Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]
Comrades First Secretaries of provincial, municipal, and special district party committees:
The Central Committee has scheduled an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau to be held in Shanghai on 25 March. All of you must attend the meeting. The conference of cadres from six levels to be held by the provincial, municipal, and special district party committees in the spirit of the Chengchow Conference (Ed note: that is, the second conference held in Chengchow in March of 1959), and which has the discussion of people’s communes as its major theme, will require approximately 10 days. Therefore the meeting should be convened immediately. For example, the Hupeh provincial party committee has scheduled a meeting to be held on 11 March. Any delays would not be to our interest. If the period of time for the meeting were too short, there definitely would not be enough time to bring up, analyze, and discuss various problems, and their resolution would not be fitting and thorough. In other words it will be shallow and superficial. The conferences held by the various provinces, municipalities, and special districts should pass resolutions on the question of administrative system for people’s communes and on problems of concrete policies. The first secretary should make a summing-up speech in order to explain in depth, and thoroughly, the principal contradictions and various policy problems presently facing the people’s communes. These two documents should be issued immediately to lower levels so that they will have a clear and precise base [for action]. And it will require time to formulate ideas and draw up the drafts for these two documents. If the conference were to convene on 11 March, it could possibly last until 20 or 22 March before it could be concluded. Then the first secretaries would be able to get away and come to Shanghai for the meeting on 25 March. There would be more leeway and time would not be too pressing this way. The conference of cadres from six levels in Honan Province will be concluded by 10 March. The final drafts on the resolutions and the summation! speech can be completed by 9 March. The Central Committee will have these documents brought to you by plane before 14 March for your reference. The next step for Honan province is to hold the conference of cadres from four levels in the counties for the purpose of conveying to them the guidelines set for the by the conference of cadres from six levels in the province, and for discussing concrete ways to implement these guidelines by the various counties, communes, and production teams. Those attending the county conference of cadres from four levels are to be composed of; (1) several persons from the county level; (2) several persons from the commune level; (3) one or two persons from each brigade at the production brigade level; and (4) one person from each team at the production team level. In addition, a certain number of observers and auditors should also attend the conference. In all there will be at least 1,000 or 2,000 persons at most in attendance. The meeting is to be in session 7-10 days. The various counties is Honan Province have scheduled the convening of this meeting beginning on 13 or 14 March and ending before 23 of 24 March. There will be a week left in the month of March reserved for the communes, production brigades and production teams to hold their meetings. In brief, it will be possible to basically clear up and resolve in March the mass of confused thinking and conflicting contradictions on the commune problems. Beginning with April, the entire party and all the people can, with one mind, unfold this year’s big leap-forward. I hope the various provinces, municipalities, and special districts will carry it out accordingly. Like that of Hupeh Province, if the conference of cadres from six levels in various provinces, municipalities, and special districts can be held on 11 and March and brought to a conclusion before 20 or 22 March, then the conference of cadres from four levels in the counties can be concluded by the end of March, and the discussions by communes and production! teams before 10 April. That means they will be only 10 days or so late in comparison with Honan Province. Some comrades may feel that this is too pressing, leaving them no time for preparations and that the conference should be delayed. I don’t think this should be done. Since we already have clear guidelines, we should speedily gather together the cadres from six levels and issue these to them at once. In three or four days the major contradictions will be thrashed out, and thus, it will be possible to win the support of the majority. By taking the initiative we will take the wind out of the observers and the auditors. Of course, some people will not be able to reach an understanding and will berate us for going backwards. Because of this these people will lose some sleep over it and will not be able to eat well for a few days. But, after that, they will be able to come around to an understanding. In short, delay will be detrimental, speed is essential. Some preparatory work can be done, firstly, by quietly bringing understanding to the people at district and county levels. Complete understanding is not mandatory, and three days will be enough to achieve this. From 4-10 March there will be six or seven days available for preparations. Is that not enough? It is more than enough. Delay, on the other hand, is not advantageous.
The foregoing is my suggestion. It is entirely up to you to determine whether or not it is acceptable to you in the light of conditions in your areas.
0400 hours, 9 March 1959
Comrades First Secretaries of provincial, municipal and special district party committees:
I have been in Wu-ch’ang for five days now. I have read the materials on the conference of cadres from six levels in Hupeh Province. At the same time, I have received materials from some provinces, municipalities, and special districts. From these materials, I have found that there is a question that needs to be discussed with you. The documents of Honan province have already been delivered to you, and these documents called for the setting up of production brigades as basic accounting and distribution units of the people’s communes. While I was in Chenghow, I received the articles adopted by the Hupeh provincial committee on 8 March concerning the administrative system of people’s communes and the problem of food grains. These articles called for the: “resolute establishment of the original higher stage cooperative, that is, the present production team, as the basic accounting unit. Former higher stage cooperatives that had been divided into several production teams should merge immediately to form the basic accounting unit, and they must not be separated again. A few of the former very small higher stage cooperatives with generally similar economic conditions that have already merged to form a production team may be set up as a basic accounting unit as long as the cadres and the members of the commune are willing. The commune party committee can then investigate and decide, and report it to the county party committee for approval.” After my arrival in Wuchang, I had comrade Chou Hsiao-chou come here and, together with comrade Wang Jen-chung, we discussed this for a while. I asked Hsiao-chou, do you agree with the Honan method or the Hupeh method? He said that they agreed with the Honan method, that is, with the production brigade (administrative area) as the basic accounting unit. Because, in their area, a production brigade has administrative control of! only six production teams and, generally, these six production teams were formed from three original higher stage cooperatives with one cooperative splitting into two production teams. Afterward, I again received the 31 March report from Kwangtung Province. They advocated the three fixes and five grades. The first of the three fixes is the fixing of the basic accounting unit, “without exception, the original higher stage cooperatives (formerly, Kwangtung Province had 3,000 higher stage cooperatives averaging 320 households in each cooperative) are to be the basis. Some cooperatives which were equivalent to the present production team (or brigade) and some which had been divided into two or three production teams after the forming of the communes can merge immediately to form a new production team for the purpose of using it as a basic accounting unit. If the former higher stage cooperatives are too small and a hamlet has several of these cooperatives, they may also merge, with the approval of the masses, to form a basic accounting unit of the commune. Although some of these cooperatives are not in the same hamlet, they do not vary greatly in their economic conditions.” From these we find that Honan and Hunan Province are both advocating the production brigade (administrative area) as the basic accounting unit and Hupeh and Kwangtung Provinces are upholding the production team, i.e., the original higher stage cooperatives, as the basic accounting unit. Which one of these two is better? Could both be implemented? According to Comrade Wang Jen-chung, the Hupeh conference discussed precisely this question during the past few days. The struggle of viewpoints between the two factions has been fierce. Generally speaking, the majority of the county party committees, commune party committees and production brigades (administrative areas) wanted the production brigade as the basic accounting unit, whereas, an absolute majority of the production teams (i.e., the original higher stage cooperatives) and ! party branch secretaries maintained the position of wanting the production teams as the basic accounting units. I feel that this question has very important bearings. It bears on the direct interests of basic unit cadres consisting of more than 30 million production teams and production group leaders and of several hundred million peasants. We must have the earnest approval from the basic units’ cadres before adopting the method of Honan and Hupeh Provinces. If these cadres feel they could barely cope with it, we would rather select the production teams (i.e., the former higher stage cooperatives) to be the basic accounting units so that the cadres will not become separated from the masses. It is very dangerous for them to become divorced from the masses at this time, for it could very well prevent the attainment of production targets for this year. Honan Province has already made its decision, but the comrades of the provincial party committee are still asked to solicit the views of basic level cadres at the county’s conference of cadres from four levels which is being held currently. If they agree with the decision of the provincial party committee, then implement it accordingly. Otherwise, it will be helpful to make some changes. The “tui as the foundation” stated in the “Minutes of the Chengchow Conferences” is meant to be the production team, i.e., the original higher stage cooperative and not the production brigade (administrative area). In short, work must be done in accordance with the wishes of the masses. No matter what the method is, it will be workable only if it meets with the requirements of the masses. Otherwise, it will not work in the long run. Please reflect and decide on what you will do.
15 March 1959
Comrades First Secretaries of provincial, municipal and special district party committees:
This is a matter concerning the conferences to be held by the counties and communes.
The conference of cadres from six levels in various provinces, municipalities and special districts will soon be concluded. Should the 4-level or 5-level cadres conferences of the counties be held? My suggestion is that they should and they should be held on a massive scale The only thing is that they should not be reported in the newspapers. The counties in Honan Province are now holding the conferences of cadres from four levels. The conferences are very lively and most beneficial. Responsible comrades at the provincial level in Honan Province are directly leading several counties and guiding these counties with their own experience. Hupeh, Kwangtung and Kiangsu Provinces have all made arrangements for the counties throughout their provinces to hold these conferences. The party committee of Chiangyin County in Kiangsu Province has made arrangements for a conference of 10,000 people. There are two counties in Honan Province holding meetings with 10,000 people and a majority of the other counties are having meetings of 4,000 5,000 people. I suggest that the counties hold conferences of cadres from five levels, namely at the county, the commune party committee, the production brigade (or administrative area), the production team (i.e., former higher stage cooperative) and production squad (production group, also called work group) level. Each level must send representatives to attend these conferences. In this way, all production squad leaders of the communes, party branch secretaries of administrative areas, production brigade leaders and a number of cadres from the commune level will attend the conferences. There must be people with confused thinking, observers and auditors attending the meeting. The best is to keep their ratio at 10 to one. You can also find a few activists from among the commune members to attend the meeting. Make arrangements so that all these people will be able to hear the speech made by the first secretary of the county party committee, because the speech at this level i! s higher than those by the first secretaries of the commune party committees. Later, launch discussions, placing no blame on anyone who dares to speak out and allowing the vigorous airing of views. In a few days, unify their thinking. At the conference, the three types of confrontations must be made to cross swords: one type of confrontations is the crossing of swords between basic level cadres and their higher levels (the commune and the county); another type of confrontation is to pit those with confused thinking against those who have gained understanding; and yet another type of confrontation is to have positive characters who account for 90 percent of the people to go against the observers and auditors (many of those who have been regarded by the people as observers and auditors are, in fact, not such persons, but have been mistakenly identified by the people as such), who account for 10 percent. Three or four days will be enough for the debates. Follow that and allow three or four days for discussions to resolve concrete problems. Seven or eight days will be more than sufficient enough for these purposes. The conference of cadres from five levels in the counties will be even more lively and spirited than the conference of cadres from six levels in the province. The secretaries of the commune and county party committees must be informed on how to carry out their work. During the conference, make a special effort to get these comrades together and chat with them so that they will gain some experience from the sharp lessons of becoming temporarily divorced from the masses, because they had put into practice certain improper measures, generated the “communist wind,” and practiced indiscriminate expropriation of property and funds over the past few months. Henceforth, they should be good at thinking through problems and carrying out work. In this way they will be integrated with the masses. Besides the discussions on the management of the three-level ownership systems of communes, administra! tive areas (i.e., production brigades) and production teams (formerly the higher stage cooperatives) and three-level accounting system, the question of part ownership system of production squads (production groups or work groups) should also be discussed. This question was brought out by Wang Jen-chung, Tao Lo-chia and several other comrades. I consider this to be reasonable and worthy of discussion. By the latter part of March, the county conferences will be concluded, and in April we can dispense with the representatives’ meeting of the communes and busy ourselves with production. In the meanwhile we can hold small meetings and resolve some concrete problems. Let the production teams hold party members’ meetings in their leisure time and follow that up with mass meetings, thus bringing about discussions joined in by all the people. It will be possible to hold mass discussions, because by then several hundred people will have attended conferences in the counties and the problems will have been thoroughly discussed. Some counties in Hupeh province have already carried out such discussions. In May, three days are to be set aside by all the communes in the county (three days will be more than enough) for convening the first representatives’ meeting of commune members. The representatives should include men and women, the old and the young and the positive and negative elements (excluding landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and bad elements, but including well-to-do middle peasants). They are to discuss some problems and elect commune administrative committees. It is suggested the such representatives’ meetings should be held four times a year, with each meeting lasting one or two days and at most, three days. The first secretary of the commune should master his ability to preside over this kind of meeting. Our comrades of the commune party committees must constantly concern themselves with the interests of the masses. They must always bear in mind that their own polici! es and measures must be in accord with the current level of consciousness of the masses and with their immediate and pressing needs. Anything that goes counter to these two conditions will not do and will invariably fail. Both the county and district party committees should give attention to strengthening the leadership of the communes. They must send comrades who are politically strong to help communes weak in this respect. District party committees should give attention to dispatching personnel to assist county party committees comparatively weaker in leadership. The county and communes both must give attention to strengthening the backbone leadership of production teams (generally meaning the former higher stage cooperatives) which are to be the basic accounting units. The above is presented only as a suggestion. Please think it over and decide on how it could be handled in a more satisfactory manner and implement it with speed. When the county convenes a meeting, the communes and all levels below them should leave people behind to direct production. Perhaps a rotational attendance of the meeting could set up in order not to neglect farm work.
0700 hours, 17 March 1959
To the members of various party central committee departments, to the secretaries of various party committees, party branches and to the secretaries of various municipal, provincial and autonomous region party committees.
The materials from several counties in Shanghai are worth reading.
In the suburban areas, the factories and mining enterprises, communications and transportation enterprises, financial and trade enterprises and education and other enterprises must definitely solicit the opinions of basic level cadres (party branch secretaries, workshop foremen and work-section chiefs) and activists from among the masses in matters concerning the formulation and implementation of major policies. An overwhelming majority of these people must be made to attend meetings and air their views. Only thus can opposite views be established, contradictions exposed, the truth uncovered and the movement unfolded. Please firmly bear in mind that we must not believe too much the statements made by such people as general branch secretaries, secretaries of factories and mines party committees, responsible persons of organizations under the municipal government and secretaries of party groups and the comrades among bureau and department chiefs at the Central Government level. Many of these people have become almost completely divorced from the masses and are acting arbitrarily. They feign compliance with, or entirely ignore instructions form higher levels if these instructions do not suit them. On many issues they only believe in themselves and do not trust the masses. They do not care about the mass line. In light of this, we must henceforth annually convene two conferences of cadres from five, six, or seven levels. Each conference is to be held for 10 days. The higher echelons and the basic levels will attack the middle level on both flanks. Only by so doing can erroneous views held by the middle-level cadres be rectified and flexibility restored to their stubborn thinking and only thus will it be possible for them to make improvements. Otherwise it will be utterly hopeless for them. If we listen to them long enough, we will be assimilated into their ranks. We will commit errors and become benighted with regard to existing state of affairs and communication between top and bottom or vice versa will ! break down. This is an extremely dangerous situation. It will be very much to our interest to hold such conferences twice a year. It will enable us to understand the situation and remedy errors. Although we are talking about the problems of urban areas here, it is the same for rural areas, too. I have already discussed this generally in my previous correspondence.
29 March 1959
[1.] Chou Hsiao-chou, see note 23, p 63 of this volume.
[2.] Wang Jen-chung (c.1906-) became first secretary of the Hupei Party organization in 1954; he actively supported the Great Leap and was often in Mao’s company when the Chairman visited Wuhan in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung