Consider the current trope, “The Rise of China” with regard to its other constituent BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, and India. Why does the Chinese socialist market economy (China has communism only in name, and even that is on the wane) make newspapers, magazines, and reporters so nervous? Why do these forms of media favour India and Brazil as an apparent editorial matter of course? The Economist is a prime example of this. India and Brazil are closer in political, social, and economic terms to the Western European ideal, and this ideal is also conveniently the functioning reality of firms based in Western Europe. Consider also that the USA is the political muscle of the Anglosphere (whose ideals The Economist cheerfully and unthinkingly espouses), and that the USA is definitely challenged by the international clout of Russia and China.
I am not coming at this from a political scientist’s perspective, nor from any particular economic stance, but what all these minor observations imply is that if we have to consider the socio-political implications of a philosophy, then we need to have a vision of society and politics in mind if we are to do so. The spontaneous order of the market requires the possible world of philosophy. The difficulty with Russia and China is that we seem unable to regard their political actions as making sense unto themselves. We cannot get ourselves into the frame of mind whereby they might have an ideal, a possible world that differs from our own. We are all Fukuyaman now. History stopped, we are the best. Team West cannot regard China or Russia as self-interested in the objective sense, and certainly not ethically minded according to their own viewpoint, as those in the West are (Look ma, I founded the UN!), therefore they must ipso facto be classed as a threat, as belligerent and blinded by their collective-subjective impulses. I exaggerate here, of course, for The Economist occasionally delights in dilettantish forays into Realpolitik, but this is closer to an occasional naughty politico-sexual perversion rather than incisive analysis. REAL Realpolitik would require the jettisoning the ideology of the market in favour of power and nowt else. Attach the relative isolation of China for centuries (of their own accord, up until the Colombian Exchange, the West had nothing China wanted or needed: they were self-sufficient until South American silver came on the scene), and the Other becomes even more othered.
Does it really matter if China rises? Is it not a good thing, if we want the disadvantaged peoples of the world to have a chance to improve their lot? Will that really affect your life? I don’t see how it will do anything apart from meaning that those of us with a comfortable, European standard of living, may have to save a little longer and think a little harder about our expenditure. At the same time, if we regard China and Russia acting as they are, might the confrontation with another set of ideals for a society encourage us to think very hard about what exactly it is that we in our own nations should be doing? I for one think that Ireland needs a Second Republic, a proper infusion of creativity and passion to get us to think what is our ideal way of living, what is it that we as a citizenry want. We need to get over the post-modern inflammation of our scruples that has made it almost impossible to discuss goals and ideals. After all, look around: where did Lyotard’s dotage get us?
Brazil, Russia, and India can all be connected with the colonialism of the West (as colonized, or as would-be empires in Russia’s case), and that China eluded this (aside from Britain’s attempts to turn them into a land of smack-heads… the glory of empire!) is secretly regarded as an affront. A proper engagement is required, and it is here that the world of ideas is of greater importance than the passing fancies of trade and commodities. The market is the market is the market: it is of no great import what is exchanged, only that there is an exchange. The relative degree of frenzy and intensity of this is all that is of any concern. That said, it is ideas that make the difference. Enter the philosophers, writers, historians, artists. ..