Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Did You Get an E-Mail from Paul Beston?

Guy Sorman and City Journal Rock the China Blogosphere

I got an e-mail from Paul Beston, Associate Editor of the City Journal, directing my attention to an article about China in its current edition, Guy Sorman’s "The Empire of Lies."

Flattered, I sought out the article (note to City Journal: the link in the e-mail didn’t work. Get some interns working on that!).

I found that the City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute, a well-heeled right wing think tank battening on the Koch-Olin-Scaife teat.

How well heeled? Wikipedia tells us:

The Manhattan Institute received $19,470,416 in grants from 1985-2005, from foundations such as the Koch Family Foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Scaife Foundations, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. The Manhattan Institute does not disclose its corporate funding, but the Capital Research Center listed its contributors as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Exxon Mobil, Chase Manhattan, Cigna, Sprint, Reliant Energy, Lincoln Financial Group Foundation, and Merill Lynch.

It also has a reputation of serving as Rudolph Giuliani’s brain trust.

The Journal’s editor, Brian Anderson, proudly lists several articles extolling the virtues of Fox News (By steering right, Fox News speaks for ignored millions) on his resume. The masthead features endorsements by various people whom I, as a liberal, don’t particularly like, such as Peggy (“God sent the dolphins to save Elian”) Noonan.

I wasn’t particularly taken with the article. Although based on considerable first-hand reporting—and apparently mined from Sorman’s full length book, Year of the Rooster--I found it to be another entry into what I mentally file as the China: It’s Worse Than You Think! genre.

These cautionary tales are perhaps on one level a necessary antidote to the China Rising optimism, which hopes that, just because the Chinese are currently eating our lunch economically and geopolitically, something good is going to come out of it for the world.

But China’s post-Tian An Men run of success has been long enough that I think we have to take a serious look at the positives and negatives of a genuine Chinese post-Communist developmental and political model, and not just collate anecdotal evidence for Cassandra-esque warnings that China is a tottering tyranny rotting from the inside.

Having said that, we’re probably going to be hearing a lot from Mr. Sorman, especially if Sarkozy wins the French presidential election.

Mr. Sorman is a big deal in France, a conservative public intellectual, apostle of free markets, and much more sympathetic to India than to China.

Perhaps because his country hasn’t committed a colossal cock-up in the Arab world for about 40 years, he seems to still have a childlike faith in the power of capitalism and its little buddy democracy to miraculously transform human behavior and society at large.

Talking about how France is shaking off the mental and social chains of liberalism, Sorman wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

The immigrant population does not wait for the central government to find a solution for their economic problems. Leading of our rap singers with Arab or African origins , have become entrepreneurs in entertainment and fashion ; they openly advocate capitalism in their lyrics.

Hmmm. The Rap-Based Economy. Maybe “Le Bling...c’est moi!” I smell a book deal, or at least a WSJ op-ed.

With the elevation of a pro-American center-right Sarkozy regime in France, French diplomacy will probably be more in sync with whatever diplomatic intiatives the lame-duck Bush administration is able to muster up, and we can expect to look to Mr. Sorman to promote the shared agenda to us through the pages of the Wall Street Journal, the City Journal, and various sympathetic blogs.

The Wall Street Journal opinion page—the bellweather of hardcore conservatism—excerted the City Journal article, and also carried his musings on the French presidential elections this month.

The Manhattan Institute seems to have a strong Francophile (at least francophile-droit) tilt, making it a most suitable venue for introducing America to the new, conservative face of Old Europe.

The City Journal's editor, Brian Anderson, wrote a biography of one Raymond Aron, a French thinker very much in Sorman’s conservative vein.

And the Journal is apparently getting behind Sorman in a big way.

The City Journal's e-mail blast to the India and China blogs at large is an interesting indication that the Right, at the very least, is getting its act together to set the China/India agenda in the blogosphere.

Of course, I found the e-mail interesting for another reason.

Because I got one too.

My little blog, which ranks somewhere between plankton and whalesh*t in the lowest reaches of the China blog food chain, is residing in a right-wing database somewhere, together with ESWN, China Digital Times, China Confidential, the twenty-odd or so other China and India blogs that already linked to the article, and...

...who knows who else.

Did you get an e-mail from Paul Beston?

1 comment:

Billz said...

"...let's accept for the sake of discussion that the right-wing foundations are outgunned in dollar terms.

Why, then, are we living in a policy landscape determined by their ideas?. . . Maybe it's because the conservative foundations have spent their somewhat more limited funds--the Manhattan Institute, for all its influence, gets by on ... the equivalent of pocket change for any of the larger, more progressive foundations--quite strategically..." Gara LaMarche, The Nation, April 19, 2001