Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by David S.G. Goodman
Chapter 16: The class politics of the Chinese Communist Party
Class politics was a centrepiece in the decades-long revolution of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has had a major impact on the nature, constitution and direction of the Party and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The significance of the politics derives from the CCP’s class identity and the centrality of class in its stated ideology. As defined in the constitutions of the CCP and the PRC, the former is ‘the vanguard of the Chinese proletariat’, and the latter, ‘a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship (or proletarian dictatorship), led by the proletariat and based on the alliance of the workers and peasants’. This Party line on the class nature of the CCP and PRC has been consistently affirmed since the CCP was founded as a political party. In the post-Mao era, the Party’s propaganda continues to insist on its class identity even after it abandoned class struggle in favour of economic development relying in part on capitalist modes of production together with capitalist forms of property ownership. ‘Class politics’ as used in this chapter comprises three overlapping subtypes or dimensions. The first is class-based political activities which are conducted through the agency of some classes in opposition to others and whose aim is to advance the interest of some classes at the expense of others. This notion encompasses ‘class struggle’ as it is commonly understood by CCP ideologues and social analysts in China.
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