Something that feels like it has come on suddenly over the last few years has been not only the rise in power of China but also its rapid increase influence and assertiveness on the world stage. The Chinese economy has been growing rapidly for my entire life but the nation generally wasn’t considered a world power until the turn of the century. This is when people in the West began to notice that their manufacturing base had gone overseas and that they were now almost completely dependent on Chinese made products. This was pacified by the assurance that China was turning towards a liberal-democracy just like us despite many indications this wasn’t the case going back decades.
As Vox Day has continued to document, the reality is that China is now the leading world power with control over immense industry and wealth. It now has enough power (especially in co-operation with nations like Russia and India), to cripple the Western world. Despite how obvious this might be, it seems to be lost on both Western leaders and the general population — one of the few things they have left in common.
Last year, I wrote a review of the 1986 film Top Gun which I titled The Last Years of America. I originally thought about changing this title because America has continued to exist over thirty years since but this doesn’t change what I was trying to imply. For one, the movie isn’t that old when you consider the average person’s expected lifetime and especially when you imagine yourself as a historian hundreds of years into the future. The fact is, that as silly as it may be, that movie is a good representation of the zenith of American power. You could quibble about the 90s, the early Bush II years and even the brief surge of optimism that surrounded both Obama and then Trump, but it is clear that the nation was already in decline and has seriously declined since it came out on top of the Cold War. These last bursts of energy were more like the death throws of a dying beast than any true demonstration of power.
Top Gun is relevant as of writing as the long gestating sequel Top Gun: Maverick, has finally been released but it is not lost on people that the nation it celebrates no longer exists. It is telling that this film was completed prior to 2020 and delayed until now as even contrasting the United States in 2019 to 2022 seems generations away. The civil destruction, violence, abrogation of civil liberties and outright fraud of the last few years put to rest any doubts people had about the nation’s decline. The same story is true across the Western world.
I say they have put to rest any doubts but they really haven’t. People continue believing things, long after they’ve ceased to be true. Many Italians and Greeks like to look at themselves in light of their glorious ancients civilisations though most of the people living on those lands would be ethnically closer to the barbarian invaders that followed. British people still have nostalgia for their naval strength though that was passed to the United States during World War II and what remains of the Royal Navy could probably be wiped out by a small air force in a matter of hours — if not minutes. The same is true of the of America’s Navy and its magnificent Aircraft Carriers featured so prominently in both Top Gun films. They will be nothing more than enormous and expensive underwater mausoleums from a few hypersonic missile strikes in any hot war.
It was not unreasonable to postulate that the America of the 1980s and its satellite nations would have triumphed in a war against the Soviet Union. It probably still would had both China and North Korea gotten involved too. Today through a mixture of major demographic shifts, declines in quality and training and the aforementioned lack of industrial base, things are decidedly different.
Though not politically, the China of today mirrors to the United States after World War II. It is a large nation with a massive industrial base, ethnically homogenous and wealthy. It also has a large, advanced and well-trained military. Importantly, it has also rejected many of the “values” that the United States has exported so successfully elsewhere.
Is this a good thing? Is this good for me? Do I like this? How does this make me feel? These are all irrelevant questions but telling almost anyone about the reality of China is like asking one of these questions because you’re going to get one of those answers. But how you feel about reality doesn’t change anything.
If you think China is mean to Taiwan and Tibet. If you think democracy is the greatest system of government ever. If you think diversity is a strength. If you think any of the stupid things we are told by teachers, politicians and journalists then you are going to be in for a real shock in the coming years. The reality is that representative government, the free market and the “rule of law” are now lies promoted by the looters and vandals we’ve allowed to be in charge. The Chinese leadership knows this and unlike the victims of these lies — has fully justified contempt for them.
If you like, you can try to tell the bully hitting isn’t nice as he takes a swing and see where it gets you. I won’t be doing that. Unlike the fantasies Americans continue to watch on their big and little screens, China’s power is very, very real. America’s power is now as fictional as their comic book characters. This is the reality.
EDIT (17/6/22) I am linking to this four part series that mainly covers Russia but also similar ground regarding China and is much, much better than my rambling. I post because it is very well written and easy to understand but is not widely known to the public. Which also explains why I get frustrated enough to write ramblings posts like this. I will also add that I have been just as guilty of lazy/emotional thinking as the next man.