World View: Chinese Communist Party Preps for Explosive Politburo Election

This morning's key headlines from

  • Chinese Communist Party prepares for an explosive Politburo election
  • Putin's disappearance may be related to his day as leader of the cranes

Chinese Communist Party prepares for an explosive Politburo election

Politburo Standing Committee
Politburo Standing Committee

Pundits give many reasons why Republicans and Democrats are unable to compromise in America today, but from the point of view of generational theory, the reason is pretty simple. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan was able to unite the Republicans and the Democrats to cooperate with each other, following the chaos of America's generational Awakening era. They cooperated to change the Social Security system to make it a sounder system. After that, they cooperated again to specify new rules to control the budget deficit. Compromise was still possible in 1996, when Democratic President Bill Clinton, saying that "the era of big government is over," cooperated with the Republican congress to eliminate the welfare entitlement. Those compromises were possible because they were led by World War II survivors, people who were capable of putting the country ahead of politics.

Today, the WW II survivors are mostly gone, the current Gen-X and Boomer politicians have no personal memory of the horrors of WW II, and so are incapable of putting their country ahead of anything, even their own greed and hatred. I can write that we're headed for a new Clash of Civilizations world war that will be much worse than WW II, but the reaction of most people is not to deal with the message, but to shun the messenger. The same is true in any generational Crisis era. Just google the words "fdr scandals" to read about the bitterness of the 1930s, America's last generational Crisis era. And of course, the conflicts of the preceding generational Crisis era led to the American Civil War.

The same is true in China. During Deng Xiaoping's era in the 1980s, the survivors of Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49) were still in charge, and compromise was possible. Deng, who in some ways can be thought of as China's Ronald Reagan, was able to unite competing factions after the country had been split by the disastrous "cultural revolution" of China's generational Awakening era. But today, those survivors are all gone, and all that people can do is look wistfully back and wonder why there's no Deng Xiaoping figure leading the country and able to unite it today.

Managing by "consensus" has been the highest goal of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since Mao's days. That means that there might be disagreement at first among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) but once a decision is made, then no one disagrees with it, at least in public. Every ten years, there is a generational change in China, and a new PSC is chosen. In the past, the choice has always been by consensus. This time, the choice will be made by people growing up after Mao's Communist Revolution. Like America's politicians today, they'll put personal greed ahead of their country.

It is apparently a foregone conclusion that Xi Jinping will be chosen as the new president of China, replacing Hu Jintao. But there are only seven seats available in the PSC, and ten candidates for them, and the battles for those seats may be bloody. But unlike Deng and Hu, Xi has been unable to bring about a consensus. He's proposing a radical idea: A differential voting scheme that will select the 7 winners from the 10 candidates. A voting scheme is a perfectly ordinary solution in the West, but it's anathema in China, which is supposed to rule by "consensus."

There's only one political party in China -- the CCP -- but for this election, there are two major factions within the CCP:

  • The "princelings," mostly sons of the survivors of Mao's revolution. Bo Xilai was (is?) one of the princelings, but he was thrown out of the running earlier this year by a major scandal, possibly the biggest scandal in the CCP's history. (Recall that I referred you to FDR's scandals above.) However, Bo was a very powerful figure before his demise, and there are many bitter supporters who did not want to see him go.
  • The "tuanpai," people, now grown up, with ties to the Communist Youth League (CYL), the power base for Hu Jintao. The CYL tuanpai have been growing in power, and the Bo scandal has weakened his opposition. Hu and his partner, prime minister Wen Jiabao, are expected to use this power to put their own people in, and shut out the princelings and Bo supporters as much as possible.
Into this potentially bloody situation, a new bombshell exploded a couple of weeks ago: A long New York Times feature that said that Wen Jiabao was a corrupt official who used his powers to channel billions of dollars to his family members. At a time when China is close to civil war between the mostly poor "peasants," and the generally wealthy and entitled CCP members, this has infuriated the public so much that the CCP shut down the entire New York Times website in China. But followers of Bo continued to circulate the incriminating article on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, and Bo supporters are expected to use the accusations against Wen to claim that corruption is common in the CCP, and that the accusations against Bo are not so special. Straits Times (Singapore) and Asia Times and People's Daily (Beijing)

Putin's disappearance may be related to his day as leader of the cranes

Putin, dressed as a bird, flies in motorized hang glider with cranes in September (Ria Novosti)
Putin, dressed as a bird, flies in motorized hang glider with cranes in September (Ria Novosti)

The usually ostentatious president Vladimir Putin of Russia has remained almost completely out of sight for the last few weeks, causing Moscow to buzz about the state of his health.

The greatest speculation is that he suffered a back injury during a publicity stunt last summer that was so ridiculous as to be almost unbelievable, but you can't make this stuff up. Putin decided to become leader of a wedge of white crane birds, to help them migrate. He "disguised" himself as a mama crane by wearing a beak, a white robe and a helmet, and steered a hang glider through the air, leading some cranes.

Unfortunately, his hang glider apparently had a hard landing, and Putin may have hurt his back. (There's no word about whether the cranes also had a hard landing.)

Russians are cynical about their leaders' health, details of which are usually kept top secret. Leonid Brezhnev was leader until his death in 1982, and he was fully senile in his last few years. Boris Yeltsin's disjointed speech and bizarre behavior were attributed to heavy drinking. Putin has attempted to show himself off as a "hunk" in several publicity stunts, but now he may be in trouble. France 24 and Moscow News (September 9)

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