Kinesisk religion


Jeg ved godt at det er en værre uskik med lange og trange citater om besynderlige emner. Men hey, det er min abegrotte det her, så jeg kan skrive hvad jeg vil. Og med nyheden om at Kina nu fjerner begrænsningerne for hvor længe Xi Jinping kan sidde som præsident, så blev jeg meget inspireret af denne antropologiske analyse af det kinesiske kommunistparti set som en … religion:

Despite their explicit atheism, Marxism, socialism and communism are often compared to religions. They require conversion and unquestioned belief in dogma and provide a full eschatology that gives sense and purpose to what has to be done here and now. This continues to be an essential insight but misses one crucial point that is particularly salient to contemporary China.

Viewing these ideologies as such is predicated on a Western understanding of religion modelled on Christianity. Cross culturally, however, religion is not about dogma and belief or how one expresses this belief. Religion is not even necessarily about the supernatural; rather, it is about the privileging of certain aspects of one’s environment, life and experience as sacred, that is, as special and set apart from the normal, profane domains of life. This distinction exists in any society quite independently from what it is exactly that is considered sacred.

If religion is simply about distinguishing the sacred from the profane, it can exist without any dogma and belief, or a material representation and awe of supernatural powers. In his study of the Giriama in Kenya the anthropologist David Parkin has developed this point further. Parkin demonstrates that the Giriama define themselves as a distinct people by reference to a remote, largely uninhabited but nevertheless sacred place of origin called the Kaya. This ‘sacred void’, as Parkin calls it, is kept pure and sacred through periodic acts of cleansing and purification to ensure the fertility and continuity of the Giriama people.

The concept of a sacred void, I would argue, travels rather well to contemporary China. Leninist principles set the CCP apart from society and represent its rule as a sacred mission regardless of any of the beliefs, dogmas or ideologies that it professes. Just as Giriama elders move secretly in and out of the Kaya, with only the occasional elder identified as having broken some rule, so it is that Party leaders are beyond scrutiny and only occasionally get purged. …

The sacredness of CCP politics is why the Party maintains an elaborate edifice of largely vacuous ideological innovations and resists the scrutiny of democratic principles and procedures. Jettisoning ideology would turn CCP rule into an ordinary dictatorship that visibly has no other mission than its own perpetuation. Introducing democracy would crowd the sacred void with the profanity of electoral politics that citizens of democratic countries might deplore, yet fully expect and take for granted: deceitful politicians, greedy interest groups and media theatrics.

It is, therefore, too simple to think that the CCP resists democratic elections and accountability only out of fear of losing power to competing parties. Its resistance to democracy runs at a much deeper indeed religious level. Democracy would expose the inner core of CCP politics to the gaze of ordinary people, stripping the Party of the mystery and sacredness that have rendered its rule unquestionable and untouchable for so long.

Det bliver sindssvagt spændende at studere Xi og den kinesiske politiske udvikling i de kommende år. Både for Kina selv, men også for den globale udvikling – især i disse år, hvor USA er gået ind i sig selv.

Xi kan nu principielt til at sidde som Kinas leder på livstid. Han har vist sig endog særdeles effen til at konsolidere magten hos sig selv og fået gjort sin politik til officiel kinesisk statsideologi. Vi taler måske endnu ikke om en personlighedskult a la Mao, Kim’erne i Nordkorea eller Türkmenbaşy, men konturerne er der. Hvis Xi efter ovenstående model får defineret sig selv som hellig og med Kinas historie in mente, så ville det være overraskende hvis ikke det går sådan.

En afsluttende betragtning: Det er interessant at Kina med Xis konsolidering af magten tilsyneladende går i samme retning som Putin i Rusland. Kina har med sine rokerende statsledere og højtbesungne meritokrati hidtil haft en vis affinitet for kollektivt lederskab. Det er slut nu. Magten ligger nu kun ét sted: Både reelt, formelt og symbolsk. Så ligesom Putin ikke rigtig gider lade som om, at Rusland er noget der minder om et demokrati, så har Xi nu også sat en stopper for illusionen om kollektivt lederskab.

Så bestemt interessant. Måske lidt for interessant, faktisk. Det er ikke gode tider for de af os, der sætter pris på den liberale demokratiske model.