Musings on China and it's eternal suitor
When the mood hits me, as it does now, I will try and write the occasional short piece on what I think of China today. This is the first in what I hope will eventually be a series.
It was 1999, and I was in Beijing. A friend of mine new to China was set to embark on a summer study program. We were both at the Square, across the street from the famous Mao portrait. My friend, totally new to China, and ignorant of its society and culture, wandered about for 30 minutes before turning around to blurt out…..”China needs the Communist Party”.
Make no mistake, my friend was and very much still is an unavowed Capitalist. But this takeaway after a mere 30 minutes was that only order could save China, and that sure as hell wasn’t going to come from Democracy.
You see China can never be wooed by a Democratic Suitor.
The philosophy we read in University was written by people who had never been to China. The ideals we embraced were propagated by philosophers ignorant of the Asian condition. Yet some of us hope to apply those lessons to China all the same.
You think the local University student reads Rousseau in his Philosophy class? Does he read Thomas Paine?
You see, we forget that Democracy is a slow, chaotic and very unorderly process. We forget about the upheaval in America and France during and after their respective revolutions took place.
China doesn’t have time for uncertainty. It doesn’t have time for experimental chaos. Its way too late for that. In retrospect, the best time to make an orderly transition to a more Western way of govt was after the death of Mao. Certainly not now. That time has passed. It will not be captured again for a long, long time.
Indeed, reverting to a democratic society, with democratic virtues would only makes things worse. It would be similar to jumping into a muddy trench in order to get to the other side. A lot of countries just don’t make it. They get stuck half way to the other side. Russia comes to mind.
China is just too big. If Russia, with maybe 15% the population of China couldn’t do it, how can a country as big as China do it?
Maybe, just maybe China could have reverted to a democratic path after the death of Mao. Only a tightly controlled society on a tightly controlled path would’ve had a chance.
Democracy requires a fundamental character.
It requires a certain level of education.
It requires a knowledge of what democracy can bring.
More than anything else it requires TIME. Which China doesn’t have.
China is forever stuck in the Wild West. A raucous town where the saloon never closes, and drunken cowboys are forever having fistfights in the mud outside.