The drama surrounding Bo Xilai and his wife is still unfolding. But for many, including China-watcher Tom Doctoroff, his departure is a relief, he writes in the Huffington Post.
Bo Xilai’s brand of populism was a threat to the nation. He championed the interests of Everyman, but his modus operandi was steeped in Cultural Revolution hysteria. The flip side of massive investment in low-income housing was manipulation of economic insecurity. His anti-mafia zeal, heralded as a campaign against corruption, was a bid to monopolize power within the Party, exacerbating an accountability deficit that tarnishes credibility amongst both rich and poor. His “red song” campaigns, reactionary homages to the Cult of Mao that continue even now to chill both foreigners and mainlanders. To advance his own agenda, he tapped into a latent but enduring impulse to worship, and blindly follow, imperial god-kings, false leaders whose anti-rational policies lead to disaster…
Pragmatism and incrementalism have become bulwarks against extremism. Chinese society has evolved since the misadventures of the Great Leap Forward, perhaps the most destructive and colossal misallocation of resources in human history, and the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong’s megalomaniacal and ill-fated attempt to reshape the nation in his image. China’s post-Revolution leftist lurches were historically anomalous, instigated as a dazed country emerged from 150 years of decay into an unfamiliar Western hegemony. Today, Beijing’s power structure has returned to form. It dismisses breakthrough as destabilizing, inherently counter-productive. The body politic prizes consensual moderation and this instinct is now institutionally embedded in the Party’s decision-making and leadership selection.
Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting of conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.
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