The Opportunity of the Emergency

How the global COVID-19 pandemic began is incidental to how it instantly has transformed the entire political landscape of the planet. And whether this pandemic was planned or merely accidental in no way changes the manner in which it suits the agenda of two mega-adversaries. One searing example from history offers dramatic evidence of how these sorts of arrangements work.

In the summer of 1944, Nazi Germany was down but not out. In Eastern Europe, Russian forces were massed on the banks of the Vistula, prepared to liberate Warsaw. In anticipation of promised aid from the Russians, the Polish resistance struck hard against the German occupation forces. But the Russians stayed on the other side of the river as the battle raged.

For over two months, the Poles went toe-to-toe with the Germans, as the Russians did nothing to prevent the Germans from reinforcing their troops and liquidating the rebels. Only after the Polish resistance was crushed did the Germans withdraw, and the Russians moved in.

In this case, the mega-adversaries were German Nazis, fighting a war of mutual annihilation against Russian Communists. But neither of them was willing to allow a democratic government to take control of postwar Poland.

The mega-adversaries today have different labels and employ different tactics, but the same basic dynamic applies. On one side there are ruling elites, and on the other side, there are populist insurgencies. The elites rule a pair of superpowers, the United States and its Western allies versus China, that are locked in a conflict that is gradually building in scope and intensity. And in both of these superpower spheres, populist insurgencies are themselves also building in scope and intensity.

The most obvious example of this is the ongoing momentum of Donald Trump’s populist movement in the United States, but throughout the West, there are other rising challenges to the elites.

In France, the Yellow Vest Movement, united only by their opposition to globalization, has gripped that nation for over a year. In Germany, the new political party Alternativ für Deutschland, committed to immigration reform, is now the second-largest political party in that nation. In October 2019, Brexit was reaffirmed by voters in Great Britain in a stunning landslide victory for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.

The list goes on; populist nationalism is on the rise in almost every nation in Europe. But in China, insurgencies pose equal challenges to the elites. The obvious example in China is the brutal repression of the Muslims living in the vast Xinjiang province to their northwest. The Chinese are also engaged in a decades-long project to repress the Tibetans, and, less publicized but just as bad, they are erasing the indigenous culture of Inner Mongolia.

If that were all that China was doing, it would be quite enough. But China’s treatment of its own citizens has provoked insurgencies that have proven increasingly difficult to contain.

For over a year, the Chinese were unable to stem the violent protests in Hong Kong. And across China, despite their brutal police-state tactics, mass protests were escalating against the state’s blithe indifference to environmental protection. Last summer, one of the biggest protests rampaged across Wuhan, of all places, as tens of thousands opposed the proposed construction of a waste incinerator in that city.

There is no doubt that Western elites are on a collision course with China’s regime. But in the short run, they share a common interest: Suppressing populist uprisings, and making a few more bucks before a cold war (hopefully cold, not hot) descends again on the world.

In the effort to suppress populist uprisings, it is hard to imagine a better crisis than a pandemic. Travel, everywhere, is banned. Even small gatherings of individuals are prohibited. Elections everywhere—the U.S. presidential election in particular—are severely disrupted. Across America, Freedom of Information Act requests are stopped in their tracks, and background checks for firearm purchases are delayed.

And with the impact of the pandemic and the response to the pandemic dominating the news cycle—as it should—there is no room for any political agenda that challenges the status quo.

How long will this last? Trump’s legendary mass rallies are now a thing of the past. Expect zero mass demonstrations from far-left activists at the Democratic convention; it’s unlikely they’ll even physically convene. Around the world, God-given human rights are suspended. Was it necessary? For the most part, most would say yes. But for elites from the Beltway to Beijing, it’s also mighty convenient.

Follow the Money to See the Full Opportunity of the Emergency

While human rights everywhere are a casualty of the pandemic, for central planners and multinational monopolists it is the opportunity of the century. At the global level, America’s central bank is set to pour something like $6 trillion into the economy. That money will bail out banks and big corporations; some of that will also bail out small businesses and, in the form of actual direct payments, it will provide assistance to individual American households. But that’s not all.

In a process that calls to mind Gollum’s first, ill-fated journey south into Morder, hundreds of billions of these magically materialized dollars, if not literally trillions, will find their way to China. Because unless America’s roughly $400 billion annual trade deficit with China disappears overnight, that’s where our currency ends up. And then what happens?

Here’s where the identity of interests between American elites and the Chinese regime becomes explicit. China has used these American dollars earned via years of trade surplus with the U.S., which cumulatively now amount to over $5 trillion, to come over here and buy everything in sight. This not only includes whatever intellectual property they are forced to buy because they’ve been unable to steal it, but the hard assets of corporations, along with prime real estate which drives prices out of reach for ordinary Americans.

China not only buys up America’s tangible and intangible assets from American citizens who are only too happy to accept boatloads of cash, but also induces companies to relocate to China. This mutually profitable enterprise allows wealthy American business owners to take advantage of a cowed workforce—enslaved if we are judging by Western standards—to push out products at a fraction of what it costs to hire free American workers. Worse yet, China is buying influence in America.

There’s a reason that the American press isn’t calling for sanctions or worse against China, whereas every time Vladmir Putin so much as sneezes, they have a conniption. It’s because with notable but rare exceptions, China has bought the American media, and Russia has not. It ought to shock American sensibilities that our media could be so crass, so for sale; but they are, and it isn’t just because the Chinese buy ads in American newspapers and air on American television networks. It’s also because American companies that are doing business with China—at the expense of the American worker—are buying ads in these newspapers and air on these television networks. In other words, there are plenty of American companies whose interests align with China’s.

What happens next shouldn’t be hard to imagine. America will continue to log catastrophic deficits with China, and China will turn around and buy American assets at prices depressed by the recession. This will go on until China, and the American sellouts who cater to China, have wrung all the profit out of this game.

China has been engaged in a hybrid war with the United States for a long time. The Chinese have bought our critical assets and bribed our elites. They have flooded the nation with fentanyl, wiping out hundreds of thousands of American lives. They repeatedly have brought diseases of increasing severity to our shores. As this latest economic cataclysm plays out, expect them to use their massive stockpiles of gold to attack America’s weakened currency. In that, they may not succeed, but they will further their ongoing goal of disrupting and dividing us.

Like the Nazis and the Communists in World War II, America’s elites and China’s elites are locked in a clash of civilizations. But it suits their purposes today to displace the populist uprisings in their respective nations. In America, government at all levels will become more expansive and more authoritarian than ever before. From an accelerated transition to energy micromanagement (think Green New Deal) to mandated medicine (think mass vaccinations and immunization passports), things are never going to be the same again.

At least for now, we still may bellyache to our heart’s content, confined, Matrix-like, within our socially distant cocoons of cyberspace.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: Xinhua/Yan Yan via Getty Images

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