(Pix © Larry Catá Backer)
This Blog Essay site devotes every February to a series of integrated but short essays on a single theme. For 2015 this site introduces a new theme: On a Constitutional Theory for China--From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory.
Table of Contents
Part 18, Paragraph 16 of the General Program--CCP Leadership-Socialist Democracy.
We have been reviewing the initial paragraphs of the CCP Constitution's General Program. The first two paragraphs of the General Program set out the outer framework of two critical aspects of Chinese constitutional theory. The five theories identified in paragraph 2 are the elaborated in paragraphs 3-7. Each, in turn, represents the “crystallization of the collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China” at each successive stage on the road toward communism. And the path itself makes clear that the process of successive crystallization is far from complete. Paragraph 3 elaborated on the place of classical Marxism-Leninism as the first stage of the path of socialism and serves as the foundation for Chinese political and constitutional theory. If the foundations of Chinese political and constitutional theory is built on European and received wisdom--the classical philosophy of Marxism-Leninism—the foundations of classical Chinese political and constitutional theory is built on Mai Zedong Thought.
Paragraph 4 considered Mao Zedong Thought as a necessary bridge between European theory and its transposition within the Chinese context, one that brings Marxism-Leninism forward from out of Europe into Asia, and places that forward evolution within the historical constraints of its time.It expressed the Leninist foundations of Chinese constitutional theory within notions of collective development and its role in establishing the socialist path toward which Mao Zedong Thought points, but which it does not in itself constitute. Paragraph 5 introduces the next stage in the development of Chinese constitutional and political Theory--Deng Xiaoping Theory. If Mao Zedong Thought provided a bridge from revolutionary to governing vanguard party, Deng Xiaoping theory provides the principles through which socialist modernization can be realized. Paragraph 6 introduces the succeeding layer of development of Chinese constitutional and political theory--the Important thought of Three Represents (Sange Daibiao). Paragraph 7 introduces the last of the current layers of theoretical development of Chinese political and constitutional theory--the scientific outlook on development. Paragraph 8 serves to sum up the initial paragraphs and as a bridge to the elaboration of the basic CCP line and working style in the paragraphs that follow. It is directed specifically to cadres and provides an easy conceptual framework within which they can understand their role in socialist modernization. Paragraph 9 the General Program moves from theory to action infused by theory. It considers the first of the three fundamental tasks of the CCP derived from its theory, that is the first operational element of the CCP line.
With Paragraph 10 we come to the first full expression of the CCP's basic line in the context of the current stage of development of China. The subsequent paragraphs amplify the basic line. Paragraph 11, the General Program begins the elaboration of the CCP's basic line, starting with economic development as the central task. Paragraph 12, we come to the second amplification of the CCP basic line--the four cardinal principles. Paragraph 13 we consider reform and opening up as an aspect of the CCP's basic line. These four paragraphs are meant to provide a declaration of the CCP's basic line--the product of the more general statements of principle and historical context of Paragraphs 1-9. provide guidance--and a more detailed elaboration of its more important elements.
The CCP's basic line goes to the substantive objectives of the party in fulfilling its role as the party in power. What what is the CCP's working style? How is it expected to act? Working style can be divided along two distinct but related lines. The first goes to the working style of CCP cadres, from the most junior to cadres to those serving in the most senior roles. Working style in this sense has been the subject of both the foundational paragraphs (¶¶ 1-8) and those establishing the CCP's line (¶¶ 9-13). In its second sense, working style goes to the working style of the CCP in its institutional manifestation; that is, it goes to the working style of a vanguard Leninist party within the context and subject to the constraints of its objectives (socialist modernization) and normative principles, its guidebook (¶ 2).
The foundation of the CCP's grounding working style is leadership. Paragraphs 14-19 elaborate the character and practice of the nature and practice of leadership by the CCP as an institutional actor. Paragraphs 14-19 construct the CCP's leadership obligations key specific general areas of activity; ¶ 14 (socialist market economy); ¶ 15 (socialist democracy); ¶ 16 (socialist culture); ¶ 17(harmonious socialist society); ¶ 18(socialist ecological progress); and ¶ 19 (People's Liberation Army). We consider each in turn.
We continue with ¶ 16 (Socialist Culture).
 The Communist Party of China leads the people in developing an advanced socialist culture. It promotes socialist cultural and ethical progress, combines the rule of law and the rule of virtue in running the country and works to raise the ideological and moral standards and scientific and educational levels of the entire nation so as to provide a powerful ideological guarantee, motivation and intellectual support for reform, opening up and socialist modernization, and develop a strong socialist culture in China. It promotes core socialist values, adheres to Marxism as its guiding ideology, fosters the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics, promotes patriotism-centered national spirit and the spirit of the times centering on reform and innovation and advocates the socialist maxims of honor and disgrace. It works to enhance the people's sense of national dignity, self-confidence and self-reliance, resist corrosion by decadent capitalist and feudal ideas and wipe out all social evils so that the people will have high ideals, moral integrity, a good education and a strong sense of discipline. It also needs to imbue its members with the lofty ideal of communism. The Party strives to develop educational, scientific and cultural programs, carry forward the fine traditional culture of the Chinese nation, and develop a thriving socialist culture.
 中国共产党领导人民发展社会主义先进文化。建设社会主义精神文明，实行依法治国和以德治国相结合，提高全民族的思想道德素质和科学 文化素质，为改革开放和社会主义现代化建设提供强大的思想保证、精神动力和智力支持。坚持马克思主义指导思想，树立中国特色社会主义共同理想，弘扬以爱国 主义为核心的民族精神和以改革创新为核心的时代精神，倡导社会主义荣辱观，增强民族自尊、自信和自强精神，抵御资本主义和封建主义腐朽思想的侵蚀，扫除各 种社会丑恶现象，努力使我国人民成为有理想、有道德、有文化、有纪律的人民。对党员还要进行共产主义远大理想教育。大力发展教育、科学、文化事业，弘扬民 族优秀传统文化，繁荣和发展社会主义文化。
Socialist culture, like socialist democracy (¶ 15) and socialist economic development ( ¶ 14) form the core of the categories of productive forces whose successful mobilization are central to the project of socialist modernization. Each is an expression of the vectors for operationalizing socialist modernization within the theoretical and policy constraints of fundamental principle and the CCP basic line. Each must be read as the specific application of policy--not autonomous of that policy or those principles.The core objective is dynamic--to develop advanced socialist culture (发展社会主义先进文化)
Like socialist democracy, socialist culture or civilization (文明) touches on the broad understanding of the productive forces whose development are central to the project of modernization (¶ 6). The development of culture must be bent to the overall project of building toward a communist society and thus involves the logic of Leninist hierarchy. That requires (¶ 1) CCP leadership, guided by policy (¶ 2) and expressed in the CCP basic line (¶ 10) of the means by which culture will be mobilized and developed along socialist lines.
First, socialist culture is a political and normative project. It pairs (相结合) culture and ethics on the one hand (建设社会主义精神文明), and rule of law and virtue on the other hand (实行依法治国和以德治国) "to raise the ideological and moral standards and scientific and educational levels of the entire nation." But the utilization of rule of law, a core part of socialist democracy (¶ 15), ethics and virtue is bent to a quite specific purpose: to provide an ideological guarantee (的思想保证), spiritual impetus (精神动力) and intellectual support (智力支持)for the entire project of socialist modernization and opening up.
Second, socialist culture, then, is political culture. It is an integral part of the holistic effort to develop productive forces toward a singular end. To interpret the obligation to develop as requiring anything else is to call into question the normative foundation of ¶¶ 1-2. It is in this sense that one understands the core operational objectives of the leadership role of the CCP to develop advanced socialist culture ("It promotes core socialist values, adheres to Marxism as its guiding ideology, fosters the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics").
Third, the construction of socialist culture does more than bend culture to a specific overarching purpose. Socialist culture is also a culture of patriotism; it is a culture of innovation; and it is a culture that produces a socialist aspect to honor and disgrace ("promotes patriotism-centered national spirit and the spirit of the times centering on reform and innovation and advocates the socialist maxims of honor and disgrace"). These are to be understood again within the overarching context of the basic objectives of the CCP in their vanguard role and consonant with the CCP basic line. Culture is understood as those societal factors--values, self-constitution, customs, traditions, behavior norms--that like other productive forces must be shaped by the particular circumstances and historical context of China and deployed to the ends of socialist modernization.
Fourth, as an aspect of socialist modernization, the ultimate objective of which is the establishment of a communist society, socialist culture may play its most important role in socializing people to that end, starting with CCP cadres (对党员还要进行共产主义远大理想教育). Socialist culture, then, is a means of socializing both party cadres and (eventually all) people in the lofty ideals of communism and to embed those ideals in the societal sphere ("It works to enhance the people's sense of national dignity, self-confidence and self-reliance, resist corrosion by decadent capitalist and feudal ideas and wipe out all social evils so that the people will have high ideals, moral integrity, a good education and a strong sense of discipline"). And indeed the imbuing of communist ideals to all people is a fundamental means of developing the cultural aspects of the productive force fo culture and is also reflected in the three represents opening of party membership to a broad mass of people (eg here).