[This book review article was published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, pp. 161-173.]
BOOK REVIEW ARTICLE
THE GOVERNANCE OF CHINA:
SPEECHES BY PRESIDENT XI JINPING
Dwight D. Murphey
Wichita State University, retired
Much that is complex and even perplexing shines through the mixture of benevolence, aspiration, ideology and ideological confusion that is found in this compilation of speeches delivered between November 2012 and June 2014 by China’s President Xi Jinping. Xi was recently given a virtual life-tenure at the top of China’s power structure, which underscores the importance of his thinking not only to the Chinese themselves but to the rest of the world. In this book review article, we hope to give the reader both an informative report of Xi’s thinking and some commentary that will place it is context.
Key Words: Contemporary China, President Xi Jinping, Xi’s speeches, evolution of Chinese Communist thought, Chinese Communist ideological confusion, “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics,” stages projected by Marxism-Leninism, China’s recurrent enumerated concepts.
Xi Jinping: The Governance of China
Foreign Languages Press, 2014
The mental resilience of human beings is wondrous to behold. It is possible for someone to believe in the reality of Hell while at the same time living in a way that he (according to his own lights) knows will get him there for an eternity of torment. And students of the history of religion must certainly note how malleable the belief systems are over time. Individuals and whole peoples not only pass from one deeply-avowed creed to another, but in doing so often retain a lot of the old creed, accepting incompatibles without seeming to be bothered by it.
This book of speeches by Xi Jinping, the president of China, gives us one of history’s most egregious examples of this mental oddity. Taken at face value, Xi is one of the friendliest, best-meaning people we’re ever likely to meet. The speeches exude benevolence and good will. Yet, this doesn’t keep him from declaring continuing devotion to Marxism-Leninism and the memory of Mao Zedong. He either doesn’t know, or is totally insensitized to the fact, that tens of millions died under the tyrannies of Communism, including China’s. Mao is revered as though thirty million (and perhaps more) had not been starved to death under Mao’s deliberate policies in the Great Leap Forward. Those millions left survivors who no doubt continue to mourn, as holocaust survivors do generally, but there is no hint of that pain amid the gloss of benevolence cast by these speeches. Nor is there the slightest nod of awareness about current suffering. Reading these speeches, we are in effect asked to ignore, for example, the anguish we know must be felt by the millions of Chinese whose homes in ancient neighborhoods have in recent years been torn out to make way for China’s monumental urban reconstruction.
This is not to say that Xi does not genuinely believe in his good intentions. The incompatibles in his thinking may just be an example of the mental oddity that is so common in ideology, as in religion. This is so even though it is hard to imagine that someone of high intelligence, which Xi clearly is, can be so oblivious to the past and so disconnected from the realities of the present. So far as we know from the speeches, Xi harbors no doubts, senses no aspersions upon his heroes, and betrays no inner tensions or feelings of uncertainty. His is just the confidence of straight-forward, fatherly benevolence. One is invited to believe that China’s future is in good hands – and hopefully it is.
Xi’s Pedigree and Rise to Power
In 2016, the Chinese Communist Party declared Xi a “core leader,” raising him to a hallowed level on a par with Mao, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. As General Secretary of the Party, President of the People’s Republic, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, his power encompasses all three of the principal pillars of the regime -- the Party, the government and the military. The General Secretary position gives him an ex-officio place on the Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, which is the premier decision-maker.
Both of Xi’s parents were early Communist revolutionaries and members of the Party. His father, Xi Zhongxun, at one time served as vice premier of Communist China before he fell from grace in 1962. The Cultural Revolution brought him public humiliation and destitution. His teenage son, now President Xi, lived in a cave during that period, which saw him exiled to rural China.
One of the surprising things about recent Chinese history is how quickly disgraced members of the Party were brought back into respectability following Mao’s death in 1976. (This almost certainly reflects the fact that, as Rowan Callick tells us in The Party Forever, “the party is effectively controlled by 200 to 300 influential families.” Xi himself has an ideal pedigree as one of the “princelings”; his father is counted among the Party’s “Eight Immortals.” The Cultural Revolution did not permanently displace this elite, whose members lost no time in reassuming positions of power as soon as it was over.)
Even after sixteen years of persecution, the father took a lead in the post-Mao “opening-up movement” as the first secretary of the Communist Party’s Guangdong Provincial Committee, where he helped establish the “special economic zones” that were important to Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms. For his part, the son went from his exile to study at one of the country’s top universities, Tsinghau University. From there, he passed through a variety of political positions: in 1999-2002, as governor of Fujian province, and in succession as the governor and Party secretary of the adjacent Zhejiang province. He served there from 2002 to 2007, and then briefly as Party secretary in Shanghai in 2007. In October of that year, he was elevated to China’s Politburo and central secretariat.
For the next five years, he stood next in line to Hu Jintao, China’s “paramount leader” from 2002 to 2012, who held all the positions President Xi came to hold. Under Hu, Xi was vice president and eventually vice chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi reached the top when in November 2012 he was elected General Secretary by the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). This was followed by election as president the next year. In effect, he was given a lifetime tenure in 2018 when the National People’s Congress not only reelected him but also removed term limits. As we have seen, he had been given the title “core leader” in 2016.
Xi is the beneficiary of a Lincoln-like hagiography, and we are reminded of Lincoln by the Profile of Xi that is included in the book as an Appendix. The heading of the Profile is “Man of the People,” and there’s a passage especially reminiscent of Lincoln: “He was able to walk for 5 km on a mountainous path with two dangling baskets filled with almost one hundred kg of wheat on a shoulder-pole… Although he did not attend school, Xi never stopped reading.” (Somehow, of course, despite not having schooling, he had learned to read; and we’ve seen how he wound up at one of the more prestigious universities.)
His happy, benevolent aura shines through a countenance marked by an ever-present smile, personal warmth and sense of quiet humility. Those same qualities appear through the many aspirations he expresses for moving China toward “the Chinese dream.” He sees the historic role of the Chinese Communist Party as being to “renew the Chinese nation,” a “great renewal” that will remind Americans of the “Make America Great Again” theme that has been central to Donald Trump’s administration. He hopes to raise the quality of the Chinese people; speaking paternalistically to a Party gathering, he says “We should serve the people while educating and guiding them, satisfy their demands while upgrading their personal quality… This way, we can enrich the people culturally and ethically….”
The call for this uplift takes on an urgent tone when he relates it to the ever-present need for “social stability” and Communist Party control. Xi says candidly that “the perils of moral laxity, mediocrity, isolation from the people, passivity and corruption have become increasingly serious.” What is at stake is “the very survival or extinction of the Party and the state.” The two threats he points to most specifically are of a “color revolution” and ethnic separatism (including terrorism and “infiltration by religious extremism,” which we might interpret as Islamism). One would suppose that each of these can be effectively suppressed by ubiquitous censorship, control over the media, command of the Army, and the presence of the 87-million-member Communist Party that pervades both civilian life and the Army. Nevertheless, Xi expresses some doubts: “I have long been wondering if we were confronted with a complex situation such as a ‘color revolution,’ would all of our officials act resolutely to safeguard the leadership of the Party and the socialist system?” This shows that Xi is a realist; he knows he is dealing with human nature, and doing so in a society of vast scale.
The key to China’s economic revival after Mao was Deng Xiaoping’s reforms allowing people some leeway to pursue their own self-interest. This has led to the state capitalism and vibrant entrepreneurialism that has ensued. Just the same, socialist systems have, as a matter of ideological preference, focused strongly on moral exhortation as a principal motivator. Becoming a “hero of socialist labor” was a favorite meme during the Stalinist era in the old Soviet Union. Xi acts in this tradition when he calls for a “campaign of mass line education” to “remind all Party members that their fundamental purpose is to serve the people.” This campaign is, of course, on top of the long-standing policy of having each Party member write annual “self-criticisms” and attend frequent Party meetings. (When we remember the miserable little clerk in nineteenth century Russia in Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground who loved to bedevil the poor souls who had to deal with him, we realize, just as Xi does, that exhortation sometimes falls on deaf ears.)
Some of the things noticeable about Xi’s “aspirations” are more specifically economic or political. He wants China to be on the cutting edge of modern technology through better robotics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, “big data, cloud computing and the mobile Internet,” and calls for the “peaceful use of nuclear energy.” As with most policy-makers throughout the world, who still see the world as one of “jobs,” Xi does not betray any sense that the workerless technology will displace hundreds of millions from their current employments, calling into play the need for wholly new economic and political dispensations. Even more dramatically than anywhere else, this is bound to be earth-shaking in China, with its 1.4 billion people. The technology is full of promise and cataclysm.
There are many times in this book of speeches when Xi expresses his benevolence through euphemisms and sheer platitudes. Notice his euphemistic explanation of the ubiquitous censorship, which he presents as an affirmative: “It is a long-term task to ensure that online public opinion is healthy and sound. We should… use Internet communication rules to advocate things wholesome and positive, and disseminate and put into practice the core socialist values.” While he has been pressing quite militantly China’s claim to waters and islands to which surrounding countries (none of whom has nearly the power China has) also have a claim, he talks of “expanding regional cooperation with a more open mind and broader vision,” and says that “China will… handle differences and disputes through equality-based dialogue and friendly consultations….” When he calls for educating all Party members in “the Marxist viewpoint and the Party’s mass line,” he boils it down to a platitude that in effect makes Marx indistinguishable from Lincoln: “…focusing on serving the people and on being down-to-earth, honest and upright in conduct.” Sometimes, the platitudes come through as conformity to Western “political correctness,” such as when he says “all human civilizations are equal in value… No single civilization can be judged superior to another.”
Xi’s Ideological Confusions
We will be telling about Xi’s program for “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and what he says about the stages he expects Chinese socialism to pass through. But first we should notice how much ideological confusion infuses his thinking. (Some of the confusion may more correctly be seen as obfuscation, or as concessions to varied factions in the Party.)
Earlier, we noted his amnesia about the unsavory aspects of Communist history. Some of this produces quite a slick result, as when he presents the pre-1978 and post-1978 epochs as each just a “pragmatic exploration in building socialism.” This allows him to assert continuity, and in doing so to avoid all mention of the horrors under Mao, thereby sanitizing a figure who continues to be iconic in present-day China. The closest he comes to acknowledging the horrors is when he sanctions an endnote that speaks of the “grave disasters” of the “Great Cultural Revolution” (although here the endnote is careful to blame others, not Mao).
Xi speaks of China’s “long and rich history,” and in praising Mao ignores Mao’s effort during the decade of Cultural Revolution to obliterate all memory of China’s past through his campaign against “the Four Olds” – ideas, customs, culture and habits. There is a disconnect as Xi now speaks of “elucidating China’s excellent traditional culture” while nevertheless exalting Mao.
His listeners are expected to forget the Marxist-Leninist commitment to atheism when he combines a statement that “belief in Marxism and faith in socialism and communism are the political soul of Communists” with one that “religious figures and believers” are welcome. In the same vein, Xi combines an orthodox Marxist call for a “people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and farmers” with what is now a complete absence of the class-struggle thinking that is the very core of Marxism. There is in his speeches no coherent explanation of how everything fits together into his Marxist-Leninist nexus. It doesn’t resolve the contradictions for him to add a string of riders to his references to Marxism-Leninism: Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development.
Established opinion that forms the conventional wisdom in almost any human setting is taken as embodying the “Truth.” That is certainly the case among the “opinion makers” in the United States today, who see any worldview other than their own as outside the bounds of respectability. From inside the Communist system, Xi possesses this quality (and, of course, backs it up with vast powers of censorship and “mass-line education”). It sounds as though he is for intellectual freedom when he says “young people should dare to be the first [and] boldly free their minds.” and that “university is a place not just for academic studies but for seeking truth.” But what he means by truth is for “young people [to]… work diligently to acquire true knowledge” and to arrive at “a correct concept of history.” “True” and “correct” are qualifiers that disqualify independent thought.
The speeches published in this book were Xi’s major utterances during the year and a half after mid-November 2012, a rather short span that leaves open the possibility that he has discussed many other subjects at other times. This is worth keeping in mind as we note that there are important subjects that he did not address in the speeches compiled here. They include, among other things, the extremes of wealth (which suggest a total abandonment of the class-struggle theory central to Marxism), the program of unbelievably vast construction, the displacement of millions for that construction, the massive shifting of population (by the hundreds of millions) to the coasts, the plight of migrants, the role of U.S. financial advisors, the adoption of an export-driven economy, and the towering trade imbalance with the United States. It would be of great interest for him to explain the format for socialist planning. Does it involve, say, the “input-output” theory that was used by the old Soviet Union? If not, what other system?
“Socialism With Chinese Characteristics”
A phrase that is much used is “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Xi defines it as “the integration of the theory of scientific socialism and social development theories of Chinese history.” The reference to scientific socialism is followed by an endnote that explains it as Marx and Engels’ study of “the proletariat liberation movement” that involved abolishing private property, establishing public ownership, installing a planned economy, and doing away with transactions involving money, all to wind up with the withering away of the state to leave a “community of free individuals.” The Chinese characteristics come in when Xi adds to Marxism-Leninism, as he so often does, “Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development.”
These add-ons make it important for us to know what they are. About “Mao Zedong Thought,” Xi picks selectively, passing over the unseemly aspects to say it has “three basic tenets: seeking truth from facts, the mass line and independence.” “Mass line” is taken to mean always acting for and relying upon the Chinese people. The independence refers to China’s reasserting its national pride after the nineteenth century’s long humiliation. “Deng Xiaoping Theory” isn’t defined in these speeches, but is generally taken to mean the opening-up of China to world commerce, the allowance of much-increased private initiative, the program of massive economic growth, and the pragmatism reflected in the term “seeking truth from facts.” (The pragmatism often elicits a favorite simile: “wading across the river by feeling for the stones.”) The “Three Represents” is a way of doffing a hat to Jiang Zemin, the paramount leader in various capacities from 1989 to 2003 (including the presidency from 1993 to 2003), who said the Party should represent the great majority of the people, and seek “advanced social productive forces” and “advanced culture.” Finally, the “scientific outlook on development” is said to have been “founded” by Hu Jintao, Xi’s immediate predecessor. It was studied in depth by all Party members between September 2008 and February 2010. Hu saw the gap between the Marxian ideal of a “classless society” and the burgeoning inequality within China, and thought the stress should be moved from economic growth to a broad program designed to create a “socialist harmonious society.” It’s no accident that Xi has lowered expectations, at least economically, seeking a “moderately prosperous society,” and that he wants to step up the redistributive features of a program that will “ensure that all the people enjoy the rights to education, employment, medical and old-age care, and housing.” Even though he reasserts “economic development as the central task,” he wants this supplemented by “other forms of progress” that will produce “socialism in its true sense.”
Xi’s economic theory sounds almost like the Austrian School’s when he calls for “allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources.” Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School wrote that in a free market the consumers determine the allocation of resources as entrepreneurs, seeking profits, respond to “consumer preference.” But Xi differs substantially from this when he says the market should allocate resources “under state macro control.” This would seem to put him in line with the concept of “controlling the commanding heights” that has been central to European democratic socialism. Even that, though, is too market-oriented for Xi, despite his rhetoric. European socialists foreswore the public ownership of industry when they accepted private property with the Bad Godesberg program in 1959. What we see in China is that the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) – which tower over all the major aspects of the economy – are government-funded and Party controlled. This is, in effect, state ownership. In fact, one of the speeches’ endnotes, no doubt approved by Xi, speaks of the economic system as one “in which public ownership is dominant and diverse forms of ownership develop side by side” [our italics]. It is interesting that when Xi wants to “establish a uniform, standardized, mature and stable housing supply system” for the hundreds of millions of people who are being brought into coastal China he is calling for housing according to the sort of “rational plan” so favored by socialists. A “uniform system” is a far cry from a housing market in which thousands of entrepreneurs seek independently to attract home buyers. We see in it more of a “guided hand” than the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith. Where economic freedom most exists is in the hundreds of thousands of small shops and street food vendors. This is no doubt a significant form of market vitality, but it exists alongside much central control on the things that count to the regime.
Earlier in this article we reviewed Xi’s aspirations, ideological confusions and frequent resort to platitudes. All of that comes to bear on “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Far from being a static concept to be grasped as something solid, it is ever-changing. Indeed, as the generation of Communist revolutionaries passes from this life, one wonders how long China will cling to the almost two centuries-old nostrums of Marx and Engels. There is the possibility that the various add-ons to Marxism-Leninism are ways to accommodate a variety of factions, each of whom has felt championed by the successive post-Mao leaders. If so, they seem permutations in ideology, but are also ways to hold a diverse coalition together. None of it is assuredly permanent.
One of the ways Xi continues to cast things in the Marxist-Leninist mold appears in his discussion of the “stages” of socialism. He says that, even after fifty years of Communist rule, China is still in “the primary stage of socialism,” with a “long-term goal of realizing communism.” Before the final stage arrives, there is the task of “building China into a modern socialist country” (which he hopes to do by 2029). The process of “reform and opening up” will go on without end. Eventually, an (no doubt authorized) endnote states, the “scientific socialist” principle predicts that “the nation state will gradually vanish, and a community of free individuals will come into being.”
This is, in effect, the stateless utopia called for by left-wing anarchism. What specifically might it entail? We see the answer in Lenin’s State and Revolution, where he was careful to say it would not be a utopia in the sense that it would have no crime. He wrote that “only communism renders the state absolutely unnecessary… We are not utopians, and we do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, nor the need to suppress such excesses. But… no special machinery, no special apparatus of repression is needed for this; this will be done by the armed people itself, as simply and as readily as any crowd of civilized people, even in modern society, parts a pair of combatants or does not allow a woman to be outraged.” This is one of the more explicit rationalizations for lynch-law ever made.
We have already reviewed some of the slogans used in China today, such as the Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development. There are several others, each of which contributes to the texture of Chinese rhetoric. In the usual fashion, most come as lists; and there is considerable repetition in the ideas they convey.
The “Four Cardinal Principles.” We are told that these are “the socialist path, the people’s democratic dictatorship, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought” [lumping two together as the fourth].
The “Four Tests.” These are “exercising governance, carrying out reform and opening up, developing a market economy, and responding to external development.”
The “Four Risks.” This list speaks of inertia, incompetence, being divorced from the people, and corruption (along with other “negatives”).
The “Four Modernizations.” As aspirations voiced by the Party Central Committee in 1978, these relate to modernizing agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology.
The “Two Unsweringlys” (sic). These stand for developing both the public and non-public sectors of the economy.
The “Two Musts.” As set forth by Mao Zedong, these call for being modest and prudent, and remaining hard-working.
The “Four Forms of Decadence.” Xi says these are “formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.”
The “Three Furthers.” These are to “further free our mind, further release the productive forces, and further strengthen ‘the vigor of society.’” Xi credits “freeing our mind” for China’s ability to institute its reforms and opening-up after “the ten year turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.”
The “Six Centering-ons.” An authorized endnote says these spell out a road-map for continuing reform.
The “Three Stricts and Three Earnests.” This is the name given to one of Xi’s speeches in 2014. The “stricts” relate to self-development, exercising power, and self-discipline. The “earnests” involve matching plans with actual conditions, being pragmatic problem-solvers, and remaining loyal to the Party and honest and aboveboard.
The “Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.” These call for mutuality in non-aggression, non-interference, benefit, respect, and co-existence. These were first put forward by Mao’s right-hand-man, Zhou Enlai. That it was promulgated under Mao is ironic, since it was not until after Mao’s death that China’s leadership lost interest in supporting the international spread of Maoist movements and ideology. During the Maoist era, the expansionist drive of Communist ideology was active throughout the world. In Latin America, say, Che Guevara declared his adoption of Maoism and sought its spread throughout the continent. To speak of this as “non-interference” and “co-existence” bears little relation to reality. Xi himself manages to ignore this history.
“Two Centenary Goals.” Pointing toward 2049’s 100th anniversary of the Communist victory in China, Xi says the goals are to be “moderately prosperous” and a “modern socialist country.”
“Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces.” Like so many of the others, this is a list (in this case of sixteen) do’s and don’ts.
“One Belt and One Road.” The “One Belt” refers to the land-route of economic outreach known as the Silk Road Economic Belt. The “One Road” is the ocean-route Maritime Silk Road. Together, they are a massive infrastructure project intended to use railroad and shipping to connect China economically with as many as seventy countries, reaching even to Europe, Africa and Oceania.
We have selected a list of enumerations from Xi’s speeches, but it is likely there are many more. It seems like a childish way of thinking, like addressing a class of pre-adolescents. Scholars in Chinese culture can perhaps shed light on it as reflecting historical patterns of Chinese education or even as revealing something about Chinese mental processes.
The picture we’ve drawn from Xi’s speeches is complex and confusing for all the reasons we’ve stated. If, however, in the long run the equanimity and good-will that shines through his persona proves to be the dominant reality, China and the world will be better for it.
1. Perhaps a word is in order about the pronunciation of Xi’s name. It is “Shee.” It translates to “West,” as we see when Puxi in Shanghai is the part of the city on the western side of the Pu (Huangpu) river.
2. Rowan Callick, The Party Forever: Inside China’s Modern Communist Elite (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014), p. 173.
3. These revolutionary “Eight Immortals” are not to be confused with the “Eight Immortals” of Chinese mythology.
4. Hu has not been designated as a “core leader” to place him on the level of Mao, Deng and Xi, but this may be because he was less assertive and never pressed for the honor.
5. The world has changed from one in which action against an existing polity any longer takes the form primarily of military invasion of one country by another (such as Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait). Rather, action is through mass demographic invasion, as has been occurring in Europe and the United States, or through externally and internally induced subversion, known today as a “color revolution.” Each of these poses an existential threat to the existing order.
6. None of this is to say that “bourgeois” societies with market economies do not also need a strong, vibrant moral base integral to their public and private spheres, or that exhortation on behalf of that morality is not an important part of such a society’s continued health. They have typically, however, welcomed the pursuit of “enlightened self-interest,” as per Adam Smith. If Xi feels the moral underpinnings of Communist China’s society today face challenges, he isn’t alone; the West, too, faces challenges, as we see from the behavioral decadence that has become so prominent a part of daily life.
7. An endnote to one of the speeches tells of the phrase “eight-legged Party essay,” which stems from as far back as the Ming and Qing dynasties. It refers to an essay that is “empty in content… mainly involving word play.” Many of the self-criticisms Party members write today are of this sort, and it would seem that President Xi engages in that sort of thing himself. (He is, of course, not unique in doing so.)
8. Each of these will be explained later in this article.
9. Stefan T. Possony, ed., Lenin Reader (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1966), p. 202.
 Perhaps a word is in order about the pronunciation of Xi’s name. It is “Shee.” It translates to “West,” as we see when Puxi in Shanghai is the part of the city on the western side of the Pu (Huangpu) river.
 Rowan Callick, The Party Forever: Inside China’s Modern Communist Elite (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014), p. 173.
 These revolutionary “Eight Immortals” are not to be confused with the “Eight Immortals” of Chinese mythology.
 Hu has not been designated a “core leader” to place him on the level of Mao, Deng and Xi, but this may be because he was less assertive and never pressed for the honor.
 The world has changed from one in which action against an existing polity no longer takes the form primarily of military invasion of one country by another (such as Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait), but rather through mass demographic invasion, as has been occurring in Europe and the United States, or through externally and internally induced subversion, known today as a “color revolution.” Each of these poses an existential threat to the existing order.
 None of this is to say that “bourgeois” societies with market economies do not also need a strong, vibrant moral base integral to their public and private spheres, or that exhortation on behalf of that morality is not an important part of such a society’s continued health. They have typically, however, welcomed the pursuit of “enlightened self-interest,” as per Adam Smith. If Xi feels the moral underpinnings of Communist China’s society today face challenges, he isn’t alone; the West, too, faces challenges, as we see from the behavioral decadence that has become so prominent a part of daily life.
 An endnote to one of the speeches tells of
the phrase “eight-legged Party essay,” which stems from as far back as the Ming
and Qing dynasties. It refers to an
essay that is “empty in content… mainly involving word play.” Many of the self-criticisms Party members
write today are of this sort, and it would seem that President Xi engages in
that sort of thing himself. (He, of
course, is not unique in doing so.)
 Each of these will be explained later in this article.
 Stefan T. Possony, ed., Lenin Reader, (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1966), p. 202.