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December 15, 2006

Comments

Phil

a belief that the main threat to CPC rule comes from within the Party rather than from the public.

This reminds me of something I read recently by some American social movement theorists, who tried to analyse Tiananmen in terms of elite interaction with popular protest & rapidly concluded that the model didn't really work - or rather it did, but not in quite the way they expected. Because of the Party's penetration of society, there isn't that much space for mass protest to develop unguided - but because of the Party's monopoly of power, there isn't that much space for intra-elite faction fighting to develop either. The result, they argued, is that mass protest is selectively exploited - and fostered - as a means of settling elite conflicts. It's a bit Kremlinological, but it persuaded me. It was published in 2001, though, and mass group incidents may have changed the picture since then.

jamie

I think the actual threat from within the party has more to do with colossal misrule stimulating revolt rather than different ideological orientations within the wider ruling group.

It's certainly true that a) there's a long CPC factional tradition of supporting external protest and rebellion against internal enemies, and then doing away with it when the time is right - the hundred flowers movement, democracy wall and so on. The anti-japanese riots in Shanghai not so long ago looked like an attempt by the Shanghai faction to derail Hu's policy towards Japan, which is actually quite accomodating.

...and b)this is against a background where civil society has always been suppressed by the ruling group, in Imperial times as under the communists. There's a long tradition of hostility towards any non-family or kinship grouping independent of the state.

Policy towards the MGI's seems to illustrate the first point. On those occasions where localised rebellions have been successful, central government has always let that result stand as a popular verdict. It's partky seen as an opportunity to put discipline on local cadres.

Alex

Fantastic post, JK.

Phil: it looked like elite interaction with popular protest to me - the elite interacted with them until they were dead, no?

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