Making “Four Important Distinctions” in Theoretical and Practical Issues

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 12:57
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  The Decision of the CPC Central Committee Concerning a Number of Major Issues Involved in Strengthening and Improving Party Development under the Current Conditions passed at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee states, “We must strengthen the ideological and political work of the Party, guide Party members and cadres in strengthening their political awareness and ability to tell right from wrong, consolidate the ideological front, consciously make a clear distinction between Marxism and anti-Marxism, between the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side on the one hand and privatization or a system that only has a public sector on the other, between socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and the capitalist-style democracy of the West and between socialist ideas and culture and corrupt feudalist and capitalist ideas and culture, resolutely resist the influence of all types of erroneous ideas and always maintain a resolute stand and a clear head.”

  These four distinctions represent important issues related to the socialist road with Chinese characteristics.

  Liu Qiang, a student of the Institute of Literature of Shanghai University, gives his views on current affairs while answering a question at a lesson on ideology and politics June 2, 2010. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Liu Ying

 I. Theoretical and practical significance of clearly making the “four important distinctions”

 China’s development and progress in carrying out the reform and opening up policy have been recognized by the whole world and the fruits of reform and development have benefited the people of the country. The most striking examples include China’s rapid and continuous economic development, which has maintained an average annual growth rate of 9.8% over the past 30 years, more than tripling the average annual growth rate of the world economy in the same period. In addition, the overall size of China’s economy has mushroomed to become one of the largest in the world and the people have made the historical leap from having inadequate food and clothing to most people enjoying a moderately prosperous life. With the profound changes in the economy, Chinese society has acquired an exuberant vitality and the people are enjoying increasingly wider freedom and rights. The hardworking and wise Chinese people have demonstrated a huge amount of creative energy. In the course of profound reform of the economic structure, profound changes in social structure, profound adjustments in interests and profound changes in ideological views, Chinese society has overall remained stable and political stability and harmony has been maintained. These are great achievements for a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion and well worth calling the “Chinese miracle.”

 The CPC continuously reviews its experience in the great course of history and in carrying out the reform and opening up policy. At the 17th National Party Congress it was stated that, “In summary, the fundamental reason for all the achievements and progress we have made since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy is that we have developed a socialist road with Chinese characteristics and formed a socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics.” The socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics, including important strategic concepts such as Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, is the theoretical expression of a socialist road with Chinese characteristics as well as the authoritative theory for understanding and interpreting China’s development path.

 Some people, however, have different interpretations and opinions about the road China has traversed over the past 30-plus years and have contested with the CPC over the right to speak and influence. In the name of “rethinking the reforms,” some people have reached the conclusion that China’s reforms have gone astray and departed from the socialist road. This is, in fact, negating the reforms and implying that China should return to the old, closed and rigid path of the past. Some people regard the freedom, democracy and human rights of the West as “universal values” and advocate that only by accepting these “universal values” and copying the Western systems and models will it be possible for China to have a bright future. In fact, this is advocating that China should take the destructive path of changing the entire system.

 Being firm in political views comes from being clear about theory. We must take a clear-cut stand on major issues related to China’s development path and the future of the Communist Party of China and the country itself. Clearly recognizing the “four major distinctions” helps to understand the “basic aspects” of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics, helps in responding to the main international and domestic concerns concerning “the Chinese model” and the reform and opening up policy, helps in resisting erroneous ideas, helps in clarifying confusion and helps strengthen our ideals and beliefs, and therefore has great theoretical and practical significance.

 II. Distinguishing between Marxism and anti-Marxism

 Marxism is the fundamental guiding ideology for Party development and development of the country and the banner and soul of socialist ideology. Therefore, distinguishing between Marxism and anti-Marxism is of the greatest importance for correctly understanding the socialist road with Chinese characteristics.

 What is Marxism? First of all, Marxism is a science. The dialectical materialist and historical materialist world outlook and methodology founded by Karl Marx have illuminated the road for humankind as people work out the universal laws of nature, human society and the development of human thinking. Many great changes have taken place in the world in the more than a century since Karl Marx passed away, yet there has been no deviation from the laws for the development of human society as revealed by Marxism and all these changes can be interpreted and explained with the basic principles of Marxism. Second, Marxism is an ideological weapon of all working class and laboring people. The most distinctive political objective of Marxism is to fight for the realization of the fundamental interests of the working class and other laboring people. The theory of Marxism concerning the elimination of all unjust social systems, emancipating all humankind and the pursuit of free and all-round development of individuals represents the ideals and beliefs of all progressive people. Third, Marxism is an open theoretical system that advances with the times. Both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels stressed that their theories were developing theories and not dogmas that must be learned by heart and mechanically followed. Marxism is truth without end and provides a road for understanding truth.

 The CPC is a political party which attaches great importance to theoretical guidance. In the course of combining the cardinal principles of Marxism with the concrete realities of China, the CPC developed Mao Zedong Thought and a theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics that includes the major strategic ideas of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents as well as the Scientific Outlook on Development. These theoretical achievements are all results from the effort to tailor Marxism to conditions in China and represent major contributions of the CPC to the theoretical treasure house of Marxism. Precisely because it has advanced with the times in its guiding ideology and basic theories, the CPC has stayed in line with the spirit of the times, gained an understanding of the natural laws and been highly creative. Adhering to a socialist theoretical system with Chinese characteristics in today’s China means truly adhering to Marxism.

 What is anti-Marxism? History and the current situation indicate that there are mainly two aspects to anti-Marxism. One is denial of the scientific nature of Marxism from those on the political Right, as well as opposition to Marxist political stands, ideological systems and basic principles, and opposition to the guiding position and role of Marxism. In reality, some people preach that Marxism is out-of-date and useless. Some people hold the view that we should adopt the so-called “universal values” of the West to replace the guiding position of Marxism. The essential and crucial issue is that they call for total Westernization and adoption of the Western capitalist system mode to replace the leadership of the CPC and the power of the socialist state. Two is opposition to the essence of Marxism from the “Leftist” point of view by flaunting the banner of Marxism, fundamentally denying China’s reform and opening up policy and socialism with Chinese characteristics. Time has shown that those who take Marxism as a dogma set in stone and use dogmas from books to judge the vigorous historical creative activities of the Party and the people not only fail to conform to Marxism but constitute the archenemy of Marxism and the archenemy of the cause of the Party and the people.

 Two points are particularly important in distinguishing Marxism from anti-Marxism. One concerns political stands. Marxism is a combination of a world outlook and a set of values. As a world outlook, it is a rigorous science and a scientific reflection of the objective world, objective things and objective laws. As a set of values, it represents the fundamental interests of working class and other laboring people, viz. the great majority of the people and reflects their aspirations for common prosperity, equality and justice. Whether or not one consistently stands by the great majority of the people is a dividing line between Marxism and anti-Marxism as well as a touchstone. Two concerns the ideological line. Only living theories can be effective while inflexible theories can only kill people. Emancipating one’s mind, seeking truth from facts and keeping up with the times is the very soul and ideological line of Marxism and must be adhered to at all times. Adhering to theories that are obviously unworkable in practice is sick and foolish and can only bring about one’s own destruction.

 How do we handle non-Marxism? In addition to many anti-Marxist elements in the field of ideology today, there is also a large amount of non-Marxist ideas and theories. A wide variety of changeable ideological trends have been emerging in China and there is a great variety of schools of thought in the fields of ideology and theory, with hot topics frequently arising and fading away. Internationally, there are leftist trends of thought of all stripes and more and more lively trends of ideas about going green and protecting the environment. Religions have extensive influence all over the world, and the basic philosophy of theism is obviously opposed to that of the atheism of Marxism. If we were to attribute everything to anti-Marxism that is not in conformity with and even runs counter to Marxism, we would be exposed to enemy attacks on all sides and isolate ourselves. The history of the development of Marxism is one of continuous enrichment, improvement and innovation through the absorption of all the fruits of human civilization in the clash and struggle among ideas and theories. We need to fight against what is anti-Marxist. As for non-Marxist ideas, we need to fight against as well as respect, tolerate, draw lessons from and absorb them. We must respect differences and tolerate diversity but also have the ability to resist the influence of all kinds of erroneous and corrupt ideas. This is exactly what it means to adhere to and develop Marxism.

 III. Distinguishing between the basic economic system in which the socialist public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side on the one hand and privatization or a system that only has a public sector on the other 

 Correctly distinguishing between these two is the key to correctly understanding “the China miracle.”

 First, the essence of the reform of the Chinese economy is the development of a market economy under a socialist system, in other words, developing a market economy while adhering to the basic system of socialism. As Deng Xiaoping said, “The essence of socialism is the liberation and development of the productive forces, elimination of exploitation and polarization, and the ultimate achievement of prosperity for all.” Wiping out exploitation, eliminating polarization in society and ultimately attaining prosperity for all are all value pursuits and objectives of socialism, and liberating and developing the productive forces are the objective laws that we must follow in order to realize our values and objectives. Our past mistakes did not consist in adopting a bad value orientation but in violating the objective laws, getting the opposite of what we intended. The Party has defined the objective for reform of the economic system as establishment of a socialist market economic system to promote liberation and development of the productive forces. This has resolved a major issue that has an overall impact on socialist modernization efforts. 

 Full development of a commodity economy would be an insurmountable stage of social and economic development. A market economy is a method for allocating social economic resources and a mechanism for economic operation under a commodity economy. It is an important achievement of human civilization, but it was created under capitalism. Developing a market economy under socialism, on the other hand, is a great pioneering undertaking of the CPC and the Chinese people. The vigorous development of a socialist market economy has imbued the society and economy of China with vitality and life unmatched in any previous epoch. All the development and progress in the Chinese economy and society since the initiation of the reform and opening up policy have been based on the development of a socialist market economy. The successful “grafting” of a market economy onto a socialist system has been a historical contribution of the CPC to Marxism and socialism.

 Second, the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side has been the basis of the socialist market economy. Before introduction of the reform and opening up policy, the form of ownership in China, which was “large in size and public in nature,” with very little non-public sector and divorced from the state of development of productive forces, led to low productivity, stagnation in economic development and difficulties in the life of the people. Since the introduction of the reform and opening up policy, the CPC has conscientiously summarized experience, learned from lessons and continuously worked to deepen its understanding of the issue of ownership. Establishment of the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side was based on a clear understanding of the following: First, China is a socialist country and must adhere to the principle that public ownership is the basis of a socialist economic system. Second, China is in the primary stage of socialism and needs to develop multiple economic sectors while retain the dominant position of the public sector. Third, all forms of ownership that conform with the criterion of “three favorables”* should be used to serve socialism.

 Common development of the public and non-public sectors is necessary for a market economy. A market economy is a kind of exchange economy that requires a variety of participants with clear-cut property rights allowed to make independent policy decisions and carry out independent management that are regulated to ensure fair competition. Even in the public sector there is the need to establish a modern corporate structure with clear-cut property rights and powers and responsibilities for the enterprises whose management should be scientific and separated from government administration. Publicly owned enterprises should be transformed into corporations able to compete in the market. Time has shown that developing the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side has gradually eliminated restraints on development of the productive forces due to the unreasonable ownership structure. This has resulted in a diversification of the forms of public sector and led to common development of the public and non-public economic sectors and greatly promoted liberation and development of the productive forces.

 Third, we need to clear up all the various issues surrounding ownership and unwaveringly adhere to the basic economic system of the primary stage of socialism. Establishing the basic economic system in the primary stage of socialism has always been accompanied by a clash of ideas. Voices of opposition came from both the “Left” and the Right. The view on the Right is that public ownership is the source of all evil and that privatization is a remedy for all ills, strongly advocating wholesale privatization. The view on the “Left,” however, is that allowing development of the non-public sector means privatization and development of capitalism. 

 Public ownership is the basis of a socialist economic system, so without public ownership there is no socialism. Our experience in carrying out the reform and opening up policy has shown that adhering to public ownership as the dominant sector has not adversely affected economic development. On the contrary, it has been an important institutional guarantee for sustained and rapid development of the Chinese economy. Land is the most fundamental means of production. The rapid growth of the Chinese economy over the past 30 years and more has mainly been driven by industrialization and urbanization, and public ownership of urban and rural land has supported the planned, efficient and low-overhead use of land resources and at the same time avoided such problems as “the enclosure movement” and formation of poor urban slums in the course of industrialization and urbanization that have occurred in some countries where there is private ownership of land. Although some problems have emerged in the course of land acquisition and housing demolition with the relocation of residents, they are not the general rule. The main thing is that public land ownership has been the greatest “secret” to the Chinese economic miracle.

 Russia carried out “shock therapy” privatization after disintegration of the Soviet Union, which resulted in drastic economic decline and polarization of society as wealth concentrated in the hands of a few oligarchs. Countries in Latin America that have been more resolute in implementing the neoliberal economic policies hawked by the West and in carrying out privatization have been hit by more serious crises. The financial tycoons of Wall Street in the United States are the ones who initiated the current international financial crisis. Senior executives who command high salaries and benefits in normal years demanded that the US government use taxpayers’ money to rescue their corporations and partially nationalize them. They even pay high dividends while getting government aid, arousing public indignation. The problem lies in the fact that these large banks and corporations control the core and lifeline of the American economy and are too big to allow them to fold. Doesn’t this precisely show the rationality of the Chinese system in which the state-owned sector of the economy controls the lifeline of the national economy? 

 How should we view problems that have emerged during implementation of the reform and opening policy such as the growing income gap, imbalanced regional development and urban and rural development, imbalanced economic and social development, and increasing pressure on resources and the environment? Taking a realistic look at the situation, the deep-rooted causes include China’s large population, weak economic foundation, unbalanced development and underdeveloped productive forces, which means that China will remain for a long time in the primary stage of socialism. This basic situation is the fundamental reason why we must implement the policies we do, not otherwise. China is being presented with important opportunities for development by the process of economic globalization and restructuring of the world economy. These are transient opportunities that won’t wait for us. However, problems unavoidably have occurred in the course of seizing those opportunities and accelerating development. These include too much emphasis on economic growth and economic efficiency and insufficient attention and consideration being given to social development, social equality, and resource and environmental concerns. Market forces are mainly good for solving the problem of economic efficiency but will not be useful in many areas. To a certain degree, the many problems that have emerged in the course of development are just the result of defects in the market and demonstrate that we lack experience in developing a socialist market economic system. In order to develop, any country will have to open up to the outside world. Isolation only causes a country to stifle. The economic system of today’s world is led by capitalism. It is unavoidable that we should pay a price for opening up to the outside world, using foreign funding and developing foreign trade and feel the pressure of the unreasonable international economic order. It was precisely in order to solve these problems that the CPC introduced the Scientific Outlook on Development.

 To sum up, we should be aware that we are building socialism under certain historical conditions and certain internal and external environments, factors which we can neither choose nor transcend. All we can do is proceed from the given conditions and deal with the concrete problems related to reform, development and stability. Any idea or practice that is outdated but still in use and adheres literally to dogma will only ruin socialism and the future of the Party and state. Only when we observe things in this light can we, through combining theory with practice, consciously distinguish between the basic economic system in which the public sector is dominant and the public and non-public sectors develop side by side on the one hand and privatization or a system that only has a public sector on the other and unswervingly adhere to the basic economic system of the primary stage of socialism.

 IV. Distinguishing between socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and the capitalist democracy model of the West

 Distinguishing between these two is also key to correctly understanding the “Chinese miracle.”

 First, development is the most important task for China and stability is in line with China’s core interests. China has suffered from poverty and weakness and suffered numerous wrongs and insults in modern times, and the strongest desire of the entire nation has been to make the country prosperous and strong and rejuvenate the nation. China has experienced long periods of social upheaval, frequent wars and chaos, which have inflicted great suffering on the people. Whether or not a country can maintain social unity and stability and prolonged peace and good government is the most important criterion for judging whether a political system is suitable. It was only after the founding of New China in 1949, and particularly during the decades of carrying out the reform and opening up policy, that China has been truly developing its economy. Without the leadership of the CPC, China would certainly have another great self-inflicted setback and become a troubled state with a great number of political parties, endless disputes and turmoil where not a day would go by without trouble, eventually becoming a vassal state of the Western powers that is torn apart and weak as a cat. History has shown that China’s existing political system has maintained unity of the state, stability in the political power and unity of the people and ensures that the country is taking the correct road to long-term stability and development.

 Second, the strong leadership of the CPC is the greatest political strength of China. The CPC has always regarded the realization and development of a people’s democracy as its duty. Since assuming political power, the CPC has been leading the people in extensively practicing democracy and has achieved immense progress unmatchable by old China in terms of fundamentally changing the social status and historical destiny of working people, realizing social equality and making the people masters of their own country. The Party has made mistakes and had setbacks in handling the issue of democracy. But in essence, those mistakes were caused by self-exaltation and complacency, development of personality cult and swelled-headedness within the Party because of the high prestige enjoyed by the Party and Party leaders. They were also related to factors such as the influence of traditional feudalism and despotism in Chinese history, formation of leadership by the Party in an environment of long-term wars, the influence of the Communist International and the Soviet model, the necessity to cope with the pressure of international antagonistic forces after the founding of New China in 1949 and inadequate experience. These factors are fundamentally different in nature from anti-democracy despotic dictatorship. Working for the country and the people is the never changing sacred mission of the CPC. This gives the Party the powerful ability to correct its own mistakes and renew itself, and enables the Party to seriously address its own errors, learn from experience and dare to carry out reform and make innovations. In carrying out the reform and opening up policy we have not only achieved high economic growth, a society full of life and vigor, political unity and stability but also overcome unexpected grave natural disasters and epidemic diseases one after another and successfully handled a number of major emergencies concerning China’s sovereignty and security and withstood a stream of major international political and economic upheavals. The return of Hong Kong and Macao to Chinese sovereignty, the Shenzhou space flight and the successful launch of lunar orbiter “Chang’e I,” the great success of the Beijing Olympics, the outstanding earthquake relief work and resistance to the impact of the international financial crisis were all achieved under the leadership of the CPC. Powerful macroeconomic regulation based on the market, concentration of the forces of the whole nation to accomplish major undertakings, the ability to mobilize and organize all the activities of the nation like moves in a chess game, the mechanism for mutual aid and coordinated efforts in which “help comes from all sides when one place is in difficulty” – these “Chinese characteristics,” which demonstrate China’s great superiority in the international community, would be unimaginable without the leadership of the CPC. Anyone who is not prejudiced should recognize that the strong leadership of the CPC has been the political guarantee for creating the “Chinese miracle” and an institutional factor for which no other country has a comparable model and from which no other country can learn.

 Third, the sustained and rapid development of the Chinese economy proves that China’s political system is basically able to meet the needs of economic development. A prevalent view in the West regarding China is that the country is economically good but politically bad, that it is making reforms in the economy but not in politics, and that it is practicing a free market economy but politically it is still a totalitarian state. This view is completely ill-founded. The economy determines politics, which is a concentrated expression of the state of the economy. The political system and political structure must meet the needs of economic development. They must change if they are not suited to the needs of economic development and therefore hinder economic development. In fact, the decision to implement the reform and opening up policy was a political decision, one that has improved the system that was seriously hindering economic development and put China on a new road. The rapid development of the Chinese economy over the past 30 years and more was the result of extensive and profound political, cultural and social reform, not an unreinforced breakthrough. On the other hand, the great success of the Chinese economy proves China’s political success. There is no other country with similar conditions in the world today that has been more effective and successful than China in economic development. On the contrary, we can see from both sides of the issue that China has taken the right road.

 Fourth, democracy and rule of law, freedom and equality, and fairness and justice are the essential requirements of socialism, and we must constantly look for ways to gradually realize them. Democracy has always been specific to a country, specific for historical conditions and continuously developing, and the form and means of realizing democracy vary from country to country and from one historical development stage to another because there is no uniform model. The basic economic system dominated by the public sector, the system of people’s congresses, the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and the system of community autonomy provide the economic foundation and political guarantee for realizing socialist democracy. The principle of democratic centralism in the political life of the Party and state, and the system of collective leadership practiced at all levels, the mass line, the democratic work style of the Party and government and the close ties between the Party and the people are practical and effective democratic mechanisms and factors in the life of the state and constitute the characteristics and advantages of Chinese style democracy. We admit that due to constraints of historical and cultural traditions and current conditions there is still much to be desired and still a long way to go in realizing people’s democracy in China. We will adapt to the changes in economic and social development and address the growing eagerness of the people to participate in political affairs, continue to closely integrate Party leadership, the people as masters of the country and the rule of law, continuously deepen reform of the political system and continuously carry out development of socialist democratic politics with Chinese characteristics. We need to borrow from the beneficial political achievements of human civilization, learn from the beneficial experience in political development of every country in the world, including the developed Western countries but we will not simply copy the Western political model and we will not adopt anything that would damage our interests.

 Fifth, Western-style capitalist democracy is not universally applicable, and simply copying the model of another country has never been successful. The Western-style democratic system only reached its present state after developing several hundred years and is fraught with all kinds of corruption. One kind of corruption is manipulation with money. Western democracy has long been a “game of the rich,” “a wallet democracy” and a process of capital playing with the will of the people and money buying elections. There is no doubt that power-for-money deals in Western-style democracy have something to do with the personal integrity of the individual persons concerned, but the fundamental reason is at the system level. Elections that waste so much money necessarily end up in corruption because of the fundraising process. A second kind is the problem of simply observing formalities. Contemporary Western politics has made democracy a mere formality and a tool, causing the alienation of democracy. Elections constitute the most important factor in Western democracy. During the election once in several years, there are a lot of activities, but as soon as it is over democracy falls fast asleep and the influence of the people on the daily administration of the government is extremely limited. In exporting democracy to the world, the West is in fact exporting elections, and they don’t hesitate to use aircraft and guns to savagely bomb other countries in order to impose Western-style elections on them, thinking that so long as they hold elections they are democratic countries. A third is the rigid and stagnant nature of Western-style democracy. The model for Western democracy has become fixed and gradually lost its vitality because it is extremely difficult to make any changes or innovations. The rigidity of democracy often leads to rigidity in policy-making. The opposition party “opposes for opposition’s sake.” As a result, some major social issues fail to be resolved for a long time. Rigidity and stagnation have also caused a serious shortage of outstanding politicians and quite a few Western countries have trouble electing suitable leaders. No country in the world today with different historical and cultural traditions from the West that has copied a Western-style democratic system becomes truly successful.

 General Secretary Hu Jintao pointed out, “The key criterion for determining whether a political system is democratic or not lies in whether or not it fully reflects the will of the overwhelming majority of the people, whether or not it fully realizes their right to become the masters of their own country and whether or not it guarantees their legitimate rights and interests.” This is our view on democracy. The CPC is a party with great creative power. It is certainly capable of leading the people in finding and developing a democratic political system that conforms to conditions in China and has a special character of its own. We are fully confident about this.

 V. Distinguishing between socialist ideas and culture and the corrupt ideas and culture of feudalism and capitalism

 Culture is becoming more and more important as a source of the cohesion and creativity of a nation, and the role of soft power factors such as ideology has become more and more apparent in international competition. Distinguishing between socialist ideas and culture and the corrupt ideas and culture of feudalism and capitalism is of utmost importance in order to correctly understand and consciously adhere to a socialist road with Chinese characteristics.

 First, the system of core socialist values reflects the essence of socialist ideology and the main theme of ideology and culture in China. The guiding ideology of Marxism, the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the national spirit based on patriotism and the spirit of the times centered on reform and innovation, and the socialist maxims of honor and disgrace constitute the basic content of the system of core socialist values. These four aspects of the basic content are the most essential and important components of socialist ideology. In this value system the guiding ideology of Marxism is the soul that provides us with a scientific world outlook and methodology, a theoretical foundation for building socialism and a guide to action. The common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the main theme, a theme that encourages and inspires the people of all ethnic groups to take the socialist road with Chinese characteristics and work to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation under the leadership of the CPC. The national spirit and the spirit of the times constitute the essence, and this essence is crucial to the vitality, creativity and cohesion of the Chinese nation and provides inexhaustible drive for national rejuvenation. The socialist maxims of honor and disgrace constitute the foundation, which determines the country’s value orientation, provides a basic criterion for morality and plays a role in shaping prevailing opinions. The four aspects of the basic content are interrelated and interconnected, form an organic whole and together constitute a complete value system. This value system must remain relatively stable and play its role for a long time, though it is not unchangeable and will certainly continue to develop along with the development of socialism, changes in the times and changes in society. This value system is not a closed system. It should remain open in order to absorb all the advanced and beneficial ideological and cultural achievements of humankind and continuously be enriched and improved. Even more importantly, this value system must be publicized and promoted throughout society, and be felt, recognized, accepted and understood by the general public to truly become the theme of the country’s cultural life and the lifeline of society for development and progress.

 Second, the influence of surviving feudalist ideas and culture is still present to a large degree. To eliminate this influence is an arduous and long-term task. As Deng Xiaoping once said, from old China we inherited a strong tradition of feudal autocracy and a weak tradition of democratic legality. Moreover, in the post-Liberation years we did not consciously draw up systematic rules and regulations to safeguard the people’s democratic rights. Our legal system is far from perfect and has not received anywhere near the attention it deserves. He penetratingly pointed out that the bureaucracy, over-concentration of power, patriarchal methods, lifetime tenure in leading posts and privilege of various kinds in the leadership and cadre systems of the Party and state bore the stamp of feudalism to one degree or another. He pointed out that the surviving influence of feudalism can also be seen in a lingering clan mentality and hierarchy in social relations, in certain instances of assumed inequality of status in the relations between leading cadres and their subordinates and between cadres and the masses, in a weak sense of the rights and duties of citizens, in high-handed work style in commerce and departmentalism in the economic field, in the autocratic style of persons in the cultural sphere, in the failure to recognize how vital science and education are, in a closed-door policy and ignorant chauvinism in foreign relations. He stressed that we must adopt the scientific approach of seeking truth from facts in continuing to eliminate the surviving feudal influence in the ideological and political fields. First and foremost, we must draw a clear line of demarcation between socialism and feudalism and never allow anyone to oppose socialism under the pretext of opposing feudalism or to use the kind of phoney socialism to promote feudalism. Second, we must carefully distinguish between the democratic values in our cultural heritage and the feudal dross, and between the lingering feudal influences and certain unscientific methods and unsound procedures in our work resulting from lack of experience. These analyses and explanations of Deng Xiaoping are still important for guiding us in distinguishing socialist ideas and culture from corrupt feudalist ideas and culture.

 Many feudalist ideas and culture were eliminated with economic and social development and progress in implementing the reform and opening up policy. Particularly since the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary introduced the Scientific Outlook on Development, great efforts have been made at all levels of the government and in all corners of the country to put people first, respect their position as masters of the country, guarantee their rights and interests and promote all-round human development. They are also discussing how to ensure that development benefits the people, that development relies on the people and that the fruits of development are enjoyed by all the people. This idea of “putting people first and giving people the highest position” is the most important ideological weapon for opposing feudalist ideas and culture as well as an important strategic guiding ideology for the future development and progress of Chinese society. Thus, the significance is extremely great and far-reaching.

 Third, struggles around the world related to development model and values have become more and more intense and the influence of capitalist ideas and culture has become the main challenge before us. The capitalist class raised slogans such as freedom, equality, democracy and human rights in its struggles against the feudal hierarchy. This ideological weapon won them the support of the people, enabled them to be victorious and promoted social progress. Development of relationships in the capitalist economies, however, inevitably led to the formation of a set of core values in society centered around money worship, hedonism and extreme individualism. The reality is that in Western society, money and wealth determine everything, including how much individual freedom is allowed, an individual’s position in the “game of democracy” and the level of human rights allowed. Capitalism could not develop without certain values, including an overriding concern with money, boundless hedonism and consumerism and the idea of “fighting for the individual” driven by desire for wealth. Writers of Marxist classics have written extensively and in depth exposing and criticizing the overriding concern with money, that is, the essence of capitalist society. The current international financial crisis that began in the United States has once again exposed the true nature of the Wall Street tycoons who personify capital, who are money-hungry and insatiable. Fact after fact shows that the freedom, democracy and human rights openly advertised by the West have not been the core values of capitalist society for a long time. They are only “beautiful labels pasted on the door.” Money worship, hedonism and extreme individualism in fact constitute the spiritual core of capitalist society, and freedom, democracy and human rights under the capitalist system are only the outer shell and the abstract language and legal provisions that provide the conditions and guarantee for the core.

 After the conclusion of the Cold War, the developed countries of the West began using their economic and scientific strengths to carry out ideological and cultural infiltration in the developing nations, peddling their Western values and Western system and model in an attempt to establish Western ideology and the Western social system throughout the world. Political upheavals and economic depression in some developing countries that have adopted Western values and a Western-style social system, however, bring widespread condemnation of the social system and model of development of the West. In particular, the outbreak of the current international financial crisis has made even more people around the world take a second look at the system and model of the West. The West, however has a monopoly on the power to shape international opinion and has long promoted Western ideology, resulting in the formation of a stubborn ideological prejudice in the international community. Because China has been opening up to the outside world wide on every front and the West is controlling international public opinion, the influence of capitalist ideas and Western culture on China has been expanding daily.

 The system of core socialist values is the soul and spirit of the socialist system. Only by working hard to build a system of core socialist values with wide appeal to guide and integrate different ideological views and ideas current in society will it be possible to preserve the commonly held ideals, beliefs and moral standards of society on the basis of respecting differences and tolerating diversity, form a spiritual force to promote progress of the nation and form a spiritual bond of unity and harmony in order to consolidate the common ideological foundation for the unity of the whole Party and the whole nation and rally the 1.3 billion people of the country to fight for the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

(From Qiushi, Chinese edition, No.16, 2010)

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