Home > Uncategorized > “human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” and now, “rule of law”

“human rights,” “democracy,” “freedom,” and now, “rule of law”

When Western countries invade Iraq out of “human rights,” “democracy,” and “freedom,” those become ideologies used as propaganda to dupe their public into supporting unjust wars. Obviously, there are merits in the ideas carried behind those words. But the essence of the propaganda, the power behind the propaganda, is the religious believe in the absolute and universality of those ideas. There is no universality. Regular Hidden Harmonies readers know we frequently argue against that notion. So, today, in this brief post, I would like for our readers to meet another one: “rule of law.” In fact, Allen has been hinting he’d offer us a full treatise for some time now, but recently, in a fit of rage at me, I thought he offered up a really good summary. It was enough to wake me up fully. I used to believe in the absoluteness of “rule of law,” but no longer. It’s another religion.

Allen wrote:

I guess my response will have to wait. Rule of law is an ideology … an ideal … just like democracy. Look under the hood, it does not exist. Having rules is important. Sure. Having laws – because laws are rules – is important, too. Fine. Trusting in procedures and institutions to advance the policies of the government. Fine, too. Demanding people do not usurp the power of the government for private gain. Ok, too. But when we talk about rule of law, we are talking about elevating the law of rules to be supreme, that everything submit to it, even above the sovereign, as the epitome of what is right and fair and just….

Doesn’t exist. Just a mirage.

We don’t need rule of law to develop. That’s ideology. We need good leaders, good policies, good systems, good institutions, good rules, good laws … good roads, good economic systems, good agricultural practices, good doctors…… but foremost, we need good leaders … who are accountable to the people … NOT TO LAWS … which is what the “rule of law” demands today …

Hence China can’t have rule of law until they stoop to be constrained by laws … but whose laws, and what laws … and what gives it such high place?

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. colin
    July 17th, 2013 at 20:58 | #1

    I followed that thread as well, and agree, but for different reason than the one you gave above. I found the problems with “rule of law” more convincing.

    When you have so many and often contradictary laws, which one do you follow? Does it not end up still being a contest between parties behind the conflicting laws? What the NSA is doing is clearly in violation of the 4th admendment, yet many say with a straight face this is not – many in congress. There are so many laws and ordinances, it is said that at any moment, everyone is breaking some law or ordnance. What now?

    Who gets to interpret the law? Follow this logic, and the CCP is following the rule of law just as well as any government in western nations. The laws are there, and their actions are based on their interpretation of it. Who’s to say there isn’t rule of law in China?

    And finally, laws are written by the powers that be, with their own special interests and agendas. How is it any fairer, when massive corporations like AT&T and verizon get lawmakers to pass laws in their favor and against the favor of their customers. Or the media giants get passed draconian laws on copyright infringement.

    This is an excellent discussion, certainly opened my eyes to something that the west, again, holds as religion and ignores all the faults in their logic and rhetoric.

  2. colin
    July 17th, 2013 at 21:05 | #2

    I don’t think that fair rule of law, as a concept, is bad. It is something to strive for. But coming back to the original point of the post, when the west uses it as a shallow rhetorical bat to bash China with, it loses all credibility.

    Case in point, there was clearly a coup in Egypt. The US laws demand aid must cease to Egypt in such case. So much for the rule of law. Your move, Obama/Kerry.

  3. July 17th, 2013 at 22:23 | #3

    colin – you fell for the same rhetorical trap I did when you say, “fair rule of law.” When we pay homage this idea of “rule of” law, we are helping to elevate that ideology to its religious status. That’s Allen’s objection. There is no “rule of law.”

    I know what you are thinking though. You want good laws. You want laws applied fairly and justly. That’s as far as laws go. The rest is governed by politics, leadership, culture and other norms as you have pointed out.

    It’s like the manual to your computer. There is no such thing as “rule of manual.” It’s shit. You want concise and easy to understand manuals though. Come to think of it, you want that in laws too.

    Opposing the “rule of law” ideology is not opposing the need for good laws.

  4. July 18th, 2013 at 01:25 | #4

    Here’s the thing. Anything can be used in a bad way. Anything. Often it is because it becomes an ideology or because it is used incorrectly, insincerely, as a Trojan horse or whatever. I see no point in picking on one such concept out of the infinity of others that all can be used to support injustice. I don’t see people who are sincere about promoting human rights using rule of law as a crux to spread an ideology. That is done by insincere and unjust individuals.

    Here’s a challenge to all the nay sayers. The Chinese government has been promoting the rule of law for many years now and they have done quite a bit in that direction with plenty of area to improve as well (which they admit). Most Chinese academics also support the move towards fair and genuine rule of law in China.

    So if foreigners think they know better, the onus, the burden of proof, is on them to show that the Chinese government is wrong to move on that direction. The onus is set high so plenty of solid evidence would have to be adduced that the rule of law is bad for China when all indicators shows that the lack of the rule of law as caused massive damage to society (which is so painfully obvious to every Chinese living here and to the Chinese government). The Chinese government, I’m sure, would love to see the evidence that they have been wrong to go in this direction. They want to know the best way forward.

    But everyone here knows that no substantive evidence will ever be given that they are wrong. Because at bottom, the people who ARE spreading the ideology as I have shown repeatedly are the nay sayers who not only have not given evidence for the alternative but not even a clearly articulated alternative to speak of. It’s easy to criticize something without good grounds. It’s hard to come up with practical alternatives with solid evidence in support.

    Larry once remarked in his blog that he was sick of all the foreigners coming to China and thinking they know better than the Chinese government on how to run the country. But that is exactly what is happening now. Larry and many others here are criticizing from afar and doing so without any evidence. They think they can do better than the Chinese government on this issue. They are of course, wrong.

  5. pug_ster
    July 18th, 2013 at 04:08 | #5

    Rule of law is a joke and does not mean equal justice. Take the example of the recent verdict of George Zimmerman. This guy got overpaid lawyers and using the ‘Rule of law’ applied to “Stand Your Ground” law this guy killed someone and got off Scott Free.

  6. July 18th, 2013 at 04:45 | #6

    @melektaus
    The Chinese government pay homage to democracy too. To human rights as well. But their definition is absolutely different than the Western definition isn’t it? So, when we criticize the universality claim and point out how myopic the Western definition is (and problems with them), we of course are not saying that the Chinese government stop advancing in those areas.

    The Western notion of “rule of law” is religious. Only the “good” guys have it and the “bad” guys don’t. That’s all it means. Only the good guys have human rights. Only the good guys have democracy. If you are not Christian, you go to hell. It’s the same sort of stuff.

    In Western countries, politics, money, special interests, and majority are above law. Laws are bent, rewritten, and re-interpreted based on those higher forces. Laws do not rise above those forces unless those forces magically subdue themselves.

    “rule of law” is a mass opiate just like “democracy.”

    melektaus – I would bet the Chinese view of “法规” is vastly different from the Western notion of “rule of law.”

    I don’t think it’s fair you accuse us of thinking we know better than the Chinese government what’s best for Chinese society.

    We sincerely think there’s much more depth within China in their knowledge about societies, and we only dream of being able to learn more.

    I think its a mistake to assume when Chinese terms are translated into some Western phrases automatically means what the West defines them to be.

  7. July 18th, 2013 at 06:53 | #7

    @YinYang

    To human rights as well. But their definition is absolutely different than the Western definition isn’t it?

    And how are they different?

    First of all, you seem to be assuming that there are two distinction notions and that the west has one while the Chinese have another. That is a over simplification. The Chinese and the west have many different notions of human rights and rthe rule of law (far more than two). But there is a string that binds. Or else it wouldn’t make sense to call them all by the same name.

    Consider scientific theories. Scientists often debate the details of some theory (evolution, quantum mehcanics etc). But that doesn’t mean they all have different theories in mind. You can debate about the different details but still have a basic understanding of the samne concept.

    Think of it like a family resemblance.

    we of course are not saying that the Chinese government stop advancing in those areas.

    Of course many have. If you don’t think so you just haven’t been listening to them.

    The Western notion of “rule of law” is religious.

    Please make the distinction between how something is used and what it is. This conflation is responsible for why many of you keep misunderstanding things. Like I have been saying, ANY concept can be used in insincere ways. It can be used wrongly. It can be used top further evil in the world and so forth. But that doeswn’t mean the concept is bad.

    In Western countries, politics, money, special interests, and majority are above law. Laws are bent, rewritten, and re-interpreted based on those higher forces.

    Again, you keep conflating things. This is how the concept has been used and practiced but concepts can be misused and misapplied.

    I think its a mistake to assume when Chinese terms are translated into some Western phrases automatically means what the West defines them to be.

    It’s a mistake to think that the terms I have been using fits some preconceived notion that YOU may have when you probably don’t know what I am talking about. That is what lies underneath the disputes with these notions.

    Many of you seem to think that when I sued these terms, I am using “the western” notion. You have made several mistakes in one (assuming that there is a single one and that I am using just that one). I have made very explicit clear definitions (such as about democracy and the rule of law and so forth and showed that the Chinese gov promotes these notions) of what I mean but many of you STILL are against China going forward in this direction which says to me that you are against the CHINESE notion as well.

  8. colin
    July 18th, 2013 at 10:16 | #8

    @pug_ster
    I have to disagree with you on this one. I think the simpler explanation is that Martin did assault Zimm, and Zimm defended himself justifiably, and unfortunately eventually lethally. He had every right to do so. The whole question of profiling and what not is up for debate, but I’m pretty sure Martin would not have died if he himself did not escalate to violence. It just doesn’t make sense that Zimm, with 911 on the phone and the cops on their way, would initiate violence.

    So getting back to the original topic, many laws are thrown about in this. Which one(s) do you follow? Which one(s) become deciding factor? Who decides? What happens when laws are circumvented?

  9. July 18th, 2013 at 10:32 | #9

    Look, melektaus, I think I understand your point. You are saying laws are important. Absolutely agree. You are saying laws should rise above everything else. I get that’s your view.

    Do you get the point we are making that in reality laws are subdued by politics, majority, norms, and a long list of other forces?

    Law being above everything else does not exist anywhere.

    I am sure there are many saintly people who believe some certain religion is pure. Yet, religious people of that faith are equally atrocious and cruel as any body.

    It’s not about throwing out the baby with the bath water. It’s like the universality claims to “democracy” and yada yada that doesn’t make sense. “Rule of law” is that same type of claim.

    Btw, melektaus, I urge patience. I recognize this is very frustrating. Perhaps we really ought to slow down.

    With that said, I’ll try my best to keep my mind open, and please correct me where I misunderstand.

  10. Black Pheonix
    July 18th, 2013 at 11:48 | #10

    @melektaus

    “I don’t see people who are sincere about promoting human rights using rule of law as a crux to spread an ideology. That is done by insincere and unjust individuals.”

    I think there are lot of people in the world sincerely believing in their own BS. And that’s precisely the problem: “Road to hell is often paved with the bricks of good intentions.”

  11. July 18th, 2013 at 20:24 | #11

    @YinYang
    “Do you get the point we are making that in reality laws are subdued by politics, majority, norms, and a long list of other forces?”

    First of all, I never denied this but I keep asking what this has to do with anything because it is not clear at all that this is relevant. Of course politics norms etc comes into it. That is so obvious to me that it warrants no attention. It better come into it because if it didn’t it would be blind and useless laws or even harmful laws that result which is no good to anyone.

  12. N.M.Cheung
    July 18th, 2013 at 20:38 | #12

    The question of rule of law and democracy are obviously different for different countries. There is no universal definition for them. For West the human rights is free speech, right to vote etc. But for China human right is the right for food, housing, and decent education, which in U.S. is by no means assured. U.S. consider their laws supreme, they do not accept U.N. unless it suits them. One fear of the Right in U.S. is the black helicopter of U.N. enforcing international rules against U.S.. For U.S. the Second Amendment is supreme although it was interpreted that way only recently by 5-4 margin with Republican appointed justices. It was never interpreted that way before historically. For democracy to apply to only one country is laughable and contradict the whole definition of democracy. Snowden certainly violated certainly laws which he was indicted. Yet in his claim of 4th Amendment and Nuremburg rulings overshadow those laws has validity and will not be tested under the secrecy rulings and if caught will probably suffer the fate of private Manning for torture and life imprisonment.

  13. July 19th, 2013 at 08:06 | #13

    @colin

    I don’t think that fair rule of law, as a concept, is bad. It is something to strive for.

    I am afraid the crux of what you like about “fair rule of law” – the something worth striving for – is all in the word “fair.” If I am mistaken, please elaborate just a little about what’s in the rule of law that you find so worth striving for.

    The thing about rule of law is that is there nothing fundamentally fair, or just, built in to the notion of rule of law. You can say, well, it’s about justice, fairness, objectivity… But what is just, fair, and objective is defined by politics, underlying norms, not anything intrinsic in the “rule of law.”

    I suggest a simple mind exercise. If you think rule of law is worth striving for because it promotes justice and peace and fairness, whatever, remember that all politics swear by that too. Communism, capitalism, democracy, liberalism, politicized religion … it’s all based on the motive to do justice and fairness… in some “real,” “objective” way….

    Rule of law is but a cloak – to mask the underlying politics.

    And what’s the big deal? We have now come to believe that rule of law is essential to civilization – the core of civilization. It really should not. Laws can always be applied arbitrarily, if the politics so justify it. So worshipping law is thus only about worshiping Western history as Westerners like to preach it today…

    About the Chinese gov’t promoting a different version of “rule of law” as Yin Yang mentioned, it’s true. But I don’t think the Chinese gov’t has been clear in what it means by rule of law. By its actions, it is about weeding out corruption, ensuring that its policies are more uniformly applied and not subverted by local authorities, wayward officials. It’s also seen by some as a good tool to dictate / enforce civic norms (no milk tainting, jaywalking, etc.). But is weeding out corruption really about applying rule of law? If it were, then any of the Chinese dynasties at their height had absolute rule of law since at their height, corruption was at minimal, and all officials answered to the sovereign. And is the best way to apply social norm through the law? The law is rarely a good vehicle for resolving social dispute. The costs are too high, and the results (based not just on selective application of doctrines, but also of weighing evidence) too arbitrary to normal use. It’s good as propaganda though… that people are “protected.”

    Without a clear foundation on what rule of law is, the Chinese gov’t will be under constant attack that it needs to elevate rule of law to the West’s “higher” standards…

    Rule of law in its current (modern) form is an ideology that arise from the ideology of democracy. At first it arose as a result of the Church, the mercantilist class, the aristocrats, etc. wrestling each other for power, and needed some platform for arguing their case. Then it evolved into something that checks the power of democracy, to ensure that a government by the people does not degenerate to appear like a tyranny by the majority.

    In an autorcratic society, or meritocratic democracy, the check should be on good politics – holding the leaders up to the highest standards – not just the law – which is but a reflection of politics anyways and thus ancillary. I have no problem per se with the rule of law as currently promulgated by Chinese gov’t, except that it is putting too much in one egg basket.

    My problem with rule of law is not that it can be “misapplied” by “insincere” people. There is nothing to misapply. The rule of law has no soul. I’ll get you the result you want by proper manipulation of the law. When you start building into your culture that political problems need to be solved through legal doctrines, mechanisms, rhetoric, you are walking down the wrong path. Once you start solving the human problems through “technicalities” – “technicalities” that can be defined and manipualted whatever fashion you want by those skilled in the law – you have lost something. This is something the ancient chinese understood, and something I hope to bring out on this blog going forward.

    The reason I haven’t done a post is because the rule of law is such an ingrained concept, I don’t know where to start – philosophically, doctrinally, empirically, historically, ideologically, etc., etc. … and the fact that I am still awakening to the tyrrany of the law – the monopolization of all “punishment” to the state, the justifying of morally arbitrary application of state power through the law, etc., etc.

  14. Black Pheonix
    July 19th, 2013 at 10:41 | #14

    @melektaus

    “First of all, I never denied this but I keep asking what this has to do with anything because it is not clear at all that this is relevant. Of course politics norms etc comes into it. That is so obvious to me that it warrants no attention. It better come into it because if it didn’t it would be blind and useless laws or even harmful laws that result which is no good to anyone.”

    The relevance is whether politics norms in making, interpreting, and enforcing laws renders “rule of law” completely meaningless.

    If politics norms dominates the interpretations of laws, then law is not anywhere predictable, and thus cannot be honestly called “rule of law”.

    Then, we might as well call some systems “rule of politics”, which is pretty much the same as “rule of man”.

  15. Black Pheonix
    July 19th, 2013 at 10:50 | #15

    “Rule of law” would be meaningless without the context of discussing it IN RELATION to other things like “politics”, “ideology”.

    The question of “rule of law” ultimately depends on whether LAW dominates other things like “politics” or “ideology”, or is it the other way around.

    *What the West has is not “rule of law” is rule by ideological politics, because laws are interpreted precisely according to the dominant ideologies of the time.

    Laws of “rights” are subservient to ideological acceptances of things like “slavery”, then those laws of “rights” are completely meaningless and unpredictable.

  16. July 19th, 2013 at 11:33 | #16

    @Black Pheonix

    *What the West has is not “rule of law” is rule by ideological politics, because laws are interpreted precisely according to the dominant ideologies of the time.

    You seem to suggest that true “rule of law” is ruled not by ideological politics, but that’s not possible. If it is, it would just be a bunch of technicalities that means nothing anyways. The essence of rule of law is the appearance of objectivity run by underlying politics. There is not wrong with the current version of rule of law as promoted by the West. They have it pretty much right. It is pretty much what rule of law is, should be, can be, ought to be.

  17. Black Pheonix
    July 19th, 2013 at 11:37 | #17

    @Allen

    I know it’s not possible, but that would only mean that we should call it for what it really is, “rule by politics”.

  18. July 19th, 2013 at 12:15 | #18

    Following up on my previous comment:

    I am afraid the crux of what you like about “fair rule of law” – the something worth striving for – is all in the word “fair.” If I am mistaken, please elaborate just a little about what’s in the rule of law that you find so worth striving for.

    Someone might mention “equality”. Without getting into the principle of “equality” – one might simply go back to history and look at what that notion has produced – or today. What does “equality” really mean. Even today, there are differences as to what equality really means. Does equality before the law means the law being blind to socioeconomic and political context? If you follow U.S. politics, think gay marriage, voting rights, affirmative action … to name just a few. One can argue equality to mean many things – and the law can be brought to align with any of several sense one might prefer, really. There is no right or wrong answer. So rule of law simply means finding a conclusion that is politically palatable. So does equality in rule of law stand above politics?

    What’s fair, just. …. keeps on changing. Rule of law does not offer a panacea.

  19. colin
    July 19th, 2013 at 17:30 | #19

    @Allen

    We all agree that the concept of “rule of law” as used by the west to criticize China is disingenuous. I also agree that there is a no meaningful example of “rule of law” in existing, nor might there ever be. In fact, we both have the same criticism of it’s failings. When I said fair rule of law, I guess what I really mean is a fair system to arbitrate society. Of course, we go on the slippery slope of what is fair and who defines it. And a truly fair system may be unattainable, but on a practical productive level, how would you describe the better alternative China and everyone else should be striving for?

  20. Zack
    July 19th, 2013 at 17:35 | #20
  21. Zack
    July 19th, 2013 at 21:55 | #21

    on the many, many crusades which the US and its allies indulge in for the sake of ‘human rights’, well CBS and other western media outlets betrayed their real expectations from such military interventions when they pouted and complained about how it was China that was ‘winning contracts and oil’ in Iraq and A-stan.

  22. July 21st, 2013 at 01:15 | #22

    @colin

    And a truly fair system may be unattainable, but on a practical productive level, how would you describe the better alternative China and everyone else should be striving for?

    First … I am not saying that since we can’t find a perfectly fair system, let’s give up…. I am saying the fairness you are looking for is not what rule of law offers, it’s what the underlying politics offers.

    As for alternatives … let’s define China’s problems. Above, I mentioned social norm engineering (no tainting of milk, no jaywalking) and corruption (no holding up of government policies by local wayward officials, more homogeneous application of law). For the former, it should be social norms that constrain people’s actions. Even in so-called rule of law societies, most “injustices” go unpunished. At most law sporadically punishes, and it punishes just enough so that politicalliy speaking, laws seem to be doing something. Codifying is not a short cut. It is but one means (not even the most important) to constrain / define people’s actions – a society’s environment.

    For the latter, you need better management within government. Better training, better people, better institutions, whatever…

    In the end, all societies must have rules, but we must not worship the rules as the core of soceity (rule of law), and the rules and the institutions that enforce those rules must not be allowed to run away as a neutral arbitrator that politics must answer to – for that is not possible and necessarily involve a mirage. Law / rules have uses, but are but tools.

    If people believe that China’s development today must involve rule of law, more worshipping of law as a panacea at this stage of development – I think we are at a dangerous slope. It’d be like someone say gdp growth is the end all of development – that the core of civilization is gdp growth. Surely gdp growth is but a tool to realize China’s political goals (a renaissance in Chinese civilization), and perhaps rule of law is, too, but neither must supplement actual deliberation of politics – which today means a responsive gov’t and a gov’t with upstanding leaders. Many problems confront China today. Demanding the Party’s highest standards, informing and also supporting the Party’s directions, is the key to ensuring that political process stays vibrant. Worshiping abstract – inherently manipulable – notions of rule of law is not going to do so.

  23. dancingfrogs
    July 21st, 2013 at 19:57 | #23

    It seems that most people us the phrase “rule of law” or “Constitution” as a universal truth. I think it is important to to use it as Western Rule of Law or American Constitution.

    Any one will know well how unjust and inept the American legal system is when one goes through court systems, business and personal. The patent system is held as part of rule of law, but too much of it will kill the creativity and freedom like what is doing now to the business world.

    There is no such a thing as a universal truth of rule of law, only better or worse. We should stop pretend along with the West and see things like the way it really is. Your rule of law is worse than mine or my rule of law is better than yours.

  24. July 21st, 2013 at 22:31 | #24

    In response to melektaus’ question above, I thought I use this opportunity to be a bit more explicit even though many of you have voiced similar ideas above:

    “Do you get the point we are making that in reality laws are subdued by politics, majority, norms, and a long list of other forces?”

    First of all, I never denied this but I keep asking what this has to do with anything because it is not clear at all that this is relevant.

    It is relevant because Western countries cultivate political discord within China. This is why they promote the 14th Dalai Lama as some sort of “holy” person in the West despite him having owned serfs and his politics in demonizing the Chinese government and trying to drive a wedge between Tibetan Chinese from the rest of the country.

    Even the Vatican is staunchly supported by the U.S. in its politiking of religion within China. Make no mistake that the Vatican is a political organization. It wants to ordain bishops who are loyal to Vatican foremost. If you have read some basic U.S. foreign policy, you will understand the Vatican has been employed by the West to undermine the former Soviet Union around the globe through its influence over its followers. It was a open secret.

    This is why the Nobel peace prize went to LXB. This is why the June 4th movement became a “democracy” movement despite it originally being mostly discontent about privatization and corruption. Western propagandists want to cultivate this idea that the “democracy” religion is in strong demand within China and that the Chinese government is evil for standing in its way. Look at how the FLG has become a propaganda machine for the U.S.. The list is long.

    Now, having said that, the United States engages China in her foreign policy with a dual track. On one hand it wages an ideological/religious battle against Chinese society. On the other, there’s a lot of constructive win-win engagement. So I am saying that the United States-led West is not on a all-out containment of China.

    However, if China is weak, and those factions become relatively much stronger, then there will be little resistance to the idea within the American public for militarily aiding those groups. Look at Libya and work your way backwards.

    What happens after that? Look at Libya and scores of countries before it again. Western public generally wouldn’t give a damn.

    Now, coming back to why the flaws in “rule of law” is discussed here? It’s an ideology that is easy to subscribe to. It’s like Obama’s “CHANGE” slogan. It was easy to rally behind that single idea. Now ask how many Americans are disillusioned by that slogan?

    The strategy of Western propagandist is to get the Chinese public to believe this idea that “rule of law” exists and that nothing is above law.

    What they then want to do next if there is a large enough adherent within China is to convince them that the Chinese government and the CCP is not “above” it. Those factions will then want to limit the power of the Chinese government. Those factions then themselves become a political opponent. Think about LXB, TGIE, FLG, etc – they are all PAID by U.S. organizations like the NED. They are under one political umbrella.

    China has a vision to experiment systems locally and then take their best practices to the next level or to other regions. China is infinitely more practical in her approach to advancing civilization. CCTV editors have publicly stated their idea towards media is zhongyong – Confucius’ idea of the golden mean.

    China truly cares about harmony. You don’t see Chinese media demonizing any religion – much unlike the West if you read between the lines, certain religions aren’t equal and even evil. You don’t have thinly veiled racist shit in their media like in the West. Think how the Chinese are portrayed in the Western press – IP thieves, lead toy makers, human rights abusers, and on and on.

    So, “rule of law” as a religion is the goal. China don’t need another religion.

    FLG turned out to be shit. Let it serve as a warning that the “rule of law” religion if catches fire, will turn into another FLG, perhaps with many more adherents.

    China absolutely needs law in her arsenal of tools to advance society. However, leave that “rule of” out of it.

  25. July 22nd, 2013 at 00:44 | #25

    @YinYang

    It is relevant because Western countries cultivate political discord within China. This is why they promote the 14th Dalai Lama as some sort of “holy” person in the West despite him having owned serfs and his politics in demonizing the Chinese government and trying to drive a wedge between Tibetan Chinese from the rest of the country.

    Again, that is still irrelevant. Here’s an analogy: I say that China needs to develop science and technology and I give good reasons for why it ought to. Then someone says “The Nazis used science and technology to kill millions”. My response would be “And? So?”. We are not talking about how someone or other used it in the past or might use it. We are talking about China and the rule of law. The fact that the US has used the notion as a pretext or whatever to further its own evil is irrelevant to China just as the fact that the Nazis used science and technology in nefarious ways is irrelevant to whether China ought to develop science and technology, whether it is good for modern China.

    It doesn’t follow that China shouldn’t develop science and technology because some people have used in wrongly just as it doesn’t follow that China shouldn’t develop the rule of law just because the notion has been used as a tool for evil purposed by the US.

  26. Black Pheonix
    July 22nd, 2013 at 08:15 | #26

    @melektaus

    But you are not talking about something rational or repeatable like “science”.

    “Rule of Law” is subjective, and its nature and definition IS defined by how it was/is used.

  27. Black Pheonix
    July 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 | #27

    “Rule of Law” reached a new low of ridiculous-ness, as US politicians scrambled to avoid discussing Egypt as having had a “coup”, which if acknowledged as a “coup”, under US laws, US cannot send $1 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

    Every US administration departments and agencies are avoiding using the “C-word” when it comes to Egypt.

    “It’s complicated.” As they say about Egypt now, which actually is much simpler than that, because it was clear that the Egyptian military did remove a Democratically elected President from office, AND suspended Egyptian Constitution (aka, legal system). And no one denied that these things happened.

    Justified or not, that’s pretty much the definition of a “coup”.

    *But US administration is apparently in the “blind” Rule of Law mode, i.e. it isn’t technically reality, unless legally admitted to be so, even if people involved actually admitted so.

    Talk about an ultimate subjective view of Rule of Law, completely subservient to political goals.

  28. July 23rd, 2013 at 01:14 | #28

    @Black Pheonix

    You are assuming that it’s not rational. Even if it is not rational, the question really is if it’s beneficial. Good laws are clearly better than bad laws or no laws and I see no evidence so far that you or anyone else provided to show otherwise.

  29. July 23rd, 2013 at 01:26 | #29

    @melektaus
    I don’t think your use of science as an analogy is right. For your example to be right, you would have to pervert science into an ideology first. We can start with one definitions of science: truths must first be empirically proven.

    A perversion of science would be that anything cannot be empirically proven must be false. A lot of truths cannot be empirically proven because we don’t yet have adequate technology – and some, we may never be able to prove.

    To you, you’d prefer to have science mean as truth must first be empirically proven, and nothing more. And, sure, we all can agree on that. Don’t deny this nor reject this. Of course.

    The problem here is you cannot guarantee the Chinese public would take your definition alone.

    The problem here is that the majority of the people are taking the perverted definition as well.

    I am repeating numerous times already – China absolutely should develop law. However, the Chinese shouldn’t elevate law as some sacred religion. When they do, that’s problematic.

  30. July 23rd, 2013 at 04:14 | #30

    @YinYang

    I am actually puzzled by the analogy between rule of law and science. It doesn’t make sense to say since general laws of nature exist, general laws of men must ergo exist?

    In any case, I think melektaus has a good general point to say, hey just because something can be abused doesn’t mean that something is inherently bad – except I don’t like how he applies it.

    Nial Ferguson has proposed 6 six killer apps that has led to the triumph of the West. (see, e.g., http://www.npr.org/2011/11/02/141942357/how-the-west-beat-the-rest-six-killer-apps). Ferguson definitely has interesting ideas. But should someone then say, see these powerful ideas from the West, China must adopt them?

    Imagine some were to say, hey English is the most “powerful” language. UK became a world power using it, so did America. I think Chinese ought to convert to this “powerful” language, to become powerful like American and UK. And when people push back to say, hey that’s just an cultural artifact of nations that became powerful, the response becomes: hey just as China doesn’t object to using “science” for her development, so China shouldn’t object to dumping “Chinese” and using “English” for her development.

    Or is it like “science”?

    Obviously these are 2 ends of analogies… and analogies can be great tools for communicating, but analogizing per se doesn’t give analysis.

    But this point aside, I feel melektaus has completely misunderstood you. Based on the above comments, I think you are still in the camp that laws are important to the development of society – thought rules of laws need to be evaluated on a case by case basis, and not just categorically be revered. You then gave a counterexample for why notions of rule of law cannot be categorically revered based on how it has been/can be used to bash other cultures / societies. But melektaus somehow took it that you mean that rule of law can now never be good because it has been “abused” by others – which is not what you said….

    Just want to point that out for the readers here…

  31. Black Pheonix
    July 23rd, 2013 at 08:23 | #31

    melektaus :

    @Black Pheonix

    You are assuming that it’s not rational. Even if it is not rational, the question really is if it’s beneficial. Good laws are clearly better than bad laws or no laws and I see no evidence so far that you or anyone else provided to show otherwise.

    I think it was evident from your own subjective descriptions of “rule of law” that it is not rational.

    As for “beneficial”, that is also subjective. Nothing is absolutely “beneficial”. The question is whether it is more “beneficial” than other forms of rule.

    I.e. more just, more fair, more efficient, etc.

    And we are not talking about “bad laws”, or “no laws”. That’s a strawman argument. Even a “rule of law” system can have “bad laws” and lack of laws for areas that are needed.

    The question is whether Laws should dominate politics, or the other way around. And what some of us have argued is that “Rule of Law”, as defined by the West, does not exist according to the Western definition, because the Western systems of laws are dominated by arbitrary political interpretations of laws.

    You might say, that doesn’t matter, “Rule of Law” should still exist, as “beneficial”.

    Perhaps, but how? When it is irrational and thus prone to subjective political interpretations?

    If that’s “beneficial”, then even the rule by Emperors/Kings would fit under your definition of “rule of law”, because even Emperors had “laws”, often time Good Laws.

  32. Black Pheonix
    July 23rd, 2013 at 08:37 | #32

    I should also clarify that we are talking about the merits of “systems” of rule, which relates to the question of whether “rule of law” inherently/systematically produce more “beneficial results”.

    In theory, perhaps. If people can compromise and willingly subject themselves to “rational” arguments, and even sacrifice their own personal well beings in the interest of social justice.

    But people are not that selfless. Hence, the basic problem.

    In theory also, Communism should have worked. Same problem, selfish nature of individuals will always seek to game any system of politics and laws to selective individuals’ private interests.

    Thus, the “system” does not work, not because the theory is irrational, but because the reality of man is irrational.

  33. July 23rd, 2013 at 17:26 | #33

    @Black Pheonix

    Maybe you are going too far here? Saying rule of law is not what it appears to be is one thing, saying it doesn’t work is another. Surely, one can argue empirical evidence suggest rule of law does work. Rule of law has allowed Western societies to organize in a certain fashion. Rule of law has allowed the masses in the West to be ruled in a way that appears fair and neutral and above the politics of the times. Rule of law is seen as essential to civilization.

    Perhaps this is the impetus that drove melektaus to compare rule of law with science. If rule of law is such an awesome platform for social engineering, in getting people to readily behave in a way that feels normatively right, then China needs to have it. Sure rule of law can be abused to serve illicit purposes, just as science as, but that is irrelevant: we need to have that “killer app” that the West has so perfected for China, too.

    My purposes in bringing up this “rule of law” thing for the last month or so (I don’t remember how this thing got started!), is to stop rule of law from becoming a religion. But if it is the case that rule of law is already a de facto religion that Chinese people will readily adopt, then yes, I will go with melektaus: the Chinese gov’t needs to learn as much as it can about it so they can rule China more effective, more easily. By this logic, China should also adopt “democracy,” “freedom,” “liberty” and all other things that are intimately connected with the ideology of modern “rule of law” also. Let’s adapt the governance / political ideologies / techniques that have already been perfected and become dominant and use it to benefit China today. Let’s use them effectively as tools…

    But I am hoping China doesn’t have to do this – that it can go down its own path. Japan has pretty much done this (followed the Western path). So has S. Korea. Singapore also. This is the debate of the times. I am hoping China finds its own path, contribute something new. But maybe I am asking for too much…?

  34. Black Pheonix
    July 24th, 2013 at 12:59 | #34

    @Allen

    I meant that “Rule of law” is not working the way it was intended (as its selling point).

    In reality, Western “rule of law” are really just boiling down to “rule of politics”, and thus not that different from other legal systems that the West criticizes.

    *I think China can contribute something: Perhaps the idea that law cannot solve every controversy, and some things perhaps should be just left alone and unanswered.

    For example, recently, some expats asked the question: “When will China legalize homosexual marriage?”

    I thought WHY does China (or any nation) need to legalize homosexual marriage??

    In Western legal systems, if some thing is not “legalized” as a right (homosexual marriage), then it is implied to be illegal, and at least discriminated against.

    But in China, “homosexuality” is a practice that occurs without much public attention. The government simply does not get involved. Discrimination does occur, but there are no Churches and hate groups openly intimidating them as groups.

    Many Expats have noted that China is actually quite tolerant toward “homosexuals”, who also do not flaunt their lifestyles too publicly. (The rule in China is generally, differences are tolerated, so long as you don’t flaunt it too much. Because, well, every one is different in some ways. The nail that sticks out gets hammered.)

    So, why should China “legalize” homosexual marriages? Isn’t that just a pointless gesture to slap a label on something that’s already tolerated??

    Under Chinese laws (recent marriage laws), there is no explicit “definition of marriage” as only between a man and a woman, nor does it approve any homosexual “marriages”.

    In this fashion, 1 can interpret Chinese laws as only outlining the most common form of marriage, between man and woman, without excluding other forms of marriages, i.e. other forms of marriages may be possible, if not explicitly prohibited.

    In that sense, there is no need for China to “legalize” homosexual marriages, since such forms of marriages are not legally prohibited. (In contrast, “Bigamy” and “polygamy” ARE explicitly prohibited under Chinese laws).

    One can also say that Chinese laws take no position on homosexual marriages. It’s just left alone by Chinese laws.

    *This I think is a way of legal thinking that is sorely needed in the Western legal systems. a kind of “legal non-interventionism”, if there is no troubles/issues, and encouraging non-legalistic social compromises on issues (Not to mention that “homosexuality” should NOT be such a huge issue to start with. It’s only big in the West because of all the fanatical intolerant people).

  35. Zack
    July 30th, 2013 at 00:52 | #35

    just a drive by comment:

    Notice how the US Government’s actions with respect to the Snowden case reflects a nation governed, not by the principle of a Rule of Law, but de jure Rule BY Law?

    ie the governing classes in Washington do what they do then retroactively ‘legalise’ it with written pieces of paper, they call ‘laws’ and yet in actuality rape all intention and definition of the purpose of those laws.
    Take for example the way ‘R2P’ was subverted to allow the US to cause the destruction of Libya, or how the Espionage Act has been perverted to silence Whistleblowers and government critics.

  36. July 30th, 2013 at 10:45 | #36

    @Zack

    What you refer to as principle of a Rule of Law does not exist. You see, if we do have inviolate, unmoving “principles” by which to govern, we will no longer need politics. All governance will be advanced according to these “principles” and processes. (Actually the West thinks it has discovered it, it comes in the package of “rule of law,” “natural rights,” “liberty,” and “democracy”)

    In my worldview, principles must be invoked according to context, in context of underlying politics. There are no eternal, changeless, principles. If there are, they are so abstract and highminded that different people with different cultural and historical background will apply those very differently in different contexts.

    Rule of law thus necessarily involve laws that include exceptions, escape hatches, and even rules that are inherently amenable to be defined and re-defined as appropriate and convenient for the times. That is the essence of the art of law – or the practice of the rule of law. So what you see as “perversion” is nothing of the sort as far as principle of rule of law per se. It merely means the side with which you disagree has mastered the law to your disadvantage. It’s all very proper as far as the rule of law is concerned.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.