The War on Populism – by C.J. Hopkins • 10 Jan 2019

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known asthe Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressors, debaucherous eau de Novichok assassins, Bernie Sanders, the yellow-vested French, emboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombers, Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed intoracist, hate-filled liars who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointedGolden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin.

Egypt: university expels female student for hugging male friend (AFP) 13 Jan 2019

An Egyptian couple embracing during a stroll on Pharos Island in the port of Alexandria
An Egyptian couple embracing during a stroll on Pharos Island in the port of Alexandria AFP/File

Cairo (AFP)

Egypt’s Al-Azhar university on Sunday said it had expelled a female student after she appeared in a video hugging a male colleague, accusing her of undermining the school’s reputation.

The video, which went viral earlier this month, showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers kneeling before a young woman and then hugging her in what appeared to be a marriage proposal.  The video was apparently not filmed at Al-Azhar — a branch of Egypt’s highest Sunni Muslim authority — but at another establishment, Mansoura University in the country’s north.

Nevertheless the disciplinary council of the Al-Azhar University campus in Mansoura on Saturday “decided to expel the young girl definitively”, university spokesman Ahmed Zarie told AFP.  He said the video had caused a “public outcry” and that the university’s decision to expel her was because she had presented a “bad image” of Al-Azhar University, which strictly segregates the genders.  He said hugging between unmarried men and women violates “the values and principles of society”.

The woman, however, can appeal the expulsion decision, Zarie said. The young man who appeared in the video could also face sanctions, a spokesman for Mansoura University said, adding that the school’s disciplinary council will meet on Monday to decide his “punishment”.

Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, is a largely conservative society.

Last year, prosecutors detained a female singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after an online video clip which included sensual oriental dances and suggestive gestures went viral.  And in 2017 another female pop singer was sentenced to two years in prison on similar charges, also over a video deemed provocative. Her sentence was reduced to a year on appeal.


Canada: After 37 Years Rock Magazine Ends Print Edition – RIP ‘Maximum Rocknroll’

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It is with heavy hearts that we are announcing the end of Maximum Rocknroll as a monthly print fanzine. There will be three more issues of the fanzine in its current format; later in 2019 we will begin publishing record reviews online alongside our weekly radio show. Readers can look forward to more online content, updates regarding the archive project initiated in 2016, and other yet-to-be-announced MRR projects, as well as new ways for punks around the world to get involved. We will be having a public meeting at 2:00pm on Sunday, January 20 at the MRR compound to discuss the future — please write for details.

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Maximum Rocknroll began as a radio show in 1977. For the founders of Maximum Rocknroll, the driving impulse behind the radio show was simple: an unabashed, uncompromising love of punk rock. In 1982, buoyed by burgeoning DIY punk and hardcore scenes all over the world, the founders of the show — Tim Yohannan & the gang — launched Maximum Rocknroll as a print fanzine. That first issue drew a line in the sand between the so-called punks who mimicked society’s worst attributes — the “apolitical, anti-historical, and anti-intellectual,” the ignorant, racist, and violent — and MRR’s principled dedication to promoting a true alternative to the doldrums of the mainstream.

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That dedication included anti-corporate ideals, avowedly leftist politics, and relentless enthusiasm for DIY punk and hardcore bands and scenes from every inhabited continent of the globe. Over the next several decades, what started as a do-it-yourself labor of love among a handful of friends and fellow travelers has extended to include literally thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of readers. Today, forty-two years after that first radio show, there have been well over 1600 episodes of MRR radio and 400 issues of Maximum Rocknroll fanzine — not to mention some show spaces, record stores, and distros started along the way —  all capturing the mood and sound of international DIY punk rock: wild, ebullient, irreverent, and oppositional. 

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Needless to say, the landscape of the punk underground has shifted over the years, as has the world of print media. Many of the names and faces behind Maximum Rocknroll have changed too. Yet with every such shift, MRR has continued to remind readers that punk rock isn’t any one person, one band, or even one fanzine. It is an idea, an ethos, a fuck you to the status quo, a belief that a different kind of world and a different kind of sound is ours for the making.

These changes do not mean that Maximum Rocknroll is coming to an end. We are still the place to turn if you care about Swedish girl bands or Brazilian thrash or Italian anarchist publications or Filipino teenagers making anti-state pogo punk, if you are interested in media made by punks for punks, if you still believe in the power and potential of autonomously produced and underground culture. We certainly still do, and look forward to the surprises, challenges, and joys that this next chapter will bring. Long live Maximum Rocknroll.


Israel: Arab Christians Protest Art Museum’s ‘McChrist’ Crucifixion Work – by Alexander Fulbright (Times of Israel) 11 Jan 2019

Arab Christians clash violently with police in Haifa over ‘McJesus’ sculpture

3 officers wounded as hundreds of protesters try to forcibly enter Haifa Museum during demonstration against depiction of Ronald McDonald on a cross


The "McJesus" sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen on display at the Haifa Museum of Art. (Haifa Museum of Art)

The “McJesus” sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen on display at the Haifa Museum of Art. (Haifa Museum of Art)

Hundreds of Arab Christian demonstrators clashed with police in Haifa on Friday over a museum’s display of a sculpture depicting Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the fast-food giant, on a cross, amid calls to remove the artwork that some have called offensive.

Police said a few hundred protesters tried to force their way into the Haifa Museum of Art during the demonstration and that three officers were injured by rocks hurled at them.  An investigation was opened to identify the rock-throwers, and a 32-year-old resident of the city was arrested on suspicion of attacking officers. Video from the demonstration showed scuffles as police used tear gas and stun grenades to clear the protesters.


One of the protesters complained that the government was slow to react to their concerns because they were from the Christian minority. “If they put up [a sculpture of] Hitler with a Torah scroll they would immediately respond,” he told the Walla news site.

Ahead of the protest, police deployed officers from its Special Patrol Unit to guard the museum after a molotov cocktail was thrown at the museum on Thursday. 

The “McJesus,” which was sculpted by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen and depicts a crucified Ronald McDonald, went on display in August as part of the Haifa museum’s “Sacred Goods” exhibitThe show also features a number of other pieces depicting Jesus, including one of him as a “Ken” doll, as well as imagery from other religions.

On Thursday, Culture Minister Miri Regev sent Haifa Museum director Nissim Tal a letter calling for the sculpture’s removal.

“Disrespect of religious symbols sacred to many worshipers in the world as an act of artistic protest is illegitimate and cannot serve as art at a cultural institution supported by state funds,” she wrote.

In response to Friday’s protest, the Haifa Museum said Tal agreed during a meeting with church leaders and officials from the Haifa Municipality to put up a sign at the entrance to the exhibit explaining it contains potentially offensive content.  The museum also condemned the throwing of the molotov cocktail and said any objection to the piece must not be expressed violently. 

“A discourse about art, however complex it may be, must not spill over into violent territory and must be respected — even in charged situations,” it said.



Looking At: The Great War – Lenin and Trotsky 1917 – Youtube Video and Comment


I put a comment on Youtube about the video:

I have watched many episodes of this series and have been impressed with the even handed tone and reliance on documentation and evidence. So…I was reluctant to click on this Lenin and Trotsky episode. I am one who has some acquaintance with these men and have read a number of works by both. I was afraid of a slanted anti-communist presentation. But, I finally watched this episode. Mostly very good.

One point – the difference between Lenin’s Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks was not about ‘violence.’ The difference is about the organizational structure a socialist party should have. The Mensheviks and most European moderate socialists wanted an open party with low key meetings and open membership at any time. Members could say just about anything they wanted about politics and openly disagree with other party members. The focus would be on winning parliamentary seats in elections and slowly pushing for modest reforms that really improve workers lives right now.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks wanted to form a shadow government that would have party members who were professional revolutionaries who joined the party and voted on the parties positions and then accepted the majorities ruling and said the same thing as everyone else in public. The Leninist wanted a party news organization that would publish a national newspaper that would be an organizing tool for the party and socialism. The Leninist was expected to be a organizer, a publicist, a street vendor of a revolutionary newspaper, and someone who followed orders, and knew how to give others orders. The Leninists did not want to be ‘Sunday Socialists.’

Moderate Socialists like the Mensheviks were quite capable of using violence and had no ideological problems using government police forces to fight workers and socialists when they are elected to parliament. The July Days in Petrograd 1917 featured Menshevik backed violence – against revolutionary workers and socialists. All political parties use violence when they have state power – some more, some less. The State is ultimately built on a system of violence and the threat of violence to enforce laws and rule the population. The Soviet state was no different. The vote in 1903 between the Mensheviks and Lenin’s Bolshevik’s was not about violence versus peaceful progress.

German Gold? Like a story from the Brothers Grimm many love to write about Lenin getting “German Gold.” I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone use the phrases “German money,” or “German funds.” Those phrases are not something one would find in a fairy-tale. Has anyone ever written about the American Revolution and said the Revolutionaries got “French Gold?” When Irish Nationalists and Socialists rose up against the UK in 1916 they got money and guns from Germany. Just like Lenin, perhaps. But the implication for many is that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was some kind of German destabilization trick that morphed out of control and became a historical fluke – an openly socialist state that aimed to eliminate capitalism.

China’s Long Game: Hold Tibet, Take Taiwan, Colonize Moon – by Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) 11 Jan 2019

The top story of 2019 – and the years ahead – will continue to revolve around the myriad, dangerous permutations of the economic ascent of China, the resurgence of nuclear superpower Russia and the decline of the US’s global hegemony.  Two years ago, before the onset of the Trump administration, I sketched how the shadow play might proceed in the New Great Game in Eurasia.

Now the new game hits high gear; it’s the US against the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Diplomatic capers, tactical retreats, psychological, economic, cyber and even outer space duels, all enveloped in media hysteria, will continue to rule the news cycle. Be prepared for all shades of carping about authoritarian China, and its “malign” association with an “illiberal” Russian bogeyman bent on blasting the borders of Europe and “disrupting” the Middle East.

Relatively sound minds like the political scientist Joseph Nye will continue to lament the sun setting on the Western liberal “order,” without realizing that what was able to “secure and stabilize the world over the past seven decades” does not translate into a “strong consensus … defending, deepening and extending this system.” The Global South overwhelmingly begs to differ, arguing that the current “order” was manufactured and largely benefits only US interests.

Expect exceptionalists to operate in condescending overdrive, exhorting somewhat reluctant “allies” to help “constrain” if not contain China and “channel” – as in control – Beijing’s increasing global clout.

It’s a full-time job to “channel” China into finding its “right” place in a new world order. What does the Chinese intellectual elite really think about all this?

Never fight on two fronts

An unparalleled roadmap may be provided by Zhang Wenmu, national security strategy expert and professor at the Center of Strategic Studies of the University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Beijing, who wrote an essay published in August 2017 in the Chinese magazine Taipingyan Xuebao (Pacific magazine), that was translated recently into Italian by Rome-based geopolitical magazine Limes.

“Geopolitics” may be an Anglo invention, arguably by Sir Halford Mackinder, but it has been studied in China for centuries as, for instance, “geographic advantage” (xingsheng) or “historic geography” (lishi dili).

Wenmu introduces us to the concept of geopolitics as philosophy on the tip of a knife, but it’s mostly about philosophy, not the knife. If we want to use the knife we must use philosophy to know the limits of our power. Call it a Sino-equivalent of Nietzsche’s philosophizing with a hammer.

As a geopolitical analyst, Wenmu cannot but remind us that the trademark Roman or British empires’ ‘divide and rule’ is also a well-known tactic in China. For instance, in early 1972, Chairman Mao was quite ready to welcome Richard Nixon. Later, in July, Mao revealed his hand: “One must profit from the conflict between two powers, that is our policy. But we must get closer to one of them and not fight on two fronts.” He was referring to the split between China and the USSR.

Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (L) welcomes 22 February 1972 at his house in Beijing Forbidden City US President Richard Nixon. President Nixon urged China to join the United States in a "long march together" on different roads to world peace. CHINA OUT (Photo by XINHUA / AFP)

China’s Chairman Mao Zedong (left) welcomes US President Richard Nixon to his house in Beijing on February 22, 1972. Photo: AFP/Xinhua

Wenmu gets a real kick out of how Western geopolitics usually plays things wrong. He stresses how Halford Mackinder, the Englishman regarded as one of the founders of geostrategy, “influenced World War II and the subsequent decline of the British Empire,” noting how Mackinder died only five months before Partition between India and Pakistan in 1947.

He destroys George Kennan’s theory of the Cold War, “directly based on Mackinder’s thinking,” and how it led the US to fight in Korea and Vietnam, “accelerating its decline.”

Even Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security advisor, “saw the decline of the American empire,” as he died recently, in May 2017. “In that moment, China and Russia gave life to a strategic collaboration always closer and invincible.” Wenmu is positively gleeful. “If Brzezinski was still alive, I think he would see the ‘great defeat’ of the Western world – the opposite of what he wrote.”

Why Tibet matters

Chinese geopolitics predictably pays close attention to the tension between sea powers and land powers. Wenmu notes how, in the Indian Ocean, the British Empire enjoyed more naval power compared to the Americans “because it occupied the homonymous continent. And because it dominated the seas, the United Kingdom also threatened the Russian Empire, which was a land power.”

Wenmu quotes from Alfred Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power Upon History on the reciprocal influence between control of the seas and control of the land. But, he adds: “Mahan did not analyze this relation on a global level … Based on the priorities of the United States, he concentrated most of all on distant seas.”

Cho Oyu | usage worldwide

The Tibetan plateau is strategically located. Photo: AFP

Wenmu crucially stresses how the Pacific Ocean is the “obligatory passage of the Maritime Silk Road.” Even though China “developed its naval capacity much later, it enjoys [a] geographical advantage in relation to the UK and the US.” And with that, he brings us to the essential Tibet question.

One of Wenmu’s key points is how “the Tibetan plateau allows the People’s Republic to access the resources respectively of the Pacific Ocean to the east and those of the Indian Ocean in the west. If from the plateau we look at the American base in Diego Garcia [in the center of the Indian Ocean] we can’t have any doubts about the natural advantage of Chinese geopolitics.” The implication is that the UK and US must “consume a great deal of resources to cross the oceans and develop a chain of islands.”

Wenmu shows how the geography of the Tibetan plateau “links in a natural way the Tibetan region to the dominant power in the Chinese central plains” while it does “not link it to the countries in the South Asia subcontinent.” Thus Tibet should be considered as a “natural part of China.”

China is supported by the continental plaque, “which it controls along its coast,” and “possesses technology of medium and long-range missile attack,” guaranteeing it virtually a “great capacity of reaction in both oceans” with a “relatively powerful naval force.” And that’s how China, as Wenmu maps it, is able to compensate – “to a certain extent” – the technological gap relative to the West.

Wenmu’s most controversial point is that “the advantage that only China enjoys of linking to markets of two oceans crashes the myth of Western ‘naval power’ in the contemporary era and introduces a revolutionary vision; the People’s Republic is a great nation who possesses by nature the qualification of naval power.” We just need to compare “how industrial development allowed the West to navigate towards the Indian Ocean” while China “arrived on foot.”

Get Taiwan

President Obama was keen to exhort at every opportunity the status of the US as a “Pacific nation.” Imagine the US confronted by Wenmu’s description: “The Western Pacific is linked to the national interests of the People’s Republic and is the starting point of the New Maritime Silk Road.” In fact, Chairman Mao talked about it way back in 1959: “One day, it does not matter when, the United States will have to retire from the rest of the world and will have to abandon the Western Pacific.”

Extrapolating from Mao, Wenmu elaborates on a “Western Pacific Chinese Sea” uniting the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. “We can use the formula ‘southern zone of the Western Pacific Chinese Sea’ to describe the part that falls under Chinese sovereignty.”

This suggests a combination of Chinese forces in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea under a sole Western Pacific naval command.

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews a military display of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018. Picture: Li Gang/ Xinhua via Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews a military display of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Li Gang/Xinhua

It’s easy to see where all this is pointing: reunification with Taiwan.

Under such a system, as delineated by Wenmu, Taiwan “would return to the motherland,” China’s sovereignty over its coastline “would be legitimated” and at the same time “would not be excessively extended.”

Beijing’s supreme goal is to effectively move the “Chinese line of control” to the east of Taiwan. That reflects President Xi Jinping’s speech earlier this week, where he referred to Taiwan, for all practical purposes, as the great prize. Wenmu frames it as an environment “where Chinese nuclear submarines are able to counter-attack, the construction of aircraft carriers can progress and products made in continental China may be exported effectively.”

The barycenter of Asia

One of the most fascinating arguments in Wenmu’s essay is how he shows there’s always a natural proportion – a sort of ‘divine’ or ‘golden ratio’ between the three strategic powers in Eurasia: Europe, Central Asia and China.

Cue to a fast tour of the rise and fall of empires, with “history showing how in the main zone of the continent – between 30 and 60 degrees of north[ern] latitude – there can be only 2.5 strategic forces.” Which means one of the three major spaces always becomes fragmented.

In modern times it has been rare that one of the three powers “managed to expand to a 1.5 ratio.” Before, only the Tang empire and the Mongol empire came close. The British Empire, Tsarist Russia and the USSR “invaded Afghanistan and entered Central Asia, but success, when it happened, was short-lived.”

That paved the way to Wenmu’s clincher: “The law of the aurea section [Latin for ‘golden’ section] as the base of strategic power in Eurasia helps us to understand the causes of alternate rise and decline of powers in the continent and to recognize the limits of expansion of Chinese power in Central Asia. To understand it is the premise of mature and successful diplomacy.”

Although this cannot be seriously depicted as a roadmap for “Chinese aggression,” Wenmu cannot help but direct another hit at Western geopolitical stalwart Mackinder: “With his genius imagination, Mackinder advanced the wrong theory of the ‘geographic pivot’ because he did not consider this law.”

In a nutshell, China is key for the equilibrium of Eurasia. “In Europe, the fragmented zone originates in the center, in Asia, it is around China. So that presents China as the natural barycenter of Asia.”

Dark side of the moon

It’s easy to imagine Wenmu’s essay provoking ballistic responses from proponents of the US National Security Strategy which labels China, as well as Russia, as a dangerous “revisionist power.”

Professional Sinophobes are even peddling the notion that a “failing China” might eventually “lash out” against the US. That’s a misreading of what Rear Admiral Luo Yuan said last month in Shenzhen: “We now have Dong Feng-21D, Dong Feng-26 missiles. These are aircraft carrier killers. We attack and sink one of their aircraft carriers. Let them suffer 5,000 casualties. Attack and sink two carriers, casualties 10,000. Let’s see if the US is afraid or not?”

This is a statement of fact, not a threat. The Pentagon knows all there is to know about ‘carrier killer’ danger.

Beijing won’t stop with carrier killers, the rebranded Western Pacific and reunification with Taiwan. It is planning the first artificial intelligence (AI) colony on earth – a deep-sea base for unmanned submarine science and defense ops in the South China Sea.

This picture taken on January 3, 2019 and received on January 4 from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS shows a robotic lunar rover on the "dark side" of the moon. - A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon on January 3, in a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower. (Photo by China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS / China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS / AFP) / China OUT

China’s robotic lunar rover goes for a spin on the dark side of the moon. Photo: AFP/China National Space Administration

The landing of the Chang’e 4 lunar probe on the far side of the moon could even be interpreted as the most extreme extension of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

These are all pieces in a massive puzzle bound to reinforce the grip of a new – Sinocentric – map of the world, already in use by the Chinese navy and published in 2013, not by accident the year when the New Silk Roads were announced in Astana and Jakarta.

Wenmu ends his essay stressing how “Chinese geopolitics must distance itself from the idea that ‘one cannot open his mouth without mentioning Ancient Greece’.” That’s a reference to a famous Mao speech of May 1941, when the Chairman criticized certain Marxist-Leninists who privileged Western history – of which Ancient Greece is the ultimate symbol – over Chinese history.

Thucydides trap? What trap?