Sinophilia Syndrome

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
-Sun Tzu

These days, using the word “virus” preceded by “Wuhan” or “Chinese” will get you banned from Twitter or Facebook, dissed on MSNBCCNNCBSNBCABCRT, pilloried by the authors of the 1619 Project, and their newsprint co-conspirators, and denounced by the Chinese Communist Party.

This is not merely Trump derangement syndrome, it’s an attack on free market and limited government ideals conducted by opportunistic water carriers for the Chinese State. And there is a movement to call the Chinese “state capitalists” rather than communists. “State capitalism,” is a label intended to introduce a sliding scale where authoritarian central planning is morally and philosophically indistinguishable from free markets, private property and individualism.

Kimberly Strassel at the WSJ makes the point.
Coronavirus Vindicates Capitalism
Gated, here’s a slice:

The left is never apt to let a serious crisis go to waste, as we see with its daily use of the coronavirus pandemic to bash the Republican administration. The bigger danger is the efforts it is already making to exploit the panic for its longer-term goal of destroying U.S. capitalism.

Socialist Bernie Sanders led the charge last Sunday in his Democratic primary debate with Joe Biden. Bernie rolled out his usual themes, this time through the virus lens. The pandemic “exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality” of the U.S. health system, he said; the cure is centralized, socialized care. Americans can’t get the drugs they need because “a bunch of crooks” run drug companies, “ripping us off every single day.” The virus exposes the “cruelty and unjustness” of an economy that allows “big-money interests” and “multimillionaires” to profiteer off “working families…”

[T]he federal and state governments are playing crucial roles in coordinating resources, imposing public-health measures, and keeping the public informed. But the single biggest mistake so far came from the government. The feds maintained exclusive control over early test development—and blew it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s failure delayed an effective U.S. response, and the private sector is now riding to the rescue…

Anyone who thinks this would be happening in a socialist America is smoking something. Government doesn’t have anywhere near the money, the speed or the creativity to stay ahead of a crisis like this—and the Trump administration deserves credit for embracing its private-sector partners. The business altruism on display is partly the usual American spirit, but it has been encouraged by free-market policies that have underwritten three years of economic boom and put companies on a better footing to confront hard times. And the profit motive and competition liberals detest remain the beating heart of the resourcefulness U.S. companies are now bringing to bear.”

Meanwhile, there are those who object to the Western wing of the CCP’s moral relativist brigade. I made an objection yesterday.

The CCP has floated a conspiracy theory that the US Army seeded the virus in Wuhan. This amounts to starting a branding war with Donald Trump (H/T Scott Adams), which was a big mistake. It’s why Trump insists on calling SARS-CoV-2 the Chinese virus. He’s got the MSM saying it over and over and over.

China seems to be fighting the last propaganda war, which would have been against Obama. They forgot to read far enough into The Art of War:
Of old the expert in battle would first make himself invincible and then wait for his enemy to expose his vulnerability.
-Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu didn’t call his book “Art of the Deal.”

Here’s some more on how that branding tussle is playing out.

Axios doesn’t even mention how important Trump’s ban on flights from China was, but that conclusion will leap out at you:
Timeline: The early days of China’s coronavirus outbreak and cover-up

“China is now trying to create a narrative that it’s an example of how to handle this crisis when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.”

Even the Atlantic Monthly felt compelled to note the CCP perfidy. This whole thing is made well worth reading because the magazine has been a Chinese apologist:
Atlantic Monthly tries to clean up its reputation as China’s water boy (they supply several links to themselves in this article to demonstrate):

“But is this a time for blame? Yes, it is. Accounting for responsibility when a disaster happens—particularly one likely to devastate entire countries, leaving thousands dead—is not beside the point, particularly as Chinese officials move to take advantage of the crisis and launch a disinformation campaign claiming that the U.S. Army introduced the virus.

Well before the new coronavirus spread across American cities, the Chinese regime was already rather creatively trolling U.S. publications, expelling American journalists, and “weaponizing wokeness” over anything it perceived as critical of China’s role in mishandling the epidemic. To hear Chinese spokespeople use the language of racism and prejudice is somewhat surreal, considering this is a regime that has put more than 1 million Muslims and ethnic minorities in “reeducation” camps.”

As I noted yesterday, we even have people calling China’s medical system “extreme capitalism.” This Orwellian delusion must be resisted.

Saying “state capitalism” is “weaponizing wokeness.”

Chinese capitalism

This phrase keeps showing up in one form or another in comments defending the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of their virus.

Example one

It is also worth noting that China is at least as capitalistic as the United States and their technology is quickly eclipsing ours…

The health system in China is actually a pure capitalist system…

China is dealing with a lot more humans in a confined area. Make no mistake, they are extreme capitalists.

Example two:

I would rather live in a western style capitalist society than a Chinese state capitalist style society with its obnoxious and intrusive social credit system but let us not delude ourselves into thinking that the former represents some shining beacon of liberal democracy in the world.

I haven’t the patience here to debunk the appropriation of the word “capitalism” by these utopian naifs, and I won’t say they’re Chinese bots and shills. There are, after all, useful idiots. Witness Bernie Sanders’ voters.

I realize the use of “state capitalism” is perhaps necessary since the SJW’s ruined the word “fascism,” but this insistence that China has a capitalist, therefore free market, economy is just an “everything is relative” way to denigrate capitalism.

This moral equivalency trope is worse than yelling “racist” whenever anyone says “Wuhan virus.”

I saw somewhere a suggestion we call it the “CCP virus.” I like the idea.

If the United States public health system tolerated anything within two orders of magnitude of the virulent disease breeding Chinese “wet markets” there would be FDA officials hanging from street lamps. Where’s the Chinese Upton Sinclair when you need him?

If the United States, for example, practiced the same health policies as the Chinese Communists wouldn’t we expect doctors critical of the Administration to be disappeared? That happened in China to doctors reporting the CCP virus 5 months ago. The CCP covered it up from day one.

If the United States regarded their citizens with equal contempt, wouldn’t we deny human to human transmission was taking place? Well, maybe we can’t because the CCP already tried that. That, and travel restrictions employed 3 months late (5 million were able to leave Wuhan after CCP virus had been confirmed), and their unless-you-hug-a-Chinese-stranger-you’re-a-racist propaganda didn’t work out too well for Italy.

Wouldn’t the US have millions in Uighurs type re-education camps, ready to draft as forced labor? (Not that we don’t have re-education camps here, but people, including many Chinese, pay to go to them. They’re called universities.)

The airy comparison of the Chinese surveillance state economic system to Western democracies’ partially free markets is intended to hide all that.

Anytime you find people promoting China as capitalist, and especially if Chinese problems are blamed on capitalism, you are in a mess of ignoramuses, liars, or both. The only time the words “capitalism” and “China” (they always omit the word “Communist”) should be used in the same sentence is something of this order: “China is a surveillance Big Brother thugocracy which has appropriated some of the ideas of free-market capitalism in order to avoid total societal collapse.”

See also:
China Did This, and Saying So Isn’t Racist

China’s Real Disease: Not Coronavirus

China: Exploiting False Accusations of Racism

There are also false accusations of capitalism to be concerned with.

“Oodles,” he estimated.

Bernie Sander’s mouthpiece, below, must be including in his stats the 150 million Americans Joe Biden says were killed by guns since 2007. That would push US population to around 480 million.

So, if everyone went bankrupt every year, this would just be a rounding error: Bernie’s Press Secretary Says 500 Million Americans Go Bankrupt Each Year

Still, in a population of 480 million, and even in an economy on a par with Venezuela or North Korea: Some people would have to declare bankruptcy at least semi-annually. And, for practical purposes, none of them could have student loans.

Or, since he’s a Democratic-Socialist spin doctor, maybe he meant voters – who needn’t be among the quick (nor even the dead, now that I think about it) for propaganda purposes.

In any case, ending this running-dog-capitalist bankruptcy conspiracy is why Mike Bloomberg should have given every American a million dollars. I know he could have, because MSNBC anchor Brian Williams and sidekickette Mara Gay said so.

One thing that puzzles me is how our birthrate has kept up with the gun-death rate. I don’t see all that many pregnant women wandering about. It’s a stretch, even if you assume triplets.

I do now understand how Bernie thinks he can pay for his plans, though. He thinks there are oodles more taxpayers than we actually have.

EUtopia Lost

Well worth 50 minutes. (32 to Q&A, but worth watching those too.)

A ringing, hopeful, and needed defense of Enlightenment values. Brexit is but the framework. This speech at Hillsdale is cast in a defense of individual rights and free trade. Excellent and amusing speaker.

Peterson fans will find echoes of his themes of individual responsibility and meta-narratives tied to political events in ways he almost never mentions.

“Lessons from Brexit” – Daniel Hannan at Hillsdale.
70,500 views
Jun 11, 2017

If you enjoyed that, this is a worthwhile followup.

Philosopher ‘pretenders to the throne’

This is a nice, short (7 min) introduction to Friedrich Hayek’s insights on emergent order. If you haven’t read Road to Serfdom (free downloads at the link), maybe this will nudge you to do so.

Order without intent: How spontaneous order built our world. from The IHS on Vimeo.

Allowing order without intent to flourish is how we might avoid the tyranny of good intentions.

Related, from Edward Snowden:

“The most unflattering thing is to realize just how naïve and credulous I was and how that could make me into a tool of systems that would use my skills for an act of global harm. The class of which I am a part of, the global technological community, was for the longest time apolitical. We have this history of thinking: “We’re going to make the world better.””

The idea that “making the world better” is apolitical shows Snowden is still naive and credulous. The toolmakers of the global technological community may have good intentions. They may be motivated by thoughts of the benefits they are bringing to humanity. They may also be motivated by profit and ideology.

How a better world is constituted, in any case, is an ethical and moral question beyond the ken of their meta-data, and in direct conflict with the ethical ‘principles’ demonstrated by their business models.

Who defines “better?” We have ample evidence Google/Facebook/Twitter aren’t up to the task.

“Making the world better” can be apolitical only in terms of each individual’s actions. It cannot be apolitical for giant corporations whose tools are designed to deceive users into acts of self harm: A system of fools.

Politics is the very essence of social media and the control of access to information.

Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
-Ambrose Bierce

And, in ways Bierce couldn’t imagine – conducting private affairs for public advantage. Affecting elections for example.

Snowdon’s NSA is simply the government instantiation of the Facebook/Google/Twitter business models. They are all dedicated to making their subjects “better.”

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
-H. L. Mencken

Order with intent is the model practiced by authoritarians for “your own good,” public or private, from de Blasio to Google.

So, I’ll close with some relevant Friedrich Hayek quotations on good intentions, control of information, collectivist ethics, and the limits of knowledge: All of which apply to government and to the massive private enterprises whose control of information and manipulation of public opinion Hayek couldn’t imagine:

“Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.”

“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.”

“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant.”

“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group.”

“The idea of social justice is that the state should treat different people unequally in order to make them equal.”