In thinking about the present clashes between Chinese security forces and protesting Chinese people, it is useful to remember that at the time of the Soviet implosion and since then, China’s President Xi Jinping has insisted that the cardinal mistake of then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was his promotion of glasnost and encourgement of popular democracy. In contrast, Xi, drawing from his study of Soviet experience, drew the opposite lesson, that is, the main political imperative of the CPC is to consolidate the party’s supremacy and control over every area of life.
Needless to say, this mindset and policy has lead to the constriction of democracy, democratic rights, and public discussion, as we are seeing once again in the streets of Shanghai and other cities in China.
China can claim many successes, some historic in nature, but the development of socialist democracy – broad scale participation in every aspect of life and determination of public policy, not least in the workplace – isn’t one of them. And without that, socialism becomes hollow and a caricature of itself.