China didn’t Westernise; the West became more Chinese
Covid has accelerated the competition between great powers
Like a pistol shot in 1914 Sarajevo, Covid can be seen as a chance event ushering in the end of a tottering old world and the beginning of a new one. A historical accelerant speeding along changes that were, perhaps, always inevitable. The West’s lacklustre handling of Covid compared to China’s top-down authoritarian statism has been a wake-up call to the American establishment; a sobering dry run for the period of “extreme competition” we have now entered. Joe Biden’s note of alarm yesterday, after his two-hour phone call with Xi Jinping, that “if we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch,” marks a shift of historic proportions.
In his detailed analysis for the New York Times Noam Schreiber notes that Biden’s new Build Back Better industrial policy is “deviation from the free-trade gospel” calling for $400 billion in government procurement of American-made equipment, $300 billion for research and development, and hundreds of billions more in subsidies to promote domestic manufacturing.
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As the article notes:
We’ve been here before, of course. The world before 1914, as Keynes famously observed, was one of globalisation overseen by British imperial hegemony, the first End of History when the economic and political liberals of the day, like those of our own time, “regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable.” Yet great power competition brought the first age of globalisation shuddering to a halt, in a catastrophic collision with reality from which Britain and Europe have never recovered.
America’s political and defence establishment is now trying to turn around the great ship of state at breakneck speed to avoid their own empire-sinking collision with reality. As the analyst Matt Stoller notes, the Pentagon has realised with a juddering lurch of anxiety that the neoliberalising trends of the past few decades have simultaneously exposed the American defence industry to fragile and overextended supply chains — often rooted in China itself— and to a form of monopoly capitalism that leaves the US taxpayer paying over the odds for inferior products.
With even Lockheed Martin’s CEO urging replication of the China model— in Stoller’s words, to “mimic authoritarian societies in the way we run our commerce,” China’s already winning the economic Cold War.
This is surely the great irony, and supreme historical significance of Covid: for decades, America’s establishment, not least Biden himself, earnestly believed that globalisation would move China in a liberal direction. Instead, the wealth, ambition and power of the rival superpower unleashed by globalisation is forcing the West to become more statist just to keep up.
Free trade doesn’t work when only one side is playing by the rules? The west needs to get off its you-know-what and organize more nationalistically? Gee, that sounds awfully familiar. Remind me where I heard it before, mainstream media. And weren’t you all screaming “racist” and “xenophobe” at the last guy saying it?
Sickening hypocrisy. A bit like Macron now agreeing to tackle Islamic extremism as a national priority, whereas before anyone in that camp was a phobic.
Now they have dumped Trump they can try to take credit for things he pursued and they condemned. Too late though. The good ship USA will go down on the Dems watch… and that bit of schadenfreude will have to suffice in this mess.
There is a massive difference in the two approaches. There’s difference between using protectionist trade policies (Trump) and investing in domestic infrastructure (Biden). Trump tried the first, and ended up actually harming America, and ignored the second. Even with US protectionist measures, Chinese trade had a bumper year last year. Biggest surplus since 2008. Google it.
Both are terrible policies. A brief round of tariffs, as a tactic towards negotiation, would have been reasonable. But, of course, Trump just kept going. Biden’s policies will further tip the US into bankruptcy and undermine US industry by making them wards of the state. And that’s worse.
I am sorry but it puts me in mind of the US record on human rights, and the treatment of its allies. Back in the 1980s and 90s US courts were refusing to extradite Irish terror suspects on the basis that they would not get a fair trial in the UK or that they faced inhuman treatment.
Come 9/11 human rights go out the window and torture and rendition became the order of the day and we as a poor unfortunate ally were expected to fall into line without so much as a hang on a minute.
This whole thing has much the same flavour
It’s tricky to be comparing the West’s handling of COVID and that of China and decrying the former as being lacklustre. This particular war is not over yet. A snapshot of WWII in say, 1940 would by the same measure be singing the praises of totalitarianism.
The PRC responded to COVID with a total lockdown, which appears for now to have worked. That is an option an authoritarian fascist state has, and one a democracy ought not to. The West has responded by developing vaccines using educational institutions underpinned by freedom of thought and capitalist companies who market discipline and competition have made effective at developing, producing and distributing products required by the market. Should the vaccination programs go as planned, then let’s talk in a year about how one side’s approach was better.
What COVID has done – although the debate has been stunted by the reluctance of our so-called free media to fully entertain opinions contrary to the approved narrative – is to throw into perspective a number of questions as to where to draw the line between competing goals (eg suppressing COVID vs suppressing freedom). If you don’t give a damn about freedom in the first place, then it’s very easy to make suppressing COVID the be-all and end-all.
I would also note that with regards to death rates, from a disease that is much more dangerous to the elderly and obese, that the ability of societies to enable people to live longer, and generate such material abundance that people could consume more than they need, would likely lead to bad-looking metrics, when the underlying truth is that they were superior at what societies are generally judged upon, health and material progress.
There’s a big group of people, including some that have passed on that could tell all the Globalist politicians and fans a big “We TOLD YOU SO”. As mentioned bellow, when President Trump wanted to do something about it the howls of “Xenophobic”,”racist” were amplified all over the media. Now, it’s absolutely HILARIOUS if not pathetic, that Pres Biden has had to eat his own 2019 words: “China eating our lunch? Come on man.”
His latest pronouncement about China: “Last night I was on the phone for two straight hours with Xi Jinping…if we don’t get moving they’re going to eat our lunch.”
Not a peep from the MSM calling these words, and his “America First” (stolen from Trump, I might add) policy “Xenophobic” or “Racist”.
Biden is a bought and paid for CCP Stooge. “The Big Guy” and his family are just a family of money grubbing virtue signalling phoneys as his son smokes meth with underage girls.
Good to see you back on the grid Mr Allan, keep, it up! Even with this dreadful UnHerd Comments fiasco.
Scott, you give Slow Joe too much credit. He is a modern day McCarthy – not the anti-Commie Senator Joe, the ventriloquist’s dummy Charlie. He is merely a mouthpiece for woke idiots Woe is us.
The notion the the CCP is doing better than other regimes is somewhat distorted. The CCP has probably executed more people than they claim have died from Xi flu. The CCP probably have more people in their concentration camps than have died across the world from Xi flu. Who on earth could believe they are doing better?
Economists and most Chinese people.
Trump is the 21st century’s Cassandra. He was talking about China being a threat years ago, and the need to onshore jobs. Democrats are like teenagers.
Only when they realise their mistake themselves do they act – no amount of warnings will make them see, and they hate you for being right.
No more Disqus then?
Yes, what on earth is happening here?
Seems like when you vote up or down it calculates the total .
People here arguing back and forth about China, should try and find out what the Chinese higher ups in the military actually think. Take the time to read the book “Unrestricted Warfare”, written in 1999 by two colonels in the People’s Liberation Army, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, then you’ll have some idea of what is going on:
This is probably the most useful and informative comment on here, but as usual, nobody’s listening.
Many are listening but it seems impossible to ‘up’ vote because this dreadful new comments system!
It is effectively killing this forum.
Indeed, something to ponder. China’s ambitions aren’t hidden. Whether we want a future dominated by the benign neglect of the US or a future of a China wishing to control all of the globe is at stake. Allowing China to set the rules in their favor harms more than the US. The goods from China are created using essentially slave labor, yet we continue buying them. Tariffs may be the only way to level the field as awful as it is for trade.
In the phrase sometimes (probably erroneously) attributed to the Chinese strategist Sun Tsu: “Choose your enemies well, for you will come to resemble them.”
I recall the Sino-phobes screeching “This is China’s Chernobyl” when CV19 broke out a year ago. Now they tell us to be like them. Totally consistent, not.
I think this article places too much on China as the reason behind the more ‘statist’ thinking that is beginning to emerge in the USA. Such tendencies can be seen quite clearly across the ‘Western’ democracies over the last 10 years – perhaps slightly less. I’m not quite sure what lies behind this trend but tend to think its a result of several interacting developments: yes the rapid rise of China but also India and the whole of Asia against which the USA and Europe see a relative decline in their power, influence and pace of development . I can’t remember the details now but I do recall Obama sending a clear message that the Pacific and not the Atlantic would be the main focus of US policy etc. and Trump had is eyes quite clearly on the East/China
the next few years are going to be interesting and who knows, a West that feels a little vulnerable and unsure of itself might well look for ‘stronger’ Government and leadership. What Europe does in the new future is anyone’s guess
Authoritianism has been growing in the US since the founding. It increased with TR, accelerated dramatically with FDR, and is accelerating again under the last few Prezs. China is certainly a catalyst. Big government is like the blob that just continuously expands, eating everything in its path.
In the cultural sphere the west has triumphed. What happened to Chinese painting especially scrolls. The vanishing point is now everywhere, in photography television films, this is a western idea
Chinese painting never used shadows or a vanishing point or indeed reflections.japanese art was the same, very few people notice in Japanese prints of bridges you never see a reflection, they are hardly missed, but in the optical projection of nature
made by a camera it’s always there., and cameras are a lot older than photography indeed they are the source of one point perspective. I am only pointing this out because most historians economists and even art historians don’t know this, and how we look at the world is surely important
This commentator doesn’t understand China at all. It switched from the Soviet Totalitarian model (Mao) to a Fascist One–State Control of Industry through Exteme Coercion eg Hitler: ReArm Us in RECORD TIME (1933-1939) or we will KILL your Families.
YOU are the Experts, we won’t tell you HOW to do it (the Soviet Model), JUST DO IT!.
I am surprised no one has noticed this.
The naivety of US policy toward China from Nixon onwards ought to amaze people.
The fawning acceptance of this by Europe/UK likewise.
That said ‘le defi americain’ and the fears of Japanese industrial dominance in the 1980’s were already out of date by the time they’d become journalists’ staple.
Where does the PRC’s weakness lie?
A rotten financial system?
Demands for freedom from the young?
The cost of making a country with an ageing society fit to live in?
We live in hope having squandered our advantages.
“the West became more Chinese”…that’s what happens when you are colonised….
The 14 Ohio class Nuclear Ballistic Submarines and the 336 Trident II D-5 missiles they carry are in no way dependent on China. With a range of over 7,000 nautical miles, they could, to use the words of the late USAF General Curtis E LeMay “bomb the Chinese back to the Stone Age”.
Unfortunately due to thirty years of rampant US appeasement, insatiable greed, and feeble minded strategic thinking, all the ‘theatre’ allies, Taiwan, Japan, S Korea, and Singapore are now impossible to defend, and will go down as unavoidable collateral damage when the inevitable day of Armageddon comes.
Fortunately it will be an overwhelming US victory, the like of which has not been seen since the fall of Carthage. Additionally there will be substantial eco benefits from a markedly reduced population, resulting in diminished Green House gases etc. Assuredly there will not be Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), as the disparity of weaponry between the US and China is so enormous.
Oh I almost forgot, there are estimated to be 102 cities in China with a population of over 1 million. Do the maths.
Calling for genocide is evil and, I hope, illegal.
“If you wish for peace prepare for war”.
Incidentally what is wrong with powers of comprehension? They appear somewhat limited.
Mutally Assured Destruction is a defensive strategy designed to prevent the first use of WMD. Your piece effectively called for the first use of WMD thereby reducing the Chinese population: Genocide.
Why don’t you voice your concern to President Xi Jinping, I’m sure he will be amused.
Go and sit in the dark, you evil monster.
Grow up you cretin, what do you think Darwin was all about?
Survival of the best adapted to their environment. Actually
Except he didn’t call for a first strike, only to be prepared because the Chinese are threatening Taiwan, Singapore, etc. The point is that without conventional forces that are a real deterrent, all we have to fall back on is the nuclear option. That’s a horrible situation to be in.
Reading comprehension not your strength?
Of course, because bold predictions of simple and clean victory have such a great track record in history.
But never mind, China has certainly has enough nukes officially to make the US think twice, and who knows unofficially.
Who said simple or for that matter clean? Quick with luck, but no more than that.
The Chinese delivery systems are not capable of hitting the CONUS, their submarines, primitive and crucialy very, very noisy.
Even Putin’s Russia should be able to dispose of China.
Oh I almost forgot, there are estimated to be 102 cities in China with a population of over 1 million. Do the maths,
Lesson from History.
Towards the end of WW2 the Polish “underground” rose against the Germans in Warsaw.
A Polish Army Group wanted to join in but
were forcibly stopped
by the Russian Generals. After the
German Army and the Polish Underground has kicked the s**t out of each other the Russian Army Group went in and mopped-up.
You write like a megalomaniac maniac with the morals of Satan himself. You need to be locked up for public safety. Your planned genocidal rampage is utterly sickening and would revolt any normal human being.
“megalomaniac maniac” what is this? Are you, to use the vernacular, pissed?
Both this this and your two subsequent intemperate posts would indicate that you are inebriated? Am I in error?
However you offer good sport!
You are, I gather, a 70 year old whippersnapper, somewhat ‘hefty’, in appearance, as the Irish would say & living in either Haltwhistle, Haydon Bridge or Hexham, how very unfortunate to say the least.
War with China is inevitable, it is only a question of when, and you should wake up to that fact.
It might help if you popped down to Vindolanda and familiarised yourself with the Roman attitude to War, and all its consequences.
On a lighter note, if you haven’t done so already, look up that lovely letter from Claudia Severa to Sulpicia Lepidina, inviting her to a birthday party, even you may enjoy it.
“Occ est vivere”!
Oh dear. Not content with genocidal ravings, you have now taken up cyber stalking and have gone through, I dare say, quite a number of my posts, to extract fragments of personal information and post it all together perhaps to show how very clever you are….. Well, I’m not really impressed, since you fail to describe me and my environs with any accuracy at all. I weigh in at around 68 kilos which is not in the least hefty for a man of average height and sturdy build. The work that I do necessitates a robust stature. I don’t inhabit any of the places you list. In fact. Regarding the letter of Claudia Severa, the fort commander’s wife, and her invitation to her friend, Sulpicia Lepidina, to visit on her birthday, I am already familiar with it. I live within 2km of Vindolanda (which might help you in your obsessive pursuit, since there are few neighbours hereabouts without four legs) and I am very familiar with the Vindolanda letters thank you. In fact I visit the outstanding museum many times a year, usually when friends come to stay or visit. It is I must say rather a delight to have such a place on one’s door step. I have a season ticket. I must say George, I am far more fascinated by the plethora of everyday Roman objects there, than I ever was with their masonry.
I am not sure what it is that makes you think living in these delightful North Pennine hills is so very unfortunate, especially when one has world heritage features on one’s doorstep. I wonder, have you ever actually been here? I think not, or I doubt you would have made that remark, but then, one can never gainsay the outpourings of the mad, can one? Run along George and plot some more genocide. Although I admire much about the achievements of Rome, the degree of bestial violence they employed, was not I think something I admire in quite the way that you seem to do. For start, I always baulk at the idea of commanders imposing the punishment of decimation on troops who had failed. Quite how hammering to death one in ten men at random, instils anything but utter hatred of the command, and the army itself, escapes me – quite apart from the unfairness of it. It seems to me that a commander doing that, would be likely to brutally kill men who were brave, and dedicated, purely by the random nature of the punishment. The Romans were of their time, I do not impose modern mores upon them, but I won’t recommend their tactics as you seem to do.
Sadly Mr Fox I am unable to reply to your interesting, if typically ill mannered response. Something seems to be ‘wrong’ with the UnHerd Comments section today.
For example only one or two words per line. Did you have the same problem?
You’ve done it again but it’s Friday afternoon and I don’t have the energy.
An acquaintance of mine talks just like this and she was posting on Linked In, Facebook and Twitter before she was banned. I bet you know her. She has what seems like hundreds of friends, ex-squaddies, who intend to defend us if China attacks. A couple of years ago my wife and I decided to go shopping for the weekend in London and when ‘she’ found out she told us it just wouldn’t be safe. However, she could organise security for us if we wanted it. We declined politely.
No I don’t know your friend, but that’s hardly surprising as I refuse to have a Smartphone, don’t do Twatter, Facebook or any of that nonsense!
Just to reiterate my point, there is nothing to worry about because the military disparity between the CCP and US is so enormous that victory is assured. I have only mentioned the Ohio’s but there are plenty of other goodies, in the cupboard, too terrifying to mention here, as it ‘might scare the horses’.
I went to London a couple of months ago for my ‘compulsory’ PAL (Prolongs Active Life) jab, and it seemed quite normal. Quo Vadis?
You are insane. Seek help. You need to be chained up and kept in the dark.
Where do these genocidal loons come from? Oh – of course. He’s been steeped in twenty years of US Military propaganda and spent that time probably planning to wipe out half of the world. These people are dangerous maniacs by the end of their service and they actually let them out after to wander about among the normal people.
inevitable day of Armageddon?- While I see you imagine the inevitable, for which you are being roundly condemned, such a war need not happen and likely won’t. Kissinger’s economic interconnects help avoid war, but the world must develop better rules. The Chinese economy is not self-sufficient, but the US can be nearly so. Keep those tariffs high, improve world trading partners (India?) and the very rich Chinese might want change.
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