This will be a long post.
I was browsing through the Chinese version of Fool's Mountain, and came across a very interesting link to a blog post from 多维博客, which in turn reproduces an article from the Study Times (a Central Party School weekly). As Fool's Mountain mentions, the comments on the blog post are insightful.
In brief, the author's argument that goes like this: who can name a country that was initially democratic and subsequently modernized economically? The author (himself a scholar) put this question to a group of foreign scholars and students. A number of responses were roundly rejected (India because it is still 20-30 years behind China in the writer's mind; Botswana and Costa Rica on similar grounds).
The author goes on to list failures of Western style democracies that were started from scratch: the American led efforts to establish democracy in the Philippines, Liberia, and Iraq were all examples.
The next subject is America, which only effectively allowed blacks to effectively vote from 1965 on, and Switzerland, which only gave women the right to vote in 1971. This was mentioned to point out the very gradual process of democratization as it occurred in Western countries, and as a gentle reminder to that West should not be so harshly critical of non-democratic countries.
Finally the author gets to his real point: what happens if China democratizes tomorrow? If civil war can be avoided and the country doesn't shatter into a million pieces, China would most likely end up with a farmer's government (farmers are the majority). The author carefully notes that he is not prejudiced against farmers (after all, he notes, all of us had ancestors who were farmers 3 or 4 generations back at most). But as Mao said, a great difficulty is in educating the farmers; because a farmers government could not lead a modern industrialized state.
At this point, another student protests, calling democracy a holy, common value that China should accept. The professor responds: the concept may be a common value, but the exact implementation is still controversial. He argues further that if Western Democracy is so good, everyone will come around to it sooner or later. But to push this idea on other people, and even use force to create democracy, as the US did in Iraq, is going to far.
The conversation then died down, but that does not stop the author from expounding his point in the article. He notes that all the philosophers who thought up this whole democratic system were in favor of limited participation and systematic checks (ie, Republics as opposed to direct democracies). He also points to some points in the book Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War.
He finishes his argument for postponed implementation of Chinese democracy by noting the success of the last 30 years of development and again chastises Westerners (Americans) for pushing democracy for the sake of democracy. He notes any democratic reforms must be gradual and well suited to China.
Sep 19, 2008
This will be a long post.