Monday, November 18, 2019


The Resistance from the beginning has been about trying to nullify the 2016 Presidential election by impeaching Donald Trump. They have spent 3 years not investigating a crime, but investigating to try and find a crime.  

Global News
Adam Schiff slams “charlatan in the White House” at California convention
Schiff urged Democrats to help “send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from.”

WSJ
Hamilton Wouldn’t Impeach Trump
Hamilton on impeachment
 “The prosecution of [such offenses] will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties, more or less friendly, or inimical, to the accused. In many cases, it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side, or on the other; and in such cases, there will always be the greater danger, that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Attorney General Bill Barr on the Scorched-Earth War of Resistance


Daily Mail -- Ariel Zilber
Bill Barr says the Left is sabotaging the President by waging a scorched-earth war of resistance.

‘In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in a systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law,’ Barr told guests of the Federalist Society convention in the capital.
Barr, who was named Attorney General by Trump after the resignation of Jeff Sessions last year, accused the ‘resistance’ of ‘dangerous’ and ‘incendiary’ language by questioning the legitimacy of the sitting government.  ‘This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic,’ Barr said.

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture at the Federalist Society's 2019 National Lawyers Convention

   Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration.  Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic.  What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It is not just a do-nothing Congress, but one of total resistance and attempts by the Democrats to nullify the election of Donald Trump.


For three years there has been a cabal of the deep state, a “coup” to impeach President Trump. There have not been investigations of a crime, but investigations to find a crime.  This has been “the insurance policy” described by Peter Strzok. The accusations have included collusion, obstruction, racism, mental incompetence, and now abuse of power and possibly still the emolument cause.  The liberal press has promoted these narratives. Since impeachment is a political process the Democratic House of Representatives will bring articles of impeachment and these will be voted down by the Republican Senate.

   The double standards of the intelligence community investigations and the  political nature of the impeachment efforts will be highlighted by the Horowitz report right in the middle of of the hearings.

   In the meantime, there has been a do-nothing Congress with the Democrats resistance resulting in no significant action on infrastructure, USAMC tariffs, funding the budget, immigration policy, or border security.

   This will all play out in the Presidential election of 2020 which will again be very close and with significant consequences.

Fox News

Mark Zaid, one of the attorneys representing the intelligence community whistleblower at the center of the Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry, tweeted conspicuously in January 2017 that a "coup has started" and that "impeachment will follow ultimately."

Then, in July 2017, Zaid remarked, "I predict @CNN will play a key role in @realDonaldTrump not finishing out his full term as president." Also that month, Zaid tweeted, "We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters."

RealClear Politics

Dershowitz said the effort to get Trump on any crime reminded him of Stalin's secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria who famously said: "Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime."

"Whether you’re from New York or the middle of the country, you should be frightened by efforts to try to create crimes out of nothing," Dershowitz said. "The latest twist was people on television, particularly CNN and MSNBC, are saying that if the president or somebody else were to name the whistleblower in the Ukrainian situation that person would be guilty of a crime."


"Well, I spent the afternoon yesterday searching the federal criminal statutes from beginning to end. I couldn’t find the crime."

“First they made up collusion… I searched the statute books. There’s no crime of collusion… with a foreign country. After that, they said obstruction of Congress,” Dershowitz said. "In a desperate effort to try to find crimes [committed by] President Trump, they’re just making it up. And that means we are all in danger."

James H. Rutherford, M.D.

How do artificial intelligence, the American power grid, capital punishment, tariffs against autocracies, the theat of nuclear war, and medical ethics inter-relate.


   Artificial intelligence can be a great step forward, but it can also be used for nefarious purposes and complex computer systems can be vulnerable to attack.  

   The use of facial recognition and all of the tracking done through cell phones, social media, and financial transactions is being used in China to create a “personal social credit score.” The Chinese government can control where you live,work, and travel, where your children go to school, and limit your freedom of expression and religion. 

   The use of coercive power has led to the development of nuclear weapons and a foreign policy of mutual assured destruction.  A combination of brinkmanship and computer controlled response times for nuclear weapons measured in minutes now threatens not only self-destruction, but also the destruction of most of the foundations of life on earth. 

   An electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP) via a high altitude nuclear detonation or a cyberattack could destroy the Amercan electrical power grid. The loss of power, communication, and transportation would lead to total chaos and threaten survival.

   Most autocratic government use capital punishment or the threat of capital punishment to maintain control. This is the company that we keep with our continued use of the death sentence. 

   China, Russia, Iran, and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela have nothing in common except their common goal to overthrow the Western liberal tradition and make the world safe for autocracies.  The tariffs are thus about much more than the economy. 

   Max Weber described government as having a monopoly on coercive force. That coercive power can be used to suppress individual freedoms. Terror tactics, with the use the asymmetrical power of torture, killing, and destruction, can also be used also by anacrhists and non-governmental groups for political purposes.

   We now live in a pluralistic global community with access to weapons of mass destruction. There is a need to pay attention to diversity, but because we are very tribal there is also a need to recognize what we share in common.  Medical ethics are based on a respect for life, understood as a respect for our individual personal dignity and our common humanity. Medical ethics also understand human nature to be multidimensional which leads toward what has been described as a balance of consciousness, a reflective equilibrium, or a parliament of the mind. Medical ethics in this context provide some coherence to moral and political philosophy.  They are one source of an applied moral philosophy that can provide cross-cultural understanding and enable ethical dialogue. In a political context, medical ethics at least have the capacity for accommodation in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation.  
   
Forbes

BMC

Fast Company

Amnesty International

The Far Center

The Far Center

Paper given at the World Congress of Philosophy in Beijing

James Rutherford, MD

Monday, October 21, 2019

Buyer Beware on China

Newt’s World Podcast -- Episode 38

American investors are being conned into investing in Chinese companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges that have misrepresented their values and over-inflated the stock price. 


Why Are American Investors Funding Chinese Fraud?

COMMENTARY -- By Christopher A. Iacovella
...diligence in China is impossible because the Communist Party won’t allow it. This roadblock should have immediately stopped the sale of these securities to America’s retail investors. But, in true Wall Street fashion, it didn’t because the ETF issuers desperately want access to the Chinese market and the index providers bowed to a regime that pressured them to increase China’s access to global capital. As a result, neither the index providers nor the ETF issuers know whether the Chinese companies in the indexes they sold are Enron-like frauds, arms of the Chinese military, or supporting human rights abuses

China has Printed more Money then any Country in History

TheSoundingline -- Kyle Bass
“The Chinese print more money than any other country has printed, in gross terms, in world history… Since 2001, they’ve printed roughly $30 trillion worth of RMB (Chinese Yuan). Think about that for a second. The debate here in the US, about the Fed, is: ‘Is the Fed balance sheet too big? Is it too large? It got to $4.5 trillion. Should it be $3.5 trillion?’ China has printed $30 trillion worth of RMB in a decade (18 years). The scale to which they have printed is… unprecedented. Can the Chinese run their stock market up? Absolutely. They control the price. They control the printing press. They control the police and they control the narrative. ...As we noted here, China has created over three times as much money supply as the US since 2008.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Global Education -- An Issue of Our Times

Learning English is the gateway to all of the free world-class educational materials on the internet. www.Top20English.com is a curated (hand-selected) directory for the best free videos and websites for learning English as a second language (ESL). There is also a program for learning one’s first 200 words of English using Google Translate in 103 different languages. There are separate directories for phonics, vocabulary, grammar, listening, conversation, free online courses, and testing options. Top20English on Facebook now has over 500,000 followers.
www.top20education.com has hand-selected and aggregated the best free videos and websites for over 50 high school and college topics. The materials for the for the first two years of medical school are free online at www.top20medicalschool.com. These are great free resources for both teachers and students.




Thursday, August 29, 2019

The tariffs are about more than the economy

The post WWII world order is now being challenged by the autocracies of China, Russia, and Iran and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. What is telling is that China, Russia, and Iran have significant historical and Ideological conflicts, but these are superseded by their common bond of autocratic control of power. Their common desire is to replace the Western liberal tradition based on individual freedom and equality with a new type of world order that makes the world safe for autocracies and to create a new global balance of power.

China does not seek a direct military conflict with the United States, but seeks to use its technological advances to achieve a global economic hegemony. A control of infrastructure in communication, transportation. artificial intelligence, aerospace, biomedicine, renewable energy, and advanced weapons systems as well as a global leadership in manufacturing and trade all could be used to achieve a predominant military position as well. Iran and Russia also have the energy and military resources with which to make other countries dependent. Their common tactics also show a disregard for ethical constraints. This is demonstrated by their support of North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and terrorist groups as well as their own abuse of human rights and the persecution and extermination of opposition.

China -- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Monday, August 19, 2019

Public Opinion is needed to support democratic change and the New York Times has its own agenda.

The New York Times spent two and a half years /trying to convince the nation that Donald Trump had colluded with Russia and accused him of being a puppet of Putin and guilty of treason.  The Mueller report debunked this partisan political narrative meant to overturn the election of 2016. They have instead now chosen to focus on calling President Trump a racist and focussing on the racial history of the country. 
The left will continue to focus on diversity rather than what we all share in common. Their perception is that this will be a winning strategy for the 2020 elections, which only time will tell. 

The Washington Examiner --  Bryon York
“So the New York Times has two big plans. One would be big enough: to focus on the universe of racism accusations that increasingly surround the president at a time when he just happens to be running for reelection. But the other is even bigger: to "reframe" American history in accordance with the values of New York Times editors. It's an extraordinarily ambitious undertaking for people in what used to be known more simply as the news business.”

AMgreatness.com -- Victor David Hansen
One of the weirdest characteristics of our global politicians and moral censors is their preference to voice cosmic justice rather than to address less abstract sin within their own purview or authority. These progressive virtue mongers see themselves as citizens of the world rather than of the United States and thus can impotently theorize about problems elsewhere when they cannot solve those in their own midst.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Biology Will Become the Primary Paradigm in this Century


Biology rather than physics will become the primary paradigm or model of thought
in this century.  This is in part due to the genome project and the influence that it will have on scientific research.  It will also, however, be a result of a much broader understanding of co-evolution and our interaction with the world in which  we live.

It will be driven by our need to incorporate human values and also our need to live in a pluralistic global community.  Biology will not become the new paradigm, however, until it develops a methodology and multidimensional understanding of human nature that is  broad enough  to include not only the life sciences, but also the other basic sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Epistemology is the study of ways of knowing and biology is an epistemological process.  Unlike physics and chemistry, biology also relates to information, which in human biology is both genetic and cultural.  In evolutionary biology and in culture the transmission of information is also historical.  Life means the presence of intrinsic and functional values.  Biological diversity and complexity are based on information about how to compose, maintain, reproduce, and transmit life processes.  This is the type of self-affirming information that is lost in the reduction of biology to physics and chemistry.
“By natural selection we are not indifferent to our fate.”

There are emergent properties, synergies, and functional and cultural values that are lost in the translation to the basic elements.  By natural selection we are not indifferent to our fate. We are also, to some degree, capable of modifying our environment and transcending nature with our human individual and cultural values. It has been noted that life is a countercurrent to entropy and culture may be a countercurrent to natural selection.  

Ecology is the interaction between an organism and its environment.  Adaption is an ecological word. One could surmise an entanglement of a factual realism based on literal correspondence and a practical and sometimes metaphysical realism that incorporates our desire for both survival and well-being.  In moral terms these would include both a Socratic quest and a humanistic commitment.  The Socratic quest, however, can result in an unproductive and pedantic skepticism without a humanistic commitment.  A humanistic commitment, whether secular or religious, on the other hand, also needs to some degree to be open-ended and questioning to avoid what Eric Hoffer, after World War ll and in response to fanaticism of all kinds, described as the “true believer.”

What Medical Ethics Has to Offer Philosophy and a Pluralistic Global Community

Abstract 

Medical ethics are one applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis that brings some coherence to philosophy and the moral perspectives and categories. Historically medical ethics have been able to incorporate facts and values, nature and nurture, and faith and reason. They are a resource that can provide cross-cultural understanding and enable ethical dialogue. In the political context, medical ethics can provide a well-balanced source of affirmation, moderation, and accommodation in a pluralistic world. Medical ethics have a lot to offer at this particular time in history, in part, because they bring some coherence to philosophy and they have the capacity to accommodate pluralism in a global community without coercion or alienation. 



Power politics reaches an absurdity when there is a foreign policy of mutual assured destruction in which that power cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of the foundations of much of life on earth. There is thus also a need for moral concepts of universal equality understood as a respect for individual personal dignity and our common humanity. It is the moral concept of universal equality that makes the accommodation of diversity and a wide variety of attributes possible. 

Medical Ethics 

As a physician I consider a respect for human life, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity, to be the primary moral principle of the medical profession. The Declaration of Geneva of the World Medical Association includes this principle of a respect for human life. A respect for human life is a moral assertion and at its foundation it is a self-affirmation and an affirmation of our common humanity. 

Modern medicine, however, also considers human nature to be multidimensional. The four general principles of medical ethics are:

Beneficence - (the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you or a concept of reciprocity)

Nonmaleficence - (the Silver Rule or don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you. This is based on the concept of reversibility and the adage of “do no harm.”)

Justice - (social justice)

Autonomy - (individual rights) 

These four principles recognize the individual, social, rational, and metaphysical / integrative dimensions of human nature. This is also an applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis that brings some coherence to moral and political philosophy. In this framework of analysis one looks at the individual as well as the social perspectives which are sometimes in tension. One also looks at the rational consequences of an action, but also at one’s duties and what are perceived to be the right principles for one’s actions, and these are also sometimes is tension. Indeed, most of the difficult or quandary questions in moral philosophy are not about good versus evil, but about choosing between two different perspectives of the good or between the lesser of two evils. This is a very useful four-part framework of analysis and not meant to come to a particular conclusion. Often the very difficult issues are settled by some agreed upon process that is felt to be at least fair and does justice to the ends, such as a vote by the people or a vote by a Supreme Court. 

Medicine from the beginning has also involved both a science and an ethic, both facts and values. Medicine considers both nature and nurture and it is descriptive, but also prescriptive. 

The Historic Origins of the Concept of Universal Equality 

This four-part framework of analysis, based on the multidimensional aspects of human nature, can also be applied to the several origins of the concept of equality in Western Civilization and their incorporation into United States Constitutional Democracy. 

The United States Declaration of Independence is written in the manner of Euclidean geometry. Its first moral assertion was that “all men are created equal,” and this put everything that followed, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a moral context. We have struggled to live up to that ideal, but Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and the great reformers, such as the women suffragettes and Martin Luther King, Jr., all considered the primary moral concept of United States Constitutional Democracy to be equality. 

There were several origins of the concept of universal equality in Western Civilization. Canon Law, Roman Law, English common law, and the social contract theory associated with constitutional law each had a different source of moral authority. Each was based on a different type of ethical system and each focused on a different aspect of human nature. 

Canon Law, for example, was based on the authority of God and was related primarily to what it understood to be the soul of man. It is based on a duty to “love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Lev 19:18, Deut 6:5, Lk 10:27, Mk 12:29) The equal dignity and worth of all persons in this religious system derives from a belief that God not only created humanity, but that man and woman were also made in God’s image. It is based on a reverence for God and reciprocity towards one’s fellow man. Equality is intrinsic and not derived from one’s individual attributes, but from the relationship between God and humanity. 

Roman Law, on the other hand, incorporated significant aspects of natural law. This was a perceived natural moral order in the universe which could be understood by all persons because it was believed that all persons share a capacity for right reason, the ability to know right from wrong. It was also based on a concept of reversibility which requires reason, imagination and empathy. 

English common law in feudal society derived its moral authority from yet another source -- not from God or nature, but from social custom and tradition. It was based on the traditional rights and responsibilities in society. Traditional English rights progressively became a basis for communal solidarity. 

Finally, the social contract theory associated with constitutional law derives its moral authority beginning with the individual in a state of nature concerned primarily about his own safety and happiness. Its very premise is that not only are all free and equal in a state of nature, but that everyone is also endowed with natural rights which they are entitled to defend. It is based on what we now describe as human rights and a just claim to resist the violation of those rights. 

United States Constitutional Democracy incorporates and balances each of these four ethical systems as they apply to the several aspects of universal equality and the coercive powers of government. It incorporates each of these concepts of equality with a division and balancing of power into legislative, judicial, and executive branches. Religion and the freedom of speech and opinion are then separated from the coercive powers of government. 

Why Now? The “Nuclear Trap” 

The political tragedies of the 20th Century bore witness to the need for a respect for human dignity and our common humanity. In 1948, the United Nations, for example, thus passed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Preamble begins, “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” 

Since World War II, however, there has also been a concern that our technical progress has far exceeded our biological adaptive mechanisms and cultural moral structures. In evolutionary theory this is referred to as the “nuclear trap,” We already have nuclear defense policies of mutual assured destruction with response times measured in minutes. There is a need for a balance of power, but power politics also reaches an absurdity when that power cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of the foundations of much of life on earth. Among the problems that threaten the the future of all peoples are those of nuclear or biological warfare, and the level of totalitarianism and terrorism which technology has made possible. It is difficult to imagine an adequate resolution of global problems without a concept of universal equality and a respect for human life and our common humanity. The advantages of cooperation are enormous; cooperation requires community; and to live in a community requires some moral constraint. We now live in a pluralistic global community. There is a need for moral constraint to build a more stable world order. 

Discord and alienation often result when one of our levels of understanding is emphasized to the exclusion of the others or when as a society we develop ideologies that relate to one of our concepts of metaphysics, nature, society, or the individual, but to the exclusion of the others. Singular theories that have based order and moral authority on only individual materials needs, society, reason, or a metaphysical/religious concept have often led to individual and communal tragedy. By focusing on even perhaps a particular truth, in a quest for certainty, they have too easily justified the use of coercive force or been the cause of alienation. The quest for certainty often seeks truth in only one parameter and then the end is often used to justify the means. 

Ideas and moral values are important, for our survival, well-being, and the enjoyment of individual freedom are not inevitable. They are contingent, to a large degree, on our willingness and ability as moral agents to place our free will within ethical constraints. It is indeed the self-imposed ethical and moral foundations of government that change mere obedience to coercive powers of government into a sense of consensual responsibility for a moral duty, a just order, the common good, and human rights. The coercive powers of government are also less needed when those moral values and ethical constraints are incorporated into the culture and the intermediary institutions, such as voluntary associations, education, law, medicine, economics, science, religion, and philosophy. 

From the perspective of medical ethics, a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity is the underlying foundation of the four principles of autonomy, justice, non-maleficence, and beneficence. This is one applied example of a very useful four-part framework of analysis This multidimensional understanding of human nature brings some coherence to moral and political philosophy.

Medical ethics are also one source of an applied moral philosophy that can enable cross-cultural understanding and ethical dialogue. Medical ethics have a lot to offer moral and political philosophy at this particular time in history because they have at least the capacity to provide a well-balanced source of affirmation, moderation, and accommodation in a pluralist global community without coercion or alienation.

American Exceptionalism

Most nations have been historically based on a common ethnicity, language, religion, or history. The recent Constitution of the Maldives, for example, grants citizenship only to Muslims. In contrast to this, Seymour Martin Lipset, in the summary chapter of his book American Exceptionalism (1996), quoted from my own work, Moral and Political Philosophy, noting that in the United States: “The free and equal individual with moral responsibility is the basis of communal solidarity.”

In April, 2009, Barack Obama missed the historical point of American Exceptionalism when he stated:
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln, and the great reformers such as the women suffragettes and the Rev, Martin Luther King, Jr. all considered equality to be the primary moral concept of our government. Our democracy incorporates a quantitative concept of equality with ‘“one person — one vote.” It is the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, however, that incorporates qualitative and substantive concepts of freedom and equality that protect the individual from the possible abuses of majority rule. Even the Constitution, however, can be amended by a super-majority of two-thirds of the Congress and three-fourths of the states. Concerning this ability of a super-majority to change the Constitution and the the Bill of Rights, James Madison thus wrote that he hoped the Bill of Rights “might acquire by degree the character of fundamental maxims of free government, and as they become incorporated into the national sentiment, counteract the impulses of interest and passion.”

It would help us to both understand and convey our values if our government officials, the media, and academics began to refer to our moral concepts as including both equality and freedom, our government as a constitutional democracy, and American exceptionalism as being based at least historically on the free and equal individual with moral responsibility as the basis of our communal solidarity. This was unique or "exceptional" at the time of our founding.

James H. Rutherford, M.D.
moralfoundations.com

A Historical Survey of Four Different Aspects of Universal Equality

Universal equality has several different aspects. It can be arrived at as an ethical concept, an affirmation of our humanity and a moral vision of the world in which we live, from several different directions. This is because there are several different aspects of human nature and several different perspectives of the world in which we live. It is the several aspects of universal equality, however, that make it an accommodating or unifying moral foundation of government in a pluralist society.

Before developing an analytical framework for moral and political philosophy, it will be helpful, as a point of reference, to look at four different aspects of universal equality in the historical context of four different ethical and legal systems. Within Western civilization there developed several sources of moral authority for law and several corresponding ethical and legal systems. Canon Law, Roman Law, English common law, and the social contract theory associated with constitutional law each had a different primary source of moral authority. Each of these systems of law was, consequently, based on a different type of ethical system, and each focused primarily on a different facet of human nature. Constitutional democracy integrates aspects of these four ethical and legal systems as they relate to universal equality and the coercive powers of government.

“It is the several aspects of universal equality that make it an accommodating or unifying moral foundation of government in a pluralist society. ”

Judeo - Christian and Canon Law, for example, was based on the authority of God and related primarily to what it understood to be the soul of man. Its ethic is deontological, deon meaning “duty” in Greek. That is, it is based on a universal duty “to love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev 19:18, Deut 6:5, Lk 10:27, Mk 12:29–31). Canon Law contains universal ethical principles based on a reverence for God and reciprocity towards one’s fellow man. The equal dignity and worth of all persons in this religious system derives from a belief that God not only created humanity, but that man and woman were also made in God’s image (Gen 1:27). Equality is intrinsic and not derived from one’s individual attributes, but from the relationship between God and humanity.

Roman Law, on the other hand, incorporated significant aspects of natural law based on the authority of a perceived natural moral order in the universe. Such a natural moral order could be understood by all persons, it was believed, because all humans share a capacity for right reason, an ability to know right from wrong. All of the various people within the vast Roman empire, for example, could be expected to learn and know that is wrong to steal. The ethical system of natural law is primarily normative (based on norms or ideals). Universal equality in classical civilization is based on all human beings having a capacity for right reason and also on a concept of reversibility which requires a rational imagination and empathy.

Aristotle, in his Poetics, described reversibility as one of two major elements in Greek tragedies. The second element is catharsis, part of which is a realization that we all, even heroes and kings, have character flaws and are also subject to fate, both of which can lead to a reversal of fortunes. An ethic based on reversibility is not just classical.. In the first century, Rabbi Hillel taught, “What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. This is the whole Law, the rest is commentary” (Shab. 31a). It is also the basis, however, of the Kantian categorical imperative that one cannot place oneself outside of morality without implicity permitting others to do the same. Reversibility was also a primary moral reason in the thought of both Jefferson and Lincoln in their opposition to slavery (Basler 1953, vol. II, 532; Jefferson [1785] 1972, 163). The more recent concept of John Rawls in A Theory of Justice (1971) of justice as fairness, with an original position in which one does not know either his or her fate or circumstances in life’s game, is an extension of the concept of reversibility.

Common law in English feudal society derived its moral authority from yet another source—not from God or nature, but from social custom and tradition. This was primarily a communitarian ethical system. It related to the social conscience of the people based on their ethical concepts of rights and responsibilities in society. Traditional English rights pro- gressively became a basis of communal solidarity.

Finally, the social contract theory associated with constitutional law derives its moral authority beginning with the individual in a state of nature concerned primarily about his own safety and happiness. Its very premise is not only that all are free and equal in a state of nature but that everyone is also endowed with natural rights which they are entitled to defend. Such a theory is based on individual concerns and contract. The universality of social contract theory as it applies to democratic processes and constitutional law, however, makes it essentially a humanitarian ethic. It contains an ethic of universal equality based on what we now refer to as human rights and a just claim to resist the violation of those rights.

American constitutional democracy integrates and balances these four ethical systems as they apply to the several aspects of universal equality and the coercive powers of government. The accommodating common moral concept is not just a deontological ethic, with concepts of reverence and reciprocity, relating to God and a person’s soul; nor is it just a normative ethic based on concepts of right reason and reversibility, relating to a perceived moral order in nature and our capacity to understand that order with our reason; nor is it just a communitarian ethic, with concepts of social rights and responsibilities, as they relate to the several aspects of society and our social conscience; nor is it only a humanitarian ethic, with a concept of human rights and the right to resist tyranny, relating to our individual lives and our fundamental needs and desires. The accommodating or unifying moral concept is universal equality which can be derived analytically, and has been derived historically, from each of these sources of authority and aspects of human nature.
























Open Access also at moralfoundations.com

Why Ideas and Values are Important Now

“The adaptations needed for living in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation or self-destruction will have to be cultural.”


We now live in a pluralistic global community that has access to or potential access to weapons of mass destruction. Ever since WW II there has been a concern that our technological advances may exceed the ability of our adaptive biological and cultural moral capacities to control that technology. In evolutionary theory, this possibility of humanity’s self destruction is called the “nuclear trap.” For more than 30 years the United States and the Soviet Union had military defense policies based on the threat of mutual assured destruction. Response times to a nuclear threat are measured in minutes. Coercive power thus reaches a level of absurdity in which it cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of most of the foundations of life on earth. Today we are faced with more than the traditional conflicting super powers and ideologies. We also have a megalomaniac tyrant in North Korea who threatens the use of nuclear weapons, a sectarian Iranian government with an apocalyptic eschatology that both supports terrorism and is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and cults of radical Islamic terrorists who have the objective of destroying Western civilization. Probably the greatest issue of our times is the need to create a more stable world order.


"All men are created equal"
The adaptations needed for living in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation or self-destruction will have to be cultural. We have the historical cultural resources which transcend a narrow tribalism to include also universal values and affirm a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. Yet in the current context of such atrocities as beheadings, burning or drowning of men in cages, the abduction of young girls into sexual slavery, ethnic cleansing, the genocide of minority groups in the Middle East, and a resurgence of autocratic governments, we are failing to adequately defend and promote those values in what is very much a battle of ideas. There are several cultural trends which have contributed to this failure:
  1. Legal Positivism. Legal positivism, for example, has been the prevailing legal philosophy in our law schools for several decades. It is the position of legal positivism that there are no universal laws or for that matter any universal morality. Legal positivism contends that from a historical and global perspective, laws and morality are only relative. There are no universal values such as human rights. Legal positivism is thus disarmed in the current battle of ideas. If everything is relative, then there is no foundation for criticizing or opposing the atrocities of the 20th Century or today. Most of our leaders have been trained in law school. Legal positivism, however, is only descriptive and not prescriptive. I am a physician and from a physician’s perspective, medical ethics are based on a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. If there is to be generational survival and well-being, then there is the need for moral constraint. In this context the natural law perspectives in political philosophy and jurisprudence, whether they be secular as in Roman Law which was based on reason, or religious as in Judeo-Christian history, can be seen as an adaptation to reality. There is huge advantage to cooperation. It is what has made humanity successful. Cooperation requires community. To live in a community requires some moral constraint.
  2. Capital Punishment. It is harder for the United States to be a leader in creating a more stable and less violent world order when we still choose to continue capital punishment executions and there is a viable option of a life sentence without parole.
  3. Abolishing the death penalty would be a step forward in helping us to both understand and to convey that equality, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity, is the primary moral concept of United States constitutional democracy.
  4. An academic culture of “blame America first” This is a residual from the 60’s and the protests against the Vietnam War which has persisted as a matter of affirmation in our universities. As just one example, I have given papers at many international conferences and I am embarrassed to say that the most anti-American presentations are given by American professors.
  5. An emphasis on diversity rather than what we share in common. Our common values have been undermined in part by a postmodern individualism in which, in the words of Woody Allen, “the artist creates his own moral universe.” What we share in common has also, however, been obscured by an emphasis on a politics of group identity and diversity. It also could have been pointed out in the discussions about American exceptionalism that from a historical point of view America was exceptional in that the free and equal individual became the basis of our communal solidarity rather than any particular type of nationalism based on ethnicity, language, or religion.
  6. An Orwellian political parsing and spin on language. As George Orwell observed, totalitarian regimes often distort and invert the truth by corrupting the meaning of words and language. For example, totalitarian communist regimes have, at least in theory, advocated equality as the common ownership of the means of production, but have actually denied political equality as well as the moral agency of other people. In academics there has also been a trend of deconstructing language such that one can say that an explanation depends upon “What the meaning of is, is.” President Obama couldn’t bring himself to even use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” even when ISIL describes itself as a fundamentalist Islamic group that uses terror. A major conflict in international affairs, however, has been between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims, with the radical Muslims being defined as those who are willing to commit atrocities based on religion, including the killing of moderate Muslims, as a means to their ends. The American public is capable of making this distinction and not to make this distinction in realistic terms attempts to ignore the problem of a radical Islamic ideology.
  7. Equality as the primary moral concept. There is a lack of understanding and thus difficulty in conveying that the primary moral concept of our government is equality, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. The origins of the several moral concepts of equality in the Western legal tradition are also not appreciated.

The Importance of Ideas and Values in Foreign Policy

At the time of a clash of civilizations it is not unusual for both sides to re-examine, define, and even sometimes codify their basic values and cultural institutions in order to both preserve and convey their basic values and traditions. At the time of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, the United States did this poorly. We have made a similar mistake in our war against terrorism, which is very much a battle of ideas and ideologies and will have to be understood as such for any chance of a long-term resolution and reconciliation. The values of freedom, equality and human rights in the Western liberal tradition are now also being challenged by the autocratic regimes of China, Russia, and Iran and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. Our response of economic and military nationalism may be necessary and pragmatic, but we should also do more to describe, defend, and convey our values.

We have thus been missing a defining opportunities in the history of the moral and political philosophy of the liberal tradition; first, by not defining our primary moral value as equality, understood as a respect for the dignity and worth of our common humanity; and second, by not defining our government as a constitutional democracy, which is the only way to convey both the substantive and the procedural concepts of equality that it incorporates.

First, at the time of the fall of communism, the media, the academics, and our government almost universally described the United States as a capitalist democracy. This was in part because we allowed the Soviet Union to describe their communism to be primarily an economic system rather than a totalitarian political system, which denied any concept of moral or political equality. The primary alternative to communism should have been constitutional democracy. It is the constitutional aspects of our government, such as the Bill of Rights, that incorporate our substantive concepts of equality. These constitutional principles are placed beyond the usual majority rule of the legislative process. It is the democratic aspects of our government that incorporate the procedural aspects of equality, such as “one person, one vote.”


Bill of Rights

Second, after the events of September 11, 2001, there was seldom a mention of our primary moral concept of equality. The terrorist attack of 9/ ll was an attack on both our freedom and security and it is perhaps understandable that our values have thus been described primarily in those terms. In the Declaration of Independence, however, the first premise was that “all men are created equal” and that put everything that followed, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in a moral context. Even the great reformers, such as the women suffragettes and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not repudiate these principles, but urged us to live up to them and place them into practice.

Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, was asked how the United States was faring against the extremist ideology in the global “battle of ideas.” He said, “If I were grading, I would say that we probably deserve a D+ as a country.” We are indeed in a “battle of ideas”, in part, with a radical version of Islam. Islam, the religion of 1.2 billion people, is based on a submission to the will of God. Much of the liberty that we convey, on the other hand, is seen by others as the self-indulgence of our culture. We also unnecessarily lost much of the moral high ground with our initial waffling on the issues of torture and human rights.

During the current war on terrorism it may be appropriate that we emphasize freedom. To achieve our objectives we will also need the cooperation of many countries that are not constitutional democracies. To win the peace, however, we will need to understand and convey that our primary moral value is universal equality, understood as a respect for an inherent personal dignity and our common humanity.

Third, there is now a de facto collaboration of autocratic regimes to replace the current world order based on the Western liberal tradition. The Preamble to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights begins by stating “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” The Ideas and values of the Western liberal tradition should thus play an important role in foreign policy. This is important, for It is the recognition of personal dignity and our common humanity in a pluralistic world that makes the accommodation of a wide variety of attributes, cultural differences, desires, and beliefs possible without the use of coercion or being the cause of alienation.

James H. Rutherford, M.D.

Author of Moral and Political Philosophy

Monday, June 24, 2019

Jefferson and Lincoln on Equality and Slavery as the Tragic Flaw of our Founding

Though one can easily find fault with Jefferson and some of his writings, it is very important to understand that for him the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” was a universal moral assertion. Jefferson felt that nature was the work of a God who was “Nature’s God,” the Architect, the Creator, the First Cause. Human beings were in this sense created equal. They are also equal he felt in that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” which include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Indeed, it was to secure these rights associated with the moral assertion of universal equality that “Governments are instituted amongst men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Declaration of Independence is argued in the manner of Euclidean geometry. It is also significant to note in this context that, unlike Locke, Jefferson did not include the right to property (which at the time would have included slaves) in his first principles or axioms.

More specifically, Jefferson felt that we all share equally a common humanity in that we have a capacity for, and possess, a moral sense (Padover 1943, 1032–34). In a letter to his young friend Peter Carr, Jefferson wrote:
He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are a thousand who are not. What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true foundation of morality.... The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or his arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree.... It may be strengthened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is submitted, indeed in some degree, to the guidance of reason; butit is a small stock which is required for this; even a less one that what we call Common sense. State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules. (Peterson 1977, 424)
Jefferson’s respect for the moral agency of others was indeed an affirmation of his own humanity, a self-affirmation. Concerning women he wrote, “It is civilization alone which replaces women in the enjoyment of their natural equity. That first teaches us to subdue the selfish passions, and to respect those rights in others that we respect in ourselves” (Jefferson [1785] 1972, 60). Jefferson was opposed to religious, political, and social tyranny; thus, equality for him was also a matter of self-assertion. His method of dealing with the will to power of human beings was to invert it to a will to resist the despotism and tyranny of others. In a letter to the physician Benjamin Rush he wrote, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of men” (Bartlett 1968, 472).



Thomas Jefferson
A universal moral sense or conscience was for Jefferson a basis of our common humanity and natural equality. It was what made persons capable of determining their own form of government by consent. This equality was for Jefferson universal and, yes, it included women, American Indians (Jefferson [1785] 1972, 227), and blacks (Jefferson [1785] 1972, 142). It was a matter of both self-affirmation and self-assertion, and this can help us understand his great concern for religious freedom, public education, and the injustice of slavery.

Slavery was the tragic flaw in the founding of American government. Jefferson was a slaveholder and this cannot be dismissed as only a concession to the society in which he lived. It was in his own self-interest and it allowed him to live an aristocratic lifestyle. He thus contributed to this tragedy. Yet, he understood the moral bankruptcy of slavery, its moral incompatibility with democratic government, and the need for its eventual abolition.

Jefferson felt that slavery could not be immediately abolished without the threat of great violence because of past injustices to blacks and the deeply held prejudices of whites. He had unsuccessfully recommended laws which would have achieved gradual but total emancipation, colonization of gradually emancipated slaves, and exclusion of slavery from all Western Territories (see also Jefferson [1785] 1972, 214). His diatribe against the king for allowing slavery to become established in the colonies was omitted from the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. At the time of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, he described the threat of the slavery issue to the Union as a “firebell in the night,” and he wrote, “we have a wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in the one scale, and self-preservation in the other” (Peterson 1977, 568). More than thirty years earlier he had written, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever...” (Jefferson [1785] 1972, 163).

Jefferson’s proposal to abolish slavery after 1800 in all territories and future territories was defeated in committee by one vote. Concerning this he later commented: “Thus we see the fate of millions of unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment” (Kenyon 1980). Jefferson understood the moral dimensions of freedom and he put them forth in stating the ideals of a new nation. In practice, the Civil War with the loss of over 600,000 lives and several constitutional amendments were necessary to both preserve the Union and make universal equality as a principle and as the basis of the democratic process something toward a reality.



Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln never wavered in his assertion that slavery was morally wrong and he opposed its extension into the territories. He also opposed resolving the issue of slavery in the territories, as Senator Douglas had proposed, by making it a matter of local popular sovereignty. Yet, he initially fought,and probably could not have otherwise won, the Civil War on the issue of national sovereignty and preservation of the Union. To preserve the Union, Lincoln needed both public opinion and the slaveholding border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. Lincoln tried to uphold both the ideal in the Declaration of Independence of “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” and the rule of law in the Constitution of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”Lincoln realized, however, that public opinion was needed to bring the ideals of universal equality into practice in a democratic republic.

Complete Essay with references from my book, Moral and Political Philosophy.

James Ruthereford, M.D.

Equality as the Primary Moral Concept of American Government

In 1856, before his presidency or the beginning of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said:

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, or [on?] any subject, always has a “central idea,” from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That “central idea” in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be, “the equality of men.” (Basler 1953, vol. II, 385; see also Jaffa 1982, chap. XIV).

Many would consider liberty, or freedom, to be the fundamental moral concept on which our government was founded. Freedom, however, has little meaning outside of one’s moral concept of justice.


“It is indeed the self-imposed ethical or moral foundations of government that change mere obedience to the coercive powers of government into a sense of consensual responsibility for a moral duty, a just order, the common good, or human rights. ”

Freedom can mean, simply license, the absence of any social obligation or moral constraint. Being a free moral agent does not necessarily mean that one will choose to be moral. Freedom does not address the need to maintain order, establish justice, or provide for the general welfare. Nor does freedom provide much protection from the coercive powers of government unless it means “liberty for all” (Basler 1953, vol. IV, 168–69). Indeed, what we often desire is freedom from the arbitrary will of others.

When Jefferson put forth the ideals of our country in the Declaration of Independence, his first assertion, his primary self-evident truth, was that “all men are created equal.” The unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were thus put within an ethical context of equality and reciprocity. Jefferson and Lincoln both understood universal equality to be the primary moral concept of American constitutional democracy.

Others have also understood universal equality to be the primary moral concept. Marvin Meyers in his book on James Madison, The Mind of the Founder, concluded that, “in Madison’s view of man,” equality was the fundamental term (1981, xxii). Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America (1835–1840), “advanced the influential thesis that equality is the fundamental theme and characteristic of American civilization” (Davis 1990, 11).

Alexis de Tocqueville


Tocqueville noted that even tyrants value freedom, but only for themselves. He also understood that equality is not an extrinsic leveling term but conveys an inherent mutual respect which also implies an equality of political freedom. David Brion Davis, a prominent historian of the institution of slavery, has even concluded that the real anthesis of slavery is not freedom but equality (Davis 1990, 29). Even the great reformers, such as the women suffragettes and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not repudiate these principles, but urged us to live up to them and place them into practice.

G. K. Chesteron wrote, however, that the belief in human equality is not “some crude fairy tale about all men being equally tall or equally tricky” (see McWilliams 1979,184). It is not like a Procrustean bed of Greek mythology into which all persons are forced to fit by stretching them on a rack or cutting off their legs. For Jefferson, universal equality was instead a moral assertion—an assertion that affirmed both his own humanity and his own individuality against tyranny. Using fable and analogy, in the manner of George Orwell, one could say that if you are a mallard and don’t like ducks or duckhood, then there is going to be an inherent problem with your own self-affirmation by definition. This is one sense in which Jefferson’s assertion that “all men are created equal” could be considered a self-evident truth. It is an affirmation of our own humanity. It is this recognition of his own humanity, however, that allowed Jefferson to also assert his own individuality, not by a “will to power” or coercion, but by inverting that to a resistance to the tyranny of others. By recognizing the moral agency of others, as well as asserting our own mature responsible personality, there opens up the possibility of deciding political issues by the deliberation of democratic constitutional and legislative processes, rather than by simple coercion, domination, or privilege.

The future of American government still rests on public opinion. It rests on our understanding and support for the moral foundations of constitutional democracy and our ability to communicate and preserve such an understand effectively. This is important, for the enjoyment of individual freedom and the progress of human liberty are not inevitable. They are contingent, to a large degree, on our willingness and ability as moral agents to place our free will within ethical constraints. It is indeed the self-imposed ethical or moral foundations of government that change mere obedience to the coercive powers of government into a sense of consensual responsibility for a moral duty, a just order, the common good, or human rights. In United States constitutional democracy these ethical concepts all relate historically to the “central idea” of universal equality.

Complete Essay with references from my book, Moral and Political Philosophy.
James Rutherford, M.D,

The Rallies by the Chinese Residents of Hong Kong Have Given World a Warning.

The goal of President Xi Jinping is not only to make China great again through economic development and a Han Chinese nationalism.  President Xi’s goal is not only to create a Chinese global hegemony based on technology along with economic and military power. The goal of President Xi is also to establish absolute control by the Communist party in China and to replace the current world order based on the Western liberal tradition with a new world order which is safe for autocracies.

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997 with an arrangement of “one country, two systems.”  A Basic Law allowed Hong Kong to keep its judicial independence and its own legislature. It also retained its own economic system and the Hong Kong dollar.  Certain human rights, including including freedom of speech and assembly, were protected.

Beijing has now, however, been slowly gaining political control by controlling the nominations process and the election committee for Hong Kong’s chief executive.  The recently proposed extradition law is directed toward criminals that have sought refuge in Hong Kong. There is a concern, however, that it will also exposes anyone in Hong Kong to China’s flawed and political justice system.  It would open the door to Beijing snapping up democracy advocates, dissidents and other critics. The bill would also allow mainland-initiated asset freezes and this has been a concern for Hong Kong’s powerful business community.  

There is also an awareness of Beijing’s hostility to democratic values as described in Docunent 9 from 2013.  This described seven areas which should not be discussed and these include Western constitutional government, universal values, civil society, individual rights, freedom of the press, historical nihilism (discussion of the severe Maoist period), and economic liberalism.  The massives rallies against the extradition law (estimated by some to be 2 million) have also occurred about 30 years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in which the Chinese army was used to suppress a democratic movement in mainland China.  There is an awareness of the CCP’s use of technology to develop surveillance and a social credit system.

The Basic Law expires in 2047 and what happens to Hong  Kong's autonomy after that is unclear. The Chinese residents of Hong Kong, however, in their rallies against the extradition law have given the world a message and a warning concerning the perils of China’s authoritarian ambitions under President Xi Jinping.

USA Today -- Gary Shih, AP

Surveillance cams, face scans, help China make thousands vanish

BBC

Faith in Ruins, China's Vanishing Beards and Mosques

Council on Foreign Relations

Christianity in China

Zhejiang officials announced that the party would enforce a ban on religious belief among party members to prevent the “penetration of Western hostile forces.”

The Guardian

In China they are closing churches, jailing pastors -- even rewriting scripture

Monday, June 3, 2019

China -- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

China -- The Good

After the death of Mao and since 1979, there has been spectacular economic development in China. This has been based on the incorporation of many parts of a capitalistic economic system into a very authoritarian communist political system.  Forty years ago 95% of the Chinese people were in poverty. The Chinese government defines poverty as earning less than $416 (2,800 yuan) a year or around $1.10 a day -- a lower benchmark than the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 a day, or just under $700 a year. Today they say that only 5% of the people are in poverty.  Since 1979 more than 700,000 people in China have been lifted out of this extreme poverty. China has a goal to eliminate poverty by 2020.  

China is the country with the second highest GDP, but its gross domestic product per capita is about $17,000. It is a remarkable story. China has been the low cost producer for much of the world and much of the growth is a result of what has been a very positive trade balance with the United States. This supply of cheaper goods has improved the standard of living in the United States, but it has also caused the loss of much of our manufacturing base and the associated knowledge and jobs.
The World Economic Forum reported that China had 4.7 million STEM graduates in 2016  while the U.S. had 568,000. China had produced 351 thousand graduated engineers and the USA 137 thousand.  In the United States 60% of engineering degrees go to foreign students with 30% of those being Chinese. At the beginning of the century, only one in 10 Chinese students returned to China after studying abroad. In 2017, it was eight in 10.

In 2018 China accounted for 51.3% of global steel production and the United State only 4.8%.  China produced 32 thousand metric tons of aluminum and the USA less than one thousand tons. In the three years from 2012 to 2015, China poured more cement than the US did in the entire 20th century.

In 2015 China released its “Made in China” ten year plan to become the global leader in ten high tech industries. These include electric cars and other new energy vehicles, next-generation information technology (IT) and telecommunications, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence. Other major sectors include agricultural technology; aerospace engineering; new synthetic materials; advanced electrical equipment; emerging bio-medicine; high-end rail infrastructure; and high-tech maritime engineering. For some time the objective has been to make China great again.

What is of concern is that China plans to use its advanced technology to become the leading economic and military power by 2050 and to create a new international order more compatible with its authoritarian regime.

China is now the global leader in exports, value added manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, luxury goods and both electrical and luxury cars.  China leads in renewable power, artificial intelligence, smartphones, 5G, supercomputers, high speed rail, and skyscrapers. It is the major trading partner for 130 countries.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure policy which began in 2013.  The project promises to build ports, roads and railways to create new trade corridors linking China to Asia, Africa and Europe.

China’s remarkable economic growth has been is large part the result of the industry of the Chinese people and their focus on education. It has also been the result of a national pride and a stable but also authoritarian government.  Most of the people in China are grateful for the improvement in their living conditions and the political stability. They are rightfully proud of what they have accomplished.


China -- The Bad

Communist Party Office Document 9 (April 22, 2013)   
Seven areas which should not be publicly discussed:
Western constitutional government
Universal values
Civil society
Individual rights
Freedom of the press
Historical nihilism -- (discussion of the severe Maoist period)
Economic liberalism

The global population is 7.7 Billion and 18.4% of the global population is in mainland China.  China has a population of 1.4 Billion and 91.5% of the population is Han Chinese.  The Chinese Communist Party has 90 million members which is about 6% of the population.  There are 370 members of Central Committee, 25 members of Politburo, and 7 members of the standing committee of the Politburo.  In 2012 Xi Jinping became the CCP general secretary, chairmen of the Military Affairs Committee, and the President. He has also assumed leadership of a National Security Commission and the Central Leading Group on Comprehensively Deepening Reform which directs economic affairs.  Xi also consolidated his power with an anti-corruption campaign which he also used to purge his politics enemies. In March of 2018 the Constitution which had limited the President to two five-years terms was amended to have no term limits for the president. President Xi Jinping can remain in power after 2022.  Xi has been developing a personality cult as the supreme leader. This is of concern because we have seen in history the destruction of universal values and individual rights by authoritarian regimes under the ideology of one people, one state, one leader.

China politics today is full of ambiguities and complexity.  The CCP promotes nationalism based on the five-thousand-year history of Chinese civilization.  This also ties into an ethnic Han culture which in many ways considers itself to be superior. On the other hand, the ban on “historical nihilism” is to prevent any open discussion of the severe first 30 years of Communist rule under Chairman Mao during which 40 to 70 million people died. This controlled historical narrative also promotes a Chinese nationalism to redress historical wrongs and “a century of humiliation.”  There is thus an antipathy toward the West and Japan.

The legitimacy of the CCP and the communist revolution, however, is also based of the political ideology of Marxism-Leninism and its incorporation into Mao Zedong Thought.  This is an ideology and history which is thus also foundational. The legitimacy of the communist regime is not to be questioned. It is enforced by the People’s Liberation Army as in the massacre of the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Mao’s is still revered as the founding father of the People's Republic of China.  His portrait and mausoleum are in Tiananmen Square. In December 2013, a poll from the state-run Global Times indicated that roughly 85% of the 1045 respondents surveyed felt Mao's achievements outweighed his mistakes.  

Yet. while the CCP relies on an ideology of  Marxism-Leninism for the legitimacy of its authoritarian rule, China’s enormous success in the last forty years has been the result of incorporating significant aspects of capitalism into its economy.

China now also has global ambitions. China, however, is based on a Han ethnic nationalism, which has not tolerated ethnic minorities and an ideology that does not tolerate religious groups and suppresses discussion of universal and human rights. China may, however, still achieve its goals by way of economic and military power which are associated with its growing control of technology and infrastructure.

It was hoped that by bringing China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 that it would change into a more liberal state and play by the rules of an open market economy.  That has not happened.

China has made many of its technological advances by requiring the transfer of intellectual property by companies wanting to do business in China, the use of cyber espionage and spying, and the use of government subsidies and tariffs to help create a very large trade imbalance. China, for example, has military planes, based on known stolen files, that look to be of the same design as the Boeing C-17 transport craft and the Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter jet. The Office of the US Trade Representative estimates that the United States loses up to $600 billion per year in intellectual property and that China may be responsible for most of those loses.  

What is of greatest concern is that China plans to use its advanced technology to become the leading economic and military power by 2050 and to create a new international order more compatible with its authoritarian regime.  

China -- The Ugly

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Sun Tzu -- The Art of War

After the tragedies of two world wars and the ominus development of nuclear weapons, there was an attempt to create a more stable world order based on the Western liberal tradition.  This included the founding of the United Nations and NATO. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in the Preamble begins as follows:

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

This post WWII world order is now being challenged by the autocracies of China, Russia, and Iran and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.  What is telling is that China, Russia, and Iran have significant historical and Ideological conflicts, but these are superseded by their common bond of autocratic control of power.  Their common desire is to replace the Western liberal tradition with a new type of world order and to remake the global balance of power.

China does not seek a direct military conflict with the United States, but seeks to use its technological advances to achieve a global economic hegemony.  This control of infrastructure in communication, transportation. artificial intelligence, aerospace, biomedicine, renewable energy, and advanced weapons systems as well as a global leadership in manufacturing and trade all can be used to achieve a predominant military position as well. Iran and Russia have energy and military resources with which to make other countries dependent.  The common objective that they share is to replace the world order based on the Western liberal tradition of individual freedom and equality. Their tactics also show a disregard for ethical constraints as demonstrated by their support of North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and terrorist groups and well as their own abuse of human rights and the persecution and extermination of opposition.  

Circumstances change. We now live a pluralistic global community which has relatively easy access to weapons of mass destruction. Power still corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Some societies don’t have the historical and institutional background to avoid a civil war without an authoritarian control. We are also by human nature intensely tribal. A hierarchical form of government can also be very efficient. Autocracies, however, can also easily descend into the type of totalitarian tyrannies that created so much individual and communal tragedy in the 20th Century. The technology of individual surveillance now makes the crushing of the individual spirit as described in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984  even more possible.

Re-education, deportation to a forced labor camp, murder, massacre, or official execution in addition to terrorism and war are often used to obtain and maintain the power of a tyranny.  These overt uses of power are less needed, however, when one also controls where a person can live or even travel, their educational and job opportunities, and their ability to freely assemble or to freely express their opinion or religion.

In 1795, Fisher Ames, a congressman from Massachusetts and orator, said this when comparing a monarchy to a republic:
A monarchy is a merchantman which sails well, but will sometimes strike a rock, and go to the bottom; a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always in the water.

See also: Donald Trump's China Trade War is Not About Trade
Trump's High-Wire Act of Reestablishing Deterrence Without War