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)