Home Political science China’s Ethical Revolution and Regaining Legitimacy: Reforming the Communist Party through Its Public Servants
When it comes to multiple levels of dysfunction evident in the relationship between formalism and bureaucratism, the division between remnant and hybrid is hardly clear. The Party can only be seen from the unification of both oppositions to itself. That is to say, formalism and bureaucratism as a remnant of the tension between the centre (higher-level officials) and the local (lower-level officials) together comprise “the Party’s other” (disorder within the Party) across all levels including all officials.
From this perspective, formalism and bureaucratism are already inscribed onto the ethics of officialdom as an impasse in the formation of officialdom. Thus, it is through examining the journey (not the relationship developed between) from ethical to unethical that we can investigate how ethics really work. That is, the formation of the ethical subject can only be interrogated at the very borderline between the ethical and the unethical (De 2013: 20). Thus, “the Party’s self" is a hybrid form that always tries to balance various tensions within it. In other words, the existence of formalism and bureaucratism in officialdom entails the Party to shape the ethical potentials of officials, while the Party consistently tackles the borderline between the ethical and the unethical.
Thus, the remnant as “the Party’s other” and the hybridization as “Party’s self” forms the unified Party body. The positive (hybridization) and negative (remnant) consequences of the tensions between the governing and the governed are key to what “the thing” is. The positive pole names the system’s central concern, while a negative pole is simply the other side of the positive pole (Beyer 2013: 44). In other words, we can only value what is positive or negative based on one’s central concern, that is, the “programmatic aspect” of the Party (44). Beyer says “the system constitutes itself through its own reflexivity” (44). In our case, “the Party’s other” does not reveal the Party’s potentiality to do or be but inversely its potentiality not to do or be.
In this chapter, we examined the problems of formalism and bureaucratism, that is, the duty to do and duty not to do and the tensions that exist between the different layers of the Party’s hierarchy in the context of overly hierarchical, “loose” governing, which leads to subservice, nepotism, fear of work and ultimately a legitimacy crisis. In Chap. 7, we will move onto the relationship between sacrifice and ethical life through examining the problems associated with the hedonistic and extravagant lifestyles of officials, that is, the duty to be and the duty not to be.
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