The irony is that the Party itself, its complex workings hidden from public scrutiny, is the ultimate source of corruption. The inner circle, comprising top Party and state functionaries as well as chiefs of industry, communicate via an exclusive phone network, the ‘Red Machine’ – possessing one of its unlisted numbers is a clear sign of one’s status. A vice-minister tells McGregor that ‘more than half of the calls he received on his “red machine” were requests for favours from senior Party officials, along the lines of: “Can you give my son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin or good friend and so on, a job?”’Go thou and read. Very insightful. It is easy to see how, if the CCP choses, it will attempt to guide "political liberalization" in China; China can study political liberalization in Taiwan (and Singaporean evolution as well) to understand how it can manage the transition to a facade of liberalization as well as escape the prosecution of its leaders for their innumerable crimes against humanity.
There are, of course, many states, some even formally democratic, in which a half-secret coterie controls the government; in apartheid South Africa, for example, it was the Broederbond. What makes the Chinese case unique is that this doubling of power between public and hidden realms is itself institutionalised.
The notion of the Party-state cannot do justice to the complexities of 20th-century Communism: there is always a gap between Party and state, and the Party functions as the state’s shadowy double. Dissenters call for a new politics of distance from the state, but they don’t recognise that the Party is this distance: it embodies a fundamental distrust of the state, its organs and mechanisms, as if they needed to be controlled, kept in check, at all times. A true 20th-century Communist never fully accepts the state: he accepts the need for an agency, immune to the law, which has the power to supervise the state’s activities.
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