Home Political science China’s Ethical Revolution and Regaining Legitimacy: Reforming the Communist Party through Its Public Servants
Games of Truth Between the Party and Corrupted Officials
Under the Communist Party’s rules of conduct, when under investigation, suspected corrupt officials are “required” to report their violation. As Guo observes:
Despite the absence of physical torture, the psychological pressure on a confined official is tremendous; Defendants usually just wait for the punishment, because they know there is little else they can do: all of their outside contacts are likely to abandon them and they are unaware of the extent of the DIC’s knowledge of the alleged wrongdoings or crimes. The Party plays a decisive role in determining the fate of an accused official by virtue of the fact that the accused official is not allowed to hire any legal representation, and the outcome of the investigation is arbitrarily decided by the CDIC and DICs without any judicial involvement or oversight. Torture is inflicted by the psychological pressure exerted on detainees, as their freedom and rights to be defended by an attorney are taken away under shuanggui (stipulated time and space). (2014: 607)
In this state of exception, there is a truth game that is situated on the axis of the present and the future and always takes the form of the injunction. For example, the Party determines what remedy must be employed in order to solve the problems caused by the activities of corrupted officials. These include particular measures of the Party for eradicating the disease of corruption. In many ways, the anti-corruption campaign is driven by the Party’s depiction of the future of the country if they do not stamp out corruption, and the context that enables corruption—the breakdown of the country will take place sooner or later, as in the Soviet Union.
For the detained officials undergoing interrogation, every reality unfolds before him, around him, without anything to do with the law, without any commonality with those who command (37). If the Party’s truth is to be confirmed, then it is the interrogated officials’ disobedience, lies and silences that realize the truth of the Party. The truth of the prediction can only pass through the lies, silences and disobedience of men. It is because there is this game of truth that the Party will finally be right (41). Thus, in this game of truth, on the one hand, the falsehood of the officials is required for the truth of the Party to become true and it requires the truth-telling of the suspects for the uncertain truth-telling of the Party to become an inevitable certainty for members (42).
But silence is also a form of resistance, a politico-ethical potentiality of passivity that might suddenly attack the guard and threaten the living law of the camp (Huang 2012: 183). In other words, officials could turn their resistance to themselves, to the Party, and overturn the Party’s power. Thus, the central vulnerability of the Party is the possibility that it can be dismantled by its own members. The sense of boredom created by anti-corruption detention and the culture of fear intentionally initiated by the DIC can induce a state of emptiness, in the face of all pervading indifference (Huang 2012: 185). In this context, compliance rather than resistance is more likely.
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