A wingnut decided he would tell me how fabulous his hero, Ronald Reagan, was. The wingnut waxed eloquent. "Why, Ronald Reagan defeated Communism." While that can be debated, what seems to have escaped our collective consciousness is that we are dealing with Red China - 1.3 Billion busy Communists.
The refrain from the 1950's and the Cold War was that the Communist system was doomed. Under Communism there would be sloth, poor quality, and lack of industry ... yet the hard working Comrades of the People's Republic of China - they still call themselves a "People's Republic," last I heard - seemed to be doing quite well for themselves. The fact we are dealing the the world's largest Communist nation seems to have dropped off the radar.
Tanks rolling through Tienanmen Square? Ask the Bush Administration? "Never heard of it." Not while America sends its manufacturing and jobs to the worker's paradise.
I return to George Orwell's prescient novel, 1984, where Eurasia is like Russia (Soviet Union) and Eastasia is kind of like Red China. We enter the scene as London prepares for "Hate Week" The Americans and England have formed an alliance called Oceania - think Bush and Blair - and this is the nation in which this action is set.
A new poster had suddenly appeared all over London. It had no caption, and represented simply the monstrous figure of a Eurasian soldier, three or four metres high, striding forward with expressionless Mongolian face and enormous boots, a submachine gun pointed from his hip. From whatever angle you looked at the poster, the muzzle of the gun, magnified by the foreshortening, seemed to be pointed straight at you. The thing had been plastered on every blank space on every wall, even outnumbering the portraits of Big Brother.
Chapter 5, 1984, George Orwell
In Chapter 9 he says "2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces -- at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally."
But suddenly all that changes.
The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker's hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia! The next moment there was a tremendous commotion. The banners and posters with which the square was decorated were all wrong! Quite half of them had the wrong faces on them. It was sabotage! The agents of Goldstein had been at work! There was a riotous interlude while posters were ripped from the walls, banners torn to shreds and trampled underfoot. The Spies performed prodigies of activity in clambering over the rooftops and cutting the streamers that fluttered from the chimneys. But within two or three minutes it was all over. The orator, still gripping the neck of the microphone, his shoulders hunched forward, his free hand clawing at the air, had gone straight on with his speech. One minute more, and the feral roars of rage were again bursting from the crowd. The Hate continued exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.
Chapter 9, 1984, George Orwell
The rioters were the very same people who for six weeks had been getting all these posters ready for hate week.
Iraq was once an ally, now an enemy. Red China was an enemy, now an ally. Communism was once bad. Now Communism - Communism; what's that? - is good. Human rights was once an issue - now we deal with nations who abuse human rights so long as profits flow to the coffers of corporations that exist ever more in virtual space and are a law onto themselves. And after all, if we at least do business with human rights abusers, they will change.
But who's doing the changing here? Who's zooming who as Google and MSN and Yahoo are helping the Communist leadership control discourse? Who is being "changed?" In 1936, Germany and others tested out their weaponry in the Spanish Civil War. Google, Yahoo and MSN get to test it out on possibly testy Comrades. As the big search engine boys refine their algorithms, will the client dictatorships settle for merely censoring words, or will the artificial intelligence (AI) systems be able to figure out what's being said? Will the young woman who wants to find the abortion clinic be given fifty or a hundred "pro-life" sites on her search?
Far fetched? The wingnuts are proposing judges they don't like to be stripped of all financial support. Telling a search engine to by-pass "forbidden speech" may well be done as easy as flicking a switch.
In the end will some gray and nameless future leader in China be credited with a place in history. "He defeated capitalism."
I doubt it because already it is impossible to say which is which.