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Maintaining Tight Control over Ideology

[Editor’s Note: Qiushi Journal republished an article from the Contemporary World and Socialism magazine on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) control over ideology work, which includes establishing, deciding on, shaping, and disseminating ideology. [1] The author, Wang Yonggui, is a scholar at the School of Marxist Studies at Nanjing Normal University. In the article, Wang stressed that the Party’s control over ideology “cannot be loosened for a single moment” and that “strengthening the Party’s sole leadership over work in ideology is an important weapon for the CCP’s success.” The following are excerpts from the article.]

I. Emphasizing the Strategic Importance of Ideology Work and Tightly Controlling Its Direction

Managing ideology work has always been a very important function for our Party. Missteps in managing the economy will cause big problems. Missteps in managing ideology will also cause big problems. Therefore, we should not slacken in our work on ideology while focusing on economic development. Strengthening the Party’s sole leadership over ideology, firmly controlling the direction of that ideology, and strengthening our motivation and foresight are important magic weapons for our continued victories.

1. Establish a central standing organization and strengthen the Party’s control over ideology. Back when the Chinese Communist Party was first established in 1921, our Party created a propaganda agency responsible for propaganda and agitation and for promoting revolutionary development. After the Sixth CCP Congress, the Central Propaganda Department became a permanent branch (of the government) and assumed its responsibilities and functions as the supreme organization for propaganda, for the education of the whole country, and for the political thought education of CCP cadres and the general public. In July 1942, Comrade Mao Zedong stressed that “the leadership’s control of thought is the most important leadership control.”

2. Strengthen the development of the CCP organization and consolidate the Party’s leadership over ideology. Our Party has attached great importance to strengthening its position as the sole leader in the field of ideology, which has been achieved mainly through the Party’s political leadership, leadership over thoughts, and its organizational leadership. For the Party to lead politically in the field of ideology, it must use the scientific theory of Marxism and the Party’s strategies, principles, and policies to guide the development of socialist ideology; for the Party to maintain its leadership over thoughts in the field of ideology, it must vigorously promote socialist ideology, resist and criticize all erroneous thoughts, and ensure that socialist ideology gradually occupies the entire field of ideology; for the Party to execute its organizational leadership in the field of ideology, it must establish Party organizations in all ideology sectors. These organizations will be responsible for publicizing and implementing the Party’s strategies, principles, and policies, especially the establishment of the propaganda departments from the central to the local Party committees at all levels. …

Because of the extreme importance of ideology, we must regard the improvement of the CCP’s ability to lead in ideology as the keystone to improving our ability as a ruling Party, and we must firmly control the Party’s leadership over ideology. This is the key to maintaining the invincible position of our Party and our socialist cause.

II. Responding to Confrontation between Ideologies and Scientifically Controlling the Correct Direction of the Development of Ideology

We must carry out a clear-cut battle between the two opposing ideologies (socialist ideology vs. the capitalist ideology) to provide a powerful guarantee that the direction of our reform and opening-up policy will be correct. Since the reform and opening-up, our Party has attached great importance to the confrontation and struggle between ideologies, actively responded to domestic and overseas challenges, and scientifically led in the development of ideology. Deng Xiaoping stressed that “liberalization itself is bourgeois; there is no such thing as proletarian or socialist liberalization. … Promoting liberalization will lead us to the capitalist path.” This suggested that fighting bourgeois liberalization is a long-term task. … Since the beginning of the 21st century, in responding to some erroneous thoughts and views questioning the current reform and the Party’s basic policies, the Central Propaganda Department and other departments have edited “The Six Whys – the Answers to Several Major Issues,” “Seven ‘How to Understand,’” and the “Learning Guide on Drawing ‘Four Major Boundaries’” to help cadres and the general public clarify some major issues and consciously resist the infiltration of erroneous ideas.

III. Actively Moving the Development of Ideology Forward with Innovative Styles and Methods

We should use propaganda, education, and scientific indoctrination to enhance the attractiveness and fighting power of Marxism-Leninism. Lenin once pointed out that, in the course of the proletarian revolutionary struggle, “socialist consciousness is something instilled from outside of the proletarian class struggle, rather than spontaneously generated from the struggle itself.” Using Lenin’s “concept of indoctrination” as our guide, our Party has actively promoted positive education, vigorously disseminated Marxism and the theory of the new democratic revolution, and strongly accelerated the process of democratic revolution.

IV. Consolidating the Social Foundation for Developing Ideology

We need to combine the sole leadership over socialist ideology with the concept of the diversity of cultural development. Since the reform and opening up, the development of social thoughts has been very active, and social consciousness has become diversified. This requires us to handle the relationship between the sole leadership over socialist ideology and the diversity of cultural values.

We should combine the development of socialist ideology with our efforts to expand the opening-up and development of the socialist market economy. Since the reform and opening-up began, we have adhered to the development of socialist ideology. At the same time we also expanded the opening-up and development of the market economy. As a whole, we correctly handled the relationship between the development of ideology and the expansion of the policy of opening-up and developing the socialist market economy. In fact, we prevented the ideology “centralization” and “enforcement” theories, and also paid attention to guarding against the ideology “useless” and “dilution” theories.

In all, since the establishment of the CCP 90 years ago, our experience and history in controlling ideology tells us that the strategic position and function of managing ideology should not be neglected and that the Party’s leadership over ideology cannot be relaxed. We must unswervingly adhere to Marxism as our guide in the field of ideology and scientifically educate and correctly guide the changes in people’s moral and value systems.

1. Qiushi Journal, “The Chinese Communist Party’s 90 Years of Experiences in Managing Ideology Work,” September 5, 2011.