The Dynamics of Factions and Consensus in Chinese Politics

A Model and Some Propositions

by Lucian Pye

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A study of the dynamics of factionalism in Chinese politics: the tension between the imperative of upholding consensus, and the need of officials to seek the security of networks of personal relationships that create counterconsensus factions. These networks are more sensitive to career and power considerations than to ideology, geography, or policy issues. The psychological and cultural roots of factional behavior affect styles of decisionmaking and implementation (causing exaggerated cycles of bureaucratic paralysis, compulsive activity, and again paralysis), modes of political communication (the powerful must use code words, while the weak can be explicit), and a widespread, self-fulfilling belief that any form of intra-elite disagreement will endanger the stability of the political system.

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