Are we witnessing the end of “Democracy”? At Foreign Affairs (Feb. 2013, $2.95 pdf), Eric X. Li argues that China’s future lies with continued one-party rule, and that the Party’s adaptability, meritocracy and non-democratic legitimacy will carry it forward while the West flounders. This, he suggests, will give other developing countries courage to seek out their own alternative systems:
[…] There is no doubt that daunting challenges await Xi. But those who suggest that the CCP will not be able to deal with them fundamentally misread China’s politics and the resilience of its governing institutions. Beijing will be able to meet the country’s ills with dynamism and resilience, thanks to the CCP’s adaptability, system of meritocracy, and legitimacy with the Chinese people. In the next decade, China will continue to rise, not fade. The country’s leaders will consolidate the one party model and, in the process, challenge the West’s conventional wisdom about political development and the inevitable march toward electoral democracy. In the capital of the Middle Kingdom, the world might witness the birth of a post-democratic future.
[…] Many developing countries have already come to learn that democracy doesn’t solve all their problems. For them, China’s example is important. Its recent success and the failures of the West offer a stark contrast. To be sure, China’s political model will never supplant electoral democracy because, unlike the latter, it does not pretend to be universal. It cannot be exported. But its success does show that many systems of political governance can work when they are congruent with a country’s culture and history. The significance of China’s success, then, is not that China provides the world with an alternative but that it demonstrates that successful alternatives exist. Twenty-four years ago, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted that all countries would eventually adopt liberal democracy and lamented that the world would become a boring place because of that. Relief is on the way. A more interesting age may be upon us.
When someone asked Robin Daverman about democracy’s failures, he responded, “I don’t know what people are thinking. You have a country where a majority of people are uneducated religious fundamentalists. You go say, ‘Democracy Now! One Person One Vote!’ So people vote in some Religious fundamentalists. Then the country turns into a religious fundamentalist country where minorities are screwed, then everybody acts surprised. Is that it? What’s surprising about it? Here are some famous failures of democracy:
- Athenians killed Socrates.
- Athenians started Peloponnesian War and lost it, which effectively ended Athens as an independent city-state.
- Germans elected Hitler.
- Italians elected Mussolini.
- A ton of African nations elect somebody who started civil wars or turned dictators. At least a couple dozens of them. Like Liberia, Congo, etc.
- A ton of South America nations elect somebody and gone bankrupt, like Haiti, Venezuela, etc.
- And…are Iraq/Afghanistan democracy or not? Didn’t somebody restore democracy there, like, over a decade ago already? Well, eh, the successful democracy in those countries gave birth to ISIS and made enough heroes to bury the rest of the world.