Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era: a New Stage in the Development of Scientific Socialism

By: Qiu ShiFrom:English Edition of QiuShi Journal October-December 2018|Vol.10,No.4,Issue No.37 | Updated: 2018-Dec-21 17:37
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For the last 500 years, one great saga after another of prosperity and decline, success and failure has played out for socialism on the stage of human progress. There have been both triumphant advances and frustrating setbacks. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, world socialism encountered serious difficulty with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and dramatic changes that swept across Eastern Europe. At the time, the Western anti-socialist wave had risen into a great clamor, and some even claimed that the world had reached the “end of history” with the capitalist system emerging on top. It is now 20 years later, and not only is Chinese socialism still standing, it is shining with great vigor and echoing victories cries as scientific socialism has risen up in the face of challenges. Chinese socialism’s entry into a new era is a symbolic event in the history of the development of scientific socialism. Rooted in the country’s profound practical experience, socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era has opened up new horizons for the development of scientific socialism, greatly increased socialism’s appeal, and injected world socialism with new energy.

Skyscrapers tower over the international financial center at Lujiazui, Shanghai PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER YIN GANG

I. Enriching and developing the theories of scientific socialism

Ideas are born out of the times in which we live, while theory stems from practice. The great social changes that are taking place in China today are not simply a continuation of historical and cultural patterns, a mechanical application of templates envisaged by the authors of Marxist classics, or a reproduction of the process of modernization or the practice of socialism in other countries. Instead, under new contemporary circumstances, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core has created Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era by staying grounded in great new practical experience and upholding integration between theory and practice. Xi Jinping Thought is a well-founded theory that brings together all of the CPC’s experience and theoretical examinations of scientific socialism and embodies the CPC’s sense of mission and spirit of exploration in upholding and developing Chinese socialism. It is the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, an important component of Chinese socialism’s system of theories, and a banner for Chinese Communists to rally around in the new era. Xi Jinping Thought has thus enriched and developed the theories of scientific socialism.

1. Xi Jinping Thought is rooted in contemporary circumstances, and also guides contemporary progress.

The times have brought forth new ideas that point the way for a new journey. Meanwhile, new theories fostered through practice serve as guidance for new development. With widespread and profound changes taking place in the world today, there is no shortage of both opportunities and challenges. These changes are occurring in China as well, and the country is moving closer to the center of the world stage. New theoretical guidance is urgently needed to respond to the questions of how to maintain firm resolve in an unpredictable world, how to seize the strategic initiative amid fleeting opportunities, and how to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and capture great success for Chinese socialism in the new area. Put simply, in this world of complex changes, where is China going? Where is human society headed next? These are the contemporary questions that we must answer. With keen focus on the contemporary characteristics of both China and the world, Xi Jinping Thought boasts an accurate grasp of the principal evolving challenges in Chinese society and the new features of social development, and has systematically answered the major questions of what kind of Chinese socialism we should uphold and develop in the new era, and how we should go about doing this. It has also pointed the correct path forward for China’s stable development, and has contributed Chinese wisdom to world stability and prosperity. A symbiotic relationship exists between new ideas and new eras, with each propelling the other forward. In this way, Xi Jinping Thought has been born out of the era, and has been formed and constantly developed throughout the process of responding to the questions of our age, all while shining with the light of Marxist truth. It is precisely due to the force of truth of Xi Jinping Thought and its tremendous strength in practice that new development has emerged and a new era has begun for Chinese socialism.

2. Xi Jinping Thought has constructed a rational and well-knit system of theories.

Theories can penetrate if they are scientific in nature, while ideas are able to explain if they are rich and diverse. Xi Jinping Thought is rich in content and extraordinarily wide-ranging and profound. It has put forward a series of pioneering concepts, ideas, and strategies that cover a variety of topics in the fields of economics, political affairs, culture, society, environment, and Party building, and that touch upon other areas such as stability, reform, and development, domestic affairs, foreign affairs and national defense, and governance of the Party, state, and armed forces. Together, these constitute a well-knit and scientific theoretical system. In any system, the overall theme is the column upon which everything rests. Chinese socialism is such a theme, running through all of China’s glorious explorations into theory and practice since the 18th National Congress of the CPC held in 2012. Meanwhile, the “Eight-Point Statement of Purpose” is the most important part of the essence of Xi Jinping Thought. It represents a clear expression of our guiding principles, and answers the question of what kind of socialism with Chinese characteristics should be upheld and developed in the new era. Each point of this statement is an original idea and perspective reflecting the CPC’s theoretical analysis of scientific socialism in the present age, as well as its contributions in this regard. Finally, the basic policy serves as our foundation. The report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC convened in 2017 put forward 14 basic principles that form the basic policy. This policy shows us how we should go about upholding and developing Chinese socialism in the new era. The “Eight-Point Statement of Purpose” and the 14 basic principles are both indispensable because they have a complementary relationship, and together constitute the corpus of Xi Jinping Thought.

3. Xi Jinping Thought has started a new chapter in the annals of Marxism.

Xi Jinping Thought stands by the basic principles of Marxism, and has organized the valuable experience that China has gained through active explorations as it has followed the path of socialist modernization into a theoretical and systematic form. It has also provided answers to the question of how to continue building socialism after China has developed, a great problem that has remained unresolved throughout the history of Marxist development. Xi Jinping Thought has developed Marxism in a creative manner. There are numerous examples of this. First, it has creatively applied the worldview and methodology of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, and particularly their reasoning on strategy, innovation, dialectics, the rule of law, and worst-case scenarios, to analyze and resolve a series of fundamental issues in national governance, thus enriching and developing Marxist philosophy. Second, the economic side of Xi Jinping Thought, which takes the new development philosophy as its main substance, is aimed at achieving development that is fairer, higher in quality, more efficient, and more sustainable, and has thereby enriched and developed Marxist political economy. Third, the mission of Xi Jinping Thought to uphold and improve the Chinese socialist system ensures coordinated implementation of the “five-pronged” overall plan and the “Four Comprehensives” strategy, and constantly pushes forward modernization of China’s governance system and capacity, thus enriching and developing the theories of scientific socialism. Fourth, by always standing with the people, making public wellbeing its fundamental objective, and respecting the people’s principal position and pioneering spirit, Xi Jinping Thought has enriched and developed Marxist concepts on protecting the people’s interests. Fifth, its proposal to build a community of shared future for humanity promotes the establishment of a harmonious world in which there is lasting peace and common prosperity, thus enriching and developing Marxist concepts on world history. Finally, by setting forth the overall requirements for Party building in the new era, advancing the great new project of Party building, and ensuring that the Party is governed with full and rigorous discipline, it has enriched and developed Marxist concepts on the development of political parties. These are just a few examples of Xi Jinping Thought’s contributions to Marxism. It is a concentrated reflection of the theoretical quality and spiritual substance of Marxism, and the broad array of original ideas, perspectives, and theses that it has put forward have marked the beginning of a new chapter for Marxism in the new era. By offering a completely new outlook, it has deepened our understanding of the laws underwriting governance by a communist party, the development of socialism, and the evolution of human society. In sum, Xi Jinping Thought has opened up new frontiers for Marxism and allowed us to make further strides in integrating the fundamental principles of Marxism with China’s realities.

A passenger headed for Hong Kong West Kowloon Station on G5711 high-speed train takes a picture at Shenzhen North Station as a souvenir of his trip. The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link was brought into full service on September 23, 2018. PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER MAO SIQIAN

II. Making new and greater contributions to human progress

The new era we have entered is unequivocally the new era of Chinese socialism. In China today, socialism is showing strong vitality and great prospects for development. This has had significant implications for world socialism by greatly enhancing its strength and bringing profound changes to its course of development.

1. It has offered guidance to the course of the world socialist movement.

Throughout world history, every instance of change in social system has been accompanied by tortuous and recurring struggle. Meanwhile, every newly emerging social system has had to undergo an incremental process of maturation. As a great cause without precedent in history, socialism can only make its way forward by following practical and scientific developments and keeping in step with the evolution of the times. Since the launch of reform and opening up, socialism has been elevated to a new stage as the CPC has led the people in pioneering the great cause of Chinese socialism through unshakeable resolve and persistent trials. At the same time, however, we must remain soberly aware of the fact that as Chinese socialism continues to progress and develop, the amount of new situations and new problems we encounter will increase, and we will face additional risks, more challenges, and greater uncertainty. All of this means that we must be boldly inquisitive in our practices, carry development deeper, consistently enrich Chinese socialism’s practical, theoretical, national, and contemporary qualities, and constantly carry forward the great cause of Chinese socialism. Statistics show that in the world today there are more than 130 political parties in about 100 countries that either carry the word communism in their names or are Marxist in essence. The successful development of Chinese socialism in both theoretical and practical terms has put a spotlight on Marxism and socialism and inspired more of the world’s people to believe in them. Going a step further, Chinese socialism now represents the mainstream of the world socialist movement, and has revived a sense of confidence in socialism within people around the world. It is becoming the standard bearer for the development of scientific socialism in the 21st century, and the central pillar for the revitalization of world socialism. The reason that scientific socialism is now shining with such brilliance is that it is being successfully practiced in China, a large eastern country that is home to more than 1.3 billion people.

2. It has opened a path to modernization for developing countries.

How to realize modernization is a challenging question faced by all developing countries. In China, socialism was born out of a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society, in which modern industry only made up about 10% of the economy, while agriculture and handicrafts accounted for 90%. After 40 years of reform and opening up, China has changed so much that it is almost unrecognizable from what it was in the past. The country’s economic clout and overall national strength have increased massively, its people’s living standards have improved, and its international standing has risen. China has thus achieved the historic leap from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong. Under the leadership of the CPC, China has completed a process of development that took developed countries several centuries in the space of mere decades, bringing about a miracle in the history of world development and forging a path to modernization completely different from that of the West. This is a proven path for realizing modernization that breaks developing countries’ dependency on the Western approach, offering an alternative for nations that wish to develop quickly while also maintaining their independence.

3. It has pioneered the cause of human progress.

The development of socialism, from initial exploration to consistent deepening, has always represented the direction of human progress and promoted great social changes. After World War II, developed capitalist countries also carried out a number of adjustments and self-improvements, which to a certain extent mitigated the conflicts in their societies. However, the reality is that no matter what adjustments are made to capitalism, its basic contradiction will not change, the profit-seeking nature of capital will not change, the West’s self-interested values will not change, and the working class will remain in a position of being oppressed and exploited. In contrast, socialism is an advanced concept that transcends capitalism by advocating ideals and values such as the elimination of exploitation, the realization of equality in society, the full and free development of every individual, and the emancipation of all mankind. Therefore, socialism will always occupy the moral high ground.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13, 2018)