The TRICIPS of the world economy

In every era, there is a conflict between the new emerging forces and the old established forces. However, stagnant forces which are not emerging are often mistaken for new emerging forces. This was the case with South Africa and Brazil in their entry into the BRICS. Today, of the top 20 or so countries by GDP by Purchasing Power Parity, the only countries that could, between 2000 and 2020 (as every era’s new emerging forces are different) be described as new emerging forces are Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, China, India, Poland, and South Korea.

Two reasons for why China still uses characters

I wrote a previous post on the historical reasons for Chinese using the characters, but criticism of it centered on the fact that it insufficiently explained the reasons for why Chinese still use the characters, rather concentrating on the “how”. I hope to rectify this mistake here:

1. An important reason for the idea of the use of only morphosyllabic characters to write Chinese not being either immediately or gradually discarded was the analytic form of the language. There are no verb tenses. There are no declensions. The same word is used in singular and plural forms. There is, in fact, very little inflection of any kind. For such a language, morphosyllabic characters might not necessarily be appropriate, but they are certainly more appropriate for it than for any Indo-European language.

2. In spoken Chinese and in modern written Chinese, the homophone problem is not a real one because nobody speaks in a terse literary Chinese style. For example, the syllables yuán and zhù, are combined to form the spoken and written word yuánzhù (援助), meaning “aid”, both characters of which redundantly mean “aid”. However, terse literary Chinese, often written with only parts of words spoken in the vernacular language, was actually used prominently in published works by Chinese intellectuals until the 1920s. This preference resulted in character knowledge being necessary to understand the work of Chinese intellectuals, as the meaning of works in literary Chinese could not necessarily be expected to survive transcription into an alphabet.

3. As for why the Communists did not encourage widespread use of the alphabet outside the elementary education system, Mao considered it essential that Mandarin be established as a dominant spoken language all over China before the country could transition away from morphosyllabic characters. The result, however, was that increasing schooling spread both character knowledge and Standard Mandarin knowledge, making the most powerful the argument in favor of moving away from the characters -that they hindered the spread of mass literacy- very weak.

The 2010s were a triumph of neoliberalism

While the 2010s did lead to a stunning collapse in classical liberal thinking (of the type exemplified most prominently by Glenn Greenwald), with the exceptions of the Arab world and North Korea (both far less classically liberal than most countries), it has led to no real threats to the economic doctrine of neoliberalism.

Consider patterns in economic growth across the world:

*Within the E.U.-15, the major country that experienced the fastest growth was Germany. Relatively neoliberal Denmark saw even faster productivity growth. The greatest economic disaster was in the very anti-neoliberal Greece. Relatively neoliberal Spain had the fastest growth of the PIGS.

*Within Eastern Europe, relatively neoliberal Baltics, Poland, and Romania had much faster growth than the relatively anti-neoliberal Russia and Belarus. Russians do not want to be like Poland or the Baltics; they want their country to be as rich as Germany. But they see very clearly the quickest way to get there is through Baltic and Polish means. And surely they are embarrassed that they have fallen behind Romania.

*Within China, the more marketized South has grown faster than the more industrial North, with the Northeast growing slowest of all. In Japan, Abenomics is widely seen as a success, though the country has fallen behind Korea in GDP by PPP per capita, though not per worker hour. In 2019, despite an age structure much more skewed to retirees, Japan ended up with the same employment-population ratio as the U.S. The Japanese productivity stagnation has been widely, and largely correctly been blamed on lack of structural reform.

*The neoliberal tendencies of the 1990s and 2000s in the third world have generally worked out well for these countries in the 2010s, so there is no reason for them to change course.

*The U.S. did not see slower per capita growth than the E.U.-15 (it had faster productivity growth, but fell behind several E.U.-15 countries in employment-population ratio -only this last is an anti-neoliberal blow, though not a major one).

This is a far cry from the 1930s, when the fastest-growing major economies in the world were the extremely state-led Japan and the Soviet Union, and the fastest recovery from the Great Depression within the E.U.-15 was in Nazi Germany. As a result, China and Russia both took pro-market steps during the 2010s. Boris Johnson is fairly neoliberal.

There is also no strong reason to expect skepticism of markets to rise among the highly intelligent. The most exciting developments in technology have all come from the market.

Similarly, there is no reason to expect central banks to significantly exceed their inflation targets, though there is some reason to expect them to better meet them.

There is reason to expect the fiscal indiscipline of the 2010s to continue, mostly due to the unpopularity of tax increases. But this will come to an end at some point.

As for the 2020s -expect 2010s trends to continue, though not as severely.

China is not just seven Brazils

In 2017 (i.e, pre-pandemic), China’s GDP per capita was 88% of Brazil by exchange rates 97% of Brazil by PPP. Given this, it was attractive to view China as just seven Brazils.

However, this would be a mistake. Hong Kong on its own contains a larger population of individuals of >125 IQ than all Brazil. Just seven Hong Kongs would have a population of individuals >125 IQ equivalent to Germany. And China obviously has a lot more than just seven Hong Kongs’ (52 million people!) worth of talent. Shanghai alone, with a population of 24 million, possibly contains more individuals of >125 IQ than Germany. By my estimate, China contains 64 times as many individuals of >125 IQ as does Hong Kong, or twice as many as does the U.S. thus making China possess the largest pool of high-tier talent on Earth:

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/402265308770992130/819023913450209300/chinaiq.xlsx

World Opinion on China’s Role in Coronavirus Prevention Will Depend on its Vaccine Diplomacy

China began 2020 being widely blamed for being the origin of the novel coronavirus that proceeded to infect more than a tenth of the whole globe. Though it successfully managed to navigate around that criticism through its wildly successful response to coronavirus, this success didn’t win it too many plaudits with the world due to its failure to export that response, or even care much about taking a leading role in fighting coronavirus around the world prior to the development of its vaccines. What will ultimately decide world opinion on China’s relationship to the greatest world crisis of our time will not, however, be the origin of the virus or its successful domestic response, but its vaccine diplomacy around the world.

China has three vaccines it plans to widely export: BBIBP-CorV, made by Sinopharm, CoronaVac, made by Sinovac, and Convidicea, made by CanSino Biologics. The first two rely on the killed virus method of vaccine design, and have similar efficacy (~78%), lower than Germany’s and America’s mRNA vaccines (~90-95%), while the last relies on an adenovirus vector similar to the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines, but, unlike these latter two, is injected in only one dose. China has some of the largest vaccine production facilities anywhere in the world. Due to its containment of the coronavirus crisis at home, it can, unlike Russia, safely afford to export vaccines without worrying about this affecting its local death toll. China’s great production capacity may well be able to help its neighbor Russia satisfy its own dire vaccine needs, as well as help China’s ability to export its own domestically designed vaccines by supplying it with the German-designed Pfizer vaccine.

The Sinopharm vaccine has already been approved in China and in several Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan -hardly a core partner of China. The UAE, the second most vaccinated country on Earth, as well as Bahrain, the third, rely primarily on the Sinopharm vaccine (though the Pfizer vaccine is also used in both). Chinese vaccines will be a vital part of the coronavirus response in hard-hit Indonesia -again, hardly a core partner of China. 125.5 million doses of Sinovac have been ordered, as well as 60 million Sinopharm, 50 million AstraZeneca, 50 million Pfizer, and 20 million from CanSino Biologics, but only 3 million doses of any vaccine have arrived so far in Indonesia, and only of CoronaVac. Due to its isolation from both the West and Russia, Ukraine, too, will have to rely on Chinese vaccines for 2021, having already ordered 1.9 million doses of CoronaVac. The same goes for much of Africa, with the President of the Seychelles receiving his first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine just today, and Morocco’s coronavirus response relying primarily on 40 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Even Brazil, with a relatively Sinophobic leadership, has ordered 46 million doses of locally produced CoronaVac.

A country cannot oppose a country from which it buys its core response to the largest crisis facing humanity in the present time. China’s ability to export its vaccines show substantial Chinese soft power even outside the countries that have signed support for its Xinjiang policies. As is the case for the response to China’s Xinjiang policies, the results of vaccine diplomacy have created a glaring divide on the basis of national income -not a single rich democracy has currently approved or has a contract for a Chinese vaccine, while a whole host of rich autocracies and low and middle income countries have eagerly accepted them. The difference is partly due to the mechanics of storage, with the mRNA vaccines requiring more money to ship than any of the Chinese vaccines. But India, whose leadership is unusually anti-Chinese by third world standards due to border disputes, is relying on a combination of AstraZeneca and Novavax, as well as a bit of Sputnik V. If Sinophobia were a real concern to the third world, we’d be seeing a lot more demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine and a lot less demand for the Chinese vaccines.

All in all, it appears China’s aim to come out from the coronavirus pandemic with its international reputation strong is in good shape.

UPDATE: Once very mild symptomatic cases were included, the clinical efficacy of Coronavac in Brazil was found to be 50.38%. However, too much has been made of this finding by the Western press; this tweet summarizes the actual meaning of vaccines’ clinical efficacy well. So far as we know, all currently used COVID vaccines are safe and effective.

If China did everything right on coronavirus

The world economy would have undeniably have been less affected due to the avoidance of inefficient and ineffective lockdowns, but there would have been, if anything, more worldwide deaths due to world leaders delaying travel bans. China would have also been criticized far more for turning Wuhan into a giant prison both for citizens and foreign visitors, as well as for failing to prevent the pandemic for going global. It is known coronavirus was in northern Italy from mid-December onwards, nearly a month before the first recorded coronavirus death in Wuhan, and about the same time the Wuhan pneumonia cluster became notable. This was also two months before the north Italian outbreak made it into the world’s front pages. In order to prevent the pandemic from going global, China would not have merely had to prevent the Wuhan outbreak, it would have had to do contact tracing in northern Italy, France, and New York throughout December and January, something the leadership of these areas would likely have not permitted it to do. It would also have had to destroy the Western anti-mask consensus on its own, and to convince the Western epidemiological community (a pack of rats with the intelligence of bricks if there ever was one) that the pandemic was certain to go global simply due to its form of spread.

Of course, the real China did far from everything right. It opposed travel restrictions on its own citizens, it always verbally supported the deeply flawed and Western-dominated World Health Organization, and, crucially, it delayed travel restrictions, public gathering bans, and attempting to rigorously contact trace and quarantine all those infected as soon as it was aware of the Wuhan pneumonia cluster in December. But that, if anything, reduced the worldwide death toll by making it easy for foresighted leaders like Khaltmaagiin Battulga, Prayut Chan-Ocha, and Luis Lacalle Pou to prevent the coronavirus from ravaging their own countries. Without the terrible Wuhan death toll of January and February, the leaderships of Tunisia, Jordan, Central Europe, and Burma would all surely been much more hesitant about their own countries imposing travel restrictions on Western Europe and America that delayed their own large outbreaks by many months.

Compatabilist free will: a defense

Yes, there is only one timeline, and yes, the laws of physics necessitate all our choices have all been made in advance. That does not render free will an unimportant aspect of human experience. Free will is action under conditions of uncertainty. Were man to have a book in which all his future actions are written, compatabilist free will would be impossible. Since no such book exists, it is necessary. Since many similar beasts (squirrels, for instance) are similarly unpredictable, it’s an open question to what organisms are able to act under uncertainty in the manner I have above described. Action at least requires a mental weighing of options (thus, uncertainty) before one makes a decision. Whether insects have this capability (they surely deal with uncertainty, but they may rely purely on instinct to respond to it), I know not.

Review: ESV Thinline Bible (Genuine Leather, Black)

No; I did not die back a month ago, but I am still experiencing severe health problems. I donated my old NASB bible to the hospital. Relying on my old translation posts (prefer ESV or NABRE), I bought the bestselling ESV Bible off of Amazon.

The translation is of 2016 vintage. Words of Jesus are colored in red; the book is printed in China (my old NASB bible was printed in the United States). Overall, I rate my new Bible four stars (the red lettering appears purple, the bookmark is insufficiently thin, and the pages are too thin). The translation makes some bold, but good decisions (e.g., Mark 15:28 is excluded from the main text entirely and relegated to the footnotes). The footnotes seem more cramped than in my old NASB- there are more of them, but there’s also less space for them. Sadly, references to the deity are not capitalized. Page corners are rounded (yes!!!) to avoid the constant corner-folding problems I had with my old NASB. The outside of the pages is also covered with some kind of fake gilting (which is a turn-off for me) -perhaps a way to test the wear of the pages. The maps are full-color and accurate. The words “GENUINE LEATHER” and the ISBN are imprinted in gold lettering on the back. The front cover is completely blank. The spine contains “Holy Bible”, the ESV logo, “English Standard Version”, and the Crossway logo. Overall, I am quite satisfied with my purchase.

Edit three days later: the text being organized into paragraphs better than verses is a good choice, and something I noticed just now. The gold dust on the page edges is a serious bug; I had to flip through every single page to make the pages not stick together, and the fake gold dust got in my lungs and on my fingers in the process.

Commentary on Genesis 1

Thesis: Since the scriptures had already been codified during the Maccabean period, the Persian period being an unlikely age for their origination, it seems likely the primary part of the Old Testament, from Genesis to 2 Kings, had been codified in the exile, by c. 540 BC, with earlier, late monarchic scrolls being used as sources, as suggests Walter Mattfeld. Of course, it is quite unlikely the Primary History was composed any time before 722 BC, when Judah was merely struggling for survival, and far from attempting to develop a coherent sense of national identity. Such an identity could only have been molded during the days of Hezekiah or the Exile. It is quite impossible that any Middle Bronze oral tradition might preserve accurately anything of the supposed Patriarchs, or that a coherent, codified monotheism existed before the days of the Monarchies. Let us then begin with the commentary.

Commentary on Genesis 1

1-”In the beginning”-i.e., in the beginning of worldly history, supposed heavenly earlier events being too fanciful and in too numerous editions to record.

“God”-that is, Elohim, which, by the late stage the text was composed, had become a mere title for YHWH, who was apparently thought to be the only god in existence. This is definitely a sign of a post-722 BC, but apparently pre-Hasmonean, train of thought.

“created the heavens and the earth”-The author is here describing a logical precursor to the next verse; that the heavens, that is, the vast expanse of space, must exist before anything in it, including light. The listener/reader is not intended to see these, but, rather, merely know that they are there.

2-“The earth was formless and void”-Somewhat reminiscent of the primordial ocean of the Sumerians. Jeremiah 4:23, dating to the days of Nabopolassar, parodies this verse, showing this narrative was existent in the days of Josiah. In v. 6 of this chapter, the earth is explicitly stated to have been covered entirely with water (and, seemingly, nothing else) during this phase.

“And darkness was over the face of the deep”-Making it more clear that the earth was invisible to any viewers, and that the waters of the ocean and sky were united in a great ocean. Other, later Judahite texts of the late 7th-early 6th Cs BC (and Iranian texts of the Early Persian period) state the earth is circular, and has ends. This might imply the later Judahites thought the early earth was very much like a dish, situated upon pillars, as stated in the Book of Job.

“and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”-Apparently added to add some eventfulness to the narrative, and to give a picture of the relationship between God and the primordial Earth.

3- “Then God said”-Apparently written to emphasize the power of God, being able to create by commanding the universe by the spoken word

.

“’Let there be light’; and there was light”-That is, anything but blackness, the thing which allows to see. The light is implied in v. 3 of this chapter to have been mixed with the darkness, and have been a substance, like water or coal.

4-“God saw the light was good”-That is, God could make a value judgment that light was suitable to his goals, which do not seem to have reasons behind their existence.

Oh; ye of little faith

The sly and neurotic Kentuckian Hong Konger Lyman Stone has recently written a piece arguing that China’s population is destined to fall and converge with that of the imperialist countries and their Pacific puppets. While I do agree with some of this argument -China’s high economic growth isn’t going to last forever, much of its demographic stagnation for the next couple decades is built in, and it is doubtful whether the whole country can economically converge with the typical European First World- it suffers from vastly insufficient faith in the Party’s mechanisms to implement its goals. Never mind the specifics of alliances, which can be debated later, I want to argue against this idea that China, of all countries, is destined toward demographic doom.

Throughout the 2010s, the party has been encumbered with at least three major problems, completely irresolvable by any of the imperialist countries had such problems been faced by them. Consider Xinjiang. In 2009, the province was chaotic and volatile, with hundreds of Chinese being killed by marauding Uyghurs.  Today, in a stunning demonstration of the success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, the problem is completely solved, Uyghur fertility has been forced to sub-replacement, nonstate violence in Xinjiang  is nonexistent, the population has been almost completely reeducated in the virtues of Xi Jinping Thought and the necessity of assimilation into Chinese society. Could anybody back at the beginning of the decade have predicted that China would solve its Uyghur problem so thoroughly? Hundreds of American and European ghettos remain -and, indeed, today they are expanding with vicious speed with the enthusiastic encouragement of the state; this does not mean that such a thing would be possible in the People’s Republic of China.

The government faced a severe crisis due to the 2019 autonomist protests in Hong Kong, which crippled that city’s status as a major zone of interaction between East and West. Today, Hong Kong is on its way to being a triumphant showpiece of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the Twenty-First Century, with resistance crushed and the city pacified, with all the American State Department’s promotion of the riots and demonstrations gone to waste.

The People’s Republic of China was, as is well known, the first country to experience a major outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Today, it has, unlike all the countries greater than 50 million other than Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and South Korea (not coincidentally, all neighbors of China), nearly eliminated the virus, while it continues to spread completely unabated through vast swathes of the United States, its foremost imperial rival.

Anybody who did not have faith in the will and means of the party to achieve its goals of preventing chaos, mass death, and disaster in China utterly failed in his predictions in each of the above three events. While there is no guarantee the Chinese state’s will shall not fail in the question of demographics, its growing comfort in the use of authoritarian methods to enforce its social vision certainly seems likely to grow, not shrink, over the coming decade, and there is no reason to believe this comfort will not extend to the question of increasing Han fertility.

The party state’s will and control of the means of force appear firm. Thus, in a country as willing to use state power as China, the future total fertility rate is entirely dependent on the Party’s preferences. If it wants it to be 12, it will be 12. If it wants it to be 4, it will be 4. And if it wants it to be 2, it will definitely be 2. The methods to achieve heightened fertility are straightforward -bans on women from employment if they fail to bear a sufficient number children, strict and large fines on urban couples if they fail to have children after a certain age, strong incentives for young men to marry, a lowering of the age of marriage, promotion of marriage and childbearing in the means of mass information and among the elite. Given the party state’s already excessive inconveniencing of the public with checkpoints at public transportation, there is no reason to believe the party would sacrifice such a vital national goal as increasing fertility for the sake of some trivial public inconvenience about performing such a biologically necessary and ancient task.

Never mind experiencing demographic doom. With such methods as the party state has already very recently tried and used, China could (and likely will) comfortably expand its population while sending tens of millions of friendly emigrants directly to the West to promote its interests there.

Now, certainly, talk is cheap, it is, thus, firmly appropriate here for me to make a concrete prediction. I thus make two. While America’s White population will certainly decline between today and 2040, China’s Han population will rise. And while America’s White total fertility rate will stay consistently below 2 between now and 2040, China’s will rise to above 2.2 by the year 2035.

We’ll see who’s right soon enough. All I know is that when Xi has talked before, he meant business.