China’s upcoming troubles: class or nation?

Hopefully you caught Joel Kotkin’s thoughtful essay on China’s looming class struggle (it was in a nightcap from a few days back). Kotkin is a geographer at the University of Chapman.

I think he’s wrong, of course. He’s not wrong about China’s continuing troubles (I agree with him that things will only get worse), but on how these troubles will really begin to flare up. I don’t see class as the major issue, I see nationalism as China’s biggest fault line (and have since at least 2013).

Here’s how I’ve laid it out in my head. Think of Hong Kong and Taiwan, two places that are Chinese but not part of the People’s Republic. Beijing has lots of problems with both polities. Is class or nation a better gauge to use here? Nation! Nobody in Beijing is harping on the riches accrued by democratic Chinese polities. The Communists are drumming up nationalistic furor instead. Nationalism is the better tool to use to understand contemporary China.

Here’s the kicker, though. In order to drum up nationalistic furor, you’ve got have a nation, correct? The problem for China is that it has several dozen nations within its borders (here’s that 2013 post again), and nationalism in China favors the Han ethnic group over the others. The harder Beijing leans on nationalism, then, the more it squeezes out non-Han ethnic groups from its coalition of the willing. And Beijing is leaning hard on nationalism. It’s going to have to lean harder, too, since liberty is apparently not on the table.

Update from Austin, and a Warm Welcome too

I’m currently in the City of Austin, the capital of the great state of Texas. I’ll be here for the quite some time, so if you can visualize me in a cowboy hat instead of on a beach in California, that’d be great. Geographer Joel Kotkin has a good piece on Austin here. Among the gems:

Most of the strongest local economies combine the positive characteristics associated with blue states — educated people, tech-oriented industries, racial diversity — with largely red, pro-business administrations. This is epitomized by our top-ranked metro area, Austin, Texas, which has enjoyed double-digit growth in GDP, jobs, population and birthrate since 2007. The Texas capital has a very strong hipster reputation, attracting many of the same people who might otherwise end up in Silicon Valley or San Francisco, but it also boasts the low taxes, light regulation and reasonable housing prices that keep migrants there well past their 30s.

If that ain’t libertarian then I don’t know what is. I take advice on where to go for food and girls, too.

We’ve got a new blogger joining the team, too. I’m pleased to introduce you to Dr Barry Stocker. From his bio page:

Barry Stocker (personal website) is a British philosopher based in Istanbul, working at Istanbul Technical University. His academic interests cover political philosophy. Publications in this field include the monograph Kierkegaard on Politics (2014) and the co-edited volume Nietzsche as Political Philosopher (2014).  He is currently working on Michel Foucault and liberty. As these projects indicate, he likes to work on issue of liberty, ethics, individualism, and subjectivity, in authors a bit outside the conventional canon of liberty oriented thinkers, but does also work on more familiar names in this field, such as Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek.

Please be sure to welcome Dr Stocker to the blog with you usual cunning wit and boorish criticisms in the ‘comments’ threads. I think Dr Stocker’s current location, his origins, and his specialized body of knowledge is going to make this project tremendously more interesting. Thanks for taking the plunge Dr Stocker!