Thursday, April 26, 2007

This might seem to be an aside from commenting on the day's news (which is getting tediously silly) and Mike Huckabee's campaign for president (incidentally, Huckabee moved his campaign and staff to Iowa today, with August's Iowa straw poll in mind). But, if you see either the nation or yourself as a part of an enterprise of global scope, you should find George Will's article interesting.

As a young man, I was a great fan of George F. Will. I read Will and Buckley loyally. While still a teen, I recognized that Will was gifted with both illustration and the literary breadth that lifted those illustrations from history, documentary, philosophy, and fiction. It was as though Will held books to the side of his head and just absorbed them. Anyway, the illustrations effectively illuminated the Will’s points. Conversely, Buckley’s ventures in diction seemed almost designed to challenge, hopefully driving the reader to a dictionary.

Now approaching seniorhood myself, I am no longer an acolyte of either Will or Buckley, having staked out my own distinctive, if lonely, dispositional claim. Will, though reliably offering a conservative viewpoint, seems often to do so, on a liberal perception. Maybe, having spent his entire adult life in Washington D.C., to expect Will to detail an extraordinary perspective would be on the order of expecting one to pass 30-40 years in Birmingham, Alabama, without it affecting your pronunciation, besides the fact that it would make his comment seem irrelevant to much of the media-saturated public. Still, Will is always the most stimulating of writers in popular culture, provoking an otherwise fading activity: thinking.

Though my feelings are less reflexive about it in the last several years, I’m still certain that considering the direction of
China and how we should be disposed to it in the coming years, is critical to any conjecture about how world history will unfold. In the article linked below, Will points out an interesting question regarding what has become almost conventional thinking: is commercial “engagement” and ideological passivity the most constructive treatment of authoritarian China? My sense is that China’s government probably already is suspended between addictions to power and to the wealth of progressive commerce (Marks’s critical realization of “industrialization” before revolution was always an illusion – production of goods and services is a historical process, not a landmark, as an initial machination in production suggested – that’s why Soviet communism dried up and died: commerce was captured and not nourished by competition).

The government will want to feed both of its addictions as long as possible. It will incline to subjugate the rural poor for the same reason: human nature. That’s also the issue in Mann’s question about whether a satisfied commercial class will care. It’s probably a bigger question to ask what is implied by China’s burgeoning under-the-radar Christianity. A Christian conviction that has been refined with persecution, rather than having declined with oxidation.

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