America and China Are So Alike!

“The essential point of commonality is that big enterprises—especially banking enterprises—are being allowed to operate as fail-proof yet operationally opaque adjuncts of the state. Their business decisions—whom to lend to, what risks to take, etc.—are made with the goal of enriching the key managers and shareholders, and probably also key government officials and bureaucrats—with no thought to the impact on the larger economy or the larger population of the respective countries.”

Lindorff is of course referring to the U.S. government’s essentially nationalizing or bailing out distressed private concerns like AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and the nation’s two largest automobile manufacturers.

[Blogger’s Comment: The latest news is that the free-market championing nation will be bailing out almost the entire finance industry by using taxpayers’ money. It sounds to me more like a voluntary switch to central planning that the Americans have always so detested. The question to ask is: isn’t it totally absurd that ordinary folks have to pay the penalty for grave mistakes that financiers make, especially when those mistakes are greed-driven and immoral?]

The Chinese equivalent is told in the form of a narrative from Lindorff’s personal experience in Shenzhen, China. He learned from a senior Armed Police officer that the Armed Police was the owner of a real estate company and how absolutely easy it was for the company to have access to state bank loans if and when required because of its privileged status.

“In China, an executive implicitly puts a gun to the head of his government banker. In the US, the executive expressly puts an economic gun to the government banker’s head.”

If the elites in both countries can hold their respective government hostage in times of distress, the little guys in the two nations are in an untenable situation. In China, it is normal practice for small residents to be evicted from their homes with a token compensation if the state wants their land for commercial development. The same happens in the US – Lindorff cites one glaring example in New London.

[Blogger’s Comment: Another US example of powerful corporates forcing the hand of ordinary folks I’ve heard of is the case of Atlantic Yard in Brooklyn, New York. But all in all, the situation in China is much more dire than that in the US in that the former doesn’t have an independent judicial system and the police force only answers to party bosses.]

A second similarity can be found in the way both countries use technology to exert control on their people:-

“Both governments are using massive computer systems (made in America) to monitor the Internet, with China making use of equipment and techniques developed for them by US companies like Google, Yahoo and Cisco Systems, and with the National Security Agency then drawing on those techniques for use back here in America. As we saw at the two national party conventions last month, the US is also learning and applying the crowd-control techniques of the Chinese government to the US where the default tactic wherever public protest is planned is now to have police adopt a paramilitary approach that features aggressive use of tear gas, concussion bombs, assault rifles, house raids and preventive detention.”

A third likeness is in the concentration of political power in the leaders of the two countries:-

“Another point of convergence is the concentration of power in a secretive executive body. China, of course, has a national congress. It meets once a year and passes carefully vetted resolutions. In recent years, its members have occasionally raised a controversial issue, like concerns about the environmental and human consequences of the Three Gorges Dam, or about the role of shoddy construction in the deaths of so many school children in the last earthquake. But it has no power and plays no role in controlling the decisions of the true leaders of the country. Likewise in the US, there is a Congress, but over the last eight years, it has ceded virtually all oversight power to the executive branch, which treats any effort by its members to investigate or to constrain its action with utter contempt.”

The fourth point of convergence is in the way in which media works in both countries. While China has a state-owned and tightly controlled propagandist media, the U.S. government also has a tight grip on media through its electronic media licensing regulations and through controlling acquisition strategies. On this, Lindorff remarks that the Chinese may actually fare better than Americans because at least the former know that they are being lied to, whereas the latter aren’t even aware of the fact that their media are in fact controlled and act as government’s mouthpieces.

Still other similarities lie in the two countries’ promotion of unquestioning patriotism as well as worship of militarism.

[Blogger’s Comment: Indeed, the ways in which the two countries are alike all seem to scream out the word “Fascism”.]