Article by Arta Moeini, who is research director at the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy
The demise of the Soviet Union eliminated one of the faces of the modern Janus that was the postwar ideological international order. Unipolarity made the ideological Manichaeism on which post-Enlightenment modernity functions much harder to sustain. As one form of universalism—liberalism—eliminated its competition for world domination, it paradoxically lifted the mental fog of ideology, permitting the return of particularity—rootedness, locality, community, and civilization. Hence, the conditions unleashed by unipolarity proved salutary for concrete instantiations of life in the world’s most prominent cultures and civilizations, allowing these culture-complexes space to reanimate and revive themselves in their particular spheres.
This process has been at work for decades, recasting politics around the world and revivifying traditions, peoples, and different forms of life. Only in America and within its liberal imperial domain, the ruling class has continued to resist these shifts, using its vast resources to insist on old utopian ideals and demanding still more globalism and homogeneity. Just as Russia was co-opted by the Leninist ideology, so has America been reduced into a vessel for liberalism and devolved into a propositional state. America has ideologized itself into a universal category—as yet another “ism”: “Americanism”—that is but a euphemism for liberalism, disembodying the nation into the bargain. In so doing, the world’s last ideological empire has united the non-Western civilizations in resistance.
America’s categorical mistakes notwithstanding, the systemic international trends that have accelerated multipolarity and weakened ideological hegemony show no signs of subsiding. Together they point to the dawn of a new world: a global realignment, away from universalist aspirations and marking the beginning of a post-ideological age, where concrete interests and particular loyalties will once more trump abstract principles and utopian commitments. Once the dust of tragedy settles, the Ukraine crisis will be remembered as ideology’s last stand, a herald for this coming new world order. America’s leaders would be wise to adapt to this new reality, instead of insisting on conducting foreign policy through tired shibboleths and expired ideological constructs.