POLITICS

Workers of the world yawn: Marxism must find answers to today's social woes, or become irrelevant PLA general warns

Unless it finds answers to today's problems,it will fade into irrelevance, PLA general warns

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 2:50am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 2:50am

Chinese Marxist researchers must find answers to contemporary social woes, or the political and economic philosophy that changed the world would become irrelevant to today's public, a PLA general has warned.

General Liu Yazhou sounded his concerns to hundreds of scholars gathered for the first World Congress on Marxism at Peking University yesterday. .

"[The researchers'] inability to identify and solve social problems have … blocked the innovative development of Marxism in China", Wu Jieming, a deputy political commissar at National Defence University, read in speech on behalf of Liu.

Liu is the political commissar at the university. His speech went on to say that while Marxism proved to be a "historical and scientific" choice for the Chinese people and remained vital, it was necessary to innovate and expand its theoritical basis to avoid being marginalised.

"It is not easy for a theory to be refuted by another theory, but it could be easily defeated by social problems," Wu said. "But if a theory fails to address social concerns, then society will no longer need it."

One problem that Marxists needed to answer, according to Liu Wei, a vice-president of Peking University, was how to make the market-based economy work effectively under public ownership - as opposed to private ownership in capitalism. The answer could determine the success or failure of mainland's economic reforms, Liu said.

The comments come as President Xi Jinping embraced Marxism and traditional Chinese values as the nation's ideological lodestar while suppressing liberal Western ideas such as democracy and civil society.

The party's Central Committee also issued a directive earlier this year for all mainland universities to become bases for "learning, researching, and disseminating" Marxism, and making sure Chinese socialism was not only printed in textbooks, but was also "getting into students' minds".

Peking University is planning to make the World Congress on Marxism a permanent fixture, hosted every two years, while a building named after Karl Marx will soon be built on the campus.

But some of the public were not impressed, with many asking online "who believes in Marxism nowadays".

"Dregs for [the rest] of the world, but vintage liquor for China," read an official Weibo account of a local police bureau in Benxi , Liaoning province.

Professor Hu Xingdou at Beijing Institute of Technology said as Marxism lost its appeal with the public, the party should introduce competing and diversified social theories to improve governance.

"It would be ridiculous for the leaders to think one single theory could become a cure-all for all social ills," Hu said.