COMMENTS ON PROFESSOR BACKER’S “THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS: THE CHINESE CONSTITUT

Updated: Jun 5, 2018

Comments on Professor Backer’s “Theoretical Foundations: The General Program in the Chinese Constitutional Complex”


“Theoretical Foundations: the General Program in the Chinese Constitutional Complex” is the Part 1 of the introduction of Professor Backer’s book manuscript: “On a Constitutional Theory for China—From the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party to Political Theory.”


In this Part, Professor Backer explains the meaning and value of studying the General Program of the CCP constitution. He believes that, in order to understand the order and operation of the CCP, we must gain a basic understanding of the theoretical foundation of Chinese communism. This theoretical foundation began shortly after the Cultural Revolution when the early party leaders formed an ideology for the implementation of Marxism in China. While the CCP’s early ideology drew from the Soviets, it took on its own unique characteristics and language. Most Westerners do not understand the language of Chinese communism. To understand this language, and the general ideology, we must examine the CCP’s “line” as expressed in the General Program.


This introduction is geared primarily for a Western audience and attempts to explain the gaps between the political theories and linguistic symbols of China and the West. By reading this manuscript and introduction, a Westerner could begin to understand the Chinese constitutional context. The complexity of the writing serves as evidence of the argument that Westerners have an especially difficult time translating the Chinese political language. Thanks to Professor Backer’s encouragement, I have provided a translation of this part following the original language, in order to help Chinese readers to understand the theory and background. Each translation is followed by a more detailed commentary.

Since early in the history of the People’s Republic of China, at a time just on the cusp of the Cultural Revolution, the problem of a theoretical foundation for the transformation of a revolutionary impulse guided by a 19th century theoretical vision into an institutional program true to that vision was acute. By the 1950s, the lessons of European Marxist Leninism, in its Stalinist reformulations, had been absorbed, and with it a structure and language for the elaboration of a theory with some connection to the realities of the political architecture then being framed (and almost immediately after re-framed) in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that was not great, nor proletarian, nor cultural nor revolutionary.

自中华人民共和国建国以来的早期,文化大革命之前,中国在政治理论上遇到一个非常急切的问题,那就是如何将以19世纪理论设想为指导的革命冲动转变为制度性大纲的理论基础。到了20世纪50年代,毛泽东吸收了斯大林再塑后的马克思列宁理论,并以斯大林的语言和结构,尝试在伟大的无产阶级文化大革命中建立政治框架,并将这个理论应用其中。然而这一伟大的无产阶级文化大革命,既不伟大,也不无产,既非文化,也非革命。


马克思列宁主义自传入中国之后变开始了中国化的过程。20世纪初期,马克思列宁主义是创建中国共产党、制定党在民主革命时期的纲领的指导思想。20世纪20年代至50年代间,马克思列宁主义在中国得到更深一步地学习和发展,在探索中国革命新道路、实现抗日反侵略战争和解放战争的胜利中发挥了重要作用。20世纪50年代之后,如何在非革命时期将马克思列宁主义应用到国家的制度建设中,是中国共产党所面临的一个新问题。受国际局势的影响,毛泽东以苏联模式为纲,寻求一种可以在中国适用的制度。“大跃进”“人民公社化”“以阶级斗争为纲”“无产阶级专政下继续革命”等都是在那一个历史阶段所进行的尝试。这些尝试中有两个核心问题,一是对中国当时的国情和时代需要的准确把握,二是对领导者马克思列宁主义的解读和再表达。

Within that formative period and drawing on their Soviet elder brothers, as Arthur Steiner (writing in the late 1950s) reminded us, the great discursive tropes were forged within which the language of Chinese Marxism would be constrained and made to understand itself.

正如Arthur Steiner曾指出的,在这个过程中,中国不仅一边向苏联老大哥借鉴经验,而且也在创造一种理论表达方式以使中国化的马克思主义得以合理地被塑造。

Arthur Steiner 是美国一位著名的研究政治科学的学者,在上世纪50年代和60年代,他被公认为是“中国通。”他1954年的文章“共产主义中国的宪政”是中国政治理论研究中的经典之作。

The language, like the language of any elite (lawyers in common law countries; priests everywhere), was both compressed (laden with terms of art), and tethered to its own history (seek truth from facts).

正如像律师和牧师这样一些精英群体和职业所使用的独特语言一样,这个理论也被以一种独有的语言所表达,并被赋予了与其自身的历史所不可分割的联系(好像我们正是从自身的历史种探求到了这些真理一样)。


这种独特的语言就如普通法系国家的律师语言,以及世界各地文化中牧师所使用的语言一样,他们都有其自身的独特性。“terms of art,” 表示他们在一个特殊的职业内有着特殊的含义和用法,且往往只能为其职业所理解,也就是我们常说的“行话”。马克思列宁主义作为一种最高的指导思想,必须以一种具有权威性,条理逻辑清晰,并且能够润物细无声的行话表达出来。

“Ideology” merged with and expressed theory; “politics” merged with and expressed practice.  An “ideological line” expressed a theoretical perspective tied to a specific context.  “Politics” was a way of expressing policy and the rule system through which it was implemented (and a reminder that the authority over politics remained not with the state but with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)). The CCP’s “line” was fashioned to serve as the operational device for instructing CCP cadres on the appropriate parameters of action within the sphere of their authority.  It also served as the means by which such exercise of authority was to be measured. . . and constrained. Yet this vocabulary, the system constructed from out of these organizing notions, has proven to be a thick barrier to Westerners, especially, and adherents of other political traditions, generally. The principal barrier, of course, is that the words do not translate well from one set of political theory to another.  Ideology, political lines, party structure and organization, and politics have quite distinct meanings under non-Marxist Leninist systems theory than they do elsewhere. And it is difficult to invest words with a common meaning in one theoretical system, with meanings largely inimical to that system’s constructs in studying another.  But not impossible.

“意识形态”与理论相结合并以理论进行阐述;“政治”与社会实践相结合并通过实践进行表达,“思想路线” 则是对与特定语境相联系的理论观点的陈述。“政治”是政策,以及制定政策的规则体系(在这里尤其需需要指出的是决定政治的权威不在于国家政府而在于中国共产党)。

中国共产党的路线是被设置成为指导党的干部在一定适当范围内活动的管理性策略,也是监督和约束权力行使的方式。然而,这些“行话”和用这些行话所表达的概念,以及在这些概念基础上构建成的体系,成为西方人和那些尤其受其他政治传统影响根深蒂固的人们理解中国政治理论所难以逾越的障碍。最根本性的问题是,这些文字无法很好地从这个政治理论翻译到另个一政治理论中。在非马列主义制度的理论中,意识形态、政党路线、党的组织结构,以及政治有非常不同的意义。对于西方人来说,他们很难用一种合适的方式去解读这些语言,尤其是这些语言对于西方价值观来说往往是充满敌意的。但是这种解读并非完全不可能。


白轲教授在此特意对“意识形态”“政治”“思想路线”这些词汇予以了中国语境下的客观解释。一个人很完全摆脱自身所受到的固有教育和观念去重新理解一个司空见惯的问题,尤其是当这种理解必须基于对一个完全不同的知识背景的基本概念的发问和反思时。探明这些词汇所代表的含义在中国是如何形成以及被表达的,是中西方能够在意识形态上进行交流的基本前提之一。

Perhaps in the American context, ideology can be understood as the theory of the American political order developed through the Declaration of Independence and related documents of the revolutionary period (through the Federalist Papers), and its politics elaborated in the early cases of the Marshall Court, particularly Marbury v. Madison 5 U.S. 137 (1803) and McColluch v. Maryland 17 U.S. 316 (1819). The American ideological line and its constraints was expressed through its founding documents, particularly its federal Constitution (and those founding documents central to constitutional modification), which served together as the structuring mechanism for politics, undertaken by factions (派系) united in their allegiance (拥护忠诚) to the basic parameters of American ideology as expressed through its ideological line.

也许在美国语境中,意识形态可以被理解为通过独立宣言和其他革命时期的相关文件(通过联邦党人文集)发展而来的美国政治秩序,以及在马歇尔法院的早期案例中得到阐述的政治观念,尤其是马布里诉麦迪逊案和麦卡洛克诉马里兰州案。美国的意识形态极其限权,是通过它的建国文献来体现的,尤其体现在联邦宪法(和那些以宪法修正为中心的开国文件),它们一起构成了美国政治的结构机制,并通过具有不同政见的群体共同对三权分立的维护和拥戴而得到实施。


白轲教授也就美国语境中的意识形态概念进行了解释,与前述对这些词汇在中国语境下的含义进行对比。由此可以看出,在不同的政治、法律和文化背景,以及不同的历史成因下,中西方对同一词汇,甚至是同一司空见惯的词汇,可能产生很大的理解障碍。马布里诉麦迪逊案和麦卡洛克诉马里兰州案是美国十九世纪的两个历史性判决。马伯利诉麦迪逊是美国最高法院于1803年判决的一个案例。这个案例是确立最高法院审查合宪性的第一案,世界各国的立宪民主政体和法学教育也都把这个案例奉为必修之理论。借由此案,美国最高法院得以在避免与行政权正面冲突的基础上,树立了对宪法的解释权,即司法审查权。由此开始,司法权成为制衡行政权和立法权的第三种权力。麦卡洛克诉马里兰州案是美国最高法院的另一个著名案例。借由此案,联邦最高法院对本案的意见对联邦与州的权力界线进行了清楚的界定,代表美国建立联邦政府的最后一步。这一判例不只是对美国的发展起到了历史性的作用,也为其他联邦制国家所参照。美国政治秩序的形成是碎片化式的,它经由建国文件所创立的政体基础,经过一次次重要的事件和案例逐渐将这个制度完整的呈现出来。而中国政治秩序的形成逻辑则不同。

Thus CCP “ideology” is an expression of the theoretical foundations of the political order.  The political order itself has, as its highest obligation, the burden of ensuring that its style of governance and its substantive policies conform to those theoretical foundations. That style of governance, the CCP’s politics, then articulates substantive policy that is then implemented through the administrative structures of the state.  The aggregate articulation of that obligation, as standard and measure of fidelity to the political order, is expressed in the party “line.” The political and governmental constitution of the Chinese nation then seamlessly follows from this structure.   The political order is exercised through the CCP.

中共共产党的意识形态是对其政治秩序的理论基础的一种表达。政治秩序本身有责任确保政府的施政方式和实质性政策符合这些理论基础,这是其首要责任。然后国家行政机构再通过执政将这种治理风格和中共的政治诉求,以及明确的政策进行实施。党的路线就是这种责任的整体定位与表达,是对政治秩序的忠诚度的标准和衡量。政治与行政体制天衣无缝地衔接到这一结构之中。政治秩序是通过共产党来实践的。


政治秩序的形成基础是非常独特的,这种独特性体现在政治理论、党的思想和意识形态、党的政策和方针路线,以及行政体制,之间紧密相扣的关系。中国的政治理论是在马克思列宁主义基础上在中国实践过程中逐渐中国化所形成的;这些政治理论的表达载体是党的思想和意识形态;党的政策和路线是党对其责任的陈述;责任的履行则是通过行政机构的执政而完成的。这就是中国的政治秩序,这个政治秩序的形成逻辑与西方有着很大的不同。


The CCP exercises the delegated power of sovereignty from the people, for whose benefit, in accordance with the governing ideology, it is fundamentally obligated to act.  CCP membership is theoretically open to all people who embrace an allegiance to the CCP “ideology” and consent to the disciplining of that allegiance through the institutional mechanics of the CCP.  At its limit, the CCP might merge into and include all adult citizens with capacity.


中国共产党的根本性义务是,依其执政理念,为了人民的利益而行使人民主权。理论上而言,中国共产党党员制是面向所有拥护其思想并认同党的组织制度的基本纪律的人民的。也就是说,中国共产党可以吸纳任何具有公民能力的成年人。


中国共产党的群众基础是其存在和发展的根本前提之一,这也是中国特殊的政治秩序的一个关键环节,那就是这个政治秩序的存在不是孤立的,不是为了党的生存与发展而存在的,不是服务于共产党的,是有着稳定性基础的,是可以随着时代发展而实现自我发展的。

The CCP “ideology” constrains all political choice within the nation.  The specific choices made to express the concretization of the CCP’s “ideology” together constitute the CCP’s line.  The CCP line expresses the political choices made within the constraints of the constraining ideology, which creates the framework within which governance may be implemented.  It acquires, in that sense, a constitutional character at the foundation of the political order of the nation. Both ideology and CCP line constitute the nation, and as written in the Constitution of the CCP, reflect the highest level of governance within the state.

党的意识形态约束了国家的一切政治选择,而这些用以表达党的思想核心的具体选择共同构成了党的路线。中国共产党的路线表达了受意识形态限制的政治选择,创建了政府治理的范围与框架。在这个意义上,它在国家政治秩序的基础上获得了一个基础性的类似于宪法的角色。意识形态和党的路线都构建了这个国家,并被写入党章之中,这反映了国家的顶层治理结构。

由于中国的政治秩序形成的单向性,党的理论根源和思想意识形态则决定和限定着国家的政治选择,决定着国家行政的内容和框架。这一能够决定根本性事务的角色即一种宪法性角色,这也是为什么白轲教授认为党政是中国宪政的重要一部分,党章构成了中国宪政的重要理论基础。

The CCP line, as reflected in its constitution, has direct effect on the people in whose name the line was developed.  There is thus a direct connection, constitutionally affirmed, between the CCP and the people (and one that is still very much a work in progress).

正如党章所述,共产党的路线以人民名义而得以发展,并且直接作用在人民身上。因此这是一个中国共产党和人民之间被宪法所肯定的直接的联系。当然中国共产党仍在努力地构建这种联系。


与此同时,国家宪法也确认了这一政治秩序的逻辑,并以一种根本性法律原则确保党与人民的不可分割性,即确保了前述政治秩序的稳定性。

The constitution of the political order is then administered through, and implemented by, the government constituted for the administration of the state.  That administrative order also articulates and is constrained by the CCP line.  It is reflected in the state constitution.  The state apparatus does not engage in politics, nor does it have responsibility for the nation’s political line.  Its role is far more constrained–to take the CCP line, within the further constraints of the state constitution, and implement it within the structures of government created therefor. That argument reflects the constitutional theory of Jiang Shigong and in my own prior work.

政治秩序的架构,经由政府的行政职能得到管理和实施。行政命令同样是党的路线的表达并受到党的路线的限制,这点被反映在国家宪法中。国家机构不从事政治,也不负责国家的政治路线。它的角色受到很大的限制——在国家宪法的范围内遵循党的路线,在政府的结构框架内实施党的路线。这一点已经在我的其他文章以及强世功的宪法理论中得到阐述。

在分析了人民在此政治秩序中的地位和作用之后,白轲教授又指明了行政结构在此政治秩序中的地位和运行,即在中国语境下,政府不代表政治,它仅处于这个单项政治秩序的下游,政府行为的理论基础是党的理论,行为内容为党的路线,行为方式受到宪法和党的制度的双重规范。

To encounter the theoretical foundations of the Chinese political order, therefore, it is necessary to look first to the ideology of that political order.  The constitutional theory for China, and its constraining line–the framework within which Chinese politics, and the discretion of the Chinese Communist Party are constrained–the cage of politics (to paraphrase President Xi Jingpin’s well known call to cage power within a cage of regulations)–is given, if it is given at all, from this ideology.

要面对中国政治秩序的理论基础,就必须首先研究政治秩序背后的思想和意识形态。中国的宪政理论及其范围和框架,都存在于一个政治笼子中,在这个笼子里,中国政治和共产党的自由支配权得到了限制。


白轲教授通过借用习近平主席“把权力关进制度的笼子里”的讲话来说明中国政治秩序的理论和思想基础是存在于一个可见并可研究的制度框架之中的,而不是无法触碰到的。

That ideology is embedded within the General Program of the Chinese Communist Party.  The cage of ideology restricts the political line of the CCP, and the state apparatus that administers that line.  It is to the precise details of the cage of theory that we turn next.

The objective is to discern whether the cage is illusory, or made of paper, or can robustly serve to bind the CCP to its purpose the way that the American ideological line has bound the factions of the American political party since the founding of that Republic.


这些思想即被写在了中国共产党党章的总章之中。这个笼子圈定了党的政治路线和实施这一路线的国家机器。本研究的目的就是探究笼子中的内容和细节,辨别这个笼子是否是真实有效的,或仅仅是纸上谈兵的,或者其是否是像美国的思想路线所发挥的作用一样,从共和政体建立伊始就限制美国政党群体,能够坚定地确保中国共产党始终致力于其基本目的。

这就是白轲教授研究中国共产党党章总章的原因和目的,从中国共产党表达理论和思想的语言中去分析中国政治秩序的理论基础和宪政结构,在中国的语境下去考量这些理论所发挥的作用,是否在实用功效上与美国建国后形成的意识形态有着异曲同工之效。

© 2018 By Shaoming Zhu

shaomingzhu@flia.org

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