Larry Catá Backer, Miaoqiang Dai
This paper examines the development of democratic theory, in general, and the emergence of deep structures of Socialist Democracy in China in the New Era. To that end, we will briefly touch on the conjoining of two theoretical trajectories that, in the West, are rarely conjoined. More the pity for our understanding of the world as it is. But is an oversight that merits correction. What are these theoretical trajectories? The first is the development of a theory of democratic behavior that extends beyond the conventional orthodoxies we sometimes mistakenly come to believe are both complete and impregnable. We will suggest that, indeed, conventional exogenous democratic theory is not just pregnable but has in fact given birth to something quite remarkable. That is, it has opened the possibilities to theories of endogenous democracy. The second is the trajectory of the development of a robust Leninism that we have sometimes assumed is capable only of governance models in which power holders are essentially unaccountable. We will suggest that in seeking to more deeply embed the core postulate of collectivity within its own theoretical structures, emerging notions of Chinese Leninism has given us a glimpse at the possibilities of an accountability-based structure of governance that is in its essence robustly democratic.
Keywords: Socialist Consultative Democracy, Accountability, Democratic Centralism, Leninism,
This paper presents an initial examination of the development of democracy theory in the global “new era.” That examination, in turn, will point to the development of a theory of democratic behavior that extends beyond the conventional orthodoxies we sometimes mistakenly come to believe are both complete and impregnable. Current historical conditions requires the reconsideration of theories of democracy (as concept and as institutionalized) that better reflects both the conceptual foundations both Western liberal and Marxist Leninist theories, and the national context in which each are applied. To that end, it is necessary to conjoin of two theoretical trajectories that have been treated as theoretical “strangers.” Yet contemporary historical conditions demands that theory keep pace with facts. Globalization, technological advances, the advanced state of the development of productive forces, and the progression of all around administration, for example, now point to a need to advance democratic theory to suit the times. What are these theoretical trajectories? We start with conventional exogenous democratic theory, no longer the sole or apex objective of political organization, and no longer solely satisfied by the mechanics of popular elections in representative democracies. The gaps left open by traditional exogenous democratic theory has in fact given birth to something quite remarkable. That is, it has opened the possibilities to theories of endogenous democracy. The second is the trajectory of the development of a robust Leninism that we have sometimes assumed is capable only of governance models in which power holders are essentially unaccountable. We will suggest that in seeking to more deeply embed the core postulate of collectivity within its own theoretical structures, emerging notions of Chinese Leninism has given us a glimpse at the possibilities of an accountability-based structure of governance that is in its essence robustly democratic. As such, while the initial focus of our study is on endogenous democracy generally, the central focus of our examination is on the emergence of Chinese Socialist Democracy as an important expression of endogenous democratic theory that may provide valuable insights to political societies beyond China.
What has become clear after the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is that the "New Era" addition to the CPC ideological line is having some very important and very quickly moving changes on the organization of the state apparatus and on the way on which the CPC asserts its leadership role. We will suggest that “New Era” socialist consultative democracy is not built around popular elections and the rise of political parties, but around engagement in governance exercised through the organs that bring together the CPC and the United Front parties within the Chinese People’s Political and Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
It is in those institutions that socialist democracy are being developed—an exercise in endogenous democracy in contradistinction to the West’s emphasis on exogenous democratic exercise. The nexus between state, CPC and United Front through the CPPCC, then, serves as the connective tissue between CPC and State constitutions, and between the political authority of the CPC and its exercise through the rule system, it itself has mandated as its own political line. It expresses in contemporary form the ideals of the New Democracy thinking embraced by the CPC before the founding of the PRC.
In this paper, we examine the emergence of the CPPCC more closely in this context. Part 1 lays the groundwork, considering the development of notions of endogenous democracy within Chinese constitutional thought. Part II then ties this development to the emergence of New Era constitutionalism from out of the 19th CPC Congress and expressed in the transformations of CPC and State Constitutions in late 2017 and early 2018. Part III then considers this emerging framework within a larger shift—implied by the move to endogenous democracy—from regulatory to consultative mechanisms built around the centrality of accountability (and the rich vocabulary around 责). This endogenous consultative Socialist Democracy theory is to be understood as both a method of engagement and as a fundamental normative expression of socialist constitutionalism in the “New Era.”
II. Endogenous versus exogenous democracy—An Emerging Divide in Democratic Constitutional Theory
It makes sense to start with a consideration of the analytical framework. That requires a light engagement with some of the most intractable concepts in political theory and philosophy, one that have been violently contentious over the last 300 years. These touch on the character of democracy as exogenous or endogenous, and the relationship of that principle to legitimate government.
In earlier work we considered the question: Where does democracy happen? Consideration of that fundamental question produced an elaboration of an argument that what appeared to be the universal orthodox position of the West—that it occurs principally exogenously, and is manifested in the rituals of voting—may not be the only possible orthodoxy for democratic theory. It was suggested that democratic institutions might be centered on endogenous rituals, manifested through the formalities of inter-institutional consultation undertaken through systems of collective and representational decision making. Moreover, it was suggested, that the rituals of democracy would then decisively affect the construction and operation of a constitutional order.
The reasons for such constructions could be understood in relation to context and historical circumstance in the states and political cultures from which these core theoretical premises emerged. Central to the construction of democracy is the premise that democracy requires an ordering principle for binding a political core, that is the individuals and institutions charged with the exercise of political power, with the political collective, that is the mass of individuals who together constitute a self-contained unit or organization. That fundamental ordering relation—between the core and the collective, tends to have been overlooked, as theory focused more on the expression of that construction within national cultural preferences. It is worth re-centering that fundamental premise, though, to reclaim for democratic theory, a flexibility necessary to order society as historical circumstances change.
For Western states, the response to the need to order the relationship between the core and collective was to focus on the external elements of that relationship. To that end, the starting point was the individual and her relationship to the societal and political mass. That required, in turn, a means of expressing that relationship. The answer was found in the concept of representation, but in a very specific and material sense. For Western theory, the individual ceded authority to her representative, and in the process also removed herself from the direct process and exercise of authority. The representative in turn, served as the core through which power could be manifested. The power to vote for a representative represented the apex of individual political action and involvement. That pattern then infused not just politics but also economic organization. The corporation, like the state, operates on the basis of personal representation. The relationship, is both personal and exogenous to the institutions of power created for the exercise of power.
This system exists in pure form only in theory. For several centuries, at least, those clean lines of interaction between the core and the collective on the basis of exogenous and representational principles, have been challenged by the realities of the administrative state and the actual workings of public authority. Increasingly, theorists began to note that democratic theory could not focus entirely on its exogenous practice. For some the rise of the administrative state also suggested an endogenous space for ordering the legitimate relationship between core and collective. That space was built on notions of accountability rather than on notions of representation. Accountability is built on a more intimate and less arm’s length relationship between core and collective. It acquires an endogenous character in the sense that it is built on the exercise of the core-collective relationship in the context of core decision-making. It is built on consultation, on assessment, on measurability, and on the fulfillment of objectives. The core exercises authority, and is vested with leadership. The legitimacy of the exercise of its power, however, rests on its fidelity to the core democratic principle of accountability, and accountability is grounded in the responsibility of the core to the collective through the mechanics of consultation.
Let us take a moment to consider the character of exogenous and endogenous democracy, and then consider their effect on the construction of constitutional orders. Within the conventional master narrative of constitutional democracy, democracy is practiced exogenously. That is its practices are centered on actions that all occur beyond the institutions of government. Elections are the manifestation of the most basic foundation for the operation of democratic principles in a constitutional state grounded in popular sovereignty. Beyond the formal connection between election and democratic accountability (assuming a privity between voters, their representatives, and the actions of the state), elections, serve important legitimating functions in Western constitutional orders. Elections, function as a social act and an act of social discipline. Elections serve as a means of managing popular violence. Elections serve as a measure of governmental legitimacy. Elections function as a ritual of affirmation of the mass democracy grundnorm as the basis of political organization, as a method of popular organization to support or undermine the state apparatus, and as an affirmation of belonging.
Each of these functions evidences an exogenous relationship to the state. The democratic act is fulfilled with the election of the representative. And formally, accounts are rendered by representatives to the people via elections. But functionally, elections may have lost their function of direct accountability for representative government. The modern administrative state makes it virtually impossible for the electorate to hold a small group of individuals accountable for the actions of the state and its administrators. There is no way to connect the dots. As a result, representatives in democratic states find themselves with substantial autonomy from the people to whom they are responsible. Yet none of them are the representative owes little by way of direct responsibility to the electorate to its desires. He represents the electorate by he is effectively not accountable to them for his everyday work, nor is he accountable for the many decisions that then devolve effective governance from the representative to the administrative officials to whom fall the great tasks of government.
For the modern state, the resulting democratic detachment distances the electorate not just form their representatives but also form the organs of state. For the West, this is an acceptable state precisely because of the other and important functions of elections I have just described. But for Leninist states, elections serve no such legitimating functions. Formal political authority is vested in the vanguard party and exercised administratively through the state apparatus toward specific ends—Marxist ends, rather than the satisfaction of electoral desires from time to time expressed through the persons of their representatives.
The core responsibility of a Leninist Party, to exercise principled leadership, poses a double legitimacy challenge: first the legitimacy of vanguard mass leadership within the vanguard, and then the legitimacy of leadership of the masses. Both require democratic responses, but not in the Western sense of election. Rather they suggest legitimacy through the operation of collective organizations in the service of the principles of governance and the objectives of government for which the vanguard leadership was constituted. The identity in Leninism is between the ideal of collectivity and democratic action. Fidelity and accountability—a metrics of representational fidelity—rather than elections, mark the effectiveness of collective government. And, indeed, where Leninist states seek to mimic the forms of the West—especially its elections—the emptiness becomes apparent. It is not surprising then, that especially European Leninism with its false mimicry has been subject to ridicule and its pretensions to democratic functionality rejected.
To that end, Leninist approaches to democracy might be better expressed endogenously—within the operations of the political vanguard and the administrative organs of state. An endogenous element responds to the problem of democratic detachment within exogenous democracy and the irrelevance of the mechanics of election to the problem of representation in a Leninist state. It creates an identity between democracy and accountability which inevitably follows the construction of a political society grounded in the belief in the inexorable progress toward a very specific set of societal goals. But its center is not focused on the performance of elections but on the practice of collectivity, one that is disciplined through deep webs of fidelity and accountability by reference to objectives. Leninism’s core embraces principles of accountability. At its core is the principle that both Party and cadres (whatever their rank) requires mutual and simultaneous accounting to bring (1) each other to account, (2) oneself to account, and (3) to be brought to account. It is contains in its core substantial focus on the application of core principles in the implementation of a principled Marxist-Leninist state. That accountability merges with its democratic expression as (a) the act of answering to, explaining of in relation to an expectation, (b) to a specific and functionally segmented objective, (c) manifested as conduct, norms, methods, consequences, (d) directed to oneself to others, and (e) to the specific ends of making right, disciplining behavior to ensuring order.
Endogenous democracy presents its own challenges. And just as the danger for exogenous democracy through elections is populism and the rise of charismatic leadership whose object is to satisfy themselves, so the danger for endogenous democracy through accountability is the cult of personality producing a leadership core without a collective. The issue of the fiduciary character of the role of the representative within the state forms the fundamental problem of endogenous democracy. The individual ought to disappear within the web of fiduciary obligation that her actions represent. While it may not be clear what the collective might want, what is clear is that the collective would not want decision making grounded in personal agendas. To move beyond theory to practice--to develop rule and accountability systems to implement this approach presents the greatest problem to the operationalization of endogenous democracy. Thus, endogenous democracy worries about how representatives practice democratic action within government and how to avoid actions that serve individual rather than collective objectives.
III. Endogenous Democracy and New Era Principles
Theory is one thing, and reality quite another. Is it possible to see glimmerings of this movement toward both a theory and the practice of endogenous democracy within Chinese Leninism? The answer is not clear but let me make some suggestions that point to the glimmer of possibility.
First, the CPC itself exercises leadership legitimately through a constant reaffirmation of fidelity to its Basic Line. The CPC must lead itself in ways that are consistent with its leadership of the collective. Top that extent the notions of core-collective democracy extends from the most general level of political organization to its apex within the organization of the CPC itself. Western society does not have an objective other than to please itself (though that itself is a powerful enough goal). To that end, an exogenous democratic structure better reflects the organization of the core-collective relationship. Leninist societies, on the other hand, are bound by a fidelity to key objectives. The core objective is the establishment of a communist society in China. The principles through which that objective is to be realized include fidelity to core values—the CPC Basic Line, pursuit of socialist modernization, and operation consistent with the four Cardinal Principles. The principal means by which this is accomplished is through what the Chinese are developing as a people’s democratic dictatorship. That concept, completely incompatible with Western liberal traditions, has within it the possibilities of accountability based democratic structures.
Second, the CPC itself has developed key patterns of interactive relationships that both reinforce its leadership role but also provide a basis for internal and external accountability and discipline in its operationalization of its core objectives.
i. Internal Accountability StructuresInternal accountability structures include the principles of democratic centralism, of the core and collective, and of consultation within the CPC itself. It also includes disciplinary measures that have become quite potent in the apparatus of disciplinary inspection. Of these, the core and collective tends to reflect the basic division within society between vanguard leaders, the forces burdened with responsibility and accountability for it to themselves and to the people they serve, and the collective. From core and collective develops the axis of accountability. From the collective itself emerges the notions of consensus and consultation.
From its proclamation at the 6th Plenary of 18th Central Committee of CPC in 2016, the Guiding Principles for Intra-party Political Life under New Situation (hereinafter The Guiding Principles under New Situation) inherited core principles of democratic centralism, collective leadership and intra-party democracy from its predecessor which was drafted in 1980 as a condensation of lessons learnt from the Cultural Revolution. The Guiding Principles issued in 1980 provided a set of norms to not only bring order back to the party after a decade of chaos but also facilitate the shift of the party’s work from class struggle to the project of socialist modernization. The proclamation of the new guiding principles in 2016 marked a significant step forward and updated the norms and principles that “must be abide by in a period in the future for intra-party political life” as Xi Jinping pointed out. To incarnate core principles and norms, the Guiding Principles under New Situation built up a portfolio of intra-party consultation and accountability spanning from the party’s congress system to intra-party supervision system and consultation mechanisms.
a. Fundamental Binary Structure of the Party’s Internal Accountability
National Congress of the Party is the overarching venue where the leadership as the core was beholden to the party as the collective through the work report given by the Secretary General of the CPC for every five years. A chain of 6 sets of collective-core relationships incarnates the accountability of the Secretary-General as the core to the Party: the 19th National Congress of the Party with 2280 members as the core of the whole Party with 90 million members as the collective, the 204-member central committee as the core of the National Congress as the collective, the 25-member politburo as the core of the central committee as the collective, the 7-member politburo standing committee as the core of the politburo and at last, the Secretary-General as the core of the politburo standing committee. Democratic centralism applies to decision-making process of major issues across those binary relationships, requiring the decision to be made by the majority rule after discussion of the collective. Also, standing committee as the core is also required to be subjected to supervision of the collective as the Guiding Principles calls for a regular reporting system to be completely built.
The same pattern of the intra-party accountability structure could also be found in the division of work by specialized fields of work at each levels but democratic centralism become more salient as a decision-making principle. The Guiding Principle clarified that both collective leadership and individual work division are critical parts of democratic centralism, the rule of sticking to collective leadership and combine it with individual work division (“坚持集体领导，实行集体领导和个人分工相结合”, The Guiding Principle under New Situation) shall not be violated by “any organization and any individual under any circumstance with any excuse” (“任何组织和个人在任何情况下都不允许以任何理由违反这项制度”, ibid.). Division of work brought only functionality but also specifically defined accountability to cadres at each level of apparatus ranging from the politburo to grass-root level. Being embedded into the collective-core system, division of work hold party cadres firmly accountable by subjecting them to double leadership of a collective at the same level and the corresponding leadership at the upper level.
This replicability is an essential element of the structures of a Leninist approach to Socialist Democracy. It is premised on the fundamental principle of core and collective as an infinitely flexible relationship through which the core normative principles of Marxism may be realized. It creates incentives toward achievability through its simplicity—the operating model is direct and capable of understanding and operation without tremendous effort. At the same time it is capable of substantial complexity. But that complexity is structured within blocks and processes each of which is infused with the same operational characteristics. That replicability makes it possible for the system o build while preserving its ability to communicate clearly and coherently among its parts. And it embeds within each element of the system, and its subparts, and the system as a whole, the structures of accountability that are both internal and external.
b. Intra-party Consultation as Operational Accountability Mechanism
Consultation as a process of building up consensus and the foundation of the collective leadership and democratic centralism. Decision-making by discussion of the collective requires opinions of members in the leadership team get fully voiced (“领导班子成员……在研究工作时充分发表意见”, ibid.), the core member should “listen to different opinions and respect the minorities opinions” (“党委主要负责同志……注意听取不同意见，正确对待少数人意见”, ibid.). Bi-dimensional structure of the collective-core relationship also requires the upper organization as the core consult its subject organizations as the collective for major decisions relevant to the latter (“建立上级组织在作出同下级组织有关的重要决策前征求下级组织意见的制度”, ibid.).
In practice, consultation mechanisms at the operational level are becoming increasingly established as common forms of combination of intra-party consultation as the input of democratic centralism from the collective to the core and supervision as the accountability mechanism toward the core. The Guiding Principle under New Situation urged sticking to democratic salon and organization salon systems (“民主生活会和组织生活会制度”), heartful talk systems (TanXinTanHua “谈心谈话制度”) and democratic assessment of party members (”对党员的民主评议”). Those mechanisms are built as not only channels of consultation between the core and the collection, among members of leadership and between upper apparatus and subject apparatus, but also a operational system of “criticism and self-criticism” (“批评与自我批评”) that serves as self-diagnosis and correction mechanism. The effectiveness of consultation and criticism & self-criticism is even set as an important criteria for evaluating the performance in The Guiding Principles under New Situation.
c. Intra-party Supervision System as the Implementation and Enforcement
The Regulation of Accountability of CPC implemented since 2016 clearly framed the collective-core relationship in a laconic but powerful way: “the accountability work of the party……. should match accountability with any power endowed, hold those with responsibilities accountable, investigate any misconduct of accountability, and make clear the political responsibilities of the party organization in the governance of the party” (“党的问责工作……做到有权必有责，有责要担当，失责必追究，落实党组织管党治党政治责任”). Responsibilities are differentiated and identified among the leadership team, the individual leader of the leadership team, the member of the leadership team who is in charge of the issue and other members of the team. Resonating with the collective-core theory, the overall responsibility (全面责任) goes to the collective as decisions must be made through collective discussion under democratic centralism. However, the core leader of the collective still bears major leadership responsibility (主要领导责任) which matches strictly with leadership allocated to the core.
Intra-party discipline and inspection system also roots deep in the fundamental structure of CPC’s National Congress from which the 133 members of 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was elected as the core of the party’s disciplinary inspection system. The same pattern collective-core structure among the commission, the standing committee and the secretary of the commission also applies in this sub-system of intra-party accountability. Parallel to each levels of the party apparatus, intra-party discipline, and inspection system also have a two-dimensional accountability structure. Commission for Discipline and Inspection both report to the Congress of the Party at its level and subject to leadership of the Commission for Discipline and Inspection at the upper level.
Western observers usually experience difficulty in understanding the material significance of this system because the manifestation of accountability and democracy cannot fit into their orthodox approach. The difficulty is compounded because the mechanics of exogenous democracy—elections of representatives into an apparatus within which all political power is allocated—is de-centered within endogenous democratic systems. However, once the holistic picture of the chain of collective-core binaries is seen, it will be evident that the fundamental structure of intra-party accountability is firmly constructed to connect the core of the leadership and the vanguard party. It is in those structures of intra-party accountability that the structures of endogenous democracy becomes visible.
ii. External AccountabilityExternal accountability mechanisms include the mandatory axis between CPC and people—the mass line. The mass line takes the logic of the collective-core principle of governance and exports it to the relationship between party and people. The implicit collectivity of leadership decisions through the power of the ministries and the need for consultation. The apparatus for consultation with academic and other expert stakeholders through back channels well-funded and established but out of sight of the masses (and outsiders). And lastly, it includes cultures of collectivity on decision making and policy implementation through consensus-based action (even if the consensus is to some extent strategic).
CPC as the vanguard of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, is defined in its party constitution as the leadership core of the socialist undertaking of Chinese Characteristics, its representative of and accountability to the people form the ubiquitous mega-binary relationship between the mass as the collective and the party as the core in Chinese socio-political system at the highest level. What connects the party to the mass is deeply imbedded in the mandate of leadership toward a communist society and the obligation of fidelity which the party owes to the mass. The party itself is consisted of 90 million of members who are not only the vanguards, but also ordinary members of the mass (“中国共产党党员永远是劳动人民的普通一员。”, The Constitution of the Party). The mass line is also firmly set by denying any special interests of the party that is not part of the interests of the mass (“党除了工人阶级和广大人民群众的利益，没有自己的特殊利益。” ibid.). The fundamental principle of the mass line applies thoroughly to every level of the party’s leadership in every sector ranging from the party apparatus itself to the state apparatus and other entities such as businesses and civil organizations.
Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is one of the most important places where the axis of mass line functions as the external accountability mechanism for the party’s leadership. CPPCC has been playing the role since 1949 when the first conference laid the foundation of the People’s Republic. Soon National People’s Congress was founded to serve as the supreme authority of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the CPPCC was relegated to political consultation, democratic supervision, political participation, and advisory.
Unlike other national political apparatus, CPC does not take significant portion of seats (only 99 seats) in CPPCC. In the 13th National Committee of CPPCC, more than 90 percent of seats is taken by non-CPC members ranging from members democratic parties (“民主党派“, taking 360 seats), civil organizations (taking 315 seats), academia (taking 180 seats, including science & technology and social science), ethnic minorities (taking 103 seats), overseas Chinese and representative individuals from each field (including arts, education, press, healthcare, religion, etc.). Through the theoretical lens of collective-core relationship, the composition of CPPCC effectively brings voices from all major parts of Chinese socio-political community and concentrates them in the 2100-member national committee. By building such an external collective-core binary structure, CPC subjected its leadership of the state apparatus to accountability mechanisms responsive toward the mass.
Not surprisingly, the bi-dimensional collective-core relationship applies to CPPCC as well. A set of binary relations among national committee, standing committee of the national committee, and the group of vice presidents and the president build up the structure of CPPCC at the national level while division of sub-committees carries out specified functionality in each field. Meetings, inspections, and making suggestions are major forms of consultation and supervision from CPPCC to the state apparatus while accountability comes from the mandatory response from the state apparatus back to CPPCC. One the one hand, the mechanism that CPPCC members as representatives of the larger collective of the mass hold adequate discussions before decisions being made by leadership of the state apparatus made demonstrated how consultation is carried out and the state apparatus under the leadership of the party is connected to the collective, which at its level of greatest generality oncludes all of the masess. On the other hand, CPPCC’s supervision toward the state apparatus after decision-making process and throughout execution process filled the last part of the external accountability mechanism of the state apparatus and the party’s leadership.
Among the most important consultation mechanism in CPPCC is the current bi-weekly consultative symposiums (双周协商座谈会) system. In its current form this mechanism dates back to 2013, though the idea could be traced back to the founding years of the nation. The first bi-weekly symposium was held by CPC Hong Kong branch at the beginning of Chinese Liberation War as democratic parties could not operate publicly in mainland China because of KMT’s suppression. Those symposiums invited middle-level leaders of democratic parties and non-party patriots to discuss major issues of the nation.  After 1949, the tradition of holding bi-weekly symposium was inherited by CPPCC and symposiums were frequently held (more than 110 times according to Li and Qi’s research in 2016) from 1950 to 1966. Symposiums were suspended during the Cultural Revolution and the mechanism were not formally re-installed until 2013.
According to records of National Committee of CPPCC, the bi-weekly consultative symposiums were held 76 times during the term of 12th national committee and 10 times since the 13th national committee took office in March 2018. A typical list of participants of each symposium includes 15 members of National Committee of CPPCC, 3 non-CPPCC experts or scholar and 4 incumbent government officials at ministry level (Vice Minister or Minister). Topics of symposiums covers a wide range of eminent issues including air pollution (the 5th symposium of 12th National Committee of CPPCC held on December 25, 2013), the application of big data technology in improving the state’s governance capability (the 13th symposium of 12th National Committee of CPPCC held on June 12, 2014), legal problems of rights related to land in rural areas (the 34th symposium of 12th National Committee of CPPCC held on July 2, 2015) and healthcare (the 10th symposium of the 13th National Committee of CPPCC held on September 14th, 2018).
The significance of those symposiums in terms of serving as part of external accountability mechanism between the party (as core) and the masses (as collective) is shown by the fact that there is a two-way interaction between CPPCC and the state apparatus, what’s more important is that they are all hosted by the President of CPPCC who also sits in the Standing Committee of CPC Politburo. Before each symposium, research teams lead by senior members of the National Committee of CPPCC will be dispatched to the forefront spot relevant to the issue of the symposium and then during the symposium, reports with advises will be presented by CPPCC members and non-affiliation experts to incumbent senior officials who have to give response. Transparency also adds to the effectiveness of this accountability mechanism as interactions between participants and government officials are all recorded and publicized.
Bi-weekly symposiums system in CPPCC is a good example but still a small portion of channels that links the party to the mass as an external accountability mechanism. The mass line is applied into almost every collective-core relationship throughout not only political institutions such as CPPCC, the party apparatus and the government, but also civil organizations and businesses (both state-owned and private).
Taken together, these suggest the building blocks for democratic engagement, but one internally driven. That is, it suggests the mechanisms through which an endogenous democratic structure can be built. And by that one can understand those structures as protective against cults of personality and the distortions of temporary popular infatuations. It points to structures developed to ensure fidelity to the core long-term objectives. It provides the cage of principle and regulation necessary to produce baselines against which the performance of the individual—as representative of the people, the state, and the CPC, can be assessed, and disciplined. And it provides mechanisms for substantial engagement among the operative elements of the political and administrative institutions to ensure a vigorous connection between overarching objective, leaders and the masses to which both are responsible. For the West, that the actual record has not lived up to this potential suggests that such endogenous democratic structures cannot be fully attained; for Chinese Leninism, that failure suggests the extent that the road to a fully functional system of Socialist Democracy has not yet been implemented rather than of a failure of theory.
IV. Socialist Democracy and Inter-Institutional Accountability in the New Era
It was perhaps the need for context-based development of core concepts, tied to the notions of the need for relevance in each historical era, that might have driven the further development of these principles of Leninist collectivity applied to emerging practices of consultative endogenous democracy. Xi Jinping, in his Report to the 19th CPC Congress, was quite specific in seeking to bring theory forward to the “New Era.”
The 19th CPC Report groups the evolution and consolidation of consultative socialist democracy within six broad categories. The first centers on “Upholding the unity of Party leadership, the running of the country by the people, and law-based governance.” These touch not just on the role of the CPC, but of the embedding of that role within a complex of supporting institutions. The idea resonates with the fundamental principles of core-collective but now directed in a different way. That is, it characterizes the core-collective as a unified pair consisting of the CPC on one axis (the core) and other institutions (people's congresses, governments, committees of the CPPCC, courts, and procuratorates on the other (the collectives).
The second follows from the first. It focuses on “strengthening institutional guarantees” with the end of ensuring accountability to the people. Here the notion of representation, in the shadow of the overall objectives of the political project, and fidelity to both acquires an accountability element.
The fourth speaks to “advancing law-based governance.” This provides a grounding for the construction of the mechanisms of accountability, that is, of the rules against which performance and fidelity to the CPC and national project can be measured. It is also a means of memorializing the constant negotiations of the manner in which such objectives can be realized with the cooperation of the masses. It touches on the projects of integrity, and with it of social credit based disciplinary mechanisms. These helps legitimate the CPC project by ensuring not just the fidelity of the representatives of the people to policy and practice, but also that such conform to the consensus objectives of the nation.
And the Fifth concentrates on “deepening reform of Party and government institutions and the system of government administration.” This engages the project of broadening leadership down from the unified central government to the local level. It brings accountability down to the masses by shifting responsibility downward.
But it is the third, which speaks to “giving play to the important role of socialist consultative democracy” and the sixth, which focuses on “consolidating and developing the patriotic united front” that serve as the core of endogenous socialist democracy around which the other four categories serve collectively. These are worth closer examination.
What is the essence of consultative democracy? The 19th CPC Congress Report explains that “The essence of the people's democracy is that the people get to discuss their own affairs.” But that process of consultation must be managed. And that management of popular expression is built around the mass organizations which serve to mediate between the raw and undiluted expression of popular opinion and the effective representation of that opinion for consumption by the political vanguard. In essence, the process is one that gives fuller expression to the first part of the mass line — “from the people”, in a way that response is possible. That response completes the circularity of the mass line — “to the people.” The 19th CPC Congress Report emphasizes “institutionalized development of consultative democracy.” It then notes its proper venues — “consultations carried out by political parties, people's congresses, government departments, CPPCC committees, people's organizations, communities, and social organizations.”
And among these organs, the CPPCC is to play a key role: “The CPPCC, as a distinctively Chinese political institution, is a major channel for socialist consultative democracy, and its committees are specialist consultative bodies.” Theirs is the task of consultation to the ends of strengthening unity and democracy. Here is the operational heart of the endogenous democratic process. The CPPCC, the Congress of all of the political bodies that together with the vanguard represents all China, is tasked with the objective of mediating between state political and administrative organs, and vigorous consulting on the other. Consulting is meant to be a two-way street: it the object of consultation is both to deliver consultation up but also to produce consensus downward. In these crosscutting obligations lies accountability as well.
The CPPCC role is extended through the role of the patriotic united front in social consultative democracy. Here the object is unity, nationalism and the construction of a political demos out of a patchwork of ethnic and religious communities. Bound up in these relationships in CPC oversight guided by “the principles of long-term coexistence, mutual oversight, sincerity, and sharing the rough times and the smooth.” But the efforts are not limited to ethnic groups. Reflecting a trajectory starting with Sange Daibiao—it includes incorporating intellectuals and business leaders as well. More interestingly, it also includes embedding overseas Chinese and returned Chinese and their relatives into the national political framework. Cuba has attempted something similar allowing diaspora Cubans to participate in the consultations over the 12018 draft Constitution. This last point is quite sensitive—it can easily be viewed as an interference with the internal affairs of other countries in which such overseas Chinese have become citizens.
What is then centered is socialist consultative democracy built around the CPPCC? The nexus between state, CPC and United Front through the CPPCC, serves as the connective tissue between CPC and State constitutions, and between the political authority of the CPC and its exercise through the rule system, it itself has mandated as its own political line. It expresses in contemporary form the ideals of the New Democracy thinking embraced by the CPC before the founding of the PRC.
Does the 19th CPC Congress Report suggest an evolution of the notion of the utility of the construction of a Republic under the dictatorship of several revolutionary classes? Clearly, that is not possible under the CPC Basic Line, but its insight can be applied to the internal governance of the state even as the leadership authority is maintained by the vanguard. That itself required the development of democratic structures that were endogenous and that focused consultation on the administration of the state rather than on the exercise of political authority. The operation of the state, the place where norms are operationalized through the state apparatus, is a broader consultative space now emphasized by the 19th CPC Congress focus on consultative democracy under the leadership of the CPC as the basis of the project of developing socialist democracy. Developed for a new era, the insights of the New Democracy can be applied to move China closer to an endogenous and accountable democratic structure within the constraints of its ideology.
The theoretical castle in the sky I have just described remains a glimmering. It is far from reality. But its bits and pieces are now clearly identified and may eventually produce a coherent operational transformation more clearly visible in the operation of the state. And thus, I end by forcing reality to intrude on this theoretical reverie: First, there is a wide chasm between theoretical possibilities and the realities of governance. Second, there is no consensus on the character of application of endogenous democratic principles. Third, the connection between consultation and accountability remains tenuous, though theoretically possible. Fourth, consultation and accountability remain opaque. Lastly, the role of the disciplinary inspection apparatus remains unclear.
All societies believe themselves democratic. The concept of democracy, however, has proven to be both elusive and malleable. Recent centuries have sought to discipline that connection between the construction of political institutions and the principles of democratic organization. Contemporary life has brought to the center a challenge that had long existed on the periphery of democracy and its organizing principles—the problem of the way that democracy can be expressed. Over the course of these remarks, we have endeavored to sketch out a theoretical possibility that democracy, long expressed principally exogenously to the political institutions that administer government, might also be expressed endogenously within the institutions of political and administrative authority. We suggested that the organizing principles of Leninism provide a very useful framework within which this possibility could be studied and understood.
We suggested further that Chinese Leninism has, in fact, already made substantial efforts to theorize, and to a lesser extent to implement, principles of endogenous democracy within its organizational structures and in its working style. We explored the inherent compatibility of endogenous democracy to the construction of Chinese socialist democracy. We noted the strong connection between accountability, systemic fidelity, and the principles of an endogenously based political organization. Lastly, we described the developed of a theoretical foundation for such structures with Chinese characteristics and noted the long road from theoretical possibility to well implemented operational structures. What Chinese efforts demonstrate, at least preliminarily and in theoretical form, is that endogenous democracy is substantially compatible with Leninist state organization. But it may be worth considering whether the accountability principles at the base of endogenous democratic theory might also find expression in Western systems as well.
 This is a discussion draft prepared for presentation. It is lightly referenced for ease of reading and commentary. We will distribute a draft fully referenced for publication shortly.
 W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar & Professor of Law & International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University; 239 Lewis Katz Building; University Park, PA 16802. This research was first presented for the Panel: The Emerging Structures of Chinese Constitutionalism in the New Era of the 13th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association in Turin, Italy 13 – 14 September 2018.
 Master of International Affairs at School of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University (expected 2019).
 See, e.g., Larry Catá Backer, Essays on Democracy, Law at the End of the Day (2018). Available https://lcbackerblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Democracy.
 See, e.g., Larry Catá Backer, “Unpacking Accountability in Business and Human Rights: The Multinational Enterprise, the State, and the International Community,” in Accountability And International Business Organizations: Providing Justice For Corporate Violations Of Human Rights, Labor, And Environmental Standards (Liesbeth Enneking, et al., eds. Routledge, forthcoming 2019).
 Guiding Principles for Intra-party Political Life under New Situation, approved by the 18th Central Committee of CPC in its 6th Plenary on October 27, 2016. http://news.12371.cn/2016/11/02/ARTI1478091665764299.shtml (accessed October 9, 2018)
 Guiding Principles for Intra-party Political Life, approved by the 11th Central Committee of CPC in its 5th Plenary on February 29, 1980. http://news.12371.cn/2015/03/11/ARTI1426059362559711.shtml (accessed October 9, 2018)
 Xi Jinping: Illustrations on Guiding Principles of Intra-party Political Life under New Situation and Regulations of Intra-party Supervision of CPC, People’s Daily November 3, 2016 http://cpc.people.com.cn/n1/2016/1103/c64094-28830231.html (accessed October 10, 2018)
 According to statistics from the Organizational Department of the CPC Central Committee quoted by CanKaoXiaoXi (参考消息) http://www.cankaoxiaoxi.com/china/20180701/2286621.shtml (accessed October 2018)
 According to the Structural Layout of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64162/414940/index.html (accessed October 10, 2018)
 Regulations of Accountability of the CPC http://news.12371.cn/2016/07/18/ARTI1468818648595687.shtml (accessed October 10, 2018)
 According to the Structural Layout of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64162/414940/index.html (accessed October 10, 2018)
 Data source: CCTV, the Composition of the Membership of the 13th National Committee of CPPCC, March 2, 2018 http://news.cctv.com/2018/03/02/ARTIuhbRCztGp02s2WE2MZe9180302.shtml (accessed October 11, 2018)
 Composition of the National Committee of CPPCC, http://www.cppcc.gov.cn/zxww/newcppcc/jgzc/index.shtml (accessed October 11, 2018)
 Li Guihua, Qi Pengfei. The History of Bi-weekly Symposium System of National Committee of CPPCC, Qianxian 2016:3. Available at http://www.bjqx.org.cn/qxweb/n241795c894.aspx (accessed October 11, 2018).
 Bi-weekly Consultative Symposium page of the official website of the National Committee of CPPCC, http://www.cppcc.gov.cn/zxww/newcppcc/szxszth/index.shtml (accessed October 11, 2018).
 Based in analysis of 86 symposiums held from October 22, 2013 to September 14, 2018. Data available at http://www.cppcc.gov.cn/zxww/newcppcc/szxszth/index.shtml (accessed October 11, 2018).