“The capitalist system is exhausting itself and may destroy us.”

“The capitalist system is exhausting itself and may destroy us.”

BarcelonaAntoni Segura Mas (Barcelona, ​​1952) dared to embody in the book the history of his generation, the generation born after the Second World War and who saw the world changing under their feet. Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Barcelona and President of CIDOB, desgrana a the world today. From the Cold War to the challenges of global interdependence (UB Editions) How he saw the world changing from his perspective: “An ancient people in the western Mediterranean, with a language, a culture, but no state.” At a time when the wise are lacking, it is stimulating to delve into the book's nearly 1,200 pages to consider the direction humanity is headed. A great work of lifelong study: the history lived by the historian.

Does the war in Gaza prove that the law of the strongest in today’s world prevails?

The big difference between the Cold War and now is that before conflicts were organized. There was a certain order, the result of deterrence between the two superpowers, that was less dramatic than it seemed, and where everyone somehow knew what was at stake. Now what creates uncertainty, insecurity, is that we don't know how to resolve conflicts, they get out of control. Netanyahu is able to belittle UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who tells him that even wars have laws. We have never seen this level of disdain for the United Nations. There was a great deal of irony in the Cold War: in 1956 Stalin was putting down revolution in Hungary while France and the United Kingdom were attacking Egypt in the Suez Crisis. In 1968, we witnessed the Prague Spring as well as the massacre at the Plaza of the Three Cultures in Mexico. They used to hide each other's shame, but now the shame is no longer hidden. We are in a very complex moment.

Is it reasonable to recognize the Palestinian state now?

– I think so. This does not mean that it is a magic solution: we will continue to confront the problem of the 750,000 settlers, the borders, and the refugees… but we will put the two sectors of the conflict on an equal footing politically. I think this is important for the future. It may be of little use, but we now only have one actor recognized by the international community. It seems to me that Sanchez's position in this case is correct. Not in other cases, and not when you talk about Catalonia either, but in this case she is right and brave. It is possible that the conflict this time will change some things, because the damage to Israel's reputation is so great. What is happening in Gaza is nonsense.

The other war that characterizes the world today, at least in Europe, is the Ukraine war. We see the revival of NATO and how Europe is re-arming itself in the face of the Russian threat. Are we going back to the Cold War?

– No, we're talking about something else. There is no doubt that the weakness of Boris Yeltsin's two terms was used to attack Russia: it was the opportunity that the European Union and the United States had been waiting for, because it was known that the privatization of what had been a state-owned economy opened windows of investment and opportunities for atrocities. But this does not deny that every country has the right to freely decide what it wants to be when it grows up and which friends and neighbors it wants to have. It is the same thing that I defend in the case of Catalonia: the cornerstone of freedoms is the right of citizens to decide. Everything else comes later.

Now increasingly voices of European leaders are warning that Europe must prepare for war with Russia.

– From the point of view of the left, we have a contradiction, because we are clearly against war and weapons policies, but we are starting to believe that if Trump wins, if the European Union does not control Ukraine, Putin will collapse. From here, it's a long way from us. From France a little less, but from Poland it is different. The matter is also different from the Scandinavian countries: the accession of Sweden and Finland, after 200 years of neutrality policies, to NATO is one of the most important changes in recent years. Perhaps this should make us think: This does not mean that we must adopt a policy of unlimited armaments, but that Europe must work to solve the problem of how to act in the face of aggressive movements such as those of Russian imperialism. To do so only through sanctions is tantamount to titillating him. I don't have the answers, but I know we have to find some way that allows us, without becoming overarmed, to deal with some crisis situations. It is clear to me that right now Putin must be stopped at all costs because if he ends Ukraine, I don't know what would happen. Moldova's days are already numbered.

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But you say that the main conflict today is not with Russia, but with China.

– Yes. This is why I believe we are not heading towards World War III. China, at the moment, is not interested in war. Simply because it is the world's leading exporting country, and if there is one thing that exports are not good for, it is wars. China is skeptical of the liberal order, which was a series of rather unfair rules that generated inequality. For example: In the IMF or World Bank, in theory, countries have a vote based on their contribution. It's a weighted vote. But when you look at the list, you find that the representation enjoyed by countries like China or India is unacceptable. Because in 1945 they may have been developing countries, but now they are great powers. This is why China is demanding more proportional representation, especially given countries like France, which is no longer a great power, or the United Kingdom, which is in the same situation – although it has not discovered it yet. On the other hand, China is creating a whole series of alternative institutions that perform the same functions, largely oriented towards what we call the Global South, such as the Great Silk Road Belt or the New Development Bank. But the dark part of this story is that China has become a kind of anti-Western model for the liberal order. The model behind it is still the one-party dictatorship, with Xi Jinping's friendly, unmoving smile. Russia is a power on its way to rapid decline.

Am I Europe?

– The drama of the European Union is that it is the third economic power in the world, but it is unable to translate this into political terms. Since there is no political way for us to agree on many aspects, especially on foreign policy, we go on as we go. It may be worse in the United Kingdom, which left the country, because it is very cold outside, which even the European far right understood. That's why Meloni doesn't want to leave: he will say he doesn't want to give up sovereignty or accept too much interference from the Brussels bureaucracy, but he knows that traveling alone around the world is too complicated.

How does he see the world in the hands of Trump and Putin?

– It scares me. The first drama in the United States: That the presidential elections for the world's first economic and military power will be between Biden and Trump is a priceless drama. Does the Democratic Party have no one else? Trump is sexist, authoritarian, and white supremacist, but he is not stupid.

In the book, he talks about predatory capitalism and the triple crisis: the pandemic, the economy, and the climate.

— It is all one crisis that occurred in the 1980s in the so-called conservative revolution of Ronald Reagan and Richard Thatcher, which meant the liberalization of finance capital. This is what has brought us to a state of fragility. Between 1986 and the 2008 crisis, the global economy tripled, and financial movements multiplied eighty-fold. But what is important is the real economy: the rest is stacks based on shares upon shares, and insurance upon insurance. Capital needs to give returns to shareholders and investors, and it ends up doing stupid things like giving mortgages to unemployed people, and then it goes bad. At the same time, changes are occurring in the productive system due to massive and intensive production that is changing the environment, while global warming continues to worsen. And all these changes shake up viruses. Ultimately, all of this is part of one crisis: this regime is losing momentum and may end up killing us. If we react, I don't know.

It seems like a disaster.

– The usual thing in the universe is the stones orbiting the stars. The difference is that someone explains it. It is clear that we have the capacity for environmental or nuclear self-destruction. If we destroy ourselves, nothing will happen. The stones will continue to orbit around the stars.

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