500 Years of Western Dominance: Is it Coming to an End and What Comes Next?

The lesson from the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was that no one power could restore order based on hegemony and universal values, as the other states in Europe would preserve their own sovereignty and distinctiveness by collectively balancing the most powerful state. This was evident when Catholic France supported Protestant Sweden to prevent the dominance of the Catholic Habsburgs. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 gave birth to the modern world order, in which peace and order depend on a balance of power between sovereign states.

The Westphalian system prevents hegemony as other states collectively balance the effort of an aspiring hegemon to establish economic and military dominance, and universal values are rejected to the extent they are used to reduce the sovereignty of other states. 

Westphalia should in principle be based on sovereign equality for all states. However, it originated as a European security order that later laid the foundation for a world order. Under the original Westphalia, the Europeans claimed special privileges and the principle of equal sovereignty for states did not apply to everyone. Sovereignty was deemed to be a right and a responsibility assigned to “civilized peoples”, a reference to the Europeans as white Christians. The international system was divided between the civilized and the barbarians. There was one set of rules for the Europeans in the civilized “garden”, and another set of rules when the Europeans engaged with the so-called despotic barbarians in the “jungle”. The interference in the internal affairs of other peoples and the development of vast empires was framed as the right and the responsibility of civilized states to guide the barbaric peoples towards universal values of civilization. This responsibility to govern other peoples was termed the “white man’s burden” and the “civilizing mission”.

In our current era, we have abandoned the civilized-barbarian divide, but we have replaced it with a liberal democracy-authoritarian divide to legitimize sovereign inequality. The West can interfere in the domestic affairs of other states to promote democracy, invade countries to defend human rights, or even change the borders of countries in support of self-determination. This is the exclusive right and a responsibility of the West as the champions of the universal values of liberal democracy. As the EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell explained: “The gardeners have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us”. 

International law in accordance with the UN Charter defends the principle of sovereign equality for all states. The so-called “rules-based international order” is based on sovereign inequality, which introduces special privileges under the guise of universal liberal democratic values. For example, the West’s recognition of independence for Kosovo was a breach of international law as it violated the territorial integrity of Serbia, although it was legitimized by the liberal principle of respecting the self-determination of Kosovo Albanians. In Crimea the West decided that self-determination should not be the leading principle, but territorial integrity. The US refers to liberal democratic values to exercise its exclusive right to invade and occupy countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya, although this right is not extended to countries in the jungle.  


Comment: This is part of an interview with Professor Glenn Diesen, a professor at the School of Business of the University of South-Eastern Norway, a political scientist and a regular commentator at RT. It shows. But I find his characterization of the international order established by the Treaty of Westphalia and how that system works today to be compelling. It definitely makes sense of the age of European empire and colonization. Too bad he can’t see Russia’s long embrace of empire and colonization as clearly.

The interviewer, Felix Abt, asks Diesen about Halford Mackinder’s heartland theory and how it’s playing out today. Diesen points out how “the British and their American successors both pursued policies of controlling the vast Eurasian continent from the maritime periphery.” Thus NATO. And in line with Mackinder’s theory that whoever controlled Eastern Europe would eventually control the world, he points out the importance of NATO expansion and Ukraine to both the West and to Russia. Diesen also points out the long running effort to keep Germany from uniting with Russia to control Eastern Europe and the heartland. I remember this effort from the resistance to Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. I also remember what happened when Berlin and Moscow became allies under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Poland resisted and WWII ensued.

Lastly, both Abt and Diesen talk about the growing connections and alliance between Russia and China and how this alliance will lead to a renewed Westphalian system based on a balance of power among sovereign states, a rules-based international order rather than a system of Western dominance characterized by “a civilian-barbarian or liberal democracy-authoritarian divide.” I don’t see the competition between liberal democracies and authoritarian states going away. That’s a competition of ideas which will and should, in my opinion, continue until the end of humankind.


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55 Responses to 500 Years of Western Dominance: Is it Coming to an End and What Comes Next?

  1. walrus says:

    TTG:”I don’t see the competition between liberal democracies and authoritarian states going away. That’s a competition of ideas which will and should, in my opinion, continue until the end of humankind.”

    What a Pollyanna worldview! To characterise ANYTHING that the USA has engaged in since WWIi as some sort of Manichian contest between us (the good guys in the white hats) and them (bad guys, black hats) is rubbish. We have been pursuing our own dirty self interest and we have demonstrated time and again that we will jettison “democracy” any time it suits us.

    As I and others have tried to point out, that game is over. Putin and Xi are going to rub our nose in it while seven billion people watch and laugh at our stupidity.

    • TTG says:


      Are you cheering for the ultimate victory of Putin, Xi and authoritarianism or just resigned to their rise?

      • walrus says:

        Not cheering at all, merely telling you like it is. I’m a citizen of the declining West and I don’t like watching “us” – the golden billion – America, Britain, Canada, Australia and Europe running like lemmings over the precipice with eyes wide open.

        We have abandoned every quality that made us great. Every single virtue has been perverted. THAT is what Putin is talking about when he reminds his audience about Russian traditional values and compares them with the woke ideology inflicted on us.

        Read Gordon Petersen who is single handed trying to pull us out of the societal death spiral we are in.. I have been talking about this since 2005. WE ARE LOSING BECAUSE WE HAVE TOTALLY ABANDONED OUR VALUES. THE MERE FACT THAT CREATURES LIKE PRESIDENTS BIDEN AND TRUMP ARE AGAIN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SHOULD TELL YOU THIS.

        • Jovan P says:

          If I may, I fully concur with walrus.

          If others have better microchips, you can make your own (USA) and with time close the gap. If the war closes imports of electronic, you may want or need to build your own (Russia). If some resource is scarce, there is mostly some technical way around.

          But if a society drops their values (faith in God, family, humanity and etc.) then the prospects of that society are very grim.

        • Lesly says:


          What traditional values are you talking about here? Legal abortion, nurses flying out of storied hospital windows during COVID for demanding pay raises Putin promised on teevee, or legalized domestic violence? Bashing the globohomo doesn’t compensate for many Russian traditional values but I suppose some comfort is better than none.

    • ked says:

      Walrus, you seem committed to a loaded view of the West yourself. the West has so disappointed – the US especially & irretrievably short of expectation to be without hypocrisy – to perform only virtuous deeds. is such a shortfall unusual over time & place in history? is the non-West awash in virtue, evincing behavior superior to the West’s when holding similar hegemonic positions? you project bitterness over the many flaws of America so to include all humanity in shared hope for its complete failure & punishment. from my reading of the past & present, your analysis is overblown & inadequate to form the prediction you hope for. I view it as more emotional than objective.

      • walrus says:

        Ked, I am not making an emotional plea despite the capital letters. i have specifically stated on numerous occasions that we are consistently making suboptimal foreign policy choices that are not in Americs best long term interests.

        These include:

        – unlimited support of israel.

        – Gulf war II and the invasion of Afghanistan.

        – Deliberate aggressive confrontation of Russia, culminating in Ukraine war.

        – Deliberate aggressive confrontation with china and North Korea.

        – Repudiation of the concept of international law as we constructed it after WW II. Culminating in Al Ghraib and Guantanamo.

        – unfettered expansion of NATO and encouraging European economic suicide.

        ….and now, destabilisation efforts in Georgia as well as efforts to sabotage BRICS, SCO. OBOR, etc, which will hurt the seven billion who don’t live in the West.

        Either we are complete dumbasses or these policies are beneftting someone else because clearly they don’t benefit the average American.

        I say dumbasses because we assume the seven billion can’t or won’t fight back. I say they can and they will, and we ain’t going to win this time. Look at what ukraine has done with the DJI drone and RC boats for a hint of what is coming.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        No, in my opinion Walrus has it about right.

        The West is not what Westerners claim it to be, and the reason why is that far, far too many of those Westerners believe their own propaganda.

        …”is such a shortfall unusual over time & place in history?”…

        The lack of self-awareness is unusual. I suspect very much that the citizens of Rome were very aware that their Republic had fallen and been replaced by an Empire.

        But in the USA? They appear to be in total denial even though Karl Rove spelt it out for them back in 2004: “We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality, and while you’re studying that reality judiciously as you will, we’ll act again, creating other realities which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We are history’s actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

        Can’t get more explicit than that, but it has been memory-holed.

        “is the non-West awash in virtue, evincing behavior superior to the West’s when holding similar hegemonic positions?”


        And also fallacious, because they don’t hold similar hegemonic positions.

  2. Augustin L says:

    The United States of America is a liberal democracy ? Some would say America most resembles a fascist plutocracy. A country run by cartels, Blackrock, Statestreet, Vanguard and a handful of wall street investment banks who will soon own 40% of single family homes in many major metropolitan areas… Once project 2025 restricts the franchise, zionist clerical fascism will finish what remains of the republic. The 1st amendment is already on the block. Having to choose between plutocratic fascism and state dirigisme of the Chinese/Russian variety, most people around the world would probably choose the latter.

  3. Barbara Ann says:

    Very interesting article, thanks for posting it TTG. I’m interested as to how you came across the hotbed of Russian disinformation that is easternangle.com. /s

    I agree with the author that the distinction between liberal democracies and authoritarian states is today simply one of convenience in order to justify control and the proselytizing of universal values. Those once liberal values, have over the last few years morphed with dizzying speed into an ultra-progressive diktat under that potent symbol of universalism; the rainbow flag. Governments of the West have simultaneously descended into authoritarianism in order to enforce the new moral paradigm on the hold outs (a spectrum from conservatives right through to traditional liberals). I was brought up to consider tolerance simply a matter of good manners and respect for how others choose to live their lives. Progressive extremists have appropriated the concept for their exclusive use & political gain. The result is an evolving anti-culture of absolute intolerance of anything un-woke. Russia, China and the Global Majority understandably want nothing to do with it. If that is authoritarian, bring it on.

    What comes next? Well any multipolar world will be limited to the non-West. The West’s future is collapse and maybe another Thirty Years War or, if we are really unlucky, the New World Order that the Resetists want to bring about. The Iron Heel of extreme fascism is coming and as Reagan once warned, it is coming in the name of liberalism.

    The West’s NWO will not be Westphalian, it will be a centralized technocratic commissariat exercising absolute control with no regard for national boundaries. Autocratic bodies like the EU are very mild version of the desired model. The wannabe World Controllers are using Brave New World as an instruction manual.

    It is obvious that a shadow (Western) world government already exists and that real power is concentrated in a tiny transnational elite. To what extent it exercises power outside of the 5 Eyes + Europe and various Airstrip states (Japan, Taiwan etc) is unclear to me. But right now it is consolidating its power via the archipelago of supranational NGO’s it controls: The WHO (the 5A busting Pandemic Treaty); the BIS & IMF (a CBDC “univeral ledger” to rule them all – LOTR style) etc. Everything is being put in place such that maximum control can be applied when the Reset trigger is pulled. If they succeed we’ll look back from our hellish dystopia on authoritarianism as a fond memory.

    Liberal democracy? In an age of omnipotent tech titan control over the 24/7/365 media indoctrination machine, one wonders if it can ever return.

    • TTG says:

      Barbara Ann,

      This interview was printed in a more mainstream venue, but I don’t remember where it was. I then looked for the original article and discovered this hotbed of fellow travelers. Despite Eastern Angle’s obvious slant, I find it worth looking at. Living in an echo chamber is no way to live.

    • Razor says:

      Barbara Ann, i agree with you wholeheartedly. I came across a facinating article today which i believe thinking people will already have intuitively bedn groping towards regarding our “democracies”.


      • Barbara Ann says:


        Interesting, thanks. The ‘elites’ who glide from penthouse office to Maybach to Gulfstream jet and back again sure are wildly out of touch with the hoi polloi and hold them in utter contempt. As well as the monstrous nature of the WEF’s Reset plan, this is the other thing that comes across clearly from the marketing material. Many of these folk seem to genuinely think the deplorable useless eaters will be happy owning nothing and accepting slavery – or at least that they deserve nothing better.

        I’ve come across that Substack before. It shares an owner with the simplicius76.substack – the pro-Z propagandist/war blogger (depending on your POV). There seem to be at least 2 authors at darkfutura. One is the same as the author of simplicius76.substack. The other (original?) author has a more esoteric style. In one of his older articles he suggests that the woke/identity politics/grievance culture explosion came about as a result of the Occupy Movement – i.e. it was/is a strategy to divert the proles’ attention from their real enemy – the top financiers who are robbing them blind. The author notes that the forced transvaluation of values (incidentally the working title for Nietzsche’s The Antichrist) is aimed at literally destroying society as we know it. The sociopathic elite want worker drones with no cultural or identity barriers to their absolute control. In Huxley’s instruction manual it is known as “Everyone belongs to everyone else”. Here is how Alastair Crooke put it back in 2021:

        So what will global oligarchy’s ‘Conquest of Absolutely Everything’ look like? A world of atomized consumers, stripped of their rights and of any allegiances to family, or clan, or nation, or religion, or even to meaningful cultural appreciation

        Of course these people are completely insane, as the destruction of society will destroy the economy too. Whichever countries which aren’t Reset will simply walk over the ruins of those who are. Such a destructive NWO would need to be applied globally – perhaps that was the original plan.

  4. voislav says:

    Selective enforcement of the international law has been the case since the founding of the UN. Vietnam war was one big violation of international law, from formation of South Vietnam itself to the very end with bombing of Laos and Cambodia. Bay of Pigs invasion, invasions of Grenada and Panama. Soviet interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

    ICJ opinion on Kosovo has it right, it states that any group has a right to declare anything they want as long as they can enforce it. Might makes right. That’s why Taiwan is independent, why Kosovo is independent, while Kurdistan and Palestine are not. That’s why Iraq is in ruins while G.W. Bush and Tony Blair prance around instead of sitting in a jail cell. So let’s not pretend that this era is different, that international law was somehow a thing in the past, but it’s not anymore.

  5. Eric Newhill says:

    IMO, All the Westphalian rules based blather and blah is just so much geeky navel gazing. None of it means anything. Sovereignty and rules only exist when there is the strength to enforce them. He who has the bigger power makes the rules and explains the rules in whatever flowery – or not so flowery – manner that he chooses. He also breaks those rules when his wisdom deems it necessary.

    If the West – Europe and the US – become subservient to China and their BRICS committee, then a new era of dark ages will fall upon humanity. Actually, Europe has multiple fatal cancers. It is already just about lost to the Muslim caliphate while simultaneously being destroyed by the greenies. Europe will become a hell on earth in a generation (maybe less). Europe should be written off. If Russia were to take the whole thing, mores the better. At worst, nothing of value would be lost at this point. At least Russia (e.g. Putin) knows how to wield power appropriately when faced with seemingly intractable internal issues and turn things around.

    The Chinese model is not for westerners. It is deeply ingrained in Asians, especially the Han. Totally different head space that would have to be force fit on western populaces; another hell on earth.

    The US and Russia are the only hopes for the future of the culture of the enlightenment – and for that reason it is in our best interest to be allies. The US is the better model when operating properly. Of course, that alliance cannot happen right now, but it should be a goal for the future. We must drain the swamp of the Chinese, MIC, and woke/Marxist influences in order for normalization of relations with Russia. If the US doesn’t drain the swamp (both DC and the larger cultural rot) and become great again, it will go the way of Europe. China is doing everything it can to encourage the rot.

    Anyhow, I digress a bit. There is no good reason for the decline of the west other than its tremendous success has allowed soft, addle-brained ideologies to become prevalent. I do not believe that the US will go quietly into that good night. I don’t mean the leadership as it currently exists. They are the rot. They are the whores and midwits that facilitate the decline of the US (and larger “west”) to their maximum ability to do so. I do mean the heart and soul of the country; those labeled “deplorable”. There is a breaking point at which they will rise up and reclaim the country and Constitution by any means necessary. And a free people organized around the core concepts expressed in the Constitution will always be stronger than billions of bots controlled by central committees, whether the CCP, University trash of the “intellectuals”/Marxist brand or backwards Islamic ideologues.

    • elkern says:

      Ha, I disagree with you about almost everything, but I strongly agree that USA and Russia should be moving toward an [informal?] alliance to contain China.

      Strategically, Russia has more to fear from China than everybody else combined. Russia has a lot of extra land with a lot of undeveloped resources; China has a lot of extra people and a huge demand for more resources. That’s an obvious recipe for a Chinese annexation of Siberia. This would be disastrous for Russia, and a huge strategic gain for China, cementing its place as the new World Hegemon, reducing its reliance on shipborne imports, thereby reducing US military leverage.

      IMO, it’s not “traditional values” which would underpin an alliance between Russia and the USA, but more the fact that both countries are mainly populated by Yahoos. Just spend a few minutes watching Russian Dashcam videos on YouTube, then note that Demolition Derby has enduring popularity here in the USA. We – Russians and Americans – are not civilized Eurosnobs, and we’re not compliant Asian worker bees. We both like our various religions, but generally pay little attention to the behavioral constraints they try to impose (see “Vodka”, “Divorce”).

      Why can’t we all just get along?

      • Eric Newhill says:

        The entire world should be wary of China, but, yes, especially Russia.

        Yahoos are the heart and soul of any country. The people that do the hard/dirty jobs that are necessary; everything from producing food, to transporting to building bridges to making sure electricity flows – unless you think that Wall street investment bankers playing with the derivatives market are essentially to the survival of the species as well as western civ.

  6. Fred says:

    ““the British and their American successors both pursued policies of controlling the vast Eurasian continent…”

    The British need to be defeated again so that America doesn’t get manipulated into yet another war so their foreign policy can be enacted. Hopefully Powell’s actions will bankrupt the EU and the banking houses in London, Paris, Brussels and Frankfort. SOFUR is sure looking good, and good riddance to the aforesaid banksters who spent all those years manipulating LIBOR to our detriment.

    • English Outsider says:

      Fred! Brit here reporting for duty. As is only proper when the UK’s coming in for another bashing. You do know we got null point in the Eurodumbo song competition? And that the Russians are being quiet horrible about us too? Wouldn’t be surprised if Xi wasn’t cooking up a treat for us with Putin right now.

      And just to finish the roll call I now see our partners in crime across the Atlantic putting the boot in. Is there any remote corner of Planet Earth that isn’t out to get us?

      Enough! We don’t need to be defeated at all. We just need to do exactly what you need to do, and the Euros. Get the cronies under control. Rein in the psychos. Go Westphalia! Simple.

      Thought Trump was going to do all that. You saying I was taken for a mug?

      • Barbara Ann says:


        Life for a Westphalian in Europe these days can be nasty, brutish and short, as Fico just found out.

        • English Outsider says:

          Barbara Ann,

          Dunno. Watch Germany. I might just have been wrong about Germany. Misled by my various contacts there who are almost without exception what we used to call “left” – SPD, Green and so on – and who were and still are thoroughly behind the team.

          But they’re not the whole story. While the bulk of the Germans are still travelling the “Wieder” road a few of substance who aren’t might be surfacing. Have to wait and see.

      • Fred says:


        “General Sir Richard Barrons has told the BBC there is a serious risk of Ukraine losing the war this year.” (per the BBC)

        Can’t control your cronies on the battlefront? Sinking a cruiser and a couple of gator-freighters with Storm Shadows not doing the trick? Better manipulate you know who into direct conflict.

        • English Outsider says:

          Fred – I don’t think Biden’s going to fall for that. If he does he’s not got the muscle to make much difference. Not in that theatre.

          In any case that war was lost on February 21st 2022. Obvious then and obvious now. It’s just taken a long time and countless deaths for the message to get through. Now it’s sauve qui peut for our proxies in Ukraine.

          I think we’re now looking for new patsies in Georgia. Moldova looks promising. Even seen Belarus mentioned though I’d guess that’s a long shot. There’s always Armenia, and the Stans to dabble with at a pinch. The psychos won’t go quietly but I think they’re about done with Ukraine.

          Thing is, they’re our psychos and we put them there. We’ve been doing that for a while.

          I had a long running argument with Babak when he was around. I maintained that We the People are not complicit in what the psychos get up to because we don’t know about it. So we might be dumb but even so have clean hands.

          Babak maintained it wasn’t as simple as that. That We the People in the West are knowingly complicit. That what the psychos do is merely the logical consequence of what we ourselves are.

          Bit of both, I now reckon. Either way the West is going down. Not because the Russians or the Chinese are elbowing us out of the way. We’d still be going down even if they weren’t around. Just because of what we now are.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            I’m trying to recall if Babak, by the same reasoning, admitted that the Palestinians and Iranian people are complicit.

          • Barbara Ann says:


            I saw recently that Babak is alive and well and commenting at Martyanov’s blog (it’s definitely his Disqus account and anyway his style is unmistakable and impossible to fake). I’d very much like to see him return here and I may take the opportunity to suggest it to him.

          • Fred says:


            Thanks for the official disinformation line. Nice of you(r government) to wait for 100k+ more casualties to admit that Boris sabotaged an opportunity for peace.

            “Thing is, they’re our psychos and we put them there. ” They are certainly the UK’s patsies.

            Biden will fall for nothing as he is a pedo politician suffering from dementia and only serves as a front, and fall guy, for Obama and his operatives who are throughout the US government.

  7. James says:

    We dragged Iran’s democracy into the bathroom and drowned her in the bathtub, but WE are still a democracy. And we back 72% of the world’s dictatorships.

    So when it comes to the liberal democracy-authoritarian divide … we are on the side of liberal democracy. Aren’t we?

  8. elkern says:

    Thx, TTG, good article; I agree with most of it. Further down in the article (beyond the long quote in the OP), Diesen says:

    “China does not threaten the US, but it threatens US dominance as the foundation for the unipolar world order…”

    IMO, this is the most important point for Americans to understand. China is *not* going to invade the USA. OTOH, the end of US Hegemony does imply some economic rebalancing, but both (end of Empire, Econ change) are inevitable anyway. But any political Party that openly admits this would be trounced in the next election, so we keep rolling blindly, stupidly, toward WWIII.

    China has the wisdom of an ancient society and the energy of a young one; they are confident of a prosperous future as a [leading] member of a community of independent – and interdependent – States.

    China doesn’t want to fight us; it wants to build infrastructure to connect all of Mackinder’s Big Island (including Africa) into one big economy. That’s not necessarily a Bad Thing for most Americans, but does threaten the power of those at the top of our Financial system, and those are the people who fund election campaigns (of both parties).

    IMO, the longer we continue to act like an Empire – prioritizing military force over economic development – the further we will fall. Sadly, our broken political system makes any change impossible.

    • TTG says:


      I agree that China has no desire to get in a shooting war with us or anybody else. Even our evolving national doctrine and strategy sees a state of peaceful competition as the normal state of affairs between the US and China. However, China’s idea of peaceful competition involves flooding our markets with cheaper goods enabled by state investment. Nothing sinister in that, just not our idea of economic competition or development.

    • John Minehan says:

      There is a great deal of truth to this.

      I do think the PRC, in addition to many advantages, has some signal disadvantages that make the whole thing more complex (where complexity is not your friend).

      The PRC is not a (demographically) young society. The “One Child Policy did that.

      Let’s see. I have thought for 20 years or so that the PRC has the potential to be a major global economic and cultural power . . . or a major basket case.

  9. English Outsider says:

    Note. Not too sure about our score in the song competition. The Eurovision Song Contest isn’t something one cares to examine too closely so I’m working off rumour. But it does fit. Castle Dracula, as we affectionately term the EU, has been glowering at us ever since we bolted for the door.

  10. drifter says:

    Western dominance is a 19th century phenomenon. One hundred fifty or two hundred years, not 500 years.

    • TTG says:


      The author is counting back from the Treaty of Westphalia. The European age of discovery and colonialism began in the 15th century, long before the 1800s as you suggest.

  11. Macha says:

    I cant speak for Russia, but are any commenters here speak/read chinese and are familiar with matters within China itself ?

    There is plenty of ink spilt here on the decline of western values, but little on what it is compared to (i.e. mainland Chinese values and how their own citizens view things).

    I find it puzzling because everyone yells about how the west is fked up, but say nothing of China’s itself.

    Rather then trying to write an essay that stereotypes a nation of 1 billion+ people, I think the following bears looking at

    – In the last few years, China has clamped down on informal methods of getting money out of China (e.g. informal swap networks). It is much harder now and penalties are much higher.
    – Those with the means and the most informed (i.e. China’s rich and connected) have been getting as much out as possible. See their influx into Singapore and growth of family offices there. Flows are still going into Aus RE market.
    – Demand for assets within China seen to be outside of the Chinese financial system has shot up. E.g. gold demand and foreign equity ETFs.
    – Not as empirical, but there is a common view that if the Chinese Yuan was left to float it would “crash” (I usually dont like the word) as Chinese citizens flee the Yuan and shift their assets overseas. This is anecdotal but is common view amongst those I talk to.
    – Chinese birth rates – China’s young citizens are not starting families. Similar to other Asian countries but certainly not superior to the West.

    One narrative is just that the Chinese financial system is going through a rough cyclical patch and speaks nothing to its system/values. But I think it is systemic and speaks to an increasing lack of faith of China’s own citizens in its own system. I am not stating there will be revolution, but when those best informed (China’s own citizens, especially its most wealthy and connected) through their actions (look at what they do, not what they say) want to move what they worked hard for to the west (or at least the western financial system), I think this is a strong indication to those who talk about the fall of the west to re-examine their own assumptions.

    And yes, there is a case to be made that what I have specified above is just the Chinese rich fleeing potential Chinese gov wealth confiscation/yuan devaluation/market downturn and this may not be necessarily linked to China’s “strength” going forward. My point is more that the other side of the coin should be more clearly examined and the case should not just be so 1 sided.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      I’ll openly admit that China is a huge blind spot for me, so if you are able to recommend some useful resources (English language or ones which machine translation doesn’t render as gibberish) for keeping abreast of such affairs I’d be grateful. My observations on the decline in the West don’t include China simply because I am almost entirely ignorant of developments there. I’m also deeply skeptical that the Han would be able to resist the lure of empire, should the opportunity arise.

      Several commenters here are very bearish on the Chinese economy and I don’t think many folk here would look to emigrate to China (or Russia for that matter) just because of the troubles in the West. The COVID crackdown in China made Western lock downs look tame, for example. TTG may welcome a post on this subject, if you felt so inclined.

    • Lars says:

      Thank you. This just adds to my view that China has essentially peaked and will face increasing challenges that their political system is not well positioned to deal with.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      Now someone will post a 30 second video clip of some smiling Chinese walking down a nice looking street in a major Chinese city and say, “See here! China is awesome! Case closed!”

      People that say the US (or larger “west”) is F’ed up are putting the problems of the west under a microscope and ignoring the good while doing the opposite (emphasize good/ignore bad) of whatever regime or system they fantasize is better. These people are professional propagandists, whiners, agitators, dullards, stupid bratty college kids or just plain antisocial personalities. They are found in much higher concentration on the internet than they are in real life.

      We don’t know much about China because it is a very centrally/top down controlled country that is not free in the least bit – and that controls information like a clinical paranoid personality. IMO, we know understand the depths of China’s issues until they have reached the breaking point; the point at which things are so bad that the government can’t control the flow of unfavorable info any longer.

    • elkern says:

      Macha – IMO, your last paragraph is the obvious – and true – root of the [potential] problems of the Chinese economy that you describe (capital flight), but I would frame it very differently.

      Caveat: I’m no expert on China, nor do I play one on TV. But I have been paying attention to China for a few decades. When others worried about Japanese cars killing Detroit, or that NAFTA would let Mexico “steal” all our jobs, I recognized that those problems were trivial compared to Chinese economic competition.

      China didn’t “steal” American jobs. Wall Street lent them a big pile of money for the promise of cheap labor, imagining that this would suck China into the debt trap which Western financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, private Banks, etc) had used to gain control of so many other countries. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work, though Wall Street made enough money off the deal to cement permanent control of the US political (and judicial) system.

      China is not some new country trying to figure out “government” for the first time. It is an ancient civilization which has gone through more cycles of Boom and Crash – political, economic, social, etc – than (maybe?) anybody else. Maoism was a very radical experiment, which tried for a while to force China and the Chinese to forget their history, but that failed, of course.

      IMO, China has since been shifting back towards its deeply “conservative” roots, but their version of that bears little resemblance to what that word implies in modern American politics. There is some parallel in the social/cultural aspects (suppression of “Gay Pride” stuff, and like that), but mostly what I mean by calling China “conservative” is that it is risk-averse, and patient.

      As a One-Party State, China isn’t a “democracy” in the Western sense, but within the CCP, there seems to be a complex process of building consensus which is nothing like Stalinist (or Saudi!) Despotism. The CCP is a modern version of the clerical classes which have administered Chinese government for most of its history, but with even greater power now that the top leaders of the country are all appointed from its ranks (rather than dynastic inheritance or military coup). The Bureaucracy runs the country, but the twin legacy of Confucius and Mao makes them painfully aware that they need to do a decent job of it.

      The CCP will tolerate alternative power centers to an extent, but will ruthlessly “prune” any branches which grow too big. This explains their suppression of both Islamists *and* overly powerful Capitalists.

      Frankly, I respect this! Having seen what unchecked concentration of wealth has done to the USA, I applaud the actions China has taken to maintain control over their economy, rather than letting the Bankers take over.

      • TonyL says:


        Your comment should be a bookmark in everybody’s browser. Especially this:

        “As a One-Party State, China isn’t a “democracy” in the Western sense, but within the CCP, there seems to be a complex process of building consensus which is nothing like Stalinist (or Saudi!) Despotism. The CCP is a modern version of the clerical classes which have administered Chinese government for most of its history, but with even greater power now that the top leaders of the country are all appointed from its ranks (rather than dynastic inheritance or military coup). The Bureaucracy runs the country, but the twin legacy of Confucius and Mao makes them painfully aware that they need to do a decent job of it.”

        Disclaimer: I’m not Chinese or an expert on China.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        “China didn’t “steal” American jobs. Wall Street lent them a big pile of money for the promise of cheap labor, imagining that this would suck China into the debt trap which Western financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, private Banks, etc) had used to gain control of so many other countries.”

        What you say may be a second order effect, but the main driver/root cause was that US State and CIA conceived that if we could encourage economic prosperity and capitalism in China via US partnership, China would drop top down socialism and become capitalists, free – and allies. like Japan post WW2.

        That was official US policy in the 1970s through, at least, the 1990s. The government smiled on Wall Street (if you want label all US business as such) sending jobs, investment and other financial interests to China.

        That policy represents the typical half-baked midwit thinking of the DC “geniuses” and conforms to Walrus’ theory that whatever the government does, ultimately achieves the exact opposite. US manufacturing and associated economy suffered and China just became a stronger Han-centric enemy.

      • jld says:

        Maoism was a very radical experiment, which tried for a while to force China and the Chinese to forget their history, but that failed, of course.

        But it probably did irrecoverable damages, my Qi Gong Master told me that his grandfather had to burn his own library, but little by little not to draw attention on the fact.

    • John Minehan says:

      I think Xi has gone in the wrong direction on many things.

      In the history of China, radical centralizations lead to economic declines. However, the PRC is nicely positioned in many ways.

      I think the PRC could go radically in either direction: Global Hegemon or Global Basket case.

  12. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Concerning the alliance between Russia and China, see
    A small excerpt:

    they want to get approval for the pipeline that goes through Mongolia from North Russia,” he continued.
    “But more than anything else… this is a show that there’s an axis that… Russia can exploit to work with China to go against the sanctions that are put on Russia, so also get financial and currency stability as well.”

    “Mackinder’s theory that whoever controlled Eastern Europe would eventually control the world”,
    I think this is clearly BS, being used by those trying to sell perpetual war with Russia.

  13. Harper says:

    I have a problem with the liberal democracy/authoritarian divide. From the time of our founding as a Constitutional Republic, the United States maintained a special close relationship with Russia. And Russia was always authoritarian. Catherine the Great and even Peter the Great were described appropriately as “benevolent despots,” and throughout Russian history, democratic or even social democratic systems have been momentary aberations. But Catherine the Great organized the League of Armed Neutrality, without which the American Revolution might have failed. Alexander II Czar of Russia freed the serfs a year before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and then he sent the Russian fleet to New York and San Francisco to prevent France and Britain from entering the war on the side of the Confederacy. Those kinds of relations continued well into the 20th century, including when Lenin’s New Economic Policy was modeled on River Rouge Plant, Muscle Shoals, and other US achievements that were replicated in Russia with American engineers, industrialists, etc. The Baldwin Locomotive Company of Philadelphia built all the locomotives for the Trans-Siberian Railroad. There are many similar examples. And they apply to China as well as Russia. Look at the history of American missionaries in China. And Nixon and Kissinger’s geopolitical play to bring China into the Western alliance system to further isolate the Soviets. I believe it played an underappreciated role in the end of the Cold War.

    At no time was US-Russian cooperation predicated on Russia changing its form of authoritarian rule, whether Czarist or Bolshevik.

    John Quincy Adams, who was our first Ambassador to Russia, defined US foreign policy: We do not go abroad seeking dragons to slay. We lead by example, not by interventionism or hegemonism.

    We do not go abroad seeking to force countries with different cultures, histories, customs, etc. to embrace our system–or else.

    I believe we need to think outside the box of civilzed versus barbarians, democrats versus authoritarians. We steadfastly oppose outside forces trying to change our system and way of life, and we do likewise. Do we have common interests that can be explored? Is there an international set of rules that we can all subscribe to? In the late 1990s it was fashionable to say we are in a post-Westphalian world, and that fever died down after some people thought through the implications. Obama tried to impose the doctrine of humanitarian interventionism. The trial of that view was Libya and look what a mess that created. Westphalia should not be abandoned, but revived under modern conditions, which means extending what was primarily a Western concept on a global scale with a broader input into how to recast a secure global environment.

    • Jim. says:

      Harper..An Honest///Desirable Way…To Approach More Reasonable…Non War/Conflict Solutions…The Westphalian Ron Regan Approach….Mr. Gorbachev..tore down the Wall…Salt Agreements..Smiles..Handshakes..Big Peaceful Transformations..on Both Sides..Real Examples…of Peaceful
      Liberation Theology Applied..

      Then As You Mention..on The Other Hand…Barrack Obama..Chicago
      Mind Sets…Anarcy Liberation…Violent Over Throw..20 Year Indoctrional
      of Black..Liberation Theology…His Election. His Boast…”I Have come yo
      Fundamentally Change America..”

      Mubarik..Egypt..Libya..Syria…Muslim Brotherhood…The Clintons
      Taught Him how to Apply Violent Liberation Theology..Set The Killers Loose…
      It Expanded…To The Messy Slog Today..It was NOT Humanitarian Liberation..
      Your Secure Global Enviroment Today..?? A Real Challenge..But Regan…and Gorbachev Showed it Can Be Done..Liberation..What Form??.
      Who…What..Where..When…And How… Did Westphalia include
      Colonel Langs Crusaders…?? Would Love The Old Mans Insight Now..
      Peace Harper…

    • Christian J Chuba says:

      And the U.S. owes its existence to the rather authoritarian French monarchy. We would never have won the decisive Battle of Yorktown without French troops and the French navy, in addition to their other material support.

      We are going to follow the 1990’s Soviet Union down the same rathole. We are addicted to crusades and are not capable of making trade offs. Our debt service, already at $800B will double as it our bonds roll over into higher interest rates. True, we can print money to pay it off but that will cause inflation that will make us nostalgic for what we have today. It will be our version of the Soviet Union’s empty store shelves but we will deny it until the very end, just like they did.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        If the colonials had lost at Yorktown, they would have gained their independence later under some other circumstances.

  14. John Minehan says:

    Has there ever been a time when Mackinder’s “Heartland” Theory has proven true?

    The Czars and the Hapsburg Emperors controlled the “Heartland” in the late 18th and 19th Empire and each was a declining power throughout the period.

    From about the 16th Century to the late 18th Century, the Hapsburgs. the Czars, the Ottomans and the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation contested for control of the area and, by the end, Poland and Lithuania were absorbed, the Ottomans were in retreat and the Hapsburgs and the Czars were in decline.

    Before that, the Step Nomads (Sarmatians, Huns, Turks, Bulgars, and Avars) contested with the Romans (and the Romaioi) and the Persian Empires. Eventually, the Turks took over the Persians Muslim successor states and conquered the Romaioi, but the Czars and the Hapsburgs balanced them.

    In theory it has merit, but in practice, no one seems able to control the damn thing without bleeding out trying..

    • TTG says:

      John Minehan,

      Mackinder was probably just a man of his time, a Brit concerned with the British empire and its competition with the Russian and German empires. As you said, the Grand Principality of Lithuania controled Eastern Europe for several centuries. It didn’t do them any lasting good. Mackinder’s theory relied on geography and maps. It ignored populations, relative military strengths or any other such factors.

  15. walrus says:

    Macha is right. China is another country with a unique and very old civilisation. This is epitomised in the apocryphal joke about Chou En Lai at the Bastille Day celebrations; when asked by the French president what he thought of the benefits of the French Revolution, the reply was: ” Too early to tell”.

    Common misconceptions:

    – “China produces cheap, substandard rubbish”. Yes – if that is what Walmart wants to sell you. Demand a quality product and China will produce it.

    = “Competitive advantage” = poor stupid Chinese wearing rags, working for peanuts in thatched huts with mud floors, using primitive tools and supervised by goons with AK47″ Nope, that was the great grandparents. Try ultramodern fact ores staffed by highly educated, industrious people. Software engineers don’t work under the barrel of a gun either.

    – Copying the West? Sure, it’s the quickest and cheapest strategy. When they match us, then they start basic research like we do. he DJI drones aren’t copied.

    “Unfair competition, Government investment etc”………And your point is? Where do you think Boeing got the idea and research for the B707, GPS and a host of other stuff?

    “One party state?” See how long it lasts if it doesn’t deliver the goods.

    Stop making excuses as to why we can’t compete. We dont work hard enough or stud.

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