• Maw
    2.7k
    A civilization proves its fecundity by its talent to incite others to imitate it; when it no longer dazzles them, it is reduced to an epitome of vestiges and shards.
    - E.M. Cioran, History and Utopia

    As America presses forward on the unilateral 'America First' policy, all while Donald Trump repeatedly criticizes and trolls long-term allies on twitter, it is quite possible, if not outright probable, that Xi Jinping's China will soon surpass America as the leading state on the world's stage. Taking immediate advantage of America's currently feeble leadership, General Secretary and President Xi Jinping recently positioned China as a leading advocate for global issues ranging from from curbing climate change to promoting free economic trade. As Trump leads America away from global economic trading partnerships it once championed, China's Belt and Road Initiative, arguably one of the most expansive and expensive infrastructural and trade investment project in history, will pave the way for China's insuperable dominance in the sphere of the Euro-Asian economy. Countries will start looking to China as a viable partner instead of America.

    But despite the optimistic prognostications that China's increased involvement in global affairs, the liberal economic reforms it underwent, and its growing middle class, would require China politburo to submit to political liberalism, China has instead moved towards authoritarianism, focusing on the self-preservation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) above all else. China's Standing Committee has moved to dissolve the Constitutional amendment that limits the presidency to two-terms, effectively enabling Xi Jinping to remain China's paramount leader indefinitely. Arguably, this act transforms Xi Jinping into the world's most powerful leader. Since taking office in 2012, Xi Jinping has quelled party corruption, jailed journalists, dissidents and detractors, and potential rivals. He has inserted his political philosophy, or Xi Jinping Thought, into the party's constitution, and he has increased surveillance and censorship.

    Contemporaneous with the rise of Chinese authoritarianism is the general global decline of liberal democracy. As political scientist Larry Diamond argues, democracy has undergone a wave of recession in the last decade or so. Younger generations across America and Europe are more skeptical about the merits of democracy than older generations. Trust in public institutions have fallen to new lows. Given this backdrop, what will unfold within the next decade or two? It seems likely that an ideological battle will take place on the world’s stage, pitting a “retreating” liberal democracy against China’s growing one-party autocracy, the latter of which will make increased gains in influencing and exporting its political model on developing countries, or to be copied by political parties within developed countries. Will the concentration of global influence move from West to East?
  • Wayfarer
    21.4k
    You could make the case that Trump is unwittingly a puppet in some greater strategy to weaken liberal democracy in general, and the US in particular. As he is totally self-centred and strategically incompetent, what he sees as 'strength' is actually weakness, and China is playing him like a fiddle.

    Here in Australia, there is a case where publication of a book by a prominent leftist intellectual on the covert influence of the CCP on Australian politics and intellectual life was cancelled, due to the publishers fearing economic and political consequences. Meanwhile, Apple has just announced that they will abide by China's laws concerning data storage, which enable the Chinese authorities to access any data stored by any party, anywhere in China. They're just two anecdotes that come to mind, but there are bound to be countless others. Here in Australia, there are influential public figures that are now part of various China 'friendship groups', that relentlessly undermine any attempt to draw attention to the CCP's anti-democratic agenda. And of course to say anything about it, is to be immediately depicted as being racist or trying to bring back the White Australia policy.

    It's pretty scary, and also depressing.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Here is recent research showing the growing influence of China, in both covert and overt ways, across Europe.

    Meanwhile, Apple has just announced that they will abide by China's laws concerning data storage, which enable the Chinese authorities to access any data stored by any party, anywhere in China.Wayfarer

    China is leveraging the fact that they are a growing economy, whose growing middle class indicates that it is moving towards a consumption-based economy, rather than merely a producing one, in order to strong-arm, threaten, or punish private businesses. For example, Marriott hotel, an American headquartered, multinational company, fired an employee for "liking" a tweet from a pro-Tibet twitter account. Delta airlines also apologized for listing Tibet and Taiwan as an independent countries. As multinational companies continue to enter the Chinese market, how far will they go to tip-toe the line, and appeal to China, in order to avoid getting expelled from the market?
  • Saphsin
    383
    I'm skeptical of the rise of China. They're the best candidate for sure, but China has so many internal problems and the way it assimilated itself into the global economy makes them difficult to pursue indefinite growth as understood by pretty prominent China Experts (links below). It has been growing at the fastest pace in the largest scale in human history but with the consequence of extreme inequality and environmental depredation. Unless they fix their problems, they're not going to be able to handle the huge backlash if their economic growth slows down in the next few decades the way Japan did.

    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2014/05/29/book-review-will-china-dominate-the-21st-century-by-jonathan-fenby/

    https://vimeo.com/158554979
  • apokrisis
    6.9k
    It seems likely that an ideological battle will take place on the world’s stage, pitting a “retreating” liberal democracy against China’s growing one-party autocracy, the latter of which will make increased gains in influencing and exporting its political model on developing countries, or to be copied by political parties within developed countries.Maw

    I'm not sure you've got the psychology of it quite right. The point made to me when I was meeting some of Taiwan's top China watchers - who really need to know - is that China's leaders have a greater historic fear of the potential for internal rebellion. If the people rise up, that's quite a lot of people.

    So the US was founded on one kind of mythology - the endless frontier. China is instead a belief in an insular empire that had a bad century or two and now is getting back to how things should rightfully be.

    Against these two identity myths, you have the realities of runaway consumerist economics and the environmental limits to that lifestyle model.

    Any ideology is running smack into that as its actual challenge. And the problem is the degree to which either country can look past its past and the sense of self that has developed through that.

    You mention Belt and Road. It might be interesting to check out the recent doco on Jeremy Rifkin - The Third Industrial Revolution - on that. He claims to be the inspiration for both EU and China's strategic directions on a transition to a post-carbon economy.

    The US - being the big winner of the second industrial revolution - is mired in its Trumpian agenda of "making America great again". Which simply means cranking up the fossil fuel monster that is already dying on its feet. Meanwhile Google, Facebook and the rest are allowed to run riot, untaxed and unregulated in Wild West fashion.

    So yes. Ideologies count. The powers are mired in their pasts. But those are colliding with realities. In the end, there is only the one planet to go around. And the second industrial era model is as good as dead. Trumpish politics can only be a blip - although potentially a lethal one.

    The EU and China certainly seem to understand each other at the level of sustainable economic models. And China's historic inward-focus likely frames the talk of dominance or world hegemony rather differently. It always knew it was the Empire surrounded by a rabble. Would it matter if it China-rised the US or the EU culturally? That is likely less of an issue with the Communists having so effectively erased so much of that past anyway.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    I think the slow collapse of democracies is a good thing. Democracies have proven, not only this time, but also in Ancient times, to be nothing but the rule of the mob. It promotes mediocracy, encourages rulers to have no interest in the well-being of their state, but rather in the maintenance of power, promotes an attitude of bread & circus in the media, and ultimately collapses in some form of tyranny. Plato knew this. He was smart.

    It's pretty scary, and also depressing.Wayfarer
    Why? Because the BS you were sold as a young adult (New Age, open society, bla bla) turns out to be nonsense?
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    China as it is now does have some problems - I think at some point in the future China will reorganise as a monarchy. The goal of getting China to convert to liberal democracy is the goal of spreading the disease to them as well. That wouldn't be good for the world.

    I think the time has come for all of us to return to constitutional monarchies, with one life-time ruler whose powers are limited by the Constitution, but who is in charge of the country and does not have to worry about losing power as much as rulers do in democracies.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    "Neo-China arrives from the future." Nick Land

    Lawrence Lek (Chinese: 陆明龙;) a multimedia artist based in London, of Malaysian Chinese descent has put together an amazing video Sinofuturism (1839 - 2046 AD) that outlines China's characteristics.

    https://vimeo.com/179509486

    "Sinofuturism is an invisible movement. A spectre already embedded into a trillion industrial products, a billion individuals, and a million veiled narratives. It is a movement, not based on individuals, but on multiple overlapping flows. Flows of populations, of products, and of processes. Because Sinofuturism has arisen without conscious intention or authorship, it is often mistaken for contemporary China. But it is not. It is a science fiction that already exists.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    So the US was founded on one kind of mythology - the endless frontier. China is instead a belief in an insular empire that had a bad century or two and now is getting back to how things should rightfully be.apokrisis

    Edward Luce has recently put forward an intriguing (but not very robust) theory that "the secret to any nation's diplomatic character is embedded in its popular imagination." If you were to ask someone from England, America, or China, "which historical events made them proudest", the answer you'd be given is aligned with their foreign strategy. For example, a Brit would likely mention standing against Nazi Germany alone in WW2, or their victory over Napoleon. "Britain's worst fears and deepest triumphs have always coincided with Europe's unification under one power". A typical American may say defeating the Axis powers in WW2, or triumphing over the Soviet Union, or the victory for British independence, or landing on the moon. "Each instance reflects America's deep-seated belief in its own freedoms - and spreading them to others." It's no wonder then, that we have Bush's Freedom Agenda, or the Vietnam War, etc. However, for China, Luce states that two prized historic events for modern China are "China's detonation of the Hydrogen bomb in 1964," and "Britain's transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997." Both examples, "show China's deep-rooted desire to be treated with respect and dignity." And I would add that they want to be treated as an autonomous sovereignty, and a warden of the East, which will not fly with America's current foreign policy.
  • frank
    14.9k
    Trust in public institutions have fallen to new lows. Given this backdrop, what will unfold within the next decade or two? It seems likely that an ideological battle will take place on the world’s stage, pitting a “retreating” liberal democracy against China’s growing one-party autocracy, the latter of which will make increased gains in influencing and exporting its political model on developing countries, or to be copied by political parties within developed countries. Will the concentration of global influence move from West to East?Maw

    You are saying that democracy faces two threats: one internal and one external. Western democracies won't succumb to the external threat (China's cultural influence) unless it dies first from the internal one (subversion and impotence).

    So the story hinges on whether events transpire so that western democracy experiences a renaissance. It's entirely possible.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    I'm not one for prognostications, so I can't comment on what the probable trajectory will be for democracy, but it's hard to imagine a near-future where things will be better before they get worse. An "event" can transpire that can further damage the legitimacy of Western democracy, from another recession to a second term victory for Trump, etc. However, it's hard to imagine a singular (or set of) event that would, on the other hand, benefit democracy. There are serious obstacles facing liberal democracy in the next decade, and, pessimistically, I don't think its current fragile state is prepared for a rising China (which in itself, is not fated to succeed. There will be a lot of pressure for President Xi Jingping maintain his own legitimacy, and his party's legitimacy through continued economic growth, environmental protection, and maintaining standards and expectations for an expanding middle class).
  • frank
    14.9k
    Trump has taken a number of actions which could lead to an economic meltdown. If severe enough, that could potentially reset American democracy.

    When we think of China, perhaps it's easy for us westerners to forget that it went through cultural self-evisceration in the 20th Century. As it rises to the global table, its still discovering who it is as a culture. It is a child in many ways.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    Xi Jinping Say China's One-Party Authoritarian System Can Be A Model For The World

    "At the big annual gathering of Chinese lawmakers and political advisors that kicked off March 3, Xi said that China is offering a “new type of political party system”—a Chinese solution that contributes to the development of political parties around the world, according to state media."
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Yeah, no doubt he will try that, but China's system will not work in many other countries, which lack China's history and people. China has, pretty much for its entire history, been ruled by dynasties. This is normal for China - liberal democracy would be almost unthinkable for the Chinese.

    It's similar with Russia. The Russian people are used to have a Fatherly figure - they don't want to have it any other way.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Having said that, both Russia and China have systems of government where the rulers are above the Constitution (or part of it lol) - which I don't think is great, since it cannot prevent abuses of power very well. I do think the idea of one ruler for life is good - but that ruler must still be under the constitution, without being able to abuse his power - like in constitutional monarchies.
  • Maw
    2.7k
    This is a disservice to the many Chinese and Russian men and women who openly advocate for political change in their respective countries, and risk their lives doing so. History doesn't determine the fate of a country. That's not to say I'm optimistic that China or Russia will evolve into a liberal democracy in the near future, but there is nothing "inherent" for the Russians or the Chinese that make them unable to handle democracy.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    This is a disservice to the many Chinese and Russian men and women who openly advocate for political change in their respective countries, and risk their lives doing so.Maw
    Minorities, which are under the influence of the West. Irrelevant. If the West wasn't a liberal democracy, and if the West didn't have global hegemony, unlikely that these people would advocate for political change. And I'm talking about just the vast majority, not the 10-20% or so that protest, etc.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Also, I don't necessarily find all these protests "admirable". That would mean that I blindly buy into the Western narrative, that all places ought to be liberal democracies, which I think is just dominative and exploitative in-itself.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    For example, I think Putin is right in some of the things he says here:

  • T Clark
    13.3k
    I'm not one for prognostications, so I can't comment on what the probable trajectory will be for democracy, but it's hard to imagine a near-future where things will be better before they get worse. An "event" can transpire that can further damage the legitimacy of Western democracy, from another recession to a second term victory for Trump, etc. However, it's hard to imagine a singular (or set of) event that would, on the other hand, benefit democracy. There are serious obstacles facing liberal democracy in the next decade, and, pessimistically, I don't think its current fragile state is prepared for a rising China (which in itself, is not fated to succeed.Maw

    I don't know how old you are, so I don't know what perspective you are judging from. Let me make a list of major events in the course of liberal democracy since the end of WWII:

    • Reconstruction and rise of Europe. End to centuries of conflict
    • Reconstruction and rise of Japan and Korea
    • The United Nations
    • The breakup of the Soviet Union
    • Democracy in Eastern Europe
    • Independence of former European colonies
      [*} Democratization of formerly authoritarian regimes
    • The end of Apartheid
    • The European Union
    • The Arab Spring
    • The rise of second string and third string economic powers - Brazil, China, India

    I acknowledge the problems and failures related to many of these events, but no one I have seen has made a convincing case for a downward spiral.

    More perspective - in the 1980s everyone was talking about the rise of Japan and the US's loss of prestige and power. What's up with that? That doesn't prove you're wrong, but it does give warning people should be careful making broad predictions based on snapshots, pessimistic interpretations of events, and too much wine.
  • Baden
    15.8k


    It's stunning but unsurprising hypocrisy for him to talk of anyone becoming brutish. There aren't many people around, atheist or not, who would be able to stomach the kind of crimes he's proved himself capable of including the murdering of journalists, the carpet bombing of civilians and the defense of brutal tyrants like Assad. Surprised you'd fall for such a transparent piece of propaganda that's really aimed at the least thoughtful and intelligent sectors of the population.
  • Baden
    15.8k
    All those atheist Norwegian and Swedish brutes really need the gentle Christian Putin to show them the way. Er...
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    China as it is now does have some problems - I think at some point in the future China will reorganise as a monarchy. The goal of getting China to convert to liberal democracy is the goal of spreading the disease to them as well. That wouldn't be good for the world.

    I think the time has come for all of us to return to constitutional monarchies, with one life-time ruler whose powers are limited by the Constitution, but who is in charge of the country and does not have to worry about losing power as much as rulers do in democracies.
    Agustino

    Reading what you write here reminds me of someone I met when I was in school in the early 1970s. He was a very cultured and educated Spaniard. I remember visiting his room and seeing a picture of Francisco Franco in military uniform prominent on his wall. Franco was still alive at that time. He was a brutal dictator who crushed democracy during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s and then went on to lead a murderous regime for almost 40 years until his death in 1974. My friend was from the upper levels of Spanish society who had benefited most from Franco. As with all who blithely support totalitarian regimes, he didn't have to worry about the goon squads coming at midnight.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Well, you've said nothing new, I already am aware of all this. Russia is ruthless, always has been. But so is the West, maybe not as openly though. Has the West not installed puppet dictators and starved and exploited hundreds of millions of people?!

    And I have not fallen for it - I know that's what politics is about, I wouldn't expect anyone in politics to be "gentle". I separate the politics of it from the cultural critique though.

    Surprised you'd fall for such a transparent piece of propaganda that's really aimed at the least thoughtful and intelligent sectors of the population.Baden
    Putin is respected in Russia because he stabilised the country. After the era of Yeltsin who was too busy getting drunk and chasing girls, Putin actually put an end to the chaos, and introduced some order. Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union things were very chaotic - businessmen would get shot in the middle of street, etc. These areas were like a jungle. No doubt that Putin has set himself and his friends to set the rules of the game, and to control everything that happens - but at least there is a degree of order now.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    As with all who blithely support totalitarian regimes, he didn't have to worry about the goon squads coming at midnight.T Clark
    The common people generally never had to worry about the knock at midnight. That was more for the middle to higher level people who were involved in administration, whether directly in government or otherwise as bosses and managers in factories - or were professors. Professors were also dangerous if they did not promote the party line.
  • Baden
    15.8k


    This is off the point. Just tell me how more brutish I, and other atheists, are because we're not good Christians like Putin, and help educate me the Vladimir way on how I can become a better person.
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Just tell me how more brutish I, and other atheists, are because we're not good Christians like Putin, and help educate me the Vladimir way on how I can become a better person.Baden
    :s I don't understand your point. I never said you or your atheist friends are brutish.
  • Baden
    15.8k


    What part of the video were you referring us to then?
  • Agustino
    11.2k
    Some atheists are brutish, not in the way you say Putin is, but intellectually - like Lawrence Krauss.

    What part of the video were you referring us to then?Baden
    The part where he describes problems with the West ideologically:
    • Abandonment of tradition
    • Abandonment of the importance of our religious heritage
    • Political correctness
    • Trying to enforce our system of government over everyone
    • Relativisation of morality
  • Baden
    15.8k
    Abandonment of the importance of our religious heritageAgustino

    Yes, he said that makes us brutes. It's right there in the captions. And it's silly because, apart from the laughable hypocrisy, the evidence points in the opposite direction: the most religious societies today are the most brutish. Look it up. You'd do well to encourage atheism if it's the opposite you're after.
  • T Clark
    13.3k
    The common people generally never had to worry about the knock at midnight. That was more for the middle to higher level people who were involved in administration, whether directly in government or otherwise as bosses and managers in factories - or were professors. Professors were also dangerous if they did not promote the party line.Agustino

    Oh, I see. People who deserved visits from the goon squads.

    It is gratifying to see you putting out your beliefs so clearly. Maybe you've done this before on the forum, but it has never struck me this strongly. I spend less time on the political threads than I do on metaphysics.

    Here are some quick thoughts I'm not sure about - Capitalism leads to consumerism; which leads to increases in the standard of living; which leads to greater expectations from the population; which leads to more power to the population, whether or not that means democracy, which leads to more freedom. I think capitalism will wipe authoritarianism out, perhaps to be replaced by corporatism, if that's a word. Whether or not that will be better is open to question.
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