Comparing China and the West
China is almost unique in having a government, but an absence of politics within the general meaning of that term.
Is that a good thing? Apparently not, at least not according to the Americans and some other Westerners. They tell us China needs 'democracy' which, to them, means only a multi-party democracy, and which by definintion means politics.
But it is widely acknowledged - and undisputed - among all Westerners that politics by any definition is a dirty business.
Politicians are widely seen as slippery, soapy, devious, generally untrustworthy, often corrupt, are inveterate liars and most often incompetent. In every survey in every Western country, politicians are (deservedly) ranked somewhere below drug dealers and street sweepers in measures of morality and status.
'Political' as an adjective, is not a nice word. To accuse a colleague of being 'a politician', is not a compliment. In fact, the entire field of politics has become so tainted and corrupt that almost no use of the various related terms are complimentary or pleasant.
One great benefit of China's lack of multiple parties means that 'party politics' cannot exist, freeing China of a huge burden of waste, inefficiency, and dirt.
China would appear to be fortunate in not having these problems, so why is the West being so helpful in wanting China to become more 'democratic'?
When Westerners, especially Americans, so eloquently pontificate about the universal glories of their democratic system, they are not referring to government at all, but to the theology of the political system.
Most Westerners appear quite uninterested in government, apathetic even, to the extent that with perhaps 80% of the population, a discussion on government might be quite difficult, if not actually impossible, to create.
Instead, in any discussion of democracy, the entire emphasis is on the 'political' side of the equation - the parties, the financing, the scheming, the candidates, the campaign battles, the voting, the victory for "my side". And of course, the theological babble about "rights" and "freedoms".
For Westerners, the entire popular understanding of "democracy" revolves around the political process culminating in the election, and largely ignores government altogether.
What has happened is that the serious task of selecting national leaders has been hijacked and turned into a pagan simian ritual manifesting itself as a team sport.
And that hijacking was caused by the creation of party politics, by the cleavage of Western societies into political parties, with the result that multi-party democracy is a political process conducted for its own sake, only accidentally and superficially related to government.
In any Western country, if we omit politics from consideration and discuss actual "government", the discussions are muted. Not everyone has an opinion, few of those opinions inspire emotion, and debates are most often rational.
Moreover, these debates seldom occur, since few people in any population are sufficiently knowledgeable to intelligently discuss the operations of a national government. And even fewer are interested.
Why would we expect an average person to be fluent in matters of international trade or social policy or the nation's banking system? We don't expect ordinary people to be knowledgeable in matters of kidney transplants or stock exchanges.
We don't expect the man in the street to possess intimate details of solar-cell production or copper mining, so why would it be different for government?
The answer is that it is not different, and most average people will freely confess that they lack this knowledge of government, primarily because it is outside their field of study and employment.
Now consider that when Westerners discuss politics, almost everyone has an opinion and many hold those opinions very strongly.
Emotions can easily run high in any discussion of the relative merits of a political party, and an easy way to get yourself punched in the face is to tell a Southern US Republican that his party isn't fit for slaves. You can achieve something similar in Taiwan or HK.
At the merest mention of politics or political parties, everybody suddenly knows everything and each person's opinion is the only "right" one, and the only surprise is that the violent emotions don't lead more often to physical violence.
And what does that tell us? That there is nothing rational about politics, nothing dependent on reason or fact, but rather on emotion driven by ideology which is in turn fuelled by the most primitive of human instincts.
There is no evidence that multi-party politics is the most mature or highly-developed form of anything, and, as a team sport, it is arguably the least mature and evolved, and certainly the most expensive and corrupt.
If there is any one thing that can bring into open view the full spectrum of primitive simian stupidity lurking in the Western psyche, that one thing would be party politics.
And so it doesn't escape your notice, the infection of government with politics is the one thing the US wants most for China.
It may be a shock to Westerners that some countries don't permit 'the people' to meddle in government unless they have serious credentials and know what they're doing.
Entry into China's top levels of government is a long and painful process that weeds out all but the most competent and brilliant. And selection at these levels is made by peers, not by peasants.
In a recent NYT article, it was reflected that Chinese typically believe that peasants (small-town Americans) "are too unschooled to intelligently select the nation’s leaders". I don't see how we can avoid the conclusion that they have it right.
Few educated Chinese see the Western multi-party democratic model as particularly appealing because they don't equate politics with government - as Westerners do - nor do they see sanity in the selection of national leaders as a team sport.
The Chinese see the West as having a system where anyone, even a person with no education, training, knowledge, experience, ability - or even intelligence - can rise to become the President or Prime Minister, and where high government office requires no credentials other than popularity. They look on this with an interesting mixture of disbelief and disdain.
They are also aware that a multi-party system requires the forcible division of a society into ideologically different groups with violently opposing interests. China has made no such social divisions, and the culture would mitigate against them since they would of necessity lead to conflict and biased ideological agendas, disregarding the good of the country as a whole.
Divisions of this kind are anathema to the Chinese, as they should be to us Westerners.
As we've noted elsewhere, the number of Chinese citizens interested in the US-style of multi-party democracy is about the same as the number of Americans interested in communism.
Political parties and their corresponding ideologies color much of Western society and thought, with perhaps a majority of people being active in politics or at least having strong opinions on political matters.
By contrast, Westerners often observe that the Chinese are apolitical or even apathetic, having no interest in politics. This is true, but it reflects a fundamental ignorance since China neither has nor wants "politics", and treats government as "government".
The Chinese see government as an occupation, a career like any other. They do not view government through the chromatic and otherwise distorted political lens as Westerners do.
Some people in every country may be attracted or tempted by the prospect of a powerful position in government or industry, but this tends to be a small minority.
Most Chinese, as probably most people in every country, want stability and a chance to improve their lives. So long as the government is able to create an environment that offers hope and a stable platform for improvement, they have little interest in the functioning of the government and are happy to leave it to those who are in charge.
This is not different than our view of the management of the corporation or institution which employs us. We perform the tasks of our job and we collect our salary. On a daily basis, we don't give a thought to the management of the firm, nor do we presume to offer advice on management.
And this attitude is, in fact, the same in all Western countries. Nobody, on a daily basis, has much interest in, or gives any thought to, the functioning of the nation's government.
Hence my claim that Westerners' pathological fixation on "democracy" relates almost in entirety to the political portion of the spectrum and not at all to the government segment.
Most Westerners are surprisingly ignorant on almost all aspects of their own government, and few have opinions - informed or otherwise.
Virtually the entire focus of Western "democracy" is the primitive psychic attraction of applying law-of-the-jungle conflict theory to participation in a national team sport, one unfortunately infused with some kind of twisted Christian morality that permits us to blindly view this simian conflict in theological terms.
The Chinese people have a much more mature and realistic attitude toward government than do people in the West, in that they look at government as government, not through the primitive psychological mask of party politics.
And when they look at government, they do not delude themselves into believing that running a country is as simple as ordinary Western people think it is.
They are aware that a government position necessarily means the assumption of great responsibility. They know it requires a high level of expertise to understand and deal with issues of social policy, population, international trade and finance, the national and international economy, the nation's industrial policy, foreign policy, military matters, border disputes, friction with US imperialism, and dozens more major and serious topics.
And, in the end, most Chinese don't feel they have the knowledge or experience to affect the course of their country in any positive way - and of course they are correct.
They recognise that their government officials have committed their lives to education and training, to acquire the knowledge and skills to manage and lead a country and a society, and they are justifiably aware of their own personal shortcomings.
In China, a government career is a commitment requiring one's full participation, but those not in the professional fields of national governance are not encouraged to do so because they are likely to be uninformed.
We cannot argue that this is wrong, and it does seem a more intelligent and realistic way of thinking about government.
It is due to all of this that the Chinese people do not agitate about government, in the same sense that people working in an auto factory would not agitate for the "right" to take control of the nation's space program. They don't know anything about that; they have no qualifications for those responsibilities, and are content to leave the work to those who do have them.
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