Monday, March 13, 2006

Quick Post

I'm heading out of town for a week...okay, I'm going on a beach...under a palapa...with a margarita...

The only downside to this for me are the actual preparations to get out of town...I don't know why it always feels like I have too much to do and no time to do it. Plus I worry about my felines, and planes falling out of the sky.

All of these anxieties tend to disappear once I actually make it to the airport, but there you are...

Anyway, given the infrequency with which I've been posting, I suppose my absence won't be all that noticable (hey, the novel's coming along nicely), but I did want to call your attention to this article in the New York Times, about the re-emergence of an old debate:
For the first time in perhaps a decade, the National People's Congress, the Communist Party-run legislature now convened in its annual two-week session, is consumed with an ideological debate over socialism and capitalism that many assumed had been buried by China's long streak of fast economic growth.

The controversy has forced the government to shelve a draft law to protect property rights that had been expected to win pro forma passage and highlighted the resurgent influence of a small but vocal group of socialist-leaning scholars and policy advisers. These old-style leftist thinkers have used China's rising income gap and increasing social unrest to raise doubts about what they see as the country's headlong pursuit of private wealth and market-driven economic development.

The roots of the current debate can be traced to a biting critique of the property rights law that circulated on the Internet last summer. The critique's author, Gong Xiantian, a professor at Beijing University Law School, accused the legal experts who wrote the draft of "copying capitalist civil law like slaves," and offering equal protection to "a rich man's car and a beggar man's stick." Most of all, he protested that the proposed law did not state that "socialist property is inviolable," a once sacred legal concept in China.

Those who dismissed his attack as a throwback to an earlier era underestimated the continued appeal of socialist ideas in a country where glaring disparities between rich and poor, rampant corruption, labor abuses and land seizures offer daily reminders of how far China has strayed from its official ideology.

"Our government only moves forward when it feels there is a strong consensus," said Mao Shoulong, a public policy specialist at People's University in Beijing. "Right now, the consensus is eroding and there is a debate over ideology, which we haven't seen for some time."
I'd love to take some time to discuss this and share some of the other interesting bits, but it's 1 AM and, as is also typical of me, I haven't exactly packed yet...

Hat tip to Real History Lisa (check out her blog, it's on my blogroll) for the link!

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