While many media outlets (including us) have reported that recent changes to the Party Constitution seem to indicate a consigning of Mao Zedong Thought to the past, Mu Chunshan, writing in The Diplomat, argues that the Party can’t abandon the Great Helmsman and survive.
[Both] history and contemporary social and political realities make it almost certain that the CCP will not turn its back on the writings of its founding leader.
In fact, such a move would likely further destabilize the party by creating discontent among the armed forces. Whatever can be said of the CCP more generally, the People’s Liberation Army still uses Mao Zedong Thought as the basis of its legitimacy.
It is therefore hard to reconcile reports that the CCP intends to abandon Mao Zedong Thought with the general expectation among observers inside and outside the country that the PLA will emerge from the leadership transition more powerful than before.
Paying lip-service to the past isn’t a roadblock to reform however, “referring to Mao Zedong Thought is completely irrelevant to the question of reform.”
While Mao remains the very visible face of the Party, and to a lesser extent the entire country, it is doubtful that the 18th Party Congress will exercise anything but extreme caution when it comes to getting rid of him.
Chairman Mao costume photo courtesy of Brian Zambrano.
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