Zhou Duo: The Unfinished Revolution in Russia – Book Report No. 23

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0dc55e5d3699732ePicture – Jingdong-JD.com Russia’s Unfinished Revolution/Translation Series by Dongfang Compilation & Interpretation”【Abstract Book Review Trial Read】- Jingdong Books

On February 24, 2022, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world and brought profound changes to the world situation. The Russian-Ukrainian War fully proved the failure of Russia’s democratic transformation, which is of great reference value for China’s future modernization transformation, so I chose this book “Russian Unfinished Revolution” (M. McFaul, a professor at Stanford University, Shanghai People’s Publishing House) Published in 2014) to introduce to you. In my literature reading, I think this is the most worthy of introduction of the relevant works.

Why introduce only one book? I’m sorry to tell the truth: it is to accommodate Chinese readers who rarely read, and rarely read academic works. After I made an introduction, it would be great for them to read this book. I guess that even this book is rarely read, so I try to make sure that even if you don’t read the original book, it will not hinder you. At least understand it.

Unlike most book recommendation articles, I am not limited to recommending books, but will extend to introduce my own research results. In other words, I am using the topic without losing the author’s original intention.

(1) Key points of the whole book

The process of democratic transition in Russia is extremely complicated, and the relevant literature is overwhelming, and various theories hold different opinions. For the convenience of readers, I will summarize the main points of the book as follows:

1 Three stages of transformation

McFaul divides Russia’s democratic transformation into three stages: Gorbachev’s reform period 1985-1991; Yeltsin’s first stage of reform – Russia’s first republic period 1991.8 – 1993.11; Yeltsin’s second stage of reform – Russia’s second republic period 1993-2000. He believed that the reforms in the first two stages were failures, and the third stage achieved incomplete success. The book was published in 2001, so it doesn’t talk about Putin’s succession as president in 2000.

2 Main Features

McFaul characterizes Russia’s democratic transition in three words: procrastination, violence, and incompleteness— “Russia’s transition has been long and confrontational, with occasional violence.” (McFaul, P .366) But also note that the level of violence in Russia’s transition was low, far from the level of the warlord melee that followed the 1911 Revolution in China.

3 Comparison with transitions in other countries

Contrary to the superficial understanding of Chinese democrats who conflate Russia’s relatively unsuccessful transition with the relatively successful transition of former communist countries in East and Central Europe and give high praise, the author repeatedly distinguishes between the two and gives a persuasive explanation in the book. . The main reason for the relative failure of the Soviet-Russian transition was that it was forced to simultaneously address three major reform agendas: economic reform, political reform, and national unification : The competing reform agendas in China are far larger and harder to control.” (ibid., p. 369)

Not only that, but state size is inversely related to successful democratic transition, the bigger the country the more difficult it is: “In terms of complexity, the leaders of the Soviet Union-Russia faced a greater challenge than Poland (let alone Spain) , they have to deal with all three transitions. In addition, Russia’s sheer size makes it possible to call Russia the most complex democratic transition of the late twentieth century.” (P.371)

In addition, elites from all walks of life in Russia lack a basic consensus on reform. The elites and the general public have different positions, and the Central and Eastern European countries are much better.

Russia’s transformation is more different from non-communist countries (so-called “underdeveloped capitalist countries”), which are basically limited to political transformation, the capitalist economy is no longer in dispute, and the state is relatively small. The biggest obstacle to their transition is the inefficiency of state governance, and even the unification of the state (state creation) has not been completed: “D. Rustow has strongly emphasized that the problem of defining the boundaries of the polity should be given priority before considering the possibility of transition to democracy. , . . . as soon as the question of national unity is accepted without hesitation, it becomes a precondition for the question of democracy. The same holds true in turn: democratization is clearly impossible when the borders of the country are at issue.” ( P.8) A large number of naive democrats at home and abroad ignore the importance of national unity and the effectiveness of national governance, and even do the opposite completely, advocating the division of the country and praising feudal separatism. If their ideas become mainstream, the Chinese nation will surely have a huge disaster in the future. (Note: Not all feudal systems in the Middle Ages in Europe were conducive to the development of liberal constitutionalism, with only the lucky exception of British feudalism, which was based on the relatively effective unified governance of the state created by the Norman Conquest in 1066, and was unified with the state. The feudal divisions of Germany and Italy in the previous nineteenth century were very different.)

4 Heroes make history

Among the four main factors related to the transformation of structure-situation-actor (“player”)-individual, the author particularly emphasizes the role of the individual, which is the so-called “heroic view of history”. Of course, under the constraints of the established political-society-economic-spiritual and cultural structure, individuals respond and make decisions to the current situation and complex games with other actors. However, the role of the individual is the most important. Factors of influence, Gorbachev, Yeltsin or the 8.19 coup masters have a lot of freedom to choose.

“Heroes make history” is not the author’s subjective preference, it is the objective fact. For example, assuming there was no 8.19 coup, “it is possible that the Soviet Union would still exist in some form today” (p. 377) ; another example, the decision that led to the October 1993 armed conflict between Yeltsin and the parliament “was made by individuals. , this result is not inevitable.” (P.378)

The so-called “history” includes historical facts, historical research, and historical reviews; historical facts (historical records) require historians to identify falsehoods, and select the possibility that is closest to the truth through cross-comparison among various historical records that may be true. , and “may” is hypothetical. History research (historical research) extracts and summarizes the causal relationship behind historical facts, while the causal relationship and regularity hidden under the appearance of historical facts are all expressed in “counterfactual conditional sentences” or “virtual conditional sentences”. The theoretical model is more of a “hypothesis-deductive system”, and theoretical research to explore the “why” causal relationship without assumptions is difficult to do. It may be said that “history is an assumption” and “history cannot be assumed” is a wrong proposition derived from the theory of historical necessity.

5 The inner logic of the transition from totalitarianism to democracy

At the beginning of the democratic transition, there was a division between compromisers (reformists, center-leftists, doves) and hard-liners (conservatives, ultra-leftists, hawks) within the old regime. There are two major camps of radicals, “(outside the system) moderates seek to negotiate and negotiate with (inside the system) compromisers, and organize political competition to gain power by forming a new set of democratic rules, while radicals oppose any form of negotiation and negotiation. And advocate the overthrow of the old system. The democratic transition will be successful only if the compromisers and moderates do their best to isolate the hard-liners and the radicals, and then negotiate on the basic principles of the new democracy.” (P.5) Author’s The conclusion is highly consistent with the “formation of a centrist alliance” that I have always advocated.

6 A clear distinction between liberal democracy and electoral democracy

The author refers to Russia’s post-transition illiberal democracy as “electoral democracy” to distinguish it from liberal democracy. That’s what I’ve always emphasized, it’s important to distinguish between good democracy – liberal democracy and bad democracy – populist democracy; it’s also called the “quality of democracy” problem – good democracy is high-quality democracy, and bad democracy is poor-quality democracy. It is not as populist democrats such as the left, socialists, and the current left wing of the American Democratic Party understand that the wider the scope and scale of democracy, the better, the more people participating in democracy, the better, and the more “complete” democracy the better. Chapter 9, titled “The Quality of Russian Democracy,” begins with, “The end of communist rule was not immediately followed by the beginning of democratic rule. Russia, for example, is sandwiched between the two. Those that favor the emergence of Russian democracy. Factors do not necessarily improve the quality of democratic institutions. Factors conducive to producing the basic rules of the game of electoral democracy can also lead to illiberal institutions.” (P.335)

The author asserts that the post-transition Russia “lacks freedom in almost all fields.” (P.336) is manifested in the following aspects:

(1) The “super-presidential system” created by Yeltsin made the president monopolistic and paved the way for Putin’s personal dictatorship (P.336) ;

(2) The Soviet-Russian political culture has always rejected multi-party competition, resulting in a sluggish, chaotic and weak party system (P.338) ;

(3) Under the Soviet totalitarian system, voluntary voluntary organizations (NGOs) of citizens’ self-government were completely destroyed, and the party culture of the Communist Party was incompatible with the political culture of citizens, resulting in poor development of civic culture and civil society. A 1998 survey showed that only 9% of Russian citizens participated in NGOs (P.343 & 353) ;

(4) After the rise of independent media, it quickly declined, first controlled by wealth oligarchs, and then strongly suppressed by Putin (P.346) ;

(5) There has never been a tradition of rule of law in Russian history, and the totalitarian system of the Soviet Union is fundamentally hostile to the rule of law. Many factors such as the absence of the concept of the rule of law and the lack of independence of the judiciary have delayed the advancement of the rule of law (P.349) ;

(6) One of the negative consequences of the absence of the rule of law is the ineffectiveness of state governance. The collusion between officials and businessmen, the exchange of power and money, and government rent-seeking (“power disrupting the market”) make corruption prevalent. Corruption has become the biggest obstacle to the healthy development of the market economy. The economy has been developing in the direction of “mafia economy” since the beginning of economic reform, “mafia, security companies and private armed forces have assumed the main responsibility for ensuring personal safety, which fundamentally challenges the state’s monopoly on the use of force” (P .348) ;

(7) Although a new constitution has been formulated and the constitutional rules have basically been abided by the political-social forces of all parties, this does not mean that the separation of powers and checks and balances of human rights are effectively guaranteed and the establishment of constitutional government. A well-functioning constitutional government requires many preconditions, but the author mentions only one important factor—the unclear division of powers and responsibilities in the Russian federal state: “The last institutional factor that hinders the consolidation of Russian democracy is in the state and sub-states. There is a lack of clear boundaries of powers and responsibilities between agencies” (P.351) , which is closely related to the system of “regional autonomy for ethnic minorities” founded by Stalin (P.352) (see Appendix 1 for details );

and many more.

The above all prove my thesis: populist democracy is “easy, even elementary school students”; liberal democracy is complex and requires many prerequisites, so it is difficult to create but easy to collapse.

7 Social mobilization – mass movements are not conducive to democratic transition

The logic of reform is very different from that of revolution, which is highly dependent on social mobilization—mass movement, and reform is just the opposite: “If political liberalization ignites sustained mass mobilization within society, then the It is more difficult for moderates to negotiate and form a contract. In this case it is more likely to produce a revolution rather than a contractual transition, and a revolution is almost impossible to produce a democratic outcome. … In transitions involving only elites, It is easier to understand each person’s preferences and to estimate the power component of each person, while the power pattern of a mass movement is harder to estimate because the collective action capacity of a mass movement is often unpredictable. Likewise, once a mass movement is involved, representing these groups It is even more difficult to say whether the leaders of the world can control their followers.” (P.16) And this is my unforgettable personal experience in the “Storm” in 1989.

The main points of the whole book are introduced here. The following three stages will introduce the specific process of Russian democratic transformation.

(2) Gorbachev’s reforms 1985-1991

The author clearly pointed out that Gorbachev’s reforms failed. The main sign of the failure was that the old Soviet system collapsed without creating a new system, the country disintegrated, and Gorbach himself stepped down. What is the reason?

1 It will not collapse without reform

First of all, let’s be clear: without reforms at all, the Soviet Union will not collapse, and will likely continue in stagnation and slow decline for a long time, so it is not surprising that none of the more than 500 Soviet experts in the United States foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was out of control reforms that led to the collapse of the regime – the disintegration of the state, as the great Tocqueville asserted in his brilliant summary in “The Old Regime and the Revolution” (see my book “Rereading “The Old Regime and the Revolution”) , which is precisely the It is generally ignored by Western researchers, let alone Chinese researchers.

I have to omit the author’s argument, and I would like to remind the reader to consider three similar cases: Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela. Cuba is a small country, just outside the door of the United States. It has been severely sanctioned by the United States for more than 60 years. The entire country is in a state of dilapidation. The people can barely make ends meet. Many people are full of complaints, but the regime is still as stable as Mount Tai. Not to mention North Korea, the economy is in a mess, and the people starve to death in large numbers, and there is no sign of collapse. Venezuela’s annual inflation rate is as high as one million percent, the currency is equivalent to waste paper, nearly 3 million refugees have fled abroad, and the United States has been severely sanctioning it. The Maduro regime is alive and well. It can be seen that economic determinism is wrong. The people will not necessarily shake the autocratic regime without food, and the government that “does not have the popular will” may not necessarily collapse, because the “people’s will” can be shaped by the ruler. Rebellion and rebellion are two completely different things.

2 Heroes of History

“Most third-wave democratization literature places elite struggles for the new political system at the center of its interpretation” (P.41), McFaul believes that the Soviet reforms were the result of Gorbachev. Just as the Soviet Union would not have been created without Lenin, there would have been no Soviet reform experiments without Gorbachev. There is nothing to do with the masses. To be precise, the masses are the raw materials used by big men to create history. It is cold enough to say that, but the truth of history is like this, and there is no reason to think that the truth of history conforms to the Marxist historical materialism of “the masses of the people make history”.

Why did Gorbachev want to reform? Obviously not for selfish interests; nor for the selfish interests of the Soviet elite to which he belongs and who brought him to power. Not for his own power, the Soviet totalitarian system has made him unshakable. He initiated the reforms for ideals, because he had the ambition and sense of responsibility that he could no longer endure the status quo of chronic stagnation and decline in the Soviet Union, even though it was entirely in the interests of himself and the privileged class of the CPSU. People have values, people are different, Communists are different from Communists, and reformists of the Communist Party are different from ultra-left conservatives. The “great” ideals that motivate human beings to pursue “great” causes—right or wrong—have always been neither rational nor self-serving, and it is precisely these great ideals that have influenced the course of history most powerfully, precisely Not a rational calculation for maximizing self-interest. Economic determinism is wrong, and the “self-interested rational person” hypothesis is nothing more than a simplistic to highly unrealistic assumption that is easy to model. It is very regrettable that the social science research methods currently used by the vast majority of Chinese and foreign scholars are almost entirely rationalist-panlogical methods, which seriously ignore the irrational aspects of the research objects, such as religious and ideological beliefs, moral emotions, values, nationalism – Patriotism, etc., from which many absurd conclusions are drawn.

Idealists like Gorbachev are a real handful in the CPSU system, and they are rare. At the same time, they have almost no social foundation. Except for a very small number of “dissidents”, no one in the entire Soviet Union wants to reform and dares to reform, and these dissidents are divided and have no idea about the goals and paths of reform. The understanding is very superficial, and even fundamentally wrong. For example, the “leftist dissidents” Medvedev brothers, they only opposed Stalin and the Stalinist system, and their goal was to achieve “Lenin’s ideal, true socialism”, Gorbachev’s original intention of reform, the so-called ” New thinking” is actually pretty close to where they stand. “Right-wing dissident” Sakharov completely rejected the old Soviet system, but he also did not understand the true meaning of Western liberal democracy and played no role in the transformation process.

3 Gorbachev’s layman’s chaotic reforms

But was Gorbachev’s reforms bound to fail? In contrast, was Deng Xiaoping’s reforms bound to succeed? it’s not true. Ge’s situation is different from Deng Xiaoping’s in many ways. For example, the Soviet Union has not experienced the strong impact of the Cultural Revolution, and there is a lack of reform motivation both inside and outside the system; but he also has advantages over Deng Xiaoping. Conducive to reform from top to bottom. But to elaborate on whose reform situation is more favorable, because there are too many related factors and too complicated, and it is impossible to conduct controllable experiments in social science, there will be no conclusion, and there will be no results after arguing for a hundred years.

When we compare Deng and Ge’s reform process now, we can see that Ge’s reform is both amateurish and chaotic, and has no rules – “without rules” means that it is completely in line with “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. “On” logic; it’s just that Deng Xiaoping touched the stone and Gorbachev touched the crocodile’s tail. It’s hard to say whether the difference is due to ability or luck, or both, and I don’t want to go into that, nor will I be able to come to a firm conclusion. In other words, we researchers today are doing comparative studies and summarizing lessons, but we are just being smart with hindsight. If we put us in the position of the client, it is likely that our choices are more stupid than theirs. It is easy to criticize predecessors, but it is also absurd. To evaluate historical figures, you must first determine the coordinate system, time, place, object, and standard; without a sense of history, it is useless to apply universal abstract standards to evaluate different objects at different times and places. It is a kind of naive disease to judge the past from the present and criticize the ancestors. Therefore, to be lenient, the evaluation of “layout chaos” is not relevant, so let’s put it that way.

Let’s take a look at what Gorbachev’s reform process actually looked like.

Contrary to the arbitrariness of many researchers, like Deng Xiaoping, Ge also started with economic reforms; like in the early days of China’s economic reforms, he followed Eastern European countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and other Eastern European countries during the Soviet bloc, within the framework of planned economies. State-owned enterprises reform and improve efficiency”. But Deng Nei has a much clearer understanding of the incurable and positive effects of the planned economy and state-owned enterprises on the market economy. I think Deng has repeatedly advised African countries to “don’t engage in socialism”, “What is socialism? We didn’t figure it out ourselves.” It came from the heart. Unlike Deng Xiaoping, Gorbachev was full of confidence in the superiority of the socialist system, and his rejection of the market economy and capitalism was no different from that of the ultra-left conservatives: “Gorbachev preached the superiority and superiority of socialism. The Inferiority of Capitalism” ( ibid., p. 44 ). Ideas determine behavior, so he neither implemented the Chinese-style “joint production contracting” privatization of the Soviet collective farms, nor could he follow the “dual-track system” of China’s price reform and the “incremental reform” of enterprise reform.

“Incremental reform” means that instead of relying on the reform of state-owned enterprises, private enterprises and the market economy can develop outside the planned economy, gradually replace the status of state-owned enterprises, and become the mainstream of the economy. Abolish the planned economy. Of course, China’s state-owned enterprise reform is also trying to push forward, but I don’t put high hopes on it, so I don’t make big moves, and only use conservative treatment. In academic language, “incremental reform” is “Pareto optimal.” In layman’s terms, it means that while some people benefit, no one suffers. This reform path is of great significance; more importantly, it is equally applicable to political reform – to be successful, although the unjust and even illegally seized interests of the powerful and vested interests are hateful, they must also try their best to succeed. Let its interests not be damaged in order to weaken the resistance to reform. The radicals, on the contrary, put morality first, not only to liquidate all vested interests, but also to hope that the reformers have high morals and no self-interest, and would rather lose their heads and be idealistic to the end. This is actually a common problem of party culture, utopia, and short-sighted intellectuals (most of the above comparisons of Sino-Russian reforms are my personal views, and have nothing to do with McFaul).

Ge Qiang’s economic reforms soon hit a wall, and he realized that he had encountered strong resistance from conservative forces. According to the habit of thinking of the Communists, the first countermeasure he thought of was two words: centralization, further concentrating power in the hands of the great reformer, so as to force the opposition to submit. In all fairness, this is not completely wrong. There are many successful examples of relying on power to promote modernization. Taiwan’s Chiang Ching-kuo, South Korea’s Park Chung-hee, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, and so on. The key is that these successful precedents are all under the strong influence of the United Kingdom and the United States and other Western countries, the level of cognition of Western civilization inside and outside the system, the similarity and affinity of the political system, ideology, values ​​and social foundation with the West, and all aspects. Both are very different from the Soviet Stalin model, and the two cannot be compared. There is no time to go into details, but I can only mention one thing: the pro-Western authoritarian-authoritarian system and the anti-Western Communist Party ultra-left totalitarian system, although neither of them are liberal and democratic, there are still huge differences that cannot be ignored, and therefore their modernization The difficulties encountered in the transition also vary widely (see below for details).

The first thing Ge did after he centralized power was to purge the top leaders and replace the leaders of the counter-reform in large numbers. Because he was in power, he was very successful, replacing almost half of the party’s top leaders within a year of taking power. What is the effect? Useless. “The CPSU as a whole did not accept his appointed reform leaders” (P.46).

As a result, Ge had to put political reform on the agenda. The key turning point was here: Ge adopted the dual radical policy of throwing off the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which did not cooperate with the reform, and starting social mobilization and implementing the Soviet power. The so-called “openness” and “activation of the human factor”. Contrary to the praises of “openness” by many lay democrats, Ge’s reforms have been “out of control” step by step since then, and there is no turning back. This is not only different from Deng Xiaoping’s reform path, but also runs counter to it. It is comparable to Mao Zedong’s anti-rightist movement in 1957 and the mass mobilization of the Cultural Revolution. However, Mao could control the situation, but Ge could not. (Note: Mao’s original intention in his anti-rightist campaign in 1957 was to mobilize outside the system to “help the Communist Party rectify” in view of the “bureaucracy” of the Poland-Hungary incident.

“Openness” means relaxing restrictions on freedom of speech and association. Of course, the totalitarian crimes against humanity of the CPSU have been exposed in large numbers, and the radical opposition has risen. They not only began to completely deny the old system (of course, the old system deserved it), but also began to criticize Ge himself and his reforms, and they did not cooperate. , and even various organizations and street movements against Gorbachev’s reform line have sprung up; at the same time, conservative and anti-reform forces within the system have been stimulated, extreme radicalism and extreme conservative have been stimulated by each other, and the political-social pattern has tended to be bipolar. change; wait, all of this is something Ge doesn’t want to see. He just wants to use social forces outside the party to attack the ultra-conservative Communist Party system, and he has no intention at all to stand with these increasingly active and diverse counter-reformists. Wanting to use it, but not being able to control it, the wild horses began to run wildly.

The second step after “openness” and social mobilization is to give the rubber-stamp Soviet (a transliteration of “representative meeting” in Russian, equivalent to China’s National People’s Congress) real legislative power. Also like “openness”, this step is very correct in theory, but in fact it backfires. The Soviets activated by Ge soon became the power center of the anti-Gorbachev reforms, and various incompatible political-social forces competed in chaos. Its main effect is to bring the extremist CPSU political culture (“Party culture”) to the surface, giving it an excellent opportunity to fully display, develop and strengthen.

The third measure is to create a presidential system. This is also a design based on the idea of ​​getting rid of the CPSU and establishing another power center in favor of Gorbachev’s personal centralization, and it is as hasty and hasty as the previous two moves, without careful thinking and without predicting the possible consequences. And prepare well in advance, and there is no consensus inside or outside the system, which is completely made by Ge alone. Later, Yeltsin’s “super presidential system” and Putin’s personal dictatorship should be said to be at least partly paved by Ge.

Gorbachev failed to realize that under the old Soviet system, “the party, not the state, acted as the glue that maintained the system. As the power of the party began to decline, actors at all levels in the system Together they betrayed vertical authority… After high-level authority became blurred, the Soviet Union, one of the largest and most powerful countries in the world, collapsed at an alarming rate.” (P.66 ) At the same time that a large number of new political actors outside the system were spawned, the scope of disputes over the reform agenda expanded rapidly, and the three-fold disputes of economy, politics and national unification broke out together, and the top level of the CPSU also split and spread the split down to the layers. Passing on, “Ultimately, the reform preferences of various political actors were very different from Gorbachev’s original reform intentions. . . . These new radical and conservative forces undermined Gorbachev’s original reform plan and The disintegration of the Soviet Union.” (P.67) The entire development process of Gorbachev’s chaotic reforms by laymen is to follow the internal logic of participation and mobilization → emergence of multiple actors → chaos and disorder → rise of extremists → violent conflict → uncontrolled collapse. step to the end.

In May 1990, Yeltsin narrowly won in Russia’s first Soviet elections activated by Gorbachev (Russia was one of the 15 Soviet republics at the time), “Shortly after winning this position, Yeltsin and his allies Begin to expand the political struggle against Gorbachev and against the Soviet government, claiming that Gorbachev and his regime are no longer a catalyst for reform, but a stumbling block for further reform. . . “Soviet elections gave them the authority to separate Russia from the Soviet Union.” (P.91) After only two months, in July 1990, the Russian Soviet voted overwhelmingly to declare Russia’s independence. At the same time, the democrats began to split and the conservatives began to gather. The far-left Russian Communist Party combined with the Russian ultra-nationalist forces that resolutely safeguarded the unity of the Soviet Union. Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky formed a “red-brown” alliance. Union” (red for communism, brown for fascism), and Gorbachev, instead of siding with pro-Western liberals, opted instead to ally with conservatives to carry out armed intervention in the national independence movements of Latvia and Lithuania, resulting in 14 people died in the riots and hundreds were injured. However, despite this, conservative forces do not agree with Ge. “A sense of anarchy swept across the Soviet Union. During the last year of chaos in the Soviet Union, ideological divisions became apparent in almost every problem area, however, there was nothing like the division of national borders and the The two issues of internal transfer of sovereignty to subordinates are more important.” (P.100) The three Baltic states and the republics of Ukraine, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan have successively declared independence. In the midst of this chaos, Gorbachev tried his best to preserve the Soviet Union. After every effort, he signed the “9+1 Agreement” with Yeltsin and nine leaders of other republics, and prepared to renegotiate on the model of American federalism. A new alliance treaty, signed on August 20, 1991. However, conservative forces staged a coup d’état a day before the signing of the treaty. As we all know, the army refused to carry out the order of violent suppression by the coup authorities under the strong resistance of Yeltsin. The coup failed, the CPSU was banned, the Soviet Union disintegrated, Christmas Eve 1991 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned, and Russian President Yeltsin took over the Kremlin.

The CCP’s anti-reform conservative forces are deeply saddened by the disintegration of the Soviet Union out of their own self-interest. They completely blame Gorbachev for the collapse of the Soviet Union, but this is not the truth, at least not the whole truth. It can only be said that the loss of control caused by Ge’s chaotic reforms made the Soviet Union possible to disintegrate, but it is also possible to preserve the Soviet Union with a new federal system. As for whether the collapse of the Soviet Union was good or bad, that is another matter. At least for the national interests of the Chinese nation, the disintegration of the Soviet Union is a great thing, and we should be grateful to those bastards who launched the 8.19 coup.

(3) Yeltsin’s first-stage reforms, which were also chaotic for laymen, 1991.8—1993.11

After the failed coup d’état of 8.19, Yeltsin got his wish, and the Russian democrats experienced a moment of euphoria. “The reaction in the West was even more euphoric, with headlines proclaiming “Slavery ends, millennium dictatorship overthrown” (P.133). However, the good times did not last long . , a life of misery ensues that no one could have expected. “What’s next? All revolutions have proven that it is easier to overthrow a socio-political system than to create a new one. While August 1991 may have marked the end of Communist rule and the Soviet state a few months later, What political system, economic system, and social model can or should fill the void remains unknown, even if the borders of the state are still indeterminate.” (P.134)

“At this time Yeltsin seems invincible”, “Yeltsin seems to have all the freedom, as long as he wants, he can design a system at will.” (P.166) He can use the opportunity to establish a personal dictatorship, but “also Steps can be taken to consolidate a democracy. He can abolish all the institutions of the former Soviet Union, adopt a new constitution, codify the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, as well as the separation of powers between the federation and the regions, call new elections to Promote the development of a multi-party system.” “Yeltsin, however, did not pursue either of these strategies. Rather, he paid little attention to establishing a new political system to govern Russia.” (P.139) Then, Yeltsin’s priority What is the matter? Consolidate Russia’s independence and economic reforms. The vague sequence of reforms in Yeltsin’s new government is: determine the borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States → economic reform → rebuild democracy. They believe it’s manageable.

The first step went relatively smoothly, but the second step of economic reform is not so. A stupid move is like a stupid move, and it is not too much to say that it is “catastrophic”. Economic reforms have been ignored since Gorbachev initiated political reforms in 1988, “by August 1991 the economic costs of this inaction were already enormous” and “public opinion calling for radical economic reforms developed rapidly” . (P.151) After several hesitations, Yeltsin unexpectedly chose Gaidar’s team’s “neo-liberal” shock therapy ( Note: This so-called “neo-liberalism” is related to the traditional and politically conservative freedom of Britain ism does not matter, do not confuse) . “Not many people understand the economic logic behind the Gaidar plan, because Russia has not experienced a market system for 70 years, and people are expected to understand the relationship between supply and demand, budget deficit and inflation, trade and currency devaluation at once. Relationships are unrealistic. Plus, most people—inside the government and in society—hope for immediate results, and Yeltsin himself promised an economic upturn by the end of the year.” Yeltsin publicly declared, “The day of (economic) reforms is a big deal for us. It will be difficult, but the period will not be long, we are talking about 6 to 8 months.” (P.153) 6 to 8 months! Much shorter than Gorbachev’s short-lived “500-day plan” during the reform period. Gaidar’s American adviser, Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs famously preached shock therapy: “You can’t cross a ditch in two steps.” , but he didn’t seem to think that if the groove is wide, you first need to measure whether your feet are long enough. The shock therapy suffered a fiasco, the economic crisis broke out, and the privatization of state-owned enterprises concentrated wealth in the hands of a very small number of oligarchs. Under strong opposition from all sides, Yeltsin was forced to dismiss Gaidar as prime minister at the end of 1992 and replace him with conservative Chernomyrdin.

Why did Sax’s shock therapy work in Bolivia but fail miserably in Russia? McFaul explained, “In seeking to create a new institutional environment compatible with democracy, Russian leaders have rarely found relevant institutions from the Soviet system to exploit. Democracy transitions in Latin America, Southern Europe and even Central and Eastern Europe. , the old democratic institutions suppressed by authoritarian rule were simply reactivated, a much more effective process than the creation of new institutions. However, the Russian leaders had no such institutions to re-use.” ( P.166) “Unlike those market economy advocates who have contributed to the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russian free market advocates were only in the minority when the reforms were launched.” (P.179) In the concept of the institutional school, this is called As “path dependency” (path dependency) , in layman’s terms, is the strong inertia of the old system and old ideas to resist change.

With the exception of Yeltsin, Gaidar’s shock therapy (also known as the “big bang” strategy) was only supported by one part of the democrats, the liberals, and the other part, the center-left social democracy. The faction swayed, while the democrats were a minority both in parliament and in society. The majority of seats in the parliament are held by the red-brown coalition of communists and nationalists hostile to the market economy, and the majority of the society opposed to the radical economic reform of the “big bang” is under the leadership of Vice President Rutskoy. Sbulatov formed an alliance, while the centrist “citizens’ union” supported private market economy but also opposed shock therapy. All in all, while most Eastern European countries are already debating which form of capitalism to adopt, Russia is still debating whether or not to have a privately owned market economy.

Controversy over the reform of the political system is even more chaotic. Communists and nationalists are fundamentally opposed to liberal democracy, and the reformists are also divided. Some people advocate the use of authoritarian regimes to promote a market economy, while most people criticize Yeltsin’s authoritarian tendencies. Opposition to the disintegration of the Soviet Union began to grow after a brief hiatus after the failed 8.19 coup d’état, and the results of previous referendums showed that those opposed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union were close to an absolute majority. The democrats died out as they supported the disintegration of the Soviet Union and favored shock therapy, which quickly lost majority support, while “new communist organizations, movements, and fronts grew at an alarming rate.” “Shock therapy provided the reorganization and mobilization of communist loyalists The most significant opportunity.” (P.189) The large-scale demonstrations organized by the Communist Party in February 1992 and June of the same year were violently suppressed by the authorities, which further mobilized sympathizers of communism and nationalism.

In November 1992, the Constitutional Court finally ruled on the Communist Party activist’s appeal to retrial Yeltsin’s ban, “The court found that the party as a whole and its senior leadership were guilty, but its rank-and-file members were innocent. … It ignited the movement to fully revive the unified Russian Communist Party.” February 1993 “The First Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was held in Moscow, attended by a total of 651 delegates representing nearly 500,000 newly registered communist parties across the country. The Russian Communist Party has become the largest political party in Russia. Almost all the main culprits of the 8.19 coup participated in the meeting.” (Note: Although the Constitutional Court convicted them, it was not implemented as an illegal judgment by the Criminal Court.) “Dyuganov The president-elect cemented the growing alliance between the nationalists and the communists. It is impressive that…the Social Democrats were not elected to the leadership despite much of the organizing work for the conference to take place. With The difference in Eastern European countries is that the Russian Communist Party did not evolve into social democracy, but became increasingly nationalistic. . . and some of the most influential nationalist leaders actually emerged from the democratic movement.” (P.190 )

Another major controversy over the political system is whether to adopt a presidential or parliamentary system. The majority of representatives in the Russian parliament support a parliamentary system, while Yeltsin and his allies support a presidential system. The conflict between the president and the parliament intensified, “On October 4, 1993, the civil war between the president and the parliament ended. … Hundreds of people died in the fighting.” (P. 208) “Fall 1993, Russia The First Republic has come to an end. Yeltsin’s reforms, like Gorbachev’s political reforms, failed to establish a mechanism for resolving political disputes in a peaceful and democratic way. is an armed conflict.” (P.209)

(4) The semi-successful second phase of Yeltsin’s reforms from 1993 to 2000

The events of October 1993, when Yeltsin violently overwhelmed the parliament, marked the defeat of Russia’s first republic and the populace was no longer optimistic about the prospects for democracy: “When a democratic government no longer acts in a democratic way, it It will lose its social legitimacy and in turn hinder the consolidation and deepening of the democratic system.” (P.227) “Many commentators in Russia and the West believe that Yeltsin’s new regime is a dictatorship. . . . Its allies defeated their enemies violently, and they believed that the struggle between the capitalist and communist movements was now over. … If the end of the Gorbachev era resolved territorial disputes, the end of the first Russian republic ended with regard to the economy The institutional debate. . . The last major issue on the reform agenda is political reform.” (P. 229)

In August 1993, a Constituent Assembly was formed and began to hastily drafted a new constitution according to Yeltsin’s real needs and with reference to the Western system, “the designers of these constitutions were responding to a specific and current political situation. . . . Responses to the current political environment are often the driving force behind the design of new institutions,” “Many changes in institutional design are not designed, they are often the response of short-sighted people to their more or less perceived short-term needs. “(P.233)

If we compare the constitution-making of the United States, we can see three obvious differences: First, the United States has a centuries-long tradition of constitutional rule of law inherited from the United Kingdom and the successful practice of the 13 colonial state constitutions in North America, while Russia is almost completely blank; secondly, the more than fifty constitutional sages in the United States are all veterans with profound knowledge and practical experience, while the Russian constitutional makers are on the contrary. Governance is both shallow and inexperienced; thirdly, during the U.S. constitution-making period, populist democrats were very few and had no influence on the constitution-making. This is not the case in Russia’s constitution-making. Populist democracy has become popular and has almost become a democratic ideology. It is not surprising that Russia’s post-transition democratic system is “path-locked” to electoral democracy rather than liberal democracy.

After Russia’s new constitution narrowly passed a referendum, democratic elections were held on schedule and largely unscrupulous, extending into Putin’s dictatorship. A recent clear example of Putin’s dictatorship is that only four people, including Putin, knew about the decision to invade Ukraine, and Putin has long received more than 70% or more of the public support. Many people cannot understand this because they do not. Know the difference between good democracy and bad democracy. It is not uncommon in history that the majority of the people sincerely support dictatorships. The people are different from the people. Public opinion and public opinion are not the same thing. The voice of the people may not necessarily be the voice of God. The rule of the majority may become the most terrifying and most difficult dictatorship to correct. No one, including a single person, a minority and a majority, is worthy of rule. Only when a just and good law that can effectively protect human rights is ruled through a constitutional government with separation of powers and checks and balances can national governance truly conform to the long-term fundamental interests of everyone, and the country can be in long-term stability.

Yeltsin defeated all his opponents one after another through repeated contests. These opponents knew that they had no chance of winning if they took confrontational actions and had to abide by the rules set by this constitution; on the other hand, various defects and loopholes in the constitution itself were locked by the path. , Russia’s very imperfect oligopolistic market economy, weak rule of law, weak party politics, underdeveloped civil society and civic culture, “super presidential system” in which the president monopolizes power, semi-liberal and semi-democratic mafia rampant, And so on McFaul’s definition of “electoral democracy” (“electoral democracy”), rather than liberal democracy, was established. By high standards, Russia’s democratic transition was a failure; but ” the collapse of the system and the absence of civil war are already significant achievements.” “—Although the number of people who miss Stalin and the Soviet era is growing, public opinion willing to return to the old Soviet system has never been mainstream.

I won’t go into details, and interested readers should read the original work.

(5) The Enlightenment of Russia’s Transformation to China

Although there is no so-called “inevitable law of history” that is universally applicable to all human beings, the historical process contains some less grand regular causal relationships, so the historical experience of others has reference value for us.” You can attack jade” and “take history as a mirror to know the rise and fall”. In the following, I will further discuss some of my thoughts on China’s future political reform based on the experience and lessons of Russia’s transformation.

1 Russia is our best reference

Since China has the highest similarity with Russia, Russia’s transformation is more meaningful to us than the modernization transformation of Eastern European countries and non-communist countries. It would be misleading to look at the democratic transitions of China, Russia, Eastern Europe, and non-communist countries as one.

Although Russia’s transformation has not been completely successful, Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine especially highlighted the failure of Russia’s transformation. However, after all, Russia has become a semi-liberal and semi-democratic country, and its transformation is generally ahead of China’s, which proves that Liberal democracy is not impossible for China. On the other hand, the transformation of China and Russia faces bigger and more complex problems than Eastern European countries and non-communist countries, and the road to transformation will be more bumpy and long, and it is unrealistic to expect too much. Without reform, there is a dead end, and a radical revolution is a dead end. We can only reluctantly and unswervingly insist on advancing a comprehensive reform that is gradual, orderly, and controllable.

2 Be highly alert to the danger of national division

Among the three major transformation agendas, China’s economic reform has been basically completed, which is superior to Russia’s. The challenge that China will face is to avoid division of the country while carrying out political reform; in other words, it needs to solve the so-called “regional autonomy of ethnic minorities” first. This in turn involves two major issues: first, denying the right of ethnic groups to self-determination, and the Constitution does not allow ethnic divisions to become independent; Please refer to “Appendix 1” for details.

3 Freedom first, democracy second

The vast majority of Westerners are accustomed to confuse freedom and democracy, and collectively call them “democracy”, but freedom and democracy are not the same thing; not only are they not the same thing, but there is an eternal conflict between the two, so “democracy” is There is a difference between good democracy – liberal democracy and bad democracy – populist democracy. The state governance of modern liberal democracy, from the perspective of historical evolution, is freedom first and then democracy; from the internal logic, freedom is the skin and democracy is the hair. “If the skin does not exist, how will the hair be attached? Individual freedom and human rights protection are the core value goals of modern state governance. Constitutionalism and the rule of law with separation of powers and checks and balances are the basic systems to ensure the implementation of core values. Other projects such as democratic elections, civil society, multi-party competition, freedom of speech, and independent media Etc. are all operational details, which must be clearly distinguished.

4 Breakthrough in the middle, step by step

For details, please refer to “Appendix II” .

In addition, the national governance experience of the Singapore People’s Action Party is also worthy of serious study. Please refer to Professor Cai Dingjian’s article “What to Learn from Singapore? “.

(6) Pick a mistake for the author

The merits of The Unfinished Revolution in Russia are very outstanding. The author not only has a solid academic foundation, solid methodological training, outstanding judgment, and is rarely bound by dogma. What is especially rare is that he has been engaged in fieldwork in Russia for a long time and has rich personal experience. , very rare. But no one is perfect, and flaws can always be picked out.

1 The author rarely considers the spiritual and cultural aspects, and rarely mentions ideology and political culture. He compared the democratic transformation of Russia with Eastern European countries and non-communist countries, and put forward many insights, but he did not delve into the root of the far-left totalitarian ideology and spiritual culture of the communist countries-Marxism-the pervasive and far-reaching influence, It comprehensively and systematically distorted and obscured the cognition of modern civilization by the CPSU and the entire Soviet people, “ideas determine actions”, and it was the most important factor leading to the failure of the Soviet-Russian transition. So McFaul more or less underestimated the difficulty of transitioning Russia (and China). Although Chapter 9 has three pages in which the author talks about political culture, he only touches on it superficially. This topic is too big to explain in a few words, so I won’t discuss it.

2 The importance of spiritual culture can be clearly seen through the comparison between China and Japan. There are many differences between the reforms of the two countries. One of them is that the Meiji Restoration in Japan was promoted according to the “idealist” concept of Yukichi Fukuzawa’s “reform from ideology and ideas from Asia to Europe”, while China is the opposite. From the level of materialism and materialism, starting from the “hard ship and sharp gun”, it was only after the failure that the system reform came to mind, and then it failed again. Finally, it was as late as the “May 4th New Culture Movement” around 1919 . , spiritual and cultural changes, at this time the window of opportunity for gradual reform has been closed, and the frenzy of radical revolution has swept through everything. The Chinese nation has rushed all the way along the historical path of radical, radical and then radical to the “catastrophic” of the cultural revolution of the Great Revolution. The tireless Communist Party officials themselves had to be rehabilitated, and only then did the CCP reluctantly embark on the path of incremental reform. But have we learned our lesson? Have we abandoned the ultra-left ideology that specializes in destruction and has no idea what economic construction and state governance are? Haven’t we kept our mouths shut until now, “butt determines head”, “existence determines consciousness”, and “economic base determines superstructure”? How many of us really attach importance to theoretical construction, sit down and sit on the bench for many years, and seriously study modernization, modern civilization and freedom and democracy? After all, what do we deserve to enjoy freedom and democracy? Just relying on “innate human rights”, “it is human nature to love freedom”, “as long as the masses are mobilized to overthrow the Communist Party, it will immediately become a sunny day for democracy” and other dogmas and slogans? I’m sorry, all these democratic doctrines can’t stand up to scrutiny. Whoever believes in it, I don’t believe it anyway. For details, please read my essay “Progressive Democracy Collected Works”.

3Marx ‘s atheistic materialism is only one of the Western schools of thought that despise or even deny the importance of spiritual culture, as well as existentialism, positivism, multiculturalism, value-empty extreme individualism-liberalism, realism international relations theory Etc., all joined in the mighty chorus of relativism, nihilism, and liquidation since Nietzsche declared that “God is dead, and everything is possible.” .

Zhou Duo 2022.8.22. In Baoting, Hainan

“Appendix I”

The right of peoples to self-determination is not a human right

“The right to national self-determination is an inalienable basic human right.” This is a magic weapon in the hands of Tibetan independence and other “independence” factions. It is a pity that they don’t know that this is not a human right at all – “human rights” are individual rights, and “the right to national self-determination” is a collective right, it cannot be any “human rights”. If the independence is further legitimized through a referendum according to the claims of independence, it will even deprive the minorities who disapprove of independence of their human rights, and it will simply become anti-human rights (see the book “What Kind of Freedom Is It?” good stuff”).

What is less well-known is that when the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was discussed, the “right to national self-determination” was the Soviet Union’s desire to pinch the painful foot of the Western countries, to play the banner of anti-colonialism, and to gather satellite countries and a large number of third world countries. The proposal proposed by the country was unanimously opposed by the 12 Western countries at that time. Only because the majority voted on the side of the Soviet Union was finally written into the manifesto.

Not only is the “right to national self-determination” not a human right in principle, but its fundamental principle of “one nation, one nation”, that is, “every nation should have its own nation”, is even more absurd. There are no clearly defined pure-bred races in the world today, outside of the region of the world; secondly, there is no single-ethnic country at all, and all countries are multi-ethnic mixed. This absurd utopian dream will inevitably lead to a disaster-ridden practice. The two world wars, as well as the bloody disputes between and within many countries after the end of World War II, large and small civil wars and foreign wars, are all related to this out-and-out extreme. Nationalist claims are closely related, and examples of this are numerous. The current trend of world progress should be said to be just the opposite. Instead of artificially splitting the country into small pieces and fragmenting it, it dilutes national sovereignty like the EU and gradually integrates it into a larger political entity through free and equal friendly consultation. Popper (K. Popper) directly denounced the “right of national self-determination” as a “reactionary proposition”, which is exactly the wisdom of philosophers (see “The Open Society and Its Enemies”).

The practical consequences of Tibetan independence

We might as well do a little rational thinking and think about what would actually happen if Tibet was really allowed to become independent.

First of all, Tibet is the strategic commanding height of western China, and on the side of the border is a rising power with many expansionist behaviors in history (think Sikkim), if Tibet becomes independent, who can guarantee India and post-independence Tibet Can the government get along peacefully and friendly with China? China’s western border is bound to be invulnerable and in a position of passive beating. This is China’s core national interest. In today’s semi-anarchy world, no Chinese government – even a democratic government – can betray it. Otherwise, it will immediately lose its legitimacy or even collapse. Anyone who wants to offend China’s core national interests will surely arouse serious national sentiment among the Chinese people and be cast aside.

Next, how to deal with a series of practical problems? How are the boundaries divided? What Tibetan independence advocates demand is a “Great Tibet” that includes all of Qinghai, a large area of ​​Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. Which Han Chinese might agree? What about the Han and other ethnic minorities living in Tibet now? What about the aid the central government has given to Tibet over the years, or the minerals mined from Tibet? Wait, the troubles are almost endless, and the chances of a peaceful, rational, fair solution to these problems are almost zero.

All in all, in order for the independence of Tibet to be tenable, I think several principles must be followed (the same for other independence factions):

  1. Violence is absolutely not allowed; ⒉ At least the consent of the vast majority of all stakeholders is required, and in principle, unanimous consent is best; get adequate compensation; ⒋ the old accounts of history must be settled in a rational, peaceful, and fair manner;

It is a pity that we cannot see that Tibetan independence people will abide by these principles – even under the conditions of free and equal consultation. Judging from the “3.14” Tibet riots, some Tibetan separatists (of course not all) did not just violently confront the government and the police, but burned and killed ordinary people—both Han, Hui and other ethnic minorities Looting is an unforgivable criminal offense in any way. It is in stark contrast to the group behavior of the Beijing people during the “89 turmoil” when they were highly restrained and never committed any criminal offense. This shows an undeniable fact: some Tibetan separatists are in fact the extreme nationalism of ethnic minorities with national hatred, and it will only arouse the same extreme nationalism of the Han (and it must be anti-American and anti-Western). ), creating endless ethnic conflicts and even ethnic vendettas, which are only harmful to China’s democratization and not beneficial. Regardless of where this ethnic hatred comes from, and who caused it—I agree, mostly by the incompetent CCP—it doesn’t affect the fact itself. We must face this sad reality soberly and not deceive ourselves with a set of consensual castles in the air.

The national question is a huge powder keg in the process of democratization of almost all multi-ethnic countries. It is extremely troublesome and dangerous and cannot be taken carelessly. Otherwise, it is not impossible that there will be horrific ethnic vendetta incidents like mountains of blood and blood in the process of China’s democratization in the future. I say this is by no means sensational. The civil war in Yugoslavia is an example. The Chinese Exclusion Incident is another irrefutable case. Relevant information and pictures are easy to find on the Internet. “Tiger Mother” Cai Aimei’s monograph “A World on Fire” is an outstanding research work on related topics, worthy of every A Chinese and foreign person who is concerned about the democratization of less developed countries has read it carefully.

It is true that Western countries pay attention to the human rights situation of Tibetans with good intentions, and it can even be said that it is justified, but the problem is that Westerners generally lack relevant knowledge and have no personal interests. If China falls into civil strife due to ethnic issues, which Westerners will Give up Western nationality, join Chinese nationality, share the same feelings with the Chinese people, and come to China to share our joys and sorrows? Is there such a person? China is in chaos, you pat your butt and leave, who can believe that you will think and act responsibly about China’s future?

Where is the way out?

Finally, I would like to recommend Ma Rong’s new views on China’s ethnic issues (some of which are my extension), who is currently working at the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology at Peking University.

First, a thorough clean-up of Stalin’s theory of the nation—including its basic concepts. The “Chinese nation” should be renamed the “nation of China”, and the “nation” of “Han nationality and ethnic minorities” should be renamed the “ethnic group” according to the practice of the United States; the Chinese nation is the collective name of 57 ethnic groups. If the nationality is also a “nation” and the Tibetans are also a “nation”, it is natural that the Tibetans will establish their own independent state. This is a major misunderstanding of Stalin’s national theory.

Second, depoliticize ethnic issues (the so-called “ethnic issues”) and turn them into ethnic cultural issues. Abolish “regional autonomy of ethnic groups”, break up the political division of “ethnic minorities” concentrated in specific areas, advocate mixed living of various ethnic groups, and only retain their own ethnic cultural traditions – this is what the United States has done, and Singapore has also done it very successfully. The same is true of Chinese traditions, and they are all worthy of our study or inheritance.

Judging from the lessons of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Stalin’s national policy was a major failure, which should arouse our vigilance. I myself have always believed that a high degree of autonomy for “minorities” is the only way out, but now I have changed my opinion.

(Excerpted from Zhou Duo: Anthology of Progressive Democracy)

“Appendix II”

This is a suggestion I made in September 2015. After two friends put forward some amendments, MXL, a “second-generation red” friend, modified the whole article into “language within the system” and sent it to the Politburo of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Fourth Standing Committee, the Central Office asked twice who the author was, and when I heard that it was me, I didn’t write any more. These propositions of mine are not designed for the reformists of the CCP. Even if the CCP steps down, it will still be valid. The propositions of this advice may be difficult to implement in the foreseeable future, but I maintain that it remains the “realistically best” option with the least cost and the most certain outcomes, and there is no reason not to proceed. Other options are either too ideal and difficult to achieve, or have many drawbacks and are not desirable.

“Breakthrough in the middle” political reform roadmap

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the reform has accelerated significantly. The strong implementation of anti-corruption, the introduction of socialist core values, the “comprehensive deepening of reforms” at the Third Plenary Session, and the “comprehensive advancement of the rule of law” at the Fourth Plenary Session, etc. The new leadership team has great expectations. However, the difficulty of reform is also increasing. Among them, the so-called “intestinal obstruction” is particularly difficult to solve, that is, the laziness and inaction of the middle layer of the system. If it is implemented, the consequences will be extremely serious.

The research of this topic is aimed at the problem of “intestinal obstruction”, trying to draw a systematic reform roadmap, which can not only solve the overall, fundamental and long-term problems, but also make the reform risks controllable and error-correctable. mechanism, so as not to cause global turmoil.

In a nutshell: Make a breakthrough in the middle. Select a few percent of the country’s 2,851 counties and county-level cities as pilots. Taking this as a breakthrough point, the success of the pilot will comprehensively promote the rule of law as the core goal and the inner-party democracy. The reform of the political system with the reform of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as the two major hubs.

  1. The grassroots democracy is ineffective

Since the early 1980s, the grass-roots democratic experiment marked by villager self-government has been implemented. The practice of nearly 30 years has shown that the effect is very unsatisfactory. What is the reason? First, because the level is too low, the village is not a complete political institution at the first level, and the interference from the higher level is too serious, which makes the name of “village autonomy” not true; The generation requires elites to guide and regulate, and the hundreds of thousands of villages across the country are too large to have enough qualified human resources to engage in guidance work. Third, the construction of the rule of law has not kept up, and there is a lack of mechanisms to prevent election bribery or the selection of underworld figures.

Conversely, if democracy is rashly promoted across the country without grassroots democratic practice, it will easily lead to overall turmoil, and if mistakes are made, they will be difficult to correct due to “path dependence”.

Since Qin unified the whole country and implemented the county system, county-level political power has always been a complete basic governance unit. Even if there are some problems in a few counties and cities, it will not lead to overall unrest. Therefore, political reform centered on counties and cities should be the best option in reality.

2 The rule of law cannot be achieved overnight

Even in a mature and stable liberal democratic country, the establishment of the rule of law has gone through a long and tortuous historical process. In a country like my country that lacks the tradition of the rule of law, the rule of law is basically on track (which can be used as “the vast majority of mass incidents can pass through impartial justice”. , rather than by means of administrative intervention such as petitions and visits” as the standard) I am afraid it will take at least 20 years. It must be admitted that the current judicial situation in our country is quite backward, many basic conditions are not yet met, and the national conditions are extremely complex. Therefore, it may be difficult to promote judicial reform (and other reforms) only from the top down.

The biggest difficulty in judicial reform is that its core goals of “professionalism” and “effective supervision” are in conflict with each other. Professional literacy comes from a clear and definite professional division of labor and the independent and autonomous tradition of the legal community. At present, the general situation in my country is that the professional division of labor is not clear and the legal professional group is immature and unstable. However, a highly specialized and autonomous legal professional group can easily form a monopoly group that is not constrained by public supervision, with close internal collusion and improper profit-making. It is suggested that the “improvement of professional quality” should be entrusted to the high level of the state, while the “effective supervision” should be positioned as a local function and be entrusted to the CPPCC at all levels (see below).

3 Gradually implement the constitutional functions of the NPC

When formulating the 1954 constitution, the framers had to take into account the relevant provisions of the interim constitution, namely the Common Program, and keep it consistent with the Soviet constitution, which in turn drew on the basic forms of Western constitutions, such as the “Union House”. ” and “Supreme Soviet” are modeled after the bicameral parliamentary system; my country’s National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference have always appeared in the form of two chambers of parliament in foreign exchanges. Since the reform and opening up, great changes have taken place in all aspects of the situation. Now it is both necessary and possible to reform the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in the direction of a real parliament and two houses.

Parliamentary and presidential systems are the two main forms of modern political governance, capitalism can be used, socialism can also be used. Recently, there have been more and more signs that the parliamentary system is superior to the presidential system. For example, Fukuyama, a famous American political scientist, publicly criticized the presidential system in the United States, which often leads to confrontation between the Congress and the president, which seriously affects the effectiveness of the government. It should be changed to a parliamentary system; the calls for Hong Kong’s political reform to imitate the parliamentary system are endless. The main reason is that the parliamentary system is not “separation of three powers”, but “unification of deliberation and action”, that is, the integration of the legislative power of the parliament and the executive power of the ruling party (the general opinion of the “separation of three powers” in the parliamentary system comes from Montesquieu, while Meng Desquieu misunderstood the British system) – the leader of the majority party who wins the majority of the votes in the House of Commons can both lead the legislation and have the power to organize the government and be the head of the executive, and the cabinet ministers or ministers are also generated from the MPs, which will not happen Decision-making impasse that is prone to occur under presidential systems when the president and the parliamentary majority do not belong to the same party.

my country’s Constitution stipulates that the National People’s Congress is the highest authority (this is precisely the constitutional function of the lower house of parliament in a parliamentary system, and the “separation of powers” presidential system does not have a “supreme authority”), and the current reality of our country clearly deviates from the constitutional provisions. , it is necessary to gradually make the People’s Congress the highest authority. my country’s constitution also stipulates that local people’s congresses are local organs of state power, and deputies to the people’s congresses are directly elected by voters. However, the actual situation is also quite different from the provisions of the constitution.

According to the current situation, and referring to the specific experience of the People’s Action Party of Singapore and the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (both countries are actually governed by one party for a long time within the framework of the parliamentary system), the CCP has almost no suspense in the long historical period. To be able to win the majority of seats in the elections of deputies to the people’s congress at the county and city level, become the majority party of the county and city people’s congress, and thus control the legislative and executive powers – this is actually “Communist leadership”, that is, the party’s constitution, It is a leader who is justifiable and legally authorized by the voters, why not do it?

As a transitional measure, it is possible to legislate not to open the party ban for a certain period of time, and only allow the Communist Party and eight democratic parties to form parties, but independent civilians can participate in the election of deputies to the county and city level people’s congresses. In this way, there will be real political competition. Only when there is competition can there be vitality, and when there is competition, corruption can be effectively prevented. As long as it becomes the majority party in the House of Commons, the CCP’s parliamentary group will of course elect the county magistrate and take charge of the legislative and executive powers. In this way, the county party secretary of the ruling party and the county magistrate are unified, and the long-standing problem of party-government relations has been solved.

One of the advantages of allowing independent civilians to run for election is that it can attract a large number of elites outside the system into the system, effectively curbing the anti-system sentiment of those radical elites. The experience and lessons of the French Revolution show that the pre-revolutionary French intellectuals were excluded from political practice, making them radical, anti-establishment, vain, detached from reality, and becoming advocates of the Revolution; if they had the opportunity to participate in political practice, then A high-profile ideal floating in mid-air will soon fall back to the ground, and a destructive radical position will move towards a constructive moderate position. (If the electoral system is properly designed, one constituency elects one or two representatives based on the number of votes, and eschews the proportional representation system of elections, forcing the representatives to take a middle position in order to win the majority of votes, and also curb the radical or centrifugal tendencies of representatives. )

The Communist Party has no reason to fear elections at the county and city levels. On the contrary, it is the only way to force the county and city governments to look down on the voters, be responsible to the voters, and respond to the demands of the people anytime, anywhere; The deterioration of political ecology such as corruption, corruption, etc. can be fundamentally cured, and the more than 100,000 mass incidents in the country every year can be cured.

  1. Promote intra-party democracy step by step

“Intra-Party Democracy to Drive People’s Democracy” has now reached a consensus within the Party, which should be launched in a timely manner and actively and steadily advanced step by step. Deputies to the county and city people’s congresses may be selected in parallel with the constituency system and the party system. Some are directly elected (or indirectly) by voters in the constituency, and some are elected or negotiated within the parties. In any case, the county party secretary of the Communist Party should be elected by the Communist Party members of the whole county. As for whether it is a direct election or a level-up indirect election, each pilot county and city can be independently tested; the method of selecting county mayor candidates can also be varied. Similarly It can allow counties and cities to innovate independently and compete with each other; after the experience is mature, the province or the central government will select the best to standardize and promote.

As the leader of the majority party, the secretary of the county party committee serves as the head of the administration—the county magistrate. The director of the county and city people’s congress (speaker of the county and city lower house) can be elected by all the county and city people’s congress representatives.

At the county level and above, how to promote intra-party democracy in the province and the whole country is not within the scope of this research. Whether the democratic election of the secretary of the provincial party committee can start the pilot.

In order to complement the reform of counties and cities, it is also possible to consider canceling the current ethnic minority autonomous regions at the same level as the provinces, and subdivide them into ethnic minority autonomous counties (for example, it is stipulated that only the counties with the majority of the minority population can become autonomous counties), forming ethnic minority autonomous counties and non-ethnic autonomous counties. The autonomous counties are intertwined; then the big provinces are divided into two or three, and the whole country is changed to 50-60 provinces. The current system of regional ethnic autonomy for ethnic minorities is copied from the Soviet Union. Judging from the experience of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, this approach lurks a serious danger of national division and should be prevented as soon as possible.

Until the adjustment of the ethnic autonomous areas is completed, it is advisable to postpone the experiment in ethnic areas on the condition that the economic or educational level reaches a certain level.

5 Reform the CPPCC into the House of Lords

The parliament itself also has the problem of power supervision and checks and balances. The bicameral system is a method of internal supervision and checks and balances in the parliament of “supervising the legislative power with the legislative power”. From the practical experience of Western democracies, the slide from liberal democracy to populist democracy is a serious problem, which is related to the excessive expansion of the power of the House of Commons and the shrinking power of the House of Lords. If we can pay attention to this problem and make a good system design from the beginning of the reform of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, it is not an exaggeration to say that we may even create a democratic system that is superior to the West in some aspects.

Since democratic elections have to abide by the decision-making principle of “the minority obeys the majority”, and the majority are usually the lower-middle class with lower income and education, the result will inevitably become populist, that is, the policy will become more and more populist. Favoring the middle and lower classes; this is how the problems of excessive welfare and financial bankruptcy in the EU, especially Greece, arise. The first is to inherit the Chinese Confucian tradition of “elite governance and meritocracy.” The second is to strengthen the power of the upper house, so that the two houses of parliament can effectively supervise and balance each other.

The first is to divide the legislative power and assign the legislative power to the Yamato Political Consultative Conference; as to how to allocate it, it may be determined after summarizing experience in practice.

Secondly, considering that Hong Kong and Macao will be conducive to the unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and the different social systems in the future, we propose to adopt the reasonable content of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s “Five Powers Constitution”, and hand over the “examination power” and “supervision power” to the upper house, namely the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Instead of setting up the Examination Yuan and the Supervisory Yuan separately, it is also possible to consider transferring the responsibility and power of judicial reform and supervision to the CPPCC.

The CPPCC should continue the existing method and be composed of so-called “social elites”, but change it to consist of the Communist Party and eight democratic parties, as well as certain sectors (called “functional constituencies” in Hong Kong: workers, farmers, business enterprises, teachers, students , the legal profession, doctors, professionals in science, technology, culture and sports, freelancers, youth, women, consumers, etc.) are elected or nominated members of the CPPCC within their respective sectors, with a total of 50-60 members.

The right to take examinations refers to the selection, assessment and promotion of civil servants. First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between administrative officers and affairs officers: the county magistrate selects and appoints deputy magistrates, bureau chiefs and other administrative officers. The following clerks are employed for life through unified examination, regardless of party affiliation. Administrative officers are responsible for implementing the policies of the ruling party, while affairs officers are responsible for routine day-to-day management. No matter which political party is in power, they still work. Conducive to social stability.

The supervision power can consider merging the existing discipline inspection and supervision agencies and put them under the unified control of the CPPCC. There is precedent for this. Historically, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was set up in the House of Lords, that is to say, the power of judicial review rested in the House of Lords. It was not until recently that the Labour Party government made legislation to be independent from the House of Lords.

The advantages of the political reform path of “breakthrough in the middle” are very obvious:

(1) As Wang Qishan mentioned recently, the historical legitimacy of the Communist Party does not equal its eternal legitimacy. That is to say, the Communist Party must keep pace with the times and strive to build a new basis for legitimacy in the new era of reform and opening up. The significance of the proposal is that it solves the fundamental problem of “system legitimacy”.

(2) It can not only solve the fundamental problems of the overall situation, but also avoid the overall turbulence caused by reform mistakes;

(3) Not only the centralized guidance and norms of the superiors, but also the enthusiasm of the grass-roots political power can be fully mobilized; it can be expected that many unpredictable reform results will emerge from the competition of the grass-roots political power system innovation;

(4) It can resolve the antagonistic sentiments of the radicals and transform the destructive forces outside the system into constructive forces within the system;

(5) The dead knot of “separation of the party and the government” has been solved, and the leader of the ruling party and the executive head have been combined into one, avoiding the wasteful wrangling and unclear responsibilities;

(6) It is in line with Deng Xiaoping’s principle of “not copying the Western separation of powers”, reducing resistance to reform and making it easier to reach consensus within the party;

(7) It implements the provisions of the Constitution without being too advanced, which is in line with the existing consensus within the party;

(8) To reasonably and legally realize the basic requirement of “guaranteeing the leadership of the Communist Party”;

(9) Help to eliminate the threat of national independence and national division;

(10) Conducive to cross-strait reunification;

(11) Conducive to the implementation of the civil service system, avoiding the change of policies and “political interest” caused by the change of leadership, which is conducive to the stability and continuity of policies;

(12) It is possible to truly create a form of democracy with Chinese characteristics that is superior to Western democracy in some aspects.

(13) The problem of “intestinal obstruction” is basically solved.

(14) It is possible to create a new type of democracy that is superior to Western democracy in some aspects, and to make a unique contribution to the civilization and progress of the entire human race.

(This article only represents the author’s personal views and positions. It was first published by Light Media. Please indicate the source for reprinting, thank you)