The best form of government is the one that serves its people

By Thomas Hon Wing Polin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/26 19:38:39

Most Westerners - and non-Westerners intoxicated by Western political values - are firmly convinced that liberal democracy is the finest governance system for all nations, peoples and cultures, at all times. Such a conviction has taken on the characteristics of religious dogma: Democracy's superiority cannot be questioned, and its challengers are foolish or benighted heretics.

The prime target of such misguided intellectual aggression used to be the Soviet Union. Since its collapse, China, the other great "non-democracy," has taken its place.

Many advocates of Western democracy have argued that China must adopt that ideology, supposedly for its own good. The assumed superiority of the democracy dogma is what gives the Western bloc "moral" cover to proselytize it among "less privileged" peoples, and even impose it at gunpoint, as is often the case.

If China could be converted to democracy, the challenge of its rise to the Western imperium would be blunted.

Moreover, China would come under the orbit of the Empire and become subject to its rules and machinations. Such a conversion - which the Chinese call "peaceful evolution" - has been the West's preferred strategy toward China since Deng Xiaoping opened the country and began historic reforms.

Critical to the success of such a conversion strategy has been the cultivation of Chinese advocates of Western liberal democracy.

But the vigilance of the Chinese Communist Party meant the scheme hasn't worked well. Instead, the apostles of the democracy religion are sensing something disturbing: More nations these days seem to be questioning the paramount status of their faith. China's historic successes have shown that Western democracy and capitalism are not the only viable path to national development. If this challenge gathers momentum globally, the West may lose its long-held sense of moral superiority and its self-confidence will suffer. Certainly, the ability of the Western imperium to intervene in the affairs of other nations by nurturing local "pro-democracy" forces would be impaired.

Today, some Western commentators are asking why China is trying so hard to redefine or even take control of the concept of "democracy." The question itself is self-centered and ignorant. The Chinese term for democracy is minzhu, which means "the people are in charge" or "the people are masters." It neither says nor implies anything about elections or one-person-one-vote. It means serving the people's interests in the most effective ways possible.

Since Chinese-style market socialism is serving the Chinese people's interests better than, say, America's present democracy-turned-oligarchy is serving most Americans, it can be said that China is in fact more democratic than the US. So Beijing has no need to "redefine" or take ownership of democracy; it is already practicing minzhu.

Consciously or otherwise, the West has been trying to remake the world (even the global mind) in its own image over the past 150 years. That has been a major cause of imperialist wars and conflict. As dominant Western power declines, reemerging powers of greater civilizational antiquity will no longer put up with it; they are pushing back. The West needs to wake up and stop proselytizing or trying to impose its liberal democracy on others. It's incumbent upon - and the right of - every nation and people to evolve their own optimal governance system, based on its unique history, culture and concrete conditions.

The author is a former senior editor at the international newsweekly Asiaweek (English) and founding editor of Yazhou Zhoukan. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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