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.
This Post includes Part 25, CCP Party Building. It considers Paragraph 23 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 25, Paragraph 23 of the General Program--CCP Party Building.
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 considered each in turn.
With Paragraph 20 the General Program moves into new, though related, territory--socialist ethnic relations. These, in turn, are part of a larger project that frames party building, the organization framework and working style of the CCP itself taken up in ¶¶ 23-28 on party building. But Paragraphs 20 through 22 deal with the issue of the external relations of the CCP, and its obligations with respect to those relations in its vanguard role. These three paragraphs describe the primary objective of relations with outsiders--cooperation and unity of purpose. These are elaborated in the inter-ethnic relations within China of ¶ 20, and the three unities described in paragraphs 21 and 22--¶ 21 focuses on political and territorial unification--the United Front and national unification, and ¶ 22 focuses on foreign relations and communist internationalism. These point to political, territorial and international unities.
With Paragraph 23 the General Program turn inward to the methods and objectives, to the techniques and principles, of party building. These are the provisions that elaborate the conditions for CCP self-constitution, institutionalization, operation and perpetuation. Together they apply the principles of socialist modernization, especially in its principles of developing productive forces to the productive capacities of the CCP itself. These paragraphs suggest something deeper as well; they suggest that the the CCP itself must be at the center of the movement to and embody the practices necessary for socialist modernization as an economic, political, cultural, and societal project. If the CCP cannot lead by example then it fails in its core responsibility as a vanguard party under Paragraph 1 of the General Program.
Paragraph 23 provides the framework within which the CCP's party building work is undertaken.
 In order to lead the people of all ethnic groups in China in attaining the great goal of socialist modernization, the Communist Party of China must adhere to its basic line, strengthen its governance capability, advanced nature and purity and comprehensively carry forward the great new undertaking to build itself in a spirit of reform and innovation. The Party must make all-around efforts to strengthen itself ideologically and organizationally and improve its conduct; and it must become better able to combat corruption and uphold Party integrity and improve Party rules and regulations, thus making Party building more scientific in all respects. It must steadfastly build itself for public interests, exercise governance for the people, practice self-discipline, be strict with its members, and carry forward its fine traditions and style of work. It must constantly improve its art of leadership and governance, raise its ability to resist corruption, prevent degeneration and withstand risks, constantly strengthen its class foundation, expand its mass base and enhance its creativity, cohesion and combat effectiveness, and build itself into a learning, service-oriented and innovative Marxist governing party, so that it will stand forever in the forefront of the times and make itself a strong nucleus that can lead all the Chinese people in the unceasing march along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In building itself, the Party must be determined to meet the following four essential requirements:
 中国共产党要领导全国各族人民实现社会主义现代化的宏伟目标，必须紧密围绕党的基本路线，加强党的执政能力建设和先进性建设，以改 革创新精神全面推进党的建设新的伟大工程。坚持立党为公、执政为民，坚持党要管党、从严治党，发扬党的优良传统和作风，不断提高党的领导水平和执政水平， 提高拒腐防变和抵御风险的能力，不断增强党的阶级基础和扩大党的群众基础，不断提高党的创造力、凝聚力、战斗力，使我们党始终走在时代前列，成为领导全国 人民沿着中国特色社会主义道路不断前进的坚强核心。党的建设必须坚决实现以下四项基本要求：
Paragraph23 serves as both the culmination of the General Program and its most intimately self referential. It is meant to bring the CCP's work home--home in the sense that it turns the CCP's foundations, basic line, principles and policies in on itself as a productive force also in need of constant development, of constant criticism and self criticism. It is here that one sees the framework for internal CCP democracy and a model of socialist democracy practiced by the vanguard party as a model for the future for China--at the appropriate historical stage. But it also suggests, as did the CCP's line on Socialist Democracy, that democratization within a vanguard party will follow a path substantially different from that of the West. And the reason for that, of course, is grounded in the foundational ¶¶1-2. Unlike Western democracies, China has embraced a party-state model because it is a society self constituted for a very specific purpose to which all of its resources, must be devoted--the establishment of a communist society. The moment that is no longer the core objective of the CCP, it will no longer have valid claim to leadership or to assert a vanguard role in the Chinese constitutional order.
Paragraph 23 is integrated with ¶¶ 24-28, which comprise a single sub-unit of the General Program. Together, these frame the way the CCP's General Program must be applied to the CCP itself. That is fundamentally necessary to establish the legitimacy of the CCP as a vanguard party and to constrain and manage the operation of the CCP in its leadership role to those actions that enhance its legitimacy. Those legitimacy enhancing actions must be tied to the "great goal of socialist modernization." Paragraph 23 provides the overall direction and focus; the others develop these in detail. More importantly, it is directed toward the vanguard work of the CCP not just for the leading elements of Chinese society--in the class struggle language of the revolutionary period, workers, peasants and intellectuals--but to the people and nation as a whole ("In order to lead the people of all ethnic groups in China"). This both creates symmetry with ¶ 1 and also emphasizes the progress from the centering of the CCP's work on class struggle in the revolutionary period, to the centering on socialist modernization for the entire nation in the current stage of Chinese development--development, it cannot be overemphasized, that must have as its object the establishment of a communist society.
To that end, ¶ 23 develops the cage of principles and policy that both constrain the CCP itself and that serve as the strong foundation of its legitimacy. One is impossible without the other. In the absence of constraints--the cage--the CCP devolves into little more than a mass of individuals seeking to perpetuate themselves in power and to amass wealth for their personal benefit, and socialist modernization is transformed into a veil behind which feudal exploitation re-emerges in new form. In the absence of principled constraints--the cage--then, the CCP is left without purpose to the nation (only to itself) and the nation is left with no basis for embracing the larger project entrusted to the CCP. The cage of principles is thus both the mandate of heaven and the sure knowledge that the mandate will be revoked if its servants fail in their obligations to the people.
Paragraph, 23, then, starts with the embedding of the foundational principles of the General Program as the basis for the CCP's own internal constitution.
First, it lists the core policies that together make up in the aggregate the policies through which it may gauge and direct its leadership: adherence to the CCP basic line, strengthening governance capabilities. The first is, of course, obvious. The second is more important, especially for its deeper embedding of core Leninist principles within the organizational constitution of the CCP apparatus. This appears to take Lenin's notion of the professional revolutionary to the next stage--the stage of the post revolutionary vanguard party. It requires a move from the notion of professional revolutionaries, to the notion of a professional apparatus of vanguard leadership. It points the transformation of the solitary individual loosely tied to soviets in revolutionary struggle--an organism of professionalized individuals-- to a collective. The institutionalization of that collective notion, already inherent in the building of theory (for example those of Mao Zedong Thought) become an essential ingredient of legitimacy. To govern means to govern collectively; to enhance governance capabilities requires the collectivization of leadership in the service of the vanguard obligations that define CCP leadership. Governance capability and vanguard role go hand in hand ("加强党的执政能力建设和先进性建设").
Second, the core policies of CCP leadership and self constitution requires an avoidance of bureaucratism and rigidity. It suggests the need for internal institutional constitution that focuses on innovation and that internalizes reform and opening up in its own operation ("advanced nature and purity and comprehensively carry forward the great new undertaking to build itself in a spirit of reform and innovation"). This suggests that the foundation of Leninist organization building avoids stasis; Leninism requires constant forward motion--not directionless forward motion but motion pointed toward the attainment of the fundamental goal for which the party was formed, the establishment of a communist society ("So that our party has always been ahead of the times" 使我们党始终走在时代前列). Leninism, then, requires both collectivization of leadership and a dynamic approach to self constitution of the collective organization. The organization is not constituted for its advancement, but to lead the development of productive forces that are to be put to the task of constructing a communist society. Anything else is neither Leninism, nor legitimate.
Third, the object of these efforts is party building ("全面推进党的建设新的伟大工程"). Party building is essential to the development of the productive capacities of the CCP itself. The CCP must build itself for two distinct reasons. The first, of course, is to enhance its ability to successfully meet its leadership responsibilities. That requires the sort of institutional self constitution that includes a substantive and procedural component--the CCP must move from a collection of people to a collective institution. But perhaps more important, party building is an essential part of socialist modernization in the sense that the CCP itself serves as a transitional institution--its object is ultimately to make itself obsolete. That cab be possible only if the CCP can continue to build itself, as it builds Chinese society, until the point where the CCP itself merges into the people it leads, The object of party building then must be the building of the people, the state and the nation to the point where everyone is a member of the communist party. At that point party and policy merges likely at the cusp of the realization of a communist society.
Fourth, the parameters of self constituting a Leninist collective vanguard party impose a number of obligations and pose a number of challenges that must be recognized and confronted. These are identified as well in ¶ 23. These parameters are identified as to "strengthen itself ideologically and organizationally and improve its conduct; and it must become better able to combat corruption and uphold Party integrity and improve Party rules and regulations, thus making Party building more scientific in all respects." We come to corruption below, As for the rest, strengthening the CCP ideologically is fundamental to autonomous self constitution., The CCP fails to exist autonomously as a vanguard force in its own right int he absence of a self referencing framing ideology. And the framing ideology is of little use prettily framed in a document hat has limited application to the operational culture of the CCP. That ideology is tied to conduct reinforces the notion of the constituting nature of the CCP General Program and the ideology it reveals. The constituting nature of ideology is then tied to its techniques--rules and regulations, and enhancement of CCP integrity. The cage of principles is operated through a cage of rules. And this double cage then serves as the foundation of legitimacy, and thus if enhancing the integrity of the CCP as an autonomous body and a a legitimate leading force.
Fifth, the problem of corruption (提高拒腐防变和抵御风险的能力) is most potent in a Leninist organization whose operating basis is collective action, it poses the greatest risk to the legitimacy of the CCP and its ability to serve the nation in its vanguard role. In a sense, the issue of corruption is probably the one area where the CCP requires greater attention to the application of its ideological line relating to harmonious society (¶ 17). The CCP line requiring the CCP to confront contradiction in ¶ 17--the CCP "strictly distinguishes between the two different types of contradictions - those between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people - and works to handle them correctly distinguish between enemy and error"--requires application as well to CCP cadres, and with greater ferocity. Corruption is not merely error that can be corrected through instruction; it is a betrayal of the CCP line and the collective obligations of cadres to advance the institutional mission of the CCP. Corruption is the means by which the CCP ceases top act as a collective enterprise; it is a means through which socialist modernization is transformed into a means for personal or oligarchic enrichment; it is the means through which a revocation of the mantle of vanguard role of the CCP can occur. That is the greatest contradiction and the greatest risk to the CCP's leadership role; it is the greatest threat to socialist modernization and progress toward the goal of establishing a communist society.
Sixth, the obligation to "constantly enhance the Party's class foundation and expand its mass base ("不断增强党的阶级基础和扩大党的群众基础") appears at first bluish to revert back to the old class struggle line of the CCP, one that itself has been transformed by the CCP's basic line. For that reason it might be better to read that obligation to enhance the CCP's class foundations and mass base with the "and build itself into a learning, service-oriented and innovative Marxist governing party, so that it will stand forever in the forefront of the times and make itself a strong nucleus that can lead all the Chinese people in the unceasing march along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics." Taken together, it appears that the CCP continues to adhere to the traditional Leninist perspective of drawing on non-capitalist classes as the core of its leadership. On the other hand, the post-revolutionary obligation of the CCP, and the fundamental obligation fo the CCP to develop productive forces, would require that it begin from its core and expand outward to draw in all of the Chinese nation in the project of socialist modernization. That, of course, is the center of the logic of sange daibiao. And sange daibiao cannot be read out of this section of ¶ 23, without breaching the core obligation to follow the CCP basic line. Thus, to enhance the CCP's class foundation may be understood as referencing sensibilities of class, the ideological foundation that class represents, rather than a specific per-revolutionary class structure itself. To do otherwise is to move not toward socialist modernization but back toward the internal class divisions, the contradictions of which defined revolutionary struggle.
What is party building then? It appears to be the self constitution of a collective whose understanding of itself is grounded in an autonomous ideology from which it can build towards its function--to develop the productive forces of the nation toward the establishment of a communist society. The goal of party building, then, is not to build the party, but to lead the people of China toward a communist society. The CCP become corrupt, as an institution, when it seeks to build itself rather then to build for the nation. The individual cadre becomes corrupt, when she seeks to build herself rather than the party. The state apparatus becomes corrupt when it is built to enhance its authority rather than develop its productive capacity for the ends of socialist modernization. And the individual becomes corrupt, when she seeks to substitute purely personal success at the expense fo the collective obligation of the nation.