Is democracy with Chinese characteristics possible? A theoretical and practical reflection of crisis in the Chinese party-state regime and post-revolutionary socialist hegemonic politics
ABSTRACT This article discusses political challenges to the current party-state regime in China and the direction of its new political reform, on the one hand, and tries to theorize a post-revolutionary "socialist hegemonic politics" after the revolution, based on reinterpretation of Marxist political theory and Western democracy theory, on the other hand. It understands that there is a deeper crisis of Chinese politics, rather than simply providing an empirical analysis. In so doing, this article both reflects existing Marxist political theory and the concept of democracy while reconstructing both of them, interacting with the current Chinese political reality. Currently, the Chinese party-state regime is facing a compressed form of crisis due to rapid economic growth; that is, a kind of “success crisis.” The crisis is expressed in such phenomena as the breakdown of “identification of the party-state with society,” assumed since the revolution, the victimization of the working class and peasants which have been regarded as the main driving force of the Chinese revolution, the emergence of demands for political and social plurality coming from a new wealthy class, and an outpouring of various resistances. If these phenomena were to converge, it could result in the “statization of crisis,” which means that all kinds of opposition would join together against the state. However, there are no political mechanisms to incorporate and mitigate grassroots opposition, through top-down reform of the party-state regime. Thus, I argue that democracy with Chinese characteristics should be imagined as the realization ofa kind of socialist hegemonic politics. To understand this, we have to overcome both over-universalistic and over-particularistic perspectives on democracy. The Chinese regime’s main innovation in socialist market reform has been to separate capitalism and the market, appropriating the latter in the name of making it more viable. Therefore it should divide bourgeois democracy and its democratic elements, combining them with the Chinese political system in the name of enriching it, expanding endogenous democratic elements.
Keywords: China, democracy with Chinese characters, socialist market economy, socialism, hegemony, East Asia
Dr. CHO Hee-Yeon [曺喜昖] is the Professor of School of Social Science and NGO Graduate School at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul. Outside campus, he has worked as the representative of diverse academic and practical organizations such as Association of Critical Sociological Association of Korea, Association of Social Movements and Politics Study, and Democracy and Social Movements Institute. Currently, he works as Co-representative of National Association of Professors for Democratic Society [民主化를 爲한 全國敎授協議會]. He is a founding member of People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy [參與連帶]. He has written many books including Class and Poverty [계급과 빈곤]; Social Movement and Organizations in South Korea[한국의 사회운동과 조직]; The State, Democracy and the Political Change in South Korea [한국의 국가, 민주주의, 정치변동]; Park Chung-Hee and Developmental Dictatorship [박정희와 개발독재시대]; Mobilized Modernization [동원된 근대화].His book, Mobilized Modernization, was translated into the Japanese, titled “朴正熙動員された近代化 韓国、開発動員体制の二重性.”