Also, the rise of China has changed the international system in two fundamental ways. For one, the rise of China has changed the basic structure of the international system from one that is unipolar to one that is now multipolar. And second, the rise of China has also prompted a shift in the global balance of power. In turn, the rise of China affects everything from inflation to the reason for why the Taliban are so coy when confronted about women’s rights to the future of the ‘petrodollar’ as well as Middle East peace and virtually everything else.
China was and still is the master of what is known as the “long game” in international affairs. And the issue of where the attributes and the qualities needed to play the “long game” come from is largely a mystery. Academics, businesses, governments, and militaries in the West are perhaps eager to know and to study such strategies and tactics, but in reality, none of it can be taught. But perhaps most of it has to do with having the will to overcome prevailing circumstances. As one Taiwanese entrepreneur once told me, business is all about figuring out how to get the dollar that is in someone else’s pocket into one’s own pocket. Hence, our surroundings are defined by corruption, swindling and trickery. Thus, it takes almost superhuman patience, strategy, belief, and optimism to overcome one’s circumstances and to transcend in the manner which China has transcended over the course of the last few decades.
China has also done away with the class ideology and class structure that has long repressed and suppressed the energy and potential of large swaths of people. After its ‘Cultural Revolution’ which did away with the remnants of class ideology and class structure, China was able to lift 900 million people out of poverty over the course of the last few decades. And in recent years, China declared ‘victory’ over poverty. Overcoming class ideology and a class structure requires the ’long game’ which we mentioned earlier. As Gandhi wrote:
“The most effective, quickest, and the most unobtrusive way to destroy caste (or class) is for reformers to begin the practice with themselves and where necessary take the consequences of social boycott. The reform will not come by reviling the orthodox. The change will be gradual and imperceptible. The so-called higher classes will have to descend from their pedestal before they can make any impression upon the so-called lower classes. Day-to-day experience of village work shows how difficult the task is of bridging the gulf that exists between the city-dwellers and the villagers, the higher classes and the lower classes. The two are not synonymous terms. For the class distinction exists both in the cities and the villages.”
As Marx argued, it is ultimately the “division of social labor” which foments class divisions and the creation of the three main classes based on the capitalist mode of production, namely, capital, wage-labor, and land-owners. The first derives its revenues from profit, whereas the second derives its revenues from wages, and the third derives its revenues from “ground-rent.” Land-owners, as Marx argued, are largely “divorced” from the transformation of labor into “wage labor” at the hands of capital. Class divisions and their rigidity stem in large part from the fact and the reality that “it is the constant tendency and law of development of the capitalist mode of production to divorce the means of production ever more from labor and to concentrate the fragmented means of production more and more into large groups, i.e. to transform labor into wage-labor and the means of production into capital.” In other words, it takes a certain level of swindling and trickery in order for capital to foment these class divisions over the course of time.
Yet, this is where we are now as an international society, in the sense that a global ‘proletariat’ whereby 99 percent of the world’s population cannot accumulate more than 700,000 dollars’ worth of assets and savings in the course of their lives has now emerged. And what ensues is a ‘class struggle’ over the course of time whereby the global proletariat will seek to tear down the basic social arrangements and social structures which created these rigid class divisions and disparities in the first place.