[#6 in a chronological series meant to update this blog with write-ups I failed to post during 2021-2022.]
At the end of every year a private alumni group I’m in calls on its members to contribute brief reviews of books and other media that they would recommend to other members. All are variously interested in national security, information technology, complexity theory, network science, cognitive science, social evolution, future planning scenarios, and the like.
While drafting the paper about U.S.-China relations (see prior post), I learned about the impressive Chinese theorist and strategist, Wang Huning. So I contributed the following book review for the group:
“Wondering where China and America are headed? To find out, Wang Huning traveled around the United States as a young professor decades ago, and wrote his findings in America Against America (Shanghai Arts, 1991). Though long out of print, a translation can still be downloaded here* or here°. It is worth consulting because today Wang is Xi Jinping’s most formidable political theorist and advisor. A key theme is that American society, while offering much to admire, is so fraught with individualism, so lacking in spiritual community and cultural security — its youth too ignorant of traditional Western values, too prone to nihilism — that American democracy risks decaying into a war with itself (hence the title). Given its excessive individualism, Chinese collectivism will surely prove the superior way to go. Reading America’s major conservative thinkers back then — notably Alan Bloom and Charles Moynihan — heavily influenced Wang’s views about America. Today they seem prophetic. And they persist in shaping China’s strategy toward the United States — perhaps for years to come, if Xi extends his stay in power, with Wang alongside as ideological leader of the ‘New Authoritarians.’”
That Wang Huning is worth keeping an eye on was confirmed last week on January 26, 2023, when a news article reported that Xi Jinping has named Wang to take charge of Taiwan policy and strategy matters:
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