Why Americans need to fear Chinese Authoritarianism

I think one of the greatest dangers to American democracy is Chinese authoritarianism. Moreover, history shows a similar brand of authoritarianism once had many American fans.

One of my biggest fears is that many Americans will abandon democracy in favor of Chinese style authoritarian technocracy. Frighteningly in the 20th century, many of America’s best and brightest abandoned democracy for admiration of the state that inspired the People’s Republic of China – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

The Communist Party USA (a Soviet front organization) had 75,000 official members at its height in 1947, the University of Washington estimates. Moreover, the USSR had hundreds of thousands of admirers in the United States. Those admirers included the nation’s most brilliant writers (notably Ernest Hemingway), movie stars (including Lucille Ball and Jimmy Cagney), and even presidential advisors and prominent economists (Harry Dexter White).

Why China is More Dangerous than the Soviet Union

The Communist Party’s appeal in the 1930s is easy to understand. The fantasy that Joseph Stalin was building utopia was attractive during the Great Depression. Moreover, it was America’s failure that drove many Americans to Stalin worship.

The Soviet fantasy was an easy sell when ordinary Americans were coping with breadlines, 20% unemployment, and the Dust Bowl. Today, America has many failures. In particular, COVID-19 and the deaths of 750,000 Americans.

In today’s America, we cannot fix the potholes in the streets, keep the subways running, or provide water and sewage service to tens of thousands of families. In contrast, the Chinese are building entire cities and thousands of miles of freeways and high-speed rail.

Such technocratic success will attract many Americans. Moreover, I think Chinese technocracy will have a far wider appeal to ordinary Americans than Soviet Communism.

The Soviet Fantasy vs. Chinese Reality

To explain, most of the Soviet Union’s “success” was a fantasy. The Soviets never created a viable economy capable of competing in global markets. During the Cold War, there were no Russian TV sets or transistor radios on American shelves. The Soviets had to force or bribe other countries to accept their shoddy consumer goods, such as the notorious Lada car.

In contrast, Chinese industry floods the world’s markets with cheap, plentiful, and high-quality consumer goods. Chinese factories build many of those consumer goods, such as the iPhone, with the latest technology. Moreover, Chinese engineers can build Social Media as good as anything as America can offer (TikTok).

Notably, one Chinese company Huawei Technologies sold 31% of the world’s telecom equipment in equipment in 2020, The Global Times estimates. Huawei’s market share is twice that of its two biggest competitors, Ericsson and Nokia. Ericsson and Nokia each held a 15% of the telecom equipment market in 2020.

The Chinese economy has given some of its enterprises enormous market power. Indeed, Huawei is so big that the British government bans the use of some of its equipment to keep the giant out.

The Soviets never had that kind of economic power. I think many Americans, including many people who consider Communism satanic, admire Chinese power and will emulate it.

So what is Chinese Authoritarianism, anyway?

Chinese authoritarianism has delivered impressive results, but what is it? Obviously, China’s system is not the traditional Communism of the Soviet Union or Cuba.

I consider China a Leninist state or an authoritarian technocracy. A technocracy is a government run by experts or technocrats. Ideally, in a technocracy, soldiers run the Army, lawyers run the courts, engineers run the transportation system, and economists run the economy. An authoritarian technocracy is a technocracy run by a dictator, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese technocracy works because the Chinese Communist Party dumped Marx but kept Lenin. To explain, the dogma we call Communism had two fathers: the Prussian intellectual Karl Marx and the Russian revolutionary Vladimir I. Lenin.

Marx is Dead but Lenin Lives

In depth, Marx created a system of social, economic, and cultural criticism. Marx’s belief was that civilization evolves. For example, from feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism.

Marx did not believe that you could create socialism or Communism through revolution. Instead, Marx thought capitalist societies could evolve into socialist and communist systems.

In contrast, Lenin believed that a ruthless technocracy could force a society to evolve at a higher speed. Lenin thought you could build socialism and Communism by ruthlessly reorganizing society.

The Chinese Communist Party has abandoned Marxist economics but kept Leninist politics. For instance, they kept the secret police but abandoned Soviet-style economic planning.

Moreover, they replaced the Communist Party hacks in charge of the factories with entrepreneurs, engineers, and investment bankers. As China’s economic growth and the piles of Chinese-made merchandise at Walmart (WMT) demonstrate this system works.

The Dangerous Appeal of Chinese Leninism

I consider Chinese Leninism far more dangerous than Soviet Communism because it could have far wider appeal.

For example, Chinese Leninists can tell business owners, ”you have nothing to worry about under our system. We will not take your factory, your bank account, or your Mercedes. Indeed, our system gives you more freedom because you can call the secret police to take care of any pesky union organizers.”

The Chinese Leninist can tell American workers. “Our system provides lifetime job security and lots of economic growth.” I think that line will have a powerful appeal to American workers with no job security who make less money than their grandfathers.

In addition, the Chinese Leninist will tell American workers. “We’re building hundreds of new factories and creating millions of jobs.” Moreover, a Chinese Leninist can tell a Goldman Sachs (GS) investment banker “in our system you will be in total control of the economy.”

Chinese Leninism is dangerous because it works. Russian Leninism failed because it didn’t work. Additionally, Chinese Leninism already has wide appeal to America’s elites. Just look at all the companies that have outsourced all or most of their production to China. For example, Apple (AAPL).

Executives who tolerate Leninist oppression in their Chinese factories will welcome it in America. For example, computer maker Dell Technologies donated $38,500 to US Senate Republicans who opposed the Freedom to Vote Act in 2021, NBC News claims. Other companies donating to voting rights opponents included AT&T (T) and Microsoft (MSFT).

In addition, some prominent American political figures, including US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and US Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) killed the Freedom to Vote Act. Thus, many American political leaders have no commitment to democracy.

Similarly, Popular Information alleges MasterCard (M) and AT&T were among donors to the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA). Popular Information claims RAGA promoted the election fraud conspiracy that sparked the 6 January 2021 US Capitol Riot. Those companies donated money to RAGA after 6 January 2021, Popular Information alleges.

Hence, some American companies are already financing politicians who actively oppose democracy. It is easy to imagine such companies financing a tyrant out to build a Leninist technocracy in America.

How they can sell Chinese Leninism in America

Americans need to be scared because Chinese Leninism has wide appeal in the United States.

That appeal is with no active propagandizing of the kind the Soviets engaged in. What happens if the Chinese Communist Party starts aggressively promoting its system in America, as the Soviets did?

Selling such a system to Americans will be easy. All Chinese propagandists will have to do is hide the pictures of Mao and show lots of video of the sleek high-speed trains and slideshows showcasing Chinese economic growth.

Plus, the Chinese operative will have the added advantage of promising big contracts with his government and the right to do business in China to those who accept the new order. We’ve already seen how quickly NBA players, movie stars, and Hollywood producers rush to follow Chinese orders to protect their profits.

Plus, the Chinese operative will have the added advantage of promising big contracts with his government and the right to do business in China to those who accept the new order. We’ve already seen how quickly NBA players, movie stars, and Hollywood producers rush to follow Chinese orders to protect their profits.

America needs to be afraid of Chinese Leninism because China’s Leninist state works. Additionally, the Chinese Leninist state is now a credible rival to the United States. Worse, the Chinese Leninist state has enormous amounts of cash to buy friends with.

The attraction of Chinese Leninism to disillusioned Americans could be hard for an increasingly failing America to counter.