World News: Firing of charismatic mayor shows limits of Chinese leadership’s patience – thestar.com

World News: Firing of charismatic mayor shows limits of Chinese leadership’s patience – thestar.com.

The Star is a small paper for a big town and its world section usually taken from the wires. But for that very reason, the article cited gives a fascinating peek into the logic of democracy and its tension with demagoguery (i.e., charismatic leadership leading to political unaccountability) and its balance against bureaucratic consensus (is this the same as the old Soviet Politburo, as was once the case?).

Put it this way: Supposedly democratic states resist the volatility of mob rule by rule of institutions that are by and large accountable to those giving them the power to govern, though this is not actually a necessity. But the effect is social predictability and also, not incidentally, economic stability and, given a diverse commercial environment, growth. But not all regimes articulating social and economic stability are the same, just as not all accounts of “the people” are identical. One, say, can be thought of as the grouping of individuals, rational or not, and grouped as a representable community, the threat of losing individual identity within the community is always present. (From schooling to voting, from birth to death, the individual is made as the natural figure of value, and reminded of that by the incessant claims and lures of commodity culture.)

But an other mechanism of identity can be said to start from the other direction, from the idea of community, with the individual as the sign of that community’s dissolution, and not its embodied atom of value.