Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Blind Faith in the Communist Parties

Written: April 16, 1977.
First Published: Discussion Bulletin #5, July 30, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


Comrade Hill’s pamphlet, Class Struggle in the Communist Parties is, from first to last, an appeal to blind faith. Certain experiences are recounted and certain assertions are made, but nowhere is there any attempt at concrete political analysis. We are asked to accept that all is well in China today because there have been similar struggles in the past which have turned out alright, and because people who we have respected in the past, say it is alright. That, in its unvarnished form, is all Comrade Hill has to say. It is simply not good enough.

Looking through the pamphlet, we find that each of the arguments used could have been applied equally if the ’gang of four’ had come to power and Hua Kuo-feng had been overthrown. Each of them could have been used if Lin Piao had come to power. Each of them was used when Khrushchev came to power. This is because the arguments are all appeals to faith instead of reason. They simply assert that we should have confidence in whoever happens to be the present Chinese leadership. There is nothing specific to show that the ’gang of four’ followed a wrong line manifested in x, y and z while Hua Kuo-feng upholds a correct line as shown by a, b and c. Therefore, these arguments, as shown below, could be applied to any situation and are simply an appeal to blind faith. Indeed, they explicitly urge us not to analyse concretely what line is being followed in China, but to accept the judgment of others (whether it be the alleged posthumous judgement of Chairmen Mao or Chou En-lai, or the popularity of recent events among the Chinese people, or Comrade Hill’s own personal reactions). Comrade Hill’s whole position is not that the present leadership in China is good because their line is correct, but that their line must be correct, because they are the present leadership.

Such arguments, when covered up a little, do have a powerful appeal, and many people may be influenced by them. There have been many twists and turns in the struggle in China and sometimes people have had doubts about what is going on there (doubts reinforced by enemy propaganda). But such doubts have been cleared up in the end.

Moreover, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), and Comrade Hill in particular, has many times put forward a line that has at first been doubted or rejected, but has later proved correct. People who have gradually become convinced of the correctness of the party line, whether in China or Australia, especially those whose conviction is more recent, may be inclined to suspend their own judgement in favour of those who have proved more correct in the past.

Comrade Hill’s pamphlet marshals together all the arguments for having faith and putting aside doubts, so it has been warmly welcomed as a reassurance to those who would otherwise be feeling upset. Perhaps the more intimate style of the pamphlet, with its frank references to past mistakes and doubts, and its recounting of personal experiences, adds to the feeling of reassurance. Certainly, the extensive repetition of general truths about the existence of class struggle in the communist parties has this reassuring effect and is presumably intended to do so, although it tells us precisely nothing about the particular class struggle in the particular communist party.

This business of finding Comrade Hill’s pamphlet reassuring, suggests that some people were indeed thrown into confusion by the events in China and the treatment of those events in the mass media, and became upset by it instead of viewing it properly. The alternative became to welcome Comrade Hill’s clear statement or to be sunk into a morass of doubts and confusion. While many wondered why on earth Comrade Hill made his first public declaration as early as he did, others welcomed the opportunity not to have to think things through for themselves.

Moreover, many people who would not accept what has happened on the basis of faith in China are at least prepared to wait and see on the basis of faith in Comrade Hill, By throwing the whole weight of his personal prestige behind his stand on China (instead of simply taking a stand without doing that), Comrade Hill made it very difficult to disagree with him without having to oppose him personally. Naturally, many people are reluctant to do that.

Certainly, if Comrade Hill had not taken the very strong stand he did, but had remained silent, he would hardly have been criticized for it. There would have been few demands for an immediate statement denouncing the ’gang of four’ and giving unqualified support to Hua Kuo-feng.

’Wait and see’ is always a very popular approach and indeed there is some justification for it (although ’study and analyse’ would be better).

Yet people who say ’we’ll just have to wait and see’ when confronted with criticisms of what is happening in China, are also prepared to accept Comrade Hill’s immediate public declaration of unqualified support for it. The implication is that they would also have been prepared to accept an immediate public declaration of opposition. Indeed, some had already been clearly inclined this way before Comrade Hill’s position became known.

Quite plainly, respect for Comrade Hill’s personal judgement, and a reluctance to contradict him, has played an important role in forming people’s attitudes. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, after all, what else is the Chairman of the Central Committee for? But it is wrong when this is used as a substitute for a scientific analysis of the facts (instead of an aid to that), and when sharp criticism of the stand Comrade Hill happens to have taken is treated as some sort of anti-Party attack, and not a matter for discussion at all. The issue is not what one thinks of Comrade Hill, but whether one agrees with his stand.

Our minds cannot think properly until they are purified, until they are released from the worship of sacred cows. We must rebel against the strong tendency not to think. We must struggle to think. Rebel to think. Think to rebel. No matter who says what, no matter how authoritative a person is, still we must think about it. We must search for the essence. Which class does it serve? (More on Ideological Questions, p. 14)

Wrong Before or Wrong Now?

The trouble with just blindly following Comrade Hill’s judgement on this particular issue is that it has already proved completely unreliable.

Only a year ago, Comrade Hill sent congratulations to China on the suppression of the Tien An Men incident and the dismissal of Teng Hsiao-ping. In Vanguard of June 24, 1976, he described Teng Hsiao-ping as ’serving the bourgeoisie’, a ’revisionist’ and a ’capitalist restorationist’. This was reprinted as late as October 28, 1976. This, of course, does not contradict Teng being given yet another chance after changing his stand. But precisely this analysis of Teng has been officially repudiated by the present Chinese leadership. They have even gone so far as to delete the references to his ’counter-revolutionary revisionist line’ and the struggle against his ’right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts’ from Hua Kuo-feng’s memorial speech and from the official message from the Party and State national leadership, on the death of Chairman Mao. (Compare Hua’s original speed as published in Peking Review No 39, 1976, and reprinted in Australian Communist No 80, with the version published in China Pictorial for November, 1976.

Quite clearly, if Comrade Hill is correct in supporting what the Chinese leadership says now, then he was wrong in supporting what they said while Chairman Mao was alive, only a year ago. This is not a matter of nit-picking or dragging up irrelevancies from the past. It is not like having made favourable remarks about people like Liu Shao-chi or Lin Piao who later turn out to be bad. We are talking about current events, central to which is the appraisal of Teng Hsiao-ping’s ’right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts’.[1]

Comrade Hill’s opposition to Teng Hsiao-ping then was just as vehement as his opposition to the ’gang of four’ now, although he did not have to justify and explain it, nor to intimidate others from disagreeing, because it was correct and nobody did disagree. Yet now Comrade Hill is forced to say that Teng only ’made mistakes’ (p. 7). Perhaps we will learn later that the ’gang of four’ only ’made mistakes’, but there will always be some people who blindly follow and, therefore, cannot help but make mistakes.

Again, in his own memorial speech to Chairman Mao, Comrade Hill said:

The speculators speculate. They canvass this one and that one. They speak of ’moderates’ and ’radicals’ and of this : or that leader as a moderate or a radical. When they say moderate they mean they hope that moderate wants the restoration of capitalism and, when they say radical, they mean that radical wants the victory of socialism. They hope and pray for the victory of the moderates. (Australian Communist No. 80, p. 22).

That was clear cut support for the ’gang of four’. Even with the words ’they hope’, it was an unjustifiable interference in the internal affairs of the Chinese Communist Party at that time, although in itself apparently correct. Now Comrade Hill and Vanguard make a quite opposite (and quite absurd) estimation of the press references to ’moderates’ and ’radicals’.

Can anyone seriously doubt that a person who denounces Teng Hsiao-ping in April and who denounces ’moderates’ and supports ’radicals’ in September, would have denounced Hua Kuo-Feng and supported the ’gang of four’ if they had come to power in October? That is not just some hypothetical question. According to Hua Kuo-feng (Peking Review No 1, 1977) it was a very real possibility.

Nor is Comrade Hill’s support for the ’gang of four’ just a hypothetical possibility. He actually made the very concrete statement quoted above, before the issue had been resolved. There is nothing hypothetical about it. Comrade Hill was preparing to support the ’gang of four’ and he would certainly have done so. He could hardly deny it, and to his credit has not denied it.

Even if one just accepts that Comrade Hill would ’quite possibly’ have supported the ’gang of four’ and denounced Hua Kuo-feng had events gone the other way, then one cannot place any reliance on his judgement on these matters. It means simply that Comrade Hill’s endorsement does not add anything to whatever the Chinese leadership happens to be saying. It does not reflect an independent analysis.

Some people never take the trouble to analyse, they simply follow the ’wind’. Today, when the north wind is blowing, they join the ’north wind’ school; tomorrow, when there is a west wind, they switch to the ’west wind’ school; afterwards when north wind blows again, they switch back to the ’north wind1 school. They hold no independent opinion of their own and often go from one extreme to the other. (Chairman Mao, ’On the Ten Major Relationships’. Peking Review, No 1, 1977, p. 24. Australian Communist No 82, p, 46).

Let us now analyse Comrade Hill’s pamphlet in detail. In doing so, we shall incidentally put forward some concrete political analysis of events in China. But our main purpose here is to reply to Comrade Hill, and since he does not seriously go into any questions of political line, there is little scope for doing so in reply. In any case, it is a little too early and we are rather too far away to be making comprehensive analysis of the situation in China, while it is most urgent to refute the blind faith advocated by Comrade Hill.

One’s Natural Assumption

When Vanguard published Comrade Hill’s first editorial denouncing ’the splittist activities of Wang Hung-Wen, Chang Chun-chiao, Chiang Ching and Yao Wen-yuan’ (November, 4, 1976), many people assumed that he must have access to some special information which had led him to take this stand. Indeed, the editor of Vanguard told the present writer, on November 14, that the item had been published because the leadership here had confidence in Comrade Hill and respect for his judgement and that as he was overseas, he presumably had more information available than we in Australia did.

If Comrade Hill had not published his pamphlet, but only the straightforward declarations of support, then many people would have continued to believe that he had all sorts of ’good reasons, best known to himself’ for taking that stand. When one has respect for an authority, but does not understand or agree with what it is doing, there is a strong tendency to invent one’s own reasons for why it might be correct, and many such reasons are still circulating in this case, even now.

But, with commendable honesty, Comrade Hill did publish his pamphlet which states exactly what his reasons were, and what information was available to him when he made his decision. We are able to, and must, judge according to Comrade Hill’s stated reasons, and not any theories invented on his behalf.

The plain fact is that Comrade Hill wrote his declaration on his way to Albania on October 27, had no opportunity to discuss the matter in Australia and ’simply asked by cable that it be published after consultation and agreement with the leading comrades’ (p. 2) – which is, of course, exactly what did happen. It was published because leading comrades here had faith in Comrade Hill’s judgement, and not because of any independent confirmation of that judgement. Indeed, until Comrade Hill’s cable was received, the material published in Australian Communist was certainly tending in the opposite direction. (No. 80, pp. 81-86, ’Struggle in One’s Own Country is Decisive’).

The very first official Chinese editorial on the subject was published on October 25th. Comrade Hill read it on October 27 und the very same day wrote his editorial for Vanguard, which was published together with the Chinese editorial, a week later (p. 44).

Comrade Hill did not even want to wait a single day. Had he done so, he could have consulted not only with the Albanian comrades and the Chinese representatives there, but also with the delegations of many fraternal Marxist-Leninist parties and groups attending the 7th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania. As a matter of fact, not only were most fraternal parties much more reserved and tardy in sending their greetings, but many have not done so at all.

It is ironic that before the pamphlet came out, one comrade here quoted from the Chinese Embassy in Australia, as saying how pleased they were that the various fraternal parties had taken some time before sending their messages of support. This showed, he said, that they had made some independent analysis of their own, and were not just following blindly. In Comrade Hill’s case (and there were others, too), the exact opposite was true.

Comrade Hill now says ’Facts are the ultimate test. I believe that already facts have accumulated to establish the correctness of the Chinese Party on this matter ’ (p. 20). Of course, he believes it. He believed it already on October 27th, when no ’facts’ whatever had accumulated’.

Comrade Hill goes on to say ’as I said earlier, the process of getting to know goes on and sometimes takes a long time. But the revolution does not stop while one makes up one’s mind on a thing of this character. The wheel of history is inexorable; it pushes on the revolution. The people and the people alone make history.’

The last two sentences are very fine, but totally irrelevant. The first two are a blatant assertion that the continuing progress of the Chinese revolution requires Comrade Hill’s endorsement, and that if he withheld that endorsement, even for a day, serious harm could occur. Quite frankly, it does not appear likely that the Chinese revolution would stop, even if Comrade Hill made up his mind to oppose it. It could certainly have got on quite well for a few weeks without Comrade Hill’s constant, warm hailing and rejoicing from the sidelines.

The real reason Comrade Hill took the stand he did, when he did, is contained on p. 10 of the pamphlet: ’One’s natural assumption ought to be that the Chinese Party is correct and not the other way round’.

This assertion immediately follows a paragraph calling for patience ’with those who genuinely ask questions’ and vigilance’ against those in left disguise who try to exploit the situation for purposes of disruption’.

If this warning was directed against those who always tend to oppose or doubt whatever China is doing, then it would be quite inappropriate. The enemies of China, and especially those in ’left disguise’, seem very happy to assume that the Chinese Party is correct (for a change). One need only read what Castro and the Trotskyite ’Fourth International’ actually say (and not what Vanguard pretends they say), to realize this. Those who oppose Comrade Hill’s ’natural assumption’ are not people who have made a habit of opposing China at all.

Leaving aside then ’the other way round’, Comrade Hill is asserting that ’One’s natural assumption ought to be that the Chinese Party is correct... ’ Questions are alright but not to stick with this assumption is disruptive.

Of course, it is true that one does tend naturally to make assumptions of this kind. There is nothing particularly wrong in that. But it is very, very wrong indeed to use an assumption as an argument, and to assert that it must be stuck with and that to challenge it is disruptive.

Apart from being thoroughly anti-Marxist, this view is directly repudiated by the Chinese Party itself. Wang Hung-wen’s ’Report on the Revision of the Party Constitution’ was adopted unanimously at their Tenth Congress on August 28, 1973. It says:

We must have the revolutionary spirit of daring to go against the tide. Chairman Mao pointed out: Going against the tide is a Marxist-Leninist principle. During the discussions on the revision of the Party Constitution, many comrades, reviewing the Party’s history and their own experiences, held that this was most important in the two-line struggle within the Party. In the early period of the democratic, revolution, there were several occasions when wrong lines held sway in our Party. In the later period of the democratic revolution and in the period of socialist revolution, when the correct line represented by Chairman Mao has been predominant, there have also been lessons in that certain wrong lines or wrong views were taken as correct for a time by many people and supported as such. The correct line represented by Chairman Mao has waged resolute struggle against those errors and won out. When confronted with issues that concern the line and the overall situation, a true Communist must act without any selfish considerations and dare to go against the tide, fearing neither removal from his post, expulsion from the Party, imprisonment, divorce nor guillotine. (Tenth Congress Documents, p, 49)

Of course, we have Comrade Hill’s opinion that Wang Hung-wen ’was rather immature and weak’ (p.8). Still, his views seem more mature, and less weak, than Comrade Hill’s ’natural assumption’.

Moreover, Chou En-lai has similar views to Wang Hung-wen. His report said:

And when a wrong tendency surges towards us like a rising tide, we must suffer isolation and must dare to go against the tide and brave it through. Chairman Mao states, ’Going against the tide is a Marxist-Leninist principle’. In daring to go against the tide and adhere to the correct line in the ten struggles between the two lines within the Party, Chairman Mao is our example and teacher. Every one of our comrades should learn well from Chairman Mao and hold to this principle. (ibid, p. 19).

Despite his great admiration for Chou En-lai, Comrade Hill holds exactly opposite views. He believes that whatever the tide, ’One’s natural assumption ought to be that the Chinese Party is correct... ’As for going against the tide ... it would be to ’exploit the situation for purposes of disruption.’

Apart from the Chinese Tenth Congress, our own Party Congress has also repudiated this ’natural assumption’. On the initiative of the present writer, the draft CPA (ML) Constitution said that we were a part of the international communist movement headed by the Communist Party of China led by Chairman Mao. Although there was no dissention from it in Australia, this statement was later removed at the insistence of the Chinese comrades. They were clearly opposed to doing anything which encourages blind faith or contradicts the equality of parties and very rightly so.

From p. 36 of the pamphlet on, Comrade Hill attempts to ’put the matter in proper perspective’. He says that Australian Communists in the past tended to slavishly follow the Soviet Union and that this was wrong. He points out that Chairman Mao correctly rejected certain international advice in the past. He calls (yet again) for us to ’integrate the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought into Australian conditions’. He affirms that a defeat or betrayal in China world be a setback, but would not render the ultimate victory of socialism any the less inevitable, either in China or Australia. He admits the inevitability of defeats as well as victories and criticizes himself for having closed his eyes to the setbacks and twists and turns (p. 41). He admits having been upset by capitalist press speculation of trouble following the death of Chairman Mao, due to political subjectivism.

All this sounds very good, and indeed many readers have been impressed, saying that even if the concrete arguments do not appear very convincing, at least the ideological level of the pamphlet is high and this material shows that Comrade Hill has a good approach to the problem. In the past, the present writer, too, would have taken such material as evidence that Comrade Hill had a real grasp of the dangers of subjectivism and slavishness and, based on his own experiences from the past, was warning others against them.

But now it must be seen in a rather different light. The plain fact is that Comrade Hill warmly hailed the events in China the very same day he heard about them, and immediately after having publicly expressed views in the opposite direction, and having been ’upset by the capitalist press speculations about it until I read the People’s Daily Editorial of October 25th, ’ There is absolutely no way one can reconcile that simple fact with all the fine sentiments from p. 36 on. The fine sentiments are hypocritical bullshit.

Here is the full passage from pages 44-45:

And there is something of that political subjectivism in what I described earlier as my wish and hope that after the death of Chairman Mao there would be no trouble. Although I wrote about this in June, 1976, when it actually happened I was upset by the capitalist press speculations about it until I read the People’s Daily editorial of October 25th. I read it on October 27th. Then in the light of my experience in the revolutionary movement, in the light of what I knew and in the light of a proper estimate of the capitalist press speculation that preceded this editorial, everything fell into place. Reality is reality. Facts are facts. It was Chairman Mao above all who gave the weapon to Communists to free themselves from political subjectivism in which is included worship of the foreign. I got great help from him himself and his books and from Comrades Chou En-lai and Kang Sheng and the wives of the latter two on this matter and from many other Chinese comrades not to overlook our own Australian comrades. So I affirm again that Australian Communists must shoot the arrow of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought straight at the target of the Australian revolution.’

Reality is reality. Facts are facts. The facts are that Chairman Mao, Chou En-lai and Kang Sheng were dead. Chairman Mao’s wife was under arrest. Comrade Hill did not speak to the other two wives or any other Chinese comrades on this matter until a month after he had taken a stand on it. Nor did he get any help from Australian comrades until he had returned here. So he may ’affirm’ until he is blue in the face – the arrows were shot blindfolded.

The real significance of all the fine phrases is that they serve to cover up, to defend, subjectivism and slavishness, by speaking of one’s opposition to it. On reflection, it appears that practice has not been confined to this particular pamphlet, but has appeared in other matters, without standing out so nakedly.

Besides muddled ideas about the ’theorist’ and the ’intellectual’, there is a muddled idea among many comrades about ’linking theory with practice’, a phrase they have on their lips every day. They talk constantly about ’linking’, but actually they mean ’separating’, because they make no effort at linking. How is Marxist-Leninist theory to be linked with the practice of the Chinese revolution? To use a common expression, it is by ’shooting the arrow at the target’. As the arrow is to the target, so is Marxism-Leninism to the Chinese revolution. Some comrades, however, are ’shooting without a target’, shooting at random, and such people are liable to harm the revolution. Others merely stroke the arrow fondly, exclaiming ’What a fine arrow! What a fine arrow!!, but never want to shoot it. These people are connoisseurs of curios and have virtually nothing to do with the revolution, The arrow of Marxism- Leninism must be used to shoot at the target of the Chinese revolution. Unless this point is made clear, the theoretical level of our Party can never be raised and the Chinese revolution can never be victorious. (Mao Tsetung, ’Rectify the Party’s Style of Work’, Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 42).

Phrases about integrating Marxism-Leninism with the Australian revolution (’linking’), appear many times in the pamphlet, as well as being an inexhaustible source of inspiration for articles in Australian Communist and elsewhere. In the pamphlet such phrases will be found on p. 36, p. 38 (quoting Chairman Mao on the Chinese revolution), p. 40 (in LARGE CAPITALS) and p. 45. There has been far too much stroking the arrow fondly and exclaiming ’What a fine arrow! ’ Far too many ’affirmations’ and ’calls’ on this topic and on many others. It is time for some practical archery.

As for not being ’“Peking” Communists’ (p. 42), Comrade Hill’s reaction to events in Peking is substantially quicker than that of genuine Peking Communists. Despite his two day handicap before reading the October 25th editorial, Comrade Hill managed to write his own denunciation of the ’gang of four’ before any Chinese province had managed to get theirs into the People’s Daily. The first batch, including Peking Army units, were published on October 28th.

By way of contrast, the Chinese Communists and people had a good fortnight in which to digest the news before it became official. The ’gang of four’ were arrested on October 6th, Hua ’became’ Chairman on October 7th, the ’two decisions’ for a memorial hall and collected works were publicized on October 8th, presumably as a cover while the other ’two decisions’ were transmitted privately (Vanguard did not fail to warmly hail this, although it could not possibly have known what it was all about). By October 12th, the news had been transmitted internally wide enough for it to be picked up by the Western press. Not until October 21st did Hsinhua report the demonstrations in support, and the first official editorial was on October 25th. Even then, it took a few more days for the provincial declarations to come in, and many parts of China were beaten to the punch in the Hsinhua reports by cables from abroad. (In fairness to Comrade Hill, it should be mentioned that his was not one of them – having sent his statement to Vanguard and not direct to Peking, Sa it was not published in China until later.)

Still, the news which Chinese Communists were given a fortnight to digest, was hailed by Comrade Hill the day he received official confirmation of it. This is the fellow who opposes slavishness!

Actually, if you study Comrade Hill’s remarks on slavishness carefully, he confines himself to opposing slavishly following another country’s foreign policy or accepting their advice on what to do in Australia. By implication (and in practice) he believes in slavishly hailing whatever other parties do domestically.

Obviously, it is up to the Chinese people to determine the future of China and it is up to the Chinese Communist Party to settle its own internal affairs. It would be ridiculous for Australian Communists to try to decide these matters. But it is a long way from that to automatically ’hailing’ and ’rejoicing’ over every decision they take on their internal affairs. Remaining silent, as many fraternal parties and groups have done, is certainly not interference in the Chinese Party’s internal affairs. Slavishness in the old Communist Party was not only manifested in blindly following Soviet foreign policy or blindly accepting their advice on Australian questions. It was also shown in blindly endorsing everything that happened internally, for example Khrushchev’s denunciation of the ’anti-Party group’.

Does Comrade Hill remember what he said then?

Furthermore, the hue and cry about the so-called anti-Party group has a similar purpose. The fact is that there has been a great struggle in the leadership of the Soviet Party – one which in my opinion is by no means ended. Comrades of the standing of Molotov, Kaganovich, Voroshilov, Malenkov, Bulganin don’t suddenly get an aberration.
They are mainly old Bolsheviks with a distinguished record of revolutionary struggle. No doubt they made mistakes, but I view with suspicion the calumny heaped upon them, and regard it as connected with the attack on the revolutionary essence of Stalin’s life. Moreover, Molotov was condemned over the content of his criticism. Well, for my part, I should like to see the document before I expressed my opinion on it.
Molotov is reported to have spoken of revisionism, pacifism and utopianism. If that is true, then I think there is a great deal in it.
In any event, I would not want to be associated with condemnation of the so-called anti-Party group without a lot more information. (Speech of E.F. Hill to CC, C.P.A., February, 1962, reprinted in ’Australia’s Revolution: On The Struggle for a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party’, p. 207, his emphasis).

But now we are told ’it is presumptuous and wrong in my opinion to say let us in Australia or elsewhere in the world hear both sides and we Australians (or whoever else it might be) will make the judgment or let us make the judgment.’ (p, 14, his emphasis). But it is neither presumptuous nor wrong for Comrade Hill to make the judgment without hearing both sides (or at any rate to pronounce on the matter, whether a judgment was made or not), and then to denounce any who differ from his judgment.

The trouble with acting on one’s ’natural assumptions’ is that it can lead one to support anything at all. If you are going to warmly hail things the day you hear about them, then you could just as easily hail the ’gang of four’ and denounce Hua Kuo-feng if they had happened to be the ones writing the editorial (as they were in the casa of Teng Hsiao-ping) or hail Lin Piao, or hail Khrushchev. Indeed, in the case of Khrushchev, it was precisely the natural assumption that the Soviet party was correct that did so much damage.

Chairman Mao’s principle is far better:

Communists must always go into the whys and wherefores of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and in really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness. (Rectify the Party’s Style of Work’, February 1, 1942, Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 49-50.)

The ’Fuhrerprinzip’

Comrade Hill says:

I have no doubt of the correctness of the present leadership of the Party in China headed by Comrade Hua Kuo-feng and the smashing of the gang of four and that the Chinese Party is splendidly upholding Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. I should like to comment on some reasons that led me to this conclusion. The foremost reason is that Chairman Hua Kuo-feng was appointed by the leading body of the Chinese Party to his initial leading position as Acting Chinese Premier and then as First Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China during the life of Chairman Mao and in accordance with arrangements made by Chairman Mao. Previous to that appointment there had never been a formal First Vice-Chairman in the Chinese Party. These appointments then were a clear indication of Chairman Mao’s view endorsed as they were by the Chinese Party leadership. By direct implication it was a rebuff to any other person who sought the leading position. In fact, my opinion is that many people outside China (I included) failed to realise the deep significance of these moves and their implications, When you think about it and the fact that Comrade Hua Kuo-feng was elevated over Wang Hung-wen and Cheng Chun-chiao, it was a direct declaration of Chairman Mao and the leading comrades in China against those who ordinarily would have been expected to move up.’ (p. 5, his emphasis).

Thus the ’gang of four’ deserve to be smashed, and the line being followed today is correct, because Chairman Mao wanted Hua Kuo-feng to be his successor.

Let us leave aside Comrade Hill’s distinctly bourgeois references to Communist leaders moving up and being ’elevated’. Let us also leave aside for a moment whether or not Chairman Mao did approve of Hua Kuo-feng. Suppose he did. That might be an argument in favour of Hua becoming Chairman. It could hardly be a conclusive argument since in a proletarian party the Chairman is elected democratically, not appointed by his predecessor. The claims that Hua was ’personally selected’ and that it was a ’wise decision’ by Chairman Mao are in themselves confirmation of the ’gang of four’s’ assertion that the Chinese inner Party bourgeoisie has a feudalistic tinge. It smacks of the Emperor system.

But let us suppose that Hua Kuo-feng had the complete approval of Chairman Mao and the entire Chinese Party leadership in April, 1976. How does this show the correctness of his actions since October 1976? How does it show that the ’gang of four’ were enemies, that the struggle against Teng Hsiao-ping and the right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts should be reversed, that the struggle against bourgeois right should be dropped, that complete changes in direction in economic, cultural, foreign trade, education, health, party building and other major policies were needed? Comrade Hill’s argument is quite simply that Hua was the leader therefore what he does is correct. Because he is the leader, therefore he is ’splendidly upholding Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.’ Moreover, the fact that Hua was meant to be leader is Comrade Hill’s foremost reason and it is sufficient to leave him with ’no doubt of the correctness’ of his actions. That is not a Marxist approach. Let us speak more plainly. It is a fascist approach. This sounds an extreme thing to say, but just check through the ’foremost reason’ again. It clearly rests on the unspoken assumption that it is sufficient to establish that someone has properly become the leader in order to prove his correctness.

Once again, the difficulty with this approach is that it can lead you to support anything at all.

Suppose that instead of the ’gang of four’, Hua Kuo-feng had smashed Li Hsien-nien, Yen Chien-ying and a few other ’veterans’ who disappeared from public life at the same time as Teng Hsiao-ping was dismissed. According to Comrade Hill, that would be correct because Chairman Mao Wanted Hua Kuo-feng to be his successor.

Suppose that Wang Hung-wen had become Chairman. During Chairman Mao’s lifetime he was appointed third in the Politbureau after Chairman Mao and Premier Chou. No plenary session of the Central Committee has changed that. Wouldn’t Comrade Hill argue that therefore his leadership must be correct, because Chairman Mao wanted him to be his successor?

Or take Khrushchev. He, too, became leader, and claimed the full approval of his predecessor at first. Does that make him correct?

These are all hypothetical cases. But Comrade Hill’s ’foremost reason’, as he has stated it, would leave him with ’no doubt of the correctness of the present leadership of the Party’ in any case whatever. Specifically, he has agreed in advance to anything that Hua Kuo-feng might do, because he was first appointed ’during the life of Chairman Mao and in accordance with arrangements made by Chairman Mao. Comrade Hill may or may not be able to keep to that as the situation develops. Others who are going along with what has happened so far will certainly find it more and more difficult.

Let us turn to a very real case, Lin Piao. He was not merely a ’First Vice-Chairman’, but the only Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Party.

According to the Party Constitution (Chapter I, General Program):

Comrade Lin Piao has consistently held high the great red banner of Mao Tsetung Thought and has most loyally and resolutely carried out and defended Comrade Mao Tsetung’s proletarian revolutionary line. Comrade Lin Piao is Comrade Mao Tsetung’s close comrade-in-arms and successor.

This was unanimously adopted at a session of the Ninth National Congress presided over by Chairman Mao (Press Communique, April 14th, 1969). Previous to that appointment there had indeed never been a formal only Vice-Chairman in the Chinese Party and no ’successor’ had been designated (unless you count Liu Shao-chi ....).

If Lin Piao had come to power (perhaps after a successful assassination of Chairman Mao), he would certainly have claimed to be Chairman Mao’s designated successor and, unlike Hua Kuo-feng, he would not have been lying to make such a claim. Nor would the open restoration of capitalism, and alliance with the Soviet: Union have been so hypothetical. Just take a look at the ultra-Right program in ’Outline of Project 571’.

Chairman Mao, the Chinese Party leadership, and indeed the whole Party at its Congress, didn’t just give a ’clear indication’ that Lin Piao was to be the successor. They formally appointed him successor – and in a Constitutionally binding way. How weak Hua Kuo-feng’s claims look in comparison to Lin Piao’s!

In fact, Lin Piao was a ’bourgeois careerist, conspirator, double-dealer, renegade and traitor’. He launched an armed counter-revolutionary coup d’état and attempted to assassinate Chairman Mao. After this collapsed, he fled as a defector to the Soviet Union, and died in a crash on the way.

Although the appearance of Chairman Mao’s support was very convincing, it turned out that Chairman Mao was already locked in fierce struggle with Lin Piao at the Ninth Congress, having just repudiated the original political report that Lin was to have delivered, and that he had written to Chiang Ching about his distrust of Lin Piao, as early as 1966. The most visible sign of this struggle was the fact that Chiang Ching, Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan refrained from speaking at the Congress and thus avoided praising Lin Piao. This was seen by some ’China-watchers’ at the time as indicating a rift, since these three Politbureau members were known to be Chairman Mao’s close colleagues.

The draft political report, incidentally, was ’opposed to continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, contending that the main task after the Ninth Congress was to develop production.’ (Chou En-lai’s Report to the Tenth National Congress). If that line sounds familiar, then so is the identity of its most prominent opponents and so is the behavior of the ’successor’ advocating it. He is indeed a ’bourgeois careerist, conspirator, double-dealer, renegade and traitor’ and he has launched a counter-revolutionary armed coup d’état (in his ’grass-green uniform’). Unfortunately, the coup was successful after the death of Chairman Mao and he has not yet had to flee the country.

On Comrade Hill’s argument, just as we are now obliged to support Hua Kuo-feng, we would have been obliged to support Lin Piao had he come to power. There is no escaping this conclusion.

Comrade Hill says:

For the moment I want to put on one side considerations other than the initiative of Chairman Mao on this matter. The fact that this action was taken on the initiative of Chairman Mao in itself satisfied me of the correctness of it. I do not regard Chairman Mao or anyone else for that matter as God, but our Party regards him, correctly in my opinion as of Marxist- Leninist classic stature equal to that of Marx and Lenin. Certainly even Chairman Mao could make errors and he himself often spoke of his shortcomings. That only increases his stature. (p. 6).

This sounds very much like blind faith in Chairman Mao. But Chairman Mao never urged anyone to be satisfied of the correctness of any action on his or anyone else’s say so. He was the greatest opponent of blind faith. That was also Comrade Hill’s view once.

Actually, we should not be misled by Comrade Hill’s apparent blind faith in Chairman Mao. In fact, he certainly does believe that ’even Chairman Mao could make errors’.

Specifically, Comrade Hill believes, or says he believes, that Chairman Mao was married for nearly 40 years to a Kuomintang Secret agent[2] who led an outrageously decadent personal life style (presumably in his own house) and wanted to be an empress. Moreover he believes, or says he believes, that Chairman Mao permitted this person to become a leading member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, despite the fact that she violently opposed everything he stood for and was long seen through and hated by the people, and despite the fact that he had an excellent opportunity to study her character at close quarters.

No doubt in recognizing these ’errors’ and ’shortcomings’, Comrade Hill is only trying to ’increase his stature’.

It is very clear that Comrade Hill does not have blind faith in Chairman Mao’s personal judgement at all. On the contrary, he has the utmost, contempt for it. His faith in Chairman Mao is more like Lin Piao’s advice to obey Chairman Mao’s directives ’whether we understand them or not’. Whatever the reasons for his support for Hua Kuo-feng, it could not possibly be because of his respect for the personal judgement of a man whom he believes to be such a complete idiot.

Of course the fact that Chairman Mao remained married to Chiang Ching for several decades does not in itself prove that there was nothing wrong with her, or that she could not have degenerated. But when a month after his death his widow is being reviled in this extreme way, and it is said that she has been hated for years, then it is very clear that the people doing this are in opposition to Chairman Mao’s judgment of her, and it is a bit sickening for them to pretend otherwise. If the accusations against her were true, one would expect some embarrassment and a reluctance to trumpet them forth publicly. It certainly is a back-handed attack on Chairman Mao. If the Chinese revisionists were honest, they would acknowledge their opposition to Chairman Mao’s judgment, not only on Chiang Ching but on all the ’gang of four’ and the policy issues involved, and explain how he came to make this ’mistake’. But of course they could not be honest or they would not be revisionists.

Let us now look briefly at whether Chairman Mao did want Hua Kuo-feng to be his successor. The example of Lin Piao shows that Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communists know how to unambiguously designate a ’successor’. They call him that and write him into their Party Constitution. After the Lin Piao experience, the Tenth Congress very clearly decided not to name a ’successor’, but instead spoke of ’millions of successors’ and implied a collective leadership. This was certainly not change’ following Hua’s appointment as First Vice-Chairman. The fact that ’many people outside China (I included) failed to realise the deep significance of these moves and their implications’ shows precisely that they were not such a ’clear indication’ as Comrade Hill now claims.

Indeed, if Chairman Mao wanted Hua to be his successor, then be not only forgot to make it public, but even neglected to mention it internally.’ The best his ’successor’ has been able to come up with is ’With you in charge I’m at ease’, which we will comment on below. Apart from this ’Chairman Mao spoke highly of Comrade Hua Kuo-feng as being experienced in giving overall leadership to the work of a county, a prefecture and a province and in working at the central level.’ (Liberation Army Daily, November 8th, 1976) The qualifications required for a successor to Chairman Mao are rather more stringent than that!

Obviously, if Chairman Mao had really wanted Hua Kuo-feng as his successor there would be some more positive internal statements on the record that could be quoted.

What Did Happen in April 1976?

Ordinarily it would be inappropriate to comment on why Hua did become First Vice-Chairman, but since Comrade Hill has chosen to speculate publicly on it, it is necessary to point out some alternative speculations.

Since the Tenth Congress there has been a very acute struggle in the Chinese Party (as there was before then), reflecting the class struggle in Chinese society as a whole. It has centred on whether to uphold or reverse the correct verdicts of the Cultural Revolution and has gone through many twists and turns in the campaign to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, the movement to study the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the campaign against bourgeois right and so on. It reached a climax in the struggle against Teng Hsiao-ping’s right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts.

During l975 and 1976, it became very obvious that the highest Party leadership in China was seriously divided. Articles with quite opposite political lines appeared in the official media. There were strikes, riots and other serious disturbances in various places, culminating in a major counter-revolutionary incident in Tien An Men Square in April, 1976, in which vehicles and buildings were set on fire, people beaten up and so on. The involvement of up to 100,000 in this incident (although only a relative handful, engaged in violence), right in the heart of the capital, should have made it clear that there was a very substantial opposition to the official line (Chairman Mao’s and the ’gang of four’s ’ line). At the time of Teng Hsiao-ping’s dismissal the official media said openly that he had split the party leadership. When party and state leaders congratulated the militia and others on putting down the Tien An Men riot, two polit-bureau members in good health, Li Hsien-nien and Yeh Chien-ying, conspicuously stayed away. They are now Hua’s most prominent supporters.

With all this going on, even while Chairman Mao was alive, it is really ironic that one prominent supporter of Hua, should say on returning from China that ’everyone’ here was completely taken by surprise, and that this showed that ’we’ had not been reading Peking Review ’critically enough’. Not everyone was taken completely by surprise – although all those who now support Hua apparently were. To be completely surprised, one would have to be reading Peking Review with one’s eyes firmly shut, not just uncritically.

It is perfectly clear that there was opposition to Teng’s dismissal within the Chinese Party leadership, and that there was no ’consensus’, The reversal on this since October is proof enough, and it is also proof that people like Hua Kuo-feng who spoke publicly of Teng’s ’counter revolutionary revisionist line’ were double dealers, hypocrites, intriguers and conspirers just like Lin Piao. But even back in April, 1976, the existence of this opposition on the politbureau was pretty obvious. Apart from the Tien An Men riot and its aftermath, the fact that Chairman Mao had to intervene personally to propose Teng’s dismissal and Hua’s appointment is evidence enough. Chairman Mao does not often intervene personally and publish the fact.

It seemed reasonable to suppose that those who opposed Teng’s summary dismissal after the death of Chou En-lai, would have been even less happy to see Wang Hung-wen become the first Vice-Chairman. But neither Wang nor any of the others in the ’gang of four’ were ’demoted’ in any way. Nor were any rightists other than Teng. Instead, a relatively little-known Politbureau member was promoted to replace Teng Hsiao-ping as Acting Premier in January, and confirmed as Premier in April.

This was widely interpreted in the West as a temporary compromise in a badly split leadership and in the light of subsequent events that interpretation seems reasonable. Certainly Chairman Mao’s remarks about Hua’s experience in local and central leadership sound more like proposing a temporary compromise than nominating a successor. At any rate, it is clear that Hua was nominated to replace Teng Hsiao-ping as Premier, not to replace the ’gang of four’ and that at the time he was nominated he publicly espoused a very different political line from what he admits to now. Comrade Hill slurs over this completely and tries to present what happened last April as a repudiation of the ’gang of four’ by Chairman Mao. This is very difficult because it was precisely then that the whole ’gang of four’ campaign against the ’right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts’ was stepped up and the ’radicals’ were riding so high that even Comrade Hill came out publicly in their support. How could that be if it was they that were the ones set back in April? Hua Kuo-feng and company are now systematically repudiating everything that was said from April to October last year (by themselves as well as by the ’gang of four’). It seems hard to see why this should be happening if the April decisions were a defeat for the ’gang of four’ rather than a victory against Teng Hsiao-ping, as they appeared to everyone in the world at that time.

This kind of speculation about Chinese Party internal affairs is not very satisfactory, but it has been made necessary by Comrade Hill’s speculations on this matter, and at least it is a little more plausible than his, and does not leave out rather crucial events like the dismissal of Teng.

How did Hua ’become’ Chairman?

With Chairman Mao’s alleged backing, one would think it would not have been hard for Hua to get himself properly elected Chairman, especially since such a ’clear indication’ had been given publicly and when the Chinese people ’could see much better than we that he was appointed in accordance with Chairman Mao’s, analysis and arrangements? They were and are in a much better position to draw the correct conclusion about the significance of that move than we.’ (p. 18)

But in fact even now, six months later, he has still not been able to do this.

According to Chen Yung-kuei, Hua was appointed Chairman by unanimous decision of the Politburo on October 7th. Since half the standing committee of the Politburo and one quarter of the full Politburo were arrested by Hua on October 6th, this ’unanimity’ is not particularly impressive. It must have placed the remaining Politburo members in a rather difficult position – whether to make it a gang of 5 or 6 or to let it ride.

But unanimous or not, the Politburo simply does not have the power to appoint a Chairman of the Central Committee. According to the Chinese Party Constitution, Article 9:

The plenary session of the Central Committee of the Party elects the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and the. Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee.
The plenary session of the Central Committee of the Party is convened by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee.
When the Central Committee is not in plenary session, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and its Standing Committee exercise the functions and powers of the Central Committee.

It is clear that this power has been reserved for the full plenary session of the Central Committee, as indeed it must be.

Even if it could be argued that some emergency made it necessary for the Politburo to quickly appoint an Acting Chairman, this would obviously need to be ratified by a plenary session as soon as possible. But Hua claims to have ’become’ Chairman , not Acting Chairman. By any definition, he ’became’ Chairman through a coup d’état in open violation of the Party Constitution.

Since the coup, the Chinese revisionists have been trying mightily to prove that the ’gang of four’ were out to usurp Party and State power and that Hua ’smashed at one blow’ their ’plot’. But all they have seriously alleged is not that the ’gang of four’ planned a coup d’état to arrest their opponents and proclaim one of themselves as Chairman, but that they were starting a campaign in the mass media to bring Hua Kuo-feng and others down in the same way as Teng Hsiao-ping, and that they were preparing to launch a rebellion in Shanghai if things went the other way. It is very clear that a coup d’état would have to be launched in Peking, not Shanghai, and that such a rebellion would be in opposition to the power in Peking rather than a means of usurping power.

Thus, even on his own version of events, Hua Kuo-feng has no excuse for proclaiming himself even Acting Chairman, let alone Chairman. Since usurping power, Hua has used all kinds of tricks to give himself some aura of legitimacy – impressive mass demonstrations totaling 50 million people, resolutions of support from lower levels of the Party and other organizations, a session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, several national conferences attended by thousands of delegates, greetings from foreigners, etc., etc. Obviously, he is very concerned to appear legitimate, and little wonder in view of the situation. If it was all proper, and above board, one. could understand why someone in Hua’s position, succeeding Chairman Mao and ’forced’ to arrest Mao’s widow and half the Standing Committee of the Politburo, would want his authority confirmed in every possible way. So why has there been no third plenary session of the Tenth Central Committee (the first was held immediately after the Tenth Congress and the second immediately Before the Fourth National People’s Congress)? N0 doubt there will be one eventually, but one can only conclude that the delay is caused by the need to arrest far too many Central Committee members for a convincing session, or the possibility that a majority of those not arrested might not support Hua, but some other force. [3]

’With you in charge I’m at ease’

Comrade Hill does not mention this statement by Chairman Mao, written to Hua Kuo-feng ’in his own handwriting’, but he does say, ’Chairman Mao regarded Hua Kuo-feng as the man to lead the job’ (p. 20) and similar remarks over and over again, throughout the pamphlet. Since ’With you in charge I’m at ease’ has been the main evidence put forward in support of this proposition in China, and it has been the cause of innumerable statements along the lines that ’With Chairman Mao at ease, we’re at ease’, it is necessary to comment on it.

The use of this talisman from Chairman Mao is in itself further proof that Hua’s designation as First Vice-Chairman was not the ’clear indication’ that Comrade Hill now imagines. If it was such a ’clear indication’ then they would not need to play up the talisman.’

After ’with you in charge I’m at ease’ was publicized with a great fanfare, some bright spark wrote an article ’Exposing ’gang of four’s ’ sinister plot to forge Chairman Mao’s ’last words’’, (’A Desperate Move Before Destruction’, People’s Daily, December 17th, 1976, Tr. Peking Review No. 52, 1976, p, 8).

Despite much huffing and puffing, the article does not manage to demonstrate any real difference between the ’gang of four’s’ version ’Act according to the principles laid down’ and the original ’Act in line with the past principles’. But it does conclusively prove that Hua was tampering with Mao when he tried to use ’With you in charge I’m at ease’ as an aid in usurping Party and State power.

According to the article:

After Chairman Mao’s meeting with foreign guests on April 30th, Comrade Hua Kuo-feng reported to Chairman Mao that the situation in the country as a whole was good, though things were riot going so well in a few provinces. Chairman Mao himself wrote down the following for Comrade Hua Kuo-feng then and there: ’Take your time, don’t be: anxious’, ’Act in line with the past principles’ and ’With you in charge, I’m at ease. ’ These extremely important brilliant directives of Chairman Mao’s demonstrated his lofty character and vision as a great proletarian revolutionary, firm and steady, composed and farsighted. In these directives, Chairman Mao reiterated the need to act in line with his important directives to solve the problems in those provinces and showed his immense trust in Comrade Hua Kuo-feng as leader of our Party and state.


As everybody knows, Chairman Mao’s instruction ’Act in line with the past principles’ dealt with specific questions. In criticising Teng Hsiao-ping and repulsing the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts, it meant acting in line with Chairman Mao’s series of important directives and with Comrade Hua Kuo-feng’s speech of February 25th, 1976, on which Chairman Mao wrote ’Agree’. But the ’gang of four’ acted quite the opposite . . .

Taken, together, all Chairman Mao seems to be saying is: Don’t get so upset. Just carry on like before. I’m sure you can handle it.

Far from displaying ’immense trust in Comrade Hua Kuo-feng as leader of our Party and state’, it seems to carry a note of criticism of Hua’s panicky attitudes (since displayed in his, ’smashing with one blow ...’). At any rate, by no stretch of the imagination is it a statement designating Hua as Chairman Mao’s successor.

Since ’as everybody knows’, ’Act in line with the past principles’ dealt with specific questions, it follows that ’With you in charge I’m at ease’ also dealt with the same specific questions. If it was a ’forgery’ for the ’gang of four’ to treat part of this statement as though it was Chairman Mao’s ’last words’, then isn’t it infinitely more so for Hua Kuo-feng to treat another part as ..’inferring on him the succession? ’Act according to the principles laid down’ is seen by the revisionists as some sort of statement in support of the ’gang of four’. The implication is that these people are acknowledged to be in favour of Chairman Mao’s principles. Apart from that implication, there is nothing for Hua Kuo-feng to get up-set about. But pretending that a routing remark is some kind of appointment of a successor is indeed tampering with Chairman Mao’s words in order to usurp Party and State power.

There were several articles in the ’gang of four’s ’ media making this accusation, and that seems to be exactly what Hua has been afraid of. Like many other slogans raised by the radicals (Lu Hsun’s ’maggots’, ’rumour-mongering’, ’unrepentant capitalist roaders still taking the capitalist road’, etc.), he has simply taken them over and turned them back on their originators in order to escape in the confusion. Chang Chun-chiao warned about this in his pamphlet ’On Exercising All Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie’.

The specific questions referred to were the criticism of Teng Hsiao-ping and repulsing the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts.

It is understandable why the ’gang of four’ should publicize ’Act according to the principles laid down’ (or ’Act in line with the past principles’) to oppose any backsliding on this struggle. In doing so, they were referring to the same specific questions. It is equally understandable why they should imply that Hua was tampering with those principles. No ’tampering with Chairman Mao’ or ’usurping Party and state power’ is involved in that.

The plain fact is that Hua has not acted in line with the past principles on these specific questions, but has completely reversed them. Even to the extent of deleting his own words attacking Teng from his own speeches. It is hard to imagine that Chairman Mao would be at ease, since unlike certain others, he is not the type of person to express ease at one lot of principles in April and opposite ones in October.

To dodge this very issue, Hua made a fuss over the exact wording of Mao’s statement and thus obscured the question. He was able to make a hue and cry over ’tampering’ himself in order to cover up his own renunciation of Chairman Mao’s words to boost his position. The ’gang of four’ rightly accused him of tampering. In the light of the exposure in this article, what else can ’With you in charge I’m at ease’ be called?

The fact that Hua had to forge this statement out of nothing confirms that Chairman Mao left no internal statements whatever on the record expressing confidence in him, let alone ’arranging’ for him to be successor.

But more than this, the exposure of Hua’s forgery by the Editorial Department of the People’s Daily (under the guise of an attack on the ’gang of four’), could not just be an accident. It looks like a definite stab in the back for ’Chairman Hua’. No wonder Comrade Hill is predicting further ’twists and turns’!

This whole business of ’succession’ allegedly turning on ’last words’ of Chairman Mao is pretty nauseating. It reflects the feudal tinge to China’s petty bourgeoisie. But there is a history of it in the Communist movement, too.

The last character who went on about how he ought to be successor because his predecessor said he was ’at ease’ with him, was a gentleman called Leon Trotsky.

In the last months of his life, Lenin is said to have dictated a note as follows:

Top Secret
Dear Comrade Trotsky; Personal
It is my earnest request that you should undertake the defence of the Georgian case in the Party C.C. This case is now under ’persecution’ by Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, and I cannot rely on their impartiality. Quite to the contrary. I would feel at ease if you agreed to undertake its defence. If you should refuse to do so for any reason, return the whole case to me. I shall consider it a sign that you do not accept.
With best comradely greetings, Lenin. (Collected Works, Vol. 45, p. 607, emphasis added).

This document was published after Khrushchev came to power as part of his efforts to discredit Stalin. Much earlier, in 1932, Trotsky had himself published this note and commented:

Both the content and the tone of this slight note, dictated by Lenin during the last day of his political life, were no less painful to Stalin than the testament. A lack of ’impartiality’ – does not this imply, indeed, that same lack of loyalty? The last thing to be felt in this note is any confidence in Stalin – ’indeed, quite the contrary’ – the thing emphasized is confidence in me. A confirmation of the tacit union between Lenin and me against Stalin and his faction was at hand. Stalin controlled himself badly during the reading, When he arrived at the signature he hesitated: ’With the very best comradely greetings’ – that was too demonstrative from Lenin’s pen. Stalin read: ’With communist greetings.’ That sounded more dry and official. At that moment I did rise from my seat and ask: ’What is written there?’ Stalin was obliged, not without embarrassment, to read the authentic text of Lenin. Someone of his close friends shouted at me that I was quibbling over details, although I had only sought to verify a text. That slight incident made an impression. There was talk about it among the heads of the party... “On Lenin’s Testament” by Leon Trotsky, “The New International” July-August, 1935, Reprinted as ’Leon Trotsky on the Suppressed Testament of Lenin’, 3rd edition, A Merit Pamphlet, Pathfinder Press, New York, 1970).

The approach sounds familiar doesn’t it? But Lenin’s note could no more turn Trotsky into a Leninist than Mao’s could turn Hua into a Maoist.

The quibbling over details is also familiar:

On October 2nd, Comrade Hua Kuo-feng personally struck out the sentence ’act according to the principles laid down’ from a document, pointing out: ’I’ve checked it. Three of the characters are wrong compared with the original in Chairman Mao’s own handwriting.

What Chairman Mao wrote and what I relayed to the Political Bureau is: ’Act in line with the past principles.’ I’ve struck out the sentence to prevent the wrong version from being spread.’ Thus at one blow he exploded the ’gang of four’s’ fabrication.

However, the gang refused to mend its ways. That wily old fox, Chang Chun-chiao came forward and declared that, to ’avoid unnecessary complications,’ Comrade Hua Kuo-feng’s remarks on the document should not be relayed to the lower levels. Chiang Ching promptly voiced support for this accomplice of hers . . . (’A Desperate Last Stage Move Before Destruction’, op. cit.)

The example of Lin Piao alone, let alone the other matters raised above, shows that Comrade Hill’s ’foremost reason’ is not a reason at all, let alone a ’foremost’ one. Since it was the ’foremost’ reason, Comrade Hill’s whole argument breaks down. By explicitly appealing to ’faith in the leadership’ instead of sound political analysis, he has come to a completely bankrupt position that would justify support for Liu Shao-chi as well as Lin Piao, the ’gang of four’ or Khrushchev. Not to mention Kautsky, who was appointed literary executor to Marx and Engels during Engels’ lifetime, nor the rest of the leadership of the Second International. For that matter, many of the leading modern revisionists, like Thorez, Togliatti, etc., were leaders of the Third International during Stalin’s lifetime.

Nevertheless, an attempt is being made to transfer blind faith in what is claimed to be Chairman Mao’s wishes, into blind faith in our new ’wise leader’, Chairman Hua, and articles appear extolling his alleged virtues and demanding that he be obeyed ’in all our actions’.

What these articles show is that Hua is a complete nonentity who has played no especially significant role in any great revolutionary struggle.

What did Hua do in the War of Resistance to Japan and the War of Liberation – nothing more than any other county Party leader (’Comrade Hua Kuo-feng in the Years of War’, Peking Review 15).

What did Hua do during the Cultural Revolution?

During the Great Cultural Revolution, Comrade Hua Kuo-feng again led the province in building small nitrogenous fertilizer plants. Eighty seven such plants were set up, (’Workers in Chemical Fertilizer Industry Recall Chairman Hua Kuo-feng’s Whole-Hearted Service to Revolution’, Hsinhua News bulletin, January 21st, 1977, reprinted in Study Notes No. 1).

How close was he to the people?

The Yungho phosphate fertilizer plant is one of the enterprises that have developed under the kind attention of Comrade Hua Kuo-feng. In the early summer of 1965, he travelled 35 kilometres from the county seat to the plant, which was then but a small enterprise. He chatted with workers by the hearth and warmly praised the workers and cadres for their hard work in building the plant from scratch, a display of revolutionary spirit and zeal. In the evening, he lodged in a simple dormitory where he listened attentively to accounts of the work at the plant and its problems . . . (ibid).

Can you imagine, he travelled all of 35 kilometres and was even good enough to chat to the workers and sleep in their dormitory – what a man of the people!

What does Hua think of bourgeois right? He encouraged his daughter to go to the countryside (like all other senior middle-school graduates at her school). (’Comrade Hua Kuo-feng Comes to Our School’, Peking Review 51, 1976 – with fanfare. See also poem, Chinese Literature No 2, l977, p. 103).

Where exactly in the countryside? Pingku county on Peking’s outskirts. (’Commune Cadres on Peking’s Outskirts Recall Visit to Comrade Hua Kuo-feng’, Hsinhua News bulletin, February 24th, 1977, without fanfare or poetry).

His main virtue seems to be that he is ’affable’ – in other words he shakes hands and smiles a lot. A real ’Mr. Goody Goody’.

Perhaps some of this material is being planted in the Chinese media by elements opposed to Hua. Placing his portrait next to Chairman Mao’s, for example, would presumable be done by people determined to bring him down as quickly as possible. ’Tall things fall easily. White things stain easily ...’ Some of the poetry, too, seems a little fishy and is hardly likely to evoke enthusiasm for Chairman Hua:


“My palpitating heart
Nearly leapt up to my throat
Tears of happiness
Near blinded me.
But through the rolling sea of red flags,
Through the undulating waves of flowers,
I saw, I saw,
Chairman Hua standing on the gate-tower of Tien An Men
In his green army uniform...
Our great Party
Now has another brilliant leader;
The ship of revolution
Has another helmsman.
Beloved and venerated Chairman Hua,
We’ll follow your guidance . . . (Chinese Literature No 1, 1977, p. 71)

He is also reputed to be modest and prudent, unassuming and approachable, etc. etc.,’ (’Comrade Hua Kuo-feng as Leader of Our Party is Chairman Mao’s Wise Decision’, Peking Review No. 47, 1976).

Whatever their motives, the people writing this sort of stuff have done a pretty good job on Hua and have hardly left him with a feather to fly with.

But what is Comrade Hill’s response to all this?

In his opinion, the Chinese material:

correctly praises Chairman Hua Kuo-feng. It is a very necessary part in the struggle to establish a proletarian leader against the bourgeoisie, that there be appropriate material to popularise him. ’Personally, I think it is essential to campaign in China, a country of 800,000,000 people, to popularise him, to describe him as wise and beloved of the Chinese people. Why wouldn’t he be when they could see much better than we that he was appointed in accordance with Chairman Mao’s analysis and arrangements? They know as we know that a Party needs a leader. Lenin dealt with this matter many times. All classes have their leaders. The working class needs its own authoritative leaders. In this sense, too, the appointment of Chairman Hua Kuo-feng satisfies a great necessity. I believe also that internationally it is very important to popularise Chairman Hua Kuo-feng as the leader of the great Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of China. (p. 18-19).

Although Comrade Hill mentions Hua’s (non-existent) ’outstanding record in the revolutionary struggle in China’, his occupancy of leading positions, the alleged confidence in him of Chairman Mao, other veterans and the masses (to which we may add the confidence in him of Comrade Hill), these are not his main theme. The main theme is that it is ’necessary’, ’essential’, ’important’, etc. , to ’popularize’ Hua in this way. Comrade Hill does not actually say that the things claimed for Hua are true, but only that they are useful (’a Party needs a leader’). Because it is useful, therefore it is true.

The philosophical basic for this is not materialist dialectics but subjective idealist pragmatism – ’What is useful is true’ – the world outlook of the imperialist big bourgeoisie. This theory which justifies lying to the people, also explains some of the falsifications that have appeared in Vanguard and have done much to discredit the correct policies advocated in that paper. It shows no respect for the facts and utter contempt for the people.

Lenin did write on the matter of Party leaders many times. He wrote:

Everyone knows that the masses are divided into classes . . . classes are led by political parties;, that political parties, as a general rule, are directed.by more or less stable groups composed of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members, who are elected to the most responsible positions and are called leaders. All this is elementary. All this is simple and clear. Why replace this by some rigmarole, by some new Volapuk (artificial language – ed)?

On the one hand, these people apparently got confused when they found themselves in difficult straits, when the Party’s abrupt changeover from legality to illegality disturbed the customary, normal and simple relations between leaders, parties and classes. In Germany, as in other European countries, people had become too accustomed to legality, to the free and proper election of ’leaders’ at regular party congresses, .to the convenient method of testing the class composition of parties through parliamentary elections, mass meetings, the press, the sentiments of the trade unions and other organizations, etc. When instead of this customary procedure, it became necessary, due to the stormy development of the revolution and the development of the civil war, to pass quickly from legality to illegality, to combine the two, and to adopt the ’inconvenient’ and ’undemocratic’ methods of singling out, or forming, or preserving ’groups of leaders’ – people lost their heads and began to think up some supernatural nonsense. (’’Left-Wing’ Communism, An Infantile Disorder’, p. 28-29).

The first part of this has been paraphrased in support of the claim that ’Love for our Party, our state, our army and our people finds concentrated expression in love for our leader.’ (Whatever happened to ’our class’). (’Comrade Hua Kuo-feng Is Our Party’s Worthy Leader’, Peking Review No 45, 1976, p. 5).

But Lenin’s words do not encourage love for Hua. Hua is not one of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members of the Chinese Communist Party, nor has he been elected to his position. He has had arrested four of those who are, and appointed himself to that position.

Neither the Australian nor the Chinese Party are illegal and both at present ought to be able to carry out the ’free and proper election of leaders at regular party congresses’, that Lenin spoke of. The Chinese Party has the additional advantage of holding state power so even those restrictions and limitations that really are necessary in Australia do not apply. If it was good enough for Chairman Mao to be elected, then it is good enough for Hua.

Lenin and Mao never spoke of ’popularizing’ a leader in the way Comrade Hill now supports. On the contrary, they struggled against such ideas. It was one of the important issues in the struggle with Lin Piao and Chen Po-ta. Leaders of a proletarian party are recognized by the masses in the course of struggle and practice; they are not self-appointed. Hua is self-appointed.[4]

These principles apply in Australia, too, where we do not need a little white book of quotations.

The ’Fuhrerprinzip’ has nothing in common with Marxism, but represents a quite different world outlook. As for ’Why wouldn’t he be (wise and beloved of the Chinese people – ed) when they could see much better than we. . . .’ One can only agree that:

there are some 30,000,000 Communists in China. They are all keen students of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and its integration into the actual conditions of China. One of Chairman Mao’s great contributions was his insistence on striving for mass mastery of the principles of Communism. Nor is it confined to members of the Chinese Communist Party. There are millions of other Chinese people actively interested in politics ...

They will certainly see through Hua and they will eventually have their say. Like Lin Piao, Hua wants to ’have everything under his command and everything at his disposal’, but he will end up having nothing under his command and nothing at his disposal. The crux of the matter is line.

One may venture to predict that even if revisionism in China lasts a little longer, Hua himself will not be around for all that long. He is certainly no leader of the Chinese proletariat, and the desperate promotion of him suggests that he does not have that solid a base to lead the Chinese bourgeoisie either. He doesn’t stand a snowflake’s chance in hell.

But this does not mean that a revisionist like Hua could never come to power or would be toppled almost immediately if he did, although that is what Comrade Hill is hinting. This would contradict Mao’s whole analysis of the continuing danger of restoration throughout the entire epoch of socialism.

Chairman Mao’s Criticisms

Comrade Hill’s second argument is that:

in addition we now know that over the last 2 or 3 years of his life. Chairman Mao several times at meetings of the Political Bureau and in other ways criticised Chiang Ching and Wang Hung-wen, Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan. (p. 6)

Once again, the appeal is to blind faith instead of reason. In Lin Piao’s coup d’état plan the intention was to ’wave Chairman Mao’s banner while striking at Chairman Mao’s forces’. According to reports, specific mention was made of the need to capture Chang Chun-chiao and publicize his ’traitorous crimes’. If Lin Piao had come to power we would ’now know’ of Chairman Mao’s criticism of all sorts of people (no doubt the ’gang of four’ especially).

We ’now know’ of Lenin’s criticisms of Stalin, thanks to Khrushchev as well as Trotsky.

In his ’Letter to the Congress’ (’Lenin’s Testament’), we ’now know’ that Lenin criticized Stalin. He is said to have written the following addition to the letter of December 24th, 1922, on January 4th, 1923:

Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealings among us Communists, becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky it is not a detail, or if is a detail that can assume decisive importance. (Collected Works, Vol. 36, p. 376).

In part 11 of the letter, Lenin is quoted as saying:

Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. ’(ibid, p. 595)

In his continuation of the notes on ’The Question of Nationalities or ’Autonomisation’ of December 30th, 1922, Lenin is quoted as follows:

I think that Stalin’s haste and his infatuation with pure administration, together with his spite against the notorious ’nationalist-socialism’, played a fatal role here. In politics spite generally plays the basest of roles. (ibid, p. 606)

This is the question on which Lenin sought to enlist Trotsky’s assistance against Stalin, in the note quoted earlier.

Then there are the notorious last two letters that Lenin is said to have written before dying:

Top Secret
Copy to Comrades Kamenev and Zinoviev
Dear Comrade Stalin: You have been so rude as to summon my wife to the telephone and use bad language. Although she had told you that she was prepared to forget this, the fact nevertheless became known through her to Zinoviev and Kamenev. I have no intention of forgetting so easily what has been done against me, and it goes without saying that what has been done against my wife I consider having been done against me as well. I ask you, therefore, to think it over whether you are prepared to withdraw what you have said and to make your apologies, or whether you prefer that relations between us should be broken off.
Respectfully yours, Lenin
March 5th, 1923.

Top Secret
Comrades Mdivani, Makharadze and others
Copy to Comrades Trotsky and Kamenev
Dear Comrades:
I am following your case with all my heart. I am indignant over Orjonikidze’s rudeness and the connivance of Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.
I am preparing for you notes and a speech.
March 6th, 1923. Respectfully yours, Lenin (Collected Works, Vol, 45, p. 608).

It did go without saying that what was done against Lenin’s wife was done against Lenin. Nor will it be forgotten what is being done against Chairman Mao’s wife now.

Naturally Stalin made his apologies to Lenin. Even Khrushchev and Trotsky admit that the Party Congress considered Lenin’s letter and confirmed Stalin in his post as Secretary-General. But none of this stopped Trotsky making unscrupulous use of it, nor Khrushchev.

Lenin’s acidity towards close comrades is well known. Likewise Marx and Engels’ remarks about close colleagues, and even each other. But to Comrade Hill, the mere fact that Chairman Mao ’criticised’ the ’gang of four’ at meetings of the Political Bureau and in other ways, is a sufficient damnation. Indeed he says of Chiang Ching:

I myself thought before I saw the People’s Daily Editorial of October 25th, 1976, that the attack on her as reported in the capitalist press about which one is always suspicious smacked of a backhanded attack on Chairman Mao, It deeply troubled me that Chairman Mao be attacked in any way. But my doubts were dispelled when I knew that Chairman Mao had criticised her both at Political Bureau meetings and in private correspondence. (p.25-26).

The mere fact of a criticism was sufficient to dispel all Comrade Hill’s doubts and wipe out the implications of a marriage lasting several decades. One wonders what on earth Comrade Hill and his colleagues do at meetings of the Political Committee here in Australia – slap each other on the back and say ’goodonyermate’? If so, it is a corrupt and rotten atmosphere and it would go far to explain both the incredible, horrified reaction towards criticism and opposition in the current struggle, and the recent ’reversal of correct verdicts’ here in Australia.

One can be as suspicious of the capitalist press as one likes. Their reports of the attacks on Chiang Ching were accurate and they were the same attacks that the capitalist press had been making (and reporting from China) for years, and the same attacks that they continue to make. Not to recognize this as an attack on Chairman Mao, one has to have a pretty poor understanding of what marriage between revolutionaries involves. But there is no need to be ’deeply troubled’ about Chairman Mao being attacked. He has been attacked many times in the past and will be in the future. The Emperor Chin Shih Huang who suppressed the slave system was cursed for two thousand years. Likewise all revolutionaries. The attack on Chairman Mao and the ’gang of four’ is nothing worth worrying about. It. shows that they have achieved a great deal in their work.

Let us now look at some of Chairman Mao’s ’criticisms’. In the October 25th editorial, the following are listed:

1. ’You’d better take care; don’t form a small faction of four people’
2. ’Don’t form a faction. Those who do will fail.’ (December 24th, 1974).
3. ’Chiang Ching has wild ambitions. She wants Wang Hung-wen to be Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and herself to become Chairman of the Party Central Committee.’ (November and December, 1974).
4. ’Practice Marxism-Leninism, and not revisionism; unite and don’t split; be open and above board, and don’t intrigue and conspire. Don’t function as a gang of four; don’t do it any more, why do you keep doing it?’ (Political Bureau meeting, May 3rd, 1975).
5. ’If this is not settled in the first half of this year, it should be settled in the second half: if not this year, then next year; if not next, then the year after, ’ (ibid) (July 17th, 1974).

Item 4 was later revealed to read more fully:

Don’t function as a gang of four. Don’t do it anymore. Why do you keep doing it? Why don’t you unite with the more than 200 members of the Party Central Committee? It is no good to keep a small circle of a few. It has always been no good doing so.(Peking Review No. 49 1976, p. 7).

This makes the criticism sound even more like a piece of sound tactical advice, as do the others.

Item 3 is the only exception, and significantly it is also the only one with no definite date attached, so it does not come from some recorded speech or document of Chairman Mao’s, but is only what some people allege him to have said, on the basis of recollections so long afterwards that they cannot even recall what month he said it in. One may also comment that if it was ’wild ambition’ for Chiang Ching to want to be Chairman, what are we to think of Hua Kuo-feng?

These are the ’criticisms’ that dispelled Comrade Hill’s doubts. Their outstanding characteristic is their mildness, especially in comparison to the sorts of things that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin are known to have said.

If the four had been as brilliant as Chairman Mao at uniting all forces that can be united, then no doubt they would be in a much better position now. We should certainly learn from this in carrying out the struggle against revisionism in Australia. In the light of subsequent events, Chairman Mao’s criticism seems very perceptive indeed. But by no stretch of the imagination can they be called a denunciation of them.

Possibly the ’gang of four’ made many such mistakes, or they would have been more popular, But at the same time, Chairman Mao does point out that:

In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. (Where do Correct Ideas Come From’, Selected Readings, p. 502).

It is obvious that the Chinese revisionists have been combing the archives pretty frantically looking for anything at all, no matter how weak, to suggest that the ’gang of four’ were not what the whole of China and the whole world knew them to be – Chairman Mao’s closest comrades. Apart from those mentioned above, here is all that they have managed to come up with since:

6. ’There is no big error in this film. Suggest that it be approved for distribution. Don’t nitpick. And to list as many as ten accusations against it is going too far. It hampers the adjustment of the Party’s current policy on literature and art’ (July 25, 1975, Peking Review No. 47, 1976, p. 12).
7. ’It seems the formulation should be: Oppose revisionism which includes empiricism and dogmatism. Both revise Marxism-Leninism. Don’t mention just one while omitting the other.’ Not many people in our Party really know Marxism-Leninism. Some think they know, but in fact know very little about it. They consider themselves always in the right and are ready at all times to lecture others. This in itself is a manifestation of lack of knowledge of Marxism-Leninism. ’ and ’In my opinion those who are criticizing empiricism are themselves empiricists, ’ (April 23rd, 1975. Peking Review 49, p. 7,and 50 p. 13, 1976).
8. ’Chiang Chine interfered too much, and by herself summoned twelve provinces to talk to them.’ (February or March, 1976, Peking Review No, 52, p. 11).
9. ’It’s better if we don’t see each other. You haven’t done many of the things I talked about over the years. What’s the use of seeing each other more often? The works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin are there, my works are there, but you simply refuse to study.’ (March 20th, 1974, Peking Review, No. 52, p. 16, 1976).
10. ’It’s hard for you, too, to mend your ways,’ (July 17th, 1974, to Chiang Ching – see item 1. Peking Review No. 3, 1977, p. 20)
11. ’After I die she will make trouble’. (1975, Peking Review No. 3, p. 29).
12. ’Chairman Mao long ago perceived and discovered the scheme and wild ambitions of the ’gang of four’. At the time when Chiang Ching was giving much publicity to Empress Lu, Chairman Mao, with foresight, told Comrade Hua Kuo-feng the meaningful historical episode of how Liu Pang before his death had discovered that Empress Lu would inevitably attempt to usurp the throne ’ (Peking Review No. 52 p. 23. See also Peking Review No. 1, 1977, p. 37).
13. ’Chairman Mao sharply criticized Chiang Ching’s talk: ’Shit! Barking up the wrong tree,’ and gave the specific instruction: ’Don’t publish the talk, don’t play the recording or print the text. ’Chairman Mao also asked a leading comrade in the Party Central Committee to relay this to Comrade Hua Kuo-feng by phone,’ (Chen Yung-kuei’s Report at the Second National Conference on Learning from Tachai in Agriculture, Peking Review No, 2 , 1977, p. 7) Hsinhua Weekly, No, 54, 1976, p. 10 translates Chairman Mao’s remark as ’windy nonsense, a pointless talk’.
14. ’Metaphysics, one-sidedness, is rampant’ (early 1974, Peking Review No. 3, 1977, p. 28).

Looking at the ones with no date, item 11 ’After I die she will make trouble’ could have been a warning to the revisionists. To her credit, she did. Likewise for item 11, we only have Hua Kuo-feng’s word about this ’meaningful historical episode’. Judging from the account given in Peking Review (No. 52., 1976, ’Chiang Ching and Empress Lu,’ p, 21), Empress Lu did not ’attempt to usurp the throne’, but actually did rule until she died of natural causes some 18 years later. There is no dispute that a Legalist, anti-Confucian {feudal, anti-slave-owning) policy was followed in this period. If Chairman Mao did tell the story, it could have been to make a point quite opposite to the one Hua is making.

To put the other criticisms in perspective, one need only compare them with what Chairman Mao has said about Teng Hsiao-ping:

He knows nothing of Marxism-Leninism; he represents the bourgeoisie. He said he would ’never reverse the verdict’. It can’t be counted on, ’ (Peking Review 16, 1976, p. 3; Vanguard, April 29, 1976, p. 5).

Although these remarks were made public by Chairman Mao, Comrade Hill is quite prepared to say now that Teng Hsiao-ping just ’made mistakes’.

But the much milder private criticisms of the ’gang of four’ – this damns them forever.

But Chairman Mao’s criticisms come even more sharply into perspective when you compare his remarks about the ’gang of four’ with what is being said about them now.

According to Hua and Co., the ’four’ exercised a fascist dictatorship over the arts and culture. Everything was suppressed, etc. etc. Letters were written to Chairman Mao complaining. What did Chairman Mao have to say about it? ’Don’t nitpick’. This ’brilliant historical document’ which is supposed to have ’exposed’ the hideous features of the ’gang’ (item 6), reads more like the sort of routine remarks about disagreements that must pass between Chinese leaders every day. Reading the film scenario, one is, as usual, inclined to agree with Chairman Mao that they were nitpicking. How does this damn them forever?

According to Hua Kuo-feng in his ’brilliant’ speech:

For a long time, with the mass media under their control, the ’gang of four’ spread a host of revisionist fallacies, trampled on the fundamental principles of Marxism at will and tampered with or distorted Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line and his various principles and policies. Metaphysics ran wild and idealism went rampant. The gang represented many correct things as incorrect and vice versa, reversed right and wrong, confounded black and white, and did cause confusion in people’s thinking. (Peking Review No. 1, 1977, p. 38).

Apparently Chairman Mao didn’t read the newspapers very much. He didn’t mention it.

...the working class and the people of other sections in Shanghai had suffered much from oppression and bullying by the ’gang of four’ and long harboured intense hate for their perverse activities... (ibid, p. 34)

Apparently Chairman Mao didn’t visit Shanghai very much. It has since been made clear that things in Shanghai have been crook for ’ten years’ and that Chairman Hua has just ’regained’ the leadership. Chairman Mao made a rather different evaluation of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai. Exactly who has ’regained’ power there?

According to Hua, the ’four’:

invariably stand opposed to the great leader Chairman Mao and so unbridledly tamper with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, withhold or distort Chairman Mao’s directives and interfere with or sabotage Chairman Mao’s strategic plans... are bent on overthrowing our esteemed and beloved Premier-Chou En-lai and other proletarian revolutionaries of the older generation... stop at nothing to oppose and disrupt the army . ., bitterly bate and ruthlessly attack the large number of leading cadres... unscrupulously suppress and persecute those young comrades who dare to uphold principle... want to finish off with a single blow the new and old cadres who have committed mistakes... incite bourgeois factionalism, instigate the use of force in struggle and provoke an all-round civil war, create splits within the ranks of the working class and among the people, set new cadres against old and bring untold distress and sufferings to the masses... sow dissension among the nationalities... rely on such new born counter-revolutionaries... and on those bad elements who are time-servers with wild ambitions and who are engaged in beating, smashing and looting, steal state property and endanger the peace and order of society... arrogantly trample on the masses of workers, poor and lower-middle peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and other people, lord it over them, turn a blind eye.to their sufferings and not even care whether they live or die... worship things foreign, fawn upon foreigners, maintain illicit foreign relations and capitulate to imperialism... make havoc of socialist cultural and economic undertakings and sabotage the revolution and production... (Ibid., p. 35-36)

According to Hua ’In the last few years, people always had the following queries in mind: Why do they’(do all the thing listed above, and more).

It is very clear that Chairman Mao did not have these queries in mind, although he did say they shouldn’t nitpick.

According to Hua, ’The only possible answer is: They are ultra-Rightists, out-and-out capitalist roaders and the most ferocious counterrevolutionaries. What ’Leftists’! What ’radicals’! They could not have pursued a line further to the Right!!

It is very clear that Chairman Mao did not give this ’only possible answer’. Chairman Mao’s criticisms of the ’gang of four’ have nothing in common with Hua’s.

The situation is entirely different from Lin Piao, who largely concealed his real position. The ’gang of four’ are accused of having flagrantly pushed their line in the mass media and are supposed to have been seen through and hated by millions of people for years, Their crimes go right back to the Cultural Revolution (indeed, the essence of their ’crimes’ is the Cultural Revolution). The only person who did not see through and hate then all this time is Chairman Mao.

No doubt millions of people did hate them. The inner party bourgeoisie hated them. All the opponents of the Cultural Revolution hated them. This was reflected in the Western press, too. But Chairman Mao certainly did not.

All this hue and cry about Chairman Mao’s criticisms has an obvious purpose. Even though it could hardly convince anybody, it serves to distract attention from what would otherwise be the most obvious, glaring fact about the whole business.

The simple fact is that the ’gang of four’, including Chairman Mao’s widow, were overthrown less than a month after he died. Not before, so that Chairman Mao could have been the initiator. Not some considerable time after, so that the four could have changed in nature or at lease exposed themselves further. But immediately (one month) after Chairman Mao died. Since the struggle had been going on for so long, and so many people hated them, it seems very clear that the death of Chairman Mao removed a major obstacle in the way of those opposed to the ’four’.

It is easy to understand why the death of Chairman Mao ’will encourage the bourgeoisie in China to redouble the struggle for the restoration of capitalism’ as Comrade Hill pointed out in Vanguard on June 24th and October 28th, 1976. But it is very hard to see how Chairman Mao’s death could have suddenly tipped the balance of forces in the direction of a victory for Marxism-Leninism, in a struggle that had clearly been going on fiercely during the last period of his life, when it was going the opposite way just before he died.

The whole approach of asking us to judge major events by ’revelations’ of snippets of remarks supposed to have been made by Chairman Mao, is thoroughly wrong. It is the sort of appeal to blind faith that could be, and has been used in defence of any kind of renegade – like Trotsky. It has nothing to do with following- Chairman Mao’s line.

But there is no need for us to speculate on what attitude Chairman Mao might take to the current struggle. We know what initiatives he was taking in the period before his death. They were to dismiss Teng Hsiao-ping and counter-attack the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts. He did this publicly. The whole direction of things is now exactly opposite, so how can it be on his initiative? Indeed, the attack on the ’gang of four’ is really reminiscent of Khrushchev’s attack oh Stalin in its negation of the whole basic line that has been followed in China over the past decade. If it was really on Chairman Mao’s initiative (as with Lin Piao), then things would keep on moving in the same basic direction, with the ’gang of four’ being exposed as having opposed that. Instead, they are being attacked precisely for upholding the policies that were dominant while Chairman Mao was alive (with distorted versions of those policies being given).

Nor do we need to speculate on Comrade Hill’s recollection of Chairman Mao’s 1966 letter to Chiang Ching. The letter is available. It was not a letter ’commencing by urging Chiang Ching never to forget to remind herself of her shortcomings and then went on to deal with aspects of Lin Piao’ (p. 26). It commenced by discussing Chairman Mao’s own shortcomings and pointing out Lin Piao’s real motives in praising him to the skies. It did urge Chiang Ching to remind herself of her own. There is no need to place a new construction on it. The letter was circulated throughout China to demonstrate that Chairman Mao had in fact discussed his opposition to Lin Piao with his closest comrades as early as 1966. Not even the Chinese revisionists have yet dared claim it was a criticism of Chiang Ching. Only Comrade Hill does that. There is a slight hint that Comrade Hill is letting us in on ’great matters’ known only to him. He is not, the letter was published by Western intelligence agencies many years ago.

Comrade Hill’s Comfort

Comrade Hill’s third argument is based on his personal reminiscences of various Chinese leaders (pp.8-9).

He ’had met Chiang Ching a few times but had never had any prolonged discussion with her,’ ’Wang Hung-wen similarly’. On the basis of these ’impressions acquired merely on very passing association’ he ’formed the opinion that Wang Hung-wen was dominated by Chiang Ching, was rather immature and weak’. He says now ’Neither of these two had ever impressed me as having a grasp of Marxism-Leninism’ and indeed he ’made to other leading Australian comrades some years ago rather unfavourable comments about these two.’ Later on (p. 19), Comrade Hill tells how with Teng Ying-chao and Tsao Yi-ou (widows of Chou En-lai and Kang Sheng respectively) ’I always felt comfortable, with Chiang Ching I always felt uncomfortable.’

It seems that Comrade Hill has moved from asking us to have blind faith in the alleged wishes of Chairman Mao to asking us to have blind faith in his own subjective feelings of comfort and discomfort. That is just not on!

Of course it is natural that Comrade Hill would be influenced by his personal reactions towards various Chinese leaders, He should try to subordinate such feelings to proper political analysis, rather than let them become dominant, still it is scarcely avoidable that they will have some influence. But to openly ask others to accept Comrade Hill’s personal reactions as a political argument is utterly incredible. This from the fellow who goes on about subjectivism all the time! One can well understand why the Chinese discussed subjectivism with him so much!

If Comrade Hill could point to some specific political disagreement he had with Chiang Ching or Wang Hung-wen, as he did with Liu Shao-chi (whose revisionist books nevertheless continued to be praised in Australia and whose ’self-cultivation’ rubbish still appears in Australian Communist), then that would be of some interest, although hardly decisive. But he cannot. All he can say is that he felt ’uncomfortable’.

If Chiang Ching was wearing her ’empress dress’, her imported lipstick and false eyelashes, screeching, playing cards till all hours and watching pornographic movies (as described by the Hsinhua news agency – see Study Notes No. 1), then it is hardly surprising that Comrade Hill felt ’uncomfortable’. Indeed, one wonders why he didn’t do more about it. But here is what he said publicly, after meeting this person with whom he ’always felt uncomfortable’:

Discussions proceeded in a spirit of unity and liveliness and with ease of mind. Comrades such as Chou En-lai, Chang Chun-chiao, Chiang Ching, Keng Piao, Feng Hsuan, indeed all the Chinese comrades, are always extremely busy but part of their being busy is their carrying into practice the true spirit of proletarian internationalism and having discussions with fraternal Marxist-Leninist Parties. We were greatly warmed by our experience at the magnificent function hosted by the leading comrades and by the welcome to us hosted by Chang Chun-chiao. (Hill, ’Gallagher Report on Visit to China As Delegation From CPA (M-L)’, Vanguard, Apr. 14, 1974).

This was also the occasion on which Comrade Hill made his immortal contribution to the struggle against Confucius:

This particularly applies in China but even in Australia there is the well-known phrase ’Confucius says’ and the presentation of Confucius as a great sage.

There is no reason to doubt that Comrade Hill did feel uncomfortable with Chiang Ching and that he made disparaging remarks about her behind her back. But one would feel more respect for him if he had not gone to the trouble of especially wrapping her up publicly and specifically mentioning his ’ease of mind’ with her.

No doubt Chiang Ching and Wang Hung-wen ’always felt uncomfortable’ with Comrade Hill, too, but at least the Chinese comrades just described their meetings with Comrade Hill as ’cordial and friendly’ or similar terms, without going on about how wonderful it all was, (Except for Hua whose meeting with Comrade Hill was, for the very first time described as also having an atmosphere of ’fraternal and revolutionary friendship’).

Apart from the contemptible pride in having gossiped behind people’s backs, the outrageous thing about Comrade Hill’s remarks is his claim to greater discernment than Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party and people.

’This woman deceived Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party for quite a long time’ (p. 26). But she never fooled Comrade Hill. Chairman Mao was married to her for nearly 40 years and allowed her to become a ’respected member of the Political Bureau’. But on ’very passing association’, Comrade Hill was able to draw adverse conclusions about her.

Similarly, during the ten years since the start of the Cultural Revolution, Wang Hung-wen was able to lead the Shanghai workers to overthrow the old revisionist party committee and start off the ’January storm’ that led to seizure of power from revisionists throughout China. He became third in the Political Bureau after Chairman Mao and Chou En-lai, delivering the report on the revision of the Party Constitution at the Tenth Congress. Without having ’had any prolonged discussion’ with him, Comrade Hill was able to discern that he was ’immature and weak’, as well as easily dominated.

One can certainly believe that some very bad people have risen to the top leadership of the Chinese Party. Hua Kuo-feng is an example. But a ’rather immature and weak’ person? Really, such a judgement, throws Comrade Hill’s own maturity and strength into question. Certainly, the Chinese revisionists do not describe Wang Hung-wen as ’immature and weak’:

Through henchmen like Weng Shen-ho, Wang Hung-wen not only brought turmoil to Chekiang, but to Paoting in Hopei Province, Cheng-chow (the provincial capital of Honan), Hunan, the frontier regions and other places as well.
In Paoting, he supported seizing weapons from the army, grabbing food and grain and robbing warehouses, so that fighting and ’civil war’ went on there for a long time . ., Wherever his sinister hand reached, there was disorder ... He arbitrarily extended his power into areas not under his responsibility and meddled in the affairs of some ministries under the State Council in an attempt to seize the leadership there. Abusing the power he had usurped, he signed documents and wantonly issued instructions to bring pressure to bear on some central departments... Again it was he who, immediately after Chairman Mao’s passing, used the name of the General Office of the Party Central Committee to issue orders to various provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, trying to control the whole Party and the whole country . . . (’Exposing Wang Hung-wen’s Scheme to Throw China Into Disorder’, Peking Review No. 6, 1977, p. 10).

’Immature’? ’Weak’? ’Dominated by Chiang Ching’? One shudders to imagine what a mature, tough, domineering ’gang of four’ type would have looked like!

These two became leading members, of the Chinese Political Bureau. Whether they grasped Marxism-Leninism or not, they obviously impressed the Chinese Party as having a grasp of it. But for Comrade Hill ’Neither of these two ever impressed me as having a grasp of Marxism-Leninism’.

Aren’t we fortunate to have such a wise and perceptive leader as Comrade Hill? What a pity he didn’t see through fakes closer to home, as quickly – Sharkey, Dixon, the Littles, Frank Johnson and some of his current associates. What a pity, too, that they couldn’t have consulted Comrade Hill for his opinions on the various Chinese revisionists that he has met – Liu Shao-chi (April 12, 1964), Liu Ning-i (’November 7, 1967 – with Frank Johnson), Chen Pei-hsieh (April 23, 1964), Teng Hsiao-ping (May 5,1964), Peng Chen (August 26, 1964 – with Flo Russell), Tao Chu (March 3, 1965 with Vida Little and Norm Gallagher). If they had used Comrade Hill as a litmus test (red when comfortable), they could have saved themselves the trouble of the Cultural Revolution to sniff them out.

As for Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan, it seems they somehow did manage to fool Comrade Hill, Even the most perceptive among us do make mistakes sometimes. Perhaps it was because his acquaintance with them wasn’t quite so passing and he read some of their works. This may have interfered with his intuition.

The passage on those two is also a classic:

I had more to do with Chang Chun-chiao and at the time he did leave the impression on me that he knew something of Marxism-Leninism, He seemed to speak and write well. In fact, I praised his article on the dictatorship of the proletariat, I had very little contact with Yao Wen-yuan but I accepted him as a person who had a grasp of Marxism- Leninism and praised his article on the social basis of the Lin Piao clique. Now I think I was profoundly mistaken. I now know that Chang Chun-chiao had long ago committed himself to the enemy. All this has been revealed. Likewise Chiang Ching. As to the others, there is real doubt about the background of Yao Wen-yuan, Wang Hung-wen has been revealed as a degenerate, therefore I now think it is quite wrong to extol or propagate favourably any of their writings or doings. One might as well hold up Sharkey or Aarons or the notorious informer Sharpley even though they wrote and said some things that were correct. (p. 9).

So Comrade Hill still can’t see what’s wrong with their articles, but he now knows he must have been profoundly mistaken. This is surprising, because the pamphlets have been revealed as ’poisonous weeds’ and there has been an unending stream of articles in the Chinese press demonstrating how they ran absolutely counter to every tenet of Marxism. Anyone with an ounce of Marxism could see through it, according to what is being said now. These people certainly never did write or say anything that was correct. ’All this has been revealed’.

Quite frankly, if this is the way Comrade Hill carries on in China, it would not be surprising if not only Wang and Chiang, but also Chang and Yao and indeed Mao and Chou would have felt uncomfortable with him.

Even the present Chinese leadership has, while publicizing his speeches of support, and expressing ’heartfelt thanks’ for them, maintained a discreet (and probably embarrassed) silence about this pamphlet, Peking Review No. 11, 1977, reprints Comrade Hill’s letter to Hua Kuo-feng (Vanguard, February 24th), omitting only the final sentence conveying greetings and one other sentence: ’The meeting fully endorsed the activities, speeches and writings of Comrade E.F. Hill on this and other matters considered at the meeting’. Major and even minor statements by Comrade Hill and other fraternal party leaders against the ’gang of four’ have been enthusiastically reported by the Hsinhua news agency but not this pamphlet.

It is necessary to treat Comrade Hill’s remarks on this subject with scorn and derision, because it is so preposterous for him to set himself up in this way. The swelled head needs compressing. But this is not intended to wipe Comrade Hill off entirely.

It is not easy to clean out these things and sweep them away. It must be done properly, that is, by taking pains to reason with people. If we reason earnestly and properly it will be effective. The first thing to do in this reasoning process is to give the patient a good shake-up by shouting at him, ’You are ill!’ so as to administer a shock and make him break out in a sweat, and then to give him sincere advice on getting treatment.

We have now dealt with all the reasons advanced by Comrade Hill in support of his decision to denounce the ’gang of four’ on October 27th, Apart from the allegations of Chairman Mao’s support for Hua and opposition to the ’gang of four’, there was nothing in the October 25th editorial that convinced Comrade Hill apart from general abuse, the news that orioles were singing and swallows darting, and lying reassurances that the struggles against Teng and against bourgeois right were to be continued. Nor did Comrade Hill have any other information except his own personal reactions to Wang and Chiang (and opposite reactions to Chang and Yao).

We have shown that these reasons rest solely on blind faith and could have been applied equally in any situation whatsoever. Now let us consider the additional reasons advanced in Comrade Hill’s pamphlet as a result of his ’experiences’ in China, noting however that these are not the reasons that prompted him to take the stand in the first place, since he had already done so before going to China, but have been thought up afterwards. It is not unusual for one’s ’experiences’ to confirm one’s views when one’s mind has already been made up. Especially when one is already publicly committed. It turns out that these ’reasons’, too, all rest on blind faith.

(End of Part I)

16. 4. 1977


[1] (Since this was written, it has of course been confirmed in the official re-instatement of Teng who has admitted no ’mistakes’ and was ’persecuted by the gang of four’. Teng’s line was re-instated long before Teng personally).

[2] On February 12th, 1977, Hsinhua news agency released excerpts from a People’s Daily article which said that ’In the 1930’s, Chang Chun-chiao and Chiang Ching crawled out of the enemy prison and became secret agents for the Chiang Kai-shek Kuomintang regime.’ This was reprinted in Study Notes No. 1. The above comments were based on Hill’s acceptance at that time. Since then the official verdict has it that Chang Chun-chiao was a secret agent even before going to prison, while Chiang Ching only became a renegade in prison (denounced Communism), without becoming a secret agent. No doubt the new version (and any subsequent version) is what Hill now believes or says he believes. It would be most unfair to leave uncorrected any statement that suggests he continues to believe anything that the Chinese leadership no longer assert. Hence this correction.

[3] When the ’Third Plenary Session’ was finally held, the numbers of CC members in attendance was not revealed. However, the ’11th Congress’ which immediately followed it elected a new CC from which about one third of the previous CC was dropped, including most of the worker and peasant representatives and others who had come forward during the Cultural Revolution, who were replaced mainly by capitalist roaders overthrown during the Cultural Revolution. The proportion changed was much greater than that involved in the purge of capitalist roaders between the 8th and 9th Congresses and between the 9th and 10th and it has been connected with sweeping changes in about half the provincial leaderships. None of this prevented local sycophants from hailing the ’unanimity’ of this Congress as proving that the ’gang of four’ had no support whatever, and even lying that the whole of the 10th CC had been re-elected to the 11th. Practically all the capitalist roaders overthrown during the Cultural Revolution have now been rehabilitated, except Liu Shao-chi who is now regarded as much less harmful than the ’gang of four’ and Lin Piao who is now condemned as a ’left’ rather than a ’right’. While Teng Hsiao-ping is widely respected by the bourgeoisie both in China and abroad, for his firm stand against the ’gang of four’ even when Mao was around, Hua Kuo-feng’s long term popularity seems to have no firmer foundation than Lin Piao’s. Hua’s program and methods are not fundamentally different from Lin’s and Lin is still genuinely hated by his fellow bureaucrats. Nobody loves a turncoat.

[4] A point driven home by Hua’s even more right-wing rivals in the Liberation Army Daily, in articles nominally supporting him.