Qiushi Editorial on Dialectical Materialism: Crucial in Realizing the “Four Comprehensives”

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This Qiushi (Seeking Truth) editorial on Dialectical Materialism was published first on 15 February.

Study and Use Dialectical Materialism, Strengthen and Coordinate our Abilities to Move the “Four Comprehensives” forward.

Not long ago, General Secretary Xi Jinping made an important speech at the 20th collective study session of the Politburo, stressing that dialectical materialism is the worldview and methodology of Chinese Communist Party members, that our Party must unite and lead the people in moving the comprehensive construction of a moderately prosperous society, the comprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensively governing the country according to the law and comprehensively governing the Party strictly forward in a coordinated manner, realize the “Two Centenaries” struggle objective, and realize the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, that we must incessantly receive the nourishment and wisdom of Marxist philosophy, even more consciously uphold and use the worldview and methodology of dialectical materialism, strengthen our abilities in dialectical thinking and strategic thinking, strive to raise our skill in resolving fundamental problems in our country’s reform and development, and develop a Chinese Marxism for the 21st Century. Giving high regard to studying and grasping the worldview and methodology of Marxism, is an excellent tradition that our Party has consistently maintained through the Chinese revolution, construction and reform periods. The important speech of General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out the direction for our preparations to respond with a magnificent struggle that has many new historical characteristics, for the coordination of moving the “Four Comprehensives” forward and spare no effort for the realization of the Chinese Dream.

To persist in starting from our basic national circumstances and starting from objective reality from beginning to end to formulate policies and move work forward, we must earnestly study and grasp the basic tenets of dialectical materialism concerning the world being unified in matter, and that matter decided consciousness. The relationship between spirit and matter is a fundamental philosophical question, and is a fundamental question in real work. All of humankinds’ activities are inseparable from the two aspects of spirit and matter. Only dialectical materialism scientifically resolves the relationship between spirit and matter, has demonstrated that the world is unified in matter, and objective existence decides subjective consciousness. Because of this, in real work, we must ensure everything starts from reality, and truth must be sought from facts. The biggest objective reality in contemporary China is that our country still is, and for a long time will remain, in the primary stage of Socialism, this is the fundamental objective point for us to understand the present, plan the future, formulate policy and move our undertaking forward, we cannot become separated from this basic point. The reason that the theory, line, principles and policies that our Party has put forward and implemented in the present stage are correct is because they have taken our country’s current social existence as basis. At present, we must both consider that the fundamental national circumstance of the primary stage of Socialism has not changed, and must also consider that our country’s economic and social development has brought new characteristics in every phase. We must correctly grasp the unity of this sort of “non-change” and “change”, we must neither mark a boat to seek a sword [an old Chinese proverb], neither can we help the plants grow by pulling on the sprouts, we must persist in starting from our country’s fundamental national circumstances and development requirements from beginning to end. When we put forward we must correctly grasp and actively adapt to the new normal in economic development, this is a judgement responding to the changes in the international and domestic environment, and of a dialectical analysis of the characteristics of our country’s economic development stage. Correctly grasping the new changes and new characteristics of our country’s different development stages, ensuring that the subjective world conforms better to objective reality, and deciding on work policies according to reality are work methods that we must closely keep in mind.

To forcefully strengthen the construction of the Socialist core value system and strengthen our country’s soft power, we must earnestly study and grasp the tenets of dialectical materialism concerning the counter effect of consciousness on matter. Dialectical materialism, under the precondition that it affirms that matter decides consciousness, also admits that consciousness displays a huge dynamic effect on understanding and changing the world, which demands that we respect the integration of objective laws and giving rein to subjective initiative. “People must have a bit of spirit.” General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that: “dialectical materialism is not a denial of the counter effect of consciousness on matter, but it believes that this sort of counter effect sometimes can be extremely huge. Our Party has put ideological construction in the first place in Party building from beginning to end, and has stressed that ‘revolutionary ideals are higher than heaven’, the reason for this is that spirit changes matter and matter changes spirit dialectically.” To realize the Chinese Dream, we must carry forward a Chinese spirit. Realizing the Chinese Dream demands that we not only strengthen in material terms, but also that we expand spiritually. From ancient times to the present, any large country’s development process has been a process of rising power in economic quantities, military power and other such hard power factors, as well as a rise in value systems, ideology, culture and other such soft power. For a nation, for a country, the most long lasting and the most profound force is a core value system commonly recognized by all of society. We must not slacken education about ideals and conviction, the construction of ideology and morality, and ideological work, forcefully foster and carry forward the Socialist core value system, and use a Chinese spirit that is rich in the flavour of the times to concentrate China’s forces.

To incessantly strengthen our consciousness about problems and strengthen our ability to vigorously respond to and resolve contradictions we run into during our progress in moving the “Four Comprehensives” forward, we must earnestly study and grasp the fundamental principles of dialectical materialism concerning material contradictions. Some leading cadres, when they run into problems or contradictions, often want to avoid or dodge the matter, one important reason for this is that they do not understand that material contradictions are the inherent drivers to promote material development. The general characteristics of dialectical materialism are connection and development, it is a theory concerning universal connection and comprehensive development. The law of the unity of opposites is the essence and core of dialectical materialism, it takes the objective universality of contradictions as preconditions, and understands that the driver of development lies in the unity of opposites of both sides of material contradictions. The problem is the manner in which material contradictions manifest themselves. Stressing that we must strengthen a consciousness of problems, persist in a problem orientation, means recognizing the universality and objectivity of contradictions, and means that we must be good at making the understanding and dissolution of contradictions into a breakthrough point to open up work situations. Problems are the voices of the times. Our Party has led the people in the revolution, construction and reform, and has always done so for the sake of resolving China’s real problems. The correct attitude for dealing with contradictions should be directly facing contradictions, and using the complementary characteristics of contradictions to promote material development through the process of resolving contradictions. At present, the Centre puts forward the accelerated transformation of economic development, adjusting economic structures, reducing excess production capacity, strengthening the construction of an ecological civilization and other such tasks, all of these are aimed at a number of profound contradictions that affect a broad area and are strongly coupled, they are for the sake of incessantly guiding action according to circumstances, they directly face and resolve contradictions. General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out that: “in the face of complex circumstances and onerous tasks, we must first and foremost look at the entire picture, and ensure we have a detailed knowledge of all sorts of contradictions, at the same time, we must also resolve main contradictions and the main aspects of contradictions with priority, in order to drive the resolution of other contradictions.” This demands that we not only understand contradictions and view them correctly, we must also be good at finding the main contradictions out of a mass of contradictions, look for the main aspects of contradictions on both sides of every contradiction, and persist in the dialectical unity of the “dialectical points theory” and the “focus point theory”. Only if we are good at grasping the “focus point” of “dialectical points”, grasp the focus point to lead the ordinary, both pay attention to general planning and pay attention to leading “the cow by the nose”, and moving forward with the comprehensive construction of a moderately prosperous society, the comprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensively governing the country according to the law and comprehensively governing the Party strictly in a coordinated manner, will we be able to even better build Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

To strengthen our ability for dialectical thinking and raise our skill in mastering complex situation and dealing with complex issues, we must earnestly study and grasp the fundamental methods of dialectical materialism concerning material dialectics. “Handling affairs according to dialectics” is a celebrated remark of Comrade Deng Xiaoping, which was greatly admired by Comrade Mao Zedong. To consciously handle affairs according to material dialectics, the most important matter is that we must make the entire process of material activity into a dialectical development and grasp it in this manner, look at problems by studying them in a comprehensive and dialectical manner, and oppose metaphysical thinking methods. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that: “The more our undertaking develops in breadth and depth, the more we must incessantly strengthen our ability for dialectical thought.” At present, the relationships between all sorts of interests in our country’s society is becoming extremely complex, there are more problems that on their own can affect the whole situation, and it is especially necessary to “recommend handling matters according to dialectics”, be good at dealing with the relationship between partial matters and the complete situation, the present and the long-term, focus concerns and non-focus concerns, seek profit and avoid harms in weighing pros and cons, and make the most beneficial strategic choices. To comprehensively deepen reform, we must give prominence to the systematic nature, integrated nature and coordinated nature of reform, and ensure that the fruits of reform and extended to the whole body of the people in greater numbers and even more fairly. Handling affairs according to dialectics demands that our observation of circumstances and work must overcome subjective wilfulness, we cannot be like blind men groping an elephant, look at the sky from the bottom of the well, pull up sprouts to help them grow, fit everything into a Procrustean bed, or draw feet on a snake. To raise our ability for dialectical thinking, we must be objective rather than subjective, develop rather than remain static, be comprehensive rather than biased, be systemic rather than fragmented, and be universally contacted rather than look at matters in isolation, when we analyse and resolve problems, we must correctly grasp objective reality, truly grasp laws, and appropriately deal with all sorts of major relationships.

To persist in practicing the first viewpoint, and incessantly move forward theoretical innovation on a practical basis, we must earnestly study and grasp the tenets of dialectical materialism concerning understanding and practicing dialectical relations. Dialectical materialism makes practice into a basis for understanding, it makes dialectics into a theory of reflection, and so establishes a dynamic theory of reflection. The practical viewpoint is the primary and basic viewpoint of dialectical materialist epistemology. It stresses that understanding is the dynamic reflection of the objective on the subjective on a practical basis; from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, and from rational knowledge to practice, are two big leaps in the process of understanding. Theory must be connected to reality, theory must be unified with practice. For us to move work in all areas forward, we cannot rely on “bookism”, we must rely on deriving true knowledge from practice. At the same time, we must give high regard to the role of theory, strengthen self-confidence about theory and a strategic ability to concentrate, correct theories that have been obtained through repeated practice and comparison must be firmly and unwaveringly upheld. The unity of theory and practice is realized in incessant development. We must, on the basis of the changes of the times and development in practice, under the leadership of the Party Centre with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary, incessantly deepen our understanding, incessantly summarize experiences, incessantly realize the beneficial interaction of theoretical innovation and practical innovation, and coordinate moving forward with the “Four Comprehensives” and developing a 21st Century Chinese Marxism through this sort of unity and interaction.

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