Sunday, May 15, 2016

Intriguing Parallels...

Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth


Finally after a few days of network issues Rational Nation USA is back on grid. As expected the always constant right -vs- left childish tantrums that one can chuckle about daily continues. Having made the point it is now time to move on to discussions of substance for those desirous of contemplative thought.

Donald J. Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee and a "man" of odd character, is the topic of discussion tonight. Having received via e-mail an interesting article published in The New Yorker we decided to present it on the pages of this weblog. After reading the article and considering it's content please feel free to share your thoughts. The next 24 hours will be open thread. However, we ask that comments are relevant to the posted subject mater, that ALL commenters refrain from cursing, and no personal attacks on commenters with whom you disagree are made.

In February, 1957, eight years after the founding of Communist China and nine years prior to the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao Zedong made a speech at the eleventh meeting of the Supreme State Conference, entitled “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” that defined his political philosophy. In the speech—arguably his best known—the Great Helmsman drew a distinction between “the people” and “the enemy.” The people were effectively the in-group, while the enemy was nothing but a collection of demons and thugs to be vigilantly resisted. The us-versus-them dichotomy, a cornerstone of Maoism later enshrined in his Little Red Book, effectively painted the world in black and white, banishing diversity, difference, or considerations of civil liberty. Yet that worldview has found curious potency sixty-odd years later in the mouth of another bombastic demagogue, reared in a wholly different political system, who shares Mao’s knack for polemical excess and xenophobic paranoia. America may still be reeling from Trump’s victory as the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, but many Chinese, watching from the other side of the world, view his ascent as natural: the rise of another strongman whose politics of exclusion and rhetoric of hate both reprise and reflect China’s past and present anxieties.

In the United States, Trumpism seems like a chilling wake-up call for members of both parties forced for the first time to confront the deformed dynamics of their sociopolitical system. But in China the appeal of ChuanPu, the Chinese rendering of Trump’s name, is readily apparent. From the start, Trump’s campaign relied on a core constituency of beleaguered blue-collar voters—“the people,” Mao would have surely termed them—whose economic distress he masterfully channelled toward the creation of loathsome villains, the enemy. The ease with which Trump erected and proselytized this divide speaks to what the Chairman would have labelled a ripeness for “class struggle.” As Eric X. Li writes in a thoughtful essay in Foreign Affairs, the comparison is unsurprising given China’s Marxist heritage. In Li’s words, “As the Chinese suffered tremendously from extreme class struggles in their recent history, Western democracy seemed to have reached an enviable position by erasing class lines. But the Trump campaign is showing the world that this may be an illusion. America’s working class is angry.”

On the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a few days from now, the current generation of the governing political √©lite, none of whom were immune to the savagery of the sixties, is more alert than ever to the threat of proletariat resentment. It is little wonder that President Xi Jinping, whose father was brutally tortured during the Revolution and whose half-sister committed suicide out of sheer despair, has tried to make an anti-graft drive the defining pillar of his Presidency. It is the most visible and systemic crusade a sitting Chinese leader has launched against the ruling class, and plays to the popular sense that corruption has gotten out of hand—in American terms, that the system is rigged. “In China, there is sympathy for the Trump phenomenon because the Chinese are familiar with the feeling of resentment against establishment,” Daniel Bell, a political philosophy professor at Tsinghua University and the author of “The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy,” told me. “For all the curtailing civil and political liberties that Xi is doing, he is also successfully fighting political √©lites engaged in corruption. This is the main reason why Xi is popular in China, especially among ordinary people.”

In many respects, ordinary people in China, or the “old hundred names,” as they are called—a colloquial catchall for those commoners who didn’t make it into the history books—are not unlike the largest segment of Trump supporters: of limited education, dispossessed, and frequently overlooked because of their distance from power. Abstract principles, which Hillary Clinton has been known to proclaim in China—of human rights and women’s rights—seem less relevant than the practical economic challenges facing the average citizen. “Trump is an exceedingly smart man who has had remarkable success in making hotels and towers and TV shows,” a Chinese blogger posted on a Web forum devoted to American politics. When someone else asked about Trump’s trade policies, many of which are hostile to China, the same blogger responded dismissively that Trump is “a businessman first and foremost” and “will do what is in both countries’ economic interest”—giving voice to the sentiment, perennially popular in China, that pragmatism inevitably reigns in the end.

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25 comments:

  1. Great post and quite thought-provoking.

    Hopefully, Americans are not quite as collectivized and perhaps somewhat less "under the gun," than Mao's subjects.

    Side-note. The only time in my entire life that I actually saw a copy of Chairman Mao's little red book was at a flea market in Sweden in the spring of 1971. He wasn't much of a commodity in Southern California in the late 1960s any more than John Lennon admired him.

    Maybe that's what conservative reactionaries really want. It would explain the rise to power of various anti-social, right-wing dictators.

    Right? Left? They meet around the equator. But I'm still a leftie until the day I die.

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  2. Thanks Flying Junior, I found the article to be thought provoking as well.

    Most Americans are assuredly not as collectivized as the Chinese who suffered under Mao’s ruthless tyrannical totalitarian rule. Our American experiment in self-governance has insulated us to a large degree from the temptation of collectivized government under the leadership of an elitist all powerful few.

    Actually I recall the Mao “little red book” when I was a sophomore id high school in Washington State. We tol a trip to Canada and I found a copy in a bookstore. I perused the book and seceded it wasn’t at all anything that interested me. Perhaps it is still sitting on a shelf somewhere, hopefully unstudied.

    Given the growing concerns (fears) of many of our fellow Americans, particularly those hardest hit by the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, many who never fully recovered from it, the environment for a nativist nationalistic demagogue (Donald J. Trump (Drumpf)) was set in motion. I add the Bernie Sanders phenomenon grew up for similar reasons, only in a different demographic group.

    Neither a proto-fascist or proto-communist dictatorship will or can fix our problems. Yet many appear to be succumbing to the lure of one or the other.

    Left meets right would be a welcome event. Which I suppose is why I’m a moderate who would welcome thoughtful deliberation with an eye towards reasonable compromise so our nation could begin to ove forward rationally with a reasoned common purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Comparing Trump to Mao, or Hitler shows your childish political thinking.
    You call yourself a moderate, yet, your archives are full of praise for the Republicans who are famous for trying to force people to follow intimate policies like no abortion, just a little twist on a policy like only one child. And I wouldn't call someone a moderate who wrote, "the present day Jews are the offspring of the Jews who went willingly to the gas chambers."

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was your exact quote:
    "American Jews are the offspring of the pacifists that willing were led to the gas chambers in Hitlers Holocaust"

    ReplyDelete
  5. You are a fraud, a liar, a hypocrite, and an asshole for attacking blogs and just starting fights wherever you go on the net.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just finished a great book on Mao's China, from the cultural/political angle, that focused on the 60's in particular. I find it a bit of a stretch to make parallels with today's US. That said, I suppose Trump's approach to the common folks is similar to Mao's. His critique of certain dubious sectors, his reminders that we essentially have legalized bribery in our election system, these are similar rhetoric, but not unique to Trump, Mao, or thousands of other characters through history.

    JMJ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It may not be unique to Drumpf but Drumpf is the vehicle in the USA today most likely to bring to reality that which many, in fact a majority, still understand the evil lurking beneath his rhetoric.

      Drumpf is someone to very, very, very, leery of. In fact he is someone to avoid at any and all costs with respect to the seat of power.

      Delete
    2. No one knows what a President Trump would or could do. That's the trouble with him. Even if we take his rhetoric at face value, he's still too all-over-the-place to know what he'd do.

      No doubt at all his rhetoric exposed a rather sizeable fascist element in this country. We have to hope he does not act on their wishes.

      JMJ

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    3. What we should be cognizant of and very concerned with is his rhetoric that strongly suggests a xenophobic, misogynistic, nativist, nationalistic, narcissistic personality and all the character faults that those things imply.

      Simply put, while e may govern much differently should he be elected I for one am not willing to take that chance. You?

      Delete
    4. I'm familiar with Trump. Everyone from the NYC area is familiar with Trump. I find it hard to believe he believes the silly nonsense he used to get the nomination. Let me put it this way: if he thought the Democrats had an intellectually weak and vulnerable electoral constituency, he would have run as a Dem. He ran as a Republican because he could figure a way to capture enough of their voters to win, to capture voters who were very displeased with their party, a party that had made a lot of crazy promises and now is reaping what it sowed.

      JMJ

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    5. Ahh yes Jersey. Will The Real Donald J. (Drumpf) Trump Please Stand Up?

      In other words, BUYER beware.

      Delete
    6. Sure, yeah. We really don't know what he will or can do. He's novel in that sense. It's widely believed he fancies himself the next TR, and in some ways I suppose another TR wouldn't be such a bad thing.

      JMJ

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    7. Hm? TR was a nationalist and in my view an imperialist. Not really what I think the nation needs. Probably never did.

      His progressive social agenda and reform mindedness aside aside of course.

      Delete
  7. As far as left and right, what I meant was that the more extreme communism or fascism becomes the more they each resemble the other form of government even if ideologically they are diametrically opposed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Complete tyrannical totalitarian government, whether extreme right or extreme left, looks pretty much the same to the folks on the ground living the heel that they must.

      Delete
    2. Mao's rhetoric, and China's communism, was rather unique to China. It would have been irrelevant elsewhere. The cultural contexts are just too disparate.

      JMJ

      Delete
    3. ... living the hell that they must beneath the boots of the tyrant.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for visiting TOM. We appreciate you putting on display your ignorance, hate, and complete lack of self control.

    There really are few as pathetic and sick as you continually prove youraself to be. All anyone with a rational mind can do is pity you. Something I personally have done for quite some time.

    Enjoy the open thread TOM, it remains open until 10:00 PM tonight at whch time we return to comment moderation.

    So, please get ALL of your hate off your chest. Meanwhile we shall continue to pity you and hope you recover from your illness someday.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just going by YOUR words and YOUR actions asshole. The one full of hate is a Jew hater like you. I pity bigots like you, but I won't cover up and support Jew haters like you, or the bigots who cover for you. I shouldn't be surprised that an Ayn Rand cultist like you follows her anti-Semitic hate philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. His followers continue to amaze and confuse. In a blog discussion sometime back on what a great "wonderful" "you gotta love it" business
    genius the comb-over was, I did a little calculating on what he would be worth had he simply invested, rather than do real estate, eminent domain and legal suing: he would have made much more. Today, I checked around and found that confirmed in an article on S&P Index simple investing. I am
    alarmed though, at all the GOP bigwigs cow-towing to the clown, stating
    straight-faced that he is much more qualified in every way than Ms. Clinton. That segment (see Jacoby's 'The Age Of American Unreasoning'
    of the angry right holds Hillary to angelic standards, while overlooking the incompetence and inexperience of the big boaster.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am
    alarmed though, at all the GOP bigwigs cow-towing to the clown, stating
    straight-faced that he is much more qualified in every way than Ms. Clinton. That segment (see Jacoby's 'The Age Of American Unreasoning'
    of the angry right holds Hillary to angelic standards, while overlooking the incompetence and inexperience of the big boaster.


    I think they call it hypocrisy BB Idaho, and this sticky little item (for reasonably thinking folks anyway) is GOP hypocrisy on steroids. Party unity trumps truth or knowledge with the "New GOP".

    Methinks this pretty much says all that needs be said. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a COWARDLY liar! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
    Delete my proof
    Thanks for proving me correct again about you Jew hater

    ReplyDelete
  13. Open Thread is closed. We have returned to comment moderation.

    We wish to thank all for their comments during open thread.

    A special thank you goes out to cartoon TOM who continues to show is abject stupidity and hate. Thanks TOM for continuing to be you, a very sick puppy indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Just a rough guess: Tom Anon is a trumpaholic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could be BB Idaho. In the larger picture of life TOM is nothing more than a lonely flea looking for a something to feed on. A sad life he must have.

      Delete

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