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 29, CCP Party Building--Democratic Centralism. It considers Paragraph 27 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 29, Paragraph 27 of the General Program--CCP Party Building: Collectivity in Decision Making--Democratic Centralism With Chinese Characteristics.
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 speaks to the obligation of the CCP to build itself. The object of that obligation is socialist modernization. The essential requirements of CCP building are divided into four parts: (1) fidelity to the principles through which socialist modernization is realized (¶ 24); (2) fidelity to a working style that reflects the movement forward toward socialist modernization (¶ 25); (3) fidelity to the core obligation to serve the masses (¶ 26); and (4) fidelity toward a collectivization of decision making (¶ 27).
With Paragraph 27, the focus on building the CCP turns from the ideological framework, working style and the dialectic of serving the people to the disciplining of decision making within a vanguard party. It treats the question of democracy in a Leninist organization that itself requires balancing the development of productive forces through engagement and debate, and the need for the CCP to act with a single mind and in unison in moving forward the project of socialist modernization.
 Fourth, upholding democratic centralism. Democratic centralism is a combination of centralism on the basis of democracy and democracy under centralized guidance. It is the fundamental organizational principle of the Party and is also the mass line applied in the Party's political activities. The Party must fully expand intra-Party democracy, respect the principal position of its members, safeguard their democratic rights, and give play to the initiative and creativity of Party organizations at all levels as well as its members. Correct centralism must be practiced so as to ensure the solidarity, unity and concerted action in the whole Party and prompt and effective implementation of its decisions. The sense of organization and discipline must be strengthened, and all members are equal before Party discipline. Oversight of leading Party organs and of Party members holding leading positions, particularly principal leading cadres, must be strengthened and the system of intra-Party oversight constantly improved. In its internal political activities, the Party conducts criticism and self-criticism in the correct way, waging ideological struggles over matters of principle, upholding truth and rectifying mistakes. Diligent efforts must be made to create a political situation in which there are both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness.
 第四，坚持民主集中制。民主集中制是民主基础上的集中和集中指导下的民主相结合。它既是党的根本组织原则，也是群众路线在党的生活 中的运用。必须充分发扬党内民主，保障党员民主权利，发挥各级党组织和广大党员的积极性创造性。必须实行正确的集中，保证全党的团结统一和行动一致，保证 党的决定得到迅速有效的贯彻执行。加强组织性纪律性，在党的纪律面前人人平等。加强对党的领导机关和党员领导干部的监督，不断完善党内监督制度。党在自己 的政治生活中正确地开展批评和自我批评，在原则问题上进行思想斗争，坚持真理，修正错误。努力造成又有集中又有民主，又有纪律又有自由，又有统一意志又有 个人心情舒畅的生动活泼的政治局面。
Paragraph 27 tales on again the problem of collectivization that is at the heart of the Leninist enterprise. It is most significant for the way in which it evidences the determination to liberate Leninism from its historical context and to add to it the Chinese characteristics necessary for application within the current (and eventually future) stage of development. It suggests, in this way, the dynamic element of the evolution of theory suggested between ¶¶ 4 to 5 (between the historically contextualized foundation of Mao Zedong Thought and the contemporary foundation of Deng Xiaoping Theory. It focuses not on the substance of that development of the productive force of theory, but on its Leninist element--the development of collectivization of decision making as a productive force.
a. On the one hand, democratic centralism provides the method by which the CCP expresses its own conscious will apart form those of its cadres. It is a method of avoiding the factionalism and simple mindedness of substituting the factional will of shifting majorities for the blended expression of consensus. The CCP does not build itself through the application of majority will. Democratic centralism rejects majoritarianism as the error of temporal factionalism and a contained form of chaotic decision making with no long term objective. Democratic centralism might be better understood as the expression of the fundamental notion of the mass line now turned inward--from the masses to the masses is now transformed into from the cadres to the cadres. That dialectical process produces a dynamic engagement between cadres and CCP leadership in which cadres produce the facts necessary to derive truth, which is understood as the policies developed and decisions made through the process of interpreting facts through the normative structures of the social, economic and political order (¶ 2). This, then, becomes the expression of the common position of the CCP, its autonomous thought, which is then becomes the CCP's line to which cadres adhere. That adherence in turn generates new facts, new gaps, new opinion which must in turn be engaged with and from out of which the CCP continues to develop its basic line, policy and implementation strategies. It is democratic in the sense of the engagement of all cadres in the determination of the CCP line. It is centralism in the sense that what is decided then is binding and in binding generates the conditions for its own continued modification.b. On the other hand, democratic centralism is the technique that makes it possible for the CCP to speak with one voice to those to whom it has responsibilities in the state and nation. It is the means through which the autonomous voice of the CCP apart form its individual members is heard. It serves both as the sourcing of authoritative communication and as the means through which information (facts) are received from beyond the CCP for internalization in the process of moving the nation forward to meet the overall objective of socialist modernization. One can understand this in structural terms. The CCP as organism constitutes its voice through the mechanics of democratic centralism--so that it speaks with one voice. It is also the means through which it receives communication from those outside the CCP for the purpose of fulfilling the responsibilities of the mass line. It is the means, in other words, through which structural coupling is possible between CCP as organism (apart from its members) and the societal and productive forces which it both serves and manages in the service of the vanguard cause (the establishment of a communist society). Democratic centralism, then, is autonomy building both internally and externally for the self constitution and autonomous self referencing operation of the CCP within and beyond the society it serves. That, of course, is the modern essence of the vanguard role in an objectives driven political order like China.
Fifth, but once the CCP speaks, there must be a unity of action in applying the CCP's policies outside of the CCP. To achieve this balance--openness inside and unity outside--the CCP must protect cadres in their engagement role within the CCP, and suppress a cadre's engagement outside the CCP ("Correct centralism must be practiced so as to ensure the solidarity, unity and concerted action in the whole Party and prompt and effective implementation of its decisions"). The object of solidarity is twofold. First, it is the only effective way of incarnating the autonomous position of the CCP beyond its cadres. The CCP must exist, like all political organization, above and beyond the aggregation of its members. To that end, it must seek a method for distilling the engagement of its members into its own. It must transform the collective wisdom of its parts into positions and actions that serve itself rather than the aggregation of its members. To build itself, the CCP must liberate itself from its cadres. It must act for itself and not for any cadre, faction of cadres or the aggregation of cadres. The CCP, if it is to represent the state, people and nation, if it is to serve its ultimate representational responsibilities int he serve of its fundamental mission, it must fuse the wisdom of its cadres into its own.