Table of Contents
Yet, a deeper consideration of each of its parts now permits a broader analysis of it in aggregate form. That analysis suggests that the General Program, to be properly understood within the constellation of writings that comprise the fundamental expressions of the ordering of the Chinese political sphere, presents (1) a tightly integrated set of core principles, (2) those core principles structure the forms of the self constitution of the Chinese political organismus, (3) that self constitution is complete in itself and requires no outside or superior set of principles or acts to give it form, (4) subsidiary principles, approaches and applications can be derived by reference to it, (5) it specifies a hierarchy of norms within which appears the state constitution of China, and (6) it points to the ordering of politics and government substantially distinct from that which has become common in the West. I discuss each briefly in turn, and then suggests some consequences for Western engagement with this system.
That said the constitutional role of the General Program raises the most interesting and fundamental issues in current Chinese constitutional thinking: What does it mean to be a Leninist Party? What distinguishes a Communist Party from any other sort of vanguard party? How does this relate to the construction of a state apparatus and an administrative apparatus? To some extent, the arguments you make have a long pedigree, though now evolved into a more sophisticated modern form. It echoes arguments that have appeared recently in some Chinese theoretical journals. Many of these arguments, born of the remnants of the leftist turn in Chinese constitutional thinking from the 1957-78 era, view any effort to institutionalize the governance apparatus of the CCP as a challenge to its authority. And the use of the architecture of law is viewed with suspicion the insertion of Western devices that will carry with it Western liberal ideologies. These fears are both exaggerated and work against the basic thrust f the fundamental theory of the vanguard that is itself constitutionally significant. But they do go to the correct identification of the great challenge of Leninist constitutionalism--the construction of a robust Leninist theory of the role of a vanguard party in a Communist state in the 21st century. Yet it is precisely both the elements of Marxism and Leninism that are routinely not centered in analysis of the constitutional structures of China.
The issue, then, is the relationship between the ideology of law and the legitimacy of a Leninist vanguard whose legitimacy is tied to its fundamental obligation to lead the masses toward the creation of a communist society in China. There is little that Western liberal theory can offer here. Yet Western liberalism has been a powerful tool in the construction of modern states and that is worth something. So what is it about law that might prove useful? The answer is as simple as it is limited--a use of law to memorialize political decisions-- a political law. It is important, in that context, to distinguish between administrative law (statutes and regulation) higher or constitutional norms. The former represents an important advance in thinking about the character of law in the administrative apparatus of the Chinese state, and this includes the "law" of the 1982 State Constitution. But in thinking about constitutional norms--the rules that bind even a Leninist vanguard party, it may be necessary to move away from a Western liberal construct and back into the heart of Leninist theory.