Quote notes (#91)

Panda-hugger Martin Jacques on the global tide:

A month ago, China overtook the US to become the largest economy in the world by one measure. By 2030 it is projected that the Chinese economy will be twice as large as America’s and larger than the European Union and America combined, accounting for one third of global GDP. This is the world that is coming into being, that we must learn to adapt to and thrive in. It is a far cry from the comfort zone we are used to, a globe dominated by the West and Japan: in the Seventies, between them they were responsible for two thirds of global GDP; by 2030 it will be a mere one third

During the preponderant part of the modern period, China’s civilizational competences were oriented to keeping the Pandora’s box of runaway modernization firmly sealed. Western intervention put an end to that, and the escape is now almost certainly irreversible. That is why, in broad outline, Jacques’ prognosis is correct. An accommodation to fate is in order.

(‘Doom’ — as tagged — means no more than fate, as we have begun to explain, or at least to explore.)

June 23, 2014admin 25 Comments »
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25 Responses to this entry

  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Under any system of government, I’m not aware of any hegemon that has let its hegemony slip away peacefully, or a challenger that has bit its lip and bided his time.

    That’s the fate we should be accommodating ourselves too.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I only wish I could disagree.

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    R. Reply:

    USSR went away remarkably peacefully, for a country with about half of the world’s conventional weapons and most of the nukes..

    [Reply]

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    It wasn’t the hegemon, or, by then, a credible challenger, though we probably should still feel lucky.

    Mai La Dreapta Reply:

    The USSR was not a hegemon, but the weaker and poorer half of a Manichaean dyad. I’m not sure these positions are comparable. That said, by far the happiest outcome I could see for the future US would be state failure and dissolution into a set of regional states.

    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 at 6:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ex-pat in Oz Says:

    As did the British Empire to be fair– though that might be construed as more of an inheritance than a replacement

    [Reply]

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    That’s the obvious counterexample. The confounder there is that there was another challenger, the Reichs, and the UK got beat down pretty bad warding off that challenger.

    [Reply]

    R. Reply:

    Arguably, WWI and WWIi occured.

    Possibly it’d have endured, if not for these conflicts and communism.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 at 7:51 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote notes (#91) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 at 7:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • georgesdelatour Says:

    I agree with Martin Jacques. That is, I expect he’s correct.

    But his writing on China is often distant and anaemic. As here, it’s nothing but a series of very broad generalisations, with no lived observation or telling local detail allowed to intrude into his analysis. He’s a sort of “Funes the Memorious” in reverse, seeing huge forests without noticing the peculiarities of any particular tree.

    Pure generalism can be as false as pure anecdotalism. That’s why Edward Luttwak is a useful corrective to Jacques. He’s aware of the non-linearities of strategy, and of the tendency of forces to generate countervailing forces.

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    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:27 pm Reply | Quote
  • Reader Says:

    It’s certainly possible that the current trend lines of China’s economic ascent will continue on the same trajectory until they are the undisputed economic behemoth of the world. On the other hand, I recall when I was in business school in the 1980s how we studied the amazing advances the Japanese had made in “just in time” inventory management and various other innovations that clearly seemed to suggest that by 2000 the Japanese would be the leading economy in the world. (See the 1986 movie “Gung Ho” for an example of the mindset that the Japanese would soon be ruling us economically.) And then certain quirks in the Japanese personality began to be reflected in the way they managed their economy and banking system – like the refusal to let bad loans and reckless banks go under because of the social stigma that would entail – and they’ve lost two decades of economic growth in the interim and are arguably on the edge of a financial apocalypse.

    So let’s not be too hasty in writing the obituary of Western economic leadership and trumpeting the ascendancy of the Chinese. They’ve had a good decade or two but the West has had twenty or thirty good decades and has survived some pretty harsh adjustments, as well as being the source of most every innovation in the last several hundred years. The Chinese have characteristic personality faults that undoubtedly will come back to bite them in the ass too.

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    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Different T Says:

    And if it doesn’t? Does admin stop to re-evaluate fundamental assumptions?

    How much needs to be overcome to create a “consumer society?”

    How do children of such a society view their predecessors? (Hint: Read the “Parasites” post above.)

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 24th, 2014 at 12:44 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    …..and the build-up of empty cities and the relentless carbon copying continues.

    [Reply]

    NRx_N00B Reply:

    Martin Jacques, Marxist extraordinaire, really seems to adore China. “When China Rules the World” is a bit of a China humping ecstatic orgy drenched gloat fest.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 24th, 2014 at 1:36 am Reply | Quote
  • Arc Says:

    The fallacy of the uninterrupted linear curve…

    China has a few problems they need to tackle before one can go and subscribe to the predictions of Martin Jacques.

    – a large surplus of perpetually single males in the overall population
    – cultural characteristics that may stunt technological innovation
    – rising levels of nationalist sympathies
    – an enormous real estate bubble
    – extreme levels of internal environmental degradation
    – increasing amounts of ethnic or religious conflict
    – massive wealth disparities between regions
    – the difficulty in achieving easy economic returns upon conversion to an “information-age” economy

    … among other things.

    This is not to say that the West is without its troubles. I’m just saying that we need to take several factors into consideration before latching onto a simple linear curve.

    [Reply]

    R. Reply:

    It’s not a large surplus if it’s just 2% of the population.

    Otherwise I concur.

    [Reply]

    Arc Reply:

    Certainly, as a percentage of the population, it’s relatively small… 3% as of 2020, assuming the trend continues (again, insert linear curve skepticism here).

    That being said, that’s *40 million* surplus males. Regardless of the size of the overall population, that is still a massive amount of manpower that can cause a great deal of disruption.

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    Posted on June 24th, 2014 at 2:30 am Reply | Quote
  • Aeroguy Says:

    Am I the only one who sees China and USG as two sides of the same coin? So long as they depend on trade with each other they’re essentially attached at the hip. I guess you can throw the EU in there too but that just reinforces how much these systems are just different flavors of the same thing. Comparing GDP numbers reminds me of people getting excited over poll numbers for POTUS races. Granted when the financial crisis hits trade probably won’t last as all the above are thrown on their asses and war is a very real possibility. But I don’t see how a Chinese hegemony would be dramatically different than the American one, China will make a fine host body for the Cathedral.

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    scientism Reply:

    Personally I think people grossly underestimate China. China’s political culture is a Sinofication machine. They can absorb anything. Marxism gave them the hiccups. Capitalism is proving much easier to digest. But it’d be a mistake to confuse it with Westernisation.

    [Reply]

    Arc Reply:

    Niall Ferguson calls it “Chimerica.”

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    Posted on June 24th, 2014 at 2:38 am Reply | Quote
  • Jake Says:

    Actually the biggest recent China related news was this:

    http://www.fastcoexist.com/3031143/the-next-giant-chinese-city-will-float-in-the-ocean

    AT Design Office is under contract to the Chinese construction firm CCCC with a pilot project to build a 10 square km floating city.

    These artificial floating atolls have the potential to remediate civilization’s environmental footprint, permanently rewilding agricultural lands and containing all urban population effluent (including CO2, CH4, N2O and CFC emissions) for 10 billion people at higher than US standard of living, sequestering on the order of a teratonne of CO2 from the oceans and atmosphere.

    Floating photobioreactors producing agricultural feedstocks in the tropical doldrums protected by these artificial floating atolls would support tremendous amounts of beachfront real estate enjoying enormous amounts of electrical energy per capita. When that happens, the bottom will drop out of land prices and not just farm land prices.

    The “jobs” will move to the construction of those artificial tropical paradise locations. I quote “jobs” because it won’t be just jobs that move — it will be technological civilization. The ordinary organizing forces of civilization around trade routes will be rendered impotent by the self-sufficiency of the atolls based on cheap baseload electricity combined with advances in materials science. People will simply move to their own 4000ft^2/family beachfront condo to enjoy the Seasteading Dream as a replacement for the long-dead American Dream.

    And this will be a natural step towards human space settlement.

    [Reply]

    SGW Reply:

    That is pretty cool. I can’t wait to see what Singapore, Dubai and co are going to do with this technology once most of the bugs have been removed.

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    NRx_N00B Reply:

    Pure fantasy. While Cathedral news outlets love to pump n’ hype China’s technological prowess, China’s Tianhe-2 cluster is based on Intel hardware running Linux—you can’t get anymore “white” than that. A more realistic thing to do might be to start a pool to allow people to gamble on the day they think the Three Gorges Dam will fail catastrophically.

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    Posted on June 24th, 2014 at 3:58 am Reply | Quote
  • Jake Says:

    There’s no fantasy here. And it’s not based on “China’s technological prowess”. It’s based on demonstrated technology and arithmetic. You don’t have to believe in “China’s technological prowess”. Believing that the Chinese are technically incompetent, scum of the Earth and that these developments are feasible and not fantastical are entirely compatible beliefs. You can work out the arithmetic yourself if you’re so inclined. Arithmetic is white.

    You’re missing the point here if every issue or development is a matter of racial or ethnic pride. There was nothing in my comment about “China’s technological prowess” because that’s not what this is about. This is about their willingness to actually do things and get the ball rolling for future developments that will have a major impact. They may not succeed. It might be white seasteaders who end up being able to successfully complete something like this. The point is that they are seriously breaking ground on completely feasible technical projects that are just begging to be undertaken, and whether they ultimately succeed or not, they are hastening the day when somebody will be successful.

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    Posted on June 25th, 2014 at 12:46 am Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    If Michael Pettis and the energy pessimists are right, it would be a mistake to forecast China’s future GDP by extrapolating recent trends since they are unsustainable past 2020, give or take.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 25th, 2014 at 12:51 am Reply | Quote

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