We’re going to power our economy with scavenged energy[PDF] from intermittent, low-density solar and wind power. The Chinese are going to power their economy with eight-packs of nuclear reactors that they roll off assembly lines in vast numbers.
We have a culture that holds engineers and inventors in contempt and views new technologies first and foremost as threats to be mitigated. The Chinese nearly worship engineers and inventors and adopt new technologies with a reckless disregard of all but the most gross dangers.
Our best and brightest dream of going into politics or “non-profits” that exist largely to suppress commerce and invention. The Chinese best and brightest go into engineering and business and try to figure out how to make and sell things.
Our intellectual class spends its time trying to generate contempt of our institutions, history and traditions and to shatter our belief in our own capabilities. China’s intellectual class spend its time creating and instilling a fierce confidence in their institutions, history and traditions and building a belief that they can accomplish anything.
The Chinese have become the lean and mean, energetic barbarians sweeping down on a fat, decadent and leaderless civilization. They have the same cowboy attitude towards technology and commerce that drove America to the top in late 1800s. They are going to do to us what we did to Europe in the pre-WWII era and for the same reason. The difference this time is that the Chinese share no cultural bond to the rest of the world as America did to Europe.
They will face political challenges in the short term, especially in a global recession, but long-term they will dominate for the simple reason that they will be able to keep the lights on and we won’t.
I suppose we’ll learn to adopt an attitude of superior impotence just as the Europeans have done. China will do great things while we will claim we’re too wise and mature to attempt such things.
We shall live in interesting times.