Friday, December 18, 2020

Foreign Policy asks "Can America Recover" and looks hard at the Chinese Communist Party

Beijing skyline from northeast 4th ring road

The January-February 2021 (dead of winter) issue of Foreign Affairs is certainly eye-catching/

At the bottom there is a caption, “Can America Recover?”.  It comprises seven essays.

I’ll mention two of them. 

To Stop a Pandemic: A Better Approach to Global Health Society”, p. 36. By Jennifer Nuzzo.

The author says that the western world was “singularly unprepared” for a pandemic of this nature.  It would be hard to anticipate in advance how a respiratory virus could seem to cause very trivial illness in most people exposed, yet fill up hospitals and morgues quickly – it spreads that quickly before someone has noticeable symptoms (and many more people than we realize never have symptoms).  And a troubling percentage of people who recover from milder cases have residual complications (long haulers). The idea that a respiratory virus does such damage to blood vessels sounds novel.  But there are many other bizarre viruses out there.  It’s just that this one is new. 

At the end, she warns that an even worse virus is conceivable – maybe one that is slow and that causes dementia in everyone.  It is impossible to avoid the possibility that a foreign power could design a pathogen.  Indeed, the behavior of SARS_CoV2 sounds imagined to undermine western individualism and to reinforce personal sacrifice for the group as in communist countries.

David W. Blight has an essay on p. 44, “The Reconstruction of America: Justice, Power, and the Civil War’s Unfinished Business”.  Indeed, the period right after the war (as in “Gone with the Wind”) was more radical in its interventionism in the South than most of us realize. But Blight discusses the Radical Republicans, who made strides between 1866 and 1868 (leading to Johnson’s impeachment), pressed for a “civil rights act” and engineered the 14th Amendment with its refinement of individual rights and the use of the incorporation doctrine.

On p. 78 there appears an 18 page essay “The Party that Failed: An Insider Breaks with Beijing”, by Cai Xia.

The author worked as a writer for the Chinese Communist Party establishment, for over a decade. She lived in a world where you don’t originate your own thinking but sell the ideology of others. Sometimes in doing her propaganda work she was forcefully isolated. The CCP tried to invent a doubletalk to invent a statist capitalism that still belonged to “the people”.  But rather than talking about workers as an exploited class, it could make something of Maoist thinking about poverty-sharing and radical purity on a personal level.  She talks about the coverup of the death of Lei Yang in 2016.

She talks about being interrogated about her writings in more recent years.

She was caught away from home by the pandemic.  Authorities wanted he to come home but she would not.  But all of her assets were frozen.  

Vijay Gokhale has a December 18 FP article about China’s commitment to ideological manifest destiny, “China is Gnawing at Democracy’s Roots Worldwide”, The Communist Party is putting ideological battles first.

Wikipedia embed of Beijing eastern skyline, click for attribution. 

No comments: