Flora Sapio: What is the Most Important Element of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party?
Larry Catá Backer: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era–新时代中国特色社会主义思想—As the Most Important Element of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party?
With Xi Jinping Work Reportrunning at over 32,000 characters in length, and 80 amendments to the Constitution of the CCP, identifying a single most important element of the 19th Party Congress is difficult, if not impossible.
If you were to ask me to choose just one single element, then I would choose the reform of the State Supervision System.
Why have I chosen the state supervision system? This is the one and only reform process that will touch upon each sphere of domestic and transnational governance in the People’s Republic of China. It is far broader than most people realize.
During my opening statement, I will describe in greater detail the ways in which the supervision system is changing – last week the CCP already enacted a Plan that will soon lead to a complete overhaul of the system. My description will be based on a careful reading of all relevant documents the 19th Congress has this far issued. I may also draw on other sources I have in my private archive, and which I have never used thus far.
Then, I will be happy to answer questions from the other participants, and from the audience.
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era–新时代中国特色社会主义思想—As the Most Important Element of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party?
Larry Catá Backer
The work of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress was significant, judged even by the standards of past Congresses, There was a sense that its work ought to be ranked at the level of the 3rd Plenum of the 11th CPC Congress. That self-conscious parallel was reflected in much of the work of the 19th Congress. Just as the 3rd Plenum of the 11th CPC Congress marked the progression of Chinese political constitution from one stage of historical development to another, so is the 19th CPC Congress now meant to mark the further progression of that Constitution from the historical Era marked by Dong Xiaoping and his successors to a new historical era to be marked by Xi Jinping and his successors.
With this as background, I view the single most important element of the 19th CPC Congress as the acknowledgement of the passing of the Dong Xiaoping Era and the opening of a new and quite transformative historical era in the progress of China and the leadership responsibilities of its political leadership. Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era–新时代中国特色社会主义思想—signals not just the end of an era, but the intent to transform Chinese politics, law, economics, and societal relations at home and abroad to suit those changing conditions.
Embedded within the Chinese political constitution as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” this movement will change the language and conceptualization of basics of Chinese politics, economics, and social structures in ways that potentially radically transform governance structures, the meaning and application of rule of law, the definition and the interaction of private and public sectors within China. The project us as ambitious and forward looking as was “Reform and Opening Up” ideology in its time and era. In the process of moving to the “New Era” the language of politics, of economics, of society and of the obligations of state and Party to its citizens is constructed will be changing in ways that are becoming clear. The 19th CPC Congress documents, from the Report to the final resolutions point to the direction in which the Chinese political class will construct meaning from words, and set the boundaries and forms of discourse going forward.
“New Era” ideology will have a significant international spillover effect as these transformations will be embedded in Chinese public and private interventions in their international relations—from the construction and operation of China centered global production chains, to the construction of the global trade and political order. More importantly, perhaps, it may represent a new dynamism in the development of Marxism and Leninism that may well transform the European Marxist Leninism form which it originated and, ironically enough, produce movement toward convergence of political economic systems between the free market West and the Leninist camps, the former through the evolution of a governmentalized private based institutional complex, the latter through a privatized publicly driven institutional complex. Yet at the same time, the New Era Basic Line remains an empty vessel from the operational perspective.
During my opening statement, I will describe in greater detail the ways in which the new ideological base can be understood as a guide to filling that empty operational vessel. My focus will be on the movement from socialist modernization and the development of productive forces to the distribution of the fruits of that development across the nation. The reconstitution of class struggle within socialist modernization reshapes political priorities from mere production and generalized wealth accumulation to one of “people centered philosophy of development.” And to that end, the techniques of governance must change as well—from the antiquated law-regulatory state, to the managerial state; modern Leninism to be practiced in China will move from its reliance on the updated feudal forms of contemporary governance to the managerialism of the algorithmic state. And in that context the mass line (and with it the principles of people’s democratic dictatorship人民民主专政), will also undergo a transformation—New Era ideology transforms the conception of “from the people to the people” from its conventional feudal application to one suitable to the “New Era”—“from the people” becomes the mechanics of big data management; “to the people” becomes the apparatus of social credit. Those are the ultimate markers of the new CPC Basic Line “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”,
I will be happy to answer questions from the other participants, and from the audience. END