As Aristotle said: “Man is a political animal. A man who lives alone is either a Beast or a God.” Thus, human beings are part of both a local society and an international society which involve economic, political, and social interactions with other human beings. In turn, politics are for the most part psychological, and there are two major dimensions in the psychological aspect of politics. For one, there are no “friends” in politics, regardless of all the talk about alliances and friendships. In politics, there are only “interests.” For instance, if Qatar was not one of three countries that made up half of the world’s natural gas supply, America’s approach towards Qatar would have been much different. If Ukraine were not such a prime location to provoke Russia, the spotlight would not be on Ukraine as it is at the moment. And if friendship defined international relations, America would have never left Afghanistan. It will take a long time for ethical and moral evolution and progress to take place in the realm of politics.
Second, and as Henry Kissinger said, there is no room for emotions in politics. When involved in the politics of international society, balance and level-headedness have to take the place of emotional volatility. However, these psychosocial realities of the politics of international society do not preclude the possibility of an intellectual or writer receiving patronage and nurturing from those who are willing to offer it in international society. What matters is where the patronage and nurturing come from. Personally, I passed on the opportunity to receive patronage and nurturing from a mainstream American institution like Johns Hopkins SAIS out of principle. It would have been hypocritical to receive patronage and nurturing from the people who crafted and sustained a whole-of-government policy I had spent so much time critiquing and deconstructing.
Moreover, as an independent writer, I prefer to either receive the patronage and nurturing from those who are credible and prestigious, or I can continue to live without any patronage and to nurture myself, all while preserving my freedom of speech and thought. It is better to remain an independent intellectual force than to receive patronage and nurturing from those who prefer their narrow interests over a rational and legitimate analysis and a reckoning with the reality of international affairs.
Arguably, the “relative decline” that Americans are facing vis-à-vis China stems from the issue of “social responsibility,” and the lack thereof. Although America’s mainstream and America’s liberals use the culture and history of “pulling yourself by the bootstraps” to evade social responsibility, it is no longer economically, politically, and socially feasible for the rich and powerful in the United States to avoid the issue of social responsibility, considering the complexities and dynamics of a globalized world. It will take time for America to catch up to China’s level of perceptiveness as it pertains to the importance of social responsibility for an economy and society. And that is if America ever does catch up to Chinese standards as it pertains to a sense of obligation and social responsibility towards its citizens.