Hu Ping: Why Xi Jinping talks about party history

The Communist Party of China (CPC) has no bigger task this year than to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, kicked off the celebration on Feb. 20 by exhorting the Party to learn Party history and not to be nihilistic at a mobilization meeting on Party history study and Education.

Xi Jinping asked that “correct understanding and scientific evaluation of the Party’s history of major events, important meetings, important people”. Xinhua News Agency published an article “Xi Jinping’s first mention of ‘party history concept’ at the mobilization meeting has deep meaning”. The article said, “This is the first Time the general secretary publicly put forward the important discourse of ‘establishing a correct view of party history'”. The article says, “This is the first time the general secretary has publicly raised the important statement of ‘establishing a correct view of party history’.

The Communist Party attaches more importance to the preparation of history than any other political party, especially the preparation of its own party history, which is determined by the nature of the Communist Party. This is because the Communist Party can neither prove the legitimacy of its rule by the myth of divine right of kings, as traditional monarchs are commanded to do, nor can it prove the legitimacy of its rule by the votes of the people, as democratic governments do. There is only one way for the Communist Party to prove the legitimacy of its rule, and that is to present itself as the embodiment of the laws of historical development, the embodiment of greatness, glory and rightness.

One of the most famous party histories in the international communist movement is the Concise Course on the History of the Communist Party of the USSR (the full title is The History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): A Concise Course), written and published by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. in 1932, the Soviet leader Stalin decided to “put an end to the arbitrariness and confusion in the narrative of party history, to eliminate the large number of different kinds of textbooks on party history that have been published textbooks, and to eliminate the great variety of views and arbitrary interpretations of some important questions of Party theory and Party history that exist in many published Party history textbooks.” Under Stalin’s personal leadership, the Central Committee of the UCPB set up a “Group for the Preparation of the History of the UCPB”, and in October 1938 the “Concise Course on the History of the UCPB” was published.

At that time, Stalin had just completed his purges. As you can imagine, this “Concise Course on the History of the Communist Party of the United States” was prepared in accordance with Stalin’s wishes and his political needs. As soon as it was published, the Executive Committee of the Communist International demanded that all Communist parties study it carefully. This book had a profound influence on the Soviet ideology and the international communist movement, and was called the “Bible of communism” and the “Encyclopedia of Marxism-Leninism”, and became a classic for promoting the Stalinist model to the world. It was only at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956 that Khrushchev made a secret report severely criticizing Stalin, and the publication of the Concise Course on the History of the Communist Party of the United States was also criticized and stopped.

For the Communist Party, to write the history of the Party is to make up myths, is to create gods. In 1951, the Communist Party published a pamphlet written by Hu Qiaomu entitled “Thirty Years of the Chinese Communist Party“, the main theme of which was to create the god of Mao Zedong. The only thing is that Stalin was still alive at that time, so the CCP did not dare to overstep its bounds and talk too much. In the history of the CCP, there are two other major party histories written, not the entire party history, but the re-evaluation of certain major issues in the party history: the 1945 Yan’an-era Resolution on Certain Historical Issues and the 1981 Resolution on Certain Historical Issues Since the Founding of the People’s Republic. Both of these resolutions were to conclude the “wrong line” within the Party and to establish the supremacy of the “correct line” and its representatives. It is conceivable that the focus of the new version of Party history to be launched for this centennial celebration of the Party is to draw new conclusions on “major events, meetings and figures in Party history,” as Xi Jinping put it, and to further set Xi Jinping in a position of supremacy.

However, the Communist Party has a fatal deadlock in writing the history of the Party, that is, it is repetitive and changeable, and has to be rewritten every few years. The number of rewrites is too many, and the magnitude of the rewrites is so great that people will not believe anything later, which is what Xi Jinping calls “nihilism”. This is what Xi Jinping calls “nihilism.” Especially in the CCP, the earlier revolution and the later reform clearly contradict each other. If the reform is right, the revolution is wrong; if the revolution is right, the reform is wrong. No matter which one you affirm, you cannot but negate the other. A history of the CCP is like a sword with two edges, which ever end you hold will cut your hand.

If the CCP can’t even tell the truth about its own party history, how can it win the trust of others? Of course, as some netizens say, it is not a question of whether you believe it or not, but only whether you are convinced. But this also shows that even though you can force people to be convinced, you can’t make them believe after all.