Saturday, July 08, 2006

Democracy in China?

Hmmmm Democracy? I doubt it. What the official media here reports about 'reform' and touts as some sort of rural grassroots democracy movement appears to these eyes to be nothing but the old system of corruption, graf, and bureacratic legerdemain. Case in point: I'm reading a magazine article reporting on "democracy as practiced in the countryside in China's Zhejiang Province." Now I can tell that the editors (for editor read 'big-daddy bureaucratic communist imprematuer') included this acticle in what is essentially an English language tourist magazine in order to show long-nosed Western ghosts how far China has come in fostering participatory government. BUT...well what it explains is how village leadership is contested in elections between local big-wigs essentially by bribery. "It would be terrific if there was an election for village head every year," said one farmer who had been treated to 27 free banquets over the summer. Another 'candidate' for village pubah pledged to spend $12,500 of his own money on public improvements and donate his salary to an entertainment center if elected. Democracy? Far from it say I. But then is it really that far from how really things operate in the States? Now I'm sure the Duc will have a good chuckle at my initial naivete, but I think I'm beginning to figure out how things work here. It's woefully inefficient and based soley upon interpersonal bargaining (there is no sense of Western professional standards) and may be summed up in the one phrase that has become my mantra when trying to explain to students why something is soooooooo crazy: It's China. The learning curve is great - I've been here 3 weeks and continue to be astounded at 'the system' that permeates every relationship.

I include the photos to show that while on the outside China often appears to be adopting capitalism and constructing Western-style cities there still exists a core of old China buried in the rubble under these sparkling skyscrapers. You have to get close in to see the reality (and even then I don't completely understand it).

6 comments:

MrC said...

I say only look at the bribery scandals in the us congress and the enron and halliburton issues and China may not be so far away from us.

There are those who argue that our cities worked better un the political machines of the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries that they do now with all of our professional policy wonks and "creatures" in government.

How go things with the oatmeal tour.

sobinator said...

The guilded age didn't work well for anyone but Le Duc's kind, Wop. Exactly who was it that got any type of benefit? (ESPECIALLY f'd were all the Wop's and Paddy's if I can vaguely remember the US History I just finished studying.) At least the government makes an attempt to help the poor now a days, however bureaucratically screwed up their help may be.

sobinator said...

You guys should look at the picture at the top of this post. Theres a caucasian looking guy on a poster with the american word Gatsby at top. Is there a fascination with caucasians, or flashy western lit characters?

sobinator said...

I actually discovered on my own. I went to the website that they posted under Gatsby's face www.gatsby.cn and wadda ya know, its a hair product/perfume company. Hit us with more Eastern product, Paddy

Paddy said...

Sobes - they are fascinated with being Western, while being anti-Western at the same time. The inscrutable China? I dunno - but they are obsessed with face whiteners, breast enhancers, etc etc. I don't know how Gatsby relates here, but they also love Santa Clause (I've found lots of Christmas decorations hanging in restaurants -- i think they just like the color and tinsel)

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