In China

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

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Chinese version: 

【理响中国】全过程人民民主植根于人民

与和平、公平、正义、自由等人类其他共同价值观类似,民主是一个十分抽象的概念,可以呈现出多种形式。理想的民主应该是“实质民主”和“程序民主”的结合。民主的本质含义为“人民的统治”,这意味着人民能够就政治、经济和文化目标的实现达成一致。这种一致的目标关注“公共利益”“全体人民的利益”“所有人的幸福”“所有人的福祉和繁荣”或“使所有人都能过上有尊严、更体面,并受到社会认可的生活,不论他们对社会的贡献大小、多少”,实现这些共同的目标就是“实质民主”的意义。民主这个术语也用于指“程序民主”。通过特定的民主模式实现公共利益需要一套有效的程序和形式,如果该程序和形式能够使民主实践的结果与公共利益的准则相符,那么即可以被认为是合理的。

    西式“自由民主”概念

    有根本的局限性

  伴随着工业资本主义的出现以及争取扩大“民主权利”的斗争,西方语境下的“自由民主”概念最早起源于西方启蒙运动时期。总体而言,“自由民主”包括行政、立法和司法三权分立的政治制度,出于制衡政治理念的多党制,实现普遍和平等的成年人参政权,其中包括选举权、言论自由、政治结社自由在内的民主权利。“自由民主”中的法治精神可以追溯到英国约翰·洛克所著的政府论》(第二篇)和法国孟德斯鸠的著作《论法的精神》。

  “自由民主”是一个政治议题。西方权力的真正基础在于资本主义社会关系的阶级性质,资本本身就是一种权力,是资产阶级社会支配一切的权力,而“自由民主”则保障了这种关系。作为世界上最先进、最强大,以及殖民侵占了全球大部分地区的国家群体,西方国家声称其“自由民主”模式是民主所能呈现的唯一形式,是所有国家和文明都必须接受的、普遍的全球价值观,这一要求从根本上服务于西方的利益。然而,贯穿西方历史的殖民主义、帝国主义和公然干涉其他国家事务等事实,显然与其最初提出的民主原则和尊重他人民主权利的主张相违背,因为民主本身即预设着所有主权国家的管辖权及其公民享有的自治权利不受外部干涉。

  无论如何,基于自由主义的“自由民主”概念存在根本的局限性。西方倡导的自由主义包括两个基本观点:第一,人类并非群体性成员而是自私的个体;第二,人类无法就任何关于共同利益的目标达成一致。按照这一定义,所有的道德、宗教和哲学价值都被限制在私人领域,最终只留下自由作为普遍价值。除了禁止个体不得伤害或侵犯他人所享有的自由权之外,“自由民主”未对个体行为作出其他约束或限制。如此一来,社会规范很容易借着反对歧视或维护人权的名义被解构和推翻。

  这种西方政治哲学导致了渐进式的个人主义对社会团结的侵蚀和个人孤立化的增加。西式“自由民主”的内核实则为个体自私权利,这也是当前国际局势动荡和冲突战乱频发的根源所在。在这一价值导向下,新自由主义学派呼吁建立有关资本保护的全球性宪法,防止私人财产权受国家主权侵犯,以及在全球层面建立限制国家主权的国际机构和国际组织,这促成了历史上北约及欧盟的诞生。

  此外,“自由民主”也造成了法国政治学家托克维尔笔下的“多数派暴政”。当前,发达资本主义国家和一些正处于转型期的新兴经济体国家中民粹主义悄然崛起,成为后工业化时代欧美社会最引人注目的现象之一。民粹主义是一种政治策略,旨在吸引那些自身利益被老牌精英、执政党忽视甚至反对的普通民众。它的崛起一方面源于底层民众和草根阶级日益增长的不满情绪,另一方面源于各国政府无力或不愿承认和回应这些不满情绪,这一带有抗争性的大众情绪根深蒂固,来源于资本主义的经济危机、制度衰败、国家主权侵蚀以及非国家行为体的煽动。同时,选民倾向于选择那些民粹派政府官员作为政治领袖,这些追求短期国家利益的民粹主义领导者使西方国家陷入了严重的治理危机,反过来,治理危机进一步动摇了民众对西式选举民主的信心。

  经济全球化所引发的不平等现象,社会流动性减少,普通人实际收入、工作保障和生活质量的下降等矛盾冲突,在西方国家长期积累、发酵。汹涌澎湃的难民潮、经济移民潮以及宗教、种族、性别歧视带来的传统社会价值的流失困扰着西方国家。与此相伴的是,工人阶级与中上层自由派精英阶层之间的政治分歧日益加剧,分裂与矛盾也出现在各党派选民阵营之中。

  在这些国家,金融巨头、游说团体等少部分利益集团的权力在很大程度上左右着一国的国内政策制定和国际计划议程。个人财富用于资助执政党和政治阶层,国家职能被外包给企业利益。同时,在政府的操纵下,所谓的“自由”媒体控制着通讯渠道和信息传递,公共关系与政治权力的结合成为西方政治生态的一大特点。一项收集了1981—2002年的1779个美国政策议题的民意调查发现,“美国国会通过的法案极少甚至完全未体现普通美国人的偏好。他们对公共政策制定的影响微不足道,几乎为零,在统计学上没有任何意义。相反,公共政策很大程度上反映了经济精英和组织利益集团的偏好”。

    全过程人民民主

    体现以人民为中心的执政思想

  与西方自由主义相对的观点是,人类作为群体性成员的性质决定了其不仅需要一些共同的道德价值观,还需要一种强烈的共同利益感、对社会项目的共同参与和实现共同愿望的整体意识也即民心,而解决人类面临的普遍问题需要一种以集体主义而非个人主义为中心的治理体系和政治共同体。按照这一观点,避免当前国际体系在和平、发展和稳定方面出现明显缺陷,就需要构建一个符合全人类共同价值的人类命运共同体。而中国在十年前提出的构建人类命运共同体,无疑顺应时代需要和人类心声,对于解决当前全球治理面临的一系列挑战具有重要意义。

  构建人类命运共同体理念的提出与中国当前的民主治理体系密不可分,这一体系是社会主义民主政治和社会主义法治体系协同演进的结果。在中国问题研究学者贝淡宁看来,中国当前的民主体制深受儒家思想中政治尚贤制的影响。作为一种政治人才选拔制度,政治尚贤制倡导政治权力应该根据能力和品德分配。他认为,“人们渴望政治领袖能够将社会治理好。任何社会的生活质量在很大程度上都是由领袖的素质决定的。一个社会如果不能把最优秀的人才放在领导岗位上,无论从社会学还是从道德角度而言,都是荒谬的”。因此,从孔子时代到当代中国,中国社会都竭力想要鉴别、选拔能够在众多问题上做出智慧的、具有政治判断力的优秀领导人。

  习近平主席正是在这一独特的民主治理体系中脱颖而出。中国共产党十八大以来,习近平主席领导中国共产党围绕人民代表大会制度提出了新理念,赋予其在新时代特有的生机与活力,这也在制度层面为后来提出的全过程人民民主提供了支撑。全过程人民民主能够充分满足人民发声、冲突解决、资源整合、共识建立以及短、中、长期目标实现的功能要求,是一种符合中国作为社会主义国家实际国情、富有创新意义的政治理念。它从本质上体现了以人民为中心的执政思想,能够最大限度凝聚人民的智慧和力量,让亿万中国人民真正成为国家、社会和自己命运的主人。

    全过程人民民主

    与西式“自由民主”截然不同

  全过程人民民主在实质和程序上都与西式自由民主截然不同。在实质方面,全过程人民民主强调以人民为中心,而非以资本为中心。与其他任何形式的民主类似,中国的全过程人民民主也应该根据其贯彻和实施的最终结果来评判,即是否满足全体人民对更美好生活的实际期望。20世纪70年代末以来,西方国家奉行的民主形式已经很少能够满足这些期望,而换届选举成为了一种西式民主的“安全阀”。在中国,国家的民主制度能够随着不断变化的社会条件和社会形势作出适时调整,以解决人民日益增长的美好生活需要和不平衡不充分的发展之间的矛盾。

  在程序方面,“全过程”成为了全过程人民民主的最大特点,具体表现为以下几点。第一,人民代表大会制度是实现全过程人民民主的重要制度载体。数亿选民直接选举产生县乡等基层人大代表,经由民主选举产生的地方各级人大代表和全国人大代表构成各级国家权力机关人员。人民代表大会对人民负责,受人民监督。第二,协商民主是实践全过程人民民主的重要形式。通过广泛的提案、会议、座谈、论证、听证等形式公开征求大众意见并容纳少数人的意见,围绕社会发展中的重大问题进行广泛协商。协商民主能够在很大程度上广纳群言,这是区别于西式民主的一大特征。第三,基层民主是全过程人民民主的重要体现。全过程人民民主主张在基层进行党内民主的试验和试点,这一主张以合作、共识而非竞争、排他为特征,强调从事实中获取和提炼政策设计、实施和评估的有效方法。

  事实证明,中国独有的民主模式在推进国家治理体系现代化过程中起着至关重要的作用,使其从过去几乎是世界上最贫穷的国家之一崛起为一个中高收入国家,并将8亿多人民从绝对贫困中解放出来。新时代以来,中国取得的非凡成就是多种因素共同促成的结果,全过程人民民主无疑是根本动因之一,体现在促进社会与经济发展相关政策措施的方方面面,贯穿于乡村振兴战略、区域协调发展、实施积极就业政策、健全社会保障体系、实现共同富裕等具体的举措之中。同时,由于深深植根于人民,全过程人民民主能够极大地动员人力、物力和财政资源,以在基础设施建设、经济活动开展和现代化服务等方面保持高水平的生产性投资和积累,同时减少金融投机的概率——而这一点在西方世界造成了严重的破坏性影响。中国的民主模式证明,一个能力强大的民主治理体系能够有效保障国家设计和实施一系列改革,以解决社会和经济发展过程中出现的矛盾和危机,并确保国家在迄今为止不平等的国际体系中的公平参与。

  (作者系英国萨塞克斯大学荣休教授、中国科学院地理科学与资源研究所访问学者)

  审核:李建军

  责任编辑:王俊美

  网络编辑:齐泽垚

 

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