The endorsement of Soviet revisionism by the majority leadership of the Communist Party of China encouraged the capitalist class to begin open attacks upon the Party, and upon the new-democratic state in which, although they shared power with the working people, the leading role was played by the working class.
From the beginning of 1957, therefore, the parties of the capitalist class – the most important of which were the Democratic League, the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, the Peasants:’ and Workers’ Party and the September 3 Party – opened a campaign for increased representation in the state apparatus, and for a reduction in the representation of the Communist Party. This campaign was carried on in speeches, and by articles in the organs of the capitalist parties, attacking the ”bureaucracy” of the Party and state. And in several parts of China, revolts, incited by capitalist and other reactionary elements, took place.
In his speech of February 1957 “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People”, Mao Tse-tung gave further encouragement to the capitalist attacks and revolts by placing the main responsibility for them on the “failures” and “bureaucracy” of the Communist Party and the new-democratic state. In the section of his speech entitled “Concerning Disturbances created by Small Numbers of the People”, Mao says
The immediate cause of these disturbances was the failure to satisfy certain of their demands for material benefits. ...
But a more important cause was bureaucracy on the part, of those in positions of leadership. (Mao Tse-tung: ibid., p.45).
This view, that an offensive by the capitalists was to be blamed on the “failures” and “bureaucracy” of the Communists “in positions of leadership”, was, of course, that put forward in the late 1920s by the Soviet revisionist Bukharin – the view on which Stalin commented:
Bukharin’s second mistake ... consists in his wrong, non-Marxian approach to the question of the intensification of the class struggle, of the increasing resistance of the capitalist elements. ...
Bukharin and his friends ... approach the matter not in a Marxian, but in a Philistine way, and try to explain the intensification of the class struggle by all kinds of fortuitous causes, as, for instance, the ’incompetence’ of the Soviet apparatus, the ’incautious’ policy of local comrades, the ’absence’ of flexibility, ’excesses’,
Thus it follows that the intensification of the class struggle is to be explained by causes relating to the state of the Soviet apparatus, the competence or incompetence, the strength or weakness of our local organisations. It follows, for instance, that the wrecking activities of the bourgeois intellectuals in Shakhty, which are a form of resistance of the bourgeois elements to the Soviet government and a form of intensification of the class struggle, are to be explained, not by the relation of class forces ... but by the incompetence of our apparatus. ...
There have been no cases in history where dying classes have voluntarily departed from the scene. There have been no cases in history where the dying bourgeoisie has not exerted all its remaining strength to preserve its existence, whether our lower Soviet apparatus is good or bad ... the dying classes will still carry on their resistance. (J.V. Stalin; “The Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U.(B.)”, in: “Leninism”, London; 1942; p. 257-258, 259).
However, on the basis of Mao Tse-tung’s analysis, the majority leadership of the Party launched in April 1957 a “rectification campaign” stated to be directed “against bureaucracy” in the Party and state organs.
To capitalists the worst “bureaucrat” is the official who aims to restrict their activities as capitalists, and it is not surprising that the largest volume of complaints of “bureaucracy” from this section of “the people” was directed at Marxist-Leninists.
In September 1957 it was officially announced that during the “rectification campaign” 300,000 Party and State officials had been removed from their posts. A not inconsiderable number of these were Marxist-Leninists who wished to serve the interests of the working, class and not those of the capitalist class.
The “rectification” campaign aroused the anger of the most militant and politically conscious workers, and opened the eyes of a number of leading comrades to the manner in which the line of the revisionist majority was operating.
As a result, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the Party succeeded in forcing Mao Tse-tung to modify the text of his speech of February 1957 prior to its publication in June, although not in any fundamental way. But they did succeed in transforming the “rectification campaign” and redirecting it against “rightists”, that is, against the representatives of the capitalist class in the government and in the People’s Congress.
In January 1958 they forced the dismissal of three rightist Ministers, members of the Democratic League, who had been most outspoken in their attacks upon the Communist Party – Chang Po-chun (Minister of Communications), Lo Lung-chi (Minister of the Timber Industry) and Chang Nai-chi (Minister of Food). And in February 1958 they were able to force the dismissal of the rightist General Lung Yun, a member of the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, from the post of Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Committee, together with the expulsion of 38 rightist deputies from the National People’s Congress.
However, the revisionists still held the dominant position in the leadership of the Party. And in the June-July session of the People’s Congress the dismissed rightist Ministers were permitted to make self-criticisms and promises to reform. In December 1958 they were restored to leading positions in their party. And by April 1959 they were taking part in meetings, of the joint-advisory body of the Communist Party and the capitalist parties – the People’s Political Consultative Conference.
The revisionists in the majority leadership of the Party also succeeded in adopting as Party policy the explanation that the rightists who had attacked the Communist Party represented the interests, not of the national capitalist class, but of the overthrown comprador big bourgeoisie, landlords and imperialists:
There are two exploiting classes ... in China today. One of the exploiting classes comprises the bourgeois rightists who oppose socialism, the landlord and comprador classes whose rule had been overthrown, and other reactionaries. The bourgeois rightists are to all intents and purposes agents of the imperialists, the remnant feudal and comprador forces, and Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang. The other exploiting class comprises the national bourgeoisie ... and their intellectuals who are accepting socialist transformation step by step. (Liu Shao-chi: “Report on the Work of the Central Committee, May 1958 in: “Second Session of the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China”; Peking; 1958; p.21).