Monday, September 14, 2015

Part 8 (Important Thought of Three Represents)--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 8, The Important Thought of Three Represents. It considers Paragraph 6 of the General Program.

Table of Contents 

Part 8: The Important Thought of the Three Represents. It considers Paragraph 6 of the General Program.

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).
[6] After the Fourth Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Party Central Committee and in the practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese Communists, with Comrade Jiang Zemin as their chief representative, acquired a deeper understanding of what socialism is, how to build it and what kind of party to build and how to build it, accumulated new valuable experience in running the Party and state and formed the important thought of Three Represents. The important thought of Three Represents is a continuation and development of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory; it reflects new requirements for the work of the Party and state arising from the developments and changes in China and other parts of the world today; it serves as a powerful theoretical weapon for strengthening and improving Party building and for promoting self-improvement and development of socialism in China; and it is the crystallized, collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China. It is a guiding ideology that the Party must uphold for a long time to come. Persistent implementation of the Three Represents is the foundation for building the Party, the cornerstone for its governance and the source of its strength.

[6] 十三届四中全会以来,以江泽民同志为主要代表的中国共产党人,在建设中国特色社会主义的实践中,加深了对什么是社会主义、怎样建设社会主义和建设什么 样的党、怎样建设党的认识,积累了治党治国新的宝贵经验,形成了“三个代表”重要思想。“三个代表”重要思想是对马克思列宁主义、毛泽东思想、邓小平理论 的继承和发展,反映了当代世界和中国的发展变化对党和国家工作的新要求,是加强和改进党的建设、推进我国社会主义自我完善和发展的强大理论武器,是中国共 产党集体智慧的结晶,是党必须长期坚持的指导思想。始终做到“三个代表”,是我们党的立党之本、执政之基、力量之源。
With Sange Daibiao (三个代表 of the important thought of the three represents) the CCP begins a more intimate interrogation of the character of its vanguard role as it emerged onto a new historical stage made possible by the success of socialist modernization and opening up.

With the external success of the CCP's line, the CCP moved from fundamental change to a refinement of basic theory, but refinement in significant respects of the relationship of the vanguard party in its leadership role. More importantly, sange daibiao marks a turn inward toward the more active development of the institutional structures of the vanguard party itself. With the sange daibiao one encounters both continuity and change. The continuity is plainly built into the process of its development. Sange daibiao is an exercise in Leninist collectivism which remains true to democratic centralism -- this time under the leadership of Jiang Zemin -- as refined represents the collective wisdom of the CCP. But it's greatest contribution is tied to the issue of representation itself. Sange daibiao declares the scope of the representative character of the CCP (1) to advanced social productive forces, (2) advanced culture, and (3) the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people. Here representation works in multiple respects between the party the state and nation, and within the party architecture itself. Lastly it represents another step away from the class struggle elements of the revolutionary party and points to a distinct direction in the architecture of socialist modernization.

It is tempting to dismiss Sange Daibiao as an exercise in obscurity and relevant only within the interior dialogues of the CCP. Yet a careful reading of the text itself within the framework of the General Program reveals not just its simplicity but also it's scope and potentially transformative breadth.

An important conclusion can be reached from reviewing our Party's history over the past 70-odd years; that is, the reason our Party enjoys the people's support is that throughout the historical periods of revolution, construction and reform, it has always represented 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. With the formulation of the correct line, principles and policies, the Party has untiringly worked for the fundamental interests of the country and the people. Under the new conditions of historic significance, how our Party can better translate the Three Represents into action constitutes a major issue that all Party members, especially senior officials, must ponder deeply. (News of the Communist Party of China, Three Represents).

First, sange daibiao must be understood within the long sweep of development of Leninism specific to the Chinese context. That is a Leninism which becomes increasingly sensitive to the vanguard party's paramount obligation to people, state and nation. That obligation can be understood as an obligation to represent and to serve. Fidelity to both ensures the legitimacy of the CCP in Leninist terms. Representation is at the heart of Mao Zedong thought and Deng Xiaoping theory. Sange daibiao is meant to provide further depth to that representational obligation. But it does do within the context of a change in the historical context, a change made possible by the success of the application of Deng Xiaoping theory to move forward the process of socialist modernization. That new or changed historical context required a further modification to the understanding of the concepts of class struggle central to the revolutionary period and advanced by the sift in emphasis to socialist struggle to advance modernization in the post revolutionary period

Second, sange daibiao represents the fruits of self reflection and analysis. It is meant to represent an application of seeking truth from facts to the evolution of theory and stock taking for the CCP. It represents the product of knowledge generated form the "practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics." This knowledge was meant to be applied to a specific end-- to acquire "a deeper understanding of what socialism is, how to build it and what kind of party to build and how to build it, accumulated new valuable experience in running the Party and state."

Third, sange daibiao must be understood in its dynamic aspect. It speaks to the obligations of the CCP in the future--on the future construction and operation of the CCP and the future focus of its legitimacy enhancing activity. The future role of the CCP is representative in a much more focused way. Seeking truth from facts is a sterile exercise unless its insights are put to use. And sange aibiao is meant reflect "new requirements for the work of the Party and state arising from the developments and changes in China and other parts of the world today; it serves as a powerful theoretical weapon for strengthening and improving Party building and for promoting self-improvement and development of socialism in China." The dynamic element is essential to avoid the possibility falling back into the error of bureaucratism through the failure to adhere to a CCP working style that in its essence is centered on emancipation of the mind (General Program ¶ 5).

Fourth, those new requirements bring the CCP back to a necessary engagement with the Leninist obligation of representation within new historical conditions in China. Representation, in this sense, is an aspect of collectivity at the heart of mechanics of the operation of a vanguard party. The CCP's working style must incorporate representation in the broadest sense in order to develop its collective working style. That is, Leninist collectivity requires collective representation as a fundamental organizational principle of the CCP. Representation serves to check the tendency toward a self serving working style and a reminder that theory and practice must not be developed in opposition to the people and especially to the fundamental obligation of the CCP to move the nation toward the fulfillment of socialist modernization. Representation is the practical application of that insight, constraining ("the cornerstone for its governance and the source of its strength") in a way that may be measured and assessed.

To whom does the CCP owe a duty of representation? Representing the development trend of China's advanced productive forces imposes on the CCP the obligation for ensuring the orderly advancement of socialist modernization. It suggests that the CCP's leadership is exercised only in a fiduciary, a representational, capacity--not for itself but for the benefit of those for whom socialist modernization is advanced. Eventually, sange daibiao will suggest the contours of the CCP's leadership role in the operation and function of Chinese state owned industries, in the encouragement of investment within China and in the framework within which China engages the productive forces of the world. More importantly, and not yet fully realized, is the insight that the CCP itself must be understood as a key element of the advanced productive forces whose work must be integrated into the collective efforts of socialist modernization--not above or autonomous of modernization, but deeply embedded within it. Representing advanced culture requires not merely the disciplining of the customs and traditions of the people, but more importantly, ensuring that the CCP itself, and its cadres, practice the highest forms of socialist culture. The CCP cannot represent unless it itself fulfills its vanguard role of practicing what it represents. Representing the people suggests that the CCP is a reminder of the fundamental character of a Leninist vanguard party.

What does it mean to represent? It means to embed the CCP within socialist modernization, rather than above or beyond it. As an integral part of socialist modernization, the CCP's productive forces must be developed in a way that is deeply integrated within the logic of socialist modernization, with a fidelity to Leninist principles, and in a way that serves as a model for the advancement of non CCP productive forces in the economy,. society and culture. The CCP represents by leading in a way that people, society, and economic activity may take as a model, and which moves society closer to attainment of a communist society.

How does this bring Deng Xiaoping theory forward? It provides a Leninist basis for "strengthening and improving Party building and for promoting self-improvement and development of socialism in China" through advancing notions of collective action. That advancement points collective action in the direction of the people through the concept of representation.


Flora Sapio said...

I thought I should explain how I read political/legal documents, and I started writing a post about this on my blog, but then I stopped because I felt it was becoming too theoretical and too soon. Hermeneutical theories can be of limited usefulness when applied to the CCP Statute or any other political/legal document, largely because the considerations and/or goals that their authors may have had in mind may not be the same goals I have in mind when I approach a political/legal document.

Anyhow, here's what caught my attention in paragraph 6 of the General Program.

The Sange Daibiao as an 'important thought'. Paragraph 2 lists Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development chronologically. But, notice how each one of them is qualified in a different way. Marxism-Leninism is an ideology, a zhuyi. Mao Zedong thought is a thought, a sixiang. Deng Xiaoping theory is merely a theory, while the Three Represents is an **
*important thought***, a zhongyao sixiang...and, it is mentioned in the second sentence of paragraph 1. In the 1992 and 1997 versions of the General Program, para 1 had it

“The CCP is the vanguard of the Chinese working class and the faithful representative of the interest of the people of all ethnicities of China. It is the core of leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics” (I am not looking at earlier versions of the General Program, for now).

The 2002 amendment added the three different entities that the CCP now represents, thus placing the Three Represents before all previous ideologies. The amendment to paragraph 1 is coherent with the goal to understand “what socialism ***is***”。 There is also a little noticed transnational element to political representation by the CCP:

“The CCP is the vanguard of....the Chinese people and the Chinese nation”.

The Chinese people and the Chinese nation are distinct. The scope of the first is delimited by notions of citizenship and residence, while the scope of the second is not.

Flora Sapio said...

Representing (代表) and serving the People. Or: does the vanguard Party have obligations towards the people, the state and the nation? The word 'obligation' never appears in the General Program. What one can find is yaoqiu 要求, which they translate as 'requirement'. I will stick to this translation. Translations of political-legal documents are performed really carefully, by large teams of translators, and they undergo several checks – someone told me. The choice of “requirement” must be deliberate, and perhaps motivated by the fact that “requirement” best conveys the meaning of yaoqiu 要求. Is a requirement the same thing as an obligation? This is not an otiose question. Let me state it differently。

Is political representation a prior condition for achieving the goals set by the General Program, or it is something that results from the CCP having bound itself to the People?

According to paragraphs 26-30, there are four fundamental requirements the CCP must meet to build itself. The Three Represents is part of the first requirement (para 27) – adhering to the Party's basic line but, it is not itself a fundamental requirement, or a basic principle. Rather it operates side by side with the four basic principles. Serving the People on the other hand is among the fundamental requirements, or four basic principles.

Emancipating the mind. This is the most common translation of jiefang sixiang. 解放思想. But, in different contexts jiefang is translated as “to liberate”, “liberation” and “sixiang” is either “thought” or “ideology”. Emancipating the mind of course conveys an idea which is very similar to the idea of “liberating ideology”, not being bound by the constraints of ideology, but in a much more indirect way.

The most interesting question is what does it mean to represent. To this question, I have neither answers nor hypotheses for. Neither did I have the time to check whether commentators other have elaborated on the concept of daibiao/representation. Within a Leninist framework, representation by leadership is consistent with all the other premises of the ideological framework but, other and equally coherent possibilities may exist.