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WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM Deng's great Chinese experiment?

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by mharakati, May 26, 2012.

  1. m

    mharakati JF-Expert Member

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    When today you think of China you think of apolitical country run by colorless men who are quite obsessed and confident talking about detailed technical and economical data than attending a public rallies and handling large crowds, yet very few countries have experienced mass politics and all its ills like China. Palace intrigues and succession battles, political assassinations and purges, the great leap forwards and cultural revolutions.

    The founding father of the Chinese republic, Mao Zedong was a master politician, great orator, a true revolutionary who surrounded himself with men and women of similar prowess in the top echelons of the Communist Part. Politics and grand ideals were rife and opponents and commoners suffers the negative effects of this mass politics.

    Entered Deng Xiaoping to many the founding father of modern China, and a man solely credited with the economic revolution of the Chinese state. In late 1970's Deng started reforms of replacing the high drama of Chinese mass politics and focus on economic development. He wanted to turn the communist party into aings professional organization run by technocrats.

    He famously said in one of the party meetings "if you dont have anything to say, save your breath, the only reason to hold meetings and to speak at them is to solve problems". He discouraged long ideological speeches and told his party members to concentrate on problems and how to solve them. By the 1980's the CP was dominated by young technocrats and promotions within the party and to the central govt were given to top performers mostly engineers, economists, management experts and discouraged anyone with grass roots political skills.

    By the time of his death in 1997, Deng had helped to uplift millions and millions of Chinese from poverty and turning China into a genuine global economic superpower.

    Though there are negatives in this Chinese system, we are forced to look at it more closely in more than one angle as economic recession in Europe and North America has exposed the weaknesses in mass politics (partisan politics, ideological differences, long time to make a decision, and other useless political fights)that something called democracy favors.




     
  2. Kiranga

    Kiranga JF-Expert Member

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    This notion is part true, part fabrication. The culture of showism runs deep in the Chinese political structure to the extent that ene as Deng Xiaoping managed to institute a more permissive system economically, the political structures are still plagued by Maoism.

    Some would also add an inconsiderate, self-promoting Machiavellian butcher. Have you read "Mao: The Unknown Story" by Juan Chang ?

    Perhaps Deng Xiaoping's greatest asset was the exposure he gained while outside China. This is why a diaspora is crucial to bringing innovative ideas to a country steeped in tradition.

    I was impressed by his post-ideology and problem-solving oriented quote "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." Alluding to the irrelevancy of a highfallutin' ideology that does not solve problems, and the importance of solving problems even if by what was then considered "unorthodox ideologies" in China. This is the mantra at the centre of the Chinese economic development, which started with abandoning the more orthodox aspects of Chinese communism in favor of a more market oriented economy. This is Deng Xiaoping's greatest contribution to the world. It was easier for him to pursue the proven ideologue way, but he chose not to.

    In a way Mao's insanity helped China in the sense that Deng Xiaoping was also a victim of Mao's purges, and he had a frontseat view of how Mao failed despite the heavyhandedness and purges. Deng did not want to end another Mao just as Gorbachev did not want to end another Stalin.

    As bad as the democratic system can get, in the sense you pointed out above, particularly lethargy and indecision, the authoritarian altenate is even worse because it requires impossibly brilliant people at the helm to run things smoothly for the entire population. Not even god can do that.

    The democratic machinery can yield great results if tamed correctly. Not because democracy is such an efficient ideal - it is not- but because it promotes a fairness and transparency that true development cannot do without.




     
  3. MtamaMchungu

    MtamaMchungu JF-Expert Member

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    May 26, 2012
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    Kiranga and Mharakati, you've made my evening great, especially on democracy.

    Being a democratic at heart and strongly believing that people should have the last say as far as their fate is concerned, still I dont believe that we're yet going to rip the benefit of this system.

    To me democracy, at its base, is simply a system of carrot and sticks. People (politicians) have ideologies, sets policies, promises the do's and dont's and gets elected to the state house. After a predefined time, they come again with policies once more asking for another mandate. This is the time when one can really see if the commoners understand how democracy really works.

    In most instances I've been disappointed, when the people were supposed to give politicians Sticks they ended up giving the Carrots. This begs an even more important question, can we afford to grant the ignorant the power of being democratic? How do you explain the fact that someone get re-elected in the national assembly more that 6 times in a row when it's evident that they have done little or nothing to the areas they represent?

    In a democracy, leaders need to be reminded time after time that their posts' safety lies in the fulfillment of their duties. Failure to do this democratic state of irresponsible leaders. Who have no fears cause no one does a review of what they have done from the last time they were elected into office.
     
  4. Kiranga

    Kiranga JF-Expert Member

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    MtamaMchungu,

    Glad to have made your evening great.

    Please differentiate between a democracy and an electocracy. In an electocracy, the main objective is to project a semblance of democracy by having elections every few years.Regardless of the level of awareness on the part of the electorate.

    In a democracy, education is central. You cannot claim to have a democracy if a good portion of your population are illiterate/ cannot follow the issues.

    Someone posted a cartoon here caricaturing the committee responsible for gathering the people's views on the new Tanzanian constitution, they were asking some villager his views on the constitution. His reply was something akin to "What is this constitution? Is this a new political party? Aren't there enough of these already?".

    My quip on that thread was rolled into a shorthand, democracy without education is like a car without fuel. No bueno!

    While democracy's importance is often overblown (H.L Mencken is a favorite satirist of mine on this subject) and the concept itself oversimplified -so much as to be equated with electocracy-, on the other hand, in the right context, it's importance cannot be overstated.

    Anyone touting the Chinese system as an alternate system because of it's nimble decision making hasn't familiarized him/herself with the pitfalls of that very facetious lure.
     
  5. MtamaMchungu

    MtamaMchungu JF-Expert Member

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    Kiranga, that's exactly what I meant to say, we can not have an effective democratic system if we have an illiterate and ignorant society. It just wont work, until we have a society that at least understands that they have a major role in the way this country needs to be led.
     
  6. m

    mharakati JF-Expert Member

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    MtamaMchungu.... Exactly, i heard it somewhere that politics is a luxury for a poor society
     
  7. m

    mharakati JF-Expert Member

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    mkuu Kiranga there is no democracy without enough food on the table (paraphrasing Mandela)...and how can u educate urself if ur preoccupied with getting a meal a day? African leaders are smart, the Musevenis and Kagames of this World would tell you that not everything imported from West can work in an African political environment..so they imported the idea of partial democracy (electocracy as mkuu ulivyoiweka) without its major components (strong checks and balances and other credible independent institutions). The result is we have futile democracy, a lot of wastes and inefficient political system that is detrimental to our overall development as a society.

    Now in Tanzania u c the euphoria and the false hopes people have in thinking that competitive electoral-politics alone is the solution to our long-standing grievances as a nation. The moment has passed we cant go back to the Chinese model (Nyerere like Mao favored mass politics and grand political ideals and at the time Deng was reforming China Nyerere was busy fighting a possible total economical collapse).

    Electoral politics alone isnt the answer, we need wider people-based politics, constitutional change to empower the other institutions in our democratic system and give more voice to the people. But we still have many illiterate and semi-illiterate hungry populace that can easily be manipulated by the democratic system's elites in safeguarding their narrow interests. now its becoming like chicken and egg question..to properly feed and educate people we need strong democracy, but strong democracy comes from well fed and educated people.

    Can we just go with this pace and educate a few and uplift a few out of poverty for the next 50-100 years so we can then fully participate in democracy, (while hoping that other nations stay static or grow slower than us?), No, we also cant reverse gears and go to One party system and do a Deng experiment? (this without enough technocrats). But we are not late to come up with the philosophy, a system etc that focus on economic development and less politics for those in power now and those elites out of power will do the same once in power because they will all realize that a Tanzanian's needs are very moderate and very attainable without all the colors of mass political mobilization.

    surely we need less politics.
     
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