An interesting aspect of China's statute is that, contrary to some traditionally democratic or semi-democratic polities which now tend, under the influence of economic and social factors (such as high unemployment and the threat of terrorism) to lose many of their democratic attributes and liberties, China is gradually opening up under the influence of globalizing technologies, an inevitable and rapid opening to the outside world and spreading prosperity so that it projects a picture of hope, in keeping with the belief of its leadership that freedom must be gradually learnt when a sufficient level of public literacy and stability obtain.
China offers at least a partial response to the question that Elton Kessel (World Affairs, Vol. 14, no. 3, Autumn 2010) has formulated as "Is it"possible to surgically remove dangerous aspects of capitalism while preserving its basic structure?" which entails, in his view, controlling the "animal spirits" that drive an insufficiently regulated economy into cycles of boom and bust in which "irrational exuberance" (Greenspan) is followed by depression. The other question is of course whether China can free itself from the totalitarian structure that Friedrich von Hayek identified as the nearly inevitable corollary of socialism.
As noted by Lucio Caracciolo (in Nomos & Chaos, 2009-10) the PRC still has to build a specific "global brand" for its evolving politico-economic system that includes elements of Manchesterian Capitalism, State planning and social mobilization that are reminiscent of Fascism, if we consider that definition objectively, absent the moral stigma which has been attached to it for historical reasons.
Beijing will have, sooner or later, to devise a cultural message clearly understandable and attractive to the outside world if it is to export successfully its "magic formula" as an alternative to the still dominant Western model.
One attempt in this direction is the "circular economic model", first defined by the US economist K Bohrtin in the 1960s and refined in German industrial and economic state policy. It is being implemented in ruling circles of the PRC in order to strike a balance between material development and
environmental restoration and maintenance, according to the principle enunciated by the ancient statesmen Lu Buwei of the Warring States Period (c.475 BCE-221 BCE). In 2008, the 4th session of the 11th National People's Congress passed the Circular Economy Promotion Law and on May 29th, 2010, the Fifth Circular Economy Development Summit Forum was held in Beijing and it outlined four growth modes within that overall model which the PRC wishes to promote on a worldwide basis as a sustainable formula for the future of mankind.
In some affluent countries which have come to take a certain amount of freedom for granted, as in North America, Western Europe and East Asia (mainly Japan), the pervasiveness of advanced communication technologies have made it possible to envision and even experiment with certain forms of "direct democracy" mediated by the Internet and its many offshoots.
It is significant that in most of those states, popular participation in the ballot box- based electoral process is usually low or very low, mainly because it is not regarded as very important in view of the fact that people's expectations from their representatives is limited, partly because they are regarded as relatively powerless to change existing institutions and partly because real power is generally believed to lie with big business and the state bureaucracy. As a result, many people are tempted to seek local, decentralized governance mediated through the cell phone and the personal computer as a high-tech reincarnation of the age-old village assembly.
In the economic domain, local self-government is taking roots in a number of smaller communities in Europe and North America due to the failure of many banks and of the increasing problems associated with credit and debt in areas affected by high unemployment and falling incomes. A number of economists are championing the recourse to local currencies, community-owned banks or even a universal "real resource" based currency, to be called Earth according to James Robertson of the New Economics Foundation (Creating New Money: A Monetary Reform for the Information Age, London, 2000).
For instance Ellen Brown in an essay entitled Escaping the Sovereign Debt Trap (Web of Debt, 2010, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va?aid=20473) advocates the creation of people's banks, backed by the wealth and credit of a country, such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia established by a Government Bill in 1911 as an instrument not to amass sovereign debt but rather to extend sovereign credit. It logged a very successful service record to the young country until it fell to the privatization drive of the 1990s.
Some states of the USA still have such banks which have protected them in large measure from the present credit crunch and moves are afoot to create new ones, in the face of determined opposition from the transnational private banking lobby, determined to protect its monopoly under the aegis of the Basel Bank of International Settlements. Reclaiming the power of emitting money for the legislative arm of government is part of a proven strategy to prevent the massive depressions recurrently brought about by the financial consolidation and centralization of globalised super-capitalism bent on keeping a stranglehold on the economy through the leverage of debt.
However, it is far from clear that local management systems can be efficiently coordinated on a larger scale according to the same principles and, given that many problems and resources are global or at least require cooperation on a national, multi-national or global level, there is a clear need for an overarching superstructure or mechanism which will certainly have to be aided by advanced technology but cannot be reduced solely to technology.
Colin Crouch's Post-Democracy (2004, Cambridge, UK) observes that democracy and modernization both follow a parabolic trajectory so that the latter often goes hand in hand with a slow decay of the former which then turns into what Adrian Pabst calls "post-ideological managerialism" based on a "Centrist Status Quo" and possibly later into an inverted totalitarianism.
3-A New Scientific Socialism -- National or Global?
This third option within the Modernist perspective consists in taking stock of progress in natural and social sciences in the last hundred years to revise and refurbish the basic principles of Marxism in order to avoid the pitfalls which doomed both the Soviet and the Maoist regimes in the last century and build a truly user-friendly and functional socialist (or why not, communist?) system with a human and ecological face. Many proponents of this new avatar have freed themselves from the old anti-religious phobias of their predecessors and speak of integrating the "otherworldly" needs of mankind into the equation, recognizing that spuriously scientific materialism is outdated and untenable in our age when science and spirituality are converging in many areas and when preserving the environmental balance has become a priority higher than industrial productivity, even in the eyes of Leftists.