China’s challenge & Russia’s threat: the director’s cut

The film director Brian De Palma had this to say about director’s careers…

“We don’t plan them out, we happen to be working on one thing, then another happens, then another thing is delayed. Then we do the thing we can do at the time.”

There is a lesson in this for the great debate about whether China or Russia (or Iran or domestic extremism) are the biggest threats to democracy.

The reality is: these nations and forces are all occurring at once.

If democracies are hoping to meet and defeat these challenges and threats, they need to be able to see them in their totality. Democracies can’t afford to become inverse projections of the authoritarianism they oppose.

Rather, democracies need to better frame the whole picture we’re in today. Set up the shot and tell the story for the world to see. They need to do as the old rules around economy and technology fade away.

In just the same ways that New Hollywood directors reinvented filmmaking amid dramatic shifts in the economy of film, the imaginations of people in democracies today need to become more expansive in order to project democracy successfully into the contested and conflicted 21st Century.

*The De Palma quote above comes from his interview in the documentary De Palma by Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow.

*The full interview with Sino-Russia expert Bobo Lo can be found here.

*Music: Igor Khorkavyy

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