The 19th National Congress of CPC has once again set the direction and path for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, which has caught the world’s attention. The core concept embedded in the report to the 19th National Congress of CPS is viewing China’s development as an important component of human progress. Based on this concept, China’s development, in fact, is playing two roles: on the one hand, to rejuvenate the ancient civilization in the modernization process; and on the other hand, to explore new path for human progress and find solution to the cognition dilemma of mankind, especially to offer experiences for the developing countries to engage in independent development. In another word, China will influence the world through transforming itself and promote the progress and development of the world by making progress. In this light, the successful convening of the 19th National Congress of CPC will no doubt be of profound significance to the world development.
I. Making Progress Is the Core Dynamic for and Goal of
“Progress” of the human society mainly refers to the improvement of rationality and civilization of mankind. The improvement of human cognition ability makes it possible for mankind to make progress. In reality, if we observe anddeal with domestic and international issues from the perspective of the overall progress of mankind, we can find better solutions to many of the issues.
Human pursuit for happy lives is the core dynamic for “progress”, which is mainly reflected in two aspects: first, to manage the relationship between Man and nature and meet the material needs of mankind for survival by improving productivity; second, to manage the relations between people and people, which is mainly reflected in social establishment getting increasingly reasonable, and the rising of rationality and morality of mankind. These two aspects are closely interconnected. Human developed from using nature by hunting and gathering for survival to shaping nature by producing necessities for survival, giving rise to increasingly complicated social system of labor division and making the composition of human society become more complicated. Progresses in these two aspects are both mutual promoting and mutual checking, as productivity gains call for the improvement of cognition of the natural world and the progress of human social systems. Only when human cognition makes enough progress, can they enter a new phase of development.
Not until about 2500 years ago, did mankind become aware of the concept of “progress”, when both the East and the West began to transform from unconscious progress to consciously seeking self-development. It was in 1492 when the American continent and the American Indians were discovered that Europe came to be truly aware of the significance of progress empirically. Nevertheless, the fact that the North American Indians were almost exterminated made us understood two things: first, mankind at least was rather savage at that time; and second, when human history developed from a regional one to a global one and contests appeared among civilizations, for any civilization, no progress means crisis for its survival.
II. The Process of Human Progress Is Tortuous and Complicated
Progress is made possible by the improvement of human cognition, which should be a collective one rather than those from individuals and could usually be obtained from social practice. As a result, progress is a complicated andrepeated process of cognition rather than a straight forward one.
In the progress of Europe from Middle Ages to the modern society, changes in three aspects had taken place: first, the form of national political power had changed from theocracy and jura regalia to civil rights; second, the scientific and technological development had brought economy into the industrialization age; and third, the economic production mode had changed from natural economy to capitalism. The capitalist production mode had basically adapted to the development of industrialized productivity, but its operation principle centered on profits chasing by capital, that had materialized the economic system with which mankind met its material needs for survival completely into the production system of profits, just like what Aristotle had said economy was changed from a subsystem that served the society into a profit-making machine. Therefore, the problems it has brought to the human society are equally outstanding. In addition to the facts that periodical economic crises exert huge impacts on society and the society has been torn up by polarization of the rich and the poor as wealth concentrates in the hands of a few, the biggest damage capitalism has brought on human progress is the colonial aggression and expansion as well as imperialist wars. From the perspective of international relations, the Western academia had developed a set of geostrategic theories to control the world in the imperialist era, not only used by Hitler, but also hazarding mankind until this day.
It is for this significant defect of capitalism that theories of socialism and communism have emerged together with the development of capitalism as well as movements and practice incited by these theories. The theory of socialism believes that capitalism is a development stage which will be eventually surpassed by socialism, as socialists are more concerned with human progress. No matter how one appraises these theories and social practice, no one can deny the fact that this progressive force had played an important and active part in ending the two world wars and the Western colonialism. Whereas, the principles of equality of sovereign states and mutual non-aggression established after the Second World War had laid the foundation for human society to enter a new stage of development.
III. The Post-war Order Offers a New Starting Point for
From the perspective of human progress, the post-war world has at least made significant progress in three aspects. First, mankind has begun for the first time in history to form a global system with sovereign states at the core. Second, in the field of international relations, imperialism and colonialism have been denied in theory, politics and even in international legal framework. Third, as far as the basic form of nation-state is concerned, the form of states centered on modernity and with civil rights at the core has been generally accepted.
The progress made in the wake of the Second World War was closely associated with the emergence of the socialist camp: socialist movements played an active role in forcing colonialism out of the stage of history; socialist ideas also exerted significant influence on countries within the Western world. In the post-war era, the Western countries absorbed a great deal of socialist elements, growing from barbaric capitalism to welfare capitalism and fostering a middle class to mitigate class antagonism.
Nonetheless, there were two major issues in the post-war world: one of them was the confrontation between the East and the West, as the capitalist camp pursued a Cold War policy toward the socialist camp; while the other one was the South-North contradiction, as there was an unequal economic relation between the developed nations and the developing countries. The East-West confrontation could be said as the synthetic product of contention for geopolitical interests and conflict between different ideologies, which has much distorted the cognition of mankind and impeded the development of human society till today. The South-North contradiction is more complicated. For the numerous newly independent countries, it was not so easy for them to develop from pre-industrial countries into modernized nations, as they were faced with difficulties in political reconstruction as well as the choice of development path and model. Internal division and external interference had made some of the countries instable politically. Meanwhile, the industrialization of the developingcountries inevitably called for the change of the world production system. In this respect, the South-North contradiction became more intensified.
IV. The Bottleneck for Human “Progress” in Modern Times
Since the end of the Cold War, the world has experienced economic advancement and political regression. The end of the Cold War has provided the necessary political condition for the development of economic globalization, which has become the mainstream of the world situation in the wake of the Cold War. Nevertheless, the US wanted to turn back the clock in politics, wishing to maintain forever the situation of dominance by the only superpower emerged at the time. In 1992, the Harvard professor Fukuyama published his monograph the End of History and the Last Man, in which he pointed out, in human society, the “end of history rests with the democratic and liberal capitalism”, reflecting that America had met with cognition bottleneck on the issue of human progress.
Meanwhile, then US President Clinton proposed a national strategy to ensure American hegemony and pursued a “neo-interventionist” policy internationally, which was almost a folly ---- the US believed its so-called “democracy” to be the highest state of human development, while trying to set up an autocratic system that exalted America only in the world. The “neo-interventionism” had created three major cognition paradoxes: to make peace by waging wars (the hegemonic stability theory); to safeguard human rights by creating humanitarian catastrophes (the supremacy of human rights); and to promote democratic values in a tyrant way (the universal values).
These three paradoxes have imposed many negative impacts on human progress. First, they have subverted the post-war world order that centered on the principles of equality of sovereign states and mutual non-aggression. Second, they have created unrivaled humanitarian disasters. Third, they have offered political and geographical spaces for the development of international terrorism. Fourth, the international violence done by the US government has made its domestic cultural mindset backfired, as seen in the spread of violence, violent law-enforcement by the police and frequent occurrence of social shooting incidents in America.
The conduct of the US in the wake of the Cold War has brought the human history back to the era of Roman Empire. If the human history is just what Fukuyama said, to end this darkness will make the future of mankind even dimmer.
From the perspective of human progress, the core bottleneck for global development is that some of the major powers are still short of overall cognition of mankind, whose behaviors abide by the principle of the supremacy of individual benefits and take the zero-sum game as the basic form, without understanding the truth that only when the human society as a whole makes progress and development, can the individual nations, states or even individual human beings have broader space for development.
V. The Significance of China’s Development for
the Cause of Human Progress
Having made clear the general context of the modern history and the status quo of the world, we now turn back to the report to the 19th National Congress of CPC. And then we can have a deeper understanding of the significance of China’s development to the world progress.
A. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the choice made by the historic progress of China. Looking back on China’s civilization over 5000 years and looking into the prospect of the future modernization, the report to 19th National Congress of CPC has elaborated on China’s development path, concepts, objective and modes in a systematic way.
China’s development clue in modern history is very clear. China, as a nation with 5000 years’ splendid civilization history, had suffered deep bitterness after the Opium War in 1840 because of the invasion of imperialism and colonialism. Why countless dedicated patriots failed to save China? The reason lay in their failure to find the right way to save China suitable for China’s nationalconditions, which made it impossible for them to call on and united the people. During the First World War, it was the “October Revolution” in Russia that sent the Marxism to China. The Communist Party of China born thereafter had found the ideal and the way to achieve the ideal for the Chinese people by drawing on Marxism and Leninism, and united and led the people to win the final victory.
Soon after the victory of the New Democratic Revolution, new China established the basic system of socialism, as “our Party was deeply aware, to achieve national rejuvenation, it was essential to establish an advanced social system that fits China’s reality.” Impoverished and enfeebled, and under the economic blockade by Western countries, China established the basic system of socialism and advanced socialist construction, making it possible for China to “complete the broadest and most profound social transformation in the history of the Chinese nation and create the fundamental political conditions and the institutional foundations for achieving all development and progress in China today. Thus was made a great transition: the Chinese nation reversed its fate from the continuous decline of modern times to steady progress toward prosperity and strength.”
Reform and opening up is the “great new revolution in removing all ideological and institutional barriers to our country and nation’s development, and in embarking on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Thus was China able to stride ahead to catch up with the times.” The nature of socialism is to make progress continuously. To seek development through progress is the basic concept of China for development, as the report to the 19th National Congress of CPC told us that the future Chinese development will be a broader, more persistent and comprehensive process of social progress.
B. China’s peaceful development is closely related to the future of mankind. The basic concept of China to seek progress through reform and development through progress has determined that China’s development will be different from the ways the Western countries rose in the past, as the rising of the West in modern times took a development path of imperialist expansion. After World War II, as the West has not given up the imperialist mindset completely, it has viewed China’s rejuvenation and development with a mentality of the old imperialist powers facing a new imperialist power.
China does not possibly seek development with an imperialist mindset. It is first of all because the Chinese traditional culture does not accept Western imperialist ideas. Even when China was the greatest power of the world in the past, it did not pursue the policy of territorial expansion like the Roman Empire. Secondly, the Chinese people were bullied in modern times by imperialist and colonial powers, and in their long-term struggle against the imperialist powers, they had cherished deep hatred of imperialism in their culture and mentality. Thirdly, the basic theory of the Chinese revolution and socialist construction has centered on the pursuit of equality within human society, while the equality of sovereign states has also grown out of the basic principle that all men are equal.
Just based on the basic cognition of human progress, the report to the 19th National Congress of CPC pointed out, “the Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress. To make new and greater contributions for mankind is our Party’s abiding mission”, “China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, ---- to forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation”, and called on the “people of all countries to work together to build a community with a shared future for humanity, to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.”