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Democracy In Russia And China Essay

1404 words - 6 pages

As post-communist countries struggle to modernize and adopt a democratic regime, Russia and China each face obstacles unique to their own political and historical context. The main findings of this paper reveal that economic and political liberalism are closely linked and that economic liberalization facilitates democratization. Thus the shortage (rather than surplus) of economic liberalization has contributed to Russia’s deficit of democracy and has been one of the major obstacles of democratization for Russia. However in China, only economic reform took place under a total political dictatorship. Without political reform, there would be no democracy, even if economic modernization booms rapidly. Both nations ceased to let go of the communist bureaucratic regime, instead they incorporated market economy with heavy bureaucratic control. This persistence of bureaucratic control over the economy hinders democracy in both countries.
One of the most contentious and politically significant debates in social science focuses on the relationship between economic policy and political regime. Political scientists still continue to debate over whether measures that enhance the freedom of private economic actors do or do not promote democracy. This debate is immediately relevant to Russia’s post communist experience. As we have discussed in class, there is some evidence that economic freedom and democracy go together. This makes sense when we consider the market as an ally of open politics. An autonomous economic activity works as a bulwark against despotism. This perspective is consistent with the notion that both capitalism and democracy are based on free choice and that capitalism separates economic power from political power and thereby enables the two to balance each other. The free market encourages personal and group independence and strengthens the ability of people to resist against an authoritarian regime. William Riker has argued that “When all economic life is absorbed into the government, there is no conceivable financial base for opposition.” Riker’s maxim, which refers to an absolute state control of the economy, provides a theoretical summary of why countries where markets are shutdown completely invariably become dictatorships. The statement applies to the Soviet Union and Mao’s China when their economies were thoroughly and surely statized.
Economic reform in Russia did start with a bang in 1992. By that time, the streets of Russian cities, gray and empty for nearly 80 years, were gleaming with small scale traders and enterprises. The reformers sounded radical and the reforms looked dramatic in the media. However, the world tends to over-focus in the initial coverage of most events, thus the images that stuck in the minds of many were Yeltsin’s dramatic statements and the people who have lost their savings in the inflation following price liberalization. But the real problem was that the economic reform was not sustained. More...

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