Thursday, October 28, 2021

Why I Changed My Mind About Chinese Hegemony

Early last year, I wrote an essay here at Twilight Patriot entitled “Why I Don’t Fear Chinese Hegemony.” My basic premise was that (1) China has zero chance of militarily occupying any part of the United States, and (2) China’s environmental and demographic decline will prevent its coming period of economic dominance from lasting as long as the era of American dominance that is winding down right now.

Now, I still think those premises are true, but I’ve also come to believe that the conclusion I drew from them – that US citizens like myself shouldn’t worry about Chinese hegemony – is incorrect. Granted, I still don’t think the Chinese Communist Party is the biggest threat to American liberties – our country’s internal problems are, for the time being, more serious.

But I do fault my past self for not anticipating the ways that (1) economic power can be turned into political power, and (2) Chinese corporate oligopolies, when properly coordinated by the CCP, can be used for global plunder. (One of my wakeup calls on the second point was hearing from a friend who works in global supply chain management that shipping containers have become way more expensive than usual this year due to what’s probably a deliberate squeeze by the three Chinese companies that make almost the whole supply. Multiply this by a thousand and you might start seeing how the new economic system that’s rising around us is going to work).

As for turning economic heft into political power, a few stories will be instructive. Perhaps you saw the news last week about how Boston Celtics games have been removed from Chinese media after Celtics forward Enes Kantor made a video about the oppression of Tibet? As China is the NBA’s biggest emerging market, it would be naïve to think that Kantor isn’t in for an unpleasant word from the Celtics’ owner and/or manager.

Or perhaps you remember back in May how the actor and WWE wrestler John Cena was cajoled into telling his Chinese fans that he was “very sorry” for calling Taiwan a country? “I made a mistake,” he said, “It’s so so so so so so important, I love and respect Chinese people….”

When China is the world’s dominant commercial power, and also cares deeply about the ideological purity of those it does business with, it is only natural that the tendrils of the Chinese Communist Party will reach across the ocean and strangle freedom of speech in distant lands.

Despite the minor embarrassment of Covid-19, Chinese power and prestige are rising steeply. And let’s be honest here, even Covid isn’t as wholly-Chinese a problem as some naïve Americans like to think.

Were the Chinese scientists in the lab from which the virus probably escaped doing things that would have been illegal in the United States? You bet. But you’ve also got to remember that the experiments were funded by American government money, while American virologists like Antony Fauci were talking up the need for “gain of function” research and downplaying its hazards.

Basically, what we are looking at is a joint Sino-American snafu. It is definitely not a case of the innocent USA being bitten without reason by the Chinese Communist Party.

But such is the changing of empires. The bumbling incompetence of the declining empire paves the way for a new empire to arise. The Chinese have always known this.

Also, when you look at its history and culture, you’ll see that domination is China’s destiny – in the past, regional domination, and in an increasingly-likely future, global domination.

In name, the People’s Republic of China is a socialist/communist country. But the slogan “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” makes more sense if you read it the other way around: Traditional Chinese statecraft, with a thin veneer of socialism painted on the outside.

Communist rule in the Soviet Union and its satellites collapsed when their economies failed, and the mismatch between the utopian promises of communism and its dreary reality led their governing elites to lose faith in the communist worldview.

But this is a poor model for China’s future, because China has been headed away from that situation since the 1980s, when Deng Xiaoping’s reforms restored China’s traditional form of political economy: a semicontrolled market economy led by authoritarian nationalist scholar-bureaucrats.

The fact that, for nearly two millennia, this system made China the wealthiest and most technologically advanced civilization in the world (with Europe’s recent period of dominance being brief in comparison) should clue us in to its durability.

I put little stock in Western dreams that China’s populace will someday rebel in pursuit of the Euro-American ideal of personal freedom. While China’s history includes a long tradition of insurrections against governments that have failed to govern well (or that have lost the Mandate of Heaven, as the Chinese say), China’s concept of what a government should be doing in the first place is different from the Western version.

The typical Chinese man wants his family to be well-fed. He wants to have a fair chance at prospering in his trade. He wants his country to be free of bandits and marauding barbarians (i.e. Huns, Mongols, British). He wants to avoid being robbed by nakedly corrupt officials. Deprive him of those things for long enough, and insurrections will boil up – this is what happened over and over again during the period from 1839 to 1949 which Maoists call the Century of Humiliations.

Starvation was common. Peasants were frequently robbed of everything they owned by landlords and other corrupt authorities. Barbarians were trashing the country.

The underclass responded in a variety of desperate ways. Some left everything behind to become “coolies” and work at low wage jobs in places like Singapore and California. Others climbed out of poverty by making their daughters become prostitutes, or turning their sons into court eunuchs (and since they often couldn’t afford a professional castration, they would do the job at home, with household tools – i.e. a father would say to his eight-year-old son: “take your clothes off and lay on the bed while I get my razor.”)

And from time to time, the peasants grew angry enough to launch rebellions – also an act of desperation, especially when you realize that, apart from World War II, the two bloodiest wars in recorded history were the successful uprising against the Ming dynasty in 1644, and the failed Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864.

The Chinese will rebel when things like what happened during those awful years are allowed to go on for too long, and they have the Confucian Classics to teach them that they are right to do so. But in ordinary times, they are conformists, and they care little for democratic government, freedom of speech, racial equality, or the right of minorities to practice eccentric religions.

Right now, by all historical standards, China is prospering. Life for most Chinese is good and getting better. Wages are up, social mobility is up, China is dominating the barbarians, and so forth. Most Westerners believe the Chinese are wrong to be content with this, but most Chinese do not care.

Now, one of the tragedies of China is that the Han Chinese majority aren’t the only people who have to live in a country shaped by Chinese values. The Chinese system of government, at its high points, is strong, efficient, and ruthless. And when the Chinese are able to, they expand their civilization as far out into their surroundings as they can.

The Miao, Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighars are just a few of the ethnic minorities who have had the misfortune of being caught under the treads of the expanding Chinese civilization. And unlike the Han, these people have little recourse to insurrection, so long as the ordinary Chinese, who vastly outnumber them, are content. Because while the Mandate of Heaven may be lost, it can never be split.

Hence China’s intensely negative attitude toward Uighar and Tibetan separatists, or its willingness to go to great lengths to make sure that other countries do not treat Taiwan as a full sovereign. This attitude toward “breakaway provinces” can be seen all over Chinese history, when the establishment of multiple kingdoms after a dynasty fell was never followed by lasting peace between them, but by near-constant warfare, which could continue for more than a century if that’s what it took to reunite the realm.

So what does this have to say about the future?

Well, since China’s power is rising, and the United States is rapidly losing the ability to keep the Chinese at bay, we can expect them to go on a conquering spree.

Taiwan will be an early target, and for a variety of reasons, I’m not optimistic about its chances of survival. Then will come a century or so of Chinese hegemony. I do not think China is interested in directly conquering most of the world, anymore than the United States was during the “American Century.” But the global dominance of American culture will end.

Washington’s habit of fomenting regime change in distant countries will likely be taken over by Beijing (leading to different kinds of regimes being changed) and China will also be free to instigate wars over oil and other natural resources. The continued expansion of the “One Belt One Road” program will lead to more and more infrastructure throughout the world being owned by China – and thus to more and more profits flowing back to the motherland.

This is the future that the collective West is heading towards, unless we work up the courage to oppose Chinese hegemony, and work it up fast.

This essay was adapted from an article published in American Thinker.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Drafting Women, or How America is Ruled by Moderate Republicans

The last few weeks of news in America seem to have been dominated by the consequences of our ruling class’s decision to go all-in with its nihilistic crackdown on unvaccinated essential workers, along with the predictable trail of doubletalk – does anyone really believe that Southwest Airlines’ decision to cancel 28 percent of its flights last weekend was due to weather?

Then there is the woke cultural revolution in the universities, the global supply chain breakdown, the Democrats’ attempts to endlessly relive the events of 6 January through litigation and congressional hearings… I could go on and on.

With all this happening, one can almost be forgiven for overlooking the new version of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) as it quietly works its way through Congress. ‘Almost’ is the key word here, because if the current NDAA passes, then this will be the year that the government finally gets around to making women register for the draft.

Both the full House and a Senate committee have passed preliminary versions of the NDAA that make women eligible for conscription. Now all that remains is for a reconciled bill to be passed through both chambers and sent to President Biden’s desk – something which, if recent patterns hold, will be finished sometime in December.

Support for the measure is quite strong: Democrats are all in favor, and Republicans are split down the middle. For instance, only five out of thirteen Republicans voted against it in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The list of Republicans in favor of drafting women includes the usual centrists like Liz Cheney, but it also includes people like Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who won his Senate primary last year by running to the right of Jeff Sessions, and who sided with Donald Trump during the election-certification brouhaha. (Something tells me that Tuberville was never much into sexual equality when it came time to choose football players for the college teams he coached – apparently, there are still some American institutions where results matter more than wokeness, it’s just that the military isn’t one of them.)

The House Freedom Caucus has sided against the bill, but Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus are a minority. Meanwhile, the Republican Conference has issued its members a summary of the bill that describes it as “one of the most important bills we will pass in Congress” and flaunts several of the bill’s upsides, without even mentioning the draft provision.

Such is the way of moderate Republicans. They pretend to oppose whatever radical new thing the Left is preparing to do, and then as the Left gets closer to doing it, the opposition gets quieter and quieter, and then the thing gets done with bipartisan support, and then the Republicans talk long and loud about why you need to vote for them so they can stop some other thing that the Left is preparing to do.

So why did I subtitle this piece “How America is Ruled by Moderate Republicans?”

Because when you have one party that’s for rapid leftward change, and another party that’s either for slow rightward change, or for just maintaining the status quo, and both parties develop moderate factions... the moderates will be for slow leftward change.

The country does not move left as fast as most Democrats would like (which is why the Left’s activist base feels powerless) but it still moves left.

And moderate Republicans are the gatekeepers. Democratic policies move from idea to reality the moment that moderate Republicans get behind them.

When you’ve learned to see moderate Republicans as America’s true rulers, a lot of things in politics start making more sense.

For one thing, the role of monied interests becomes clearer. Moderate republicans reliably serve as lapdogs to the financial elite, which is why they typically side with Democrats on illegal immigration (corporate America likes cheap labor) and the sexual revolution (the plutocrat class is pro-abortion and pro-LGBT), and also why they are pro-war (wars benefit the arms industry).

On environmental issues, the Democrat/money-Republican alliance is a mixed bag. These people will never tolerate a carbon tax (which would be bad for the lifestyles of the people with private jets) but they will look the other way while the radical Left makes endless use of administrative and judicial activism to harass and hobble the American coal/oil/gas industry. The end result is that nothing actually gets done to reduce fossil fuel consumption, but a lot gets done to make sure that the resulting jobs go to Arab or Russian oilmen instead of to Americans.

Rule by moderate Republicans also explains the direction of constitutional law over the last 52 years. Ever since 1969, GOP appointees have been a majority on the Supreme Court, with the size of that majority fluctuating between five and eight (!) seats. Yet during that time, the federal judiciary has created and defended the right to abortion, consistently supported illegal immigration, and pushed through the LGBT agenda almost singlehandedly – imposing everything from GSAs at high-schools to rewritten sex discrimination laws to same-sex marriage itself at times when each of these developments was still a non-starter with the voters.

For a politically astute conservative, the following names are synonymous with “traitor.” Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, John Roberts. But to whom are they traitors? Not to moderate republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and Bob Packwood and John Sununu, who were instrumental in getting them onto the Supreme Court.

John Roberts is an especially good example of the kind of judge that moderate Republicans like. He started his career firmly on the Right, clerking for William Rehnquist and then working as a staff lawyer in the Reagan administration. But then in the 1990s, with the Republicans out of office, Roberts did pro bono work for gay rights activists. This should have been a red flag – not because the gay rights movement’s goals are always bad, but because its legal strategy, which boils down to ‘use tortuous interpretations of the constitution to exclude ordinary voters from the lawmaking process’ is unprincipled.

This isn’t the only indication Roberts gave that he would end up as a turncoat; there were plenty more. Nonetheless, he managed to win the good graces of America’s ruling moderate republicans by working for the Bush campaign in Bush v. Gore. (This is another thing to remember about moderate Republicans – despite their willingness to advance left-wing policies, they are generally happy to see their fellow Republicans win elections, perhaps because they know that such wins often don’t mean anything in terms of policy!)

Rule by moderate Republicans means that Democratic agendas keep advancing on the backs of Republican electoral victories. Think of the legalization of abortion by Nixon judges, the preservation of abortion rights by Reagan judges, George W. Bush producing No-Child-Left-Behind and Medicare Part D as his signature legislative accomplishments, Donald Trump failing to get his border wall through the RINO congress, or every recent budget showdown ending with a bunch of moderate Republicans peeling off and caving to all of the Democrats’ demands.

Drafting women is only the latest development.

By now, it’s really past time for the Republican base to become less gullible. People like Liz Cheney and Tommy Tuberville need to be held accountable. If you have Republican representatives or senators, call them and let them know what you think about the new NDAA.

If they vote for it anyway, then vote against them in the primaries. Yes, I know that beating an incumbent in the primaries is a long shot, but if there’s going to be a change, that’s where it needs to start. (I am proud to say that the first political campaign I worked on as a young man was an attempt to unseat John McCain).

After all, the alternative to this is just more rule by moderate Republicans.

Friday, October 8, 2021

People Notice When Elites Lie

 


I’m going to try to explain what’s going on in America right now by drawing a connection between two news stories. On the surface, they don’t seem to have much to do with each other, but when you really think about them, it’s obvious that there’s a common thread.

The first story comes from way back in November of 2018, when President Trump complained about an “Obama judge” on the 9th Circuit ruling against his asylum policy. Trump’s comments angered Chief Justice John Roberts, who gave a speech saying:

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

To which Trump responded by tweeting: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country....”

For the Deep State and its sympathizers, Robert’s statement was a dignified and erudite defence of the institutions of liberal democracy, while Trump’s tweet was a crass attack on said institutions.

But ordinary Americans, who aren’t emotionally invested in keeping up the illusion that all is well on the banks of the Potomac, saw something different. They saw John Roberts telling a lie, and Donald Trump telling the truth.

Everybody knows that most of what the upper level of the judicial system does is politics by another name. They know that, most of the time, Obama judges, Trump judges, Bush judges, and Clinton judges rule differently on politically charged questions. And a large portion of the American people decide who to vote for in presidential elections based mainly on what kinds of judges they want the next president to appoint.

And yet John Roberts has the audacity to tell these people that none of this is true, and that all judges are really just doing their best to enforce the same laws in an impartial way.

And then, right after this creature of the Deep State (not even a Democrat, but a moderate Republican) has told his lie, Donald Trump does what most politicians won’t do (including Republicans) and tells the truth.

And then, over the next few years, when Trump’s base continues to believe Trump’s statements in preference to those of the media, the regulatory agencies, Anthony Fauci, the “moderates” in Congress, or whoever, the elite classes and the plutocrats and the mainstream press continue to act surprised, as if there is no reason for anybody to take Trump’s word over theirs about illegal immigration, or the origin of the coronavirus, or hydroxochloroquinine, or election fraud.

Except that there was a reason that the Deplorables listened to Trump instead of the mainstream voices. It is because the mainstream voices have been lying to them for a long, long, time, without even trying to be subtle. Eventually, the Deplorables noticed, and decided to trust someone else.

Now for the second, and more recent, news item, in which we see our self-appointed betters growing impatient with plain lying, and moving on to censorship, as exemplified by YouTube’s decision, about a week ago, to ban all content questioning the efficacy of covid vaccines.

You know who questions the efficacy of covid vaccines? Scientists. Anyone who’s been following the news for the last year or so knows that, while most scientists studying the vaccines believe that their efficacy is well above zero, there have been all sorts of disagreements about how well they actually work: do they prevent serious symptoms 90% of the time or only 70% of the time? Do they work at all against the Delta Variant? Do their effects fade with time? Is a third dose necessary? Will people who already have natural antibodies get any benefit from the vaccines?

All of these questions have been debated by the scientific community, and attentive news-watchers know that there isn’t a settled consensus. Which should surprise nobody, as the vaccines are new, and approved for experimental use only. At this point, it’s good that scientists aren’t all thinking the same thoughts, because that means that at least some of them are doing their jobs.

However, the people who run this country (and, let’s be honest, at this point the government agencies and the big corporations are all run by the same left-leaning plutocrat class) have decided that the Deplorables aren’t allowed to know any of this.

These people know that the Deplorables don’t trust them anymore. So they have to rely on censorship, because they can’t just make their case with logic, and say things like: ‘We all know that the science isn’t fully settled yet, but most of the evidence indicates that the vaccines work most of the time, and your chances of getting harmed by a vaccine are small compared to your chances of getting harmed by the virus, so we’re recommending that you get the shot. But if you don’t, we won’t try to punish you or shame you, because we still believe in liberty.’

That’s the sort of argument that might have worked fifteen years ago. It doesn’t work today, because the Deplorables know that the people saying it have their heads so far up their own rear ends that they either can’t see, or don’t care about, the obvious untruth of statements like “we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges.”

So instead they rely on coercion and censorship. Science takes a backseat to politics, just like it did way back in the spring of 2020, when scientists did a bunch of studies on the efficacy of cloth masks, most of which suggested that they didn’t work, and then dropped the whole topic like a hot rock once it became apparent that most of the people who didn’t want to wear masks were those nasty Trump voters.

So when upper-class liberals are left banging their heads on the wall and saying: ‘Why do these people keep on trusting Donald Trump, even after the events of January 6, and why won’t they believe the FDA when it tells them not to treat Covid with horse-deworming pills, and why are hospitals having to shut down because so many of their employees – medical professionals! – are willing to lose their jobs rather than get the vaccine?’

And the answer is that all this is happening because people notice when the elites lie. They notice when the elites engage in censorship. And they don’t un-notice. Also, once they’ve stopped trusting you, they won’t start again just because you want them to. Instead, they’ll trust somebody else, even if, in your (now-irrelevant) opinion, that somebody else is the worst person in the world for them to trust.

This article was originally published at American Thinker.