Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Part 12 (The Basic Line of the CCP)--On a Constitutional Theory for China--From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer)

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 12, Socialist Modernization and Class Struggle. It considers Paragraph 10 of the General Program.

Table of Contents

Part 12, Paragraph 10 of the General Program--Socialist Modernization and Class Struggle.

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 Communist Party line in the context of the current stage of development of China.  This is an important shift of focus in the General Program.  And it follows a quite specific conceptual line--from broadest principles, to standards to policy and then to operationalization.  That is the conceptual spine that supports the coherence of the General Program and unites all of its parts.  It is also a structure for reading the General Program--every problem of ideology, of constitutional and political dimension must be approached by starting with the specific problem in the context of its specific application, then informed by operational policy, which must be applied by reference to the broader standards, that are themselves constrained in their interpretation-application by the principles at the heart fo the theoretical foundations of the CCP (and nation). 

Paragraph 10 provides:
[10] The basic line of the Communist Party of China in the primary stage of socialism is to lead the people of all ethnic groups in a concerted, self-reliant and pioneering effort to turn China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern socialist country by making economic development the central task while upholding the Four Cardinal Principles and the reform and opening up policy.
[10] 中国共产党在社会主义初级阶段的基本路线是:领导和团结全国各族人民,以经济建设为中心,坚持四项基本原则,坚持改革开放,自力更生,艰苦创业,为把我国建设成为富强民主文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家而奋斗
Together with ¶¶ 11-13, these paragraphs spell outline focus of the operationalization of the theory in Chinese context developed in ¶¶ 1-9. It it a very condensed and compact expression of the expression of theory molded to context and times and focused on a specific set of objectives the purpose of the attainment of which is to make possible the next stage of socialist modernization (which will require in its turn a new basic line).

First, Paragraph 10 is directed to the CCP. It is not directed to the state apparatus (National People's Congress, provincial officials, administrative ministries, etc.) or the People's Liberation Army. It is directed to the CCP in its entirety, not just to the leadership. It underlines that the expressions of collective wisdom that rejects a Shepard-sheep working style in favor of collective work under principles of democratic dictatorship. But it is not a rigid, text bound direction.

Second, ¶10's statement of the form of the CCP's basic line is operational only for so long as China remains in the primary stage of socialism. We understand from ¶ 9 that this stage may last a long time. But it might not. Truth from facts requires modification if 100 years is condensed to 50, or 20 years. And it is the collective obligation of the CCP to ensure that it understands and correctly analyzes the correct stage of socialism in which China may find itself.

Third, ¶ 10 sketches out the basic line of the CCP. It does not describe the CCP's line in its entirety. It is not to be read as sacred text, or rigidly, especially in the face of challenges arsing from changing conditions. This does not mean that the CCP's line can be whatever the CCP wants it to be. The CCP's line may be modified in the face of changing conditions but it cannot escape from the cage of principles-policy that serve as the legitimating framework of the CCP's leadership role.

Fourth, the basic line declares that the fundamental role of the CCP is to "lead." The basic line of the CCP is not to operate the apparatus of state; it is not to command; it is not to rule. That requires a relationship to state, people and nation than that of a direct personal control. The CCP is perhaps then best understood as the incarnation of the cage of principles and policy that give structure to the vanguard objectives to which all of the productive forces of the state are directed. In effect, then, the highest productive value of the CCP as a productive force, the paramont for,m of development of the CCP itself in the cause of socialist modernization, is to serve as the cage of principles and policies within which socialist modernization may be achieved and a communist society attained.

Fifth, the CCP's leadership is directed to "the people of all ethnic groups." Socialist modernization and the path toward a communist society has a societal and cultural element as well as an economic and political one. Societal collectivity is the principal element of societal cohesion, which is itself a necessary element to the most efficient development of productive forces. It is therefore basic to the CCP's line that its actions center societal cohesion (uniting 团结 people) and the development of a society harmonized within all of its elements.

Sixth, the CCP's role to lead and unite all people is structured to take economic development as the central task ("以经济建设为中心"). This naturally follows from the elaboration of ¶¶ 5-9. But the responsibility to center economic development is caged within the principles of the four cardinals principles and reform and opening up (¶5). Thus while the basic line requires economic development to be centered--economic development is a legitimate part of socialist modernization only when it is applied consistently with the four cardinal principles and the reform and opening up principles to which the CCP must adhere (or persist) ("坚持四项基本原则,坚持改革开放"). Here then is an acknowledgement of the central importance of the cage of principle in forming the CCP's basic line.

Seventh, the working style to be furthered, self reliance and hard work (自力更生,艰苦创业) points to both collective and individual action. Yet there is ambiguity as well. First, if self reliance and hard work are central to the CCP's working style then it must be integrated into the fundamental principle of collectivity at the heart of Leninism. There may be a parallel to the essence of democratic centralism here. Second, if self reliance and hard work are central to popular cultures through which economic development can be realized then it implicates the CCP's leadership role in society and culture. But that presents a difficulty--because these characters may only be embedded in society generally if they are deeply embedded first in the CCP itself. To do otherwise is to abdicate the CCP's leadership role--if the people lead in developing the characteristics of hard work and self reliance then the CCP fails in its essential vanguard role. In both applications, it is likely that self reliance and hard work ought to be understood as read within the four cardinal principles. And that may explain the deviation between the English and Chinese language versions of the ¶ 10, at least in part.

Eighth, the CCP's basic line is directed toward a very specific goal--to struggle to build China into a prosperous, democratic, civilized and harmonious modern socialist country (为把我国建设成为富强民主文明和谐的社会主义现代化国家而奋斗). Note the dynamic conditionality of the objective--the role of the vanguard is to struggle or fight for the immediate term objective, one already intimated in ¶ 8, suggests the transformation of struggle from its specific historical context to a general one. In place of class struggle, the struggle for modernization, the struggle for CCP's basic line, the struggle for the development of productive forces, the struggle for harmonious society, etc. Each of these characteristics are further developed in succeeding paragraphs to which we turn next.

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