Monday, September 21, 2015

Part 21 (CCP Leadership-People's Liberation Army)--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 21, CCP Leadership-People's Liberation Army. It considers Paragraph 19 of the General Program.

Part 21, Paragraph 19 of the General Program--CCP Leadership-People's Liberation Army.

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 ¶ 19 (People's Liberation Army).
[19] The Communist Party of China persists in its leadership over the People's Liberation Army and other armed forces of the people, builds up the strength of the People's Liberation Army, ensures that it accomplishes its historic missions at this new stage in the new century, and gives full play to its role in consolidating national defense, defending the motherland and participating in the socialist modernization drive.
[19] 中国共产党坚持对人民解放军和其他人民武装力量的领导,加强人民解放军的建设,切实保证人民解放军履行新世纪新阶段军队历史使命,充分发挥人民解放军在巩固国防、保卫祖国和参加社会主义现代化建设中的作用。 

Paragraph 19 is both old and has shifted in focus as the CCP has moved from the revolutionary and civil war stage of its development, through the stage of protecting the new revolutionary government against external threat and internal opposition, to the current stage in which China is faced with remaking its military to conform to its role as a great military power. That produces both challenges and constraints that were unknown in prior historical stages. This transformation to the current historical stage of development provides on the the great challenges of the operationalization of the CCP's line, a danger that unattended can substantially reshape the character of the authority and objectives of a Leninist vanguard party (see, e.g., here). "There are three worth noting in Paragraph 19.

The first is the issue of control. The objective is to adhere and persist (坚持) in the leadership of the CCP over all of the structures of military power in China. The objective is clear here that leadership requires perhaps a change of technique but not of scope of the control arrangements between CCP and the military command hierarchy. And in a sense that coordination is necessary not just as a matter of sound organizational structuring but also because, like every other productive force in China, the military is an important productive force the development of which must be in harmony with and contribute to the project of socialist modernization. This control relationship becomes all the more acute with respect to those activities of the military that have direct or indirect economic effects (和参加社会主义现代化建设中的作用).

Control is evidenced in another important respect, in the CCP's leadership in military affairs to consolidate national defense (人民解放军在巩固国防). This applies, of course, in the traditional sense of preparedness against external threats, but also to threats from non-conventional external sources (discussed in the next paragraph). More importantly for purposes of the control function of ¶ 19 follows form another consequence of the change in the character of foreign threats to the domestic order--internal threats connected to external actors. The Chinese military's role in national defense may force it to look inside as well as outside for the defense of the nation. This is particularly important perhaps in the Western autonomous territories. But it is of equal importance wherever such threats by self organized communities may appear. The preparedness of ¶ 19 and the leadership role of the CCP in that regard, then, connects most intimately both with the obligations of the CCP with respect to socialist democracy, socialist culture, and harmonious socialist society. ¶¶ 15-19 then may well work together form the perspective of developing specific operational approaches to guide both the state apparatus and the military. The issue of control, then, goes to the scope of the internal use of the military to control internal enemies and in that respect is especially dependent on the CCP's obligations to correctly distinguish between enemies of error, a concept at the heart of ¶ 17 and socialist harmonious society.

The second is the issue of purpose. Paragraph 19 here makes clear that the role of the military has changed since the 1970s, and in some significant respect. The People's Liberation Army and all military sectors must be lead in the fulfillment (履行) of their historical mission (历史使命). The most interesting transformation of purpose involves the response to changes in this new historical stage of the character and sources of external threats. But in the 21st century, sovereign states are not necessarily the most potent external threat. This is a century of asymmetric and unconventional transnational warfare against communities only some of which are organized as states. National defense may well target these in new ways, and require the development of the military as a defensive productive force in new ways.

But that historical mission might mean to help reclaim all territories that China claims for itself, however disputed such claims may be by others. That creates a contradiction with China's foreign policy (discussed in the paragraphs that follow) which can only be resolved if the General Program's directions can be arranged hierarchically, or if they may be balanced against each other. But if the CCP's leadership obligations can only be reconciled through balancing the factors to be taken into account must also be specified--to avoid yet another contradiction with socialist democracy and democratic centralism. In that case, the higher principles of the General Program must serve as a guide (¶ 2) that directs efforts to apply the CCP basic line in peculiar cases. In this case, ¶ 19 itself provides a clue, referencing the military mission as associated with a new historical stage (新世纪新阶段). That might suggest, as evident over the last two years, with a more aggressive push toward boundary disputes, or it might also suggest leveraging the Chinese military to protect Chinese interests abroad. That would, ironically, require China to develop a policy that mimics in form the UK and US policies of the 19th and 20th centuries of gunboat diplomacy--that is of deploying Chinese military strength to protect and leverage Chinese economic interests projected abroad through the "Go Out" policy. Yet that also would pose a contradiction to the CCP's internationalist line of non interference and respect for sovereignty. Resolution of that contradiction might require a "new century" approach to this "old century" issue. There is evidence of this "new century technique" as well--the use of the Chinese navy to protect against piracy and keep international trade routes open; the use of Chinese military for disaster relief, and the use of the military for technical assistance and training.

The third is the overall issue of ideology. We have already noted that ideological coherence demands bending control and purpose to the larger project of developing productive forces in the service of socialist modernization (社会主义现代化建设中的作用).  Indeed, the CCP's leadership role requires ensuring the participation of (or joining of the Chinese military) (参加) in socialist modernization.  That can take a variety of of forms, two of which are worth considering in more detail. The first centers on the role of the military as an institutional participant in economic development.  This may be driven by technological innovation, or the ownership and control of sensitive sectors of the economy.  Managerial and technological innovation is defense driven in many political and national systems. But that later role itself presents a contradiction to the extent that such direct control may affect both its ability to be evenhanded in assisting potential competitors inside and outside China (thus adversely affecting the CCP's social harmony policy).  The second centers on the role of the military as a productive force that itself requires development under the leadership of the CCP.  In a sense, the military serves as the other governmental apparatus that is both the object and a subject of the people's democratic dictatorship.  Together with the CCP itself and the state organs, the military represents a string institutional force that must itself be developed ot contribute to economic, `political, societal and cultural development. This may be the key insight to ¶ 19, without which, the nature of the CCP's leadership of this complex organism, would be difficult to frame. That development of the military as a productive force in its own right, then, requires CCP leadership to move the military to effective use in th new stage of historical development and to ensure that it remains within rather than apart from the political and cultural development of the state--through the CCP itself.

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