From the Editor’s Desk
I had an interesting thought the other day. It’s not necessarily profound or anything, but it did occur to me that I’ve seeing a lot of articles lately about how China is overtaking us. The People’s Republic is becoming, we suspect, the world’s dominant power, and leaving us in the dust.
And how did that happen? Well, for one thing, the Chinese embraced a kind of modified capitalism, which has been proven to be an enormously potent machine for the generation of of power and wealth. Moreover, China embarked on a ruthless and break-neck program of industrialization, and that, too, makes for money and power.
But…how did it happen so quickly? How did China acquire the wherewithal to build all those factories and cities and drive so many men and women off farms and into an urban, industrial existence?
Well, I would submit that it happened because the West, and America in particular, opened the doors of its treasuries and its factories and so much else, and happily transferred money and technology to Beijing. We closed our factories and re-opened them in Asia. We emptied our brains and transferred the contents to Cathay.
Why did we do that? At first, it was because we wanted to hurt the Russians, and empowering China looked like a good way of doing that (just as, before, we empowered Japan before that, even though we’d just finished firebombing Tokyo into ruins. And the Japanese, in turn, had only recently put American POWs into concentration camps that were as bad as any to be found in the Gulag.)
But, then, after that…
It was our capitalists, wasn’t it? Our CEOs and MBAs and all the others who, with good libertarian logic, saw a wonderful opportunity to cut costs and bust unions. We’ll just do all manufacturing overseas, they said. It’ll be perfection, they said. It’ll vastly increase our profits, they said. And…in the end…since nations don’t really matter, and free enterprise (if left to itself) ultimately benefits everyone, even the folk who we will throw out of work will benefit. Or so they said.
Only…that’s not the way the world really works, is it? In the real world, nations do matter, particularly if their leaders don’t subscribe to libertarian logic, and don’t give a damn about Ayn Rand. In the real world, short term profits are, indeed, short term. In the real world the people you throw out of work, go hungry. And they get angry. And in time, they may get even.
So who is responsible for our decline and possible demise as a nation and a power? Why, our own corporate elite. Not liberals or communists or homosexuals or people who eat brie and listen to NPR. It was the others. The B-school grads. The managerial elite. The men and women who command great corporations and armies of lobbyists.
And who, to obtain an easy profit today, were willing to sacrifice all our tomorrows.
Let us not …not ever…forget that betrayal.
For memory, and appropriate response, may be all that stands between us and…
Michael Jay Tucker is the “sort of volunteer editor” of LR Net. He is also a writer and journalist who has published material on topics ranging from the Jazz Age to computers. (Among his small claims to fame is that he interviewed Steve Jobs just after that talented if complicated man got kicked out of Apple, and just before the company’s Board came begging him to come back.)
Tucker’s most recent book is Padre: To The Island, a meditation on life and death based on the passing of his own parents.
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