China Is Building A “Social Credit” System. So Is The United States. By Tomás Sidenfaden.
China’s draconian censorship efforts appear a world apart from the freedom of speech protections tenuously preserved in American society. But as the two world powers evolve the similarities are becoming just as striking as the differences. While their social designs diverge, their intended results do not: both seek to shrink the Overton Window in favor of what the governing class considers a healthier, more orderly, more moral discourse.
In China, censorship isn’t just limited to critiques of the government. It also includes what the ruling party considers moral rot. Underage drinking, drug use, violence, and hyper-sexualized content get scrubbed from media and film. This top-down social engineering finds its shape in the country’s new social-credit system, which punishes undesirable behavior like canceling dinner reservations or jaywalking by restricting travel rights or access to (financial) credit.
Far from feeling threatened by this development, ordinary Chinese seem to actually welcome it. A 2017 Ipsos poll revealed that 47 percent of the population regards moral decline as the country’s biggest threat and an astonishing 87 percent believe the country to be heading in the right direction. According to the same poll, only 43 percent of Americans feel their country is heading in the right direction, and most would argue we are undergoing a moral reckoning. (It is important to note that a cross-national comparison of survey results is complicated by China’s punitive monitoring of criticism.) …
The United States is not Soviet Russia or Maoist China. Neither is modern-day China. Nevertheless, both share outcasting as a potent social and economic weapon.
The ruling class in Russia and China was of course the government. In the U.S., where the government is regularly refreshed, our ruling class is comprised of those who define our accepted modes of discourse through the institutions — many of them non-governmental — that they control.
While no one serious has suggested the transgressors of today be sentenced to hard labor in a gulag (though certainly some non-serious individuals have), it is alarming how accepting many have become to inflicting on these transgressors a direct hit to their careers as just punishment for their wrongthink. Today’s mob scans and censors the citizenry like past regimes have, except businesses and academia are the enforcement mechanism. This dynamic will continue to evolve. …
The many calls to silence critics, curb misinformation, and improve the toxicity of our discourse are a cry for constraints on our freedom. China’s social-credit system seems like an Orwellian dragnet, and it very well may be, but the U.S. is quickly constructing a parallel scheme.
It is undeniably the case that we are disintegrating, but it ought to scare the hell out of us that we are developing a system — without government control, mind you! — within which people can lose their jobs, even their careers, for having expressed a single opinion despised by the progressive mob.
This is exactly what people raised under communism, but now living in the West, keep warning us about: it’s coming here, and it’s not being imposed on us by the government, but emerging all the same.
hat-tip Stephen Neil