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We took to the streets in millions before the Iraqi war but still the war wasn't stopped. The great anti nuclear war movement of the 1960"s disappeared into nowhere in the 1970"s. It revived a bit during the 1980's but later went into abeyance. We saw in the 1930's that national capital forms blocks and then wages war to resolve problems of market share. We are witnessing the formation of blocks again. This is a first under conditions of nuclear armed blocks that we didn't have in the 30's. But the portrayal of blocks in each others media is still the same. They eat babies for breakfast and are not like us. Hence the march into war. But this time the outcome is likely to be mutually assured destruction from a nuclear holocaust. Can we stop this madness? There is high level of media and narrative control on both sides but we have no choice and must try to stop nuclear destruction or even the use of diluted nuclear weapons as in Fallujah. Or even worse plans such as Aurora which are individually targeted nuclear systems. May God help us

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Agreed. The lesson from the previous anti-war movements is they didn't go far enough.

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But, why would they? We've been doing war since our first cities. Arguably, Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, et al, were amongst the worst and most cruel people to make war, but then we come to our modern wars and find out we're no better, we're no less cruel. I think it's a fallacy to consider us a peace-capable species. The only exit I can think of is that of Clarke and others in sci-fi: A limitless-energy utopia.

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Limitless energy would certainly help, as would near-space colonization. But to your previous point: We're going to have to learn how to not make war anymore now that we have nuclear weapons. Our ethics and philosophy haven't caught up to our destructive power now. It's hard to even imagine, really.

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speaking of Lenin and "Weeks where decades happen," I'm currently [re]-reading "10 Days That Shook the World" (in fact I set it down to read this article, about to read another chapter).

Such a good book.

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Yep. Ten days and the world was an entirely different place forever. That's how fast things can happen

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Mar 1, 2023Liked by Sam McCommon

I read it a little over a year ago. What surprised me was how chaotic it was and how uncertain the outcome would be. Just like the start of WWI, things can go sideways so quickly. Think about how the world changed in those 10 days or how the world changed after the 11 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Indeed, fortune plays an enormous role in history, and of course, favors the bold.

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Mar 1, 2023Liked by Sam McCommon

This does eerily feel similar to July 1914. The western powers do seem actively to seek war and various politicians seem almost excited by the prospect. Maybe a big commonality is that we had not had a long, general European war for ninety years in 1914. Today we have not had one for nearly eighty years. People have forgotten what war really is. Just as they had in 1914.

I agree with your comments too about not trusting the CCP but I do not think they seek general war in the absence of US / western goading. Their intention is to become all powerful via economic means. At least in the short term. Russia for her part seeks security, I believe.

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"I never thought I’d agree with the Chinese Foreign Ministry", why not? They've been preaching peace, cooperation, development, aid to all the nations in need, etc., for a long long time. Just follow China's officials and official news channels to see this, it's quite evident, why wouldn't you agree with that? Just look at China's relations —foreign relations— and compare them with US'. It's not for nothing they're the largest economic force in the world.

Yes, we're in a fast spiral towards inevitable total war. We in the Global South have been cheering for Russia and China for a long while now; we all see too clearly who exactly is USA (and it's EU NATO+ pets), its deceptions, lies. USA is the biggest terrorist state, it can't live without making war and ruining everyone else. It's about time, it is its turn.

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I'd caution against trusting the CCP. They've brutalized their own citizens for decades and their Orwellian surveillance state is terrifying. Their statistics are entirely fabricated and the foundation of the country is built on sand.

A free or at least not totalitarian China could easily be the most powerful country in the world, but that won't happen until the CCP is gone.

I'd argue the reason China has not invaded other countries over the past several decades is because they haven't been able to, not because they didn't want to. Consider their 1979 invasion of Vietnam in response to Vietnam taking out the Khmer Rouge. The PLA had soldiers starve to death in a campaign less than a month long. That's how bad their organization was. It's a completely different animal now, however.

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I couldn't disagree more on what would make a powerful China. A free China would be subjugated and ruined in no time at all. The cultural poisons that were used with the utmost success against the west are only ever successfully fought off with a united authority.

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Disagree, and I'd like to point you to my piece entitled "The Hobbesian Dilemma" for a full explanation of why I think so. In short: Large, centralized states are too cumbersome and wasteful to remain powerful for long. Increasingly large countries require increasingly complex governance structures with no guarantee of more competent leaders.

We have a model of what happens when China falls apart. It's happened many times. The country fractures into many pieces, some of which are more powerful than others. It's important to differentiate "China" as a cultural entity and "China" as the current political entity.

Just as an example: Guangdong has around 130 million people and is the most important manufacturing hub in the world. Even if the CCP collapsed — which I'm convinced it will in the next ~10 years — Guangdong would probably be fine. Southern coastal cities like Guangdong have always looked to the outside world for wealth, whereas northern cities in China have been far more inwardly-focused.

So, in short: There's China and then there's CCP "China." The former will last forever, but the latter will not.

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It's an interesting piece, but whether it matches up with any real-world observations is debatable I think, and to say a large, centralized state can't remain powerful for long is simply incorrect; The most long-lived states have always been those that are most centralized and large. I think that's a result of natural selection; You can't become a large, centralized state if you're incompetent.

And some of the observations made are inaccurate. As with Rome, which had been a large, centralized state since the 2nd Punic War to the reunifications in the 4th century. 600 Years a peerless power, and the reactionary measures it took are what let it bounce back from defeats and setbacks, which it could survive thanks to its size.

In terms of expansion, it did not have any significant expansion for well over 300 years, since the latter reign of Augustus to Constantine, and fared finely through 3/4ths of that.

It certainly had no lack of problems and existential threats in that other 1/4th, of course. It wasn't called a Crisis without reason. But it survived the Crisis. Nor did it lack for those before it, either. This is likewise the case for most states, big or small. They must all face threats and overcome them, or simply perish. And more often than not, it has always been the smallest and least centralized states that perish, and each one has its own reasons for why it faltered in its moment of truth.

In Rome's case, I would argue that it was actually its large, centralized nature that helped it survive some of the worst natural disasters to have happened since the Bronze Age, and that wouldn't be surpassed until the Black Death.

I believe the causes for widespread modern decentralization can be narrowed down from not being mere bureaucratic ineptitude and mismanagement - Which appears anywhere, and kills any country it may fester in, as we're witnessing with Ukraine - To smaller interest groups constantly pulling at the seams of more globalized power structures. Different ethnic groups in particular always pull the hardest to serve their own interests, and in most places where centralized structures are deteriorating, this is an easily identifiable cause.

Not so in China.

Their population is 92% Ethnically Han Chinese, and there is only one other ethnic group in the country that even hits 1% of their total population. I think this gives them an unexpectedly united in-group, one that will prevent internal pressures from building up and pulling it apart as has been happening everywhere else.

If they can correct for, or entirely avoid dire cases of mismanagement, they will continue to succeed as a regional power, especially now that their worst enemies are growing weaker by the day. And I don't see why that would be beyond them yet.

I've also been hearing mentions of collapse for over 30 years, so I don't really find the idea itself convincing anymore - It's just numbing, and has begun to sound like wishful thinking from the members of degenerating powers. Maybe the boy who cried wolf is right this time, but I'm still waiting for the day when their grip begins to loosen to say whether they're in trouble or not.

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To your first point: It depends on what your definition of "for long" is. A common argument, first really articulated by John Glubb, was that the average lifespan of an empire is around 250 years. Note that there's a big difference between an empire and a nation, as well as between a government and a civilization. China as a civilization has existed for a long time, but it's been through numerous collapses from both internal and external factors like civil war, plague, famine, natural disaster, and invasion. So did Rome.

But the Rome of the 1st-2nd century golden age was not at all the Rome of the 1st-second century BC. The Republican form of government wasn't suited to the power they acquired in such a short period of time. The centralization of power didn't really get going until the Civil War that Augustus emerged triumphant from. Before that, local administrators outside of Rome had much more local influence than the Senate.

When you're looking back and see how long Rome lasted, you're looking at it from a 30,000 foot view, and not the view the people at the time had. Instability was the norm for much of the empire's history, with strings of peace and prosperity that really stand out. We've been in a similar stretch of peace and prosperity since the Second World War that has come to define our understanding of history — but stability is the exception and not the norm.

Imperial overreach is a tale as old as time, and it's almost always why empires collapse. The US has done exactly that over the last few decades and squandered a fortune in blood and treasure that could have been used to usher the country into a bright new future.

About those mentions of China collapsing: 2022 was the first year China's population actually declined. The trend is irreversible. You can't go create a whole generation of 20 year olds right now — you had to do it 20 years ago, and China's birthrate is one of the lowest in the world. Their demographics are terminally bad.

The reason I argue for decentralization now is we're in a fundamentally different reality than ever before. One of the main reasons to centralize power in the past was to make decisions better informed and more efficient by centralizing knowledge. Now that knowledge is decentralized, it's far more efficient to administrate most decisions at the local level. Our huge central governments are wildly inefficient and wasteful, and I think we'll find that out when the debt bomb goes off.

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That's not really true, though. The people at the time didn't actually treat the Republic and Imperial governments as vastly different. The names didn't change, really, there was just the Princeps. It was still, to them at the time (As it really should be to us now,) just 'Rome'.

To them, there was no collapse. And in hindsight, we can say there was no collapse of Rome, but only of their style of governance. Or more accurately, we can say that Rome underwent a reform. Which is, by any reasonable measure, not the same as a collapse.

My definitions are primarily relative, so in this sense, or even going by Glubb's inaccurate estimations, this is a longer life than most non-Empires ever hope to average as well.

I mostly agree on the US's cause for failure. Arrogance, overreach, and enemies from within. There isn't a small number of the US leadership that doesn't really care if the Empire declines, because it's not really "their" Empire or "their" people who would suffer from it.

China's birth rate is 12.1 The US's is 12.4. The rest of Europe and countries aligned with it - Save Ireland, Iceland, and Turkey - Is lower than or equal to China's birth rate.

Now I don't disagree that it's a problem. But it isn't a unique problem, and it's afflicting much of China's external foes far worse. This is without taking into account the difference in birth rate for different ethnicities in the Euro-aligned countries, which themselves were only caused from the short-term attempts at solving their birth rate collapse, and the actual crises that those will bring will be far more horrific than anything an elderly population could cause.

In terms of aging populations, China is also less worse off than all of the aforementioned competitors.

It will take a long time for such trends to reverse, but I think China has a better chance than most to do so. Their centralized power and singularly triumphant ethnic group means that if they can find an effective solution, they will be actually capable of implementing it. In the rest of the world. And because everyone will have to bear the burden of that problem - And the consequences of past attempts at solutions will catch up to the western world sooner - I don't think China will find many foes that are able to prey on it in a moment of demographic weakness.

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All that is according to Western media, primarily US media. The ones that told you Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and is telling you Russia invaded unprovoked. If you still give them the benefit of the doubt, that's on you.

I don't know how anyone can say China is built on sand, theirs is an uninterrupted millenary civilization. Their economy is the most powerful in the world precisely because the CCP rules, or are you pretending we believe their economy is what it is in spite of the CCP? Let's not be absurd.

Now, do they have committed crimes against humanity? Well, name me a country that hasn't. The US has spent about 16 of their almost 250 years at peace.

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Mar 1, 2023Liked by Sam McCommon

I think 'crimes against humanity' is a weak charge to mount for any country, and it's a bad idea to try and respond to it with tu quoque. It is more applicable to say that the CCP commits crimes against its own people, which is infinitely more evil than, say, what the Japanese did during their war with China. If a government is a parent, the people are its children. To actively harm one's own children is truly the greatest crime imaginable.

Still, this can be more easily countered with the fact that the West does the same thing, but even worse. While the Chinese may harm and institute overbearing controls on its people with the justification of it being for their common good, the west is actively genociding its own children with the justification of 'They deserve it'.

There is a stark difference in this, and nothing I can imagine, or that has ever happened, is as evil as what the West is doing to its own people.

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Have to agree that what the West is doing to its own citizens is the most appalling act of evil in my lifetime at least. We could split hairs making comparisons, but it's a unique flavor of evil. I wonder what people will say about this period of time in 100 years.

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No it isn't. It's reality. I get the impression you think most Western media is bullshit. So do I. I don't get my information from there, unless I'm trying to understand what they want me to think.

The current iteration of China is built on sand. China has swung between centralization and decentralization countless times over the last 4000 years. The CCP version of China cannot last. Their population has begun an inexorable decline to the point where their population will halve by the end of the century if not much sooner. Nobody is having children there, and you can't produce a new batch of 25 year old graduates today. You had to have produced them 25 years ago.

So, as China ages rapidly and without an adequate social security net — and with rising labor costs driving manufacturing out of the country — their economic system is doomed. They'll have gone from industrialization to deindustrialization in just one generation. It's incredible.

And would China be prosperous without the CCP? Absolutely. The reason it went from such unimaginable poverty to middle income is simply because the government loosened up a little bit. But their one child policy really, really ruined their future.

Re: Crimes against humanity — "other countries do it too" doesn't justify anything.

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That all may well be true, just remember when you say "it's reality", you actually mean "it's the reality I interpret from the sources I follow, from the history I've read, etc.".

The reality you consider to be true also may well be off.

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Sure! And I'm happy to reconsider my points and address where I'm wrong when that happens. As we all should. Always happy to hear feedback that pushes back against my points since it makes me think more about them

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Thanks.

Addressing a bit your points, China is one of the oldest still existing civilizations in the world. If that doesn't mean stability, I don't know what does! That they go back and forth on political systems doesn't make theirs an inherently unstable civilization. The CCP has been around for about 100 years and has stayed in power for some 75. That still talks to me about stability in the generational term.

Are they having less children? That's a global trend, and while China is low at around 1.3 births per woman, the world is at 2.3. Still, more scientific papers are coming out of China than anywhere else.

I just don't see China, who managed to become the most important economic partner of the world (in general terms), precisely because it functioned as the world factory (with laws letting them keep the intellectual property of the things they made for everyone else), thus massively industrializing, simply de-industrializing in such a short time as a generation. Germany took longer and had to go trough two continental wars to de-industrialize. The USA had to go trough a long financialization process which led to its de-industrialization, again in longer than a generation.

Asseverations such as "would China be prosperous without the CCP - yes" are senseless, because they're unfalsifiable. What we can say is that, being ruled by the CCP for such time, they've managed this and that.

Somewhat related, I can recommend the book "Why the West Rules--For Now" by historian superstar Ian Morris (look up his tl;dr in YouTube at the Oriental Institute), it beautifully explains how geography and history intertwine to give humanity its path.

Yes, western media is pure lies and propaganda. We must read it, of course, to see what Washington and Western elites want us to know.

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It is tempting to believe the end result of the global Ukrainian proxy war will be nuclear war. Instead, it will be the emergence of a multi-polar world order. Ukraine was always a bad bet to gamble US prestige on. That means Biden is an emotional gambler, even doubling down by travelling to Kiev. Bottom line: artillery. Russia is a steamroller with a 10 to 1 advantage in artillery shoots fired. Looks like the West will have to severely reduce artillery shells given to Ukraine due to lack of production by summer. I predict this year Russia will capture all the territory east of the Dnipro river.

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I really hope you're right. Jens Stoltenberg himself said that NATO can't keep up with ammunition demands from Ukraine. So, I see the nuclear threat far more imminent from the Western world than from Russia. Without a nuclear escalation, I agree with your prediction.

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deletedMar 5, 2023·edited Mar 5, 2023
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I agree with Bernie Sanders who described Bush Jr as a corporation mascarading as a human. In my opinion, Biden is old, tired, and is following the cold war playbook. Very counter-productive and easily gamed.

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A historical book that claims that Gavrilo Princip was a Serb nationalist ain't worth much.

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