Rancid wrote:My advice to these people is that although western democracy is flawed and has its issues. It has certainly improved, and it contains the machinery to continue to improve it. It has the machinery to continue to right what is wrong.
Western democracy has declined significantly as inequality has risen. It's institutions have been captured by oligarchs, and effective reform is, in my eyes, functionally impossible even if theoretically possible. In the US and Australia, the constitution has become a sacred cow, the electorate too divided by oligarchic forces, and politicians both too weak willed to govern according to the will of people. In the EU, undemocratic institutions continue to push to take more and more power away from national governments, and put it in the hands of technocrats that aren't subject to the people's will. In general, all these societies have seen their state institutions weaken and more and more economic, social and political power put into the hands of corporate entities that either have no democratic hierarchy, or one limited by property requirements in the form of shares.
By contrast, the Chinese state still exercises effective control over these entities and acts to prevent oligarchs from amassing too much power outside the state apparatus itself. Over the last five years, participation in local decision making has increased significantly and membership in the CCP, and thus access to the intraparty democratic hierarchy, has steadily increased as well - doing so remains an explicit goal of the CCP. It is below participation rates in the West, but it is heading in the right direction, and the concept of socialist democracy as expressed by Xi Jingping as the goal by 2049, at least on paper, isn't inherently more authoritarian than the West - though it is antipluralist
This is not to say that the US or EU are less democratic (in the usual sense) than China, today. But rather that both entities are trending toward a similar point somewhere between them and that the differences are becoming less significant with each passing year.
The key difference is that the Chinese government is motivated by mass welfare and the public good in a way that is not present, in my experience, in the US or EU policies. I've lived in poor areas of Shanghai, and poor areas of Philadelphia - the differences in services available, cleanliness, safety, etc and literally night and day. The West clings to neoliberal notions that government should cede control to undemocratic and unsupervised entities - NGOs, corporations, and others - and that limiting the government's power to control and regulate these entities is synonymous with liberty or democracy. It is not - it is a transfer of power from an accountable and democratic institution to thousands of unaccountable and undemocratic lordlings. The decentralization of power is not synonymous with democracy, and in many ways is antithetical to it, and often leads to a lack of accountability that leads to a degradation of basic services and welfare to the most vulnerable sections of society. China does not suffer from this: even the most marginal communities receive significant support from the central government, with or without economic justification or expectaction that it will see a "return on investment". This attitude difference is very important to me, personally.
As for freedom - civil liberties and political freedoms in the West greatly outstrips that of China. However, most of the poorer individuals in Western society are severely limited in their ability to use that freedom effectively by economic concerns. Concerns about rent, debt, jobs and others, especially in the US, serve as a de facto limitation on the expression of that freedom. China, in contrast, severely limits the political freedoms of its people, though de facto, in day to day life, there is little difference between living in China, the EU, or the USA.
This is because, in contrast with Western states, Chinese citizens enjoy a great deal of economic prosperity relative to cost of living that empowers them to have the economic stability to live their lives without being overly concerned about economic barriers that limit their expression. The CCP, furthermore, has a highly proven track record regarding their commitment to improving the material conditions of its people, a far better track record than most Western states since the 1970s.
No one is apologizing for the CCP or ignoring its faults. However, the trend lines being what they are, it is perfectly justified to be optimistic about the future of the CCP and pessimistic about the future of the West - the former is getting better, and the latter is getting worse.
The key aspect for me, however, as a non-Chinese, is that China, internationally, is far more interested in bilateral relations, mutual development, and maintaining international institutions and stability than the US: especially in the global south, where US/EU policy is fundamentally uncompromising and ideologically flawed. Incidentally, this is somewhere where a Western style democracy would make things worse: by and large, the Chinese population is quite nationalistic - they demanded the CCP roll tanks into Hong Kong, and criticized it when they didn't, they clamor for the annexation of Taiwan, and they thing the Uyghers are getting off easy, if anything. Internationally, a democratic China would likely be more
antagonistic, I feel, not less - les by a Modi or Erdogan type figure with actual geopolitical power.