Pacific-Asia and the Future of the World-System

By Ravi Arvind Palat | Go to book overview
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the realization of democratic ideals cannot fail to be a protracted and painful process. The record of the century-long Chinese revolution clearly suggests that a viable democratic movement will require a social program that addresses the poverty and social divisions in Chinese society that emerged in new forms in the 1980s and that continue to hold back China's advance. Successful economic reform will ultimately require a democratizing political process conducive to the constitution of a civil society free from many of the social and political controls that remain intact in contemporary China.


This essay expands on and develops themes broached in my Political Economy of Chinese Development.

East European dissidents, too, generally began with demands that could have been encompassed within the framework of communist rule. It was not until Mikhail Gorbachev clearly signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily in Eastern Europe and until it became clear that Egor Ligachev was unable to mount an effective challenge to the reformers that movements in country after country of Eastern Europe attacked the fundamental legitimacy of the ruling parties and eventually replaced them. The East European regimes, with few exceptions, lacked the nationalist aura that was a residual strength of China's Communist Party. A critical difference is that China's Communist Party continued to tap into the residual strength associated with its effective leadership of the national resistance to Japan a generation earlier, while most of the regimes in Eastern Europe suffered from their association with Soviet power.
In the end, as Josephine Khu ( 1990) and Woei Lien Chong ( 1990) have made clear, their inability to control militant elements among the hunger strikers thwarted hopes for a negotiated outcome as surely as did intransigents at the highest levels of the party. Negotiations collapsed when student representatives were outflanked by protesters, many of whom had recently come to Beijing from the provinces and would brook no compromise.


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