Sunday, October 23, 2022

23: China

“Distributed work introduces friction for managers and they have to learn to manage people as people and not manage by proximity” ....... The point isn’t that there’s something wrong with working from an office. It’s that there’s something right about working from home. ...... It will also probably take years for the pro-remote work argument to fully sink in with the people who have the power to make it the new normal. And giving workers with caregiving responsibilities the flexibility to manage their lives is a drop in the bucket in terms of what America would need to do to make this country truly family friendly. But it’s a very necessary start. .

Xi Jinping Expands His Power, Elevating Loyalists, Forcing Out Moderates A new lineup of the Communist Party elite will limit potential resistance to Mr. Xi’s agenda of bolstering security and expanding state sway over the economy. ....... He kept officials who have promoted his muscular approach in diplomacy and the military. And Mr. Xi gave no hint of preparing for eventual retirement by anointing a likely successor. ......

“China has entered a new era of maximum Xi”

......... a stronger focus on political control, economic statism, and assertive diplomacy.” ...... Mr. Xi’s progress toward his new term has been hampered this year by China’s painful economic slowdown, spreading public frustration over the country’s strict Covid rules, and rumors of internal opposition. ..... urging the party’s members to stay in lock step with him “in thought, politics and action.” ........ A statement from the meeting said Mr. Xi’s leadership was essential to “eradicating grave hazards that were present inside the party, state and military,” apparently referring to corruption and disloyalty. ...... Mr. Xi’s enhanced control suggests China will maintain its tough stance toward Washington, and expand the party’s intervention in the economy, technology and the internet. ....... “It’s all shoulders to the wheel.” ......... Mr. Xi’s new term and his leadership team will not be officially confirmed until Sunday, when the new Central Committee meets and holds a carefully controlled vote. ........ “Proximity to Xi is all that really matters now.” ....... “There are no alternative centers of power centers left in the Standing Committee, if there ever were, even symbolically.”

Moving Backward’: In Xi’s China, Some See an Era of Total Control A decade ago, many prominent Chinese hoped that Xi Jinping would usher in openness and reform. Today, some of them believe he has created a totalitarian state. ....... As Xi Jinping was preparing to take the helm of the Chinese Communist Party a decade ago, a great number of China’s political, business and intellectual elites were hopeful that he would make their country more open, just and prosperous. ........ China is moving in the opposite direction from liberalization. Obsessed with national security, he is more focused on quashing all ideological and geopolitical challenges than on reform and opening up, the policies that brought China out of poverty. ........ He used the term “new era” 39 times in his speech, boasting of the party’s achievements under his leadership. But for some Chinese, it has been a dark era — a shift away from a system that, while authoritarian, tolerated private enterprise and some diversity in public opinion to one that now espouses a single ideology and a single leader. ......... a totalitarian state that rules with “terror and ideology,” referring to a well-known political theory. ......... Ms. Cai has been expelled from the party for such criticism. The historian, Sun Peidong, can no longer teach or publish freely. Xu Chenggang, the economist, is disappointed that the party again controls everything, including the private sector. All three are living in the United States. ............. They all believe that China, with its vast surveillance systems and punitive social control, now resembles Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China. In their view, even Russia and Iran have more space for dissent. ............ It’s a view whispered at dinner tables and in chat groups. One online nickname refers to China as “the North Korea to the west.” ............ Many Chinese people were surprised to learn that before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russians had access to Twitter and Facebook, and that there were several independent Russian media outlets. Beijing has nearly absolute control over what information Chinese people can see and what they can say online. ......... When Mr. Xi came to power in 2012, Ms. Cai believed that the party would embark on a path of reform. But Mr. Xi soon began going after journalists, lawyers, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organizations. ........ When Mr. Xi changed China’s Constitution in 2018 so he could serve more than two terms as president, Ms. Cai lost hope. “I realized that the party wasn’t able to change,” she said. “If the party couldn’t change, the country wouldn’t be able to change.” ....... In an online hangout with friends back in China, she criticized the party as a “political zombie” and Mr. Xi as a “mafia ringleader.” ......... In 2018, after spending two years in the United States, she went back to Fudan, to a changed country and a changed classroom........ She found that class discussions had become less candid, and she said so on the social media platform Weibo. One morning, she found her office door plastered with printouts of her social media posts, along with threats to post them in other places on campus. ........ Ms. Sun, now an associate professor of history at Cornell University, said she still had nightmares about her experience. “The teeth of totalitarianism were inching toward me,” she said in an interview. “If I still wanted to do the kind of research I liked, I would have to leave China.” .

The Weakness of Xi Jinping How Hubris and Paranoia Threaten China’s Future .

Not-So-Great Britain’s Conservative Crackup She wilted faster than The Daily Star head of lettuce gussied up to look like her. ........ Liz squared. The longest-reigning monarch meets the shortest-serving prime minister. It was such a swift fall that Truss was anointed by a queen and resigned to a king. ...... Many consider the third woman to dwell at No. 10 incompetent and hopeless, perhaps the worst P.M. in history. ....... She was a bad communicator, a poor speaker and weak on camera. She didn’t understand that you couldn’t simply borrow money from the future. She managed to be a radical ideologue and a lightweight at the same time. ....... “It’s incredibly funny if you’re not English,” Henry Porter, a British writer, told me. “It’s humiliating if you are. Boris is Boris Karloff, the monster who comes alive again, after you thought he was buried.” ....... The outcome was foggy, as Johnson rushed back from a vacation in the Caribbean. In some vote estimates, Sunak was ahead but Johnson was winning support, as well. James Duddridge, an M.P. who backs Johnson, told the British press: “I’ve been in contact with the boss via WhatsApp. He’s going to fly back. He said: ‘I’m flying back, Dudders, we are going to do this. I’m up for it.’” ......... .

Tory lawmakers are split. Half are morally outraged by Boris, and the rest are worried that without the riveting spectacle of Boris, they’ll lose their seats in two years. ...... Many Tories believe, amid rising electric bills, power shortages and inflation, that Sunak — whose wealthy wife was accused of avoiding paying 20 million pounds in taxes until the press upbraided her — would be wiped out by Labour in two years. ........British conservatives are becoming as shameless as American conservatives, willing to put up with any outrage to keep their posh offices and perks. The “good chap” principle in England, the tradition that sometimes you have to leave office for the greater good, seems passé.

Liz Truss Believed in Markets, but the Markets Did Not Believe in Her The world has just witnessed one of the most extraordinary political immolations of recent times. Animated by faith in a fantasy version of the free market, Prime Minister Liz Truss of Britain set off a sequence of events that has forced her to fire her chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, and led her to the brink of being ousted by her own party. ........ The stakes of the crisis were global size. Strangest of all, this was done purposefully, in a reckless act of deliberate policy, better thought of as a gesture of political conviction. .......... capitalist revolutionaries Ms. Truss and Mr. Kwarteng laid low by the mechanisms of capitalism itself. Ms. Truss and Mr. Kwarteng may be the last of the Thatcherites, defeated by the very system they believed they were acting in fidelity to........ Many of Thatcher’s true believers attributed the derailing of her project to the rise of the European Union, which in their view tangled the homeland of classical liberalism in the red tape of European law. .......... Losing the leadership in 1990, Thatcher continued to grumble from the backbenches, growing increasingly hostile to the European Union and finding comfort with a surly group of Tory hard-liners. These Thatcherites, known collectively as the ultras, gained fresh blood in the 2010s as a group of Gen Xers too young to experience Thatcherism in its insurgent early years — including the former home secretary Priti Patel, the former foreign secretary Dominic Raab, the former minister of state for universities Chris Skidmore, Mr. Kwarteng and Ms. Truss — attempted to reboot her ideology for the new millennium. ........... They followed their idol not only in her antagonism to organized labor but also in her less-known fascination with Asian capitalism. In 2012’s “Britannia Unchained,” a book co-written by the group that remains a Rosetta Stone for the policy surprises of the last month, they slammed the Britons for their eroded work ethic and “culture of excuses” and the “cosseted” public sector unions. They praised China, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. “The average Singaporean works two hours and 20 minutes a day longer than the average Brit,” they observed — as if longer working days were something to aspire to. “Britannia Unchained” expressed a desire to go back to the future by restoring Victorian values of hard work, self-improvement and bootstrapping. ......... “there remains a sense in which many of Britain’s problems lie in the sphere of cultural values and mind-set.” ......... As Thatcher herself put it, “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.” ........ Ms. Truss and Mr. Kwarteng seemed to have believed that by patching together all of the most radical policies of Thatcherism (while conveniently dropping the need for spending cuts), they would be incanting a kind of magic spell, an “Open sesame” for “global Britain.” This was their Reagan moment, their moment when, as their favorite metaphors put it, a primordial repressed force would be “unchained,” “unleashed” or “unshackled.” ............ But as a leap of faith, it broke the diver’s neck. ..........

This was “Reaganism without the dollar.”

Without the confidence afforded to the global reserve currency, the pound went into free fall.

Liz Truss in the Libertarian Wilderness When the tax cuts were announced, many conservatives compared Truss’s policies — favorably — to those of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. When Reagan pushed through unfunded tax cuts, they also raised interest rates — but they drove the dollar up, not down. Thatcher similarly presided over a strong pound. Why was this time different? ....... the bank did intervene to limit what it considered the danger of a sort of death spiral driven by forced fire sales of long-term bonds........ Politics in the modern West tends to be more or less two-dimensional. One dimension is the left-right divide in economic policy, between those who favor high taxes on the rich and large social benefits and those who want low taxes and small government. The other dimension is the divide over social issues, between those who favor policies promoting racial equality and gay rights and those who bitterly oppose anything they consider “woke.” ........ most voters like government benefits, a lot. Opposition to social spending comes mainly from voters who believe that spending goes to the wrong people — people who don’t look like them. ........ a large bloc of voters who want the nastiness of MAGA without the right-wing economics.

How Atlanta Remade Hip-Hop In a regional game, rap’s Southern contingent has come to dominate its counterparts in New York and L.A. ......... the complex intersections between music, artists, the streets’ illicit economies, the prison system, racism, poverty and class dynamics in Atlanta, a city that’s branded from the block to the boardroom by an ethos of Black Excellence.

Rishi Sunak Gains Edge as Boris Johnson Drops Out of Race to Be Next U.K. Prime Minister Former U.K. Chancellor looks set to become Britain’s next prime minister as main rival drops bid

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