Philosophical reflections on Chinese modernization

By YUAN ZUSHE / 02-23-2023 / Chinese Social Sciences Today

China’s Fuxing (rejuvination) high-speed train runs through Beijing. Photo: CFP

The essence of the theoretical exploration and practical innovation of Chinese modernization lies in that it not only focuses on China’s history, national conditions and realistic demands, but also takes into account future concerns of human development and progress, provides a new path of modernization suitable for a new form of human advancement, has exemplary and leading significance, and opens up a new chapter in the history of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context and the needs of the times.

Creating a better world

Chinese modernization has established a new ontological basis for humankind’s new modernization path.

Chinese modernization emphasizes “the world as one,” advocates the common values of “peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom,” effectively promotes the construction of a human community with a shared future, promotes inter-civilizational exchange and mutual learning, and coordinates the multifold relationships between humanity and nature, between humanity and society, between humans, and between China’s development and the progress of human civilization. Chinese modernization has contributed to the logic of building a better new world for humankind.

Exploration and innovation

Chinese modernization focuses on the long period of human history, follows the principle of rationality of human development and progress, and expands the Marxist view of practice.

The views of practice and life are primary and foundational to Marxist epistemology. The essence of the Marxist practice view is exploration and innovation. It is to insist on testing and confirming the truths of social and historical paths, theories, systems and culture in the process of consciously changing the objective world. 

In terms of exploration, Chinese modernization takes into account the relationship between practical subject and object, practical purpose and means, adheres to the principle of combining the regularity of human historical development in the universal sense with the purposiveness in the special sense, and independently explores the modernization suitable for the basic national conditions of the country on the basis of abiding by the common features of modernization. One of the outstanding theoretical contributions contained in Chinese modernization is to always test and develop the truthfulness of Marxism in parctice.

Modernization of production and social relations

The success of the practice of Chinese modernization has provided the whole world with new ideas and insights on the issues of historical ontology, subjectivity, epistemology, teleology, and significance, contributing a new historical vision aimed at pursuing order, peace and justice in the world.

According to the basic principle of historical materialism elucidated by Marx, social modernization is the modernization of not only the level of productivity, but also corresponding production relations and even social relations. This principle reveals the evolutionary essence of history and the direction of the development of the times, which is the basic theory of the CPC for exploring a new model of modernization.

Profound value connotation

Chinese modernization is a process of discovering, creating, realizing, and confirming value, and has a distinct and profound value connotation.

Chinese modernization relies on the comprehensive advantages of China’s advanced path, system, theories and culture to bring modernization back to its right value track. 

As a modernization of a huge population, Chinese modernization is a process embraced by more than 1.4 billion people collectively who enjoy the fruits of social development and progress. It is also a modernization of common prosperity for all. 

This modernization path has always adhered to the value of putting the people first, and emphasized meeting the people’s need for a better life through development. Histroy shows that the essence of social modernization is the modernization of people’s qualities, abilities and mind. Its ultimate goal is the free and well-rounded development of people.

Yuan Zushe is a professor form the School of Philosophy and Government at the Shaanxi Normal University.