[This issue of Peking Review is from massline.org. Massline.org has kindly given us permission to to place these documents on the MIA. We made only some formatting changes to make them congruent with our style sheets.]
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #12, March 21, 1975, pp. 13-16.]
ARTICLE ONE of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China stipulates: ”The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state of the dictatorship of the proletariat led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” Article 12 stipulates: ”The proletariat must exercise, all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture.” Conscientiously studying the basic theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought on the dictatorship of the proletariat to make clear why the proletariat must exercise dictatorship over the bourgeoisie is a major issue for the whole Party and the people of the whole country. This is a fundamental question concerning the historical destiny of our Party, state and people.
Our great leader Chairman Mao recently instructed us: Why did Lenin speak of exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? It is essential to get this question clear. Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism. This should be made known to the whole nation. Only through a clear understanding of this question is it possible for us to better grasp and implement the Party’s basic line, further broaden, deepen and persevere in the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, combat and prevent revisionism in a more effective way, strengthen the revolutionary unity of the people of all nationalities in the country and persevere in continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the quintessence of Marxism. In his Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx summed up his entire doctrine in the famous thesis: “Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Lenin defended and developed the Marxist theory on the dictatorship of the proletariat. He pointed out in The State and Revolution: “The culmination” of the revolutionary role of the proletariat in history “is the proletarian dictatorship.” He also stressed, “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” In waging the struggle against the revisionism of the Second International and based on his revolutionary practice in leading the dictatorship of the proletariat, Lenin foresaw the danger of capitalist restoration and the protractedness of class struggle. He clearly pointed out: “The essence of Marx’s teaching on the state has been mastered only by those who understand” that the dictatorship of the proletariat “is necessary … not only for the proletariat which has overthrown the bourgeoisie, but also for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from ‘classless society,’ from Communism.”
Integrating the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution, our great leader Chairman Mao has advanced the theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and formulated a basic line for our Party for the entire historical period of socialism. This basic line tells us that socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. Throughout this historical period, there are classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, there is the danger of capitalist restoration and there is the threat of subversion and aggression by imperialism and social-imperialism. It points out that we must correctly understand and handle class contradictions and class struggle and distinguish the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy from those among the people and handle both correctly.
The Ninth and the Tenth National Congresses of the Communist Party of China held in 1969 and 1973 respectively affirmed in explicit terms this basic line as the lifeline of our Party and state, the beacon illuminating our victorious advance in different fields of work, as well as the reliable guarantee for the consolidation and strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the prevention of capitalist restoration.
Under the guidance of the Party’s basic line, we destroyed the bourgeois headquarters of Liu Shao-chi and of Lin Piao, repudiated their counter-revolutionary revisionist line and smashed their plots to restore capitalism during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, thus further consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat and promoting socialist construction. But we must bear in mind that class struggle and two-line struggle will continue for a long period of time. Unwilling to take their defeat lying down, the overthrown exploiting classes still dream of seizing back their lost paradise. Since classes and class struggle continue to exist, as do bourgeois right and bourgeois influence and erosion, new bourgeois elements may emerge from among a section of the Party members, workers, personnel state and other organs and intellectuals, apart from capitalism and bourgeoisie engendered from among the small producers and a number of peasants who retain the habits of small producers. Both in the ranks of the proletariat and among the personnel of state and other organs there are people who take to the bourgeois style of life. Class struggle in the ideological field is all the more protracted and complicated. If we do not persist in the dictatorship of the proletariat and in continuing the revolution under this dictatorship, a capitalist restoration may still occur at any time. That the Soviet revisionist renegade clique usurped the leadership of the Party and state and restored capitalism in the homeland of Leninism offers a profound lesson and ought to alert us. In China, the fact that the Liu Shao-chi renegade clique and the Lin Piao anti-Party clique pushed a revisionist line in their vain attempt to change the Party’s basic line and policies and and subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism also confirms this.
Lenin pointed out: Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, “just because they [the landlord and capitalist classes] have been defeated, their energy of resistance has increased a hundred- and thousand-fold.” (Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.) The stronger the state power of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the more insidious and cunning the means employed by the class enemies to carry out disruptive activities and make trouble. To overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat and trestore capitalism, they always look for agents in the Party and the state organs. The class enemies always try to win over the new emerging bourgeois elements, degenerates, grafters and embezzlers and collaborate with them to oppose the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system. Take the state economy as an example. In some units, socialist ownership exists in form only while actual leadership is not in the hands of the Marxists and the broad masses of the workers. Class struggle in society invariably finds expression in the Party, and there will inevitably be persons in the Party who practise revisionism and become capitalist-roaders in authority. Lenin pointed out that the bourgeoisie had to make use of opportunism as a stepping-stone in order to restore capitalism.
By pushing a revisionist line the Soviet revisionist renegade clique had turned the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of the bureaucrat-monopoly capitalist class and the first socialist state in the world has degenerated into a social-imperialist state. Representing the interests of the overthrown landlord and capitalist classes, the renegade and traitor Lin Piao pushed a counter-revolutionary revisionist line and venomously attacked the dictatorship of the proletariat in his vain attempt to restore capitalism. This, however, will in no way diminish the brilliance of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but proves by negative example that the dictatorship of the proletariat, “like food and clothing, … is something a victorious people cannot do without even for a moment,” and is “a protective talisman, an heirloom.” (Mao Tsetung: Why It Is Necessary to Discuss the White Paper.)
Lenin pointed out that small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale. (“Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder.) In China, with the socialist revolution in the ownership of the means of production completed in the main, agriculture has embarked on the road of socialism as regards the system of ownership and the individual peasants have become socialist collective peasants. The poor and lower-middle peasants are the reliable allies of the proletariat in the countryside. But it must be recognized that the peasants inevitably retain certain characteristics inherent in their former position as small producers until socialist collective ownership is advanced to ownership by the whole people and the vestages of private economy are eliminated. A number of well-to-do peasants are bound to have a spontaneous capitalist tendency. As Chairman Mao has pointed out: “There is a serious tendency towards capitalism among the well-to-do peasants. This tendency will become rampant if we in the slightest way neglect political work among the peasants during the co-operative movement and for a very long period after.” This spontaneous capitalist tendency will of course seriously affect the socialist orientation of the collective economy and is bound to be in contradiction with the proletariat and the socialist road. Failure to combat the spontaneous capitalist forces may lead to a change in the nature of the collective economy and to a restoration of capitalism in the rural areas. Socialism can firmly occupy the positions in the rural areas and capitalist restoration can be prevented in the countryside only through patient, meticulous and convincing ideological and political work among the peasants, constantly instilling socialist ideology into their minds, criticizing capitalist tendencies, isolating and attacking the handful of class enemies to the maximum, and consolidating and strengthening the dicatatorship of the proletariat.
Socialist society is a society that has just emerged from the womb of capitalism, therefore it “cannot as yet be … entirely free from traditions or traces of capitalism.” (Lenin: The State and Revolution.) These traces have to be gradually eliminated in the long course of socialist revolution and construction. Bourgeois right inevitably continues to exist in our society. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “China is a socialist country. Before liberation she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practices an eight-grade wage system, distribution according to work and exchange through money, and in all this differs very little from the old society. What is different is that the system of ownership has been changed.”
In elucidating this question, Lenin stated: “‘Bourgeois right’ recognizes them [the means of production] as the private property of individuals. Socialism converts them into common property. To that extent—and to that extent alone—‘bourgeois right’ disappears.” But “‘bourgeois right’ … continues to prevail as long as products are divided ‘according to the amount of labour performed.’” (The State and Revolution.)
How should we deal with that part of the bourgeois right still existing? Chairman Mao has pointed out: “They have to be restricted under the dictatorship of the proletariat.” The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China stipulates: ”The state applies the socialist principle: ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat’ and ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.’” The principle of ”to each according to his work” still plays a role in the historical period of socialism and we will continue to implement it. But we should recognize that this principle, after all, is not a communist principle, and will be abolished in the future. The ultimate aim of the proletariat is to establish a communist society where the principle of ”from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is applied. Before this aim is realized, bourgeois right inevitably remains in distribution and in exchange through money, and there are still differences between workers and peasants, between town and country and between manual and mental labour. So long as these factors exist, they provide breeding grounds for capitalism and revisionism. So if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.
With a view to “creating conditions in which it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie to exist, or for a new bourgeoisie to arise,” as Lenin pointed out, it is imperative not only to suppress the resistance of the overthrown exploiting classes and guard against subversion and aggression by external enemies and struggle against newly engendered bourgeois elements, bourgeois forces and tendencies and the bourgeois style of life, but also to restrict under the dictatorship of the proletariat that part of the bourgeois right still existing.
Whether gradually to restrict bourgeois right and break with the concept of bourgeois right under the dictatorship of the proletariat or to continue to extend such right—this is an important aspect of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between the Marxist line and the revisionist line. Our Party has taken a series of revolutionary measures and firmly supported socialist new things, such as reducing wage differences, cadres, workers, peasants, soldiers, students and commercial workers resolutely taking the May 7th road, cadres taking part in collective productive labour, educated youths going to settle in the countryside, and workers, peasants and soldiers joining Marxist theoretical contingents. All these are of tremendous and far-reaching significance for gradually eliminating the three major differences, restricting bourgeois right, consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing the restoration of capitalism and continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The renegade and traitor Lin Piao and company did their utmost to spread the concept of bourgeois right, saying that ”selfishness and pleasure-seeking are the rule,” and viciously attacked the revolutionary measures and spirit aimed at restricting bourgeois right as ”completely wrong.” Their criminal aim was to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism. The emergence of the Lin Piao anti-Party clique, like the appearance of all revisionists in the history of the communist movement, was by no means a fortuitous phenomenon of individuals. Representing the declining and reactionary exploiting classes, this clique came into being in a certain climate and soil. A clear understanding will enable us to carry on the struggle more forcefully to combat and prevent revisionism.
The realm of ideology has always been an important position from which the bourgeoisie opposes the proletariat. Once a certain ideology is formed, it will be relatively independent and will not change immediately following the change in the economic base. After the bourgeoisie is overthrown economically and politically, it will continue to make use of the ideological position it still occupies to carry on frantic struggles to restore its political and economic status.
When China had completed the socialist transformation of the system of ownership in the main, Chairman Mao clearly pointed out the protracted and arduous nature of the struggle in the ideological sphere between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Chairman Mao said: “It will take a fairly long period of time to decide the issue in the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in our country.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) Later, he pointed out: “The proletariat must exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture.” This is a great development of the Marxist-Leninist theory on the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius are political and ideological struggles in the superstructure in which Marxism defeats revisionism and the proletariat triumphs over the bourgeoisie. These struggles are a great practice in exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure.
The doctrines a Confucius and Mencius are doctrines advocating restoration, retrogression and national betrayal. The chieftains of opportunist lines in the Party, from Chen Tu-hsiu and Wang Ming to Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao, all sought ideological weapons from the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius to oppose proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The fundamental aim of criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius is to consolidate and strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat. This criticism must be carried out under the guidance of the Marxist theory on the dictatorship of the proletariat, and a good grasp of this theory will surely push ahead the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius in a more effective way.
Socialist society is a society in the period of transition from capitalism to communism. To reach the final goal of communism, the proletariat must make “the most radical rupture with traditional property relations” and “the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” (Marx and Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party.) To achieve these two “radical ruptures,” it is extremely necessary to restrict bourgeois right and criticize the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius and the ideology of all exploiting classes. This is a long-range fighting task throughout the historical period of socialism. Only an all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture, will provide a reliable guarantee for the fulfilment of this important fighting task.
Revolutionary struggles over the last 20 years and more, especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, have brought about the daily disintegration of the decadent superstructure, including decadent ideologies. However, it will take time to thoroughly sweep away this garbage and the struggles between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the political, ideological and economic spheres will still be very acute. We must never slacken our efforts in the least. We should continue to broaden, deepen and persevere in the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, attack the bourgeoisie and all decadent and reactionary forces and their ideology without let-up, occupy the entire realm of the superstructure with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and carry the continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through to the end.
(A translation of an article in ”Renmin Ribao,” February 10. Subheads are ours.)
Peking Review Index | Chinese Communism | Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung