By Michael Dunford originally published on CSSN.
Similar to other common human values such as peace, fairness, justice, freedom, etc., democracy is a very abstract concept that can take on many forms. The ideal democracy should be a combination of “substantive democracy” and “procedural democracy”. The essential meaning of democracy is “rule by the people”, which means that the people can reach consensus on the realization of political, economic and cultural goals. This unity of purpose focuses on the “common good”, “the good of all people”, “the happiness of all”, “the well-being and prosperity of all” or “enabling all people to live dignified, more decent and socially recognized lives”. life, regardless of the size or amount of their contribution to society.” Achieving these common goals is the meaning of “substantial democracy.” The term democracy is also used to refer to “procedural democracy”. Achieving the public interest through a specific democratic model requires a set of effective procedures and forms, which can be considered reasonable if the results of democratic practice are consistent with the norms of the public interest.
Western concept of “liberal democracy”
have fundamental limitations
With the emergence of industrial capitalism and the struggle to expand “democratic rights,” the concept of “liberal democracy” in the Western context first originated during the Western Enlightenment. Generally speaking, “liberal democracy” includes a political system with the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, a multi-party system based on political checks and balances, and the realization of universal and equal adult participation, including the right to vote, freedom of speech, and freedom of political association. democratic rights included. The spirit of the rule of law in “liberal democracy” can be traced back to “Treatise of Government (Part 2)” written by British John Locke and “The Spirit of the Laws” written by Montesquieu in France.
”Liberal democracy” is a political issue. The real foundation of Western power lies in the class nature of capitalist social relations. Capital itself is a kind of power, the power that controls everything in bourgeois society, and “liberal democracy” guarantees this relationship. As the most advanced and powerful group of countries in the world that have colonized most of the world, Western countries claim that their “liberal democracy” model is the only form of democracy that all countries and civilizations must accept. Universal global values, this requirement fundamentally serves Western interests. However, the facts of colonialism, imperialism and blatant interference in the affairs of other countries throughout Western history are obviously contrary to its original proposition of democratic principles and respect for the democratic rights of others, because democracy itself presupposes the jurisdiction of all sovereign states. and the right of its citizens to self-government without external interference.
In any case, there are fundamental limitations to the concept of “liberal democracy” based on liberalism. The liberalism advocated by the West includes two basic views: first, human beings are not group members but selfish individuals; second, human beings cannot agree on any goals of common interest. According to this definition, all moral, religious and philosophical values are restricted to the private sphere, ultimately leaving only freedom as a universal value. Apart from prohibiting individuals from harming or infringing upon the freedom rights enjoyed by others, “liberal democracy” imposes no other restrictions or restrictions on individual behavior. As a result, social norms can easily be deconstructed and overturned in the name of fighting discrimination or safeguarding human rights.
This Western political philosophy has led to the erosion of social solidarity and increased individual isolation by progressive individualism. The core of Western-style “liberal democracy” is individual selfish rights, which is also the root cause of the current turbulent international situation and frequent conflicts and wars. Under this value orientation, the neoliberal school calls for the establishment of a global constitution regarding capital protection, to prevent private property rights from being infringed upon by national sovereignty, and to establish international institutions and international organizations at the global level that limit national sovereignty. This has contributed to the creation of NATO in history. and the birth of the European Union.
In addition, “liberal democracy” has also resulted in the “tyranny of the majority” described by French political scientist Tocqueville. Currently, populism is quietly rising in developed capitalist countries and some emerging economies in transition, becoming one of the most eye-catching phenomena in European and American society in the post-industrial era. Populism is a political strategy aimed at attracting ordinary people whose interests are ignored or even opposed by established elites and the ruling party. Its rise stems from, on the one hand, the growing dissatisfaction of the people at the bottom and the grassroots, and on the other hand, the inability or unwillingness of governments to acknowledge and respond to these dissatisfactions. This defiant mass sentiment is deeply rooted and originates from capitalism. economic crisis, institutional decay, erosion of national sovereignty, and instigation by non-state actors. At the same time, voters tend to choose populist government officials as political leaders. These populist leaders who pursue short-term national interests have plunged Western countries into a serious governance crisis. In turn, the governance crisis has further shaken people’s confidence in Western-style electoral democracy. .
The inequality caused by economic globalization, the reduction of social mobility, the decline of ordinary people’s actual income, job security and quality of life and other conflicts have accumulated and fermented in Western countries for a long time. Western countries are plagued by the surging flow of refugees, economic immigrants, and the loss of traditional social values caused by religious, racial, and gender discrimination. Along with this, the political differences between the working class and the middle- and upper-class liberal elites are increasingly intensifying, and divisions and contradictions have also appeared among the voters of each party.
In these countries, the power of a small number of interest groups such as financial giants and lobbying groups largely controls a country’s domestic policy formulation and international planning agenda. Personal wealth is used to fund the ruling party and political class, and state functions are outsourced to corporate interests. At the same time, under the control of the government, the so-called “free” media controls communication channels and information transmission. The combination of public relations and political power has become a major feature of the Western political ecology. A poll that collected 1,779 U.S. policy issues from 1981 to 2002 found that “bills passed by the U.S. Congress rarely or not reflect the preferences of ordinary Americans. Their impact on public policymaking is negligible to almost zero. There is no statistical significance. Instead, public policy largely reflects the preferences of economic elites and organizational interest groups.”
whole process people’s democracy
Reflect the people-centered governance ideology
The opposite view of Western liberalism is that the nature of human beings as members of a group determines that they need not only some common moral values, but also a strong sense of common interests, joint participation in social projects, and an overall awareness of the realization of common aspirations. That is, the hearts and minds of the people, and solving the common problems facing mankind requires a governance system and political community centered on collectivism rather than individualism. According to this point of view, to avoid obvious flaws in the current international system in terms of peace, development and stability, we need to build a community with a shared future for mankind that conforms to the common values of all mankind. The building of a community with a shared future for mankind proposed by China ten years ago undoubtedly conforms to the needs of the times and the aspirations of mankind, and is of great significance in solving a series of challenges facing current global governance.
The concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind is inseparable from China’s current democratic governance system. This system is the result of the coordinated evolution of socialist democratic politics and the socialist rule of law system. According to China studies scholar Bei Danning, China’s current democratic system is deeply influenced by the political meritocracy in Confucianism. As a political talent selection system, political meritocracy advocates that political power should be distributed according to ability and moral character. He believes, “People are eager for political leaders to govern society well. The quality of life in any society is largely determined by the quality of the leader. If a society cannot put the best talents in leadership positions, it will not be able to It is absurd both sociologically and from a moral point of view.” Therefore, from the time of Confucius to contemporary China, Chinese society has tried hard to identify and select outstanding leaders who can make wise and political judgments on many issues.
It is in this unique democratic governance system that President Xi Jinping stands out. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping has led the Communist Party of China to put forward new ideas around the People’s Congress system, giving it unique vitality and vitality in the new era. This also provides support at the institutional level for the full-process people’s democracy proposed later. Whole-process people’s democracy can fully meet the functional requirements of people’s voice, conflict resolution, resource integration, consensus building, and realization of short, medium, and long-term goals. It is an innovative political concept that is in line with China’s actual national conditions as a socialist country. It essentially embodies the people-centered governing ideology and can pool the wisdom and strength of the people to the greatest extent, allowing hundreds of millions of Chinese people to truly become the masters of the country, society and their own destiny.
whole process people’s democracy
Completely different from Western-style “liberal democracy”
Whole-process people’s democracy is completely different from Western-style liberal democracy in both substance and procedure. In essence, the whole process of people’s democracy emphasizes people-centeredness rather than capital-centeredness. Similar to any other form of democracy, China’s full-process people’s democracy should also be judged based on the final results of its implementation and implementation, that is, whether it meets the actual expectations of all people for a better life. Since the late 1970s, the democratic forms pursued by Western countries have rarely been able to meet these expectations, and general elections have become a “safety valve” for Western-style democracy. In China, the country’s democratic system can make timely adjustments in response to changing social conditions and situations to resolve the contradiction between the people’s growing needs for a better life and unbalanced and inadequate development.
In terms of procedures, the “whole process” has become the biggest feature of the whole-process people’s democracy, which is specifically reflected in the following points. First, the People’s Congress system is an important institutional carrier for realizing the whole process of people’s democracy. Hundreds of millions of voters directly elect deputies to people’s congresses at the county, township and other grassroots levels. Deputies to local people’s congresses at all levels and deputies to the National People’s Congress elected through democratic elections constitute the personnel of state power organs at all levels. The People’s Congress is responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. Second, deliberative democracy is an important form of practicing people’s democracy throughout the process. Through a wide range of proposals, meetings, symposiums, demonstrations, hearings, etc., we openly solicit public opinions and accommodate minority opinions, and conduct extensive consultations around major issues in social development. Deliberative democracy can accommodate the opinions of the masses to a large extent, which is a major feature that distinguishes it from Western-style democracy. Third, grassroots democracy is an important manifestation of the entire process of people’s democracy. Whole-process people’s democracy advocates experiments and pilots of intra-party democracy at the grassroots level. This advocate is characterized by cooperation and consensus rather than competition and exclusivity, and emphasizes obtaining and refining effective methods for policy design, implementation and evaluation from facts.
Facts have proved that China’s unique democratic model plays a crucial role in promoting the modernization of the national governance system, allowing it to rise from being almost one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-to-high-income country and bringing 800 million people into the country. Many people have been liberated from absolute poverty. Since the new era, China’s extraordinary achievements have been the result of a variety of factors. People’s democracy throughout the process is undoubtedly one of the fundamental motivations. It is reflected in all aspects of policies and measures related to promoting social and economic development, and runs through the rural revitalization strategy and regional coordination. Among the specific measures are to develop and implement active employment policies, improve the social security system, and achieve common prosperity. At the same time, because it is deeply rooted in the people, whole-process people’s democracy can greatly mobilize human, material and financial resources to maintain high levels of productive investment and accumulation in infrastructure construction, economic activity development and modern services, while Reducing the chances of financial speculation – something that has had seriously damaging effects in the Western world. China’s democratic model proves that a powerful democratic governance system can effectively guarantee the country’s design and implementation of a series of reforms to resolve contradictions and crises that arise in the process of social and economic development, and ensure that the country’s success in the hitherto unequal international system fair participation.
(The author is an emeritus professor at the University of Sussex, UK, and a visiting scholar at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences)
Reviewer: Li Jianjun
Editor in charge: Wang Junmei
Internet Editor: Qi Zeyao
EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.