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Letter to the Altasian Option (The Economist, February 25th - March 3rd, 2023)

To publish what I am writing The Economist had to do a stretch. If you are reading that it is likely that it had accepted, or that I had to publish it on my own (most likely).

“The Altasian option” thread is clear, its question, “Can Asia’s alternative supply chain steal China’s thunder?”, seemed to have been answered positively: Yes.

However, I would like to go back to one of the arguments raised that seemed to express the overall explanation of why would an Altasian option could be posed.

As for relationships, you don’t start to look away - usually - before something is going wrong. Hence, for the case of “the West” and China, the thing that could have went wrong could have been that moment when the West was eventually sure that China’s increased wages moment wasn’t a phase. That China had changed, that It (ie. The West) hadn’t – that, therefore, “it” had to find another “China” in order to remain the same. A relationship was broken. At least it was transformed.

Can a relationship work if the parties are at equilibrium vis à vis one another? Possibly, but maybe not in market capitalism, at least it’s what I believe the Altasian option is telling us. But let’s continue.

Indeed, as much as this latter point seems true, we could wonder whether the perception of China’s role as the manufacturer of the world would have remained if the promise of a new wave of decreased wages have been set? (Obviously, this is not what we hope for China, for this is just a question). Do relationships end when it doesn’t make sense anymore or when they know it will never make sense again? I would say the latter.

Moreover, do we believe, generally speaking, that aside from opportunism there is a desire to freeze - or secure - countries’s role in one part of the production chain, or that all that is purely arbitrary?

Because, if so, if opportunism is accepted as the main factor for the architectural disposition of rules - which is obvious to some regards indeed - couldn’t we take the incentives that opportunism uses and flip-flop them in order to transform those loosen situations into displayed moment.

Our own time is loosen by the lack of practice to have a stronger representation of time. Time is merely something that passes instead of being something that we mold. Similarly, we dismiss history for those leaving in the future rather than taking actions to correct its path. With everything that we are aware of, we have achieved the power of the medium: prediction. But this had nothing to do with magic.

That posed, and because my clarity is often addressed, I will now share an example of what I meant by the global opportunism being hinder under a loosen display.

Example: I am me. I am friend with somebody. By chance, they happen to have a house in the countryside and we see each other all the time. One day, they sell their house and don’t have a house in the countryside anymore, and we see less. I met somebody else who have a house in the mountain. We start to see each other more. What happened? Many things but not a vocal exchange of understandings. Never did I say that I wanted a friend with a house, neither did my original friend said that he was just bored of me and the others and thought that selling the house was the easiest way to get rid of us, neither did his new friend shared that they just wanted to live in a one bedroom in the city, and that this was the worst thing this could happen. However, that even if they knew we were friends for the house, they had no faith in human nature, so it wasn’t bothering to them. (An allocation puzzle, yes.)

Hence, maybe it is possible that the West is tired to have everything produced half a world from the offices in which it is conceived? Maybe China increased its wages not merely because it is the path of history but also because they want to be pro-active about its path whether or not the others understand what they are doing or not? As for the countries of the Altasian option, maybe they do see it as an opportunity although they would rather work around protecting their environment rather than settling for the international supply chain paradigm.

However, at this time I am mentioning those, it is not anymore about the countries as a political advocating unit than it is about the people that composed the population. As a French, does thousands mile away subcontracting make sense while I want to admire my culture savoir-faire? - not really. Does it make sense under the theoretical framework we live by: yes; but does it when you actually ask the French people what to they want and you understand that what they want is something at a humane scale (-and merely work to provide for themselves and their loved ones).

Hence, without developing my example further, we let our global behaviours be influenced by trends that we don’t design instead of allowing ourselves to have a real conversation about what do each one of us want to be in our global order, what active part do we want to take; and also, for how long do we want to take this part.

Indeed, and this will be me last point: because history is let alone, we refuse to come back. However, retraction is also one of the main traits of human beings. Maybe China would have retracted instead of increasing its wages if it could have (I am not saying it would have); however the way our international community conversations are set don’t allow for the possibility to try to be something else than history has placed you in.

A funny image that I would think about (to illustrate this idea) would be from the Pop Star World. Imagine that Beyonce suddently didn’t wanted to be an icon anymore and came up with some random somebody to replace her. Imagine that she makes a real ceremony and through that passation demands fans to accept this random somebody to take over. Imagine that fans accept it.

Sometimes it is really just about honesty, and whether we (ie. proactive global order actors) are ready for it or not, honesty is always the easiest way to get an answer to what you would have wanted to say.

Hence a question:

Do countries, outside of their PIB agendas, have a desire on whether to be a concept-or or a manufacturer-er. If they do, and we can find some agreement, why isn’t it the case that there exists a General Assembly type of event in which cross-world labour distribution would be discussed and agreed upon. Again, like for children and who gets to have to end of the baguette this time, it doesn’t have to be set in stone, there will likely be a lot more ends of baguette to distribute.

Here is then the perspective that I wanted to share, and where the stretch mentioned earlier is now certified. If we accept that it is the cost of labor that directs who will be the world manufacturer of the decade, why don’t we create a global monetary policy that could consider this phenomenon and create an opportunity for countries to develop different aspects of their economy. For instance, if international organisations were to agree that it is for the wellbeing of their citizen to experience a state that has multiple kinds of labor forces and infrastructures associated with it, couldn’t it be right to think that a global agreement based, for example, on a 10 to 15 years rotation mark based on a drastic monetary policy would offer the historical context for states (ie. tbd) to develop the other side of their profile, identity and economy – side that they couldn’t otherwise developed without a direct-ing of history. Hence, in more simple terms, why don’t we impose that the purchasing power parity of the Euro (for example) dropped in a fashion that would make it be equal to one of the lowest currencies. In the meantime, countries part of the Euro zone – and this is just an example again– could then take in this semi structural shift and develop/redevelop their manufacturer and artisanal skills, while the countries who usually have lower currency values would find themselves with an increased one. This would allow them – I believe - to generate their own development strategies, actually made possible by the fact that their currency would not relegate to one in which nothing is accessible for them but whichever foreign aid provided through discutable means by countries with higher currency values.

Again, even if we were all brought in market capitalism and live by it in some ways or another, we should not be bound to play the same role all the time. Sometimes we do have to stop thinking about developing “The World”, “The World” at this point merely being a collection of data that even itself is too intertwined to even breathe, to think about developing ourselves (ie. the global recognized entities) - its physicality and its latter emanation. We have to put some faith that not everything needs to be captioned as development to still be an emanation from it. We also have to allow what we say we want to happen, happen – this won’t be possible with the tools available right now, and the weight they carry.

Lastly, it is not about development in a similar way that we think of history, linearly- towards the outside; it is about the expansion from within. How can each one of us develop all the facets of ourselves within a global order in which those strong global policies give the opportunity from everyone to support each other in what they want to be instead of supporting “A World” via the lack of truthful risk-taking with the international community, entity by entity.

Relationships also end when there is a communication issue. My letter is to propose the global policy I describe as well as suggesting - more generally speak

ing - that we start to pose the question: what role would you like to play if you could play any? Maybe we have more desire to change that we’ve assume we’ve had. Maybe we have a stronger vision of humanity too.

->List by top choices.

Sincerely, Victoire Mandonnaud

Related: Video I published on Tik Tok about the idea highlighted in bold

Spread from pages 48-49 of the N°1 of The Generator Paper

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