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Foreign Affairs

Type A Voters and the Simple Fix

June 7th, 2012 // 2:23 pm @

Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago recently said in Foreign Affairs (May/June 2012):

 

For decades before the financial crisis of 2008, advanced economies were losing their ability to grow by making useful things. 

“But they needed to somehow replace the jobs that had been lost to technology and foreign competition and to pay for the pensions and health care of their aging populations.

“So in an effort to pump up growth, governments spent more than they could afford and promoted easy credit to get households to do the same. 

“The growth that these countries engineered, with its dependence on borrowing, proved unsustainable.”

Now many of the nations in Europe, North America and leading Asian countries are facing the consequences of their reliance on debt.

We call it the economic crisis of 2008, or the Great Recession, but it began long before the Bush or Obama administrations.

Indeed, during the Ford and Carter eras of the late 1970s, constitutional scholars widely warned of this very problem.

Sadly, their recommendations went unheeded.

It now falls to our generation to deal with the realities of over forty years of bad policy, and the economic challenges ahead will likely be worse than economists are admitting.

The problems will likely still plague our children and grandchildren in their earning years.

Raghuram Rajan suggests the following fixes:

  • Stop using debt as the solution to increasing demands for government and private spending
  • Educate or retrain the sectors of workers whose jobs are being mechanized, replaced, or sent abroad
  • Create government policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Reduce regulations that hurt competition
  • Shrink government as needed to reduce unnecessary and unproductive functions
  • Move beyond attacks on bonuses and “the one percent” and emphasize the need to provide more entrepreneurial opportunity
  • Avoid calls for stimulus

Of course, not all nations will follow identical policies, but these are the general principles of overcoming our economic challenges. Rajan’s article outlines needed changed in more detail, and one quote is worth repeating:

 

Americans should remain alert to the reality that regulations are shaped by incumbents to benefit themselves.

 

If only we could stitch this quote in needlepoint, frame it and hang it in every American living room.

And get every voting citizen to read each issue of Foreign Affairs.

We have less of a Washington problem and more of a citizen problem. Too many citizens are on vacation from our duties. We want to be Type B citizens who vote, attend jury duty and watch the news, and to look down on Type C citizens who don’t do any of these.

But freedom depends on Type A citizens, who closely watch what government does and make their influence felt.

Imagine an America where the first branch of government consists of thousands of unelected citizens who study history and the great classics, read proposed treaties, important court cases, executive orders, budgets, and top bills proposed at the local, state and Congressional levels. That’s the formula for freedom, and no other formula has ever worked—in America or in all of history.

When the people don’t actively watch out for their freedoms, they lose them.

When Presidents, Senators, Governors, Justices and CEOs have an entirely different level of education than the average citizens, freedom will decline.

Again, there are no exceptions in history. In fact, there is a word for such a divide between the education of the leaders and the education of the masses. The word is Oligarchy.

As Christopher Hayes wrote in Twilight of the Elites, “In reality our meritocracy has failed not because it’s too meritocratic, but because in practice, it isn’t very meritocratic at all…. In other words: ‘Who says meritocracy says oligarchy.’”

Hayes also noted that, according to Pew Research, Canada is almost 2.5 times more economically mobile than the United States, Germany is 1.5 times as mobile, and Denmark is 3 times as mobile.

So a young person in Denmark is three times as likely to rise from the middle to the upper class as our children in America. Indeed, the only advanced nation where such progress is less likely than in the U.S. is Britain—the modern icon of class divides.

Again, the solutions are relatively simple: reduce regulation that dis-incentivizes economic growth, adopt policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and stop relying on debt.

This will cause governments and households to tighten their belts in the short term, but long-term free enterprise will rekindle economic growth and widespread prosperity.

If only our leaders would take notice. As Hayes wrote in dystopian terms:

 

It would be a society with extremely high and rising inequality yet little circulation of elites.

 

“A society in which the pillar institutions were populated by and presided over by a group of hyper-educated, ambitious overachievers who enjoyed tremendous monetary rewards as well as unparalleled political power and prestige…, a group of people who could more or less rest assured that now that they have achieved their status, now that they have scaled to the top of the pyramid, they, their peers, and their progeny will stay there.

 

“Such a ruling class would have all the competitive ferocity inculcated by the ceaseless jockeying within the institutions that produce meritocratic elites, but face no actual sanctions for failing at their duties or succumbing to the temptations of corruption….

 

“In the way bailouts combined the worst aspects of capitalism and socialism, such a social order would fuse the worst aspects of meritocracy and bureaucracy.

 

“It would, in other words, look a lot like the American elite circa 2012.”

 

All of that would be fine, if the rest of the people lived in a society with true free enterprise. Let the super-elite act like elites always have, but let the regular people live in freedom.

Over time, freedom creates growth, opportunity, socio-economic mobility and widespread prosperity.

Alas, the elites seldom ever make such changes on behalf of the people. If we want to be free, regular people must start behaving like Type A citizens.

 

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Citizenship &Constitution &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Government &Independents &Leadership &Politics &Statesmanship

Next…?

May 14th, 2012 // 10:16 am @

THE NEXT BIG TREND: Pooled Sovereignty
by Oliver DeMille

I recently spent two days in a Barnes and Noble reading the bestsellers on current trends and issues. I do this as often as I can—at least three times a year.

Sometimes I emphasize business bestsellers, and other times I focus on political books.

When I was too ill to do these visits for a time, I used Amazon to order the bestsellers every four months. But I prefer the bookstore, because in addition to books it has all the leading periodicals.

How to Read a Book(store) in 4 Easy Steps

I usually find a comfortable chair and stack 20-30 volumes and magazines on the table or floor next to me. Then I skim everything that looks interesting. That’s Step 1.

Step 2 consists of reading the books and articles that really pique my interest. I read them closely, and take notes in my notebook. Step 2 takes at least three hours and sometimes a lot more. If needed, I go back for a second day of reading.

Step 3 is buying the books and periodicals I want to have in my personal library, and Step 4 is re-reading them and organizing my notes from the trip and writing as needed.

On this trip, my travel plans got delayed, so I ended up staying longer than expected. I perused the business bestsellers and added more books to Step 2. Then I skipped to Step 4 and studied three books I’d already read over the last two days.

When I do these bookstore research trips, I’m always looking for something special. I want to see developing trends, new directions, and significant key words that signal where cutting-edge thought is headed. Only once in a while do I find a truly Big Trend, one which promises to remake the future. “Pooled Sovereignty” is just this kind of trend.

Sovereignty Broken Down

Sovereignty is the final say on something, or, having the ultimate power. The American framers were so concerned with the abuses caused by the limitless power of the British government that they established America with split sovereignty.

This meant that the federal government had just twenty powers, all listed and numbered in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The final say, or sovereignty, over everything else was left to the states, or to the people – and the states were limited in their respective constitutions.

The people were ultimately sovereign.

Moreover, just in case the federal government tried to ignore the Constitution and usurp sovereignty from the states and the people, the framers divided the smaller portion of sovereignty given to Washington D.C. into three branches and established checks and balances to keep too much power from accumulating in any one place.

For decades scholars, students and interested citizens from both Left and Right have warned that sovereignty is centralizing in Washington, that split sovereignty is being replaced by a massive centralized sovereignty—all power in one place.

Pooled sovereignty is even worse. This occurs where international organizations or treaties make the final decisions for the people, regardless of what national governments say. Indeed, some of the most damaging choices being made today are decided without the consent of Congress or the Supreme Court – not to mention the states or the people. They are made by treaties, the United Nations, G-20, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international organizations.

Most Americans turn off their thinking when they hear this list of international agencies—but the elite perk up with interest. This is where the buzz is.

The breeding ground for a global system that supports pooled sovereignty is found in top universities, and it is promoted by the bureaucratic elite in many nations. Much of what occurs in Washington only makes sense to those who understand this drift toward globalization.

The Grand Design

For example, a push for increased government spending, debt and regulation on small business (even in the face of recession and a struggling economy) make perfect sense if the goal is to shift the American economy away from international leadership to global participation—to make the U.S. economy and government more like those of Europe and Asia.

Stimulus, universal health care, less entrepreneurship (through increased levels of government regulation)—all are necessary to create an American economy that can fit seamlessly with the industrialized European/Asian nations.

Another step in this process is to end the use of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and replace it with an IMF or other currency. The IMF has already proposed this change, and international support for it is growing.

Just to be clear: When the dollar replaced the British pound as the world’s reserve currency in the 1970s, the average net worth of nearly every home in Britain fell more than 30% the day after the change. The British economy has still never fully recovered, nearly forty years later.

If the same change comes to the U.S., we will likely experience a worse economy for the next four decades than we have over the past four years.

Unfortunately, as Forbes reported, “It’s hard for the State Department to imagine an international agreement to which America is not part.”[i] Republican and Democratic presidents since FDR have drastically decreased American freedom using treaties. This is bad for Americans, good for pooled sovereignty.

Ultimately, there are two types of leadership that can turn this around: presidential leadership, and citizen leadership.

We Need You to Lead Us

Sadly, few presidential candidates (from either party) and exactly zero elected presidents since 1959 have effectively pushed back against this growing threat.

As for the American citizenry leading the charge: find out what percentage of your friends can tell you the details in the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Rome Statute, or UN Agenda 21, and that is a predictor of how likely the people are to effectively lead.

In fact, this lack of citizen leadership means there is little incentive for presidents to take action against pooled sovereignty. Or to put this in practical terms, a half-century with a bad economy is likely ahead.

Unless something changes…

We need citizens who study what our government is doing, who read treaties and court cases and executive orders, etc. Without this, the age of American prosperity will continue to decline.

Where to start? The three books I closely studied at Barnes and Noble are an excellent beginning. If you are liberal, try Drift by Rachel Maddow. Conservatives will probably prefer Dick Morris’s book Screwed. If you’re an independent, read them both. In addition, everyone should read How Do You Kill a Million People by Andy Andrews. Just reading these books and the documents they cite would be a great study on current America.

The future belongs to our citizens—and the level of our citizenship will determine what happens in the years and decades ahead. If we are Type B citizens (who vote, go to jury duty, and watch the news), we’re going to witness the decay of American freedom and prosperity.

We need Type A citizens, who in addition to voting and jury duty also deeply study the issues, government documents and decisions our government officials are making. We can only influence things if we know what’s really happening.

And: Next?

The second day at Barnes and Noble, the intercom announced that children’s reading time was starting. I took a break from reading and walked over to see America’s future. One mother brought her small son, and she read a thick book while he enjoyed reading hour alone. I was surprised they went ahead with the reading hour when only one child showed up. I don’t know why others didn’t bring their children, and I wonder what kind of America this boy and his peers will inherit.

I asked his mother what book she was reading. It was titled—no lie—City of Lost Souls. I wish that boy had been joined by an army of his peers—preparing to lead.

All through history, free people have been nations of readers. When the people oversee the government, they remain free. When they don’t…

Category : Aristocracy &Blog &Book Reviews &Citizenship &Constitution &Current Events &Foreign Affairs &Government &Independents &Leadership &Statesmanship

The New Grand Strategy for 2012

February 20th, 2012 // 2:50 pm @

1.     Two Speeches

Several years ago I spoke at a seminar on international affairs and I predicted that in the next few years the United States would adopt a new Grand Strategy. I outlined America’s historical Grand Strategies, from Constitutionalism (1789-1820) and Manifest Destiny (1820-1900) to Nationalism (1900-1945) and later Internationalism (1945-2001).

I pointed out that our Grand Strategy is the way we define our major national goals for the decades ahead, and that after 9/11 we were on track for a new Grand Strategy. We discussed some possible Grand Strategies that could come, and we brainstormed things we hoped to see in the Grand Strategy of the 21st Century.

The same year, in another speech on a different occasion, I showed how many of the predictions found in one publication, Foreign Affairs, keep ending up as official U.S. policy. I cited numerous examples from articles in Foreign Affairs and showed how within five years of publication their recommendations were adopted. I marveled that one publication could have such an effective track record, and recommended that everyone in attendance subscribe to and read this magazine.

Of course, as I said in the speech, not all the authors in Foreign Affairs agree on every detail, and in fact they engage in a great deal of debate. But, again, is it amazing how often policies recommended in Foreign Affairs end up being implemented in Washington.

Then, just this year, the messages of these speeches came together in an interesting way. In the January/February 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, a new article outlines a new Grand Strategy for the United States. Although I don’t agree with many of the details in this latest Grand Strategy, the track record of Foreign Affairs promises that this will, in fact, be the Grand Strategy of the United States in the decades ahead.

I believe that this will be the major 21st Century challenge for the future of American freedom.

2.     Grand Strategy Drives the Nation

The power of a Grand Strategy can hardly be overstated. When a nation adopts a Grand Strategy, it dominates national policy and influences all national choices over time. Few, if any, policies go against or are even allowed to compete with the accepted Grand Strategy.

And while not everyone knows what a Grand Strategy is, the intelligentsia of both parties tend to follow the Grand Strategy with the energy and passion of religious doctrine. They may disagree on many things, but they both adhere to the Grand Strategy.

So what is the new Grand Strategy of the United States? The answers are outlined in an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski: “A New U.S. Grand Strategy: Balancing the East, Upgrading the West”.  Students of American policy will remember Brzezinski as the U.S. National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981 and as a long-time writer on U.S. international strategy.

3.     Our New Grand Strategy

Things have changed drastically over the past decade, Brzezinski assures us, and by 2012 a new Grand Strategy is overdue. The outlines of this new plan include the following:

  • The “central focus” for the United States in the years ahead is threefold: (1) revitalize the U.S., (2) help the West expand, and (3) create a balance in the East that will allow China to successfully rise without becoming an enemy.
  • The expansion of the West will create a democratic free zone from North America and Western Europe to a number of other nations, including Eastern Europe, Russian, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
  • In the East, U.S. power and influence will attempt to create a cooperative relationship between China and Japan and keep Chinese-Indian relations from turning to violent conflict.
  • To accomplish all this, the U.S. must become a better “promoter and guarantor” of unity and simultaneously a “balancer and conciliator between the major powers of the East.”
  • To have any credibility in these roles, the U.S. must effectively “renovate itself at home.” This requires, says Brzezinski, four things: (1) better innovation, (2) improved education, (3) a balance of American power and diplomacy, and (4) a better focus on quality political leadership in Washington.
  • One of the most important changes ahead must be an effective improvement of relations between the United States and the European Union. The two sides of the Atlantic have been drifting apart since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this trend must be reversed. Otherwise, growing conflicts between the United States, the European Union, and Russia could weaken the West and cause it to splinter and become increasingly pessimistic. This would also promote a more contentious China.
  • The U.S. should decrease military power in Asia and emphasize increased cooperation with China.
  • Taiwan will at some point have to reconcile in some way with China.

Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with this new strategy. If this is the outline of the years ahead, the U.S. will definitely face an era of deepening international confusion and tension.

Despite this reality, the historical track record of Foreign Affairs suggests that this is the Grand Strategy we will follow. If this occurs, voters will elect one party and then the other, and remain frustrated when the on-going Grand Strategy of our international affairs keeps our economic and other national policies going in the same direction.

Adoption of this Grand Strategy is a path of inevitable decline, regardless of what the experts say. Election after election, we’ll seek real change but see whoever is in the White House continually push our nation in the same negative direction.

4.     Significant Flaws

Specifically, this new Grand Strategy has at least the following major defects:

  • An abandonment of support for an independent Taiwan, even through a subtle shift of attitude as suggested, amounts to a significant reversal of America’s historical loyalty to our allies. Such a change will undermine our credibility with other nations and further erode Washington’s credibility with American voters.
  • The attempt to bridge differences between the United States and European nations in this Grand Strategy takes the tone of the U.S. becoming more like these nations—rather than influencing these countries to adopt more freedom-based values historically espoused by the U.S.
  • Adoption of this new Grand Strategy may amount to a de facto appeasement of China. If China is, in fact, following a savvy strategy of replacing America as the world’s dominant super power and transporting its fundamental values around the globe, then this would be nothing less than a disastrous policy. And even if China is a good-faith seeker of more global participation, cooperation and open trade, it certainly wants to spread its central values and ideals—nearly all of which are antithetical to freedom.
  • The emphasis on increased business innovation and improved education in this strategy seem to rely on increased government spending and intervention in our economy rather than policies that incentive increased free enterprise, innovation, hiring and entrepreneurialism. This is yet another attempt to move away from traditional American values and adopt instead the government-run mercantilist practices of European and Asian economies.
  • The focus in this policy is a shift from internationalism (a policy of interactions between sovereign nations with America as a world leader) to globalism (where the United States submits its actions to the decisions of international organizations).
  • Note that while we have changed the Constitution through Amendments less than thirty times in over two hundred years, it has been changed in literally thousands of ways through treaty (and these changes are seldom noticed by most Americans). While treaties were used to skirt the Constitution many times under the Internationalist Grand Strategy since 1945, this new Globalist Grand Strategy will make this the major focus of its policies, totally ending Constitutional rule in the United States. This is not an exaggeration but rather a technical reality.

In short, this new Grand Strategy is a de facto end to the traditional American Constitutional system. If it is fully adopted, and all indications are that this is what is occurring, our free system is in immediate jeopardy.

I am an optimist, and I believe that the best America and the world have to offer is still ahead. Yet in a nation of laws, in a society where the fine print of contracts, statutes, judicial dicta, executive agency policies and treaties are our higher law, this new Grand Strategy promises to rewrite our entire system in a few agencies dominated by unelected international experts and almost entirely out of the public’s eye. This is not a republic or democracy, but a true technocracy.

Again, the result will be elections where we vote our passions but where little changes no matter which candidates win each campaign.

In such a world, the fine print in our treaties will run the show, though few will realize what is happening or understand why our freedoms and economy are constantly in decline no matter which party we put in charge of Washington.

It is hard to overstate just how significant this current change is in our world. Freedom is literally at stake.

5.     Solutions

We don’t need better leaders or public officials as near as much as we need better citizens. Historically, the American founders knew that freedom could only last if regular citizens had the same level of education as our Governors, Senators, Judges, experts and Presidents.

When any nation is divided between, on one hand, a class of political experts who read and understand the fine print of what is really happening and, on the other hand, the rest of the people who don’t read or get involved in such intricate details, freedom is inevitably lost.

There are no exceptions to this in history.

We will either become such citizens, or our freedoms will be lost.

If this is too much to ask of modern citizens, then freedom is too much for us to handle. Just consider what Samuel Williams, a Harvard professor in the American founding era, said about the average education of American children in 1794:

“All the children are trained up to this kind of knowledge: they are accustomed from their earliest years to read the Holy Scriptures, the periodical publications, newspapers, and political pamphlets; to form some general acquaintance with the laws of their country, the proceedings of the courts of justice, of the general assembly of the state, and of the Congress, etc.

“Such a kind of education is common and universal in every part of the state: and nothing would be more dishonorable to the parents, or to the children, than to be without it.”

Such people were deep readers. And the freedoms they fought for and maintained showed it. The only way to get back such freedoms is to once again become such citizens. What is needed, regardless of what the experts in Washington do, is a widespread grassroots grand strategy of becoming the kind of citizens and voters who are truly capable of maintaining freedom.

 

(For more on how to become this kind of citizen and reader, see the book A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille.)

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Generations &Government &Leadership &Liberty &Prosperity &Statesmanship

Thirteen Thoughts on China

July 11th, 2011 // 11:40 am @

A Review of Henry Kissinger’s On China 

America is interested in China. Intellectuals have long criticized the citizenry of the United States for being self-absorbed and comparatively uninterested in world affairs. Many Americans have only given close attention to international events that directly impact them. In the case of China, it seems that Americans are deeply concerned not about what has occurred, but rather about what may come.

Henry Kissinger’s book On China is an excellent primer for any person who wants to know more about China.

There is much here for the beginner, and also a number of items of personal interest for the scholar of modern Sino-American relations.

Here are thirteen ideas from the book which sparked my thinking:

1- Exeptionalism and Singularity

Americans often talk about exceptionalism, the things that make the United States different from other nations. For the Chinese, the foundational concept is singularity. This may sound similar to exceptionalism, but it is almost the opposite.

Where America sees its founding coming after long millennia of human history, benefiting from the experiences of historical civilizations and rising above all of them, the Chinese notion of singularity stems from the view that China has no founding—that it has existed longer than written history, that it maintained a long set of traditions from before recorded annals to the present, and that it is the only modern civilization to have done so.

While many Americans claim universal principles of freedom that all nations should adopt, China claims universal principles of society that it has always used.

2-Language

The Chinese language is as old as written history.

According to Kissinger, its characters were developed at about the time of ancient Egypt.

While the Western nations have used and then moved beyond ancient Egyptian, Greek, Latin, and the numerous European languages, China kept and deepened its language.

Only Hebrew, of all the Western languages (if Hebrew can even be considered Western), is as old, and its spoken form had to be resurrected in the twentieth century.

While the culture of Western Civilization has used many languages, the Chinese Civilization has used basically one written language. Our Western classics, myths, and major political documents are mostly translations from a host of languages.

Chinese classics are nearly all studied in the original.

The result in China is a profound sense of continuity with the past and a closer connection to its traditions than experienced in any Western nation. It is hard for Westerners to even grasp the lasting significance of this reality.

3-Dynastic History

The Western political experience includes a long cycle of declining current powers eventually replaced by rising new powers—Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Spain, France, Britain, and the United States, to mention a few.

Each rises, leads the world for a time, then declines. A new power seems to arise every couple of centuries.

In China, where history goes back past the time of the Egyptian dynasties, the cycle is different, and the differences drastically impact the way Chinese leaders view the world.

The Chinese cycle includes a period of internal division and inner conflict, then an era of unity and dynastic rule, then another time of division and conflict.

This cycle in China usually takes three to nine hundred years to run its course, and today’s Chinese see themselves just sixty years into a new dynastic rule that will once again put China at the center of world power—for the next five hundred years or more.

4-The Center of the World

Until the nineteenth century, China never had to deal with a civilization or nation of “comparable size or sophistication….As late as 1820, it produced over 30 percent of world GDP—an amount exceeding of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States combined.”

It has historically always considered itself the center of the world and felt deeply humiliated by its loss of dominance to Western powers in modern times.

5-Secular Empire

According to Kissinger, China has always been a secular empire.

Unlike the West, religion, religious wars, and conflicts between major religious views have played little part in China’s political history. Spirituality has historically centered on restoring the principles and ideals of a Confucian-style past “Chinese Golden Age.”

Learning was seen as the key to this objective, and also to personal advancement. The goal of Confucian-Chinese spirituality, learning, and politics has usually been “rectification, not progress.”

The main principle in this order was to “know thy place.”

The pinnacle of society was the Emperor, who was both a political leader and a spiritual-religious symbol. He was considered “the Emperor of Humanity” on earth and “Son of Heaven” as man’s “intermediary between Heaven, Earth and humanity.”

This tradition of the great Emperor above all mankind, his bureaucracy to maintain order in all things, and each person fulfilling his proper place in society created a certain kind of culture that has lasted for a very, very long time through various outward governmental structures and forms.

Most Americans disagree with the basics of this model, but we must not discount the power of its history and tradition.

Kissinger wrote:

“If the Emperor strayed from the path of virtue, All Under Heaven would fall into chaos. Even natural catastrophes might signify that disharmony had beset the universe. The existing dynasty would be seen to have lost the ‘Mandate of Heaven’ by which it possessed the right to govern: rebellions would break out, and a new dynasty would [eventually arise to] restore the Great Harmony of the universe.”

Government was supreme.

6-Monarchy and Aristocracy

Where the West was dominated by aristocrats in nearly all countries, with a host of peasants and occasionally powerful kings, China was run by an Emperor and his army of bureaucrats (mandarins).

The provinces (cantons) were likewise ruled by the mandarins, and the outlying (non-Chinese) nations were considered tributaries to the central Emperor.

Kissinger doesn’t mention that these are the two great types of historical governments:

  1. Monarchy ruling through bureaucratic management
  2. Aristocracy ruling through class dominance.The American founding created a third system:
  3. The Federal Democratic Republic ruled by constitutionally separated branches and levels of government all limited by checks, balances and periodic elections.

7-Sino-centric World History

Many modern Chinese see the history of the world as three distinct eras:

  • China’s world prominence until the nineteenth century
  • A “century of humiliation” from the early 1800s until the communist revolution in the 1940s
  • A rebirth of China’s proper world role beginning in the 1940s and still developing today

8-China’s Grand Strategy

China’s grand strategy has traditionally revolved around playing foreign powers against each other.

During the modern era, Britain, Russia, France, the United States, Japan, the Soviet Union, Korea, Vietnam and India have all been impacted by the Chinese strategy of “using barbarians against barbarians.”

Through it all, China has held mainly to its traditions rather than joining the West (or attempting to join it) like most nations have done.

For example, while most Westerners might agree that with three superpowers during the Cold War an alliance of two would be the strongest position, China followed its traditional non-Western approach by keeping the U.S. and USSR strongly pitted against—and focused on—each other rather than China.

9-The Communist Era

The pain of the communist era in China is felt by nearly every family and person in China. All suffered. Communism united China under central control, leading to increased power. But the pain of totalitarian communist rule created a modern generation hungry for freedom and economic opportunity.

This era also changed the Chinese psyche from “fit your place in the system” to one of regaining China’s place in world prosperity, power and leadership.

10-Leadership through Symbolism

Chinese leadership often operates with an emphasis on making impressions rather than literality.

This tactic includes attempting to make things seem a certain way as a means of influence—regardless of whether or not the reality actually resembles the perception.

In short, symbol is often more highly prized and utilized than the literal reality in Chinese culture and diplomacy.

Western leaders and citizens who don’t understand that most Chinese leaders assume the symbolic over the literal frequently misunderstand Chinese motivations, actions and words.

11-Contemporary Chinese Literature

Two current Chinese-written bestsellers (in China) include China is Unhappy: The Great Era, the Grand Goal, and Our Internal Anxieties and External Challenges by Song Xiaojun (2009) and China Dream: Great Power Thinking and Strategic Posture in the Post-American Era by Liu Mingfu (2010).

Kissinger comments:

“Both books are deeply nationalistic. Both start from the assumption that the West is much weaker than previously thought, but that ‘some foreigners have not yet woken up; they have truly not understood that a power shift is taking place in Sino-Western relations.’ In this view it is thus up to China to shake off its self doubt and passivity, abandon gradualism, and recover its historic sense of mission by means of a ‘grand goal.’”

Liu advocates a Chinese return to a ‘martial spirit’ and a military rise along with its economic rise.

Liu wrote:

“If China in the 21st century cannot become world number one, cannot become the top power, then inevitably it will become a straggler that is cast aside.”

Kissinger writes that these books:

“…could not have been published or become a national cause célèbre had the elites prohibited publication. Was this one ministry’s way of influencing policy?”

He notes that official government views differ from the tone of these books, but doubts that this debate is over in China.

12-War on the Economic Front

Still, Kissinger says:

“A country facing such large domestic tasks is not going to throw itself easily, much less automatically, into strategic confrontation or a quest for world domination….The crucial competition between the United States and China is more likely to be economic than military.”

After the Great Recession, this may be exactly what has so many Americans deeply concerned.

As for the rise of China, Kissinger wisely suggests that America has the ability to substantially determine its own future regardless of what China does.

We should worry less about China than about how to overcome our own nation’s challenges.

Peace and cooperation between these two cultures and nations is, as Kissinger puts it, “inherently complex.” It is important to the future of both nations that our citizens and leaders approach relations wisely and in principled fashion.

13-A War of Ideals

Kissinger suggests:

“The United States bears the responsibility to retain its competitiveness and its world role. It should do this for its own traditional convictions, rather than as a contest with China. Building competitiveness is largely an American project, which we should not ask China to solve for us.”

I agree. Our biggest problem is Washington, not Beijing, and if we as the American citizenry handle Washington correctly, China will never be the threat it could become if Washington is insolvent or weak.

As I said above, Kissinger goes into depth on a number of additional topics, all of which are valuable to the American citizenry.

These thoughts are just a few of the many covered in On China.

As a group, we don’t know enough about China. Kissinger’s analysis is astute and timely, based on both research and long personal experience. This is an important book, and it is a valuable addition to the prudent citizen’s reading list on China.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Category : Blog &Book Reviews &Current Events &Economics &Featured &Foreign Affairs &Government &History &Politics &Statesmanship

A Big Problem

June 17th, 2011 // 11:11 am @

Be Afraid

We have a problem. We have a big problem. Or, as the old quip put it, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

As an optimist, I am usually skeptical of anything that sounds overly negative. However, I recently read a list of statistics in the Harper’s Index that I think is cause for serious concern.

Two items on the list have received a lot of press:

  • Standard and Poor’s “revised its U.S. debt outlook to ‘negative’” on April 18, 2011.
  • It has never before ranked the U.S. anything but ‘stable.’”

This should give us all pause. But this is a fixable situation, one which can be solved by a return to American entrepreneurialism, initiative and ingenuity.

The increase of unemployment once again in May 2011 can likewise be effectively overcome by government policy changes that incentivize private investment and spending. Many corporations are sitting on significant surpluses right now, but they are loathe to spend them without a real change in the way the U.S. government spends money and treats business.

In short, our current economic problems can be dealt with by the principles of freedom and free enterprise—if only Washington would give freedom a try. Note that neither Republican nor Democratic presidents have taken this approach for over two decades.

American vs. Chinese Views on the Free Market

But these aren’t the statistics that should worry us most. The figures which really concern me have gotten little media attention:

  • Percentage of Americans in 2009 who believed the free market ‘is the best system on which to base the future of the world’: 74
  • Percentage of Americans who believe so today: 59
  • Percentage of Chinese who do: 67

If this trend continues, we’ll face drastically worsening major problems.

Unease about the growth of China’s power has been increasing in the U.S. for some time, but the concern has mostly centered on America’s economic decline versus the growth of China as a major totalitarian world power.

Add to this the knowledge that over two-thirds of Chinese believe free enterprise is the key to the future—at the same time that American belief in free enterprise is waning—and our sense of what the 21st Century will bring takes on a new direction.

In the United States, youth are widely taught that the key to life and career success is getting a good job, while in China an emphasis for the “best and brightest” in the rising generation is to engage meaningful entrepreneurship.

If this continues, the status and roles of these two nations will literally switch in the decades ahead: China as superpower, the U.S. as a second-rate nation with a stagnant and struggling economy. Many experts point out that China has a long way to go to “catch up” with the U.S. in military strength, but how long will this take if the U.S. economy continues to decline while China’s booms?

I have two main thoughts on this: First, good for the Chinese people! If they can consistently nudge their society and government in the direction of increased freedom, they will join or possibly even become the world’s most important leaders. The truth is that freedom works—in China as much as everywhere else. Second, and most importantly, America needs to give freedom a chance.

A majority of Americans believe in free enterprise, but many in Washington seem convinced that the government can do things better than the American people. The future of our freedom and prosperity depends on a flourishing environment of freedom.

Government can do us all a great service by altering its current policies and removing the numerous obstacles to free enterprise. This one significant shift is vital. The fact that many of our national leaders seem committed to avoiding such changes is a big problem. The longer this lasts, the bigger the problem becomes.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver DeMille is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the co-author of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Foreign Affairs &Government &Producers &Prosperity

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