Note: I was on the Restoring Order podcast last night. It was a lively conversation about events of the day. The audio on my end was not good for some reason. It was like I was making an old fashioned long distance call. Patrick has me connect with Skype, which is probably the reason for the poor sound.
The renewed interest in the origins of the Covid virus is a good reminder of several threads running through the modern political discourse. The most obvious being the reactionary nature of the establishment Left. Trump pinned the blame on China, so the establishment Left made it their mission to defend China. This fit in well with their corporate paymasters, who are happy to wash the feet of the Chinese government in exchange for access to Chinese consumers.
Of course, that leads into another subplot to the modern age. The willingness to submit everything to the marketplace, real and imagined. This is a root cause of the current crisis in America. Just because it is good for the economy in the short term to do business with China does not mean it is good to do business with China, but in the hyper-marketized world of today, no one questions it. Like everything else, right and wrong is left to the market to decide.
The hyper-market also leads to another issue. When all that matters is the highest bidder, then nothing matters. In the case of Covid, many of the people responsible are Americans, who are doing business with China in order to get around the ethics rules in the United States. You see, when morality is decided by the highest bidder, things like patriotism are just another commodity. Even Ben Shapiro’s version of patriotism is just another item to bought and sold.
The Chinese have figured out that they can buy all the technological vigor and creativeness from the West. They just invite researchers from the West to work in Chinese labs with the promise they can follow their curiosity, free of the ethical limitations placed on them in the West. Manufacturers took the same bargain, except the promise was they could pollute the environment and treat the workers like it was the 19th century. Apple led the way on this decades ago.
This was something the Soviets always tried to exploit. Their interpretation of Marxism told them that Western capitalists cared only for quick profit, so they could be easily bribed. The West would sell the Bolsheviks the rope they would use to hang the capitalists. It did not turn out that way as in the 20th century morality was still a thing that operated outside the marketplace. Even capitalists felt a loyalty to their people and their country. Most of them did, leastways.
That was then and this is now. China is like a kid in a toy shop these days, as everything in the West is for sale at discount prices. Everything must go and no offer will be refused. Need a member of Congress who sits on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence? Short on cash? No problem! How about someone to run cover for letting a deadly virus loose on the world? You are in luck, as they are in stock and priced to sell! Everything must go!
All of this disguises a much more serious problem. Anyone familiar with Chinese business practices knows that following the rules is not their thing. You see, China has always been a culture that is organize around power. The people with power threaten severe punishment for breaking their rules. Success is usually defined by navigating around the rules, while avoiding detection by the powerful. Violating the rules is not just a necessity. It is a way of life.
This is why China is the world’s most prolific patent thief. It is why they are the world’s primary exporter of counterfeit goods, as well as narcotics. Nothing about these practices strike the Chinese as wrong. In fact, they think it immoral to respect the abstract rules and conventions that form the basis of prohibitions on making knock-off consumer goods and illicit drugs. Western ethics, as far as the Chinese see it, are just more rules to work around for fun and profit.
When the product is women’s fashion, it is tolerable. When it is the rules governing serious biological agents, then it is a different matter. Now we can add the handling of nuclear technology to the mix. The one thing we can be sure about with this story is that the Chinese are lying about it. The second thing we can be sure of is they are paying American journalists to repeat the lies. The way to bet is this nuclear “accident” is a lot worse that being reported.
A culture that prizes rule-breaking above all else is not compatible with technology that requires strict adherence to a specific set of ethics. When those ethics are rooted in a long cultural tradition, the conflict is even more acute. If you think Covid was bad, imagine a Chinese version of Chernobyl. Instead of giving the world a case of the sniffles, she starts pumping out radioactive waste. A society that is willing to pollute its own air is not going to flinch about dumping nuclear waste.
China has always been a coercive society. The central authority has total power and there is no way to challenge it. The West has always been based on persuasion, but willing to stoop to inducement. When truth telling does not persuade, then propaganda is used to persuade. When that fails, then offering rewards or punishments is what works. These two types of societies are not just alien. They are incompatible with one another at every level.
It is becoming clear that welcoming China into the global “community” was a terrible blunder by the West. Assuming the American empire figures this out, it will take a generation to reset the relationship with China. If the next lab leak lives up to the Covid hype, then generations of obsequiousness will prove to have been a great mistake of the empire. If it is something worse, then we will know that the truly great mistake happened in the fall of 1969.
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