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China: Ideology and the Socialist Man
Country Study > Chapter 11 > The Political Process > Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong "Thought Re-Thought" > Ideology and the Socialist Man


An important goal of Maoist ideology was the inculcation of certain prescribed values in party members and, by extension, in society as a whole. These included selfless dedication to the common good; an egalitarian concern with the uncomplicated expression of ideas in maxims or brief phrases understandable to all; and fervent commitment to ideal social behavior. In contrast, state ideology in the hands of Deng Xiaoping had a different purpose. The orientation was practical and less doctrinaire, aimed at fulfilling the goals of modernization. The official ideology was to be used to channel the individual's attempts to understand and practice modern concepts and methods. For example, in early 1987 the concept of village committees was introduced to give the massive rural population direct experience in self-management. It did not appear that these new bodies were meant to have substantive power but rather that they were intended to indoctrinate the population with modern approaches to social and political relations.

Paralleling this use of ideology as a cognitive tool was the party's policy of "emancipating the mind" and allowing debate to extend into subjects once considered "forbidden zones." China's scholars have argued publicly over issues such as the value of the commune system, the need for market concepts in a socialist economy, the historical impact of humanism, and even the current relevance of Marxism-Leninism. Student demonstrators in the mid1980s went too far, however, by questioning the preeminent role of the party. At that point, the immediate official response was to subordinate creativity and experimentation to public recognition of the presiding role of the party and its ideology.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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