Wednesday, 12 February 2020

THE DISSOLUTION OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN TOTALITARIAN CHINA

What we are witnessing now in China is the near-total collapse of civil society. The phrase "civil society" was first used by Adam Ferguson in his "Essay on Civil Society". It refers to the social fabric, that is to say, to that complex and thick network of human, social, cultural, political and economic productive relations that make up a human community of whatever description. It is out of this social fabric that the State arises as the legal and political institution that administers civil society as its expression through political institutions that "re-present" civil society - in other words, institutions that synthesise, summarise and implement needs, interests and decisions that emanate from the social body.

As we have often argued, in a capitalist society, the fundamental hypothesis is that its individual members are infinitely selfish and therefore are in a state of total civil war that requires an extrinsic State to keep the social peace. In reality, however, capitalism requires the formal legal representation of its citizens to ensure that the labour force is represented in terms of setting wages and work conditions and also the nature and quantity of production. This Demokratisierung (democratisation) through parliamentary institutions allows and enables the existence of many capitalists in competition with one another to establish a market wage and a market for goods produced. It is this "balance of conflicting self-interests" mediated by legal guarantees or liberties that allow the "rationalisation" (Rationalisierung - these terms belong to Max Weber) of industrial capitalist production.

By contrast, in a totalitarian society such as the Han Chinese, it is the Party that replaces civil society entirely because it sets itself up as the "totality" (hence, totalitarian) of the political reality of the society. Consequently, the Party has the necessity to dissolve and destroy any and all forms of civil society that in a democratic community ensure the "re-presentation" of social needs from the bottom to the top of the political hierarchy. The totalitarian Party not only breaks up and dissolves all social links and solidarity amongst its subjects such that there is and there can be no "opposition" to its rule. But also, the totalitarian ensures thus that the decision-making order in its society is from the top down and not from the bottom up. 

It is already obvious why such a political order is quite simply catastrophic because (a) it is not accountable and responsible to civil society, and (b) it imposes dictates and rigorous orders that have very little contiguity or connection with the needs and interests of its civil society or its subjects, either individually or in groups.

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