Abandoning the principle of “class struggle” has been central to China’s achievements over the past 35 years, a flagship newspaper of the Communist Party’s Central Party School said on Monday, in a direct rebuttal of controversial remarks carried by a central party committee publication last week that defined “class struggle” as a long-standing feature of society.

The party made a “leftist mistake” by taking class struggle as its guiding philosophy, a blunder that drove the tumultuous Cultural Revolution and halted the country’s economic development, according to the commentary published by the Study Times.

“We would not have achieved our accomplishments if we had not corrected the leftist mistakes and shifted our focus,” the commentary quoted paramount leader Deng Xiaoping as saying in 1985.

The commentary came hard on the heels of a re-emergence of the revolutionary term class struggle in the party-run twice-weekly Red Flag Manuscript last week that fanned discussion online. Commentators warned that the remarks signalled a renewed urgency among leftists in the party to repress reformists.

The article, by Wang Weiguang, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, defended the “people’s democratic dictatorship” practised on the mainland by arguing that class struggle had not yet been extinguished both at home and abroad.

Paradoxically, both commentaries justified their stances by claiming them to be a continuation of Deng’s political legacy.

China must persist in upholding both the opening-up policy and “four basic principles” – socialism, people’s democratic dictatorship, the party’s rule, and Mao Zedong’s Marxist ideologies, both articles cited Deng as saying.

Deng sought to free party cadres from their conventional mission of solving the class struggle in order to push forward economic development, the Study Times article said.

But Wang interpreted Deng’s remarks as being a warning that China must not abandon the people’s democratic dictatorship, a form of socialist government espoused by Mao Zedong ahead of the founding of the People’s Republic.

“We must strengthen the people’s democratic dictatorship, or we won’t be able to resist Western influences that aim to turn China into a capitalist country,” Wang wrote.

According to Mao, China’s proposed form of government promised democracy but would function as a dictatorship if confronted by “enemies” trying to overthrow the socialist system.

By ANDREA CHEN September 29, 2014 in South China Morning Post