By the beginning of January 1967, the shock troops of the counter- revolution – the “Red Guards” – had succeeded in building around them a section of “the masses” composed of bourgeois elements, anarchists and trotskyites, together with some petty bourgeois and working people who had been deceived by the demagogic propaganda, of the counter-revolutionaries.
And in January 1967 these forces, calling themselves the “Revolutionary Rebels”, responded to Mao Tse-tung’s call and launched their “January Revolution”.
The aim of the “Revolutionary Rebels” was to destroy the organs of the Communist Party and of the new-democratic state and replace them by new organs of power called “Revolutionary Committees”. The first such “Revolutionary Committee” was established on January 14th, 1967 in Shansi Province.
The proclamation of the Heilungkiang “Revolutionary Committee” on January 31st 1967 was typical:
The proclamation solemnly declared that all Party, government, financial and cultural power of the former Provincial Party Committee and Provincial People’s Council belongs to the Revolutionary Committee as from the date of its founding. The leadership of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People’s Council was thereby put to an end. (“Peking Review”, No. 7, 1967; p. 12).
The obligatory constitutional form of such “Revolutionary Committees” was that of the ”’Three-in-One’ Combination”.
Chairman Mao has pointed out that in those places and organisations where power needs to be seized, the policy of the revolutionary ’three-in-one’ combination must be carried out in establishing a provisional organ of power. ...This organ of power should preferably be called a revolutionary committee. (“On the Revolutionary ’Three-in-One’ Combination”, editorial in “Hongqi”, No. 5, 1967; in: “Peking Review”, No. 12, 1967; p. 14).
The most important constituent of this “three-in-one” combination consists of
the representatives of the People’s Liberation Army units situated in the area. (”On the Revolutionary ’Three-in-One’ Combination”; op. cit. p. 14).
The second constituent of this “three-in-one” combination consists of representatives of the counter-revolutionary ”Revolutionary Rebels”, described as
leaders of revolutionary mass organisations that truly represent the broad masses. (“On the Revolutionary ’Three-in-one Combination”, op. cit.; p. 14).
The third constituent of this ’three-in-one’ combination consists of Party and state officials who have come over to the side of the counterrevolutionaries, either through treachery or because they have been deceived by the demagogic propaganda of the counter-revolutionaries; these are described as
revolutionary leading cadres. (“On the Revolutionary “Three-in-one Combination”; op. cit.; p. 14).
The necessity of winning over such cadres if “revolutionary committees” are to be established, let alone function, was stressed by the counterrevolutionary leaders.
Revolutionary cadres should be drawn into the revolutionary provisional organ of power because they have greater experience in the struggle, are more capable in organisational and other work and have a relatively high level of understanding of policy. A pressing, important task now is to draw a large number of revolutionary cadres, including those who have committed mistakes but who are correcting them in earnest, into the ’three-in-one’ provisional organs: of power at all levels and to use them boldly. Only in this way can revolutionary organs of power with proletarian authority be established. (“Implement Chairman Mao’s Cadre Policy Correctly”, editorial in “Renmin Ribao”, October 21st, 1967; in: “Peking Review”, No. 44, 1967; p. 9).
In practice, the representatives of the army occupied the dominant position in the “Revolutionary Committees”.