The almost obligatory visit to W & G Foyle Ltd was made yesterday. Returning from China and Bill Hayton’s ‘South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia’ and Susanne Bregnbæk’s ‘Fragile Elite: the Dilemmas of China’s Top University Students‘ were purchased. Nevertheless, it is not to be expected that either of those two authors can convince me, to any great degree, to change my own opinion on China and the Chinese elite’s place in the great scheme of things.
The sky above Nanjing and any other Chinese city, the millions and millions staring into their smart phones, and the millions and millions more struggling to keep pace, only indicate a déjà vu. The evidence would seem to suggest that Naomi Klein might have hit the nail on the head when, in her book ‘The Shock Doctrine’, she placed the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre firmly within the neo-con agenda. There is no “Chinese road to Socialism”, and the filthy air, the growing divide between rich and poor, the alienated masses staring into little screens, tell us that while China is not per se the problem, it is part of the problem.
And elites will do what elites do; they will dig up the planet and kill for the resources needed to secure their place in the sun and when the value added to the latest iPhone brings a minimal return, they will ship out even more cash, and indirectly their country’s resources, to the safe havens, here, there, and everywhere. Fictive capitalism will collapse like a house of cards and the scapegoat and warmonger will be elsewhere. Populations that chew the cud, think, cognitively process, ask questions, are not required, not in the West and not in China.
There is nothing uniquely Chinese in Mammon and in China Mammon has long since replaced Marx. Of course, Mammon is a destructive creature, it has no loyalties, it requires no cognitive processing, and it lays waste to communities and families. The contract between child and parents, between families and state that Bregnbæk touches on in the introduction to her book becomes irrelevant. The parents are too rich and they will never need looking after and the state is there to make sure that continues even if it requires a war for resources and the inevitable ecological and environmental disaster.