Chinese police fight running battles with villagers in restive Wukan - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14719724
fuser wrote:I can't seem to follow Potemkin's reasoning. So is China doomed to autocracy because there hasn't been any historical political alternative? :eh:

Nobody can say for sure... From my own experience with mainland Chinese (Living here for 4 years and try to chat up on politics with basically everyone), their mentality is very, very different from the liberal world. Potemkin's post explained much of the phenomenon. Some examples:
- They value stability above all else, and will easily sacrifice freedom of one self or others. For example, most of them think it's acceptable for secret service to arrest and detain anyone without trial, inside or outside china. e.g. the booksellers in Hong Kong with UK passport abducted in Thailand.
- Most have very far fetched imagination of how the liberal world runs (Utopia or stronghold of evil), thus either for or against, they aren't really talking about real liberalism / democracy, thus they don't really have the ability to link these concepts to reality.
- Most attributes all the world's negative attitudes against China as "we are not yet strong enough" or "everything about China is crap"
- Most have difficulty understanding a systematic approach to "rule of law" (Among many other concepts), even if they say they want it
- Most believe governments have a duty to enforce social/moral values. They also enjoy mob justice very much.
- Some don't put much difference between the police and the army, and they only do two things: national defense and internal suppression. Public security is supposed to be managed by semi-professionals and the people themselves. (Yet to interview more people about this one)
- Many are quite family oriented and will obey nearly every command from family elders on major life choices, even though it usually turn out to be very horrible decisions. (Prevalent outside 1st tier cities)
- To be honest, I think they only recognize two political systems: centralized/heavy handed vs decentralized/easy going. But the monarchic roots don't change so much.

...among many other differences I once thought unthinkable.

It has been shaped by a long autocratic tradition, but in turn also shapes the government. It's a deep rooted culture - from the lens of the liberal (Myself for example) - very, very backward. Some just call it "collectivism" but I don't think the term can even remotely describe the difference.
#14719731
^ Sounds like home. :lol:

I can easily describe Indians exactly like that and thus I say that this mentality has more to do with rising middle class in nations like China India and other asian nations where there have been no such segment of population in a considerable number until recently rather than history.
#14719746
I can easily describe Indians exactly like that and thus I say that this mentality has more to do with rising middle class in nations like China India and other asian nations where there have been no such segment of population in a considerable number until recently rather than history.

That is history, fuser. You can frame the problem as "there has been no significant middle class until very recently" or as "there has been autocracy and feudalism for thousands of years until very recently", and still be saying essentially the same thing. And, as every good Marxist knows, the material economic base of society determines which ideas about the world people will or will not have inside their heads, which in turn will determine which material economic bases will be possible or even thinkable. The economic base and the ideological superstructure are inextricably linked together and determine each other in a dialectical way, through a process similar to what Marx called 'praxis'. Writing Das Kapital was Marx's contribution to that praxis. As I said: no ideas, no revolution.
#14719751
fuser wrote:^ Sounds like home. :lol:

I can easily describe Indians exactly like that and thus I say that this mentality has more to do with rising middle class in nations like China India and other asian nations where there have been no such segment of population in a considerable number until recently rather than history.

That's part of the reason why I think the Indian system is not working as well as China. From my very limited contact with Pakistanis, or Bangladash(i?) or Nepalese, they all seem to prefer a strong autocratic rulers. Of cause my sample size is small and I don't know if their view extends to Indians as I never had a chance to discuss politics with any.
My own understanding of Indian politics: villages / tribes / big castes rule their own turf, and the national government doesn't really have control outside big cities, and even that power is limited. You have democratic elections that does not really touch real power - but with my limited exposure I could be dead wrong of cause.
#14719775
This will be a gross exaggeration to say that national government doesn't hold any power outside big cities. There are few regions with active insurgency but that is all outside of those regions its just not the case.

Btw I should clarify by autocratic I don't mean end of this democracy, our leaders have done a very good job to ingrain in us that democracy i.e. voting every few years is good mmkay. They just have vague ideas about "strong" government who will bomb the shit out of terrorists, naxaites, pakistani, chinese, poverty, bad roads, decadent western culture etc. :lol:

Potemkin,

I understand that and completely agree but I think that this point of yours is kinda conflicting with your original assertion (or may be I am missing something) when you said that Europe had examples of alternative political system in their history while China didn't hence the present state.

But how lack of any political alternative in history could be holding them back, with change in material condition of a society new ideas should crop up regardless of lack or existence of any such similar ideas in past in that society.

Furthermore as per inspiration I doubt French peasants were taking their inspiration from ancient Rome or Greeks during French revolution, it was mainly the intelligentsia or the leaders similarly in any Chinese or Indian or Thai revolution this intelligentsia can very much draw inspiration from French or Russian revolution regardless of them being foreign or common people not being able to relate it, in fact various early 20th century Indian and Chinese leaders alike were very much inspired from these big two revolutions i.e. French and Russian.
#14719783
I understand that and completely agree but I think that this point of yours is kinda conflicting with your original assertion (or may be I am missing something) when you said that Europe had examples of alternative political system in their history while China didn't hence the present state.

But how lack of any political alternative in history could be holding them back, with change in material condition of a society new ideas should crop up regardless of lack or existence of any such similar ideas in past in that society.

Furthermore as per inspiration I doubt French peasants were taking their inspiration from ancient Rome or Greeks during French revolution, it was mainly the intelligentsia or the leaders similarly in any Chinese or Indian or Thai revolution this intelligentsia can very much draw inspiration from French or Russian revolution regardless of them being foreign or common people not being able to relate it, in fact various early 20th century Indian and Chinese leaders alike were very much inspired from these big two revolutions i.e. French and Russian.

I think you've just answered your own question, fuser. The point is that new ideas don't just pop up out of nowhere, not even when prompted by changes in the material mode of production of a society. New political ideas require two essential things: firstly, the existence of a reasonably well educated intellectual elite who can analyse the political, social and economic situation and draw halfway rational conclusions from it; and secondarily, the existence of alternatives to the present order, in however embryonic or misunderstood a form, for the intellectual elite to be inspired by and whose ideals and ideas they could draw upon. For example, these two factors were absent from Tsarist Russia before the Napoleonic Wars, but those wars led directly to the Decembrist Revolt by the intellectual elite in 1825, which initiated a century of political and social crisis in Tsarist Russia and led ultimately to its fall in 1917. This couldn't happen before an intellectual elite had formed in Russian society or before new ideas had been introduced by the French Revolution and Napoleon's armies had exported those ideas across mainland Europe. Intellectually speaking, nothing will come of nothing. No idea or ideology is ever really original, but is built upon the ideas and ideologies of the past, in however distorted or misunderstood a form. In fact, most of the 'originality' of new ideas is actually caused by the misunderstanding of past ideas which people are attempting to copy as exactly as possible (e.g., the attempt to imitate ancient Greek drama in the early 17th century led to the creation of the 'original' art form of opera because the people attempting to imitate ancient Greek drama misunderstood its nature). The same process occurred in China - even successful 'revolutions' in ancient China could not overturn the system, but merely replaced one dynasty with another. Irreversible significant political changes could only occur once new ideas had been (rather forcibly) introduced to the Chinese intellectual elite. Peasant uprisings had occurred repeatedly throughout Chinese history, but on their own these uprisings could not crystallise into an irreversible revolution without leadership from the Chinese intellectual elite armed with Western ideologies such as Christianity or liberalism or Marxism, no matter however distorted or misunderstood those ideologies were. This, of course, is just another way of saying that every revolution needs an intellectual vanguard if it is to achieve anything lasting.
#14719871
Potemkin wrote:This, of course, is just another way of saying that every revolution needs an intellectual vanguard if it is to achieve anything lasting.


Yes, and the intellectual vanguard has to correctly analyse social relations and identify and relate to social forces (which is also one of the reasons Mao who saw the revolutionary potentials of peasantry won over communist leaders wedded to urban proletariat that was revolutionary but far too small in social weight in the 1920s and 30s). For example, liberalism has been one of the main dominant ideological currents of Chinese intellectuals in the post-Mao era, but it has made very little inroad as the ideas of liberal and constitutional democracy are so detached from any social forces that they end up producing self-satisfying but utterly ineffectual documents such as Charter 08.
#14720062
benpenguin wrote:- They value stability above all else, and will easily sacrifice freedom of one self or others. For example, most of them think it's acceptable for secret service to arrest and detain anyone without trial, inside or outside china. e.g. the booksellers in Hong Kong with UK passport abducted in Thailand.


I wouldn't say stability first as backward, but the way CCP doing it definitely doesn't help with the stability of Hong Kong to the least.

benpenguin wrote:- Most have very far fetched imagination of how the liberal world runs (Utopia or stronghold of evil), thus either for or against, they aren't really talking about real liberalism / democracy, thus they don't really have the ability to link these concepts to reality.


This really isn't something that poses a difficulty. IMHO China as a whole being a British colony wouldn't make them too unhappy.


benpenguin wrote:- Most attributes all the world's negative attitudes against China as "we are not yet strong enough" or "everything about China is crap"


Both statements are indeed true, although they are interpreting the former in a way very different from us, if not downright wrong.


benpenguin wrote:- Most have difficulty understanding a systematic approach to "rule of law" (Among many other concepts), even if they say they want it


Same as the second point. Hong Kong and Singapore achieved this because of British rule.


benpenguin wrote:- Most believe governments have a duty to enforce social/moral values. They also enjoy mob justice very much.


From the media, I have a feeling that the United States are more or less the same or wanting the same. Again it's the way the CCP doing it that has undermined the point, not that the point itself is wrong.


benpenguin wrote:- Some don't put much difference between the police and the army, and they only do two things: national defense and internal suppression. Public security is supposed to be managed by semi-professionals and the people themselves. (Yet to interview more people about this one)


Apparently CCP is, ironically, the organization doing the best in distinguishing the two in the country. Wukan people are effectively quashed by police not army.


benpenguin wrote:- Many are quite family oriented and will obey nearly every command from family elders on major life choices, even though it usually turn out to be very horrible decisions. (Prevalent outside 1st tier cities)


Family piety is also rampaging in other Asian countries but we can see that Japan, Korea and Taiwan achieve freedom and democracy in various degrees. I can't see how this is a problem. Besides there's no Islam to take this up to eleven in China (at least in Han areas).


benpenguin wrote:- To be honest, I think they only recognize two political systems: centralized/heavy handed vs decentralized/easy going. But the monarchic roots don't change so much.


Maybe it's not that complicated after all: A change to the latter (decentralized/easy going) would suffice.
#14720133
Patrickov wrote:I wouldn't say stability first as backward, but the way CCP doing it definitely doesn't help with the stability of Hong Kong to the least.

Well... Hongkees are very different animals. What's acceptable in the mainlands is unthinkable in Hong Kong.
This really isn't something that poses a difficulty. IMHO China as a whole being a British colony wouldn't make them too unhappy.

Hong Kong's governance is simply not practical in China. Our schools are factories churning out the elite middle class snobby professional workforce, perfect for a"finance-professional service city state", not so much for a huge continental empire. Also, we were never a democracy.
Both statements are indeed true, although they are interpreting the former in a way very different from us, if not downright wrong.

I actually think both of those statements are false. 1. Despite all its flaws China/Chinese/CCP has lots of admirable qualities - but something for another topic. 2. For the simple purpose of "getting respected", China is already strong enough.
Same as the second point. Hong Kong and Singapore achieved this because of British rule.

Installing model_citizen_professional.exe on 7 million citizens is manageable. The size of China? Not so much. Also, both are not democracies.
From the media, I have a feeling that the United States are more or less the same or wanting the same. Again it's the way the CCP doing it that has undermined the point, not that the point itself is wrong.

Actually, while I am annoyed with the mob justice and moral enforcement because I am a liberal, I think most mainlanders actually like how CCP does it. So, point not undermined I guess.
Apparently CCP is, ironically, the organization doing the best in distinguishing the two in the country. Wukan people are effectively quashed by police not army.

Actually what happened in Wukan is exactly my point. Police/Army will both suppress citizens, on this level the police does it, but if it escalates badly I'm sure the army will step in.
Family piety is also rampaging in other Asian countries but we can see that Japan, Korea and Taiwan achieve freedom and democracy in various degrees. I can't see how this is a problem. Besides there's no Islam to take this up to eleven in China (at least in Han areas).

Actually I side tracked a little, this wasn't directly related to "democracy doesn't work" point, maybe except the authoritarian personality element.
Maybe it's not that complicated after all: A change to the latter (decentralized/easy going) would suffice.

If you think so, then it was already achieved. China danced between the two "systems" for 5000 years, it's basically recognized by historians as a force of nature. But elections, complete free speech and other liberal pursuits are definitely off the table. The last administration with Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao is actually quite open, for instance.
#14720367
benpenguin wrote:But elections, complete free speech and other liberal pursuits are definitely off the table. The last administration with Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao is actually quite open, for instance.


If no free speech and liberal things are allowed the society cannot be said as easy going.
#14720488
Patrickov wrote:If no free speech and liberal things are allowed the society cannot be said as easy going.
It's a gliding scale mate.
- You can advice / talk smack about the government, but if they smell you have the intention to make it bigger or challenge authority they will shut you down.
- Rule of law is usually much less tight as well, so side effect - corruption run amok - paving way for the tightening later.
- On a side note, "liberal things" such as gay rights, racial equality, weed smoking and other liberal lifestyles are always off the table, because society is too conservative to allow it.
- Easy going more or less means "Government has the power but won't use it" + "Delegate more stuff"
Last edited by benpenguin on 23 Sep 2016 04:28, edited 2 times in total.
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