China, Politics, Security, Top Stories, World Affairs

Is China the Governance of the Future?

In his 2009 book When China Rules the World, Martin Jacques notes with satisfaction that “as a Chinese world order begins to take shape, the American world order is eroding with remarkable speed.” His widely praised book is highly complimentary to the present Chinese polity and to its president, Xi Jinping—Jacques sees the huge nation as an example to developing countries, especially in its creation of what he calls a “proactive, competent, and strategic state.”

Jacques is one of the most enthusiastic boosters of China in the West, and his book aims to show that an increasingly dynamic China will soon lay a claim to global hegemony. Since its publication, he has increasingly acted as the country’s promoter, welcoming its growing strength and hoping it will take its rightful throne as soon as may be. His commentary does make clear, although without adverse comment, that China lacks democratic institutions. Nevertheless, his emphasis is on its efficiency and its strategic thinking—an ability, he writes, that the US, “locked in old ways of thinking” and with “hardened arteries,” no longer possesses.

As time has passed, Jacques has only become more bullish about China’s rise. In a recent video for China Daily, the hardline English language state newspaper, he forecasts that China’s world dominance will be complete by 2030. In the accompanying text, he adds that “the fact is that an international system led by China and the developing world will be much superior to one characterised by Western dominance, with the US and Europe accounting for less than 15 percent of the world population.” With charts and graphs, he stresses that China now leads the US in GDP as measured by purchasing power parity (it has since 2014) and will, in the next decade, overtake it on nominal GDP as well. Jacques believes that China is a “good global citizen,” even though it had no say in developing the rules which govern global relations. He finds it “disgraceful” that Western states, led by the US, blame China for its management of the pandemic. On the contrary, it has, he says, been wholly responsible and performed much better in dealing with COVID-19 than any other country.

Jacques’s work—When China Rules the World has been a bestseller—is not just an unusually strong endorsement from a Western source of wildly successful economic policies, it is also a forecast coupled with a recommendation that China’s system of rule ought to become universal. In the light of China’s success, and the West’s weakness—which Jacques stresses is already evident and will become more pronounced over the next decade—it’s necessary to take his position seriously. Is he right on the central issue? Is China’s rule the prime example for the future, and indeed an inevitable destination for Western states? And will Western populations, increasingly sceptical of the actions and characters of their politicians, turn to an illiberal system of enlightened, highly educated technocrats which cancels the disputes, delays, compromises, and grandstanding of competitive representative politics?

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The reduction in China’s poverty has been without parallel. The country’s opening to a semi-market economy allowed it to lift 850 million people out of poverty in the quarter-century before 2005. The UN Development Programme’s discussion paper on “China, the Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda” states:

Over a relatively short time span starting from China’s reform and opening-up since late 1970s, China has substantially reduced extreme poverty, infant, child, and maternal mortality rates; increased access to primary and secondary education; and made important gains in gender equality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. This means that millions of people now have a steady supply of healthy food, safe drinking water, reliable shelter, and sanitation facilities. It also means that boys and girls have equal opportunities to receive education from the primary level to university, which can lead to better jobs and steady income for their families.

The improvement in peoples’ working lives, security, opportunities for education, leisure, and more fulfilling and equal personal relationships have been immense. The Chinese Communist Party introduced and controlled the opening of the economy, and with these reforms it made massive gains in credibility and public support, and continues to do so. Its credibility was in need of rescue. During the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1962, imposed by then-Party leader Mao Zedong, deaths from the resulting famine totalled somewhere between 15 million (the official estimate) and 45 million, a figure estimated from later research by Frank Dikötter, author of Mao’s Great Famine. And with the starvation came a wave of brutality, commanded by the Party, in which 2–3m were executed or tortured to death for the slightest infraction.

It seems that the turn to the market has worked. From my own limited contacts, mainly with Chinese journalists some years ago, many take the view that China’s increased wealth, social stability, and global status mean they can trust the Party, or at least acquiesce in its rule. A few—often without jobs in journalism due to past excesses of investigative zeal—mourn the passing of a period of relative freedom for their trade from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. But they count for little to a leadership which presides over a media world in which—as Xi emphasized soon after taking the presidency—the Communist Party is firmly in control, not just of Party media but of all media. David Bandurski, the editor of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, has said that “the sense is, ‘we own you, we run you, we tell you how things work. The party is the centre, and you serve our agenda.’ This is much more central now, and it’s being defined for all media platforms, from social media to commercial media.”

What has emerged under Xi is an approach that rests on four mutually supportive pillars. These are:

  • Leninism, the central and unopposable power of the Communist Party over every facet of Chinese life.
  • Confucianism, recently pressed into service, its main characteristics of loyalty, consideration, and righteousness emphasised in ways that make them appear a good fit with communism.
  • Capitalism, disguised as “communism with Chinese characteristics” and kept in check by the widely understood proviso that the party will always retain control over even the most powerful corporation.
  • Rissentiment, or the assignation of one’s frustration or opposition to a particular cause. In China’s case, this cause is its “years of humiliation” at the hands of Western imperialists in the decades of the latter half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th—a way of strengthening nationalist feeling through hatred of foreign enemies.

In a recent book entitled The Rise of the Civilizational State, the London School of Economics international relations scholar Christopher Coker emphasises that communism in China is an ironic conception, given its promotion of free market individualism; that its definition of Confucianism excises the philosophy’s central concern, that of the need for justice; and that its version of past humiliations, weaponised to rouse the indignation of its citizens, rests on much bad history. Still, it works well, and underpins the Party’s claims to legitimacy and demands for obedience. And its future as a “far superior” global hegemon? The reason for believing that this will come to be seen widely as a model to copy lies in China’s success in achieving vastly ambitious goals under the proactive guidance of its unique governance. It is thus arguably in much better shape to face the constellation of threats, many of them existential, than Western governments which presently stumble with only one of these—the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the United States, the presidency of Donald Trump has degraded executive power and widened existing splits in the country. In an essay for Foreign Affairs, Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman write that:

[Previous] crises of democracy did not occur randomly. Rather, they developed in the presence of one or more of four specific threats: political polarization, conflict over who belongs in the political community, high and growing economic inequality, and excessive executive power. When those conditions are absent, democracy tends to flourish. When one or more of them are present, democracy is prone to decay. Today, for the first time in its history, the United States faces all four threats at once.

The European Union has not, in more than a half-century, succeeded in becoming the federal state its founders—and American administrations—wished it to be. Its foreign policy is weak, it has no unified military, and it remains dependent on NATO—that is, the US—for defence. Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, discreetly the most powerful figure in Europe, will not seek re-election next year. The French president Emmanuel Macron is positioning himself as the leader of a more unified Europe—a move that is unlikely to be accepted—while continuing to face strong domestic opposition. The UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson presently faces growing opposition to a haphazard governing style, while Britain’s exit from the EU, voted for in a 2016 referendum, will be disruptive to its economy, at least in the short term. All EU states face continuing waves of COVID-19, and when these subside, all will face vast debts and reduced GDP (while China’s GDP is forecast to increase, even if only at one percent, in 2021).

The problems facing the globe will tend to force governments to exercise greater control over their populations. The coming crises, which could lead to popular demands for more state intervention and control, include the following:

  • Climate change: The remedies required by global warming will include draconian measures, some of which will result from public demand. If temperatures rise between one and three degrees centigrade, there will be heavier rainfalls leading to more frequent and larger floods; droughts will become more common; the sea levels will rise by between one and eight feet by 2100; the Arctic could be largely ice-free by 2050 and summers’ heat will be more and more extreme. All of these developments will call for state intervention of some kind—in building and maintaining flood barriers, cutting water use; providing defences against sea levels, moving populations inland and protecting vulnerable groups from oppressive temperatures. Some will tend to lead to heavily policed regulations, with fines and even imprisonment for their breach.
  • Pandemics: The main lesson gleaned from the COVID-19 experience by governments is to institute a policed lockdown. In many states, protests have been organised against (relatively mild) lockdowns, and these could spiral into the creation of major movements of opposition, requiring police and even army intervention.
  • Migration: Increased migrant flows are likely to meet with resistance in destination states, particularly those with wealthier economies. Stronger protection against mass immigration attempts will be demanded: police, military, coastguard, and other security forces may have to be deployed, and the scope for conflict will be large.
  • Food and water shortages: In poor countries, shortages will necessitate relief efforts, which may become hazardous if the distress in these countries is acute and produces violence against Western humanitarian missions. Droughts and famine will create extra incentives for desperate efforts to reach wealthy countries.
  • Artificial intelligence: The growth of AI and automation will lead to mass layoffs, rising economic hardship, and growing opposition on the streets.
  • Nuclear proliferation: The spread of nuclear weapons and other WMDs will lead to a greater militarisation of states and tougher domestic security regimes.
  • Inequality: Greater social conflict in the Western democracies over issues of discrimination and economic justice (access to housing and goods) will radicalise younger generations, throwing yet another burden on law and order forces.
  • Weakening international institutions: The possible failure of organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, and other bodies, would mean a reduction in the availability of aid and crisis management by experienced teams.
  • The disunity of the United States: Since the end of World War II, the US has been the leader of the West, and of the democratic bloc of states. For most of that time, and particularly since the late-60s, it has suffered internal political rifts, especially around matters of war and race. The latter of these is presently prominent once more, as protests against police violence have again resulted in widespread demonstrations. These were accompanied in some areas by looting and violent rioting, with a few confrontations between the Black Lives Matter protestors and far-Right groups. These could worsen dramatically.

An overarching fear now is growing that the American democratic and electoral systems are themselves now endangered by two more immediate threats: First, if COVID-19 continues to make a drear harvest of American lives, especially elderly ones, while China’s infection and death rates remain low. Second, if the result of the presidential election in November is disputed.

Presently, China has succeeded in controlling the virus better than many Western democracies and large democratic-authoritarian states like India and Brazil, both of which have seen surging numbers of infections. China’s present record has done much to dispel allegations of duplicity surrounding the emergence of an epidemic in Wuhan, and the pressure it is alleged to have exerted on the World Health Organisation. Indeed, such allegations may have been exaggerated, as an extensive investigation by Philippe Lemoine for Quillette has indicated. Notwithstanding its resistance to calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the disease, China’s record of suppression compares favourably to the chaotic attempts to manage the virus by the Trump administration. In an essay for Foreign Affairs, Francis Fukuyama writes:

The global distribution of power will continue to shift eastward, since East Asia has done better at managing the situation than Europe or the United States. Even though the pandemic originated in China and Beijing initially covered it up and allowed it to spread, China will benefit from the crisis, at least in relative terms. As it happened, other governments at first performed poorly and tried to cover it up, too, more visibly and with even deadlier consequences for their citizens. And at least Beijing has been able to regain control of the situation and is moving on to the next challenge, getting its economy back up to speed quickly and sustainably.

The United States, in contrast, has bungled its response badly and seen its prestige slip enormously. The country has vast potential state capacity and had built an impressive track record over previous epidemiological crises, but its current highly polarized society and incompetent leader blocked the state from functioning effectively. The president stoked division rather than promoting unity, politicized the distribution of aid, pushed responsibility onto governors for making key decisions while encouraging protests against them for protecting public health, and attacked international institutions rather than galvanizing them. The world can watch TV, too, and has stood by in amazement, with China quick to make the comparison clear.

The degradation of US politics has paralleled China’s efficiently managed growth of its economy, and an expansion of its influence worldwide. This cannot all be put at the door of Trump. In his forthcoming book The Upswing, the Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam argues that Americans have lurched too far from “earlier communitarian values” in favour of individualism. He quotes the philosopher Danielle Allen:

We think we are required to choose between freedom and equality. Our choice in recent years has tipped towards freedom. Under the general influence of libertarianism, both parties have abandoned our Declaration; they have scorned our patrimony. Such a choice is dangerous. If we abandon equality, we lose the single bond that makes us a community, that makes us a people with the capacity to be free collectively and individually in the first place.

President Trump has tipped very far towards freedom, particularly his own, redefining the presidency as a narcissistic perch he appears increasingly reluctant to relinquish. He has refused to say unambiguously that he will leave if his opponent, Joe Biden, is awarded a clear victory, and has been energetically sowing doubt about the trustworthiness of postal votes in an apparent attempt to undermine the result. He has also warned that the contest will be, in some as yet unspecified way, “rigged”—either in the popular vote (which he lost in 2016), or in the crucial Electoral College (which he won). In the Atlantic, Barton Gellman writes that:

The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

An America consumed with fury on both sides would be a greater disaster than anything seen to date under Trump’s presidency, especially if it sparked widespread violence and armed confrontation in a heavily weaponised country. It would show the world that democratic institutions have no defence against the rage of a charismatic would-be tyrant. It would set the seal on the claim that a party of enlightened and decisive technocrats, with the interests of their citizens provably well-served across several decades, would be the better system. Were that to become a perceived truth held to be self-evident, China would become the engine for the spread of a system dependent on some variant of its present party monopoly. At which point, a second disaster would unfold.

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For China is no model for a modern state. It is an autocracy, generally congenial in the face it turns to the outside world, but cruel and despotic at home, and threatening to its immediate neighbours. Hundreds of Chinese citizens have been imprisoned for pursuing political freedom, accusing the state of corruption and suppression of human rights, and criticising Xi Jinping and other leaders of the Communist Party. Arch Puddington of Freedom House writes that:

Since the bloody 1989 crackdown on prodemocracy protests in Tiananmen Square, the Communist Party leadership has consistently jailed political dissidents, especially those who argued publicly for democratic change. And under Xi Jinping, the regime has rapidly expanded the scope of its repression, engulfing a numbing procession of lawyers, journalists, bloggers, women’s advocates, minority rights campaigners, and religious believers who have been detained, placed under house arrest, disappeared, or formally sentenced to prison.

A September 2020 study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that one third of the mosques in Xinjiang have been destroyed, the reversal of a trend for growth after the low point of the Cultural Revolution. An estimated one million citizens in Xinjiang, most of these Uighur Muslims, are estimated to be held in camps. A leaked memo sent by the deputy general secretary of the region’s Communist Party, Zhu Hailun, shows that these camps have been placed under ever-stricter regimes designed to make escape impossible, and to introduce stricter discipline, the promotion of “repentance and confession,” and forced learning of Mandarin.

In Tibet, a harsher regime is also now evident. According to Human Rights Watch, “authorities… continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly, and fail to redress popular concerns about mining and land grabs by local officials, which often involve intimidation and arbitrary violence by security forces. Authorities intensified surveillance of online and phone communications.” In a separate report, Human Rights Watch writes of Hong Kong that:

Authorities have rapidly begun to apply the new National Security Law to prosecute peaceful speech, curtail academic freedom, and generate a chilling effect on fundamental freedoms in the city. The law, which China’s government imposed on June 30th, 2020, is Beijing’s most aggressive assault on Hong Kong people’s freedoms since the transfer of sovereignty in 1997… (provisions) include creating specialized secret security agencies, denying fair trial rights, providing sweeping new powers to the police, increasing restraints on civil society and the media, and weakening judicial oversight.

Taiwan, the democratic breakaway from China, is now under growing pressure, as Chinese military jets routinely overfly its airspace. “China is completely open about the threat. President Xi Jinping framed it himself in a high-profile speech in 2019: ‘We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures.’” If it succeeds in taking the lead from the West in the coming decades, the Chinese Communist Party will rise to global power as a tyranny with no recognition of human rights or toleration for a civil society independent of Party and state. Its success would be a turn not towards efficiency, but to a particular kind of high-tech barbarism, in which dissent is routinely silenced and ethnic and religious differences ironed out. To ignore it—worse, to succumb to it in the name of efficiency—would be to destroy democratic civilisation.

Freedom, democratic choice, independent institutions, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly and the press are all largely or wholly absent in China. But these characteristics are the legacy of centuries in the West—centuries, including the 20th, in which Western states were themselves despotic and murderous. In the past 75 years, the lessons of 1914–18 and 1939–45 appear to have been learned: Inter-state wars no longer happen in the Americas or in Europe (the Balkans being the exception).

The achievements of democratic government and active civil societies in the West since 1945 have been as stirring and remarkable as China’s economic growth. Advances in human and civil rights in every sphere of life, while rarely uncontentious (as democracy prescribes) have accompanied liberal reforms of social welfare, greater access to medical care, and a huge expansion of education. However tarnished, these remain the glory of liberal democratic rule, whether of the Right or the Left. They may also be, in the long run, the way in which societies under pressure best restore themselves, as a thousand civil safety valves maintain a—sometimes, as now, rocky—equilibrium.

Have the West’s electorates become so disappointed and distrustful of these values and practices—so spoiled, so hooked on pleasure and entertainment—that they are a pushover for the disciplined cadres and cowed populations of the authoritarian states? Is an authoritarian state, a Leviathan capable of suppression of conflicts, the only recourse we will soon have? It is not a silly question: But even now, it is hard to believe that the answer to these questions is a dispirited “yes.”

 

John Lloyd is a contributing editor to the Financial Times and co-founder of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. His latest book is Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: The Great Mistake of Scottish Independence (Polity Press).

 

Comments

  1. This article and the mindset behind it do indeed make me fearful we will soon descend into one-party autocracy.

    The Democratic party did not accept the results of the 2016 election and have resorted to mobilization of the deep state, in addition to their usual propaganda war against Republicans. Now that we know the basis for the Trump collusion investigation was opposition research provided to Clinton by a Russian intelligence agent, and this was known to the FBI before Trump even took office, it is clear that the deep state (ie high-level administrative bureaucracy) sought to sabotage the Trump presidency. If Trump loses the election, it will be because enough people were fooled by the conspiracy to discredit him, their allies in 80% of the national media, and the aspirational One Party.

    China-like fascism is not somewhere off in the future, it is right here, right now, ready to assume control at the insistence of a populace that has been thoroughly lied to, from pre-K to university, and every day on TV. It will look a little different, of course, with the intersectionality scheme replacing China’s Han supremacy, but even as this article describes the abysmal state of freedom in China, it feels like we’re looking in the mirror:

    Sound familiar? This is analogous to the 1619 lies peddled in America’s most prestigious newspaper, the constant barrage of lies about systemic racism, the hatred against white people that has taken so many forms in day-to-day life.

    With China on the rise, colonizing half the world and conquering its democratic neighborhoods, now is not the time to be strengthening the forces in our society that seek to replicate the Chinese experiment in the West. Even if we skip the communist phase (unlikely, given where the energy on the Left is today), and so avoid the worst of the economic collapse and resulting starvation, we will still be stuck with a fascist dictatorship. We see the seeds of legitimizing this regime even in this article, with alarmist talk about drastic measures needed to address climate change and income inequality. The author needs to deprogram the leftist talking points, so he can see how he is contributing to the very problem he is trying to solve. As many of us know, it’s a tough journey, but we don’t have the luxury for him to dither any longer.

  2. This is an interesting proposition, that the antidote to China’s authoritarian rise is for the West to convert from liberal democracy to bureaucratic state rule. Give or take some bent feelings on the libertarian right, and millions of broken wretches languishing in political prisons and re-education camps, hey, why not? Adopt China’s model, but do it better. Maybe! That’s a thought!

    One problem is that wokism is on the hegemonic rise in Western bureaucracies and adjunct ‘state apparatus’ such as universities, so they’d all have to be cleaned out first – no point trying to build a competitive state formation based on safe spaces, triggered feelings, indigenous ways of knowing and intersectionality quotas. That would all have to be crushed first.

    The West has also been on an orgy mass immigration and multiculturalism for decades. Unlike China’s single Han ethnicity with its shared cultural values, Western shared values are now only held together by increasingly tenuous social conventions (all of which boil down to structural racism anyway, according to BLM). Multiculturalism would need to be replaced with cultural integration – if need be, by a version of the Uigher solution. Otherwise, building a Western version of the unitary Chinese-style state would be difficult.

    But in any case, China’s unnerving rise may not be a permanent situation. Authoritarian rule can’t renew itself and is likely to senesce. So it may not be a good model to adopt anyway. Perhaps what is at the centre of China’s rise is not so much the mode of its state function, but its ‘place in history’, the ‘shared sense of destiny’ in the hearts of its citizens. Our problem in the West is that the great shared project of empire is over. Nothing in the West has a sense of historical mission about it anymore, except for BLM feeling that they can bring on their woke utopian revolution. China however is very much in this cultural moment – feeling the power of becoming the most powerful nation on earth. But if and when they get there, will they still have that feeling of love for their invincible state, still weave the narratives of empire and historical destiny that provide meaning to the repression and pain that is also felt on the way? Or will their authoritarian rule, unable to tolerate any talk of corrective action, implode at that point?

    Two more things not to lose sight of about China’s rise: it has been built on the competitive advantage of low wages. If they become the world power, they’ll be offshoring that to new slave states, which might not continue to bring the same advantage. Further, its rise has depended on wholesale theft of intellectual property from much more innovative states. There’s no guarantee that dynamic can continue if liberal democracy collapses. In short, China won’t be able to feed off the West if it conquers the West. They will have killed their golden goose.

    As to the West, it’s true that America is basically demented at this point. Nihilistic wokism on the left and unmoored libertarianism on the right. The other states of the West don’t have the libertarianism, but definitely have a problem with wokist hegemony and a loss of confidence in any shared national project. We are certainly in a rut. Something big has to shake everything up.

  3. Almost had everyone 'til your TDS diarrhea spilled out. Sadly, Trump is all the values you espouse.

  4. Wannabe-revolutionary riots in dozens of cities, a full-fledged succession attempt in Seattle, near-total alignment of one political party with the deep state, the media apparatus, and the rioters, and you would have us believe the most thoroughly and persistently vetted political outsider to take the presidency is the real problem?

    If Americans fall for this farcical take, they deserve the literal needle-ridden garbage heap that is Democratic governance.

  5. So you’re not going to be voting for Joe Biden, whose campaign staff, including his VP pick, has bailed out rioters from prison? Because otherwise your condemnation isn’t worth much.

  6. China is a unique system, mostly because its basic unit of sovereignty is the family rather than the individual- which in turn places stability and economic improvement as the primary priority of their society, rather than individual liberty. But what really worries me in this essay is the line “It would set the seal on the claim that a party of enlightened and decisive technocrats, with the interests of their citizens provably well-served across several decades, would be the better system.” because it is unclear whether the author thinks this is an inherently bad idea, or only a bad idea because it would likely be modelled on China’s example.

    There are several problems with this concept, the chief of which is the fact that those likely to comprise its ranks are likely to come from psychologically similar backgrounds incapable of understanding the desires of a large proportion of the population. Whether we look at Jonathan Haidt’s work on Moral Foundations and the W.E.I.R.D. basis for Left-leaning liberals, or instead look at in-group and openness to new experience from the Big 5 Personality Traits, it is clear that cosmopolitan liberals are incapable of understanding the masses.

    And contrary to the beliefs of cosmopolitan liberals on the subject, in-group preference is largely hardwired in by family circumstance and class and is impenetrable to education and experience, with the only effects of education has been a major shift amongst those who would otherwise become cosmopolitan or Left-leaning liberals towards the far Left and a perversely inverted in-group. People is the bottom 60% to 75% of the population can be largely blind to matters of race, creed, gender and sexuality, but it turns out that they don’t do well with the mass migration of peoples from different cultures because for most, the familiar at home is preferable to the strange or exotic. We even see this in the fact that most groups in the bottom 75% self-segregate culturally through choice, even when economics are not a factor.

    But this isn’t the only blindspot or fallacy that the cosmopolitan liberal group that runs society has come up with. The tabula rasa, or Blank Slatism is another extraordinarily bad idea. Put simply, it is the idea that anyone, with enough education, can do any job. It’s simply not true. But worse than that it was the reason behind why we decided to offshore so many jobs, beyond the motive of cheaper goods. The idea was that we would simply educate our workforces to work in marketing, data analysis, tech and whole raft of other high value industries, selling our services to the emergent East. Quite apart from the fact that they might want their own share of these lucrative opportunities, its simply not possible to educate everyone into highly cognitive work.

    The second blindspot or fallacy is the belief that disparate outcomes in society are largely the fault of the society, rather than caused by difficult to change socio-economic factors, a cultural weakening, the absence of fathers at a community level, poor nurturing systems at the bottom levels of the income spectrum, the magnification of bad influences through peer groups and inherent flaws in the theories of the progressive educational establishment. Doubtless a statistically significant portion of disparities are caused by systemic or structural racism, but it is highly doubtful that even a majority of the root causes can be traced back to this problem.

    But by far the most dangerous blindspot or fallacy is the assumption that so much of what we take for granted from an advanced economic and social system is the default state of humanity. We have seen time and again what happens when societies destabilise and fall into the mistake of socialism or communism, with its inherent tilt towards totalitarianism. It begins with economic stagnation as Governments systemically try to improve the wages of workers and protect jobs from economic progress, and ends with countries being incapable of feeding their population.

    This is not to say that limited socialism has never existed within democratic systems, and its even had a desirable effect in repointing resources to things that the population at large actually wants, but generally the trend within this socialism by democratic mandate was towards economic stagnation and broadly speaking the real reason for the relative success of the post-war American economic system was because it was able to out-compete countries in Europe and the rest of the world with far worse political and economic systems. It had the unenviable accolade of being the least bad of an endemically very bad lot. It is highly doubtful that a similarly orientated America would survive in an era where China, India and much of the rest of the East are not making the same mistakes.

    The fourth fallacy or blindspot is one I’ve only really noticed recently, and am interested in people’s thoughts on. It’s long been the contention of psychologists that of the key attributes of conservatives in that they are more fearful- though a better way of describing this perhaps they are more threat aware, in terms of their trust of their fellow humans. It’s one of the reasons why people tend to become more conservative as they age- because their is nothing greater than a vulnerable little bundle to make you worry about potential dangers.

    But one thing that had researcher foxed was the fact that Left-leaning liberals did tend to exhibit a weird sort of sanctity (one of the Moral Foundations typical of conservatives) in relation to organic food and healthy options. My theory is that instead of not being fearful, Left-leaning liberals tend to more fearful when it comes to perceived non-human threats such as COVID or climate change, whilst conservative fear tends to perceive human threats as more dangerous.

    This may be why Left-leaning liberals seem to have so many problems perceiving the threat of large impersonal businesses where transactions are voluntary- whilst seeing Government as the solution (because of its human frontmen)- instead of in many ways part of the problem, where transactions are expressly not voluntary for many.

    But back to the issue of ‘enlightened and decisive technocrats’. It’s not an inherently flawed idea, per se, until we examine the blindspots or fallacies of the past, created by a largely cosmopolitan liberal intelligentsia with no understanding of the psychology of the rest of the population, or many of the basic realities of human nature and advanced economic and social systems. The only way to implement such a system would first be to make it subservient to the needs of ordinary people.

    The best way to do this would be find a way to make sure that a significant portion of research grants given to universities are slaved to tackle issues which the majority of population care about, rather than the Left-leaning liberal obsessions of a demographic that is structurally incapable of ever becoming more than 25% of the population. I am open to ideas as to how to do this. But a good first step would be to ensure that whichever grants committees are responsible for handing out grants are representative of the population, in terms their psychological makeup and viewpoint diversity.

    This might inherently favour psychological conservative for a while, but at least it might encourage more conservatives to go into academia, and restore balance to a failing institution which no longer holds the confidence of the public. The shift amongst the most recent generation in aspiring towards more vocationally orientated courses is but one sign of this declining confidence.

    Western culture worked so well for so long because there was a balance between conservativism and liberal thinkers. It thrived off the battle of ideas which ensued from people having fundamentally different views of the world, whilst still being able to engage in healthy debate. This is not the first time that this process has come under threat- the McCarthy era is but one example. The problem is that Joe McCarthy didn’t have Social Media as a tool for policing people’s thoughts, or liberal media colluding to enforce ideological purity. It’s simply not clear whether there is an easy way out of our current political polarisation.

  7. How would you know, when the media has exaggerated all of Trump’s shortcomings and avoided even asking Biden any serious questions? Biden simply has never been properly vetted.

  8. The West flourished too when it’s system was centred upon strong family unity. We’ve replaced our natural design of reproducing with a short lived individualistic selfishness. We’ve atomized society into the self, and it’s suicide by demographics within a few generations.

    The CCP think tank people must be congratulating themselves, not only on the success of their strategy, but also on the West’s complete failure in countering the error, both for its own survival, and for its medium to long range competitiveness.

    Emerging Countries with a nation of very willing participants always have that advantage of impetus whilst on an upward curve. But China’s emerging strength is long term, it has at its roots a strong social fabric and people there are united in that they have seen massive visible improvements to their Country over 3 generations. The plan has been hugely successful, and Government doesn’t infringe too much on its people as long as it behaves in this united effort. Yes dissidents will be sharply dealt with, but most people are willing to trade off the knowledge that they dare not oppose this authoritarianism, against the visible improvements of their own family lives.

    China is an expansionist Country. It has quietly, and almost unnoticeably grown a massive web of Global infrastructure. Its economy is strong and it has lots of money. It is further able to expand at speed because its competition is fragile now, and China knows this. Whilst the US needs to protect its foreign assets militarily, China’s assets have grown exponentially, and it has grown a massive navy to protect its trade shipping lanes.

    The big problem with learning so late the cleverness of the CCP, is that we now have so much to do to combat it. The Chinese system is ideologically, politically, financially, and militarily strong, whilst the West’s is not anymore.

    I personally have felt that the growing power of China has been a looming threat that has gone ignored. That Trump is the man who has highlighted the faults of previous governments of their ignorance, but especially the public who were very nieve to this Global disparity. The West is growing weaker at the very time it needs to become strong. Trump’s policies seem geared toward slowing this difference. Something that seems to me to be far more important than wearing a face mask.

  9. I hate defending T. but I think it is important to remain fair.

    Although I think Obama was a much better president, he made some really bad mistakes. Eg. attacking Libya that created a civil war, not making a clear choice in Syria that made the conflict much worse, enabled ISIS, and wasn’t stabilized until T. allowed the Russians to clean up the mess. As for competency, the introduction of Obamacare and the unnecessary software failure.

    The funny thing is that T. has not made any such large errors, on the contrary, it is eerily quiet internationally and fewer soldiers are abroad than since a long time. And for competency, I’m not sure I like the wall but he did promise one to his voters. It stands today at 350 miles in less than 2 years.

    And Obama had enormous support form the Uber class while T. had their hysterical opposition.

    If you judge T. on what he promised and achieved, and remove your moral judgement and speculations, it is hard to deny he did surprisingly well.

  10. As usual, Trump is to blame for all the shit you, progressives, created

  11. He is addressing a balance deficit. He is living proof that our Neocon friends have created policies that are agenda driven and detrimental to our future. He is also exposing the fact that it could of all been played differently previously.

    If the policy was to reverse the decline of the US and create World peace then surely you’d give the peace prize to Trump. He should be lauded for his successes. So why not?

  12. The vast ignorance on display in this article is typical of the breezy meta-nonsense being spewed by our self-anointed elite, nonstop. There is so much wrong it’s hard to know where to start. How about we start with some actual history? Always a good foundation I find.

    The first real history of Mao’s communist revolution in China was produced recently, Mao: The Untold Story. It’s an honest chronology of the vast depredations and perfidy unleashed upon the long suffering Chinese people by Mao in his blood-soaked quest for power. I’ll start with the “punch line”. My take on Mao is that his bloodiness is on the level of Ghengis Khan in terms of his wanton slaughter and ruthlessness. I’d add that Khan had a much nobler cause and justification for his conquests. Most people know nothing of Ghengis Khan’s actual history, he’s hated most of all cuz he figured out slaughtering the elites was the only way to create stable governance and wow did he slaughter a lot of elite. Mao had no such guiding principles, he’d starve a hundred thousand Chinese to death without a second thought, telling them to drink more bark soup. I’m not being hyperbolic at all…

    Mao in fact colluded with the Japanese against Chinese nationalists and Chinese communists at certain points during the 20 year “long march” (not the two year fight with the nationalists who are lied about utterly in almost all mainstream history of the time in order to morally justify the West’s gift of China to Mao) which culminated in the creation of Communist China in '49. He was alternately shamed and cast out, and then grasped power again and shifted alliances - Mao would simply do anything to attain power. He was an acolyte of Stalin’s and the USSR in many real ways, and he was directed and supported and supplied by Moscow throughout.

    During this period, about 10 million Chinese people died. The nationalist Chinese patriots were betrayed by the West, the communist sympathizing FDR admin and then the Truman admin essentially destroyed Chang Kai Shek, who was banished to Taiwan. Let’s take a little departure on that subject. People want to laud the amazing economic development of China as so incredible - what did Taiwan manage to do without communism? What about South Korea? These are two amazing natural experiments in which the classically liberal western order ran circles around communism.

    And this gets to the major problem with this article - attribution errors. Talking about how the ChiComms automagically “opened” their economy to the U.S. and in the '70s without talking about how the U.S. subsidized and guided every aspect of China’s “development” is utterly misleading. One would think communist cadres just suddenly came up with some brilliant idea. No, the truth is after the Cultural Revolution, China was dying. And not just workers, I think guys like this author don’t get what China does to “intellectuals”. A little quote from Mao seems in order. “What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the China Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars.” said Mao during the Cultural Revolution. He’s bragging about killing 46,000 scholars - that’s Mao, not Trump for the TDS sufferers out there.

    Mao was crafty and dishonest as fuck though. It plays the U.S. off the USSR and under Nixon we begin helping them develop needed basic infrastructure such as phone networks, electric and other energy and move on from there. Education, banking, financial markets - all curated and developed with Western guidance every step of the way. Even the decision to double down on “state capitalism” in the late '80s and '90s instead of open markets and free people was supported by Western elites. The likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley recommended the “mixed model”, or “Communism with Chinese characteristics”. None of this was China’s doing. The build out of their industrial capability was ALL LED BY THE WEST. China never gets there if we don’t do it for them.

    We helped them build their banks. We off-shored so much of our basic industry to them which allowed so many greedy MBA types get their 100 million so they could be “Masters of the Universe”. Many an investment banker or corp manager who didn’t come from family money made their first big chunk of capital on such deals so the incentives for the elite was all upside.

    Almost all of this was done without the consent of the American people. And as of today, every proponent of ‘Opening to China’ as it was heralded by Brzezinsky, Kissinger and Nixon back in the '70s has stated it was an error. Nixon too, and even Kissinger in 2015. This is the biggest strategic error we’ve ever made as a nation. If you aren’t up to speed on this, read perhaps the best book on the subject, The 100 Year Marathon by Michael Pillsbury. A fluent Mandarin speaker and someone who lived in the region and held major roles in the U.S. govt, you will be astonished by what we did to essentially grant China a superior position to the U.S. in Asia economically, geopolitically and militarily.

    So the first illusion is that China is some normal nation on an organic growth path. No, it should be properly seen as the creation of Western oligarchs (and the oligarchy wannabes) to arbitrage global labor and supply chains at scale for the purposes of enriching these same elites in both societies. China represented a single market at such scale, American capitalists and post-national globalists simply ran as hard as they could to prop up China and create their golden parachutes. They justified it by the lower consumer prices and lying to us about it all. They created a mythology called “globalism” to cover for it, pretending that all this was happening organically due to “free markets”. Lol.

    Today? China is best seen as a Han Empire with unrestrained ambitions. The Communist party system is a perfect tool of control for an autocrat so it’s used for social control as it’s already institutionalized. The supposed morality of the “system” with its Confucian elements is all window dressing for ignorant Westerners. The way it’s portrayed and sold to the Han Chinese is simple. First, the Chinese are superior and were the global hegemon for 2000+ years until the past “100 Years of Humiliation” in which the West denigrated and abused China. Han supremacy is innate to all of this. They are the rightful leaders of the world and the past century is a just a mistaken blip.

    They are told their system is a meritocracy but they all know that’s a lie. They are told their system is just but really, the underlying message is. “Remember how awful the starvation and poverty of our nation was for the 50 years from the '30s to the '80s”? My sense is that the traumatization of the Chinese from the endless deprivation and slaughter of those 50 years makes them grasp on to the prosperity they have now at all costs.

    Consider that now CCP domination of all information in China is complete. The amount of influence the CCP has over any media, any content, any behavior digitally is something the average westerner can’t even comprehend. Try buying a train ticket in China via WeChat - the govt approval is part of the buying process. And you are tracked by the CCP everywhere. AI is sprawling out over all the data collected by the CCP, used to guide their social control and to extinguish all resistance. This is the reality of China today.

    The U.S. isn’t far behind. So many deluded Westerners who don’t get that they already lost the war when they gave up on the limitations on govt the classical liberal socio-political order instantiated. They don’t get that Progressivism/Socialism/Marxism all start by rejecting the classical liberal order as insufficient. Such people have been brainwashed to ignore that the vast, free civil society which arose particularly in the U.S. delivered more “justice” and more prosperity than any state driven, authoritative order in the history of humankind. It’s so bizarre to watch such pedants twist their brains into knots making all this add up. But be clear, while living in the prosperity brought about by the classical liberal order, many reject it to revert what is simply window dressing on autocracy, oligarchy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Call it Progressive or Socialist or Just - it’s all the same crap.

    Last. The aspersions about our society being in decline are all Progressive talking points. It is amusing most of all to hear Putnam’s gibbering cited in this article. Wanna know why we are atomized and less socially connected and live in a much lower trust society than our parents? Robert Putnam reluctantly published the book on this, his groundbreaking work Bowling Alone catalogued it. Turns out the unrestrained immigration of incompatible cultures beginning right after the '65 immigration act - without any intention of assimilation - destroyed the social fabric of our society. Robert Putnam is such a fraud that he held off publishing the data he discovered in his study for 5 years. You see, he set out to prove that mass immigration was a net benefit to society, and instead he found out that the importation of 70 million aliens with little to no affinity to our culture was devastating. Particularly in “communities of color” fyi. It turns out social cohesion matters, identity matters, culture matters.

    When he finally published, he was honest. But even then, he morphed his talking points over time to focus on the “longer term” in which he claims immigration is awesome, lol. It’s so dishonest and to hear him still cited today is just so galling. The guy is an admitted ideologue who hated the “truth” his own research discoveries, yet he’s cited in this article as an authority of some sort. He’s exactly the kind of intellectual who has sold our nation out and the kind of thinker who cheered our self-destructive policies for the past 40 years.

    To think the Chinese are leading the way is to admit you live in a world without history or almost any real knowledge about China’s rise or what’s actually occurring in your own nation. To claim in the same breath that the U.S. is in some kind of unavoidable cycle of decline is just as ignorant. We are in fact in the grips of a Marxist assault on our sociopolitical order that has been greatly aggrandized by a generation of greedy, ignorant, technorati types for whom politics is an accessory, an accoutrement - an aesthetic consideration most of all. The Chinese laugh at them most of all. Most Chinese people I speak with nod their heads when speaking with me. They think the average American is a fool. But hey - I’m not Progressive, and I don’t think Trump’s presidency heralds in the end of the U.S. so what I have to say is irrelevant. Continue on with this mental masturbation and sophistry. Just know its purpose is to hide the truth, not reveal it - even if the “useful idiot” author doesn’t realize he’s doing so.

  13. “Biden simply has never been properly vetted.“

    @Stephanie, I agree with your assessment, but will add one point. He was vetted in 1988 as a POTUS candidate and found wanting as a plagiarist (Neil Kinnock speech and law school performance). This was memory-holed and he was recreated as an “elder statesman” by the Obama campaign. This joke is now the official position of the media despite the fact he continues to lie about his life story and qualifications.

    And if you don’t believe this media BS, in Biden’s own words, you’re a “dog-faced pony soldier.” :sunglasses:

  14. The Chinese suffer from the same defects as all social and economic planners - vast wastes of labor and capital, and incredible mismatches between supply and demand. Look at their ghost cities. Look at the debt levels across all institutions and the banking systems, and the quality of their debt. There is a reason the Yuan isn’t convertible and that virtually no nation accepts it as payment. You see, when something is based solely on the “full faith and credit” of the CCP, it’s worthless. It’s worthless cuz the Chinese can’t run an economy to save their lives.

    People seem to think the Chinese actually are superior, lol. It’s so funny to watch. meanwhile, go look at the desperate, bizarre and all too barbaric lives many Chinese citizens are forced to live today compared to any Western nation. They aren’t at parity with the West in any real way. They are a Frankenstein, assembled by a power-elite in China who want to assert Han supremacy and rule the world. Without the West’s willing support and guidance, it all falls down.

    The Chinese CCP has nothing to teach us. Their scientists are trained by us and their tech has either been stolen from us or given to them by us. They are reliant on our good will, yet we are too filled with Marxist based self-loathing and social disorder that we can’t even think straight collectively anymore. It’s just so sad that anyone on earth thinks the CCP has anything of value to contribute to the world.

    They did cook up Covid in a lab, but hey - I guess we just aren’t talking about that either.

  15. No!! they turned towards regulation and litigation. You can’t “just build” anything n the U.S. these days without years of environmental and other studies of all types and years of litigation. Do you think China requires a detailed environmental study when they build a pipeline. Do you thin k the Sierra Club is able to tie it up for years in the courts?

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