Various factors contributed to the creation of communism in China. These factors include:
Confucian culture is a key aspect of the Chinese society as it has played a significant role in the making of a communist culture. In the traditional Chinese society, Confucianism was the governing dogma of the ruling elite. The ideology first came into existence after 200 BCE and remained the country’s orthodox ideal for almost 2000 years. Even though, the introduction of communism resulted in numerous changes in various aspects of the Chinese society, Confucian elements still influence China’s political society.
Ritual is a vital element of the Confucian culture as it is the expresses human virtue. This entails the kindness and benevolence that human beings should portray to each other as well as the character that a society shares in common. Over the year’s moral elitism, ideological indoctrination and ideological centralization has typified the Confucian culture, which has provided the central ruler with the power and authority to impose certain values and ideals on citizens. In this sense, as traditionally seen the Chinese emperor defined the appropriate values, which is also evident in the communist culture.
The Confucian doctrines promote and support communist ideals and has significantly influenced communism in various ways. Confucianism is viewed as a collectivistic – based ideology that promotes as set of values that direct societal behavior. Therefore, adherence to the set norms will ensure that individuals support collective values of the society. Consequently, Confucianism emphasizes on self- cultivation at the collective and individual level aiming at enhancing human relationship. In this way, the collectivistic nature tends to regulate personal and public life. This nature is evident in the contemporary China, especially, in the CPC (Communist Party of China). Consequently, Confucian culture has been viewed as authoritarian as it requires citizens to accept fully and respect the centralized power of leaders. These elements of Confucianism have contributed to communism in China.
Foreign Invasions and Historical Trauma
The fall of the Chinese imperial state, as well as the Qing Dynasty, resulted due to various factors including external invasions, internal rebellions, and colonization. The failure to successfully rebel against the external invasions had a significant impact on the Chinese political scene. Proponents argue that the failure of the Chinese state in the nineteenth century led to communism. The mid-nineteenth century marked the beginning of colonization by Western powers who affected the political development of the Chinese State. Consequently, the Opium Wars between Britain and China destabilized the Qing dynasty.
The defeats and challenges that faced China resulted in major humiliation from the East and West between 1894 and 1902. At the same time, foreign countries were dividing the country into “spheres of influence” as well claiming trading rights to various. The foreign countries included France, Britain, Germany, and Russia, which devastated China’s sovereignty and consequently resulted in nationalistic hatred towards foreigners. These factors led to a historical dislocation and collective trauma shared among the Chinese people. This encouraged a collective response from the Chinese society that promoted the creation of a communist state. The creation of a communist culture was guided by ideological totalism characterized by a series of events such as the 1919 May Fourth Movement, nationalist uprising and the communist movement.
May 4th Movement
The Chinese atmosphere typified by hatred, anger, psychological trauma and humiliation led to the May Fourth Movement. The movement started in 1919 and marked the beginning of the process that introduced new ideologies into the Chinese culture. Central to the ideologies was the Marxism-Leninism, which appealed many radical students and scholars. The students and scholars sought to transform the political culture of the Chinese society after years of humiliation. Students and faculty introduced the movement before the rest of the Chinese population was involved. The movement is considered as a major ideological and cultural upheaval as it attacked numerous aspects of the Chinese tradition, thus changing the societal views. Therefore, the May Fourth Movement sought to recreate a new way of life, culture and way of thinking for the Chinese people and, as a result, marked a historical turning point.
The transformation of China’s history resulted in a culture characterized by ideological totalism, which led to a new age of political transformation and reconstruction. The proponents of the movement, students and faculty, believed in a “New Culture Movement” that would transform and remodel the beliefs of the Chinese people. The transformation would lead to a unifying ideology. The movement had a profound influence on communism because revolutionary leaders who founded the CPC such as Mao Zedong Li Dazhao, and Chen Duxiu were involved in the May Fourth Movement.
Russian Communist Revolution
In the course of transforming their culture and civilization, the Chinese society was given hope by the Russian communist revolution. The revolution also referred as the “October Revolution” occurred in 1917 successfully resulted in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union became a model that the Chinese intellects wanted to emulate. The transformation that occurred in the neighboring state provided the Chinese with a new vision of social transformation and reconstruction. As a result, the May Fourth Movement borrowed the ideals of the Soviets such as the Marxism-Leninism.
Marxist-Leninist ideological totalism
The total vision of transforming the traditional culture based on the Marxist-Leninist ideological totalism resulted in the creation of a communist state. From total disillusionment in their culture and embarrassment due to the failures to fight western powers, the Chinese people began to search for a new perspective and view that would transform the society. As a result, the Chinese scholars opted for Marxism-Leninism’s ideology, which was in use in the Soviet Union with success. In this way, the Chinese political transformation adopted the ideological totalism that in turn ushered in a political transformation. The transformation began with the May Fourth Movement that aimed at transforming and remodeling the attitude and culture of the Chinese people and thus created a collective ideology. The totalistic ideology adopted by the May Fourth scholars had a political influence throughout the country as it became a factor that contributed to communism.
There are various superficial similarities related to the aspects of power, organization, and ideology between traditional and contemporary China. However, it might be difficult to identify the differences, which makes it necessary to focus the nature of the political institutions in both periods. Conversely, it would be vital to focus on the guiding principles, ideologies, the nature, power relationships, and the inner workings of these institutions. By analyzing the aforementioned considerations, it will be possible to determine the ideological, organizational and power differences between traditional and contemporary China.
In both the traditional and contemporary China, the party remains to be the center of power. The party is at the top of the power structure pyramid in China’s party-state. In this position, the party represents the nation in totality and assumes total guidance of the nation’s goals. For this reason, the party controls, integrates, intertwines, and commands all state sectors, as well as the political and military institutions. The party captures the functioning and the nature of the political reality and structure in China, both in the traditional and contemporary China. The power structure is totalistic and indivisible in both periods.
Ideologically, the formation of the party state follows the “four cardinal principles,” whose purpose is to ensure that the nation prospers. The four cardinal principles include the adherence to Mao Zedong Thought and Marxism-Leninism, adherence to the socialist system, CPC’s leadership, and the proletariat dictatorship. Ideologically, the maintenance of CPC’s leadership means maintaining political leadership over state policy. This position calls for the maintenance of absolute leadership over the state apparatus, which are inclusive of the military as well as other facets of democratic dictatorship. Maintaining leadership of the party requires adherence to the principles of managing governmental cadres, which overrides ideology and multi-party cooperation.
In order to outline the differences in power, organization, and ideology between the two periods, it would be vital to take note of the formation of the Chinese political culture. In traditional China, political actions were taking place in the subject cultural contexts that were inclusive of Confucianism and Chinese civilization. These contexts comprised of the dominant forces shaping the Chinese political development. The progress was characteristically violent, revolutionary, communistic, and experienced peasant uprising.
Contrary to traditional China, there is a possibility of determining that the changes in the political changes in contemporary China are somewhat insignificant. However, the sectors that experienced significant changes were inclusive of the legal, economic, and social areas. For this reason, several Chinese political analysts posit that the reforms and changes led to regime changes in the post-Mao government. The alterations include the characteristic movement away from communism that features the Leninist party-state, which is presumably outdated.
In spite of the insignificant changes of the power structure, there were attempts to create a loosened-up political environment. Some of the considerations that would create such an environment included the creation of a more tolerant orientation towards debates on political reforms. Such a consideration could not take place in traditional China, where the party exercised power over anything political or social in nature. The other changes were inclusive of the creation of more press freedom, as well as the lifting of a number of political taboos within the policy line of the ruling party.
Some of the organizational differences existing between traditional and contemporary China comprised of the implementation of political reforms based on pragmatism and rationality. The reform considerations were administrative in nature. The reform processes were inclusive of the separation of the functions of the state from those the party had the right to perform. In this case, the reforms were necessary for decentralizing the decision-making processes, ensuring the streamlining of the administration and increasing the effectiveness of work. Conversely, the reforms were vital for regularizing the state’s legal system.
Even though, the decentralization of administrative power did not go through, the implementation of regularization of the legal system was rational. Changes to economic decision-making initiatives were necessary for ensuring a freer market. For this reason, the changes were not for altering the regime in China, but for rationalizing the legislative, legal, and administrative systems within the existing political climate. The changes were necessary for the institutionalization of the aforementioned sectors to ensure that there are actual economic achievements.
The post-Mao regime has not moved away from Leninist-party state ideologies. The political nucleus that drives the China's system after the rule of Mao is still embedded in communism. Political overhaul in the government of China has not yet happened, a factor that also depicts the deep-rooted ideologies of the Mao's political system of communism. Nonetheless, there are significant economic changes that are plausible as well as institutional and administrative changes. However, these changes are not adequate to declare that the communist system of rule after Mao's regime has gone to depletion. The ideas, techniques and procedures of running the China's government are still in the container of communism, a despotic system that oppresses people.
Empirical evidence from different government bodies and social organizations shows that China is still perpetrating communism despite controversies on the subject. Some analysts are hell-bent on insisting that the system of rule in China has completely changed in the post-Mao regime. The most notable evidence that depicts the perpetration of communism in post-Mao regime is the usage of state organizations as facades to hide the oppressive techniques used by the state. Party organizations use the state agencies as instruments to complete their ulterior motives in terms of authoritarian leadership. The rationale behind it is that state agencies possess the real power that is necessary for any government to run. The usage of state agencies fulfills the predominance of the party organizations, in this case, the Leninist-party state, in all societal aspects. Some of the state agencies that the post-Mao regime uses as a smoke-screen in perpetrating the hardcore ideologies are NPC, PLA and CPPCC. They manipulate these state agencies into providing an environment that allows communism to thrive at the expense of the Chinese citizens. The effect that the despotic system of rule has brought to the country has cultivated misery, repressive systems and a dearth of democracy in matters concerning legislative affairs. Moreover, China's military synthesized with other security forces are also highly politicized to guarantee the party state of an unwavering political power that is not prone to opposition and incessant threats.
As aforementioned, empirical explanations and researches maintain that, the post-Mao regime is politically tantamount to the past Mao's era in terms of the relationship of party states. During Mao's era, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was the conduit through which all government and state progressions were pipelined through in a bid to produce a stagnancy of tyrannical ideologies, principles and rules. The same trend has been perpetrated to the post-Mao's era, a factor that shows that China has not walked away from the ideological structures that were planted by Mao's era. Conversely, CPC leadership has also fused the power of a legion of state institutions to ensure that all the operations in those bodies strictly follow the principles of the party. It is unfortunate that such an authoritarian party emblems the state institutions with a soiled reputation in terms of governance since the repression, corruption and totalitarianism that exudes from them is unbearable.
For the numerous reasons and empirical evidence described above, it is evident that the regime of Mao has internally not changed. The economic changes that China has faced in the three decades of post-Mao era are remarkable changes but, unfortunately, do not qualify to declare that China's regime of rule has changed. Concisely, the system has experienced a "change of regime" and not a "change within the regime" since all the ideologies, principles, practices of communism are still present in the post-Mao era.
What legal changes have taken place in post-Mao China
The criterion that is presumably relevant in determining the legal changes in post-Mao China would be through the definition of the rule of law. The rule of law refers to the legal due process that limits the exercise of power, thereby indicating that individuals as well as organizations are equal before the law. In spite of this description, there is no evidence supporting the fact that post-Mao China changed to identify with the rule of law. Instead, post-Mao China uses the rule of law to exercise control over the society, achieve the country’s policy goals, and maintain the existing economic and political order.
However, some of the legal changes are inclusive of enforcing contracts in order to encourage market changes. Conversely, the legal changes comprised of passing administrative and criminal law in order to control arbitrary intervention from the government and to curb corruption. Enacting property law was for the protection of the profits earned by the government. With the aforementioned changes, it would be plausible to argue that the changes focus on the supreme lawmaker, whose function is to determine the manner in which laws are made. The supreme legislator, CPC, determines the political context of enforcing the laws, thereby defining, and promulgating the constitutional rules. Reasons for the definition and promulgation are to give directives to administrative organs. Conversely, it will be the responsibility for the governmental agencies to make laws needed by the party for exercising control.
The legal changes that are seen in the constitution of China in the post-Mao China have affected the legal system's nature in numerous ways. Firstly, the reinforcement of the administrative and criminal laws by the supreme legislator, CPC, to restrain the capricious intervention in the government has polarized a part of the judicial system of China. The reason behind this is that the CPC has an authoritarian voice that restricts the court system to operate independently, a factor that has made the legal system of China become ineffective since all the principles it adheres to are all under the CPC's passive repressive constitution. To seek justice in China has become a Herculean task since the judges in the legal systems are largely biased and fearful of the tyrannical punishments before them if they pass the right judgment on government bigwigs among other setbacks. In effect, the legal system in post-Mao era is flawed and fraught with unnecessary fear among the juries arising from the laid foundations of despotism and autocratic principles of the party-state, CPC.
However, despite the fever, that has infected a legion of the juries in the legal systems; a modicum of positive reforms has been realized in the post-Mao China legal systems. Post-Mao China has changed from the "rule by policy" to "a combination of rule by law and policy" system, a dynamic that has enabled law professionals and advisors to have largesse of mandate to perform legal tasks. Similarly, the National People's Congress (NPC) has undergone a rationalization, a factor that has also seen its fortification as well as the NPCSC (National People's Congress Standing Committee). In effect, organizational changes have been massive; hence, workers are experiencing an avalanche of relief in terms of the minimum wages to earn as stipulated in the China's constitution.
Has post-Mao China established rule of law? Why?
The post-Mao regime has not fully established rule by law, as the regime has shifted from “rule by policy” to a rule by a blend of both law and policy. As a result, vital matters such as decision-making have remained restricted to a select group, and thus, the Chinese people do not have a say over essential matters concerning the state. Therefore, the legal system remains the same because the CPC control the law-making process and implementation as well as the legislative initiation. Even though there is an effective legal system, bureaucracies and law administrators, the regime seldom respect the law, as they tend to take the principles and ideology of the party as the guide in any legal action. This is because the legal system is not viewed as an independent body as the courts are considered as an arm of the regime. In this case, post-Mao China has failed to establish rule of law since the government utilizes the law to regulate and suppress justice and the dissatisfied and thus it protects and promotes the monopolistic power of the ruling party. The post-Mao China legal system and law have ensured that the ruling class is “legally protected” from actions that might sabotage the socialist economy and interest of the regime. Thus, the party leaders can protect and retain their monopolistic power, policies, ideology, and objectives in the name of the law.