Will Confucius marry Marx?

Will Confucius marry Marx?

October 10, 2020

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Chinese scholar Lanxin Xiang has written a book, The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, that is arguably the most extraordinary effort in decades trying to bridge the East-West politico-historical divide.

It’s impossible in a brief column to do justice to the relevance of the discussions this book inspires. Here we will highlight some of the key issues – hoping they will appeal to an informed readership especially across the Beltway, now convulsed by varying degrees of Sinophobia.

Xiang delves right into the fundamental contradiction: China is widely accused by the West of lack of democratic legitimacy exactly as it enjoys a four-decade, sustainable, history-making economic boom.

He identifies two key sources for the Chinese problem: “On the one hand, there is the project of cultural restoration through which Chinese leader Xi Jinping attempts to restore ‘Confucian legitimacy’ or the traditional ‘Mandate of Heaven’; on the other hand, Xi refuses to start any political reforms, because it is his top priority to preserve the existing political system, i.e., a ruling system derived mainly from an alien source, Bolshevik Russia.”

Ay, there’s the rub: “The two objectives are totally incompatible”.

Xiang contends that for the majority of Chinese – the apparatus and the population at large – this “alien system” cannot be preserved forever, especially now that a cultural revival focuses on the Chinese Dream.

Needless to add, scholarship in the West is missing the plot completely – because of the insistence on interpreting China under Western political science and “Eurocentric historiography”. What Xiang attempts in his book is to “navigate carefully the conceptual and logical traps created by post-Enlightenment terminologies”.

Thus his emphasis on deconstructing “master keywords” – a wonderful concept straight out of ideography. The four master keywords are legitimacy, republic, economy and foreign policy. This volume concentrates on legitimacy (hefa, in Chinese).

When law is about morality

It’s a joy to follow how Xiang debunks Max Weber – “the original thinker of the question of political legitimacy”. Weber is blasted for his “rather perfunctory study of the Confucian system”. He insisted that Confucianism – emphasizing only equality, harmony, decency, virtue and pacifism – could not possibly develop a competitive capitalist spirit.

Xiang shows how since the beginning of the Greco-Roman tradition, politics was always about a spatial conception – as reflected in polis (a city or city-state). The Confucian concept of politics, on the other hand, is “entirely temporal, based on the dynamic idea that legitimacy is determined by a ruler’s daily moral behavior.”

Xiang shows how hefa contains in fact two concepts: “fit” and “law” – with “law” giving priority to morality.

In China, the legitimacy of a ruler is derived from a Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming). Unjust rulers inevitably lose the mandate – and the right to rule. This, argues Xiang, is “a dynamic ‘deeds-based’ rather than ‘procedure-based’ argument.”

Essentially, the Mandate of Heaven is “an ancient Chinese belief that tian [ heaven, but not the Christian heaven, complete with an omniscient God] grants the emperor the right to rule based on their moral quality and ability to govern well and fairly.”

The beauty of it is that the mandate does not require a divine connection or noble bloodline, and has no time limit. Chinese scholars have always interpreted the mandate as a way to fight abuse of power.

The overall crucial point is that, unlike in the West, the Chinese view of history is cyclical, not linear: “Legitimacy is in fact a never-ending process of moral self-adjustment.”

Xiang then compares it with the Western understanding of legitimacy. He refers to Locke, for whom political legitimacy derives from explicit and implicit popular consent of the governed. The difference is that without institutionalized religion, as in Christianity, the Chinese created “a dynamic conception of legitimacy through the secular authority of general will of the populace, arriving at this idea without the help of any fictional political theory such as divine rights of humanity and ‘social contract’’.

Xiang cannot but remind us that Leibniz described it as “Chinese natal theology”, which happened not to clash with the basic tenets of Christianity.

Xiang also explains how the Mandate of Heaven has nothing to do with Empire: “Acquiring overseas territories for population resettlement never occurred in Chinese history, and it does little to enhance legitimacy of the ruler.”

In the end it was the Enlightenment, mostly because of Montesquieu, that started to dismiss the Mandate of Heaven as “nothing but apology for ‘Oriental Despotism’”. Xiang notes how “pre-modern Europe’s rich interactions with the non-Western world” were “deliberately ignored by post-Enlightenment historians.”

Which brings us to a bitter irony: “While modern ‘democratic legitimacy’ as a concept can only work with the act of delegitimizing other types of political system, the Mandate of Heaven never contains an element of disparaging other models of governance.” So much for “the end of history.”

Why no Industrial Revolution?

Xiang asks a fundamental question: “Is China’s success indebted more to the West-led world economic system or to its own cultural resources?”

And then he proceeds to meticulously debunk the myth that economic growth is only possible under Western liberal democracy – a heritage, once again, of the Enlightenment, which ruled that Confucianism was not up to the task.

We already had an inkling that was not the case with the ascension of the East Asian tigers – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – in the 1980s and 1990s. That even moved a bunch of social scientists and historians to admit that Confucianism could be a stimulus to economic growth.

Yet they only focused on the surface, the alleged “core” Confucian values of hard work and thrift, argues Xiang: “The real ‘core’ value, the Confucian vision of state and its relations to economy, is often neglected.”

Virtually everyone in the West, apart from a few non-Eurocentric scholars, completely ignores that China was the world’s dominant economic superpower from the 12th century to the second decade of the 19th century.

Xiang reminds us that a market economy – including private ownership, free land transactions, and highly specialized mobile labor – was established in China as early as in 300 B.C. Moreover, “as early as in the Ming dynasty, China had acquired all the major elements that were essential for the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.”

Which brings us to a persistent historical enigma: why the Industrial Revolution did not start in China?

Xiang turns the question upside down: “Why traditional China needed an industrial revolution at all?”

Once again, Xiang reminds us that the “Chinese economic model was very influential during the early period of the Enlightenment. Confucian economic thinking was introduced by the Jesuits to Europe, and some Chinese ideas such as the laisser-faire principle led to free-trade philosophy.”

Xiang shows not only how external economic relations were not important for Chinese politics and economy but also that “the traditional Chinese view of state is against the basic rationale of the industrial revolution, for its mass production method is aimed at conquering not just the domestic market but outside territories.”

Xiang also shows how the ideological foundation for Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations began to veer towards individualist liberalism while “Confucius never wavered from a position against individualism, for the role of the economy is to ‘enrich people’ as a whole, not specific individuals.”

All that leads to the fact that “in modern economics, the genuine conversation between the West and China hardly exists from the outset, since the post-Enlightenment West has been absolutely confident about its sole possession of the ‘universal truth’ and secret in economic development, which allegedly has been denied to the rest of the world.”

An extra clue can be found when we see what ‘economy” (jingji) means in China: Jingji is “an abbreviate term of two characters describing neither pure economic nor even commercial activities. It simply means ‘managing everyday life of the society and providing sufficient resources for the state”. In this conception, politics and economy can never be separated into two mechanical spheres. The body politic and the body economic are organically connected.”

And that’s why external trade, even when China was very active in the Ancient Silk Road, “was never considered capable of playing a key role for the health of the overall economy and the well-being of the people.”

Wu Wei and the invisible hand

Xiang needs to go back to the basics: the West did not invent the free market. The laisser-faire principle was first conceptualized by Francois Quesnay, the forerunner of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”. Quesnay, curiously, was known at the time as the “European Confucius”.

In Le Despotisme de la Chine (1767), written 9 years before The Wealth of Nations, Quesnay was frankly in favor of the meritocratic concept of giving political power to scholars and praised the “enlightened” Chinese imperial system.

An extra delicious historical irony is that laisser-faire, as Xiang reminds us, was directly inspired by the Taoist concept of wu wei – which we may loosely translate as “non-action”.

Xiang notes how “Adam Smith, deeply influenced by Quesnay whom he had met in Paris for learning this laisser-faire philosophy, may have got right the meaning of wu wei with his invention of “invisible hand”, suggesting a proactive rather than passive economic system, and keeping the Christian theological dimension aside.”

Xiang reviews everyone from Locke and Montesquieu to Stuart Mill, Hegel and Wallerstein’s “world system” theory to arrive at a startling conclusion: “The conception of China as a typical ‘backward’ economic model was a 20th century invention built upon the imagination of Western cultural and racial superiority, rather than historical reality.”

Moreover, the idea of ‘backward-looking’ was actually not established in Europe until the French revolution: “Before that, the concept of ‘revolution’ had always retained a dimension of cyclical, rather than ‘progressive’ – i.e., linear, historical perspective. The original meaning of revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, a “turn-around”) contains no element of social progress, for it refers to a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.”

Will Confucius marry Marx?

And that brings us to post-modern China. Xiang stress how a popular consensus in China is that the Communist Party is “neither Marxist nor capitalist, and its moral standard has little to do with the Confucian value system”. Consequently, the Mandate of Heaven is “seriously damaged”.

The problem is that “marrying Marxism and Confucianism is too dangerous”.

Xiang identifies the fundamental flaw of the Chinese wealth distribution “in a system that guarantees a structural process of unfair (and illegal) wealth transfer, from the people who contribute labor to the production of wealth to the people who do not.”

He argues that, “deviation from Confucian traditional values explains the roots of the income distribution problem in China better than the Weberian theories which tried to establish a clear linkage between democracy and fair income distribution”.

So what is to be done?

Xiang is extremely critical of how the West approached China in the 19th century, “through the path of Westphalian power politics and the show of violence and Western military superiority.”

Well, we all know how it backfired. It led to a genuine modern revolution – and Maoism. The problem, as Xiang interprets it, is that the revolution “transformed the traditional Confucian society of peace and harmony into a virulent Westphalian state.”

So only through a social revolution inspired by October 1917 the Chinese state “begun the real process of approaching the West” and what we all define as “modernization”. What would Deng say?

Xiang argues that the current Chinese hybrid system, “dominated by a cancerous alien organ of Russian Bolshevism, is not sustainable without drastic reforms to create a pluralist republican system. Yet these reforms should not be conditioned upon eliminating traditional political values.”

So is the CCP capable of successfully merging Confucianism and Marxism-Leninism? Forging a unique, Chinese, Third Way? That’s not only the major theme for Xiang’s subsequent books: that’s a question for the ages.

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

Sinophobia, Lies and Hybrid War

September 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar and with permission cross-posted with Asia Times

It took one minute for President Trump to introduce a virus at the virtual 75th UN General Assembly, blasting “the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world”.

And then it all went downhill.

Even as Trump was essentially delivering a campaign speech and could not care less about the multilateral UN, at least the picture was clear enough for all the socially distant “international community” to see.

Here is President Xi’s full statement. And here is President Putin’s full statement. And here’s the geopolitical chessboard, once again; it’s the “indispensable nation” versus the Russia-China strategic partnership.

As he stressed the importance of the UN, Xi could not be more explicit that no nation has the right to control the destiny of others: “Even less should one be allowed to do whatever it likes and be the hegemon, bully, or boss of the world .”

The US ruling class obviously won’t take this act of defiance lying down. The full spectrum of Hybrid War techniques will continue to be relentlessly turbo-charged against China, coupled with rampant Sinophobia, even as it dawns on many Dr. Strangelove quarters that the only way to really “deter” China would be Hot War.

Alas, the Pentagon is overstretched – Syria, Iran, Venezuela, South China Sea. And every analyst knows about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, integrated aerial defense systems, and carrier-killer Dongfeng missiles.

For perspective, it’s always very instructive to compare military expenditure. Last year, China spent $261 billion while the US spent $732 billion (38% of the global total).

Rhetoric, at least for the moment, prevails. The key talking point, incessantly hammered, is always about China as an existential threat to the “free world”, even as the myriad declinations of what was once Obama’s “pivot to Asia” not so subtly accrue the manufacture of consent for a future war.

This report by the Qiao Collective neatly identifies the process: “We call it Sinophobia, Inc. – an information industrial complex where Western state funding, billion dollar weapons manufacturers, and right-wing think tanks coalesce and operate in sync to flood the media with messages that China is public enemy number one. Armed with state funding and weapons industry sponsors, this handful of influential think tanks are setting the terms of the New Cold War on China. The same media ecosystem that greased the wheels of perpetual war towards disastrous intervention in the Middle East is now busy manufacturing consent for conflict with China.”

That “US military edge”

The demonization of China, infused with blatant racism and rabid anti-communism, is displayed across a full, multicolored palette: Hong Kong, Xinjiang (“concentration camps), Tibet (“forced labor”), Taiwan, “China virus”; the Belt and Road’s “debt trap”.

The trade war runs in parallel – glaring evidence of how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is beating Western capitalism at its own high-tech game. Thus the sanctioning of over 150 companies that manufacture chips for Huawei and ZTE, or the attempt to ruin TikTok’s business in the US (“But you can’t rob it and turn it into a US baby”, as Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted).

Still, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), China’s top chip company, which recently profited from a $7.5 billion IPO in Shanghai, sooner or later may jump ahead of US chip manufacturers.

On the military front, “maximum pressure” on China’s eastern rim proceeds unabated – from the revival of the Quad to a scramble to boost the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Think Tankland is essential in coordinating the whole process, via for instance the Center for Strategic & International Studies, with “corporation and trade association donors” featuring usual suspects such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

So here we have what Ray McGovern brilliantly describes as MICIMATT – the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex – as the comptrollers of Sinophobia Inc.

Assuming there would be a Dem victory in November, nothing will change. The next Pentagon head will probably be Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012) and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security, which is big on both the “China challenge” and the “North Korean threat”. Flournoy is all about boosting the “U.S. military’s edge” in Asia.

So what is China doing?

China’s top foreign policy principle is to advance a “community of shared future for mankind”. That is written in the constitution, and implies that Cold War 2.0 is an imposition from foreign actors.

China’s top three priorities post-Covid-19 are to finally eradicate poverty; solidify the vast domestic market; and be back in full force to trade/investment across the Global South.

China’s “existential threat” is also symbolized by the drive to implement a non-Western trade and investment system, including everything from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund to trade bypassing the US dollar.

Harvard Kennedy School report at least tried to understand how Chinese “authoritarian resilience” appeals domestically. The report found out that the CCP actually benefitted from increased popular support from 2003 to 2016, reaching an astonishing 93%, essentially due to social welfare programs and the battle against corruption.

By contrast, when we have a MICCIMAT investing in Perpetual War – or “Long War” (Pentagon terminology since 2001) – instead of health, education and infrastructure upgrading, what’s left is a classic wag the dog. Sinophobia is perfect to blame the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression on the Chinese “existential threat”.

The whole process has nothing to do with “moral defeat” and complaining that “we risk losing the competition and endangering the world”.

The world is not “endangered” because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed “rules-based international order” is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana – or Exceptionalism. What was designed by Washington for post-WWII, the Cold War and the “unilateral moment” does not apply anymore.

Bye, bye Mackinder

As President Putin has made it very clear over and over again, the US is no longer “agreement capable” . As for the “rules-based international order”, at best is a euphemism for privately controlled financial capitalism on a global scale.

The Russia-China strategic partnership has made it very clear, over and over again, that against NATO and Quad expansion their project hinges on Eurasia-wide trade, development and diplomatic integration.

Unlike the case from the 16th century to the last decades of the 20th century, now the initiative is not coming from the West, but from East Asia (that’s the beauty of “initiative” incorporated to the BRI acronym).

Enter continental corridors and axes of development traversing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, Southwest Asia and Russia all the way to Europe, coupled with a Maritime Silk Road across the South Asian rimland.

For the very first time in its millenary history, China is able to match ultra-dynamic political and economic expansion both overland and across the seas. This reaches way beyond the short era of the Zheng He maritime expeditions during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.

No wonder the West, and especially the Hegemon, simply cannot comprehend the geopolitical enormity of it all. And that’s why we have so much Sinophobia, so many Hybrid War techniques deployed to snuff out the “threat”.

Eurasia, in the recent past, was either a Western colony, or a Soviet domain. Now, it stands on the verge of finally getting rid of Mackinder, Mahan and Spykman scenarios, as the heartland and the rimland progressively and inexorably integrate, on their own terms, all the way to the middle of the 21st century.

China Responds to Hostile Trump Regime Remarks

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Throughout his tenure, Trump escalated his predecessor’s war on China by other means that’s all about advancing America’s Indo-Pacific military footprint in a part of the world not its own.

It’s also about wanting China’s growing economic, industrial, and technological capabilities undermined to benefit US corporate interests.

It’s about reasserting Cold War containment despite the risk of things turning hot by accident or design, part of longstanding US aims for unchallenged global dominance by whatever it takes to achieve its aims.

All of the above is what the scourge of imperialism is all about — endless wars by hot and other means its defining feature, risking nuclear war one day that’s able to kill us all if launched full-force.

On Wednesday, Pompeo’s spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus lied for her boss like countless times before, once again on China, saying:

Pompeo “rais(ed) concerns over the PRC’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea (sic).”

He regards Beijing’s control over “South China Sea (waters) as unlawful (sic).”

He “rais(ed) concerns over the imposition of sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong (sic).”

Ortagus ignored Washington’s longstanding history of flagrantly beaching international, constitutional, and its own statute laws by unlawfully confronting other nations belligerently, along with breaching the UN Charter by interfering in their internal affairs in other ways.

Time and again, the US also accuses sovereign independent nations of its own high crimes against them.

Separately on Wednesday, Pompeo unjustifiably slammed Beijing for not publishing an op-ed by Washington’s envoy Terry Branstad.

What he wishes to communicate to China’s authorities should be done in person so issues and disagreements can be discussed by face-to-face interaction.

Displaying militant hostility toward China, Pompeo again recited a litany of false accusations, ignoring his own dirty linen in dealing with all sovereign nations free from US control.

Failure of Beijing’s official People’s Daily website to post Branstad’s op-ed has nothing to do with suppressing “free speech (and) intellectual debate,” nothing to do with with Pompeo’s false claim that China spurns “fair and reciprocal treatment (of) other countries” — a longstanding US exploitive policy.

Defying reality, Pompeo called the US a “vibrant…democracy.” Its fantasy version is polar opposite his claim of how Washington operates domestically and geopolitically.

The People’s Daily responded sharply to Pompeo’s unacceptable remarks, saying the following:

He and Branstad play fast and loose with facts. Their remarks are “malicious and provocative…seriously deviat(ing) from the facts.”

“On August 26, the US Embassy in China contacted People’s Daily and requested that…Branstad’s article be published before September 4, hoping to get a reply on August 27…”

It “clearly stated in the letter that the US embassy feels it is particularly important that it be printed in full, without edits of any kind.”

The People’s Daily said Branstad’s op-ed “was full of loopholes…seriously inconsistent with the facts.” 

“It also did not meet the standards of People’s Daily, a prestigious, serious and professional media, for selecting and publishing articles.” 

“If the US still hopes to publish it in People’s Daily, it should make substantive revisions based on facts in the principle of equality and mutual respect.”

“On this basis, we are willing to maintain contact and communication with the US embassy.”

It’s the prerogative of print and online publications everywhere to decide what they will and won’t publish.

They’re entitled to reject material that fails to meet their editorial standards.

Clearly unacceptable US propaganda fails the test, what Branstad’s op-ed was all about, bashing China unfairly, ignoring US hostility toward the country, its high-tech firms, and now its students.

On Wednesday, Trump regime acting DHS head Chad Wolf unjustifiably said the following:

“We are blocking visas for certain Chinese graduate students and researchers with ties to China’s military fusion strategy to prevent them from stealing and otherwise appropriating sensitive research (sic),” adding:

The Trump regime is also “preventing goods produced from slave labor (sic) from entering our markets, demanding that China respect the inherent dignity of each human being (sic).”

Over 1,000 visas obtained by Chinese graduate students and research scholars were arbitrarily revoked.

They were dubiously claimed to be Chinese military members, no evidence cited backing the accusation.

Without verifiable proof, claims are baseless.

In June, Chinese researcher Wang Xin was arrested and accused of spying for his country and being an active PLA member, charges he denied.

If convicted based on suspect evidence, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

Other Chinese nationals in the US have been treated the same way.

So have dozens of Russian nationals who were arrested in various countries, extradited to the US, falsely charged, convicted and imprisoned — for being a national of the wrong country at the wrong time.

The same likely applies to targeted Chinese nationals in the US, their mistreatment further aggravating bilateral relations.

t the time of Wang’s arrest in the US, China’s Foreign Ministry said he was conducting cardiovascular research and did nothing to harm US security or other interests.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said numerous complaints were received from its nationals in the US.

They include arbitrary interrogations because of their nationality, as well as confiscation of their computers and cell phones, Hua adding:

These actions are “blatant infringements of the rights of Chinese nationals in the US and the purpose is to demonize China.”

Bipartisan US hardliners consider Beijing Washington’s public enemy No. One, falsely accusing the country and its nationals of being security threats.

Last May citing no evidence, Trump said Chinese students and researchers in the US with (alleged) PLA ties are “detrimental” to Washington’s interests and  “should be subject to certain restrictions, limitations and exceptions.”

Sweeping US visa bans of Chinese students harm them and universities where they’re enrolled that rely on full tuition they pay to study in the America.

Instead of fostering cooperative relations with China, Republicans and Dems are hellbent for aggravating them by their unacceptable actions.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi slammed the US for its militarism in waters bordering Chinese territory, adding:

“In the face of escalating military pressure from countries outside the region, we certainly have the basic self-protection rights of sovereign states.”

On US/China relations, he said Beijing isn’t engaged in a power struggle. 

It favors multilateralism over unilateralism, “win-win cooperation (not a) zero-sum game.”

Washington’s aim for unchallenged global dominance is polar opposite cooperative relations China seeks with other nations. 

Russophobia Goes Viral Again… And Fatally No Cure

Russophobia Goes Viral Again… And Fatally No Cure – The 21st Century
REUTERS Lucas Jackson

Source

July 31, 2020

This week saw U.S. media reports claiming that Russian military intelligence is spreading disinformation about the coronavirus to sow discord ahead of the November presidential election. Such reports are nothing but more bombast and reprehensible Russophobia as part of a chronic mental condition which seems to have no cure.

Meanwhile, British media reported claims that Russia and China were targeting Germany with interference campaigns in order to undermine the transatlantic alliance. More bombast and reprehensible Russophobia augmented with Sinophobia.

Hardly a week goes by without some such lurid Western media “report” of malign Russian or Chinese plot to subvert Western democracy. Suitably, in this time of global pandemic, the political phobia seems to be going viral.

It can be reasonably posited that as certain nations undergo severe political and economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, there is a tendency to find a scapegoat as a means to “explain” the crisis. The United States and Britain stand out as the globe’s worst casualties from the pandemic. President Donald Trump in particular has seen his much-vaunted “economic success” turn to dust. Out of trauma to his ego, Trump has taken to blaming China for “the plague”. Trump’s cheap-shot politicization also resonates with a deeper political agenda to create a Cold War with China.

The pandemic has also exacerbated an explosion in popular protests across the U.S. over systemic police brutality and racism. The mix has created a climate of chaos and discontent in American society not seen for decades. Thrown into the mix is sharp partisan rivalry between supporters of this president and his opponents. The bitter factionalism is set to intensify as the nation heads to presidential elections in less than 100 days.

Given the upheaval and turmoil, it is all too tempting to find a distraction in the form of “foreign interference”. A Cold War legacy of Russophobia and Sinophobia is being resurrected to provide a convenient political escape route for deep-seated structural problems.

Both sides of the American political divide seem adept at playing the xenophobic interference card. Republican Trump this week claimed that foreign interference would abuse mail-in voting systems and suggested the election should be postponed. There is no evidence for such concern.

Likewise, Trump’s opponents in the Democratic party and their sympathetic news media outlets are adept at playing the same nefarious game.

Ever since Trump was elected to the White House in 2016, his opponents have obsessed over alleged Russian interference without ever providing any evidence for their outlandish speculations.

Chief among the exponents of such conspiratorial thinking is the New York Times, the so-called “newspaper of record”. The Times is a diehard pro-Democrat and “never-Trump” organ. The paper also has a long history of serving as a conduit for U.S. intelligence agencies. Its nadir of propagandist functioning was making the false case of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the genocidal U.S. and British war on that country. Indeed, some of the journalists who peddled that propaganda are still working at the paper and penning the most recent Russophobic articles.

In recent weeks, Russophobia at the Times has become feverish. On June 26, it launched a series of stories, amplified across U.S. media, claiming that Russian intelligence was operating a “bounty-hunter” scheme for assassinating American military in Afghanistan.

On July 16, the Times headlined with “Russian hackers trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research”.

This week, the “paper of record” announced “Russian intelligence agencies push disinformation on pandemic”.

The fiendish thing about such “stories” is the cleverly disguised lack of evidence. They all rely on unsubstantiated allegations made by anonymous sources who hide their vacuous “details” behind national security pretenses. This is an audacious affront to journalistic standard and ethics, but the one “advantage” is that the claims are sealed off from being definitely critiqued and disproven because the lack of evidence precludes a specific rebuttal. The upshot is the innuendo is permitted to linger and sow doubts.

The problem for the propagandists, however, is that the credibility of the “reporting” becomes threadbare with each cycle of unsubstantiated allegations. The increased frequency of the cycle indicates the propagandists are realizing their diminishing potency in the eyes of the public and hence try to compensate by narrating ever-more lurid stories.

In the final analysis, the political and economic problems facing the United States and Britain are endemic. The abysmal failure over the coronavirus pandemic is but one accelerant of a chronic collapse. The chaos and division in those societies is of their own making from the corruption of the political and economic system. Trying to resurrect a Cold War with Russia or China is a futile attempt to postpone a reckoning over inherent problems.

President Trump’s indulgence in conspiracies about China is consistent with his conspiracies about quack medical remedies. His conspiratorial psychosis is reflected in the derangement of his Democrat opponents and their media concerning alleged malign Russian interference. The chaos and division attributed to foreign powers is actually a bipartisan vice for avoiding the radical challenge facing the U.S. and its Western vassals like Britain.

A virus without a cure can become fatal. Russophobia is a virus without any cure as far as the Western political establishments are concerned. The result can be deadly. But deadly mainly for their own societies from not addressing real problems.The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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