Why Russiagate Needs a “Constructivist Analysis”


Right now, President Trump and colleagues are under fire for speculated “collusion” with the Russian state to undermine the democratic procedures of the 2016 presidential election, one of America’s most shocking elections, the one most insiders thought Hillary Clinton would decisively win. The story of the day may well be about how the Clinton administration sought revenge for a near death experience under the hands of an offensive Trump campaign and manufactured a neo-mccarthyist scare to get back. The story for the annals, however, is about how Russiagate embodies anxieties about America’s control over a multipolar world order and its determination to drive the narrative, maintain illusions of a bipolar world order where it stands triumphant, makes the rules.

The “end of history” narrative, as intellectual historian Francis Fukuyama spoke to a need to reappraise the Marxist-Hegelian worldview after 1991, builds a tidy picture, the ideological conflicts about the proper organisation of society resolved by the main winner capitalism, evidenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union. This narrative, heavily biased by ideological commitments, encoded with hegemonic power, plays a key role in the continuation of NATO, its interventions in the collapse of Yugoslavia and later the Middle East. On their view, American power in the world order remained a lynchpin of freedom worldwide, as it may face new existential threats even after communism became a ghost.

After the year 2000, the US empire sought to crusade against another fifth column in its spheres of influence as part of its stated (but questionable) historic commitments to protect freedom domestically, by expanding liberal constitutions by force globally. Unfortunately the military-led process of regime change in the Middle East rejected the move of interventions based on international law and democratic deliberation, contravened best practice maxims of global constitutionalism, and yet sought enough funds to keep the war factory in business from taxes from people who did not order fire on civilians or austerity at home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, disenchantment and disenfranchisement with democracy rose sharply in this period.

Enter constructivism, an oblique academic niche in international relations theory with yet a rich perspective on contemporary American geopolitics. In constructivism consists a far different, depreciated view of the role of states and their material capabilities in galvanising events in world politics than realism. As part of its worldview constructivism upholds the core significance of symbolic, ideational factors in creating geopolitical outcomes. For example, if agenda setting states create status symbols out of nuclear technology, smaller states will aspire to follow their lead, assuming geopolitical advantage was important to them. Primacy is given to ideational, not material factors, although the latter is accounted for.

Powerful offices associated with the Clinton administration know that spending billions on a manufactured scare could actually fortify their economic security in the long run by creating a satisfying illusion of continuity of US-centrism in a world order bearing the revolution of decentralised regionalism. By expanding the cold war, by accelerating the witch-hunt for Russian defectors and by increasing the rhetoric of invasion, the liberal plutocrats who are an ossified class in America will achieve significant dividends: the people’s understanding of, support for, a multipolar world order where the BRICs and regionalism triumph over the old empires will drop significantly if they believe this mean feat of perception management.

Russiagate is one of a litany of examples of elites contriving belligerent narratives, encoded with symbolic and hegemonic ideas, to create, recreate acquiescence of the masses in their warped worldview and agenda. Because the American state thinks, has thought, long will think, strategically about how to maintain its supremacy globally, we know it may be so shrewd as to develop and agenda to create the illusion that the world order of multipolar power and regionalism is an anachronism, when in all truth, the opposite is true.


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Articles by: Megan Sherman

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