Beijing: As China held its first world Marxism Congress, a Chinese military general has warned that Marxism would become irrelevant if the political and economic ideology that changed world failed to find answers to contemporary social problems. In a speech read out at the World Congress on Marxism at Peking University, General Liu Yazhou, political commissar at the National Defence University, told over a 100 national and international ideologues of Marxism that “(the researchers) inability to identify and solve social problems have blocked the innovative development of Marxism in China”.
His speech went on to say that while Marxism proved to be a “historical and scientific” choice for the Chinese people and remained vital, it was necessary to innovate and expand its theoretical basis to avoid being marginalised, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.
“It is not easy for a theory to be refuted by another theory, but it could be easily defeated by social problems. But if a theory fails to address social concerns, then society will no longer need it,” he said. The World Congress on Marxism is being held amid the ruling Communist Party of China’s (CPC) efforts to deepen reforms to further liberalise its economy in order to halt the slowdown.
After decades of double digit growth rates, Chinese economy is hovering around seven per cent with forecast that it would further decline in the next two years. CPC which prides to be the communist party with longest tenure in power with uninterrupted one-party rule since 1949 describes its mix of Marxism with economic reforms as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
More than 400 Marxist scholars from 20 countries were invited to participate in the congress with the theme of “Marxism and the Development of the Human Race”. Speaking at the Congress, Liu Wei, vice-president of Peking University said one problem that Marxists needed to answer was how to make the market-based economy work effectively under public ownership – as opposed to private ownership in capitalism.
The answer could determine the success or failure of China’s economic reforms, Liu said. The comments come as President Xi Jinping embraced Marxism and traditional Chinese values as the nation’s ideological lodestar while suppressing liberal Western ideas such as democracy and civil society, the Post report said.
The party’s Central Committee also issued a directive earlier this year for all mainland universities to become bases for “learning, researching, and disseminating” Marxism, and making sure Chinese socialism was not only printed in textbooks, but was also “getting into students’ minds”.
Xi headed the CPC’s ideological school before taking over at the Party’s General Secretary, President of the country and Chief of armed forces in 2013, making him the most powerful leader in recent Chinese history after Deng Xiaoping who after Party founder Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 introduced widespread economic reforms diluting the socialist content of CPC’s ideology.
Peking University is planning to make the World Congress on Marxism a permanent fixture, hosted every two years, while a building named after Karl Marx will soon be built on the campus.