While I have been researching Eastern European market socialism, with its breakthroughs and logjams, have not posted so much recently. But there are some interesting recent developments.
First, despite all the hype about Huawei in small corners of the world, business is booming with company sales improving more than 25 percent compared to last year. Its new phone, the Mate 30, simply challenges you to do without the nefarious dealings of Google. For some time now, I have not been using any of the Google items, so this is good news. Further, Germany has decided that Huawei poses no risks whatsover, and indeed that it helpfully prevents US spying, so the company that has most global patents in 5G will be integral to Germany’s development.
On a related note, despite all the uncertainties of the global situation and with a new wave of US-driven nationalistic protectionism, the Chinese economy is moving ahead solidly. Chinese experts have have been predicting a gradual slowing of growth for some time, as China makes a transition from high volume to high quality, and with a focus on ecological civilisation (shengtai wenming). Then again, 6 to 6.5 percent growth now in China is equivalent to 15 percent 10 years ago, and it is way above standard levels elsewhere.
Some like to call it the ‘Iron Curtain Trail’, a bicycle route running from the top of the Russian-Finnish border to the Black Sea.
However, in the German parts there is a distinct reluctance to name the route in such a fashion. Every now and then, you may come across signs like this:
But they are quite rare. Instead, you may find the ‘Green Belt Route’.
Why the reluctance? German unity has always been a problem, as Engels analysed carefully in the 1880s. So no need to exacerbate differences. Another reason is that citizens of the former DDR object to the demonisation of their country by such a name. I would add that the author of the phrase ‘iron curtain’ was an extreme racist.
A far better name would be the ‘Anti-Fascist Route’. The reason: the border was in parts described in the same terms, representing a visible line preventing for a time NATO forces from moving further east.
An interesting survey from Gallup, based on interviews and telephone conversations with 1,000 people in each country.
The result: the global approval of US leadership in 2017 dropped to 30%, behind Germany on 41% and China on 31%. Both Germany and China remained at the same level from the previous year, indicating stability.
Some graphs tell the story:
Notably, Russia and the USA are quite close to one another. Now for the disapproval rating, which for the USA sits at 43%:
In the Americas it has shot up to 58%:
I am most intrigued by the last graph, which indicates how much the approval/disapproval rates have shifted in different parts of the globe:
In much of Europe, the Americas, central and southern Africa, south and south-eastern Asia (including Australia in this last group), it has plummeted, while parts of northern Africa, eastern Europe and Russia have seen an increase! Not sure it will make much difference in Russia.
However, the danger of such graphs is to enhance the idea that Trump’s USA is an anomaly, in contrast to the ‘golden age’ of Obama et al. All manner of concerted efforts are underway to generate this impression, whether blaming the Russians for meddling, questioning Trump’s mental stability, or indeed asserting that his election victory was the result of purely racist elements. Instead, Trump is merely a symptom of a much longer trajectory.