10.07.2016

Relaunching the Scientific Outlook on Development?


Last week, the anniversary of the founding of the PRC was
October 2, 2016 People's Daily Editorial 
marked by two events that went more or less unnoticed. On September 29, General Secretary Xi Jinping held a
speech at the Symposium on Studying the Selected Works of Hu Jintao. On October 2, the People's Daily published an editorial on 'A Major Result in the Sinification of Marxism'. This post examines the October 2 editorial. An abridged translation of Xi Jinping's speech is available here, and my comments on the speech will soon be published on this blog.

The editorial was exclusively focused on the Scientific Outlook on Development. It specified what the Scientific Outlook on Development is, what requests it poses, and why it is important.

China Millennium Bell. Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The October 2 editorial was published by an author writing under the pen name 钟言闻实 Zhongyan Wenshi

The first character -  zhong - conveys the idea of time, of time that passes, of timing,and also a bell. 言 stands for words, while 闻 in this context could refer to news, or to the hearing of news. The final character, 实 is truth and honesty. It is not uncommon for important editorials to be signed by one (or multiple) authors writing under a pseudonym. The characters chosen to compose the pseudonym do not convey any deeper or 'hidden' message inside the text. The poetic or allegorical names chosen to sign editorials convey an authorial intention to readersThe authorial intention behind this article could have been that of 'timing words and listening to truthful news'.  

The words to be spoken at a precise point in time - the anniversary of the founding of the PRC - and which are truthful words to be carefully listened to, are the words Scientific Outlook on Development.

Western analysts have long struggled to attribute a precise, univocal meaning to what in an earlier paper I have called "ideological formulas". These ideological structures, however, are polysemic, they carry multiple meanings at the same time. In fact, according to the October 2 editorial, the Scientific Outlook on Development is:


(a) born from the practice of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. It emerged from attempts at meeting challenges ranging from natural disasters, as the Wenchuan earthquake, to terrorist attacks and financial crises. It took shape under the guidance of earlier ideological guiding principles - Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, and the Important Thought of the Three Represents

(b) "a major result of the sinification of marxism in the new century."

(c) "an ideological guiding principle the CPC must uphold for a long time"

(d) "a guiding principle created mainly by Hu Jintao"

Also, the Scientific Outlook on Development conveys an essential meaning, a core position, a fundamental request, a basic method and a spiritual essence (第一要义、核心立场、基本要求、根本方法、精神实质).

Its essential meaning is Development. 

Its core position is 'humanity as the root' (以人为本): benefitting the People, realizing, protecting and developing the fundamental interests of the broadest majority of the People, respecting the People as as autonomous subject (主体), promoting a comprehensive development, whereby development is for the People, relies on the People and is enjoyed by all the People.

Its fundamental request is a comprehensive and coordinated sustainability of development.

Its basic method is 'overall planning which takes all the factors into account' (统筹兼顾) - the ability to handle every kind of contradictions and problems without losing one's strategic direction; an awareness and appropriate treatment of the major relationships of the cause of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. These major relationships are: urban-rural development, local development, economic development, domestic development, opening up to the outside world, centre-local relationships, and the harmonization of various kinds of interests.

Its spiritual essence is emancipating thought, seeking truth from facts, advancing in accordance with the time, being realistic and pragmatic (解放思想、实事求是、与时俱进、求真务实).

Development, sustainability, realism and pragmatism are to find their expression in the economic development strategy mentioned by the editorial, in the concept of People's Democracy, in the Socialist Core Value System, in social harmony, environmental protection, national defense and military affairs, in the One Country Two Systems policy, foreign relations, and in Party building.