On the Educated Elite’s Adoration of Centralized Authority: Part One

A conversation I had earlier this week is really getting me down. The person concerned is a Chinese colleague who survived the Tiananmen Square crackdown and knows the PRC’s communist regime up close and personal. I’ve grown very fond of her. I think she understands much about freedom that most Americans have forgotten. And yet…

And yet, she readily unleashes comments such as the following. All Trump voters are impoverished, uneducated, blue-collar white people (what we call down South “poor white trash”). They are single moms with five kids and no job. They’re grouchy old men living in clapboard houses with sagging, leaky roofs. They’re cousins of the cast of Moonshiners, wearing no shirt under their overalls, sporting boots with holes cut for their toes, and lisping through their remaining teeth that jut out like yellow tusks. How could they possibly be anyone else? All the smart, educated people voted for the other party. With an absolute conviction of omniscience and infallibility that the Chinese system drums into its own educated elite—including a reflexive “doubling down” response whenever one blunders into error—this worthy colleague sought to school me on the demographics and propensities of my own society.

I sought to remonstrate mildly. Excuse me… but the type of person just described a) rarely votes at all, and b) votes solid “D” (as his or her relatives have done immemorially) on rare trips to the polling station.

More significantly, my disputant maintained that these fictitious masses were voting against their interest in supporting a candidate who would cut off the flow of freebies. My own belief (and fear) is that Donald Trump isn’t this type at all, ideologically (which is why I didn’t vote for him); and my further belief (and fear) is that no one is served, eventually, by trying to bleed a corpse that has already started to draw flies.

Indeed, my original comment that started this conversational ball rolling into the La Brea Tar Pits was that all of our masses—American, Chinese, English, Italian—are too multitudinous, too unskilled, too needy, and too prolific for any of the world’s devious political systems to keep sustaining them. A sow with a dozen teats cannot feed fifty piglets. The world’s various political elites all know this. Ergo, it is painfully obvious that various plans for mass die-off at some critical point must be circulating in back rooms, bunkers, and barrooms of exclusive golf courses.

My point never penetrated. Despite her experience of authoritarianism, my colleague couldn’t grasp the extremely high probability that the nerve ganglion of an intricately centralized human system would devise ways to rid its outer reaches of unproductive cells. Indeed, I have noticed in her and other Chinese an almost obsessive concern over access to doctors and medicine, as if the “dependency” impulse had been activated across the board. When educated Chinese are imprisoned by their paternalistic handlers (an ordeal euphemistically known as “going to the police station for a cup of tea”), their first lament seems to be for their meds. The orientation toward the ganglion is invincible, apparently. After all, how could we survive without a brain, even though some brains think evil thoughts?

Yep. Depressing. God forbid that we should use our own brains!

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When I Hate Being Right: Global Safety Deteriorates

I’ll write as little today as necessary to get the idea across, because I don’t like using this space to post political commentary. But recent events are snapping my last nerve.

The oligarchy that tyrannizes millions of human beings in Communist China has been busy over the past few weeks. Chinese troops are now swarming along India’s Bhutanese border and spoiling for a fight (news is that they’ve already launched a mortar shell or two). As usual, the Chinese grind out a bunch of claptrap about only taking defensive action: paranoid lunatics always take only defensive actions. But I don’t even know that this regime deserves the excuse of insanity. They’ve prosecuted their “we’re Number One” economic jingoism for so long, forging ahead with an environmentally ruinous industrialization adrift from any sort of market force, that their economy is actually in shambles. To conceal the fact, they have to keep pillaging natural resources from the rest of Asia and—increasingly—Africa. Naturally, this is bringing them into conflict with numerous sovereign nations that don’t like being invaded or steamrolled… so the PRC’s government cranks up the estercola-mill and announces that it has to defend itself.

I can only reiterate that this is a scary, scary bunch of megalomaniac plutocrats, who are nowadays wielding a communist ideology with the self-serving cynicism of a jihadi who sends out boys to suicide-bomb while he rakes in generous contributions. Of course, the PRC elite have done absolutely nothing to put Kim Jong Un back on his leash. Through his rabid yapping, they have satisfied themselves that Donald Trump is highly unlikely to push any red buttons. That’s just what they wanted to find out.

And now, thanks to quarreling “bigly” with the broadcast media (speaking of mad dogs), Trump is afraid to forge any kind of alliance with Russia, a move which would be essential to containing the truly ravenous imperialism of Red China. Though he condemned Congress’s sanctions against Russia as ill-considered, Trump signed them into law, anyway, lest anyone accuse him of delivering on a sub rosa election promise to Vladimir. I have never been a Trumpista, but I would indeed have respected him in a new way if he had vetoed the sanctions and chosen, instead, to pursue some sort of rapprochement with Putin. That would have demonstrated true independence, and also a genuine concern for our national welfare. Now we’re merely hanging out the European Union’s wash for some reason—another statist oligarchy that doesn’t execute dissenters left and right, it’s true, but has ceased being a friend to free speech, liberal values, and the Christian faith. And by the way, Mr. Trump… sticking your thumb in Vlad’s eye is not going to improve your press coverage!

If I thought our talking heads contained anything by way of gray matter, I would suspect them of being on the Chinese payroll. Our foreign policy has now been so disastrously hamstrung by Russophobia that the new administration has already committed major strategic gaffes and also shown the world that it is hostage to the kingmakers at CNN. Kim Jong Un is free to slaver and bite, the PRC imperial government to appropriate and exploit… but, by gum, we’re going to hound Trump out of office! Yeah!

No, our media are not in league with the PRC. They’re what Lenin called “useful idiots”. Why should you pay some fool to go on the attack who starts to salivate every time you ring a bell?

 

The Most Dangerous Nation on Earth

I’m sorry that I use this space for so much griping, but… maybe that’s how I retain what little sanity I have.

Throughout my life, I have been what you might call a Sinophobe. Communist China scares me stiff. Even in early adolescence, I knew that the PRC was feeding arms to the Vietcong, and I had a feeling that I would end up face down in a rice paddy like so many of those just a little older than I… all because Red China couldn’t desist from fomenting unrest and bloodshed all around the world. The Chinese had ginned up the Korean conflict just a bit before my time; and the Korean War, as you all know, has never officially ended, and indeed could go nuclear almost any day now. No one can convince me that the PRC’s ruling elite couldn’t pull the rug out from under that sadistic, megalomaniac butterball, Kim Jong Un, any time they wanted to. Instead, they have actually decided to increase trade and aid to this lunatic as the rest of the world tries to isolate him—this while, at the same time, they assure our diplomats that they’ve played every card in their hand.

Meanwhile, China continues to bully Taiwan. (My own guess is that the PRC oligarchs are stoking Kim’s dreams of nuclear holocaust in hopes of backing us away from our support of the Taiwanese, at which point they will simply invade and take over. It’s how they think.) Japan, Vietnam, and even India are also being menaced by Chinese saber-rattling. The PRC has grossly mismanaged its vast economy, through a combination of state-mandated projects that create temporary jobs but appeal to no market and rampant corruption in top-heavy local bureaucracies. The response of the oligarchs—again fully typical—is not to learn from mistakes and clean up their act, but to execute a few of the more public grafters, brush other errors under the rug, and seek to prop up the economic numbers by raping vulnerable spots around the globe of their very limited resources.

Africa has been especially hard-hit, because her own struggling economies cannot resist the kind of short-term wealth that China dangles before them. A Chinese conglomerate will move in and construct a soccer stadium or lavish government buildings (using only Chinese workmen) in return for local mineral rights, then leave the country with rare rainforests razed from the face of the earth and none of the locals knowing how to operate or maintain all the great new “free” stuff… which falls apart within ten years.

People who speak out… vanish. Editors and publishers take mysterious, unannounced “vacations” from Hong Kong and may or may not be heard from again. Internationally visible advocates of freedom are invited for a “cup of tea” at the local police station… and may return a week or a month later, with guards thenceforward posted around their home to watch their every move. Others simply rot away in prison. Liu Xiao Bo, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is going to die unnecessarily of cancer because his captors won’t allow him to have treatment in the West; and though one would suppose that Liu would have global visibility, the rest of the world is beginning to prefer blindness. Maybe we’re supposed to reason that everyone dies of cancer in China, anyway, free or jailed. The air, water, and food are so polluted that sometimes even the oligarchs can’t be assured of a non-toxic environment.

Yes, China’s government scares the crap out of me. It always has. Churchill and FDR winked at Stalin’s massacres in their zeal to depose Hitler and armed China’s communist resistance to the Japanese as if, war ended, we would have sweetness and light in perpetuity. We have lived since under the shadow of a mushroom cloud; and I’ll even say—take a deep breadth—that dropping the bombs and demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender was a big, big blunder, insofar as it left the door wide open for Mao. Look at the numbers. Mao murdered, directly and indirectly, more innocent human beings than Hitler and Stalin combined.

So why is it—remind me again, please—that Russia is our “primary geopolitical enemy,” as I just heard one National Review editor opine? Shouldn’t we, rather, be luring Russia to our side as China lengthens Kim’s leash and sends her cruisers arrogantly through neutral waters throughout Southeast Asia? Shouldn’t we even be pondering how to make Iran more of a thorn in the PRC’s side?

But no, I have a better idea: let’s defeat some of China’s enemies for her, emasculate others, and turn still others into her allies! Because we just can’t have those stinking Ruskies giving presidential candidates confidential dirt about each other. That red line… you gotta draw it somewhere, you know.

Trying to Understand Chinese Culture

I don’t… but I’m trying.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot over the past year is watching Chinese movies available on Netflix.  Since I like legend, myth, epic, and all that, I often go for the flicks that are set a thousand years ago; and, of course, since no film about the past is ever really about the past, I’m fascinated by Kurosawa’s “seven samurai” paradigm which gave our Westerns The Magnificent Seven and has given Chinese producers, apparently, abundant ways to fantasize about a few dedicated souls fighting off armies of bullies.  I mean, if you live under constant censorship and the imminent threat of being “invited for tea” at the police station, you obviously have to address the subject of tyranny with caution.  Staging a clash between Martial-Arts Loner and All the Emperor’s Men is one way to keep your hands clean.

Yet these movies tend to degenerate into special-effects extravaganzas where combatants spring fifty feet into the air while twirling the Sword of Destiny that beats away all of eighty thousand arrows.  Even in the worst Hollywood B-Westerns, the most overloaded six-shooter only carries eleven or twelve shots.

There’s plenty of matter to revisit later in this topic.  The pilot of a TV serial I watched last night is what’s on my mind at the moment.  I discovered belatedly that CSIC is actually produced in Taiwan–which isn’t quite the same thing as mainland China, whatever the PRC insists on the subject.  Immediately of note is how the CSI serials in the US have been ripped off without any pretense of concealment.  (Well, it’s only fair turn-around after the way everyone ripped off Kurosawa: even Fistful of Dollars patently plagiarized Yojimbo).  The techie setting, the mock-digital overlays, the rhythm of the editing… pure rip-off.

The characters, interestingly, are indeed nerdy but rather more “teen” and frivolous than their American counterparts, like a fashion show in a college computer lab.  The only occasions when their winsome flippancy yields to passion involve such social naughtiness as consuming alcohol, especially before driving.  All of the Puritanical fury infused into our nation’s anti-gun crusades seems to be expended (in this episode, at least) upon cases of DWI (“drunk while intoxicated”, as we say down South).  The message is very powerfully projected that cops are your friends if you’re a law-abiding citizen.  They don’t take bribes, they bristle at the hint of bending rules to favor the privileged, they release a slavering rage upon nightclub owners who allow patrons to exit in a pasted condition, and they offer the liberation of a clean conscience to culprits in need of confession.  They’re a cross between Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Father Brown… with a dash of Miley Cyrus.

Maybe Taiwan and the PRC do have something in common, after all.  I’ve noticed this same effort to sanitize “your local policeman” in Jackie Chan’s films for his admiring audience of Communist Party hacks.  State official: selfless, devoted servant of virtue; money-making entrepreneur: unsavory, unprincipled pimp.  All black and white–no gray on either side.

And yet, I hear that want-ads for plum positions in China often stipulate that the applicant must be able to hold his liquor, and that girls post cards on matchmakers’ bulletin boards expressing their desire for a Mercedes and an upscale apartment.  On either side of the Formosa Strait, contemporary life doesn’t really sound like what you see on Netflix.  Seems that the Chinese, even when they try to portray survival on the streets, are still leaping fifty feet in the air and twirling the Sword of Destiny.