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Apr 19

Is Chinese Meritocracy a Viable Alternative to Western Democracy?

Written by bianxiangbianqiao on Sunday, April 19th, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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David Brooks at the New York Times wrote a column more than a year ago, “The Dictatorship of Talent”. He characterized the Chinese political system as a form of “meritocratic paternalism”.

“……today’s China is a society obsessed with talent, and that the Chinese ruling elite recruits talent the way the N.B.A. does — rigorously, ruthless, in a completely elitist manner…..”

“It’s got a different system: meritocratic paternalism. You joke: Imagine the Ivy League taking over the shell of the Communist Party and deciding not to change the name. Imagine the Harvard Alumni Association with an army.”

“This is a government of talents, you tell your American friends. It rules society the way a wise father rules the family. There is some consultation with citizens, but mostly members of the guardian class decide for themselves what will serve the greater good.

The meritocratic corpocracy absorbs rival power bases. Once it seemed that economic growth would create an independent middle class, but now it is clear that the affluent parts of society have been assimilated into the state/enterprise establishment. Once there were students lobbying for democracy, but now they are content with economic freedom and opportunity.”

He acknowledged the system’s current success but questioned its long-term sustainability.

“You feel pride in what the corpocracy has achieved and now expect it to lead China’s next stage of modernization — the transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. But in the back of your mind you wonder: Perhaps it’s simply impossible for a top-down memorization-based elite to organize a flexible, innovative information economy, no matter how brilliant its members are.

That’s a thought you don’t like to dwell on in the middle of the night.”

Here are my thoughts:

Is meritocracy incompatible with innovation in a knowledge-based economy? Is meritocracy necessarily imposed top-down, as a method of coercive control of the population? Does a meritocracy have to be paternalistic, as Dave suggested? Can meritocracy as a political system be made liberal and participatory? History has already answered these questions. A meritocracy can be imposed in a top-down fashion, like in Singapore. It can also be implemented in a bottom-up fashion, like in Japan, where the citizens elect their leaders but the Liberal Democratic Party has rule with small-group consensus among the political elite since the end of World War II.
The vitality of meritocracy per se in the new economy is not a question. A more troubling question is whether China has the right conditions for implementing a true meritocracy. So far meritocracy has succeeded in bringing stability and prosperity only in East Asia, and more importantly, only in those East Asian societies with monolithic populations. Singapore’s immigration policy stressing the maintenance of the current proportion of ethnic groups in the population may be vital in sustaining its political system. China is much more diverse and fragmented in its population than Korea, Japan and Singapore. Linguistic barriers from the north to the south are tractable with the promotion of Mandarin via primary and secondary education. The most problematic is the existence of what Samuel Huntington calls “civilizational fault lines” within its border. Ethnic groups (particularly Tibetans and Muslims) with religious beliefs incompatible with the mainstream secular-humanistic world view of China proper leave China a “torn country”, according to Huntington. Acceptance and support of the Chinese government hit a wall at the fault lines of civilizations. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiaobao may be judged by the Han as having merits in their management of the economic development, as the Pew Opinion Survey has shown. However, the Tibetans and Uyghur have completely different standards for merits, ones that come from directly Buddha and Allah. How can mortals compete with supernaturals for merits? Ethnic problems infused with religiosity may be the Achilles’ heel for Chinese meritocracy. On the other hand, ethnic groups that share the naturalistic approach to spirituality of China proper have no problem in participating in the Chinese system. These include the country’s largest minority group, the Zhuan of Guangxi, the Mongolians and Manchurians, and the ethnic Koreans in the Northeast.

I have written a longer piece in my blog related to this issue. It is too long to post here. Here is a summary.

Three Models of World History and Three Views on China: the Ideological, the Civilizational, and the Functional, Part I

Over the last year I have posted writings on various blog sites, mainly on my blog, but also on the Fool’s Mountain and the comment section in the blog of Richard Spencer, the Beijing correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. Most of those words were not worth revisiting. For the fraction that has contributed to my intellectual growth, I have been trying to build a structure to hold its pieces together. Two books have offered useful insights in this process, (1) the End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama (1992) and (2) Clashes of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington (1996).

Both authors took a genetic approach to changes in societies, one that regards a phenotype as manifestation of a unique genotype. In individuals, the phenotype consists of the observed traits in an animal at a particular developmental stage. For example, we can measure a person’s height and intelligence at age 12. Morphological and behavioral traits are determined by genes housed in the cell nucleus, inherited from the parents. Similarly, the observed features of a human society are determined by genetic factors.

According to Fukuyama, the basic genetic ingredients of a society lie in individual psychology. These include rationality, emotionality, and a striving for respect by dominating the other person. It is deeply rooted in human nature that people fight for the purpose of affirming their personal worth, by overcoming the other person, rendering the other person the inferior one, the slave. Democracy is a solution to problems created by this mutually destructive human need; it allows people to give each other mutual respect, obviating the need to dominate. Fukuyama believes that all societies are endowed with the same genetic materials, i.e., the need to solve the dominance problem. His ideological approach predicts a world-wide struggle between liberal democracy on the one hand and the leftist and rightist dictatorships on the other, with the former destined to a final victory. Democracy’s victory is certain because it is a more functional and productive solution to the universal problem of group living.

Huntington presents a civilizational approach that describes a fragmented world consisting groups of nations bond together by common identities. According to Huntington, civilization is the most abstract level of individual identity. One’s civilization provides one with the basic belief and value systems for making sense of one’s experiences. The model predicts conflicts along fault lines of civilization, where people fight each other to promote their values and affirm their identity. This civilizational approach predicts a Chinese threat, a rising Sinic power challenging the dominance of a declining Western civilization.

The Chinese government and citizens over the last 30 years have adopted a functional approach to the evolution of their society. Political ideology and cultural identities are byproducts of a society’s effort in solving the concrete problems of group living. This functional approach predicts a “Chinese solution”, a political system that evolves with the changing situation and possesses a built-in mechanism for self-correction. What will this solution look like? What will be its scope of influence in 20 or 30 years? Will it be a solution restricted to within the Chinese borders, or will it benefit others as a model of development or spill-over affluence? Will this solution for the Chinese bring conflict with the other powers in the world? What will be the nature of these conflicts? Will these be ideological struggles, or fights over resources?
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142 Responses to “Is Chinese Meritocracy a Viable Alternative to Western Democracy?”

  1. Raj Says:

    Rather than write a long comment, I’ll merely say for now that I don’t believe the Chinese Communist Party/Chinese political system is a meritocracy. I say this because I don’t believe “meritocracy” itself is more than an ideal. In every circumstance you will see nepotism, cronyism, seniority, complying with certain beliefs and financial resources play a role in who moves forward and who stays behind.

    Organisations love to say they’re a meritocracy, but they will always come short. Not to say that I believe 99% success is still an overall failure, but at least politically I know of no true meritocracy.

  2. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    I agree with you on this one Raj – I know of no true meritocracy either, contemporary or historical.

    I think Yingyi Qian offers the most convincing description of China’s political system – that it is a particular form of decentralisation: a market-preserving federalism under soft authoritarian one-party rule. It’s an incomplete form of federalism, and with Chinese characteristics. (see Qian’s essay titled ‘China’s Transition to Markets: Market Preserving Federalism, Chinese Style’, published by the Hoover Institution back in December, 1995)

    Will China be better served by a parliamentary democracy? Maybe at some point in the future, but for now, no. There are prerequisites required for democracy to be able to successfully take hold and succeed, and China has yet to meet those conditions. Maybe in another 10-20 years from now?

  3. Nimrod Says:

    Whether China is or is not a meritocracy, or whether there can be a meritocracy at all, are probably secondary to what China believes itself to be (or should be). There is no doubt that the Dengist era was marked by the transition from the leftist ideology of equality to the rightist ideology of meritocracy in all levels of society, which includes political system. All the other stuff are symptoms. Shallow Western analysts who harp on how China relaxed its economic and social system but tightened its one-party political system, or who think in terms of “hardliners” and “reformers” have all entirely missed the boat. It’s like they are looking at this from an alien dimension and cannot see the true nature of the transition.

    This transition was not just a political triumph but also an intellectual triumph for the rightists. Although neo-leftists are out complaining these days, they find it difficult to gain traction against the collective weight of internal results, international climate, and cultural history. There are lots of people who argue for rule by elites as the best system (presumably not just for the elites but for all people). The only question is how to get it with the passive acquiescence of the majority. Elections and other safety valves are but some of the numerous methods possible.

    And in this sense, there is no dichotomy between “Chinese meritocracy” and “Western democracy”, since what the West practices is also meritocracy, not democracy. According to this theory then, unless everybody suddenly becomes a qualified elite, the day that the West deludes itself into thinking it should have a real democracy is the day of its downfall.

  4. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Nimrod – I agree with most of what you say in your comment above. There are morally legitimate alternatives to democracy, as many Western philosophers, sociologists and international law scholars do in fact recognise (Professor Daniel Bell, Mark Leonard, John Gray, Professor Randall Peerenboom, Professor Dough Guthrie, to name but a few). China may very well end up developing over time and through experimentation an alternative to Western-style parliamentary democracy.

    Western-style parliamentary democracy is only one possibility, but only if China ever develops the necessary set of prerequisites to enable such a system to take hold and to succeed.

    There are alternative forms of democracy – forms that don’t even require multi-party elections, as democracy specialists like the American sociologist Charles Tilly explains in his book, ‘Democracy’, published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. There are many other ways the public can participate in politics than by merely casting a vote once every four years or so. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to show that parliamentary democracy alienates the public – politically disenfranchising them in fact. Western socialists and academic Marxists have of course long argued that parliamentary democracy is alienating, but these days they aren’t the only ones reaching such conclusions.

    I can’t agree with you though, when you say that ‘what the West practices is also a meritocracy.’ My understanding of a meriticracy is one that awards an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth. This is only partly the case in the West, just as it is only partly the case in China, and everywhere else for that matter too. Wealth (or class privilege) can make a big difference in the West, and in China too, and in both cases, especially where politics is concerned.

    As I said earlier, I have to agree with Raj on this one – meritocracy is a goal, a utopian ideal to aspire to, rather like Communism is for many. It has yet to exist anywhere as a total system.

  5. Nimrod Says:

    Mark Anthony Jones,

    In terms of methods for keeping the majority of non-ruling participants voluntarily supportive, Chinese intellectuals (maybe that’s not the right appellation) don’t necessarily reject elections. From what I understand, the theory is that elections only work over some level of homogeneity, and so at the local level it may work or for a small country it may work or for a society well socialized in uniform democratic values with all the supporting apparatus it may work, but at the state level for an entity like China, they do not believe it will work now or maybe ever. Admittedly it has never been tried, with the closest experiment of Cultural Revolution being an unmitigated disaster.

    My understanding of a meriticracy is one that awards an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth. This is only partly the case in the West, just as it is only partly the case in China, and everywhere else for that matter too. Wealth (or class privilege) can make a big difference in the West, and in China, especially where politics is concerned.

    I’m probably mixing up words, so hopefully somebody else sorts it out. Maybe I just mean an elite ruling class. By one means or another, the visible result is something more elitist than democratic.

  6. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Nimrod – opinion among Chinese scholars concerned with the democracy issue varies, but generally speaking, most do indeed share the view that China will unlikely ever possess all of the necessary prerequisites for a federal level multi-party electoral system to successfully take hold and to succeed. They do offer many compelling reasons for thinknig this way, I agree.

    Village level elections, according to most scholarly accounts that I have read, while experiencing many problems in some places, have, overall, proven to be generally successful. Attitudes towards the plausibility of ever holding national elections, both popular and elite, are not so enthusiastic however. According to the Asian Barometer surveys, as well as many other independent surveys like the one conducted by the Taiwanese team headed by Tianjian Shi for example, the majority of mainland Chinese agree that China is not yet ready for parliamentary democracy, and many also think that it may never be, or that such a system simply isn’t suited to the Chinese character – something which many Enlightenment fundamentalists of the liberal variety in the West find very difficult to come to terms with and to accept.

    The Asian Barometer surveys, incidentally, also reveal the Cultural Revolution to be a factor in shaping the attitudes of many from the older generations – many do, as you say, fear democracy partly because of their experiences during that time.

  7. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Nimrod wrote: ‘By one means or another, the visible result is something more elitist than democratic’ – in both China and in all Western nations.

    OK – I can agree with you on this sentence!

  8. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Democracy is a red herring, a logical impossibility. It is internally self-contradictory. It ignores (1) inherent human variability, especially in intelligence and motivation and (2) the nature of politics as a process of establishing dominance hierarchy in group living animals.

    Here are a couple of quotes from my longer article:

    “Group living animals are organized in hierarchical structures. The more detailed a society’s division of labor, the more elaborate this hierarchical structure becomes. Political processes are methods of establishing a stable dominance hierarchy. In lower primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees, the primary method of establishing dominance is the use and threat of use of aggressive force. The politics of monkeys and chimps are the politics of testosterone, muscle, age and ferocity. In human groups, dominance bears subtler and more palatable labels; it is called “governance”, “leadership” and “law and order”, and is established primarily with customs, norms, persuasion and negotiation, with limited coercion.”

    “The most efficient organizations of social hierarchies are not democracies, but meritocracies. Business organizations offer ample examples. Tellers and janitors do not hold one-person-one-vote sway in decisions about mergers and acquisitions or selecting the CEO at the Bank of America. The same concentration of power is apparent in Boeing’s corporate decision on the types of future airplanes to invest in R & D.”

  9. pug_ster Says:

    Talking about Peking University, I certainly think there’s some Meritocracy within the Ivy League School System as they would take in sons and daughters of political leaders, CEO’s, and other elitists. Many of these people who graduated from these Ivy League School system become this 2nd or 3rd generation of elitists within the American Society. To give you a couple of examples, think of the Kennedy, Rockefeller and the Bush clans and how their family has dominated the politics in the American society.

    I don’t think how can Chinese government be a 100% Meritocracy. People like Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao did not come from an elitists family rather these people had to work their way up to the top.

  10. Wukailong Says:

    Sociologist Daniel Bell has outlined a system of meritocracy as an alternative to Western democracy, and he seems to have thought it through quite carefully. His book “China’s New Confucianism” describes how such a system would work legally, among other things:

    Daniel Bell: China’s New Confucianism

    I have only skimmed the book so far, but it looks interesting.

  11. Shane9219 Says:

    The mainland’s governing style is a form of collective democracy. There is really no better word for me to describe it after thinking it long and hard. Looking around, I found this notion was introduced long ago by Prof. chih-yu shih, and he actually wrote a book on it in 1999.

    http://www.amazon.com/Collective-Democracy-Political-Academic-Monograph/dp/9622018270/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240201390&sr=1-4

    The emphasis of China’s collective democracy is on people’s collective rights and social development as a whole, while western’s individualistic democracy focusing on personal rights and freedom.

    The collective nature of China’s social and political ideology fits well with China’s traditional culture and history, thus give it the necessary social foundation and vitality.

  12. Wukailong Says:

    @bxbq (#8): I don’t think democracy is some sort of complete flattening of hierarchies – that would be socialism. Even in most democracies you select leaders on various levels like municipality, district and national level. Democratic decisions affect the creation or amendment of new laws but do not generally have any say on direct decision-making such as what the police is supposed to do.

    However, I do think there’s a problem with the democratic processes if the leadership is too far from the electorate. This is the case both in the US and the EU, and in the latter case I understand the problems involved from experience: when there are national elections in my home country, everybody knows about them and voter turnout is high (usually above 80%), but for the EU voter turnout is as low as somewhere around 30% (and I just recently realized these elections are soon coming up!):

    http://grundlag.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/political-participation/

    Judging from these examples, it seems a viable option for China would be to expand elections up to city and perhaps provincial levels. National level decisions could be made by a council selected by provincial leaders. Just an idea…

  13. Shane9219 Says:

    Collective Democracy: Political and Legal Reform in China

    By Chih-yu Shih. 1999

    on Google bookshelf

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7lSKoqeLzhQC&dq=collective+democracy&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=L6aVs5JU4D&sig=zaFR_4FIdRKXy4udUgdyYFEN62o&hl=en&ei=DPzrSZT9No_0tAOErKj0AQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1

  14. Shane9219 Says:

    @bianxiangbianqiao #8

    Below is a raw comparison on two kinds of tradition on social relations. Right or wrong, just my two cents :-)

    Social relations in Europea and US are flat in hierarchy (In another word, a peer-based network). This notion has been reinforced by western religion in that, under God, people are all equal, including between father and son. Social relations are established through individual binding/non-binding contracts, thus giving it a foundation for a rule-based individualistic society.

    On the other hand, social relations in China (or many parts of Asia) are more hierarchical. A common belief on social orders is essential to maintain a stable hiearchy. Such common belief has been reinforced through long established Chinese culture and tradtion. Social relations are kind of naturally born, recognized and enforced in communities by default, thus giving it a stable and collective based society.

  15. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    bianxiangbianqiao – I agree that non-democracies may be more conducive to the practice of meritocracy. But I don’t believe that China today is a meritocracy – not systematically.

  16. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Wukailong – yes, I own a copy Daniel Bell’s book. I have a few of his books actually. He does indeed outline a theory of meritocracy as a possible alternative for China to democracy. But he certainly doesn’t argue that China already is a complete meritocracy.

    Professor Daniel Bell even visited my China Discourse site, incidentally, and left a comment in response to my essay on China’s human rights.

  17. Raj Says:

    #2

    There are prerequisites required for democracy to be able to successfully take hold and succeed, and China has yet to meet those conditions. Maybe in another 10-20 years from now?

    A decade or two would probably be enough, but I’m not sure whether the CCP is even trying to move in that direction. I still see little interest in creating a properly independent judiciary. Democracy can’t flourist without rule of law and rule of law won’t fully be instituted if the courts are beholden to officials.

    #8

    Democracy is a red herring, a logical impossibility. It is internally self-contradictory. It ignores (1) inherent human variability, especially in intelligence and motivation and (2) the nature of politics as a process of establishing dominance hierarchy in group living animals.

    bbq, I think you’re misunderstanding what the modern form of democracy is. What we have is perfectly compatable with human variability and hierarchies. There are political, social and economic hierarchies, but part of being human is that people can move up (and down) them. A democratic country does not pretend these hierarchies do not exist nor says they should not do, only that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.

    As for “human variability”, which I take as code for “some people aren’t as smart/able as others”, such a view is subjective. We often disagree over what sort of people are suitable for particular jobs, so as there is no “China Wisdom and Truth Committee” as established by Heaven to decide who is the best, I think it’s counterproductive to allow a single, self-interested group (as all politicians are) to decide on a country’s most important future leaders and officials.

    You’re also ignoring the point that meritocracies are a pipe-dream, because aspects such as self-interest, personal gain et al trump important decisions. So even if they would be the best thing, as they don’t exist it’s a waste of time debating their merits.

  18. Wukailong Says:

    @Mark Anthony Jones: “He does indeed outline a theory of meritocracy as a possible alternative for China to democracy. But he certainly doesn’t argue that China already is a complete meritocracy.”

    You’re right. I think that in order for the Chinese system to become a meritocracy, there has to be specific changes to it like some sort of entry-level exam for officials or educational requirements for all levels. As to whether such a system is feasible or not, I’m quite skeptical. In Thailand, for example, it used to be required of all politicians to have university-level exams (perhaps it still is), and it’s hard to see how that has created the wise rule conceived by meritocrats. What system China finally decides on should hopefully be a wise decision and not just fear of perceived bad effects of Western democracy.

    I think every system gets about as much support as it has monetary power… North Korea has a strong army, but that doesn’t give them much clout. China is getting stronger and stronger economically and so are the defendants of the current system, but to me it seems that people just try to idealize what they perceive to be the good effects of the current system and create a sort of theory out of that that mostly looks at the differences and shuns the similarities. As an example, despite the criticisms of Western political systems, you don’t have people claim that the rule of law is evil and ought to be exchanged with some sort of Confucian version… :) (But please prove me wrong)

    Still, I think the idea of meritocratic “add-ons” to existing systems is interesting.

  19. Wahaha Says:

    There are several classes in a society :

    1) the riches.

    2) the intelligentsia ( management, political reform, technology and science, etc)

    3) Activists, professional politicians and those who are interested in voicing their opinions on government’s policies.

    4) the UPPER middle class that consists of people who make good money and enjoy good lives, and dont care much about politics, they only want to enjoy good lives.

    5) the LOWER middle class that consists of people who fight and struggle for good life, they have to work hard most of time and never feel secure of their future, or have no time worrying about their future.

    6) The poor that consists of people whose only hope is government, only government can pull them out of poverty.
    ______________________________

    The first 3 categories consists of less 1% of populations in general, but in al most all societies, they dominate politics and economy.

    1) If the policies are mostly designed by group #2, I think the system can be classified as meritocracy.

    2) The power and influence by riches in #1 must be controled; otherwise, democracy is a joke.

    3) If the government cares people in group #4, #5 and group#6, the government is people’s government in the eyes of its people, the human right issue is not a criteria ORDINARY people use to judge THEIR government.

    4) Western democracy is a perfect system for people in group #1, #2 and #3 (THE TOP 1%), but a very bad system for #5 and #6.

    5) the ‘ voices of people ‘ in #5 and #6 are always guided and manipulated by people #1 and #3 FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES, in either democratic system (Iraq war) or authoritarian system (Maoism).

    _______________________________________

    I once talked to Gordon Chang on his blog, I believe the greatest threat to democracy is not China, but USA and India. The current financial crisis will be a huge test on democracy. If USA failed to pull themselves out of this mess, Chinese people will lose interests in USA democracy; if in next 20 years, India fails to keep up the economic development, people in China will find that the democratic system by Britain is not attractive.

    As long as the chinese government has money, there is no hope of multi-party system in China. This maybe a good thing for China if CCP can find an effective way to let people voice their opinion and complains, otherwise it will collapse when it has no more money (if so, when ? )

    ( please note that almost all the complains in China now are due to land acquisition. In other word, once China slows down in infrastructure constructions, the amount of complains will drop significantly, which is not a good news for people who want to see western democracy in China.

    Raj, go pray.)

  20. Nimrod Says:

    Wukailong wrote:

    “I think that in order for the Chinese system to become a meritocracy, there has to be specific changes to it like some sort of entry-level exam for officials or educational requirements for all levels. ”
    +++++
    Uh, there are exams for the bureaucracy. It has made civil service a lot more professional since the 80′s. But you know it takes time to cycle through the old generation.

    As an example, despite the criticisms of Western political systems, you don’t have people claim that the rule of law is evil and ought to be exchanged with some sort of Confucian version… (But please prove me wrong)
    +++++
    Not exchanged, but in practice it is some kind of hybrid. But it is true that nobody disputes the rule of law should be there as the last resort.

    China is getting stronger and stronger economically and so are the defendants of the current system, but to me it seems that people just try to idealize what they perceive to be the good effects of the current system and create a sort of theory out of that that mostly looks at the differences and shuns the similarities.
    +++++
    Isn’t that what all of political science is about :)

  21. Shane9219 Says:

    @Raj

    Any political system, in order for it to be functional and survive, has to be built upon the foundation of people’s social tradition (aside from social-enconomy), and eventually became part of their social culture and heritage.

    Enlightment fundamentalists package their own cultural tradition as “universal values”, and market them like fast-food chain in a very uniform and mechanical way. They ignore the profound difference on cultural traditon between East and West. There is no pure “universal value”. Human culture and knowlege evolves through cross-sharing and mutation.

  22. Shane9219 Says:

    @Wukailong #18

    “As an example, despite the criticisms of Western political systems, you don’t have people claim that the rule of law is evil and ought to be exchanged with some sort of Confucian version… ”

    Strong rule of law had been practiced since China’s ancient time, in fact, during China’s first Emperor in Qin Dynasty and various later dynasties… so rule of law was not western invention at all.

    However, through the entire China’s ancient history, there had always been an argument between strong rule of law and self-discipline. Confucian thought also advocates rule of law, but it puts more emphasis on self-discipline to achieve long term and better social order and harmony.

  23. Raj Says:

    There is no pure “universal value”.

    Of course there are. For example:

    Revulsion at murder.
    A belief in justice.
    Protection of the weak.
    The value of family and friendship.
    The importance of learning.

    Not everyone holds exactly the same views, but certain values transend all cultures, faiths and nationalities. You may wish to argue that freedom/democracy is not one of them, but it is nonsense to imply they cannot be because no value is “universal”.

    +++

    Wukailong (18), interesting post.

  24. Wahaha Says:

    Talking about universal value, here is one: ( or you can call it common sense ;) )

    When you are looking for a good restaurant, the thing you care most is the taste of food, not how the food looks.

    Obviously, someone here cares more about the color of foods than the taste of foods. and I have to say french food looks really nice.

  25. miaka9383 Says:

    @Shane
    The sense of what “Strong rule” of the law has changed a lot since then.
    It seems to me that the “Strong rule” has been what the government says is wrong, but when it affects their benefits it is right. I would like to see CCP enforcing their sense of “Strong Rule” of the law when it comes to production of products for their own people as well as exporting them. I would like to see that muggers and con artists get prosecuted. I definitely would like to see all of the corruption on the local government to stop.
    It disgusts me, when business people get in bed with local politicians. It is disgusting.

  26. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Shane9219 (Comment No.21) and Raj (Comment No.23),

    The question of universal values is certainly a very interesting one. It’s a question I’ve been pondering over myself in recent times. My conclusions, drawn after synthesising a number of views, are outlined in detail in the Introductory essay to my China Discourse website (see the section footnoted from 13-24 in particular).

    In short, I believe that while there are universal values (like for example, the values that Raj lists in his comment above), there can NEVER be a universal system of values, as Shane9219 recognises in his earlier comment – a “political system” for example, as Shane9219 says, is not like a fast food that can be easily exported. There are, for example, prerequisites for liberal democracy to succeed, some of which are economic and social, some of which are cultural – though none of these can ever remain pure and static of course!

    There are morally legitimate alternatives to liberal democracy, just as there are levels of meaningful democracy that don’t even require a system of multiple parties and elections – as I suggested in an earlier comment of mine here on this thread.

  27. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #18,

    The rule of law is indeed evil, costing society and corporations billions and billions of waste per year. But for attorneys like me, I am not going to point this out too much – since I do leverage off the status of us being legalized transaction costs – in a way that political “corruption” is not.

  28. Allen Says:

    @Raj #17,

    You wrote:

    bbq, I think you’re misunderstanding what the modern form of democracy is. What we have is perfectly compatable with human variability and hierarchies. There are political, social and economic hierarchies, but part of being human is that people can move up (and down) them. A democratic country does not pretend these hierarchies do not exist nor says they should not do, only that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.

    You’re also ignoring the point that meritocracies are a pipe-dream, because aspects such as self-interest, personal gain et al trump important decisions. So even if they would be the best thing, as they don’t exist it’s a waste of time debating their merits.

    What you say is true. But you should also note:

    While authoritarian gov’ts also have political, social and economic hierarchies where people can move up and down the chain, common people are freely allowed to join the CCP and gov’t where people are routinely promoted and demoted all the time in the Chinese political system, for example. If the Western democracies – with its various barriers created by its political, social and economic hierarchies – can be considered democratic, so too can the Chinese system be considered a perfectly democratic system.

    You mentioned a perfectly meritocratic system is a pipe dream. But you fail to see true democracies are also pipe dreams.

    The media has to be fair and objective to generate good public debates. The people have to be educated enough, well fed enough, and to care enough about the political process to participate in the political process. Money flow should be controlled in a way that does not distort the political process or pre-destine democratic results. The people need to also have a healthy sense of social awareness and public duty to exercise their political power judiciously for the good of their country – not just for themselves. …

  29. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Regarding comment No.28 above:

    Well said Allen!

  30. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen (#28): :D

    I’ve heard a lot of bad things about the judiciary in the US and how it’s ruled by lawyers without morals… As with so many other things (like the healthcare system) I’m always looking to learn more about the differences.

    Rule of law has its own problems, as has modernity, science and the market economy. For some reason, China is still pursuing all this.

  31. Wukailong Says:

    @Mark Anthony Jones: “The media has to be fair and objective to generate good public debates. The people have to be educated enough, well fed enough, and to care enough about the political process to participate in the political process. Money flow should be controlled in a way that does not distort the political process or pre-destine democratic results. The people need to also have a healthy sense of social awareness and public duty to exercise their political power judiciously for the good of their country – not just for themselves. …”

    How do you think different countries score on these factors? Are all countries basically the same?

    I don’t think media needs to be objective, but it needs to give people a choice. This is an area where I see the world as a whole still struggling. If people can’t be given a choice, then I’m perfectly with you that it needs to be “fair and objective”. The reason I’m saying this is because what is fair or objective is itself a matter of debate.

    On a personal note, it seems to me that you’re quite far on the left, and I sympathize with that… But sometimes I wonder if we do not tend to get too carried away with theoretical similarities or problems when comparing situations, and not see what the practice really is. It’s like when people say that there is no “freedom of speech” in the West because large media conglomerates rule the press, and then go on to claim that China is as free or even freer.

    However, I should add that I mostly agree with your analyses.

    @Shane: I think you refer to “rule by law” rather than “rule of law”. Confucius never placed the emphasis on law but on human relationships. That’s perfectly understandable from where he came from, and I think a society needs this as much as it needs rule of law… You may dispute this claim of mine, but I have yet to see one Chinese source that claims that rule of law is an inherent part of Chinese culture that just needs to be revived.

    The CCP certainly got power because they were a better choice than the KMT and because they understood the social problems in China better. This doesn’t mean, though, that they just accepted everything in Chinese culture and built on top of it. They were reformers on many levels, one of them cultural. So in a sense I agree with you that a political system must adhere to the social and cultural situation of a country, but that doesn’t necessarily mean conservatism or accepting everything in the culture lock, stock and barrel.

  32. Allen Says:

    @Wukailong #31,

    Regarding your question “How do you think different countries score on these factors? Are all countries basically the same?” in response to my terse description with problems with “democracy” today – I’ll say that one big difference is the gdp per capita. If you travel to the more rural areas of China – you can quickly tell the level of education and knowledge in the rural areas do not measure up to that of the West.

    If we have democracy under such conditions – we will have rule of mob not rule of democracy…

    This is a big topic, but I thought I will inject a quick thought here. As I mentioned before, democracy really is more about a dynamic spirit to participate in governance than institutionalism per se – but I know I will get disagreement there…

  33. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Wukailong: it is very difficult to quantify all of the factors you ask about. I know of no empirical studies that have attempted to make such comparative evaluations.

    When I look at the World Bank Good Governance Indicators however,I see that China performs well on at least half the indicators when judged against the averages for the world’s lower-middle income class – the class in which China belongs.

    On voice and accountability, China underperforms against the average country in its income class, and it underperforms on measurements of political stability (which really surprises me) and the control of corruption.

    But China performs way above the average on indicators of government effectiveness, above average on regulatory control, and above average on measurements of rule of law.

    Here is the link, in case you would like to check the Indicators for yourself:

    http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/mc_chart.asp

  34. Raj Says:

    Allen

    You mentioned a perfectly meritocratic system is a pipe dream. But you fail to see true democracies are also pipe dreams.

    What is a “true democracy”? All political systems are flawed, but there are working democracies in a large number of countries. On the other hand there are no working meritocracies.

    There has to be…………

    All those things help, but an absence of any of them does not make democracy a bad thing/impossible to impliment. Furthermore, I note that Chinese officials never indicate what the “enoughs” are. Doubtless because this would mean they’d lose their justification on blocking reform if they were met.

    By the way, how do those factors affect something like judicial independence? Oh wait, let me guess – Chinese judges are too stupid or something to think for themselves, right? :P

  35. Otto Kerner Says:

    I don’t have any cogent deep thoughts on this subject. However, I was thinking about it, and it occurred to me that people who think that “merit” and “went to Harvard” are pretty much the same thing are dangerous.

  36. Wukailong Says:

    @Mark Anthony Jones: Thanks for the link! I’m happy there are more indicators of corruption than Transparency International, not because I don’t trust them, but because last time I brought them up here some people claimed that all countries are equally corrupt and institutions that create these numbers are motivated by racism. It seems the numbers published by the World Bank are quite similar to TI.

    As for political stability in China, while a buzzword, the consensus is not necessarily close to reality. I was surprised by the values too, but I think from what we’ve seen last year, with at least two large-scale riots (Lhasa and Weng’an), it’s probably less stable than the other parts of the Sinosphere. Often remarks on stability are based on subjective assessments like “Taiwan is so chaotic, people demonstrate all the time”, but there’s a difference between having demonstrations that are noisy, and ones that are truly derailing to a society.

    @Allen: I agree with you. Naturally, for a country at China’s level of development, not only is there more poverty and less education, but also are institutions working less efficiently. I think China are making large strides in the right direction of making the governmental institutions more efficient though.

    As for democracy, I think you need both institutions and a democratic spirit to really have a good system… Though it’s struck me on more than one occasion that both critics and defenders of democracy tend to look too much at procedures, rather than content.

  37. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Wukailong wrote: “Often remarks on stability are based on subjective assessments…”

    Yes, this is a problem with the World Bank Indicators. They are based largely on the experiences and subjective assessments of various groups. As the World Bank Good Governance website explains: “The aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries. The individual data sources underlying the aggregate indicators are drawn from a diverse variety of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organisations, and international organisations.”

    Some of these organisations and respondents, of course, will inevitably produce assessments that culturally-mediated, while others will no doubt also be ideologically motivated (which may influence the way they phrase survey questions, along with the way they interpret the results). The respondents themselves, are also expressing subjective assessments, which are no doubt often impressionistic in nature, as you suggest.

    Still, the Indicators have some value, in that they do tell us how Chinese governance is commonly perceived by a variety of respondents, as packaged by a variety of organisations. They need to be used cautiously though.

  38. Wahaha Says:

    WKL,

    Talking about corruption, here is another link I think you will have interest :

    http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/288746/Black_Money_in_Swiss_bank.htm

    India 1456 billion dollars.
    Russia 470 billion dollars.
    UK 390 billion dollars
    Uklraine 100 billion dollars.
    China 96 billion dollars.

    I think we all know what that means.

    ____________________________________________

    Raj,

    Are you still gonna claim that government under west democracy is ‘ government of the people, by the people and for the people ‘ ?

    and I am sure you will be interested in reading this :

    India’s freedom locked in Swiss banks?

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/29304170.cms

    I cant wait to see what kind of excuses you are going to pull off this time.

    ___________________________

    As lot of Chinese here said, there are lot of flaws in the current system in China, but only fools would want a new system in China that is ‘ government of the riches, by the riches and for the riches ‘.

  39. Wahaha Says:

    Here is a poll, ( given current economic situation, as capitalism obviously in disadvantage position,until I see other similar poll with similar result, I wont consider this poll is convincing.)

    just-53%-say-capitalism-better-than-socialism

    http://slycapital.com/2009/04/09/just-53-say-capitalism-better-than-socialism/

  40. Nimrod Says:

    Wukailong wrote:

    but there’s a difference between having demonstrations that are noisy, and ones that are truly derailing to a society.

    +++++
    Very true that noisy demonstrations aren’t always destabilizing. However, noisy demonstrations rather than calm building of consensus are problematic as a means of effecting change. The chaotic part isn’t just the noise, but the antagonism, the tendency toward emotion or physicality, the showmanship and cheapening of discourse, the cultism and personality worship, the lost productivity and focus, etc. The issues often get neglected and the demonstration or chaotic process becomes its own goal. While not always destabilizing, this isn’t something to be preferred. This is especially true in recent Taiwan: if you look at all the non-destabilizing “chaos” they’ve had, they achieved absolutely nothing and changed absolutely nothing, except that society has been polarized along political lines and antagonism has increased.

  41. Raj Says:

    Are you still gonna claim that government under west democracy is ‘ government of the people, by the people and for the people ‘ ?

    Actually that was Abraham Lincoln, not me. But I’m flattered nonetheless that you thought I said it.

    and I am sure you will be interested in reading this

    Why would I be interested in reading an article from well over six years ago?

    just-53%-say-capitalism-better-than-socialism

    Hmm, bad news for current Chinese economic policy then, given it’s mostly capitalist.

  42. Wahaha Says:

    LOL,

    1456 billion dollars in Swiss bank was not something 6 years ago.

    and you didnt answer the question :

    Are you still gonna claim that government under west democracy is ‘ government of the people, by the people and for the people ‘ ?

    I cant wait your excuse, sorry for repeating the question, I just want to hear your bizarre excuse from your twisted hatred.

    Of course, if you only care the looks of foods, not the taste of food, that is OK with me, just please dont pretend you have moral ground.

    ____________________________

    Oh, capitalism has its good side, just like socialism. People like you talk like the media in China 40 or 50 years ago, dont you know ?

    40 years ago in China, anything related to capitalism is bad; and now you talk like anything related to socialism is bad.

  43. Lime Says:

    @Wahaha
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t agree with Lincoln that democracy is ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. Maybe instead of trying to provoke expressions of Raj’s ‘twisted hatred’, a better place to start would be to explain why, in your own opinion, democracy is not a government of the people, by the people, for people. Then Raj could tell you why he agrees or disagrees with you, which might help the discussion move beyond a series of bizarre excuses for everyone’s individual twisted hatreds.
    Just a thought mate.

  44. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: Could you describe a bit more what you think about the message in the link. I certainly found it interesting, and I’m not surprised India is corrupt and a lot of money has disappeared (I’ve heard the same thing about the Palestine authorities when Yasser Arafat was the ruler).

    But here’s my reflections: during the 90s, enormous amounts of money flowed out of Russia because of the rule of a few oligarchs who basically divided up the wealth of the nation and funneled it abroad. What happened in India probably did so over a longer time period, but it’s still a great scandal.

  45. Wahaha Says:

    Lime and WKL,

    This is MY opinion (please read my post #19 first) :

    Ask yourself, who would an elected take care of ? naturally IN ORDER (That is the key.)

    1) his family and relatives, ( especially money )

    2) People he needs now and in future (financially and politically)

    3)People and friends within his circle ( or of his kind )

    4) the people who voted his in.

    So, (1) leads to corruption, in democratic system or authoritarian system, UNLESS he doesnt have to be corruptive, like he is a millionaire or he owns shares of company.

    (1) AND (2) ARE THE REASONS THAT GOVERNMENT UNDER DEMOCRACY IS NOT WHAT LINCOLN CLAIMED, cuz under democracy, riches control the media (which controls his political future) and his potential financial situations. This determines that politicians have to work for riches first. That is exactly what is going on in India.

    If you agree this order, you will see that one of the necessary conditions for a people’s government is that the influence and power of riches must be limited, so that politicians wont have to take care of riches first. but the election system under west democracy gives riches a LEGAL way to use their wealth to control the ELECTED politicians.

    Allow me to repeat :

    the election system under west democracy gives riches LEGAL ways to use their wealth to control the ELECTED politicians and force the elected WORKING FOR THEM FIRST.

    ________________________________________

    Reading through #1 to #4, you see that the best way to get a politician working for you is

    (A) getting rid of the influence of riches. ( if so, then it becomes ‘ state control ‘, and there are new problems like human right.)

    (B) the politician is someone ‘ of your kind ‘ or ‘ within your circle ‘.

    You see, west democracy fails badly in (A). About (B), I mean ” are there politicians of your kind in the VERY TOP TIER of the government ? ” That is where democracy fails also, in India, in USA, in Europe, as most of the politicians in the top tier are millionaires, lawyers or former executives of big financial institutions.

    ______________________________________________

    Revisit the order :

    The government money doesnt belong to politicians, giving away govenment’s money doesnt conflict with his interest in (1) , (2) and (3), he may even benefit from that by giving money to certain peoples and organization.

    So, you cant tell if a government is people’s government or not when the government has a deep pocket (the same for the chinese government), rather you have to see what those politicians do when governement doesnt have money. That is why western democracy doesnt deliver in developing countries but people in developed countries didnt fail any pain … until this financial crisis.

  46. Lime Says:

    @Wahaha
    Seems to me you’ve identified problems that are inherent in all governments, democratic and otherwise. How does the “state control” you mention in point a) of your third section of comment 45 (congratulations on a highly organised comment by the way) prevent abuses of political positions for personal profit?

    Also, in your comment 19, if a state was really a meritocracy, wouldn’t groups 1, 2, and 3 all be the same group of people?

  47. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: Thanks for the description, which I agree with. I don’t think corruption as a whole just goes away because you have democracy in a country, and India and the US are larger strikes against democracy than China is.

    Still, I don’t recognize these descriptions in the system I grew up in… I’m not saying it’s better, it was just different. My assessment about it now is that political power in Sweden (and the other Scandinavian countries) tended to rest mostly with the large trade unions and the leading party, which was a dominant party in society at the time:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominant-party_system

    At the height of their power, there was a large-scale reaction towards “paternalism” and worries by companies that they would lose economic control over their organizations. After that, and some changes of government, the country has been moving more towards right-wing policies, and the welfare system (which quite naturally caters to groups 5 and 6 mentioned in #19) is being reformed.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the end of history. New systems, democratic or not, will evolve in the future – and they will need to build on the way information flows work today. Closed systems like the one in North Korea will most likely disappear.

  48. Wahaha Says:

    Lime,

    Let me answer your question one by one, (again, just my opinion) :

    Your question 1 : Also, in your comment 19, if a state was really a meritocracy, wouldn’t groups 1, 2, and 3 all be the same group of people?

    In meritocracy, people in group 2 are the designers of game plans, not the ones who carry out plan (which is the job of group 3 ). Also most importantly, in a true meritocracy, the designers of economic plans (not political plans ) should not be associated with any special groups (especially the riches).

    For example, the economic plans in USA are also designed by extremely talented people, but it is not pure meritocracy, cuz most of those people are former CEO, CFO etc of big financial institutions and big companies. So when Paulson, a former CEO on wall street, was the leader of treasure department, his decision will more likely favor wall street, as a result, it is very doubtful if his plan is a plan for people or for wall street.
    ________________________________________________

    Your question 2 : How does the “state control” you mention in point a) of your third section of comment 45 (congratulations on a highly organised comment by the way) prevent abuses of political positions for personal profit?

    No, you cant, whether in democratic or authoritarian. If you have doubt, just find a way to check the salaries of relatives of those governers, lot of them makes 6 figures, (which is legal). In China, this way doesnt work as very few owns big companies.

    You may ask, why cant their financial information be exposed to public ? well, somehow, things dont work this way. Let us assume most people care about themselves and their families first. Based on this assumption, people will only go after those positions from which he can gain most. So, if he finds a position in government cant give him what he wants, he will not go after that position, ESPECIALLY THOSE TALENTED. If in some way, corruption can be completely or almost completely eliminated, the government will be crowded with bunch of average Joes, which in return is bad for people.

    I have no idea how to solve this problem, maybe Singapore showed us a way …. plus severe penalty.

    _______________________________________________

    Your 3rd question (?) Seems to me you’ve identified problems that are inherent in all governments …..

    The difference is how those government official get money in different systems.

    In democratic system, as riches control the economy and money, so government officials have to work for riches to get money, but riches wont give them $100,000 for $100,000 return, they will give them $100,000 for 1 million dollars or even 10 million dollars return. So under democracy, huge amount of wealth is distributed to very few people, like Russia, India, some former South American countries.

    In China, government controls everything, the government’s money, by constitution or whatever, is people money, so how govenrment officials get money ? well they cant put money directly into their pocket, cuz they dont won anything. They have to, FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND BENEFITS, design something or projects for people under their goverance, so they can get money from government and benefit from the money under their control, but STILL vast majority of money are invested for improving people’s life, that is how China pull 400 million people out of extreme poverty. I dont believe there are so many angels in CCP, rather, I believe that under the system, there is less FINANCIAL conflicts between personal interests and public interests. (the order I mentioned)

    Also, the distribution of wealth in china’s system favors average people lot more than democratic system. For example, the millitary industry, this is a industry that has huge profit. Let us assume, there is 200 billion dollar profit. In China, say 10 billion of 200 billion is taken by those corruptive scumbags, but still 190 billions is used on poor people. In democratic country, say 40% tax rate, assume with absolute zero corruption, so 120 billion is given to the shareholders, only 80 billion is for people. That is why in general, people in group 5 and 6 rarely benefit from the economic development.

    _______________________________________________

    But flaw of government control is obvious.

    People in group 2 cant benefit as much as they couldve in a democratic society, as a result, their motivation of innovation is much less than in a deomocratic society.

    As government controls the money, they have much much much greater power than they should have, lot of them will abuse the power they have.

    So here are the two questions I have no answer :

    1) Is it possible that authoritarian government coexist with free media and information ?

    2) Is it possible that a deomcratic system can effectively limit the power of riches ?

  49. Wahaha Says:

    WKL,

    I know nothing about the political system in Sweden, so I cant comment on your kind response. I believe a new system should be able to give me answers to the two questions I asked, as least partially.

  50. Brad Says:

    @ bianxiangbianqiao “Is Chinese Meritocracy a Viable Alternative to Western Democracy?”

    Instead of war of words, how about just look and see?

    While all the self-claimed democracies are in recession, their alternative — the dictatorship, communism, authoritarian, or meritocracy China is still expecting a growth rate of 6-8%. The system is as stable as anyone can be. The Asian Risk Prospects 2009 rated China as less corrupt than the democracy Taiwan.

    As long as the majority of Chinese people are happy with the system and the way the Communist Party is governing, what hat you put on to its political system: Meritocracy or BS, does not matter much.

    The fact is, the Chinese system is not only viable, but also a tested proven alternative to Western Democracy. The Chinese system is realy a class of its own. I predict that the whole world will be humbled and will start to learn this new, dynamic, efficient, and inspirational new government system in the near future.

  51. Lime Says:

    Wahaha,
    I’m with you up to a point. I see what you’re saying with the connection between the political and monied elite classes in democracy. Politicians and parties have to raise their own funds (usually) to campaign with, and thus have to make friends with the monied elites, or in some cases invite members of this class into the parties to get these funds.
    Authoritarian governments, like the PRC’s, don’t need these funds because they don’t campaign, so they are not as directly in the debt of the monied elites in their country. I don’t see how this necessarily translates into governments that are more concerned with the ‘common good’. Richer, happier people mean a more powerful, more stable government of course, but this is just as true in a democratic state. Would you care to elaborate on that a bit more?

    From my own perspective it seems like in a democracy the political elite are in a tougher situation, as the demands on them are threefold what the political elite in an authoritarian state. The democratically elected politician is beholden to their party which they are inducted into (unless they are an independent, which usually means almost no power), the people and organisations with money and influence that supported their campaign (not only the monied elites, but also groups like trade unions, popular social activists, the media etc.), and of course their electorate.
    The politician in the authoritarian state, on the other hand, is only beholden to their party for their position.

    In regards to your two questions, one thing that might interest you is that at least in Canada the influence of the monied elite on the political system has been seen as a problem by some too. The private individuals and organisations can only make very small donations.

    (http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=fin&document=index&dir=lim&lang=e&textonly=false).

    Like alot of Canada’s legislation though, this was a really crummy idea, because now the parties get most of their funding from the government itself, based on how many votes they got in the past elections.

  52. Wukailong Says:

    @Lime: “Like alot of Canada’s legislation though, this was a really crummy idea, because now the parties get most of their funding from the government itself, based on how many votes they got in the past elections.”

    This is similar to Sweden. I don’t think it’s a good idea at all, but it’s been that way for ages.

  53. Wukailong Says:

    @Brad: Interestingly, the point about a system being popular because its economy is working well, was very similar to the situation after the Great Depression. Both communism and fascism seemed like better alternatives.

    “By this time, it’s such a commonplace that communism doesn’t work that it’s hard– especially for Americans– to understand why anyone ever thought it would. But remember the ’30s, when the capitalist nations had all knocked themselves into grinding poverty, and Soviet industry, unaffected by the collapse, was burgeoning. Soon fascist industry added to the shame; liberal capitalism looked like it was running a distant third. And in the ’50s, analysts worried themselves silly over the Soviet growth rate, which by some measures was three times that of the U.S.”

    http://www.zompist.com/predic.htm

    I’m not meaning that China is similar to the systems at the time, only that it seems systems gain their merits on how well they proceed economically. Also, I think it’s too early to make a prediction based on where we are now, with this recession.

  54. Wahaha Says:

    Lime,

    To answer your comment ” don’t see how this necessarily translates into governments that are more concerned with the ‘common good’.”

    No, they dont, I talked about it in my post :

    In China, government controls everything, the government’s money, by constitution or whatever, is people money, so how govenrment officials get money ? well they cant put money directly into their pocket, cuz they dont won anything. They have to, FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND BENEFITS, design something or projects for people under their goverance, so they can get money from government and benefit from the money under their control, but STILL vast majority of money are invested for improving people’s life, that is how China pull 400 million people out of extreme poverty. I dont believe there are so many angels in CCP, rather, I believe that under the system, there is less FINANCIAL conflicts between personal interests and public interests. (the order I mentioned)

    Sorry I dont have time now, I will read your link later, thx.

  55. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: “So here are the two questions I have no answer :

    1) Is it possible that authoritarian government coexist with free media and information ?

    2) Is it possible that a deomcratic system can effectively limit the power of riches ?”

    These are great questions, perhaps even defining for the time we live in. By 2020, I guess we might be able to see answers more clearly… but I’m just speculating.

  56. Lime Says:

    Wahaha,
    Yeah that’s passage of yours that I’m having trouble with.

    “They have to, FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND BENEFITS, design something or projects for people under their goverance, so they can get money from government and benefit from the money under their control, but STILL vast majority of money are invested for improving people’s life”

    Why do they have to ‘design something or projects for people under their governance’ for their own benefit? Why is the vast majority of money invested in projects for improving people’s lives in authoritarian states? That’s what I don’t understand.

    I think you’re trying to say that authoritarianism is an advantage to the average person (classes 4, 5, and 6 from your comment 19). If we take a strictly Marxist perspective, and see a perpetual class struggle between the monied elites and the other classes, I could see how a system that disadvantages the monied elites would have to conversely benefit the other classes… but that only works if see it in terms of a zero-sum class struggle, and the government as a kind of passive intermediary.

    Don’t worry about the link unless you’re particularly interested. It was just the citation of my info on the Canadian campaign donation laws.

  57. Lime Says:

    Wukailong,
    Good to know. I always wondered where the Liberal Party of Canada got that particular ‘progressive’ nugget of an idea from.

  58. Shane9219 Says:

    @Brad #50

    Good point. There is no doubt that China has formulated a sucessful development model by itself, and there is no doubt that many developing countries around the world can learn much from China. When that happens, it would be a major contribution from China to the world in recent history.

    If I could summarize a few things on China’s development model, I would put them with a few simple statements:

    1. Economicial and social development should be given high priority over political development.
    2. Political system, playing as a supporting role in a changing society, should place its own priority on maintaining social order and stability, doing it best to uphold a fair and just society.
    3. “Let truth come from facts” — result-orientation is the only rule to grade and justify any government policy at ideological level, not individual or partisan preference.
    4. Devoting genuine and substantial efforts on experiments before pushing out new social and economical policies.

    It is quite understandable that Chinese leadership emphasis “social stability with a goal towards fair and just society” as a pre-condition for a country’s development. Any society under drastic changes would be expected to experience many severe ups and downs. Some could be good, but others can be bad such country in a long run.

    Needless to say, China adopt a political system that is unique and a class of its own, due to its own unique history. Chinese understand this, and have no intention to ask any other country to copy it. On the other hand, western people often miss the complete picture of China’s development by narrowing focus on its political system, simply because it is so drastically different from their own, and in certain aspects, have conflict with their traditional values. They also quite stubbornly push their agenda of implementing liberal democracy as a precondition for economical and social development.

  59. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I don’t know what a “true” democracy is…but I’m fairly certain Canada (and the US) aren’t in possession of same. I don’t think a “true” democracy (at least my impression of it) is even feasible, unless one wants to get absolutely nothing accomplished.
    Almost all of the time, we entrust the meritorious ones to make decisions on our behalf. However, every 4 years or so, we get input into what type of job we think they’re doing. And if they’re blowing chunks, they’ll often find themselves in search of alternate employment.
    So perhaps only those worthy of driving the boat should get the chance to take the wheel, and perhaps that is really no different between us and CHina. For me, the difference is who gets to make that assessment of merit. And even if it’s only once every few years, I enjoy the opportunity to render that assessment. And whatever system CHina has now, or will evolve into in the future, my guess is that it wouldn’t hurt if the average joe had the opportunity to make a similar assessment.

    Now, Allen has often asserted that such opportunity already exists, as soon as one joins the CCP. But does one first have to join the meritocracy to be able the gauge merit?

    Wahaha’s recurring beef seems to be corruption. No question it exists in our system. And I don’t think there’s much doubt it exists in China’s current system. So it’s really of no distinguishing value. And it in no way addresses the question of individual choice, which, as I suggested above, is the feature we have, and CHinese don’t (at least at the higher levels of government).

    I have no problem with “smart” people running the show; I just appreciate the opportunity to fill out a report card every couple of years.

  60. Shane9219 Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #59

    “Now, Allen has often asserted that such opportunity already exists, as soon as one joins the CCP. But does one first have to join the meritocracy to be able the gauge merit?”

    Some senior Chinese leaders are not CCP members. There is a government plan in place to increase percentage of such type leaders in coming years.

    Check out this report on newsweek.

    “China’s Best Westerns
    Chen Zhu is a new model Chinese leader, a non-communist who trained in the West.”

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/191488?tid=relatedcl

  61. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Shane,

    did not know that. Thanks for the link. It’s certainly a start. But nonetheless it seems Chen was installed by the Party. So his report card is still issued by the Party, and not Joe Average.

  62. Lime Says:

    @S.K. Cheung,
    I don’t think Wahaha’s main beef is corruption, per se. If I’ve understood him correctly, I think the problem he sees with democracy is that because the politicians and parties have to campaign, and (in most states) have to raise at least some of their own funds for this, which allows the people and organisations with money to have an unfair level of influence over the political system (not necessarily in the form of outright corruption), compared to the influence of unmonied people.
    My problem with this is, even though it is true that you don’t have this in unelected governments, I still don’t see why they are any more likely to provide better government unmonied people.

  63. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Lime,
    you’re right. I think I’ve over-simplified Wahaha’s varied and multi-faceted beefs. I do think corruption is one; but I certainly agree that “political influence” is one of the others.
    I guess my question is, are you beholden to a campaign donor because they supported your candidacy monetarily, or did the donor choose to support a candidate because that candidate’s position on issues mirrors those of the donor? Probably a chicken and egg type of scenario. In Wahaha’s world, it seems candidates are carte blanche, whose sympathies go to the highest bidder. In mine, people put their money on the horse whose positions are in furtherance of their own. Sorta like where they’d likely put their vote too. So if you’re American, the unions back the Dems, and the NRA backs the GOP; and if you’re Canadian, the unions back the Liberals and NDP, and business backs the Conservatives.

    I agree with your last statement. In fact, I’d ask who an unelected government best serves, besides the members of said government.

  64. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I think the debate is more accurately between “Rule of Men” vs. “Rule of Law”.

    Western tradition, as far as now, considers the later to be the desirable foundation for a system of government. This is based upon the rationale that laws are more immutable than the rulers.

    Asian Cultures, more particularly Chinese, tend to view “rule of men” to be the preferable way. “Rule by talented benevolent rulers”.

    But this is an old debate with no definitive right or wrong answers.

    Socrates imagined the perfect system of government to be one where the “Wise Philosopher King” ruled the People with absolute power, but the King cannot own anything, and the People can have possessions but no say in the government.

    In as far as Socrates, he was not that different from Confucius’ “Divine Mandate to Rule”.

    One should also consider that in Asian culture, Laws, based upon written words, are by nature flexible in interpretation. That is the fundamental reason why Asian cultures preferred “rule by men” systems, because if the interpretations of laws are dependent upon the ruler, then in the end, the ruler has the ultimate power to bend the law to his purposes, benign or malevolent.

    I think in this respect, Western nations are beginning to feel the same way about laws and legal interpretations.

    Thus, I think, Western nations are becoming more “Asian” in mentality, and more dependent upon the ruling class, rather than the laws.

    In conclusion, ergo, I believe ultimately, “Rule by Men”, or “Rule by Talent” is inevitable.

    As I often say to my American friends, “You may have the law on your side, but rich people will always have better lawyers.” Ie. you won’t win.

  65. Nimrod Says:

    I don’t know about this. Rule of law is too deeply entrenched in Anglo-Saxon traditions to take lightly. On the other hand, with the influx of Hispanics into America, maybe that’ll change.

  66. miaka9383 Says:

    Are you saying Hispanics themselves don’t have a rule of law? Do you know Hispanic includes Spanish descents?

  67. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Well, I don’t know if people will ever admit that they have changed, but they do change.

    They may still call it “rule of law”, but we know that it’s the lawyers who make the rules.

  68. Lime Says:

    @raventhorn4000
    I’m skeptical as well. I’m not sure where you draw the boundaries of the ‘West’, but if it includes continental Europe, it’s worth pointing out that is where 20th century Fascism developed.

    Also, democracy, of varying types and to varying degrees, seems to be becoming the rule in East Asia as well as in Europe. The only remaining authoritarian states I can think of are Burma, North Korea, Vietnam, and the PRC. Even as a one-party dictatorship, it seems pretty clear that the PRC is moving farther and farther away from the Caudilloism of the Mao era. As the capitalist system develops, it stands to reason the legal system will have to develop with it.

    I also don’t think it’s fair to suggest that the historical China’s traditionally favoured the rule of men over the rule of law. Certainly there were many strong men in Chinese history, especially at the beginnings of dynasties, but the long periods of relative peace within the longer dynasties (I’m thinking of the Ming and Qing particularly, but I believe it would probably be true of the Tang and Song as well), tended to be characterised by governments led by emperors that, though theoretically all-powerful, were in fact severely constrained by the rituals and obligations to their officials and to the state itself.

    I would take the opposite position. The PRC, along with most other caudilloisms and ex-caudilloism, are moving away from the rule of men towards the rule of law. The thing about caudilloisms is that their only as good as the caudillo, and if you get a bad one, things tend to go downhill fast. It’s just not a good long-term solution for managing your state.

  69. shane9219 Says:

    @raventhorn4000 #67

    There is more to that, modern US courts are now largely driven by case laws, making statute laws flexible and subject to various bias/interpretation of judges. Judical decision now becomes part of law-making process.

  70. Nimrod Says:

    miaka9383 Says:

    Are you saying Hispanics themselves don’t have a rule of law? Do you know Hispanic includes Spanish descents?

    +++++
    Now that was a good quote to frame me with :). Yes, I do know that. In fact, I meant that Englishmen and maybe Germans tend to get the reputation of being rule-following, much like Japanese in Asia, whereas Mediterranean cultures are less so. That includes Spain.

  71. colin Says:

    I’ll take a technocrat over a greasy corrupt career politician anyday.

  72. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    I don’t think it’s a dichotomy of being ruled by “men” or by “law”.

    In Canada (and the US), we’re ruled by men (and women) within the confines of the law. But the law itself is in flux…in part, as Shane suggests, on the basis of legal precedents. But also, those in government are empowered and entrusted to make new law when the need arises.

    So really, the rulers can make the rules, but ultimately have to abide by them.

    I have no problem with talented rulers. In fact, I think that’s desirable. What I have a problem with is some belief of “divine mandate”. As I suggested earlier, one main difference between us and the PRC is that our rulers derive their mandate from us. To me, that is as it should be. To be honest, I have no idea from whom or where the PRC derives their mandate.

    So if we’re to be ruled by men, or talent, that’s fine by me, as long as I get a say in selecting those lucky men, or in determining who has the requisite talent. And whatever system China has, or morphs into, I don’t see how a similar stipulation would be a bad thing.

  73. Wahaha Says:

    Lime #56,

    Your question : Why do they have to ‘design something or projects for people under their governance’ for their own benefit? Why is the vast majority of money invested in projects for improving people’s lives in authoritarian states? That’s what I don’t understand.

    Here is my answer :

    Suppose there is a high position in government to fill, you are given two choices,

    Choice A) : One millionaire and one big-shot lawyer run for the position and YOU CAN VOTE.
    Choice B) : A person with similar financial background like you is appointed, and YOU CANT VOTE.

    Which one would you pick ? I would pick B), though (A) sounds great.

    CCP has 67 million members, they are from every level of society, every corner of society. Not saying they are not selfish, but in my opinion, though they are not elected, they are still more representitive of ordinary than a goverment ruled by some big shots from noble class or rich families. Like I mentioned in #45, you want someone ‘ of your kind ‘ in the government.

    Obviously, lot of countries like India, like in Africa and south America simply dont fit this criteria. As a result, they can implement the so called ‘ China’s model ‘ and you wont see significant result.

    But that is not enough to make them working for people, it needs several conditions :

    1) Their voices are heard from the TOP TIER in the party, or in other word, THERE MUST BE DEMOCRACY WITHIN THE PARTY, that was obviously not the case under Mao; and not the case in most authoritarian governments over the world.

    Does CCP have the democracy within the party ? with the election of Wen Jiabao and Hu JingTao (who were from the poorest area of China), I think CCP has, though it wont tolerate the challenge of power from out of party.

    2) It must be a society without class system. This is extremely important, cuz in a society with class, people in upper class take benefits for granted; and worse, people in lower class wont question or challenge the unfairness.

    China is a society without class, thanks to Mao. (sorry if it offends someone, but that is fact.) Cultrue revolution was a disaster caused by Mao, but on the other hand, it shows that Chinese people in general dare to challenge the power, and Internet definitely help.

    3) Government officials get promoted by how they have done, a character of meritocracy. So for a person in government to get promoted, he has to have something to show off. If government gives him 10 million yuan to do something, he has to do something for his future. If he takes too much for himself, he wont be able to accomplish much and the risk is not worth it, as it will damage his political future, and risk getting caught (and once getting caught, the punishment in China is very very harsh).

    and there are some other reasons, like CCP is legitimized by economic development; Chinese usually have higher level of education compared to other poor or developing countries, etc.

    Again, this is my observation.

  74. Wahaha Says:

    #62, Lime

    Your understanding is partial correct.

    The most important point I want to make is that if you want a government working for you, you MUST have people ‘ of your kind ‘ in government. ELECTION WONT MAKE A MILLIONAIRE WORK FOR YOU, no matter what he claimed in campaign. (Their solution usually is getting government’s money for you, which only works when government has deep pockets, obviously not the case in a developing country.)

    The countries you mentioned in #51, maybe democracy does work in some countries in which unions are strong enough to challenge the power of riches, but :

    1) People from poor countrysides simply not strong enough to challenge the power of riches, even there are million of them, or the country will be in chaos like Thailand, as people who contribute little to the economy want to influence the decision of government. So it seems that the country must be highly industralized.

    2) The country must be very stable and immune to the change of world, OR people are well self-deciplined (German and Japan).

    3) How did government decide the distribution of money ? there are several layers. The top tier of decision makers are usually milliaires and big shot from law firm and financial sectors, unions are in the 2nd or 3rd tier. You know what I mean.

    ______________________________________

    Democratic system gives ordinary people the right to get the money from the government, not from riches. As riches always have upper hand and are protected under the constitution, they benefit far far far far far more than ordinary people under democracy. As a result, people in group 5 and 6 are hurt most under democracy.

    So democracy works great only when there are very few people in group 5 and 6 and its flaw immediately show when government doesnt have money.

  75. raventhorn4000 Says:

    to SK Cheung,

    I know about legal precedents. I think though, It is the dichotomy between ruled by “men” vs. by “law”.

    This is an old debate, as I said, even Confucian scholars debated in the early days, whether “Emperor was above the law”, or “the Law was above the Emperor”. It’s the same debate.

    But I also think that this debate is too narrowly confined to the form of the question, and not enough of the nuances.

    It’s the chicken and the egg question, which came first?

    Which is more powerful? The law that men makes, or the men who makes those laws?

    If a ruler truly “abide” by the laws in US/Canada, then why does he ever need to make new laws that contradict or changes the old laws? Isn’t he simply breaking the old laws by making the new laws?

    If the “rule by law” is truly about the rulers obeying the same laws, then why does any laws need to be changes?

    “Needs to be changed”? Whose needs are those? If the People need the changes in the law, then who gets to say when and how?

    *On “divine mandate” to rule, I think most people, including many Chinese, take that term too much in the Westernized connotation.

    In Chinese mythology and legends, ordinary people who achieve great things in life are often called “divine”. “Divinity” is achieved through talent and hard work.

    Confucius was called “divine” by his students and generations of Chinese.

    “Divine mandate” in the Confucian tradition simply means that one earns the right to rule by talents and hard work, and righteousness of personal moral principles. Obviously, one cannot achieve “divine mandate” unless the people approves.

    *The Chinese political system is simply different from the Western tradition. In the Imperial dynasties, one often rise in rank through civil examination, or otherwise through personal connections, but one usually cannot rise in rank very high without continual achievement and services.

    In today’s China, that is similar. Most of the CCP technocratic leaders didn’t rise simply because of their personal connections, but through decades of civil services.

    There is no short cut through a “popular election”. No pretty speeches, no smear ads on TV.

    *Personally, I find elections entertaining but ultimately unsatisfying. I compare them to greasy fast food. It’s quick, it’s easy, but you have no idea whether it’s good for you. (Or perhaps you already know that it’s bad for you.)

  76. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Re: Japan, Germany, Hispanics. Let’s not overly generalize.

    There are 2 main forms of legal systems in the world, Common Law, and Civil Law.

    The Civil Law system relatively older, tracing back to the Roman Civil law system, from which the Italians and the Germans derived their Civil Law systems. Most of the world’s nations are based the Civil Law system, including Germany, France, Spain, Japan, China, etc. China derived its modern legal system from the Germanic code, from the ROC days to present.

    The Common Law system began in England. Only a few nations follow this system, including Great Britain, Canada, US, Australia, some African nations, (also Hong Kong, under the 1 China 2 systems).

    The main difference between the 2 systems is the “Judge-made law” concept, absent in Civil Law systems, but present in Common Law systems.

    Civil Law systems are Statutory and Codified, meaning, all laws are in the legal codes and statutes.

    **
    Re: “Germans and Japanese” are more law abiding: I assume this was a generalization, because it is simply not true.

    Under the Germanic and Japanese Civil Law systems, one is typically assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. (Perhaps less assumption in the German system).

    It may sound draconian, but it is true.

    Most Civil Law systems are stacked against the accused. Why? Well, to offset, it’s very hard to accuse someone. The legal definitions of crimes are interpreted very strictly, and everyone knows where the lines are, so people are very careful to avoid the lines. There are little gray area for people to get into disputes about.

    But the kicker is, if you are ever accused of a crime in Japan, the legal system is stacked against you.

    A recent Japanese film, “I didn’t do it”, show cased the difficulties for defendants in the Japanese criminal system. In the film, a young man was falsely accused of groping a school girl on a train. He was arrested, and subject to intense interrogation. He repeatedly asked for proof, and announced his innocence, but no one would believe him. His public attorney tells him immediately that he has no chance to win in court, and advise him to plead guilty, pay a fine, apologize, and then he could be set free. Well, it goes on like that through the whole film, where he just can’t anywhere.

    The reason is, in most Civil Law systems, there is a huge shortage of attorneys. Japanese Jurist Bar passes only 10% of annual applicants, no matter how good they all do. It’s a quota system that will not allow growth.

    China, also civil law, similarly pass between 10% to 15% of annual bar applicants, but is increasing.

    With so few attorneys, Japanese defendants have little chances of good representation in the courts. Public defender attorneys in Japan are forced to deal with huge work loads and often time simply tell their clients to plead guilty and plead for court’s mercy.

    *With such a system in place, NO WONDER Japanese seem very “law-abiding”!

    Well, they all know perfectly well that if they ever get accused and land in jail, they have no chance!

    *Most Americans don’t know enough about the Japanese criminal system to understand this, and the Japanese government doesn’t like much media exposures about it either.

    But really, it’s not all that different from the Chinese Civil Law System.

  77. raventhorn4000 Says:

    And, most latin American countries have Civil Law systems, because they were Spanish or Portuagese colonies.

    Most of US states are Common Law, except Louisianna, which was a French Colony for a long time. California also contained some Civil Law codes, because it was a Spanish Colony for a long time.

    I would not characterize Hispanics as less “law-abiding” or anything similar to that effect.

    As I said above, some times, people are just fearful of the legal system, and therefore are extra careful about breaking any laws.

    *But on that note, US has about 1% of its population in prison, more than any other country by percentage.

    It doesn’t mean that Americans are less “law-abiding”.

    *I have also personally visited Hong Kong’s Maximum security Prison in Stanley, It’s much nicer than all the US Maximum security prisons. Prisoners in the Stanley prison are also very well behaved. The Guards don’t even carry guns.

    But I would say that that’s because regulations in the Stanley Prison is also much tougher, as is with HK criminal system in general.

    HK has a lower prison population than US percentage wise, even though it has its share of criminal gangs and drug traffickers.

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “then why does he ever need to make new laws that contradict or changes the old laws? Isn’t he simply breaking the old laws by making the new laws?”
    1. old laws may be deemed inadequate by the changing of the times. eg. in Canada, the age of sexual consent was raised because of our society’s desire to increase protection for children
    2. “new” issues that were previously inconceivable may now be deemed in need of regulation eg. many things to do with the internet
    3. old laws may have been struck down by the judicial branch, and thus may need to be replaced eg. ongoing three ring circus when it comes to same-sex marriage
    4. anything to do with the public purse. Anytime government spends money, it needs new legislative authority to do so.

    “If the People need the changes in the law, then who gets to say when and how?” – the elected representatives get to say when and how; and every few years, the people get to decide how well their elected representatives have executed their duties.

    ““Divinity” is achieved through talent and hard work. Confucius was called “divine” by his students and generations of Chinese. “Divine mandate” in the Confucian tradition simply means that one earns the right to rule by talents and hard work, and righteousness of personal moral principles. Obviously, one cannot achieve “divine mandate” unless the people approves.” – then the US/Canadian system is also “divine mandate”, by that definition, since our elected representatives are put in a position to govern at our pleasure. And if that’s the definition, I have no problem with it. But the key for me is that the people get to decide. US/Canada has it; China doesn’t.

    It’s well and good that there may be some semblance of “democracy” within the CCP, but if one has to first join the “old boys club” to avail oneself to it, that’s hardly the type of democracy that I would imagine people find appealing.

  79. HongKonger Says:

    One mile downriver from downtown Shanghai, tractors and construction crews are busy clearing land and erecting national pavilions for the 2010 World Expo – or World’s Fair. At one end, the massive $200 million Chinese pavilion has already emerged from the riverbanks to tower over dozens of others, a fitting symbol of China’s signal role in organizing what will be the biggest Expo in history, and the most anticipated since the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Meanwhile, at the other end, the 60,000 square-foot plot of land that the Chinese government has designated for a United States pavilion remains empty, its future, and the question of U.S. participation altogether, tied up in behind-the-scenes maneuverings and State Department incompetence.

    http://www.art-ba-ba.com/mainframe.asp?ThreadID=23858&ForumID=10&lange=en

    “National pavilions are supposed to represent who we are as a nation and a culture,” explains Barry Howard, a California designer who has been involved with Expos and pavilions for over four decades. “They tell a story of whom we’ve become and who we’ll be.” So far, the story of the U.S. pavilion for the 2010 World Expo has not been flattering for the United States. And on April 15—the deadline day for the U.S. to sign an Expo participation agreement—it may become an outright embarrassment.

  80. raventhorn4000 Says:

    To SK Cheung,

    I was merely asking philosophical rhetorical questions, meaning, I knew the answers already.

    Re: “the People get to decide”:

    That’s highly generalized statement.

    NOT all people get to decide. The young, felons, permanent residents, do not get to decide in US. (Afterall, they still pay taxes, in theory!).

    And what do the People get to decide? In US, we don’t actually vote for the president, it is afterall, the Electoral college that cast the votes for the Presidents. And we don’t vote VP’s as individuals, only stuck with VP’s chosen by the President.

    In Britain, people vote for the Parties, and the Parties get to decide who gets to be PM. (Old boys’ club, eh?)

    *I mean simply, Western governments focus on the “form” of the approval as indicator of “representativeness”.

    But come on, that’s hardly a responsible system of “informed choice”.

    How many citizens vote with no knowledge of the legal system or the candidates or the parties? A lot! Most Americans can’t even recite the Bill of Rights, or understand them in the proper legal context.

    *in China’s case, votes are limited to a system of bottom up multi-tiered election system. YES, there are votes!

    *Personally, I have US citizenship, and I think the right to vote should be limited to ONLY those who have a basic proficiency in US civics and laws.

    If a man does not understand the laws, he should not have the right to vote. It’s as dangerous as giving a child gasoline and matches.

    (I mean, if one assumes that right to vote is so important and so critical, then why give the right to irresponsible people?)

    Logically, the system of representative democracy in US is flawed. And I do not mean that ONLY the “elites” should have the right to vote, but there should be some more qualification for voting than mere birth in US. Is it so “elitism” to require people to be responsible for their votes?

    Well, if it is “elitism”, then I can see why the US system produced Bush Presidency for 8 years.

  81. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    ” “the People get to decide”: That’s highly generalized statement.” – of course it is. And of course there are exceptions. People in a coma probably won’t be voting, for instance. “the young” is irrelevant; you need to attain the age of majority to avail yourself to the right to a lot of things, like driving, drinking…and voting. The “young” don’t pay taxes “in general”, btw, and if anything they’re a tax credit for their parents.
    I don’t know the rules about those incarcerated. Not sure if they can vote. Not sure if they have to file returns and pay taxes.
    Permanent residents don’t get to vote, but if they wanted that right, they should apply for citizenship.

    It’s true that the Electoral College does the actual voting for the president. But the sum of the people’s votes in each state determines which candidate receives that state’s electoral college votes. So the college is just the middleman, and through this middle man, your vote is at work.

    You are stuck with the presidential candidate’s choice of running mate. But unless your name is JFK or FDR, it hasn’t really mattered in recent memory. And people take into account the running mate when they vote for president. If you don’t think so, ask Palin. Better yet, ask McCain.

    Can’t speak for Britain. But in Canada, where we have a similar parliamentary system, I actually vote for my member of Parliament. The party leader with the most members of Parliament is the Prime Minister. So no, the PM does not represent me directly; my MP does. And in entrusting my MP to represent me, one of his/her tasks is to choose who will run the country as a whole. That’s not a club; that’s our system, and I have my say in it.

    Now, I support the right to vote. You seem to regard it as a privilege. THe difference is that the ability to exercise one’s rights should be unencumbered; if it’s a privilege, then you can put on conditions…much like driving is a privilege and you have to first pass a test. So while you might say that “irresponsible people” shouldn’t have privileges, I hope you’re not saying that “irresponsible people” shouldn’t have rights. And if voting to you should be a privilege, that’s fine; but to me, it should be a right.

    Yes, there is some form of voting in China. Charles Liu brought that up a while ago. I asked him a long while back to let me know when Joe Average in China can cast a vote for Hu Jintao….I’m still waiting to hear back from him.

  82. HongKonger Says:

    Western Democracy? I thought the US Constitutional fathers made a very marked distinction between a republic and a democracy and said repeatedly and emphatically that they had founded a Republic? Why then is the non-existing rule of the majority BS being peddled over two and half centuries later still ?

    “A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of Government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by a Dictatorship.” Professor Alexander Fraser Tytler.
    Ok, there is Righteous Republic which is similar to theocracy where the law of god, not the law of men reins supreme. Only in the Righteous Republic that a nation can truly say, “One nation under God” for it is governed under commandments of the only “One True God,” and there is no pluralism of religions.

    For over 4,000 years, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies.The first half of the 20th century saw China plunged into a period of disunity and civil wars. Major hostilities ended in 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was established, a Socialist Republic if you will. (China was never a Communist state. Communism is the final eutophian state or pipe dream sold to the masses, that must follow after socialism had run it’s course. We’re talking about something that will not happen perhaps for another century or two, or almost absolutely never. It’s kind of like dispensationist theology about a literal, earthly 1,000-year millennial kingdom that has yet to come. So there is another fallacy of a handfull, that has being thrown around to justify wars, perpetuate divisions and fester bigotry.)

    The PRC adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982. And since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1978, China has become one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the world’s second largest exporter and the third largest importer of goods. It is today the world’s third largest economy nominally, or second largest by PPP, It is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council as well as being a member of several other multilateral organizations including the WTO, APEC, East Asia Summit, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I think it has indeed done extremely well given it’s blink of an eye brevity to what it has accomplished as a people. Next year America may not be able to come to the World Expo in Shanghai. I hope they make it though. China and America do need each other.

  83. HongKonger Says:

    http://www.chinatravel.net/feature/Shanghai-Expo-2010-USA-Pavilion-Preview/2105.html

    Despite the fact that the State Department, first through Secretary of State Rice, then Clinton, fully supported US participation in the Expo, the US government is barred from funding the pavilion due to a law passed in 1991. According to some, the law was passed as a way to snub Spain during their Expo for not hosting NATO bases…
    The US Expo team, led by Shanghai Expo 2010 Inc. co-chair Ellen Eliasoph recently held a fundraising breakfast for potential sponsors, with enthusiastic Chinese diplomatic backing in the form of Chinese ambassador to the U.S…..

  84. HongKonger Says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_pl314;_ylt=AvpRupIBLpj2TEc0rksMwAsazJV4

    In the first 100 days in office, Prez Obama ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay, ended the ban on stem-cell research, and lifted travel limits to Cuba. His European trip for the G20, NATO and EU-US summits was a successful first step toward “soft diplomacy,”

    Humility is the sign of greatness: Obama tells Brown that he went to Europe, “to listen and not to lecture.”

    By reaching out, Politico declared that Obama made it clear to the world that “the Bush era of foreign policy is over.” In return, various heads of state lavished praise for the new U.S. president. A sampling:

    - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: “Your first 70 days in office have changed America, and you’ve changed America’s relationship with the world.”

    - French President Nicholas Sarkozy: Called Obama a “U.S. president who wants to change the world and who understands that the world does not boil down to simply American frontiers and borders.”

    - Chinese President Hu Jintao: “Since President Obama took office, we have secured a good beginning in the growth of this relationship.”

    An ABC/Washington Post poll shows 93 percent of Democrats support his actions, while only 36 percent of Republicans do.

    ALL the best to the President & the good people of America.

  85. Shane9219 Says:

    亚洲必须摆脱民主陷阱

    By 亚洲周刊

    http://www.yzzk.com/cfm/Content_Archive.cfm?Channel=ac&Path=355608991/17ac1.cfm

    民主有时候会被极端主义者用来合理化自己的不择手段,于是选举暴力、民主暗杀暴力、群垄暴力会趁势而起,当民主只被窄化到剩下选举,则民主只不过是替贪污滥权开了另一扇大门。

      亚洲经济的成就惊人,它在全球所佔的比重也日增,然而只要一谈到「民主」,各式各样的情结即告出现。由于中国大陆尚未民主化,为了避免让大陆的「不民主」有「理由」,于是人们对亚洲民主所滋生的乱象,或者视若不见,或者轻轻略过,或者就是简单地认为是各国的特殊问题,而不能对民主做出建设性、反省性的深层思考。这是一种思维盲点,它妨碍了人们走向更好的民主之路。

      民主作为一种普世价值,自有其颠扑不破的道理。但由各国的民主实践,人们也必须认知到,民主其实是个抵抗与自我期勉的过程,而不是个图腾。民主决不廉价,把民主看得太简单的人,民主的贺礼是不可能降临他们头上的。

      当今的亚洲,在民主的道路上跌跌撞撞,有些国家甚至有可能大幅度倒退。亚洲这些负面样板,当然不能用来当作「反民主」的理由,但由亚洲正在发生的这些事情,的确也证明了西方理论里所谓「民主陷阱」的存在,不容忽视。民主需要许多因素整体配合,否则即难免所希望的结果未见,不希望的结果却纷至踏来。这就是「民主陷阱」,目前的亚洲,正在上演的即有:

      其一,乃是南亚的印度,随著国会大选,种种「选举暴力」已告表面化,迄至目前,两天死亡人数即已约五十人,这个全球人口最多的民主选举国家,选民高达七点二亿,整个选举期高达一个月,届时死亡总人数恐怕逾千。过去长期以来,印度每逢大选,死亡人数总在二、三千人左右徘徊,选举暴力之盛让人叹为观止。

      而印度选举暴力猖獗,当然是有原因的:(一)印度的政治运作毫无规范,形同有了权力就有了一切,当民主只有选举,选赢的就有了一切,为了赢得选举当然也就无所不为,以及无所可不为了;(二)印度的阶级、宗教、种姓、地域矛盾至为严重,因此印度自由化后,不但小政党多如春草,以这次选举为例,小政党即多达一千多个;

      更严重的乃是各式各样的激进组织或游击队组织也告大增,这代表了印度还没有藉著选举而凝聚社会之前,整个社会就因为选举而加速解体,印度选举,上焉者买票贿赂,下焉者威胁施压,甚至还相互杀来杀去。由于目前印度已没有独大的政党,这种解体的乱象也就一直持续并扩大。

      其二,则是正发生在东南亚泰国的「民主群众暴力」。泰国近两年多来,随著政治斗争的持续与扩大,群垄也分为红衫军与黄衫军两个都自鸣正义的群垄势力。他们相互刺激,日趋激进,最后变成为所欲为的准暴民团体,他们以「人民力量」为名,动辄要求一个政府下台,纵使这是个刚刚透过合法选举而组成的政府亦然,特定的群垄团体把自己极大化,大到如此程度,这早已不是民主,而是暴民了!

      最近,黄衫军乱完之后红衫军跟著乱,甚至干扰到东协(东盟、亚细安)高峰会会场,终被政府及军警强力驱逐,另外则是黄衫军领袖之一的林明达座车也遭到伏击,被射近百发子弹,身受重伤,侥倖逃过死劫。泰国的民主已被黄衫军和红衫军这两个将自我极大化,也将抗争手段绝对化的群垄组织所绑架,这种「人民力量」,其实已和民主无关,而是一种暴民政治了。

      其三,则是在台湾及南韩正在发生的「元首贪污弊案」了。台湾的民选领导人陈水扁以及南韩的卢武铉,他们都出身清寒,后来也都以「人权律师」、「民主斗士」的身份窜起。但他们获得权力后,却把他们所宣称的「民主」丢到了脑后,这种情况在陈水扁身上特别严重。

      他和家人亲信贪污腐化无所不用其极,国家的资产、政策、官位,无一不可标价出卖,它的整个官邸也俨然成了权力与金钱的交换中心。他所涉及的许多弊案,到了今天还未追究完毕,另外则是卢武铉家人亲信的弊案部分也将侦结。不久后即将收押,并可能判决有罪。

      由台湾及南韩的例子,它显示出「民主」乃是一种複杂的价值,而不是简单的通往权力之路的手段。如果人们不能体会这一点,则在他们有了权力后,就会忘掉了民主,绝大多数新型民主体制,都在民主化之后反而贪腐滥权盛行,即在于这些社会都把民主窄化了。

      由亚洲所出现的这些负面样板,提醒了人们:民主诚然是人们之所欲,但它其实是个非常昂贵,必须整个社会付出极大努力始配享有的东西,在民主的道路上有太多陷阱存在,民主有时候会被极端主义者用来合理化自己的不择手段,于是选举暴力、民主暗杀暴力、群垄暴力会趁势而起,当民主只被窄化到剩下选举,而不能将民主价值渗透进每个部门,则民主只不过是替贪污滥权开了另一扇大门。民主的道路上陷阱重重,每个社会又怎能不格外戒慎恐惧呢?

  86. HongKonger Says:

    民主有时候会被极端主义者用来合理化自己的不择手段,于是选举暴力、民主暗杀暴力、群垄暴力会趁势而起…

    The Mental Traveller —-The iron hand crushed the tyrant’s head… became a tyrant in his stead.

    (William Blake)

    I travelled through a land of men,
    A land of men and women too,
    And heard and saw such dreadful things
    As cold earth wanderers never knew.

    [..........]

    “Thy father drew his sword in the north,
    With his thousands strong he is marched forth.
    Thy brother hath armed himself in steel,
    To revenge the wrongs thy children feel.

    “But vain the sword, and vain the bow–
    They never can work war’s overthrow;
    The hermit’s prayer and the widow’s tear
    Alone can free the world from fear.

    “For a tear is an intellectual thing,
    And a sigh is the sword of an angel king:
    And the bitter groan of a martyr’s woe
    Is an arrow from the Almighty’s bow.”

    The hand of vengeance found the bed
    To which the purple tyrant fled;
    The iron hand crushed the tyrant’s head,
    And became a tyrant in his stead.

  87. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    I would suggest that you expand your notion of “democracy” and “Republic”.

    For example: the Longest “Republic” in history is the Venetian Republic, which in form is more similar to the PRC in the present day.

    At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Venice was the capital of the independent Venetian Republic. It was ruled by the Doge and a council with ten members (dieci), who helped to manage the state’s affairs. The Doge was elected by the council of state, which was made up of representatives of rich and noble families.

    In practice, the republic was administered by professional officials, who had to be citizens of Venice and who were appointed to their posts after a series of difficult examinations. Venice was the republic’s center of industry, trade, and culture. More than 140,000 people lived there (a very large population for those days). Padua, another city in the republic, possessed an ancient university, where Galileo taught during the time in which he lived in the Venetian Republic (1592-1610).

    *

    Guess what, the Venetian Republic lasted 1100 years, longer than any other Republic or Democracy in history.

    History proves, this style/form of Republic/Meritocracy/Rule by Professionals works. (At least works better than others.)

  88. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “History proves, this style/form of Republic/Meritocracy/Rule by Professionals works.” – actually, history proves that this model worked, for Venice, back in the day. Doesn’t show why it would be the best model, for China, today, let alone tomorrow. Besides, if this model was such a bang-up success, the better question is why did it stop working? And what was it replaced with?

    History also shows that the Model T was a groundbreaking piece of work. Would you prefer that as your everyday driver today, since clearly history showed that it worked back in the day? Or would you prefer something a little more evolved, like what you’re actually using today? I know what my choice would be.

    Not sure how much further I need to expand my notion of democracy. BUt the Venetian model you describe certainly doesn’t qualify. And however expansive my notion might become, it would still not encompass China in its current iteration.

    When the people have a voice, and a say, that to me is the minimum requirement for democracy. If you want to show me a tricked-out, after-market tuner version, I’d be happy to check it out. But those who fail to meet the minimum requirements need not apply.

  89. Wukailong Says:

    @raventhorn4000: Using history (or the length of such) to prove the merits of a certain system would prove beyond doubt that kingdoms and empires are superior, especially when they are isolated. Japan has been ruled by the same dynasty for 2500 years. The problem is, how do you make such a comparison with a relatively new system (modern democracy) that has at most existed for 200 years?

    Still, I think there might be something to the stability argument, though I don’t believe authoritarianism is inherently more stable – it just looks that way because all discontent is kept under the lid. Making Rome more authoritarian didn’t make it more stable. Perhaps the thing we can learn from history are what methods of governance not directly related to the system (“soft power”) that can be used to enhance the governing power of a state. No matter if you are a democratic or an authoritarian system, there are some basic things you need to do to keep your turf stable. Developing the economy is one such thing, non-violent change of leadership another, and giving the people the possibility to voice their opinion yet another.

    In a sense, authoritarian governments work very much like companies. In the best case, they are ruled by people who genuinely care about the company/country and the way it progresses. Still, should a country be ruled more like a company, or the other way around?

  90. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    I would prefer a Model T as “groundbreaking”, until something better comes along.

    If you have something better, such as “democracy”, perhaps YOU should prove that model fits for China’s specific situation?

    So what YOUR “minimum requirement” got to do with it?

    Venice was a Republic according to most historians. If you want a “democracy”, there is no such thing any more.

    US is a Republic.

  91. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “So what YOUR “minimum requirement” got to do with it?”- you suggested I should expand my notion of democracy, and i just told you the minimum specifications any such expanded notion must possess. Anytime you wanna stop trying to fit a square peg (China’s authoritarian one-party experiment) into a round hole (democracy) is none too soon for me.

    “US is a Republic.” …that happens to be democratic. But I prefer Canada, which is why I’m here.

    “I would prefer a Model T as “groundbreaking”, until something better comes along.” – well, it was groundbreaking, but lots of better things have come along. I’m not sure CHina’s current model even qualifies for the former.

    I’m not sure how to prove a democratic model to be superior in China, since such proof would necessarily need to come from a test or trial of this model, and the CCP frowns on that sort of thing. But maybe if the CCP is hot-to-trot to show that her authoritarian one-party model is best for CHina, perhaps she’d be in the mood to condone such a comparison test.

  92. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Wukailong,

    Why separate out “Modern Democracy”? Ancient Democracies didn’t do so well. Heck, Athens had Kings.

    Venice was hardly isolated. And Japan can hardly be called 1 dynasty in the last 2500 years.

    On some of your points, I would agree, the analysis of “what system is better” is a multi-dimensional one, and shouldn’t be done through timescale alone.

    But my point was, Venice was a Republic by Western Historians’ view point. Yet if one compares Venetian republic’s system, it’s actually more similar to the PRC system. So by such a definition, PRC is a Republic.

    *My other point is, if one analyzed the historical successes and failures of ALL systems, one can find that “democratic institution” is a symptom of efficient government, not necessarily a requirement of efficient government.

    Indeed, US laws are full of anti-democratic rules to control the populous in necessary times, or AKA when it really “matters”. On the other hand, the laws grants the people “voice” in mass media which can be censored if needed, and 1 vote every 2-4 years.

    I think, once China has enough money to buy all the voting machine for 1.3 billion people, such an exercise of “freedom” would be quite entertaining for the masses. “Bread and circuses”, my friend.

    **On the notion of Companies vs. countries, I have used a similar analogy in the past.

    Indeed, if “democracy” is so great, then why almost all US corporations are run like dictatorships, or let me clarify, more similar to the Venetian Republic, where the Rich get to elect the leaders?

    ***I personally think that one cannot look at the problem merely from the perspective of “Dictatorship vs. Democracy”, “Communism vs. Capitalism”.

    I believe, the answer is a system that combines the best features of all government systems, and one which reflects Chinese cultural and historical affinities.

    For example: Several well known Western China scholars have argued that “Communism” won the Chinese Civil War, because its Agrarian Communism philosophy was most similar to traditional Confucian social hierarchy of “Emperor, Scholar, Farmer, Artisan, Merchant”. Chiang’s Nationalist Government had given too much social prestige to the “Merchant” class, and thus was viewed as too foreign to the Chinese laymen.

    Bottomline: A Chinese government system that WORKS must be suited to Chinese cultural historical affinities.

    While some modernization in China has perhaps changed the Chinese cultural values a little. But most of the Basics are still there.

    Another example: Some Historians in the West, have argued that corruption in South Korean government had actually functioned like an efficient taxation system, and had actually given the South Korean Economy a boost.

    Now, That might be counter-intuitive, but it is logical. One could also make the similar argument about some corruptions in Chinese government, that it actually facilitates economic development.

    The problem is characterization of the Bribe vs. Fee. The issue is where does the money go.

    If a Wall Street banker gives his money to Madoff-like person, on a risky investment. If the money is lost, it’s corruption? If profit is made, then is it a smart move? (Remember, some people actually made money with Madoff). But was it really a corrupt practice in the beginning, assuming one can’t predict the outcome?

    Whatif a Chinese bank official lends money to his friends/family in risky investment?

    Would it really be better if the Chinese bank official let the “people” decide where to invest the money?? Sure, if any thing goes wrong, he wouldn’t be at fault, but would the “people” know better than the banker??

    If the People really know better, then why did so many go for Subprime loans in US?

    **Wisdom of the masses is better left to ordinary things of their own daily lives.

    Average duration of marriages in US? 4 years. US election cycle? 4 years. Coincidence? No. It’s how long before one usually gets tired of one’s spouse or one’s leaders.

    In other words, the average US person has about as much wisdom in picking spouses as in picking the next President. Which is to say, not much.

  93. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    I have no need to fit any peg into any HOLE proposed by anyone. But if the HOLE is big enough, I have no doubt that any shaped PEG will fit! But let’s look at your “round hole”, how many Democracies have there been, with all different forms. Venice was a Republic. That’s a Round enough hole! LOL!

    US is a Republic, look it up. it’s in the Pledge of Allegiance.

    On Canada, it’s a member of the Commonwealth. The head of the state of Canada is actually the “Governor General”, a position APPOINTED by the Queen of England through advice from the Prime Minister. Which part of this is “democratic”??

    On Model T, You are not showing me anything better than the Venetian Republic. I’ll take a Square Peg, Round Peg, makes no difference to me as long as it can be stuck into a hole. to paraphrase Deng.

    On “test trial in China”, I don’t think any prudent government would “try out” a new form of government to see if it’s superior. Frankly, that’s a ridiculous and expensive proposition. But you can suggest it to the “Canadian government” and see how far that will get.

    Frankly, if Chinese rulers are that receptive to drastic changes, I would think them imprudent.

    Frankly, in case you do not know, China is already currently under massive reforms of its economic system and legal system.

  94. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    if Venice was a Republic, and the US is a Republic, then clearly not all republics are created equal. Might have something to do with one being of historical interest only. THe US model of governance certainly seems preferable to the historic Venetian one.

    In case you’re wondering, the Governor-General is the figurative head of state, with no legislative power. And if you get down to it, the GG is appointed by the Queen on the PM’s advice, but that advice is never refused. So it’s all just a rubber stamp with no actual bearing on our democratic ways. So, nice try, but a non-starter.

    Hey, if you wanna stick with the Model T, that’s your prerogative. There’s so much better out there. And if CHinese citizens were given a freedom to choose, i wonder what they’d prefer.

    So you want me to prove something, then say that no prudent government would allow you to do what it takes to prove it. That’s fine by me…just stop asking for proof then.

    Yes, heard lots about China’s economic and legal reforms. Ways to go yet.

    So you’re big on Chinese meritocracy. You’re enamoured with the Venetian assessments of merit. So what’s the source of your fear of John Q. Public being able to judge merit? Is it because you think voting should be a privilege, or something similarly big-brother-ish?

  95. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Your preference of US republic over Venetian republic is rather unexplained. But the HOLE is not what you “prefer”, it is the definition of Republic that we are talking about.

    GG appointed on the PM’s advice, well, even if that advice is not refused, it’s hardly an elected position. What’s “figurative”? If it is really that “figurative”, then you don’t need it. But the position is still there after what 200 years? Perhaps Canada needs some “trial” of new system??

    Try that for “starter”. You can prove that pretty easily, since it’s a “figurative position” and Canada is truly democratic. I’m at my leisure.

    Well, China had 2 parties, Nationalists and the CCP, they chose to support the CCP, CCP won, end of story.

    “Ways to go yet”? Good for China. Better than no more roads ahead. LOL.

    What’s the source of my fear of John Q. Public? I don’t fear John Q. Public. I fear Joe Cowboy Subprime.

    Voting is a privilege, much like carrying a gun. If you don’t know what you are doing, you will do harm to society.

    And Gun ownership is 2nd Amendment US. Voting is in the later amendments in US.

    You are welcome to let idiots vote on matters they don’t understand, but I would prefer a voting system where only people who have proved their own merits can JUDGE the merits of others. That’s just common sense.

    dignitas sentio dignitas, Merits judge Merits, that’s my motto.

  96. raventhorn4000 Says:

    1 other thing: If one must talk about “minimal requirement for democracy”, when did US and Canada become “democratic”?

    Afterall, when US was established, very few people were allowed to vote. Non-Whites, Women, non-land owners, slaves, could not vote. ONLY 10-16% of the ADULT population could vote.

    Canada was not much better at the same time.

    If one does a comparison, US/Canada of early days had comparable number of voters % as PRC today. PRC has at least 60 million CCP members, all voting members. That’s about 5% of the total population, about 7% of the ADULT population.

    In that comparison, then does that mean US/Canada were NOT “democratic” or NOT Republics in the beginning?

    If so, then when did these “square pegs” fit in the “round hole”?

    On the slavery issue alone, it took US almost 100 years to end slavery. Even the Founding Fathers had to concede to allow slavery knowing that not all the states would end slavery in the beginning.

    If Changes can be so easily accepted, then why did it take a Civil War for US to finally resolve the issue of slavery? (Rhetorical question. Of course, Change is hard, even for a Republic.)

    *But if one accepts the “minimal requirement” argument for “democracy”, then US didn’t become a true “democracy” until at least when women were given the right to vote. (ie. 50% of the voting adults). And this didn’t happen until 1919 in US, almost 150 years after US founding.

    And if that is true even for a Constitution system like US, to have taken almost 150 years to reach “democracy”, then why in such a hurry to make China change over night???!! Heck, in this estimation of history, China has at least 100 years left on the schedule.

  97. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Another point about “democracy” and “Republic”:

    Republics can advance OR RETREAT from democracy.

    The Venetian Republic became more democratic in its 1100 years of history, by limiting the power of the Doge over time.

    On the other hand, German Weimar Republic allowed the Nazi party into power through elections and appointments, and quickly degenerated into an authoritarian state.

    By all accounts, Weimar Republic had all the same constitutional safe guards as US. It didn’t matter.

    Weimar Republic became corrupted, because all Government systems are fundamentally corruptible, given the right conditions.

    Rome was a Republic, had voting populous, had a Senate. It became a dictatorial state in less than a few hundred years.

    *Absolute power is corruptible, but unguarded government systems are open doors to corrupt people, and meritless persons are security guards sleeping in their posts.

    It takes Merits to recognize and guard against corruption of power. It takes wisdom and moral principles for people to achieve merits slowly over time.

    US wasn’t built in a day, but it could crumble as quickly as the Weimar Republic.

    This is why I believe, China requires Meritocracy more than it does Democracy.

  98. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Your preference of US republic over Venetian republic is rather unexplained.” – not sure how to explain it any better. People having a voice is far preferable to people not having a voice. Clear enough for you?

    Your whole bit about the GG is getting ridiculous. Of course it’s unelected…already told you how he/she is selected. It’s a ceremonial position, which Canadians have CHOSEN to keep. If Canadians ever CHOOSE to do away with it, we will. What’s the key point again? Oh yeah, people get to choose. When Canadians choose to do away with Crown representatives, I’ll let you know.

    BTW, since the PRC was formed AFTER the CCP defeated the KMT, the PRC has been a one-party state for 60 years. Not sure how that’s debatable…but you’re welcome to try.

    “Voting is a privilege” – that’s what I figured you’d say. Voting is a right. To me, there’s no room for compromise on that. But I can see how your view on this would be consistent with thinking that what China does is ok.

    “Merits judge Merits, that’s my motto.” – fantastic! Now, who gets to decide who has merit to begin with, in order to get this judging process started?

    “only people who have proved their own merits” – and to whom does one prove one’s merit? For me, that’s simple…prove it to the people, who will then judge you on it.

    You have a good point about American suffrage issues. So I agree, there were not democratic until everyone got a vote. And Canada was never a republic. If you want to say that China should wait as long as the US waited from its founding until everyone has a vote, be my guest. But that’s certainly not aiming very high. Not to mention that progress ought to occur a lot quicker in the 21 century than the 18th century, if for no other reason than the advantages that today’s technology provides us over yesteryear.

    I’m not arguing with you that those in power should have “merit”, which seems to be the basic point of #97; China should have people of merit running her ship. But the people should get to evaluate that merit, and not just pre-ordained members of the ol’ boys club.

    And let’s not forget that you could also argue that the US system has survived for over 230 years, guided by its founding Constitution. She’s certainly proven her worth far more than the CCP has with her system.

  99. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “Oh yeah, people get to choose. When Canadians choose to do away with Crown representatives, I’ll let you know.”

    So in the mean time, do you have a CHOICE to GG? NOPE!!

    “BTW, since the PRC was formed AFTER the CCP defeated the KMT, the PRC has been a one-party state for 60 years. Not sure how that’s debatable…but you’re welcome to try.”

    Not debatable. Civil War is a CHOICE too. Guess Chinese got their choice!

    “You have a good point about American suffrage issues. So I agree, there were not democratic until everyone got a vote. And Canada was never a republic. If you want to say that China should wait as long as the US waited from its founding until everyone has a vote, be my guest. But that’s certainly not aiming very high.”

    Not aiming very high? And I thought you had a better car than model T. Now you say it’s a poor model?

    “I’m not arguing with you that those in power should have “merit”, which seems to be the basic point of #97; China should have people of merit running her ship. But the people should get to evaluate that merit, and not just pre-ordained members of the ol’ boys club.”

    Worked out pretty well for US and Canada with all those years of running by the “old boys club”.

    “And let’s not forget that you could also argue that the US system has survived for over 230 years, guided by its founding Constitution. She’s certainly proven her worth far more than the CCP has with her system.”

    230 years is not up yet for CCP, we are only at 60. At this point, I think China is ahead, since obviously, China doesn’t need to have another Civil War to resolve a slavery issue.

  100. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “So in the mean time, do you have a CHOICE to GG? NOPE!!” – dude, are you trying to be dense on purpose? We elect representatives. Those representatives then have the power to appoint people. Not only the GG, but a long long list of bureaucrats. We don’t directly vote for those either. But we get to vote for the people who make those appointments. Hopefully, those appointees are even meritorious. I don’t say that in a democracy, one should get to vote on EVERYTHING. So you just let me know when John Q in China gets to vote on a couple of things…like who’ll replace Hu Jintao…that’d be a good start.

    “Guess Chinese got their choice!” – I guess having one shot at a choice every 60 years (and counting) is supposed to suffice. Didn’t realize PRC citizens were so easily satisfied.

    Model T was fine for the times…but better things abound. Likewise, it’s aiming high if CHina wants to move toward something resembling democracy, but saying it’ll take as long starting in 1949 as it did the US starting in 1776 is not aiming very high. Please get your comparisons straight.

    “Worked out pretty well for US and Canada with all those years of running by the “old boys club”.” – what happened to aiming high again? I think you’re committing a common flaw – we’re talking about China; we’re not just doing comparisons.

    “At this point, I think China is ahead” – that’s great, and it’s too bad it’s not 1836. Since it’s 2009, CHina’s got a ways to go.

  101. Samantha Says:

    From reading the posts on this thread, I sense that most bloggers (at least on Chinese side) advocate a hybrid form of government. Election at lower level, i.e. county or even up to city level, while at the top adopt meritocracy, selecting leaders with right knowledge, capability, and leadership demonstrated by their achievements in years (if not decades) of administrative work in provincial governments.

    I don’t see anything wrong with this idea. The tricky part is to develop some form of check and balance, a mechanism that will ensure a fair and effective selection process. The same challenge goes to democracy/republic.

    The hardware of any political system certainly is important, so is the software, the very content of respective political system which is often overlooked. As long as people are given a venue to express their opinions and ideas, as long as the government is responsive/receptive to the needs of people, to satisfy basic needs such as food, employment, education and provide a stable political environment people are largely content, be it democracy or communism or however labeled.

  102. Samantha Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    Isn’t it ironic amid all the political buhaha in the past year, GG, an appointed head of state got to decide whether or not the ruling Conservative party (the elected party) to stay in power. Wasn’t it the case?

    Also popularity≠merit. The head of a government get elected through popular vote doesn’t necessarily acquires the right leadership that lead a nation onto a good path. There are plenty evidence. Take US for example, who put Bush in the office in the first place and kept him there for eight years long. Now US have a big mess to clean up, so is Canada who will have to deal with her Afghanistan problem.

  103. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Samantha:
    Canada currently has a minority Parliament. Meaning that the ruling party has fewer than 1/2 the seats in our House of Commons (sort of a combo of the House and Senate, if you’re American). Therefore, on confidence issues, of which any monetary legislation qualifies, the ruling party needs at least the support of one other party (there are 4 in total with seats currently) to win those votes. Losing a confidence vote means the government falls and an election is called. We had just gone through an election last spring.

    Last November, the ruling Conservatives offered an economic update in keeping with tradition. The other 3 parties disapproved of the particulars of this update, and would have voted against the government. However, the other 3 parties proposed not another election, but to allow them to form a coalition government. The prime minister instead asked that parliament be prorogued (basically close the session and start fresh with another session, so that anything not voted on at that point becomes moot). Officially, it was the GG’s call to make. Normally, when the PM asks that Parliament be prorogued, it’s done without question. The main differences in this case were that the session had only just started, and that, instead of another election, a governing alternative was being offered. I’m no constitutional expert. But the way I understand it, proroguing at the PM’s request was the constitutionally correct thing to do. And that’s what the GG did. So in the end, there was actually no disruption with how our system works; in fact, it worked exactly as intended. And an appointed figurative head of state did not cause a constitutional crisis.

    “popularity≠merit” – agreed. However, I’m unclear about how you’re using the term “popular vote”. Usually, it refers to the total vote tally in an election, regardless of voting districts. So Gore in 2000 won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college vote, and thus the presidency. But you seem to use “popular vote” to refer to popularity. That aside, the guy with the most votes may not be the “best” guy for the job. The tricky thing is who gets to decide which candidate will bring the “right leadership that lead(s) a nation onto a good path”. So in retrospect, Bush may not have been the best guy to lead the US for 8 years. But you know what, that’s who the Americans chose. And with the right to choose comes the responsibility of living with the consequences of those choices.

    Like I said all along, to me it’s better for the people to have a say in who they think is best for the job, rather than simply being told it by some nefarious and unaccountable group of individuals.

  104. Samantha Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    Thank you for your patient response. Should I assume so long as some alternatives are constitutional, the decision naturally amasses the popular support among all Canadians, even if it means to have the appointed official to make the ultimate decision for the country. That’s fine for me if Canadians are ok with the decision or this alternative process to derive such decision. On the flip side, if the Chinese government, the CCP who are not democratically elected (in terms of US/Canadian election process) enjoys the majority support from Chinese people, it is also ok with me.

    So, the question is whether the CCP harnesses the support for the mass? According to Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 72% of Chinese express satisfaction on how their government manages the country contrasting with 45% of Canadian and 39% American satisfaction level respectively, I don’t see how one could possibly justify that CCP doesn’t have the popular support from their people while the Canadian or US does. Even if you point out potential or inherent biases in any survey or statistics, say the Chinese satisfaction level lower to 60% for the sake of convenience, it is still well above its Canadian or US counterparts. Anyone goes as far to suggest that Canadian or US government enjoys more support from their people than theto me it’s better for the people to have a say in who they think is best for the jobir Chinese counterpart or the Chinese government as complete illegitimate, I would consider it a real stretch. BTW, the survey result is pretty much in line with what I have observed the Chinese attitude both inside and outside of China. Therefore, I don’t think your description of “some nefarious and unaccountable group of individuals” as inaccurate. Interestingly enough, I also hear Canadians complain about their government to be “uncountable”, which is particular fitting for the scandal that currently under investigation that goes all the way up the a former PM. Don’t you think so?

    Lastly, I also doubt that majority Chinese share your ideal of “it’s better for the people to have a say in who they think is best for the job”. From what I know the Chinese are very pragmatic, care more of the outcome/result (i.e. increasing living standard, higher education, and more promising employment opportunities etc.) rather than bother with the process to hand pick their PM, of course some form of consultation would be preferred.

  105. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Samantha:
    “Should I assume so long as some alternatives are constitutional, the decision naturally amasses the popular support among all Canadians, even if it means to have the appointed official to make the ultimate decision for the country.” – to my understanding, the GG did what our constitution would’ve dictated her to do ie the PM asked for Parliament to be prorogued, and she did it. Her decision wasn’t so much to prorogue or not to prorogue; it was to follow the constitution vs not follow the constitution. I’m actually not sure if her decision was popular or not, can’t remember the polling data at the time; but clearly it was defensible, and ultimately the “right” decision based on our system. It would’ve been interesting, legally and constitutionally, if she went the other way. Personally, I don’t support the Conservatives, and I would’ve been fine with a coalition government. BUt she did what, to my understanding, was constitutionally correct, and I’m fine with it.

    “So, the question is whether the CCP harnesses the support for the mass?” – that is absolutely the question. Surveys are nice, but to me, hardly representative of a voting process. Besides, we’ve all heard how surveys are accurate to X percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Why spend all that money with an election, when you can get an answer by sampling 1000 people? Because sometimes, you get newspapers declaring Truman the loser based on exit polls. If the CCP received 72% support in an election, I wouldn’t be here.

    THe other aspect is that in Canada, the US, and all democratic countries, I imagine, there are alternatives to the ruling party. But in China, all you’ve got is the CCP. So in your example, if 55% of Canadians are dissatisfied, they can throw their support behind someone else. Of the 28% of Chinese who are apparently dissatisfied, what’s their recourse?

    Also, if there was an alternative to the CCP, do you think the CCP would still enjoy 72% support, even if it’s one survey? Obviously, impossible to answer at this time. And obviously, I don’t think so.

    You may well be correct about CHinese pragmatism. And again, best way to find out, from my standpoint, is to ask them.

    BTW, Mulroney is the former PM under investigation in a public inquiry. The issue is a possible bribe give-or-take influence peddling. That he received money is beyond dispute; he’s admitted as much. The issue is whether he was paid to lobby foreign companies (which is fair game) or Canadian companies (which is not, by Canadian law). The other issue is the timing of the money exchange ie whether it occurred while he was still in office, or afterwards.

  106. Samantha Says:

    S.K. Cheung,

    Once again appreciate you take time to explain. Sorry I have to say you are not being fair in comparison. Whenever a survey or statistic that doesn’t suit your point, you would disqualify it. Convenient indeed. You certainly know that China isn’t going to adopt election system any time soon or ever because this requires to revamp of the whole political system and replaced with western style of election which China currently neither has the level of resources or the basic pre-conditions to satisfy. So in that case follows your rationale, Chinese government can never prove to receive more support from its people than those crumbling and corrupted democracies? Oh yes, from Mulroney to Jean Chretien to Paul martin, Canadians are thrilled to replace one corrupt PM with another and so on and so on, scandals just keep coming … yet none of them willing to step down or even nobly take the responsibility. Accountability… I’m glad somebody is still proud of it.

    Back to the topic, I don’t think you have been reasonable to set the criteria for comparison when it is not a viable mean for today’s China. That’s why I see a reputable global survey as a viable alternative measure on the level of popularity current Chinese government receives.

  107. Samantha Says:

    “if 55% of Canadians are dissatisfied, they can throw their support behind someone else.” Yes, just like what they did—kicked out Jean Chretien replaced him with the equally corrupted Paul Martin, and now the Conservative Party. Somehow with all these supposing effective mechanism (election) while the Canadians are losing their confidence in their government demonstrated by the dwindling turned out rate given all the new tricks and fiascos of the late?

    What if the Chinese officials failed their job? As Allen has pointed out there has been a constant promotion and demotions within the party. I guess when one officials fare poorly, he/she steps down or even criminally charged as those envolved in the Milk scandal last year.

    But that’s not my point here. Chinese political system maybe flawed, so is democracy. Then why should China be forced to copy a seriously flawed system? Should China be allowed to develop her own brand of political system while adopting some bits of western democracy only as she sees fit? Should China succumb to a wholesale import of the western system and philosophy simply because some frenzy fear of “the end of history” may never come? or worse, to prove otherwise?

  108. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    “Constitutional”???!! How do you fit that square peg into your round hole of “minimal requirement for democracy”? Nope, doesn’t fit. Canada is Not Democratic afterall.

    60 years of NOT having idiot surveys/polls/votes in China while growing to the 3rd-4th largest economy in the world?? I would call that an achievement for the Chinese people.

    “Satisfied” with the voting are you?? Well, I wouldn’t flaunt your obsession with public popularity contests. Frankly, I find such Western obsessions as rather a character flaw. Teenagers and children in China go through that phase, Merited adults do not.

    Frankly, get some facts straight about Western Democracy here: over 99% of the governments’ actual work are done by non-elected officials. Most of the elected officials are “figurative”. Everyone knows that when Bush was elected, Cheney was the REAL power behind that strawman. Even Obama doesn’t write his own speeches.

    So what does that do for the impact of your “elections” once every few years? I don’t think your voice carry as far as the day after elections. Everyone knows that the Elected politicians cater to the lobbyists far more than even the non-elected officials.

    For effects, it might as well be a “opinion poll” of only 1000 people!!

    *If you are really that obsess with knowing what the Chinese people think of their leaders, YOU can go ahead and ask on your own time and your own dime.

    Frankly, Chinese people have better things to do than to follow any polls/surveys/opinions gathered by statistics hacks and PR people.

    Frankly, I’m not afraid of the data, nor would any Chinese officials. Frankly, most Chinese don’t want that kind of WASTE of money for the silly entertainment value or the dubious data. As they say in survey, “there is lies, damn lies, and Statistics”. You can make statistics and polls mean anything, all depends on the question.

    If I want entertainment, I’ll rent a movie, a good movie. I find political grand-standing and mudslinging childish, worse than even BAD movies. And I don’t want to spend more money than the movie ticket for some elections, just so that I can hear the same political tunes of “democracy”, HOPE, challenge, conspiracies, blah, blah, blah.

    US election for 2008 spent about $5.3 BILLION!! That’s $18 dollars for every person in US.

    You may call it worth it. But perhaps Chinese people are just more frugal. China doesn’t see $5.3 Billion as money to be wasted just for electing a bunch of officials who basically do almost nothing.

  109. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I should almost say that “Election” is the Opium of the Democratic Mob.

    2 Elites, who know how to play the game, throw the “election” party for the masses every 4 years, pretend to fight among themselves as if they are totally different, and then pronounce 1 victor and the other the loser for the next 4 years. All the while, policies do not change, the old boys club governs from behind the scene.

    That is soap opera, not a government.

  110. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Samantha:
    “Whenever a survey or statistic that doesn’t suit your point, you would disqualify it.” – let’s be more specific. I discounted the relevance of ONE survey you quoted, and told you why. In brief, surveys (all of them) have statistical limitations; they’re clearly not the same as an election; how do you truly gauge support for the CCP when there’s no alternative. Now, if you’re so enamoured with the results of that ONE survey, perhaps you can explain to me why that is.

    “You certainly know that China isn’t going to adopt election system any time soon” – absolutely; but that doesn’t mean the flaws of CHina’s current system should go unmentioned.

    “So in that case follows your rationale, Chinese government can never prove to receive more support from its people than those crumbling and corrupted democracies?” – First of all, China is corrupt enough all by herself, guanxi and all. So let’s not kid ourselves. Second, this isn’t a contest, so the CCP’s popularity in China vs the Conservatives’ popularity in Canada vs the Democrats’ popularity in the US is a pointless comparison, and one that’s of no interest to me. But when someone says that the CCP reflects the will of the CHinese people, I’d like to know how they arrive at that conclusion (BTW, gut feeling isn’t what I had in mind). Better yet, I’d like to know how the CCP would know the will of the people to begin with, in order to realize what exactly it is they should reflect. Such are the conundrums one copes with in the Chinese system. Ah, but there is a better way, if there is the will…

    “Canadians are thrilled to replace one corrupt PM with another and so on and so on, scandals just keep coming” – that’s taking the Mulroney inquiry, and the sponsorship inquiry, and generalizing about a mile too far. You seem to know a little bit about Canada, so I assume you realized that already. So for you to still say that is disappointing.

    “I don’t think you have been reasonable to set the criteria for comparison when it is not a viable mean for today’s China.” – as I said, a “comparison” is not what interests me. Chinese people getting representation is what interests me. And while China may not be ready for representation today, you have to let your reach exceed your grasp, as the saying goes. And if you don’t set your aim for loftier goals, you’ll definitely not attain them. This is the sort of sentiment I expressed in the Charter 08 thread, if you ever care to look back on this blog.

    “kicked out Jean Chretien replaced him with the equally corrupted Paul Martin, and now the Conservative Party.”
    (a) Chretien never lost an election after becoming PM; he was replaced as Liberal Party leader by Paul Martin
    (b) neither Chretien nor Martin were ever charged with personal corruption. They both had a role in the sponsorship scandal that arose from the sponsorship program that was borne out of the 1995 Quebec referendum
    (c) before you start libeling a whole bunch of people, perhaps something to back up those gratuitous statements would be nice.

    “Canadians are losing their confidence in their government demonstrated by the dwindling turned out rate given all the new tricks and fiascos of the late?” – huh? Voter apathy is an issue; but hardly the same as losing confidence in our government.

    “Should China be allowed to develop her own brand of political system while adopting some bits of western democracy only as she sees fit?” – sure. I never said China’s system should look like Canada’s, or the US’s, or anybody else’s. My point all along is that Chinese should, IMO, have some form of representative government, and that the CCP in its current form doesn’t come close to cutting it.

    “Should China succumb to a wholesale import of the western system and philosophy simply because some frenzy fear of “the end of history” may never come?” – you seem to be flying off the handle by this point. No one is talking Armageddon…well, at least I’m not. YOu can decide what you’ve been talking about.

  111. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Canada is Not Democratic afterall.” – for a person who takes a liking to the Chinese system, it doesn’t surprise me that you can’t recognize democracy when you see it. In case you’re wondering, our Constitution is the foundation of our democracy. Our Constitution is entirely consistent with our people having a voice and a vote in our government. Sometimes, in your effort to utilize my analogies, you’re not making sense. Perhaps it’s even a little more often than sometimes…

    “I would call that an achievement for the Chinese people.” – I agree. And the role of the CCP and government? Basically to get the hell out of the way and let free market principles take over. I’m not sure how an authoritarian state helped the economic cause in any way, apart from digging a mighty deep hole by 1978 for the CHinese people to extricate themselves from.

    “I find such Western obsessions as rather a character flaw” – by now, you should have a pretty good idea of the esteem in which I hold your opinions.

    “You can make statistics and polls mean anything, all depends on the question.” – statistics and polls, yes; elections, no. If I go vote for a candidate, it means I prefer that candidate over all others. Simple as that. That’s why I criticized the survey quoted by Samantha above. Maybe someday, Chinese will skip surveys, and go straight to voting booths. And maybe they’ll even get to choose from a list of more than one candidate, and more than one party. Dream big, I say.

    “I’m not afraid of the data, nor would any Chinese officials” – now now, let’s not jump the gun here. Before you decide to be unafraid of the data, you first need the data. There’s the rub for ya.

    And what’s with the infatuation with “frankly”? But I digress…

    Listen, you can come up with all the excuses you want as to why representation would be bad for the Chinese people. By all means, fly at’er to your heart’s content. But to me, they’ll just be excuses. I’m a believer in free will, and that certainly extends to government.

    And just for poops and giggles, where, might I ask, do you live? If you are so fond of having people decide things for you, with no input from you whatsoever, then I sure as heck hope you are walking the walk, and living in China. It would sure be ironic if you live in a democratic society, yet feel alright about preventing Chinese people from availing themselves to some of the rights you enjoy.

  112. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    A GG who is appointed by a non-elected queen, advised by a non-direct elected PM, who is just the leader of a party that has the largest number of seats in a parliament (though that’s hardly a direct election by ALL the people.) All that round about is supposed to be “democracy”?

    Fine, Hu Jintao is appointed by a parliament on the advice of the previous non-elected President Jiang, who was appointed on the advice of Deng Xiaoping, who was appointed by a vote in CCP, who won the Chinese Civil War through popular support. Good enough.

    Frankly, your refusal to recognize “democracy” in China is your problem.

    “Get the hell out of the way”?? I suggest the West do the same for China.

    By now, you have a good idea that I do care much about “esteem” from people obsessed with “polls” and votes.

    “statistics and polls, yes; elections, no. If I go vote for a candidate, it means I prefer that candidate over all others. Simple as that.”

    UNINFORMED LIMITED choice with no immediate responsibilities is NO CHOICE at all!!

    “now now, let’s not jump the gun here. Before you decide to be unafraid of the data, you first need the data. There’s the rub for ya.”

    I have the data for myself, that’s enough for me. If you want to see the data, go get it yourself on your own time and your own dime.

    “But to me, they’ll just be excuses.” Ditto to your “minimal requirement” and your preferences, they have no bearing on what’s best for China.

    “And just for poops and giggles, where, might I ask, do you live? If you are so fond of having people decide things for you, with no input from you whatsoever, then I sure as heck hope you are walking the walk, and living in China. It would sure be ironic if you live in a democratic society, yet feel alright about preventing Chinese people from availing themselves to some of the rights you enjoy.”

    In case you haven’t noticed, US has 99% of government run by non-appointed people. I don’t have any say in most of the choices that they make which will impact me. You seem to live under the delusion that somehow a vote once every 4 years will give me some say in that. Oh please! What planet do you control, and who hears your “voice” and “input”? I have a better chance at winning the lottery! What’s more delusional is you feel somehow you are the expert for Chinese people to suggest that if they have some system similar to yours, that they would also have the “voice”/power you have??!!

    Please, keep that tin foil hat for yourself. Oh yes, that tin foil hat is quite neat and keeps the aliens from controlling your brain!!

    Hey, it’s your choice, but doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to participate in a tin foil hat design contest.

  113. raventhorn4000 Says:

    UNINFORMED LIMITED choice with no immediate responsibilities is NO CHOICE at all!!

    ** I would observe that in Western Democracy, many things are packaged turds, designed to “spread irresponsibility and non-accountability”, in much the same way as the derivative instruments that included subprime mortgages.

    as I state again, UNINFORMED LIMITED choice with no immediate responsibilities is NO CHOICE at all.

    The “Democracy”‘s mentality seem to be “Buyers beware” followed by “Mortgage your children”.

    Afterall, when Bush cuts taxes, it’s really a loan that your children will pay back with interests, and most people didn’t know or didn’t understand.

    And Bush didn’t say much about what he would do when he got elected, and most people didn’t care.

    One can see why the subprime mortgage crisis came about, people are too used to making decisions on “preferences” and glancing “gut feels” and impulses.

    Too used to flipping houses in a few months, etc.

    The system and the mentality are completely irresponsible!

    *To me, I don’t buy a house to “flip”. “Flipping” is not an investment for the future, neither does it work for a government.

    If I make a big choice, I stay with the choice. If I inherit a family choice, I stay with the choice.

    Having a “flipping” choice every 4 years is not a choice, it’s a roulette game, or any other casino game that they force you to play, whether you want to or not.

    Such a “flipping” game does not draw in talents for government.

    It’s a simple enough and obvious enough fact that in any nation, the people are “in it together”, whether a UNINFORMED LIMITED CHOICE is given or not. It’s a simple fact of life.

    It is also a simple fact of life that Talents are often drowned by the voices of mediocrity.

    True talents are rarely ever recognized by “popular vote”, but must be selected through repeated processes of meritocracy.

    Even in US, if Talents do rise to the government, it is rarely because of “election”, but rather because MERITED men promote/appoint other Merited men, IN Spite of “election”.

    MERITOCRACY is Rule by Talents, and responsibility by the talents.

    DEMOCRACY is Popular rule, and mass irresponsibility.

  114. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “for a person who takes a liking to the Chinese system”.

    Let the record speak for itself. I respect a system that can produce leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jingtao, Wen Jiabao, etc., who are all educated men who had years of learning and enough wisdom to change China.

    I have LESS respect for a system that can produce a leader like Bush, and keep him in power for 8 years.

    *No offense to personal “preferences”, but letting idiots vote, you get idiots in charge. You don’t need to be a genius to realize the obvious folly in such a “system”.

  115. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “A GG who is appointed by a non-elected queen, advised by a non-direct elected PM, who is just the leader of a party that has the largest number of seats in a parliament” – dude, that’s how a parliamentary system works. Maybe you should educate yourself on it. THe PM does not have the power of a president; there is no separation of the executive and legislative branches. The PM is the “captain” of the legislative branch, if you will. The captain is chosen by the players on the team (ie the members of Parliament). And the people get to decide who those team members will be (ie we vote to determine the members of Parliament). I’d be happy to try to explain it to you, but I’ve never been good at teaching at a beginner level.

    “who was appointed by a vote in CCP, who won the Chinese Civil War through popular support. Good enough.” Again, nice that CHinese get to “vote” once every sixty years. That’s a nice “election” cycle. Second, John Q is still without a voice. But hey, if that’s good enough for you, no worries. But it’s not you I care about; I’d like to know if it’s good enough for those who are actually living it.

    “your refusal to recognize “democracy” in China is your problem.” – Indeed. And if it makes you feel better to delude yourself into thinking that China currently has a “democracy”, that’s definitely not my problem.

    “UNINFORMED LIMITED choice with no immediate responsibilities is NO CHOICE at all!!” – forgetting about your gross misrepresentation of the choices we enjoy, it seems you have a funny definition of “no”. And “no choice” is precisely what the CCP sells.

    “I have the data for myself, that’s enough for me.” – there you go again…your delusions know no bounds.

    “I don’t have any say in most of the choices that they make which will impact me. ” – agreed. “democracy” on every single issue would grind things to a halt. Which is why we elect “representatives”, who “represent” their constituents. Every 4 years or so, we fill out their report card. No doubt, a compromise. But a much better compromise than a report every 60 years (and counting).

    The majority of your #113 seems to be a rant against Bush. I think the only place where Bush’s approval rating was lower than that in the US was Canada. So you’re preaching to the choir on that one. Certainly, in retrospect, Bush was a bad choice. But as i’ve said before, with choice comes the responsibility of ownership of the consequences of those choices. So your right to choose has to be exercised with care; but doesn’t mean you’d be better off without choice.

    So if you live in the US, from what do you derive the notion that you know what’s best for CHinese citizens? For me, as a general rule, if I don’t know, I ask. You, on the other hand, like to assume. And you know what they say about assuming stuff.

    “MERITOCRACY is Rule by Talents, and responsibility by the talents.” – I’ve asked before, without answer. So who gets to determine the “original talent”, from whom all subsequent evaluations of talent will derive? Oh yeah, the people!

    “DEMOCRACY is Popular rule, and mass irresponsibility.” – if you say so, pal. You’ve been very persuasive. I’m very nearly convinced…maybe if we can vote on it, then I’d be totally convinced.

    “You don’t need to be a genius to realize the obvious folly in such a “system”.” – you know, personally, as an adult, I’d like to have the responsibility of making my own choices; if you prefer other adults to choose for you, well, I suppose that’s a choice in itself, particularly for those not yet of age, and those incapable of handling responsibility. That may be true of you, but I’m hopeful that’s not true of all Chinese citizens.

  116. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Oh please!

    My cable company has only 1 channel, Your cable company has 2 channels, and your program “Bush live for 8 years” sucks, and you can’t get more channels in your “system”, and you can only switch channels once every 4 years.

    Yeah, huge difference there!

    “Bush rant”???

    Well, you wanted to “rant” about “democracy” and your “minimal requirement”. Why are you avoiding the “results” of your system??

    I think you are the one afraid of the data. You are the one “satisfied” with less. Heck, you don’t even want to change your “system”, despite the bad results.

    Well, that’s your choice, or lack of.

    “So if you live in the US, from what do you derive the notion that you know what’s best for CHinese citizens? For me, as a general rule, if I don’t know, I ask.”

    I judge systems by the results, not the “minimal requirement” satisfaction index that you are running on. No, you don’t ask. You have a checklist for “minimal requirement”. And you are hardly objective about your checklist.

  117. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Your cable company has 2 channels” – actually, that’d be “your” cable company, which has 2 channels give or take a Ralph Nader. “My” company has 4 channels, give or take a Green Party. And to me, having more than one channel to choose from every 4 years sure as heck beats the same old thing for 60 years and counting.

    “Why are you avoiding the “results” of your system??” – who’s avoiding anything? The point was just that you spent most of an entire post on Bush, and you’re already preaching to the choir, as I said.

    “I think you are the one afraid of the data.” – beep, wrong, better luck next time, pal. As far as China goes, tough to be afraid of data that doesn’t exist.

    “you don’t even want to change your “system”, despite the bad results.” – as I said before, if the results are bad, the people messed up with their choice. Nothing wrong with the system. So it’s up to people to own up to their mistakes, and take responsibility for them, and make it right the next time around. That’s a concept well worth your consideration. It seems taking responsibility for something is not a burden you seek. Never mind…it is an adult concept.

    “I judge systems by the results,” – first of all, what makes you think you can make judgments on behalf of Chinese citizens? Second, having a voice and being able to vote are “minimum requirements” of a democracy, but there are further goals beyond those; there’s just not much point belabouring them when you haven’t even met the minimum yet. And third, if you accuse someone of lacking objectivity, I’d suggest a quick peek in the mirror, for that is most definitely a two-way street.

    Having choices seems to intimidate you. I suggest you quickly extricate yourself from that bastion of choice where you currently live, and head for friendlier locales where you’re not burdened with such responsibilities. Come to think of it, it gives “go west, young man” a whole new meaning.

  118. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    oooh, 4 channels. that’s better enough? I guess that justifies that $5.3 billion for election every 4 years??

    “who’s avoiding anything? The point was just that you spent most of an entire post on Bush, and you’re already preaching to the choir, as I said.” Well, you are, if you agree that the result is bad, why are you insisting that the system that produced the bad result is good?

    ““I think you are the one afraid of the data.” – beep, wrong, better luck next time, pal. As far as China goes, tough to be afraid of data that doesn’t exist.” Robot, you just admitted that it was bad “result”, why you still checking someone else’s “system”? As far as China goes, it’s not your system.

    ““you don’t even want to change your “system”, despite the bad results.” – as I said before, if the results are bad, the people messed up with their choice. Nothing wrong with the system. So it’s up to people to own up to their mistakes, and take responsibility for them, and make it right the next time around. That’s a concept well worth your consideration. It seems taking responsibility for something is not a burden you seek. Never mind…it is an adult concept.”

    Yeah, well, considering that Weimar republic was also a Constitutional Democracy and produced a Hitler, I don’t want to go through that, ever.

    It doesn’t seem like you understand the seriousness of the “burden”, or just blind to historical fallicies of “Democracy”.

    If People are truly capable of living up to the “burden” of their choices, we wouldn’t have crimes in society.

    In case you can’t understand, it’s human nature to avoid “burden” and consequences, especially the bad consequences. I won’t explain this more for you.

    An “election” system is fundamentally designed for collective “burden” avoiding. And the logic is circular, as according to your own words. When the People avoids a vote or vote unwisely, the result (Ie. GG) is Constitutional, and therefore, cannot be a mistake. The “system” can never be wrong. It’s the people’s mistake, but the People will collectively pay for it.

    You might as well institute a criminal system or financial system where all the people pay for the mistakes and crimes of idiots and hooligans. Ie. if someone steal/misuse billions of dollars, make the taxpayer pay for it.

    Come to think of it, that’s what you have in your “system”.

  119. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “I judge systems by the results,” – first of all, what makes you think you can make judgments on behalf of Chinese citizens? Second, having a voice and being able to vote are “minimum requirements” of a democracy, but there are further goals beyond those; there’s just not much point belabouring them when you haven’t even met the minimum yet. And third, if you accuse someone of lacking objectivity, I’d suggest a quick peek in the mirror, for that is most definitely a two-way street.”

    1st, I lived in China for many years, I’m educated. I qualify more than some. Others qualify more than me. Merits based. Got It?! It’s better than to say EVERYONE is qualified to have judgment about the Chinese system.

    2nd, Everyone has a choice to commit crimes as well, that’s not much of a foundational “requirement” for a government. Just because you chose to waste a lot of money and file a mountain of paperwork to show that you actually made a check mark on the paper, doesn’t mean squat. over 99% of all Political CHOICES are made outside of “elections”, or absent of elections. Unlike your imagination, people are NOT deprived of CHOICES. Your insistence that there must be 1 choice formalized to 1 specific question is dogmatic and fundamentally “undemocratic” in itself.

    The People didn’t decide in the form of your question or the choice you wanted.

    3rd, I know myself well enough. I have lived in China and in a “democracy”. I understand both systems far better than you imagine. It’s obvious that you gloss over the difficult questions/criticisms about “democracy” and merely stick by the assumptions that you are comfortable with.

    Just to Note my difference, I will not insist that Chinese system must stick to any particular “form” or “minimal requirement”. Such a rigid and dogmatic view from you is patently demonstrative of your personal “bias”, not mine. And that’s ample proof that you are avoiding the “merits” of the systems.

  120. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “I guess that justifies that $5.3 billion for election every 4 years??” – that’s what you claim to be the cost of the US election; not sure how much ours was. But yes, having “4 channels” represents a more than adequate improvement over the current Chinese system to make it worthwhile, and then some.

    “why are you insisting that the system that produced the bad result is good?” – I’m not sure how many times I need to repeat myself. The system is fine, but it does behoove the people to exercise their rights with care. Sometimes, people being the flawed organisms that they are, mistakes are made. It’s a limitation of humans, not the system. I am not sure how else to spell it out for you.

    “considering that Weimar republic…” – so you support a system that began 60 years ago because of fear of a system that last existed almost 80 years ago? Well, I guess fear can be paralyzing for some folks. And what makes you think that a Chinese system would run the course of the Weimar? For someone with such unfounded faith in the CCP, you’ve got little faith in the Chinese people.

    “it’s human nature to avoid “burden” and consequences, especially the bad consequences. I won’t explain this more for you.” – way to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If that’s your version of “aiming high”, I don’t want to see what happens when you just phone it in.

    “When the People avoids a vote or vote unwisely, the result (Ie. GG) is Constitutional, and therefore, cannot be a mistake.” – what on earth are you talking about? Doesn’t make any sense to me; does it to you?

    “An “election” system is fundamentally designed for collective “burden” avoiding.” – huh? How exactly? I don’t think like you (praise Him), so you’re going to have to do a much better job of explaining your point, assuming one exists.

    “You might as well institute a criminal system or financial system…” – when individuals commit crime, the responsibility is with that individual. Hardly the same as the responsibility that comes with exercising your right to vote. The bailout is the remedy for the financial system that is being deemed necessary by those in government. History will show if that’s the correct remedy. And history will also show the political price they will be asked to pay. You can’t criticize the bailout in isolation without considering the implications of NOT doing the bailout.

    As for the cause of the financial meltdown, it appears ill-advised investments were to blame, but I’m not sure there is criminal culpability.

    “I qualify more than some. Others qualify more than me. Merits based. Got It?!” – and again, who gets to makes those assessments of qualifications again? You? Why? Why not John Q Public?

    “It’s better than to say EVERYONE is qualified to have judgment about the Chinese system.” – why? If the system affects everyone, why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to pass judgment. What allows you to say that John Q is qualified, but John P isn’t?

    “over 99% of all Political CHOICES are made outside of “elections”, or absent of elections…Your insistence that there must be 1 choice formalized to 1 specific question is dogmatic and fundamentally “undemocratic” in itself” – without quibbling about percentages, I’ve already stipulated that much of the work is indeed done by bureaucrats. If these people do a good job, as judged by their political masters, they get promoted (sorta like your beloved meritocracy). But the job they do ultimately reflects on the elected representatives. So if the elected representatives make poor choices wrt the bureaucrats they employ, to whom do they answer? Oh, that’s right, the people, who ultimately get to decide just what kind of a bang-up job their government is doing, or not. Now, as I’ve also said, if democracy extended to a vote on every single issue, nothing gets done. So to designate our “choice” at the level of selecting a representative, to whom we delegate the ability to make all subsequent choices on our behalf, is somewhat arbitrary. But if that arbitrary decision has been made with the consent of the people, that is hardly “undemocratic”. Again, it’s the people’s choice, and they have the responsibility of living with it. Not to mention that there is in fact more than 1 choice. Referendums abound on many specific questions, especially in the US. Or have you not noticed, in your effort to avoid responsibility?

    “3rd, I know myself well enough. I have lived in China and in a “democracy”.” – then why haven’t you walked the walk, and run far away from the democracy you fear, and the responsibility you would rather shirk, back to the system of “daddy knows best” in which you take such great comfort?

  121. raventhorn4000 Says:

    ” then why haven’t you walked the walk, and run far away from the democracy you fear, and the responsibility you would rather shirk, back to the system of “daddy knows best” in which you take such great comfort?”

    Who says I haven’t? Who says I “fear” democracy”? I study “democracy”, I pity “democracy”. Soon enough, I will go back to China.

    I can see that you don’t understand why enlightened people would ever bother to go to other cultures and other systems to learn/study and to make independent judgment. That’s why you are so full of yourself.

  122. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “Referendums abound on many specific questions, especially in the US. Or have you not noticed, in your effort to avoid responsibility?”

    I noticed that you talk of “constitutionality”, when you avoid referendums on old problems. That’s how YOU avoid responsibilities, not me.

  123. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “I will go back to China.” – fantastic. At the very least, that would make the most sense.

    “I study “democracy”, I pity “democracy”. – and such is your prerogative. As I’ve said many a time, to each his own.

    “when you avoid referendums on old problems. That’s how YOU avoid responsibilities, not me.” – to what referendums of what old problems do you refer, may I ask?

  124. raventhorn4000 Says:

    ““I will go back to China.” – fantastic. At the very least, that would make the most sense.”

    I hardly need you to remind me.

    “I study “democracy”, I pity “democracy”. – and such is your prerogative. As I’ve said many a time, to each his own.”

    Then leave this discussion of meritocracy vs. democracy, if you don’t have anything to say about meritocracy.

    “when you avoid referendums on old problems. That’s how YOU avoid responsibilities, not me.” – to what referendums of what old problems do you refer, may I ask?”

    GG, Bush, none of these. The People, as usual, just wait and hope the problems go away, or just pretend there is no problem, because it’s “constitutional”. Like I said, that produced Hitler.

  125. raventhorn4000 Says:

    ““I will go back to China.” – fantastic. At the very least, that would make the most sense.”

    Like I said, you don’t understand why wise persons would study from places they may not “prefer” or “agree” with.

    That is another fundamental problem with “democracy”. The “vote” has made idiots think themselves wise, and no sky beyond what they can see from within the Well.

    I would want to go visit Iran, and even North Korea, and Somalia, to learn.

    You, on the other hand, would assume that a Chinese who come to US or Canada must not like Chinese “system” very much, or must like “democracy”.

    Well, you don’t know the world outside of yours very much.

  126. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Then leave this discussion of meritocracy vs. democracy, if you don’t have anything to say about meritocracy.” – gee whiz, have you not been paying attention. I may not have much good to say about meritocracy, but that’s hardly the same as having nothing to say about it at all. Oh, btw, i’ll leave when I’m good and ready, thanks “dad”.

    “GG” is not a problem. Bush was a problem addressed as the system allowed. If you can’t respect the constitution, then I can’t help you. Note also that laws are based on what’s allowed by the constitution, so if you can’t respect the constitution, then I guess you don’t respect laws either. Once again, whatever floats your boat…

    “Like I said, that produced Hitler.” – and like I said, this ain’t the Weimar. And China needn’t be either. Have some faith…you’ll need it when you get home. Oh, and do us all a favor and make that a one way trip, ok?

    “You, on the other hand, would assume that a Chinese who come to US or Canada must not like Chinese “system” very much, or must like “democracy”. – I wouldn’t assume that of all Chinese; but it certainly was true for me.

  127. raventhorn4000 Says:

    ““Like I said, that produced Hitler.” – and like I said, this ain’t the Weimar. And China needn’t be either. Have some faith…you’ll need it when you get home. Oh, and do us all a favor and make that a one way trip, ok?”

    I have no faith in a system loved by people who tell me to go home on a 1 way trip.

    You have no open mind, I have no faith in your “faith”.

    If you want to take risks of a system that similar to one that produced Hitler, that’s your business. But that’s your “faith”, not logic or reason.

    This is a rational debate, not based upon some one’s undefined “faith” in a system. Take your “faith” on your own 1 way trip.

  128. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “so if you can’t respect the constitution, then I guess you don’t respect laws either.”

    Respect for Constitution does not make a Constitution “democratic”. You seem to be avoiding the “democracy” problems merely by saying it’s “constitutional”. You might as well say it’s “un-democratic”, but at least it’s LEGAL!!

  129. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “You have no open mind, I have no faith in your “faith”.” – that’s funny, I don’t recall ever asking for any. Oh well, good to know nonetheless. I’ll be sure to keep that nugget somewhere easily accessible. Where’s that circular file again….

    However, in your eagerness to make a play on words, you seem to have forgotten my point: China needn’t be the Weimar. By your logic, every republic goes the way of the Weimar. If that’s logic, I’d like to remain happily illogical.

    “This is a rational debate” – indeed, and you should try it sometime.

    “You seem to be avoiding the “democracy” problems merely by saying it’s “constitutional”. You might as well say it’s “un-democratic”, but at least it’s LEGAL!!” – hey, you brought up a good point for once! You go, boy. Our constitution helps to define what is legal, but since the people have a say in it (via amendments and other legal changes, as well as the evolution of the laws for which the constitution serves as the foundation), it’s completely democratic. In contrast, China has a constitution to define what is legal, but since people don’t have a say in it, it’s completely undemocratic. I hope that clears things up for you. And btw, before you get all hot-to-trot about China having constitutional amendments as well, the key point to focus on is the part about people having a say in it.

  130. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “- that’s funny, I don’t recall ever asking for any. Oh well, good to know nonetheless. I’ll be sure to keep that nugget somewhere easily accessible. Where’s that circular file again….”

    I think “Have some faith…” were your exact words.

    “However, in your eagerness to make a play on words, you seem to have forgotten my point: China needn’t be the Weimar. By your logic, every republic goes the way of the Weimar. If that’s logic, I’d like to remain happily illogical.”

    Weimar was a “democracy”, you didn’t bother to explain why “democracies” ain’t/need to be Weimar. That’s your illogic, not mine.

    “- indeed, and you should try it sometime.”

    I try, but you don’t.

    “- hey, you brought up a good point for once! You go, boy. Our constitution helps to define what is legal, but since the people have a say in it (via amendments and other legal changes, as well as the evolution of the laws for which the constitution serves as the foundation), it’s completely democratic. In contrast, China has a constitution to define what is legal, but since people don’t have a say in it, it’s completely undemocratic. I hope that clears things up for you. And btw, before you get all hot-to-trot about China having constitutional amendments as well, the key point to focus on is the part about people having a say in it.”

    You are forgetting that JUDGES get to decide what is “constitutional”?! And that the People don’t get to vote on “Amendments”!

    Again, which part of all this is “democratic”?

    Nope, You don’t know your system that well. You should be clear about that at least by now.

  131. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “I think “Have some faith…” were your exact words.” – they were, weren’t they? And as I said, and you apparently read, all you need is “some” faith, not necessarily “my” faith. So when you say:”I have no faith in your “faith”” – well, I hope you can see why that went into the circular file. Isn’t English a wonderful thing?

    ““- indeed, and you should try it sometime.” I try, but you don’t.” – oh gee, you got me. Your gold star is in the mail.

    “”Weimar was a “democracy”” – all along you’ve been saying Weimar was a “republic”. No matter. Just like the fact that not all republics need go the way of the Weimar, neither do all democracies. Are you suggesting that, because one republic/democracy/whatever failed, that all others are doomed to the same fate. If that’s the case, I might remind you that the odd autocracy/authoritarian regime has also failed…then again, maybe I won’t.

    “You are forgetting that JUDGES get to decide what is “constitutional”?! And that the People don’t get to vote on “Amendments”!” – of course! Judges interpret the law, and the law is derived from the constitution, so absolutely judges get to interpret the constitution and what is consistent with same. I forget, but are you a believer in law and order again? So, who appoints judges? Well, in the US, the president, with the advice and consent of the senate. In Canada, the prime minister. Can you tell me one thing that’s consistent between the pres, PM, and all members of the US Senate? (hint: it has something to do with how each and every one of them are elected). Not to mention that I think some local judges in the US might even be elected, but I could be wrong about that part.
    As for amendments, I can’t say for US federal ones, but in the last election Prop 9 in California on same sex marriage was a state constitutional amendment that was voted upon in a state-wide referendum by the people. And even the federal ones would be voted upon by, you guessed it, our elected representatives.

    So when you ask: “Again, which part of all this is “democratic”?” – I can only say: seriously, have you not been paying any attention. Jeez!

    “You don’t know your system that well.” – based on what you’ve said to date, you know next to nothing about the Canadian system. And as a non-American, I know at least as much about yours as you do. PS. that last part is not something in which you should take much pride.

  132. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    If you meant my faith should be different than yours, so it is. Take my “no faith” as “some faith”. That’s about as circular as your definitions.

    I didn’t ask for “gold star”. You get an F for comprehension.

    I suggest you don’t bother to assess the risks of Weimar in your analysis. That’s simply unwise.

    Seriously, do you even know the US system? Referendum is NOT a norm in States, and non-existent in federal, and Federal judges are all appointed, and they have the ultimate authority of Constitutional review!

    “consent of the Senate”? Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, Rome.

    Seriously, you don’t pay attention, and you don’t understand the basics of the “democracies” that you supposedly know.

    Oh please, I don’t know that much about the Canadian system? You “simplify” it and ignore the parts you can’t explain as “democratic”, and call it “Constitutional”.

    As if PM in Canada is directly elected!! PM is elected by the winning party, not by the People directly. That’s un-democratic. It’s election by representatives, and it’s called “parliamentary” system.

    If you even know an ounce of the Canadian system, you would know that already.

    US Federal judges are appointed for LIFE!! No elections. That’s about as un-democratic as the GG position!

    You obviously think you can “democratically” elect a dictator, and then everything else he does is also “democratic” by definition.

    Well, by your definition, Obvious Hitler was the product of a “democracy”, since he was appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg, who won the election in Weimar Germany.

    Your position is obviously ridiculous!!! (Take pride in that!)

  133. shane9219 Says:

    China Emerges as a Leader in Cleaner Coal Technology

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html?ref=global-home

    This article on NYT says something about China’s political system. When the government embraces something, it really means it and delivers.

    “China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost.

    While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month.”

    ” Construction has stalled in the United States on a new generation of low-pollution power plants that turn coal into a gas before burning it, although Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Thursday that the Obama administration might revive one power plant of this type. But China has already approved equipment purchases for just such a power plant, to be assembled soon in a muddy field here in Tianjin.

    “The steps they’ve taken are probably as fast and as serious as anywhere in power-generation history,” said Hal Harvey, president of ClimateWorks, a group in San Francisco that helps finance projects to limit global warming.

    Western countries continue to rely heavily on coal-fired power plants built decades ago with outdated, inefficient technology that burn a lot of coal and emit considerable amounts of carbon dioxide. China has begun requiring power companies to retire an older, more polluting power plant for each new one they build. “

  134. miaka9383 Says:

    @S.K and Raventhorn
    Federal Judges are appointed for live. State judges are elected by their district and so are district attorneys. It is the concept of separation of power between the state and federal power. State Amendments can be voted on, but Federal Amendment are modified by the approval of both the House and the Senate.
    Federal judges do have the power to interpret law in cases, but to change the official interpretation is up to the Supreme court judges.
    And yes the Senate is elected to office by the people every 6 years.

  135. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    “”Weimar was a “democracy”” – all along you’ve been saying Weimar was a “republic”. No matter. Just like the fact that not all republics need go the way of the Weimar, neither do all democracies. Are you suggesting that, because one republic/democracy/whatever failed, that all others are doomed to the same fate. If that’s the case, I might remind you that the odd autocracy/authoritarian regime has also failed…then again, maybe I won’t.

    Maybe you shouldn’t. Are you now admitting that “Democracies” are as prone to failure as “autocracies”?!!

    *Regarding “Constitutionality”, perhaps you are forgetting that US and Canada only had 12% adults as eligible voters in the beginning, and thus are NOT “democracies” by your definition. US didn’t have universal suffrage until 1919, Canada is similar. Which means, more than 90% of the US Constitution and Canadian Constitution were passed/voted by NON-democratic legislators in the beginning.

    How can you call US/Canada “democracies”, when you live under 90% of the laws passed NON-democratically, especially the Constitution and majority of the “Amendments”??!!

    Damn sure none of your current representatives ever voted on the basic Constitutions!!

    Damn sure none of your current representatives ever voted on the forms of the government, and the forms of the election systems.

    Guess what, Canadian laws are not “democratic” by your definition either. The rules were written for you a long time ago by slave owning white guys, and you never had a choice on the rules. You are just picking numbers the way they told you to do. You would have more “choices” at the roulette game, but as everyone knows, the HOUSE always wins.

  136. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “If you meant my faith should be different…” – you know, the saying goes that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging. That, for you right about now, should be priceless advice.

    “And that the People don’t get to vote on “Amendments”” – R4000 #130.
    “Referendum is NOT a norm in States” -R4000 #132.
    – listen, it would be helpful if you decide what your point is before you write it, and not change it after I’ve inserted it back down your throat. So people DO get to vote on amendments, just not that often, is that your point now? Well, amendments don’t happen that often either. And dollars to donuts Americans get to vote on amendments a lot more often than their Chinese counterparts. I wonder what tangent you’ll go on next…I can’t wait.

    “Federal judges are all appointed, and they have the ultimate authority of Constitutional review!” – haven’t we been through this before? Yes, they’re appointed, by the executive you elect. And you know, the judges are appointed on merit as well, so that should be right up your alley. And they absolutely have the supreme authority for deciding if a law abides by the constitution. And if a law is struck down, then Congress (or Parliament) can enact a replacement that will hopefully be on-side with the constitution. And who decides who goes to Congress (or Parliament)? Oh that’s right, the people. How thick are you, anyway?

    “about the Canadian system? You “simplify” it and ignore the parts you can’t explain as “democratic”, and call it “Constitutional”.” – oh, I’ve explained it. And if you still can’t grasp it, well, there’s only so much teaching I can do. Teachers can only do as much as the capacity of the student allows. In this case, that capacity seems small.

    “It’s election by representatives, and it’s called “parliamentary” system.” – it’s a parliamentary system of democracy. But you know what, for you, that’s close enough.

    “US Federal judges are appointed for LIFE!! No elections.” – do you have one point, written 2 ways? Are you like a Peking Duck (the dish, not the blog)? Didn’t you already do your “judges” bit earlier in your post? Most judges aren’t elected. For yet another summary, move up 3 paragraphs.

    “Obvious Hitler was the product of a “democracy”, since he was appointed chancellor by President Hindenburg, who won the election in Weimar Germany…(Take pride in that!)” – I take pride in the fact that I live in a democracy which is nothing like the Weimar. If you can’t recognize that the US/Canada etc are not like the Weimar, well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes I wonder if you’re just trying to be argumentative, or genetically predisposed. But if this is all you’ve got…at least it’s entertaining.

    ““Democracies” are as prone to failure as “autocracies”?!!” – nope. Democracy means people have responsibility. And sometimes, people make mistakes. In rare circumstances, that can result in failure. Autocracies fail when people decide to rise up against it. I think their track record suggests that autocracies are far more apt to fail. And do you know what they get replaced with often? You take your time.
    “perhaps you are forgetting that US and Canada only had 12% adults as eligible voters in the beginning, and thus are NOT “democracies” by your definition. US didn’t have universal suffrage until 1919, Canada is similar.” – haven’t we talked about this before? Seriously, are you running out of things to say, such that you have to start repeating points? Before universal suffrage, to me, our system was not a “democracy”; but it is now. Remind me again, how’s China doing on universal suffrage? Oh yeah, badly. So once again, you should be using the past, and not present, tense. And now, since we are a democracy, and if there was something objectionable about the constitution, we could change it. And if we can make amendments, and CHOOSE not to, then what’s your problem again?

    “Guess what, Canadian laws are not “democratic” by your definition either.”- yet again, you demonstrate limited capacity for reading, or comprehension. We choose to keep the laws we like, and change those we don’t. About as democratic as you can get.
    “you never had a choice on the rules.” – we didn’t have a choice on the rules we inherited, but we’ve had every opportunity to change them where we saw fit. How much more democratic were you looking for?

    If you’re trying to say that meritocracy is better than democracy, you sure haven’t gotten very far. If you’re trying to say that the US/Canada aren’t democratic, you haven’t substantiated that either. So far, your objections seem to be about judges, our GG, and the Weimar. That’s pretty lame. Now, is our system perfect? No. And when we come up with a better iteration, and the people prefer that, we’ll change it, because that’s what our democracy allows. If you would rather shun responsibility, and have your “daddy” take care of your decisions your whole life, that’s certainly your prerogative. I’m hopeful that not all Chinese feel as deep a need for parental hand-holding in their adult years as you apparently do. I have no problem with a merit-based system. If you’ve been reading anything at all, you should’ve figured it out by now; and if you haven’t, I just told you. The point is that people need to judge merit, and not the old boys fraternity.

  137. raventhorn4000 Says:

    ” – we didn’t have a choice on the rules we inherited, but we’ve had every opportunity to change them where we saw fit. How much more democratic were you looking for?”

    The People cannot vote on the Constitution, nor can they repeal it. Thus US/Canada are NOT democracies by your definition. (You should ask what YOU were looking for in your “minimal requirement”, which now obviate that Canadian/US laws are not democratic.)

    I take the rest of your blah as avoidance of the question. Come back when you start to make sense with your own definitions.

  138. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “The People cannot vote on the Constitution, nor can they repeal it.” (you, #137)

    “if we can make amendments, and CHOOSE not to, then what’s your problem again?” (me, #136)

    If I was a lawyer, i think the phrase would be “asked and answered”. Except I answered it before you asked it, as the numbering shows. Don’t know if there’s a phrase for that one. But I don’t want to suggest I was reading your mind…well, it’d be quick work, but i’m not at all interested.

    If a point by point rebuttal of your nonsense is too much for you, well, pace yourself. Read it slowly, and take your time.

  139. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    (1) “Amendments” ADD, they don’t technically repeal. That’s why they are called “Amendments”. They are continuously ADDED onto the Constitution!

    (2) “CHOOSE not to”??! Where is that choice on the ballots every 4 years?? How do you call it a CHOICE when the People didn’t vote on it??

    (3) “Inherit” would imply you had a Choice to abandon the “system”. You don’t. There is NO legal procedure for you to abandon the Constitution, or to even call for a vote on it. Therefore you live by laws chained to you undemocratically. The People don’t have a choice. Therefore, US/Canada are not democracies by your own definition.

    *
    Your answer didn’t make much sense as rebuttal. Don’t day dream about “if” you were a lawyer, try working on your “definitions” first.

  140. raventhorn4000 Says:

    **For serious discussion, I think the current Chinese system is akin to the “Promote by top, consensus by below” model, where upon generally, one is recommended by a higher level sponsor within the government, and then the recommendation is discussed and some consensus is obtained through the lower ranks, and finally, the promotion is approved either through high level approval or lower level vote.

    This is a system that has typically prevailed in the Western corporate managements, or what generally is known as the “consensus management decision model”, as oppose to purely “top down management”, or “bottom vote management”.

    The “Consensus management” is typically considered as hybrid model, because it requires substantially more communication between the higher levels and lower levels.

    *On the other side, no “democracy” is a purely “bottom vote management” system either. Even in US, representatives typically seek a great deal of feedback and consensus from lobby groups such as the Unions, before actually committing to any vote. Some legislations are not even presented unless a “consensus” is already reached that would guarantee a passage.

    Whether the ultimate “final decision” authority lies at top or bottom is the main question. And does every decision require a “bottom level” vote is another.

    a “representative decision system”, or the “vested authority decision system”, is largely based upon the legal notion of Principle-Agent relationship, for example, where 1 stock broker has the authority to make investment decisions for 1000′s of clients. The Stock broker may not be required to consult the clients individuals before making decisions, but the clients can discharge the stock broker from services at any time.

    But as we note from Wall Street, the Client’s ability to choose stock brokers does not guarantee any evolution of “better” or ethical stock brokers, especially when the entire Wall Street colludes with itself to make money at the expense of the Clients. Wall Street has little incentive to police itself.

    *But also equally, a “top down” decision authority system also has little incentive to make the top police itself.

    So what is the answer?

    How can a system produce more talents over time without degenerating into nepotism and corruption?

    The Western democratic systems focuses on the “check and balance”, but it depends on the availability of new talents to force out any corruption within the system, and the ability of the voters to recognize new talents. And it is very much a “buyers beware” system, where if corruption does occur, and new talents are left out, it’s too bad.

    (of course, I think we are shooting for the goal of BETTER talents, not merely personal satisfaction with the system.)

    *I believe, (1) talents must be nurtured and trained, which requires substantial social/economic investment, not merely the chance that some talents will drop into an election, (2) a rigorous competitive process, beyond a vote, is required to test the potential candidates over YEARS to assess their abilities, (3) Training and testing can be merged into a single process.

  141. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Amendments” ADD, they don’t technically repeal.” – true enough. But if there was something so dire that it needed to be “repealed”, the constitution can be added to in such a way as to negate the offending article, with the same ultimate effect.

    “Where is that choice on the ballots every 4 years?? How do you call it a CHOICE when the People didn’t vote on it??” – once again, our choices are reflected in the people we elect. And if there was a popular will to change the constitution, then such an amendment would be proposed by the peoples’ representatives. That such amendments are proposed relatively infrequently hardly speaks to a lack of choice, but rather shows that the people are happy with our constitution, and have chosen to leave it unaltered. And again, don’t ignore the referendum that have occurred just because it is convenient for you to do so.

    ““Inherit” would imply you had a Choice to abandon the “system”. You don’t. There is NO legal procedure for you to abandon the Constitution, or to even call for a vote on it. Therefore you live by laws chained to you undemocratically. The People don’t have a choice. Therefore, US/Canada are not democracies by your own definition.” – once again, it’s like talking to a wall. If we wanted to “abandon” the constitution in its current form, we would use constitutional amendments for said purpose. Like you said, amendments add. When you add to something, you’ve changed it. And as I said for the umpteenth time, if we wanted to change our constitution, there would either be a referendum, or a constitutional amendment by our elected representatives. And if we actually wanted to abandon the constitution, we could introduce amendments that reverse every original article. So if you want to be extremely narrow-minded, and say that abandon can only mean rip up and discard, then you may have a point in your own little world. But if you allow that abandoning the constitution is to render it powerless in its current form, then we have every means of achieving it, if the people so choose.

    I must say, on this occasion I was unable to anticipate your points. Good thing. Like I said, i don’t want to be thinking (and I use that term loosely) like you.

    You might want to take the aforementioned concepts, and study them a little more. Perhaps someday, even you will see the light. Oh, how’s the CCP doing with their judging of merits these days? Have they found anyone of merit to judge merits? Have they found a suitable test yet?

  142. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    #140, to me, is reasonable. However, I disagree with the analogy of corporate governance being readily translatable to nation governance. A company, at the end of the day, has one objective only: to make money. So when there is essentially a singular objective, it is easier to determine who is more “talented”. And with a singular objective, “lower level” employees may simply have to acknowledge that there are people better suited to make the guiding decisions.

    However, in running a nation, there are multiple objectives. Sure, a prosperous economy is one, and may be analogous to the corporate model. But there are many other objectives. And some of those objectives may be competing. For instance, environmental policy vs making money; or health care vs making money. Or lower taxes vs provision of a social safety net. In such a case, I’d say that each individual should be entitled to make their own judgments as to what their priorities would be, then be allowed to select a representative who they feel would most readily advance those priorities on their behalf.

    I’d also say that, if an employee didn’t like being excluded from corporate decision making, they can always change jobs. There’s no such option for citizens who are disenfranchised from the nation’s decision making.

    As for your last paragraph, I think that process does occur in a democracy, though perhaps not systematically. It is not unusual for politicians to have started on a local stage, then progress into higher levels of government with time (and experience, as well as a performance track record). And even the Supremes (whom you seem to find most unappealing about a democracy) don’t end up there the day after law school convocation.

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