Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Socialism and Marxism aren't dead

I had fallen behind my reading of the People's Daily and stumbled across this article the other day. For those of you who can't read Chinese, the headline roughly translates to "The World's Clear Hope: China unable to do what Western democracy does."

This type of article is a poignant reminder that as far the CCP is concerned, socialism is alive and well in China. Moreover, they aren't going to adopt western democracy anytime soon. At the end of the article the last paragraph basically says that democracy isn't suited for China because it is so far removed from traditional Chinese culture and because it can't solve China's problems. My response: Marxism was a western philosophy you (China) were able to take and mold into a suitable form, so you could do that for democracy, if you wanted to. Let's not forget that Mao essentially re-wrote Marxism as a result of his experience during the Long March. And after he remolded Marxism for China's purposes, it, uh, solved your problems (but created others).

The story though has a certain ring of truth to it, which is why I like the article despite its ideological overtures. There are definitely elements in the West who would prefer that China under Marxist/Maoist guidance fall on its face and instead succeed with democracy because it would make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside (yes, including you too Mr. Fukuyama). However, reasonable people would prefer a stable China for several reasons, mainly because we benefit from China's economic reforms. A destabilized China as a result of civil war or disorderly transition of power would drive the markets down a lot, possibly creating another Great Recession or Depression depending on its duration and impact on exports. Either way, it wouldn't be pretty.

My final thought is that a democratic China may not be any better than the China we have now. Any Chinese government would pursue its interests just like any country. The idea that a democratic China would resolve all its problems with the West is ridiculous. The U.S. and E.U. are fighting over bananas in a trade war and can't come to agreement about Iraq and Afghanistan, despite having democratic ideals in common. Would human rights in China be better? Quite possibly, but the West is short on credibility for concern on human rights after failing to address Rwanda in the mid '90s and the current situation Sudan. But please, let's stop wishing that China were democratic and instead focus on resolving the problems and misunderstandings that exist between us. Wishful thinking is pointless.

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