I've got a small piece up at the National in which I argue that we should take Xi Jinping seriously as an orthodox Communist. I think there's a good deal more to him than that, as it happens, but space constraints meant I had to focus on one thing, so I chose the thing that tends not to be appreciated in speculation about his behaviour and outlook, despite the fact that it evidently motivates his attempts to both discipline the Party and re-invigorate authoritarian rule over China as a whole.
And this is where things get interesting. His attitude towards the Party reflects classic Democratic Centralist thinking. But that's 'between ourselves'. While the cadre are supposed simultaneously to serve the people and follow the line in classic Leninist style, the approach to the public assumes the contours of classically reactionary rule. The average Chinese person is supposed to be patriotic, hardworking, respectful of culture, tradition and authority and generally dreaming the Chinese dream. And he or she is supposed to respect and obey the Communist Party because Chinese communism is the true inheritor and upholder of this legitimist discourse.
This is probably less contradictory than meets the eye. Actually existing comunism always was highly conservative in its social and moral outlook. It also strongly reflects Xi's own position as a red aristocrat who realises that both aspects of his status are mutually dependant and acts to create a synthesis between them. But there is a kind of audacity in so blatantly using the party building techniques originally designed to acquire and consolidate revolutionary power explicitly for the purposes of rejuvenating an ancien regime. Maybe this is communism's revenge.