MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms



Bloc of Four Classes

Mao Zedong's vision of the Chinese Revolution required the collaboration with classes other than the proletariat, a minority in China. In 1949, as Communist Party forces swept the US-backed Kuo Min Tang out of region after region, approaching the victory of the Chinese Revolution, proclaimed on 1 October 1949, Mao defined his vision of the kind of government the Communist Party would establish. In line with Stalin’s policy in Europe of establishing “People’s Democratic Republics”, which would maintain capitalism under Soviet rule, Mao defined three classes which were deemed allies of the working class: the Peasantry, the urban petit-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, while – the landlord class and the bureaucratic-bourgeoisie (sometimes called compradors, i.e., agents for foreign imperialist interests) were defined as the enemies of the working class.

He put it as follows:

“... the people’s democratic dictatorship ... to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right. Who are the people? At the present stage in China they are the working class, the peasantry, the urban petit-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. These classes, led by the working class and the Communist Party, unite to form their own state and elect their own government; they enforce their dictatorship over the running dogs of imperialism – the landlord class and the bureaucratic-bourgeoisie, as well as the representatives of those classes, the Kuomintang reactionaries and their accomplices. ... Democracy is practiced within the ranks of the people, who enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, association and so on.” [On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, Mao Zedong, March 1949]

In the first years, the “bloc of four classes” meant attempts to incorporate bourgeois representatives in the government and limiting calls for expropriation of capitalists to foreign capital, in the interests of maintaining a bloc with the ‘national bourgeoisie’ and during the 1950s a program of land distribution was carried out.

In 1952-3 the “national bourgeoisie” were expropriated and state ownership of industry implemented. The oppositionists rounded up and imprisoned at the same time.

In the 1960s, “bloc of four classes” meant the subordination of the urban proletariat to the peasantry. In international relations, it meant forming political blocs with bourgeois governments at the expense of the working class. In other words Popular Front.