It really doesn’t matter whether China’s now declared agenda is the aspiration of one man or the collective aim of an ideology. For sure, it will be a bit of both. The theory of democracy is that too much autocracy is self-destructive because enough of the people won’t stand for it to make it eventually unworkable. That folds the idea into two further questions: ‘what is enough?’ and ‘when is eventually?’ Surveillance and enforcement might prolong control over people for decades but for the fact that today all kinds of hitherto reasonable members of society seem inclined to riot, maim and kill with little more than a wish to do so as the reason.
So ‘enough’ is a moving target. But then ‘eventually’ is, too. The world regards speed as an asset, something to be aimed for, more or less whatever you are doing. It may be desirable in replacing a heart valve but it is the antithesis of joyfully making a baby. And Formula One racing has a frisson of risk about it that is thrilling, but I have had as much pleasure watching trees grow. Does the world need to move faster right now or would it do better to pause and ponder what we are here for? Near the end of life, the question becomes more intriguing.
Declared political intentions no longer necessarily mean what they say. Diplomacy has broadened into threats and verbal sparring – better than physical fighting as long as it stops there. The damage to human communications from realising that nothing said may be true or meant is significant, but still not as disastrous as final elimination. So how should you react to the threat of a world war? The best answer is one word – laughter. If it turns out that they meant it you will, I am sure, have prepared in all the practical ways that you can.
If it turns out to be another failed moan, you can enjoy the joke. The other side – whoever they are – certainly won’t. The threats being bandied about on both sides of the ideological divide are enough to make you think that those uttering them are a sandwich short of a picnic. So my advice is eat the sandwich, enjoy the picnic and have a good laugh. Oh, and do follow the caution in my little ditty below before you sit down to the repast.
Choose who you want to sit next to with care.
The one you select may well not want you there.
If forced to depart by a man of strong arm,
Please try to ensure that you come to no harm.
And remember to put away the disc of Downton Abbey and get the new soap, “Downing Street”. Guaranteed a new Prime Minister in every episode.
Good morning, we hope
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25 October 2022