Twofish's Blog

June 24, 2006

Cry Wolf – Comments on Pei Minxin

Filed under: china — twofish @ 4:37 am

Some comments on Pei Minxin's latest article

The problem with Pei Minxin's articles is that he has been writing the same article since the mid-1990's if not earlier.  One lists the latest problems in China, states that the Communist Party is incapable of dealing with them, and then predicts a collapse.  

One can argue that may be this time things *are* different, and that the current set of problems are insurmountable.  But one also has to at least entertain the *possibility* that the Chinese Communist Party will deal with the latest set of issues successfully, and then ask what next?

There are a number of problems I have with Pei Minxin's writings. 

The first is the assumption of historical determinism.  What happens next in China is dependent on the choices people make, and one must never underestimate the impact that individual choices make.  I have major problems with any theory of history that doesn't take into account the human element or the random element.

The second is that it is "brittle."  Suppose it becomes obvious in twenty years that a democratic transition is not inevitable, and that it is possible to have a long term stable authoritarian regime (such as Singapore).  Then what?  I don't think that Pei has an answer to that.  My answer is that just because something is possible doesn't make it right.  One can argue that a government that is democratic is just better, and that China should move toward liberalization even if it isn't the only viable option and even if there are costs involved.  The trouble with this is that people (gasp) might disagree, but in trying to resolve these disagreements, one manages to do useful things.


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