Over at the blog of the Independent Institute Anthony Gregory complains of anti-Chinese bipartisanship, even dropping the “Yellow Peril” bomb to describe the sentiment he believes is animating the ire of mainstream liberals and conservatives. This is unfair, but something I’ve seen around the net, from Sp!ked to Justin Raimondo. I haven’t seen any evidence that folks are criticizing China out of racism, so it’s probably best to not “go there.” (By the way, has anyone else noticed that the editors at Sp!ked seem determined to make every progressive grievance into an epic showdown between humanism and anti-humanism?)
It’s common to see many a libertarian and conservative turning the proverbial table on the left by making accusations, overt or implied, that left critics are themselves racist. Maybe it’s a way of overcompensating for the more popular notion that the right is the racist portion of the political spectrum.
So anyway, it’s one thing to shoot down disproportionate or misguided criticism of China, but to go further and celebrate the country seems to me wrongheaded. Here’s Gregory (original in bold):
China is not really a Communist country, and in fact its story is one of the most inspiring for freedom lovers everywhere.
One of the most inspiring? For Gregory, yes, because the country went from the horrors of Mao to the obviously less hellish current situation. But is that rightly described as inspiring? It’s more like a regression to the mean. He further writes, “Compared to those days, China is a beacon of liberty.” Well sure, compared to those days. And in an effort to transpose the values of a gold ribbon and a “most improved” award he states:
While the United States has been descending toward despotism, China has been moving from one of the least free societies in all of human history toward a state of civilization. We should look up to China. We should cheer China. We should see inspiration in this story.
Notice the cadence going on toward the end there?
Anyway, I care as little for China bashing as Gregory does, and agree with him when he writes that, “China’s not a threat to America—the U.S. government is,” but this is over the top. For a look at just how (un)free China really is, see this.
I understand the libertarian impulse to focus on the problems of the U.S. government and downplay anything that might serve to direct attention away from it, but to cheerlead (one commenter on the piece said it read like a jingoist editorial from the Xinhua Daily) for foreign governments hardly seems like a necessary supplement to this action. Though to be fair, saying that China is not really communist probably wouldn’t sit well with the country’s ruling party.
Off topic, but I wrote a piece for the U.K.’s The New Wolf on partisanship. It’s drawn from a big paper I wrote earlier this year that got no play, so I’ve decided to break it into pieces and see what I can salvage.