In April-May 1967, as part of a mounting propaganda campaign against the leading Marxist-Leninist Liu Shao-chi, the press organs of the counter-revolutionary faction headed by Mao Tse-tung – “Biejing Ribao” (Peking Daily), “Hongqi” (Red Flag) and “Renmin Ribao” (People’s Daily) opened an attack upon Liu’s book “How to be a Good Communist”.
This book, which consists of a series of lectures delivered by Liu in July 1939 at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Yenan, has, over the twenty-eight years since its first publication, been widely used by the Communist Party of China as a textbook in the training of Party members and has been republished several times in new editions. In May 1967 however, the book was suddenly discovered to be
a big poisonous weed opposed to Marxism-Leninism. (Editorial Depts, of “Hongqi” and “Renmin Ribao”: “Betrayal of Proletarian Dictatorship is an essential element in the Book on ’Self-Cultivation’’” in: “Hongqi”, No. 6, 1967 and “Renmin Ribao”, May 8th, 1967, in: “Peking Review”, No. 20, 196 7; p. 7).
What are the charges against “How to be a Good Communist”? Firstly, it is alleged that
The essential element in this book...is betrayal of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And this betrayal of the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat means complete, out-and-out betrayal of Marxism-Leninism itself and of the revolutionary cause of the proletariat. ... The book on ’self-cultivation’ precisely throws out the dictatorship of the proletariat. The author has even deleted the term from two passages quoted from Lenin. ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is absolutely intolerable to him. Wherever he sees the term he strikes it out. (Editorial Depts. of ”Hongqi” and ”Renmin Ribao”: ibid.; p. 7,8,9.10).
It is true that Liu’s book does not deal with the strategy and tactics of the proletarian revolution. That is not its subject. Marxist-Leninists do not expect a book written on a particular subject by a Marxist-Leninist to be an encyclopedia covering every aspect of the Marxist-Leninist world outlook. They expect that the book should deal with its particular subject in a Marxist-Leninist way.
It must also be remembered that at this period the policy of the Chinese Communist Party, binding on all its members, was that the dictatorship of the proletariat was not necessary for the construction of socialism in China, and that socialism in China could be constructed under the new-democratic state in which the working people share power with the capitalist class. It must also be remembered that the principal author of this revisionist conception was Mao Tse-tung.
In fact, however, Liu does quote a key passage from Lenin on the dictatorship of the proletariat and he does not delete the term.
...the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections of the bourgeoisie, but also in the force of habit, in the strength of small production. For unfortunately, small production is still very, very widespread in the world and small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale. For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential, and victory over the bourgeoisie is impossible without a long, stubborn, and desperate war of life and-death, a war demanding perseverance, discipline, firmness, indomitableness and unity of will. (Liu Shao-chi: “How to be a Good Communist”, Peking, 1951: p. 45-46).
Secondly, it is alleged that the book advocates “self-cultivation” as an end in itself, and the divorcing of Communists from revolutionary practice.
’Self-cultivation is everything, the ultimate aim is nothing’ this is the book’s formula, a hundred per cent revisionist formula. (Editorial Dept. of “Hongqi” and “Renmin Ribao”: ibid.; p. 11).
What this poisonous weed of a book on ’self-cultivation’ propounds is nothing but a reactionary subjective idealist theory of ’self-cultivation’. It advocates divorcing oneself from the revolution and from political struggles. ...Instead, it asks people to shut themselves away behind closed doors, work hard and seriously ’cultivate’ themselves. (Representative of the Revolutionary Students and Teachers of the Shantung Institute of Oceanography: “What Theory should a Communist Party member take as his Guide...etc. ” in: “Peking Review”, No. 17, 1967; p. 14).
These allegations also are totally untrue.
The whole theme of the book is how a member of the Party can mould himself into a good Communist in order to carry on the revolutionary struggle to build socialism and communism more effectively.
The cultivation of Communist Party members is a revolutionary cultivation. We cannot carry on our cultivation by divorcing ourselves from revolutionary practice or the practical revolutionary movement of the broad, toiling masses, particularly the proletarian masses. The aim of our cultivation is solely to serve the interests of revolutionary practice and to direct more effectively the practical movement of the masses. Herein lies the difference between our cultivation and other idealistic, formal and abstract cultivations which are divorced from social practice. (Liu Shao-chi: ibid.; p. 9).
Thirdly, it is alleged that the book advocates that Party members should pursue their personal interests
The author of this book on ’self-cultivation’, the No. 1 Party person in authority taking the capitalist road shamelessly declared that personal interests must be attended to. ... By ’cultivating’ himself according to this philosophy, a Communist will become a representative of the bourgeoisie – short-sighted, selfish, a seeker after gain and given to sharp practices. (“Revolutionary Students and Teachers of the Tsingtao Chemical Engineering Institute”: in: “Peking Review”, No. 17, 1967; p. 14).
This allegation too is quite untrue. Liu emphasizes:
The Marxist-Leninist principle is that personal interests must be subordinated to the Party’s interests ... The interests of the Communist Party are the very interests of the emancipation of the proletariat and mankind as a whole. ...Therefore, the subordination of a Party member’s personal interests to the Party’s interests means subordination to the interests of class and national emancipation and to the interests of Communism and social evolution.
Whether or not a Communist Party member can absolutely and unconditionally subordinate his personal interests to the Party’s interests under all circumstances is the criterion with which to test his loyalty to the Party, to the revolution and to the Communist cause. (Liu Shao-chi: ibid.; p. 51, 52).
Fourthly, it is alleged that the book advocates blind obedience on the part of Party members.
The No. 1 Party person in authority taking the capitalist road vigorously propagated the revisionist organisational principle of blind obedience in his book on ’self-cultivation’ of Communists.” (“Down with the. Reactionary ’Docile Tool’ Theory”: Editorial in “Beijing Ribao” (Peking Daily), April 7th, 1967, in: “Peking Review”, No. 17, 1967; p. 14).
This allegation is also untrue.
A large part of the book is devoted to the ways in which a member of the Party can equip himself to recognise a correct political line and distinguish it from an incorrect political line, so that he can take his stand on the correct line and carry on an inner-Party struggle against the incorrect line. He explicitly condemns the blind following or idolisation of anyone.
We first of all recognise and make out which of the various phenomena, ideologies, diverse opinions and views are correct...and which of them are incorrect. ...After sober analysis and consideration we decide our clear-cut attitude, and take up our stand on the correct side. We do not blindly follow or idolise anybody....We...uphold all the correct views and opinions in the Party. ...We do not adopt a liberal attitude but carry on an irreconcilable struggle against various ideologies and views which are wrong in principle. (Liu Shao-chi: ibid.; p. 93-94).
But in reality this attack on “blind obedience” is intended as an attack upon a much wider threat than Liu’s book. It is an attack upon the organisational principles of the Communist Party of China and Marxist-Leninist Parties everywhere, as we shall see.
Fifthly, it is alleged that the book does not extol Mao Tse-tung nor the “thought of Mao Tse-tung”.
In not one of its many reprints and revised editions does the book anywhere call on people to be good pupils of Chairman Mao. Nowhere does it so much as mention Mao Tse-tung’s thought. This is another illustration of the fact that the author is a bogus Marxist but a genuine revisionist, because in our times to depart from Mao Tse-tung thought means to depart from the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism. (Editorial Depts. of “Hongqi” and “Renmin Ribao”: ibid.; p. 11).
In fact, as we have seen, the disguised ideology of “Mao Tse-tung’s thought” is none other than the ideology of Chinese revisionism, and hence of the Chinese capitalist class, while Mao Tse-tung himself has long been the leader of a revisionist faction and is now the leader of a counter-revolutionary faction within China.
It is, therefore, correct that the ideology which Liu Shao-chi extols is Marxism-Leninism:
Every one of our Party members should...ceaselessly raise his or her own consciousness and understanding of Marxism-Leninism. (Liu Shao-chi: ibid.; p. 13).
while the teachers and models he advises Party members to follow are
Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. (p. 14,15,16,17,19,20,21,22,etc.).
This is one good reason why the counter-revolutionary faction hates Liu’s book.
But there is another and wider reason.
How to be a Good Communist deals with the qualities which a Party member should strive to develop in himself in order to serve the working class and the revolutionary movement more effectively.
We should strive to cultivate
–the firm standpoint and pure ideals of the proletariat (p. 32),
–great vision and courage (p. 48),
–lofty ideals (p. 50),
–loyalty to the Party, to the revolution and to the Communist cause (p.52),
–Party spirit (p. 52),
–very good Communist ethics (p. 54),
–the greatest sense of responsibility (p. 55),
–an objective attitude (p. 56);
–the highest, self-respect (P. 56),
–all the greatest and noblest virtues of mankind (p. 57), and
–genuine human sympathy (p. 75).
We should undergo
a very long process of revolutionary steeling (p. 5).
We should raise our
revolutionary technique (p. 13).
We should strive to raise our
qualities in every respect to the same level as those of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin (p. 14).
We should not try to
learn by heart many ready-made principles and conclusions (p. 17)
try to master the essence, spirit and methods which made Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin what they are. (p. 19).
modestly listen to the opinions and criticisms of our comrades and of the masses. (p. 25).
begin our great task of changing the world by starting from the very people in close contact with us and from the very work that we can immediately undertake. (p. 50).
personal interests must be subordinated to the Party’s interests. (P. 51).
One should be ready
to lay down one’s life for a noble cause. (p. 58).
The counter-revolutionary faction, headed by Mao Tse-tung, sneers at these precepts in “How to be a Good Communist” as
priest-like invocations and blessings. (Editorial Depts. of “Hongqi” and “Renmin Ribao”: ibid.; p. 9).
The counter-revolutionary faction in China, led by Mao Tse-tung is seeking to destroy the Communist Party of China and the Marxist-Leninist organisations and Parties throughout the world.
It does not want “good Communists”!