China’s state-run Global Times on Monday editorialized that globalism needs an “upgrade” because its critics, notably including U.S. President Donald Trump, have valid complaints about the current model of globalization.
Of course, the critique offered by the Chinese paper focused on globalism’s tendency to spread Western liberal ideas that annoy China, such as capitalism, democracy, and human rights.
The Global Times unloaded two major complaints about the current understanding of globalism:
First, globalization enables strong nations to consolidate their dominance and lead the international order. It is an instrument that induces weaker states to obey the will of the stronger ones. Globalism is keen on promoting universal values, taking the moral high ground, blaming countries whose actions do not accord with universal values and even intervening militarily in some nations. What does international intervention bring to global politics? It can be explained by hot button issues in Eurasia.
Second, out of expectations of politicians from powerful countries, who claim their nations represent public interest, globalism is becoming a tool in the fight between capitalist forces and national will. As a result, state power is eroded by capital, leading to alienation and political strains in some countries.
The first point boils down to China repeating for the umpteenth time that it does not want to hear any more hectoring from the West about human rights. “Universal values” such as free speech and political liberty are not applicable to places like China, which has an entirely different understanding of civic virtue, prizing obedience and conformity above all else.
The Global Times elaborated on the second point, which sees the private ownership of capital as antithetical to the “national will” (i.e. authoritarian power) necessary for non-Western countries to accomplish worthwhile objectives:
It is believed that some countries cannot bear the negative effects of globalization. The main reason for this is that capital is equipped with increasingly powerful characteristics that weaken nations’ capability to control their capital and eliminates sovereign states’ ability to embody the will of the people.
The hit on state power by capital not only leads to financial chaos, triggering financial and economic crises, but can also generate social and political woes. Western countries’ easing financial regulations resulted in the 2008 financial crisis. In recent years, developed countries are experiencing increasing economic and political challenges, which actually are extensions of the 2008 financial crisis. Some of them are yet to be addressed.
The article is short on details about what Upgraded Globalism would look like, but it concedes that effective globalism would require “unified global political will, which is difficult to find amid large sovereign nations.”
“The goals and agenda need to be limited within the flexible boundary of sovereign nations. Otherwise, it would disrupt some countries’ political and economic setup, breeding social antagonism,” the editorial warns.
This is the latest restatement of China’s assertion that Western nations must show proper respect for its authoritarian system. Globalism inevitably leads to interaction between incompatible liberal and authoritarian systems, such as capitalist America doing business with communist China, which is really more fascist than communist under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
The interaction between these dramatically different systems produces ideological turbulence. Stated simply, either China will become more like the United States over time, or the United States will become more like China.
Western policymakers tend toward unreasonable enthusiasm for the transformative power of capitalism, clinging to the Cold War heroic ideal of the Soviet Union falling apart when its citizens began consuming Western goods, imbibing Western media, and demanding more. Unfortunately, every other tyrannical power worth its salt studied the history of the 1980s and erected defenses against capitalist liberalization, much as computer administrators install anti-virus software on their systems.
Speaking of computer systems, the bitter irony of the Internet is that it was supposed to usher in a glorious new era of intellectual freedom as knowledge ran wild across the planet, but instead, it has become a more effective tool for controlling populations than for liberating them. Authoritarianism is a more potent viral force than liberty today.
The Global Times frames its critique of globalism as strong nations using capitalist power to bully weaker nations into adopting ideals they cannot support, but in truth, China is using its unique blend of communism, fascism, and capitalism to force weaker nations to adopt its ideology and move into its political orbit.
China can even influence strong competitors like the United States to adopt aspects of its system defensively, as free-market capitalist enterprises have difficulty competing against massive state-backed operations that can target them for destruction with unfair trade practices and steal their innovations with technology theft. Returning to the computer metaphor, globalism requires free nations to connect with systems that harbor all sorts of ugly ideological malware. The Global Times’ big idea for Globalism 2.0 is requiring free nations to uninstall their anti-virus software.