First Published: People’s Canada Daily News, Vol 6, No. 114, November 18, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and 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.
We reprint on page 4 for our readers an article recently printed in People’s Daily. We reprint it from the Hsinhua News of Novernber 15, 1976. In lieu of introduction of the artide, the Hsinhua News writes: “A front page article in the People’s Daily today exposes and condemns the Wang-Chang-Chiang-Yao anti-Party clique for its crimes in sabotaging the efforts to grasp revolution and promote production. It points out that the ’gang of four’, the chief culprits engaged in such sabotage, weighed upon hundreds of millions of people like a heavy rock. Following are excerpts from the article by Jen Ping, entitled ’A gang of vermin noxious to the country and the people’.”
The author takes up the slogan of Chairman Mao, grasp revolution and promote production. What is the significance of the slogan and how should it be translated into practice? The author further zeroes in on the theoretical basis of this slogan, that is what is the relationship between relations of production and productive forces and who is the commander and who is commanded etc. We call on our readers to use the science of Marxism-Leninism to discuss this article. This issue is fundamental not only for the proletariat of China but for the proletariat of all lands.
Revisionists led by Khrushchov dished out various theories in order to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. One of his theories is popularly known as the theory of “goulash communism”. Internationally, both the superpowers clamour that the oppressed nations and people of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the proletariat of the entire world should not organize revolution. Instead they should develop their productive forces, and “modernize” themselves under the tutelage of the two superpowers. The issue raised in People’s Daily is very crucial in order to distinguish real Marxist-Leninists from the false ones. The bourgeoisie is floating various “experts” who are telling the world what is going on in China. We say to our readers that they have access to the science of Marxism-Leninism and they should vigorously analyze the important articles coming from China on the basis of this science and make up their minds as to what is going on.
Marxism-Leninism is a science and is universally applicable. It does not belong to any one nation and it does not carry the imprint of any nationality even though its application is different under different conditions; the basic principles remain universally applicable. Our readers should go to the science of Marxism-Leniniim too find out what is happening in China.
A long time ago, Marx pointed out that the predominant ideas of a nation are the ideas of the ruling class. Who is in power in China can easily be learned by looking at what ideology and political line they are presenting through their propaganda organs and what kind of art, literature and education is being imparted to the people. Ideology also exists in social form, it determines what the motivation of the people is. The bourgeoisie has one ideology guiding its social form while the proletariat has the opposite ideology. Our readers should pay close attention to these questions.
Our view of the article is that 1) we disagree with it and 2) we consider it an excellent article to begin discussion about what is taking place in China. We have many disagreements with the article. For example, the author of the article characterizes the four leading comrades who have been removed from their posts as “vermin” and then goes on to describe their characteristics:
1. “The ’gang of four’ don’t know how to work a machine, grow a crop or fight a battle.”
2. “They lack truth and mass support.”
3. “Only by bludgeoning and labelling people did they manage to get along.”
4. “They did not engage in production and opposed those who did.”
5. “Should any one talk about production or do something to promote it, they would fly into a fury and indiscriminately condemn him as a follower of the ’theory of productive forces’ on the pretext that he talked only about production, and not about revolution.”
6. Finally, the author raises the question: “Is the effort to promote production synonymous with the ’theory of productive forces’?”
These charges are repeatedly laid against the four leaders who have been removed from their posts. Our view is that the first four charges are merely empty outbursts devoid of any content. We hear these things coming from the opportunists in our country all the time. We do not think that these are serious charges or that there is any necessity to comment on them except that in a class society,where classes exist, the individuals exist as members of very definite classes and they have the stamp of these very classes on their consciousness. There is no other way of describing anyone except labelling them. Furthermore, individuals also present very definite political lines; they are representatives of this or that class and it is very necessary to identify which class interests they represent.
The last two charges are serious and should be taken up very seriously. But, we strongly feel that the author himself is not serious about discussing these two points especially the last question, “Is the effort to promote production synonymous with the ’theory of productive forces’?” The reason we say so is that it has been widely known that Teng Hsiao-ping fomented the Right deviationist wind and put forward the slogan of “taking three directives as the key link”. He has been accused of following the “theory of productive forces” when Chairman Mao was alive but the author does not discuss the line of Teng Hsiao-ping seriously. It is our view that in order to get an answer to the question, it would have been better if the line of Teng Hsiao-ping was fully discussed and in the light of that, others who follow the same line should also have been repudiated. During this period, the main danger comes from revisionism and the revisionist thesis of Teng Hsiao-ping and anyone who is advancing it should have been repudiated. But the author treats the question of Teng Hsiao-ping very superficially and non-seriously. The author is very polite when he deals with Teng Hsiao-ping. He states: “Teng Hsiao-ping was entirely wrong when he preached ’taking the three directives as the key link’ and stated that ’white or black, so long as the cats can catch mice, they are alright’.” But when it comes to attacking the other four leaders, he rails against them: “They appropriated at will the fruits of labour of the people, spent money like dirt with an unsparing hand and led a decadent and dissolute life, indulging in eating, drinking, pleasure-seeking, hunting, riding and watching old operas and vulgar films.” If the author wants to decide who is revolutionary according to their habits it would have been, good if the author had carried out detailed anaysis of the life-styles of all other leaders, especially Teng Hsiao-ping, and let the proletariat decide who is correct. But the author is too eager to ignore the Right deviationist line of Teng Hsiao-ping and is too eager to dish out irrelevant things which have nothing to do with the political exposure.
We provide the following quotes for the attention of our readers in order to clarify the thinking of the author:
1. “It shows the only correct road for the rapid advance of the national economy in the socialist direction.”
2. “The relationship between revolution and production represents the unity of opposites. Of the two, revolution is the principle aspect of the contradiction and plays the leading role. It determines the orientation and line guiding the development of production and is at the same time a powerful motive force for this development.”
3. “In the period of socialism, only by taking class struggle as the key link, developing production actively and building socialism successfully can we provide a solid material basis for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, build up a powerful national defence, support the world revolution better, improve the material and cultural life of the working people step by step, and prepare the material conditions for the gradual elimination of the three major differences, for the triumph of socialism over capitalism and the realization of the ultimate goal of communism.”
4. “We must strengthen Party leadership, rely whole-heartedly on the working class and the masses of the people, establish and improve rational rules and regulations, do a better job of economic accounting, lower production costs, increase the accumulation of funds, carry out technical innovations and technical revolution, launch socialist emulation, raise labour productivity, and so on. Economic work must be done with increasing carefulness. How can production go up automatically without an enormous amount of hard work being done and practical problems solved? Socialist revolution needs leadership; it must develop proportionately in a planned way and in the socialist direction.”
We view the above quotations as the quintessence of the line of Teng Hsiao-ping but these are’being presented in concealed form. Revolution is subordinated to the needs of production and the author considers that the slogan “grasp revolution and promote production” “shows the only correct road for the rapid advance of the national economy in the socialist direction.” But what does it mean? The line going through the entire article is that in “the period of socialism, only by taking class struggle as the key link, developing production actively and building socialism successfully can we provide a solid material basis for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, build up a powerful national defence, support the world revolution better, improve the material and cultural life of the working people step by step, and prepare the material conditions for the gradual elimination of the three major differences, the realization of the ultimate goal of communism.” That is, whether the slogan is “grasp revolution and promote production” is mentioned or the slogan of “take class struggle as the key link”, the author, in practice, is opposed to the continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and champions the “theory of productive forces”. This shows the reason why the author is so understanding and soft on Teng Hsiao-ping.
Chairman Mao teaches:
... in the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production, the productive forces are the principal aspect; in the contradiction between theory and practice, practice is the principal aspect; in the contradiction the between the economic base and superstructure, the economic base is the principal aspect; and there is no change in their respective positions. This is the mechanical materialist conception, not the dialectical materialist conception. True, the productive forces, practice and the economic base generally play the principle and decithe role; whoever denies it is not a materialist. But it must also be admitted that in certain conditions, such aspects as the relations of production, theory and superstructure in turn manifest themselves in the principal and decisive role. When it is impossible for the productive forces to develop without a change in the relations of production, then the change in the relations of production plays the principal and decisive role. The creation and advocacy of revolutionary theory plays the principal and decisive role in those times of which Lenin said, ’Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.’ When a task, no matter which, has to be performed, but there is as yet no guiding line, method, plan or policy, the principal and decisive thing is to decide on a guiding line, method, plan or policy. When the superstructure (politics, culture, etc.) obstructs the development of the economic base, political and cultural changes become principial and decisive. Are we going against materialism when we say this? No. The reason is that while we recognize that in the general development of history the material determines the mental and social being determines social consciousness, we also – and indeed must – recognize the reaction of mental on material things, of social consciousness on social being and of the superstructure on the economic base. This does not go against materialism; on the contrary, it avoids mechanical materialism and firmly upholds dialectical materialism. (Mao Tsetung, Four Essays on Philosophy, Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1966, p, 58)
Author Jen Ping does not follow the above teaching of Chairman Mao. We are going through the period when on the world scale such aspects as relations of production theory and superstructure are playing the principle and decisive role.
We make the following comments on the theory advanced by the author and we firmly believe it to be the theory of productive forces:
1. The author writes: “The relationship between revolution and production represents the unity of opposites. Of the two, revolution is the principal aspect of the contradiction and plays the leading role. It determines the orientation and the line guiding the development of production and is at the same time a powerful motive force for this development.” First of all, as we have pointed out by quoting from Chairman Mao, of the “contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production”, it is the “productive forces” which are the “principal aspect”. Now the author deliberately muddles it up. Instead of pointing out that “In China, although in the main sociallst transformation has been completed with respect to the system of ownership ... there are still remnants of the overthrown landlord and comprador classes, there is still a bourgeoisie, and the remoulding of the petty bourgeoisie has only just started”, and for that reason, Chairman Mao’s theory of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat is valid. Transformation of relations of production is playing the leading role. But our author, quite cleverly turns the question of transformation of relations of production to suggesting that the slogan “Grasp Revolution – Promote Production” “determines the orientation and line guiding the development of production and is at the same time a powerful force for production.” Thus, in actual fact, the author says that Grasping Revolution is in the service of production and is not playing the leading role and that it merely “shows the only correct road for the rapid advance of the national economy in the socialist direction.” So, what is the main issue in China? According to the author: “promote production”! How can production be promoted without transformation of relations of production?
2. The author explains that in this manner: “We must strengthen Party leadership, rely whole-heartedly on the working class and the masses of the people, establish and improve rational rules and regulations, do a better job of economic accounting, lower production costs, increase the accumulation of funds, carry out technical innovations and technical revolution, launch social emulation, raise labour productivity, and so on. Economic work must be done with increasing carefulness. How can production go up automatically without an enormous amount of hard work being done and specific practical problems solved? Socialist production needs leadership; it must develop proportionately in a planned way and in the socialist direction.” This is not the line of transforming relations of production, on the contrary, this is production dictating revolution and the line of abandoning revolution.
3..The author reveals how society will “advance”. Readers should take note that in this advance the author gives no role to transformation of relations of production or the transformation of the superstructure or studying and applying the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. On the contrary, it is the line of “developing production actively and building socialism successfully” in order to “provide a solid material basis for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, build up a powerful national defence, support the world revolution better, improve the material and cultural life of the working people step by step, and prepare material conditions for the gradual elimination of three major differences, for the triumph of socialism over capitalism and the realization of the ultimate goal of communism.” Of course, in the beginning of the quote is stuck “only by taking class struggle as the key link” but then we do not find class struggle against the bourgeoisie anywhere, We see no line of transformation of relations of production, transforming the superstructure and the role of the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in opposing the bourgeoisie. This line is inconsistent with the line of the Communist Party of China adopted at the Tenth National Congress of the Party and embodied in its own constitution. We reproduce that line as follows:
“Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. Throughout this historical period, there are classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, there is the danger of capitalist restoration and there is the threat of subversion and aggression by imperialism and social imperialism. These contradictions can be resolved only by depending on the theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and on practice under its guidance.
“Such is China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a great political revolution carried out under the conditions of socialism by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and another exploiting classes to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat and prevent capitalist restoration. Revolutions like this will have to be carried out many times in the future.” The article by Jen Ping lacks this living soul of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
4. Finally, the author does mention “revolution” and Mao Tsetung Thought but the two are mentioned in relation to promoting production. The author writes:
a. “The struggle for production hinges on class struggle.”
b. “To develop production, we must first of all grasp class struggle and the two-line struggle well.”
c. “Facts have shown that if revolution is not done well, production will certainly go astray.”
d. “A really good job in making revolution will surely spur production.”
e. “To develop socialist production, however, we must study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought conscientiously and strive to grasp the laws governing production and solve the contradictions arising in the course of production,”
All these five points are given just before the quote we have cited before – “We must strengthen Party leadership ...” etc. None of the above points clearly reflect the leading role of relations of production, theory and superstructure; on the contrary it points to the theory of self-cultivation in place of participating in the continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
For all the reasons given above, we disagree with the article; at the same time, we consider it an excellent article to study in order to grasp the nature of class struggle in China. As the discussion on this article develops, we will also reprint other articles as well as reference material concerning the “theory of productive forces”. We call upon all our readers to take an active part in the discussion of the issues which are crucial to the present and future of China and to the world revolution.