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 17, CCP Leadership-Socialist Democracy. It considers Paragraph 15 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 17, Paragraph 15 of the General Program--CCP Leadership-Socialist Democracy.
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 consider each in turn. We continue with ¶ 15.
 The Communist Party of China leads the people in promoting socialist democracy. It integrates its leadership, the position of the people as masters of the country, and the rule of law, takes the path of political development under socialism with Chinese characteristics, expands socialist democracy, improves the socialist legal system, builds a socialist country under the rule of law, consolidates the people's democratic dictatorship, and builds socialist political civilization. It upholds and improves the system of people's congresses, the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under its leadership, the system of regional ethnic autonomy, and the system of self-governance at the primary level of society. It makes people's democracy more extensive, fuller in scope and sounder in practice. It takes effective measures to protect the people's right to manage state and social affairs as well as economic and cultural programs. It respects and safeguards human rights. It encourages the free airing of views and works to establish sound systems and procedures of democratic election, decision-making, administration and oversight. It improves the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics and strengthens law enforcement, so as to bring all work of the state under the rule of law. 中国共产党领导人民发展社会主义民主政治。坚持党的领导、人民当家作主、依法治国有机统一，走中国特色社会主义政治发展道路，扩大 社会主义民主，健全社会主义法制，建设社会主义法治国家，巩固人民民主专政，建设社会主义政治文明。坚持和完善人民代表大会制度、中国共产党领导的多党合 作和政治协商制度、民族区域自治制度以及基层群众自治制度。切实保障人民管理国家事务和社会事务、管理经济和文化事业的权利。尊重和保障人权。广开言路， 建立健全民主选举、民主决策、民主管理、民主监督的制度和程序。加强国家立法和法律实施工作，实现国家各项工作法治化。
Third, the principal implementation objectives reflect the CCP's basic line and work style--it requires adherence (坚持), a core focus, on several key strategic policy approaches. The first is the CCP¡s leadership, already well emphasized in the General program, first as theory, then as policy, and now as operational principle. The second focus for which adherence is required relates to the position of the people as masters of the country. While there is a sense of the people (人民) alone (当家) deciding (作主), the meaning within Chinese socialist theory is quite different. That is, though the people alone may decide, their decisions must be informed by and through the leadership of the CCP, and must be undertaken, if it is to be considered authoritative and legitimate, within the constraints of the guiding theory which frames Chinese law, politics, economics, society and culture (¶ 2). The third is adherence to the rule of law (依法治国有机统一). This can be understood normative as focusing on the proper (coherent) administration of the state apparatus. The three together form what might be usefully understood as the "three adherence principles" (三个坚持) of ¶ 15.
Fourth, the "three adherence principles" of ¶ 15 provides the conceptual lens through which the policy objectives of socialist democracy may be realized. The first, "take the road of political development under socialism with Chinese characteristics," echoes the operationalization framework for economic development but in the political sphere. The second, "expand socialist democracy" drives policy toward continual reform within the conceptual constraints of the CCP's basic line in general and the three adherence principles of ¶ 15 in particular. The third and fourth focus on more concrete policy objectives aimed at ordering the administrative apparatus of the state along socialist rule of law (administrative) lines. Both "improve the socialist legal system" and "build a socialist country ruled by law" aim at the creation of an administrative apparatus that must in turn be constrained in that development by the fundamental constraint to avoid bureaucratism and rigidity (¶ 5). The last two, "consolidation of the people's democratic dictatorship" and "build a socialist political civilization" focus both on the parameters of the overall construction of a socialist governance apparatus (a government under the leadership of the CCP which is itself constrained by its grundnorm, the General Program). Indeed building a socialist political civilization (¶ 6) must be built atop a socialist legal system that is itself legitimated by consistency with the basic political constitution of the politico-social order.
Sixth, the CCP leadership line situates the respect for and protection of human rights (尊重和保障人权) squarely within the ambit of socialist democracy. But by doing so, it anchors human rights protection within the constraints of the three adherences (三个坚持) principles, the CCP's basic line,h and of the core normative foundations of the economic, political and cultural organization of the state. As such, human rights is neither unmoored, nor is it detachable. More importantly, as deeply embedded within socialist democracy, it appears substantially buffered from the development of human rights normative structures at the international level. The intermeshing between Chinese and international normative approaches to human rights--in scope, definition, implementation and authority--must be mediated through the logic of the grundnorms of the socialist legal system emerging from the cage of principles and policies that is the General Program. That buffering effect substantially transforms human rights from an internationalist project with objectives focused on the articulation of the parameters of human dignity and their constraining consequences for states and other actors, to a national project focused on the development of productive forces, including the individual, bent to the purpose of socialist modernization. Human rights as an engine of socialist modernization may not be the same thing as human rights as an international project for establishing a normative framework for legalizing the relationship between individuals and aggregated power sources (whether states or other actors). This is likely to remain a point of substantial friction only in those areas where there are differences in result in their respective application. ird, those markers of development cannot serve as a substitute for the objective of socialist democracy itself. The markers--rule of law, people's democratic dictatorship, etc.--are the techniques rather than the the expression of socialist democracy.
Seventh, thus understood, socialist democracy becomes more clearly conceived as a system emerging from a pyramidal structure of norms, the most general of which affecting the discretionary space of the more narrow provisions down to the operational level. In the case of socialist democracy that means that democracy cannot be understood by reference to Western terminology, ideology, history or practice. Instead it must be understood as the expression of the specific application of the Leninist principles of CCP leadership, guided by a set of dynamic normative principles that have been ordered into a policy program understood through the CCP basic line. Thus when ¶ 15 speaks to the role of the CCP to "encourage the free airing of views and to work to establish sound systems and procedures of democratic election, decision-making, administration and oversight"--that "encouragement" and "work" must be understood as targeting the production of airing of views, democratic elections and administration that themselves conform to the basic principles of CCP leadership, of the constraining guidance of core theory, and of the CCP's basic line. That necessarily produces expressions of democracy quite distinct from those in the West.
Eighth, there is a strong distinction made in Paragraph 15 between rule of law (依法治国有机统一) and legalization (法治化), though both terms appear to be the same in the English version. The first appears more focused on conceptual notions of organic unity of the country governed according to the law. The second appears to focus more on the administrative manifestation of a rule system over a system grounded in the discretionary authority of individuals. The latter position is quite important. Traditional European Marxist states built bureaucracies whose operation was centered on the power of officials to exercise broad discretionary authority with substantial impunity. That appears to be the case in Cuba immediately before th current transition. Paragraph 15 is notable for its implicit rejection of an administrative and legal system grounded in discretion in favor f one in which official power must be asserted within the cage of regulation (here)--that they must enforce that tat must be enforced against them.