A culture war against China

After the defeat of Donald Trump many international relations commentators think that Western politicians and diplomats can now revert to their postwar multilateralist ways, without having to deal with an unpredictable and erratic American president. No more unilateralist antics. No more disregard and contempt for America’s allies. And no more capricious provocation of China, with the dire potential consequence of a military standoff.

But this expectation of a reassuring return to international norms could actually be much more dangerous to global peace than anything Trump initiated. A resumption of Western complacencies about international affairs would only compound the existing deep-rooted challenges – challenges that have in fact been exacerbated by the response to Covid-19 far more than by Trump.

Read the full article here.

A roadmap for economic renewal

There is much talk from inside and outside government about a state-administered ‘reset’ or ‘reboot’ in order to begin Britain’s economic recovery. But the economy needs something much more far-reaching – namely, a bold and comprehensive reconstruction. Ordinary people must take the lead in our post-Covid recovery. Read the full article here.

Video introducing my latest book “Beyond Confrontation”

My latest book “Beyond Confrontation: Globalists, Nationalists and Their Discontents” addresses the escalation of international rivalries – West-East, US-China and intra-Western – all of which have been amplified by the impact of the pandemic.  In this short video posted on LinkedIn I explain more about the book.

The making of an economic crisis

The UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has offered a grim projection of a one-third fall in output in the April to June period. Even without a second Covid-19 wave precipitating another government shutdown later in the year, the OBR anticipated a full-year contraction of about 13 per cent of national output, worse than anything in recorded history. Some economists speculated this scale of collapse could be greater than any since the Great Frost of 1709 (though, of course, no one was measuring anything like gross domestic product then). This shows how unprecedented this government-determined recession really is.

However, at a Downing Street briefing last week, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, said something that was even more disturbing and, ultimately, economically damaging. Acknowledging the ‘tough times’ flagged up by the OBR, Sunak sought to offer some comfort: ‘But we came into this crisis with a fundamentally sound economy.’ On the back of this he went on to insist that the economy will ‘bounce back’.

The great danger of this false portrayal of the past is that today’s self-imposed and brutal recession could be extended into a self-imposed and much more vicious depression than we have experienced up until now. This is not inevitable.

Read the full article here.

After the pandemic: whither capitalism?

To understand what will happen to capitalism after this crisis, one needs to understand capitalism before it.

One of the catchphrases of the pandemic so far is that ‘crises change everything’. Of course, lots will change because of the precipitous economic disruption of the shutdown. Thousands of smaller businesses are already going under and may not return, and this could rise to hundreds of thousands unless the government acts immediately to deliver on its business-support pledges. If the government fails to support businesses and workers, in the same way it has been failing with virus testing and health workers’ protective equipment, millions of individuals and families will endure great hardship. Many may not get their old jobs back. Over the medium term, this can be a bad or a good change, depending on the quantity and especially the quality of new post-recession job opportunities.

However, despite the changes brought about by the economic dislocations, at this stage it is likely that much economic policymaking from the past will endure. This is because crises tend to change things only to the extent to which they draw extant socio-economic features to the surface and speed up pre-existing trends.

Read the full articel here.