Originally published in German by Walter Grobe 2016 May 16
English translation by the author, published 2016 June 1. Some improvements of the translation: 2016 June 16.
Will there be war between the US and China?
What is at stake in the confrontation in the South China Sea ?
How significant for Europe are opportunities of an Eurasian combination with China, Russia and Central Asia?
What kind of social relations are developing inside China?
What is the character of the new Chinese bourgeoisie, which are the social models, moral ideas and methods of rule developing there, how do they impact other societies internationally?
Is Africa being colonized by China?
How strong is already the Chinese influence in the chaotic regions of North Africa, Near East (Syria, Arabic peninsula etc.), Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan), Iran?
How will the rivalry with India develop?
This is only a small collection of questions imposing themselves constantly on a reasonably considerate observer of the politics of the day. Regrettably, they are being dealt with much too little, if at all, in the German media, in the mass media as well as in the so-called quality newspapers, and if, then with too little interest in sound analyses. One hasn’t to be a deep thinker, though, for to guess or already feel how the questions connected to China are contributing strongly to the formation of our own German or European future. The traditional international alignment with the US can no more be taken for granted; the European economy is increasingly characterized by the exchange with China, the investments in China and, reversely, China’s investments in Europe are increasing, there are forerunners of a Chinese migration to Europe – especially in Italy and countries of the south-eastern periphery, etc. pp.
Such a view on the question „China“, concentrated on Europe and the interests of the European population, is of course not the only possible starting point for considerations and analyses, although it might seem obvious initially. The question for the development of the whole of the globe’s population and the globe itself must always be the superior one, no matter from which part of the world one might be starting.
During the past months, I‘ve read some books that deal directly with China.
“China’s Coming War With Asia” by Jonathan Holslag
„Chinas Kapitalismus. Entstehung, Verlauf, Paradoxien“ by Tobias ten Brink
„Age of Ambition. Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China“ by Evan Osnos
„When China Rules the World“ by Martin Jacques
I should like to add “China’s Second Continent. How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa“, a book by Howard French that has already been commented at length in a posting of mine of 2014/June/8.
The books display a great variety of starting questions, interests of the authors and methods of research and presentation. At first I’ll introduce them very concisely, then present some excerpts and comment them; further on, I’ll attempt to verbalize my own look at some problems.
1. Jonathan Holslag is, according to the blurb of the German edition (which I used), professor of international politics at Vrije Universiteit Brussels and an advisor on questions of military and international politics to diverse European and Atlantic political institutions. Among other publications, he issued the contribution „How Europe Will Survive the Asian Century“ in 2014.
There are some divergencies between the – original and less reluctant – English title „China’s Coming War with Asia“ and the German one: „Frieden auf Chinesisch. Warum in Asien Krieg droht“. The book was published by Polity Press, Cambridge in 2015, the German translation by edition Körber-Stiftung, Hamburg, 2015.
Holslag derives his presentation from the assumption of “four great aspirations” on which the Chinese nation-building rests:
“First of all, it implied securing control over frontier lands, Yunnan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and so forth. Second, it meant that the Party had to be recognized as the legitimate political structure. It was clear for its leadership that this required bringing back stability, feeding the people, and enabling sustained economic growth. Third, China had to be able to get its sovereignty respected: on paper through diplomatic recognition and in practice by resisting great power interference. Fourth, a strong Chinese nation had to recover its lost territory.” (p.21)
Detailing these problem areas, Holslag analyses China’s boundary problems with its neighbors; the character and the problematic perspectives of its economic boom, e.g. the dependence on the exploitation of extremely cheap wage labor, but also on the economic linkages with Asian neighbors; and above all the struggle with the US for military and political dominance in the East and South China Sea, that is to say along China’s entire maritime border,
2. „Chinas Kapitalismus. Entstehung, Verlauf, Paradoxien“ by Tobias ten Brink is a scientific contribution (professoral dissertation) at the „Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung Köln“ and was published by Campus edition, Frankfurt/M., already in 2013.
The main strength of this book lies, in my opinion, in the analysis of the interactions between Chinese domestic capitalist drives and those of international capitalism, beginning with the so-called reforms under Deng Xiao-Ping since 1978 and the first investments by Overseas Chinese capitalists, then highlighting the linkages with international, mainly Western companies and global finance capitalism, that characterized the following decades increasingly. Ten Brink deals extensively, too, with the domestic social contradictions, in the first place the so-called migrant workers, that is to say the Chinese proletariat of today which has made the Chinese bourgeoisie and parts of global capitalism richer than exploiters of any former era could have hoped to be.
3. „Age of Ambition. Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China“ (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 2014, „National Book Award“) by Evan Osnos. This the work of an US journalist who has been working for the “Chicago Tribune” and the “New Yorker”. The German edition bears the title „Grosse Ambitionen. Chinas grenzenloser Traum“ and was published by Suhrkamp Berlin in 2015. (Again the English original title is more direct and fuller of content than the German one. I used the German translation)
The book uses, partly, some of the author’s previous reports. It portrays a collection of single personalities of today’s China and from that angle of view throws light on social problems, the ruling party’s methods, questions of liberty for the media, characters of enrichment, corruption etc. China’s relations to “Western” capitalism are, in some instances, illuminated, but do not undergo systematic reflection. China’s relations with its Asian neighbors, the rivalry with the US are hardly touched upon.
On the other hand, the reader is being directly confronted with sayings, goals and views of active Chinese contemporaries – Osnos’ journalistic reliability presumed. Even if Osnos is focusing on personalities who could be interesting for the typical US-mainstream narrow human rights point of view, many of their utterances as well as the depiction of their biographies seem to me to bear marks of authenticity.
4. Finally , “When China Rules the World“ by Martin Jacques.
The British journalist, contributor to many academic institutions in the UK, in China and other East-Asian countries as well as in the US, has produced a curiosity. Sharply contrasting the author’s own past as editor of a London-based magazine “Marxism Today” until 1991, Jacques displays the least interest, as compared to the other three authors, in the Chinese working class and the crass contradictions of modern capitalism, Chinese as well as international capitalism, which the Chinese working class personifies. Jacques prefers to write on the heritage of Confucianism in modern Chinese culture, depicting it in positive terms, on the “humane authority” possibly characterizing China’s present ascendancy, an ascendancy that “would indeed represent a now kind of global leadership.” (p. 595)
Jacques ’book seems to borrow central elements from the positive self-manifestation of the new Chinese rulers, but not only that: could it seem imaginable that in Western capitalism, above all in its global finance capitalist peaks, some hopes are being kindled as to some kind of commonness with China in the fight for survival of capitalism? Could that yield better results than going alone and stubbornly insisting on “Western values” vs. “Chinese dictatorialism”? Do such hopes already finding unobtrusive expression with authors like Jacques ?
Jacques clearly writes about perspectives for the “West” becoming more like China, more confucianist, warming up to a coming global Chinese dominance that could gradually replace the American one. He propagates old Chinese ideas like “Middle Kingdom” quite openly, which he sees as the potential future centre of the world. That it is about unfettered capitalist enrichment drives much more than about Confucianism and “harmonious” imperial bureaucratic government, he assiduously keeps out of the picture.
Now I’m going to describe some essential elements of the individual books, at first Holslag’s „China’s Coming War With Asia”.
Apparently, Holslag is so confident in his analysis that there will be war between China and other Asian nations that he has chosen an English title for his book which asserts exactly this.
On the other hand, he also gives expression to hope that things won’t take that turn:
“War in Asia has become more likely. Recognizing this should be the first serious step in any effort to prevent it.”(Preface, p. VIII)
The term of the English title, „war with Asia“, is different from the term chosen for the German edition. Here we read “Frieden auf Chinesisch. Warum in Asien Krieg droht.” In English, this would read approximately as „Peace the Chinese way. Why there is war impending in Asia”. “War…in Asia” could as well be a war with the US, perhaps but not necessarily with Asian nations taking part on the side of the US, others on the side of China.
On the other hand, the German title contains something like a pointed remark at China. Such a tendency, though, is not being upheld in the extensive text about the tensions between the US (and Japan) and China over the military control of the South China Sea, see chapter 8 “The Contest for the Pacific”.
Her we read that China’s sorrows are indeed justified.
The shifts of tendency that can be observed between the miscellaneous terms in German and English are, in my opinion, a reflection of the uncertainties which necessarily arise in dealing with these questions.
“From the Sea of Japan to the Great Australian Bight, China watches itself being surrounded by an intimidating shield of plate steel, sensors, and missiles. Chinese experts are unanimous: China can have no coastal defense, no chance to recover its lost territory, and no security for its economic heartland without deterrence in the Western Pacific.” (154)
(„Lost territories”: this expression refers to Taiwan and those of the islands in the South China Sea which are possibly claimed rightfully by China. An international arbitration procedure concerning islands is underway, initiated by the Philippines but not acknowledged by China.)
Holslag shows understanding, too, for Chinese considerations to become capable of “ “offshore defence through blue water deterrence” (157), i.e. to build a blue water navy for the Western Pacific in order to be able to confront the US’ claim for military supremacy over the coastal regions of China.
Holslag’s presentation makes it clear, too, that the tensions in and around the South China Sea do not result in the first place from conflicts between China and neighboring nations like Vietnam and the Philippines about this or that island or economic spheres, but from the US’ military deployment in the whole sphere of nations and islands offshore the Chinese coast. Understandably, the US is striving to win over as many neighbors of China as possible on its own side.
Furthermore, Holslag analyses the conflicting regional interests, e.g. between China and Vietnam, China and India. These contradictions might give rise to alliances under the leadership of the US on one side, of China on the other, and might create further potentials for war. To create a sufficient counterweight against China by an alliance of several nations of the region and thus to make possible long-term stability, is considered difficult by Holslag, though. (161 f.)
“This will be complicated by another factor: nationalism. There are of course many forms of nationalism, but three characteristics are common: First, Asia is not a bunch of battered states, which Europe was when the United States spearheaded the Atlantic alliance against the Soviets in the 1950s. Most Asian states are young, restless, fixated with status, and ambitious to advance their own interests. Second, nationalism is strengthened by domestic and international uncertainty….Third, …., Asia’s new nationalism is increasingly Sinophobic.” (162)
„Asia’s new nationalism is partially a symptom of its growing socioeconomic troubles and those problems are likely to increase. We are thus likely to enter a period in which more mutual concessions are required to ward off more dangerous confrontations, but in which politicians also will be less willing to make such concessions.” (162)
„Status quo powers clinging to their primacy and privileges, like the United States, are as threatening to Asia security as a rising revisionist. It is the security dilemma between the two that causes the friction, not just China.” (169)
(China is called a „revisionist nation“ by Holslag here in the sense of its interest in revising certain present partitions, e.g. the separation of Taiwan.)
An important element of the coercions dominating China’s policies is the inner pressure produced by China’s capitalism, as Holslag is stressing time and again and, in my opinion, rightfully. Whereas China has shown restraint in its past relations to the neighbors and has avoided confrontations in the territorial conflicts, as Holslag appreciatively states, now it will become much more difficult for it, because of domestic social reasons, to rise peacefully (171).
The danger of fundamentally disappointing the population and losing its support because the economic ascendancy slows down, forces the leadership to further expand foreign trade by continuation of the low-wage-regime in industry; promises to reorient the economy towards the inner market, to strengthen infrastructure, to raise wages and mass consumption cannot be achieved under these contradictions. In reality, China, according to Holslag, in order not to be caught in the trap of middle average income – what would instigate domestic unrest – is forced to flood the markets of the Asian neighbors with its industrial products, to compete against their industries in a ruinous way and to increasingly press them into the subordinate position of providers of raw materials.
The international economic relations of China’s Asian neighbors, at present still relatively free, would come under pressure, these nations would lose parts of their prosperity prospects and their economic autonomy under the pressure of their giant neighbor. “China’s economic model causes instability.“ (171).
„Not only is there more criticism about Chinese policies of trade diversion and industrial nationalism; countries also become more frustrated about the unbalanced trade relations. In recent years, Beijing still appeared to be able to assuage some neighbors by offering more credit, but that did not work everywhere.. Another consequence of China’s emerging catch-it-all economy is that it prevents neighbors from developing or maintaining their own manufacturing base, limiting deficits on the current account, reducing their dependence on raw materials, constraining inflation, and creating jobs in the formal sector. That leads to dwindling satisfaction and political trust, which, in turn, leads politicians to respond with more nationalistic policies and not seldom to resort to Sinophobic nationalism. This all comes at a moment when China itself is becoming less confident about the durability of its economic success and growing domestic concern about the future of the country.”(171/2)
These considerations by Holslag are supplemented and reinforced by ten Brink’s exemplifications about the rising social tensions in China, in the first place because of the continuing miserable treatment of the workers. See the following section about ten Brink.
„Chinas Kapitalismus. Entstehung, Verlauf, Paradoxien“ von Tobias ten Brink
The main fortitude of this book lies, in my opinion, in the historical depiction of the interaction between Chinese domestic capitalist drives with those of international capitalism, beginning with the so-called reforms under Deng Xiao-ping since 1978 and the first commitments of Chinese capitalists from abroad up to the entanglements with international companies, mainly Western ones, and with international finance, which increasingly put their stamp on the following decades. Ten Brink also deals extensively with the domestic social contradictions, in the first place the question of the so-called migrant workers, that is to say the modern proletariat of China that has made the Chinese bourgeoisie and, partly, global capitalism richer than exploiters of the past could ever have hoped.
Ten Brink is interested, above all, in questions like:
- the interaction between the Chinese state, i.e. the CPCh in the first place, with the capitalist driving forces which had been set into motion step by step by Deng Xiao-ping ’s reforms since 1978. „The party state itself is a central component of China’s capitalism.“ (27)
- the embedding of the development of capitalism in China in global capitalist lines of development and international streams of capital
- the differences between the various regions of China with regard to their level of development, the conflict-loaden dynamics of the competition between them as well as between the various regional state apparatuses on one side, the central government on the other.
- The class conflicts, above all between the working class largely deprived of rights and capitalists and state power.
I omit the author’s extensive (and partly somehow academic and laborious) efforts to define today’s international varieties of capitalism, which, however, are not without interest (e.g. pp 47-57 and continuing till p. 80), and confine myself to rendering some of ten Brink’s main results on China.
His 2nd chapter gives a historical depiction of economic policies in China since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China under Mao Zedong in 1949 up to the birth of “capitalism interpenetrated with the state” („staatlich durchdrungener Kapitalismus“). The latter starts with Deng Xiao-ping’s “reform of the agrarian sector”, i.e. the re-installment of capitalist family farming and the transformation of the collective agrarian and industrial enterprises in the countryside into more or less private capitalist ones. Then we read about the subsequent “emergence of exportism”, the role of Chinese overseas capital resp. Taiwanese capital in industrializing, and about the next stage, the “historical relocation of value creation in the direction of China” (p. 190), i.e. the massive relocations of production from the old, in capitalist terms “over-accumulated” and stagnant center of the global North, i.e. mainly the US and the old industrial nations of Europe.
With regard to the profound dependency of China‘s present export economy from international business cycles, crises and headquarters, ten Brink makes the remark, among others,
“that many of the central factors that helped the Chinese economy to grow and left their marks on its face do not stand under the Chinese state leadership’s control, and are by no means easy to steer… this complex inter- and transnational integration is lately creating dependencies and negative externalisms which handicap the party state in maintaining the socio-economic dynamics.” (192)
(By “socio-economic dynamics” ten Brink seems to allude to the hitherto existing ability of capitalism in China of creating at least enough jobs, by continuous massive growth, to avoid confrontations with too large mass discontent because of joblessness, and to be able to make at least some small concessions in terms of wages.)
The 3rd chapter bears the title „Present lines of development of Chinese capitalism“. Here, ten Brink identifies the very different types of enterprises of today’s China with regard to the composition of their owners. Ownership may comprise private, local, regional, central state or international components. The relations between the owner strata and the “political class” are analyzed.
Beside the very heterogeneous types of ownership, very heterogeneous types of “production regime” have to be identified – this seems to me a very important observation by ten Brink. These regimes are connected to very different levels of wages and social security of the employed. About the “production regimes” see below.
Under the intermediate headline “Antinomies of prosperity: about the overall economic development after 2008” (p. 215) the present efforts and chances of Chinese capitalism to maintain profitability in the crisis-ridden international environment, to continue attracting large amounts of foreign direct investment, to obtain technological and knowledge transfers, to invest the own companies internationally, to enhance the inner market, etc. are discussed.
Here it reads, e.g. (p. 233):
“Especially since the losses in international demand that appeared during the global crisis in 2008/09 and the fears of being confronted with protectionist measures, the Chinese central government increasingly points to the necessity to move away from the one-sided and low-wage-based orientation on exports and from growth that is driven by investment, and to strengthen the domestic market … In addition, the government has recently come under domestic political pressure of rising social discontent that discharged into spontaneous labor struggles.”
Strong increases in wages and an upgrading of the welfare state were announced.
Ten Brink has doubts that these intentions will become true in China’s social reality (p. 233). He offers details about persistent low wages, lack of social institutions as e.g. care for the elder and medicine, and about the high costs of schooling the children.
The numbers he quotes refer to the years 2009 – 2012 and possibly need positive corrections, meanwhile, but the opposite may be true as well. Ten Brink names structural impedimentsthat hamper a positive development in these realms. Among these are the continuing interests of domestic as well as international companies in low wages, and their ongoing ability to enforce them by resorting to the so far hardly developed regions of China and the cooperativeness of their local governments. The competition between the regions in China would continue to foster excessive investment and speculative bubbles, especially in the real estate sector (p. 235-40)
Interesting passages can be found with ten Brink about the re-animation of „Confucianism“ by the CPCh’s propaganda in this extremely contradictory environment of capitalism, state and social frustration. The hodgepodge is dealt with conclusively under the catchword “limits of political steering” (pp. 268 ff. Referring to the role of the propaganda of “Confucius”, ten Brink outlines (p. 265) points of view similar to those I work out below in my criticism of Jacques’ book.
The following quote, too, touches upon the phenomenon that certain peculiarities of today’s Chinese methods of rule might appear attractive to Western capitalism (I stress this thought in my criticism of Jacques):
“… the party state, with regard to its abilities of implementation, is seen in the West as advantaged, just because it could pursue political strategies more long- ranging and more persistently than states with a liberal-democratic constitution, subject to a timeliness characterized by legislative periods.. Additionally, the CPCh enjoys a largely intact monopoly of rule, and campaigns led by the party form an extraordinary political reserve capacity. Peculiar to the legitimation of its rule is syncretism, i.e. the combination of different traditions of thinking, even of pretended anti-capitalist ones, into a pragmatic Sino-Marxist canon, which should, more precisely, be identified as a non-Western program of capitalist modernization. Here, a philosophy of state intervention and development of productive forces flows together with a thinking in terms of harmony, that is partly derived from Confucianism, partly from a quasi-social-corporatism, and with nationalist discourses. It is shielded by opportunism on the part of the intellectuals….” (p. 279)
„Age of Ambition. Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China“ by Evan Osnos
Central to this series of portraits of individuals is their drive for unimpeded information. Simultaneously, Osnos gives a picture of boundless acquisitive frenzy, corruption and crime as signatures of social change in China. He draws parallels to the US’ spectacular debauchery in the period after the Civil War, the period of “Gilded Age”, when industrialization and the formation of the large fortunes started. Osnos appears to be able to make this comparison quite insolently, as the US’ ascendancy of then apparently seems an unevitable stage of development to him, regardless of the human conditions it created, on the way to today’s privileged position that is up to now still enjoyed by the US’ richer strata (authors like Osnos included) on a world scale. Constatating the catastrophical conditions for large majorities – then in the US, today in China – he refrains from in-depth questioning their causes. But time and again he surprises by straightforwardness and blatancy in describing them.
[Notice about the quotations from Osnos’ book: when I first published my English version of this article, I had only the German translation of Osnos’ book and helped myself by re-translating from the German passages. I indicated this in a corresponding remark in the English version published a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile, I got the English audiobook version of the book and was able to transcribe the passages from the original English text as read by Osnos himself. So the section about Osnos comes in a corrected version now. ]
The book is written vividly, consists of details almost totally, therefore I save my renditions and recommend reading it to anybody who likes the like. For a minimum, though, of references to socially typical episodes see here:
The ‘mafiazation of the state’, that is to say the pervasive corruption and cronyism are described in ch. 17. There are some barbed remarks about how the Confucian recipe is being followed that reads
„When a prince’s personal conduct is correct”, Confucius said, “his government is effective without issuing orders. If his personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders but they will not be followed.”
or former president Hu Jintao’s advice:
“The cultivation of personal moral integrity is considered the most basic quality for an honest official.”
At the end of the chapter Osnos makes an attempt to give two possible answers to the question how the consequences of corruption for China’s future might look like.
“The optimistic scenario was that it [corruption] was part of the transition from socialism to the free market.”
Here I want to make a modifying remark: if large parts of international capitalism are letting “the developed world” rot, because the extreme exploitation offered to them by the CPCh and the potentates of some other countries is making them happier, then the emergence of corresponding infrastructure in China and elsewhere is quite natural, and the tardiness of such constructions, if still undertaken at all, in Europe and the US as well. The driving force is the movement of capital, in the first place, and corruption is auxiliary – Osnos is right, in a certain way, in downgrading its significance. By the way: massive corruption as a pervasive phenomenon is to be found in the backsliding “developed world”, too, especially on the executive floors of economy and politics.
“The darker scenario held that the trap posed by Chinese corruption was not economic, it was political…..When an economy thrives, citizens can tolerate even flagrant corruption, but when it slows, that same level of corruption can become intolerable.”
The international perspectives are highlighted occasionally. Osnos tells about his talks with a Chinese businessman on a sightseeing tour in Europe, who seems caught by Chinese nationalism:
“His sentiment did not inspire much optimism about China’s future alongside the West.” (ch.7)
He describes, too, the efforts by the CPCh to manage something like educating the youth in „patriotism“:
“Nationalism helped the party smooth over the paradox of being a socialist vangaurd of a free market economy.” (ch.9)
(Some categorial fuzziness – naming Chinese capitalism a “free market economy” – may go unpunished with an US-journalist once again. He simply is not allowed to write different, neither about US nor Chinese capitalism. )
If Osnos portrays a writer, Liu Xiaobao, as an allegedly important figure of opposition in China, a person who has stepped forward propagating the US’ invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 (what Osnos does not mention) and received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 in exchange, he writes very much more in an US-subjective vein than in his remarks about the function of governmentally fostered “patriotism” in China.
Osnos portrays quite a series of personalities who advocate more freedom of information and more public discussion of awkward questions in China. Let us hope that not all of them are such embarrassing ones as Liu Xiaobao. In any case, many of their utterances seem to vividly reflect the difficulties met by elementary democratic practices in China.
Osnos‘ book is not of the same depth as those by Holslag or ten Brink, but it gives an impression of the concision and insistence of which many Chinese citizens of different political trends are apparently capable. The occasional pieces of his own opinion, though, reflect a regrettable political shallowness, produced by his ties to US-mainstream propaganda. If the intellectual level of the leading personnel in the US in the conflict with China should be of the same kind, then we can bid Good Night to the US.
Now I’m going to devote a lengthier passage to Martin Jacques‘ „When China Rules the World“
Will China in fact “rule the world”?
What are the potencies he considers necessary for that?
What kind of a “world” does he imagine that would let itself be ruled by China? How weak, how willing ought it to be in order to be forced to accept such a rule or, rather, to wish it for its part?
Isn’t this idea absurd?
There has never been a power that „ruled the world“. The empires of history, e.g. of Alexander, the Romans, the Mongols, the Brits never did rule the world but had to leave large parts, encompassing also developed and powerful empires, to the rule of others. After the end of the Soviet Union and the end of an epoch after 1945, during which there existed a system of two superpowers which indeed ruled large parts of the world (this was made possible by their special ways of supplementing each other and leaving no choice for many nations but to insert themselves into the one or the other international system) there has neither existed a rule over the world by the US, as much as they may have strived for it and still might be striving, and as much there may talk about it.
How should China be able to achieve what a US has not been able to?
More thinkable indeed could be a new international power sharing, e.g. between China and the US, where China could perhaps be the stronger pole for some time, similar to the constellation between the two former superpowers when the US were stronger. The US having to content themselves with the secondary role as compared to China would be the precondition for such a new constellation. Perhaps there even exist such tendencies in the US: instead of braving the struggle against China for position #1 through to a decision, the dominant capitalist groups of the US – and perhaps other important groups e.g. in Europe – could perceive bigger profit expectations and better chances for survival of their system in some power sharing with a dominant China.
China could achieve its present rise only by a far-and-deep-going partnership with the US and other capitalist power centers. This is not only about investments of international capital in China and the integration of Chinese world market industries – by far the largest in history – into the international business of foreign companies, but one should also be aware of the large chunk China took in financing the US during the past decades, i.e. of the role it took for mortgage bubble and notably for the horrendous military of the US, and partly still takes. That is not to say, though, that China intends to continue this collaboration from a continuing position of inferiority, or that such a continuation could be possible at all with regard to the necessities of expansion commanding Chinese capitalism. The longer the less it will be possible for China to acquiesce in the – still – dominant military power of the US, not to mention to finance it, which above everything else is destined to the containment of China and the supremacy over China.
Such starting points for considerations are, admittedly, very abstract ones, as neither the US nor China are in the position to fight out their rivalry only between themselves, without being challenged or at least be seriously hampered by other important, politically-militarily not completely incapable power centers on the globe. It cannot be told yet if the EU, in terms of mentality and military, will be capable to preserve some degree of autonomy against the two rivals, but it neither can be completely excluded so far. One should not underestimate the forces that stand for Europe’s self-assertion and a stronger merging of forces there.
India, without doubt economically and militarily second to China and certainly still staying second for a long time in the perspective of its development, forms, however, a strong inner-Asiatic rival to China. It is hardly to be imagined that the ruling circles in India and the majority of the Indian masses could ever accept a domination by China. Against all of the Chinese Central Asian expansion plans (Pakistan, Afghanistan etc.), India forms a heavy stumbling block, against China’s plans of securing its maritime connections through the “Indian” Ocean to Africa and Europe hardly less.
Russia, in my opinion, is an important joker in international power games. Too weak internally and economically to act as a great power, it nevertheless is important in the struggle between others, stronger ones, as it can contribute its considerable military arsenal and the strategic importance of its immense territory to any international coalition, and can weaken it by leaving it any time.
Furthermore, even the formation of new political heavyweights in Latin America cannot be completely excluded. Those could emerge via coalitions of existing nations, perhaps even by the formation of a bloc with the US, and they could aspire to have some say in international affairs some day.
Jacques’ talking of China’s coming world rule („Soon China will rule the world“ is the prophecy on the cover) should be shelved under wishful thinking. That does not exclude, though, that there are forces in China and somewhere else which unconditionally strive to make such wishes true.
If a „Western“ author as Jacques propagates, in the actual manner, a coming world ruled by China, one could shrug it off as kind of curiosity, but it should also be asked, why such a propaganda is able to find an important publisher, sales numbers of several hundreds of thousands in the English-speaking realm and not few public laudations. The publisher, Penguin books, by the way, is ultimately under control by Bertelsmann in a joint venture with the British Pearson group, Bertelsmann 53%, Pearson 47%.
I guess there is more to it than only the adaptation to a coming superior economic power of China, that is, interestingly enough, depicted here as inevitable. It is about attempts to find better methods for the survival of capitalism altogether, jointly with the ascending Chinese capitalism and its leadership which operates by a highly centralized bureaucracy, by an all-embracing aspiration for control, domination and manipulation. “Better”, i.e. more effective methods of rule that “the West” with its traditions, its structures of politics and police can provide.
For the „West“, the assimilation of its methods of government to traditional Chinese doctrines and methods of government will become inevitable in Jacques’ view. He strongly discounts claims and prognoses so far common in the “West” that China would have to converge and adapt to “Western” norms of parliamentary democracy and so-called human rights, i.e. such forms as found to be the most useful by “Western” capitalism so far, in most cases, for the domination over society. Rather, under the auspices of China’s rising global rule and the ”West” falling behind, the latter would have to “confucianise” itself to a certain degree.
What at all are those norms for society and politics seen as typical Chinese by Jacques ?
He introduces his view by ways of looking back to former eras of the imperial “Middle Kingdom”:
„Indeed, imperial China already enjoyed, in elemental form, some of what we understand, in a broader comparative context, to be the crucial building blocks and incipient characteristics of a nation-state. In Confucianism, for example, it possessed a state ideology par excellence, by far the most advanced of its time, which imbued the outlook of the elite and also influenced the wider population. The mandarin bureaucracy – schooled in the precepts of Confucianism, devoted to the idea of service and endowed with a powerful credo of administration – was by far the most sophisticated civil service of its time. ….Finally, Sinocentrism – the idea of the Middle Kingdom, the view that China was the centre of the world, the belief that Chinese civilization was the most advanced in the world – provided what might be described as a primordial form of patriotism. This was not the kind of patriotism that we associate with the nationalism of the modern nation-state, but rather a belief in their own universalism, the relevance of their culture to all peoples and societies, and its inherent superiority in relation to others. Implicit in this feeling of pre-eminence,…, was an inchoate notion of racial, as well as cultural superiority, such that the two became intimately entwined.” (306)
“Confucius … is in the process of experiencing a revival and his precepts still, in important measure, inform the way China thinks and behaves. Although there are important differences between the Confucian and Communist eras, there are also strong similarities. This is not to deny that China has changed in fundamental ways, but rather [565/566] to stress that China is also marked by powerful lines of continuity – that, to use a scientific analogy, its DNA remains intact. This is a country, moreover, which lives in and with its past to a greater extent than any other: that past casts a huge shadow over its present such that, tormented by its failure to either modernize or unify, the Chinese lived for long in a state of perpetual regret and anguish. But as China now finally circumnavigates its way beyond the ‘century of humiliation’ and successfully concludes its 150-year project of modernization, it will increasingly search for inspiration, nourishment and parallels in that past. As it once again becomes the centre of the world, it will luxuriate in its history and feel that justice has finally been done, that it is restoring its rightful position and status in the world.”
These passages reveal a mental disposition on the author’s part that is as reactionary as arrogant as a-historical. It may remain an unanswered question for now, if it is to be found also with the present Chinese leadership or with parts of China’s public opinion at all, or with this rigor (it resembles, though, some opinions uttered by governmental organs of China at times, e.g. concerning Confucianism). But what is striking here is a Western capitalist author propagating in the face of the whole world the alleged superiority and future viability of reactionary, arrogant and lowliness-demanding old Chinese ideas about society, morality and politics. Those, in Jacques’ opinion, essentially Chinese concepts shall be those to which the rest of humanity ought to increasingly orientate itself? Being the concepts of the absolutely dominant capitalist power of the future, these concepts would also be the concepts to which the rest of humanity would have to adapt?
If this is not a cry for help from a Western capitalism, which is in doubts about its future abilities to form its own world and the international conditions out of its own, and is looking for a new supreme leader in order to preserve the system of exploitation altogether – what sense could such tirades have else?
And these are tirades, ignorant of positive elements of the European-American culture, glorifying questionable elements of Chinese culture; history-distorting tirades.
Jacques and his „Confucianism“
Let us have a look at Jacques’ praise for “Confucianism” first, and what he paints as the alleged Chinese doctrine of state in past and future. What is the “Confucian” in Jacques’ eyes that promises so many good things for China’s future, and for the world’s future under China’s supremacy?
Confucianism should be looked at historically, i.e. at first we should make a difference between the teachings by Confucius and his relatively close pupils and followers in their epoch, 500-300 BC appr., and the later transformations, e.g. Neo-Confucianism of 1000 AD appr., and finally the teachings offered by China’s capitalist supremos of today.
About original Confucianism, Jacques seems to have no idea at all. He does not even know that the foundation of the unitary Chinese empire by the “First Emperor” in 221 BC was guided by resolute rejection of Confucianism. The First Emperor came from the state of Quin, which had risen from a long period of struggle against exactly those traditional Chinese models of society which Confucius was eager to propagate. Quin and the First Emperor followed the legalist doctrine, which rejected Confucianism, e.g. worship of the ancestors, submission to the old clan aristocrats and their old-fashioned ways of exploitation. They prosecuted such propagandists und replaced these things by new forms of land ownership, publicly announced laws and a centralized administration through officials that were responsible and selected according to performance. The Confucianists on their part aimed at the conservation and restoration of obsolete forms.
Only after the new conditions of land ownership and the new forms of state had been irrevocably established by the First Emperor and the Han dynasty succeeding him, elements of Confucianism were so to say rehabilitated and built into the practices and doctrines of government. I admit to tend to negative feelings about this process and should say in this vein that the teachings of obedience, the tirades on “general” humaneness – the conditions of the Chinese peasantry being not especially humane through the millennia –, on the high morality of the ruling persons and the social harmony, tirades in which especially Confucianism excelled time and again in strong denial of the reality of two millennia of exploitation in Chinese society, seem to make Confucianism attractive again as a propaganda tool today, when modern capitalist exploitation, arbitrariness of the Rich and the Powerful, corruption and social recklessness are breaking all dams in China.
I think it possible that in „Western”, still predominantly “Western” financial capitalism there is growing interest in Confucianism, as Chinese capitalism and financial capitalism seen to demonstrate that such “ideals” provide better means for throwing dust into the eyes of large masses of people in times of growing real lawlessness and inhumanity – better than the own traditional ways of propaganda. Perhaps there also could be some combinations? If it was possible to integrate Western financial capitalism into the exploitation of several hundred millions of Chinese and East-Asian workers and let it profit this way, could there not be possible, too, a promising ideological integration? It would be thrilling if our rulers, apart from the impositions of Islam, would soon carry those of Confucianism, too, into our societies. Jacques might be just a crazy maverick, but I am afraid he has important people in the background; in this case, we shall have to broadly discuss such ideas as his, that “the West” has to become more Chinese.
Confucianism never had the monopolistic position in China’s cultural history that it seems to assume for the reader by the preferential treatment granted to it by Jacques – that seems to me important to stress. There always were and still are doctrines of fundamentally different starting points, Daoism, Legalism, Mohism, also religions as Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, and in modern times western-bourgeois concepts of society and thinking, and finally an originary peasant revolutionism that is deeply rooted in China’s history and is by no means Confucian. Mao Zedong personifies a peculiar synthesis of this peasant revolutionism with Western “Marxism” and Leninism. It was the fundament of the victories which the CPCh under Mao Zedong won against Japanese and US imperialism and against the inner reaction of landlordism and comprador capitalism. This synthesis formed the fundament of the People’s Republic of China of 1949. Mao Zedong certainly was not a Confucianist.
One more historical illustration: when China really entered modernity after the end of World War I, the Movement of May 4th (1919) played an important role. It strongly criticized Confucianism, among others, as a fundamental element of China’s backwardness.
During Mao Zedong’s last years (1974-76) a new public struggle against Confucianism started, in which by means of historical studies it was attempted to dig out its roots in old society. Approaches were formulated to unravel large complexes of heavy cultural and mental burdens traditionally weighing upon China. Regrettably, this “Campaign Against Lin Biao and Confucius” also had some biases, and very soon, when Deng Xiao-ping and his capitalist-minded group took over, went into oblivion.
Ignorant or in denial of such historical processes, Jacques goes as far as to assert an inner affinity between Confucianism and the entire period of the CPCh’s rule, i.e. also the socialist period. He thinks that he is discovering hidden continuities and is able to explain key elements of its methods of government by the survival of Confucianist traditions.
This view leads to some relations apparently unknown to Jacques. Explaining them could have some consequences he might dislike.
As a matter of fact, there is a continuing life of Confucian traditions in the CPCh and even in form of the CPCh, if Confucianism is seen as a typical feature of China’s millennia-old imperial bureaucracy. As mentioned above, the original teachings of Confucianism, though, were firmly opposed to the emergence of such forms of government and their new social bases during the period of the Warring States up to the First Emperor (221 BC). It was only step by step that imperial rule later on integrated elements of Confucianism into its ideology. That the imperial bureaucracy has been perceived as ”confucianistic” abroad for a long time – and people like Jacques still seem to have this perception – obviously contains large chunks of misunderstanding. Nevertheless it seems to have been adapted to language in the “West”. Probably it is more realistic to talk of an imperial bureaucracy with some confucianistic ritual draperies.
When the CPCh became the decisive ruling party of the whole nation in 1949 after a quarter of a century of fierce civil and anti-imperialist wars that stirred the whole country, it undoubtedly borrowed, and partly had to borrow, essential governmental methods of the age-old empire; certainly many people turned to the party and were recruited as staff, then and later, whose mentalities still were sharing a lot with that of the Middle Kingdom, its methods of rule and its world outlook. The CPCh in its whole development, and especially after it took the seats of government in Beijing and elsewhere, has to be seen as a merging of age-old imperial traditions, also of more modern capitalist-democratic intentions, with Chinese peasant revolutionism and – western-inspired – proletarian revolutionary currents. These inner contradictions of the party were staged time and again under the leadership of Mao Zedong in the most various forms, culminating in the era of the Cultural Revolution. (Its inauguration by Mao Zedong has its 50th anniversary just now.)
I recommend to appreciate the views of the US-American author William H. Hinton, who has followed and described China’s inner development, starting some years before the foundation of the People’s Republic until after 2000, supported by many years of own practical experience in China and contacts from the grassroots to the top levels. According to Hinton, the old imperial apparatus with its inborn, not at all communist mentality of authority and exploitation, was able to secure to itself a survival within the CPCh, the new ruling party. Permanently challenged by the revolutionary forces around Mao Zedong, it could never been beaten decisively, though. In many phases, according to Hinton, this part resp. this aspect of the apparatus was an useful, indispensable element in edifying the New China, but it never gave up its endeavors to turn to non-socialist economic forms, to forms of exploitation. Its abilities for intrigue and sabotage, schooled in millennia, enabled it to lead such decisive impulses as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution into self-destruction and defeat. (Excerpts from Hinton’s work together with some reflections tied to them see my post of July 2015)
By the overthrow under the leadership of Deng Xiao-ping after Mao Zedong ’s death such forces come to the top and since then are remodeling China in their own interests – still in close cooperation with international capitalism. In this sense, it seems possible indeed to talk about a continued life of something like Confucianism – an embodiment of imperial traditions of rule – in the form of the CPCh, and in this sense Jacques might be right, roughly speaking. In this way, though, he is embezzling almost completely all of the struggles in China’s history and especially within the CPCh. Interestingly, in doing so he corresponds quite exactly to the line of China’s present rulers who want to keep topics like peasant emancipation, collective economy, deep-digging questions of China’s history and ideology out of the public debate and love to drape their turbo-capitalism with a phoney human, Confucian cloak.
There is one point to Confucianism apart from its governmental use and in some contrast to the historic defeats it has suffered. Apart from its usefulness for the exploiting classes and their need for stability and harmony, Confucianism still seems to play a role because of its connections to some social structures still somehow in use in today’s China, the clans. Confucianism originated from attempts to preserve the old clan aristocracies, and still seems to be to essentially connected to clan systems. If those should prove useful as a kind of substructures for today’s capitalist exploitation – and they seem to do that in Deng Xiao-ping’s and Xi Jinping’s China – they still might have some kind of future, and Confucianism as the ideology suitable to them derives some vigor. (This para being a deductive reasoning, not a tale from actual social experience, it might easily be open for correction by specialists and China insiders.)
I should like to conclude these remark by stressing that the reality of China’s modern capitalist ascendancy cannot be ruled by methods and thoughts which Jacques strives to depict as “confucianist”- “Confucianism ” as propagated by the present regime is above all part of a propagandistic façade. But because global capitalism, the Chinese capitalism being a sustaining part and a hope of it, has no less trouble with problems of legitimization and must constantly make efforts to renovate its public self-depiction, the confucianist talk of the Chinese rulers is benevolently appreciated in the West. Perhaps some people here even think of borrowing from this.
China and Silicon Valley
What is even more: China seems to be some steps in advance as compared to Google, secret services of the West and the like, in practical applications of modern IT-based methods of surveillance and steering. I tend to insinuate that in the “West”, i.e. in Western financial capitalism, the “progress” in these realms made in China is seen not without sympathy and even envy. The Chinese bureaucratic apparatus in its confucianist cloaks seems to have achieved already certain levels of control and perhaps manipulation (see e.g. for the news about programs of ‘social scoring’ in China openly announced by the government), reaching deeply into the most private life of the individual citizens, and is promising more of that. Of course, all of this in the most benevolent confucianist mind, promoting “harmony and humaneness”. Similar efforts are of course underway in the West, but apparently there are obstacles to them because of public democratic criticism. So perhaps there is something Google etc. can learn from China? Could we even think of joint ventures in that realm? (Perhaps some top people of US’ IT-capitalism are meditating about how to get the supreme control in such international cooperations – if the Chinese would be cooperative at all, which is very, very doubtful. Chinese capitalism arrogates itself to superpower #1 status, and we may expect interesting mutual revelations and criticisms in the future which could further democracy in the world)
Does Jacques think of such matters when he talks of “confucianising” the West?
When Jacques becomes uncritical of racism
Apart from that, Jacques does not only confront us with the imposition to barter Western democratic traditions for Confucian mindsets of subordination. He also stresses other currents of thinking which he deems typically Chinese and which, in his opinion, will in the long run guide, too, China’s ascendancy: a naïve racism and a “Middle Kingdom” mentality, according to which the Chinese nation would represent the peak of world civilization and the natural center of the world, to which other parts of the world ought to subordinate themselves, above and first of all the neighboring nations, becoming tributary states as in the past in relation to imperial China. If China is to rule the world, then the rest of mankind should think of coming to terms with such ideologemes, according to Jacques’ more or less explicit opinion.
Here we have, I think, not only a provocation against enlightened and democratic traditions in the West and other parts of the world, but also insults against the Chinese nation. If Jacques sweepingly portrays the Chinese nation as racist and naively imperialistic, then he is transgressing limits of what ought to be allowed to a non-Chinese author. For in the face of the rich historical experiences of the Chinese nation, of its own painful experiences with Western and Japanese imperialism, of the long and complicated struggles for liberation, of the numerous experiments with socialist models which led to a series of great achievements (even if they could not be sustained in the past decades), in the face of the manifold and enlightened currents in Chinese culture, and in the face of the new experiences with the dark sides of capitalism it is impossible that racism and imperial thinking are prevailing in China without opposition.
On the other hand, an uncritical acceptance of racism, be it of a different culture, from the part of a British author does not necessarily seem a wonder. The United Kingdom with its colonial world empire, gradually conquered since the 17th century, has been the main breeding ground for white racism. White racism, i.e. British racism, the following US racism, perhaps a French colonial racism as well, are inevitable by-products of centuries of systematically raping, humiliating and exploiting people of different colors and ethniticities, of Africans, Indians, Chinese etc., in the service of the enrichment of the then biggest and richest capitalists of the world at those times.
It might seem that writings that apparently quite unselfconsciously offer a new racism for acceptance, as Jacques’ book does in its tendency to devotedly bow knees in the face of an ultralarge new Chinese capitalism, are possible without danger in today’s Anglo-Saxonian discussion.
The corresponding passages in Jacques‘ book seemed incredible to me at my first reading. This author localises the alleged racism as a present elementary current in China completely beyond criticism, he even propagates it as an element of the new world power that is going to rule us – if we were to follow him.
I am conscious of the fact that my considerations about China presented here are necessarily fraught with shortcomings and mistakes as they are based solely on reading a few books and journalistic contributions written in the West. I do not have access so far to the inner discussions in China, to the different currents of thought and to the probably existing progressive oppositional organizations. What is being portrayed to us in the West as Chinese opposition has certainly been strongly selected. Oppositional voices that do not fit into the Western media’s patterns, e.g. the patterns of so-called human rights organizations, which often are hardly more than agencies of Western imperialist efforts, are hardly to be found in our quality media.. But I am certain that there are in China and perhaps also in the Chinese diaspora other forces, too, that deserve to be noticed and to be supported, that could tell us important things and with which one should cooperate.
One final word about Jacques’ knowledge of the European-American culture, to which he so fervently recommends the adaptation to reactionary elements of Chinese culture. Apparently this is as poor as his knowledge about China.
Fundamentally, what Jacques interests in the West is mainly its historic ability to make money and become rich in a capitalist way. This ability, he observes, is developing in China presently with more vigor, therefore he has no qualms about changing sides. The traditional West, moreover, consists mainly of its Anglo-Saxonian parts for Jacques. He seems to know little about its traditions of enlightenment and democracy, e.g. about French and German contributions, among others, to Western culture, or he is not interested in. This, too is no wonder, as the British cultural contributions tended to be relatively meager since the end of the 18th century – there were never-ending opportunities to squeeze the colonies and allow oneself a certain mental degeneration as is, by the way, typical also of today’s US.
Why did „modernity“ not appear in China of 18th century?
Jacques is also advocating the view that the cultural preconditions for “modernity”, for the rise to superpower status, leading superpower status, had been existent in China on a level comparable to Europe’s already in the 18th century. Not the inner conditions, but contingent external causes have in his view forced China to accept a retardation of more than 200 years in its ascendancy. His long-drawn explications in the first part of his book are characterized by cultural ignorance. To assert the existence of a Chinese class of merchants and capitalists of considerable wealth and smartness prior to Britain’s imperialist grip on China (beginning with the Opium Wars since 1839) is too poor a proof for the alleged equal inner power of a whole culture. As already said: for Jacques, culture consists mainly in the ability to make money. He does not go into the massive tendencies in China under the last dynasties to stagnate, to petrify social conditions, to contemplate the own navel and stay ignorant, tendencies that were grounded in the self-preservative drive of the dynasties, of their social base in landlordism and of its bureaucratic apparatus.
So much about the author’s education and historical understanding – and the intellectual level of the authorities that are quoted upon the cover etc. singing Jacques’ praise.
The excerpts from four relevant books presented here cannot give direct answers to the questions, mentioned in the beginning, that relate to China’s future and the future of the rest of the world in its relations to China.
Holslag, ten Brink and Osnos do not claim that, in contrast to Jacques . His analyses and predictions, though, are to be classified rather as wishful thinking, due to their unsatisfactory intellectual level.
Wishful thinking as to future superpower status, however, can be found not only in China but also in certain leading circles in the West, and some in the West even seem to meditate about China’s leadership in a future global system to which they could adapt for their own benefit.
Here I want to formulate some points of view that seem arguable and important to me in the context of general historical criticism of capitalism, in combination with criticism of the present development of China’s capitalism and its relations within global capitalism. They are being supported by the explications of the mentioned authors in multiple ways, but they are not theirs, cannot be attributed to them and might also contradict theirs.
As well as US-American capitalism, European capitalism and even more Russian and Latin American capitalisms resp. the present global capitalist compounds, Chinese capitalism – which, too, must be seen also in its international networks – is an unstable, crisis-ridden system that presses the larger part of mankind hard, impoverishes it and is not able to offer a humane future. Perhaps it is even shakier than Western capitalism.
Capitalism’s ongoing development will lead to new fundamental questionings of the capitalist property relations and world outlooks, that is to say to concussions of world society of which still much too few people, at least in the relatively saturated countries, have an idea so far. China itself, in my opinion, is a candidate for future social unrest on enormous scales and for socially grounded overthrows.
Just as little as US-American capitalism, being so far the biggest in history, can forgo global, above all military enforcement of its interests, Chinese capitalism, which declaredly claims to be heir to the US in terms of volume, power and worldwide leadership, will do so.
Even if China has rightful claims in some geostrategic questions, e.g. the South China Sea, vs. the US or this or that neighbor, and has so far acted mainly defensively, Chinese capitalism is the cradle of so much inner unrest that international points of friction promise to become starting points for wars. (As an illustration: already shortly after Deng Xiao-ping and his people, the decisive movers and shakers of China’s turn to capitalism, had acceeded to the supreme positions of the party, and an extremely precarious inner situation had emerged because of the break with almost everything that had been called right or wrong in China so far, the new leadership picked a quarrel with Vietnam, the southern neighbor, immediately after Deng Xiao-ping had returned from a visit to the US, in Febr. 1979. This visit had been qualified as “triumphal” in the media, the war was begun under a pretext and truly old-imperial slogans as “teach Vietnam a lection”. See e.g. Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After, rev. ed. 1988, p. 455)
In evaluating such sentences as written above it is necessary to be aware how all big wars of the capitalist centuries were driven not only by geostrategic competition (most visible e.g. in the First World War), but also by the inner revolutionary challenges the capitalist rulers were confronted with at times. To take international war as an exit from domestic capitalistic dilemmata is a capitalistic standard. Not necessarily, though, must there be such attempts of capitalist “solutions of crises” again in the future. It is impossible to predict history. But the dangers inherent in certain social structures must be looked at with clear eyes.
It is equally impossible to predict future international alliances and possible war coalitions. There is no inevitability of large direct military confrontations between the present main rivals, the US and China, although the massive military buildup against each other points into that direction. Perhaps these two capitalist powers will discharge their destructive energies instead in struggles against others, perhaps even in a coalition against others. Perhaps the US and China go together for some time in order to butcher Russia or the EU or both and to stabilize themselves for some time? Also a revival for a transatlantic coalition (nations of the EU and the US) in the fight against China could be possible, at least theoretically. Or a large proxy war by China, with partners, against India, with partners? Such theoretical combinations are just examples, there could be more. It is decisive, above all, not to focus solely on lines of confrontation that so far have been seeming obvious, but to see them as possible scenarios besides other ones, and not to overlook new turns, surprises, even completely unprecedented developments.
Chinese capitalism is developing new methods of steering and suppressing large masses of populations, leaning on millenia-old imperial bureaucratic traditions and a mass civilization that is not very near to European-American mores of democracy, individualism, the value attributed to personality. It strives to fortify the paradises for the rich und superrich, in the same sense as Western capitalism. That makes it interesting and a potential partner for the most radical fantasists of modern IT-based suppression and steering of large masses in the West, especially in Silicon Valley. We do not know which social and cultural forms the anti-democratic leanings of the capitalist regime in China and the anti-democratic leanings of the leading strata of e.g. the US will assume in the future, how far in manipulating and even mutation of human nature they will go. The so-called optimization of humans – optimal in functioning for capitalism or its military – by brain implants or gen-editing, e.g., has been an object for research and implementation already for quite a long time and rather declaredly.
(A pretaste of antihuman barbarism has been given by China’s capitalist regime shortly after the installation of the Deng Xiao-ping regime when it introduced the “One-Child-Policy” in 1979. I spare myself summaries of the devastations in demographics, in the emotional life of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, and which crimes against mothers and children this policy has been causing.)
In any case, also this aspect, the work of such capitalist radicalinskies destined to bring about different foundations of civilization, should be kept under observation. On both sides of the Pacific they seem to have focal points.
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