Sunday, March 11, 2012

Different countries, not so different systems.

I don't have much free time right now as I am finishing book about journey through India, Nepal, Tibet, China to Russia and back via China and South East Asian countries including Burma.

I used to write articles and guidebooks. They take time, lots of time, but nothing was comparable to travelogue by difficulty. It's not that travelogue is hard to write, much harder to write good travelogue, which should have all trappings of fiction novel - it should have idea, theme, protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, elaborate plot and number of subplots.

I have to mesmerize accidental reader and first of all anonymous editor in one of Moscow or St Petersburg publishing houses. Perhaps they never travelled further than Sochi in Black Sea or Bulgaria in their lifetime, they have no idea how life looks in exotic countries. My task is to make their reading a pleasure. Even for unitiated mundane people.

Still I took a break in my work, already wrote short article "12 ideas how to make concept of novel attractive" for community of writers on Livejournal which I am moderating, now it's time to fulfil my promise to some my Twitter followers to write few words about political system in different countries.

My first thesis is about similarity. We are all human beings, our societies composed of men and women who fall in love, have children, have needs to feed themselves, to get cloth, to raise youngsters, give them good education and hope for better future.

Blistering propaganda articles tend to disregard similarites and emphasize differences.

How different are we, people of various countries? From my experience of avid traveller I should say - not much. I don't like expressing it in percentage points, but empirically I would say - we are 95% similar, and 5% different. These 5% constitute everything which is known from press- culture, religion, race differences, repressive regimes, sanctions, wars, even genocide.

Humans should remember they belong to one specie and should not be tempted by dehumanizing propaganda. This propaganda's purpose is to make obedient robots whom rulers want to turn against external and internal enemies. We should not listen to them.

Now about differences.

When I was riding in bulletfast train from Beijing to Shanghai I was thinking how un-communist China looks. Yes, sometimes I could see red stars and flags, but all under my gaze, from architecture of buildings to layout of streets, parks and fields was traditional Chinese. At least it was looking non-Communist in Russian sense. And I presume for hardline Chinese Communists everything in Soviet Union was also looking un-Communist. Who knows.

So much for superficial ideology. But how democratic India compares with authoritarian Russia & China? I lived in this country for many years and should say - not much different. Yes, ruling regimes in India change according to election cycle but these democratically elected authorities often behave in the same way as unelected Chinese partocrats or kleptocratic Russian rulers who used to rig elections. In some respects Indian rulers are even more intolerant to criticism, in many cases behaved callously.

Obviously there are cultural explanations for every country. Yet what I saw in India, Nepal, China, Tibet, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia etc forced me to think about similarities in state systems, no matter how they call themselves or by others (for example by Western media).

Selection methods of rulers maybe different but functions (maintain security for citizens, provide basic facilities like roads, ports, electricity etc) are mostly the same. Only some cases were egregious. Burma of course stands out. I felt much pain and sorry for plight of once glorious country with ancient history, it was ruined by ambitions of few generals. Partially Nepal, Cambodia were looking dysfunctional. Fortunately level of governance improving there. 

Situation in some regions like Tibet is worrying. No country is unblemished but Tibet clearly was region under oppression. It's unlikely Beijing will relax its rule there but Chinese should think why in their system lack of in-built mechanisms for airing grievances and for course corrections. If such mechanism exist why they're not used. I know many Chinese who were in Tibet, saw heavy-handed measures applied to Tibetans, yet too afraid to speak out. It's not normal situation and should be changed.

I have to say this despite excellence of many Chinese officials. Bureaucratic efficiency of Chinese officialdom is something to be admired in all Eurasian countries. In Russian blogosphere last year one picture was circulating. It showed two Chinese bureaucrats who were so lazy to venture out of town that they simply photoshoped, inserted themselves on picture of newly built highway. Apparently for propaganda purpose. Lazy guys, yes, but Russians were very much impressed - the road was not fake.

Everywhere I saw much space for growth, for improvement, no country was excellent and no country (with exception of Burma) could be roundly criticized. I am so glad that Mr Thein Sein, president of Myanmar is undertaking long overdue reforms which should ease miseries experienced by his people. Hope Ms Aung San Suu Kyi will bring a lot of momentum in peaceful development there.

That what I would like to say on topic. Maybe later I will add something. But for now goodbye and thank you for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment