The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China

At Foreign Affairs, Eric X. Li argues that China’s future lies with continued one-party rule, and that the Party’s adaptability, meritocracy and non-democratic legitimacy will carry it forward while the West flounders. This, he suggests, will give other developing countries courage to seek out their own alternative systems. […] There is no doubt that daunting challenges await Xi. But those who suggest that the CCP will not be able to deal with them fundamentally misread China’s politics and the resilience of its governing institutions. Beijing will be able to meet the country’s ills with dynamism and resilience, thanks to the CCP’s adaptability, system of meritocracy, and legitimacy with the Chinese people. In the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade. The country’s leaders will consolidate the one party model and, in the process, challenge the West’s conventional wisdom about political development and the inevitable march toward electoral democracy. In the capital of the Middle Kingdom, the world might witness the birth of a post-democratic future. […] Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast. To be sure, China’s political model will never supplant electoral democracy because, unlike the latter, it does not pretend to be universal. It cannot be exported. But its success does show that many systems of political governance can work when they are congruent with a country’s culture and history. The significance of China’s success, then, is not that China provides the world with an alternative but that it demonstrates that successful alternatives exist. Twenty-four years ago, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted that all countries would eventually adopt liberal democracy and lamented that the world would become a ...
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2 Responses to The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China

  1. Andy Macdonald says:

    “Without freedom, there is no real democracy. Without guarantee of economic and political rights, there is no real freedom.” Seems to pay lip service to democracy, but in fact implies that freedom & democracy will be based on the Party guaranteeing the underlying economic and political rights (of the working class?). Whether freedom and democracy can flourish under the Party’s supervision depends on how corrupt or how ‘pure’ the party can be. Wasn’t this what Mao was worried about when he (& others) instigated the cultural revolution? That struggle will always have relevance to the situation in China while the Party retains control. The fact that the cultural revolution of the 60s largely failed in its aims while creating a lot of death and suffering in the country, doesn’t bode well for the CCP.

  2. Will says:

    Professor of Economics Yasheng Huang’s argument cites the living Chinese cultural example of Taiwan’s democracy, and is far more convincing that venture capitalist Eric Li’s unfounded claim that the PRC’s one-party authoritarian rule is “meritocratic.” Does Li seriously believe that the CCP princelings did not and have not enjoyed special privileges and access to wealth and power simply by the accident of birth into a high cadre’s family? Of course, Li has gotten rich under the PRC’s authoritarian bureaucratic capitalist system and wants it to continue unchanged.