Back in the early days of the internet, some people noticed that the emerging tech sector was helping the Chinese Communist Party use new technology to increase their hold on the people. Specifically, the American tech companies were working on two areas of technology. One was building the “great firewall of China” which prevented outside information from entering China. They were also building out what would became a digital extension of the surveillance state.
At the time, there were few people concerned about this washing back into the West, because after all, that is not who we were. There were people worried that American business was being changed culturally by with China. After all, if profit can cause people with liberal values to overlook slavery, torture and oppression, it means their allegiance to liberal values is up for bid as well. In other words, the concern was over doing business with monsters, not becoming monsters.
There were signs of the latter as far back as the Bush years. Thomas Friedman, the far-left activist at the New York Times was very fond of China. He started writing columns about how China’s one party rule was much more efficient than the sloppy and chaotic democracies of the West. Given that he was installed on an inner party platform, it suggested a change in how the managerial elite was thinking about themselves and their relationship to the people over whom they ruled.
Here we are a decade on and the American regime is slowly transforming itself into something like the Chinese regime. Deng Xiaoping famously said that China will have socialism with Chinese characteristics. Economically this has meant state capitalism where large state enterprises dominate the economy. They have some freedom to operate, but they must answer to the party. A vast thicket of private enterprise is tolerated, but the party keeps a watchful eye on them.
Whether by nature or by design, the managerial class of America is taking on Chinese socialism with American characteristics. Instead of state capitalism in the Marxist sense, it is state capitalism in the corporate sense. A small number of massive corporations dominate the economy. They allow the political parties some freedom, but politics must always serve corporate interests. Private enterprise is tolerated, but it operates in the shadow of the corporate giants.
It is on the political front where this is becoming more obvious. What the tech giants learned helping China build the surveillance state is the logic and spirit that it takes to operate it effectively. Gone unnoticed is the absence of whistle blowers from companies like Twitter and Google. One would expect regular document dumps revealing the internal workings of these firms. We have more defectors from North Korea than from Silicon Valley. The CCP has few defectors as well.
Of course, we are seeing the rollout of a social credit system like that implemented in China, except it is being done by corporations. Mastercard maintains a special blacklist of people who cannot use the credit card system. This was originally intended to combat criminal fraud, but it has now been turned to combat dissent. Note how it is becoming normalized. This is the trick they learned from China. That which is institutionalized quickly becomes part of the public psyche.
Another example of how the American regime is implementing Chinese authoritarianism with American characteristics is in how they are restricting speech. In China, the role of the party is explicit. The language is explicit. In America, the inner party is hidden and the delusion of self rule is their cloaking mechanism. Instead of hunting down violators of party orthodoxy, the regime is “combating misinformation” on-line. Note how this new term has been repeated by regime actors.
Ten years ago, most people accepted that there was a lot of nonsense on-line and people would often joke about it. That was the point of a free speech zone. Anyone could say what they liked. Today, the usual suspects are cowering in fear at misinformation on-line. Joe Biden claimed that people are being murdered by misinformation, suggesting they have anthropomorphized the concept. In America, misinformation is the deviationism of the ruling regime.
A good example of how politics has taken the second chair to state capitalism is the latest spending bill in Congress. The Senate just voted in favor of a bill that exists only in the realm of forms. It’s not words on a page, but rather a concept that has yet to be given any specifics. What is happening here is the corporate interest are telling the empty suits in Congress to get it passed and they will then supply the text of the bill when the times comes to make it official.
What this means is our clues for what the American regime will do next lies in what China is doing now. For example, the Chinese imposed a law on Hong Kong that allows them round of dissenters and send them off to slave camps in China. The first has been convicted under the new law. The American regime is trying to pass similar laws so they can do the same thing. That is the point of the current show trial being held in Washington. They want to justify new laws against dissent.
The hundreds of dissidents being held incommunicado by the regime are a good mile post when measuring just how far the regime has moved toward this Chinese style of authoritarian rule. It also shows how the media has been completely subverted by the security apparatus of the state. Within living memory the media would have been all over this story, painting the victims as heroes. Today, few in the media bother to notice them at all. When they do, it is to cheer the regime.
There is another lesson from China that applies here. When she tried to apply Marxist-Leninist ideology, it was a disaster. The main reason for that is political-economy is culture specific, so this foreign political-economy could never fit China. The political-economy of China is similarly a poor fit in the West, particularly America. In China, the iron rice bowl still control regime thinking. In America, the seething contempt for the masses prevents such a social contract.
Liberal democracy evolved as a solution to the violence that arose when elites were no longer willing to hold up their end of the bargain. It was a feedback mechanism to signal course changes and reform efforts within the ruling elite. What we think of as liberal government was always a solution to the problem of violent regime change that had been the mode in the West for millennia. The current regime is now back on the road that will inevitably lead to the gallows.
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