Hu Ping: Under the Banner of “Opposing Historical Nihilism

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its centennial, Xi Jinping has strongly emphasized the need to “blaze a trail against historical nihilism”. This shows that, in the view of the authorities, the greatest threat to the Party and the state is none other than “historical nihilism”.

However, everyone knows that when it comes to historical nihilism, the biggest historical nihilist is the Chinese Communist Party itself; among them, Xi Jinping is the biggest.

Taking the new 2021 version of the CPC history as an example, when comparing the 2021 version, Xi Jinping’s version of the CPC history, with the three party histories of the Deng, Jiang and Hu era, namely the 1991, 2001 and 2010 versions, the most important feature of Xi Jinping’s version is that he has tried his best to downplay the 27 years of heinous human disasters during the Mao era, and has vitiated them to the point of nothingness. This is especially true of the Cultural Revolution. In the old version of the Party history, the 10-year Cultural Revolution was listed as a separate chapter, and the length of the chapter was very large. However, in Xi Jinping’s version of the Party history, the tradition of a separate chapter on the Cultural Revolution has been changed, and the history of this decade has been stuffed into the third section of chapter 6, “Socialist Construction Develops with Twists and Turns”. “This is not the greatest historical nihilism. Is this not the greatest historical nihilism?

If Xi Jinping is the biggest historical nihilist, why does he strongly emphasize his opposition to historical nihilism? In other words, when Xi Jinping says he wants to oppose historical nihilism, what exactly does that mean? What is historical nihilism in Xi Jinping’s words?

Back on January 5, 2013, just after taking over as general secretary, Xi Jinping made an important speech emphasizing that the two periods before and after the reform and opening up were not antagonistic and could not be denied to each other. This argument is not worth refuting. According to Xi, “the post-reform and opening-up historical period cannot be used to negate the pre-reform and opening-up historical period,” but what about the Cultural Revolution? Hasn’t the Cultural Revolution been called the 10-year catastrophe by the authorities and explicitly denied? The reform and opening up is, if not a repudiation of the entire 27 years of the Mao era, at least a repudiation of the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, otherwise, how can we talk about setting things right?

Herein lies the problem. Because Xi Jinping also clearly realizes that the two historical periods before and after the reform and opening up are antithetical; if he openly admits this antithesis, he will inevitably put himself in a situation where he will be attacked from both inside and outside. If you think that the revolution was right, you will inevitably decide that the later reform is wrong and must be denied. If you think the later reform was right, you must think the revolution was wrong, and the Communist Party’s one-party dictatorship based on that revolution is groundless, unjustified and illegitimate, and must therefore be denied. As I said earlier, the history of the Communist Party since its establishment is like a sword with two edges, and holding either end cuts your hand. One end is called revolution and the other is called reform. If the revolution is right, the reform is wrong; if the reform is right, the revolution is wrong; most likely, the revolution is also wrong and the reform is also wrong (which is exactly what happened); but never, the revolution is also right and the reform is also right.

Thus, Xi Jinping’s so-called “opposition to historical nihilism” is in fact an opposition to exposing and criticizing the heinous human disaster of the Mao era, thus erasing the two historical periods before and after the reform and opening up, that is, the “revolution” and the “reform This is the mutual opposition of “revolution” and “reform”. This also tells us from the opposite side that to expose the crimes and wrongs of the CCP, we must not only expose the crimes and wrongs of the CCP before the reform and opening up, but also expose the crimes and wrongs of the CCP after the reform and opening up, and more importantly, we must also expose the antagonism between these two historical periods. Throughout history, there have been despotic tyrants who seized state property by trickery, but they did not carry out a communist revolution to eliminate private property; there have been tyrants who carried out a communist revolution to eliminate private property, but they did not, at least in turn, take public property for themselves. Only the Chinese Communist Party has done both of these opposite evils. This is a double plunder, a double injustice. These two plunderings were accompanied by consistent and violent oppression. “The June 4 massacre was the key to the Communist Party’s gorgeous turnaround from the first plunder to the second plunder.

This is how the so-called “Chinese model” emerged. Its strength is derived from this point, and its fatal weakness lies in this point. Xi Jinping knows that this is the greatest threat to the party and state, and we must seize it and pursue it.