Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

J. Werner

Beat Back the Dogmato-Revisionist Attack on Mao Tsetung Thought

Comments on Enver Hoxha’s Imperialism and the Revolution

II. The Construction of Socialism in China

It is difficult to give a thorough critique of Hoxha’s analysis of the development of socialism, or lack of it, in China, as this section of his book is even more riddled with eclectics, cheap shots and deliberate falsifications. His basic thesis seems to be “that the Chinese revolution remained a bourgeois-democratic revolution and did not develop into a socialist revolution.”[49]

The heart of Hoxha’s argument is that under Mao’s leadership the proletariat “shared power” with the national bourgeoisie. He states:

The transition from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the socialist revolution can be realized only when the proletariat resolutely removes the bourgeoisie from power and expropriates it. As long as the working class in China shared power with the bourgeoisie, as long as the bourgeoisie preserved its privileges, the state power that was established in China, could not be the state power of the proletariat, and consequently, the Chinese revolution could not grow into a socialist revolution.[50]

When, in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army succeeded in smashing the Kuomintang and establishing nationwide victory, the democratic revolution was in the main and essentially completed. Mao held, correctly, that all those sections of the people who opposed feudalism and imperialism, who were willing to accept a social order based upon the interests of the working class and the worker-peasant alliance, should be given rights in the new state. In the concrete conditions of China, this meant that sections of the bourgeoisie–particularly the middle, or national, bourgeoisie–which fit these criteria should be included in the democratic dictatorship led by the proletariat and were not, at that time at least, objects of such a dictatorship. This analysis was completely in keeping with Mao’s basic–and correct–line on the nature of the Chinese revolution, its targets, its motive forces, and its allies, however vacillating.

At the same time, Mao laid out the basic policy of the new government for the transformation to the socialist revolution in March 1949, even before nationwide victory was won. Mao clearly stated that:

After the enemies with guns have been wiped out, there will still be enemies without guns; they are bound to struggle desperately against us; we must never regard these enemies lightly....

On whom shall we rely in our struggles in the cities? Some muddle-headed comrades think we should rely not on the working class but on the masses of the poor. Some comrades who are even more muddle-headed think we should rely on the bourgeoisie.... “We must wholeheartedly rely on the working class, unite with the rest of the labouring masses, win over the intellectuals and win over to our side as many as possible of the national bourgeois elements and their representatives who can co-operate with us–or neutralize them–so that we can wage a determined struggle against the imperialists, the Kuomintang and the bureaucrat-capitalist class and defeat these enemies step by step.[51]

This strategy for advancing the revolution was based on the concrete conditions of China, in which modern industry consisted of only 10% of the national economy, while agriculture and handicrafts comprised the other 90%. Mao pointed out that, while this situation required the participation of the national bourgeoisie in the economy and a certain role for it even within the state itself, fundamentally the existence of a modern industry enabled the working class to lead the revolution and carry out socialist construction. He pointed out:

As a result, China has new classes and new political parties–the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, proletarian and bourgeois parties. The proletariat and its party, because they have been oppressed by manifold enemies, have become steeled and are qualified to lead the Chinese people’s revolution. Whoever overlooks or belittles this point will commit Right opportunist mistakes.[52]

Mao goes on to say that:

China’s modern industry, though the value of its output amounts to only about 10 per cent of the total value of output of the national economy, is extremely concentrated; the largest and most important part of the capital is concentrated in the hands of the imperialists and their lackeys, the Chinese bureaucrat-capitalists. The confiscation of this capital and its transfer to the people’s republic led by the proletariat will enable the people’s republic to control the economic lifelines of the country and will enable the state-owned economy to become the leading sector of the entire national economy. This sector of the economy is socialist, not capitalist, in character. Whoever overlooks or belittles this point will commit Right opportunist mistakes.[53]

Thus Mao’s orientation of moving the revolution forward to socialism was not a mere “shibboleth,” as Hoxha derisively calls it, but was based upon the actual realities of China and was backed up with a clear view of how to begin the process of socialist transformation of the economy. At the same time, Mao recognized that this could not be accomplished at one stroke. There still remained the huge agricultural and handicraft sections of the economy, in which capitalists still had some role to play and could not immediately be wiped out. He argued that:

In this period all capitalist elements in the cities and countryside which are not harmful but beneficial to the national economy should be allowed to exist and expand. This is not only unavoidable but also economically necessary. But the existence and expansion of capitalism in China will not be unrestricted and uncurbed as in the capitalist countries. It will be restricted from several directions–in the scope of its operation and by tax policy, market prices and labour conditions ... The policy of restricting private capitalism is bound to meet with resistance in varying degrees and forms from the bourgeoisie, especially from the big owners of private enterprises, that is, from the big capitalists. Restriction versus opposition to restriction will be the main form of class struggle in the new-democratic state [i.e., during the transition to socialism–J.W.].[54]

This is the policy which Hoxha calls giving priority to the development of capitalism!

Anticipating that the reader might wonder how he squares his criticism of Mao in the early years of the People’s Republic with Lenin’s well-known New Economic Policy in the early years of the Soviet Republic after the civil war, Hoxha quotes Lenin, who said:

There is nothing dangerous to the proletarian state in this so long as the proletariat keeps political power firmly in its hands, so long as it keeps transport and big industry firmly in its own hands.[55]

And Hoxha comments:

In fact, neither in 1949 nor in 1956, when Mao Tsetung advocated these things, did the proletariat in China have political power or big industry in its own hands.

Moreover, Lenin considered the NEP as a temporary measure which was imposed by the concrete conditions of Russia of that time, devastated by the long civil war, and not as a universal law of socialist construction. And the fact is that one year after the proclamation of the NEP Lenin stressed that the retreat was over, and launched the slogan to prepare for the offensive against private capital in the economy. Whereas in China, the period of the preservation of capitalist production was envisaged to last almost eternally. According to Mao Tsetung’s view, the order established after liberation in China had to be a bourgeois-democratic order, while the Communist Party of China had to appear to be in power. Such is “Mao Tsetung thought.”[56]

The typical Hoxhaite mishmash of distortions and lies! First of all, political power, as well as transport and the key sections of big industry, were in the hands of the proletariat immediately following liberation in 1949. The proletariat and the Communist Party played the leading role in the state. As for transport and big industry in particular not being in the hands of the proletariat, apparently Hoxha believes that if he fantasizes something and puts it down on paper, people will accept it uncritically. This may be true of the sorry “international” he is trying to form around himself, but it will never be accepted by genuine Marxist-Leninists.

It is most amusing that Hoxha chose to emphasize the words “temporary measure imposed by the concrete conditions in Russia.” The concrete conditions in China were much less favorable for the immediate expropriation of the entire bourgeoisie. As we have pointed out, China was far more backward than Russia, it had been wrecked by not a few years of civil war, but by three decades of war, and had been ravaged and held in strangulation and stagnation by imperialism and feudalism. These were the concrete conditions that led Mao to adopt the policies that he did.

As for Hoxha’s brilliant observation that Lenin did not see the NEP as a “universal law of socialist construction” (as if Mao did) and his assertion that ”the preservation of capitalist production was envisaged by Mao to last almost eternally,” all we can do is remind him of the words Lenin directed against an equally brilliant polemicist (namely Kautsky), that attributing to an opponent an obviously stupid position and then refuting it is a method used by none too clever people–and none too Marxist, either, it might be added.

The theory of the new-democratic stage of the revolution in China will be dealt with more fully below, but already we can see that even at the earliest stage of the People’s Republic of China, when the emphasis was and had to be on consolidating the victory over the imperialists, landlords, and the big Chinese capitalists tied directly to the former, Mao was already taking the necessary steps to ensure that China’s future would be socialist and not capitalist. He did this by taking specific socialist measures to ensure that the leading factor of the economy would be the state-owned socialist sector and, more importantly, Mao waged a fierce struggle in the Party to make clear what the direction of the Chinese revolution had to be and to prepare the masses for the struggle to come.

As early as 1952 Mao began to sharply criticize the theory of the “synthesized economic base”–a line promoted by Liu Shao-chi which argued that China’s economy would be an harmonious amalgam of socialist industry, private industry, and a peasant economy. While Mao did, correctly, point out that all of the elements of capitalism in town and country could not be done away with at once, and some features would last a relatively long time, he made very clear that the transition to the socialist society had begun and that to try to “consolidate” the new-democratic order meant to plunge China onto the capitalist road. Theoretically this took expression in Mao’s statement of June 1952 that:

With the overthrow of the landlord class and the bureaucrat-capitalist class, the contradiction between the working class and the national bourgeoisie has become the principal contradiction in China; therefore the national bourgeoisie should no longer be defined as an intermediate class.[57]

Thus Mao clearly pointed out that the national bourgeoisie was a target of the socialist revolution. Did this mean, then, that all bourgeois property could be immediately expropriated or that politically the entire bourgeoisie could be disenfranchised at a single stroke? No, the realities of the Chinese economy still required the participation of sections of the bourgeoisie and it was still necessary to win the masses to carry further the socialist revolution–particularly unleashing the poor and lower-middle peasantry to carry out the collectivization of agriculture, but also utilizing and winning over the bulk of the intelligentsia, which had to a large extent been attached to the national bourgeoisie.

Once again, Mao’s own words are much more useful to the reader than Hoxha’s characterization of them:

Some people think the period of transition is too long and give way to impatience. This will lead to “Left” deviationist mistakes. Others have remained where they were after the victory of the democratic revolution. They fail to realize there is a change in the character of the revolution and they go on pushing their “New Democracy” instead of socialist transformation. This will lead to Right deviationist mistakes....

“Firmly establish the new-democratic social order.” That’s a harmful formulation. In the transition period changes are taking place all the time and socialist factors are emerging every day. How can this “new-democratic order” be “firmly established”?... The period of transition is full of contradictions and struggles. Our present revolutionary struggle is even more profound than the revolutionary armed struggle of the past. It is a revolution that will bury the capitalist system and all other systems of exploitation once and for all. The idea, “Firmly establish the new-democratic social order”, goes against the realities of our struggle and hinders the progress of the socialist cause.

“Move from New Democracy towards socialism.” That’s a vague formulation. Moving towards the goal and nothing more, moving towards it year in year out and still moving towards it after a lapse of fifteen years? Merely moving towards it means that the goal has not been reached. The formulation sounds plausible but does not bear scrutiny.[58]

The above statement, written in 1953, is further proof of Mao’s line that the socialist revolution had begun, and directly contradicts Hoxha’s characterization of it. Thus, it can be seen that Hoxha’s allegation that Mao advocated the establishment of a “bourgeois-democratic order” “after liberation in China” is, once again, the opposite of the truth. Mao saw the new;-democratic “order” in China after liberation as nothing less than the transition to socialism, characterized in substance by the rule of the proletariat–which was carried out in alliance with other progressive forces (as indeed it was, in somewhat different form, in Russia), most especially the masses of peasants (more on this later). Furthermore, anyone with any familiarity with the Chinese Revolution knows full well that between the years 1952 and 1956 Mao and the Chinese Communist Party led a struggle on a mammoth scale in China that resulted in the basic accomplishment of constructing a socialist economic base.

Chief among these accomplishments was the tremendous struggle in the countryside to transform agriculture from an individual owner peasant economy into socialist ownership. Mao led the peasantry in going beyond the primitive “mutual aid teams” that had been set up during the Civil War in the base areas after land reform was carried out and then spread throughout China after the victory in 1949. “Mutual aid” had elements of the socialist future within it, but it still did not fundamentally alter the old property relations, as it left private ownership of land intact. Mao fought to lead the peasants to form higher-level cooperatives and achieve basic collectivization and then quickly to form massive people’s communes–which represented the basic form of socialist ownership in the countryside for a long period of time, until the development of the productive forces and the rise in the socialist consciousness of the peasants could make possible a leap to state-owned farms with the peasants becoming wage workers.

To carry out this great battle Mao had to fight tooth and nail against the Rightists in the Party who held that “mechanization must precede collectivization” and tried to buttress their arguments by appealing to the experience of the Soviet Union, where collectivization did not take place until the early 1930s, Mao pointed out that to wait on collectivization until after China’s weak industrial base could provide the tractors and so forth necessary to mechanize agriculture would spell disaster for the revolution. After land reform was accomplished, polarization among the peasants developed rapidly, with some acquiring a well-to-do status and others remaining relatively impoverished. Mao pointed out that to allow this situation to develop unchecked would lead to the break-up of the worker-peasant alliance, the bedrock of the Chinese revolution in both its new-democratic and socialist stages (though on a higher basis in the socialist stage).

In the cities, those factories that had been operated on a state capitalist basis (which, as pointed out earlier, were never the dominant factor in industry in the People’s Republic) or on a joint state-private basis were converted into state property. It is true that in rnany instances the previous owners of these enterprises were given a fixed interest on the property seized from them–in fact, a form of exploitation of the workers’ labor. This was done for several reasons. First, because of the particularities of the long democratic stage of the Chinese revolution, many members of the Rational bourgeoisie had gone along with some of the transformations that had taken place. Even while setting out to overthrow and eliminate the bourgeoisie as a class, Mao saw certain tactical advantages in not treating every individual bourgeois as a die-hard enemy of the revolution. Second, the expertise of the bourgeoisie was still needed to operate certain factories and so on. This policy was not much different than Lenin’s well-known policy of “bribing” some of the technicians and managers of the old capitalist class to function for the Soviet state–a policy which continued well into the 1930s, and one which represented a necessary compromise.[59]

The fact that these interest payments continued for several years following the socialist transformation of industry in China is used by Hoxha and others to insist that no genuine socialist transformation ever took place. This, however, is a gross distortion.

Once the nationalization of the means of production previously in the hands of the national bourgeoisie took place, one could no longer say they were capitalist enterprises. The factories belonged to the people as a whole, in the form of state ownership. Production levels and planning were based on the overall needs of society as set forth in the state plans, not by the dictates of the market nor by the need to show a profit. The previous owners could not sell or otherwise transfer their former holdings, and the small amount of interest they received on their previous holdings could not be reinvested as capital. Similarly, even in those plants where the old owners were retained in one capacity or another, they no longer had the decisive say about working conditions, work rules and so forth. The products of the workers’ labor could not be appropriated privately. In short, there was no fundamental capitalist relationship in industry.

Of course, the interest paid the capitalists came from the labor of the working class and can thus be considered a form of exploitation. Similarly, when a socialist country imports capital goods from the imperialist countries and must pay interest for it (in one form or another), this represents a form of imperialist exploitation. But only a dogmatist–and mechanical materialist–would argue (as Hoxha has argued) that it is impermissible for a socialist state, big or small, to allow any loan agreements with the imperialists. This flies directly in the face of the policy of Lenin, who was willing to enter into a number of such agreements if conditions were right, or Stalin, who, as is well known, imported several whole factories from Western concerns, including Ford Motor Co. (This policy of Stalin’s is more to be criticized than emulated, but it is the height of hypocrisy for Hoxha, here as elsewhere, to make a show of upholding Stalin against Mao, while conveniently “overlooking” Stalin’s actual practice whenever it suits his purposes; and besides, on the general point at issue–the permissibility of loan agreements and the like in certain conditions–it is Stalin who is right, as opposed to Hoxha.)

The point of raising this is to focus on the fact that even where socialist relations of production have been firmly established, there can remain remnants of what actually amount to capitalist relations, in this case in the form of interest payments. This whole question of capitalist elements existing even within socialism is one which Mao devoted much attention to solving, as we shall see later. And it is also a field in which he again carried through vigorous class struggle against the exploiters.

As is also well known (though Hoxha seems to have “forgotten”), the policy of paying interest to the old owners was abolished completely during the Cultural Revolution. If this were not the case, why do the present Chinese rulers vilify the “Four” (and actually Mao) for “mistreating the national bourgeoisie,” and why do they call for all of their property and interest payments to be returned to them?–along with rapidly opening up China to imperialist exploitation for real and on a grand scale!

Naturally the kind of transformation of the economic base that was carried out in China in the first years of the People’s Republic could not take place without fierce struggle in the superstructure–in the state institutions, in the Party, in educational and cultural fields, and in the sphere of ideology in general. Mao’s prediction that “restriction or non-restriction of capitalism” would be the main form of the class struggle in the newly created People’s Republic was borne out. Many of the bourgeois forces who had gone along with the people’s regime came increasingly to oppose it as the socialist revolution deepened.

Much of this struggle came to a head during the years of 1956-59, a critical juncture in the class struggle in China. It was during those years that Mao championed the struggle for the people’s communes as well as the other aspects of the Great Leap Forward, measures aimed at accelerating the socialist revolution and constructing new socialist relations of production while pushing the economy ahead on a socialist basis. It was also at exactly this time that Soviet revisionism emerged triumphant, marked salient-ly by Khrushchev’s “secret speech” to the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU–which was not “secret” at all but, among other things, was a signal for revisionists in parties throughout the world (and China was certainly no exception) to jump out and fight for a revisionist line. At the same time, in a number of countries of Eastern Europe, notably Hungary and Poland, counter-revolutionaries had emerged and created much havoc under the signboard of opposing “dictatorship” and demanding (bourgeois) democracy. This situation also had its reflection in China, particularly among bourgeois intellectuals.

It was against this backdrop that Mao launched the “100 Flowers” campaign under the slogan of “Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” While offering no real analysis of this movement, Hoxha seizes on the slogan to make it seem that Mao’s point was that “side by side with proletarian ideology, materialism and atheism, the existence of bourgeois ideology, idealism and religion, the growth of ’poisonous weeds’ alongside ’fragrant flowers’, etc., must be permitted.”[60] Actually, any real examination of Mao’s writings during this period makes clear that the purpose of the “100 Flowers” campaign was exactly the opposite of what Hoxha makes it out to be.

Mao analyzed that in Chinese society there still existed antagonistic classes–the bourgeoisie and the proletariat–and that the class struggle between these two classes was not about to go away or be eliminated by decree. Further, he noted that among the ranks of the people, including the workers and peasants, there were also many contradictions and that, if not handled correctly, these also could turn into antagonism and spell disaster for the revolution. Thus Mao was dealing concretely with the difficult situation of handling two types of contradictions–antagonistic and non-antagonistic–at the same time, categories which were not mutually exclusive but in fact were closely bound up with each other and with the possibility of being turned into their opposites. The contradiction with the intellectuals–who, on the one hand, in their great majority, supported the people’s government, yet on the other hand were still unremolded and retained the ideology of the bourgeoisie–was, in the main, a non-antagonistic contradiction–that is, it had to be solved through debate and struggle and not through coercion or the stripping away of rights. At the same time, it was quite obvious that the contradiction between these unremolded bourgeois intellectuals interpenetrated with the antagonistic contradiction with the counter-revolutionaries, and that many of the themes being harped upon by the leading Rightists outside and inside of the Party were aimed at mobilizing these intellectuals as part of a social base with which to attack the socialist system.

Mao’s thinking on this subject was also influenced by his summation of the experience of the Soviet Union. This involved not only the rise of Khrushchevite revisionism, but also an analysis of the mistakes Stalin had made, especially in the mid and late 1930s, when, after the basic socialist transformation of industry and agriculture had been accomplished, he declared that there were no longer antagonistic classes in the USSR–nor did he see the possibility of their arising. The basic question of the class struggle under socialism will be dealt with a little later in this article, but even at this early stage of the revolution, when the question of a new bourgeoisie arising from within the ranks of the Communist Party and the state was not principally the question faced by the Chinese Revolution, Mao’s criticism of these errors of Stalin’s had an important influence on the direction he was taking. He recognized that to fail to see the difference between the two types of contradictions, to muddle the two together, meant two things–first, negating the possibility of capitalist restoration and the need to exercise the most vigorous dictatorship against those who would try to carry it out; and second, failing to understand that the contradictions among the people had to be dealt with in a different manner–through debate and struggle–and that not to do so would lead to transforming non-antagonistic contradictions into antagonistic ones and thus increasing the possibility that large sections of the people would be won over by the counterrevolutionaries and be mobilized as a social force for capitalist restoration. This problem, not “liberalism,” was at the heart of Mao’s policy of “let a hundred schools of thought contend.”

With the understanding that the class struggle would continue under the new socialist system, and recognizing that a major battle was brewing because of the convergence of the domestic and international conditions cited earlier, Mao issued the call to “Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” People were urged to freely air their opinions of the Communist Party, to express what they felt its defects to be, and to debate things out on the cultural, educational and scientific fronts. At the same time, Mao pointed out that the counterrevolutionaries (and here Mao was speaking specifically of those elements who had been uncovered and identified as such in the movements of the early ’50s to suppress counter-revolutionaries) should not be allowed this kind of freedom of speech and, more importantly, he drew up guidelines to assist the masses in sorting out “fragrant flowers” from “poisonous weeds”:

Literally the two slogans–let a hundred flowers blossom and let a hundred schools of thought contend–have no class character; the proletariat can turn them to account, and so can the bourgeoisie or others. Different classes, strata and social groups each have their own views on what are fragrant flowers and what are poisonous weeds. Then, from the point of view of the masses, what should be the criteria today for distinguishing fragrant flowers from poisonous weeds? In their political activities, how should our people judge whether a person’s words and deeds are right or wrong?. . . the criteria should be as follows:
(1) Words and deeds should help to unite, and not divide, the people of all our nationalities.
(2) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to socialist transformation and socialist construction.
(3) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people’s democratic dictatorship.
(4) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism.
(5) They should help to strengthen, and not shake off or weaken, the leadership of the Communist Party.
(6) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world.
Of these six criteria, the most important are the two about the socialist path and the leadership of the Party.[61]

Mao had no illusions that the bourgeois Rightists would follow these criteria in the ensuing struggle. Quite the contrary. He fully expected them to launch a vicious assault on the leadership of the Party and on the socialist road, as did their counterparts in Hungary. He knew that they would leap out and try to mobilize public opinion for a restoration of capitalism whether or not the Party “allowed” them to do so. And by issuing the six criteria (and focusing especially on two of these), Mao was laying the best possible basis for the masses to sort out the flood of various opinions and political viewpoints that was sure to develop.

In the early weeks of the “hundred flowers” campaign during the spring of 1957, an all-out assault on the Party was launched by the Democratic League, a bourgeois political party which had participated in the government of the People’s Republic, and by the newspaper Wen Hui Pao, closely linked to the former and also representing the political viewpoint of the national bourgeoisie. In addition, there was a phenomenon of members of the Party joining in the hysterical attack. The Rightists called for the institution of a Western-style “democracy,” and demanded that the “Communist Party get off of the sedan chair.” Posters went up in various strongholds of the Rightists, especially the universities, along the same themes. In addition there were ugly incidents where posters written supporting the Party were torn down, people beaten, and so on.

Mao’s policy was to lay back and wait a few weeks, let the bourgeois Rightists jump out and expose themselves, and let those Party members with the same ideas and program rush to their defense. But far from seeing some sort of peaceful “coexistence” between the bourgeois line and Marxism-Leninism, Mao led the masses of people in launching a fierce counter-attack against the bourgeois Rightists. Under the blows of the Party and the masses, the bourgeois Rightists were forced to beat a hasty retreat, and the Party’s leadership among the masses was consolidated in the process. The Western press and the Rightists in China bitterly accused Mao of having “tricked” them by allowing them to come out with their reactionary program and then stomping on it. Mao pointed out:

The masses could thus clearly distinguish those whose criticism was well intentioned from those whose so-called criticism was malevolent, and thus forces could be mustered to counter-attack when the time was ripe. Some say this was a covert scheme. We say it was an overt one. For we made it plain to the enemy beforehand: only when ghosts and monsters are allowed to come into the open can they be wiped out; only when poisonous weeds are allowed to sprout from the soil can they be uprooted. Don’t the peasants weed several times a year? Besides, uprooted weeds can be used as manure. The class enemies will invariably seek opportunities to assert themselves. They will not resign themselves to losing state power and being expropriated. However much the Communist Party warns its enemies in advance and makes its basic strategy known to them, they will still launch attacks. Class struggle is an objective reality, independent of man’s will. That is to say, class struggle is inevitable. It cannot be avoided even if people want to avoid it. The only thing to do is to make the best of the situation and guide the struggle to victory.[62]

And guide the struggle to victory is exactly what Mao did during the “hundred flowers” campaign. The masses were aroused and were not about to tolerate the frantic attacks on the victories that had been won in the revolution and the socialist transformations that had been taking place. The bourgeois Rightists retreated, but Mao pursued them and refused to let them worm out of their predicament with a few pious phrases of self-criticism. Those who had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities (and there were instances of beatings, even murder, by the bourgeois Rightists) were arrested and brought to justice. Despite Hoxha’s attempts to portray Mao as a liberal who enjoyed having counterrevolutionaries around, Mao stated very clearly in the midst of the counter-attack against the bourgeois Rightists that:

Counter-revolutionaries must be eliminated wherever found. Kill few, but on no account repeal the death penalty or grant any general pardon.... [Punish those whom the public identifies as bad elements. At present, certain functionaries in the judicial and public security departments are neglecting their duties and allowing persons who should be arrested and punished to remain at large; this is wrong. Just as over-punishment is wrong, so is under-punishment, and these days the danger lies in the latter.[63]

In addition, the bourgeois Rightists outside and inside the Party who were labeled as such suffered a severe restriction of political rights. In fact, it was only after Mao died that the rights of these reactionaries were restored–by Hua Kuo-feng and Teng Hsiao-ping, following their revisionist coup.

The “hundred flowers” campaign continued throughout 1958. However, after the summer of 1957, the bourgeois Rightists were no longer on the offensive and the wall posters and newspaper commentary were instead the property of the broad masses, especially the workers and peasants. Criticisms of the Communist Party continued to come forward, but of an entirely different character, based in fact as well as word on the six criteria of Mao’s. These helped to steel and strengthen the Communist Party. And the widescale debate among the people left them with a much better understanding of the line of the Party and the nature of the socialist revolution and heightened their determination and their ability to carry it out.

As Mao was to point out, the “hundred flowers” campaign was also an important school for the Party itself, as well as for the masses. Mao pointed out:

Marxists should not be afraid of criticism from any quarter. Quite the contrary, they need to temper and develop themselves and win new positions in the teeth of criticism and in the storm and stress of struggle. Fighting against wrong ideas is like being vaccinated–a man develops greater immunity from disease as a result of vaccination. Plants raised in hothouses are unlikely to be hardy. Carrying out the policy of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend will not weaken, but strengthen, the leading position of Marxism in the ideological field.

What should our policy be towards non-Marxist ideas? As far as unmistakable counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs of the socialist cause are concerned, the matter is easy, we simply deprive them of their freedom of speech. But incorrect ideas among the people are quite a different matter. Will it do to ban such ideas and deny them any opportunity for expression? Certainly not. It is not only futile but very harmful to use crude methods in dealing with ideological questions among the people, with questions about man’s mental world.

You may ban the expression of wrong ideas, but the ideas will still be there. On the other hand, if correct ideas are pampered in hothouses and never exposed to the elements and immunized against disease, they will not win out against erroneous ones. Therefore, it is only by employing the method of discussion, criticism and reasoning that we can really foster correct ideas and overcome wrong ones, and that we can really settle issues.[64]

Thus we can clearly see the two aspects of the “hundred flowers” campaign which has been so maliciously and fraudulently attacked by Hoxha and the other dogmato-revisionists (and, for that matter, by the Khrushchevite revisionists at the time, who also slandered it as “liberalism”). First, it was an effort to head off and beat back a counter-revolutionary trend that was developing in China as a result of socialist transformations and the expropriation of the bourgeoisie in China, and the rise of revisionism internationally–especially in the Soviet Union but also with the counterrevolutionary rebellion in Hungary. Second, the “hundred flowers” was a call for a nationwide debate on the ideological front among the ranks of the people, a debate which could not help but deepen the influence of Marxism-Leninism in the ranks of the Chinese proletariat and people.

One might ask, why do the dogmato-revisionists throw such a tantrum at the “hundred flowers” campaign? Of course, the most obvious answer is that it offers an excellent opportunity for Hoxha & Co. to rip quotes out of context, turn reality on its head and try to make it appear that Mao was a common liberal. But beyond this, the “hundred flowers” campaign drives Hoxha into a frenzy because the political understanding that lay behind it strikes so deeply at the whole mechanical and false view he has of the development of socialism. According to the view now dominant in the Albanian party, the masses will come to embrace Marxism and discard bourgeois ideology not in the course of the fierce struggle between the two lines and the two roads, not through unleashing a torrent of debate and struggle, but through a steady, “uninterrupted” process of the party educating the masses–a view, as we shall see, that leads Hoxha to his counter-revolutionary assessment of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

While a comprehensive analysis of Hoxha’s overall line and the practice of the Albanian party is beyond the scope of this article, it is worthwhile to contrast Mao’s point of view in the “hundred flowers” campaign with the Albanian party’s attitude toward class struggle under socialism. For example, the new Albanian constitution, adopted at the end of 1976, states:

In the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania there are no exploiting classes, private property and the exploitation of man by man have been liquidated and are forbidden.[65]

But no matter what is written in Albanian legal documents, and no matter how much Mr. Hoxha may forbid it, antagonistic classes still exist in Albania as they do and did in China. This provision in the constitution shows a confusion of legalistic forms with social reality. At the present point in history, it manifests a deliberate rejection of Marxism.

Because Hoxha does not recognize the existence of antagonistic classes in socialism after the expropriation of the bourgeoisie (on which more later), he cannot conceive of how to correctly handle the various types of contradictions within socialist society and inevitably falls into a whole series of “left” and right deviations, which lead, for one thing, to non-antagonistic contradictions among the masses being turned into antagonistic contradictions and the basis for socialist transformation being undermined.

Closely linked with Hoxha’s criticisms of the “hundred flowers” campaign and Mao’s alleged “liberalism” toward the national bourgeoisie is Hoxha’s criticism of the policy of the Chinese Communist Party of allowing certain bourgeois political parties to exist and even to have a certain say in the ruling bodies of the state. Hoxha quotes Mao: “Which is better in the final analysis, to have just one party or several? As we see it now, it’s perhaps better to have several parties. This has been true in the past and may well be so for the future; it means long-term coexistence and mutual supervision.”[66] (Words in italics not in the English translation of Mao.)

Hoxha goes on to comment:

Mao regarded the participation of bourgeois parties in the state power and the governing of the country with the same rights and prerogatives as the Communist Party of China as necessary. And not only this, but these parties of the bourgeoisie, which according to him “were historical,” should wither away only when the Communist Party of China also withers away, that is, they will coexist right up till communism.[67]

Once again it is most useful to let Mao speak for himself, and again from the same section from which Hoxha is “quoting”:

The Communist Party and the democratic parties are all products of history. What emerges in history disappears in history. Therefore, the Communist Party will disappear one day, and so will the democratic parties. Is this disappearance so unpleasant? In my opinion, it will be very pleasant. I think it is just fine that one day we will be able to do away with the Communist Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our task is to hasten their extinction. We have spoken about this point many times.

But at present we cannot do without the proletarian party and the dictatorship of the proletariat and, what is more, it is imperative that they should be made still more powerful. Otherwise, we would not be able to suppress the counter-revolutionaries, resist the imperialists and build socialism, or consolidate it when it is built. Lenin’s theory on the proletarian party and the dictatorship of the proletariat is by no means “outmoded,” as alleged by certain people.[68]

Thus it can be seen that what Mao is saying has little resemblance to the words that Hoxha tries to put in his mouth. We assume that when Hoxha says the democratic parties “were historical,” he is referring to Mao’s statement that both the Communist Party and the democratic parties “are all products of history.” This is an obvious fact just as it is also true that both the Communist Party and the democratic parties will disappear one day. Mao does not say that the democratic parties will exist as long as the Communist Party, that is, until the advent of communism.

The reason for Mao’s policy of the “long-term coexistence and mutual supervision” of the Communist Party and the democratic parties is tied in directly with the actual conditions of the development of the Chinese revolution. Because the Chinese revolution went through a long democratic phase, it was natural and correct that some of the bourgeois parties who to one degree or another opposed imperialism and feudalism and were willing to work together with the Communist Party should have been allowed to play a certain role in the new regime. This was not only a question of trying to unite with certain bourgeois personages at the top of these parties, but more importantly, a question of uniting with, winning over and remolding the sections of the people under their influence–a not insignificant social force.

At the same time, Mao made clear that it was only on the basis of the leadership of the Communist Party, and of accepting the transition to socialism, that any kind of cooperation between the Communist Party and the democratic parties could be maintained. The idea that Hoxha proposes above, that the democratic parties enjoyed the same rights and prerogatives as the Communist Party, is absurd. The “right” and the “prerogative” to lead the revolution was of course the responsibility of the Communist Party, and it was only on this basis that the democratic parties played any role whatsoever.

Mao had no illusions about the role of the democratic parties. He pointed out that they opposed many of the policies of the Communist Party as well as having a completely different world outlook. At the same time he pointed out that, “They are in opposition, and yet not in opposition, often proceeding from being in opposition to not being in opposition.”[69] Only this process of proceeding to being not in opposition could provide the basis for long-term cooperation, and Mao was willing to hold open that possibility.

But Mao also prepared for another possibility as well, that the democratic parties could turn against the revolution. He pointed out clearly in 1957 at the beginning of the “hundred flowers” campaign that:

It is the desire as well as the policy of the Communist Party to exist side by side with the democratic parties for a long time to come. But whether the democratic parties can long remain in existence depends not merely on the desire of the Communist Party but on how well they acquit themselves and on whether they enjoy the trust of the people.[70]

Thus Mao made very clear what the “historical conditions” for the dissolution and withering away of the bourgeois parties was, and it was clearly not the same as the conditions for the Communist Party itself. “How well they acquit themselves” could only have meant whether or not they were willing to continue to accept the socialist transformations, and “enjoy the trust of the people” meant what attitude they took toward the workers and peasants and whether or not there was still a social base for these parties that had to be united with and won over.

In fact, the democratic parties largely ceased to exist during the Cultural Revolution. The form of their participation in the state, the Political Consultative Conference, became nothing more than a vestigial organ, with no power and usually no meetings. It was clear that in Mao’s view and the view of those who made up his revolutionary headquarters, the historical conditions which had required cooperation with the democratic parties no longer existed (except, perhaps, in some limited way in relation to Taiwan).

It should be pointed out that despite Hoxha’s attempt to make it appear that the existence of several parties is incompatible with Leninism, there is historical experience of this situation existing in the Soviet Union as well as in other countries. The October Revolution, for example, was launched not only by the Bolshevik Party (which, of course, was the leading and driving force behind it) but also with the participation of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries. Lenin proposed that representatives of that party participate in the new government (the Council of People’s Commissars) and wrote of the basis for this type of cooperation. Lenin pointed out that the Left Socialist Revolutionaries had great influence over the peasantry and to a certain extent represented those peasants willing to join the revolution, and thus he held that they had to be united with during and after the seizure of power. This cooperation between the Bolsheviks and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries was short-lived, not because Lenin and the Bolshevik Party adopted a policy of breaking up the alliance, but because the Left Socialist Revolutionaries rose up against the new regime, in particular in opposition to the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Under these circumstances, the Bolshevik Party led a vigorous assault on the Left Socialist Revolutionaries who had become objects of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Much of the particular reason why the members of this party jumped out in opposition to the proletariat and the socialist regime was the fact that the revolution was on the defensive, under attack from the imperialists and the reactionaries. Had the situation worked out differently, there is nothing in Lenin’s writings to suggest that a longer period of cooperation with the Left Socialist Revolutionaries might not have been possible.

Lenin even went so far as to say that “the disenfranchisement of the bourgeoisie is not a necessary and indispensable feature of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[71] While Lenin’s statement can by this time be seen to be incorrect (at least if taken to mean over the entire period of socialism), it would be even more wrong–and indeed counter-revolutionary slander–to call him a common liberal on account of it! The point is that upholding and adhering to the dictatorship of the proletariat is a principle for communists, but in carrying it out different tactics may (and will almost certainly) be necessary for different situations, and even if mistakes are made in the choice and use of tactics, this is obviously no grounds for the sort of accusations Hoxha makes (leaving aside the fact that he has not made the slightest case for Mao’s having made even tactical errors).

Further, while we are on the topic of “the leading and indivisible role of the Marxist-Leninist party in the revolution and the construction of socialism,”[72] it is worth noting that, as the official Albanian Party history admits, for years after liberation, “... the Party remained in a semi-illegal state even after it had become the leading party in power.... the Party program was hidden under the program of the Democratic Front,. . . Party members preserved the secrecy of their membership, and. . . the directions of the CPA [the Communist Party of Albania, as it was called at the time] were published as decisions of the Democratic Front....”![73] These policies are brought up in the context of a self-criticism by the Albanian Party itself, and they illustrate some rather blatant errors along the line of “everything through the united front.”

Even while Mao, on the other hand, was allowing the existence of the democratic parties and encouraging cooperation with them, he pointed out that if the revolution were to take a different turn, if it were to come under assault from the imperialists on a large scale, for instance, the democratic parties could well turn viciously against the revolution. He warned sarcastically: “Should something happen like atom bombs blowing up Peking and Shanghai, wouldn’t these people change? You can’t be too sure they wouldn’t. . . . many of them are lying low.”[74]

Finally on this point, it is necessary to return more fully to one theoretical problem in understanding the nature of the Chinese state during the transition from the democratic revolution to the socialist revolution–the question of “the people’s democratic dictatorship.” At the time Mao first put forward this slogan–of the joint dictatorship of four classes, the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie–the Chinese revolution was still in its first, democratic phase. Clearly all those classes, to greater or lesser degrees, had objective interests in seeing that revolution completed. Furthermore, one of the particularities of the Chinese revolution was that the long period of warfare and the existence of base areas meant that, in fact, two regimes were confronting each other. For instance, in the Third Revolutionary Civil War (the final war against Chiang Kai-shek), the base areas of the Communists (with a population of 100 million) confronted the Kuomintang-controlled areas. Naturally the existence of these base areas meant that it was necessary for the government to be able to suppress counter-revolutionaries, carry out the land reform, raise necessary food and clothing for the People’s Liberation Army, keep the economy going, and so on. Mao’s policy of a people’s democratic dictatorship was implemented in the base areas during this civil war, and the political parties, personages and so forth of all of the four classes were represented in the organs of power. It is quite clear how this was a correct policy given the tasks of the revolution at that stage.

When the People’s Republic was established in 1949, it involved the same class forces–basically those forces who sided with the revolution against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism. At the same time, this new government–clearly led by the working class and its Communist Party and based on the worker-peasant alliance–had the task of immediately embarking on the transition to socialism. Thus from the very beginning the “people’s democratic dictatorship” had two contradictory aspects–on the one hand it represented the victory of the democratic revolution and as such included representatives of the national bourgeoisie; on the other hand it was a government led by the political representatives of the working class that was determined to lead the revolution on to socialism and to the ultimate elimination of the bourgeoisie.

In retrospect it is quite clear that the latter aspect–the fact that the new regime was taking the socialist road–was principal and what determined its socialist character. By 1956 Mao was referring to the Chinese state as a “dictatorship of the proletariat” and the “people’s democratic dictatorship” interchangeably. And subsequent Chinese literature refers to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in 1949–i.e., with the victory of the democratic revolution on a nationwide scale.

Thus, in retrospect, it is apparent that the regime set up in 1949 was a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat–one which took into account the nature of Chinese society and the historical conditions which developed through the course of the democratic revolution.

Lenin had made an important observation in Russia which helps shed light on this subject. He pointed out that the dictatorship of the proletariat was, in the conditions of Russia, a special form of class alliance– specifically the alliance of the working class with the poor peasantry, who together comprised the majority of the people. It is not surprising that the form of class alliance necessary for the proletariat to exercise its rule–its dictatorship–in China would be different than in the Soviet Union, owing to the different material conditions and class makeups of the countries and the different paths to power that the revolution had gone through. It is also apparent that this alliance was not a static thing, that as the revolution developed into a socialist revolution, the nature of this alliance would change–hence Mao’s statement in 1953 that the “national bourgeoisie can no longer be defined as an intermediate class.”

It is also important to note that at the time Mao wrote his major theoretical works on this subject, there was no historical experience of the proletariat and its Communist Party in leading the victory of a democratic revolution and building a new social order on this basis. There was the experience of the People’s Democracies formed in Eastern Europe {including in Albania) on the basis of the victory over the fascists, which were also distinguished from the dictatorship of the proletariat in the communist literature of the time (and which, incidentally, often included several parties in the government). However, for a number of reasons, this experience could not be summed up by Mao on a theoretical level at that time, and in any case these situations differed significantly from that in China. Thus, Mao was really dealing with a new historical situation, which he handled quite correctly and he made new contributions to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian revolution in so doing.

It is the height of hypocrisy for Enver Hoxha to suggest that, especially since the achievement of the basic socialist transformation of ownership in 1956, the regime in China was anything other than the dictatorship of the proletariat. All of the literature put out during the Cultural Revolution until the time of the 1976 coup makes it quite clear that Mao’s line and the line of the revolutionaries who supported him was for the proletariat to exercise dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in all spheres of social life. Furthermore, the entire experience of the Chinese revolution showed that Mao was leading the Chinese proletariat and masses in ruthlessly suppressing the bourgeoisie both in the form of the old exploiters dreaming of a comeback as well as new bourgeois elements engendered from within socialist society itself. Yet Hoxha is reduced to repeating the tired and unbelievably puny refrain of the Trotskyites as to why the Chinese state was not a dictatorship of the proletariat–the stars on the flag of the People’s Republic![75]

Having examined Hoxha’s attacks on the course of the Chinese Revolution up through the basic establishment of a socialist economy in 1956 and the “hundred flowers” campaign the next year, and before going on to his attacks on the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s line of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is worthwhile to step back for a moment and ask why Hoxha bases so much of his critique of Mao on that period of the Chinese revolution and tries to hinge almost his whole argument on the fact that, allegedly, Mao “conciliated” with the old exploiters in China.

First, Enver Hoxha likes to remain on what he thinks is firm ground. After all, analyzing the classes and the class contradictions under socialism is not his forte, and he hopes that a simple appeal to mechanical, dogmatic thinking coupled with a rewriting of history will win the naive reader to Hoxha’s own reactionary conclusions. But more importantly, Hoxha is deliberately trying to steer the discussion away from where it has to center–the problem of how to prevent a new bourgeoisie, born out of the very socialist society, from seizing power and restoring capitalism. For it is exactly around this question that Mao Tsetung made his most vital and brilliant contributions to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian revolution, both in theory and practice. Hoxha does not want to, and cannot, take on Mao’s line directly. He knows that on this front he will have even more trouble upholding the mistakes of Stalin as the final word on Marxism. Furthermore, he undoubtedly fears revealing to the world the truly eclectic and muddled formulations of the Albanian party on these questions. So he hopes to divert attention from the question of the Cultural Revolution and the line that lay behind it and instead focus on the old exploiters in Chinese society, who, in fact, played only a secondary role in the restoration of capitalism in China. In trying to carry out the discussion on this basis, Hoxha is actually standing on the same footing as the current Chinese revisionist rulers, who were anxious to prove that the danger of capitalist restoration came from any place other than themselves. It is only now, with their coup completed and their efforts to keep much of a Marxist mask at all diminishing daily, that Hua and Teng have brought back and hailed most every dreg and exploiter of the old society.


[49] Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, pp. 115-16.

[50] Ibid, p. 117.

[51] Mao, “Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,” Selected Works, Vol. 4, p. 364.

[52] Ibid., p. 367.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., p. 368.

[55] Quoted by Hoxha on p. 117.

[56] Ibid., p. 117.

[57] Mao, “The Contradiction Between the Working Class and the Bourgeoisie is the Principal Contradiction in China,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 77.

[58] Mao, “Refute Right Deviationist Views That Depart From the General Line,” ibid., p. 93-94.

[59] See Red Papers 7: How Capitalism Has Been Restored in the Soviet Union and What This Means For the World Struggle (Chicago, 1974), p. 15.

[60] Hoxha, p. 112.

[61] Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 412.

[62] Mao, “ Wen Hui Pao’s Bourgeois Orientation Should Be Criticized,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 454.

[63] Mao, “The Situation in the Summer of 1957,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 476.

[64] Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” op. cit, pp. 410-11.

[65] Article 16, Constitution of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania (Tirana, 1977), p. 13.

[66] Hoxha, p. III, quoting Mao, “On the Ten Major Relationships,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 296.

[67] Hoxha, ibid.

[68] Mao, “On the Ten Major Relationships,” op. cit, p. 297.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 413.

[71] Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, Collected Works, Vol. 28 (Moscow, 1965), p. 271.

[72] Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, p. 112.

[73] History of the Party of Labor of Albania, p. 321.

[74] Mao, “Talks at Conference of Party Committee Secretaries,” Selected Works, Vol. 5, p. 353.

[75] Hoxha, p. 116.