, 12 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Even if Trump and Trumpism go away, I think it will be very difficult to have a real contest of values between China and America, because any such contest will quickly become racialized in most people's minds.

Many defenders of the Chinese system, and even some opponents, will claim that it's appropriate for the Chinese race, but not for nations composed primarily of other races.

(They'll use euphemisms like "Confucian culture" or "given China's history", but it'll be about race.)
Meanwhile, tankies will paint any U.S.-China conflict or contest as a struggle of Western imperialism against indigenous resistance. That's a ludicrous take, but hey...tankies.
I also predict that many Americans will feel less threatened by the international appeal of the Chinese system than they were by Soviet communism, simply because the Russians were white.
The precedent here is WW2. Many Americans (rightfully) saw Nazi Germany as an ideological opponent. They realized they Nazi fascism could and did have real appeal to some Americans...
...But the contest with Japan was highly racialized. American leaders weren't worried that Americans would find Japanese emperor-worship an appealing ideology. Many saw it as a naked contest of power between racial groups.

Nor does China seem to want to export its brand of authoritarianism. It allies with authoritarian governments out of necessity and pragmatism, and perhaps because it finds them easier to relate to, but it doesn't evangelize its system like the Soviets did.
China's international propaganda (including the Confucius Institutes and the recent ham-handed Twitter propaganda effort) are much more nationalistic than they are communist. They don't really seem to be trying to recruit a Western tankie army to their cause.
All of this means it'll be hard for liberal Americans to pull off the trick we pulled in the Cold War, which is to say "Hey, we need to liberalize our society to draw a contrast with the Soviets".
Civil Rights, de-racialized immigration, and other 20th century liberal victories drew strength from the need to look better than the USSR in front of the newly liberated post-colonial countries of Asia and Africa (and also in front of wavering European allies).
But now, if all parties tacitly agree that the U.S.-China contest is a racial contest rather than an ideological one, it'll be hard to use China as a reason to reject home-grown American authoritarianism.
I really really don't want to see a return to amoral great power conflict driven by ethnic national chauvinism. But it may happen.

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