This Autumn Stone editorial was first published in Qiushi on 1 April.
Ideological work is extremely important work for our Party, it relates to the Party’s future fate, it relates to a long period of peace and order for the country, and it relates to the cohesion and centripetal force of the nation. We must give high regard to and realistically strengthen ideological work, we must especially grasp the leadership power, management power and discourse power tightly in our hands, we cannot let it fall to others at any moment, otherwise, we will make an irredeemable historical mistake.
The key is implementing leadership responsibilities
To do ideological work well, we must first and foremost resolve the question of leadership power. The Chinese Communist Party is the leading core of the undertaking of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. Party leadership mainly is ideological, political and organizational leadership, and among these, ideological leadership has an extremely large significance for leadership over the country and society. Tightly grasping the leadership power in ideological work is a requirement for consolidating the dominant position of Marxism in the ideological area under new circumstances, and for consolidating the common ideological basis for the united struggle of the entire Party and the entire people, it is a requirement for perfecting and developing the institutions of Socialism with Chinese characteristics and moving forward the modernization of the country’s governance structure and governance capacity, and it is a requirement for responding to the ideological infiltration that Western hostile forces conduct against us.
To lead means to drive and to guide. Our country’s broadest popular masses believe in and support our Party, they are willing to march with the Party, and it is crucial that our Party must stand at the forefront of the times and in the front line of the struggle, and leads the masses forward; at present, the struggle ideological area is acute and complex, and it is crucial that our Party must fly its banner clearly, sing the main melody among the hubbub of the mass of voices, and guides social thinking trends. Over the past few years, some mistaken thinking trends and undercurrents have welled up, and brought chaos to the thinking of a part of the masses. At this time, all levels’ leading Party cadres must step forward and speak, firmly propagate the Party’s theories, line, principles and policies, firmly propagate the major work deployments of the Centre, firmly propagate the Centre’s major analyses and judgments concerning circumstances, determinedly maintain a high level of consistency with the Party Centre, and persist in safeguarding the authority of the Centre. They must shout loudly at and strike hard those people who have been captured by mistaken thoughts, in order to warn them.
In recent years, a strange phenomenon appeared in the Party and in society, which is that whoever publishes positive discourse, whoever publishes discourse supporting the Party and the government, whoever denounces those discourses that attack and slander the Party and the government, is besieged, and silence often reigns in our own camp, or our voices are not loud, our support and protection for positive voices is insufficient. This sort of phenomenon merits deep reflection. If we allow this sort of phenomenon to develop, that means we abandon our leadership responsibilities, and will let leadership power fall to others. In the ideological area, we do not engage in pointless disputes, but where great questions of right and wrong are concerned, or major questions about the choice of institutional model and building value systems are concerned, we can absolutely not become inattentive, and we can certainly not give way. Leading cadres must dare to stand in the teeth of the storm and conduct struggle, they cannot take a detour around great questions of right and wrong, they cannot use “not disputes”, “no sensationalism” and “let them talk” as an excuse for their own lack of action, and they cannot do the sort of “protection of their public image” thing. On the battlefield, there are no “liberal-minded gentlemen”, in questions of great right and wrong, there are also no “liberal-minded gentlemen”. In the ideological and political struggle that relates to the future fate of the Party and the country, no leading cadre can be a bystander, they must be loyal bodyguards for the Party and the people.
To see whether or not a leading cadre is politically mature or not, or whether he can take on important responsibilities, an important aspect is to see whether he pays attention to and is good at grasping ideological work or not. The main responsible comrades in all levels’ Party Committees and all leading comrades in charge of ideological work should stand in the first line of ideological work with banners flying clearly, they are duty-bound to bear their political responsibilities. Main responsible comrades in Party Committees must take the lead in grasping ideological work, take the lead in reading the content of the major media in their localities and departments, take the lead in grasping leadership over media in their localities and departments, take the lead in criticizing mistaken viewpoints and erroneous tendencies, strengthen their analysis and judgment of major question in the ideological area and the comprehensive planning of major strategic tasks. Where leadership in ideological work is weak, resulting in grave consequences, there shall be strict accountability.
The ideological area cannot be separated from management
Something closely connected to leadership power is management power. Must the ideological area be managed? Of course it must. Thoughts are intangible, but the media that carry and disseminate thoughts, battlefields, etc., are tangible, they are a part of the social undertaking, and must naturally be managed. Marx and Engels once pointed out that: “they rule also as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age”. (Collected Works of Marx and Engels, vol. 1, p. 551). What is meant here by the “regulation” of the production and distribution of ideas, is management. In fact, in modern society, there is no area that does not require management, it is said that “without rules, there cannot be squares and circles”, management also is productive force.
The West boasts about its so-called freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but in fact, their control of ideology is severe. The true rulers of Western societies are capital-monopolist groups, those big Western media that control the wind and the waves in their own country and the international public opinion sphere, and exert the most power and influence over politics, economics, ideology and culture, are all controlled by the hand of capital-monopolist groups. Western media can hold politicians accountable, censure political parties and criticize governments, they can bring some politicians down, make some political parties lose elections, and let a government lose office, but they can absolutely not fundamentally challenge, criticize or oppose their capitalist bosses and the capitalist system. Western capital-monopolist groups use their huge wealth to hire a large batch of ideological and public opinion elites, who dress up capitalist ideology as so-called “universal values”, domestically, they conduct long-term propaganda and inculcation of the masses, they engage in ideological confinement, anything that does not conform to mainstream ideology is seen as “politically incorrect”; they draw ideological lines internationally, and spare no effort to export Western ideology globally they use Western standards to judge all events occurring in the world, what conforms to Western standards is seen as good, and what does not conformed is demonized. The United States often send soldiers abroad , creating so many humanitarian disasters! And Western media even act as information stations and tools for public opinion battles in these wars. The West regularly talks about “the free circulation of ideas”, but when have they ever earnestly introduced ideological theories and value views that are different from Western ideology? Why do many Americans have a narrow vision, and has their ignorance of the outside world reached such a shocking extent? Is it possible that it is the result of the long-term conduct of ideological blockades and policies to keep the population stupid?
Socialist ideology reflects the fundamental interests of the broadest people, and so it never conceals its own political positions and viewpoints. Where press and publications, radio and television, culture and art, social science and other such propaganda and culture departments, organs and media are concerned, where the Party’s propaganda work of ideology and culture is concerned, it means we must stress the Party nature. The principle of the Party nature is the fundamental principle of ideological work, and is the core of the question of management in the ideological sphere.
In stressing the Party nature, three matters are the most important. First, persisting in the leadership of the Party. Ideologically, persisting in the dominant position of Marxism; politically, persisting in the orientation of serving the people and serving Socialism, and maintaining a high degree of consistency with the Party Centre; organizationally, guaranteeing that all levels and all sorts of propaganda and culture organs’ leadership power is held tightly in the hands of persons loyal to the Party and the people. Second, persisting in the consistency of responsibility towards the Party and responsibility towards the People. The Party has wholeheartedly serving the people as its basic purpose, it is the most faithful representative of the people’s interest, it has no private interest of its own outside of the interest of the people, this has decided that responsibility towards the Party in propaganda and culture work is consistent with responsibility towards the people. Third, persisting in the Party’s propaganda discipline. Propaganda and culture work not only requires observance of the Constitution and the law, and submitting to administrative management by relevant State departments, but we must also observe the Party’s propaganda discipline, including all kinds of concrete work requirements, matters needing attention, etc. If we do not stress discipline, leadership power and management power will come to nothing.
Now, the influence of the Internet is growing ever larger. Letting the Internet be a relatively open and free public opinion environment, and letting it become a supplement to mainstream public opinion battlefields basically should be beneficial and constructive. But online rumours spread widely, chaotic phenomena of online rights infringement appear in quick succession, online negative speculation causes temporary uproars, making cyberspace become foul and chaotic, gravely harming this sort of constructivity, will it do not to manage this? Putting chaotic online phenomena in order according to the law and cleaning up cyberspace relate to the struggle in the ideological sphere, relate to the consolidation and expansion of mainstream ideology and public opinion, relate to the bigger picture of national reform, development and stability, and are great matters that must be handled well.
The management in the ideological sphere has its complexities and peculiarities. With regard to the masses’ proper, reasonable and well-intentioned criticism and supervision, regardless of how sharp it is, we welcome it, we must never be unhappy, and can certainly not suppress it; we must not only welcome it, but must also earnestly listen and realistically improve. With regard to academic questions, we should promote democracy, equal discussion, persuade people with reason, ensure that there are no forbidden zones in research, and there is discipline in propaganda. With regard to questions of ideological understanding, we should state the facts clearly, stress reason, strengthen positive propaganda, and guide matters in a focused manner. With regard to major political principles and great questions of right and wrong, on what to support and what to oppose, we must fly our banners clearly and have firm attitudes. The Party must manage the media, manage the orientation, manage teams and manage cadres, strengthen the responsibilities of controlling and sponsoring departments as well as localized management, and let mainstream ideology and public opinion firmly occupy ideological battlefields.
Winning the power of initiative with discourse power
To do ideological work well, discourse power is also of the utmost importance. We ourselves are incessantly summarizing China’s development path, but there are also people who have made other interpretations and evaluations, furthermore, they do their utmost to vie with our Party for discourse power and influence. In the past few years, the ideological and theoretical sphere has been lively, and some problems have led to great disputes. Having disputes is not a bad thing, the truth will always become clearer through more debate, the important matter is that discourse power must be firmly grasped.
Now, the achievements that China has gained in economic and social development are affirmed internationally for the most part, leaders of various countries will express admiration when they meet with the leaders of our country. At the same time, there are also an increasing number of people who begin to affirm the governance structure and governance capacity of our country, and this is exactly what is most taboo to the West. When the New China had just been founded, there were people in the West who prophesied that the Chinese Communist Party could do a revolution, but that it could not do construction, they looked upon us with ridicule. After reform and opening up, our country’s economy started to develop rapidly, and there were some people around the world who again made snide remarks, when we did well, there was the “China threat theory”, when we ran into difficulties, there was the “China collapse theory”, they never were not in our ears. In thirty years, we have undergone many storms and waves, but we have not only endured all of them, we have also developed even better after the storms and waves passed, in incessant clear contrast with the situation of chaos in a number of countries worldwide. Practice demonstrates that our country marches a successful development path that is different from the Western countries, we have formed a set of successful institutions and systems that is different from Western countries. We use facts to declare the bankruptcy of the “end of history theory”, and to declare the bankruptcy of the one-way view of history in which all countries in the end must converge to Western institutional models.
Furthermore, where in the world are there “universal values” and “ultimate models” that are applicable everywhere? Some people underestimated the superiority, resilience, vitality and potential of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, or they did see this and know it tacitly, but because of ideological reasons, they would stubbornly refuse to admit this verbally. The West’s arguments about freedom, democracy and human rights are the most typical stereotyped expression, they have talked about this stuff for two hundred years, and are still talking about it, they still have these concepts and these excuses, they are unable to talk about some new things, they just rely on that stuff that has been repeated for two hundred years to monopolize the international discourse power.
What merits vigilance is that, under the influence of Western hostile discourse and mistaken thinking trends, deviations have also emerged in the understanding of some people domestically, they blindly turn with the wind, and consciously or unconsciously criticize events occurring in our country with Western ideology and institutional models and standards. The huge achievements of reform and opening up, the successes gained in responding to major natural disasters, etc., are clearly successes obtained by our Party leading the people in marching the path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, they have clearly manifested the superiority of China’s institutions, but it is said that these are the fulfilment of “universal values”, that they are “universal” and not “particular”; it is believed to be normal that the same social problems and social phenomena, such as incidents of mass resistance, etc., occur in Western countries, and even that they are reflections of freedom, democracy and human rights, but if they occur in China, it is said that they are created by “institutional abuses”, they are the manifestation of a so-called “social crisis”, some people even impute the smog to the system; some people cannot see the fact that in the present world, “China’s landscape is beyond compare” in the present world, but they are anxious about China’s prospects, and believe that China will only have a way out if it implements Western “constitutional democracy”. How deluded and ignorant this is!
Whether or not a shoe fits, one only knows when putting it on. On whether or not China’s development path is correct, only the Chinese people themselves have the most right to speak. With China’s population of 1.3 billion and 56 ethnicities, and its territory of 9.6 million square kilometres, whose model can be followed? The problem is that since reform and opening up, we have done remarkably well and been very successful in practice, but we have not been sufficiently forceful in summarizing research, propagation and elucidation, what is said is not as good as what has been done. What is truly a influential, cohesive force among the broad masses is the elucidation of patriotism and the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation, but this is insufficient. We must persist in and develop Socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must build a discourse system that has Chinese characteristics, Chinese styles and Chinese airs, which is strongly influential, persuasive and cohesive, strive to forge new concepts, new categories and new expressions that circulate in China and abroad, use them to elucidate China’s basic national conditions, value concepts, development path, and domestic and foreign policies, shape a “mass discussion” on the theoretical system of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, shape a “Chinese discussion” on Socialist ideology, and thereby consolidate a common ideological basis of the united struggle of the Party and the people, and gain the power of initiative in the ideological struggle.