In a recent article the Chinese newspaper ‘People’s Liberation Army Daily’ (PLAD, 解放军报) argued that the armed forces “cannot be kept out of politics”, and that the notion of “depoliticizing” the army is a “hypocritical” argument that aims at covering up “the real motives of the bourgeoisie.”
“[T]he hypocritical talk of the henchmen of the autocracy about the neutrality of the armed forces, about the need to keep the forces out of politics, etc., cannot count on the slightest sympathy among the soldiers,” Lenin wrote. “The armed forces cannot and should not be neutral. Not to drag them into politics is the slogan of the hypocritical servants of the bourgeoisie and of tsarism …”
Using Lenin’s argument as a template, the article criticizes proponents of ‘political neutrality’ in the army, calling it a theory advanced by the West and the bourgeoisie.
“At present some Western countries repeatedly boast and assert that their armies do not question politics, that they are apolitical,” the piece says.
The article rebuffs the theory of the non-political army as “hypocritical”, arguing that the armed forces of Western countries “have never really separated themselves from politics; their claim to be ‘apolitical’ means nothing more than the army must not question the political struggles among bourgeois parties, but as soon as the interests of bourgeois parties are harmed, the army immediately becomes a staunch proponent of the capitalist class.”
As an example of class hegemony over the army the piece mentions the use of the military against striking workers in the United Kingdom as well as against blacks in the United States, but without citing sources or specific cases.
The PLAD further slams “countries that always use powerful armies to recklessly interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, playing the role of the world police, turning their militaries into tools for the promotion of power and hegemony.”
The PLAD attacks individuals in China who advocate a Western-style concept of depoliticization of the army, saying that such calls in reality aim at overthrowing the Communist government.
“Within the country [China] there are also some people parroting and espousing the theory of ‘depoliticizing the army’. Their goal is obviously to shake the basic principle of the absolute leadership of the party over the armed forces as well as to ultimately cause the party to forfeit its executive position, and to change our country’s socialist character. Their vicious motives are abundantly clear.”
The PLAD’s article goes on defending the army’s adherence to Communist one-party rule and its unconditional subordination to the party.
“Our army has been created and is led by the Chinese Communist Party, it is a military organization that executes the party’s political tasks. [Our army] cannot dare to question its political nature, cannot reject the idea of serving the political system and the interests of the proletariat … We must resolutely support the absolute leadership of the party over the army, forever uphold the political character of the people’s army, unconditionally execute the tasks entrusted to us by the party.”
Since taking office in 2012 Chinese president Xi Jinping has pushed for a revival of Marxism and a consolidation of one-party rule through ideology. The use of Marxist-Leninist terminology in the PLAD’s piece demonstrates the attempt by the Chinese authorities to adapt Communist doctrines to present-day circumstances in order to legitimize one-party rule.
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