Monitory Democracy and Ecological Civilization in the People’s Republic of China
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In what sense can religious values and institutions in China be seen as elements of civil society that have the function of challenging and monitoring the interests, values and actions of the state? To answer this question, this essay considers the ways in which religious issues have played a small role in containing, rather than enhancing, the ideological authority of the current Chinese state and considers whether they may be regarded as functioning in a way similar to Keane’s concept of monitory democracy. The first issue focuses on the role played by Daoist values in promoting an awareness of environmental issues in ways that have supported local efforts to resist centrally-imposed economic agendas. This leads to a broader discussion of religious values, both national and transnational, and their ability to offer sustainable alternatives to the dominant ideology of state capitalism.