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The revival of ruthless December 24, 2009

Posted by olvidadorio in Earth.

Go and read Mark Lynas’s account “How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room” at the Guardian. (Thanks to Nic for the lead.)

To my Chinese friends, even though it may not help: please do not be offended. I’m taking your leadership as an example of a trend that has grown out of century long ruthless greed and disrespect for nature mostly on behalf of us of European heritage. It’s just in the context of this article on Copenhagen that I’m struck by the idea that the Chinese leadership’s behaviour exemplifies or foreshadows a grand comeback for worldwide ruthless leadership.

Back in the day when the Berlin Wall fell, everyone and their mother’s neighbor’s socks succumbed to the pleasant dirge of consumerist capitalism laced with cushy-feely big-media politics which was essentially one big circus of not losing image. And you lost  if you did stuff that looked bad, that was brutal and ruthless.

There’s something rutheless to any war, but even the Bush administration vs. the phantom of Islamic extremism, or Palestinians vs. Israelis were all wars drenched in fear-mongering or moral outrage. You couldn’t just do it because you can. We have these strange asymmetric wars, where asymmetry doesn’t mean anihilation of the other force, instead it means that wars get drawn out forever. E.g. the war in Afghanistan. Or consider how the way Cheney/Rumsfeld pulled off the invasion of Iraq is clearly different from Germany’s Blitzkrieg to gobble up Poland. Back then they just did it because they could. In the last Iraq war we had to lie and squirm our way into it like weasly maggots.
I say, all of this is coming to an end. Good old Obamination’ll be just another spike in direction of the media-moral complex before the US and with it global society and culture moves on to the next big thing: Good old ruthlessness. Already, if you compare Clinton’s wars (mostly Yugoslavia) to Bush you can see a trend. Resources will be scarce, memory of past atrocities gone stale, weapons lying around in heaps and piles…

But this post is not about war.. So what with China and Copenhagen?

Well, the writing on the wall is that climate change will happen. And also that going on polluting won’t help. Furthermore it’s the case that great parts of China already are suffering from pollution and will suffer severely when ocean levels rise. Then let’s assume the Chinese leadership is not stupid; What could be driving them to position themselves against helping the climate?

First of all they certainly know that their current power is based on galloping economic growth. Not only that, they furthermore are aware of the fact that natural catastrophe hardly ever hurts autocratic rulers. It’s more or less immediate and obviously anthropogenic economic downturn that does. So I guess they’re just playing to their own advantage, sacrificing their own costal population (plus the rest of the world then going to be living below sea-level, which is quite a lot).

Rather bad-ass but normal for politicians you think? But this is not where the ruthlessness ends. If you view the world as a block of wood, there’s not only geopolitics, there’s also geo-engineering. The Chinese elite (and their friends in power all over the world, i.e. Russia, US) might not be above a bit of tampering with (toxic) methods of artificial darkening and other weather-manipulation. Which brings us back to the supposition I made above: “Let’s assume the Chinese leadership is not stupid.” Well, if they believe they can tamper in a massive manner with a complex system such as our climate (which is already under severe stress) without running the risk of eradicating the very basic dynamics on which our supporting ecosystem runs — and with it human society — then they are, truly, stupid.



1. The Chinese Question « The Carbon Economist - February 19, 2010

[…] it tendency to abrogate international responsibility. Many seem to interpret this as a sign of the ruthlessness we should expect from such an authoritarian regime, but as Mandelson argues, tghere’s more […]

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