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Rand Corporation: The US-China Rivalry In A New Medieval Age

A warrior has to be a thinker. Lately, I’ve been sharing these types of things via our weekly newsletter and Instagram, but so much is being published that I think you should be reading that it’s seeping back into the website.

Rand Corporation recently completed a study entitled, “The US-China Rivalry In A New Medieval Age” which takes a look at the US-China rivalry in a whole new light. It’s worth considering, especially since I often bring up in conversations on the topic that I believe China remains a feudal state. I’m going to look at the larger, international situation through this medieval lens proffered by Rand. Deep thinking time.

Here is their synopsis:

We’ve entered an age of “neomedievalism.” This doesn’t mean the world is slipping back into an era of knights, castles, swords, and serfdom. But it does mean that some defining trends of the Middle Ages are reappearing today. Power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of an elite few. Governments are becoming weaker. And pervasive threats, such as pandemics and disasters, are increasing. In other words, the recent era of prosperity and national strength is regressing.

A 2023 RAND study looked at the implications this backslide could have for the U.S.-China rivalry. Our experts examined how the current era of neomedievalism may affect the intensifying competition between China and the United States—and a potential U.S.-China conflict.

The researchers concluded that, in a neomedieval era, neither the United States nor China can afford total war. Thus, both Washington and Beijing will face pressure to avoid escalation, likely leading to a long-running, low-intensity state of conflict with the possibility of intermittent clashes.

Accepting the reality of a neomedieval era is key to developing effective strategies for U.S.-China competition. “Decisionmakers need to adopt a neomedieval mindset,” says Timothy Heath, who led the RAND study. In fact, he says, leaders should be skeptical of any recommendations that refer to the Cold War or the world wars to explain U.S.-China dynamics. The world doesn’t work that way anymore.


9 Responses to “Rand Corporation: The US-China Rivalry In A New Medieval Age”

  1. D Liddle says:

    “Power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of an elite few.”

    And unelected. Important not to forget that. Medieval you say?


  2. Chris says:

    Interesting. Thanks for posting.

  3. James says:

    Hadn’t read their thoughts on it before . Make sure to go through the related articles at the link, fleshes it out a bit more.

    It’s similar to Van Cleeveld’s ideas in ” Rise and Fall of the State”, though he describes it as a failing of the Post-Westphalian Order while agreeing that it’s a return to the norm. Pretty much all of the Collapse Studies and 4GW guys come to the conclusion through one lense or another….

  4. Jimbo says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to read the other articles associated with it today. Nothing like a deployed holiday to catch up on some light reading about international conflict and competition I guess. Happy Easter.

  5. Joe_K says:

    Keep in mind that Rand Corp & Co. have previously put out papers on the idea of “Extending ”Russia. These guys basically exist to formulate wars and advance idiotic foreign policy.

  6. the dude says:

    Remember that Matt Damon movie, Elysium? Remember how the common person got trampled over because corps ran a world where money talks? Look around, it’s already here in many ways.

    No one is making it alone, divided, everyone gets crushed one by one, over time. Now, more than ever you need to branch out to like minded people who are interested in stable futures.

  7. Strike-Hold! says:

    “neomedievalism” – that term hits the nail on the head for describing our current state. Beyond the reasons you quote above, I would add the inundation of propaganda posing as news, the willful (as well as unintentional) ignorance of the outpourings of our educational system, the prevalence of pseudo-science, quackery, mysticism and downright B.S. being passed off as knowledge, and let’s not forget the toxic mix of religious fanaticism and nationalism…