Finalization of Relations to the Self
In the relationship of the self to the self, the devotion, the willing impulse and promptness in carrying out the acts of the “divine task” (such as conducting self-criticism) are part of the interior acts of the subject (Agamben
2013b: 104). It is the virtue that applies to the Party by means of a duty that derives not from a norm but from the respect for discipline (106). In this regard, solidarity is exerted within the Party through introducing a new division between “ins” and “outs” (Fang and Faure 2011: 10). Thus, solidarity further produces a threefold division of duties: toward the Party, toward oneself and toward other colleagues (Agamben 2013b: 110). In these divisions, all activities that are for the glory of the Party become spiritualized in the officials’ every activity (Agamben 2013a: 23).
In the process of conducting self-criticism, the individual is responsible for his or her own education and self-development, and the means of achieving this is through soliciting the criticism of others and by criticizing oneself (Nivison 1956: 54). Thus, one saves oneself for the self and one is saved by the self. The self is the agent, object, instrument and the ends of salvation (Foucault 2005: 184). This is what Foucault calls ascetics, which are a coordinated set of exercises that are available, recommended and even obligatory, and are utilizable by individuals in a moral, philosophical and religious system in order to achieve a definite spiritual objective (416-417). Thus, the ascetical self needs to fear no criticism because he or she is his or her own most willing critic, and he or she is able to “courageously and frankly criticize others” because he or she desires no favours or flattery (Nivison 1956: 60). Asceticism in the form of self-awareness through self-criticism leads to the individuals’ alignment to the Party. As the primary purpose of the Party is serving the people, this whole process could lead to the respiritualization of the Party. This process, according to many of our participants, will enable the Party to regain legitimacy in the eyes of the people. For example:
Our objectives to do self-criticism and criticism are to change our spiritual pursuit, to make contributions to society in our work, we need to care of the vulnerable groups, and be responsible for the country. A lot of people will support us. Everybody will be doing the same thing. Why the former Soviet collapsed overnight, because it did not assume the function that it should undertake. The Party needs to fulfil the basic needs for the society, needs to provide the opportunities for public moral admiration by the people. If you can’t, you will be abandoned by the society. (An official from a policy research department)
Thus, in many ways, the success or failure of the ethical revolution rests on just how engaged and authentic the criticism and self-criticism is and as a consequence just how aligned officials become in terms of their commit?ment to the Party’s ultimate objectives: serving the people and maintaining its legitimacy.