by Mike Meyer
What do we do if China is the future? I’m asking this first from the American perspective because this is the most problematic future imaginable for the American nation. There is a very different view of this if you are looking at the future from almost anywhere else on the planet. And that complicates the American perspective because it is provincial, isolated, and strange.
There is an excellent article in November 19th’s New York Times, The Land that Failed to Fail. This summarizes how China succeeded against all odds in the gamed against America. This couldn’t happen. No way. For the last sixty years American has been waiting for China to collapse, Taiwan to take over, or a new revolution based on the American revolution to take place there.
In the best of all possible worlds China would realize it needed to be under the great American wing and emulate American exceptionalism the best it could. While there were inevitable limits on that laudatory goal, America would look the other way at small failures and errors as no one could be truly exceptional except the US. As long as China tried to follow the leader China wold be supported and allowed to trade in the American world. This was further proof of America’s magnanimity after the horror of Chinese atrocities in the Korean War and their playing with Marxist stuff that they learned from the USSR.
But things haven’t worked out that way. The Chinese agreed to play along but worked out their own way of doing things. Refer to the New York Times article for well written detail on how this happened and what the Chinese were doing.
The end result is that America has been on a long slide into political failure and economic decline. The most powerful force for modernization for most of the 20th century was US higher education. The Chinese, when they decided to play for the planet, took advantage of that along with many millions around the world. They took it seriously while the US gutted it’s public education in the interest of dogmatic greed. As a result American universities educated American students in financial gamesmanship while the Chinese developed a love of science and engineering at the center of American technology.
Now this is yet another topic of outrage at the unfairness but it was an inevitable result of destroying not only public education but the cultural concept of education as a shared asset. It was quicker to charge as much as possible for education so the owners could add more to their horde. Foreign students were charged more even than American students who had to put themselves in debt for the rest of their lives. Who cared what happened as long as the tuition was paid? Predatory capitalism doesn’t care.
But the Chinese learned there were more important things than money and China meant to teach everyone that based on what they had learned. As Information Technology built software that was eating the world, the engineers managing that have become much more likely to be Chinese or Indian than American.
As a result America, still technically the richest nation, has a population exhausted from living paycheck to paycheck with little to show for the last forty years while constantly threatened by medical bankruptcy if they can get any health care at all, and the worst infant mortality in all OECD countries.
Meanwhile China’s increasingly wealthy middle class is larger than the entire North American population. China has the largest population of highly educated engineers and technologists with almost 20% of the planet’s technology and science papers published each year. And are, at most, five years away from becoming the planet’s wealthiest nation passing the US as if it were tied to a post. It is difficult to measure and they may already be there.
So what does this mean for the American Way? Given that the nation is currently living with a pathological narcissist, criminal, and racist as president who regularly loses touch with reality and the great majority of the population are appalled and depressed at the current state of affairs, it would appear that the nation needs to take a long, hard look at its hole card.
The Chinese are moving steadily out into the world with their message. That message is that the old, western style of representative government is no longer relevant. Free market economics is an important and very powerful tool but the rest of the American package is the road to hell for most of the population just as Karl Marx stated.
The key to the modern technology and network based economics are clear rules by the central government. It is agreed that it is best for the governmetn to leave most people alone who are committed to the common good. They provide the ocean of innovation and earn rewards for themselves in the process. The government representing the people will take care of everything else. We should all have the same goals and its the governments job to foster that.
The full power of networked technology monitors all urban space and AI based systems watch for identified criminals. Censorship limits what you can find out about certain things but those are mostly things that most people don’t pay attention to anyway.
People are not supposed to talk about things that are potentially disruptive but the reality is, I’ve been told by many people, that this is constant game between those who invent new words to use and the censors who have to catch up. There is a saying in China that almost anything is possible but it may just take more work. Not that you can’t get in serious trouble as we have all seen but there are, after all, a billion people.
The people in China, at least if they are not Tibetans or Uighur Muslims, are very pleased with the government and the prosperity and security it has produced. While in Western nations public support for the government is between 24–35% of the population. In China with all the security and ‘oppression’ in American terms, upwards of 70% support everything.
This is going to be a hard pill for America to swallow without dealing with the delusions and government propaganda that have confused at least 35% of the US population. That portion of the American population has given up on knowledge and things like truth so who knows what they will be told and what they will believe. Right now they are being fed incitement for war. Let’s hope we can stop that.
The Chinese point now is that what people really want is security, services, and opportunity to work and gain rewards from the work. Corruption and crime are bad. Corruption is endemic in large bureaucracies so must be constantly rooted out. People support that.
These are very basic difference from the model that Americans think that they believe in. The Chinese can and do point to that along with the reality of what America does to its people. All the talk in America about Freedom doesn’t seem to connect to security, well being or happiness with life. And most people in America consider that talk to be bullshit anyway.
Who is going to answer these questions? Or will we simply censor these things and pretend there is no alternative but rule by someone such as Donald Trump?
If you are looking at this from Africa and you have not only a corrupt government but severe limitations on what you can hope for in life, which side will you choose? While American wealth, cars, and electronics are great most people are doing well enough that they are worried how to do better and where is their nation going?
The Chinese have spent years and billions on development in Africa and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. Those places are the future of this century and definitely the next if we can survive well enough to get control of climate change.
It is worth noting that all of China’s work in Africa is seen by the African people as being self serving it has produce direct support for the African states. America, on the other hand, has made Africa a military theater. The American Imperial Forces are what Africans see of the US.
This is now a networked planet. People everywhere can receive massive information flows and the see what Trump rules America looks like. It was made very clear that Africa is the place of shit hole nations for America.
As an African what would you think in looking at the Chinese message of support and the future of a technology driven world and America’s message of oppression and mockery with military occupation.