As China’s influence spreads across not just Asia but to the West as
well, their form of communism has become more accepted and less turned away
from. Contrary, democracies like America and Europe have become less aggressive
in spreading their governance model which has in fact become less sought after.
The downfall of democracy leaves many Americans quaking in fear that the
country would be more prone to dishonest and unprincipled regimes, thus
empowering the religious radicals.
For many years, America and Europe have been looked up to as the
role model for a democracy. Yet, why should developing countries follow the
footsteps of the American democracy that cannot even pass their budget or
handle their finances well, let alone plan for the future properly with their
over-confidence? Why should autocrats listen to the rambling about democracy
being the ideal system of governance, when the euro-elite sacks elected leaders
who obstruct fiscal orthodoxy? This is the reason China and their system of
communism now poses a larger threat to democracy, more than it ever did.
Then again, to be fair, it cannot be denied that the Chinese elite is becoming a self-perpetuating and
self-serving clique. The 50 richest members of the China’s National People’s
Congress are collectively worth 60 times as much as the 50 richest members of
America’s Congress. China’s growth rate has slowed from 10% to below 8% and is
expected to fall further – an enormous challenge for a regime whose legitimacy
depends on its ability to deliver consistent growth.
Hope for Democracy?
To some extent, democracies are criticized more than they should be
and are given too little credit for its strengths. If done properly, the voting
system allows for a change in the body is the people see fit, allowing the
state to be open to new solutions and policies that other parties have to
offer. This is better than having the same party seeking solutions to
pre-existing problems, especially if they often fail to implement the right
policies efficiently. Of course, this is done under the assumption that the
democracy is functioning as it should – the leaders are free from corruption
and the people are voting smartly. For this to happen, it must be built on firm
foundations to prevent the system from straying further later on.
The idea that democracy is an extremely power system but an
imperfect one that can be dangerous is unstable, means that it is a system that
require careful planning and designing. Afterwards, there still has to be thorough
checks on the body to keep the quality in check or to improve the system. This
ensures that while talent and creativity continues to be gathered, human behaviour
i still tightly controlled and kept way below unacceptable levels. Most
democracies that have turned out to be successful are similar in that the
government is able to defy the way “majority wins”. While the
democracy takes a lot of consideration of the people’s opinions, what the
people desire may not always be best for the state in the long-run. The
government must be able to resist the temptation of simply taking the easy way
out and “going with the flow” just to maintain its political
popularity. Even when decisions may not always please the majority, as long as
they are made with the long-term vision of the state’s future, it should be
executed accordingly. Both India and Brazil have survived as a democracy since
the past for this very reason – limits are placed on the government’s power to guarantee
that the individual rights are provided for.
Not only that, the democracy must
be able to exercise self-restraint to be healthy. As quoted by James Madison, the 4th US President, “In framing a
government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty
lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and
in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Self-restraint is exercised via
the implementation of tight and detailed fiscal rules, or through the involvement
of non-partisan commissions to propose reforms. For example, Sweden has pledged
to place priority of the state’s budget, over the activity of the economy.
Later when their pension system was on the verge of collapse, independent commissions
suggested changes including the greater use of private pensions and linking the
retirement age to life-expectance. Chile is also a country that has been
particularly successful at managing and balancing the volatility of the copper
market and the populist pressure to spend the surplus during good economic
outlooks. They have introduced strict rules to ensure they are constantly running
a surplus no matter the condition of the economy, and have also appointed
experts to help generate solutions to keep the market volatility in check. To
sum up, self-denying rules can strengthen democracy by preventing people from
voting for spending policies that produce bankruptcy and social breakdown and
by protecting minorities from persecution.