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 6, Mao Zedong Thought. It considers Paragraph 4 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 6: Paragraph 4 of the CCP General Program--Mao Zedong Thought.
The second paragraph then elaborates what it means to embrace the socialist path and develop a communist society. To that end, the General Program establishes the normative structure of Chinese political and constitutional theory. That theory arises from five (5) very specific theories: Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It also established the context within which these theories are to be understood and applied. These substantive principles constrain the vanguard party and define the socialist path to communism. But they do not themselves constrain the development of the theory that molds the vanguard’s role. The socialist path is itself a work in progress to which each generation in following the principles of the past applied to contemporary realities can then develop the theory required to take society to the next stage, until communism is reached.
Paragraph 2, then, can be understood as describing the theory already developed and pointing the way to the further development of the path toward a communist society. The text of Chinese communist theory is not yet complete, but continues to be written as China advances along the road of socialist modernization. It is the dynamic principle of elaborating the path to objective, then, that also marks Chinese political and constitutional theory as distinctive. 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.
We have seen how classical Marxism-Leninism marks the first stage of the path of socialism and serves as the foundation for Chinese political and constitutional theory. Classical Marxist Leninism points the way on the path, for which its ends can only be framed in a general sense. 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.
With paragraph 4, then, we come to the first of the set of the first four stages of an elaboration of a contextually relevant Chinese path toward a communist theory of politics and constitution.
 The Chinese Communists, with Comrade Mao Zedong as their chief representative, created Mao Zedong Thought by integrating the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution. Mao Zedong Thought is Marxism-Leninism applied and developed in China; it consists of a body of theoretical principles concerning the revolution and construction in China and a summary of experience therein, both of which have been proved correct by practice; and it represents the crystallized, collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China. Under the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, the Communist Party of China led the people of all ethnic groups in the country in their prolonged revolutionary struggle against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, winning victory in the new-democratic revolution and founding the People's Republic of China, a people's democratic dictatorship. After the founding of the People's Republic, it led them in carrying out socialist transformation successfully, completing the transition from New Democracy to socialism, establishing the basic system of socialism and developing socialism economically, politically and culturally.
 以毛泽东同志为主要代表的中国共产党人，把马克思列宁主义的基本原理同中国革命的具体实践结合起来，创立了毛泽东思想。毛泽东思想是马克思列宁主义在 中国的运用和发展，是被实践证明了的关于中国革命和建设的正确的理论原则和经验总结，是中国共产党集体智慧的结晶。在毛泽东思想指引下，中国共产党领导全 国各族人民，经过长期的反对帝国主义、封建主义、官僚资本主义的革命斗争，取得了新民主主义革命的胜利，建立了人民民主专政的中华人民共和国；建国以后， 顺利地进行了社会主义改造，完成了从新民主主义到社会主义的过渡，确立了社会主义基本制度，发展了社会主义的经济、政治和文化。
Mao Zedong Thought is perhaps most import for its role as bridge. Mao Zedong Thought provides a necessary bridge between European theory and its transposition within the Chinese context (“by integrating the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution”). It also provides a bridge from the revolutionary struggle of the 1930s-40s and the establishment of the People’s Republic (“led the people of all ethnic groups in the country in their prolonged revolutionary struggle. . . . winning victory in the new-democratic revolution and founding the People's Republic of China, a people's democratic dictatorship”). Lastly Mao Zedong Thought provides a bridge between the roles of the Chinese Communist Party from revolutionary party to party in power (“it led them in carrying out socialist transformation successfully, completing the transition from New Democracy to socialism”).
The bridge theme is crucial for understanding the place of Mao Zedong Thought within evolving and maturing Chinese political and constitutional theory. It both helps bring Marxism-Leninism forward from out of Europe into Asia, and places that forward evolution within the historical constraints of its time. That contextualization, in turn, cabins the class struggle elements of earlier iterations of Chinese political theory. The critical bridge here is the New Democracy (新民主主义) ideas now perhaps best articulated in the design of the flag of the People’s Republic (with the largest star the CCP, and the smaller stars the class elements whose initial coalition would make possible a transition from feudalism to (actually better—toward) socialism). By structuring New Democracy as a transition stage, the bridge element of Mao Zedong Thought is further deepened. It is transitional precisely because its establishment merely marks the beginning point of the path toward socialism, a path that must be left for further development. And indeed, the emphasis of transition is underlined in the last phrase (完成了从新民主主义到社会主义的过渡) that speaks to transition to what comes next, what comes after Mao Zedong Thought, though built on its “body of theoretical principles concerning the revolution and construction in China”.
More interesting still, however, are the signals within this paragraph of the overarching Leninist interpretive structures within which Mao Zedong Thought must be understood, and thus understood, incorporated within Chinese political and constitutional theory. First, the General Program is quite clear that it was the Chinese Communist Party that created Mao Zedong Thought. Mao Zedong, of course, played an important role—as “chief representative”. But it is clear that Mao Zedong Thought is autonomous of the person of Mao Zedong, and that it “represents the crystallized, collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China.” The collectivity principle at the core of Leninism is here expressed as a constraint on the conflating of theory with cults of personality. That insight is then tied to the second signal—the paramount importance of representation within the internal development of theory. We are to understand that the CCP represents the vanguard forces of society, state and nation; the leaders of the CCP represent the CCP as a collective leadership. Representation here is deployed in its Leninist form—ideology as the crystallized collective wisdom of the CCP. Third, Mao Zedong Thought, a “body of theoretical principles,” represents an example of a successful application of the grounding principle of truth from facts, especially useful in bringing China to the post revolutionary stage of its development. It represents the lessons and wisdom of a formative stage of development, but not wisdom projected forward for the ages. It is foundational, the way Marxism-Leninism, is foundational, but capable of understanding o only within the historical context from out of which it arose. It remains an essential step toward “establishing the basic system of socialism and developing socialism economically, politically and culturally” for “carrying out “socialist transformation successfully.” But it is not the statement of a mature and established communist society the mature political and constitutional ideology product toward which Mao Zedong Thought points, but which it does not in itself constitute.
If the crystallization of the collective wisdom of the Chinese Communist Party does not end with the body of general theoretical principles of Mao Zedong Thought, then it is necessary to study the evolution of the wisdom of the CCP under the leadership of those collective leaders that succeeded the leadership that produced and applied Mao Zedong Thought. The CCP Constitution’s General Program then describes those important later stages of crystallization of wisdom in Paragraphs 5-7 to which we turn next.