Deng Xiaoping

Encourage Thorough and Meticulous Work


Published: October 23, 1961
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


Your present conference has been very successful. Comrade Hu Yaobang made a good summary of the work done by the Youth League over the past few years, and I agree with it. At a meeting of the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee, I said that, on the whole, we had kept to the correct line in the past few years. We have achieved a great deal but also made many mistakes. We should draw lessons from our mistakes and take these lessons seriously. You are not being held responsible for the mistakes made in those years. Comrade Yaobang said that you should be held partly responsible for the tendency towards effecting a premature leap towards Communism. As the Youth League organizations at all levels have been working hard under the leadership of the Party committees at various levels over the years, as have all the Party organizations, it is not for you to bear the major responsibility for the mistakes and shortcomings. However, it will be to your benefit to look into them. Anyway, the Youth League should keep in mind the lessons drawn by the Party.

At this conference, you have had more discussion on how the Youth League should do its work, and some questions in this connection have been clarified. Now I should like to raise a question concerning the leadership of the Youth League. As has been done in the past few years and confirmed at this conference, the work of the Youth League organizations comprises no more than two aspects. One, under the leadership of the Party committees at the corresponding levels, to take an active part in various kinds of work of the Party and the state; two, do their own specific work. The Youth League should have its own system of leadership. This point was not made very clear in the past, and it is best to make is clear at this time. For instance, in carrying out a directive given by the Central Committee of the Youth League, Youth League committees at various levels should consult with Party committees at the corresponding levels so that the latter can make unified arrangements as to when and how to implement this directive in light of local conditions. In this way the League’s system of leadership can be combined with the Party’s unified leadership.

The Youth League’s system of leadership should not function entirely the same way as it did before. For instance, did the Youth League not independently issue calls to conduct nationwide movements? Yes, perhaps it did. Some calls issued in the past were necessary and we do not want to deprive the Youth League of the right to issue its own calls to the youth throughout the country. The question is when and how and on what matters to issue calls, and we should also examine which calls are correct and which are not. These questions should be considered not only by the League but also by the Party. For example, the Party once issued a call nationwide to experiment with high-yield farm plots, which was answered by organizations of the Youth League and of the Women’s Federation, but the results were not satisfactory. We are all aware of this experience. Of course, you are not entirely to blame because you acted in response to the call of the Party. We have seen many such cases in recent years. In another example, the Youth League called on young people to plant trees, which was not a bad idea. The problem was that is was done only by Youth League members and, moreover, the Youth League organization did not provide effective leadership over this job. Consequently, the survival rate of saplings was very low, which should teach us a lesson. When newspapers of youth issue calls through editorials, these should not be general calls; they should also specifically tell young people the correct approach to carrying them out. In this way the calls may achieve good results. There are many things for which the Youth League can call on the youth to work hard. For instance, it should attend to the study of youth. Speaking of studying, compulsion used in the past should be abandoned, since it did not yield good results. In short, it should analyze what it has done in this area, and should not ignore the specific demands and problems of young people. So, it follows that the League has many things to do and should have its own sphere of responsibility. When it comes to work which should be done nationwide, the Central Committee of the Youth League should consult with the Party Central Committee. As to tasks to be fulfilled in a specific province, the provincial League committee should consult with the provincial Party committee. The purpose of this is to obtain their approval and support. If you can win their approval and support, you will be more successful in your work than if you do not. This is nothing new to you, I am sure.

What work should the Youth League do, then? Should it do more or less work? It should do more, of course. Should it play a greater or lesser role? It should play a greater role, without doubt. Should it do ideological work among more people or less people? It should do it among more people. Let’s put it this way: If League members play an exemplary role in all fields of endeavor where a large number of older and younger people work together, we can consider that they have done more work, played a greater role and done ideological work among more people. In this way, you will exert an influence first of all on the young people and then on the older people.

Naturally this kind of work is not performed in an atmosphere bustling with activity. Such an atmosphere deserves care analysis. Some people present here today have probably worked in the Taihang Mountains or in the Hebei-Shandong-Henan area. In the Hebei-Shandong-Henan area work was done in a much more exciting atmosphere than in the Taihang Mountains, where work was performed meticulously. Maybe, it would have been better if there have been a bit excitement in the Taihang Mountains. In the final analysis, however, the meticulous and thorough work there achieved great results and few soldiers deserted. Of course, it would be wrong to completely deny the need of a vigorous and dynamic atmosphere. However, we cannot be successful in our work if we only seek such an atmosphere to the neglect of thorough and meticulous work. The success of our cause invariably calls for elaborate care, without which we can accomplish nothing. Did the success of our cause come from the efforts of only a few inventive minds? We can say these people did make greater contributions to it than others and sometimes one person can play as great a role as many other people combined. In the final analysis, however, the completion of a task calls for the cumulative efforts of everyone; this is fundamental.

According to the interpretation given consistently by our Party and Chairman Mao, following the mass line means following the principle “from the masses, to the masses”, concentrating the ideas of the masses and seeing to it that the correct ones are translated into action by the masses. This means correctly reflecting the opinions of the masses before exercising correct leadership over them. Since the Party’s correct line and policies come from the ideas of the masses, reflect the demands of the masses, accord with their actual situation and are therefore realistic, they can be accepted by the masses and can mobilize them, and the Party can, in turn, guide the masses in their actions. This is what following the mass line means. It involves the use of various forms, including a bustling atmosphere. We are not going to do away with such an atmosphere. For instance, we are soon going to begin a movement against backdoor dealings in the commercial sphere. The number of petty thieves and young hoodlums has been increasing lately, and this problem cannot be solved without carrying out a movement. Instead of being lenient, we should be strict in handling cases of backdoor dealings. We should say that our social conduct was excellent before 1959, for which foreigners praised us and we ourselves were proud. In the past two years, however, things have changed. This shows that as soon as we slacken our efforts, evil trends will crop up. So we cannot deny the need of a proper atmosphere for a certain length of time in which we can crack down an evil trend and perform a task successfully. Such an atmosphere is needed to solve nationwide problems and problems in an area or city as well. But in following the mass line, we should not rest content with this one method; the main thing is to do constant and thorough work, explaining things to people. We should do this work bit by bit before scoring magnificent achievements. Therefore, we must be a little more thorough in our work. From the history and traditions or our Party we can see that the Party has made use of this method in its work, but in essence it has been concentrating on doing a thorough job in the light of actual conditions. Why have we been so successful in our past work in the countryside? It was precisely because we did thoroughgoing work there. We were even able to accomplish some things without issuing a call through the newspapers. We were successful in the movement to ban opium-smoking and opium trade, in agrarian reform and in suppression of counter-revolutionaries, all without making use of the newspapers. We did all this by making the movements known to every household and individual. This method of spreading the news by word of mouth brought about an atmosphere and called for most meticulous work. So what we actually did was meticulous and thorough work. We should do meticulous work in all fields of endeavor-in ideological work among the people, in all trades and professions, in agricultural and industrial production, and in the running of schools. We should do our work mostly among the masses-living, pursuing various activities, chatting and playing chess with them while doing ideological work among them. We cannot put on airs as Party and League members. This will be difficult, making it harder than ever to do our work meticulously. Of course, the easiest way would be to hold meetings, issue general calls and create excitement by beating drums and gongs, but how much can we achieve in this way?

We should focus on day-to-day work. Is the shock role of youth still needed, then? Youth still do have this role to play. Can we ask them to play such a role? Yes, I think so. But we needn’t ask them to do it too often. When faced with a new, urgent and difficult task, a factory many wish to organize a youth shock team to help accomplish it. In such cases, I would be in favor of it. We have never objected to such a practice; in fact, we believe it is an effective way for young people to do their part. In agricultural production I think is a good thing, not a bad thing, to organize a youth shock team to tackle a difficult problem. The question is how properly to make use of such teams. In other words, they should be used only when it is truly necessary, not in just any kind of work.

Many things need to be done in society, and so there are many things for the Youth League to do. In recent years we have been getting the feeling that bourgeois ideology and the dregs of society invariably try to worm their way to the surface. It seems we are not sure of ourselves when we speak nowadays because we have failed to provide the people with good food, clothing and shelter. Besides, in the past we boasted and exaggerated a bit too much and made “Left” errors in some movements. This is a problem with both the Party and the Youth League. Now that we have become alive to all this, we should have confidence in ourselves and improve our work. Are there not some young people involved in the growing number of hoodlums and backdoor dealings in the shops that I mentioned earlier? Public places such as the Beijing Railway Station have fallen in disorder. There are also some young people and even juveniles involved in this. These unhealthy practices demand our close attention. When we speak of rectifying things, this must also be included, as well as our style of work and thinking. This problem should be investigated and studied carefully everywhere. Conducting investigation and study is also part of following the mass line. Bad social conduct concerns the masses, a great number of them being dissatisfied with it and some of them having a part in it. In short, we should inculcate the young people with the spirit of communism. For this purpose, we should do more work and make more investigations. Social conduct was very good in the first ten years after liberation, when we had true mass supervision and extensive mass movements and did thoroughgoing ideological work. Children had good manners, concerned themselves with collective undertakings and public order, and criticized anything which was incorrect. We should try to restore this healthy atmosphere. At present very few people are interested in doing this work, but gradually more and more people will rise to the occasion. We should guide people along the path of progress. We should make a point of fostering lofty, communist ideals. We are poor but we should maintain lofty ideals; the more difficulties we encounter, the higher our aspirations should be. It is essential to widely disseminate these ideas among young people.

The Party and the Youth League are now confronted with much work, and it is more difficult than ever for us to do it well. This is true at least at the present stage. It is easier for us to perform our tasks under a fresh atmosphere in which everybody is happy and in high spirit, but now that things are not going go well, it is difficult to do our work. Under these circumstances we should especially do much more work and do it even more thoroughly.

(Talk given to the comrades attending a working conference of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League.)