Bo Xilai¡¯s political career has come to an end. The rest of his life will be determined by the court¡¯s verdict. In retrospect, Bo¡¯s political odyssey, with its peaks and valleys, was too dramatic for the faint of heart. As the son of Bo Yibo, one of the party¡¯s most senior revolutionary veterans, Bo Xilai is a well-known member of the second generation of the Communist Party family. His life is linked tightly with his father¡¯s political fate and stands testimony to the politics in China. However, Bo was too confident in ¡°understanding¡± how politics works in China to have learnt enough from the twists and turns of his father¡¯s political experiences, and thus fell victim to the same hubris.
Bo¡¯s political career before this final deal was a tale of his meteoric rise, and he had gained immense power. When he was climbing up the political ladder, Bo had never forgotten to perfect his persona. He transformed his responsibilities and duties into a theatrical performance of personal ¡°political charisma¡± by making full use of the ¡°mouthpiece¡± of the party in Chongqing, as well as mass communication tools. Bo used this ¡°charisma¡± as a stepping stone to fulfill his political ambitions, a process which is seen as the personalization of politics.
The Cultural Revolution was the epitome of when the negative effects of the personalization of politics reached its peak. In modern politics, it is more desirable to institutionalize politics rather than personalizing it, because one¡¯s ego is prone to prevail over his morality and political discipline. In other words, the ego, personality, or charisma of someone in power rises beyond the rule of law, which demoralizes society, destabilizes the entire political structure, and results in both social and political disaster. According to Bo, he was also one of the victims of the disaster brought about by the personalization of politics during the Cultural Revolution, yet ironically that actually didn¡¯t temper his use of personal politics, instead, it has become his trademark political style.
It is undeniable that Bo has a solid political background, charming appearance and is a dexterous political figure. But he used all these advantages to carve this political personalization of which he was once the victim, yearning that this old political mode that once brought China catastrophe would fulfill his dream. Well, he did so, during his rule. The former victim has come to victimize others and the society.
At those places where he ruled, Bo was the absolute authority that no one dared to speak against, and only those who spoke for him survived politically. In his arena, Bo utilized his own superior personality and charm to the effect that no one could effectively surpass him or challenge his authority. To perfect his charisma, Bo encouraged words and songs that praised him while severely punishing those who merely uttered unfavorable words about him or questioned his unrestricted, dictatorial power. The best manifestation of this trend was the creation and dissemination of ¡°The Song of Bo Xilai¡± and persecution of those who disliked and opposed him.
Undoubtedly, unrestricted power was one of the basic explanations for Bo¡¯s ups and downs. Bo¡¯s odyssey is a classic tale of hubris where the power he spent his entire cultivating ultimately resulted in his downfall. He abused his power in the Wang Lijun incident and the homicide of Neil Heywood of which his wife pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. He took advantage of his office to seek profits for others and received huge bribes both personally and through his family, while maintaining improper sexual relationships with a number of women. He is such an unsightly politician who appeared to be an honest man in public with eloquence and abundant governing experience. How surprised the Cultural Revolution victims would be when they see him climb all the way up and make waves in China¡¯s political arena!
Bo¡¯s political life has yet again proved that the ¡°Cultural Revolution¡± model is a dead end.
Translator: Cora Wang
Cora Wang is a recent graduate from Carnegie Mellon University¡¯s Master of Arts Management Program
Editors: Xiaoyuan Li, Andrew Dirks
Original Author: gmw.cn
Original Publication Date: September 29, 2012
Original Article: http://view.gmw.cn/2012-09/29/content_5243033.htm