Wednesday 19th of December 2018

Xi Jinping’s Political And Strategic Line (1)
Giancarlo Elia Valori
North East Asia,China, Politics
First part of the Article
Based on the long and careful speech delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping on New Year’s Eve, it is currently useful to identify his policy line and of the conceptual framework of his activity as statesman.From what we can currently read on the most widespread Western media, Xi Jinping’s policy line comes down to a simple and mechanistic “concentration of power” in the President’s hands or, worse, to the discovery of a “new Chinese authoritarianism”, characterized by the usual and banal request for some “opening” by the Chinese Party and State structures.
The banality of good, we could say, by ironically paraphrasing the title of a very famous book by Hannah Arendt, namely The Banality of Evil.It is really strange that the Western theory of political representation can never go beyond a naive, rough and phenomenological pluralism or the childish fear of power in the hands of a Leader.Yet another example of a conceptual and philosophical crisis of the modern State in the West foreshadowing more severe and material destabilization. Certainly, the best political theory of liberal pluralism – from Dahl to Lipset until Giovanni Sartori – has never been so sloppy and superficial.Therefore it is good to understand the context in which Xi Jinping’s philosophy and his new approach to the issue of China’s renewal and economic, political and cultural development must be placed.In fact, on April 2, 2017, in the West we received news that the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China had incorporated the “Xi Jinping’s Thought”.A line adding to President Xi Jinping’ specific “foreign affairs thought”- concepts mentioned in an article of the Party’s bi-monthly political theory magazine Seeking Truth on July 16, 2017.
Therefore the President’s Thought will be officially associated with the Party’s “guiding ideology”, without forgetting that the current Chinese leader is the first, after Mao Zedong, to mark the history, texts and official policy line of the Communist Party of China with his own explicit ideological and political dictates. This applies both to the phase of his rising to power and to the height of his and his closest aides’ hegemony.However, the previous revisions of the Chinese Constitution have always taken place before a Congress of the Party since its foundation in Shanghai in 1922. In fact, in the 7thCongress held in 1945, mention was made of a fact which is still very important to understand the current situation: “the Communist Party of China takes the Thought that supplements Marxism-Leninism with the practice of the Chinese Revolution-Mao Zedong’s Thought – as the principle guiding all its activities” (emphasis added).
This reflected Mao’s victory over his internal opponents obtained in 1943.
At the 8thCPC Congress in 1956 – the key year in the history of Communist regimes – “Marxism-Leninism” became “a guide to action” with no reference to Mao Zedong’s Thought.
That was either an uncritical acceptance of the de-Stalinization proclaimed by the 20th CPSU Congress of 1956 or it was more probably the sign of a hidden break in the Party’s leadership.
As is well-known, the failed “Great Leap Forward” was the breaking point between Mao and his Party, the moment when the Great Helmsman decided to “shoot on the Headquarters”.In fact, only the most incompetent people (and there are still many) believe that the Communist regimes were or are still totally monolithic. Those who think so – also with regard to contemporary China – should read the small masterpiece entitled “The pressure groups in the Soviet Union”, published by Laterza in 1977 – a book written in the USSR by the extraordinary Italian Ambassador, Silvio Fagiolo.Moreover, in the CPC Congress held in April 1969, the Constitution read as follows: “the Party takes Marxism, Leninism and Mao Zedong’s Thought as the (only) theoretical foundation of its guiding ideology” (in that version Marxism-Leninism was disaggregated into separate elements).Hence Mao was elevated to a stature of Father of the Communist theory comparable to the two traditional German founders’. The specificity of the construction of Socialism in China is no longer a case on the margins of Karl Marx’ sacred texts, but their autonomous evolution and with equal dignity compared to the Third International and its tenets. Conversely, in the 12th Congress held in 1982, it was stated: “the Communist Party of China takes Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong’s Thought as its guide to action” (emphasis added).
It was a matter of clearly writing in the Constitution that “Mao Zedong’s Thought was the only possible adaptation of the Communist revolution principles to the specific situation of China”, as applied by the whole Party leadership and not only by Mao. Mao Zedong who rescued China from the dangerous embrace of the Soviets and implemented his own autonomous foreign policy, in which there was no room for the “paper tiger” that the Cold War was.In the 15th CPC Congress held in 1997, an observation was added that quoted the Thought of the late Leader Deng Xiaoping in applying the Marxist-Leninist tenets to the Chinese reality defined as “undergoing a process of change”.Therefore, at the time, the CPC line was determined by “Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong’s Though and also Deng Xiaoping’s Theory” (in that version Marxism-Leninism was no longer disaggregated into separate elements).It is worth noting that, according to Chinese formulas, Deng Xiaoping’s Theory was “the product resulting from the integration of the basic laws of Marxism-Leninism with China’s current practice and with the underlying features and forms of our Times, i.e. the heritage and development of Mao Zedong’s Thought under the new historical conditions – a new stage in the development of Marxism in China, namely the Marxism of contemporary China and a crystallization of the CPC collective wisdom” (yet another concession to the pluralism hidden within the Party).
Therefore Deng was elevated to the same stature as Mao and, indeed, he became the only interpreter of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Tradition within the new China which was firmly emerging after the “Four Modernizations”.
Hence defining the Modernizations as irreversible and making them fit into Mao’s Marxism, as well as placing them as a basis for future developments was the goal of these apparently sibylline wordings, but very clear if only we read them as concrete projects of Chinese autonomy in economy and in foreign policy. Therefore in 2002, at the beginning of the 16thCPC Congress, the new Chinese central formula was outlined, incorporating the changes occurred after Deng’s death and the crystallization of the Four Modernizations. The Party’s ideological principles were “Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong’s Thought, Deng Xiaoping’s Theory and the important thinking of the Three Represents”.
Jiang Zemin was not mentioned directly, but reference was made to his Thinking, by emphasizing its importance for the Three Represents. The Party fully represented the development of Productive Forces, as well as the orientations of an advanced culture, and finally the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of China’s people.Jiang Zemin’s Thought, expressed in 2000, basically meant three things: a) the productive forces – or, Marxistically, the people’s working ability – the knowledge used in production, as well as the machines and tools used in production, and finally infrastructure did not diminish during the construction of Chinese Socialism; b) the Party had always a mass role it had to preserve also at the cost of losing abstract ideological purity; 9) finally, Marxism-Leninism had to be always integrated with “contemporary culture”.In other words, Jiang Zemin’s official speech on the “Three Represents” delivered on July 1, 2001, meant something very simple: important representatives of the various social strata emerged during the Modernizations, and even private entrepreneurs, could be admitted into the CPC.It should also be noted that the Chinese Communists wanted to integrate the most dynamic forces of society into their power apparatus. The aim was exactly to avoid suffering the same sad fate as the CPSU and the Eastern European Communist Parties, which China studied with great care.Nevertheless, the CPC’s official circular letter interpreting the Three Represents, specified that Jiang Zemin was the only most authoritative representative of the Party, while the text published by the Chinese press mainly focused on Hu Jintao’s theoretical approach by stating, in particular, that – as he said – “a Party must be established which is devoted to the public interest and governs for the people”, making “the health and safety of the common people a top priority”(a theme we can currently find in Xi Jinping’s policy) by “achieving and maintaining the development of people’s fundamental interests” (a typical Deng’s topic, as already seen).
Hu Jintao repeated that last part ten times in his speech.
Hu Jintao wanted to use those abstract criteria which, however, have a precise meaning in the CPC semantics, particularly to stem corruption, improve control over its officials, enhance the Party’s prestige and good reputation among the masses.Three themes we will find explicitly developed in the current context of Xi Jinping’s Thought.
In 2012, after the end of Hu Jintao’s leadership, the 18th CPC Congress officially referred “to Mao Zedong’s Marxism-Leninism-Thought (and it was the first time those elements were put together), to Deng Xiaoping’s Theory, to the important thinking of the Three Represents and to the scientific outlook on development”.
It was the first time that said terminology appeared in the CPC official texts – and it was certainly not by mere coincidence.For the new CPC the “scientific outlook on development” was “a scientific theory having the same origin as Marxism-Leninism and the other theories already mentioned, but it also fully embodies the Marxist worldview on and methodology for development” – hence it was the last result of the sinicisation of Marxism (emphasis added) and “the crystallization of the collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China”.
Therefore, for the first time, the CPC thought went explicitly beyond the tradition of the Third International, by reaffirming – as was the case with the other Communist Parties derived from the Soviet one – the practice of autonomous sinicisation, having the same origins as Karl Marx’s theory.Hence, the Party’s unity was reaffirmed once again, as well as its collective wisdom – a unitary wisdom seen as a factor counterbalancing the Soviet tendency to the cult of personality.
This article originally appeared in Modern Diplomacy
The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

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