They gave a standing ovation to the current leader of what may be the most murderous political organization in world history. Dozens of American business leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Boeing CEO Stan Deal, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and Visa executive Ryan McInerney, were on hand in San Francisco to pay homage to Xi Jinping, president of China and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), at a dinner in San Francisco hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Xi had earlier met with President Joe Biden, who later described their talks as “some of the most constructive and productive we’ve had.” At the dinner, Biden Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told the American business leaders: “All of you here this evening remain keenly interested to do business in China, and to find ways to advance our bilateral economic relationship.” Raimondo said she knew this “because half of you have come to see me to tell me that.” We are witnessing part II of what the great James Burnham called “the suicidal mania of American business.”
Burnham used that phrase as the title of one of the chapters in his 1949 book The Coming Defeat of Communism, the second volume of his magnificent Cold War trilogy that analyzed the early struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union and promoted policies to win that struggle — policies, it is worth noting, that foreshadowed the Reagan administration’s successful efforts to undermine the Soviet empire in the 1980s.
Burnham described the late-1940s visit to the United States of Andrei Gromyko, one of Stalin’s henchmen and later Soviet foreign minister, who “held a series of private conversations with several leading American businessmen,” during which the businessmen stated that “they were anxious to get together with the Soviet Union on a constructive basis.” Gromyko, Burnham wrote, was merely doing Stalin’s bidding: “He visited … businessmen not … to sound them out but to manipulate their greed and ignorance and timidity.” Stalin “is simply holding up a big, juicy sugarplum before the eyes of the sweet-toothed political children of the business community.”
Burnham noted that American businessmen think of themselves as shrewd bargainers who “believe that a deal can always be made.” They fail to understand that “Communists … do not make deals; they make traps: an oath to the infidel does not bind.” What Stalin was saying then to the business leaders is precisely what Xi is saying to the business leaders of our time: “Come unto me … and you will have abundance of profits, and peace of political mind.”
Burnham was one of our nation’s shrewdest observers and analysts of communism. Communists, he wrote, believe that the “greed, ignorance, timidity, and lack of vision” displayed by American business leaders are “inevitable expressions of the decadence of capitalism.” Burnham characterized the “business class” as “too ignorant, too greedy, too reactionary and, in a sense, too cowardly.” American businesses are willing to “trade with the enemy” for short-term profits. What they are actually doing, however, is “building the guillotine for [their] own executioner.”
Xi Jinping has credibly been accused of genocide against the Uyghurs in northwestern China. He has constructed on the foundation laid by Mao Zedong, what author Stein Ringen calls “the perfect dictatorship,” in which the CCP is omnipresent and party-state policies are used to promote the interests of the Chinese nomenklatura. Ringen characterizes Xi’s security apparatus as “sophisticated totalitarianism” and a “controlocracy.” Meanwhile, Xi has built the world’s largest navy; is rapidly expanding China’s nuclear forces; has entered into a “strategic partnership” with a resurgent Russia; is daily increasing pressure on Taiwan, which he views as a rebellious province of China; and has launched and expanded a geopolitical offensive known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which uses economic power and coercion for China’s political gain across Eurasia and into Africa and the Middle East.
This is the man, this is the regime, with whom America’s top CEOs want to do business. These American CEOs, who wouldn’t dare stand and applaud former U.S. President Donald Trump for fear of political and social ostracism, have no hesitancy to act as admiring sycophants of the world’s most dangerous tyrant. It is indeed a suicidal mania, and it is not new. At the height of the U.S.–Soviet détente, the great Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke to an American audience about the “strange and surprising … alliance between our Communist leaders and your capitalists” based on “a burning greed for profit that goes beyond all reason, all self-control, all conscience, only to get money.”