How China is Governed

Excerpt from essay by Slavoj Žižek titled “Sinicisation” in London Review of Books, July 16

…An exemplary case of today’s “socialism” is China, where the Communist Party is engaged in a campaign of self-legitimization which promotes three theses: (1) Communist Party rule alone can guarantee successful capitalism; (2) the rule of the atheist Communist Party alone can guarantee authentic religious freedom; and (3) continuing Communist Party rule alone can guarantee that China will be a society of Confucian conservative values (social harmony, patriotism, moral order).

These aren’t simply nonsensical paradoxes. The reasoning might go as follows: (1) without the party’s stabilising power, capitalist development would explode into a chaos of riots and protests; (2) religious factional struggles would disturb social stability; and (3) unbridled hedonist individualism would corrode social harmony.

The third point is crucial, since what lies in the background is a fear of the corrosive influence of Western “universal values”: freedom, democracy, human rights and hedonist individualism. The ultimate enemy is not capitalism as such but the rootless Western culture threatening China through the free flow of the Internet. It must be fought with Chinese patriotism; even religion should be “sinicised” to ensure social stability.

A Communist Party official in Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, said recently that while “hostile forces” are stepping up their infiltration, religions must work under socialism to serve economic development, social harmony, ethnic unity and the unification of the country: “Only when one is a good citizen can one be a good believer….”


One response to “How China is Governed

  1. The geostrategic role of ‘religion’ in Confucian China points to a close affinity with that in Orthodox Russia.