One-man rule in a one-party state

Kerry Brown writes:

For all the West’s unease about a one-party state having such dominance at the moment, because of the stability it gives over such a crucial region, the Communist Party’s total control of China is something Western leaders buy into and support.

Their mouths might say one thing, to appease critical constituencies back home. But their heads know that a China following the path of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s would be a catastrophe.

It would destabilize a region already worryingly febrile because of Pyongyang’s antics, cause economic calamity and add to their woes back at home through impact on capital and goods flows.

Xi Jinping might find surprising sources of opposition within China — groups and people inside and outside the party that we, and he, might not know about. But one thing is almost certain. Western leaders will not be the ones he needs to fear. Strong, stable, predictable leadership in China is key for them. And to achieve this, at least as far as they are concerned, he can rewrite as many parts of the Constitution as he wants. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times notes:

Authoritarian leaders now act with greater impunity — or at least less worry about international isolation. Aspiring authoritarians like Viktor Orban of Hungary in turn seem enticed by the kind of power Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi wield, untroubled by the need to compromise or consult or, in the case of corruption and cronyism, to answer for evidence of misrule and malfeasance.

President Trump’s critics say that while he may not yet have eroded democracy in the United States, his populist appeals and nativist policies, his palpable aversion to the media and traditional checks on power, and his stated admiration for some of the strongest of strongmen are cut from the same cloth.

The trend toward authoritarianism, while specific to each country’s history, is rooted in insecurities and fears afflicting the world today: globalization and rising inequality, the stunning and scary advances in technology, the disorienting chaos and extreme violence of civil wars like Syria’s, separatism and terror.

The institutions of the post-Cold War — which reflected the bedrock values of Western liberalism — no longer seem able to cope. Countries that once were beacons for others are consumed by the same anxiety and weakness, and internal strife. [Continue reading…]

Don’t miss the latest posts at Attention to the Unseen: Sign up for email updates.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email