PLEDGE #2 — America Must Join the Belt and Road
If a country is planning its basic economic infrastructure 50 years into the future with the idea that actions taken in the present will be viable two generations from now, what would that country look like? What if we could travel great distances by high speed rail and reach beautiful new city centers with surrounding new urban and cultural areas? Are we really stuck pasting together old systems with old components, or can we find a way to build entirely new rail, ports, bridges, and other fundamental infrastructure? What if we dramatically upgraded our productivity, making good housing in beautiful cities affordable at reasonable prices? What if we devoted a substantial part of our national budget to science and fundamental research without the sharks of Wall Street telling us what we can and cannot think or dream about? What kind of education system fosters creativity rather than producing stupidity and dead souls as a result of drill and grill memorization? What if we mobilized our resources and our population to end poverty both in our country and world-wide?
These are the type of ideas and questions which leap from Americans who have traveled to China and witnessed what is happening there. China’s new paradigm of economic development and cultural optimism, coincident with its gigantic Belt and Road Initiative, makes those stuck in the dying British-sponsored post-World War II “world order” apoplectic. The United States has been invited to join in this Initiative, the largest infrastructure building project ever undertaken. President Trump continues to entertain that offer despite strong opposition from the present Congress, Wall Street, and most of his major advisors.
If we join the Belt and Road Initiative, our own economic prospects instantly improve. China could invest its vast holdings of U.S. Treasuries as stock in a new United States National Bank, such as that mandated by LaRouche’s “Four Laws for Economic Recovery” — a bank organized to direct funds to jump-start gigantic infrastructure projects here in the United States. The United States could join China in Great Projects developing the world, creating thousands of high paying jobs for U.S. firms.
There is no better guide to China’s grand project, and its historical significance than Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the Founder and President of the Schiller Institute. Because of her tireless campaigning for the concept of the “New Silk Road” development project now reflected in significant respects in the Belt and Road Initiative, she is known as “the Silk Road Lady” in China. Here we print an abridgment of remarks she made on November 25, 2017, to a Schiller Institute conference in Bad Soden, Germany. Her full presentation is available as a video.
The Actually Optimistic Present
The following remarks were presented by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in a speech titled, "The Belt and Road and a Dialogue of Cultures Based on Their Higher Expressions," at the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forum in Zhuhai, Guangdong, November 29, 2017.
Let me begin with an idea developed by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He said that we are actually living in the best of all possible worlds. This is a very fundamental ontological conception. It is the idea that we are living in a developing universe, that what makes the universe the best of all those possible is its tremendous potential for development. And it is created in such a way, that every great evil challenges an even greater good to come into being.
I think when we are talking about the New Silk Road and the tremendous changes which have occurred in the world, especially in the last four years, it is actually exactly that principle which is working. Because it was the absolute, manifest lack of development under the old world order, which caused the impulse of China and the spirit of the New Silk Road to catch on, so that now many nations of the world are absolutely determined to have development to give a better life to all of their people.
Now, I think that the New Silk Road is a typical example of an idea whose time has come; and once an idea becomes a material reality in that way, it becomes a physical force in the universe.
I personally had the chance to see how it spread, after President Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in 2013 in Kazakhstan. I visited China in 2014, and at that point there were still only a very few officials discussing it. But then it spread very rapidly. There were industrial fairs in all the cities of China; there were hundreds of international symposia; the BRICS countries started to join in the same spirit, as did the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); altogether, more than 100 large nations and international organizations joined in support. This was evident in the Belt and Road Forum this past May, where twenty-nine heads of state spoke and 110 nations participated.
This has generated a completely optimistic perspective. Xi Jinping announced that China will be a country in which poverty is completely eradicated by the year 2020. I think that is wonderful! And it is absolutely to be believed, because China has had an incredible economic miracle, in which it lifted 700 million people out of poverty. China now has only 42 million poor people left, so why should it not succeed in totally eliminating poverty by the year 2020? By 2035, China is to be a great modern country of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which in my view means predominantly Confucian characteristics. And by 2050, China will be—according to Xi Jinping—“a great modern country of socialism with Chinese characteristics, prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.”
Now the Chinese media announce very proudly that this is a grand vision for the future. A new era has dawned. Xinhua wrote that “China will make a new and greater contribution to the noble cause of peace and development for all of humanity.” Well, it is very easy for the Chinese people to understand that, because the whole country is already united around this mission. There are many people in the West who have also understood that, either because they have investments in China, or because they know that the New Silk Road is the largest infrastructure program in history. It is already now twelve or maybe even twenty times larger than the Marshall Plan was in the postwar period, but without its military connotation.
The Blindness of Western Elites
But of course, there are also those in the West who are completely opposed. Right now, a fight is going on between the old paradigm of geopolitics and the New Paradigm of the one humanity. The representatives of the old paradigm say, “Oh, what Xi Jinping is saying is just empty propaganda. The real intention of the Chinese is to replace the United States as the hegemon. Xi Jinping is a dictator. He just wants a system that is a threat to the Western model of market-oriented democracy, and therefore, it is bad.”
When these people criticize China, what you can see is that they are projecting their own intentions and viewpoints onto China and the New Silk Road. These people in the West who are attacking China, cannot imagine the existence of a government which is truly devoted to the common good and a harmonious development of all people, because they think that the world is a zero-sum game—that if one wins, the other has to lose, and that they have to control the rules in order to be able to rig the game in their favor. They believe that if you can’t do that, you are a loser.
In 2014, we published a study called The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge. That is exactly what is happening. What started with just the old Silk Road line between China and Europe, is now very quickly developing into six major land development corridors.
Freight trains already run from China to different European locations over 40 rail lines every week. The 16+1 countries—that is, the Eastern and Central European countries and China—are having a conference right now in Budapest. They are completely on-board the collaboration with the New Silk Road. There is a new Balkans Silk Road. The President of Panama was just in China after Panama switched its diplomatic relations from Taiwan; now they are allied with the mainland. The President of Panama said that all of Latin America will join the New Silk Road, and that this is not directed against the United States, because the United States is also invited to join.
But the most important shift, of course, is that of the United States, and of the relationship between China and the United States. The result of the recent trip of President Trump and his two-day state visit to China, is obviously the most consequential. Because if the two largest economies of the world have a good relationship, then prospects for world peace are moving in a very positive direction.
The Chinese Ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, recently made the point that there were sixteen times in world history when a rising country surpassed the country that had been dominant up to that point. In twelve cases it led to a war, while in four cases the rising country took over peacefully. He said that China wants neither of those outcomes; instead, China wants to have a completely different system of a win-win relationship of equality and respect for one another.
Trump came back from this Asia trip with $253 billion worth of deals with China. I watched the Nov. 13 press conference of the Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, who said that now, because of China, there is hope in West Virginia. West Virginia is a totally depressed state; it has high unemployment and a drug epidemic. But he said that now we can have value-added production, and we will have a bright future. So the spirit of the New Silk Road has caught on in West Virginia.
Finally, Real Development for Africa
Besides the change in the relations between the United States and China—and that in Southwest Asia—the biggest change for the better as a result of the New Silk Road, is in Africa. China has invested in Africa.
In railways, it has built a railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa; it is building other railways from Kenya, and they are supposed to go to Rwanda. They are building hydropower dams and industrial parks. Especially in the last four years, the outlook of most Africans has completely changed, because they see, for the first time, that after suppression by colonialism and the denial of development through the IMF conditionalities, there is a possibility to truly develop the continent.
In 1980, my husband, Lyndon LaRouche, wrote a supplement to the Organization of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action, a book-length paper with the title “Stop Club of Rome Genocide in Africa! Critical Comments Appended to the Lagos Plan of Action.”
He defines economic science as an inseparable facet of science, usefully called “statecraft,” which includes the development of law and the cultural advancement of the people—the development of the individual to master the lawful principles of the composition of the universe. He presented a total counterposition to that of the Club of Rome, with its “appropriate technologies” and its “sustainable development”—which is just another word for no development. He proposed to upgrade the labor force continuously to higher modes of production, by changing the proportions of employment from rural to urban productive occupations, using continuously higher energy-flux densities in the mode of production.
He took as a reference point for the development of Africa, the development of the United States, and showed how, for example, in the United States at the end of the 18th Century, 98% of the people worked in agriculture. Today it is less than 4%, obviously producing much more food than at the time. This exemplifies the way for Africa to go, including the development of roads, canals, and railroads; the specialization of farmers; the increase of productivity and income in agriculture and industry; a shift away from labor-intensive to capital-intensive modes of production; and better education—all amounting to the development of the power of the population to produce material alterations of nature with an increasing potential relative population-density and at higher energy-flux densities.
He said, “The development of Africa must be directed to what nations of Africa are to become by the year 2000 and 2020.” This was written in 1980, namely, two generations ago. He said, “The conception needed is one of the development of the productive powers of the entire population, over the development period spanning two generations.” Apart from basic infrastructure—meaning a continental system of rail, waterways, and highways—he proposed a string of new cities of 250,000 to a maximum of 2 million inhabitants, where at the core of each new city would be an educational complex of pedagogical museums, libraries, cultural centers, parks, and teaching and research institutions, including medical science and research institutions.
He proposed a connected system of rapid transport for persons and freight, and low-cost transition from one mode of transport to another. He envisioned inner-city distribution of freight from warehouses in the city to stores, with daily deliveries of perishable goods such as foodstuffs. And around the core of the educational complex, then residential, industrial, and commercial areas would be developed.
The cities were not only supposed to be functionally well designed, but beautiful, using the principles of Platonic ratios in architecture. Utilizing, for example, those methods used in Gothic cathedrals, or in the architecture of the Golden Renaissance of Italy. It included the idea of having many trees and flora, so that people would be happy and the climate would be moderated.
He said, “The essential thing which the citizens of such a city must experience over the course of the city’s gradual completion, is a sense of ongoing progress of perfection.” To aid this process, there should be technology transfer from the developed countries, financed by grants. He made the correct point that technology transfer from Europe and the United States to Africa would stimulate the economy in the exporting nations and increase their tax income, and that the developing countries receiving grants would become the next generation’s customers for purchasing on a credit basis. The exporting nations would develop prosperous customers for tomorrow, and have an accelerated turnover of capital stocks, and thus those exporting countries would increase their productivity, and therefore their national and per-capita wealth.
Now, LaRouche, on the other side, said that,
“The technology-exporting nations must seek those portions of the labor force in the developing nations, which can be upgraded immediately to productive employment, using the most advanced technologies embodied in the capital stock to be exported from the industrialized nations. That labor force is able to assimilate the advanced technologies, and that must be expanded. It requires methods of promoting the development potentials of the population on a large scale, so the investment in infrastructure and the development of the population has to occur at the same time. Every infant born in any part of the world, has the potential for the development of his or her mental powers to the level sufficient for a direct, competent use of modern technology. It is that potential development which is the only source of wealth. That development is a credit-worthy asset in the eyes of a truly prudent lender."
Leibniz’s Proposals Were Analogous
In the preface of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s book Novissima Sinica (1697), he writes:
“I consider it a singular plan of the fates that human cultivation and refinement should today be concentrated, as it were, in the two extremes of our continent, in Europe and in China, which adorns the Orient as Europe does the opposite edge of the earth. Perhaps Supreme Providence has ordained such an arrangement, so that as the most cultivated and distant peoples stretch out their arms to each other, those in between may gradually be brought to a better way of life.”
For the universal thinker Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz, whose ideas profoundly influenced the American Revolution, the affinity of Confucius and Christianity, despite all differences in culture, proved that humanity has the universal characteristic of reason.
Once one understands this inner cohesion between Chinese ancient philosophy, especially in the Confucian expression, and the ideas of Leibniz, it is no surprise that he not only recognized the affinity, but concretely thought a reciprocal exchange of the two cultures would merge into a superior, more advanced level of civilization. Among Leibniz’s plans for this project were the creation of a world language, for which he thought the Chinese language and script were most appropriate; the creation of a world academy of sciences, where Chinese and Western scientists would work together; and the creation of a world citizenship, which would allow every human being to absorb all cultures of the world.
He envisioned the future role of Russia in mediating between China and the West, and the development of Siberia in relation to the development of Northern Africa. And Peter the Great, with whom he was in contact, in 1712 ordered the expedition of Vitus Jonassen Bering, for whom the Bering Strait has been named. He advocated the development of a method to teach the difference between Western and Chinese culture.
If you look at these plans by Leibniz, it is absolutely amazing how similar they are to what Xi Jinping is doing with the New Silk Road policy today, which has aspects of all of these plans.
We obviously need a completely new set of international relations. We must overcome geopolitics, and we must have a system of relations among us with total respect for sovereignty, non-interference, respect for the different social systems, win-win cooperation in the mutual interest of all of us, and the perspective of one single humanity.
We must develop a new set of international relations in which each nation is allowed to celebrate statecraft, meaning making possible the realization of the creative potential of all of its citizens. This will be an interaction among nations in which each focuses on the best cultural tradition and potential of the other. China is reviving Confucianism and its philosophy of philosophical Classical culture in poetry, music, and painting.
We must do the same. We must revive the ancient Greek Classical period. In Italy, we have the Golden Renaissance; in Spain, the Andalusian renaissance and other great thinkers. In France, you have the traditions of Louis XI, Jeanne d’Arc, and the Ecole Polytechnique. In Germany, we have a tremendous wealth of philosophers, composers, and poets—Schiller and Beethoven. In America, we have the Constitution, the American System of economy. All these treasures are there, and only need to be revived.
So, it is very good to live at this moment in history, and contribute to make the world a better place. And it can be done, because the New Paradigm corresponds to the lawfulness of the physical universe in science, Classical art, and these principles. Neo-liberalism is as outdated as Scholasticism, and will disappear, as did the scholastics debating how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. What will be asserted is the identity of the human species as the creative species in the universe.
(End of presentation by Helga Zepp-LaRouche)
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