Victory over the “gang of four”

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 2, No. 2, November 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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For the third time in a year the masses of the Chinese people came onto the streets in their millions in August following the eleventh Congress of the Communist Party of China. They were jubilantly hailing the victory led by Chairman Hua Kuo-feng over the “gang of four” anti-Party clique. They demonstrated enthusiastically, militantly and joyfully, just as they did in their millions in October last year when the plot of the “gang of four” was first smashed, and just as they did in July this year to greet the decisions of the Third Plenum of the 10th Central Committee to expel the “gang of four” from the Party forever.

Yet there are still forces in Britain in the Marxist-Leninist movement who block their ears to the triumphant shouts of the Chinese working people. Foremost among them are the handful of leaders of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who are intensifying their opportunist errors and heading straight down the path towards revisionism, trying to take their members with them.

Despite an extensive programme of public meetings the CPBML has not held a single meeting on China for a whole year. When asked about the view of the party on the victories in the class struggle in China comrades working in their bookshop, Bellman Books, have been told to say: “We don’t think its any of our business. “What an insult to the Chinese people and the British working class! What an insult to the Communist Party of China!

The genuine socialist countries have been built mainly by their own workers and working people under their own Marxist-Leninist Parties. But international support is also a contributory factor. For example in the 1930’s British workers and progressive people gave internationalist assistance to the Chinese people’s struggle against Japanese imperialism. Small though that contribution was compared to the struggles of the Chinese people themselves and of the entire international’ Communist movement, we are proud of it.

Today socialist China is a great base area supporting revolution throughout the world. We are immensely inspired by the victories of the Chinese working class. The fact that one fifth of the world’s population is already living under socialism makes a tremendous difference to the balance of forces in the world.

In the past when the Soviet Union was also a great socialist state it inspired and strengthened the working class throughout the world. Then, when it was taken over by Khrushchev’s clique of revisionists the loss to the working class was of world-wide significance. Genuine Marxist-Leninist Parties and organisations came into existence in country after country in the struggle against modern revisionism headed by the Soviet revisionist clique. It was and still is very much the “business” of all of us.

Now in the critical period after the death of the great leader and teacher Mao Tsetung when the great Communist Party of China was similarly threatened by a band of revisionists, the leaders of the CPBML try to tell us “it is none of our business”!

Their motives are sinister. They are not being open and aboveboard. What they really mean to do is to encourage as many genuine revolutionaries as possible to withhold support from the Communist Party of China headed by Hua Kuo-feng. In fact they regard the class struggle in China as being very much their business. And their business is to try to give tacit support to the anti-Party clique of Wang, Chang, Chiang and Yao, the “gang of four”!

They want to see the Communist Party of China taken over by revisionists in the hope that these revisionists will support their own opportunist line on the class struggle in Britain and the world.


Class struggle in a socialist country can often be protracted and complicated. The leaders of the CPBML have had plenty of time to make up their minds on the present struggle and give a lead to the working class. But honest rank and file comrades may still be confused. How do we know that Comrade Hua Kuo-feng and the Central Committee are the genuine supporters of Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line and revolutionary aims? There are two simple telling reasons which no opportunist or revisionist can deny.

1. The Enthusiasm of the Masses

All commentators including bourgeois commentators on China, report the tremendous enthusiasm of the masses about the overthrow of the “gang of four” and in favour of the present leadership of Chairman Hua.

This was seen in October 1976 immediately after the downfall of the “gang”. It was seen after the 3rd Plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in July 1977 and again after the triumphant 11th Congress in August 1977. These demonstrations were far more widespread among the masses and far livelier than the demonstrations in April 1976 after the Tien An Men Square incident when the “gang of four” were in control of a large amount of power and influence. The fact that the Party has been able to smash the conspiracy of the “gang of four” without fighting and bloodshed is because of the overwhelming support of the people and the extreme isolation of the anti-Party clique from the masses.

Is this isolation significant or not? To armchair “super-revolutionaries” this was very unfortunate for the “gang of four” but in no way significant. To Mao Tsetung however, isolation from the masses is of tremendous significance. He wrote in 1945:

Twenty-four years of experience tell us that the right task, policy and style of work invariably conform with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably strengthen our ties with the masses, and the wrong task, policy and style of work invariably disagree with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably alienate us from the masses. (’Quotations’, p 123)

The “gang of four” were extremely alienated and isolated from the masses. That’s not accidental. It was because they were a band of revisionists out to seize power for themselves and serve the bourgeoisie, not the working class and working people. That is its significance.

2. Hua was chosen by Mao himself

In 1975 Premier Chou En-lai, who had stood at Chairman Mao’s right hand for forty years, became too ill to carry on the day to day business of the government. At this time two prominent, members of the “gang of four” might have been expected to take over out of seniority, Chang Chun-chiao or Wang Hung-wen. Wang Hung-wen had sat on Mao’s right hand side at the 10th Party Congress in 1973. Chang Chun-chiao had acted as deputy prime minister. Yet they were passed over. In their place, on Chairman Mao’s proposal, Comrade Teng Hsiao-ping took up the day to day work of the government. This was an unmistakable slap in the face for the “gang of four”. It is a proof that by 1975 significant errors by the “gang of four” were already coming to light which they were not correcting through self-criticism. Mao Tsetung was clearly determined not to give any more power to the “gang of four”.

On January 8th 1976 the great revolutionary Chou En-lai died. Following this, on Chairman Mao’s proposal Comrade Hua Kuo-feng, who had previously held somewhat more junior positions in the leadership, was appointed “Acting Premier”. Once again it is unmistakable that Mao Tsetung deliberately passed over the “gang of four” as undesirable candidates.

On April 17th 1976 on Mao Tsetung’s personal proposal the Central Committee went further: Comrade Hua Kuo-feng was appointed Premier and First Vice-Chairman. Again Chairman Mao’s intentions in blocking the “gang of four” are unmistakable. In particular no-one has ever held the position of “First Vice-Chairman” in the Party before. Can any of the supporters of the “gang of four”, open or hidden, think of a case? Or do they imagine Chairman Mao overlooked the little word “First”! No, it is quite clear that this was a major strategic decision by Mao Tsetung to ensure that the Party and state leadership would not fall into the hands of the “gang of four” even when he was critically ill or had passed away.


These two telling reasons for supporting Comrade Hua Kuo-feng and the Communist Party of China – the enthusiasm of the masses and the decisions of Chairman Mao – cannot be denied even by the most cynical supporter of the “gang of four”. They are based on entirely independent evidence.

In addition we most strongly urge all comrades to study material by the Communist Party of China exposing and criticizing the “gang of four”. The material is militant and careful, lively and factual, as well as penetrating and profound. This is no bourgeois hatchet job like Khrushchev’s secret speech slandering Stalin. It is the work of a great and deeply tempered revolutionary party drawing searching lessons to arm its battles in the future.

These articles, in Peking Review and other Chinese publications, tell of how Chairman Mao repeatedly warned the “gang of four” of their growing errors. But they did not listen because of their arrogance and their reactionary class background which they tried to cover up. These articles and particularly the powerful speech by Chairman Hua at the 11th Congress of the CPC, show how the “gang of four” perverted Mao’s great theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Under the pretext of waging the class struggle they treated contradictions amongst the people as contradictions with the enemy.

They attacked many good people and tried to destroy comrades instead of helping them correct their mistakes. Their aim was to overthrow a large number of leading comrades and seize power themselves in the name of continuing the revolution. This is indeed revisionism, dressing bourgeois ideology and politics up in clothes of Marxism to receive the working class and the people.

Had the “gang of four” succeeded in their plot they would have tried to turn the great Communist Party of China into a fascist party. Furthermore the rise to power of revisionism means the rise to power of the bourgeoisie, they would have turned China from a socialist country to a capitalist country.

Once again they have demonstrated their preference for opportunism rather than standing up for the true interests of the working class.

We call on all genuine Marxist-Leninists in Britain to refute this opportunist stand of the leaders of the CPBML and themselves to come out clearly in support of the great Communist Party of China headed by Chairman Hua and against the line, policies and practice of the “gang of four”!

In its victorious struggle against the “gang of four” and its campaign to overcome their influence the Communist Party of China has been able to gain an even firmer grasp of Mao Tsetung’s invaluable teachings. In particular it has emphasised the importance of these basic principles, the “Three Do’s and Three Don’ts”:

Practice Marxism and not revisionism, unite and don’t split, be open and above board, and don’t intrigue and conspire.

These principles have tremendous significance for the international communist movement and for the struggle to rally all genuine Marxist-Leninists in Britain for the central task of building the revolutionary Communist Party. We must study them well and really take them to heart as we express our militant revolutionary support for the victory of the Communist Party of China over the “gang of four”.