A provocative title for sure, as Sinophile Martin Jacques argues that the Chinese government may enjoy greater legitimacy than Western governments:
Now let me shock you: the Chinese state enjoys greater legitimacy than any Western state. How come?He argues that China is all about Chinese "civilisation", an entity outside any one particular government or leader, a multi-thousand year cultural epiphenomenon. A government holding together such a huge area and spread of cultures can only be achieved with strong central control and repeated pushback on any behaviour that may undermine that central control in any way.
In China's case the source of the state's legitimacy lies entirely outside the history or experience of Western societies.
Where Jacques' true colours come out is when he attempts to tackle the issue of Chinese censorship and oppression:
If the Chinese state enjoys such support, then why does it display such signs of paranoia? The controls on the press and the internet, the periodic arrest of dissidents, and the rest of it. Good point. Actually, all Chinese governments have displayed these same symptoms. Why?For "anticipating sources of instability", I assume he includes:
Because the country is huge and governance is extremely difficult. They are always anxious, always fearing the unforeseen. Anticipating sources of instability has long been regarded as a fundamental attribute of good governance.
- the 1989 Tianamen Square massacre (or should that be "re-education"?)
- the deaths of millions from starvation and abuse during the "Great Leap Forward" ("economic restructuring"?)
- deaths, organ harvesting from and imprisonment of Falun Gong practitioners in China ("religious consolidation"?)
- extensive suppression of information and interaction on the Internet, coupled with denial that this ever takes place ("preserving the population's modesty"?)
I was a little confused about why he would argue all this until I read Martin Jacques' biography:
He was editor of the [Communist Party of Great Britain]'s journal, Marxism Today from 1977 until its closure in 1991 [...] a visiting professor at Renmin University in Beijing [...]Suddenly it all becomes clear why Jacques is an apologist for mass-murdering censoring oppressing control freaks - it's his profession! I particularly enjoyed a hagiography on Jacques on Graham Stevenson's "Communist Biogs":
Despite having clearly been at odds with the basic approach of the Communist Party for, at the very least, ten to fifteen years (some might wonder if it had been all along, and how that worked!) Jacques finally left the party in 1991, citing his horror at the level of financial subsidy provided to the British Communist Party by the [Communist Party of the Soviet Union].Perhaps he thought they ought to have taken Chinese yuan rather than Russian roubles? I note that 1991 was when European Communism was effectively dead and buried, with German reunification in full swing. I guess he wanted to jump to a communist allegiance with more of a future. There's also an interesting note about think tank Demos:
He, and others with roots in what would become New Labour launched "Demos", seen as a cross-party think-tank, which soon gained offices and funds. He had planned Demos from at least a year or so before the final dissolution of the rump CPGB.So for anyone wondering why Demos pieces can lean so far left and verge on the totalitarian, it's because the founders had some considerable form in that area.
It amuses me that the BBC sees fit to publish this piece, but I can't imagine them publishing a similar piece e.g. by Nikolaos Michaloliakos of Golden Dawn arguing that national fascism is essentially more democratic than the European Parliament. Can you?