Deng Xiaoping

Overcome the Current Unhealthy Tendencies in the Party Organizations of Southwest China


Spoken: June 6, 1950
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


Today I shall speak about rectification, a matter concerning the entire Party. At the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee in May, it was decided to conduct a rectification movement this year, the third rectification movement in the history of our Party.

As you all know, during the War of Resistance Against Japan our Party conducted a very long rectification movement, chiefly to overcome subjectivism, sectarianism and stereotyped Party writing, with the aim of rallying the entire Party membership under Mao Zedong Thought and around the Central Committee headed by Mao Zedong, so we could lead the masses in defeating the Japanese aggressors. That movement laid sufficient groundwork for the Party’s Seventh National Congress. At the congress it was decided that Mao Zedong Thought be the Party’s guiding ideology, as a result of which our Party became unprecedentedly united politically, ideologically and organizationally. On this basis the Party led the entire nation in defeating the Japanese aggressors and then Chiang Kai-shek, who was supported by U.S. imperialists, before achieving nationwide victory. Without that rectification movement, today’s victory would have been impossible.

During the War of Liberation we conducted the second rectification movement, that is, the “three check-ups and three improvements”. This movement was necessary because the war had become extremely intense and we were at the point of winning, so we needed to forge still closer ties with the masses. However, undesirable phenomena in the Party — impurities in membership composition and work style, and apathy, low morale and serious estrangement from the masses, as had been found among some comrades — had to be overcome before we could continue. Through the three check-ups and three improvements, the confused thinking within the Party was clarified, the Party became united and its ties with the masses were strengthened; in other words, we achieved successful results.

Of course, these two rectification movements had some shortcomings, but we should not let these shortcomings conceal the fact that they were successful in the main. They have been of great service to the Party.

Chairman Mao and the Central Committee have called on us to undergo a third rectification movement, which comes now at a time when we are faced with increasingly more work and responsibilities. We have to work in the new liberated areas with a combined population of 300 million, where our cadres are sparsely spread out and many problems have arisen. We cannot continue unless these problems are solved; hence the need for a rectification movement. During this movement, we should make use of the strong points and avoid the shortcomings of the two previous movements.

This rectification movement means primarily to check on ideology and work style, to see what attitude our comrades have towards the Party’s revolutionary cause and whether or not they have carried out the Party’s policies in various movements, maintained ties with the masses, performed their work well and acted in conformity with Mao Zedong Thought. The purpose is to overcome confusion and achieve unity in matters of ideology and policy, so we can continue with our work on the foundation we have already built.

What are the major erroneous tendencies in our Party at present? The Central Committee has pointed out that they are mainly bureaucratism and, in particular, authoritarianism. The second problem is more serious in the southwest than in other areas. It must be stressed that, since we entered the southwest, we have been engaged in difficult tasks and the overwhelming majority of our comrades, both in rural and urban areas, have been working very diligently. However, we cannot use how “diligently” one works as the sole criterion for checking on the work of our Party or Party members. The word “diligently” implies a willingness to accomplish one’s task satisfactorily, the very least we should expect of a Communist Party member, but more important than that is the end result. There are two ways of working diligently: one is to perform the work well and accomplish one’s tasks by carrying out the policies and maintaining close ties with the masses; the other is to appear busy while actually just ordering people about, thus going against the policies, becoming separated from the masses, not completing any tasks, and damaging the Party’s reputation. We should distinguish between these two ways of working diligently, promoting the correct way and opposing the incorrect way. Some of the Party comrades who are guilty of bureaucratism also work very diligently, hence the new expression, “busy work bureaucratism”. Since the Zunyi Meeting, the correctness of our Party’s line and guiding policies has been ensured under the leadership of Chairman Mao. However, the correctness of the Party’s line is not tantamount to the correct solution of all problems; the solution still depends on Party cadres at various levels and Party members correctly following this line. Even though the line, guiding principles and policies formulated by the Central Committee are correct, if Party members do not carry them out properly, what good can they do? Therefore, even though the overwhelming majority of the comrades are working diligently, that doesn’t mean that everything is fine and that we are successful in all our fields of endeavour; we still have to examine in what way they are working diligently.

Grain collection in eastern Sichuan, for instance, is a case in point. In some counties the work proceeded well, but not in other counties, even though all the comrades worked diligently there. After checking on the work there, it was found that in most cases those who did a good job, as opposed to those who didn’t, managed to avoid deviating far from the policies and their work was performed more fairly and reasonably. As for their work methods, they knew how to hold conferences of people from all circles, as well as peasant conferences, rely on the peasant masses, unite with the intellectuals and enlightened gentry in the rural areas, and get the heads of the bao and jia to work under the supervision of the peasant masses. In other words, these cadres have less problem with bureaucratism and authoritarianism. This shows that only by working diligently, to which we must add the correct methods, can we accomplish our tasks. Here both policy and work style are involved and, generally, it is a matter of maintaining ties with the masses.

The same is true of the factories and other enterprises in Chongqing. Where people carry out the policies correctly and have a good work style, there they accomplish their tasks satisfactorily. In the Nantong Coal Mine, for instance, there are not many cadres, but they perform their work well, because they base their work on reality and maintain close ties with the masses. Before the higher authorities decided to abolish the labour contractor system, they had already found the system irrational and reformed it. At the port of Chongqing the number of cadres is also small and the work is complicated and difficult, but they are still fairly successful, because they follow the mass line. They first try to get a clear understanding of the problems and then solve them one by one. The munitions factory provides another example. Because production was still suspended, the workers received only living expenses, which did not amount to much, and all of them were dissatisfied. There are two ways to cope with such a problem: simply issue an order and put up a notice, or hold a conference of representatives to reason with the workers. The cadres adopted the latter option: workers elected representatives to attend a conference which lasted a few days and at which Commander Liu Bocheng delivered a speech. The result was that all the representatives, including those who planned to wage a struggle against the Department of Industry, unanimously voted in favour of not raising their wages. Which method is actually better then, practising bureaucratism and authoritarianism or relying on the masses and reasoning with them? The facts speak for themselves.

Only a small number of our cadres have come to the southwest and they are shouldering strenuous and pressing tasks. How can they perform their work well under such circumstances? The only correct way is to follow the mass line. However, we have often found that some comrades, when confronted with difficulties, instead of examining whether they themselves have made any mistakes in carrying out policies or whether there is anything wrong with their ideology and work style, complained that the tasks assigned to them were too heavy, that there were not enough cadres and that the masses lacked political awareness. Without a doubt, the experience gained in work at the port of Chongqing and in the Nantong Coal Mine stands as a severe criticism of this erroneous argument.

Some comrades, as soon as they encounter difficulties, blame the new cadres. This is not right. The 30,000 cadres from the army and the old liberated areas who have come to the new liberated areas to undertake local work are the new cadres’ teachers. New cadres learn whatever they are taught by the old and, moreover, it is hard for them to change. Whether or not work in the southwest will have a sound foundation depends on the correctness of the work style of these 30,000 people. If this foundation is unstable because of their bad work style, there will be no end to their troubles. Therefore, the current rectification movement is absolutely necessary, and these 30,000 people will be the main targets for rectification, and the chief purpose is to overcome the serious problem of bureaucratism and, in particular, authoritarianism

The correct work style we advocate is the one put forward by Chairman Mao — integrating theory with practice, maintaining ties with the masses and making self-criticism. Bureaucratism and authoritarianism run counter to Chairman Mao’s teachings. Those tainted with such a work style cannot integrate theory with practice, maintain ties with the masses, practise self-criticism or accomplish their tasks, which will only impair the Party’s work and prestige.

There are two other erroneous tendencies: “closed-doorism” in the united front and a growing degenerate and decadent way of thinking. These two tendencies should also be overcome in the course of the rectification movement.

The question of the united front is one of the three fundamental questions in the Chinese revolution. In “Introducing The Communist”, Chairman Mao pointed out that the united front, armed struggle and Party building are the three fundamental questions in the Chinese revolution. If we make mistakes in any of these questions, we shall suffer defeat in the revolution. That is to say, if we fight battles successfully and the Party is also quite united, but we fail in united front work, the revolution will still fail. The reason for our victory in the Chinese revolution was that we successfully handled the three questions. However, can we discard the united front having won the revolutionary war? No, we cannot. We needed the united front in the past and now we shall not only need it, but must also consolidate it in the days to come. If we discard it, we shall still suffer defeat in the revolution. At the recent conference convened by the Central Committee, Chairman Mao once again stressed this matter. There are still not many comrades in our Party who truly understand the importance of the united front. Although some comrades do not oppose the idea of the united front, they are not so sure about it when it comes to concrete problems. For instance, some Party comrades refuse to be reconciled to the assignment of certain posts to non-Party people. In industry and commerce, some comrades maintain that we should force the national bourgeoisie into bankruptcy, and some doing rural work refuse to co-operate with the enlightened gentry and intellectuals. All these tendencies have severely hindered the fulfilment of the Party’s tasks.

The united front is a concrete application of Marxist-Leninist strategic and tactical principles. In essence, it means uniting with the overwhelming majority so as to isolate the enemy. We should even placate those whom we can for the time being but who may still oppose us in the future, thus winning over those who can be won over and narrowing the enemy’s circle, so that we can then overthrow the principal enemy. Some comrades often manifest a sectarian bias in their work, turning the Party into a small circle or faction and forfeiting the Party’s leading role. When some comrades consider problems, they don’t proceed from overall interests, but from their own interests, fearing they might be overshadowed by others; therefore, they do not like the united front. Some comrades take on airs as veterans, they refuse to delegate functions and powers to others and insist that others obey them just on account of the fact that other people are not Communist Party members. Some comrades think that, since victory has been achieved in the war, they can do without the help of other people. All these ideas and practices are completely erroneous. The question of the united front being a vital question of principle, if we do not clarify it among Party members, we shall suffer great losses in our work. The reason is simple. In the southwest, in addition to the army, there are about 150,000 to 200,000 cadres doing local work, of whom only 30,000 are Party members, a few are Youth League members and 80 per cent or so are non-Party or non-League people. The question of co-operation between Party cadres and non-Party ones is one of co-operation between 20 per cent of the cadres and the other 80 per cent. Let me ask: Can we perform our work well if we do not unite with 80 per cent of the cadres? Is the danger of a “small circle” mentality still not obvious? We may run into problems when we co-operate with non-Party people, since they may also have erroneous thinking and understanding. We should help them patiently. The Central Committee maintains that where Party members and non-Party people fail to co-operate well with each other, the Party members should be the first to be held responsible for it, whether they have good reason or not. Otherwise, the united front cannot be consolidated, and we shall isolate ourselves, find it hard to perform our work well and increase resistance to the revolution — all to the detriment of the people’s cause. A Communist Party member should adhere to the Party’s line and policies of his own accord, serve the people wholeheartedly and perform his work well. He should always be ready to endure disadvantages and troubles and, if he has not performed his work well, he should be ready to accept criticism and, furthermore, should behave this way all his life.

It is quite right for us to maintain Party leadership in the united front, but how should Communist Party members exercise Party leadership in their own work? First, they should firmly carry out the Common Programme, proposed by our Party and adopted at the People’s Political Consultative Conference, as well as every decree and proclamation issued by the People’s Government. Second, they should know how to unite with non-Party people, in order to put the Common Programme into effect and carry out the decrees. If a Party member does not thoroughly understand the Common Programme and the government’s decrees and if he does not know how to use these as weapons to unite with and educate the people in the fight against the enemy, then he cannot exercise any leadership at all and may even do something against the Common Programme and our policies, violating the law and rules of discipline. This would land him in a completely indefensible and passive position. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening today: some Communist Party members do not study and apply the Common Programme. Non-Party people have become thoroughly familiar with the Common Programme, so they can quote copiously from it and present valid arguments when discussing work and policies. In contrast, some of our Party members often stare at them tongue-tied during such discussions; others went so far as to simply refuse to listen to reason. I should like to ask these comrades, “Is this exercising leadership?” Third, besides becoming a model in carrying out the Common Programme and observing law and discipline, a Party member should have a correct work style — fearing no trouble, acting modestly and living plainly, and seeking truth from facts — and serve the people wholeheartedly without considering personal gain or loss. Some comrades believe that since we have conquered the country, everyone should obey us. This view is completely erroneous. In fact, the masses will not obey you, I am afraid. A leader is not self-appointed. His leadership has to be accepted and approved by the masses. If a leader has an abominable work style, the masses will not obey him and, if he always makes mistakes, the masses will not accept him as their leader. Someone may say he has been involved in revolutionary work for a long time and is very talented, but if the masses do not follow him, he will accomplish nothing.

Within our Party there are two kinds of people: one kind use their Party membership and seniority in the revolution to intimidate other people, insisting that people outside the Party obey them. They speak rudely to others and put on airs, regarding this as “exercising leadership”. In fact, this only disgusts people, alienates the masses, and they put themselves in a corner. The other kind, though not possessing a great deal of talent, knows how to be open-minded in co-operating with non-Party people, consulting them about any matters that may arise, making joint decisions, and working diligently and conscientiously. As a result, they handle affairs fairly well and win other people’s respect. Therefore, a correct idea can only become realized with the help of a good working method. If we adhere to the Common Programme, adopt an honest, sincere attitude and speak convincingly, other people will readily accept our criticisms of them. Only by doing this can we be regarded as good leaders. Commander-in-Chief Zhu De said that when we are comparing ourselves with non-Party people, we are taking the Party as a whole; when making comparisons between individuals, not every Party member is necessarily better than everyone outside the Party. Do not look down on non-Party people, for they can master the lessons of our experience very quickly. If we do not progress, we shall be surpassed by many young people before long. The only way to avoid this is to continue to advance, respect other people and study with an open mind. What makes veteran comrades valuable is that they have rendered meritorious service and are experienced. Even more important is that they are neither complacent nor arrogant, they can get close to the masses and forge ahead tirelessly. If a Party member becomes arrogant or complacent, refuses to move ahead and alienates himself from the masses, then he will lose the noble qualities associated with Party membership, all his previous efforts will be for nothing, and he would become a person without an ideal who hinders others from making progress and our cause from advancing.

The various levels of government are now making personnel appointments and many non-Party people will become ministers and section chiefs. If some Party comrades are appointed as deputies, they must accept other people’s leadership. This does not contradict the principle of Party leadership; so long as Party members correctly implement policies, they will embody Party leadership. Even if a Party member is in a leadership position and a non-Party person is his deputy, he should consult with his deputy when issues arise, making sure that non-Party people truly exercise their functions and powers.

We should sincerely help former work personnel and stop calling them “former personnel”. We should respect them and remain on friendly terms with them. In this way we can help them progress and remould themselves.

I should like to speak about the tendency towards degeneration and corruption. This tendency is growing and has caused many troubles in the economic sphere, in particular. In both urban and rural areas embezzlement and corruption have become very serious. Another problem concerns cadres’ marriages — divorce and remarriage have become prevalent everywhere. People always base their arguments on the marriage law, saying the marriage law stipulates freedom of marriage and they, therefore, disregard political conditions, their children’s wellbeing and questions of morality. Some cadres have made a very bad impression on the public and their work has been impaired. Others even resort to indecent behaviour, threats and deception to get their way. If this phenomenon is not rectified, it will not only adversely affect our work and impair the Party’s prestige, but will also bring some comrades to ruin.

The above are the unhealthy work styles and tendencies we want to overcome in this rectification movement. The root cause for the emergence of these tendencies is that these comrades think that since victory has been achieved in the revolution, they can go to sleep, become conceited, live in comfort and ease and relax their efforts. This kind of thinking is extremely dangerous. It is true that we have achieved a basic victory in the revolutionary war, but we still have many enemies. Banditry is still rampant, the feudal forces remain intact, and we still have a long way to go to fulfil the quotas for public grain and taxes. Our tasks being so strenuous and difficulties so numerous, is there anything of which we can be proud? For a considerable length of time following the victory in the revolution in the Soviet Union, conditions were extremely bad. For the present, we have to practise the supply system of distribution. A Party member should place his work above everything else, giving no thought to comfort and ease. We must see clearly that our living standard cannot be separated from the living standards of society in general.

These tendencies also indicate that the activities of our Party organizations leave much to be desired and that we have not made sufficient criticisms of others and ourselves, especially among the leading comrades. Recently we received anonymous letters from several comrades, exposing a number of problems. These comrades are good people, but the fact that they wrote anonymous letters also indicates that the inner-Party life in some army units and local organizations is neither democratic nor sound, so that healthy trends are not yet gaining ground among Party members.

Can these tendencies be overcome? At every stage of the revolution there have always been some dregs sinking down, but the overwhelming majority of our comrades are of fine character. Most of the people with an unhealthy work style can change their thinking, correct their mistakes and continue to progress. In this rectification movement we should avoid the shortcomings of the past, emphasize enlightenment and guidance, and make criticisms and self-criticisms in earnest through checking on the work done over the past six months. In accordance with the guiding principles of “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones” and “curing the sickness to save the patient”, we should concentrate on helping comrades who have made mistakes to solve their ideological problems. We should only take disciplinary measures against the few people who are of extremely bad character — ones who are guilty of serious embezzlement or corruption, or who have tried to undermine or opposed the Party’s policies. I hope that every comrade will actively participate in the rectification movement, so as to prepare for the rent reduction work to take place this winter and continue to next spring, and for the agrarian reform movement to take place next winter and continue to the spring of the year after next.

Following rectification we shall reveal our Party membership to the public. This Bureau of the Central Committee will issue a directive to make public all our Party membership in urban and rural areas, in factories and in government departments. There are considerable advantages to making Party membership public, as the experience in the old liberated areas in this regard shows. Some comrades are afraid of having Party members, who have not shown themselves to be good ones, become known to the public. The ugly daughter-in-law will have to see her parents-in-law in the end, so letting the masses supervise and criticize us is all for our own good.

It is of vital importance for Party branches to maintain their activities regularly; otherwise they will lack fighting capacity. We should establish and strengthen commissions for discipline inspection in the Party and control commissions in the government, which are important weapons for combatting bureaucratism and authoritarianism and for supervising Party members in observing rules of discipline and the law.

It is essential to do a good job in our studies, conscientiously establish a system for study and give it effective leadership. The municipal Party committee and Party committees directly under it should study this matter. The reason many mistakes were made in the past is that some comrades attached no importance to study and they got so bogged down in routine matters that they seldom had time to absorb new ideas. Study can help us look to the future and clarify confused thinking. Besides the rectification movement, the above measures we have adopted are aimed at overcoming our shortcomings, enhancing the Party’s fighting capacity, and enabling us to better accomplish the arduous tasks the Party has assigned to us.

(Speech delivered at the second Party conference of representatives of Chongqing.)