05 June 2009

The Chinese Civil War

My blogroll is full of pictures of the unsuccessful attempt twenty years ago to overthrow the Chinese government.

I have seen little discussion, however, of what the result would have been if it had succeeded. We have the example of Russia to show us that even the peaceful overthrow of a one-party state is not any guarantee of decent government. That's of limited use as a guide, however, as the USSR had internally failed before it fell, whereas the Communist Party of China was and is still very much in control.

It is not the case that, because I oppose the ideology of democracy, I think the appearance of democracy in China would have been a bad thing. I still hold the position I took here - governments need to stay in power, and the less destruction they have to cause to do it, the better, and in an advanced economy, democracy is the least destructive way of preventing a change in government. I think some time this century China will need to transition to a western-style civil service-based democracy.

That is jumping the more important question, however, which is whether the collapse of the CPC (as would have occurred if it had been showed to be incapable of controlling its own capital) would result in a western-style democracy. These are notoriously difficult to build, not least because those building them appear to have no understanding of what they actually are. (The most important ingredient, of course, being a united media establishment which tells people what to vote for). The chances of one emerging out of China in 1989 would be practically zero. I don't think there would be much chance today.

My other thoughts on Chinese Democracy are on my other blog

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