Sunday, March 01, 2015

Part 3 (The CCP and Its Vanguard Role)--On a Constitutional Theory for China--From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

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 3, The CCP and Its Vanguard Role.  It considers Paragraph 1 of the General Program.

Table of Contents 

Part 3, The CCP and Its Vanguard Role.  It considers Paragraph 1 of the General Program.

We started with a macro analysis of the Chinese political universe. We have been considering the framework within which it is possible to read through the General Program of the CCP.  We have come to understand the role of ideology and its connection to theory, and the role of politics and its connection to policy. We have come to understand the cage of ideology as the fundamental element in the structuring of the Chinese political system, including the establishment both of the CCP and the state apparatus of the nation. Lastly we have begun to understand how that cage of ideology has been scientifically developed through the disciplinary development of the CCp's own normative structures that have now been assembled in the General Program of the CCP.

With this post we move from macro to micro analysis.  The focus is the General Program itself--paragraph by paragraph, and word for word.  All to often major ideological documents are more often cited than read, and even more often invoked than studied.  The object here is the reverse.  As the Chinese might suggest, through a careful reading of the entirety of the General Program, in all of its specifics, to find truth from facts.  Only then might it be possible to understand the application of truth to facts within the context of Chinese ideology.  It is this later point that must be kept firmly in mind as theory is elaborated.  The exercise of finding truth from facts is only half the effort.  It is then necessary to apply truth to facts to ensure that the connection between truth and facts does not remain merely a potential, an abstraction, or an aspiration, but instead provides the measure against action may be judged, and scientifically developed. 

We start with the first paragraph of the General Program:
[1] The Communist Party of China is the vanguard both of the Chinese working class and of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation. It is the core of leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and represents the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. The realization of communism is the highest ideal and ultimate goal of the Party.
 [1] 中国共产党是中国工人阶级的先锋队,同时是中国人民和中华民族的先锋队,是中国特色社会主义事业的领导核心,代表中国先进生产力的发展要求,代表中国先进文化的前进方向,代表中国最广大人民的根本利益。党的最高理想和最终目标是实现共产主义。
 We start with the object of theory, the CCP.  The politics of the nation is not vested in the people undifferentiated.  Nor is it vested in a person, nor yet again vested in a factional aggregation of individuals.  The CCP is not constituted as an oligarchy, nor as a nobility, nor as an aggregation of individuals greedy to retain for their organization the reins of power, nor yet again as a throne on which to project a leader.  The CCP, by its own theory, is constituted as a vanguard.  It is meant to facilitate, to prepare the way, to instruct, to nurture.  It is meant to do that not for its own benefit--the CCP is not constituted to serve itself or its own narrow interests, as faction or as political class or as a group apart.  It is, instead, founded to serve as an instrument, a vanguard, to lead from one ideological state top another and on behalf of others.

The CCP is constituted as a vanguard not for itself.  Rather the General Program explains that the vanguard role can be understood as of three distinct types, each of greater generality.  It is first a vanguard of the Chinese working class.  But it is also and simultaneously the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation. We must consider how the working class may be distinguished from the Chinese people, and the Chinese people from the Chinese nation. Clearly, these three overlap but in a way that echoes what we will come to understand as the three pillar structure of sange daibiao (the three representations).  That echo identifies vanguardism in its three distinct characters.  First, vanguardism has a political character.  That character is shaped by a focus on the working class, the original core of political ideology (to which more will be said in the context of the following paragraphs).  Second, vanguardism has an institutional character.   That character is shaped by the CCP's obligation to provide ideological leadership to the apparatus of state and thus to meet its obligations to the Chinese people irrespective of class.  Third, vanguardism has a cultural character. That character is shaped by the obligation to enhance Chinese culture, one that is made up of the aggregaiton of the cultures of its many peoples and ethnicities and which together form the Chinese naiton as something unique and worthy of protection.     

It is also clear that CCP's vanguard role of the Chinese working class comes first and for obvious historical reasons.  Though, as ideology, history may inform, it must not control its scientific development.  To reverse this relationship suggests that ideology may not be scientifically developed but must instead remain a prisoner to its own history.  Such a basic approach to ideology would create a fundamental contradiction between the vanguard role of the CCP and the pull of history.  One leads forward toward a goal, the other shackles to preserve a modern iteration of the past.  We will see later how, or whether this contradiction may be overcome. The CCP, then, may act only as a vanguard, and it may undertake its vanguard role only for the working class, the people and the nation.  It may not act for its own benefit.    

What is the character of a vanguard role?  Its is the obligation of leadership.  But this is leadership not for its own sake, but bent to a normative purpose (beyond self-preservation for its own sake).  But the CCP is not to exercise leadership alone--distinct and distant from the working class, people and nation.  The leadership of the CCP is understood as a core of leadership. To serve as the core of leadership is to understand the dangers of cults of institutional personality; it is to caution that the object of the vanguard is normative, not institutional, and that leadership is meant, even at the level of institution, to be a collective exercise.  The CCP serves as the core of leadership.  There must be others, including institutional others, to lead, and who participate in leadership. But core also suggests a dominant and guiding position. The CCP's leadership is guiding and dominant. To be the core means to direct.  But to direct, guide and dominate does not mean to dictate as if nothing but the core exists. Such a position would contradict the fundamental three part collective character of the vanguard obligations of the CCP.  The enterprise is collective and consultative--in the way, perhaps that democratic centralism, is properly deployed. 

To what end is the CCP to play a vanguard role? The rest of the first paragraph suggests the fundamental purposes to which the obligations of a vanguard role must be directed.   The normative objectives of vanguardism, the goals to which the CCP must direct its core leadership role, is for the cause of socialism (perhaps with overtones of social democracy) with Chinese characteristics.  While the specifics of this normative objective are developed in the paragraphs that follow, it becomes clear, even at this initial point, that the normative obligations of the CCP are fundamentally collective in character.  And the "Chinese" characteristics must necessarily relate as well to the objects of vanguard obligation--the Chinese working classes, the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.  Thus, the vanguard element fundamental to the obligation of the CCP acquires both a normative character and one that folds back into its representational role.

The focus on the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics is augmented by a set of related representational objectives--objectives that drive home the connection between normative socialism and the vanguard political, institutional and cultural responsibilities annexed to the CCP's vanguard role. The cause of socialism thus framed also represents the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people.  Note the double parallels that align--the nature of the CCP's vanguard obligations (working classes Chinese people, Chinese nation), and the nature of the substantive obligations around the cause of socialism (development of productive forces, advanced culture, and fundamental interests of the Chinese people). 

To what is vanguardism ultimately directed; what is the ultimate end of the vanguard role of the CCP to which its leadership role must be bent? It is bent to the realization of communism.  Yet note that this ultimate objective is understood in two senses.  Communism represents both an ideal--something far and aspiration--and final or last goal, the point at which the vanguard role of the CCP itself is fulfilled and the CCP itself merges with the people and the nation.

1 comment:

Flora Sapio said...

The CCP is not only a vanguard, but also the core of leadership. A core is a nucleus, the central part of something else – in this case the core of leadership is the central part of leadership. The non-central part of leadership will be the “working class, the people and the nation”. Here the Statute implies that leadership does not exclusively belong to the CCP per se, but to “the working class, the people and the nation” too. The CCP may be at the forefront of leadership (vanguard role), yet the “masters of the country” are the people (para 15). The CCP and the people play complementary roles, with the CCP drawing its legitimacy and its very existence from the Chinese people.

The CCP represents the fundamental interest of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people. Here “fundamental” modifies the meaning of the noun interest, and refers to those interests that are the most important for the people, to their basic interest. Para 1 states that political representation involves the basic interest of the people. Beyond the basic interest, other kinds of interests may exist, which are accidental, nonessential and lie outside the scope of political representation, if and only if they are not relevant to the goals of the CCP.

The overwhelming majority of the Chinese people includes the highest possible number of persons, but not their totality. This may or may not mean that there is room for the CCP to expand the scope of its political representation to those who are included in the totality of the people but not in the “overwhelming majority”. The criterion whereby political representation can be enjoyed is not specified. Are multinational corporations, foreign companies, foreign NGOs, and foreign citizens represented by the CCP, or are their rights and interests protected through means other than political representation?

“The realization of communism is the highest ideal and ultimate goal of the Party.” The last sentence of para 1 underwent various changes in time...this is the most interesting sentence of para 1 and perhaps the entire statute. The CCP represents almost the entire totality of Chinese citizens and the Chinese diaspora but, does being represented by the CCP entail an individual or even a communal committment to the realization of communism? This is an ideal and an ultimate goal that belongs to the Party and to those who accept its program and therefore choose to bind themselves to the CCP (See articles 1 and 2). The Party is indeed the vanguard and the core leader of the people but, it is distinct from them. While the ideals and goals of the Party need to be compatible with those of the people (and viceversa), an absolute identity between the goals and the Party and the goals of the people is not a prerequisite for the realization of communism. The Statute creates various spaces of autonomy, and it would be interesting to know how many people have noticed the existence of such spaces...