He Zhe: How can the country be governed? –A perspective based on trust, authority and participation

[Abstract] The most central issue in the study of governance is the question of how to govern the country well, that is, the question of good governance and good governance. In order to achieve the goal of good governance, existing research has provided a large number of institutional designs and recommendations at different levels, some at the level of the most central conceptual values of governance and some at the level of instrumental policies. This paper argues that regardless of institutional appearances, good national governance must be supported by the realization of good government, and building good government must satisfy the triadic core relationship of trust, authority and participation. These three realize the positive interaction and institutional solid relationship between the government and other social subjects, balance the pluralistic relationship between micro-individuals and macro-subjects, and ultimately promote the development and prosperity of the entire social community. Beyond the core of trust-authority-participation, there are institutional arrangements such as democracy, rule of law and science to ensure it. In the relationship of trust-authority-participation, trust building should always be the top priority of government building.

   [Keywords] State governance; trust; authority; participation.

   He Zhe (1982-), a native of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, is currently a professor in the Department of Public Management at the Central Party School (National School of Administration).

   The ultimate goal of state governance research and practice is to explore the models and mechanisms for good governance of the state and to provide corresponding institutional design and policy recommendations. There has been a great deal of research proposing various institutional designs and policy recommendations on how to achieve good governance of the state, which is known as good governance or good governance. These include democracy and the rule of law from the macro political system, as well as the relatively meso interaction of government, market, and society, as well as social capital and social organizations at the micro level. However, we still have to ask the question, what is the most important core logic that underpins and enables good state governance among the many institutional designs and policy recommendations? In other words, what is the common core logic of further perspective on the relatively good governance of different country types? This search, only stay on the surface of the institutional form is far from enough, to further explore the inner core logic and realization mechanism. In this paper, it is argued that in order to achieve good governance, especially for latecomer countries, the government plays a central role, and as the most important governance subject, the government needs to meet at least three minimalist core elements, namely, trust, authority and participation, and in addition to the three elements, there are many other corresponding institutional mechanisms to guarantee.

   I. What is good national governance?

   Although there are many countries in the world, and despite differences in their specific conditions and historical evolutionary paths, the paths are the same and there are some common criteria for what constitutes good national governance. This is what is known as having common values, although not universal ones [[1]].

   Thus, there are many criteria for what constitutes good national governance from different perspectives, but by and large, they all focus on three levels, namely national strength, economic prosperity, and people’s happiness. Among these, people’s happiness is the cornerstone and fundamental goal of the entire national governance. Economic prosperity is the material and cultural basis for the effective functioning of the country as a whole and the happiness of the people. National prosperity, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the overall strength of the country, especially in comparison with other countries, so as to avoid the country from invasion and intervention by foreign forces. This is only in a general sense.

   Surrounding and underpinning these three most central goals are also specific goals at different levels such as scientific and technological progress, social justice, social harmony, and individual development and freedom. For example, scientific and technological progress guarantees the convenience and comfort of people’s production and life, promotes economic innovation, and ensures the strength of the country as a whole. Social justice, on the other hand, guarantees the legitimate rights of every subject in society, thus ensuring individual rights, promoting the realization of the material cycle system, supporting the orderly development and prosperity of all kinds of legitimate activities in society, and thus ensuring the strengthening of the country as a whole. Thus, it is both an evaluation criterion for good state governance and a form of guarantee for good state governance. Social harmony, on the other hand, is the macro state of a good social state, reflecting on the surface the reduction of social conflicts and on the inside the overall happiness and satisfaction of the micro-individuals in society. Individual development and freedom, on the other hand, effectively support people’s happiness and are a higher level of satisfaction at the micro level.

   If we further look at the historical perspective of human development, a good governance should also provide effective values and contributions to all human beings horizontally and vertically. From the horizontal perspective, a good national governance of a country can not only provide effective governance methods and experience for other countries to learn from, but also provide strong help in the world peace and order and cope with dangerous states. And from a vertical point of view, a good national governance is bound to be able to provide adequate contribution in the historical development of mankind as a whole, which includes both the development of science and technology so as to improve the means by which mankind as a whole can understand and make use of nature, as well as the development of higher ideology and the value of social good, so as to improve the human society as a whole to get along better. This is the concept of a community of human destiny, where all mankind is a community of common destiny in which every country participates, and good governance for one country is ultimately for the realization of a better state of the whole community of destiny.

   Thus, good national governance is actually well agreed upon in terms of standards and even appears to be very simple. Why, however, is it that, to date, a relatively small percentage of the entire human community has actually been able to achieve good governance, and a large number of States are far from being well governed? This is centrally reflected in the Human Development Index (HDI): the vast majority of countries actually have an unsatisfactory HDI when measured by the HDI. the UNDP has just released its Human Development Report 2019 [[2]], which shows that only 62 countries and territories have very high human development, while the usual $20,000 per capita national income is used as the developed country standard. There are also only 60 countries, all of which account for only one third of the world. Thus, globally, efforts to improve the overall level of governance and capacity of the State are still very difficult. In terms of the performance of major public crises, it is also unsound to evaluate the level of governance only in terms of economic or HDI, and a large number of developed countries still show serious governance problems in the face of public crises. As a result, good national governance is not very common worldwide. It is worth considering why this is the case.

   Bad governance can be manifested in many ways, such as high levels of corruption, slow government efficiency, and low social equity. The ultimate in bad governance is the so-called state failure, although some scholars argue that worse than state failure is state collaspe [[3]]. There are many reasons for state failure, and existing scholars have dissected its causes in terms of ethnic conflict, government corruption, lax rule of law, and economic collapse. In their famous book, Why States Fail, Asimoglu et al. propose a more abstract explanatory framework by examining the history of many states, arguing that whether a state has constructed inclusive or extractive economic and political systems is the key to its success or failure [[4]]. It is argued that inclusive systems by their very nature can energize the socio-economic system and lead to lasting development.

This notion, which in fact reflects a relatively liberal view of state building, is in fact a summary of the early history of development in developed Western countries. Similarly, Douglas North, a Nobel laureate in economics, developed another concept, which he believed that the existing single explanation of economic (free market) or political (Western democracy) institutions is insufficient to explain the rise and fall of the state, and he proposed a composite state, called the Open Access Society. He argues that in such a social system, access to resources is open to society, rather than being highly monopolized by elite groups, and that the key to the success of the state is to transform from a traditional natural state with a monopoly on resources to a society with open access to resources. Such resources refer not only to economic resources, but also to political and social resources. He also identifies three necessary conditions for transformation: the rule of law within elite groups; a sustained form of social organization; and stable control of military power. It can be argued that North expanded the mainstream Western perspective, which has traditionally focused on economic liberalization and political democratization, to focus more on the role of macro-state institutions and social constructs for national prosperity [[5]].

   From the many explanations of the mechanisms of state prosperity or failure, the existing framework is more from the history of the development of Western countries to carry out the construction, therefore, it is actually a highly natural evolutionary results, or with a high degree of path dependence, and the explanatory framework is far from enough for the latter countries how to successfully achieve state construction and good governance. And from the practice of global governance, only a significant minority of non-Western countries have succeeded in achieving long-term stable development and prosperity, while a large number of non-Western countries have experienced repeated development-decline or fallen into the middle-developed country trap. This calls for a deeper analysis and construction of the mechanisms for achieving good national governance.

   The complex mechanisms of good national governance and the central role of government

   National governance is undoubtedly the most complex single-State governance system that humankind has ever seen, while global governance is the result of collaboration among multiple States. The State is a complex and highly complex community of many social agents in many areas within its territory. Therefore, state governance can be derived from various perspectives with different mechanisms.

   From the political perspective, it can be concluded that a moderate degree of democracy, effective rule of law, and clean government are the core mechanisms for achieving good national governance. From the economic point of view, it is necessary to build a set of effective economic system, which includes the need for active markets and effective policy tools. From the social point of view, an effective system of social organization and charitable assistance is needed. In addition, a series of effective mechanisms, including education, science and technology, culture, public security, medical system, etc., should be established accordingly. Thus, the state governance system is a composite of many already complex mechanisms [[6]], resulting in a pluralistic coexistence of mutually supportive mechanisms [[7]]. For this part, there are already a large number of studies given to cover, so I will not repeat them.

   All of the above is still only from the perspective of different macro areas, good governance of the state ultimately also has to make the individuals living in the state generally satisfied, if from the perspective of the complex psychological space of the individual, the state governance also needs to be in the vertical complex space of the individual, that is, from the individual’s physiological needs to security, socialization, respect and even self-actualization of all levels of satisfaction, that is to say, good governance of the state is complex [[8]].

   However, an analysis of good state governance is not enough if it is limited to a formal enumeration of the institutions within the respective domains of these manifestations. What we need to inquire further is what are the core elements inherent in the construction of these institutions?

   The established Western theories of governance, whether from the perspective of economic development or democracy, rule of law, social organization, etc., all implicitly affirm the validity of the development process of developed Western countries in order to establish a Western model of success, but the difference is that they analyze from different levels and perspectives why the West succeeds and why non-Western countries fail. Implicit in this is the propositional assumption of Western centrism and superiority theory, but with different results in the interpretation of this premise. However, this Western superiority theory has been significantly challenged in recent times, especially by the powerful rise of China, leading to an analysis of alternative perspectives on good state governance [[9]]. Fukuyama, for example, has changed his original view of historical finality, arguing that history may not have ended and that the future will still develop [[10]].

   Here, we do not intend to create a dichotomy between the Chinese and Western models, but rather to analyze the key to effective or ineffective state governance from another perspective. The comparison between Chinese and Western development can give us an inspiration, that is, in actual governance, no matter the country’s cultural differences, geographical environment differences or historical evolution differences, the ultimate national governance is achieved in the common current time cross-section under various conditions, that is, no matter what kind of system development path-dependence, it must be achieved by the current governance mechanism of national governance. This means that we must return to reality and analyze the common key to effective governance in different historical evolutionary contexts. This is the key to finding the key to unlocking the door to good governance among the many elements of national governance in all its complexity.

   Careful analysis of all the many subjects and mechanisms involved in national governance, it can be found that there is always one subject and mechanism firmly in the key hub of national governance, which is the government system. A good system of government is the key to achieving good national governance. The reality of governance around the world shows that no matter what particular macro system is in place, it does not necessarily mean good governance and good government. However, good governance does necessarily mean that there is a good government operating behind it. Here, we can make the assertion that good governance is the same in all countries because there is a good government, and bad governance is the same in all countries because there is not a good government. Therefore, a good government is the key to forming good national governance.

   Governments play at least five most central roles in national governance.

   Firstly, the government is the main subject of law and regulation formation. In a modern State governed by the rule of law, the constitution is considered to be the will of the people, and the Government arises from the constitution. When the government comes into being, it governs society through administrative regulations on the one hand, and, on the other hand, it continuously forms new laws through formal legislative channels.

   Secondly, the government is the most important formulator and implementer of public policy, thus regulating the running of the country’s public affairs. To the extent authorized by law, the government ensures the effective operation of the country’s various affairs through the formulation of various policies and their implementation.

Thirdly, the Government is the provider of public security and order in the country.