Scenario: In a Stable World, China Wins

18Nov09

In a stable world, China (that is, the government of China, as distinct from its people) wins because it can make and enforce the kinds of long-term plans that central planning and control are good at.  The world can never be completely stable or unstable; these things develop along a continuum.  If you want stability, you make adjustments to prevent or minimize sources of instability.  These, as China (and also the U.S.) have demonstrated, include people who cause trouble in unacceptable ways.  Here, you don’t picket a July 4 fireworks celebration unless you want to get beat up; there, you don’t make too much noise about human rights.

The U.S. is not a good place to develop an alternative to the stable world in which China wins.  The U.S. has, in fact, been heavily involved in creating the kind of stable international order that would suppress undesirable kinds of dissidents in other countries.  China represents, not an opposition to the concept of world order that the U.S. has stood for during most of the past century, but rather an extension or completion of it.  If you want an alternative to the stable world order in which China wins, you may come closer to it by fostering efficient successes in multiple spheres:  spiritual alternatives like Falun Gong; governmental alternatives like Switzerland; environmental alternatives like Yellowstone.

The Cold War won’t really be over until centralized planning and control – not only of economic activity, but of people’s lives in any variety – is much more carefully restricted and much more wisely managed.  In our struggle against the Soviet Union, we committed on an international scale the blunder that one soldier described on a local level in Vietnam:  it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.  We became centrally planned too.  And now we have put the Chinese government on a path toward a world in which, not too far in the future, leaders will have the power to control thoughts.

The U.S., despite its problems and debts, still has ample resources to achieve a radical swing away from central planning.  Should it take that path, it can inspire a historically unprecedented flowering of brilliance, efficiency, and diversity in the ways in which peoples conceive of and pursue their lifestyles.  Taking this high road may position the U.S., for the much longer-term future, as a beacon of human rights and ideals against which China’s present government could not hope to compete.  We are not presently traveling that high road, and it does not appear we will.  But we should.

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