form of political system, market economy, human rights and generally everything invented in the West.

Thirdly, racial theory will be superimposed on all other “progressive” principles, such as “gender inequality,” Islamophobia, oppression of sexual minorities, class and social inequality, etc., it will become the leading one for them and will require appropriate adjustments. According to Vineet Thakur, a lecturer at Leiden University, “race almost always operates in conjunction with other categories, such as caste, class, civilization, and, in today’s context, the racialized Muslim.” Moreover, a feminist from the same university, Karen Smith, is even ready to correct her own theory in accordance with the new trends. She condemns Sweden’s progressive “feminist foreign policy” and denies the West the right to be proud of its feminism, because its absence in non-Western countries is the fault of the West itself, where things are not so good either: “The dominant brand of feminist foreign policy fails to consider seriously the racialized legacies of colonialism that lead to the conditions of gender discrimination in developing economies… A country with a feminist foreign policy often invokes its own experiences as good practice elsewhere. Yet gender discrimination is universal, and often members of minority groups within the developed economies are significantly disadvantaged by endemic racism and xenophobia” (Bharma, et al., 2020).

Fourthly, Western-centrism will be “corrected” as part of the fight against racism. According to Thakur, “to analyze racial constructions of the world, scholars’ archival gaze must expand beyond the United States and Britain. Important as it is to understand race and its role in the making of IR from the American or British perspectives, studying only these contexts excludes the people of the rest of the world.” The contribution of non-Western nations will be exaggerated in order to balance or even surpass the role of the West, as the new ideology suggests. For example, Randolf Persaud, an Assistant Professor at the American University, states that “the global subalterns and historically marginalized peoples are the ones who have pushed the international system to adopt whatever level of democratic governance exists” (Bharma, et al., 2020).

Fifthly, various forms of relativism will replace the dominant racist Western-centric theories of incremental advance prevailing since the Age of Enlightenment. Every society is good and progressive in its own way, and everyone, from cannibals to astronauts, contributes to the multicolored and harmonious life of happy humanity. According to Seifudein Adem, “the pretention of Western culture to universal validity is being challenged from the angles of cultural relativism (what is valid in one society in the West was not valid in another); historical relativism (what was valid in the West at the beginning of the 20th century was not valid in the West at the beginning of the 21st); and empirical relativism (the West often failed to live up to its own standards, and occasionally those standards were better met by other societies)… Indeed, the rejection of the process that makes all of us look similar (homogenization) while making one of us the boss (hegemonization) seems to be well underway. This is the era of the West on the defensive.” His dream is “the creation of a truly global village that is based not on cultural hierarchy but on… a combination of a global pool of achievements with local pools of distinctive innovation and tradition” (Bharma, et al., 2020).

Sixthly, according to the new theory, the concepts adopted today will be changed and the entire existing terminology, which formalizes discrimination and “white dominance,” will be revised. For example, according to Olivia Rutazibwa, a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, international relations researchers must stop using the term ‘aid’ and should instead talk about racism and “reparations.”

Seventhly, the new ideology guides specialists to correct international relations, not study them. Scholars should not only make ideologically correct moral assessments, but also become activists, because anyone who does not actively fight racism is a latent racist himself. Whoever is not with us is against us, and no one will be able to sit it out! According to one of the common tenets of the new ideology, “silence is violence,” that is, those who try to withdraw into the shadows will be judged in the same way as those engaged in counter-revolutionary activities. “IR scholars who place race, racism, and colonialism at the center of their analysis know that it is about more than acknowledging the past. The scholarly imperative is to study and question the current international system built on racial capitalism, and to imagine alternatives,” writes Rutazibwa (Bharma, et al., 2020). In Soviet ideology, this was called showing class consciousness and social activity. Karl Marx, as we all know, demanded that philosophy not explain, but change the world, and the principal of my secondary school developed this idea further to go as far as saying that mathematics should be based on the party spirit.

Eighthly, dissenters will be dealt with in a way described by Adem, reminding one of the compulsory treatment of dissidents in Soviet mental hospitals: “For many around the world, the moral disease of racism needs to be confronted as vehemently as the physical disease now sweeping around” (Bharma, et al., 2020).

Like any ideology, the new theory of universal racism consists of three parts: correct and justified elements; meaningless elements; and utterly absurd, extremely harmful and dangerous elements. Just like with any ideology, the enforcement of this one will create even more problems rather than solve existing ones. The real problem of white racism did exist, but only during a certain historical period (19th and the 20th centuries), and only in some countries of Europe, Southern Africa and the U.S. In other parts of the world, racism as an idea of ​ superiority based on skin color was absent throughout most of history. It did not exist either in the great ancient empires, or in the Middle Ages, or in most countries and regions of the world later. There is no white racism anywhere today, including the U.S. and Europe, at least in the form of influential political movement, let alone public policy, there are only marginalized racist groups, but black racism is much more widespread and gaining momentum. The last states based on racial segregation (Rhodesia and South Africa) disappeared in the 20th century. Of course, various forms of discrimination always existed and still exist now. Peoples or their parts were discriminated against on ethnic, social, class, religious and other grounds. There has always been xenophobia, ideas of cultural and civilizational superiority (as, for example, in ancient Greece or traditional China), superiority of religion (for example, in Christian Europe or Muslim Asia) or political system (“Western democracy” or Soviet “socialism”). All this could cause international conflicts, but calling it racism is completely baseless and, in academic terms, will lead to incorrect explanations and misunderstanding of reality, including by politicians. This has always happened to ideologists, like Soviet leaders, who could not understand why the world was not striving to embrace the most progressive socialist state, or American ideologists of democratization, who are now unable to explain the current crisis of confidence in their supposedly ideal political system.

Why would anyone want to trumpet nonexistent white racism, even if it still exists in some remote parts of the United States, but certainly has no influence on foreign policy? Two movements, merged into one powerful stream, are interested in this in the West.

Firstly, these are left-wing forces that have always existed in the West in a rather marginal form, but have become much stronger in recent decades when new people joined it. These are people who are dissatisfied with globalization, who see no place for themselves in oligarchic multinational companies, which have secured huge super profits for themselves and their employees, but at the same time have maintained a decent standard of living and taken over the system of education, primarily universities. These are the children of liberals from the hippie generation of the 1980s, some of whom have become professors and others have joined liberal parties. Fyodor Dostoevsky described these two generations in Russia perfectly: old liberals and young revolutionaries. Both stand for left-liberal values, want to rebuild society “according to justice,” but young people can no longer wait, they believe that it cannot get any worse, and so the current devilish society must be destroyed most decisively. Hence the unwillingness to condemn riots and rioters, who, as Russian revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin said, by destroying society become the natural allies of revolutionaries.

Secondly, these are immigrants from former colonies and their descendants, who brought to Western universities and political life the “postcolonial syndrome”—a myth that the West always conquered and oppressed, that before colonialism the non-Western world lived in prosperity, peace and harmony, and then the Western conquerors came, bringing terrible stagnation and humiliation and grabbing all resources, and therefore they are in debt to the former colonies. True, colonialism was an unpleasant phenomenon, but it must be considered in a historical context, and the pre-colonial period in the non-Western world must also be studied realistically. Just like Western countries, non-Western nations often conquered and oppressed each other, and slavery existed there regardless of the West.

Until recently, this “third world” ideology, which often justified its own inability to create an effective economy and political system, mainly served to legitimize local, often corrupt, ruling elites in post-colonial states, and did not have much influence in the West. The flow of immigrants to Europe and the United States and their universities transferred it to the West, where it merged with local leftist ideology and its advocates. The rightist-globalist economic policy that dominated the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was taken as the end of non-Western history and the triumph of “market economy” and “Western democracy,” actually expanded the social base of left-wing and post-colonial ideology. In the United States, the fight against racism has always been part of it. From the U.S. as the cultural center of the West, the theory of racism as the central element of left-wing liberal ideology spread to Europe, where historically white racism had never had deep roots. Now the fight against racism is a fashion thing, spreading like a snowball, gradually overshadowing and taking over other elements of left-wing liberalism, making them its parts: feminism, LGBT ideology, the fight against “Islamophobia,” hatred of Israel, etc.

What do we, Russian foreign relations specialists, do with all this? First of all, it is necessary to understand that the situation is quite serious and draw several conclusions.

First. The West (the U.S. and Europe) are no longer free societies. No matter how difficult it will be for many of our political scientists and international relations experts, who have built their entire careers by copying Western-centrist theories, to admit, it is a fact that is already hard to deny. The level of freedom in the United States and Western Europe is, of course, higher in certain ways than in some other countries, but the overall balance is not as evident as it was a few decades ago. In comparison with Russia, the modern United States may be somewhat better off in terms of political freedoms, separation of powers and judicial independence. However, Russia is much freer than the United States in terms of the freedom of speech in general. In Russia, no one gets fired for “wrong” opinions on such issues as relations between genders, races or nationalities, there is no “cancel culture” (campaigns to condemn and boycott a person who expressed the “wrong” opinion in social networks), and no one is censured here for “cultural appropriation” (for example, for performing a song of another nationality), and much more.

Second. Universities in Russia are also much freer than in the U.S. and Western Europe where they have turned into places where lecturers and students are forced to repent and get expelled for inadvertent remarks. Here is one of the recent examples. On June 19 of this year, the dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts was fired. Her only fault was that, while condemning violence against blacks, she wrote the wrong slogan in an electronic message: that not only “Black Lives Matter,” but “All Lives Matter.” She was immediately removed from her post by the faculty management after a student had complained about her narrow-mindedness (Rambaran, 2020). A little earlier, in February, Peter Gade, director of graduate studies for the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma, compared the phrase “OK, boomer” to the N-word (that is, the long-banned word “negro” or worse still “nigger”). It turned out that these words could not be used at all, even as a negative example. Despite quick repentance (just like during China’s Cultural Revolution) Professor Gade was forbidden to teach and ordered to enroll in a program of culturally competent communication and meet in individual sessions with the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (George Orwell’s predictions coming true) (Jaschik, 2020). There are hundreds of such examples in today’s United States. In Russia, no one will even pay attention to such “offences.” Russian universities have virtually no practice of “non-platforming” (denying people with incorrect views the right to speak) or “safe spaces,” meaning that students should not be told anything that could somehow offend or hurt someone (for example, inquire about one’s nationality or native language).

Third. Because of public censorship and self-censorship, Western human science is assuming the form of sheer ideology, and its products are turning into a set of ideological clichés. There is no point in following it. Naturally, it is necessary to know what is happening within it, but it would be senseless and harmful to use publications in censored Western journals as a guideline for all Russian science. This will only make Russian research much less free and independent. If one has to publish works in English, there are better possibilities such as India, where universities are much more democratic. Moreover, in the new situation Russian research centers, universities and academic journals, especially those published in English, may prove to be a unique free territory and actively attract Western colleagues ostracized for ideological reasons, banned from teaching or experiencing difficulty publishing their works at home.

Fourth. The problem of Western centrism does exist in modern international studies. It is true that almost all theories of international relations, just like other theories of social sciences, are based on the enlightening paradigm of social progress, which was led by Europe, and later by the United States. But the ideology of universal racism not only fails to solve this problem, but essentially consolidates American centrism by extrapolating the local American and partially Western European problem of racism to the entire world history, inflating it to the extent where it turns into the main, dominant factor of social development. This is a typical example of a long-known phenomenon in political science—consolidation of the old system of views through denial with the opposite sign, while preserving its structure. White racism is replaced with black racism and Western centrism gives way to non-Western centrism, but the very idea of racial superiority as well as progressive and regressive parts of the world remains. Previous racists claimed that the white race brought the light of civilization to the backward peoples of the world. The new ones blame it of enslaving and destroying other races that would otherwise have lived in perfect peace and harmony, and it is only this violence that should be studied in international relations.

Imposing momentary “discoveries” and “insights” upon the whole world is a characteristic feature of Western culture. At first it was the theory of the superiority of Christian civilization, then the “white man’s burden” helping unfortunate savages around the world to rise to his level, and after World War II the values ​​of “democracy” and “free market,” which were imposed on everyone, regardless of whether they led to the prosperity or collapse of non-Western political systems. This is when Soviet Union fell apart and Russian political science formed, with former teachers of scientific communism and researchers of “bourgeois societies” quickly turning into political scientists, who built a new ideology of reverse sign rather than real science. It filled Russian universities, which actively began to teach the theory of universal “democratic transition” instead of “building a communist society,” the middle class as the social base of democracy instead of the proletariat as the creator of communism, and universal privatization instead of nationalization as a panacea for all economic problems. This ideology led to deep intellectual stagnation, and attempts to apply it in practice resulted first in excessive dependence on the West and the economic collapse of the 1990s, and then in the emergence of the current political and economic system as a reaction to that dependence.

Attempts by the same people in both the West and Russia to change and impose on Russia and the world a new mixture of left-wing liberalism, corrected Marxism, political correctness and the universal theory of racism as the newest achievement of Western thought will have even graver consequences.

The idea that whites are better than savages is no worse than the theory that non-whites are better than whites and everyone should immediately rush to blot out “whiteness” from history and public life. Structurally, they are identical and testify to the totalitarian consciousness of their advocates.

Meanwhile, the experience of successfully developing countries with different political systems (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, etc.) shows that they did not copy Western development concepts or some other theories in full, but combined various elements of foreign and their own traditions, thus providing adequate tools for analyzing realities in their own societies. Russian social scientists should do the same.

Fifth. Relying on their own tradition and its inherent international nature, Russian scientists can play a leading role in criticizing this new American centrism and reverse racism, maintaining objectivity and normality in international studies. This must be done in a way that would preserve the traditions of discipline, not unceremoniously, but decisively, calling illiterate nonsense what it really is. Personnel selection in Western universities is beginning to proceed in the same way it was done in Stalin’s Soviet Union: those who shout slogans louder get a promotion, and these are, of course, those who are not able to conduct serious research, but see a new, easier way to make a career. Opponents are fired, and even those who disagree at heart are forced to make the right statements and pretend to be active fighters for new ideals. In Russia, where there has never been state or politically significant racism, there is no need to do the West’s bidding and urgently search for it everywhere, as particularly zealous Westernizers are looking for constant oppression of women or homosexuals in Russia. This does not mean, of course, that there were no other types of oppression in Russia. There was both class and religious inequality, and serfdom (almost slavery), but none of them was based on racism. In the 18th century, a black person of African origin Abram Gannibal rose to the rank of general in Russia, held high government positions, and no one paid much attention to the color of his skin. And there have always been more than enough ethnic Buryats, Kalmyks and other representatives of the Mongoloid race among the Russian elite. The Western-centrist bias must be corrected not by fighting non-existent racism, but in a completely different way, by gradually introducing more information about the non-Western world into history and international relations courses, and bringing more non-Western factors into the theory of international relations. But the non-Western world must be studied objectively, not by adjusting facts to the new ideology.

In studying international relations, it is necessary to rely on both existing Western theories and on the Russian school, which is in no way inferior to the Western one. In addition, non-Western approaches, both modern and traditional (for example, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, etc.), should be incorporated into general theoretical constructs. This will expand the Russian approach and make it more objective. Moreover, what is happening in the modern West must be considered with sadness and hope that Western science will not finally veer onto the path of ideologization and will not turn into a new edition of race-based Lysenkoism.

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References

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Cell, 2020. Science Has a Racism Problem. Editorial. Cell, 181, 25 June, p.1443. Available at: <https://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(20)30740-6.pdf>

Goldgeier, J. and Mezzera, C.I., 2020. How to Rethink the Teaching of International Relations. Foreign Policy, 12 June [online]. Available at: <https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/12/how-to-rethink-the-teaching-of-international-relations/>

Hedeman, M. and Kristoffersen, M., 2020. Art History Department to Scrap Survey Course. Yale News, 24 January [online]. Available at: <https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/01/24/art-history-department-to-scrap-survey-course/>

Howell, A. and Richter-Montpetit, M., 2019. Is Securitization Theory Racist? Civilizationism, Methodological Whiteness, and Antiblack Thought in the Copenhagen School. Security Dialogue, Vol. 51(1), pp.3–22. First published online 7 August.

Jaschik, S., 2020. Professor Removed from Teaching This Semester After Using N-Word. Inside Higher Ed, 17 February. Available at: <https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/02/17/professor-removed-teaching-semester-after-using-n-word>

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Rambaran, V., 2020. Dean Fired after Saying ‘Black Lives matter,’ but also ‘Everyone’s life matters’ in email. Foxnews.com. Available at: <https://www.foxnews.com/us/dean-fired-after-saying-black-lives-matter-but-also-everyones-life-matters-in-email>

Zvobgo, K. and Loken, M., 2020. Why Race Matters in International Relations: Western Dominance and White Privilege Permeate the Field. It’s Time to Change That. Foreign Policy, 19 June [online]. Available at: <https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/19/why-race-matters-international-relations-ir/>

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