Source: World Outlook, August 12, 1966 and February 10, 1967
Transcription/HTML Markup: Andy Pollack
Public Domain: Peng Shuzi Internet Archive 2005. This work is completely free to copy and distribute. Please cite the Marxists Internet’s Peng Shuzi Internet Archive if the contents herein are reproduced.
These interviews were obtained in June 1966 and January 1967, by Antonio Farien (David Fender).
The recent events in China, such as the dismissal of P'eng Chen from his key party post, are the result of a struggle inside the Chinese Communist Party that began almost a decade ago. In order to understand what is happening now we must take into account the whole evolution of the struggle and the opposition led by Teng T'o.
We should start from around 1957 when Mao Tse-tung initiated the “Let a hundred flowers bloom and let a hundred schools of thought contend” movement, inviting the intellectuals and the people as a whole to speak their mind, to criticize the “three harms” within the CCP—“bureaucratism, commandism, and subjectivism”—and to help in “rectifying” and reforming the party. Within a very short time this movement became very large with many deepgoing criticisms of the leadership being brought into the open.
Much of the important criticism was published in such papers as the People's Daily, the official organ of the party. Teng T'o, editor-in-chief at the time, encouraged criticism from the people and even wrote some articles of sharp criticism himself.
At the high tide of the “Hundred Flowers” movement (April to June 1957), facts about the arbitrariness and special privileges enjoyed by the CCP bureaucracy poured in from all corners, especially from young students and revolutionary intellectuals.
Members of the CCP itself and its youth organization also responded. By June the movement had developed .to such an extent that it seemed that the Hungarian revolution of 1956 might be transplanted to Chinese soil. (There was a rebellion, for example, by more than 3,000 students in a high middle school— the equivalent of high school in the U.S.—in Hanyang, one of the three cities that make up the Wuhan complex.)
The leadership became frightened at such a possibility and immediately discontinued the movement—in the middle of June— and vigorously counterattacked all its critics. The Left revolutionary elements were ruthlessly suppressed under the blanket charge of being “rightists.” Thousands upon thousands were forced to recant, were suspended from their posts, placed under surveillance, and even arrested and sent to labor camps. Many party and youth organization members, besides suffering expulsion, were fired from their jobs, dismissed from school, placed under surveillance, or arrested, etc. Teng T'o was removed from editorship of the People's Daily.
The opposition was accused of being headed by rightist elements, representatives of the bourgeoisie, arid large landlords, etc., similar charges to those leveled by the CCP at the present time against victims of the purge. However, close examination of some of the facts that have slowly sifted out since, shows that this accusation does not seem to have been justified in many cases. For example, in Red Flag, the ideological journal of the CCP's Central Committee, it was reported that Teng T'o “vigorously supported the rightists attacking the party. The extreme rightist Lin Hsi-ling was his most intimate friend.” But if anything, Lin Hsi-ling, a student movement leader and member of the CCP youth organization, reflected in her writings the revolutionary tendency of this movement. Lin Hsi-ling, who was purged in 1957, had written that “the present upper strata of China does not correspond with the property system of common ownership” because “the party and state apparatus has become a set of bureaucratic organs ruling people without democracy.” Therefore, she proclaimed “not reform but a thoroughgoing change.”
The statement in Red Flag about Lin Hsi-ling also sheds light upon the political thinking of Teng T'o. Since she was identified as being so close to Teng T'o, one can probably surmise that their political positions were not much different. Also in speaking of Teng T'o, she said that he was not an orthodox Marxist. In other words, Teng T'o did not agree with everything the infallible Mao Tse-tung said, or rather, Teng To was not a Maoist Marxist.
An example of what is meant by orthodox Marxism in China is to be found in the June 10 issue of Peking Review:
No one who dares to oppose Chairman Mao, to oppose Mao Tse-tung's thought, to oppose the Central Committee of the Party, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system can escape denunciation by the whole Party and the whole nation, whoever he may be, whatever high position he may hold and however much of a veteran he may be. The only possible result is the total loss of his standing and reputation.
In 1958, after crushing the “Hundred Flowers” movement, the CCP adopted an adventuristic policy in order to rationalize its forceful suppression of the so-called rightist opposition. Around May, the Central Committee of the CCP adopted the slogan of the “Great Leap Forward.” Under this slogan a program was initiated to make steel in small backyard furnaces. Around 100 million people were mobilized to carry out this program. Almost all students as well as professors, workers, peasants, and even housewives had to make steel. This program lasted about one year—June 1958 to July 1959.
A little later, in August 1958, Mao gave the order that every peasant must enter the People's Communes as quickly as possible. Three months later 99 percent of the peasants were in the People's Communes. The CCP ordered the privately owned land, stored grain, animals, etc., to be turned over to the communes; all peasants were to eat in the commune's kitchens; the children must attend the commune nurseries, etc. This policy was designed to communalize all the peasants within a five-year period.
The peasants were given no choice in the matter. They were forced to join and to give up all their holdings to the commune. This resulted in wide dissatisfaction among the peasants. At least half of the peasants—there were approximately 500 million at the time—were against such measures and opposed the communes actively by committing acts of sabotage, such as killing their animals, cutting down fruit trees, or destroying crops. This precipitated a tremendous scarcity of non-staple foods, and the situation became very serious in the summer of 1959. At the same time the failure of the backyard steel-making program became clear—three million tons of steel had been made, but little of it met minimum standards in quality.
The bankruptcy of these two policies which had been bureaucratically imposed by Mao and the top leadership of the CCP became quite evident to everyone, and mounting dissatisfaction was very apparent among the masses. They referred to Mao and his policies as “petty-bourgeois fanaticism.” This dissatisfaction made inroads into the cadres of the CCP. Many top leaders in the Central Committee, the army, and government administration were also in sympathy with the masses. Among the leaders voicing dissatisfaction was P'eng Te-huai, minister of defense.
As early as the spring of 1959 he criticized the policies of the party; i.e., he criticized Mao Tse-tung. This ^precipitated a crisis inside the party. The Central Committee along with Mao called a plenum in August 1959 to deal with it. This meeting became known as the Lushan conference.
At the plenum a serious dispute took place among the top leaders. Although the actual proceedings have never been released, two important measures were adopted: (1) P'eng Te-huai was relieved of his position along with Huang K'o-ch'eng, chief of staff of the army, and many other members of the Central Committee also disappeared. (2) A resolution was passed which made certain concessions to the peasants; i.e., the People's Communes would be reorganized.
A short while after the plenum, Teng T'o formed a small group. His closest collaborator in the group was Wu Han, a leading historian and vice-mayor of the Peking municipal government. In June 1959, before the plenum, he had written an article called “Hai Jui Scolds the Emperor.” Hai Jui was governor of Nanking under the Ming dynasty. (Peking was the capital.) The emperor was a bad one, unjust to the people, so Hai Jui sent him a letter criticizing him. Wu Han used this historical analogy to describe the present situation; i.e., “P'eng Te-huai Scolds Mao Tse-tung.”
After the plenum Wu Han wrote a drama called Hai Jui Dismissed from Office. When Hai Jui was governor he carried out a few token reforms. One of these was a small land reform in which he took some unjustly acquired land from the big landowners and returned it to the small peasants from whom it had been taken. The big landowners became furious and complained bitterly to the emperor, who promptly dismissed Hai Jui from his governorship. The people were very angered at this turn of events. Hai Jui was very popular, becoming known as an honest official. Here too, Wu Han utilized the historical analogy to describe and criticize the present situation; i.e., P'eng Te-huai Dismissed from Office:
The drama was openly published in January 1961 in the Peking daily papers, and afterward it was performed on the stage in Peking. It received an exceptionally enthusiastic reception from the people and many critics gave it high praise.
The third closest collaborator in the secret group organized by Teng T'o was Liao Mo-sha, head of the United Front Work Department in the Peking Municipal Party Committee. He along with Wu Han and Teng T'o—from 1961 to the end of 1962—wrote many articles which appeared in the Peking Daily, Peking Evening News, and Frontline. The Peking Daily and the Peking Evening News, the daily newspapers of the Peking Municipal Party Committee, were also controlled by Teng T'o. Since he was the secretary of the Secretariat in the Peking Municipal Party Committee, he had the power to control and direct all the cultural institutions of the city, including the newspapers.
Some of these articles were published under the titles “Notes from Three-Family Village” and “Evening Talks at Yenshan.” Later they were published in book form under the same titles. The authors used old fables, parables, historical analogies, satire, etc., in their articles to criticize the leadership, its program, and the situation at the time.
Teng T'o, for example, wrote an article which included a poem that was supposed to have been written by a small boy:
The Heaven is my Father,
The Earth is my Mother,
The Sun is my Nurse,
The East wind is my Benefactor,
The West wind is my Enemy.
Teng T'o criticized the poem saying that it was only hot air— “great empty talk.” This was an indirect criticism of Mao's famous slogan: “The East wind prevails over the West wind.”
Teng T'o wrote in one article, “The wisdom of man is not unlimited. If anyone should want to know everything and possess unlimited wisdom, he would be a fool. People who think of themselves as being omniscient, despise the masses” and “attempt to win victory by devious means. Such people, if they do not correct their faults, will be defeated in the end.” The passage refers to Mao; i.e., Mao is foolish for acting as though he were infallible and using bureaucratic means to maintain his power, because in the end he is going to be defeated if he doesn't change. In another article entitled “Special Treatment for 'Amnesia,'” he accused the leadership of suffering from “amnesia,” because they “quickly forget what they have seen and said ... go back on their own word, fail to keep faith. . . .” He then prescribes that the leadership should “say less and take a rest when time comes for talking.”
“Speak Big Words” was the title of another article in which he says that big words are not always useful and can even be damaging. In the essay, “The Theory of Treasuring Labor Power,” he accuses the leadership of wasting the people's time and labor power—“we should . . . take care to do more in every way to treasure our labor power.” Both of these were indirect references to the “Great Leap Forward,” i.e., the program has been a failure and even harmful and wasteful.
Teng T'o wrote another article entitled “Cheng Pang-ch'iao and His Style” in which he quoted this famous artist, who said that one must become a master and not a servant. In other words, the people must control the leaders of the revolution and not just become the servants or slaves of the Maoist bureaucracy.
There were around 150 such articles written by Teng T'o and the group around him, all of which were indirect criticisms of the policies handed down by Mao and the top leadership. These articles also reflected criticisms coming from the masses. In 1961-62 the economic situation in China had become serious: food was scarce and during the summer of 1962 alone more than 100,000 persons fled to Hong Kong.
At the end of 1962 the economic situation started to improve to a certain degree, so the leadership—feeling more secure—adopted stronger measures to better control the peasants. Measures were also taken in order to control the intellectuals and students— many were sent to the countryside to work and be “reeducated.”
In face of the more and more aggressive policy of the CCP leadership, which included blocking publication of their articles, Teng T'o and his group started to retreat.
In November 1965, in an article published in the Wen Hui Poo and then in the People's Daily 'and many other newspapers, the CCP for the first time openly criticized Wu Han's drama Hai Jui Dismissed from Office.
After that the campaign against Wu Han's Hai Jui Dismissed spread throughout the country. Every day the People's Daily, and especially the Liberation Army Daily, plus many other papers all over China carried articles criticizing Wu Han.
Between November 1965 and April 1966, however, there were a few writers, mainly in Peking and Shanghai, who wrote articles defending him. Wu Han also wrote an article which, while admitting he had made some mistakes in the drama, defended himself and his work.
However, since April the situation has changed radically in many ways: (1) Up to then Wu Han was said to have only made some mistakes and to be revisionist in his thinking. Now he is accused of being antisocialist, antiparty, and even counterrevolutionary—supporting the bourgeoisie, and trying to restore capitalism. (2) The papers stopped publishing articles by Wu Han and his supporters. (3) More and more, people came under attack and Teng T'o was made the central target. As a result, parts of “Notes from Three-Family Village” and “Evening Talks at Yenshan” were published in the People's Daily with commentary as proof of his counterrevolutionary objectives. (4) The newspapers and the journals edited and controlled by Teng T'o and his group came under attack from such publications as the Peking Daily, Peking Evening News, Frontline, and, beginning in May, Peking Literature and Art, Kweichow Daily, and the Yunnan Daily. (5) High party officials like P'eng Chen, the mayor of Peking, became targets.
Since the beginning of the Sino-Soviet dispute, around 1960, the CCP has not only criticized Khrushchev's revisionism, but also his repudiation of Stalinism at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU. Since then they have carried on a systematic campaign to establish a worldwide cult of Mao Tse-tung similar to that of Stalin. Since November 1965 this campaign has been greatly stepped up. For example, the People's Daily, a six-page paper, now devotes an average of four pages daily to this task. Each day a slogan such as: “One must study the thinking of Mao Tse-tung and raise higher the red banner of Mao's thought,” “The people must study Mao's books, hear his words, and work according to his instructions,” or “Mao's thought is the beacon of revolution for the world's people” appears on the front page. In other words, Mao's thought has become a panacea and his writings a bible. A typical example of the articles is one in the May 16,1966, issue. A musical concert that took place in Shanghai is reported. In conjunction an article describes how Mao's thought influenced the concert.
A similar article was sent in by a cook. After a satisfied customer asked him how he cooked so well, he sat down and wrote an article explaining -the secret of his success—he used Mao's method.
In the University of Peking an English teacher told his class that in order to learn English, they must use Mao's method. (Mao knows no foreign language except a few words of English.) Such stories are not the exception but the rule.
The attempt to establish the cult of Mao is connected with the present purge. Because of Mao's many mistakes his standing is low among the intellectuals. It is understandable why they are opposed to deifying him. They favor an intelligent and fruitful discussion of the problems which continue to haunt China and her development.
The increasing difficulties and failures of Mao's foreign policy have also undoubtedly played a great role in the present purge if nothing more than in its timing and fierceness.
The disastrous role of Moscow's opportunism is undeniable. However, the extremely sectarian position taken by Peking in rejecting a united front against U.S. imperialism—especially in regard to the Vietnam War—has not only weakened the struggle against imperialism, but has heightened the danger of an attack on China herself and increased the possibilities of a nuclear war.
This sectarian position has also led to the increasing isolation of China in the socialist world. Many of the workers' states that leaned toward China at the beginning of the dispute, such as Korea and Vietnam, are now leaning more toward Moscow. Also, the defeats suffered by the colonial revolution and the failure of Chinese diplomacy in the “Third World” have led to increased isolation for China and to demoralization of Peking's followers all over the world.
The crushing of the Communist Party in Indonesia (PKI) with hardly a fight stands out as one of the greatest defeats and tragedies for China. D. N. Aidit, whose policies were almost identical to those followed by the Khrushchevists, spoke many times in China; his books were translated into Chinese and he was highly praised by the leadership of the CCP, who held up the PKI as a model Communist Party, and one to be emulated by the other Communist parties in the world. In other words, the responsibility for the tragedy of the PKI and the Aidit leadership falls directly on the CCP, and especially on Mao.
Because of such events, the people, and especially the intellectuals, placed an even bigger question mark over Mao's leadership. The intellectuals, such as Teng T'o and his group, who were already voicing doubts, base their opposition around three main points: (1) They are against the bureaucracy and its arbitrariness and want more freedom of thought, criticism, etc. In other words, they want a program such as the “Hundred Flowers” movement to be the norm. (2) They are against the adventurism of the CCP with its programs like the “Great Leap Forward” and its wasting of the people's labor in such things as the backyard steel-making and forced collectivization of the peasants into the People's Communes, which they claim have not been successful and have even been damaging. (3) They oppose the idea that Mao is omniscient and infallible, and they are against making a cult of his personality.
From Mao's point of view the opposition of the intellectuals to his regime is intolerable and must be ended. The present situation reminds Mao and the leadership too much of the 1956 Hungarian revolution as can be seen from their references to the “literary men of the Petofi Club who acted as the shock brigade in the Hungarian events. The turbulent wind precedes the mountain storm.” But Mao does not even want the wind to blow, let alone allow it to get turbulent. He has not only attacked those intellectuals and party leaders who looked upon the gentle breeze as a breath of fresh air but even those who only tolerated it.
At the beginning of May, the leadership of the CCP raised the general slogans: “Great Leap Forward in the Ideological Field” and “The Great Revolution of Socialist Culture” in order to eliminate the “poisonous weeds” of the “bourgeoisie” and “feudalists,” i.e., to eliminate all differing tendencies and elements. However, in order to carry out the purge, Mao has mainly utilized the army, because even the party cannot be trusted to any great extent, as the Peking Municipal Party Committee so well demonstrates.
In March 1966, Lin Piao, minister of defense, gave instructions to the army that it must take a strong position against the “antiparty and antisocialist” tendency. The army cadres were mobilized for the campaign and since then the most vicious articles attacking the opposition have come from the Liberation Army Daily, which has already gone so far as to suggest the physical elimination of the opposition.
The campaign has been carried on to create an atmosphere of terror in order to stifle criticism from the intellectuals and to assure maintenance of control over the masses who feel likewise. They publish continual reminders of what happened to those who dared criticize the party during the “Hundred Flowers” movement. “Your fate cannot be better than that of your forerunners and brothers-in-crime!” “Your days are numbered.”
Nor is this intimidation directed only against the intellectuals in Peking or the upper echelons. It involves intellectuals in every field, along with officials and cadres in the party and government at all levels and all over China. (It is also safe to assume that each of the prominent figures who have been attacked represents a larger group. From all appearances, however, they seem to be very loosely and poorly organized.) While at first, there may only be slanderous attacks in the press plus removal from posts, it is most likely that arrests with long prison terms will follow or possibly worse in some cases.
The fierce action taken by the party against those who dared to question Mao's infallibility and criticize the policies of the party leadership set the stage in which Kuo Mo-jo, China's most noted scholar, made his speech of self-criticism in order to protect himself from the onslaught.
The purge of the opposition, represented by Teng T'o and Wu Han, reflects a serious contradiction inside the CCP—a contradiction which developed from the suppression of the “Hundred Flowers” movement. By suppressing progressive intellectuals and others, Mao may be able for the time being to silence the oppositional mood but he cannot suppress the objective conditions which gave rise to it in the first place. And in the future it will undoubtedly again challenge the bureaucracy. As Teng T'o put it, “People who think of themselves as being omniscient, despise the masses” and “attempt to win victory by devious means. Such people . . . will be defeated in the end.”
The victory, however, will not be scored by reaction or by the procapitalists who are undoubtedly to be found in the administration, and in very high posts at that. The victory will be won by those seeking proletarian democracy based on the conquests of the revolution. That victory will reinforce those conquests and assure China a genuine great leap forward, not only at home but internationally.
Question: Because of all the news accounts of the events in Peking and Shanghai, and especially in Nanking, during the last two weeks, there has been much speculation that China might be on the brink of a civil war. What do you think about this possibility?
Answer: The struggle between the two main factions—pro-Mao and anti-Mao—has developed to a very critical stage in the last few weeks. Such things as the recent strikes by the workers in the cities of Peking, Shanghai, Canton, and many other places, especially the fierce clashes in Nanking, where it has been reported that more than fifty people were killed and several hundred were injured, demonstrate quite clearly the seriousness of the conflict between the two factions.
If this news is true, then it is certain that the struggle inside the party has become much more critical and is finding expression in the toiling masses outside the party. If such a situation continues, it is of course possible that it will lead to a civil war. However, in order to speak about the possibilities of a civil war, it is necessary to look at the evolution of Mao's so-called Cultural Revolution over the past several months.
Q. Could you outline some of the most important aspects of that evolution?
A. In order to explain the recent developments it is necessary to recall the previous interview I had with you last June. In that interview I explained the development of the present divisions in the party which began at the time of the failure of the “Great Leap Forward” program, when many intellectuals, and even a few top party leaders, openly expressed discontent and were critical of many domestic and foreign policies arbitrarily instituted by Mao; and they even went so far as to call into question Mao's leadership capacities. This, then, was the origin of the factions as they are more or less presently constituted.
What seems to have precipitated the present crisis and heightened it, however, was the question of foreign policy—the continuing isolation of China in general, and the defeat in Indonesia in particular.
Just after the Indonesian coup d'etat there was a meeting of high officials of the party. At this meeting it was reported that P'eng Chen said “everyone is equal before the truth” and that if Chairman Mao has made some mistakes, he should also be criticized. It seems that Mao suffered a setback at this meeting.
It was shortly after this that Mao left Peking for Shanghai— the end of October or the beginning of November 1965—where he immediately began to secretly organize the “Cultural Revolution.”
During the period when Mao was in Shanghai—about six months—he was out of public view, and it was at this time that the press began to speculate a lot about his health. It seems that Mao chose Shanghai as his base of operations because he thought the party officials there were loyal to him. Mao began by attacking many cultural leaders, especially writers, such as Wu Han and Teng T'o, who had written many unfavorable things about him and his programs in the past. The campaign increased in intensity until finally P'eng Chen and the whole Municipal Party Committee of Peking were purged and the committee was reorganized. This was followed shortly by the purge of Lu Ting-i and Chou Yang—who were respectively heads of the Propaganda Department of the party and minister of culture—along with other high officials of the state and party in the cultural field.
Mao ordered all the universities and middle schools (high schools) closed, and many famous educators, such as the presidents of Peking University, Wuhan University, Nanking University, and others, were purged.
Such large-scale actions and purges aroused many of the top leaders such as Liu Shao-ch'i and Teng Hsiao-p'ing, along with many regional leaderships, and caused new antagonisms among the different tendencies.
Mao carried out his actions and purges by relying on the army, led by Lin Piao. For example, Lin Piao sent troops at the end of April 1966 to occupy the offices of the Peking Municipal Party Committee in order to remove P'eng Chen and the other leaders.
Under such conditions Liu Shao-ch'i and other leaders felt the situation to be very serious, and they began to unite against Mao's so-called Cultural Revolution.
Q: Are there any concrete facts which prove that some of the top leaders began to organize at this time against Mao and the “Cultural Revolution”?
A: Yes, there are. However, in order to be able to see it clearly, I must explain a little about the structure of the leadership in the party. The decision-making body of the CCP is the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. In addition to this bureau there are six regional bureaus—the North Bureau, the Central South Bureau, the East Bureau, the Northeast Bureau, the Northwest Bureau, and the Southwest Bureau. Each of these bureaus directs several provinces or administrative areas. Each is very powerful. They are in charge of the direction of the party, the local governments, and the army in their region.
The leaders of two of these six bureaus, that is the first secretaries, such as Li Hsueh-feng of the North Bureau and Liu Lan-t'ao of the Northwest Bureau, have in the past collaborated very closely with Liu Shao-ch'i.
La Ching-ch'iian, first secretary of the Southwest Bureau, and Sung Jen-ch'iung, first secretary of the Northeast Bureau, are close to Teng Hsiao-p'ing.
The removal of P'eng Chen from office by Mao, with the help of the army, caused these bureau leaders, along with Liu Shao-ch'i and Teng Hsiao P'ing, to be worried that they might suffer a similar fate, and they began to unite their forces against Mao. The leaders of the Northwest and Southwest bureaus in particular took a passive attitude toward Mao's “Cultural Revolution,” and at times even actually resisted it. For example, when P'eng Chen was dismissed at the beginning of last June, Mao organized a central Cultural Revolution Group. Mao made his former private secretary, Ch'en Po-ta, the chairman of the group, and his wife, Chiang Ch'ing, first vice-chairwoman.
This group sent representatives to the provinces in order to organize the “Cultural Revolution.” However, many groups were resisted by the provincial leaderships, especially in the four bureaus I mentioned earlier. This resistance was attacked in an editorial of the People's Daily, July 1, 1966.
The most important event, however, occurred in June-July 1966. During this time Mao left Peking for south China. In his absence, Liu Shao-ch'i, as first vice-chairman of the party, prepared to call an emergency meeting of the Central Committee in order to decide anew the policies of the “Cultural Revolution,” to put pressure on Mao and possibly to remove him from the leadership of the party. At about the same time P'eng Chen was sent to the Northwest and Southwest bureaus to talk with the leaders there about the current situation, and about the emergency meeting of the Central Committee.
Around July 10, P'eng returned to Peking with the members of the Central Committee from these bureaus for the emergency meeting, the date of which had been set by the Political Bureau for July 21. Mao, who was still in south China, sent a message to the Political Bureau asking them to delay the emergency meeting in order that he might be able to attend. At the same time, Lin Piao surrounded Peking with troops, and it was under this threat that Liu Shao-ch'i and Teng Hsiao-p'ing retreated by rescheduling the Central Committee meeting for the first of August.
Lin Piao's army remained just outside the city during the plenary meeting of the Central Committee, and it was at this time that the decisions “Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” were adopted. The plenum also took decisions to organize the “Red Guards” and to reorganize the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. It was through this reorganization that Mao was able to gain firm control of the Standing Committee by selecting and placing on it three of his closest supporters. They were T'ao Chu, Ch'en Po-ta and K'ang Sheng. (The Standing Committee carries on the day-to-day work of the party. Five members in all are reported to have been added at this time. The other two were Ch'en I and Li Fu-ch'un.)
Mao, along with Lin Piao, also opened up a fierce attack on Liu Shao-ch'i, and they removed him from his post of vice-chairman. Lin Piao took over as first vice-chairman.
This plenum gave the “Cultural Revolution” a furious boost, and outlined as its objective “to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road.”9
Q: Why didn't Mao organize the purge through the party and its youth group instead of organizing the Red Guards?
A: This is a very important question, and it should be given special attention and clearly explained. The CCP is very large. The membership of the party and its youth group, for example, is almost equal to the whole population of France. There are approximately 50 million altogether—20 million in the party, and 30 million in the youth group. If there really existed a precapitalist tendency in the party, as Mao claims, and if he had any confidence at all in the masses of the party, he would organize a democratic discussion inside the party which would, it seems, resolve the question very easily.
However, the reality is the opposite, that is, no precapitalist tendency exists. It is even unimaginable that the same leaders of the party who struggled so many years against capitalism are, after conquering power, now struggling for capitalism.
The fact is that those people whom Mao accuses of taking the precapitalist road are against Mao because they believe that many of his policies, arbitrarily taken on many foreign and domestic issues, have endangered the prospects of socialism.
Many cadres of the party, such as Teng T'o and Wu Han, whom I talked about in the last interview, are good examples and reflect the opinions of most of the rank and file in the party and youth. They feel that Mao has made some mistakes and that it is absolutely necessary to correct them in order that China might continue her development toward socialism.
If Mao organized any discussions in the party, he would place himself in great danger; and therefore he has tried to suppress all criticism. This is the reason Mao has utilized the army since the beginning of the “Cultural Revolution.”
The decisions taken by the August plenum were only formalities. Mao was able to obtain them because of his bureaucratic control of the top bodies. But in reality he has completely avoided the party, and has employed the Red Guards in order to carry out his purge, or as he calls it, the “Cultural Revolution.”
Q: What has been the result of the actions of the Red Guards?
A: We must first understand who the Red Guards are. They are primarily youth. About 60 percent of them are lower-middle-school students, that is, between the ages of 13 and 16. About 30 percent are high middle-school students between the ages of 16 and 20. Only about 10 percent of them are university students. Because the overwhelming majority of the Red Guards, especially the lower-middle-school students, are so young, they have had no previous political experience, and do not possess any great understanding of politics.
For this reason it is very easy to understand why such elements can be organized behind the campaign to build the cult of Mao, leading to many outlandish and absurd actions, even to attacks upon local party headquarters and officials.
Most of the university students went along at first with the “Cultural Revolution,” but as it developed, these students, because of their greater political understanding, began to become divided among themselves.
The first actions of the Red Guards were to destroy the “Four Olds”—old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits—and to establish the “Four News.” This became a slogan: “Destroy the Four Olds and Establish the Four News.”
They later continued with such actions as destroying Buddhist sculpture, making people remove Western clothing and jewelry, and even invading people's homes and destroying any modern furniture, among other things, which they found.
They changed the names of almost everything in their path, such as streets, stores, buildings, and even cemeteries. This and more was all done in the name of carrying the revolution forward against the feudalists, the bourgeoisie, the revisionists, and the imperialists. The People's Daily even commented in an editorial August 28, 1966, that the spiritual face of the country had been changed as a result of Mao Tse-tung's thought.
There were, nevertheless, some progressive slogans and demands raised by some elements of the Red Guards. One of them was the demand to eliminate the interest payments to the remaining capitalists and to confiscate all their properties. These progressive slogans, however, have not been carried out.
Since the beginning of September the actions of the Red Guards have changed their complexion. At a large meeting of the Red Guards in Peking on August 31, 1966, Lin Piao gave a speech, substituting for Mao, in which he emphatically told the Red Guards that the main aim of the “Cultural Revolution” was to isolate and purge those party officials who are taking the capitalist road. It was after this speech that the Red Guards began to attack many provincial leaders by name in wall posters.
It was in retaliation against these attacks that some of the provincial leaders began to organize the party functionaries and cadres and even some of the workers and peasants, and they proceeded, to set up their own Red Guards. These were the organizations that Mao's Red Guards soon began to clash with.
The People's Daily has referred many times to these clashes. On September 12 it said, “Some responsible leaders in some locals have suppressed the mass movement under many and different pretexts, and they have agitated many of the workers and peasants against the revolutionary students.” That is to say, they organized the masses against the Red Guards and the “Cultural Revolution.”
Many of these conflicts ended with hundreds of casualties. For example, in Ch'ing-tao there were more than 140 killed and injured. In Canton there were over 50, and in Lin-wu more than 300.
On September 15, at the third large meeting of the Red Guards in Peking to be reviewed by Mao, Lin Piao made a speech in place of Mao. What he told the Red Guards, in effect, was that they must attack all those officials who are resisting Mao's thought, and that they must have no fear since the army was supporting them.
It was after this speech that the Red Guards began to be much bolder and even unrestrained. In the wall posters in Peking, leading party members were named and accused of taking the capitalist road. The first secretaries of the Southwest, Northwest, and North bureaus—Li Ching-ch'uan, Liu Lan-t'ao, and Li Hsueh-feng (who had also become first secretary of the Peking party in place of P'eng Chen) are only three examples.
Simultaneously, officials of the state began to come under attack. Ch'en I, foreign minister, Li Hsien-nien, minister of finance, and especially Po I-po, minister of industry and communications, are only a few examples. Finally Liu Shao-ch'i, president of China, and Teng Hsiao-p'ing, secretary of the party, also came under attack.
In the latter part of October a special, very important meeting was held. This meeting lasted for seventeen days. It was during this meeting that Liu Shao-ch'i and Teng Hsiao-p'ing were forced to make their self-criticisms after being severely attacked by many of the participants. It was just after this meeting that P'eng Chen and Lu Ting-i, head of the Central Propaganda Department, were arrested.
It seemed that Mao thought he had beaten the opposition. On December 26 a large victory celebration of the Red Guards was held in Peking, and publications such as Red Flag proclaimed the victory of the “Cultural Revolution.” At this celebration, the self-criticisms of Liu and Teng were revealed for the first time. Nevertheless, we can see by the events from the first two weeks in January that the opposition was far from being broken.
Q: Since the beginning of the year the newspapers have reported very confusing accounts as to what has been happening in such places as Nanking and Shanghai. Can you clarify at all what has actually been taking place?
A: First of all, it must be noted that the events in these cities mark a new stage in the development of the struggle. Before, everyone considered these cities to be under the strict control of Mao and Lin's forces. However, the events there have shown the existence of a very powerful resistance.
Shanghai and the surrounding area make up the most industrialized section of China, and Nanking is also an industrial city. It was the party in these cities that organized the opposition, and it has, of course, a very large base in the working class. By granting the workers more pay and more welfare benefits, it has organized the workers against many of the slogans of the “Cultural Revolution,” such as “Grasp revolution and promote production.”
This presents a big problem for Mao. The only means he has to suppress such a force is the army. However, it would be very dangerous for him at this time to actively use it. From this angle, then, Mao is very weak. His strategy in Shanghai has been to try to gain control of the workers' organizations by occupying the offices of the trade unions and other workers' institutions. After the occupation of these offices, the leaderships of the organizations were reorganized and Mao placed his own followers in charge. Mao, as far as I know now, seems to have been successful in doing this in the dockers, railway, and bus workers' trade unions, and it is this that his faction refers to when speaking about the victories it has made in the working class in Shanghai.
In Nanking the situation was a little different. The party in this city was able to control the police and army as well as to organize the workers. It appears that Mao has been unable to make any headway whatsoever there, and the whole city, therefore, remains under the control of the opposition.
Q: Then it seems very important, if one is to consider the possibilities of a civil war, to examine the strength of both factions in the party and in the army.
A: Yes, especially the army.” At this point we can very briefly draw a balance sheet as far as the party is concerned. As I stated earlier, the leaders in the Northwest, Southwest, and Northeast bureaus can be considered to stand pretty firmly in the camp of the opposition. The leaders of the North Bureau in general seem to be in support of the opposition. However, there are some leaders who support Mao.
The Central-South Bureau has been considered a stronghold of Mao and On, although now we have to consider the situation in light of the recent attacks against T'ao Chu, the new chief of the party's Central Propaganda Department, because before assuming his new post he had been the first secretary of the Central-South Bureau for many years, and he is still very influential there. The new first secretary of the bureau, Wang Jen-chung, has also been attacked, which demonstrates that Mao and Lin are not completely in control.
As far as the East Bureau is concerned, the events in Nanking and Shanghai demonstrate that Mao and Lin have even less control than in the Central-South Bureau. It is possible to say, then, that a large majority of the party either supports or sympathizes with the opposition.
It is more difficult to judge the relationship of both factions to the army. Nevertheless, if we take into consideration some historical aspects of the army, it makes the situation much easier to judge.
The original People's Liberation Army was divided into several parts. After victory, and Chiang Kai-shek's flight to Taiwan, the different sections of the army were led into a number of different regions by their commanders. The army led by Lin Piao went from the Northeast to the region now controlled by the Central-South Bureau. The army led by P'eng Te-huai went to the region now under the Northwest Bureau. Liu Po-ch'eng led his army to the area under the Southwest Bureau.
When Lin Piao left the Northeast, he left behind the native guerrilla army. It is now under the control of the Northeast Bureau. Ch'en I's army occupied the whole area under the control of the East Bureau. In the Northern Bureau the army was constructed by combining many regional armies under the direct leadership of the North Bureau. As I said earlier, the leadership in each bureau controls that particular army, and therefore we can say generally that the influence in the army of both factions is similar to their relationship in the party. Of course, it is possible that certain local army leaders are in disagreement with the bureau leaderships.
There are, however, some other factors we have to take into consideration concerning the army. There are figures such as P'eng Te-huai, minister of defense from December 1954 to September 1959, Lo Jui-ch'ing, the chief of staff from 1959, and especially Chu Te, the historical leader of the whole army, and Ho Lung, who is also a historical leader of the army, all of whom wield tremendous influence in the army. All of these figures have been attacked—Chu Te and Ho Lung only recently—by the Mao-Lin Piao faction, which indicates that these leaders have differences with it.
From this we can judge that the position of Mao in the army as a whole is not too favorable. It is precisely because of his weakness that he has attempted to reorganize the army by introducing into it the “Cultural Revolution Committee.” This committee sent representatives to the different armies for two main reasons. One was to find out what strength the opposition had in the army and on what parts of the army Mao himself could depend. The other was to try to win certain elements in the army to its side, by such methods as bribing certain leaders with promises of promoting them to high posts.
In my opinion, this cannot change the situation very much in Mao's favor. Of course, the delegates are met and dealt with very diplomatically, and they show their enthusiastic agreement with the sixteen-point program adopted by the Central Committee on August 8,1966. Yet in reality it seems most of them are waiting, if not preparing, for a showdown with Mao in the future.
There is one other force which is also of importance and this is the security forces, both public and secret. This organization was formed right after the CCP took power by Lo Jui-ch'in with the assistance of many specialists from the GPU of the USSR. When he resigned from that post in 1959 in order to become chief of staff, Hsieh Fu-chih—who had worked under the leadership of Teng Hsiao-p'ing for almost twenty years—took over his post as head of the Ministry of Public Security. Both of these men have been attacked by the Red Guards, and Lo Jui-ch'ing has even been arrested by the Mao-Lin faction because, as it seems, the police force as a whole, or at least the greater part, are under the influence of the opposition. Recently it seems that Hsieh Fu-chih, under tremendous pressure, especially that of Lin Piao's army surrounding Peking, .made a compromise with the Mao-Lin Piao faction and this explains the statement of Mao's wife, Chiang Ch'ing, that the Red Guards should no longer attack him.
I must also say a few words about Chou En-lai, who represents somewhat of a third major tendency between the two opposing factions. This tendency is very weak as it has no mass base and is not itself actually struggling for power. The strength it does have comes from its control of the government ministries.
To understand the position of this group, it is necessary to describe its leader, Chou En-lai. Politically, he is very weak and has continually, throughout his career, leaned toward the stronger groups when there has been a struggle in the party. Yet, organizationally, he is very capable, and he is valued by the whole party for his abilities in this field.
At the present time with Lin Piao's army surrounding Peking and his ministries, he has made a compromise with Mao and is trying to play more or less the role of a compromiser. If the opposition should begin to show its power, however, there is no doubt that he would change his position accordingly. What the future holds, then, still depends on many factors, domestic and foreign. However, we can make an overall judgment now, that Mao's forces are in a minority and that Mao and Lin Piao will not—unless they take an adventuristic course, or are forced to— launch a civil war at this time.
Q: If Mao is in a minority, as you explain, how has it been possible for him to seemingly control the party and carry on with the “Cultural Revolution” For example, how was he able to get the party to adopt the sixteen-point program of August 8, 1966?
A: First of all we must not underestimate Mao's influence in the party and in all of China. The CCP conquered power under his leadership as chairman of the party. Therefore, in the eyes of the masses he is the great symbol of the victory of the revolution. There is no doubt that even now he still commands respect among a portion of the masses.
However, with the failure of the “Great Leap Forward,” his influence was weakened, and the many obvious mistakes in his policies since then, such as his positions on literature and art, education, on the Vietnamese War, and especially on the Indonesian CP, have further tarnished his reputation in the party and among the masses.
Most of Mao's so-called victories have taken place in Peking, such as the adoption of the sixteen-point program you mentioned by the Central Committee. These “victories” have been almost completely dependent upon one factor—the army of Lin Piao. It is with the army and the threat of the army that Mao removed P'eng Chen, secured the adoption of the sixteen-point program, forced self-criticisms of leaders such as Liu Shao-ch'i, forced Hsieh Fu-chih to compromise, etc.
Q: Mao accuses his opponents of being capitalist restorationists, revisionist, etc. Yet no one seems to know for sure what the program of Mao's opposition is and whom this opposition represents. Can you clarify the nature of the opposition?
A: The CCP is something like its sister party in the USSR. There is no democratic discussion inside the party; all decisions are handed down from above and must be carried out and obeyed by the cadres and the rank and file. Even in the top bodies such as the Central Committee and the Political Bureau there is generally little discussion. Only on very critical questions such as the “Great Leap Forward,” the People's Communes, and the defeat of Indonesia, has any real discussion taken place inside the top bodies. The oppositions which have developed and attempted to criticize Mao and his programs have in the past been expelled. I have already spoken about P'eng Chen, for example, and in the first interview, about P'eng Te-huai.
Under these conditions it is very difficult to learn what the specific program of the opposition in the party is. However, we can get an idea of the opposition's general attitudes from the documents published by the CCP itself criticizing the opposition, as well as from the writings for which many intellectuals in the party have been attacked. I will point out what seem to be the main points of disagreement with Mao's faction.
1. They considered Mao's economic programs like the “Great Leap Forward”—especially the formation of the People's Communes—to be adventuristic.
2. In literature and art they have felt that Mao's ideas are too strict, and that they put a straitjacket on any creative writing, etc.
3. Almost all educators, professors, teachers, and university students opposed Mao's policies in the educational field because of their interference with freedom of study, and they felt it was a waste of time for them to be sent into the countryside or into the factories. They felt that Mao's policies on the whole had disrupted the educational system.
4. The position of the opposition on international questions is much more difficult to determine because there is much less material. It is probably safe to assume that there is general agreement with Lo Jui-ch'ing on the question of how to defend China in case of a possible attack from the U.S. Lo Jui-ch'ing does not seem to have been in disagreement about politics being in command in the army. Rather, it was his position that one must recognize the importance of today's type of warfare, especially the role of nuclear weapons. Therefore, he felt that the break with the Soviet Union on the state level had endangered China's capacity to defend herself militarily against a probable imperialist attack.
5. Finally on one point they make themselves very clear. There is general disgust with Mao's omniscience and they demand more discussion in the party on important questions.
These five points give us a general picture of the ideas and opinions of the opposition. It is impossible, of course, for us to give a comprehensive explanation of their program, and I doubt that they have one that is systematic and formal. But we can say that these make up the most important disagreements with Mao to be found among the various members of the opposition.
To understand fully the differences between the two groups, I should say something about some particular points in Mao's own program. Since the stated objectives of Mao's formal program do not correspond to the development of the “Cultural Revolution” itself, it is more enlightening to examine the way in which Mao has actually implemented the “Cultural Revolution.” I have already described at some length what Mao is doing when I discussed the struggle and its evolution. Briefly, Mao is trying to carry out a purge in the most undemocratic way, and in fact a coup d'etat. He has tried to make himself a living god and to make his very word law.
It seems that in the recent events another very important disagreement has arisen between the two factions. The opposition, in order to win over and organize the workers, has granted many concessions in some localities, and has taken measures to raise their standard of living. Mao, with the “Cultural Revolution,” has continually and strongly opposed such measures.
Q: Does the opposition, then, represent a democratic force, and what do you think about the idea which seems to be the most widely accepted, that is, that the main opposition to Mao is Khrushchevist?
A: The opposition is not homogeneous but is composed of many tendencies. We are able to distinguish three main currents. The first is found among the top leaders like Liu Shao-ch'i, Teng Hsiao-p'ing, and many leaders of the bureaus. This tendency in general represents a bureaucratic group inside the party which is in control of a considerable sector of the party's apparatus. The political traditions of this group organizationally and politically are those of Stalinism.
The second current can be referred to as a “liberalizing” tendency, and is made up of second rank or middle cadres in the party, of which Teng T'o and Wu Han are good examples.
The third current is much more difficult to define because there doesn't seem to be any single leader, or any well-known cadres for that matter, who represent it. But we can say almost with certainty that this group represents, if not a revolutionary, then a quasi-revolutionary tendency, and is made up primarily of rank-and-file party members.
The third current would, of course, represent a sector of the masses and express most vividly the feelings of the population as a whole. The middle layers of the party have much more contact in their work with the rank and file, and would therefore be more likely to reflect the attitude of the masses.
It is with sectors of the middle layers that the top leaders have the most contact in their day-to-day party work. For example, Teng T'o was directly under P'eng Chen, who was one of the top leaders. It would have been impossible for Teng T'o to carry on the work that he did without at least the tolerance, if not the approval, of P'eng Chen. It was Liu Shao-ch'i's close personal relationship with P'eng Chen that probably thrust him into the leadership of the present opposition faction.
In the very top leadership, Mao tolerated no disagreement, and every opposition was expelled. However, because of the past experience of the top leaders in working with the masses, and their connection with the middle layers, some of them reflect in some measure the movement of the masses. While the middle layers represent the tendency in the party for reform, it is probably safe to assume that the need for reform is also recognized by top leaders who are, nonetheless, more conservative, and who still wish to maintain a tight control over the party.
The question of Khrushchevism is very important. We must first understand what is meant by Khrushchevism, and especially what Mao means by Khrushchevism.
There are two different aspects of Khrushchevism: one is political revisionism, which is reactionary; and the other is de-Stalinization, which is progressive.
Mao does not distinguish between these two aspects. He lumps them together under the label of revisionism. Both are reactionary from his point of view, and he” has said that Khrushchev's policies have restored capitalism in the USSR.
We must understand, then, that anyone agreeing with any aspect of Khrushchevism is, according to Mao, a revisionist, and wants, or is attempting, to restore capitalism. From what I have said earlier, you can see that the opposition desires in its own way similar reforms to those carried out under Khrushchevism during de-Stalinization, and of course these reforms are directed at Mao.
In Mao's opinion, then—if he actually believes his own propaganda—such reform measures will lead to a capitalist restoration.
As far as the politically revisionist side of Khrushchevism is concerned, we must recognize that in practice Mao's own policies have not proved to be substantially different, as the events in Indonesia so well demonstrate. It seems that Mao's main objection to the revisionism of Khrushchev has been de-Stalinization. There is no evidence I know of that the opposition is in any way in disagreement with the official policy of exposing the political revisionism of Khrushchev. Therefore, at least on the question of de-Stalinization, the stand of the opposition is the more progressive. In general, the opposition shades from currents that are really Maoist to tendencies that are quite revolutionary.
Q: What, in your opinion, will be the final outcome of the struggle?
A: Taking into consideration the relationship of forces on each side as I have already outlined, it is clear that the odds are against Mao, especially if the organization and mobilization of the peasants and workers, which we have seen in recent events, continues.
If Mao should nevertheless be victorious, I think a sweeping purge comparable to the one in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, if not larger, could occur and the defense of the Chinese revolution would be placed in grave danger. However, if the opposition should win, the most likely result would be a few concessions of a liberalizing nature as well as a shift away from the ultraleft sectarian positions taken by Mao. For example, it is possible they would set up some kind of united front with the other workers' states against U.S. imperialism.
There is another important prospect if the opposition should win. If the masses have entered into motion, it will not be so easy for the bureaucracy to stop them or to contain them within the prescribed limits. In that case, a real massive struggle for workers' democracy could open up.
1. Red Flag,according to the May 17, 1966, New York Times, “asked why they [the Peking newspapers] had never mentioned that Professor Wu 'is willing to be a slave of the U.S. and is guilty of scheming and planning for the reactionary Kuomintang clique?'”
2.For information on how Mao Tse-tung's teaching in On Contradiction can lead to higher sales of watermelons, see Hsinhua, May 19, 1966.
3.The PKI was the largest Communist Party in the capitalist world. It had a membership of three million and more than ten million organized sympathizers. Between September 1965 and now, between 250,000 and 500,000 have been slaughtered.
4.P'eng mentioned two other well-known figures who have been denounced whom I failed to include in the above text. One is the very famous playwright T'ien Han, chairman of the National Drama Association. He also wrote a play like Wu Han's which came under fire last February . The second is the famous historian Chien Po-tsan, who has been a professor in many of the universities in Shanghai and head of the history department at Peking University. Others not mentioned in the above article who have been denounced or purged include: Chou Hsin-fang, a famous actor and head of the Shanghai Opera Company; Lu P'ing, secretary of the Peking University party committee, and his deputy secretary, P'eng P'ei-yun; Sung Shuo, deputy director of the Peking Municipal Party Committee's Universities Department; Li Chi, a director in the party's Peking municipal branch; Hsia Yen, noted playwright who was vice-minister of culture from 1954 to last year; Wang Hsiao-chuan, propaganda chief for the Kweichow Provincial Party Committee and editor of the Kweichow Daily; La Meng-wei, editor of the Yunnan Daily in Yunnan province; and Fan Chin, a woman who is director of the Peking Daily and vice-chairman of the All-China Journalists' Association.