90 Years of Glory: The Progressiveness and Leadership of the CPC

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-21 08:42
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 The world has gone through profound changes since the beginning of the 1920s. Today, we are preparing to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with great jubilation. Looking back on how society has changed during this period of history, we can see how the people of a backward and disgraced China found their strength after the founding of the CPC in 1921, and how China, in the face of enormous odds, realized its dream of change by becoming the architect of its own destiny. 

    On May 25, 2011, art workers from Sichuan Province performing on Siyuan Square, Guang’an City, on the day that a national youth singing activity “Following the Party Forever” was launched in the city. Several thousand young people participated in the activity, singing revolutionary songs, reliving revolutionary tradition, and passionately praising the glorious history and great achievements of the CPC. / Photo by Xinhua

 Today, China is bursting with vibrancy and energy. The ongoing miracle of its development has not only raised the Chinese people’s standard of living significantly, but has also propelled China’s national strength toward the top of the world rankings and given the country an increasing level of global influence. There is no comparison to the enormous changes that have taken place in this highly-populated nation in the east. This historical phenomenon bears testament to a fundamental truth: throughout its 90-year history, the Communist Party of China has bound itself to the fates of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation, committed itself to Marxism and the theories that China has developed on its basis, continued to play and enhance its role as a progressive force for social development, and acted as a leading core bringing people of all ethnic groups together in a common quest for prosperity. China’s social development and progress over the course of almost a century has proven, time and again, that the Party and the people need each other.   

 The birth of the CPC came in response to the call of history and the will of the people. The Party was born out of an integration of the theories of Marxism-Leninism and the labor movement which was taking place in China at that time. The working class, which represents advanced productive forces, became the class upon which the Party was founded; Marxism, an advanced theory revealing the nature of social development, became its guiding ideology and code of action; and democratic centralism, an advanced mode of party organization, brought together its wisdom and its strength. These things came together to make the CPC the most advanced political party in Chinese history and the most qualified leading force to bear the burden of history.   

 Any party that claims to be progressive must be able to win the favor of its people and withstand the test of history. To be considered truly progressive, a party must be able to represent the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people and win their support; it must be able to understand the characteristics of the time, the nature of society, and the main contradictions that are faced; it must spearhead the wave of progress and drive on the development of society according to the will of the people and the laws of motion of basic social contradictions; and it must bring prosperity to the people during different periods of history. This is the kind of party that the CPC has always been. In many ways, the history of the Party has been a prolonged struggle for national independence, the liberation of the people, the prosperity and strength of the state, and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. In this time, the Party has striven to maintain and enhance its own progressiveness as it has driven forward the progression of Chinese society. Over the past 90 years, the Party has gone from infancy to maturity, successively leading the people in new democratic revolution, the socialist revolution, the development of socialism, and the reform and opening up drive. In this process, it has proven itself able to withstand the test of history. We may ask ourselves, how many parties like the CPC have there been in history? How many parties have endured such bitter and bloody struggle, encountered such unimaginable hardships, faced so many serious domestic and international challenges, and given so much for their country, their people, and their nation? The hardships that the Party has endured to fulfill its historical obligation to the country, the people, the Chinese nation, and to the progression of humanity in general have only made it stronger. The Chinese people see the CPC not only as a great, glorious, and correct party, but also as an irreplaceable leading core in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.   

 The reason that the Party has been able to maintain and enhance its level of progressiveness over the past 90 years is largely attributable to the three generations of the CPC central collective leadership with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin at the core respectively and the Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary. Their leadership has not only defined the banner of the Party and the direction in which the Party will lead China, but has also shown us what kind of a party the CPC will strive to be. Under the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the Party has fostered generation after generation of Party members who are willing to devote their lives to the people, forged ranks of outstanding leaders who are as virtuous as they are talented, and brought together a large number of outstanding people in a range of fields who are loyal to the motherland and their people. Of course, the path ahead has not been without setbacks and dangers, but despite this, the Party has been able to fend off dangers and defuse crises by exercising its capacity to control and respond to situations, relying on its own inherent strength, and drawing from the support of the people. The work of the Party has not been without shortcomings and errors, but despite this, the Party has been able to correct its mistakes by keeping an open mind, drawing lessons from past experiences, relying on its own inherent strength, and drawing from the support of the people. The ranks of the Party have not been without people who have violated what the Party stands for, but despite this, the Party has been able to dispel negative factors in its ideology and culture and root out impurities in its organizations by having the courage to rely on its own inherent strength and draw from the support of the people. Under current historical conditions, the Party is doing more to consciously enhance and improve its own development, earnestly addressing cases in which it has been unable to adapt to changes in situations and tasks and to the demands of the people, and constantly enhancing its internal cohesiveness, its appeal among the public, and its ability to promote grand causes through creativity. 

 The CPC’s leadership in promoting social progress in China is closely related to its efforts to develop, remain progressive, and retain its position as a leading core. These two things have acted to spur each other forward throughout their respective histories. The rich and valuable experiences of the past tell us a great deal about how the CPC has promoted its own development, maintained its progressiveness, and given full play to its role as a leading core whilst leading China forward in a great cause.  

 First, the Party has maintained its most fundamental principle of serving the people. The Party’s commitment to putting the people first, respecting the people, relying on the people, and fulfilling the promises made to the people can be seen throughout its leadership of the people in their rise to power, in their consolidation of power, and in their use of power to promote the development of society

 The CPC is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation. The Party regards the interests of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation as its primary concern, and this is the fundamental reason why it has always been able to stand firmly at the forefront of the times and play the role of a vanguard, and is also the fundamental reason why it is supported by people of all ethnic groups. The goal and the highest ideals of the Party lie in socialism and communism. This is because socialism and communism accurately reveal the laws of development in human society and conform to the fundamental interests of the people. The only way to achieve socialism, and thereby advance toward communism, is by tearing down the political superstructure that was founded on the old economic system, putting the people in power, and then using this power to develop the country for the benefit of the people. 

 Fundamentally speaking, a revolution is about power. In the same way, power is a fundamental prerequisite of any effort to fulfill the people’s desire for socialist modernization. Without power, the people cannot be liberated; without liberation, they cannot achieve prosperity. In order to establish a people’s democratic dictatorship in China and thereby give the power back to the people, the CPC devoted itself to a bitter and bloody struggle that lasted for 28 years. In order to consolidate and ensure the effectiveness of the people’s political power, establish new production relationships, liberate productive forces, adapt the superstructure to the economic foundation, and maximize the superiorities of socialism, the Party has fought adamantly for more than 60 years. Lagging a century behind capitalist countries, China’s development began from the ruins. Despite this, it has not taken China long to put a comprehensive, modern industrial system in place and make a series of incredible achievements such as rapid economic and social growth, moderate prosperity, and a leap forward in national strength. This is the most direct evidence to support the fact that China’s political superstructure is suited to its economic foundation. It also bears unequalled testimony to the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics as led by the Party. China’s systems guarantee national unity, ensure the position of the people as masters of the country, allow for the coordinated and efficient operation of economic and social undertakings, and give China the capacity to respond to emergencies and various challenges, and in doing so, they demonstrate the nature of the people’s political power and the enormous superiorities of socialism. Specifically, these systems refer to the state system—a people’s democratic dictatorship that is led by the working class and based on an alliance of workers and farmers; the government system—the fundamental system of people’s congresses; the system of multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC as the governing party; the system of political equality between all ethnic groups and autonomy in ethnic minority areas; and the system of autonomous governance at the grassroots level. Songs of praise for the Party, such as “there would be no new China without the Communist Party,” and “Socialism is great; in socialist countries, the people have a high standing” have resounded across China for decades on end, while support for the Party among the public can be heard almost everywhere: “We are living better now than we were before, and we are sure to live even better in the future.” This is how the people have judged the performance of the Party and the government in serving the people—the most fundamental principle—and is also a sign of the confidence and the sense of pride shared by the Chinese people and the Chinese nation.

 Second, the strength of the country, the prosperity of the people and the rejuvenation of the nation are the sacred goals that the Party is committed to. The Party has accurately judged the nature of society and the major social contradictions at different historical periods, identified a path forward according to the laws of motion of basic contradictions of social development, and constantly promoted the liberation of productive forces and the comprehensive progression of society  

 Development is the absolute principle. The only way that a political party, particularly a ruling party, can win the genuine support of its people is by committing itself to development and improving the lives of the people. However, the question is, after coming to power, what path a party should take in order to ensure that the development it achieves caters to the interests and the will of the people. 

 Since the beginning of the 20th century, the development of Chinese society has been highly complex, and the state of the global environment has been unpredictable. For these reasons, the CPC has faced an arduous and extraordinary task in leading the Chinese people on the correct path ahead. Fundamentally speaking, the Party is progressive because it has committed itself to the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method, correctly judged the state of the world, the country and the Party at different times and at different historical phases, proven adept at using reform and innovation as a means of resolving social contradictions, and thereby managed to identify the correct path toward achieving the liberation of the people, the strength of the country, the prosperity of the people, and the rejuvenation of the nation. In its search for the path ahead, the Party led the people to realize that resigning the nation to the path of old democracy was not an option, that mimicking the development of capitalist nations would fail, and that regressing back to semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism would be totally disastrous. It realized that the only option was to boldly set out on a new path that was right for China and faithful to the will of the people. Thus, after the new democratic revolution, the Party made the timely transition to socialism, and after probing deeper, it embarked on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The new democratic revolution put an end to the oppression of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism by establishing a new China in which the people were their own masters, and marked the rise of the Chinese nation standing on its own feet among the nations of the world. The socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts, and capitalist industry and commerce, and the establishment of socialism as the fundamental system lay down the fundamental political prerequisite and institutional foundations for the success of a socialist China. As the Party continued to search for the path ahead in a new period, a self-transformation of the Party characterized by the policy of reform and opening up led to the eventual birth of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The decisive factor in this success has been the Party’s commitment to combining Marxism with the realities of China, and how, on this basis, it has been able to propose and firmly commit itself to policies that represent the interests and command the support of the people during different periods of history. The correct political line of the Party has ensured that the Party and the country have advanced in the right direction and on the right path. 

 Third, the Party has maintained the guiding position of Marxism in the politics and ideology of the Party and the state, innovated its practices and theories according to the theme of the times regarding the development of the Party and the state, promoted the adaptation of Marxism to better suit the conditions in China, and made constant efforts to increase the Party’s capacity to study and apply scientific theories 

 A progressive party must have progressive theories. What kind of theoretical weapon has allowed the CPC to resolve contradictions, overcome hardships, and claim victory? Fundamentally speaking, by studying and applying Marxism on the basis of the realities in China, the Party has enriched the connotations of Marxism and developed it further on the basis of practice. This was how the Party identified the path ahead and achieved success in the new democratic revolution, the socialist revolution and the development of socialism, and also how it has identified the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and gone on to achieve incredible results. 

 The scientific essence of Marxism has been proven in practice over and again. Once integrated into efforts to change the old world and create a new one, the fundamental principle, stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism take on the form of an enormous physical force. In China, the transition of this theory from a theoretical weapon to a physical force occurred as the Party committed itself to liberating the mind, seeking the truth from facts, and moving forward with the times; applied scientific theories in a constant effort to understand the theme of the times; innovated its approaches and means of action in an attempt to overcome various dangers and difficulties on the path ahead; and responded correctly to the challenge posed by a wave of anti-Marxist sentiment. The incredible results that have been gained in the adaptation of Marxism to the conditions of China—the Mao Zedong Thought, the Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and Scientific Outlook on Development—are the result of both continuity and constant innovation during this process. Because we have adapted Marxism to the conditions of China and committed ourselves to its application in arming the Party, educating the people, and guiding new practices, we have been able to accurately read the state of the country, ascertain the nature of social contradictions, and thereby find the answers to a series of important questions: What is Marxism? How should we treat Marxism? What is socialism? How do we develop socialism? What kind of party will we develop? How will we develop the Party? What kind of development will we strive for? How will we achieve it?

 In the course of adapting Marxism to suit the conditions of China, the Party has committed itself to the rational study and application of Marxism, overcome various erroneous tendencies in the treatment of Marxism, and given great emphasis to the importance of linking theory and practice in the study of Marxism. This has allowed the Party to maintain clarity in regard to theory, remain firm in regard to politics, and stay active in regard to development and innovation, which in turn has guaranteed the continued vitality of Marxism as an engine behind China’s revolution, development, reform, and opening up. Fact has proven that the only way the Party can maintain its progressiveness, stay at the forefront of the times, rejuvenate the country, and bring prosperity to the people is by maintaining the guiding role of Marxism and the theories that China has developed on its basis, and by maintaining a balance between the continuation and the development of scientific theories. 

 Fourth, the CPC has committed itself to the promotion of democracy within the Party, fully implemented the system of democratic centralism, actively maintained and enhanced the cohesiveness, creativity, and combat effectiveness of Party organizations, and ensured unity and solidarity throughout the Parry on the basis of the Party Constitution  

 The ideological and political strength of a Marxist party comes from the strength of its organizations, while the strength of organizations, with the support of democratic centralism, ensures conformity in the ideology and actions of the entire party. The CPC has gone from having just over 50 Party members at the time of its founding to having more than 78 million Party members and 3.8 million grassroots Party organizations. During different periods of history, Party members have come from different classes, different social strata, and from different ethnic groups. Despite this, they are not merely representatives of their respective classes and ethnic groups, but are a vanguard of the working class. As a vanguard, they stand for socialism and communism, and represent the interests of the entire country and the Chinese nation. The CPC was founded on the principle of democratic centralism. This means that, in a certain sense, democracy is the essence of the Party, and that without democracy, the Party would have no hope of surviving or developing. From an organizational perspective, the Party has been successful in bringing so many progressives together in different periods of history because it has promoted democracy within the Party and committed itself to centralism on the basis of democracy and democracy under the guidance of centralism.  

 This system has played a fundamental role in the Party on a long term basis: It has allowed the Party to balance rights and obligations between Party members and organizations, between lower and higher organizations, and between Party members, and has also helped to form a healthy and stable atmosphere within the Party, bring the wisdom and strength of the entire Party together, and utilize, guide, and safeguard the initiative of the entire Party; it has allowed the Party to establish rational and effective mechanisms for the distribution of power to achieve greater rationality, democracy and legality in governance and to prevent the occurrence of major errors in decision making and implementation. Even in the event of errors, this system is conducive to remedial action; it has allowed the Party to resolve internal contradictions and problems, forge the Party spirit of Party members, and foster outstanding talent through the Party culture in which strictness and leniency, freedom and discipline exist side by side. Democratic centralism can be said to be the institutional foundation of the CPC’s organizational superiority. With greater emphasis from the Party, the process of developing institutions that are based on the rights of Party members and that give emphasis to democratic centralism has been progressing steadily since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee, giving rise to a rational and effective system of institutions covering the distribution, use and monitoring of power within the Party. A greater emphasis is being placed on linking ideological progress with institutional development in order to establish the Marxist awareness of Party members and cadres as the foundation for the development of democracy within the Party and the effective implementation of the democratic centralism. 

 Fifth, the progressiveness and public orientation of the Party must remain in balance. The Party should be adept in publicity and in leading the masses forward, but at the same time, Party organizations, Party members and cadres should be subject to the scrutiny of the public as they go about serving the people  

 The people represent the foundation, the bloodline and the strength that the Party relies on to survive and develop. The success of every step that the Party has taken—the new democratic revolution, socialist transformation, further probing after the establishment of socialism as the fundamental system, reform and opening up, and embarking of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics—has come about because the Party has given a high level of emphasis to converging the will of the masses, drawn on the wisdom and strength of the masses, and succeeded in rallying the support of the masses behind outlines, approaches and policies that conform to the interests of the people. 

 Extremely important is the emphasis that the Party gives to historical materialism in its initiatives to promote greater ideological progression and foster sound work styles among Party members and particularly leading cadres of all levels, in order to allow them to better grasp the stand, viewpoint, and method of Marxism; to help them master the “from the masses, to the masses” approach and prevent the onset of subjectivism, bureaucratism and formalism; to help them develop a tradition of standing alongside the people regardless of what happens, oppose any idea or act that will undermine the relationship between the Party and the masses or the rights and interests of the masses, and maintain a staunch commitment to fighting corruption relentlessly. For this reason, the greater the challenge faced by the Party, the closer the people rally around it, and the stronger they both become.  

 Reviewing the experiences and lessons of the past, the Party has asserted that it must increase its ability to govern and lead and enhance its capacity to combat corruption, prevent degeneration, and withstand risks in order to maintain its progressiveness and give full play to its leading role. To do this, we must, more than ever before, place a greater emphasis on maintaining an intimate connection with the masses, listen to the voices of the masses, respect the creations of the masses, and ensure that we work for the masses, trust the masses, and rely on the masses in all aspects. We must subject ourselves to the supervision of the masses and ensure that we use power for the people, show concern for the people, and seek benefit for the people. At the same time, we must always regard the support, the satisfaction and the willingness of the people as the fundamental basis on which we judge all of our initiatives. This is the essence of how the Party has kept a close relationship with the people, maintained its progressiveness, and given full play to its role as a leader over the past 90 years, and particularly over the past 60 years in which it has governed.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.10, 2011)

Note: Author: Former Deputy Director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee
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