What would the world look like if Nazis won WWII? The good news is, — you will never know. It’s crystal clear, however, that we would be living by the rules of the Third Reich.
Don’t know those rules? More good news: you do not need to know. History is written and directed by the winners, and Nazis were not among those.
If you think Nazis met their fate, think again. Fate had very little to do with it. If not for Churchill’s decision to decline Hitler’s unification plea, United States’ production aid and interference in the late stages of the war, and the incommensurable bravery of Soviet people, Hitler had every chance of winning his blitzkrieg.
The fact that Nazis lost was an outcome of key decisions the world made in the 1940s.
The break of the Soviet Empire and the triumph of the American way in 1991 led Francis Fukuyama to conclude we had reached the end of history.
In the subsequent years, it became obvious America started losing its hegemony over the world geopolitics. Fukuyama was wrong big time.
History never ends.
We are three months into 2020, and now, more than ever, we are facing an existential threat to our way of life, our freedom and our human dignity.
This time it’s each and every one of us who hold the keys to the coming century.
The End of the American Century
For several decades now, America has been a leader of the free world. Often times it came with large sacrifices borne by other nations, and many times by Americans themselves. However, the world seemed to have been relatively stable, directed under the auspices of liberal democracy and capitalism.
Recently, China emerged as a viable competitor to the global “American dream”. The “World Factory” managed to outpace American economy in global purchasing power ranking first on the planet.
China has become a hub of all the world manufacturing, textile production, digitization, and science. China is currently leading in the number of academic publications on Artificial Intelligence, allegedly a new frontier of the world dominance. Moreover, it is leading on biotech research, with gene editing and longevity research outpacing the developments anywhere in the world. China and the U.S. have been back-and-forth for years in building the world’s fastest supercomputers.
What China previously lost in creativity and ingenuity, it has regained with hard work and strong discipline. Its combination of advanced technology and ubiquitous control has brought China to the forefront of the world economy.
US President Donald Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft. Only when China outpaced the US in economic prosperity, however, did he wake up to the reality of a China-controlled narrative. This has led him to impose tariffs on Chinese production and move jobs inland.
The America-China trade war resulted in the signature of a new trade deal, which, according to numerous experts, has been far from a win-win for China.
How China Started a New War
However, just as China seemed to have lost this battle, it managed to spark a new war. Unknowingly or deliberately, and not for the first time, the People’s Republic of China has unleashed a deadly virus that has spread over the whole world. At the time of this writing, over seventy-thousand people have lost their lives to the virus, with mortality currently standing at 21 % of reported cases.
The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, described the global pandemic as “the most challenging crisis we have faced since the second world war”.
The Western world finds itself in a cage of fear and blood, with nations reduced to house captivity, and global economies on the brink of the biggest collapse in history.
Officials all over the world are now implementing fines and potential prison sentences for people who “disobey” draconian measures of a national lockdown, when leaving their homes for non-essential activities. Japan has just declared a national emergency in Tokyo, after a renewed surge of COVID cases in some of the nation’s biggest cities.
Fear has filled the world like the smoke after Australian bush fires. We seem to be lost for words and directions. Working on his nationalistic campaign to “Make America Great Again”, President Trump has had America withdraw from its previously occupied position as global leader. In the midst of this COVID-19 crisis the void is more prominent than ever.
What Would A Chinese Alternative Look Like?
“Never let a good crisis to go to waste” — seems to be a Machiavellian credo of the Chinese leaders.
Now, as China has brought the world to its knees, it’s happy to offer, what it considers, a viable alternative to the disintegrating Western model. It is worth examining this alternative closely, especially as it is now more obvious than ever that the Chinese way might soon come to dominate our everyday reality like the Nosedive episode of Black Mirror.
Indeed, China is strong, both politically and economically. It is also one of the most ancient and culturally rich civilizations in the world, accounting for numerous discoveries, philosophies and medical inventions. More recently too, China has also become the most technologically advanced nation with ubiquitous access to Internet, online payments, hyper-speed trains and advanced public healthcare.
China’s 1.4 billion workers managed to return the country to its once imperial status in the world arena.
Now imagine yourself a citizen of the Great and Prosperous Republic of China, fully and indisputably controlled by its authoritarian Communist Party.
· You can vote online but your voice is powerless
· You can access the internet, but only information carefully guarded inside the Great Firewall of China
· You can voice opinion to honor the China Communist party, or to your own demise
· You can think but you cannot say
· You can dream but you cannot dare
· You are technologically equipped but morally impotent
· You are a numerical statistic in the humongous brain of a soulless Communist bureaucracy
· You are not alone, you are nothing, a negative electron in the black hole of electronic dictatorship
The worth of your life is determined by your “social worth” and the contribution to the oneness of the community.
Imagine your life being dedicated by the becoming of a perfect citizen, with each of your neighbours eager to participate in the evaluation of your trustworthiness score.
As we are rapidly approaching the climate emergency tipping points, sadly overlooking the shattered remains of Greta’s destroyed childhood, the Chinese communal model might seem like the much needed emergency answer to the glaring environmental crisis and rotting Capitalism.
While we are being thrown from the research and contemplation stage, straight into the forced acceptance of higher authority, it is worth noting what we are really giving up, embracing the “good” of Chinese-style safety and obedience.
Using a deadly virus as a plausible excuse, China is already getting rid of cash and implementing automated social control rapidly cementing the foundations of a fully censored and automated totalitarian state.
China is winning big, full of convenience, high speed trains, electronic payments, etc., but at the complete disregard for individual freedom and universal human functions.
If you are still pondering over the viability of the Chinese model, think about the millions of Uyghurs who are being tortured and killed for organs in modern day concentration camps. If you think we were lucky to escape the rules of the Third Reich, ask yourself if you are ready to embrace the rules of a Chinese one.
Think about millions of people suffocating under the black sky of dust and dying from water poisoning from thousands of factories that are working tirelessly to “Make China Great Again”.
Think about your childhood friend, puppy Jack or kitten Mary, who would have been fried alive, just after his legs would have been cut for snacks to satisfy the peculiar taste of our Asian neighbours, while his fellow victims fearfully wait their turn in cages soaked with the blood of rabbits, bats and venomous snakes.
You may be thinking that every nation has their own ways and traditions, but think about the utter cruelty and lack of basic comprehension for the value of life as Chinese vendors are selling one-day key chains with tiny suffocating turtles swimming in the coloured water for the amusement of your soon-to-be world masters.
What Has Liberalism Brought Us?
“It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.” — what would your Asian role model have to say about this quote by Voltaire, the man behind the French Revolution and the formation of Western civil society?!
Think about this quote and then think about a merciless machine of a Chinese surveillance state.
What do they make of the drafting of the American Constitution and the elaborations of the Founding Fathers? What would the descendants of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre say about your right to freedom of speech, to congregate, and to demand transparency from your governments?
Is the achievement of freedom of speech, private property, and universal human rights, such a negligible part of our identity that we would be willing to embrace this new culture of fear and obedience as the new norm?
Capitalism may have reached its potential, but the achievements of Western democracy are more crucial today than ever.
We have grown accustomed to the luxury of liberty. We indulge in sci-fi movies showing the dystopian world of mood scanners, social credits and Minority Reports.
In our glorified worship for hustling and “failing forward” we, nevertheless, missed the slow but steady encroachment of authoritarian dystopia over our everyday life.
Facebook has you hooked to the screens, with its algorithms knowing your desires, cravings and political attitudes better than you know them yourself. Moreover, those algorithms do not shy from making sure your political attitudes are being properly shaped to the advantages of the ad buyer.
While you are enthusiastically waiting for Musk’s Neuralink to unveil Brain Machine Interface, and proudly checking your Oura ring, don’t forget how China is using sensors, biometrics and geolocation data to control each and every step of its citizens.
You might enjoy the health information derived from such companies as 23andme, but remember that the same technologies can be used to decide your probability of survival in times of overcrowded hospitals, and might very well become a rationale for admission or rejection.
You might appreciate your smartphone’s function of pin dropping at your favorite restaurants in town, voice memos, and lost phone tracking, but remember that the very same technology is used to check the location of every “suspected” citizen in China.
You might believe communication with your friends is your basic right. This would not apply in China, however, when advanced AI is shifting through billions of messages making sure only “safe” ones arrive to the screens of the recipients.
You may enjoy your Apple watch and Apple Pay but don’t forget that the same technologies have created the monster of Sesame credit, where each transaction you make gets evaluated in the perfect citizen score. Buying a flat — you get extra points, buying gay porn — forget you even had any points.
Had a bad day? Struggling from depression? Do not feel like smiling or recycling today? No bad days allowed in China! Your low social score might mean a limit on travel, access to real estate, ban to attend certain events and public places! You become a ghost in your own city.
If you think China lives behind closed doors in a remote kingdom of censorship, surveillance and darkness, wait until China comes knocking on your door.
Still confident in your inalienable liberal rights? Check out the ID2020 initiative. With the help of Microsoft and United Nations, the Need for Good Digital ID has become a fundamental and universal human right, requirement actually, to be transformed into reality by 2030.
If you might have been in doubt whether you need to make the whole world aware of your existence, the discussion on the need to provide a coronavirus “immunity certificate” suddenly makes electronic identity a necessity, rather than a whim.
Giving every person a much needed Blockchain-based verifiable identity would be a major step towards equality and technological progress. Implemented the Chinese way, however, this will be the beginning of your slavery.
Your every move will be tracked;
Your very breath monitored;
Your basic freedoms will be doled out to you only if you obey the state (vaccines or chips will open the doors to the former life we took for granted);
Your every word will be evaluated, weighted, and censored if inappropriate;
Your every thought will be uncovered, with some of your actions being pre-empted for the collective good
Where Are We At?
If you think Chinese dominance is a long shot, follow the money and the talk.
While Western economies are suffocating under the surgical masks, China is rampantly buying out the stocks of Chinese and international companies, boasting the best performing stock market in the world. The COVID-19 caused crisis of the eurozone seems like a fantastic time for Chinese buyers to cash in on failing European companies.
Now let’s see what is happening in the world of tech. You might think your internet connection is just fine. China does not think so. Being one of five permanent members of the United Nations, China’s word counts way more than yours. In March, China and Huawei have suggested a radical change to the way the internet works to the UN, in a proposal that claims to enable cutting-edge technologies such as holograms and self-driving cars. Now you have to understand: high speed internet is nowhere near satisfactory.
Looking at the condition of Internet transparency in China, one might guess this Chinese “upgrade” will come with quite hefty strings attached. How about China-run global surveillance, ubiquitous geolocation tracking and free voice censorship?
Coming from a post-Soviet country I have a very clear idea of where “collective good” leads. My great-grandparents lost all their lands to the “social redistribution” campaign. My Polish grand grandmother’s family was tortured and exterminated as “enemies of the people”. My grandmother’s family got one day to move to a different part of the country during Stalin’s Operation Vistula. All the possessions they managed to assemble were taken from them on the train under the pretext of a bribe to avoid sending them to GULAG.
Learning history might seem like a waste of time to some. Those who devoted a few years to this discipline, however, know that history is always cyclical. Just as the ’80s are back in fashion, so will the repressions and tortures should the Chinese way of life triumph in the ongoing war of ideologies.
If you think sitting in your house and staring at the ceiling is inconvenient, think what an endless fear, paranoia and anxiety of living under authoritarian leadership would look like.
What Is At Stake?
The First and Second World Wars were wars on our freedom and liberties through control of resources and territories. The current World War is launched on our freedom and liberties; this time through control of advanced technology.
If you are looking for order and stability you might be prone to choose the Chinese way.
If you are looking to say what you think and walk on the streets as a free human being, you might very well consider what Western liberalism really means for you.
In the world of 2020, humanity’s freedom has conveniently slipped from the shelf of basic rights straight into the bin of luxury.
If you do not want to live the rest of your life like a caged rat in the Chinese laboratory of faceless slaves, you have to make your choice loud and clear.
This is not the time to launch an onslaught of criticism on your governments for mishandling the virus. This is the time to unite against the common enemy of authoritarianism and demand radical transparency from your states and companies.
COVID-19 is opening a societal abyss. If you remain complacent and make no meaningful movements, soon your freedom will be on the other side of the void
How Do We Win?
It is one thing to say that we ought to act. It is another to lay out concrete actions which will help bring Western civilization back on track. Without further ado, let’s get cracking on 4 key solutions which will ensure that our hard fought liberties are here to stay.
- Demographics of Inequality
This might sound like an outdated geopolitical message, but accounting for the situation, we ought to acknowledge: Europe, US and Japan are facing a dire demographics crisis, while Chinese, Indian, and African populations are on a steady upward trajectory.
To back up these words, statistical projections indicate that by 2050, the of population in Germany and Italy will fall by 12 million, while some Eastern European countries with lower economic prospects face up to a 43 % decline in population as is the case of Ukraine, a 34 % decrease in Bulgaria, and 22 % in Russia. Almost all EU countries, Japan, and United States will experience rapid decline in population growth or negative margins as well.
What this will mean for those countries is that the young generation will be breaking under an increasingly unrealistic demand to provide for the aging population, leaving behind any dream of a decent lifestyle and access to private property, – once happily enjoyed by their grandparents.
The very same situation is actually facing China due to the period of their one-child policy as well as South Africa, due to high AIDS/HIV percentage among younger people. The remainder of the African population, on the other hand, is expected to double by 2050, and almost the same growth is expected for Turkey and the Middle East.
Religious reasons aside, population decrease in Western societies and Japan can be explained largely by an ever increasing inequality. Middle class and the American dream are long remnants of the past. Current economic polarization in Western societies is hitherto unseen, with 0.0003% of the world population controlling 12 % of its whole wealth. No wonder Joker received an enthusiastic response in America! It is also not surprising young people are waiting to assemble at least a small resemblance of middle class stability before embarking on child bearing.
Western society has come to celebrate a hypocritical parody to success and achievement, with Instagram influencers, bankers and anime characters earning 100X the salary of surgeons, academics and police. We reached the point when our life resembles a cheap reality TV with the most outrageous characters basking in the shiny fruits of Capitalism.
China might be an authoritarian society, but it is communist as well. Differences in well-being and the “opportunity costs” of having children are much less pronounced than in the West, thus allowing people to start families and be more confident in their futures.
Thus, in order to avoid the triumph of the Chinese model, we all have to reassess our priorities and ensure Western society finds a sustainable economic model, which will allow the majority of people to live with dignity, have reasonable access to resources, property and healthcare.
We will have to reevaluate the remuneration of key people that are holding our societies together, such as doctors, farmers, builders, policemen, infrastructure workers and teachers, while acknowledging that reality TV stars and fashion icons exist as a societal caprice rather than a pinnacle of the world’s economic activity. Only then will we be able to ensure a steady economic development of Western democracies as well as avoid the looming demographic crisis, which will inevitably lead to a void waiting to be filled with immigrants from authoritarian and fundamentalist countries.
Societies whose people are ridden with overwhelming poverty and radical inequality have no right to dictate their ideologies to economically prosperous ones. The West has to understand this and get down to radical reformations. Full stop.
- Breaking Free From China
There is no surprise China is dictating its rules to the rest of the world. China has gone a long way from Western servitude and delivering on each imaginable Western whim, to accumulating the largest reserves of the world’s gold, conquering African and Central Asian infrastructure and oil trade, as well as getting to the level of shattering American economic hegemony.
It is worth noting, however, that this rapid growth and economic prosperity, which is logically fueling the credibility of the Chinese Communist Party, would have been impossible without the blind dependence on China’s manufacturing capabilities to satisfy each and every caprice of the Western buyer. The amalgamation of resources and the variety of choice we are enjoying in the West has been given to us solely by China’s restless efforts and round the clock manufacturing.
You want clothes that cost cheaper than a sandwich? China-enabled-fast-fashion is here to satisfy your request.
You want smartphones with computing power 100X larger than the computers that sent people to the Moon? China is here to provide you with the best and most cost-efficient chips.
You want cheap machinery to yield your crops? Chinese manufacturers are here for you.
You want useless toys, Christmas presents, St. Valentine’s tokens of love, “Italian” souvenirs, New Year’s decorations, ships, cars, furniture, coal, lamps, air conditioners, computers and items of personal hygiene? You will find it all in China.
Ironically, Communist China served us Western Capitalism on a silver plate
The abundance of choice, low prices and just-in-time manufacturing ensured we miss no request of our elaborately capricious mind. COVID-19 has uncovered the ugly consequences of non-diversified global dependence on China. When China is hit, the whole world is hit. When China stops, the whole world waits in anticipation.
Apart from a purely strategic mistake on relying on a single country for most of its imports, the West has also made a political error of allowing one exporter to dictate its conditions. What is important to remember in this COVID-19 induced crisis, is that ultimately it is China who is desperately dependent on the rest of the world to keep its “manufacturing hub” running; not the other way around.
So yes, the Coronavirus situation has uncovered our dependency on China. However, instead of grieving over the days of glorified superabundance, it is now time to strengthen the resilience and independence of our economies by diversifying our supply chains. This might take years, and each and every one of us will likely have to pick up the bill for weening off the addictive Chinese needle of convenience, but it is the only way to ensure our political and societal freedom.
The important point here is to ensure multinationals and governments share the burden of increased production costs with the general population. This will be done through fair taxation of global corporations, bringing jobs back inland, and generous subsidies to local businesses.
- Turning Our Gaze to India
If we are to lessen the dependency on 1.4 billion Chinese workers and consciously reject the China-advocated authoritarian way, we’d better make sure we have a reliable and powerful global alternative in this geopolitical game.
Equally, we ought to make sure we chose the partners, who share our values and respect for human life and freedom.
India is the biggest democracy in the world, projected to overtake China as the most populous country in the world by 2027 and poised to become the second largest economy in the world by 2050.
Indian people largely share the very same values and work ethics as people in the West. This can be seen by the number of Indian researchers in Western institutions and the number of high-profile companies’ CEOs coming from Indian background.
Granted, people in India are working harder than their Western counterparts to reach even a fraction of the opportunities we are enjoying in the West, but they still respect the vacation time and work life balance.
English is a national language in India ensuring mutual understanding in business dealings and cross-cultural friendships and marriages.
India has always been strong to rebuff the invasions of foreign powers, be that by force, as in case of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, or by nonviolent struggle, as in Mahatma Gandhi’s protests against British colonialism.
Nevertheless, India has a very limited history of Imperialism and claims of superiority and national domination. In fact, there has been no better time to channel Modi’s resurgent nationalism into a positive stream, then by acknowledging India’s growing influence and uniting to form a joint democratic alliance.
Geopolitics is a collaborative global game of chess, in which having the right ally is as important as calculating the probabilities for the next move. Having India on board, Western democracies will face much better prospects of attaining the upper hand in the war of ideologies, not to mention the increased power to wield positive influence over a burgeoning African continent.
- Global Focus on Healthcare
The global medical and science community is working on the longevity solutions, gene editing and potential biological immortality. We seem to be living in a Transhumanist fairy tale while completely disregarding the reality of everyday life here and now. In the 21st century, the world has come to a complete standstill due to a relatively simple respiratory virus.
Hospitals around the world are outrageously unprepared for an outbreak of a global scale, with ICUs lacking life-saving ventilators and medical staff utterly under-fitted with lifesaving masks, gloves and basic necessities. Most of these necessities should be coming from China, but in no way we can blame China for our own ignorance and greed. Numerous countries, including US, have disbanded their virology and pandemics response units to free up capital for other needs.
Indeed, our complacency is sinful beyond belief. Despite having had almost identical outbreaks of SARS and MERS in 2002 and 2012, respectively, we have not derived any lessons, have not undertaken any strategic preparations, and have not increased the importance of healthcare in our global political agendas.
Historically, a strong country has been defined by the strengths of its military, economy, or industrial complex. COVID-19 has showed that any country is only as strong as the healthcare it can provide to its citizens.
COVID-19 uncovered an absence of public healthcare in United States, despite astronomical taxes. Hospitals all over Europe, starting with Italy and Spain, and currently United Kingdom, are given “ethical guidance” on how to decide who should get life-saving care when ICUs face the lack of ventilators. According to estimates, in United Kingdom, a country, leading in medical academic discoveries, in the first weeks of April there will be only 30 free ventilators for over 30 000 people in critical condition.
Suddenly we have to realize that our societies are only as strong as their weakest link. And amidst a ravaging COVID-19 epidemic, our weakest link is our healthcare systems.
As the population ages and concerns over the possibility of new viruses mount in the coming decades, we will see mass migrations of people to the countries with more developed healthcare systems.
And if the Western Liberalism claim to the preciousness of human life holds any true value, we’d better work on fixing our healthcare systems now!
All in all, the time of crisis is our time to decide our values and priorities, as well as the decision to embrace or reject the temporary “iron fist” of authoritarian control.
Make your choice loud and clear, as there will be no “second referendum”.