Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Coming Eurasian Century

With friends like these….

As Joel Kotkin bemoans the decline of liberal democracy, I would have been more impressed by his analysis if he had remarked that many of the enemies of liberal democracy are liberal democrats.

If liberal democracy means being ruled by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or by the senile demented scarecrow in the White House, what is the case for its survival? If liberal democracy means that Fidel Castro’s bastard son can impose tyrannical measures on a protest movement in Canada, why would the world want to emulate that liberal democratic state?

And while we are certainly opposed to the notion that the Communist Party censors news, the thrust toward censorship is alive and well in America. Now, it’s not a totalitarian regime, it’s Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg and their assorted flunkies. As Glenn Greenwald does not cease to point out, the urge to censor is embodied in the war against hate speech and now in the war against disinformation. Anything to shut down free speech.

Heck, school districts are now removing books that were written by white people, the better to indulge their wishes to burn books. 

Before we go all sanctimonious over our liberal democracy, we should recognize that it is being destroyed from within. By liberal democrats brimming with totalitarian fervor. 

And we will note, because it needs to be said, that many of those remaining defenders of liberal democracy come from the traditional liberal left. After all, it was Naomi Wolf who performed an excellent analysis of America’s descent into totalitarianism. 

And, of course, our massive military establishment has dedicated its efforts to the war against climate change and to the production of a more diverse and inclusive organization.

Having surrendered meekly to the Taliban it is shaking its fists at white supremacists in its ranks. Anyone who has any recall of the bad old days of the Cultural Revolution will see the parallels. The new Biden administration, with the connivance of the new defense secretary, is working to remove counterrevolutionaries from the service.

So while we are bemoaning the loss of the liberal democratic order, we must attend to the simple fact that Western liberal democracies are in their own death spiral, falling apart under the weight of cultural decadence.

Besides, the more we inveigh against inequality, the more unequal our nation becomes. While the big bad Chinese are promoting something called shared prosperity-- the better to reduce wealth disparities-- we have produced classes of entitled technowizards who control an increasingly large part of the nation’s wealth and who exercise an increasing influence on every aspect of our daily lives.

Besides, it is slightly glib and more than unusually idealistic to fail to see that the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxon West had less to do with human rights and religious liberty than it did with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of modern science. 

If the West declares war on industry and commerce, if it decides that the goal of scientific research should be equity and diversity, it is heading toward cultural oblivion.

If you imagine that we can cure this condition by running another election you are lost in the intellectual wilderness.

Anyway, with that caveat, and a rare exception to Kotkin’s normally sound reasoning, I agree with him that in the current clash of civilizations, a new Eurasian alliance, between China, Russia and even Germany, is rising up to challenge Anglo-Saxon hegemony. 

In truth, this is what Kotkin believes is playing itself out in the current crisis over Ukraine. 

He describes the current historical moment thusly:

 Although the Germans have not yet conceded their ties to liberal democracy, the new Eurasian alliance possesses a magnetic appeal, and shares a common distaste for Anglo-Saxon liberalism. After all, Russia supplies much of Europe’s gas—critical at a time of regulatory-driven energy shortages, and soon to be bolstered by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline—while China has emerged as Germany’s largest export market. The niceties of democracy may be scrupulously observed, but in the end, money talks, along with power, and more than a little anti-American revanchism.

The emerging Eurasian century has ushered in a springtime for dictators who look not to John Locke or James Madison for inspiration, but to autocratic Eastern and Islamic antecedents like the Ottomans, Imperial China, and the Tsars. Democracy, according to a report from Freedom House, is at a generational low-ebb even in Europe. Adjacent Eurasian countries, for the most part, have adopted “hybrid regimes” that combine some democratic norms, such as elections, with authoritarian controls.

Again, Kotkin is incorrect to imagine that the rise of Anglo-Saxon civilization was a triumph of idealism. In truth, Madison himself was not a full throated defender of democracy. He declared in the Federalist Papers that a constitution that enshrined checks and balances was designed to avoid absolute majority rule.

So, Kotkin does not see that China has been selective in adopting and rejecting Western tropes. It has adopted pragmatism, free enterprise and empiricism, while rejecting Western philosophical idealism. As opposed to the Anglo-Saxon West-- and this is the important point-- it has not been willing even to pay lip service to the notion of human rights. Its culture is based on face saving, on maintaining a good reputation. 

Somehow or other, our great political leaders have decided that the best way to bring China into the new world order is to attack its reputation, to threaten its face. Strangely, in a point rarely acknowledged, no Muslim leaders in the world have uttered a word about the living conditions of China’s Muslim minority, while our leaders sound like they are ready to go to war over the issue.

If a love for human rights means sacrificing reputation, Chinese authorities are not having it. They see our current failure to maintain our own reputation, by allowing sanctimonious twits to assume positions of political leadership, as a sign of decadence and decline.

Nor do we recognize that the Chinese people, for having worked their way out of a Maoist horror, are proud of what they have achieved over the past four decades. And they are largely happy with the way their country is being governed. We are not going to make any headway in the clash of civilizations by attack their pride. And yet, that is what our brain dead politicians never cease to do.

For the record, here is Kotkin’s analysis:

Now the undisputed leader of Eurasia, China achieved its re-emergence without adopting individual political and property rights—the lodestars of Western liberalism once thought to be necessary preconditions to national progress and growth. Today, China is no more likely to become a constitutional democracy than it was under the Mongols or their 14th-century Ming successors. Instead, it has evolved into the model autocracy, based on a system of semi-permanent caste privilege and a technologically enhanced regime of social control. It employs ever-more intrusive means to impose strict censorship, and offers few privacy protections. “If the US has long sought to make the world safe for democracy,” suggests one analyst, “China’s leaders crave a world that is safe for authoritarianism.”

Let’s see, the calamity that was the Woodrow Wilson presidency wanted to make the world safe for democracy. How did that one work out? And the Bush foreign policy wanted to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Gaza. How did that one work out?

So, our own political ineptitude and mindless embrace of idealism has driven China and Russia closer together. And now our erstwhile ally Germany, refusing to provide much aid to Ukraine is becoming highly dependent on Chinese markets and on China’s industrial prowess.

Kotkin describes the reasons why Germany has been turning East, the better to avoid our own decadent decline:

Like China, Germany craves Russia’s resources. Berlin, and its struggling but still potent industrial economy, also needs the Chinese markets for its high-end goods. German companies are busy building new petrochemical and other high-end factories in the Middle Kingdom, a policy which has led them to “open the door” and “throw away the key.” The result has been that the German administration, usually keen to advertise its concern for human rights, has soft-peddled China’s grotesque record in this area.

Germany’s Eurasian lurch suggests the gradual uncoupling of the country from Anglo-American entanglements. The refusal to provide lethal aid to Ukraine is couched in the rhetoric of German guilt, but Deutschland seems to have few qualms about selling advanced weaponry to less democratic regimes like Hungary, a country savaged by Germany during the Second World War, as well as to Qatar, Egypt, and Algeria. The embrace of dictators like Putin and Xi on the global stage suggests a deeper yearning for a return of order, be it green, corporate, or nationalist, and a turning away from the hated Anglo-Americans, who after all had the nerve to rescue them from National Socialism and then Communism.

On the one side there is China’s “grotesque record” on human rights. On the other side, is China’s ability to produce wealth. So, we are fighting a propaganda war about human rights abuses, and have driven China, Russia and even Germany into a new world-historical alliance. 

If the century becomes Eurasian we should reserve a large part of the blame for ourselves. We have forgotten what made us great and have become a nation of decadent whiners.


Anonymous said...

"If the century becomes Eurasian we should reserve a large part of the blame for ourselves. We have forgotten what made us great and have become a nation of decadent whiners." Thou hath spoken a TRUTH, Stuart.

David Foster said...

Linked and discussed at Chicago Boyz:


OBloodyHell said...

}}} And the Bush foreign policy wanted to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Gaza. How did that one work out?

Thank the merdia. They destroyed our successes in Iraq, etc., just as utterly as they destroyed our successes -- yes, successes -- after the Tet Offensive, we'd won. Multiple military personnel of the time have acked that, after the massive losses of men and materiel they could not afford to lose, for virtually no gain, they were talking amongst themselves of how to approach surrender to get the best terms they could... and then our august PoS merdia got to talking about the TO to the US public, and they realized all they had to do was to keep holding on, keep fighting a rear-guard action, and the merdia would deliver the American will to fight in short order.

The merdia attempted to do the same thing with the Cold War, but Reagan got in the way. He raised on the USSR's busted flush, and they caved.

So the merdia, desperate for a recharge, sought to recreate in Iraq what they did in Vietnam, and succeeded. They fed the will of the insurgency, made them realize all they had to do was keep fighting, and eventually the American will to fight would be gone. Same result. Millions dead, thousands tortured, a society destitute.

The problem is not with the American desire to bring American Democracy -- or better still, American Republicanism -- to the world. It's the #^$@$%$&%*^* Fifth Column US Merdia which is the problem. We need to line those bastards up against a wall to be shot. Won't happen, we're too squeamish --- but we do need to publicly recognize them as the traitorous bastards they are and have been for most of the last century.

OBloodyHell said...

The current issue with liberalism is that it's morphed into PostModern Liberalism, after WWI.

A percentage of the proud, arrogant Classical Liberals, so proud of Western Civ and its accomplishments prior to the war, looked with horror on what idiots could do with industrialized warfare, and turned on Western Civ like a woman scorned. They morphed into PostModern Liberals, and have slowly taken over the concept of "liberal" until they represent probably more than 95% of all self-defined "liberals".

PostModernism should be recognized for what it is, a relentless attack on everything that made Western Civ successful. It seeks to destroy the twin underpinnings of Western Civ -- the Judeo/Christian Ethos and the Inheritance of Greek Thought and Ideal.

Everything about PostModernism attacks, shreds, derides, and rejects those twin gestalts.

And by doing so, undermines all of Western Civilization.

PostModern Liberalism is nothing less than a social cancer. Literally, not figuratively.