Echoes of George Kennan's "Sources of Soviet Conduct" article. Back then in 1947 George Kennan wisely said that the way to deal with the Soviet Union was not to fight. It was for he western alliance to (a) contain, (c) become its best self, and (c) east for recognition that we did, after all, have the better system. But in the age of Trump, Johnson, and Orban on the one hand and Chinese prosperity still doubling every two decades, whether we have a better system is more up for grabs than it was:

Joschka Fischer: Two Systems, One World: "The issue of freedom has returned to the fore in Moscow and Hong Kong.... The modern era was built on freedom, and on the recognition that all people are born equal. This radical Enlightenment idea, when it took hold, constituted a break from all previous history. But times have changed. In the twenty-first century, we are confronted with a fundamental question: Could a modernized form of authoritarianism represent an alternative to liberal democracy and the rule of law? In 1989, the obvious answer to that question would have been no, not just in the West but around the world. Since then, however, we have witnessed the revival of nationalism in Europe, the failure of the Arab Spring, the election of US President Donald Trump, Russia’s relapse into revanchism, and the emergence of a global China. Now, all bets on liberal democracy are off. China’s emergence as a second military, economic, and technological superpower suggests that there is now an alternative development model. In modern China, the rule of law and democracy are regarded as a threat to one-party rule. Hence, the ongoing protests for freedom and democratic accountability in Hong Kong expose a division not just between two normative frameworks, but between two systems of political power.... The competition with China, however, will be precisely about the question of which system delivers more in terms of technological and material progress. China’s ascent from a poverty-stricken developing country to an economic powerhouse is one of the greatest achievements of the modern era.... For the West, the 'Chinese Challenge', then, is to show that its model of democracy is still better suited than Eastern-style authoritarianism for the majority of humankind.... China’s ascent cannot be prevented. The country is simply too large and too strong to be boycotted or contained.... The Chinese people’s desire to share in global prosperity is entirely legitimate. The West has little choice but to maintain good relations with the new superpower, while at the same time defending its values...


#noted #2019-10-06

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