‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
That quote, attributed to Lenin, was a colorful metaphor for what Marxists call the internal contradictions of capitalism. Belief in the inherent inevitability of the West’s imminent collapse sustained the Soviet Communists right up to the moment in 1989 when their own system proved more self-annihilating than anything capitalism could muster.
But the old maxim has taken on a new and more plausible form today. It was on display last week in the first encounter between President Biden’s foreign policy team and the modern claimants to Marxism-Leninism’s primacy in the Chinese Communist Party.
It was evident from the moment the two sides sat down that an emboldened Chinese leadership understands that the greatest ideological weapon it now holds in its increasingly existential struggle with America is the gleeful enthusiasm for self-destruction that characterizes so much of elite opinion in the U.S.
When Yang Jiechi, the Communist Party’s foreign-affairs chief, lectured Secretary of State Antony Blinken about America’s human-rights record, its treatment of minorities and its system’s innate inequity, everything he said could have been lifted straight from the pages of the Democratic Party’s presidential election platform, culled from Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper stories, or jotted down in a student’s notes from lectures delivered daily at America’s top universities.
In fact, it probably was.
In response, a visibly discomfited Mr. Blinken mumbled something barely coherent that at least America deals with its problems in the open. He then complained, like a bested debater, that his opponent had gone over his allotted time.
The larger truth is that the people who control America’s leading cultural institutions and now its government have been eagerly manufacturing ideological rope for the Chinese hangman, and they’ve stepped up production over the past year.