America And China
The tussle between capitalism and communism did not have a clear victor. Capitalism mellowed down by introducing a welfare state decades before communism collapsed. Suffocating the individual is no way to run a political system. If communism had adopted human rights, there is no telling what might have happened. But instead of political innovation, communism opted for political dogma and nuclear focus. Nuclear is a dead end for any rational entity.
The tussle in fact goes on. China is alive and breathing. China never really went away. Actually China has been the biggest beneficiary of the collapse of the Soviet state. The collapse made it possible for China to ditch an economics that was not working.
Moscow always assumed for Mao Marxism was religion. Moscow was The Vatican. China was Latin America. For Mao Marxism never had been a religion. It had always been a tool. He was as surprised with the Russians as the Russians were with him when they met. Do we even belong to the same congregation?
Mao was first and foremost a Chinese nationalist. The white melting pot identity has been forming in America for a few hundred years now. The whites had to leave Europe for that to even happen. In Europe they hated each other just too much. In China the Chinese melting pot identity has been forming for a few thousand years now. Just like the Jews the Chinese have 5,000 years of continuous history, only the Jews are numerously much much smaller. But to the Jews it has been God, to the Chinese it has been about the Emperor and the philosopher. The Chinese were perhaps secular before Marx, less the reason to respect Marx too much. Marx might partly just have been reinventing the wheel, at least on religion.
Liberal used to be a dirty word in America. Bill Clinton ran as far away from that word as he possibly could when he ran for president. That was his innovation. In China the curse was, may you live in interesting times. In America the curse was to rightly or wrongly call someone a communist, or a socialist. Those who were too sophisticated to call Barack Obama a nigger called him a Muslim and a Socialist.
But Bernie just gave Hillary a good chase, and he has always called himself a socialist. He called himself a socialist when Reagan was president. Not only that, his crowd is destined to grow from strength to strength. 2024 might give America someone who might want 5-10% of every company to be owned by We The People, the dividend from which might pay for a Universal Basic Income. Dramatic increases in technology driven productivity will practically beg for the UBI.
Times, they are a changing.
China adopted the market with a vengeance after the Soviet Union collapsed, as if it had been waiting impatiently for the Soviet Union to collapse.
But what about the politics? Will China stay where it is, or will the political system implode Soviet style, or will there be sufficient wilful reform that the one party system might survive? My bet is on reform. Progressives in America want money out of politics. China has always had it. Anyone in China may join the Chinese Communist Party, almost 10% have. So they don't see what the fuss is. We do debate and vote in our committees, they say, to themselves. When the West lectures China on human rights, to the Chinese it feels like someone guilty of genocide is complaining about murder. When your memory is 5,000 years long, 100 years ago feels like yesterday.
If China were to learn to respect free speech, which basically means dismantling The Great Firewall Of China, the cyber Berlin Wall, and hold direct elections for president, governor and mayor, even if it is two candidates supplied by the communist party itself, it might end up with an optimum political system. What might create the pressure for such reforms? The per capita income in China today is around 8,000 dollars. By the time it is 20,000 dollars, there might be enough pressure. Or something more dramatic might happen. The firewall might see an unexpected, unpredicted meltdown. That might take away from the CCP any hope for controlled change.