The Party’s long-term objective was no mystery: if Xi Jinping fulfilled his duty to lead the Party until 2023, China would surpass the record held by the Soviet Union as history’s most durable one-party state. The Soviets had been in power for seventy-four years, and Chinese leaders openly feared the Soviet fate. Shortly after taking office, Xi Jinping gave a speech to Party members and asked, “Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse? An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered. Eventually, all it took was a quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and the great party was gone. In the end nobody was man enough to come out and resist.”</p>

Xi’s “man enough” speech opened a new propaganda push: in case people wondered what would happen in the absence of the Party, the People’s Daily</span> painted a dire picture. After the fall of the Soviet Union, it said, Russians discovered that their “GDP fell by half … their ships aged and rusted and collapsed into heaps of scrap metal; oligarchs emerged to plunder state assets; Russians lined up on the sidewalk to face supply shortages; war veterans had to sell their medals in order to buy bread.” The paper asked what posed a similar threat to China today. Its answer: the Internet. “Every day, microbloggers and their mentors spread rumors, fabricate bad news about society, create an apocalyptic vision of China’s </p>

demise, and denigrate the socialist system—all to promote the Euro-American model of capitalism and constitutionalism.”</p>

Under Xi Jinping, the Party showed no sign that it saw a way out of its ideological gymnastics. It continued to carry the banner of socialism and the ideas that came with it (Thought Reform, the primacy of the Party in Power), while, on all sides, the Party was confronting unbridled Wild West capitalism and a clamorous market of ideas. If there was an enlightened view within the Party élite about how to resolve this tension, that view was not getting out. Instead, a Party memo leaked in August suggested that at least part of the leadership was getting paranoid. Document No. 9, as it was known, called for eradicating seven subversive strains of thinking. Beginning with “Western constitutional democracy,” the list included press freedom, civic participation, “universal values” of human rights, and what it described as “nihilist” interpretations of the Party’s history. The “seven taboos” were delivered to university professors and social media celebrities, who were warned not to cross the line. The People’s Daily</span> summoned the language of another era and warned that constitutionalism, the call to put the Party under the rule of law, was “a weapon for information and psychological warfare used by the magnates of American monopoly capitalism and their proxies in China to subvert China’s socialist system.”</p>