Good Lord

Some sense from Tim Garton Ash.

Practice lags far behind this theory. Any Chinese lawyer can tell you how far away the country is from having an independent judiciary. And its ruling authorities, though no longer communist in anything but name, are in one vital sense still Leninist: that is, uncompromisingly defending their monopoly of political power. Nonetheless, in political reforms too, the direction of travel is encouraging.

If we in the rest of the world have any sense, we will encourage it with every means at our disposal – starting from the aims set by Chinese reformers themselves. Rather than saying, "No, this can\’t work, what you need is western-style multi-party democracy", we should say, "Right, for strengthening the rule of law, here\’s this detailed body of experience; for a more professional civil service, we have this useful method". We will achieve more by offering a complex toolkit for good governance and the rule of law, including human and civil rights, rather than a single template for democracy.

Democracy is, at heart, whether you can throw the bastards out. Sure, it\’s both important and desirable. But nowhere near as important as having the rule of law, not men.

3 comments on “Good Lord

  1. Absolutely.

    It is amazing how many people think our freedoms are protected by being able to vote for someone who will not get in due to your living in a safe seat held by the opposition.

    Democracy is just the least bad way of defending Rule of Law. It does not always work, as we can now see in the UK.

    With Rule of Law, the State has to keep out of your way, leave your property alone, treat you equally, be transparent. Yes, we can change the fools in Westminster and throw them out once in a while to replace them with another bunch of fools who will not deliver on an all-or-nothing manifesto.

    The smaller the State the greater the democracy, for if you decide and not the State, who needs an election to vote in someone to decide that for you? That is, unless you want a bunch of thugs to go around extorting money to fund what you won’t or can’t pay for yourself.

  2. “Democracy is, at heart, whether you can throw the bastards out. ”

    Discuss, with reference to the European Commission, using both sides of the paper.

  3. At least 15 years ago, I happened to have a conversation with a man who’d contracted with one of the Chinese provinial governments to install some generation equipment. He’d run into some trouble with payment—a matter of
    $32 million—and spoke of suing them in a Chinese court.

    When I spoke skeptically of his chances (about which I knew nothing but figured “slim to none”), he was, surprisingly of another opinion.
    The biggest hurdle, he said, was getting his lawyer in Hong Kong licensed to practice on the mainland, which he estimated would take a couple or three months.

    I also spoke with him several years later and inquired what had happened. He said that he’d been successful in collecting a bit over $31m through the court and that the whole process had only taken a few days after his lawyer had been admitted.

    I was surprised. But then, the world is full of surprises.

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