Broader Dimensions for Marxism in Contemporary China and the 21st Century*
May 4, 2018
The CPC is a political party armed with Marxism; Marxism is the soul of the ideals and convictions of Chinese Communists. In 1938, Mao Zedong noted that "our Party's fighting capacity will be much greater … if we have one or two hundred comrades with a grasp of Marxism-Leninism which is systematic and not fragmentary, genuine and not hollow."1
The history of our Party shows that there is a reason for its ability to grow stronger despite all difficulties – it has always provided strong philosophical and theoretical training for its members and officials, so as to have a shared faith, a strong will, coordinated action, and great strength.
At present, the formidable tasks of reform, development and stability, the quantity and degree of problems, risks, and challenges, and the tests for governance of the country are all unprecedented. To win the competitive edge, seize the initiative, and secure our future, we must keep improving our ability to apply Marxism to analyze and resolve practical problems and our ability to utilize scientific theories to guide us in addressing major challenges, withstanding major risks, overcoming major obstacles, and resolving major problems. In this way, we can reflect on and deal with a range of major issues facing China's future development from a broader and longer-term perspective, and strengthen belief in Marxism and the ideals of communism.
It has been 170 years since the publication of Manifesto of the Communist Party, during which time earthshaking changes have occurred in human society. However, on the whole, the general principles which Marxism sets forth are still entirely valid. We need to uphold and apply the worldviews and methodologies of dialectical and historical materialism. We need to uphold and apply the Marxist stance, viewpoint and methodology. We need to uphold and apply Marxist views on the materiality of the world and the law governing its development, the natural and historic significance of social development and related laws, human emancipation, the full and free development of every individual, and the essence of knowledge and its development. In this light, we need to uphold and apply Marxist views on practice, the people, class, development, and contradictions, and truly master and apply well these key skills.
All our Party members, especially officials at all levels, must study harder Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development, and the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. We must study these in a thorough, painstaking, and assiduous way, and apply them to problems and reality, so as to better transform such ideas and theories into a material force for understanding and changing the world. We Communists must take reading Marxist classics and understanding Marxist principles as a way of life and an intellectual pursuit, and apply the classics to foster our integrity, temper our way of thinking, broaden our horizon, and guide our practice.
A rational approach is needed to study theories. Engels once pointed out, "Marx's whole way of thinking [Auffassungsweise] is not so much a doctrine as a method. It provides, not so much ready-made dogmas, as aids to further investigation and the method for such investigation."2 He also noted that theories are "a historical product, which at different times assumes very different forms and, therewith, very different contents."3 The basic principles of scientific socialism cannot be discarded; once discarded it would cease to be socialism. Likewise, scientific socialism is not a fixed dogma. I once said that the sweeping social changes that China is undergoing are not simply the extension of China's historical and cultural experiences, the repetition of socialist practices of other countries, or the duplication of modernization endeavors elsewhere, nor can they be readily slotted into the template devised by earlier writers of Marxist classics. There is no orthodox, fixed version of socialism. A blueprint will become a bright reality only when we combine the basic principles of scientific socialism with China's realities, historical and cultural traditions, and contemporary needs, and constantly analyze and summarize the lessons gained from our practice.
The lifeline of a theory lies in innovation, and it is a sacred duty of Chinese Communists to develop Marxism. We need to use Marxism to observe and decipher the world today and lead us through it, and develop it in dynamic and abundant practice in contemporary China. We should learn from all the achievements of human civilization with an extensive view. To outdo ourselves we need to protect our foundations while innovating, and learn widely from the strengths of others to improve ourselves. Finally, we need to have a deeper understanding of governance by a communist party, the development of socialism, and the evolution of human society, and open up new prospects for the development of Marxism in contemporary China and the 21st century.
* Part of the speech at the ceremony commemorating the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx.
1 Mao Zedong: "The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War", Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Vol. II, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1965, p. 209.
2 Frederick Engels: "To Werner Sombart", Karl Marx & Frederick Engels: Collected Works, Vol. 50, Eng. ed., Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979, p. 461.
3 Frederick Engels: "Dialectics of Nature", Karl Marx & Frederick Engels: Collected Works, Vol. 25, Eng. ed., Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979, p. 338.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)