Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

China: A New Cultural Revolution?

First Published: Challenge, April 29, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Right-wing riots in Peking, sharp attacks in the Chinese press on those who want to put China on the road back to capitalism, a year-old campaign to “study the dictatorship of the proletariat”: Do these mean that there is another Cultural Revolution in China, that the Chinese Communist Party is leading the Chinese workers, students, and peasants in a fight for socialist policies in the educational, cultural, and economic fields?

WITHOUT A DOUBT, THERE ARE MANY left-sounding criticisms of high officials coming out of Peking these days. Teng Hsiao-ping, the recently deposed Vice-Premier, is accused of forgetting class struggle. He is attacked for wanting to restore bourgeois education policies, such as limiting admission to university to those who do best in school (instead of favoring workers and peasants, instead of setting up “open air classrooms” in factories and communes). He is attacked for opposing the new art forms: it is said he wanted to return to the more traditional plays, where the heroes are emperors and landlords instead of the people.

Most of all, Teng is accused of promoting increased production without regard to political considerations. Teng once said, “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white the cat can catch mice”; meaning that it doesn’t matter if it is the “reds” (the working class under the leadership of the communists) or if it is the “experts” (the bureaucrats, the technocrats) who control the factories, so long as there is increased production. To Teng the principal problem facing China is how to increase production rapidly, not how to build socialism (by overcoming the division of labor, heirarchy in the factory, capitalist attitudes like individualism and elitism; by struggling for “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”). Teng is pushing the old revisionist line that increasing productivity is the way to socialism; as Lenin said, “Politics must take precedence over economics. That is the ABC of Marxism.”

Without a doubt, there are many millions of dedicated anti-revisionist communists in China who are fighting back against the moves towards capitalism. It was these rank-and-file communists, with support of many peasants and workers, who rioted in early 1975 in opposition to the new constitution which guaranteed private plots in agriculture. It was probably these communists who seized Hangchow, a city of 700,000, for several days last summer in opposition to the policies of forced overtime at no extra pay (when the beginning workers get paid 35 yuan per month, and top Party officials bet 404 yuan). Much of the criticism of Teng and his capitalist-roader policies are coming from these workers, peasants, and students who have been won to communist ideas.

But we must ask what role does the Chinese Communist Party play in the struggle between the capitalist-roaders and the masses of rank-and-file workers and peasants? The answer, unfortunately, is that the leadership of the Communist Party is united in support of right-wing policies. And after Teng’s dismissal, his line is being strengthened, showing that the rightists are still in control.

Chairman Mao, supposedly the big “leftist,” is the one who invited Nixon to China twice; Mao has been behind the disgusting Chinese support for NATO, for the Shah of Iran, for the junta in Chile (China recently gave the junta a loan–something even the liberals in West Europe are embarrassed to do) and for the rumored asking of military aid from the U.S.

In the current campaign against Teng, the number one priority of Mao and the other phony “leftists” is that there be no Red Guards. They don’t want the masses of people to become involved except in carefully orchestrated marches and rallies. There have been no reports of factory takeovers, of throwing out capitalist-roaders in universities or in communes. (continued in next C-D)