(Original text in Chinese by Chenglap without heading)
The People’s Republic of China is not a nation-state. The way she runs is different from a nation-state. The People’s Republic of China is an EMPIRE, same as the nature of the Russian Empire and the British Empire.
Whether the rising middle class can bargain for political power is very much conditioned by the nature of the country. Only a small country with high level of homogeneity will become a middle class dependent economy, which increased the power of bargain by such class. In these countries, prior to the era of democracy, the concept of civil rights has already been widespread among citizens. Before entering the age of democracy, the age of enlightenment is already in blossom.
Consider the case of an empire. The level of homogeneity of the middle class in an empire is much lower. In that case, there is no “middle class” – of course, there are many middle-income-class citizens, but they had no acquaintance to each other, nor do they share any common values. These kinds of middle-income-class citizens, in many cases, are only the servants of the privileged class. These citizens cannot form any class or bargaining power.
The advantage of an empire lays on its vastness in landmass. In a nation-state, a single nation-wide uprising can paralyze the economy and administration easily. The paralysis can force the government to cede in. In the case of an empire, even in a situation of nation-wide uprising, there will be some regions free from the paralysis, thanks to the vastness of the empire. In such case, the administration can rely on the resources from these regions to maintain its governance. With the resources from these regions, the empire administration can have a free hand to send armies from these regions, whose soldiers grew up under different cultures and even speak different languages, to suppress the uprisings. Due to the vastness of an empire, the middle class could never match the power of the administration, no matter how hard they struggle.
Why reforming an empire is so difficult? It is due to heterogeneity among regions. In a large empire, there are always some of the regions are more advanced, some of them always remain backward comparatively. Those backward regions, in many cases, are the firmest loyalist to the empire against any reforms. The regions in the periphery of the empire are usually the ones facing the most difficult environment and the most formidable enemies. These regions therefore rely on the protection of the empire against their enemies. Therefore, whenever they smell any changes brewing within the empire interior, they are usually the first against them.
So when you speak of middle class, you need to consider the middle class of where? Is the rise of middle case in Guangdong powerful enough to push on the process of democratization in Beijing? History has proved, the rise of middle class in Beijing did stop the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing from suppressing the middle class there, but it made no hindrance to the Army from Sichuan for Tiananmen Crackdown.
Maybe today Army from Sichuan can’t do the job. But if Tiananmen Protest happened once again, an Army from Xinjiang could do the crackdown job no worse. They may doubt the rightfulness in massacring the civilians, but once they compare the risk of overthrow of the empire and Xinjiang’s subsequent loss of empire support, massacring civilians seems trivial.
Empire rules by manipulating the conflicts amongst its different regions.
There is only “One World” in a nation-state, while there are “Multiple Worlds” in an empire. The People’s Republic of China consisted not of “One World”, but “Multiple Worlds”. In the universe of multiple worlds, even in the era of Internet, the middle class in different worlds cannot join together to form a united power. To dissolve the establishment by the force of rising middle class is just impossible. Every empire in history endures a long process of decline and fall. In the cases where the reforms succeeded, the empires were usually under a condition of breakup or cessions with little lands remain.
In the process of cessions, the share of power of the middle class in the empire increase, while the resources from where the empire can draw diminish. Empire is never belonged to its subjects. An empire rules by its prestige. The source of prestige comes from the unshakable economic and military power, worshipped by its subjects. Therefore, to shake the empire, first is to shake its subjects’ confidence on those powers. Just like how the Hong Kongers perceive the British – we don’t like them very much, but anyway, we trust those guys’ power to protect us, so we find them less hateful.
So here is only way to shake the Communist China – let her fight an external war which deemed to loss. Even she losses no land, she can hardly recover from the damage of prestige. An empire is not a nation-state. A nation-state can lose many wars, but not an empire.
The subjects always overestimate the political and economic power of their empire. It remains a myth unless being challenged. The empire can continue its rule with the myth.
Simply speaking, if the 21st century is a peaceful century, one party dictatorship will not collapse. So do you think this century will be a peaceful one?