janan.ganesh@ft.com on Trump’s ‘practicality’ vs. Democratic ‘Idealism’ and other pressing questions. Political Observer comments

Mr. Ganesh goes where others might fear to tread! The re-negotiated NAFTA agreement is 1800 pages long. What can the reader reasonably expect from any Chinese Trade Agreement?
Instead of presenting empirical evidence, Mr. Ganesh opines on the ‘political metaphysics’ of this vexing, even befuddling issue, he ‘compares’ the – but first he, in his own maladroit way, engages in the ‘Yellow Peril’ mythology, once the calling card of Neo-Con Niall Ferguson:

From defence secretary Mark Esper there was certainty about China’s threat to the west and Europe’s naivety in the face of it. From Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives: certainty about China’s threat to the west, and Europe’s naivety in the face of it.

Is China a threat because this totalitarian regime is/are better  practitioners of capitalism than Western Democracies? The most prominent myth of Capitalists was that the Free Market could only exist within a Democratic frame? How can Hayek’s revered ‘pricing system’ exist in a former ‘command economy’ ,that now practices Capitalism?

In rhetorical terms Mr. Ganesh presents Trump’s ‘practical terms’ and the free floating ‘idealism’.

For all his militant jingoism, President Donald Trump views China in practical terms

It is idealism that has the far messier potential.

That ‘idealism’ then finds its root in Rep. Pelosi:

As for Huawei’s role in Europe, to let it build 5G networks would be “to choose autocracy over democracy,” says Ms Pelosi, with the Manichean crudeness that nothing — not even the fiasco of Iraq, which it helped to beget — can kill off in Washington. Light and dark, good and bad, free and unfree: this stuff still trips off the tongue. 

Mr. Ganesh continues his intervention with the added gloss of strategic walk-ons by David Ricardo, Pyle, of Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American, George Kennan, and borrows from and or extemporizes on Samuel P. Huntington in ‘The clash of values’ , Cheshire Cat smiles.

The prime political actor in his last paragraph is the utterly amorphous entity  ‘a diplomatic firmament’ dominated by idealistic Democrats obsessed by an ‘idea’ rather than an ‘idealism’ .The question remains isn’t diplomacy, in all its various iterations, based on pragmatism rather than an ‘idea’ or ‘idealism’? Or in this context should ‘pragmatism’ be considered a kind of ‘idealism’ ?

A new president would need staff and these would come from a diplomatic firmament that hews to much of what the Democrats are saying. The same belief in America as an “idea”. The same wariness of China as the opposite of it. And the same affront that nations from Britain to the Philippines, without a market of $21tn to fall back on, do not see things with such piercing clarity.

Political Observer


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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