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Marxist Political Economy set to guide the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan

2021-01-21: The second half of 2020 was an especially busy period in China, since the fourteenth five-year plan was being finalised. At a session on 24 August, 2020, Xi Jinping gave a speech to the planning committee, and it has been published recently in the second issue of Qiushi, in January 2021 (here). A rough translation of the title is ‘Correctly understand and handle major issues concerning medium- and long-term economic and social development‘. The Chinese version can be downloaded here and I have also included it on the Chinese Marxism page.

In the speech Xi makes it very clear that Marxist political economy will guide the fourteenth five-year plan. How so? While Marxists in a few corners of the world – still caught the treadmill of the pre-revolutionary phase – are still deploying Marxist political economy to understand a capitalist system, the Chinese communists are making very good use of it for the construction of socialism. The obvious reason is that they are working after the revolution and in the immensely complex process of building a socialist system.

Most pertinent is some material from the final parts of the speech:

On 23 November, 2015, while chairing the 28th Group Study of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee, I delivered a speech on the study of Marxist political economy. This speech was recently republished in Qiushi magazine. Engels said that ‘the whole theory of the proletarian party comes from the study of political economy’. Lenin regarded political economy as ‘the deepest, most comprehensive and most detailed proof and application’ of Marxist theory. We should use the methodology of Marxist political economy to deepen our understanding of the laws of China’s economic development and improve the level of our ability in leading China’s economic development.

Xi then lists a series of developments over the last 40 years, observing:

These theoretical achievements have not only effectively guided China’s practice of economic development, but also opened up a new realm of Marxist political economy.

Then, after identifying the problems and challenges both globally and locally, Xi observes:

Here, I would like to give you some hope. First, we should proceed from China’s national conditions, learn from and practice in China, write our theses on the soil of our ancestral land, make theoretical and policy innovations in line with China’s realities and with Chinese characteristics, and constantly develop socialist political economy and sociology with Chinese characteristics. Second, we should conduct in-depth research, examine the facts and take concrete measures to reflect fully the actual situation, so as to ensure that our theoretical and policy innovations are well-grounded and rational. Third, we should grasp the underlying laws, adhere to the Marxist standpoint, viewpoint and method, see the essence through the phenomenon, and differentiate the long-term trend from short-term fluctuations, so as to fully reflect the advanced and scientific nature of theoretical and policy innovation. Fourth, we need to develop an international perspective, explore the common issues facing humankind through the linkages and interactions between China and the world, and contribute Chinese wisdom and solutions to the building of a community with a shared future for humankind.

Xi Jinping’s Most Important Texts on Marxism

On the Chinese Marxism page, I have added six crucial speeches and texts by Xi Jinping on Marxism. Anyone wanting to understand China today and how Marxism is at the core of its project must study these texts. If you cannot read Chinese and want to gain a rough idea of what they say, please use a reliable translation site such as fanyi.youdao.com.

  • ‘The Timely Advance and Historical Inspiration of the CPC’s Leading Thought and Basic Theory over the Last 90 Years’ (2011.06.20). This is an earlier text, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the CPC in 2011. It is available in Chinese and can be downloaded here.
  • ‘Speech at a Symposium on Philosophy and Social Sciences’ (2016.05.17). This was a landmark speech on the central role of Marxism in developing philosophy and social sciences in China. It has set the agenda not merely in education and research, but also across a whole range of activities from news media to public policy. The Chinese version can be downloaded here.
  • ‘Speech at a Conference Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Marx’s Birth’ (2018.05.04). Arguably one of the most important of all, since it engages with the works of Marx and Engels in some depth and applies them to China. The speech forms the basis of the last chapter of my book on socialism with Chinese characteristics. As it has not as yet been translated into other languages, you can download the Chinese version here.
  • ‘Dialectical Materialism is the World Outlook and Methodology of Chinese Communist Party Members’ (2020.01.15). Originally delivered at a CPC Central Committee study group in 2015, this presentation once again emphasises Marxist philosophy and has more recently been republished – in early 2019 – in the Central Committee’s journal Qiushi (Seeking Truth – website at qstheory.cn). You can download the Chinese version here.
  • ‘Adhere to Historical Materialism and Constantly Open Up New Frontiers for the Development of Marxism in Contemporary China’ (2020.01.15). Alongside the philosophical emphasis of dialectical materialism is the application in historical materialism. Such is the emphasis of this piece, originally prepared in 2013 for a CPC Central Committee Study Group and published once again in early 2020 in Qiushi. You can download the Chinese version here.
  • ‘Opening Up New Frontiers for Marxist Political Economy in Contemporary China’ (2020.08.15). Another earlier piece from 2015 and republished in Qiushi in 2020 as the 14th five-year plan was in preparation. To my knowledge, this is the only piece of the six that also appears in English translation. You can download Chinese here, and English translation here.

New page on the School of Marxism Studies at Dalian University of Technology

2020-12-19. Obviously, I have rearranged some matters, with the most significant being a new page concerning the School of Marxism Studies, at Dalian University of Technology. In the beautiful and historic coastal city of Dalian in China’s northeastern Liaoning province, it has become my intellectual and spiritual (in the Chinese sense – jingshen) home. The page will gradually add features, although it now has some files relating to my inaugural lecture, a seminar series I gave in 2019 on Domenico Losurdo, and a keynote speech on ‘comparative Marxist philosophy’ from an international workshop that concluded today.

New article by Xi Jinping on Marxist Political Economy and the 14th five-year plan

2020-11-24. On the Chinese Marxism page, I have added a recent article by Xi Jinping, entitled ‘Opening Up New Frontiers for Marxist Political Economy in Contemporary China’ (2020). The article concerns the central role of Marxist Political Economy in shaping the 14th five-year plan, which is being finalised as I write. It was originally published in Qiushi (Seeking Truth) journal – download Chinese here, and English translation here.

 

 

New article published: Dialogue on a Moderately Well-off Society in All Respects

2020-10-31. A new article has been published in a Chinese journal. This is the result of an ongoing dialogue on the Reform and Opening-Up with a collague in China. Details follow. It may also be found on the ‘Selected Publications’ page.

2020. ‘全面建成小康社会的观念资源与现实探索’ (The Conceptual Resources and Realistic Exploration of Building a Moderately Well-off Society in All Respects). 当代中国价值观研究 (Chinese Journal of Contemporary Values) 2020.01: 5-14. Co-authored with Zang Fengyu. Download Chinese version here, and unformatted Chinese-English bilingual version here.

Text added on socialist consultative democracy

2020-10-03: A major component of China’s socialist democratic system is consultative democracy. It has a history that goes back to the ‘mass line’ during the revolutionary struggle for liberation, but has now risen to a whole new level. On the Chinese Marxism page (here), I have added a text from the CPC Central Committee, entitled ‘Opinions on Strengthening the Construction of Socialist Consultative Democracy’ (2015). The Chinese text is freely available on the internet, but the English translation is an unoffocial one.

To assist in understanding the way in which China is in the process of fully bringing out the ‘latent potentialities [chongfen fahui] of the superiority [youyuexing] of the socialist political system in China’, the following diagram may assist in understanding how the system as a whole, with its integrated components, actually works.

New document added on socialist democracy in China

2020-09-15: On the Chinese Marxism page is a document from the State Information Office. Published in 2005, it is called ‘Building Political Democracy in China’. Up to that point, it was the most comprehensive explanation of the gradual construction of socialist democracy in light of China’s history and conditions. It covers electoral democracy (People’s Congresses), multi-party consultative democracy, minority nationalities, grassroots democracy, socialist human rights, rule of law, and internal goverance in the CPC. You can find the document here.

New files added: Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Part of China on Some Issues Concerning the Establishment of a Socialist Market Economic Structure

2020-09-09: This important text from 1993 is now added to the Chinese Marxism page, in both Chinese and English versions. Entitled ‘Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Part of China on Some Issues Concerning the Establishment of a Socialist Market Economic Structure’, it enacted in detail Deng Xiaoping’s proposal for a socialist market economy as a component in China’s overall socialist system. Importantly, the socialist market economy did not do away with a planned economy, but became another component alongside with and complementary to the planned economy. You can find the files here.

New file added: Seeking a Xiaokang Society, or, Socialist Modernisation

2020-09-04: The latest file is the draft of Chapter Five of my monograph, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. The title of the chaper: ‘Seeking a Xiaokang Society, or Socialist Modernisation’ (the page is here, where you may also view other chapters).