To link oneself with the masses, one must act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses. All work done for the masses must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well intentioned. It often happens that objectively the masses need a certain change, but subjectively they are not yet conscious of the need, not yet willing or determined to make the change. In such cases, we should wait patiently. We should not make the change until, through our work, most of the masses have become conscious of the need and are willing and determined to carry it out. Otherwise we shall isolate ourselves from the masses. Unless they are conscious and willing, any kind of work that requires their participation will turn out to be mere formality and will fail. ...There are two principles here: one is the actual needs of the masses rather than what we fancy they need, and the other is the wishes of the masses, who must make up their own minds instead of our making up their minds for them. .... MAO
The chief aims and goals stated by the American committee to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China were:
Develop friendship and understanding between the American and Chinese peoples.
Help break the many myths and correct some of the distortions about China.
Show some of the accomplishments of the Chinese people under socialism.
As a participant in this collective effort, we found the situation promising. The American people are tired of an unjust war and want peace. In analyzing the conditions, we thought the committee’s decision to base this celebration on as broad a base as possible in line with the mass line correct. We are firm believers and practitioners of the mass line.
In order to do mass work we must know where the heads of the American people are at. We must know where the heads of the Chinese communities are at. We can only do this by immersing ourselves into and with the masses. We must work with the masses, be of one with the masses in order to investigate conditions whereby a real analysis can be built, whereupon mass support of the people for our principles and beliefs can be gained. How can one talk of revolutionary change without considering the masses, without giving priority to building a base. How can we take any step forward if there are not people to step forward with us. Where is our strength? All manpower, material, finances, intellectual genius come from the masses. A party is meaningless without the masses. The very life blood of an organization such as ours is the masses. In the final analysis, it is they who will make revolutionary changes.
The movement in America as a whole has not been doing mass work. We have not as a whole immersed ourselves in the everyday life of the peoples in our communities. Significant advances for our ideals and principles cannot be made until mass work is done. We have a task before us. Every program, event, and project that we do must be educational for the people; it must raise their political consciousness. In our analysis we find that although conditions are good and getting better, the general level of political consciousness among the people is very low, and therefore it is necessary to start at a low point. October 1st is a very significant occasion for all of us in the movement, but is it important to the masses of the people at this point? We think not. But how do we make the October 1st celebration an important occasion. We must take things step by step. Most American people are not even aware that October 1st is the founding date of the Peoples Republic of China. People don’t even know what is true and what is false about China. In this situation, it is up to those more active segments and organizations to win over the less active elements of the masses to the importance of October 1st. We believe in the mass line. It is the essence of MAO TSE TUNG THOUGHT.
The basis of our participation in the October 1st celebration were the aims and goals of the committee for the celebration. The best way to accomplish these aims and goals we thought, was on a mass line basis, and we worked towards that end.
At the very 1st meeting of the committee, it had been decided that 5 or 6 different organizations would sponsor the whole event. To us, it was clearly setting a precedent which was contradictory to the mass line. It tended to take emphasis away from the event itself by also spotlighting on the particular organizations. We saw it as inviting temptation for people to work for a particular organization rather than for the over all collective goal. We saw it could be more of a dividing rather than unifying factor. So it was argued which comes first, the horse or the cart? We say that neither come first, that the most important thing was the cargo (masses). So we presented at the second meeting the umbrella organizational concept, whereby a committee would be created under which all organizations and individuals would participate. This concept has been used with good results in Canada, Hong Kong, and China, itself. We pointed out that even in the production “East is Red”, such an umbrella organization was set up to handle its production. The idea was to facilitate and encourage the participation of all the organizations and individuals. We were thinking not just in terms of one celebration, but also beyond that. The committee thought that the celebration should first of all foster friendship and understanding between the two peoples, that the myths and distortions about China be corrected, that the progress of the Chinese people under socialism be made known. It was also decided that the event was to be as open as possible.
Since the third meeting, the principle of the mass line has been violated at every level. We are opposed to the second telegram because it was filled with rhetoric, and so worded that the broad masses would not endorse it. We are opposed to the arrangement of having a quota system and inviting people along organizational lines.
Due to the complete violation and variance from the mass line concept by this committee, we state that we will not participate any further in the October 1st celebration committee.
Serve The People,
Asian Community Center/Wei Min She