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What Causes Revolutions?

January 13, 2013

A surprising number of people in China have been writing and talking about “revolution”.  First came word, in November, that China’s new leaders have been advising their colleagues to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic book on the French Revolution, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution), which subsequently has shot to the top of China’s best seller lists.  Just this past week, Chinese scholar Zhao Dinxing, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, felt the need to publish an article (in Chinese) laying out the reasons China won’t have a revolution (you can read an English summary here).  Minxin Pei, on the other hand, thinks it will.

In the midst of this debate, I happened across an interesting set of passages in retired Harvard professor Richard Pipes’ slender volume Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution.  The first “why” he asks is “Why did Tsarism fall?”, an event that few saw coming:

If you read the Russian and foreign press before 1917, or memoirs of the time, you find that hardly anyone expected the downfall of tsarism either.  On the contrary, people believed that tsarism would survive for a long time to come … For had not tsarism weathered all onslaughts and all crises [including the 1905 uprising], and emerged from them intact?

The answer, he argues, lies in the fact that Russian society changed dramatically, but its political system did not, leading to an explosive disconnect between the two:

So, around 1900, we have a mechanically rather than organically structured state that denies the population any voice in government, and yet, at the same time, aspires to the status of a global power.  This aspiration compels it to promote industrial development and higher education, which has the inevitable effect of shifting much opinion and the power to make decisions to private citizens.  Pre-1905 tsarism thus suffered from an irreconcilable contradiction.  A not-insignificant segment of the population received secondary and higher education, acquiring, in the process, Western attitudes, and yet it was treated as being on the same level with the illiterate peasantry, that is, unfit to participate in the affairs of state.  Capitalist industrialists and bankers made major decisions affecting the country’s economy and employment, yet had no say in that country’s politics because politics was the monopoly of the bureaucracy …

The result was a situation which Marx had rightly predicted had to arise when the political form — in this case, heavily centralized and static — no longer corresponded to the socio-economic context — increasingly dispersed and dynamic.  Such a situation is by its very nature fraught with explosive potential.  In 1982 [Pipes writes], when I worked in the National Security Council, I was asked to contribute ideas to a major speech that President Reagan was scheduled to deliver in London.  My contribution consisted of a reference to Marx’s dictum that, when there develops a significant disparity between the political form and the socio-economic context, the prospect is revolution.  This disparity, however, had now developed in the Soviet Union, not in the capitalist West.  President Reagan inserted this thought into his speech, and the reaction in Moscow was one of uncontrolled fury: this, of course, was a language they well understood and interpreted to mean a declaration of political war against the Communist Bloc.  Their anger was enhanced by the awareness that the statement was correct, that they were ruling in a manner that did not correspond to either the economic or the cultural level of their population.

Read that again carefully, line by line, with present-day China in mind, and I think you’ll  find some fascinating food for thought.  I have often observed that I know of no country that has changed as much in the past 30 years as China has, in terms of the kind of practical freedom people experience in their day-to-day lives.  The greatest challenge facing China’s leaders is how — or whether — a fundamentally closed political system (rule by an elite) can cope with the dramatically more open economy and society that present-day China has become.  That’s why they’re reading Tocqueville.

39 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2013 11:30 pm

    Reblogged this on Chindia Alert: forewarned is forearmed and commented:
    Prof Chovanec is based in China and has great insights about all matters. This time about the likelihood of revolution in China.

  2. FrancisZ permalink
    January 14, 2013 1:31 am

    I read through Zhao Dingxing’s article in the Chinese original. Rather than arguing China won’t have a revolution ever, its more about why there are fundamental instability in the Chinese form of government that if unresolved, will likely lead to revolution. He did conclude reasons why such revolution is unlikely in the short term.

    • Daniel permalink
      January 14, 2013 7:38 am

      Agreed. The main point of Zhao’s article is that the current political structure is not so stable as it looks. The regime’s validity depends solely on its performance–keeping the economy grow rapidly. Only few paragraphs at the end argue that a revolution would not happen in the SHORT run.

  3. January 14, 2013 5:32 am

    Very, very elegant……

  4. Juan Didgee permalink
    January 14, 2013 6:46 am

    Best of luck to the individual who chooses to throw the first stone !

  5. Daniel permalink
    January 14, 2013 7:46 am

    Indeed the Russian society had been changing rapidly since the 1905 reform. But only socio-economic change is neither necessary nor sufficient for the happening of revolution. If the WWI had ended 1 year earlier, the communists wouldn’t have got the chance.

  6. gregorylent permalink
    January 14, 2013 10:26 am

    population evolving while institutions remains the same causes revolution? … watch the whole world, including usa, the next few decades …

    • andao permalink
      January 18, 2013 3:51 pm

      democracies can change their regimes peacefully, dictatorships can’t.

      don’t like wall street bankers running the show? well, run for office then. there’s an opportunity to do something, and if citizens in democracies don’t take those opportunities, then they can only blame themselves.

      • January 18, 2013 4:20 pm

        Andao: Well dictatorships CAN change peacefully, but they rarely do. Democracy IS the constant change of power. US presidents and Roman emperors had much the same time in office on average.

        The question is what type of term they have. Is there a need for leadership or administration. If it is mainly administration eight years is normally the top. In periods of great change there might be prolongation. Helmut Kohl was more or less set to be skipped off at next election as he had more or less outlived his “power-tools”, then the Soviet Union fell apart and Germany reunified.

        Merkel was a clear interim figure – a compromise between internally warring fractions of the CDU, but the crisis. Today it is hard NOT to see her win the election this year – and even the next one.

        Democracies change their leadership in times of crisis – or they show leadership.
        If China had been a democracy the leadership would have been changed in 2008 – at the latest, thus avoiding stacking ever more disasters on top of the previous ones.

        What China has resorted to is fiddling the books – just as the Soviet union did in the 1980’ies.

      • JRA permalink
        January 26, 2013 1:12 pm

        Question is whether the de facto control of American society is fungible even if the de jure structures provide for change in leaders. That is to say what is now an old saw: parties, media, large donors control who gets a legitimate shot at the presidency and most senate seats, and there is no constitutional purview over that very extended oligarchy.

        America entered its imperial phase in full floridity after the Soviet Union fell, even though most Americans instinctually tend toward isolationism. Globalization was part and parcel of the new imperial America. I doubt that a referendum on these trajectories in 1990 would have approved any of the landmarks of our foreign and trade policy since that time.

  7. January 14, 2013 4:04 pm

    Reblogged this on michaelcaster and commented:
    Some very insightful comments from Patrick Chovanec.

  8. January 14, 2013 5:58 pm

    Very interesting. Gail Bossenga is a historian of France who has written several essays updating Tocqueville’s argument. It can be generalised to apply to lots of societies, especially Russia, China and pre-Meiji Japan. However, I am sceptical that China will get its revolution – the UK, the US and India never have.

  9. January 14, 2013 7:04 pm

    oh ..thank you professor ..i am sure you know better the system in” CHINE TO DAY”but not sure HOW IS IN RUSSIA TO DAY.
    AH don’t forget charachter of people are completlly diffrent (this is one very important reason) for grow up politice and economy ..SCLAVE IS SCLAVE ..REVOLUTIONARE IS REVOLUTIONARE ..AND RUSSIA IS REVOLUTIONAR COUNTRY.CHINE not…
    have a nice day ( you are good there ) so this is one reason you protecte this GV (good for you) ..ask some one chines who don.t have water for shower..

    • January 15, 2013 9:33 pm

      No Chinese are not different – when starving they will react like everybody else – ugly.

    • Aulnay-souBois permalink
      January 18, 2013 12:58 am

      If anything the Chinese has a tradition of violent revolution/uprising that goes back to the original founding of the centralized authoritative regime over 2k yrs ago.

      • Carlos de Souza permalink
        February 3, 2013 10:52 pm

        The centralized authoritative regime in China was founded over 2000 years ago (according to you) and still survives ?? Yet, you say the Chinese has a tradition of violent revolution/uprising ?? Are you saying that every violent revolution/uprising of the revolutionary Chinese has “failed” in the last 2000 years ?? Seems a bit odd to me, I must say. Didn’t they learn anything from past/repeated failures ??

  10. David permalink
    January 15, 2013 1:13 am

    Watch this….

  11. Hua Qiao permalink
    January 15, 2013 6:57 am

    Seems to me you need three things for a successful revolution.
    1. A material number in the population needs to feel disenfranchised, that they have no voice or say in their government.
    2. That the general populace feels the deck is stacked against it, it has no chance of making a decent life and that times are so desperate as to risk incurring the wrath of the regime in power to make a new and better life for your children and future generations
    3. People have a sense that there are enough other citizens that feel the same way that, en mass, they feel they are an overwhelming force or alternatively, that the military or whoever owns enough guns in society is sympathetic to the cause and can be turned.

    To me, in China, i think the first condition is met. I don’t think #2 is met as the CPC has done an effective job through real economic growth and an endless stream of propaganda that sends the message “today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than tomorrow. The world is screwed up and China is doing well thanks to the Party leadership.”. While corruption threatens this balance by flaunting the systemic inequities, i am not sure it is enough. Lastly, the 3rd condition is not met as once again, the CPC does an effective job of isolating the citizenry and not allowing the populace to determine whether there is a ground swell of sentiment powerful enough to overwhelm the regime. The internet is a threat but the Party spends enormous amounts of money and people controlling this. There is no sign that the PLA is anything other than unwaivering in its support for the regime.

    The CPC has survived for 70 years in power and has morphed itself to adapt to changes in technology and environment. I don’t see this changing. Most Laobaixing only want to have a good life, keep food on the table and not worry about human rights.

    • January 15, 2013 3:11 pm

      I hope You are right – but the party has not done ANYTHING right – but leave it there.

      No food prices are going to rise – not rapidly as there is a large reserve – but quite out of step with wages.

      Were are not talking about a dispersed ignorant farming country any more – we are talking major cities, where people are used to organising at the work they won’t have for much longer and living cheek and jowl.

      The situation is very dangerous.

      • Hua Qiao permalink
        January 15, 2013 6:45 pm

        I am one of those tiresome Americans who can’t stand to see the abridgement of basic natural human rights such as freedom of speech and of the press. I have also lived in the Mainland for 5 years and have many friends of all economic strata.

        I just don’t see the seeds of either a major insurrection or a material change in the Party’s stranglehold on power. If food prices take off, then there will be more unrest. But the government has lots of resources to solve simple food shortages.

        I see a cynical continuance of the Party’s potion of intimidation, the occasional spot concessions to protests, lots of happy talk from the press and blather from officials. Monitor the the pile of leaves and keep it from smoldering too hot with some cold water every now and then. But be ready to turn the fire hoses on at any moment.

      • January 15, 2013 9:09 pm

        We are not talking crumbs here – we are talking (according to the figures I have – they might be flawed and I would like a qualified estimate – but for the time being) that China can only feed 70% of its own population. The farmers will continue to be more productive and send people of to cities; but total production is not going to raise!
        There is only one way: Imports – and when a nation like China goes power-shopping, that will raise the prices on food – the West couldn’t care less – food is such a small part of the Western shopping cart.
        This means that underpaying the city population is not enough any more to pay for the daily meal.

        There are two developments possible – the French Revolution (the harvest of 1788 was exceptionally poor) which flashed the very moment the last grain of last years harvest was eaten – and the new was still in the field. I mention this because things can happen very, very quickly – from an apparent calm – and very, very violently. Chinas record of handling major disasters make Russia look good – disaster management has some very hard size limitations. From being a newsworthy report – like Katrina and the tsunami in Japan – to getting completely out of hand and descending into utter mayhem, panic and revolution.

        The other development is a squeezing of any economic activity – much like a credit freeze – tighter and tighter with growing distress that will mean massive food aid – and the only place to get that on that scale is the US. (Russia hasn’t the infrastructure for it). A collapse of the economy to a barter level. Much like Germany after 1945 – until Ludwig Erhard stopped the rot – and that was due to the fear of a revolution which Lucius Clay wasn’t going to allow. But I honestly don’t see a person with Erhard’s integrity, foresight, planning ability – with a massive military back up – not in China. I don’t think a military dictatorship (like the allied occupying forces in Germany) will have the organisation and clout to brush aside the party apparatus – not in China – not that effectively and efficiently! I might be wrong – there might be a majorgeneral that will rise to the occasion (like Attatürk in Turkey) – the planning is huge, but not complicated.

        So referring to historical experience (albeit on a smaller scale) it is going to be a very tight race on a knifes edge. We are talking weeks! Indubitably there are plans, but the evidence is not convincing. Katrina cost a lot of lives to sloppiness and incompetence – and that was in the US with all the resources AT HAND!

        The other point is that there is no good outcome – the best we can hope for is a semi-controlled decent into a medieval pest torn Europe type scenario. The worst is a number of disjointed civil wars simultaneously.
        I don’t think a world war is in the cards – or anything like that – the neighbours are too well prepared, as the US is too well prepared – for exactly that contingency.

  12. Hua Qiao permalink
    January 15, 2013 10:01 pm

    @thomas
    Read Frank Dikotter’s excellent book, Mao’s Great Famine. Even with 40 million people starving you did not get a revolution. Don’t get me wrong, i abhor a government that brutalizes its people so. And denies them basic freedoms with the only goal being to stay in power.

    You have 200 million or so privledged, connected ones standing on the shoulders of 1.1 billion who barely make ends meet. The inequities are stunning. The Gini coefficient is much higher than even .61 when one factors in all the grey income.

    But still i don’t see the passion for regime change. Maybe i am wrong. I hope that China can reform its system in an orderly fashion. But there are powerful interests that like the status quo and the break up of the Soviet Union had a profound effect on the PRC. The CPC will not allow a Glasnost moment and risk losing control.

    • January 15, 2013 10:37 pm

      A change of heart comes very quickly.
      What the powers that rule think is not the issue. The situations is more similar to the situation of the Russian revolution. Where a big lumbering and brutal power structure was more than set to keep its power.
      The Russian revolution had outside orchestration – which one in China won’t have. The German general staff actually paid for the Russian revolution .- I can’t see any interest in a Chinese revolution – anywhere.

      The worrying thing is there IS probably no Gorbachev in China. The Soviet Empire was dissolved with absolutely minimum of bloodshed – and without a war – thank God.

      The very intention of maintaining a status quo is pushing towards a more violent showdown.

      But again 40 million people in China is nothing though it is about the population of Spain. I don’t think China will explode – it will implode – which can be anything from a collapse of a skyscraper to sagging steadily deeper into the sea – sinking at full speed and on even keel.

      What it will be is very hard to predict!

    • andao permalink
      January 18, 2013 4:07 pm

      HuaQiao, I agree with you. I don’t see the revolutionary spirit in China.

      I don’t think the USSR would have collapsed if there weren’t leadership squabbles at the top between Gorbachev, Yeltsen, and the hardliner guy whose name I can’t remember. As romantic as it sounds, democracy doesn’t come from the bottom up. It comes from leaders taking action to create democracy. Maybe some of these leaders are influenced by grassroots movements and don’t want to run over people with tanks. But at the end, it’s still in their hands.

      Another revolution prevention tool is the lack of any civil organizations. The gov has been tougher on religious groups lately for precisely this reason. People are afraid and distrustful of neighbors they don’t know, so how can a revolution start in these conditions? Universities aren’t useful communities either because of the prevalence of Party officials and orthodoxy among many professors (think Mao Zedong Thought class. Yes, it’s mandatory for all students). Poland had the Catholic Church to bring down Communism. China won’t make that mistake, and so any organizations outside government purview are suppressed. The nasty side effect is a generally paranoid population that (often, not always) doesn’t have a communal sense of helping strangers in need. But to preserve power, that’s probably an acceptable sacrifice.

      I think the CCP’s days are numbered only because I think there will be more leadership conflicts as time goes on. Maybe some general thinks Xi Jinping is too soft on Japan and decides to go rogue. Or maybe some liberals are finally tired of political stagnation and make moves against the Xi/Li axis, who knows? Each generation of leaders has less and less centralized power than the generation before it, so it’s only a matter of time before all these behind the scenes arguments become public. It already happens with Bo Xilai, and it will almost certainly happen again.

  13. kris permalink
    January 30, 2013 10:20 am

    May God bless the twins.
    Congratulations.

  14. January 31, 2013 3:06 am

    Mr Pipes’ analysis is interesting, and it definitely makes Westerners who wish China will soon have a revolution rejoice. Yet I think we should not forget

    1) what came out of the Revolution was actually not much more democratic than what preceded it. So what does the Russian case tell us on what state might succeed the PRC if there were a revolution? Have we forgotten what revolution means, and how difficult it is to create a new state? Are we so certain that after a revolution would come something better?

    2) By drawing universal conclusions from the Russian example, Mr Pipes ignores that there were indeed countries that not only were much richer than Russia in 1917, but also had a considerable middle class, which had authoritarian or totalitarian regimes with broad popular support. Nazi Germany, for instance, enjoyed great popular support, and so did the authoritarian German Empire under William II. As to countries like Italy or Japan, their democracy is very imperfect.

    We should avoid seeing history through simplistic patterns, and use the tools and lessons from our past to predict that the future will be a repetition of what we have already seen. We simply don’t know what will become of China in a few decades. But there are many Westerners who, out of fear or envy or ideological concerns, wish a revolution in China, no matter what consequences it might have. I think we should discuss China’s problems openly, but we should do it like we discuss the problems of any other country, from Italy, to India, to Zimbabwe: with quiet objectivity and basic benevolence.

  15. January 31, 2013 3:19 am

    Mr Pipes’ analysis is interesting, and it definitely makes Westerners who wish China will soon have a revolution rejoice. Yet I think we should not forget three things:

    1) what came out of the Revolution was actually not much more democratic than what preceded it. So what does the Russian case tell us on what state might succeed the PRC if there were a revolution? Have we forgotten what revolution means, and how difficult it is to create a new state? Are we so certain that after a revolution would come something better?
    And if it were true that the conditions mentioned by Pipes lead to revolutions, there should have been one in the Soviet Union as well.

    2) By drawing universal conclusions from the Russian example, Mr Pipes ignores that there were indeed countries that not only were much richer than Russia in 1917, but also had a considerable middle class, which had authoritarian or totalitarian regimes with broad popular support. Nazi Germany, for instance, enjoyed great popular support, and so did the authoritarian German Empire under William II. As to countries like Italy or Japan, their democracy is very imperfect.

    3) What makes Tsarist Russia and Communist China so different is the economic dynamism of the latter. If the CCP can offer the people material gains, what is their interest in overthrowing the government and bring about an extremely uncertain situation?

    In my view, after reaching a high per capita income China might follow the path of other Asian countries like S. Korea and Taiwan, but only time will tell.

    We should avoid seeing history through simplistic patterns, and use the tools and lessons from our past to interpret the present as a repetition of what we have already seen. We simply don’t know what will become of China in a few decades. But there are many Westerners who, out of fear or envy or ideological concerns, wish a revolution in China, no matter what consequences it might have. I think we should discuss China’s problems openly, but we should do it like we discuss the problems of any other country, from Italy, to India, to Zimbabwe: with quiet objectivity and basic benevolence.

    • February 2, 2013 2:33 am

      Oh there was quite some development in Russia before the revolution – otherwise they couldn’t have arranged that revolution – which was of the city-proletariat.

      What really killed Russia was the drop in grain prices the cultivation of the America plain brought about. Something similar will happen to China: Agricultural production will continue to get more efficient; but the total volume will not be able to rise to anywhere the needed volume – especially as the middle class in China wants meat on the table.

      One pound of pork on the table means three pounds of rye for the pig to produce that – actually a bit more, as there is bones etc. At the moment China is buying what it can of all sorts of waste: Ears, tails, trotters, offal. They buy hens feet by the container – otherwise it will be too expensive – yet, still the world market price slowly climbs.

      But don’t get me wrong – I don’t say the Russian revolution was a good thing – nowhere near – especially the way Stalin treated the farming, which was atrocious on pair with the holocaust! Unfortunately that is the future of China – albeit on a much larger scale.

      The Chinese consumer will not be able to pay for the rising food prices with his ever smaller real income. Up to now the prices have been kept in check by the huge excess reserves in the American production capacity: 1/3 of US corn is fermented to petrol supplement. Whether this will be enough to stave of hunger in China – remains to be seen – it will most certainly be a near thing.

      The desperate thing is however, that the huge investments in China should have been used for infrastructure in Russia, as that would have opened up grain territory – virtually limitless. This is too late now however. The money has been wasted in China on projects without any hope of repayment – a total waste.

      Another thing is that when China really starts buying food it will be, at increasing price in a vicious circle as the huge USD savings will have to be dug into – generating a general inflation in China. This won’t hurt the West to any noticeable extend, as food hardly figures in a Western consumers budget. In fact it will help solve the perennial agricultural problems in the EU where continuous increases in productivity has driven food prices to an absurd low.

      Ultimately the Chinese savings might just end up in Russian infrastructure (which is in its usual pathetic state) anyhow. Russia exports energy 2/3 of the Russian tax budget is oil export customs.

      As China has been exporting without paying for the labour nor the raw materials – to remain competitive. When food and energy – at best increase in price at an easy rate – the conclusion is hard to avoid.

      The question for the outside world is not so much how the Chinese will avoid disaster (hopefully in as little a violent way as possible – violence will only make things worse); but how to contain that disaster to China.

      I don’t see a great future for China in the world – nor indeed in China!

  16. January 31, 2013 9:15 am

    Makes sense that you are a fan of Richard Pipes (the man most famous for Team B). Those ideological windmills don’t tilt at themselves I guess.

  17. Stefan Jovanovich permalink
    February 2, 2013 1:01 am

    Neither the Russian nor the Chinese Communist Revolutions would have occurred without the World Wars that preceded them.

    • February 4, 2013 12:39 am

      To Janovich as well:

      That is what scares me: The Russian and Chinese revolutions were concurrent with a war – you could throw the French into that lump as well – as the Napoleonic wars really was the first world wide war.

      As someone wrote China hasn’t changed in 2000 years – that is the strength and the immense weakness.

      The West has in the last 200-250 years changed several times beyond recognition. The West has the strength of adaptability. As Konrad Adenauer once said: “Who cares about the nonsense I said yesterday?”

      So we must realise that something very, very violent can happen in China any moment. Nobody – and I mean nobody – wants it, but things run out of control very rapidly – in a controlled manner. WW1 started by what must be deemed a mistake – the merest provocation – and then things ran their inexorable preplanned way – simply unstoppable.

      What I don’t think is, that it will spread beyond China – bad enough as it is – simply because China is so incredibly weak militarily. The first Gulf war had Iraqi:US casualty ratio of 1000:1 and US has improved vastly since then. The decisive naval battle in two world wars is today in the hands of two small nations with a combined population the size of a major Chinese City. In war number don’t matter any more. The Chinese army has improved since being thrown out of Vietnam in the most humiliating way – but not compared to the rest of the world. China starting a war with f.i. US would be like the US civil war against the WW2 German army.

      The other thing is: The rest of the world does not need China – and the rest of the world don’t care about China. So a revolution will bounce of the world like a ball against a concrete wall.

  18. Dan permalink
    February 6, 2013 3:25 pm

    No one should wish or hope for a revolution of any kind in China – the outcome is not likely to restricted to small disasters affecting only China. The world is not a fixed sized economy. There is room enough for all to benefit. China will soon be unable to afford its expensive protectionism – that will be some kind of economic change – but not revolution (e.g. Japan).

    • February 7, 2013 1:57 am

      Dan: I certainly don’t hope that you think I’m WANTING a revolution in China! But I do think China – despite claim to the contrary is moving closer by the day – and that the leadership in China knows; but they don’t know how to prevent it. By all their marxist training the conclusion is inevitable.

      The effects on others will be major; but not excessively so. The question is not if China is able to afford expensive protectionism: The problem is they can’t pay for their breakfast!

      To “Franz Beckenbauer”: Hang the enviromental nonsense which is a western luxury complaint like obesity!
      The desperation building up is old fashioned famine – there is still a long way to go, as food aid can be paid for – for quite some time – even at distress prices.

      What the Chinese are buying in f.i. pork abroad is offal. Ears, tails,guts – not the prime cuts, as they can’t afford them. Tne real problem is that we are approaching a situation, where there is no such thing as prime cuts.
      Pork is sold dirt cheap by distressed farmers as it is – nothing unusual in that as fodder prices rise before meat prices.

  19. Franz Beckenbauer permalink
    February 6, 2013 10:43 pm

    Revolutions happen when people have nothing to lose any more.

    With the environmental problems in China becoming more life-threatening for everybody (but the CCP rulers, of course) by the day, you can pretty much see it coming.

  20. February 12, 2013 11:39 pm

    An insightful comment on China being ripe for change…and yet I can’t help think that China might be different to the European experience….
    I was interested to see that you have visited every Chinese province…me too! Would be good to exchange some thoughts on that.
    Congratulations on your happy family news!

  21. February 13, 2013 1:26 pm

    One should notice this article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the same subject:

    http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/das-politbuero-liest-tocqueville-steht-china-vor-einer-revolution-12058139.html

    NB!: In German – What a surprise?!

    The general treatment is rather close to Patrick’s.

    But the bewilderment and desperation of the Chinese Communist party is stronger underlined. A picture of a management knowing they are losing the game, but not having any constructive ideas as to how disaster can be avoided – or even ameliorated.

    The only thing going for the Party is that what follows is not going to be better – as Tocqueville concluded for France.

    As usual: Outlining all the options – the worst possible solution is the most likely.

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