100 years of the Chinese Communist Party

Image: Suzy Hazelwood


This party has been able to cyclically reinvent itself over the last hundred years depending on the historical era and its challenges.

There are moments in history when clichés and laudatory words do little to help us understand the moment or draw lessons from important and special dates. Recently, the centenary of the Russian Revolution (2017) and the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx (2018) were interesting moments not only for the reaffirmation of principles, but also for the discussion of alternatives to capitalism still trapped in its own contradictions and pitfalls. The Covid-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the limits of financialized capitalism and the Walking Dead scenario is already a possible perception of the outskirts of large cities around the world.

The dying man insists on surviving, as seen in the recent G-7 meeting on the beach in Cornwall (England). There a pact was signed against the new one in a worse repetition of the meetings of the absolute monarchies against Napoleon followed by the Congress of Vienna. The enemy is different today and much stronger than Napoleon. The People's Republic of China is about to celebrate the XNUMXth anniversary of its ruling party. This party has been able to cyclically reinvent itself over the last hundred years depending on the historical era and its challenges.

It became the faithful depositary of a self-referenced civilization and with its system of values ​​elaborated throughout the construction of an ancient civilization. Upon completing its centenary, the Communist Party of China (CPC) is facing yet another of those challenges that are reminiscent of the epic of the Long March (1934-1935) and the battle against the Japanese occupation (1937-1945). But times have changed and the Communist Party of China today is master of a nuclear power with 1,4 billion inhabitants and the second largest economy in the world in absolute terms. It has under its control 96 large state-owned business conglomerates, an immense and capillarized state financial system and foreign exchange reserves of around US$ 3,2 trillion.

In early 2021, China landed its robot on the surface of the planet Mars; began assembling and putting into operation its own space station around the Earth – Tiangong; successfully sent the Shezhou 12 ship, with three taikonauts; announced for 2024 the placement in orbit of a telescope 300 times more powerful than the Hubble, of the North Americans. It fought and won the “people's war” against the pandemic, vaccinated more than 1,1 billion Chinese people and has already exported or donated around 600 million vaccines to the 39 poorest countries in the world. Over the past 20 years, it has put around 40.000 kilometers of high-speed trains in circulation and is already testing its first bullet train, which could reach 800 km/h. The country has three times more trains of this nature than the whole world put together.

But this static look could hide a great story. Let's see. In 1949, the year in which the CCP came to power in the country, eight out of ten Chinese were malnourished, illiteracy reached more than 90% and national dignity was destroyed after more than a century of looting and humiliation imposed by an imperialist consortium that sliced ​​the country. Lenin was correct in perceiving that the center of gravity of the international revolution had shifted from the struggles between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the center of the capitalist system to the periphery where imperialism exported its maximum capacity for barbarism.

And nowhere in the world has this radicalization of center x periphery relations been as violent as in Asia. The proclamation of the Republic in 1911 and the sequence of attempts to import liberal models of governance, allied to the humiliation suffered by the country in Versailles, put the country's destinies in a dead end. It was from the Russian Revolution that inspiration came for the formation of a political force capable of rekindling the living flame of the Chinese nation. Marxism had definitely become a major theoretical body of national liberation: in 1919 the “Communist Manifesto” by Marx and Engels was translated into Mandarin. In 1921, with about 50 militants, the CCP was founded. In 1949, that is, 28 years after its founding, this force had achieved power in the most populous country in the world.

This success of the PCCh must be observed from several angles, mainly those still little explored and related to the very vision of knowledge in its ancient wisdom. If we observe the cultural formation of a leader of the stature of Mao Tsetung, we will notice both a strong spirit of Confucian discipline with Taoist rebelliousness and irreverence. This indicates an acute trait of Chinese social thought that is not sympathetic to ready-made ideas and dogmas in general. Topics favorable to the exercise of free thought and that awaken the use of intelligence are preferable. Thus, Marxism becomes a powerful political weapon when it finds itself in free combination with classical Chinese, Confucian and Taoist wisdom.

The use of intelligence is reflected in politics. For example, Mao's Marxism, embracing Leninism, was characterized by an obsessive and deep preoccupation with the need to withdraw China from foreign domination. For this, the country should combine the recovery of its national pride by resuming the crucial role of peasants in the political life of the country. The lessons of the defeat and the 1928 Shanghai massacre made it clear to Mao Tsetung that the future of Marxism in China depended on the CCP's ability to assert its independence in the face of any externality.

Concern for China's fate and the CCP's relentless pursuit of freedom of maneuver allowed for a series of strategic moves. The Chinese revolution would not have been possible without 1) an alliance with the Kuomintang to fight the Japanese invasion (1937-45); 2) the military offensive in the 1946-49 civil war against the Kuomintang, 3) the decisive participation in the Korean War (1950-53), 4) China's break with the Soviets (1960) 5) the rapprochement with the US (1971), which ensured the reinsertion of China into the world economy, undertaken under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and promoting the fusion between the Revolutionary State founded in 1949 and the Asian-type Developmental State internalized with the economic reforms of 1978 .

With the necessary independence and flexibility, the Chinese communists were able to realize their limitations and potential. They observed the decadence of Fordism, its impact on socialist experiences and took advantage of the opportunities opened up with financialization and the allocation of foreign productive and technological capacity in their territory. They made mistakes and learned from their own mistakes in the first years of economic reforms. They fought the good fight, the June 1989 counterrevolution, and tackled delicate issues such as the difficult reform of state-owned companies in the 1990s. At each step of the economic reforms, new theoretical contributions were created. The notion of market socialism adopted since the 1990s may well serve both to designate a system with multiple forms of property hegemonized by public ownership and the idea of ​​the emergence of a new non-capitalist economic-social formation, despite actively participating in the international capitalist order.

Over the past 40 years, China has led an epic of economic development whose movement should oblige us to reconceptualize what socialism is and what it means. The theoretical challenge is immense in view of the possibilities for human domination over nature opened up by the spread to the real economy of new disruptive technologies that have emerged within state-owned companies since the launch of industrial policies inaugurated in 2006 with a view to technological sovereignty. In the centenary of the PCCh, the frontier of the human sciences is being dragged forward in the face of the emergence of what we call the “New Design Economy”, where the elaboration and execution of large projects does not end in itself a simple accounting operation. It is the result of the conscious action of millions of engineers, economists and other high-level professionals dedicated to the conscious construction of the future.

Thus, the CCP's centenary coincides with the emergence, under its command, of socialism not as the incarnation of a utopia, something that exists in our minds and in the comfort zone of definitions that put forward the need to face the present. The socialism conceived in China has its most complete historical form in the transformation of reason into an instrument of government. It is this society that is born of a civilization alien to the religions that commanded and continue to command the national states in the West that the world will have to observe more generously. May the political content of this experience not be dissolved in the intellectual analyzes of that historical process. History was made. Mao Tsetung was right. "Only socialism can save China." Let us echo Xi Jinping, “everything we have we owe to Marxism”.

*Elias Jabbour He is a professor at the Graduate Programs in Economic Sciences and International Relations at UERJ. He is a member of the Central Committee of the PCdoB.


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