An interesting perspective on what David Goldberg, for many years an opinion leader in the outdated “jump-to-China” plan, claims to perceive China’s grand strategy to be.
China’s notion of what it means to be the world’s superpower is different from ours, though, and begs examination.
An Ideological and Economic Competitor
Earlier this month, Dr. Kiron Skinner, head of Policy Planning at the State Department, had this to say: “In China, we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn’t expect a couple of decades ago, and I think it’s also striking that it’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.”
As Victor Davis Hanson observed, Japan was, in fact, a great power competitor, and a formidable one, from its crushing defeat of Russia in 1905 to the end of the Second World War.
To put the present situation in context: Japan’s GDP [Gross Domestic Product] in 1940 was one-fifth of America’s and its population only half. China’s GDP is roughly the same as ours (25 percent larger than ours in purchasing power parity, according to the International Monetary Fund, or 30 percent smaller in nominal terms at the present exchange rate). Its population is more than four times [that of the U.S.]. China’s investment in frontier technologies exceeds America’s by a wide margin. It also graduates four times as many STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] Bachelor’s degrees and twice as many doctorates—and the skills gap is widening. One-third of [China’s] new labor market entrants have bachelor’s degrees, and one-third of those are in engineering.
Today, the two economies are of roughly equal size, but China is growing twice as fast. President Trump has said repeatedly that our economy is doing well while China’s economy is doing badly. He is misinformed. The perception that China is weak is widespread in Washington, and evidently contributed to the recent breakdown in trade negotiations. That is a strategic miscalculation that may have baleful consequences. China fears nothing but America’s technological edge, and that edge is eroding at an alarming pace.
National Principles and Imperial Designs
Dr. Skinner is broadly correct: We have never engaged a strategic rival with resources and skills on this scale. Today’s situation is radically different in another respect. In America and China we observe the confrontation of the national and the imperial principle in their purest form. America is history’s most successful nation-state. Its premise is the sanctity of the individual, the heritage of the English Protestants who in the 17th century envisioned a biblical republic. When I last had the privilege of addressing you three years ago, I spoke about our unifying political culture and its ever-present theme of the individual’s pilgrimage toward redemption. Our sense of the sacred in every citizen has proven a stronger and more enduring bond than the ethnocentric nationalisms of the Old World.
China is the oldest and—despite intermittent breakdowns—the most successful empire in history, subjecting the interest of the individual to the imperatives of the state. Unlike America, China never assimilated the scores of ethnicities who comprise its enormous population. Instead, it orders them into an imperial system ruled by a centralized elite and communicates by a system of imperial ideograms rather than a common tongue. It maintains a ruthless meritocracy that filters talent by standardized examinations. It has always viewed its people as raw material for imperial power and, within living memory, has sacrificed frightful numbers of them. The imperial order is perpetually at risk of fracture, and the succession of dynasties is interrupted by episodes of internecine war and unimaginable suffering. But the imperial system perpetually restores itself because the Chinese have had no alternative to warlords and anarchy.
Who is this “we”, (((David)))? What Goldberg, aka Spengler, omits from his analysis is the fact that the West is no longer the West, but rather, a failed and parasitized successor to what used to be the West. There is no us, there is no Judeo-Christian “sense of the sacred in every citizen” in the current Post-West. What Goldberg falsely claims is “a stronger and more enduring bond” than the nationalisms of the genuine West is not only intrinsically weak, it is leading directly to general collapse and a war of many tribes that will greatly serve China’s long terms strategic interests.
Goldberg’s analysis is obvious trash, resting as it does on such observably false assertions. But it is very useful to know it, because it informs us of what the current post-Western elite wants to believe and what the basis of their future actions will be.