Deng Xiaoping

Integrate Marxism-Leninism With the Concrete Conditions of China


Published: November 17, 1956
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


Some of our friends have raised the following questions: What do the Chinese Communist Party members mean to do? Who decides which of the classic international principles of communism are applicable to China?

My friends, if you want to obtain a detailed answer to the first question, you could consult the Party Constitution adopted at the Eighth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, or, to be specific, the General Programme and the chapter on Party membership in the Constitution. The “Report on the Revision of the Constitution of the Communist Party of China” can also help to clarify it. If what the Party members mean to do or their tasks are put in a nutshell, there are just two: serve the people wholeheartedly and put the interests of the people first in doing everything. The aim of every Party member is the realization of socialism and communism. Following Marxist-Leninist principles, China first had to accomplish a bourgeois democratic revolution. Following this step, China now is building socialism and then, in future, advance from socialism to communism. In this way the Chinese people will be guided to a society utterly free from exploitation and oppression, in which to build a happy life under communism. These are what the Chinese Communist Party members mean to do or their tasks. Of course, not all or even most of the 11 million members of the Chinese Communist Party measure up to such a high standard. The Party’s task is to gradually enhance the political awareness of its members, so that they can be Communists worthy of the name in both thought and deed. The Chinese Communist Party takes this as its regular task. A great many members of the Chinese Communist Party have a peasant family background since a large number of people who joined the Party shortly after it was founded were peasants. They joined because they wanted to fight imperialism and feudalism and obtain land. It could be said that in the beginning they wanted democratic revolution, not socialism. Take agricultural co-operation, for example. It was through education and actual practice that they gradually came to demand it. Now most of the peasants have explicitly chosen to follow the socialist road and called for the co-operative transformation of agriculture. Therefore, we cannot expect Party members to come up to the required standard overnight. A Communist Party member is, first, an ordinary person and, second, a more advanced ordinary person. However, there are also Party members who are lagging behind the ordinary people.

Who decides which of the classic international principles of communism are applicable to China? The Seventh National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, held 11 years ago, laid down the following principle: we shall integrate the universal truth of Marxism and Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution as a guide for our country’s revolution and development. This principle, formulated by our Party and Comrade Mao Zedong on the basis of the experience of failure and success in revolution, was affirmed at the Seventh and Eighth Party Congresses. Naturally this is just a principle and many specific problems may still crop up when it is put into practice. A country has to confront many types of problems. Whether it be during times of revolution or economic development, integrating Marxism-Leninism with the specific conditions of the time is a question that requires a constant search for solution. This question should be discussed and solved at Party congresses. When the congress is not in session, it is up to the Party Central Committee to deliberate and decide on it. Once a decision has been made, we need Party members to carry out the decision in practice, so first of all, tens of hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of backbone members will need to have a good grasp of the principle before it can be implemented.

The universal truth of Marxism-Leninism must be integrated with the concrete practice of a country — a formulation which is itself a universal truth. It embraces two aspects — universal truth and the integration of that truth with a country’s concrete conditions. We have consistently held that neither aspect can be ignored. It is the view of our Chinese Communist Party that the universal truth includes abolishing feudalism and capitalism and realizing socialism, to be followed by communism. Can we do without taking the socialist road? No, we cannot. If we deviate from this universal truth and give up our efforts to establish socialism, the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party would have no need to exist. How then can China abolish feudalism and capitalism and realize socialism and communism at an earlier date? We have to study the characteristics of our own country. Otherwise, if we mechanically copy the experience of other countries, this universal truth will not be realized in China. You, my friends, must have learned about China’s socialist transformation of capitalist industry and commerce in the various places you visited. This is a case of integrating the universal truth with the concrete conditions of China. The universal truth calls for abolishing capitalism and exploitation, and realizing socialism. If we depart from it, socialist transformation of capitalist industry and commerce would be out of the question, and we shall find ourselves on the capitalist, not the socialist, road. This is one aspect of the matter. The other aspect is that the road we are taking today, namely, transforming capitalist industry and commerce, is the one which Lenin had in mind but was unable to take. We have chosen the peaceful transformation of capitalist industry and commerce. Experience has shown that in so doing our production has not been impaired but, rather, expanded and we have not only eliminated capitalism but educated the bourgeoisie as well. It has proved to be a good method. If the universal truth had not been integrated with the concrete conditions of China or had been poorly integrated, we would have suffered great losses. The same is true in the socialist transformation of agriculture and in all other fields of our endeavour as well.

On the question of integrating the universal truth with concrete practice, our Party suffered a great deal in the past. That is why we have been concentrating on combatting subjectivism, which has two aspects: dogmatism and empiricism. Dogmatists only know Marxist-Leninist phrases and do not apply them in the light of concrete conditions. This practice led to defeats and setbacks in our revolution. Empiricists only lay stress on concrete practice or the experience of a given time or place of a country, ignoring Marxist-Leninist principles. We oppose both.

I should like to make one more point for our friends. In our experience we have found that it is no easy job to integrate the universal truth with concrete conditions. The Chinese Communist Party also makes mistakes every now and then. Nevertheless, we closely examine the causes of these mistakes and try to correct them without delay. As Chairman Mao said, just as a man should wash his face regularly and a house should often be cleaned, a political party should constantly correct its mistakes. I myself often make mistakes; everybody does. Chairman Mao often says that he, too, makes mistakes from time to time, but we all know he makes fewer mistakes than we do. Everyone makes mistakes; the person who does not make any is nonexistent.

(Answers to questions raised by an international youth delegation.)