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 28, CCP Party Building--The Mass Line. It considers Paragraph 26 of the General Program.
Table of Contents
Part 28, Paragraph 26 of the General Program--CCP Party Building: Serving the People; the "Mass Line."
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 considered each in turn.
With Paragraph 20 the General Program moves into new, though related, territory--socialist ethnic relations. These, in turn, are part of a larger project that frames party building, the organization framework and working style of the CCP itself taken up in ¶¶ 23-28 on party building. But Paragraphs 20 through 22 deal with the issue of the external relations of the CCP, and its obligations with respect to those relations in its vanguard role. These three paragraphs describe the primary objective of relations with outsiders--cooperation and unity of purpose. These are elaborated in the inter-ethnic relations within China of ¶ 20, and the three unities described in paragraphs 21 and 22--¶ 21 focuses on political and territorial unification--the United Front and national unification, and ¶ 22 focuses on foreign relations and communist internationalism. These point to political, territorial and international unities.
With Paragraph 23 the General Program turn inward to the methods and objectives, to the techniques and principles, of party building. These are the provisions that elaborate the conditions for CCP self-constitution, institutionalization, operation and perpetuation. Together they apply the principles of socialist modernization, especially in its principles of developing productive forces to the productive capacities of the CCP itself. These paragraphs suggest something deeper as well; they suggest that the the CCP itself must be at the center of the movement to and embody the practices necessary for socialist modernization as an economic, political, cultural, and societal project. If the CCP cannot lead by example then it fails in its core responsibility as a vanguard party under Paragraph 1 of the General Program.
Paragraph 23 speaks to the obligation of the CCP to build itself. The object of that obligation is socialist modernization. The essential requirements of CCP building are divided into four parts: (1) fidelity to the principles through which socialist modernization is realized (¶ 24); (2) fidelity to a working style that reflects the movement forward toward socialist modernization (¶ 25); (3) fidelity to the core obligation to serve the masses (¶ 26); and (4) fidelity toward a collectivization of decision making (¶ 27).
With Paragraph 26, the focus on building the CCP turns from the ideological framework and working style to the relational issue--who does the CCP serve. It provides an answer to the question--for whom does the CCP build itself. It then describes the relationship between the CCP, CCP building and the objects of its service--the people.
 Third, persevering in serving the people wholeheartedly. The Party has no special interests of its own apart from the interests of the working class and the broadest masses of the people. At all times the Party gives top priority to the interests of the people, shares weal and woe with them, maintains the closest possible ties with them, and persists in exercising power for them, showing concern for them and working for their interests, and it does not allow any member to become divorced from the masses or place himself or herself above them. The Party follows the mass line in its work, doing everything for the masses, relying on them in every task, carrying out the principle of "from the masses, to the masses," and translating its correct views into action by the masses of their own accord. The biggest political advantage of the Party lies in its close ties with the masses while the biggest potential danger for it as a governing party comes from its divorce from them. The Party's style of work and its maintenance of ties with the masses of the people are a matter of vital importance to the Party. The Party will establish a sound system for punishing and preventing corruption by fighting it in a comprehensive way, addressing both its symptoms and root cause and combining punishment with prevention, with the emphasis on prevention. The Party will persistently oppose corruption and step up efforts to improve its style of work and uphold integrity.
 第三，坚持全心全意为人民服务。党除了工人阶级和最广大人民群众的利益，没有自己特殊的利益。党在任何时候都把群众利益放在第一 位，同群众同甘共苦，保持最密切的联系，坚持权为民所用、情为民所系、利为民所谋，不允许任何党员脱离群众，凌驾于群众之上。党在自己的工作中实行群众路 线，一切为了群众，一切依靠群众，从群众中来，到群众中去，把党的正确主张变为群众的自觉行动。我们党的最大政治优势是密切联系群众，党执政后的最大危险 是脱离群众。党风问题、党同人民群众联系问题是关系党生死存亡的问题。党坚持标本兼治、综合治理、惩防并举、注重预防的方针，建立健全惩治和预防腐败体 系，坚持不懈地反对腐败，加强党风建设和廉政建设。
(1) From the masses: to lead the masses the CCP must seek the truth necessary for the effective application of leadership from the facts that is the lived existence of. What is received from the masses are not merely opinion, sentiment, reactions, desires, needs, etc., but also the facts fundamentally necessary to derive truth. In the absence of these facts, the truth which is essential in the progress of socialist modernization will produce error. Socialist modernization is impossible if it remains aloof to the actual conditions of the masses. Here is the context in which "Chinese characteristics" is understood. The mass line's "from the people" is then essential for the factual context that is the foundation of the Chinese context within which the CCP's vanguard leadership is undertaken.(2) To the masses: The facts and received from the masses are not embedded unfiltered within the CCP's leadership obligation. The facts must be contextualized, analyzed, understood and interpreted. To that end, the CCP must apply a mind or framework freed from rigidity or mindless historicist ossification, the CCP must emancipate the mind. That emancipation makes it possible to derive truth from the facts produced by and through the masses. But that truth, like the mass line, cannot be understood as existing separate and autonomous of the ideological context in which truth is understood and advanced. An emancipated mind attains truth by applying the guidelines that is the fundamental ordering ideology (¶ 2) on the basis of which the social, political, economic and cultural order is established for the eventual attainment of a goal (¶ 1). It is this truth that is then the basis for the leadership of the CCP that is responsive to the masses and legitimately implemented.(3) From the masses, again: Returned to the masses int he form of leadxership the mass interest is served and applied. This generates additional facts now grounded in the new context in which the masses find themselves. If well executed and correct, this new position evidences an advance down the path toward socialist modernization. If it does not, the evidence of error will be apparent in the failure to move the socialist modernization project forward. These are then the facts that must be received again from the people top develop truth. Here the process begins again but from a more advanced position.
Seventh, the understanding of that connection is central to an understanding of the contextual nature of the CCP's principle of popular responsiveness. The CP must serve or respond to the masses. It cannot remain oblivious to mass criticism or to the conditions of the masses. But that responsiveness must be built on an appropriate interpretation. To respond to the masses requires first knowledge of of information from the masses, but that information can only be appropriately interpreted, that it is can only be given meaning, by interpreting it within the framework of the CCP's basic line. And it is that meaning--that interpretation--that forms the second leg of the obligation of the CCP under the mass line, the obligation to speak truth to the masses from out of the facts that have been received form the masses. And then that generates the further obligation to listen again and respond to the masses in light of the truth delivered and the respond generated from masses. But this dialective process also contains an important consequential element--the responsibility to assess and correct error--first the rror of failing to listen to the masses and second the error of failing to respond correctly. The mass line, then, includes an accountability principle--the CCP¡s obligation to self criticism is a call to account, to assess, to test, the correctness both of the duty to listen and the responsibility to respond. And error must be acknowledged and corrected--or the people will lose confidence in the strength of the CCP's leadership role.
Eight, this responsiveness element can then be understood as the articulation of the self-referential character of CCP self-constitution. And from that, the self-constitution of the nation. Self-constitution in this sense points to the erection of the basic principles from which subsidiary policies and their application to the community self-constituted may be developed, but only through reference to the constituting structures of the community itself. That, of course, is the essence of constitutionalism, whether of states or of non-state actors (see, e.g., here and here). The process of socialist modernization, and the development of rules as a productive force, then are internally driven within a system that is complete in itself. That does not mean that the system is isolated, only that it is autonomous of others. As ¶ 22 makes clear, however, systemic isolation is itself error--as theory would also suggest. Thus, in the language system of the General Program: to build itself, the CCP must be responsive to the people; the nature of that response requires the application of facts to truth; the truth of that responsiveness can also be tested from facts; to build itself the CCP must assess its response to the people and to correct error; that dialectic in turn pushes the CCP's internal dialectic to develop its own productive force; that internal development is essential to fulfill the CCP's responsibility as the representative of the most advanced productive forces in society. And thus the self-constituting self referencing dynamic element that is meant to move society forward toward the goal of establishing a communist society in China.