Liberal Democracy, Governance East and West

Whether Liberal or Conservative, American “Think Tanks” pursue the same Sinophobic policy line and typical of their dross was the comment by Melanie Hart of the CAP, Centre for America Progress at the Xiangshan Security conference

Melanie Hart, a senior fellow and director of China policy at the Centre for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, said that the tension and mistrust between the two countries existed because of their different ideologies, the lack of transparency regarding China’s military modernisation, and Beijing’s ambition to export its governance model. That, she said, “would directly threaten American’s core national interests”.She like so many of her ilk insist on painting China like the Soviet Union and its Comintern objective which was to spread, and impose if necessary, its communist ideology. There is no question that China’s system of governance is spreading throughout Asia and some developing countries but it is being done by choice, not by force or imposed on them. China’s system of governance was copied in many respects from Singapore, considered by many to be autocratic, authoritarian, with limited rights but one does not hear criticism of Singapore simply because Singapore does not pose a threat to America’s global hegemony.

 But Western Liberal Democracy as a governance system is in the process of collapsing from within not from external forces. It has reached its Best Before Date and is best discarded. Look at the chaos in the UK, one of the first to adopt the Western concept of liberal democracy. The government is almost at a standstill, gridlock, because of the inability of the opposing parties to arrive at an agreement about Brexit. Look at the one country two systems policy in Hong Kong.  There is stability in China but chaos in the more Democratic Hong Kong. More to the point, look within the United States for a better example of a country rife with polarisation that prevents any meaningful legislation being enacted. The US, as with many Democracies, has become a “psephocracy” a system “totally dominated by electoral victories and defeats,” whereby the moment you enter office, you begin to think of the next election. This is particularly true of the US House of Representatives where the representatives are elected for only a two year period so they must begin campaigning for reelection almost as soon as elected and that time is largely spent appealing to corporations,  lobbyists, special interest groups and voters for funds to finance their election. They are not representatives of the people but of those large donors. Perhaps a better term for the US Democracy is “fundocracy”.

Ms. Hart is right on two counts, there are different ideologies and governance at work between China and the US  and this is true between the West and Asia, the latter, having a different mindset from the West. And China’s much more efficient governance does threaten the US core national interest which is its position of global dominance. Which of the developing countries wants to copy such a dysfunctional governance system as that in the West?  And she conveniently ignores the US practice of exporting and imposing its system on the rest of the world. What Ms. Hart sees at work is the rise of Technocracy, especially in Asia, a governance system based on expertise, not the wish to hold the world in its grip and its officeholders are selected on the basis of merit, not political party donations. 

With respect to Democracy, there is wisdom in the past. 

Polybius, the Roman philosopher, opined that  Democracy soon becomes corrupt and degenerates into ochlocracy, government by mob rule,  in great evidence today in Hong Kong, Lebanon, riots in Spain. 

Plato defined democracy as where “freedom is the supreme good but freedom is also slavery”. In democracy, People are free to do what they want and live how they want but the excessive freedoms granted to the citizens of a democracy ultimately leads to tyranny ruled by an appealing demagogue.

What Ms. Hart and other of her ilk who attack the Democratic presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, believe is that those who do not subscribe to or abide by US foreign policy or so-called “US values” are deemed foreign agents, traitors. If so, we are coming perilously close to a dictatorship not by a dictator but by “groupthink” where dissent is no longer tolerated.










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