chapter  3
16 Pages

Society in the state: China’s nondemocratic political pluralization andrew mertha

In the 1990s, a growing number of scholars attempted to graft onto China the civil society framework emerging from the various “soft” revolutions in Eastern Europe. There were a number of good reasons for seeking to do so. First, if we could identify enough significant parallels, we would be able to leverage our understanding of these phenomena and make robust crosssectional generalizations, and even predictions. Second, from a normative standpoint, it certainly appeared that the political outcomes tended to be better for the societies than had been life under state socialism. Finally, the 1989 crackdown in Beijing, Chengdu, and elsewhere in China caused a number of Sinologists to rethink their assessments of the People’s Republic and left them struggling to find an explanation for what had happened.