Tuesday, October 25, 2005

More on the White Paper

The Hindu (October 21st) carries a report on the White Paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council on China’s “socialist political democracy”. It declares a marriage between Marx’s ‘theory of democracy’ and the ‘reality of China’, assimilating the ‘useful political achievements of mankind including western democracy’ and the ‘democratic elements of China’s traditional culture and institutional civilization.’ This ill-assorted jumble of catchphrases full of internal contradictions is no doubt meant to quieten those voices either harp critically on human rights transgressions in the Middle Kingdom or predict a future for (genuine) democracy in China – perish the thought!

Soon enough after this preamble, we read of people’s democracy led by the CPC in which the ‘overwhelming majority of the people act as masters of state affairs with democratic centralism as the basic organisational principle and mode of operation.’ Such might well be shrugged off as quaint Orwellian archaisms if it were not that regime apologists or investors in China might well gratefully swallow this humbug as ‘evidence’ of her democratic intentions against those tiresome reminders of Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong, or whistle-blowers on lethal pandemics originating in the unsanitary conditions prevailing in the countryside. As the report proceeds the language gets more confident and fundamentalist, moving to the ‘people’s democratic dictatorship’ which ‘pools all the correct opinions’ and where decisions are made collectively!
The sting is in the tail, “We are against democracy for all”.

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