Hu Jintao and the Scientific Outlook on Socialist Development

By Heiko Khoo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 21, 2012
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Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), makes a keynote report on behalf of the 17th CPC Central Committee during the opening ceremony of the 18th CPC National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Nov. 8, 2012. [Xinhua Photo]

Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), makes a keynote report on behalf of the 17th CPC Central Committee during the opening ceremony of the 18th CPC National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Nov. 8, 2012. [Xinhua Photo]

Chinese President Hu Jintao's work report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasized the value of the Scientific Outlook on Development and proposed that this method should be the guiding force in applying Marxism to China in a modern context.

Marx and Engels referred to their ideas as Scientific Socialism in order to distinguish them from utopian ideas, which were not based on material reality. The anarchists proposed that all hierarchies, bureaucracies and power would vanish on the day after the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. The reformists proposed that the capitalists could be persuaded to cede their power and property to the masses by democracy, and the logical superiority and humanistic content of socialism.

Scientific Socialism was able to answer these theories by a concrete analysis of material conditions and interests. If there were no hierarchy, no authority and no bureaucracy, the means of organizing modern production and securing the livelihood of the people would disintegrate. The discipline required by the modern division of labor in production contradicts the fundamental premises of anarchist theory.

Where reformist socialists won parliamentary majorities, capitalists generally managed to neuter the leadership of these parties and take control of government policy. This is because the capitalists and their state overrule parliamentary majorities by extra-parliamentary means.

In capitalist countries, the hierarchy of the state bureaucracy is an instrument designed to maintain the wealth and power of the ruling class. Whenever socialists sought to reform the capitalist system, the ferocious reaction by the capitalist class to any fundamental threat to their wealth and power revealed itself. Scientific Socialism revealed that the bureaucratic chain of command over the state has to be broken or smashed and replaced by organs representing the working class.

When Hu said "we will never copy a Western political system", he reaffirmed some of the fundamental tenets of Marxism: socialism is not based on parliamentary democracy, and it is not an instrument for the protection of the wealth and power of the economic elite. This is the real reason why socialism is condemned by Western politicians and journalists.

Hu's affirmation of Scientific Socialism seeks to apply this outlook to China's development in modern times. This raises a number of interesting issues in relation to the struggle between socialism and capitalism on the world stage. His speech explained that after the 2008 global crisis, China's economy was "the first in the world to make a turnaround" because it took "major countermeasures on the basis of sizing up the overall development in a scientific way" thereby "defusing external economic risks and maintaining steady and robust growth."

Hu emphasized the central role of public ownership in China's ability to scientifically overcome the dynamics of the world economic crisis, and he proposed to "invest more in state capital in major industries and key fields that comprise the lifeline of the economy" and to "steadily enhance the vitality of the state-owned sector of the economy and its capacity to leverage and influence the economy."

It is quite clear from this that a scientific approach to the role of state planning must be designed to ensure that spontaneously regulated, market controlled sectors of the economy remain permanently subordinate to scientific planning. However, as Hu affirms, the state will also "encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector." In this way the spontaneous laws of capitalism can be contained and its periodic crises do not negatively impact scientific planning and development. Indeed, investments by the non-public sector provide vital sources of employment, new technology, organizational skills and finance.

Hu called for bold innovation in theory and practice to "explore and master the laws of socialism with Chinese characteristics". Indeed, it is perfectly logical that if Marx was able to identify the laws of capitalism using scientific socialism as his method, then it must also be possible to work out the laws of a society that has overthrown the rule of capitalism. The reign of scientific development planning seeks to gradually oust the laws of capitalist economics. This process appears to govern the laws of accumulation of socialist capital in an underdeveloped country.

The massive economic transformation that China is experiencing makes the unity of workers, as a class in itself, a material fact. But there are huge psychological barriers to generating the unity and engagement that is needed for the masses to truly act as a class for itself -- as the masters of the state. This will require the conscious democratic participation of the working classes: their cultural development, as well as the systematic eradication of bureaucratism, corruption, and excessive inequality. A radical reduction of the working week can be a powerful instrument to facilitate the masses in assuming administrative and managerial responsibilities. The degree to which the workers take command of their destiny will determine how quickly the smokestack bureaucratic image of socialism is replaced by a prosperous, scientific and democratic socialist state.

The Communist Party of China has grown extremely rapidly in recent years but this growth has come primarily from within middle-income groups. If a small percentage of the 258 million members of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions could be inspired to join the Communist Party, this would enliven intraparty democracy and anchor the struggle for socialism within the everyday problems, hopes and aspirations of the masses.

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