On several dates, usually between the fourth and fifth beer, my companion and I have found common ground over our mutual disdain for the whole hellish ritual of online dating, only for one of us to ask resignedly, ‘But how else do you meet someone these days?’ It feels impossible to stave off the inexorable force of the ever-encroaching market.
In his new year’s speech, President Xi Jinping told the Chinese people that their nation was in the process of implementing something unprecedented. There would be challenges, he warned, but if China remained united the ultimate goal of creating ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ could be achieved.
It’s easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric. After all, China’s economic reforms seem to be moving away from socialism towards capitalism at a rate never before seen. However, it’s important to understand what the country’s leaders mean when they talk about ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Moreover, it helps understand the Communist Party’s response to the recent stock market crash.
It’s hard not to admire Reece Harding, who died in Syria fighting for the Kurdish peshmerga against IS. His sense of social justice, idealism and internationalism led him to take up arms against an organisation he seemingly believed lived up to Tony Abbott’s characterisation as a ‘death cult’.
The Ebola epidemic encapsulates the inequality that is one of the defining features of this neoliberal age: The world’s poorest are most affected, but have neither the resources nor means to manage. While the world’s richest, with both the resources and the means, react in a manner that best serves their own political and economic interests.
It’s become a matter of routine that every year the United States and China – from their respective positions of moral superiority – take part in a diplomatic tit-for-tat in which they each document the other’s human rights violations. In America, this takes the form of a State Department Country Report, which, incidentally, they issue for every nation. In China, the report’s published by the Information Office and runs in the state-owned Chinese and English-language newspapers.