China, Trump, and the Future

Published at 09:51 on 13 August 2019

Per this, a big crackdown may be imminent in Hong Kong. It would hardly be unprecedented. The Tienanmen Square protests ended up in a big, ugly, violent crackdown, too.

From the standpoint of the Chinese Communist Party, that crackdown worked: single-party rule was preserved. It would therefore be no surprise whatsoever if the Party viewed this as a lesson from history that a crackdown is called for now in Hong Kong.

If that happens, expect relations between China and the West to swirl down the toilet. Trump’s tariffs won’t be scaled back; they will likely prove in retrospect to be the vanguard of a range of sanctions applied to the Beijing regime. Given the level of globalization in society, that in turn will likely provoke a recession.

Assuming a recession, Trump will be blamed for it by a significant chunk of the electorate. Presidents always are, even if they typically don’t have much to do with the recession; the business cycle exists no matter which party occupies the Oval Office. (If it comes as a big surprise to you that Establishment politics is illogical, there’s this bridge they’re selling between Manhattan and Brooklyn that I can let you have a great deal on.)

The root cause of it all was our ruling elite’s idiotic, end-of-history belief that capitalism and markets were the wave of the future, and would inevitably foster democracy and pluralism (therefore the currently-despotic nature of the regime in Beijing didn’t much matter). This was approximately as idiotic as the belief of Leninists that a socialist revolution must inevitably produce freedom, therefore any dictatorial measures pursued to secure the revolution must inevitably prove transitory (therefore so-called “workers’ states” like the USSR and Cuba must be supported). Politics and idiocy have a long history, particularly when it comes to unquestioning true believers (be they believers in capitalism, believers in Marxism, or believers in something else).

Ironically, that end-of-history belief was part of the bipartisan consensus that Trump (who distrusts globalization of any sort) disrespected and promised to overturn. In other words, the thing that sinks Trump may well prove to be something that Trump had little to do with, and not any of the evils for which he actually is culpable.

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