Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)

China’s call to ’free the mind’

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 48, December 11, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The bourgeois press in recent weeks has been filled with speculation about the events in China. Reporters like Fox Butterfield of the New York Times, Jay Matthews of the Washington Post, Frederik St. Moritz of the Christian Science Monitor and other Hong Kong-based China watchers declared that China is abandoning the revolutionary teachings of Mao Tsetung in order to take a more “moderate,” “pragmatic” and “capitalistic” course.

This represents the wishful thinking of these writers rather than the reality of what is happening in China. The speculation is based on reports about the current efforts in China to speed up the drive for socialist modernization. The modernization campaign has brought with it intensified struggle against the influence of the “gang of four” and the ideological remnants of such enemies of socialism in China as Lin Piao.

One of the most harmful of these influences was the promotion of a slavish mentality among the people, a mentality which encouraged blind obedience and the treating of Marxism as a dogma, rather than as a living science. Recent articles criticizing such blind obedience and dogmatism have been wrongly interpreted by the bourgeois China-watchers as an “attack on Mao Tse-tung.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

The current struggle being promoted by the Communist Party and its leadership is aimed at freeing the minds of the masses of old shackles which have proven to be harmful to the progress of the country.

One of the main targets of the struggle is a view promoted by the “gang” which called for taking Chairman Mao’s quotes as the holy scripture and without regard to the context in which the words were spoken. This was something Mao himself strongly opposed.

The four rehashed Lin Piao’s old principle that “every sentence [in Chairman Mao’s works] is a truth” and tried to use bits and pieces of Mao’s writings to further their own reactionary cause.

It was Lin Piao who had earlier proclaimed that every sentence of Mao Tsetung’s was “worth ten thousand” of anyone else’s. He compiled the famous “Red Book” of quotations as a model to illustrate his point and counterposed it to a thorough study of other Marxist-Leninist works. In this way, the body of Mao Tsetung Thought could be dismembered into a pile of maxims, completely disconnected from the concrete historical conditions in which they were given.

With this style of work being promoted, the great energies and enthusiasm of the Chinese people could not be unleashed in the struggle to build and defend socialism. Rather, the people were told to be passive and to rely on a small elite.

The present campaign against these slavish influences has been taken up in a series of important articles which sum up the real Marxist-Leninist approach to the question of theory and practice. These articles, far from being a rejection of Mao Tsetung Thought, have been its greatest defense. They have presented the teachings of Mao Tsetung for what they really are – the application of the universally proven truths of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete realities of the present day.

They expose the anti-Marxist concept that Mao was some innate genius who was so superior to the rest of the people that he was removed from them. They also stress practice as the real test of truth and as the source of all knowledge and theory.

People throughout the country are studying, for, example a recently published article by the late Premier Chou En-lai from 1949 entitled, “Learn From Mao Tsetung.” This article portrays Mao as the “child of the revolutionary movements“ and a “people’s leader born of the long years of experience and lessons of China’s revolutionary history.” This article opposes the idea that Chairman Mao was born a genius, and shows, on the contrary, how he developed his great knowledge and leadership ability through hard study and close connection with the masses.

Chou En-lai’s article sums up: “In learning from Mao Tsetung, it is therefore necessary to learn from him in a comprehensive way, learn from him in the light of his historical development-not merely look at his great achievements today and ignore his growth in the past.”

Another article is one which appeared in the newspaper People’s Daily Nov. 9 called “Let’s Further Emancipate our Minds.” It pointed out: “Under the good name of Marxism, some people peddled feudal absolutism to trample down democracy, demanded conformity to the ’superior officer’s will’ regardless of the actual situation and clung to a policy of shutting the door to advanced science and technology from foreign countries.”

The article continues: “Some well-meaning people are worried that this talk about emancipation of the mind may lead to deviation from Mao Tsetung Thought.” But, the writer stresses that is not so, that “Mao Tsetung Thought was, is and will always be our guide to action.”

The article concludes, “To emancipate the mind, proceed from the facts in everything and not from books is a fundamental principle of the system of Mao Tsetung Thought.”

To refute the notion that this is at odds with upholding Mao Tsetung’s teachings, the writer cites such early writings by Mao as “Oppose Book Worship.” The article then points out that in 1958 Mao called on the Chinese people to “do away with all fetishes and superstitions and emancipate the mind,” and put forward the slogan “Down with slave mentality! Bury dogmatism!” Chairman Mao urged people on several occasions to “believe in science and nothing else: that is to say, we must not have blind faith in anything.”

So the abandonment of the blind faith promoted by the enemies of Marxism in no way indicates an abandonment of Marxism itself. China, in its drive towards modernization, has been turned once again into a giant school of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Superstition and cultism are being cast off and the people themselves are strengthening their role as masters of their society.