Six Major Challenges that Our Country’s Ideological Construction Faces at Present

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Party Building”, July 2012, Ren Jie

–       Firmly occupy the ideological battlefield is both where the core interest of the country lies, and an important chip in the international contest of strength.

–       In the present world, vying for the power of discourse, the power of network control, the power of information dissemination, the power of regulation formulation, the power of cultural leadership and other “soft powers” have become the focus point for competition in comprehensive national strength.

–       The fight for mastery and trial of strength in the ideological area will never disappear, the task of strengthening our country’s mainstream ideology construction is huge.

Firmly occupying the ideological battlefield is both where the core interest of the country lies, and an important chip in the international contest of strength. The present world has already left the “era of violence and money control”, after the “nuclear bombs and missiles” retreated to the backstage, “willpower and ideology” have marched to the front. Vying for the power of discourse, the power of network control, the power of information dissemination, the power of regulation formulation, the power of cultural leadership and other “soft powers” have become the focus point for competition in comprehensive national strength. As a participating country in this “smokeless war”, based on all sorts of international and domestic pressures, China has been pushed to the front of the ideological struggle, and ideology construction faces many challenges.

First, Western hostile powers’ cultural infiltration threatens our country’s ideological security. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the success of Western hostile powers in a series of “colour revolutions” in post-Socialist countries has made China become an important target country for Western hostile powers and peaceful evolution. Apart from practicing peaceful evolution strategies in the economic and political areas, Western hostile powers pay even more attention to achieve the objective of “letting others’ soldiers submit without fighting”. Cultural infiltration has three main forms: the first sort is direct cultural propaganda, by using modern media means to conduct long-term ideological infiltration. The most typical and most often used one is radio and television coverage propaganda. The content of information published by the U.S. CBS, CNN and other media is more than a hundred times the total amount of information published by other countries in the world. This sort of direct cultural infiltration is large in scale, low in costs and broad in coverage, as the “Washington Post” stated, “The Western World has spent more than half a century of time and millions of Dollars in seeking methods to let Communism collapse, but discovered that the answer lay in television news”. At present, with the aid of the Internet, direct cultural propaganda has gained convenient, high-efficiency, broad and strong high-tech platforms, which have become a first important battlefield for the ideological struggle; the second kind is letting all sorts of Western value systems infiltrate the social masses through the carrier of cultural products. Before the Second World War, Western hostile powers stressed that cultural export was combined with regional strategy, after the Second World War, they paid even more attention to influencing other countries through comprehensive cultural export. U.S. Hollywood films became model representatives, and there were even media stating that Hollywood was an “ambassador in an iron box”. Disseminating cultural value concepts through this sort of method, was even more concealed and misleading, and often, the unobtrusive influence of “governing by doing nothing” and “nourishing plants without sound” could be achieved; the third sort is using education and academic exchange as a cover to conduct value system infiltration of high-level academics, intellectuals and other social elites. Western hostile forces have drawn in and used high-level social science researchers and intellectuals through famous and numerous scholarships, such as the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fulbright Programme, etc., with the intention of fostering “cultural genes” to disintegrate Socialism from the inside, and disseminate Western cultural values through their radiant function, influencing the social masses.

Second, all sorts of social thinking trends influence the authority of and identification with our country’s mainstream ideology. Marxism is our country’s mainstream ideology, its guiding function is the choice of history and the Chinese people. In the ideological sphere, fighting for mastery and contests of strength will never disappear. Since reform and opening up, international and domestic trends have become more complex and varied, all sorts of social thinking trends vie to take the stage, there are new liberals advocating liberalization, privatization and marketization, and there are national socialists advocating reform, proposing democracy and freedom, there are also historical nihilists who use distortions and misrepresentations of Party history and leaders to hollow out the history of the Chinese Communist Party. At the same time, the ideological assault by Western hostile powers has also become diversified and deepened in expansion. They are no longer limited to peddling Western hedonism, consumerism and other live values, but have also developed towards political and philosophical value systems. Brzezinski attacked Communism doctrine as “greatly simplified theory”, Daniel Bell’s “End of Ideology” and Fukuyama’s “End of History” are brazen challenges to Marxism. These social thinking trends are extremely misleading, and attempt to gain people’s acceptance and identification through systematic theory and appearance of objective historical fact, and thereby shaking the authority of mainstream ideology. At present, the “China Model” that is currently being hotly discussed is, in a certain sense, another sort of theoretical pitfall that follows the “China Threat Theory” and the “China Collapse Theory”, and is a scheme put forward by Western hostile forces to “kill by overpraise” after their effort to “beat China to death” came to nothing. All sorts of anti-Marxist and non-Marxist social thinking trends can easily let people fall into certain kinds of mistaken theoretical areas because of their systematic nature and theoretical nature, and engender challenges, vacillation and even renunciation of Marxism, because of this, we must raise the persuasiveness and interpretation power of Marxism itself, this is an inherent strength in tenaciously defending the battlefield of mainstream ideology.

Third, the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have weakened faith in our country’s mainstream ideology. In 1991, the flag with the hammer and sickle flying over the Kremlin was lowered, symbolizing that the great Socialist country, the Soviet Union, which existed for 70 years, no longer existed. Soon afterwards, the Socialist camp rapidly disintegrated, and the international Communist movement fell into a low tide. The causes of the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are extremely complex, there are the factors of Western hostile forces and peaceful evolution, and there were the causes of degeneration and deterioration in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; there were structural factors such as the Soviet Union implementing fossilized Socialism, and there were ideological factors of confusion in the ideological sphere… the causes are in many areas, but in the end, it was because the Soviet Union deviated from Marxism, and did not truly persist in Socialism. All countries in the world have different reactions to this major event in the history of the international Communist movement, appraisals are not uniform. For some time, all sorts of ideologies flocked together around the same event, but the terrain of the ideological area is complex. Some people cast out “the End of History”, and claimed the final victory of capitalism; some people where pessimistic and despaired about the future of Socialism; some other people blamed the setbacks and mistakes of Socialism to Marxism, believing that the changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are the defeat of Socialism, and the sell-by date of Marxism. In our country, arguments denying Marxism and renouncing Socialism emerged as well, leading to a weakening in the confidence in mainstream ideology, and constituting a challenge towards our country’s mainstream ideology.

Fourth, the development theme and modernization objective have weakened the opposition between ideologies. The themes of the present time are peaceful development, any country hopes to avoid risk to the greatest extent under conditions of globalization, and races to control the first development opportunity. Enriching the country and strengthening the people, and realizing modernization construction are the most urgent objectives for developing countries. This firm establishment of this objective inevitably causes some developing countries to put more attention on raising comprehensive national strength, pay attention to new exploitation of energy resources, to pay attention to new development of scientific and technology personnel, and thereby, pay less attention to traditional ideological issues having a clear class nature. The common theme of development and the pursuit of modernization have brought humanity to a track of homogenous development, the demarcation line between capitalism and Socialism is becoming increasingly blurry, differences and oppositions between ideologies are weakening ideology every day. But in reality, seeing modernization as a movement, transformation and development process of human kind that originated in the west and expanded across the world, is in itself a sort of cultural ideology. Modernization theory putting on the coat of universality promises “underdeveloped countries” that: as long as they develop according to the modernization model of the United States, you will be able to cast off backwardness and ignorance, and realize national economic development and social progress, and thereby shake off the influence of the Marxist-Communist revolutionary model, but persuade and control new and potentially harmful forces set free in “underdeveloped” world after decolonisation. At the same time, this “underdeveloped” world is brought into the global capitalist system, making it convenient to conduct capital exploitation. Consequently, in the process of our country realizing modernization, we must fully understand the ideological nature of modernization, and avoid falling into the “development mirage”.

Fifth, pluralized value orientations assault our country’s mainstream ideology. At present, our country is in a period of social transformation, because of this, deep change has been brought to people’s life means, means of activity and value concepts. Under the conditions of the Socialist market economy, people’s value systems contain positive factors conforming to the Socialist value system, and include negative factors such as the pursuit of material gain and Mammonism, etc. Following the incessant deepening of reform and opening up, our country’s economic structure has deeply reformed, social structures have deeply changed, and patterns of interest have deeply readjusted, the co-existence of many kinds of ownership systems, the changes in class levels and the differentiation if interests have led to the pluralisation of interest subjects, people are concerned about and safeguard the interest of the social group to which they belong they pay attention and regard to individual interests and what affects them, and make this into scales to measure values, good, bad, right and wrong are judged according to the subjective self. The pluralisation of ideological concepts and value orientations is unavoidable. Furthermore, in a modern, open society, cultural exchange and merging between China and the West incessantly deepens and expands, all sorts of cultural thinking trends pour into our country, they also provide an objective soil for the multiplication of pluralized value orientations. The independence, selective nature, variable nature and differential nature of culture and value orientations has, to a certain degree, weakened the guiding function of mainstream value systems, and caused mainstream ideology to suffer assaults and watering down.

Sixth, information networking has formed challenges for our country’s ideological control strength. In contrast with traditional cultural dissemination methods, network dissemination has characteristics such as freedom, speed, interactivity, openness, capacity, etc. With the help of this new technological platform of the Internet, the dissemination of our country’s Socialist ideology has gained new technological carriers, new dissemination channels and new spaces for discourse, which is helpful to strengthening the dissemination strength, attractiveness and cohesion of Socialist ideology. But at the same time, information networking has severely tested our country’s ideological control strength. Network ideology has and asymmetric and strongly penetrative nature, technology measures developed in the west and strong cultural export have constituted a very great challenge for our country’s ideological dissemination and defence capability. Furthermore, on the one hand,  the openness, pluralism and interactivity of the network has  provided new channels for people to obtain information and express discourse, and the network has, to a certain extent, become a pressure-reduction valve to  resolve social contradictions and remove harmful emotions in society; on the other hand, the open, plural and interactive information dissemination method has expanded the difficulty of controlling our country’s ideology, the people may also no longer passively accept the teachings and education of main media in the face of a sea of information, and no longer simply follow mainstream ideology, which leads to a weakening of identification with mainstream ideology. We must adopt realistic and feasible response measures, strengthen the attractiveness and cohesion of mainstream ideology, and raise the control strength and guiding strength of mainstream ideology over network culture

(The author is an Associate Research Fellow at the Marxism Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Science)














2 thoughts on “Six Major Challenges that Our Country’s Ideological Construction Faces at Present

    […] China. In fact, some of the terms used in reporting about the Circular seem to be derived from an article published in the Party magazine Dangjian (党建) in July of last year. As a relatively high-profile official Party publication, under the direct control of the Central […]

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    May 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

    […] Six Major Challenges that Our Country’s Ideological Construction Faces at Present (2012) […]

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