We are very pleased to publish below the text of a presentation given by Xin Yuzhou, a young candidate member of the Communist Party of China, on the enduring significance of the Communist Manifesto, particularly to young people in China. The presentation was made at a webinar organised by the International Manifesto Group marking the 175th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto.
Xin Yuzhou notes that the Manifesto continues to have tremendous resonance and influence in China; it is conceived of as “a monumental work that has a scientific perspective on the development of human society and was written to benefit the people and seek liberation for humanity.” Indeed, the CPC considers itself to be “a loyal inheritor of the spirit of the Communist Manifesto”. He further emphasizes that, in spite of having been published for the first time 175 years ago, the fundamental principles outlined in the Manifesto remain entirely valid; and yet he reminds us that Marxism should never be considered a dogma, citing Engels: “Marx’s whole way of thinking is not so much a doctrine as a method. It provides not so much ready-made dogmas as aids to further investigation and the method for such investigation.” In the case of China, Marxist principles have to be integrated with “China’s realities, historical and cultural traditions, and contemporary needs.”
Comrade Xin states that communists “must take reading Marxist classics and understanding Marxist principles as a way of life”, and notes that in the Bureau for North American, Oceanian and Nordic Affairs of the International Department of the CPC in which he works, young people collectively read and discuss key political texts including the Communist Manifesto. He concludes that “Chinese young communists today can still learn a lot from and be inspired by the Communist Manifesto.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am XIN Yuzhou from the Bureau for North American, Oceanian and Nordic Affairs of the IDCPC. It is such an honor for me to join you and exchange ideas with friends from around the world. As a young, probationary Party member of our Bureau’s Party branch, I would like to share with you why Communist Manifesto still matters today and what our Chinese young people should learn from it.
I. The Importance of the Communist Manifesto
When presiding over a group study session of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance of the Communist Manifesto, saying that reviewing the Communist Manifesto is to understand and grasp the power of the truth of Marxism, write a new chapter of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, firm up Marxist belief, and trace back to the source of theory for a Marxist party to maintain the advanced nature and purity.
The CPC is a loyal inheritor of the spirit of the Communist Manifesto. It is necessary to “apply the scientific principles and the spirit of the Communist Manifesto to the overall planning of activities related to the great struggle, great project, great cause, and great dream,” General Secretary Xi Jinping said, calling the Communist Manifesto a monumental work that has a scientific perspective on the development of human society and was written to benefit the people and seek liberation for humanity. Xi called for efforts to further study and interpret the works of Marxism, popularize them and have them embraced by hundreds of millions of people. More efforts should be made to develop Marxism in the 21st century and in contemporary China, and write a new chapter of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context.
It has been 175 years since the publication of the Communist Manifesto, during which time great changes have occurred in human society. However, on the whole, the general principles which Marxism sets forth are still entirely valid. We need to uphold the worldviews and methodologies of dialectical and historical materialism, as well as the Marxist stance, viewpoint and methodology. Furthermore, we should apply Marxist views on the materiality of the world and the laws governing its development, the natural and historic significance of social development and related laws, human emancipation, the full and free development of every individual, and the essence of knowledge and its development.
II. Encouragement to the Young People
As Communists, we must take reading Marxist classics and understanding Marxist principles as a way of life and an intellectual pursuit, and apply the classics to foster our integrity, temper our way of thinking, broaden our horizons, and guide our practice. This is particularly true to our young people. There is a reading club in our Bureau where we can regularly share our thoughts on books we recently read. Some young colleagues of mine recommended Communist Manifesto and invited us to share our views on it, which can be concluded as follows.
First, we should learn theories with a rational approach. Friedrich Engels once pointed out, “Marx’s whole way of thinking is not so much a doctrine as a method. It provides not so much ready-made dogmas as aids to further investigation and the method for such investigation.” He also noted that theories are “a historical product, which at different times assumes very different forms and, therewith, very different contents.” Therefore, it is reasonable to say that communism is not a fixed dogma. If we look at the case in China, the sweeping social changes that China is undergoing are not simply the extension of China’s historical and cultural experiences, the repetition of socialist practices of other countries, or the duplication of modernization endeavors elsewhere, nor can they be readily slotted into the template devised by earlier writers of Marxist classics. There is no orthodox, fixed version of communism. A blueprint will become a bright reality only when we combine the basic principles of communism with China’s realities, historical and cultural traditions, and contemporary needs, and constantly analyze and summarize the lessons gained from our practice.
Second, we should keep theories relevant with the times. The lifeline of a theory lies in innovation, and it is a sacred duty of Chinese Communists to develop Marxism. We need to use Marxism to observe and understand the world today and develop it in dynamic and abundant practice in contemporary China. We should learn from all the achievements of human civilization with an extensive view. To outdo ourselves we need to protect our foundations while innovating, and learn widely from the strengths of others to improve ourselves. Finally, we need to have a deeper understanding of governance by a communist party, the development of socialism, and the evolution of human society, and open up new prospects for the development of Marxism in contemporary China and the 21st century.
Third, we should translate theories into real practice. We need to study these in a thorough, consistent, and assiduous way, and apply them to problems and reality, so as to better transform such ideas and theories into a material force for understanding and changing the world.
Back in February 1848, Marxism emerged like lightning cutting through dark sky. Decades later, we still see it as a glorious dawn in human spiritual history and a spiritual home for communists. Chinese young communists today can still learn a lot from and be inspired by Communist Manifesto. It is our duty to carry on its spirit and make it enduring with the times.