Wang Hui: The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity

China Beat has posted an excerpt of the English edition of prominent public intellectual Wang Hui’s book, The End of the Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity:

Discussions of the state are directly related to questions about the formation of democratic mechanisms. There is one basic paradox one must face, which is that, on the one hand, China’s ability to govern effectively has been widely acknowledged in comparison with the governments of many other countries, from its disaster relief mobilization after the May 12 Wenchuan earthquake to its rapid response in initiating a bailout plan after the financial meltdown, and from its successful management of the Olympic Games to the efficacy of its various local governments in organizational development and controlling the crisis. But on the other hand, contradictions have appeared between officials and the people in certain areas, and have become sharp at certain times, with the administrative abilities and levels of honesty of different levels of government having come into question. The key issue is that such contradictions are often blown up into large-scale and widely debated legitimacy crises. By observing the situation in other countries, we can see that an institutional political crisis may not result even if the capacity of the state declines, the government accomplishes nothing, the economy is in recession and social policies remain unimplemented. This issue is closely connected with democracy as the source of political legitimacy.


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