Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor
Chinese Communist Party: Communism under Construction
'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean," Humpty Dumpty tells Alice in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass."
The Chinese Communist Party takes a similar approach when it describes its ideology as "socialism with Chinese characteristics." This creed has little to do with socialism anywhere else in the world, and the party long ago discarded the sort of beliefs that Karl Marx espoused.
"If he came to Beijing today, Marx wouldn't recognize much communism," acknowledges Chen Xiankui, who teaches Marxism at People's University in Beijing.
But if the party is communist in name only, it remains very much a Leninist institution, following almost to the letter the Russian revolutionary's edicts on how to control a state and suppress any challenges to its rule.
China today lives under "market-Leninism," a system introduced by Deng Xiaoping, who took a uniquely pragmatic approach 30 years ago as he launched the free-market economic reforms that have propelled the country to global prominence.
Mr. Deng ditched traditional communist ideology and all the Maoist nostrums about equality and communes, and declared that "it does not matter whether a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." He also announced to a population sunk in poverty that "to get rich is glorious."
"Deng Xiao-ping's socialism is totally different from Lenin's or Mao Zedong's socialism, but it is much more popular," explains Professor Chen.
"Only by offering people a better life can the party win people's support, and only if the party has public support can socialism survive and develop," he adds. …