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Asia Times — ‘You can never be China’s friend’: Spengler

Summary:
Useful but written from written from an idealized Western point of view. For example, the author is either unfamiliar with Aristotle's analysis of friendship or else purposefully truncates it, essentially misrepresenting it. Aristotle distinguished three types of "friendship" — friendship based on pleasure, friendship based on use, and friendship based on "brotherly love" (φιλία philía). Most relationships fall into the first two categories, and true friend — those whose only wish is to share life — are few. This is the case around the world, since most people are dominated by narrow self-interest and seek fame, fortune, power and pleasure rather than preferring what Aristotle called arete (ἀρετή), which is usually translated as "virtue, but is more properly translated as

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Useful but written from written from an idealized Western point of view. For example, the author is either unfamiliar with Aristotle's analysis of friendship or else purposefully truncates it, essentially misrepresenting it.

Aristotle distinguished three types of "friendship" — friendship based on pleasure, friendship based on use, and friendship based on "brotherly love" (φιλία philía). Most relationships fall into the first two categories, and true friend — those whose only wish is to share life — are few. This is the case around the world, since most people are dominated by narrow self-interest and seek fame, fortune, power and pleasure rather than preferring what Aristotle called arete (ἀρετή), which is usually translated as "virtue, but is more properly translated as "excellence.

The difference between those from the East and West is not human (natural, innate) but cultural (acquired, learned). Human share the evolutionary traits of the species that are geared to survival and reproduction, chiefly reproduction. Cultures develop ways of life suitable to the local environment that account for differences that may be so long-standing as to appear to be constitutional rather than constructed. But this is the case even regionally within countries.

Also emphasized is the persistence of family ties as culturally determinative. This is natural, being an evolutionary trait and the Chinese have no lock on it. It is especially the case in conservative cultures, since conservative implies traditional. Liberalism is more radical, willing to jettison tradition. This is why conservatives oppose it and view it as unsustainable experimentalism.

The author makes the interesting point that the Chinese culture is essentially anarchistic, and it is held together loosely by Mandarinism, which prevented the dominance of war lordism. The Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) can be read as the first libertarian manual. There is a tension between the libertarianism of Taoism and the conserativism of Confucianism that runs through Chinese culture. Later, Buddhism was added to this combination, providing a bridge between them in shaping the culture. Finally, Chinese Communism was laid on top of this as a late comer. 

This has resulted in a complex culture that appears mysterious to foreign eyes, and foreign analysts often err in viewing it from their own perspective rather than from the inside as a response to challenges that are specific to the Chinese. The result is the emergence of a complex adaptive system that characterizes itself as "market socialism with Chinese characteristics."

The takeaway, however, is that China operates on a Mandarin meritocracy that resembles a Western military or corporate model rather than a representative democratic one. This model has served China very well in the past and continues to do so, as the last 70 years go to show, and especially the last 30. The pace is quickening, and the West is getting concerned about it.

Daniel Goldman's point is that instead of playing a blame gain or getting all confrontational, the West would be better served by getting more competitive. The world is changing and the West, used to running the show, is getting left behind through inadvertence to its own shortcomings. Time to rethink use of resources, especially productive resources in an increasingly technological world.

Asia Times
‘You can never be China’s friend’: Spengler
Urs Gehriger interviews David P. Goldman aka "Spengler"

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In this Letter, we introduce a new China CAT index of Chinese economic activity based on the first principal components of eight alternative activity indicators. Comparing alternative measures suggests that our index provides a more accurate assessment of economic activity in China than reported GDP does. Indeed, in recent years, GDP growth appears spuriously smooth.
Our index suggests that China’s cyclical activity has slowed over the past two years from an above-trend pace to a slightly below-trend pace. Still, there is no evidence of a collapse in growth to a rate markedly below trend - nor do the individual activity indicators suggest a sharper slowdown in trend than the gradual one captured in the published GDP numbers.
Because we validate our data relative to imports, our estimates might underweight services and other nontradable sectors. Still, our preferred activity factor includes both relatively narrow indicators, such as rail freight, and broader ones, such as retail sales. Moreover, even if the China CAT index is imperfect, our results suggest it may be a better indicator of cyclical fluctuations in China’s economic activity than GDP alone.
econintersect
FRBSF — How Severe Is Chinas Slowdown? Evidence From China CAT
John Fernald, senior research advisor in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Neil Gerstein,  former research associate in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Mark Spiegel, vice president in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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