Previous posts in this discussion:
PostIs US Democracy Doomed? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 07/11/21 3:49 am)
First, my gratitude to Francisco Ramírez and José Ignacio Soler for their excellent posts contributing enormously for a strong intellectual discussion about the nature and best form of democracy. I cannot disagree with any of the major points they made.
Unfortunately, such agreement does very little to assuage my fears that democracy in my beloved nation is dying. Further, even though I always thought of Plato as a silly idealist in general, he seems to have been dead right about the folly of democracy as a political system.
In summary, I agree that based on conventional knowledge and wisdom, democracy is still working in a few small nations with relatively high standards of living, but it is difficult to tell if there is a cause and effect. On the other hand, the Chinese reality, albeit not a democracy as commonly defined, has produced impressive results from a social economic perspective, and an example of highly effective and efficient political strategic decision-making process.
One major point which has not been brought up in this discussion is the strong effort by the CCP toward democracy by enabling widespread formal citizen complaints at the local level. Nationally this has been an expansive process which amazingly has produced some dramatic changes over time--e.g. firing of local officials, changes in regulations, etc.
Another important point about Chinese "democracy" not discussed yet is that leadership is not autocratic in the traditional sense, because the CCP leaders are elected by their committee at the specific hierarchical level, decisions are made after exhaustive debate, and by group consensus.
Cutting through the complexity of social political economic systems, my intuition tells me that the Chinese model is working into the foreseeable future, and at this rate China will surpass our beloved nation within 10 years. Meanwhile, much to my despair, unless we immediately have some serious changes in exercising our "democracy," America will remain a dysfunctional plutocracy and likely become an autocratic dictatorship in less than 10 years.
JE comments: "A republic, if you can keep it," as Franklin wisely defined the US experiment. Tor, the 2020 election and subsequent chaos were perhaps the biggest challenge to US democracy since 1860-'65. Yet so far, we have kept "it" (the democratic republic).
Let me go out on a limb and say that the Trumpist threat was defeated in battle, but the war rages on.
Color me obstinate, but I still cannot share your enthusiasm for the Chinese system. You cite the example of citizen complaints. This process was also central to Stalin's Great Purges of the late 1930s--where "ordinary" citizens denounced corrupt officials, who were then made examples of. Meanwhile, the truly powerful (and corrupt) remained even more firmly in control. A hypothetical: what would happen to the brave citizen who issues a legitimate complaint against Xi Jinping?
Are the Chinese People Satisfied with Their System?
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
07/14/21 4:42 AM)
My general impression is that many Americans think like John Eipper, intelligent and knowledgeable enough to feel that US democracy has worked well so far and will continue to work in the future. John wrote, "the 2020 election and subsequent chaos were perhaps the biggest challenge to US democracy since 1860-'65. Yet so far, we have kept the democratic republic."
Probably most Americans are too busy in their lives to think about such abstract topic. Some might feel quite sure like Francisco Ramírez that comparing US democracy to Chinese governance is nothing but a joke. On the other hand, we still have a large percentage of Americans eager to install an autocratic government under a messiah. Their level of fanaticism will sooner or later make duck soup out of any democratic system, unless people realize how close America has come in 2020 to not having an honest election.
My good friend and superb olive oil provider, Eugenio Battaglia, made some excellent bottom line points about our democracy in general in his last post. We better consider his words very carefully.
John Eipper brought up a good point that the Chinese Communist Party's enabling of formal input of citizen complaints has been tried before in Stalin's Great Purges of the late 1930s--"where 'ordinary' citizens denounced corrupt officials, who were then made examples of. Meanwhile, the truly powerful (and corrupt) remained even more firmly in control. A hypothetical: what would happen to the brave citizen who issues a legitimate complaint against Xi Jinping?"
It is a big mistake to assume that Soviet decision making is equivalent to PRC decision making today. Now in the PRC, citizens at the local level are not able to seriously create dissent based on issues addressable only at the higher levels of the political structure. Their acceptable complaints are only related to issues directly affecting their daily lives. The CCP local representatives collect such complaints, discuss them, reach consensus on what to do, and either execute changes if within their authority or communicate their recommendations to correspondingly higher levels CCP decision makers.
Last, despite all the valid discounts mentioned in the last post by José Ignacio Soler, comparing the results from the US and Chinese systems shows the Chinese system today is working extremely well so far. Nevertheless, everyone should know that it is still merely an excitingly successful experiment for the Chinese people (and an envious one for me). They have many big problems, but seem to understand the major risks involved, and have managed well so far. On the other hand, most Americans seem to want to feel good and avoid taking to heart the dire problems with our own system.
This is a very serious myopia; we must make American democracy work again, regardless of what happens to the Chinese system. In summary, the main problem remains: the Chinese national strategic decision-making process seems to be working much better than ours, it is based on filtered input from individuals through the CCP, decisions are by debate and consensus but strictly hierarchical, strictly based on science (not religion or ideology). Increasingly, it seems focused on keeping the Chinese people satisfied in the long run (thus it seems more democratic), while developing more effective commercial partnerships with nations all over the world. In comparison, our national strategic political decision-making process for the last several decades has been based primarily on corporate financial interests creating a shadow government which control both parties. The will of the American people is not being represented.
JE comments: Tor, you touch on a fundamental question, "Are the Chinese people satisfied?" So like any serious scholar, I Googled it. A Harvard survey from 2020 answers largely in the affirmative. At least the citizens are more content than they have been at any point in the past. This is overwhelmingly because of economic progress. How do you say "it's the economy, stupid" in Chinese?
However, the survey admits that it is far from conclusive:
Do Chinese people support their government? Here's why it's hard to tell – SupChina