A Question about China

Here is a question I would like to throw open to anyone willing to reply. First, I need to remind any reader of the salient facts and history.

I am old enough to remember that when Western politicians and pundits were agitating for admitting China into the G-7, and opening the doors of free trade, the main argument offered was that were China to adopt liberal trade policies and limited free market reforms allowing for some private ownership of goods, that our Western and democratic way of life would prove so alluring and so self evidently superior, once tried in small, that civic rights and political liberties would become known to the Chinese, and, once known, adopted.

This idea, in brief, was that free trade infected even tyrants with a craving for freedom.

Thus spoke idealistic folk, including me in my libertarian days, armed with Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage, filled with the complaisant confidence that, once tasted, no one would or could prefer the empty promise of public safety and due order tyrants make to a life of freedom.

As I recall, only Pat Buchanan scoffed, reminding one and all that similar promises were made before World War One that peace would be ushered in on wings of trade, and proved false. He was excoriated by the Right for being against free trade, and by the Left for being a racist devil who should die the death. (The Right disagreed with him. The Left hated him. The Left does not have a setting for “disagreement”. )

So, fast forward to today.

Riots in Hong Kong have terrified the quaking tyrants and gangsters ruling China. Like all slave-owners, they are greatly outnumbered by the men they treat as livestock. The masters are surrounded by slaves as water surround a fish. Inevitably, the fear that the slaves will rise up and murder the them as they sleep torments, teases, and never ceases to pester the tyrants.

For this reason, tyrants must pay diligent attention to every smallest sign of disrespect. No uppity slave can go unpunished, nor, for that matter, any hint that a man can live a happy life or find success without the Party handing it to him. Any success or happiness outside Party control hints that the Party is not needed. And that is intolerable insubordination.

Any sign, any word, any smirk might be the snowball that triggers the avalanche. Even despots who start the day as benevolent dictators, claiming emergency powers to stave off whatever the crisis du jour might be, become bloodthirsty madmen, because the continual fear of a mutiny and uprising drives them mad.

Therefore when Daryl Morey, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets, sat in his hotel room in Tokyo, where the Rockets were playing two pre-season games against the current NBA champions, and typed one sentence in support of Hong Kong, the tyrants bowels were enflamed with anger.

He typed seven words: ““Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

Fortunately for the tyrants, the shoe company, Nike, gets almost half its income from Chinese markets, and Nike funds so much NBA activity that the NBA, like the Transformers cartoons meant to sell toys to kids in the 80s, is perhaps properly regarded merely as the sales force for Nike.

The tyrants cracked the whip of filthy lucre, and Nike immediately forced the NBA to kowtow,  and kiss the big toe of the despots of Peking.

I am reminded of a passage from that most honest and observant of historians, Johnny Swift. When Gulliver is commanded to appear in the Imperial Court of the King of Luggnagg, this is his report:

I was commanded to crawl upon my belly, and lick the floor as I advanced; but, on account of my being a stranger, care was taken to have it made so clean, that the dust was not offensive. However, this was a peculiar grace, not allowed to any but persons of the highest rank, when they desire an admittance. Nay, sometimes the floor is strewed with dust on purpose, when the person to be admitted happens to have powerful enemies at court; and I have seen a great lord with his mouth so crammed, that when he had crept to the proper distance from the throne; he was not able to speak a word. Neither is there any remedy; because it is capital for those, who receive an audience to spit or wipe their mouths in his majesty’s presence.

So the NBA is licking dust from before the footstool of the despots, and Nike as well. Movies like DOCTOR STRANGE and the remake of TOP GUN are edited and censored to fit with Chinese political dictates, removing references to Taiwan or Tibet.

My question, finally, is this: We were told that free trade would addict the Leftwing government in China with a Western liberty.

Has not the very reverse happened? We have become addicted to Leftwing cowardice, conformity, sycophancy, and social control.