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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: December 2020

8 - Disorientation for the New Era

from Part II - Ideology and the Party in Law and Organisation


Samuli Seppänen examines the issue of Chinese Communist Party rules in the organisation of the Party-state and their relationship to the overall rule-of-law system. His focus is on scholarly arguments that centre around how we are to understand ways in which the Party governs itself and society. A curious twist in rule-of-law ideology has emerged: recent institutional reforms developed under the banner of rule of law have coincided with equally prominent efforts to establish a ‘rational’ system of intraparty regulations within the Party. But why continue to promote law-based governance while seemingly working to undermine that governance through the expansion of a Party disciplinary and supervision regime? These moves have prompted some scholars to take on a ‘commonsense’ approach: to assume, following an instrumentalist tradition, that the ‘political’ and the ‘legal’ are not necessarily in tension with each other since they both sit under a system of ‘rule by regulations’. Seppänen problematises the commonsense narrative by describing an alternative way of understanding ‘the political’ in China.