Doing So-Called Constitutionalism in China Can Only Be Like Climbing Trees to Catch Fish

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This is the third and, so far, last People’s Daily Overseas Edition front page editorial on constitutionalism

In Marx’ lifetime, the concept of constitutionalism and the substance of constitutionalism that are fashionable today had already emerged. And the conceptual structure of “constitutionalism” that is in vogue in the present Chinese society, essentially is a sort of information and psychological weapon of war, just like the theory of “democratic Socialism” that was pushing for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In contrast with liberalist constitutionalism, the theory of “Socialist constitutionalism” is even more misleading.

First, “Socialist constitutionalism” theory misconstrues the Constitution of China”, it makes “provisions to guarantee citizens’ fundamental rights” into the most crucial and core content, and interprets this content as “constitutional principles commonly acknowledged by all constitutional countries worldwide”.

In fact, the most central content of China’s constitution lies in the preamble and general programme of the Constitution, that provides for the nature of the Chinese State and its basic political and economic system. The Chinese Constitution believes that only by consolidating the basic system of Socialism and guaranteeing the class interest of the working class, all particular interests will come about.

The core content of the so-called Western “constitutional principles commonly acknowledged by constitutional countries” and the “constitutional provisions to guarantee citizens’ fundamental rights” is that “private assets are sacred and inviolable”. But under the capitalist employment system, the fruits of a worker’s labour are infringed every day and every hour by capitalists who monopolise the means of production.

Second, “Socialist constitutionalism” theory advocates “the elimination or attenuation of class struggle theory has profoundly marked the current ‘Constitution'”, they defame the Constitutional provision of the “people’s democratic dictatorship” as a reflection of ideology “taking class struggle as the key link”, and therefore want to delete the provision on the “people’s democratic dictatorship”.

The abovementioned position essentially means that they want to revise the Chinese Constitution according to the US Constitution, overturn the national regime of the “people’s democratic dictatorship”, and renew bourgeois dictatorship under the banner of “democracy”.

Third, “Socialist constitutionalism” theory advocates learning from Europe and America, and using “natural rights theory” to resolve “the problem or the origin and position of individual rights”, they believe that from Marx to Deng Xiaoping, this problem has not been resolved.

In fact, the ruling power enjoyed by the bourgeoisie is not something that they were born with or that heaven endowed them with, but is the necessary product of the ownership system where the bourgeoisie monopolises the means of production. The bourgeoisie has formulated constitutions and laws according to its own will, and believes that its constitutions reflect natural law. This undoubtedly is the self-deification of the bourgeoisie.

The Preamble of the Chinese Constitution is utterly clear about the rights of the Chinese popular masses: “The Chinese Communist Party with its leader Chairman Mao Zedong has led the Chinese nation and people, … they overthrew imperialist, feudalist and bureaucratic rule … therefrom, the Chinese people grasped the State power and became the masters of the country”. Essentially speaking, this judgement is the scientific judgment of historical materialism and dialectical materials, and dues not require the use of religious theology or spiritualist natural rights, natural law theory to prove it.

Concerning China’s current Constitution, some constitutional scholars advocate on the one hand that “it would be best to comprehensively revise it once”, and on the other hand, they advocate that “the Constitution is supreme”, to sum it up, they advocate the use of spiritualist natural law theory, to ensure that the capitalist constitutions they identify with can obtain a paramount position in China.

Obviously, there is no latitude or possibility for this point to be realized. China’s Constitution naturally is and can only be the thorough reflection of the will and interest of the popular masses led by the proletariat, the Constitution must always do what the popular will tells it to.

As long as the relationship between the Constitution and the people is clear, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the Constitution will be equally clear. As the Chinese Communist Party implements its concept of serving the people, the Chinese Communist Party is the representative of the interests and will of the popular masses. Separating the Constitution from the Party’s leadership and the popular will fundamentally does not conform with Marxism.

Implementing China’s Socialist Constitution well crucially depends on doing Party building well, on ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party becomes a party that truly serves the people, on ensuring that officials at all levels of power in China identify with the core principles of the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution is an empty text.

In comparison with capitalism, Socialist societies are still new-borns. As long as the Chinese Communist Party is built into a party that truly serves the people, the Socialist Constitution and the laws that guarantee the people’s fundamental interests can be thoroughly implemented and realised. Doing so-called constitutionalism can only be like climbing trees to catch fish.

(The author is a senior researcher at the Maritime Peace and Cooperation Institute and an Invited Researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Socialism Research Centre)

在中国搞所谓宪政只能是缘木求鱼
在马克思生前,今日所流行的宪政概念和宪政实体就已经出现。而在当下中国社会盛行的“宪政”概念体系,本质上是一种信息心理战武器,就像当年为瓦解苏联而力推“民主社会主义”理论一般。

与自由主义宪政不同,“社会主义宪政”理论有更大的迷惑性:

第一,“社会主义宪政”理论曲解中国宪法,将“公民基本权利保障条款”看做是最紧要、最核心的内容,并把这些内容解读成“全世界所有立宪国家公认的宪理”。

事实上,中国宪法的最核心内容在宪法的序言和总纲里,其对中国国家性质及基本的政治经济制度进行了规定。中国宪法认为,只有巩固社会主义基本制度、只有保障劳动阶级的阶级利益,才有每个个体的利益。

所谓西方“立宪国家公认的宪理”及“宪法的公民基本权利保障条款”,其核心内容就是“私有财产神圣不可侵犯”。但在资本主义雇佣制度下,劳动者的劳动成果每时每刻都在被垄断生产资料的资本家阶级侵犯。

第二,“社会主义宪政”理论主张“消除或者淡化阶级斗争学说给现行《宪法》打下的深刻烙印”,他们污蔑宪法中规定的“人民民主专政”条款是“以阶级斗争为纲”思想的体现,因此要将“人民民主专政”条款删除。

上述主张,其实质就是要按照美国宪法来修改中国宪法,颠覆“人民民主专政”的国家政权,打着“民主”的旗号恢复资产阶级专政。

第三,“社会主义宪政”理论主张借鉴欧美,用“自然权利的学说”解决“个人权利的本源和地位问题”,他们认为从马克思到邓小平都没有解决此问题。

其实,资产阶级所享有的统治权利,并非与生俱来、上天赋予,而是资产阶级垄断生产资料所有权的必然产物。资产阶级按照自己的意志和利益制定了宪法和法律,却认为他们的宪法体现了自然法。这无疑是资产阶级的自我神化。

中国宪法序言对中国人民大众的权利来源说得十分清楚:“以毛泽东主席为领袖的中国共产党领导中国各族人民,……推翻了帝国主义、封建主义和官僚资本主义的统治……从此,中国人民掌握了国家的权力,成为国家的主人。”这个判断从本质上讲,是历史唯物主义和辩证唯物主义的科学判断,并不需要用宗教神学以及唯心主义的自然权利、自然法理来论证。

对于中国现行宪法,一些宪政学者一方面主张“最好做一次全面修改”,另一方面又主张“宪法至上”,总而言之就是主张借用唯心主义的自然法理论,使他们认同的资本主义宪法能够在中国获得至高无上的地位。

显而易见,这一点没有行得通的余地和可能。中国的宪法,当然是、也只能是无产阶级领导的人民大众的意志和利益的彻底体现,宪法要对人民意志唯命是从。

只要弄清楚了宪法与人民的关系,中国共产党与宪法的关系也就一清二楚了。当中国共产党全面贯彻为人民服务理念时,中国共产党就是人民大众利益和意志的代表者。将宪法与党的领导和人民意志相割裂,根本不符合马克思主义。

落实好中国的社会主义宪法,关键是要搞好党的建设,使中国共产党成为真正为人民服务的政党,使掌握中国各级权力的官员都认同宪法里的核心原则。否则,宪法就是一纸空文。

相对于资本主义,社会主义社会还是一个新生儿。只要将中国共产党建设成一个真正的为人民服务的政党,保障人民根本利益的社会主义宪法和法律就能得到彻底的贯彻和实施。而搞所谓的宪政,则只能是缘木求鱼。

(作者为海洋安全与合作研究院高级研究员、中国社会科学院世界社会主义研究中心特邀研究员)

3 thoughts on “Doing So-Called Constitutionalism in China Can Only Be Like Climbing Trees to Catch Fish

    […] Daily that trashes our Founding document. It compares Western “constitutionalism” to “climbing trees to catch fish” and it touts China’s “people’s democratic […]

    […] Daily that trashes our Founding document. It compares Western “constitutionalism” to “climbing trees to catch fish” and it touts China’s “people’s democratic […]

    […] of the Party’s official People’s Daily, all issuing colorful attacks on constitutionalism (one likening it to “trying to catch fish in the trees”). The first of these editorials baldly declared: “Constitutionalism only belongs to capitalism, […]

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