The Diplomat on October 10, 2016, published an article by geopolitician Francis P. Sempa on the divided China, the nomenklatura vs. the rest. Is the PRC bound for the same fate as the Soviet Union? Excerpts below:
China’s political system does not work. “If we place our foot incorrectly,” a China insider warned, “we could begin a disaster, violence and civil war.”
This is not the rosy picture of a rising China that normally fills the airwaves and popular media throughout much of Asia and the world. “China viewed from the inside is very different than China viewed from the outside,” the insider said.
Sempa relates a scene observed by an American professor visiting China:
a dozen people are standing “motionless . . . drab, glum, calm, resigned,” who were waiting “for their morning meal of scalding hot cabbage and mystery meat” from a small kitchen located on a “rundown square…a woman standing in line began yelling obscenities which triggered others in the line to do likewise, then the “whole previously passive line exploded,” shouting, cursing, and striking each other. After about a minute it was over.
Chinese friends immediately assured the American professor that he had finally seen “what China is really all about.” This, they told him, was “the real China.”
The other China—the military parades, the growing fleet, nuclear rockets, bullying of neighbors in the South China Sea, and the wealthy Communist Party cadres—is the surface underneath which lies “pressurized anger”…
The façade of a rising China on its way to becoming the next superpower hides the reality that after nearly 70 years in power the Communist Party has not attained one of its avowed goals—bringing about “a decent life for ordinary people.”
Instead, there are two Chinas—the China of the Communist Party and their urban dwelling associates and beneficiaries, who constitute the ruling elite or nomenklatura, and the hundreds of millions of people, many who live in the countryside “with no proper education, transport, [or] medical care.”
…Michael Voslensky in 1984 published the book Nomenklatura, when most Soviet experts in the West believed that the Soviet Union would endure well into the 21st century. Voslensky, a former Soviet insider, brought to light the parasitic nature of the communist ruling class in Russia. “The parasitic tendencies of a ruling class,” he wrote, “are the consequences of its monopoly position.” The nomenklatura is an “exploiting, privileged class . . . exercising dictatorial power” not to bring about a classless society but to attain power and privileges for the ruling elite. Voslensky’s book exposed “the antagonistic structure of the real socialist society.” Five years after the publication of Voslensky’s book, the Soviet Union collapsed.
Voslesnky’s analysis in Nomenklatura had much in common with the sociological studies of Vilfredo Pareto, Robert Michels and Gaetano Mosca, whose works were brilliantly synthesized by James Burnham in his 1943 book The Machiavellians. These political philosophers believed that a ruling class or elite governed in all countries, not just communist countries, and that the principal goal of all ruling classes was to maintain and increase their power and privileges.
Pareto, Michels, Mosca, and Burnham would likely say that Mao Zedong’s purpose right from the beginning was a Leninist-Stalinist monopoly of power and privilege in society. … they would surely believe that for today’s ruling elite in China—China’s nomenklatura—[m]aintaining Party rule, whatever the means, is the true purpose of all actions” of the communist ruling elite.
Comment: The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 after a decade of confrontation with the West that opened up for resistance to the regime in the countries occupied. China has been less imperialistic since the communists took power in 1949. Early on Tibet was occupied. After the Korean War China has waited to start achieving Greater China in the South China Sea. Now it is looking to South East Asia, to the Pacific and perhaps north to Siberia. When the internally vulnerable Chinese regime attempts to widen its control in the Far East in the future a more determined push-back from the West could result in China’s regime sharing the fate of the Soviet regime.