Deng Xiaoping’s revisionism (4) : Zha Ruqiang
As we have seen, the emergence of liberalism in the field of cosmology changed the situation for the Chinese revisionism. Indeed, the emergence of scientists in this frame opened by Chinese revisionism gave such an important contribution to the bourgeois open counter-revolution’s ideology, that even the revisionist regime itself came in trouble.
Let’s study more precisely this process.
The revisionist rejection of Mao Zedong’s cosmology
At the beginning of the 1980’s, the goal for Chine revisionism was to destroy the Maoist conception of a matter which is inexhaustible, inexhaustible because each level of matter is divisible, the process being infinite.
The weapons to do this were not original : it was of course, firstly, quantum mechanics, which theorized the microworld as being observable and predictable through probabilities ; here are important Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” and the Copenhagen School with Niels Bohr.
Then, the other weapon was the big bang : there would be an origin of the universe, and matter would not be infinite, matter being limited and so to say stretched in an universe in expansion.
Already in 1973 in the first issue of the new series of the review Studies in Philosophy, which had been stopped before, an article written by Fang Lizhi and Yin Dengxiang attacked the teachings made in the review Natural Dialectics Journal, which upheld Mao Zedong’s cosmology.
It expressed the necessity to consider that universe was “finite” according natural science and “infinite” in the views of philosophy. It was a way to promote relativism and liberalism.
In fact, in science, bourgeois scientists promoted the same as Deng Xiaoping in economy : everything would be too complicated, necessitating a new formulation, with the need to be “flexible”, not dogmatic, etc.
The infinite divisibility of matter may be true, but not in the way as it was thought before, all must be reconsidered, etc.
The influence of relativism
As soon as the “debates” of the indivisibility of matter were opened, dialectics of nature could be put away, in particular under the influence of Fang Lizhi, a rightist who helped Deng Xiaoping and was of the major activist giving birth to the movement of 1989 (he was expelled of the “Communist” Party in 1987 and sought asylum at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in 1989).
Nevertheless, and in parallel with Deng Xiaoping’s reform, the official rejection of the divisibility of matter took time. Deng Xiaoping transformed gradually the official ideology, in the name of modernization, of science and technology that would be “new” and had to be adopted.
In the same way, Zha Ruqiang played a major role in the field of science for Chine revisionism. He was the main promoter of the dengist conception in science, producing numerous documents, trying to produce a whole new conception of science, liberal on one side, but with the appearance of Marxism.
At the beginning of the 1980’s, China knew a big ideological offensive of traditional western reactionary conceptions : in psychology this offensive came through Freud, Jung, Adler, Rogers, in philosophy through Foucault, Heidegger, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida.
The trend was to consider that science had to be “autonomous” from philosophy, that full liberalism was needed, with a strong influence of the reactionary conceptions of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos.
Zha Ruqiang’s role
In this context, Zha Ruqiang played the role of the defender of the hegemony of the revisionist “Communist” Party.
On one side, according Zha Ruqiang, it was the time of the “third industrial revolution”, with quantum theory and relativity, nuclear power and space technology, computer technology, there was the need for a “practical” science.
This was directly useful for Deng Xiaoping’s modernization line.
On the other side, Zha Ruqiang defended “Marxism”, and so the theory of the indivisibility of matter, because it was a necessary thesis to justify the scientific necessity of the revisionist “Communist” Party.
So, he took issue with Lukacs, Marcuse, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, (Sidney) Hook, which meant that he refused western “leftist” ideological currents, and tried to forge an ideological continuity with the past.
The task was practically impossible : how was it possible to say that the theory of the indivisibility of matter was correct when Mao Zedong stated it in the period of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a period fully rejected by Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese regime ?
Consequence of the impossible theoretical position of Chine revisionism
Indeed, once this “practical” i.e. dengist approach started, Zha Ruqiang could be rejected itself for having maintained the concept of dialectics of nature, even if “adapted”.
The “new” Marxism of Chinese revisionism summarized dialectics in materialism in the method of considering a phenomenon through its development and change.
It is, indeed, exactly how the French Communist Party had always limited the teachings of Marx and Engels (or Lenin and Stalin) ; it is the revisionist rejection of “dogmatism”, “scholastics”, “stalinism”, etc.
So, in 1986 Zha Ruqiang’s position was sharply attacked by Fang Lizhi, Dong Guangbi, Ji Wulun, Han Zenglu ; the main target was philosophy, that could be considered as a “useful tool”, but never as a guide. Hegel was considered as the source of the errors ; Kant and positivism were valorized.
The trend was to an open reject of dialectical materialism.
The regime’s choice of social-fascism
It was clear that if the criticism of dialectical materialism was generalized, then science had to be liberalized, and if it was so, then the “Communist” Party couldn’t pretend to any ideological legitimacy.
This was not the road chosen by the revisionist “Communist” Party in China, which made a plenum in September 1986 and decided to reject “bourgeois liberalization”.
Consequence of this, in November, student demonstrations began in Anhui, where Fang Lizhi called to “struggle”, and then in Shanghai and Beijing.
The revisionist “Communist” Party suppressed these demonstrations, Fang Lizhi was expelled from the “Communist Party” and Hu Yaobang, who was Party General Secretary from 1982 to 1987, was dismissed because of its “support” of the demonstrations.
When Hu Yaobang died in 1989 on April 15th, it was pretext to new student demonstrations, upholding his views, and it became the famous Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Indeed, the Seven Demands made at mid-april 1989 were :
1. Affirm as correct Hu Yaobang’s views on democracy and freedom ;
2. Admit that the campaigns against spiritual pollution and bourgeois liberalization had been wrong ;
3. Publish information on the income of state leaders and their family members ;
4. End the ban on privately run newspapers and stop press censorship ;
5. Increase funding for education and raise intellectuals’ pay ;
6. End restrictions on demonstrations in Beijing
7. Provide objective coverage of students in official media.
This meant, to be precise, pushing to the end the process of struggle against Mao Zedong’s cosmology, i.e. dialectical materialism. But the social-fascist regime was not able to loose its political position, and it needed “socialism” as pretext for it.
Therefore the sixth Plenum of the Chinese “Communist” Party (12th Central Committee), in September 1986, had produced a resolution on spiritual civilization opposing Marxism as a dogma (which meant : genuine dialectical materialism), but also the consideration that Marxism was outdated.
And for this reason, the 1989 movement was crushed and modernization took a new development, which we all can see today.
Fang Lizhi avoided a direct participation in the 1989 movement as it escalated in may, but in June an arrest warrant was made against him, as he was considered as the main organizer of the protests.
He then searched refuge in the US embassy ; after a year, he was authorized to leave the country. He played then a role in the USA to mobilize in favor of the birth of a Chinese bureaucratic class linked to the USA.
But historically, another direction was taken in China, which now is practically in the same situation as Tsarist Russia : a reactionary country, largely opened to imperialism, but trying to manage a bourgeois independence through the possibilities of a rich country, which can happened of course only through fascism.
And we can see here an interesting example of how revisionism has not only one face, but two faces ; there were two possibilities for Chinese revisionism. Any evaluation of the Chinese counter-revolution following the death of Mao Zedong has to take it in account.