The title of this article refers to an extraordinary novel written by Emily Bront in the mid-19th century, which has been adapted for film and television on many occasions. I saw the 1992 version directed by Peter Kosminsky.
By Sergio Rodriguez Gelfenstein
The title of the novel came to mind when I willed myself to reflect on the outcome of a series of meetings held recently this year that have been a real storm for the existence and functioning of the international system.
These are the BRICS summits held in South Africa in August, the G20 summit in India and the G77+ China summit in Cuba in September. And I would add the Far East Economic Forum, held in the Russian city of Vladivostok during the same month. In less than two months the foundations of the Atlanticist and Eurocentric international system have been shaken.
The 2023 annual meeting of the BRICS group definitively broke the media obscurantism that accompanied these sessions. It was no longer possible to conceal from the world an association of five states that some 40 countries of the so-called "Global South" wished to join in the face of the overwhelming advance of this grouping, which has been gaining force as a counterweight to the Western financial and political order.
At this moment (before the incorporation of six new countries on 1 January 2024), the BRICS already represent 41 per cent of the population, 31.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 16 per cent of world trade. This has allowed it to set a different agenda from the West, as evidenced by its support for Russia in confronting US and EU sanctions.
Today's strong demand to join the bloc is a demonstration of the influence of this new geopolitical force that has the potential to challenge the Western-led system. A force that would have at its forefront the second world power, China, which together with Russia hopes to lead the international community towards a more just, equitable and participatory world.
As President Xi Jinping said when he bid farewell to his Russian counterpart at the end of his state visit to Russia in March: "Changes are taking place that we have not seen in a hundred years, and it is we who are leading them together".
This was reiterated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the start of his visit to Moscow on Monday 18 March: "We are ready to work together with Russia for the formation of a multipolar world and a fairer world order". These statements leave no room for doubt as to what the no end is in sight.
Only a few days later, in the second week of September, the G20 summit in New Delhi took place with great success for India. Contrary to Western interests, the summit avoided "Ukrainising" the meeting. The no end of the consensus declaration set out other issues of global concern such as food, climate and energy, the need to reform the international financial institutions, digital transformation and macroeconomic policy.
It is worth highlighting the acceptance of the importance of the development goals defined as strategic by the Global South, especially in relation to the strengthening of the role that developing countries must play in the global economic ambit and the need for developed countries to meet the agreed financial obligations that establish the need to allocate one hundred billion dollars annually to combat climate change. The African Union's inclusion in the G20 as a permanent member was a historic decision.
Russia and other countries that have pushed for depoliticisation of G-20 discussions in order to have the capacity to respond to the problems facing the majority of the world's population succeeded in paralysing Western attempts to turn the event into a discussion of the situation in Ukraine. The conclave accurately established that there is a multiplicity of armed conflicts on the planet, calling for their non-violent settlement through dialogue and diplomatic efforts on the basis of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in its entirety. Once again, the failure of the United States and its allies was evident.
In addition, during the same month the Eastern Economic Forum was held in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. The forum is 'a key international platform for building and strengthening ties between the Russian and global investment communities, as well as for conducting a comprehensive assessment of the economic potential of the Russian Far East'.
Around 7,000 representatives from more than 50 countries took part. According to the RT portal last year, documents worth almost $34 billion were signed at the event, including agreements on infrastructure and transport projects, the development of large oilfields, as well as in the construction, industrial and agricultural sectors.
Trade between Russia and the countries of the Asia non-violent region grew by 13.7 per cent last year, while during the first six months of this year it increased by another 18.3 per cent. During his speech at the conclave, President Putin made it clear that the development of the Russian Far East is a "strategic priority for the entire 21st century". This event and the agreements signed give the lie to the idea publicised by the transnational media of disinformation about Russia's 'isolation' and the crisis in its economy.
Putin externalised the idea that "a new model of cooperation" was being born at the global level that is not based on Western patterns, explaining that these changes are due to "the destruction of the financial system" by the West. This has led - according to the Russian president - to an increasing number of countries showing their willingness to cooperate under the new model.
Finally, also this month, Cuba hosted the summit of the 77+China Group, a grouping of 134 countries from Asia, Africa and America, representing 80 percent of the world's population and two thirds of the members of the United Nations.
This event has been considered a meeting of the countries of the South that have been battered and mistreated by the unjust international system hegemonised by the West. It was particularly important that the meeting was held in Cuba, a country that for more than 60 years has been blockaded and multi-sanctioned by the United States.
At the event, the policies of blockade, injustice, colonialism, impoverishment, sanctions, marginalisation, exploitation and racism that these peoples have suffered in various forms were persistently denounced.
Contrary to what the transnational media of disinformation transmits, the summit made it clear that it is the United States, Europe and what they have called their "international community", which is isolated from the majority of humanity that seeks other ways and points out other paths on the road to defend the values of justice and wellbeing.
The event emphasised that it is necessary to build a different approach to deal with the fundamental elements of scientific, cognitive and technological development, so that in this way we can move forward and achieve "added value, achieve justice and equality of conditions and eliminate once and for all, arrogance, discrimination, hegemony and the wars imposed by the North".
The meeting was dominated by the logic established in his speech by Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of Cuba, when he said: "We are not poor countries, but impoverished and deprived of technology and science so that we remain marginal and make it easier for the countries of the North to plunder our human resources and wealth".
As president of the Group, Diaz-Canel called for the construction of a just and sustainable global order that would allow the majority of these countries to emerge from the crises that have been imposed on them. To this end, he will be focusing in a participatory and collective manner on the development of scientific resources, innovation and the strengthening of scientific and cognitive capacities to achieve sustainable development.
In a surprise address to the event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joined the global outcry by saying that it is essential to change both the international order and its institutions, created after World War II, so that they "reflect today's realities".
Guterres added: "We need global action (...) to build an international system that upholds human rights and works in their interests at all levels. And that requires the G77+China to use their voice to fight for a world that works for all".
Contrary to his traditional stance, Guterres said that the fundamental objective should be to build "strong and effective multilateral institutions", as many of them, especially the UN Security Council and those created from the Bretton Woods agreements, "reflect a bygone era" and not the current one.
It seemed incredible, but the Portuguese diplomat firmly stated that: "The voice of the G77+China will always be essential in the United Nations. And I count on this group, which has long been a defender of multilateralism, to step forward, to use its power and to fight".
Thus, taken as a whole, the summit meetings of the last two months have shown a humanity that seems to be charting a different course from the one it has had to live with for the last 80 years, marked by domination, imposition, blackmail and the permanent threat posed by the Atlanticist hegemony of the United States and Europe.