Decaying of Ideology in Modern China

Although Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Though (MLM) still serves as the ideology which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) adhere to, these socialist doctrines no longer serve inspirational purposes to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and are viewed as an “ideological vacuum. ” China’s attempt to establish a rapid growing economy to support the authority of the Communist regime has contradicted the Communist ideology and has thus created a reverse effect. It is certain that Chinese citizens have grown increasingly apolitical in the current era due to the exposure to market economy and Western influences.
This new environment prompts the public to adopt individualism and neglect Communist ideologies such as collectivism. As Deng Xiao Ping and many other scholars blamed the ineffective political education as the major cause of this phenomenon, the assertion remains debatable. CCP now faces a challenge where it has to redefine its political ideology while fitting the socialist regime in the context of “socialist commodity economy. ” The CCP’s attempt to reconcile its capitalist practices with socialist ideal results a dilemma.
As uncertainties lay in the future of the Chinese political environment, this paper evaluates the failure of The Communist Party’s normative authority, and distinguishes possible alternatives and solutions. One of the main reasons for the failure of the propaganda scheme is that the value which the Party tries to promote grossly contrasted with the actual social condition. While the Party urges the public to embrace the idea of “collectivism,” and “serving the people,” it fails to justify how socialist morality is compatible with market competition.

Jurgen Habermans has labeled this dilemma as ‘rationality crisis,’ caused by the disjunction between current practices and the original ideological tenets upon which the regime was founded. ” Although CCP recognizes the need for combating moral disorder and launched the “socialist spiritual civilization” (SSC) campaign in 1997, the accomplishment is diminutive. It is obvious that political education in China is heavily emphasized, where political elements are incorporated in every curriculum, from kindergarten to university.
However, the program is ineffective since these principles are not applicable in the social environment. As a result, students see no purpose in these materials except to know them well so they could obtain a decent academic record and remain competitive in the job market. Furthermore, “even party functionaries no longer take ideological work seriously, and few are interested in this specialty as a career. ” The character of legitimation crisis has also surfaced besides the presence of rationality crisis.
Legitimation crisis is “a discrepancy between the need for motives declared by the state and the motivation supplied by socio-cultural system. ” As “harmonious society” (hexie shehui) and scientific development” continues to serve as current watchwords for CCP, they appears to be oxymoronic. The concept of harmonious society is drawn upon Confucius values, whereas the concept of scientific development aroused mainly from Deng Xiao Ping Theory, which is an emphasis on economic stability.
The rationality and legitimation crisis which CCP now encounters “can be explained in terms of the antinomy between rationality and reasonableness, or between scientism and moralism. This antinomy seems to be the most visible obstacle and the most controversial policy of Chinese education. ” Another critical argument for CCP’s decaying normative authority is the corruption of government officials and therefore creating a devastating effect on the Party’s goal on rebuilding moral order.
Since the 16th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, more than 100 minster- and provincial-level officials were sentenced for corruption, an unprecedented number, according to statistics released by the Supreme Procuratorate. In 2005, 47,206 officials were disciplined-punished by Chinese supervision agencies. ” Consequently, the uncontrollable widespread of corruption among government officials brings public to think that education system is hypocritical and therefore, unpersuasive.
In a survey conducted in the state enterprises of Shenyang, one of China’s largest industrial cities, 71% of respondents agreed that moral education should be directed primarily at the high- and middle- ranking cadres rather than at ordinary people. ” In order to overhaul the Communist Ideology, the Party implemented inspirational projects incorporating patriotic education and Confucianism. China’s patriotic education was design for two purposes. One is to combat Western influences and second is to achieve “unified thinking” (tongyi sixiang).
To a certain extent, the program was successful, particularly in “unified thinking. ” Although the Party is unable to eliminate all Western influences and the exchange of information, the general public has increasingly learnt to praises and adapt to traditional Chinese culture. The party has utilized Confucianism value by describing “Confucianism as a positive force that could consolidate the Chinese nation and foster socialist spiritual civilization. ” Accordingly, most of the Chinese families today follow Confucian’s teachings and the value of Confucianism is already deeply rooted in the society.
Through the post-1989 Patriotic Education, the regimen has provided China’s new generations with nationalists. In China’s education system, children are taught “that China’s misery was imposed by Western countries,” and acknowledged themselves as nationalists and “bound to become fenqing. ” Furthermore, although young generations are no longer interested in the concept of ideology, CCP has little problems finding new members as we can see that during “the last five years, three-quarters of those who flocked to join were under thirty-five. This is not only a result of patriotism but also joining the Party could provide opportunities and benefits.
On the other hand, the increasing population of nationalist does not imply legitimating the government’s policy and authorities. “By placing the party and the center of the official discourse the state-centered view of nationalism restricts the extent to which the Party-state can mobilize nationalist symbolism in support of its leadership and make the Party vulnerable to criticism from more popular conceptions of nationalism. June 4th crackdown and the emergence of Chinese liberalism are the result of nationalism.
Besides from implementing propaganda program to strengthen Communist Ideology, new ideas have also formed in the Chinese political platform. Ideas such as “new left,” “new conservative”or even“liberalism” are introduced. The New Leftism is in opposition to capitalism and Chinese economic reforms and in favor of the restoration of the Maoist-style socialism. “New leftists” appeal to social injustice like corruption and the interest of low class people became particular popular in 2009.
Furthermore, it addresses the problem of the disparity between rich and poor. The New leftists “guarantee the welfare of the country’s 800 million peasants left behind the recent change. ” Alternatively, if China is to take on the advice of the New Leftist, it would create an enormous wave of withdraws in the form of foreign investments due to the economic uncertainty, which would inevitably destroy China’s new emerging market. And the collapse of the Chinese economy would make it impossible for the Party to provide welfare for the poor.
In that sense, the New Left ideas do not generate common interest between the public and the Party’s ideology. On the contrary, the “New Conservatives”, or Neo-Conservatives, “holds that modernization is a gradual process (incrementalism), and that, during this process, traditional values, the existing order and an authoritarian government are necessary to maintain social stability and ensure a successful social transformation. ” It also distinguishes itself from traditional conservatism by accentuating modern transformation and accelerates economic development.
The Neo-Conservatives tries to develop “a model characterized by economic growth under an authoritarian political order. ” This hybrid Ideology that retained Marxism-Leninism ideals and Deng’s goal to achieve modernization “enabled Jiang to legitimize the Party and ensure its survival. ” Consequently, Jiang has balanced centralism (elements of the “Mao Era”) and capitalistic-orientated economic policies (which are elements of the “Deng Era”) and achieve new census. Besides from the ideas that were discussed above, “liberalism” is another concept which has derived from the June 4th incident of 1989.
The collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe provided an opportunity for Chinese liberals to deeply reflect on the illusion of ‘socialist democracy. ’” The Chinese liberals advocate the abandon of one Party rule and call for multi-party elections to increase competition and limiting the power of the government. “Despite hard suppression of democracy and liberal ideas by the Chinese party-state, and partly due to this suppression, liberalism and the quest for human rights have been on the rise and achieved a level of sophistication in China since the late 1990s.
Even though the idea of liberalism is not irrelevant to China’s political future, the system would be impossible to impose under a peaceful transition. Ultimately, China would have to construct a new political stance that ensures government power but also provide economic prosperity. China would have to undergo gradual transition from Communism to Authoritarian Capitalism, for instance the People’s Action Party (PAP) in Singapore. Under such political system, there is a large degree of economic freedom but tight control in terms of social freedom.
Although there are negative comments on Singapore’s authoritarian capitalism, such as ones that were made by Christopher Lingle, his arguments are debatable. He claimed that “Singapore’s authoritarian rule has led to the ‘politicization of commerce,’ the distribution of economic and commercial privileges to trusted political supporters, stifling the emergence of home-grown entrepreneurs. ” On the other hand, statistics has proven him wrong. Singapore is the second most economically free country according to 2011 Index of Economic Freedom.
Furthermore, its government spending in terms of GDP is among the lowest in the world (14. 5%), according to information from The World Factbook. And as we can see, the Chinese government is actually taking such transition, and characters of capitalism can be found in increasingly free trade. Several universities claimed “that great powers like China and Russian, with authoritarian state capitalist regimes could pose a viable rival model. ”

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