Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Commentary: China’s Democracy is for the Masses and Socialism

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 11, June 1-14, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Recently the Beijing municipal government issued regulations concerning demonstrations and wall posters. Prohibited were materials that “opposed socialism, proletarian dictatorship, party leadership and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.”

The U.S. capitalist press made a big deal about this, condemning the announcement for supposedly ending China’s democracy movement and violating “human rights.”

These attacks are ridiculous, but the heart of the issue is the fundamental difference between proletarian and bourgeois democracy and “human rights.”

Under socialism in China, the working people enjoy a democracy that is qualitatively broader and higher than what exists in any capitalist country, including the U.S. The working people have become rulers of the country and work for their own material benefit, instead of making profits for a few capitalists.

In China today, workers are directly electing factory administrators; citizens are writing essays to national newspaper forums, debating questions like “how can workers be worthy masters of their country?”; and minority nationalities are freely developing their cultures and using their languages without discrimination.

These types of rights for the formerly oppressed people have been made possible because the country has adhered to four fundamental principles – socialism, the proletarian dictatorship over the former exploiters, party leadership, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Upholding these principles is the basic requirement for the existence of mass democracy in China.

This socialist democracy includes encouraging the masses to speak out against bureaucratism, self-seeking and other bad work among the government and party personnel. Criticisms of these defects are a necessary part of the movement to improve the living situation for the country and to achieve modernization by the end of the century.

The current campaign to promote socialist democracy, in fact, was initiated to correct damage done by Lin Biao and the “gang of four.” They were responsible for unjustly persecuting and intimidating many people in the country. The aim of the current campaign is to restore the broadest scope of democracy possible among the masses of people.

U.S. press

The capitalist press in the U.S. has consistently slandered and distorted socialist democracy. If the capitalist press accurately reported about the rights and privileges of the working people under socialism, this would only expose the real emptiness and hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy.

Historically, the call for “democracy” and “human rights” made by the capitalists was progressive insofar as it was used as a weapon against the political restrictions of feudalism. Today however, when the U.S. capitalists direct this call against socialist China, it is reactionary. It is a weapon used to oppose the system that has brought real democracy and “human rights” to the masses of working people in China.

The “democracy” the capitalist press wants to restore in China is the “democracy” for the capitalists to exploit the people. The Chinese people, however, have no use for this type of “democracy.”

Contradictions under socialism

While socialist democracy is far superior to bourgeois democracy, there are improvements that are necessary. There are also some complicated issues which China is striving to solve. One of these issues concerns the educated youth that have been sent to the countryside to help raise the cultural and economic levels of the rural areas. How the Chinese government handled this matter illustrates some of the aspects of socialist democracy.

Some youths have demanded to immediately return to the cities as they did not care for the harder life of the rural areas. The government seriously considered the requests and held conferences to discuss the issue. The decision was to continue the policy for now, while at the same time improving the situation for the youths. This was considered to be the best for the country and the economy as a whole, requiring some self-sacrifice on the part of the youth.

Most accepted and understood the decision. There were a few, however, who were still dissatisfied. They conducted demonstrations which went so far as to disrupt mail lines and city life, and attacked socialism itself under the banner of calling for “democratic rights.”

The Chinese press responded to this by writing, “Persisting in one’s own way of doing things at the expense of the democratic rights of the majority and their fundamental interests is anarchism through and through.”

Another article read: “We firmly support socialist democracy, but oppose individualist ultra-democracy” which places selfish interests above concern for the good of the masses of working people. “In our country all citizens have the right to concern themselves with affairs of the state and their collective. They have the right to express or reserve their opinions. On the other hand, the minority must submit to the majority, respect the democratic rights of the majority, and observe social order and commonly accepted moral standards.”

Democracy to strengthen socialism, to criticize its defects and problems, but not abstract calls for “democracy” to weaken socialism and allow exploitation to return to the country – these are the guidelines for China’s democracy campaign.