Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Charles Elias

Hua on Class Struggle Under Socialism

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 28, July 16, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Reports from China indicate that the recently concluded Second Session of the Fifth National People’s Congress has done much to unify the country and reaffirm its commitment to build a modern socialist country and to preserve and defend the gains of socialism and the revolution.

The most significant document to come out of the Congress was the Report on the Work of the Government delivered by Premier Hua Guofeng on June 18.

We summarized many of the important sections of the report in last week’s issues of The Call, for example, Hua’s call for a new readjustment in the approach towards the modernization campaign. The initial effort in the campaign produced a great deal of progress as a result of the correction of the erroneous line and policies of the “gang of four.” But there have been some imbalances in planning that are now being straightened out, according to the report.

But what about the overall direction being set for China at this Congress? How does the modernization campaign relate to the ongoing class struggle under socialism? This was another theme of a large section of Hua’s report.

The report reaffirmed the fundamentally correct stand of the Chinese Communist Party developed so forcefully by Mao Zedong that is, it maintains that throughout the entire period of socialism, class struggle continues to exist and that the dictatorship of the proletariat must therefore remain strong. This point is a historic dividing line between revisionism, which led to the restoration of capitalism in the USSR, and Marxism-Leninism.

It was Khrushchev, who, in the late ’50s, laid the ideological foundation for the reversal of this correct stand with his theory of the “dying out of class struggle” and the creation of the “state of the whole people” under socialism. In fact this was a cover-up for the continuation of the class struggle by the Khrushchevites, who nestled in the ranks of the Party and government, ultimately seizing hold of the state machinery.

How is a restoration of capitalism to be prevented in China? Over the past three decades this has been the subject of great debate within the Chinese Party. In his report, Hua deals with the difficulty of continuing the class struggle especially at a time when the main emphasis must be placed on economic construction and planned socialist modernization. As he put it, “Whether we succeed or fail in our endeavor to modernize China by the end of the century will decide the future of our country and people.”

Hua recalled that, due to the sabotage of people like Lin Biao and the “gang of four,” China is still lagging behind economically. The great superiority of socialism over capitalism “has not been consistently and effectively brought into play, and we have achieved far less than we should have.”

But while modernizing China, the report points out that the Chinese people “must continue to wage class struggle economically, politically and ideologically in correct ways so that it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie to exist or for a new bourgeoisie to arise.”

In China today the working class, peasantry, intellectuals and those other patriots who support socialism are the masters of socialist society. Because they come from different classes there are contradictions among them, said Hua, but no conflict of fundamental interest. The building of socialism is to their common advantage.

“Of course,” he added, “there are still counterrevolutionaries and enemy agents, criminals and political degenerates who seriously disrupt socialist public order, and new exploiters, such as grafters, embezzlers and speculators. Remnants of the ’gang of four’ and of the old exploiting classes including the few unreformed landlords and rich peasants will persist in their reactionary stands and carry on anti-socialist activities in the political and economic spheres.

“What is more, class struggle at home is closely connected with class struggle abroad. For these reasons there will still be class enemies of all kinds in China for a long time to come, and we must exercise proletarian dictatorship over them. Although they are few in number, we must under no circumstances relax our vigilance or lower our guard.”

The difference between today’s China and the China of old, according to Hua, is that “the capitalists no longer exist as a class.” This means that there is no longer a class of exploiters that own and control the means of production. Therefore the fight against the capitalist roaders and counter-revolutionaries in China must be carried out under new forms.

“First,” said Hua, “we recognize both that class struggle has not yet come to an end and that at the same time there is no longer any need for large-scale and turbulent class struggle waged by the masses, and therefore wt should not try to wage such a struggle in the future. Both the view that class struggle has died out and the view that it should be magnified are at variance with objective reality at the present stage and consequently go against the wishes of the people of the whole country.”

Here Hua is referring to the great damage that was done by the “gang of four,” who used their influence to constantly promote turmoil and anarchy, especially during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. These disruptions caused severe setbacks in the whole country and practically destroyed production, education, culture and many other areas of socialist society.

Hua’s report follows generally along the old line laid down two years ago at the 11th Congress of the Communist party of China and then again at the First Session of the Fifth NPC, with a few exceptions. One exception is the call for less turbulent forms of class struggle coinciding with the central task of modernization. And this brings up some important questions. While it is understandable to call for constraints on the political movement at present, especially since the “gang of four” has fallen and modernization is number one on the agenda, how can “large-scale, turbulent class struggle” be ruled out in the future? What if another group of capitalist roaders should make inroads in the Party?

Secondly, Hua’s report formulates the principal contradiction in China as follows: “The realization of the four modernizations by the end of the century, the raising of our present low level of productivity to that befitting a modern nation and the consequent transformation of those, parts of our present relations of production and superstructure which hamper modernization and the eradication of all old habits detrimental to it–these constitute the principal contradiction to be resolved, the central task to be performed, by our entire people at the present stage.”

Hua adds that to perform this central task “we must persevere in the dictatorship of the proletariat and in class struggle. But class struggle is no longer the principal contradiction in our society; in waging it we must center around and serve the central task of socialist modernization.”

The question that arises here is, shouldn’t socialist modernization be considered a form of class struggle? Even in Hua’s report the principal contradiction includes changing those parts of the “present relations of production and superstructure which hamper modernization and the eradication of all old habits detrimental to it.” How can such changes take place except through class struggle?

It appears that there are still some questions stemming from this important meeting that have not yet fully been resolved, some compromises made for the sake of unity. Perhaps the future will shed more light on these points.

In the meantime, the analysis presented at the National People’s Congress appears to be a reaffirmation of China’s heroic march down the socialist road, a defense of Mao Zedong’s revolutionary line, and another blow against revisionism, nailing the lid on the political coffin of Lin Biao and the “gang of four.”