Lots of fun stuff in this blog post from just over twelve years ago. Gordon Chang is still wrong, of course, but why is really the more interesting question. I don't believe Gordon Chang's predictions of doom for China, but I also don't believe china hawks like Steve Hsu. Something is just not quite right with the assertion that China will easily dominate the next century. It seems plausible, given the sheer number of people and the rapid economic growth and modernization of China. However, John Reilly suggested that China was at a point in its civilizational cycle that meant consolidation and retrenchment of past accomplishments rather than a huge burst of creativity.
Greg Cochran seems to be of much the same mind. He recently asked: what are the innovations coming out of China today. Not science, but technological marvels of the type that seemed like they were daily occurrences in the Victorian age. Nothing truly amazing was forthcoming, which seems like a point in favor of John's theory.
The next thing is the Sony Reader. I was sure that the Sony e-ink technology would be a huge win, but then it turned out that people really wanted to play Angry Birds on their tablets instead of read books, and e-ink is no good for that.
Finally, the notion of the West. President Trump's speech in Poland, evoking the concept of the West, appalled everyone with right-on politics. For all that, it isn't a terribly obscure notion in Western politics, and it has been used by many other politicians across the political spectrum. Ross Douthat argues that the mainstream of Western politics right now is neoliberalism, a protean word to be sure, but it aptly describes where the center-left has found itself.
In the American context, Reaganite conservatism is really part of this stream as well. Trump and Sanders represented the first real populist challenge to the dominance of this tradition in the United States. We should only expect more of this.
Conspiracy, China, and the Defenestration of the Clercs
Many readers of this page no doubt suppose that the Second Vatican Council was the point where the Roman Catholic Church began to go soft. This was not the case, according to Egyptian historian Professor Zaynab Abd Al-Aziz, in an interview that aired on Saudi Iqra TV  on May 26, 2005. According to MEMRI:
Abd Al-Aziz: "The decision to impose one religion over the entire world was made in the Second Vatican Council in 1965."
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes. A long time ago...."
"When in January 2001, the World Council of Churches delegated this mission to the US - what did the US do? It fabricated the show of -- is it September 9 or 11?"
Host: "11. Please explain this to me."
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes, of course--"
Host: "You mean to say that the World Council of Churches delegated the mission of Christianizing of the world to the US."
Abd Al-Aziz: "Yes. And how could the US win legitimacy for this without anyone saying that they are perpetrating massacres and waging a Crusader war? It fabricated the 9/11 show.
If this is how the World Council of Churches behaves, then what must the Bilderbergers be up to?
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Mark Steyn recently asked and answered this question about the future of Asia: Who can stop the rise and rise of China? The communists, of course:
If the People's Republic is now the workshop of the world, the Communist Party is the bull in its own China shop. It's unclear, for example, whether they have the discipline to be able to resist moving against Taiwan in the next couple of years. Unlike the demoralised late-period Soviet nomenklatura, Beijing's leadership does not accept that the cause is lost:...
China won't advance to the First World with its present borders intact. In a billion-strong state with an 80 per cent rural population cut off from the coastal boom and prevented from participating in it, "One country, two systems" will lead to two or three countries, three or four systems. The 21st century will be an Anglosphere century, with America, India and Australia leading the way. Anti-Americans betting on Beijing will find the China shop is in the end mostly a lot of bull.
The prognosis that Gordon Chang made four years ago is not dissimilar. One notes, though, that Steyn's analysis is less driven by economics. Chang said that the current regime could not survive much past the middle of this decade because WTO rules would make China's hilarious financial system implode; Steyn is talking almost pure politics. Both strongly suggest, however, that the regime could attempt to settle the Taiwan issue by force, in order to maintain domestic legitimacy.
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By the way, the eschaton has arrived on little cat feet: Sony's Librié text-display device seems very close to the realization of The Last Book. The reader is light, it's physically flexible, the text is as permanent as ink even when the power is off. Sony's version does have some annoying features, but something very like it could replace the codex.
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Yet more evidence, if any were needed, of the perpetual unity of the West was recently presented in an essay by Frank Furedi, which appeared in Spiked, the most remarkable political ezine I have seen in a very long time. The essay is called From Europe to America: the populist moment has arrived. Its moral is given in the subtitle, On both sides of the Atlantic, the political class has become convinced that the people do not know what is best for them. We read in part:
'People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about', notes Thomas Frank in his US bestseller What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Otherwise, Frank argues, how could they possibly vote for the Republicans? The belief that people are too stupid to understand the complexities of public life was also widely expressed during the heated exchanges that surrounded the recent referendums on the EU in France and Germany. Margot Wallstrom, vice president of the EU, commented on her blog that the Constitution is a 'complex issue to vote on', which can lead many citizens to 'use a referendum to answer a question that was not put to them'.
We should note that this populism (a word with a protean definition, but none better suggests itself) is by no means always in support of conservatism (an even slipperier word), or for that matter, that all elites are transnational socialists. In a way, President Bush's privatization plan for Social Security was just as much an elite notion as the EU Constitution ever was. Like the Constitution, electorates liked it less the more they heard about it. The saving garce for Bush and the Republicans is that they did not then claim that the privatization scheme failed because people were too stupid to understand it.
Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly