China's pragmatic leaders, continuing the ideological debate to shore up support for the recently announced market-style economic reforms, urged conservatives in the ruling Chinese Communist Party again today to stop looking to Marxism to justify the government's current economic changes.
In a front-page commentary in the party organ, the People's Daily, party members were told that an earlier commentary on Marxism was "completely correct." Today's commentary went on: "Now we want to say something more on how to approach Marxism. Marxism is not a dogma but a guide to action."
An initial commentary on Marxism Dec. 7 had urged party members not to "ask that the works of Marx and Lenin solve all our present-day problems" and suggested that Marxism was outmoded as an all-encompassing philosophy.
The commentary then, as now, is part of a debate between pragmatists and conservatives, who fear that the current pace of the reforms eventually will lead to a weakening of the party's leadership role. The debate is over the pace and extent of the reforms.
Shortly after the Dec. 7 commentary, the conservatives answered back, warning against any relaxation of party discipline.
Today's commentary is a direct answer by the pragmatists, who hold the majority in the leadership under Deng Xiaoping, China's paramount leader.
Today's commentary cited lengthy quotations from Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Deng himself, to convince those who have resisted or doubted the reforms.
These reforms are aimed at partially dismantling the centralized planning system, giving heavier reliance to market forces to determine output and relying on material incentives, such as bonuses, to boost efficiency.
While the initial commentary on Marx did not mention the market-style economic reforms specifically, today's commentary made clear what Marx was not able to foresee.
"Marx had imagined that no money and commodities are needed under socialism," the commentary argued. "But the practices of our socialist construction have proved that a socialist society cannot go without commodities and money.
"On this crucial question of either victory or failure to socialist construction, shall we accomplish nothing by sticking to Marx's certain imagination, which is more than 100 years old, or shall we proceed from actual conditions and push forward the socialist cause by implementing the lines and policies of the party Central Committee? The answer is obvious."