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Does Economic Liberalization lead to Democratization

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Does Economic Liberalization lead to Democratization




Modern China is an enigmatic country by today's standards concerning economic values and political ideals. The ?communist? government that Mao Zedong brutally sculpted and administered has gone through an intensive transformation. The days when Marxism and Socialism supposedly provided guidelines for Chinese economic policies have passed. Now the government exists as a quasi-communist authoritarian regime supported by a market economy.
Economic progress is commonly associated with democratization, and in many cases this theory holds true. Taiwan is the exemplary East Asian model of a formerly authoritarian regime turned democratic due in part to economic development. Yet some nations, Singapore for example, maintain healthy economies and high standards of living despite the presence of authoritarianism within the government. Although China has experienced noteworthy economic development over the past twenty years, its government has not made any significant progress towards democracy.
The Chinese economy stagnated during the social-oriented rule of Mao in the 1950's. Instead of focusing on the modernization of the country's agricultural-based economy, China's leader intended to install the many values and doctrines of communism into Chinese society. It was evident that economics took a back seat to Mao's greater vision of a communal society, ??Stalin emphasized only technology, technical cadres. He wanted nothing but technology, nothing but cadre; no politics, no masses?Stalin speaks only of the production relations, not of the superstructure, nor of the relationship between superstructure and economic base?Stalin mentions economics only, not politics.?1 The chairman of the People's Republic believed that once communism had grown deep roots in his country's society, economic development would inevitably follow.
The failure and disastrous aftermath of ?The Great Leap Forward? brings to light many aspects of the precarious relationship between economic progress and political policy in pre-reform China. One possible conclusion that can be derived from this disaster is that communism, because of its lacking emphasis on capitalism, cannot nurture economic development. As Nicholas Lardy stated, ?The Maoist ideology of self-sufficiency, pursued most vigorously in the Cultural Revolution years of the mid-and late-1960's, had left China largely isolated from the world economy.?2 Communist doctrines decreed capitalism as inequitable because the elite prospered while the commoners languished. Thus China's market economy was scrapped in favor of one that promoted self-reliance. Instead of striving for economic development, China sought to stabilize their economy. Communist nations have a history of playing minor roles in the world market, and China under Mao was not an exception, ?At the outset of its economic reforms in the late 1970's, China was an insignificant participant in international markets for goods and capital?prior to the late 1970's, China also was barely a participant in world capital markets.?3 Many critics argue that China's communist ideals limited its participation in extensive markets, and thus the country's economy was doomed to falter from the outset.
Another possible conclusion that can be derived from the relationship between Chinese communism and the country's dormant economy is that Mao failed to administer government policies wisely. In effect it was not communism that derailed China's economy, but rather the errors of an individual in a position of power. Mao was too theoretical concerning communism in the wake of the 1949 revolution. The Chinese leader envisioned a perfect communal society modeled strictly after the doctrines and theories of great socialist writers. By following the guidelines presented by such writers as Marx and Engels, Mao sacrificed economic development in favor of the possibility of social reform. As Dwight Perkins says,


Mao Zedong, during the last decade and a half of his life, dedicated his energies to creating a new 'socialist man? who would work selflessly within a society devoid of class distinctions and motivated by the social good rather than personal material benefits. Mao was not opposed to economic growth, but after the failure of the Great Leap in 1960, he no longer saw social goals as completely consistent with rapid growth in the short run and his clear priority was on the social goals.4


Mao based his knowledge of communism upon the theories of others, and thus never grasped the spirit of the political system that he intended to institute. ...

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Keywords: liberalization effects, liberalization of energy markets in europe, liberalized electricity markets

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