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Can you give a fair comparison between Western style democracy and the Chinese government model?

Can you give a fair comparison between Western style democracy and the Chinese government model?

A2A. This is actually a more interesting question than it appears. There is no one model of “Western Democracy”. Each country is different. If you want to get the ESSENCE of western democracy, there is no better illustration than the First Triumvirate of Rome between 60 BC to 53 BC. Julius Caesar the politician. Pompey the military leader. Crassus the richest man in Rome. Forming a backroom alliance against the rest of the Roman Senate, with leading patricians such as Cicero and Cato. This piece of history is important, not because subsequent politicians and polities are all students of history, but because the crucial elements of a democratic polity are all STILL THERE – money, power, violence, political patronage, rent-seeking, the patricians and the plebeians, and the INVISIBLE ROMAN PEOPLE.

When you read through that exciting piece of history, you might be tempted to imagine yourself of being a Caesar, or a Pompey, or a Crassus. Don’t. These guys were the top patricians, and patricians were less than 5% of all Roman citizens. The other 95% were all plebeians and Proletarii. The only time these vast majority of Roman citizens showed up in history was when they rioted for lack of bread. Or being pushed to vote for either the Triumvirate or the Senate. Or dying in the ensuing civil war. That was it. That’s who you are, the ordinary voters. Go read the history, and judge for yourself how much these 95% controlled the Roman Republic.


Both the UK and France are elitists, although they have very different forms of elitism. The Great Britain has always been a very stratified society. The British general election, 1784, which was made famous due to the blockbuster movie The Duchess (film), was contested between William Pitt the Younger, the son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, and Hester Grenville, sister of the previous Prime Minister George Grenville, and Charles James Fox, the son of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and Lady Caroline Lennox, daughter of 2nd Duke of Richmond. So basically, the voters were offered the choice of “Duke A vs. Duke B”.

This is the pattern that has continued to this day, with occasional exceptions sprinkled here and there. But the general pattern is that one gets to “join the set” either by heredity or by marriage. The separation happens rather early in life. Private, expensive, and largely aristocratic boarding schools such as Eton College admits ~ 250 students a year, when they are 13-year-old, out of UK’s 65 million population, and has so far sent 19 of the sum total of 54 British Prime Ministers to the Downing Street. Of the rest, 7 came from Harrow, and 6 came from Westminster School.

Source: Eton and the making of a modern elite

Britische Kaderschmiede Eton: So funktioniert das Netzwerk der Eliten

France, due to the French Revolution and the ensuing age of Napoleon, made a serious effort to get rid of hereditary privileges and build a republic based on Liberté, égalité, fraternité. One of the things that Napoleon did was to establish a set of Grandes écoles with competitive exams to educate the brightest of the whole population. People usually have to go through 2-year specialized cramming schools to get into one of these Grandes Ecoles. École nationale d’administration, for example, admits only 80 students a year, out of a total population of ~ 65 million people – and almost all top French politicians come from this one school, including Mr. Macron, Mr. Holland, and Mr. Chrac. 7 out of the last 10 French Presidents are from ENA. Elite French Schools Block the Poor’s Path to Power; Old school ties Although the French is more into intellectual elitism vs. class elitism, nonetheless, the share of ENA students with working class background is abysmally small – something like 2%.

In ENA we trust

France’s murky mix of school and scandal

So if you subscribe to the stereotype of the UK being run by noble, rich, idiots, and the French by smart, arrogant, assh*les, well, there’s actually quite a bit of truth in it. LOL! In Rome, you get to choose between patrician Julius Caesar and patrician Gnaeus Pompey. In UK you get to choose between Duke A and Duke B. In France you get to choose between ENA graduate A and ENA graduate B. These are all examples of well-functioning Democracy where the people are pretty happy about the arrangement.


You see, underneath the hood of various forms of “democracy” is a highly stratified society, the legacy of past strong feudal aristocracy. Actually, not only in UK and France, but even small countries like the Nordic countries are highly stratified.

Social mobility barely exists. So don’t expect it to solve inequality | Gregory Clark

So in almost all “western democracies”, the interest of the privileged and the wealthy are never in play in these competitive elections. Their interest is secured first, before the voting, and then the voters are thrown into the voting battle, pitching one part of the poor against another part of the poor. I would consider the French variety to be a step up over the Anglo kind, simply because hereditary privileges, seeking justification, almost always end up with some ethno-racial-eugenics garbage. The unwelcome revival of ‘race science’And you know what that led to 70 years ago.

I won’t comment too much on Germany and the US. Suffice to say that the German Basic Law was totally re-written after WWII, mostly for the benefit of OTHER COUNTRIES, and not for Germany. The lessons learned from WWII was that “For Germany to have a strong central government is BAD NEWS for everybody else!” So the solution was to have strong, highly independent states (Länder) and relatively weak federal government. Most Germans agree with this, and the general consensus is that “I can sleep better at night when the federal government fails at everything they do, and the federal army can’t shoot straight!” The success of Germany is mostly the success of the 16 landers, and not the Federal Government.

The US, right now, is waist-deep in the “banana republic” territory. We have one former president’s wife competing with another former president’s brother, and both were defeated by a reality-TV host cum real-estate tycoon, who proceeded to install his daughter and son-in-law into important government positions. Why do these guys always want to keep all the goodies within the family, and why do they not have the NEED to recruit some other billionaires or generals who can pull their own weight for the team, is incomprehensible to me. In case you haven’t noticed – even the supposed head of the Russian Oligarchy, Mr. Putin, does not put his unqualified family members into key government positions. The “democratically-elected” head-of-state who does this sort of things, I know of only two. One is Mr. Kim Jong-un of North Korea. The other is Mr. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.


The Chinese government is an entirely different entity. The strong emperors of the past 2,000 years won the battle over the troublesome aristocratic clans, by leveraging the raw talent of the poor masses. The foundation of the Chinese polity, the stability and the growth of the nation, is vitally dependent on how effectively the central government can extract talent and dedication from the poor masses. This was the origin of the Imperial examination, specifically designed to transfer power from the selfish, troublesome, and ambitious aristocrats to poor, smart, and loyal scholars. The top level imperial examination was traditionally held in the Great Hall of the Forbidden City, chaired by the emperor himself, and those passed the final exam were granted the name of “the pupil of the emperor”. This was how China eliminated aristocracy as a class 2,000 years ago. Not exchange one crop of aristocrats for another crop of aristocrats, but fundamentally eliminate the raison d’être for the existence of such a class of people. Napoleon tried to do the same thing, 2000 years later, and backed off because of his own, and his family’s imperial ambitions…

The Imperial Examination is a ladder for social mobility. It’s under attack from Day One, as those who obtained privilege would try everything to keep it for himself and for his family. Historically, whenever the system became corrupted by the ruling elites, the end of the dynasty came near. So the Chinese emperors tended to react EXTREMELY HARSHLY when corruption in the Imperial Examination was discovered, treating it as the worst kind of treason.

The CCP, with its “communism with Chinese characteristics” ideology, with its strongly pro-poor history, is even more invested in strengthening this “ladder to power”. Being able to choose between Duke A and Duke B is NOT ENOUGH to obtain active commitment from the giant population. The ordinary people are smarter than you think. There’s not enough upside there, in what’s left after the elites take their fill, for the ordinary Joe to give a sh*t. But being able to be the Duke yourself, with a no-risk, no-cost, public ladder right in front of you, is infinitely more motivating. And since the rest of the society gets much more out of you when you are on this quest, you are strongly encouraged to give it a try.

Today this ladder is MASSIVE. Pretty much the top 5% of all students in colleges, plus exceptional people from all walks of life, would be recruited into the CCP. It takes 2 to 3 years of dedicated effort but it’s quite do-able. That’s 80 million out of 1.3 billion people. Of these, 7 million would take the exam to enter government services. After 5 years of work and training, 1 million would become local officials in 40,000 localities. of which 600,000 eventually rise to county-level officials, of which 40,000 eventually rise to department-level officials, of which 400 eventually rise to be provincial governors and equivalent positions in the central government, of which ~ 60 get to the top, national level leadership. Xi Jinping is one of these 60 people. Everyone must go through this pipe to reach the top. If you don’t start at the bottom, you are not allowed to reach the top. The ones who started their career in the poorest places tended to go the furthest, because the “Trump Card” in Chinese politics, like the emperors before your time, is your ability to extract talent and motivated commitment the poor masses, and leverage that to hit the KPIs.

Nobody above the provincial level has a family member in equal or higher positions. None. The same way Usain Bolt’s brother and sister do not share his running talent, and Lionel Messi’s brothers and sister are not top soccer players as he is. Neither are these people concentrated in a few schools. Of the 32 provincial governors holding PhDs, only 3 came from Beijing University. https://www.hoover.org/sites/def… Family and education connection is a sign of PATRONAGE, not fair competition. Biological traits are the most genetically inheritable, and yet, you look through the roster of Olympic medalists, and there are very few family connections among the winners. That should tell you something about this “we have good genes” bullshit!

The ESSENCE of the Chinese polity is in fact massive participation by the people. The reason that the Chinese government is effective in what they do, is precisely because of this massive participation. Not just check on a box on a piece of paper, or shoot off some rant on the internet, but actually work hard to make things happen according to the government plan. The only reason that the Chinese government can hit their Five-year plans of China, is because the Chinese people work to make it happen. Or else what do you think caused these things to happen according to the Plan? Like “I’m just sitting here, looking into my crystal ball, and good stuff just falls from the sky for me!” Really? LOL! No. you obviously have to be able to get a lot of people, working for the same goal, to have this kind of stuff happen. This is a totally different level of engagement from other countries. And the reason that China is organized this way – is because they really need it! It takes a tremendous amount of collective effort to turn one of the biggest, poorest country on earth a mere 70 years ago, to the biggest economic power globally by PPP today! China needs the kind of organization that can move the whole country at incredible speed.

In the US, every time the police presence weakens, due to a natural disaster, riot and looting immediately occurs. Why would a rational person destroy his own neighborhood where he himself grew up, and his family lives? Well, the only logical explanation is that he does not feel it’s his people, his neighborhood. He has no stake in the whole thing. In China, every time there’s a natural disaster, massive number of ordinary people will rush in, with emergency supplies and the blood bank overflowing within 3 days.

The Chinese system is not for everybody, because clearly you have to “pay in” into the system, and sometimes even pay ahead, which is something people only do when they have profound trust in the system. Most “Western Democracy” is sold as you getting something for nothing. Like you don’t have to do a thing, just choose the biggest assh*le on your side, who will then fight for your interest and win free stuff for you. “Bring home the bacon”. That’s attractive to me in a really illogical way. But one thing is certain – it’s not really up to me to decide. The safer assumption is that given the history, culture, and experience, whatever political system different people choose to organize themselves, it’s PROBABLY the only system, the most suitable system, and the least painful system, for these specific groups of people.