Muhlberger notes that the definition of democracy has historically been restricted to nations that are adhere to the Western conception of democracy (25). Yet, Muhlberger claims that even within authoritarian regimes, there are components of democracy at the grassroots level. He defines “quasi-democratic” as “any group willing to submit to decisions arrived at by discussion and voting (formal or informal) or abides judgment of elected representatives” (Muhlberger 27). In this essay, I argue that there have been quasi-democratic elements even within the Chinese Communist tradition. These elements at the local level signal the potential for China to fully transition into a democracy in the future.
Muhlberger notes the historical tradition of quasi-democracy within Chinese political development. Under most emperors, village administration was the responsibility of the villagers themselves (Muhlberger 30). Village temples typically provided services on behalf of community. In areas of weaker clan and temple organization, cooperative organizations fulfilled role of providing services (Muhlberger 31). Thus, the Chinese villages enjoyed a certain level of autonomy. Furthermore, this local organization to provide needed goods and services is characteristic of self-governance. Although encapsulated within an authoritarian regime, these beginnings of village self-government revealed quasi-democracy.
This autonomy has considerably increased with the introduction of competitive village elections through the 1982 China constitution (Horsley 44). Village committee elections give hope to the possibility of liberal democratization of the rest of China. Horsley claims that the introduction of competitive elections has opened the path to the ...
... middle of paper ...
...slow and careful process. Given the historical quasi-democracy within China, the possibility of democracy could perhaps be realized. Furthermore, the importance of village elections and the Tiananmen Square incident demonstrate the increasing importance of the individual in Communist China; by focusing on collective action at the local level, China has the potential to become fully democratic in the future.
Jamie P. Horsley (2001). “Village Elections: Training Grounds for
Democratization.” The China Business Review 28 (2, March-April): 44-52.
Kopstein, Jeffrey, Mark Irving Lichbach, and Yu-Shan Wu. Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities, and Institutions in a Changing Global Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.
S. Mulhberger and P. Paine (1993). “Democracy’s Place in World History.”
Journal of World History 4 (1): 23-45.
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