CREATIVITY AND PROGRESS
An Exchange between Xi Jinping and Lyndon LaRouche
by William Jones
May 29—A lengthy speech given earlier this year by Chinese President Xi Jinping was reprinted in the government paper, Peoples Daily on May 5. When economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche was briefed on its contents, he made a direct and pointed response on the issue of creativity.
The People’s Daily article had only been superficially covered in the Western media, which seemed to fixate on President Xi’s comments that China’s call for “supply-side” reform had nothing in common with what was designated by that term in the U.S. economic debate during the 1980s. But the speech had much more profound implications, which our Western media totally failed to notice. The speech was a lengthy elaboration by the Chinese President directed in particular to the cadre of the Chinese Communist Party, concerning the situation facing China today, a situation, as he pointed out, that is without precedent in the history of that nation. He also indicated that the “reform and opening up” policy initiated by Deng Xiaoping, which has allowed China to again take its place as a major economic power in the world, is itself at a new and untested stage of development. President Xi also indicated that the way forward will be arduous and filled with difficulties.
He gave a broad historical overview of the development of China during the last four decades, commenting briefly on the disastrous “leftist” shift in the 1960s, which led to the Cultural Revolution, that “10-year calamity” as he called it, which set the economy back many years from the progress that had been made since the founding of the Peoples Republic in 1949.
With the “reform and opening up,” China had achieved enormous success in bringing the country into the situation where it has now become the second largest economy in the world and one of the most important engines of the world economy, bringing millions of its own people out of poverty in the process. The collapse of the international export market has, however, placed China in a new situation, in which it must adopt new attitudes and new policies to confront the “new normal” of the world economy.
In this “new normal,” Xi explained, many of the industries that have been the motor of the Chinese economy will disappear or shift to a higher level of technology and productivity. Other industries will have to be developed that correspond with the growing needs of the country and the world. But the underlying dynamic force of the economy, President Xi argues, must now be situated in a process of making significant breakthroughs in science and technological innovation.
President Xi on Creativity
In one key section of his speech, President Xi expands on this notion. “Since the Sixteenth Century, mankind entered into an unprecedented period of scientific creativity,” Xi writes. “In the course of a few hundred years, mankind achieved creative results which went far beyond anything that had been achieved in the previous thousands of years. Particularly since the Eighteenth Century, the world has experienced several scientific revolutions, more recently with developments in physics, the development of the steam engine and mechanical devices, electric power, the development of mass transport, the theory of relativity and quantum theory, an understanding of the electron, and the development of information technology. With these developments the world has experienced several scientific revolutions, such as mechanization, electrification, automation and informationization. And each of these profoundly changed the face and the pattern of human development.”
Institute of Plasma Physics CAS
Institute of Plasma Physics CAS
“Some countries,” he noted, “grasped the opportunity of the scientific revolution to put their economies into the ‘fast lane,’ with England becoming the chief beneficiary of the first industrial revolution, placing it in the role of a world leader. The second industrial revolution was grabbed by the United States, which soon replaced Great Britain’s role in the world economy.”
The Chinese people, Xi noted, are also a creative people and once played the foremost role in science and technology, particularly in the areas of astronomy, mathematics, agronomy, geography, and medicine, and gave the world those three great inventions: gunpowder, the art of printing, and the compass. “Some data show,” Xi said, “that prior to the Sixteenth Century, among the 300 most important items of invention and discovery, 173 came from China, far exceeding those of Europe.”
For a long time our country played a leading role. Our thought, our social system, our economy, and our scientific achievements radiated strongly in our periphery and played a leading role there. And then in more recent years our country gradually lost its lead and plunged into backwardness. A major reason for this is that we lost the initiative several times in the scientific and industrial revolutions around us.
What this means for the present, Xi said, is that China must grasp the opportunity to move forward and moving forward means keeping on the cusp of creative innovation. “Only those who move ahead in innovating can maintain the ability to determine their own development,” Xi said. He noted that we are facing another revolution in scientific and industrial development. While China has emerged as the number two economic power, that power is still quite fragile and facing major hurdles. For this reason, he urged a heightened awareness of the pitfalls ahead, noting that there is no clear roadmap, but that only a spirit of creativity and innovation on the part of the scientific elites and of the party cadre will allow China to move ahead in these uncertain circumstances.
“Bringing forth new ideas is a complex process of social engineering,” he said, “involving every section of the economy. To strengthen the development of creativity and innovation, you must insist on a holistic point of view, and seek to grasp the crucial elements, using the most important areas and key segments in order to create a breakthrough in the overall situation.”
The emphasis on creativity and innovation has become a clarion call for China’s economy. It indicates that only through breakthroughs in science and technology can China overcome its present bottlenecks and begin to raise the rest of its population to the standard of living now achieved by most of those concentrated in the urban core of the country.
With that in mind Xi urged the party cadre to increase their vigilance and commitment to the well-being of the people. Here also he called for creative solutions on the part of the party cadre to overcome the obstacles they find along the way. He underlined the need for a more intensive study of philosophy and the social sciences. While he underlined the role of Marxism and dialectical thought to these party members, he also referenced the importance of the Confucian values in formulating policy. He again noted that his anti-corruption campaign was initiated precisely in order to enhance the moral and social commitment of the party cadre, who are to serve as models for the type of social consciousness that he hopes to achieve in society as a whole, and he said the program was not some sort of American-style “House of Cards” manipulation, as it has been generally described by the Western media.
Lyndon LaRouche Responds
Lyndon LaRouche, while noting the importance of the orientation raised by the Chinese President, insisted that what was said was not sufficient. “Where does reality lie?” LaRouche asked. “Where does the reality of the human being, the human population, where does the destiny of mankind lie?”
The essence of the thing, and everybody who has made this particular mistake, has always paid a big price for it, if they were even able to survive. Because the question of what human values are, lies not in popular ideas. Not at all! It lies in something which is the un-popular idea.
You know, when you say the parents are proud of their children, or things like that, this sort of thing, this may have an inkling of some useful function; but the idea of it as a policy for people is wrong. It does not work. And we have not really grappled with this thing, we didn’t want to grapple with it. Most people did not want to grapple with it! The point is, the secret of the future generation lies in a layer of society which did not play a role in what we call education today, and behavior today. Because it is the mind of the individual human, not as an educated individual as such, but it has to be the education within the person which enables that person to see beyond popular opinion. What does that mean? You say, well, look at the Twentieth Century, and most people don’t realize how they were taken in, by the Twentieth Century: Why? Because the great geniuses were never heard, or almost never heard. Because the genius is one who is not developed to follow a certain pattern; the genius is someone who stands outside all notions of popular opinion, like Einstein.
Einstein is a prototype of what the future mankind, as an individual, represents. Other people don’t. The objective is not to try to produce new children, made in the image of their parents. That is not the image, that is not the truth! That’s the ugly truth, which is not the truth.
The point is, that Einstein one century after his death, has been noted for creativity. How did this work? How could Einstein, having no period of life from the time of his own actual death, how did he suddenly become a source of true creativity of a new generation? How! By being like Einstein; they do not base themselves on practicality. They base themselves on being free of the achievements of their families. If you want to succeed, don’t adopt your parents’ habits. And the future of mankind lies precisely in that policy. Because people collect ideas, trades, impulses, habits, all these kinds of things. And they all say “Ahh! I want to imitate this guy. I want to imitate this guy! I want to imitate this guy. I don’t want to imitate this guy, I want to imitate somebody else.” And that is how mankind degenerates, by trying to find a practical model, to recommend to all people in the organization, whatever the organization is, and that is how the 20th century was created, by the evil Bertrand Russell.
Later in the discussion, LaRouche elaborated on this point with regard to the space program:
What I’m talking about is the fact that mankind is not limited to mankind. That when people are landing on the Moon, such as is going to be done, what are you going to do? You’re going to develop a Moon, but you don’t know where the center lies, you don’t know where the center is located. So therefore, you’re going to rely upon something which has nothing in direct representation to what you’re going to do on that Moon.
Now, the same thing came up earlier in the development of the whole system, and therefore you don’t do it, you don’t do it because you have to look for something which is something that you have never defined. And you’re going to find a solution, experimentally you’re going to find a solution, for something which has never been defined. And that’s what the whole Moon program is, for the space program. It’s a copy in effect, of exactly what the original space program was, as an experimental program.
In other words what you’re getting, coming up from the Moon program, implicitly, will be something which has never happened, to any body known to mankind. It will be a different kind of body. And its implicit, because when you get this idea of how you’re going to define the pattern of functioning, you don’t know! Right, as of now, you don’t know what will work. And what they will do—like the earlier founders of the program did, the same thing—they’re going to have to find out something that they didn’t know, and bring something that they had not known into play, and to verify that that thing does play.
The future of mankind lies with the person, whom the popular opinion rejects. And the reason for his success is he’s right. And that’s the model of man that we have to develop. This is the new model of man, who has, with some copies from the past as models, the ability to reject popular opinion. And reject it by throwing it in the garbage pail. And then throwing the garbage pail away, itself.
The future of mankind lies with a human being who is not so stupid as to copy what is already being done. And that is my slogan, and it has been my slogan for most of my life. Practically all of my life.
No, that’s where the big problem is in society today, the culture of society. The idea of trying to take a standard model of progress is absolutely nonsense. It’s absolutely dangerous. And that’s where this organization often makes its most prominent mistakes, by trying to develop and produce a standard model.
We have to think more clearly than we have been thinking in some recent times. We have to realize that we are going into what seems to be the unknown, and you have to accept the unknown, accept it on a basis of its justice. But don’t try to do something which you can copy from something else. You’ve got to find something that other people haven’t discovered yet. . . .
And the key thing I would re-emphasize is, always make sure that you rely on something that you didn’t believe before. That’s what makes it work. Our best generals always did that. They never did what popular opinion demanded. If you’re practical, you’re stupid, that’s the general conclusion that comes out of that.
LaRouche’s urgent intervention on the matter of creativity is particularly relevant for China at its present stage of development. As President Xi Jinping is clearly aware, the way forward for China is totally dependent on how quickly it can master the scientific problems facing it today. The future of energy, for instance, is in the long term, totally dependent on how quickly mankind can master the use of thermonuclear fusion power. And the source of that mastery is ultimately dependent on how quickly it can develop and nurture those individuals who will become tomorrow’s Einsteins or Vernadskys. In that respect, the charge by Lyndon LaRouche, the world’s premier economist, to always make sure that you rely on something that you didn’t believe before, can only serve as crucial food for thought for Chinese thinkers who are today grappling with that problem.