The Dangerous Naivety of Narratives We Tell Ourselves

June 2, 2020 Updated: June 3, 2020

Commentary

As the superficial façade of well-wishing between the People’s Republic of China and the United States continues to slip, the brutal antithesis between the totalitarian and republican regimes is becoming clearer.

Fervently do we pray to avoid the scourge of actual hot war with China, but we must now face some difficult truths about whatever confrontation lies inevitably before us.

It should be considered an act of providence or else extreme luck that during World War II the Allies were able to dominate the Axis powers before the latter were able to develop nuclear weapons. Think how easily things could have gone so differently. We might not be so fortunate the next time.

While the U.S. military is concerned about such things as gender discrimination in height requirements for pilots of fighter jets, the Chinese are implementing technology that could potentially neutralize any strategic advantage we currently have. We know the Chinese are currently putting 5G technology to use in their military, and, if reports are to be believed, they’re also already developing 6G technology.

Much of their technology was stolen or else easily purchased from the United States and other Western nations. Clearly, we haven’t taken seriously the military threat posed by China, and we’ve grossly overestimated our own prestige.

Why would we let this happen?

One explanation is that we have easily been lulled into accepting complacent narratives. For example, it can be easy now to think that the history of the two world wars is a simple story of good versus evil and that it was inevitable that the good guys—those who favor democratic government—would win. This is naivety of the highest order.

Yet, our liberal elites—left and right—have demonstrated a similar naivety by allowing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to gain a foothold in nearly every American institution we depend on for the maintenance of our regime: the academy, industry, news media, and the primary purveyors of culture (viz., sports, music, and cinema).

The globalist project has now been revealed for the fixed game it is, one that mostly benefits corporate oligarchs and the CCP. This arrangement has placed the United States in a dangerously weak position, inviting a challenge from China.

It’s now imperative that the United States leverage—not prostitute—the unique advantages of our free society to maintain independent and overwhelming technological and military dominance as a strategic deterrence against war with the People’s Republic of China. The integrity of our institutions isn’t for sale.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s FORCE Act, the aim of which is “to thwart Chinese military aspirations in [the] Indo-Pacific,” is a good start. But it calls for spending lots of money, and we’re already running dangerous deficits.

The best way to shore up the natural advantages of our free society is to reopen the economy as quickly as possible and to remove all artificial handicaps (i.e., unnecessary regulatory red-tape) to innovation.

During the virus pandemic, we have been put in a critically weak position, and though the virus has crippled China, too, we must consider it a matter of national defense to get our economy back up and running soon.

As we rebuild our economy, though, we have to reevaluate the narrative and policies we’ve been operating under for the last few decades. During the Nixon administration, we found it advantageous—vis-à-vis the threat of the Soviet Union—to have relations with communist China and to trade with them in good faith. In response, China has abused our trust everywhere we’ve let them.

The narrative that the CCP will become more friendly and democratic if we just share with them the fruits of free society is dangerous naivety. Even more dangerous and more naive, though, is the narrative that the United States will always win great wars simply because we are the good guys and thus deserve to win, for it has led us to think we can afford to be careless in our relations with China.

In his masterful “Meditations,” the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius suggested that “when you call someone ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘ungrateful,’ turn the reproach on yourself. It was you who did wrong. By assuming that someone with those traits deserved your trust.”

Thus, we have only ourselves to blame for expecting a totalitarian regime to act in good faith and for forgetting the old Roman proverb, “Si vis pacem, para bellum”—if you want peace, prepare for war.

Clifford Humphrey is originally from Warm Springs, Ga. He holds a Ph.D. in politics from Hillsdale College in Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @cphumphrey.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.