Xia Chuntao: How Lei Feng Embodies China’s Political Advantage, and its Soft Power

A remark in advance which might be important for JR’s individual economic interests. My country’s (Germany) leaders seem to see no problem in cooperating with Confucius Institutes (i. e. the Chinese Communist Party), in the education of young people here. On the other hand, there seems to be a tendency to see “Communism” at work in our public institutions. Some 27 “Left Party” members of federal parliament are currently under state surveillance. (They aren’t really left. They only want their money back.)

The fact that I’m not making fun of Lei Feng on the great model soldier’s day, but rather conscientiously translate a celebratory article instead, does not mean that I would identify with the CCP’s lofty goals.

Clear enough? Thank you.

The author of the following article is Xia Chuntao (夏春涛).
Main link: http://theory.people.com.cn/GB/49157/49163/17220605.html.
Links within blockquotes added during translation.

The 17th Central Committee’s Sixth Plenary Session clearly calls for “deepening and developing learning from Lei Feng’s activities, take measures to promote learning the regularization of learning activities. We must deeply understand this instructive spirit, vigorously carry forward Lei Feng’s spirit1), actively promote the building of the system of socialist core values, and make efforts to foster a good ideological and ethical prevailing custom.
党的十七届六中全会明确提出:“深入开展学雷锋活动,采取措施推动学习活动常态化。”我们要深刻领会这一指示精神,大力弘扬雷锋精神,积极推进社会主义核心价值体系建设,努力培育良好的思想道德风尚。

Lei Feng is an Eternal Spiritual Monument
雷锋是一座不朽的精神丰碑

49 years ago, Mao Zedong and the other revolutionary elders, one after another, dedicated writings to Lei Feng, on which Lei Feng’s name spread all over the Divine Land2), and the masses rose to activities of learning from Lei Feng, which molded a sound social custom, continuously aroused the enthusiasm to build socialism, and had a profound effect.

49年前,毛泽东等老一辈革命家相继为雷锋题词,雷锋的名字随之传遍神州大地,全国掀起群众性学雷锋活动,对塑造良好的社会风尚,进一步激发人们建设社会主义的热情,产生了深刻影响。

Entering a new period, the collective second generation of central leaders with Deng Xiaoping at the core called for building a high-quality and highly socialist civilization. Deng Xiaoping pointed out that spritual civilization was not only about education, science, and culture, but also about a position and principle of Communist ideology, ideals, beliefs, ethics, discipline, and comradely relations between people. He commended the solemn revolutionary slogan of serving the people whole-heartedly, demanded that every party member put all efforts into Communist ideology and ethics, and carried the set of revolutionary spirit, formed over a long period, to the entire people, to make it a major pillar of our countgry’s spiritual civilization. The party’s 12th Central Committee’s sixth session put forward that the fundamental task of building spiritual civilization was to foster idealistic, ethical, civilized, disciplined socialist citizens, to improve the entire Chinese peoples’ ideological and ethical as well as its scientific and cultural quality. Learning-from-Lei-Feng activities sent out new vitality in the new era, and led to spiritual-civilization activities in every place, with “learn-from-Lei-Feng, showing loving warmth” as a theme, which became a factor in pushing forward our country’s reform and opening, and its socialist modernization and construction.
进入新时期后,以邓小平为核心的第二代中央领导集体提出要在建设高度物质文明的同时,建设高度的社会主义精神文明。邓小平指出,精神文明不仅指教育、科学、文化,而且指共产主义的思想、理想、信念、道德、纪律,革命的立场和原则,人与人的同志式关系。他赞许“全心全意为人民服务”等是庄严的革命口号,要求每个党员都身体力行共产主义思想和道德,并把党长期形成的一系列革命精神推广到全体人民中间,使之成为我国精神文明的主要支柱。党的十二届六中全会指出,精神文明建设的根本任务是培育有理想、有道德、有文化、有纪律的社会主义公民,提高整个中华民族的思想道德素质和科学文化素质。学雷锋活动在新时期焕发出新活力,各地兴起以“学雷锋,送温暖”为主题的精神文明活动,对我国改革开放和社会主义现代化建设起了推进作用。

The third collective generation of central leaders with Jiang Zemin at the core also attached great importance to advocating the Lei-Feng spirit. In 1990, a written dedication by Jiang Zemin to “learning from Comrade Lei Feng, carrying forward Lei Feng’s spirit” was officially announced.When meeting with the ranks and files of a “Lei-Feng group” in Fushun, Jiang Zemin praised them for continuing learning from Lei Feng, and urged them to continue their learning activities, thus advancing further. Subsequently, the entire country commonly carried out mass activities to build spiritual civilization. On a gathering in 1993 to commemorate Mao Zedong’s and the other revolutionary elders’ written dedications to Lei Feng, Comrade Hu Jintao pointed out that “a mass activity which goes on continuously through decades can influence the social customs of a whole era. This shows Lei Feng’s great value and meaning for the past of our nation and society, and its continuing value and meaning in the present tense”.
以江泽民为核心的第三代中央领导集体也重视倡导雷锋精神。1990年,江泽民题词“学习雷锋同志,弘扬雷锋精神”正式发表。在抚顺接见“雷锋团”官兵代表时,江泽民称赞他们坚持学雷锋,勉励其继续在学雷锋活动中走在前面。随后,全国普遍开展了群众性精神文明创建活动。在1993年纪念毛泽东等老一辈革命家为雷锋题词30周年大会上,胡锦涛同志明确指出,“一个群众性的活动,能够在几十年历史进程中延续不断,影响一个时代的社会风尚,这表明了雷锋精神对于我们这个民族和社会过去具有、现在仍然具有重大价值和时代意义。”

Since the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the party’s Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the secretary general, continues to attach importance to advocating Lei Feng’s spirit. In January 2005, on a conference for the strengthening and improvement of the nation’s university students’ ideological and political education, Hu Jintao emphasized that among the students, all ideology and spirit that benefitted the country’s prosperity and the people’s happiness needed to be advocated: the fine national traditions, as well as the Jinggangshan spirit, the Lei-Feng spirit, and other revolutionary traditions and epochal spirits. The 17th Central Committee’s sixth plenary session put forward that the socialist core-values system should be blended into citizen education, the building of spiritual civilization, and the entire party’s building process, and called for “deepening and developing learning from Lei Feng1), and taking measures to promote the regularization of Learning-from-Lei-Feng activities”.
十六大以来,以胡锦涛为总书记的党中央依然重视倡导雷锋精神。在2005年1月全国加强和改进大学生思想政治教育工作会议上,胡锦涛强调要在大学生中倡导一切有利于国家富强、人民幸福的思想和精神,既大力弘扬民族优良传统,又大力弘扬井冈山精神、雷锋精神等革命传统和时代精神。党的十七届六中全会提出把社会主义核心价值体系融入国民教育、精神文明建设和党的建设全过程,号召“深入开展学雷锋活动,采取措施推动学习活动常态化”
In short, for nearly half a century, our party has always highly valued and vigorously promoted the Lei-Feng spirit, one after another carried forward Lei Feng’s spirit as a content in the building of spiritual civilizaton, the building of a system of socialist core values, and continuously injected new vitality and connotation into Learning-from-Lei-Feng activities. Lei Feng lives in the hearts of millions, he has become a spiritual monument. Lei Feng’s spirit inspired and influenced several generations, and is a valuable spiritual asset of our party, and our country.
总之,近半个世纪以来,我们党一直高度评价并大力倡导雷锋精神,相继将弘扬雷锋精神列为社会主义精神文明建设、社会主义核心价值体系建设的重要内容,不断给学雷锋活动注入新的活力和内涵。雷锋始终活在亿万人民心中,成为一座精神丰碑。雷锋精神激励和影响了几代人,是我们党和国家一笔宝贵的精神财富。

In the Initial Stage of Socialism, and under the Conditions of a Market Economy, Lei Feng’s Spirit must still be Vigorously Carried Forward
在社会主义初级阶段和市场经济条件下,需要继续大力弘扬雷锋精神

Our country’s reform and opening has been going on for 33 years, a socialist market economy has been established nearly 20 years ago, and the yi da, er gong3) pattern has become history. Concepts of making one’s own decisions in one’s own business, getting rich through hard work have been encouraged and widely recognized, and an economy of non-publicly owned business has flourished. That’s why social and economic composition, organization pattern and employment methods have become more diverse, there are fewer “danwei members”, and more and more [fully-fledged] “members of society”, which leads to characteristics such as independent ideological thought, own choices, variety, and diversity, which, objectively speaking, made it more difficult to carry out mass activities to learn from Lei Feng. There are people who believe that because the times have changed, and because the concepts have changed, it would no longer be appropriate to emphasize the need to learn form Lei Feng, and even a belief that Lei Feng’s spirit had become “outdated”.
我国实行改革开放已逾33年,建立社会主义市场经济体制已接近20年,“一大二公”模式早已成为历史,自主创业、勤劳致富的观念获得鼓励和广泛认同,非公有制经济蓬勃发展。随着社会经济成分、组织形式、就业方式日趋多样化,“单位人”相对减少,“社会人”越来越多,人们思想活动明显带有独立性、选择性、多变性、差异性特征,客观上增加了开展群众性学雷锋活动的难度。有人因而产生疑问,认为时代不同了,观念变了,现在再强调学雷锋已不合时宜;甚至认为雷锋精神“过时”了。

This argument is untenable. Lei Feng is known as a Communist soldier and embodies the Communist spirit. Our country will for a long time remain in the initial phase of socialism, [but] “the Party’s highest ideal and final goal is the realization of Communism” – this has been explicitly written into the party’s constitution. It must be noted that China’s ownership structure still maintains public ownership as the mainstay, “no work, no pay”4) as the mainstay in the distribution system, the emphasis on people-orientation, and “fairness and justice” to promote and to achieve common prosperity. This shows that our country’s socialist system and socialist core values have not changed, and that our country’s socialist nature and development path have not changed. Therefore, the spirit of Lei Feng represents a lofty level, worth to be aimed for, which is by no means “outdated”. Lei Feng was and remains an advanced model who deserves admiration.
这种说法显然不能成立。雷锋被誉为共产主义战士,体现的是共产主义精神;我国正处于并将长期处于社会主义初级阶段,“党的最高理想和最终目标是实现共产主义”被明确写入党章。应当看到,我国在所有制结构上仍坚持公有制为主体,在分配制度上以按劳分配为主体,强调以人为本、公平正义,提倡实现共同富裕。这说明,我国社会主义基本制度和核心价值观并没有改变,我国的社会主义性质和发展方向并没有改变。因此,雷锋精神代表着一种值得追求的崇高精神境界,根本没有“过时”;雷锋过去是、今天依然是值得敬仰的先进典型。

The author mentions inherent market deficiencies, money worship, hedonism etc. as ills which would be hard to cure under a capitalist system. However, under China’s socialist system, these ills could be overcome, or at least be checked on. Learning from Lei Feng was one of socialism’s superiorities (开展群众性学雷锋活动,正是发挥这种优越性的一种有效途径).

[…] The 17th Central Committee’s Sixth Plenary Session emphasized: “the Socialist core value system is the spirit of rejuvenating the country, is the quintessence of advanced Socialist culture and decides the development orientation of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Therefore, in the initial phase of socialism, and under market economy conditions, it is necessary to carry Lei Feng’s spirit forward.
[…] 十七届六中全会强调:社会主义核心价值体系是兴国之魂,是社会主义先进文化的精髓,决定着中国特色社会主义发展方向。因此,在社会主义初级阶段和市场经济条件下,需要继续大力弘扬雷锋精神。

Under the third subtitle – “Advocating Lei Feng’s Spirit, Establishing Sound Ideological and Ethical Customs” (弘扬雷锋精神 树立良好的思想道德风尚) – the author continues to commend Lei Feng’s healthy influence when it comes to the temptations of office (or power), and makes (not very specific) recommendations on how to implement the use of Lei Feng. He also emphasizes why Lei Feng in particular should be the adequate model for center the eyes of the party members attention on the lofty goals:

Lei Feng was in an ordinary position, but achieved results which weren’t ordinary at all. As revolutionary elder Xie Juezai said, “Comrade Lei Feng was a common man, someone everyone can lern from. Comrade Lei Feng is great; and only through efforts, people can learn from him.” By now, our standards of living have increased a lot, and these conditions can be much more conducive than they were at Lei Feng’s time. The key is if there will be awareness.” […]
雷锋从身边小事做起,在平凡岗位上作出了不平凡业绩。正如老一辈革命家谢觉哉所说:“雷锋同志是平凡的,任何人都可以学到;雷锋同志是伟大的,任何人都要努力才能学到。”现在我们的生活水平大大提高,比雷锋当年更具备帮助别人的条件,关键在于有没有这种意识。 […]

[…] For nearly half a century, advanced collectives and individuals have emerged from Learning-from-Lei-Feng activities. Under the new historical conditions, the reproduction of Lei Feng’s spirit and style can help to promote our country’s social development and progress. From this perspective, Lei Feng’s spirit is manifestation of our political advantage, and of our country’s soft power.
[…] 近半个世纪特别是新时期以来,在学雷锋活动中涌现出许多先进集体和先进个人,在新的历史条件下再现了雷锋精神风采,有力推动了我国社会的发展和进步。从这个角度说,雷锋精神是我们政治优势的体现,是我国文化软实力的体现。

____________

Notes

1) Lei Feng didn’t feature prominently in the document in question, but he did get a mention. Do a browser search of Lei Feng here. The translation linked to doesn’t make it entirely clear if the adoption of steps to promote the regularization (or normalization) of study activities relate to Lei Feng in particular,or if they are meant to be more general “studying activities”. My own translation doesn’t make that clear, either, but reading the original Chinese line in question again – 深入开展学雷锋活动,采取措施推动学习活动常态化 -, normalization, regularization or habitualization should indeed refer to “Learning-from-Lei-Feng activities” in particular.

2) 神州大地 – Shénzhōu is a more sublime term for China.

3) From Village China under Socialism and Reform, by Huaiyin Li, Stanford, 2009, page 83 (chapter “The Great Leap Forward and its Aftermath”):

The people’s communes were characterized in official propaganda as being “big and collective” (yi da er gong). They were “big” because each commune had, on average, 4,797 households, which was ore than 30 times the size (164 households) of an average former advanced co-op [footnote/sources], they were “collective because the commune controlled to varying degrees all the resources and production within its boundary.

4) 按劳分配 – “no work, no pay”, apparently.

____________

Related

» Lei Feng to Inspire New Generation, China Daily, Febr 23, 2012
» When Lei Feng meets Modernity, Global Times, Febr 23, 2012

____________

Advertisements

One Trackback to “Xia Chuntao: How Lei Feng Embodies China’s Political Advantage, and its Soft Power”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: