China and the conflict of civilizations

A blogger named N.S. Lyons has a Substack blog called The Upheaval on which he discusses the civilizational conflict between the USA and China. It’s not just an economic rivalry or a geopolitical struggle. It is a conflict of philosophies.

The USA is the heir to a liberal tradition, going back to Ancient Greece and Rome, that values freedom of the individual.  China is an ancient and successful civilization founded on quite different values.

All this is complicated by the USA’s embrace of what I call woke-ism and Lyons calls the New Faith.  

He has written two parts of a three-part series on China, to which I was waiting to link until he completed the third.  But now he has put his blog behind a paywall, and the third part evidently will be for subscribers only. I don’t like to link to articles that are behind paywalls, so here are links to the first two.

China Empire: What is China to us anyway?  Part One

The China Dream, Lyons wrote, is the dream of Empire.  At different periods of its history, China was a superpower.  Xi Jinping wants to make China great and powerful again.  In this respect, he is no different from Chinese rulers of the past.

The Chinese government commissioned a study of the rise of the great powers of the past few centuries—Great Britain, Imperial Germany and the USA—and concluded that their rise was due to (1) state-assisted economic development, fueled by foreign trade, and (2) a global infrastructure to protect it, including ocean-going British and U.S. navies.

China’s global infrastructure is its Belt and Roads Initiative—roads, pipelines, ports, power lines and fiber optic cables integrating not only the interior of Eurasia, but also connecting China with the whole world, including Africa, the Western Hemisphere and the Arctic.  China is building up its naval force as well.  

The history of European imperialism indicates that military power follows trade, in order to protect trade.  Lyons says that China already regards Eastern Asia as its sphere of influence, much like the USA’s Monroe Doctrine for Latin America.

The Inscrutable Ideology of the New China: Incoherence or totalitarian brilliance? Part Two.

China is officially a Marxist-Leninist country.  The ruling Communist Party enforces ideological conformity on all levels of society.

At the same time China is a highly competitive capitalist country.  Ambitious young Chinese endure what they call a “996” lifestyle—working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week.  Wealth inequality is even greater in China than in the USA.

But China is not a free-market country.  State-owned enterprises own 40 percent of national assets and produce 40 percent of national output.  Businesses are expected to serve national goals.

In the West, N.S. Lyons noted, the fusion of an authoritarian government with corporate business is commonly called fascism.  Another characteristic of fascism is intense blood-and-soil ethnic nationalism, which President Xi also is promoting.  Meanwhile many young Chinese embrace an idea “lying flat,” which is doing the bare minimum required to get by.

So what China may be heading for, Lyons wrote, is a new synthesis embracing “the consumptive power of globalized neo-liberal capitalism, the state-directed economic and military might of fascism, the social control of communism, the moralistic welfare-statism of progressivism and absolutely none of the messy liberalism of ye old republican democracy.”

In other words, China is full is contradictions, just like the USA and the West as a whole.

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Both articles are well worth reading in full.  If and when Lyons publishes his Part Three, I will summarize it and, if it is not behind his paywall, link to it.

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One Response to “China and the conflict of civilizations”

  1. mosckerr Says:

    China leaves its Century of humiliation. Don’t buy the Democracy vs. Communism bi-polar idea – not at all. Post Century of humiliation, China has changed the set of values which defines its strategic interests domestic and foreign. The US still enjoys its Ace trump card: the petro – dollar monopoly. China’s poor unstable relations with Russia prevents China from acquiring its oil\gas requirements from Russia. Therefore China depends upon the petro-dollar to meet its oil & gas consumption requirements.

    The Chinese Navy remains untested in War. By definition this pretty much assures that, at least in the opening stages of a American\Japanese alliance against China, that the Chinese ports stationed across Africa and the Middle East would suffer tremendous damages.

    For China to make war upon the United States, very risky. Would Russia or Japan join China in such a war? For this to occur China would have to cede Taiwan to the Japanese empire and Russia would have to cede the Islands it captured from Japan at the end of WWll. Otherwise, Japan would have no reason to risk betraying the American alliance.

    Ideas of a Sino-American war – utterly absurd. China’s navy could not defeat the US 6th Fleet stationed in the Mediterranean. Such a possibility would qualify as a great shock. China would require both Russia and Japan to make war against the United States. Russia would supply the oil and gas needs of both China and Japan, much like the US supplied the military and energy requirements of England and the French resistance – Germany defeated the French at the opening of the 2nd World War.

    Like

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