Spoken: February 6, 1962
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine
This meeting is of great significance. In his report, Comrade Liu Shaoqi reviewed our experience of the past twelve years, particularly the past four years, and put forward guiding principles for our future work and targets for the next ten years. Comrade Mao Zedong’s speech, especially with regard to democratic centralism, is of far-reaching significance to our Party in reinforcing leadership and to different departments in fulfilling their tasks in the future. I fully agree with Comrade Liu Shaoqi’s report and Comrade Mao Zedong’s speech.
Now I should like to discuss some problems concerning the Party.
One of the three major sections of Comrade Liu Shaoqi’s report deals with problems concerning the Party. I should like to add some opinions of my own.
Ours is a party that has won victory in the revolution and is leading the state power. This Party, as we have consistently maintained, is glorious, great and correct and is a Marxist-Leninist Party worthy of the name. In the international arena our Party is determined to hold aloft the banners of anti-imperialism, revolution and proletarian internationalism. At the same time, it has always held aloft the banner of world peace. In the final analysis, whether or not our Party can fulfil its obligations in the world will depend primarily on whether or not we can make our domestic work a success. Success in national reconstruction and work in the various fields at home, in turn, hinges on leadership by our Party.
Can our Party bear these unshirkable international obligations? Can it provide effective leadership for work in all spheres in China? I am sure the overwhelming majority of the comrades in our Party will answer in the affirmative.
In my view, our Party has five strong points or advantages.
First, a sound guiding ideology, represented by Mao Zedong Thought. This is an ideology that integrates the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of China’s revolution and development. Its correctness has been borne out by history. It was the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought, not that of any other ideology, that led the Chinese revolution to victory. In the years following that victory, it has also been thanks to the guidance of Mao Zedong Thought that we have been able to achieve such noticeable successes in socialist construction and to continue on our triumphant advance.
Second, a good Party Central Committee with Comrade Mao Zedong as its leader. This has been proved by our experience over the past twenty-seven years since the Zunyi Meeting held in January 1935. Some comrades might argue: Did the Party Central Committee not have shortcomings and errors, too? Did Comrade Liu Shaoqi not admit in his report that the Central Committee should bear the primary responsibility for some shortcomings and errors in our work in recent years? Now, how do you reconcile this with your conclusion above? We maintain that no party central committee can be free from shortcomings and errors. The question is whether we can squarely face these problems and take a down-to-earth attitude towards them. This conference has provided proof of my statement that our Central Committee is a good one. During the conference, the Central Committee, acting on Marxist-Leninist principles, has carefully reviewed our experience and made criticism and self-criticism, adding to our achievements and correcting our mistakes. According to Lenin’s standard, this is an indicator of a party’s seriousness. Our Party measures up to this standard. Comrade Liu Shaoqi focused his report on problems, especially on a host of shortcomings and mistakes made in our work over the past few years, after which he made some criticism and self-criticism and analysed our experience. This was not easy to do. It is precisely because we are not afraid to seriously face up to problems and to take a realistic attitude towards them, saying it like it is, that we can conclude our Party conforms to Lenin’s standard and our Central Committee is a good one.
Third, a large contingent of good backbone members, including a large number of activists who have just come to the fore. Although about 70 to 80 per cent of its members joined the Party after national liberation, they have all gone through the test of practical struggle, so the overwhelming majority of them are good.
In particular, it should be pointed out that most of our cadres are good, and we have capable backbone cadres. Most of the chief ones at and above the level of county Party committee or regimental rank in the army have gone through long years of revolutionary struggle. Most of the cadres at prefectural Party committee level joined the Party in the early days of the War of Resistance Against Japan, while secretaries of county Party committees mostly did so near the middle of the anti-Japanese war. Of course, there are some who joined later. As they have all weathered the storms, they are highly valuable. Our cadres have acquired twelve years of experience in socialist revolution and construction, including both positive and negative experience. The positive experience is very important, as is the negative. Comrade Liu Shaoqi commented in his report that we have increased our “immunity” as a result of the negative experience. Having tempered themselves in revolutionary struggles and acquired twelve years’ experience in economic development, our cadres have become excellent mainstay of our Party.
Fourth, fine traditions and work style. Comrade Mao Zedong generalizes the work style as integrating theory with practice, maintaining close ties with the masses and making self-criticism (including, of course, criticism), or in Comrade Mao Zedong’s brief words, a “seeking-truth-from-facts” work style.
Our Party also has a tradition of holding high ideals and aspirations and of not fearing “ghosts”. Certainly, we must acknowledge that this tradition originated with Marx. Our Party has always been adhering to this tradition. We should not relinquish it and become fearful of “ghosts” just because we have criticized our unrealistic notions and deeds in recent years; we should not be ready to see a snake in every rope just because we have discovered shortcomings and mistakes in our work. There are “ghosts” of various descriptions, one of which may be the “ghost” that causes us to lose confidence. The entire Party should guard against this one. We should continue to pursue high ideals and aspirations and do our work well. We have confidence in our ability to rectify our shortcomings and mistakes by ourselves and do a good job.
Another of our traditions is a sound set of principles governing Party activities. This has been especially true since the Zunyi Meeting. Under the leadership of Comrade Mao Zedong, our Party has established a whole set of principles, including democratic centralism; the unity-criticism-unity method; blaming not the speaker but being warned by his words, learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient; being strict in criticism but lenient in meting out punishment, and not engaging in excessive struggle and merciless attack; and working hard and living plainly, and being modest and prudent. All of these have been consistently advocated by Comrade Mao Zedong and represent our Party’s rules and regulations. We should say that, except for the periods when we made mistakes, as was mentioned earlier, we have diligently followed these principles over the years. Comrade Mao Zedong and many other leading comrades on the Central Committee have insisted upon the importance of modesty and prudence. At the Party’s Eighth National Congress Comrade Mao Zedong emphasized this point in his speech.
Our Party certainly has more fine traditions, but here I have only given you a few examples.
Because of these fine traditions our Party has remained a united, unified and combat-worthy Party.
Fifth, the good people who have the utmost faith in our Party. Maintaining close ties with the masses is one of our Party’s fine traditions. The people of our country have a high level of political consciousness. There is a story which Comrade Mao Zedong has told more than once. It took place when the Red Army was crossing the grasslands. The cook, upon rising in the morning, never asked whether or not there was rice for cooking for the day. Instead, he asked whether the army was heading south or north. This wasthe most important strategic question at that time. This illustrates that all soldiers in our army were concerned about matters of strategy.
Our people understand the significance of taking the general situation into account. They have high ideals and never lose confidence. As you all know, during the Agrarian Revolutionary War, the War of Resistance Against Japan and the War of Liberation, the people gave practically everything they had to support the army. During these years, whenever we truly relied on the people and clearly explained the “whys and wherefores” to them, workers, peasants, intellectuals and patriotic democrats all gave first priority to the interests of the entire nation, believing it was right to follow the Party.
We must point out, however, that in recent years the masses have been dissatisfied with some of our comrades, who abused the people’s trust in the Party and misused the Party’s prestige. Even when we were making these mistakes, they still believed they were not really seeing the Communist Party at work. When we corrected the mistakes, they said the real Communist Party was back. Our people are very good people. Not to rely on them and pursue the mass line is utterly unjustifiable.
The foregoing is a general assessment of our Party. I should like to repeat that our Party has five strong points — a sound guiding ideology, a good Party Central Committee, a large contingent of good backbone members, fine traditions, and a nation of good people who trust the Party. Since such a Party has already succeeded in leading the people to victory in revolution, it will definitely be able to lead them to victory in socialist construction. Since it has done its work well at home, it is certain to be able to fulfil its obligations in the international communist movement.
It should be pointed out that in the past few years our Party has exhibited serious shortcomings in its leadership and other work. One particularly serious aspect is the impairment of its fine traditions, which is very evident in some regions and not so evident in others. Looking at the Party as a whole, these traditions have been weakened considerably. In order to arouse the vigilance of the entire Party, we feel overestimating this malady is justified. In recent years many comrades have been busying themselves with their day-to-day work, neglecting Party problems and Party building. Hence, it is vital to emphasize this point.
Why have our Party’s fine traditions been impaired? There are various reasons, but in my view, the primary one is that more than a few of our comrades have not studied Mao Zedong Thought hard enough or acquired adequate understanding of it. Since we have paid little attention to investigation and study in recent years, we have, more often than not, come up with unrealistic tasks and brought out many slogans which do not conform to actual circumstances. The practice of assigning excessively heavy tasks, demanding their speedy fulfilment and launching inordinately ambitious development projects has impaired many of our fine traditions, which in turn has aggravated the shortcomings and mistakes in our work.
Another reason is the errors made in recent years in inner-Party struggles against both “Left” and Right deviations, a problem which was also brought up during discussions at this conference. Errors did occur during recent movements, hurting a great many Party and non-Party cadres. Of course, we should struggle against degenerate elements and punish them, but here I am referring to the cadres who should not have been harmed. These errors have weakened many fine traditions of our Party. For instance, seeking truth from facts and speaking the truth have been our Party’s traditions but, because of failure to practise democratic centralism and because of excessive struggle in the movements and so forth, unhealthy practices have become more and more common in our Party over the years. Such practices include submitting false reports of situations, lying, and being afraid to speak the truth. Deliberate deception is undesirable, but fear of speaking the truth is not good either, even though people involved may advance a variety of reasons and it is not the same as deception.
In recent years not all of our comrades have been doing enough to uphold the Party’s fine traditions. Particularly, their negligence or impairment of the traditions of seeking truth from facts, pursuing the mass line and practising democratic centralism has done enormous harm to our work. The situation warrants serious attention from the entire Party.
At this time we must restore, strengthen and continue to develop the fine traditions of the Party. What we should do today is not to formulate rules and regulations, for they have been there for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, ever since the Zunyi Meeting our Party has established a whole set of principles for Party activities, a complete set of fine traditions, and a good work style. Now we must work to restore and develop them in real earnest. This should not be terribly difficult to do. The overwhelming majority of comrades here are familiar with these fine principles and traditions. We should turn back to them now and make a self-examination, in order to restore and carry them forward. It is of particular importance for you comrades present here to do so. As almost all of you are either “squad leaders” of “deputy squad leaders” of different localities and departments throughout the country, whatever you do will exert a significant influence on the work of the entire Party.
Adhering to the Party’s fine traditions and work style is most important because of the fact that our Party is in power. As to the characteristics of such a party, I have already explained them clearly in my report at the Party’s Eighth National Congress. It was an event worth celebrating when our Party came into power. However, it is not easy to serve as such a party. The Party, its members and its leading cadres have to shoulder heavier responsibilities. What responsibilities to we have? In the past we were only concerned with revolution, whereas after victory when our Party came to power, we have to concern ourselves with the arduous tasks of leading the country onto the socialist road and undertaking its development.
We are in the process of building socialism. You comrades must not think the course of building socialism will be problem free. As Comrade Liu Shaoqi stated in his report and Comrade Mao Zedong said in his speech, if we slip and stumble, especially if we fail to practice democratic centralism satisfactorily, the Party, the state, socialism, the cadres and everyone may degenerate.
Now that we are in power, it is even more vital for us to act prudently. First of all, we want power, the proletariat power, so we must see to it that it is not seized by the bourgeoisie. Marxist-Leninists want power and they see to it that it is not seized by opportunists. Second, we should be more prudent now that we are in power. Do not believe that with power in our hands we can easily handle everything or do whatever we like. We shall come to grief if we think that way.
Now that we have entered the cities and come to power, should we act as bureaucrats or work as servants of the people? This issue has been expounded upon by Comrade Mao Zedong more than once. We could adopt one of two possible approaches-to work as bureaucrats or servants of the people. If we are to work as servants of the people, we must act as ordinary workers, treat others as equals and serve the people heart and soul. Now that we have entered the cities and come to power, we are in a position to become officeholders, and it would be all too easy for us to take on bureaucratic airs. In fact, this has already happened to many of our comrades. We must always keep in mind the fact that our Party is in power. Only by so doing can we pay more attention to upholding the Party’s fine traditions, avoid being tainted with bureaucratic airs, and keep from becoming divorced from the masses and reality. Only thus can China adhere to the socialist system and advance along the road to communism, and can our Party uphold Marxist-Leninist principles.
Besides conducting investigation and study, seeking truth from facts, staying in touch with the masses and correcting mistakes promptly, maintaining the Party’s fine traditions calls for efforts to improve Party activities. This is one of the most important aspects involved in maintaining these traditions. I should like to discuss four questions regarding this aspect: first, practicing democratic centralism; second, establishing a system for dealing with day-to-day work; third, training and selection of cadres; and fourth, study.
The first question is concerned with democratic centralism, which Comrade Mao Zedong explained clearly in his speech. He raised it to the high plane of principle that involves our choice between socialism and capitalism, and between proletarian and bourgeois dictatorship. Here we are face to face with the stark fact: without democracy, there can be no centralism, and centralism cannot be truly or correctly realized unless it is based on democracy. Without proletarian democracy and centralism, socialism will be our of the question and capitalism will make a comeback. In terms of leadership methods, we shall have nothing with which to go among the masses unless we first concentrate their ideas. In other words, if centralism is not based on democracy, we cannot put into practice the method “from the masses, to the masses”. If we do not practice democratic centralism, we shall alienate ourselves from the masses and rank-and-file Party members. In addition, superiors will become estranged from their subordinates, and even among co-workers, a minority or an individual will split off from the majority and make arbitrary decisions.
At present our Party activities leave much to be desired. Of course, there are a variety of reasons for this. Excessively high targets and absurd deadlines over the past few years have encouraged the spread of both decentralism and authoritarianism, thus greatly weakening the Party’s democratic centralism. In dealing with many matters, we seem to be exercising more centralization than before, when in fact decentralization has become a serious problem. In many other matters we seem to be practicing more democracy than before, when in fact authoritarian practices, arbitrary decisions made and peremptory actions taken by a few people or an individual are all too common. Therefore, it is essential and timely at this conference to stress the need to reinforce democratic centralism, expand democracy, strengthen centralism and unity, and oppose decentralism.
The past few years have seen a serious extent of decentralism arising in our work. Comrades, you might want to carefully consider the five unifications we have achieved by putting together correct ideas: unified thinking, policy, planning, command and action. When did we best practice centralism-during the past revolutionary war years, the early years after national victory, or the last few years? It should be pointed out that over the past few years we have given the appearance of exercising more centralism that in earlier times, but as far as the five “unifications” are concerned, we are not doing as well as before. In other words, decentralism is on the rise.
Along with the rise of decentralism we have seen the spread of authoritarian and weakening of democracy in the Party. Without democracy there can be no centralism and thus no way to unifying thinking and action. In emphasizing centralism and unity and opposing decentralism,, we should lay more stress on the need to adhere to the principle of democratic centralism. Let no one misunderstand this emphasis, believing that centralism and unity can be stressed at the expense of the democratic aspect of democratic centralism. On the contrary, in order to intensify centralism and unity and oppose decentralism, more emphasis should be placed on the democratic aspect. This will place centralism on a solid foundation, ensuring genuine centralism and unity. Comrade Mao Zedong has made this quite clear in his speech at this conference.
In future we must work out realistic plans that allow for some flexibility, being certain not to set too heavy or inflexible tasks any more. During the discussions many comrades expressed their worry that the Central Committee might set tasks which were too heavy. We can promise you here and now that the Central Committee will work hard not to come out with such tasks. Setting targets which were too high was the main shortcoming of the Central Committee over the past few years. When planned targets conform to reality and allow for some flexibility, such problems will not arise. In future, we should have unified plans that leave the local authorities the leeway to make adjustments in line with specific local conditions. In particular, future plans should be improved in such a way as to make it possible for the local authorities to adapt measures to the conditions in their area and bring their initiative into full play.
While stressing the need of centralism and unity in formulating specific policies and solving problems, we should make greater efforts to apply the concept of “from the masses, to the masses”, as advocated by Comrade Mao Zedong. After gathering opinions from grass-roots units through investigation and study, we should formulate realistic policies and plans, which can then be carried out among the masses and tested in actual practice. Solving specific problems should be done in the same way.
In short, we must follow Comrade Mao Zedong’s proposal, creating a political situation in the Party and the country in which we have both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness.190 This situation has to be created first within the Party. (Liu Shaoqi’s comment: What do we mean by aiming high? First of all, we mean doing our utmost to create such a political situation. In such an atmosphere we can achieve greater and better results in production and economic development.) This kind of political situation should also be created in the nation as a whole, which would be impossible unless it is first created in the Party. Our Party must bring about such a lively political situation and practices full democracy.
Our Party is a unified, united, combat-effective Party. Without democracy it would not have centralism and unity; without centralism and unity it would not be combat-effective. Therefore, we should always maintain centralism and unity. A party which does so is genuinely combat-effective. However, it is on the basis of democracy, the exercise of full democracy, that we can become a unified, disciplined and combat-effective party.
The last few years have seen the emergence of some undesirable phenomena in this area. At this time we will once again call your attention to these problems. If we have made mistakes, let’s redress them; if we have been failing to uphold some of our fine traditions, let’s now restore them and further develop them. These traditions are, after all, not unfamiliar to us. during the discussions many comrades said they missed the inner-Party activities of former days. This proves that the good situation of those days is still alive in our memories, so let’s restore it now.
We must resolve to restore and further develop our Party’s fine traditions. We must establish a correct relationship between the Party and its members in accordance with those traditions and the provisions of the Party Constitution. All Party members, in line with organizational principles, have the right within the Party to offer criticisms and opinions about the Party, its work, any problems and leaders as well as the right to reserve their own opinions. According to the Party Constitution, when an issue comes up for decision, Party members may freely voice their views at Party meetings or in the Party’s newspapers and journals. There are just two prohibitions. First, no Party member is allowed not to carry out the Party’s resolutions. If they disagree, they may present their own opinions; if they consider something in the resolutions incorrect, they may suggest amendments. In any case, as is stipulated in the Party Constitution, they must carry out the Party’s resolutions, though they are entitled to reserve their own opinions. Should they not implement them, they would be violating the rules of Party discipline. Second, factional activities are banned. (Mao Zedong’s comments: Underground factional activities are forbidden. Suppose a person wants to air an opposing opinion in public. Is this permissible?) Yes, the Party Constitution permits this. When an issue is pending, everyone may express his or her opinions in public; after the decision is made, everyone must firmly carry it out. In the course of implementation, however, people may still offer suggestions. Theoretical and academic issues are a different matter, for free discussion on them may be held at any time. In recent years many things have been done in violation of the principle of inner-Party democracy, and this should be rectified.
Both Comrade Mao Zedong in his speech and Comrade Liu Shaoqi in his report talked about the “three don’ts”-don’t pick on others for their faults, don’t label people, and don’t use a big stick, but some comrades worry about changes which may occur after a few yeas from now. their apprehensions are understandable, for they reflect the reality of recent years. Even so, their apprehensions are groundless. They should have faith in our Party’s traditions. Of course, some comrades will want to wait and see, which is all right. Have we not already said it was all right for one to reserve one’s opinions? Yet some comrades still feel they can only write anonymous letters. They may be considered “semi-courageous”. Recently we received some anonymous letters among which were a number that contained very good opinions. Why did the writers wish to remain anonymous? Why can Party members not earnestly declare their opinions in public, turning their semi-courageous acts into completely courageous ones? We should all take the lead in this regard. By so doing we can help bring about a change in the atmosphere, restore our Party’s fine traditions and carry them forward. If we continue to be hampered by various apprehensions, hesitating to speak out, there will be no way to bring back these old traditions. In particular, the “squad leaders” and “deputy squad leaders” present here today should take the lead in restoring the old traditions. The Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong have been standing for these traditions stipulated in the relevant rules and regulations of our Party. Only in the last few years have they been impaired, so we can and should revive them speedily, and we also can and should rectify the irregular practice speedily. But, we must make one point very clear: to do this, full democracy must be exercised within the Party.
Success in truly reviving and carrying on our Party’s old traditions hinges on the attitude taken by the leading comrades of our Party at all levels. They should attentively listen to opposing or different views and they should be receptive to honest remarks from sincere people. This is also our tradition, consistently supported for may years by Comrades Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi as well as the Central Committee. During discussions at this conference many comrades recalled earlier years when they dared express whatever views they had and found it easier to have heart-to-heart talks with one another. Let us have it again. But, it is essential that our Party’s chief leading comrades at all levels give their attention to this question. These leaders, particularly the “squad leaders” and “deputy squad leaders”, should be subordinate to and ally themselves with the majority while respecting the minority. Comrade Mao Zedong expounded upon this point on numerous occasions, and he brought it up once again at this conference. If leaders hope to handle matters smoothly, they must win approval from the majority and must absolutely not insist on having the final say on all matters. They should respect opinions of the minority, for their opinions are not necessarily wrong. Even when they are wrong, they are likely to be shared by many others. Only by listening to these opinions can we set them right and help our comrades correct their mistakes.
In addition, leaders should be fairly broad-minded and tolerant. They should be able to lend an ear opposing opinions, treat others as equals, act modestly and prudently, etc.
What constitutes the basis for the prestige of our Party’s leading comrades at the various levels, especially the chief leaders? Correct ideas, work and words, a democratic work style, and a habit of making criticism and self-criticism. It is impossible for leaders to do everything one hundred per cent correctly, without any shortcomings or mistakes. What matters most is whether they are ready to criticize their shortcomings and mistakes, allow other to do so, accept criticism and act accordingly. If a leader can thoroughly criticize himself for the mistakes he has made and lend an attentive ear to criticism from others, he will gain the initiative and everyone else will be pleased with him, which will enhance his prestige rather than damage it.
Supervision should be exercised over our Party’s leaders at all levels (including all the members of the Party committees). This supervision comes from various quarters-their superiors and subordinates, the masses, and the Party groups they belong. In this regard I have an idea to offer for you to see if it is appropriate. I believe the most important supervision should come from the Party committee, the secretariat, or the standing committee of the Party committee. This is a small group. Some of our leading comrades are put in a group with cooks and odd-jobmen, in which not much supervision can be exercised. Of course, in accordance with the Party Constitution, every Party member should take part in the regular activities of the Party branch. I think it would be best if the leaders participate in the regular activities of a Party committee, secretariat, or standing committee. Members of a Party should take some time for heart-to-heart talks, truly creating an atmosphere favorable for conducting criticism and self-criticism. Supervision will probably be better served when comrades working together at the same level have heart-to-heart talks. (Liu’s comment: We could suggest that Party committees at various levels call a meeting once a month at which to conduct criticism and self-criticism.) Holding such a meeting every three months would be good enough, but not necessarily every month. (Liu’s comment: Once a quarter, or four times a year, would be fine. How do you like this idea? The Party committees, including those at the provincial, prefectural and county levels, should all do so.) (Mao’s comment: At the meeting they can check on their work, analyze their experience and exchange views.) In this way they may conduct heart-to-heart talks, engage in mutual criticism and voice their opinions. We should attach importance to mutual supervision among Party committee members. Leading members of the same Party committee see each other much more often than their superiors and subordinates, which makes it convenient for them to discuss matters, reach unanimity and make decisions-this is most important.
Party committee members should pay attention to collective leadership and the division of responsibility. Here, the “squad leaders” play a very important role. For a time the Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong strongly advocated forming a nucleus in the Party. After it was established on the whole, they particularly stressed the need of competent “squad leaders”. In other words, a Party committee has to establish a nucleus, lest it be lax in its work and fail to do a good job. At this conference most “squad leaders” probably felt they were being “put on the spot”. This does not mean that we do not think highly of them; in fact, we do think highly of them. We are only saying that “squad leaders” should perform their duty well. Any leading body that does not have an appropriate “squad leader” needs to train one, or should have the higher authorities help them select a competent one. Once that body has a “squad leader”, everyone should help him perform his duty well. Being a “squad leader” is a hard job, for he is often confronted by difficult issues. You should not think he has an easy job. I know a great number of “squad leaders” complain of hardships. They have a host of matters to deal with, and nobody can boast of being able to handle everything perfectly. It seems that we should excuse them when they fail to handle some matters satisfactorily. The “squad leaders” themselves, being aware of the difficulty, should follow what Comrade Mao Zedong said at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee about learning to play the piano. It is not easy to learn to play. Unfortunately, we have to learn it all our lives. We should remind ourselves to try to master it every day, never saying we actually have mastered it. (Mao’s comment: After learning to play, we may yet have to learn something new.) It often happens that when we come across a new situation or problem, or deal with new people or go to new regions, we find we are not sure how to “play”, so we can see that mastering this skill would indeed be difficult. Every day we should learn more about “playing the piano” and “being an orchestra conductor”. “Squad leaders” must bravely shoulder their responsibilities. There are certain problems that must be personally handled by them, not be left to any one else.
Perhaps we can divide matters roughly into two types: day-to-day matters, and important matters concerning policy. Day-to-day matters should be handled or approved by different Party committee members according to their division of responsibilities; approval by the first secretary is a must. If every matter had to be discussed at meetings of the Party committee or secretariat, there would be no end to such meetings. The first, second or some other secretary, taking responsibility on the basis of the division of labour, must give his approval when it is required and when he sees fit. When it comes to a major issue, however, it must be submitted to the Party committee, standing committee or secretariat, according to the circumstances, so that the appropriate body may discuss, reach a consensus and make a decision. (Mao’s comment: When disagreement occurs, the minority should yield to the majority.)
In short, democratic centralism is the fundamental system of our Party and state; it is a tradition with us as well. Upholding and perfecting this traditional system is of vital significance, bearing on the destiny of our Party and state. Anything contravening this system must be redressed.
I should like to say again that Comrade Mao Zedong’s emphasis of this problem at this conference is of tremendous significance. Because we have not done well at practising democratic centralism in recent years, the leading bodies and grass-roots units have lost touch with each other. This is a serious phenomenon which has become all too common. The problem was raised in Comrade Liu Shaoqi’s report and Comrade Mao Zedong’s speech at this conference. At least we have taken the first step here to communicate with one another, which is commendable. Of course, in the process many comrades found it difficult to get any sleep; some even stayed awake for over two nights on end. Not sleeping then represents a good phenomenon — showing that they were turning things over in their minds. Our aim at this conference is to have all the participants take the lead in communicating with each other, so that we can revive and continue the practice of democratic centralism. As I said earlier, by offering criticism and opinions to the Central Committee and to the provincial Party committees, you can give vent to your dissatisfaction, and it is also a way of communicating with one another and reviving and maintaining democratic centralism.
Let me make one point clear, that is, the Central Committee should be held responsible for many of the mistakes which were made by provincial, prefectural or county Party committees and for which they were criticized at group meetings. Comrade Liu Shaoqi made this clear in his report. The Central Committee is accountable for its actions; it should bear the major responsibility where it should. Of course, the provincial, prefectural and county Party committees are also accountable for their actions. They should be responsible for their mistakes and mind their own accountability. Still, the Central Committee should be held accountable for quite a few mistakes, such as the chain reaction (Mao Zedong’s comment: several big movements.) that followed the setting of excessive targets, and the problems arising from several “large-scale campaigns” and movements. Certainly, this does not mean that the provincial, prefectural and county Party committees did not make any mistakes in these campaigns and movements.
What should be done after this conference? The Central Committee has already discussed this question and concluded that the provinces, prefectures and counties across the country should not call meetings for people to “let off steam”. Should such meetings be held in a few localities? This would be possible. (Mao’s comment: In a few localities and departments.) A few counties, prefectures, provinces, departments or work units may need to do it. This matter should be decided on by authorities at a higher level, and such meetings should not be called everywhere. (Mao’s comment: It should be done in a positive manner.) In most places we should take a positive approach and explain what democratic centralism means. Of course, it may be necessary to hold self-criticism meetings for leading comrades who have done a poor job over the years. These comrades should follow the spirit of Comrade Mao Zedong’s words — if once is not enough, examine the mistakes a few more times until nobody wants to listen any more. They should take the initiative, which is also a positive approach. In short, we must not issue a general call for meetings to “let off steam”. However, Party committees, standing committees, secretariats at the provincial level as well as prefectural, county and other departmental Party committees should hold such meetings for members to have heart-to-heart talks with one another and make self-criticism. (Mao’s comment: If they have something they want to get off their chests, let them.) Let them get it all off their chests. (Mao’s comment: Do not blame anyone for saying something erroneous. If the speaker is right, you should accept it. On the other hand, it would not be right to reproach someone for erroneous remarks.) When people express their dissatisfaction, it is impossible for them to get everything right, but this is not important. We should not expect others to agree with us when our dissatisfaction is unjustified any more than we should expect others’ dissatisfaction to be totally justifiable. In addition, leading comrades at various levels can have heart-to-heart talks with a few individuals who hold differing views, either about the leaders themselves or about some work-related issues. In this way the leading comrades of Party committees can examine their day-to-day work and their methods of leadership. Let us restore our old practices, our old traditions, through such positive steps as these.
That is all I have to say for now on democratic centralism.
The second question is concerned with day-to-day work. As Comrade Liu Shaoqi mentioned in his report, achievements in our work are accumulated bit by bit and with great care. Mass movement is one way of carrying out the mass line. The success of such a movement depends on the success of our day-to-day work. It is through meticulous work that we achieved great success in the large-scale movements of banning opium-smoking and the opium trade and of agrarian reform, without publicizing them in the newspapers. We have launched many large-scale movements in recent years, using them almost exclusively in pursuing the mass line. It is not good to have movements so frequently. The result of this has been that much of the regular work of departments and work units has been interrupted by the continual campaigning and hindered by the method of “dividing up responsibilities among individuals or small groups”. This working method, which is related to that used especially for running movements, is inadvisable. We should learn some valuable lessons from our experience over these years.
The neighbourhood committees in our cities used to do an excellent job. They did well in uniting with good people, reforming bad ones, establishing sound social conduct and fulfilling various tasks. Women’s federations, Youth League organizations, trade unions and Party committees all did meticulous work in the past, but they have all slackened their efforts in recent years. This is just an example of what has been occurring in all fields of endeavour, so there is no point in giving further explanations.
In short, a system for dealing with day-to-day work must be set up. The Party and mass organizations, army units, enterprises and government departments should all have a system to handle regular organizational, publicity and educational work. Meticulous day-to-day work will help probe more deeply into problems and facilitate investigation and study.
Party committees should help Party branches and groups to improve their daily work. At present branch activities are far from adequate. I am not going to elaborate on its importance, but it does deserve our serious attention. The organization departments of Party committees at all levels should take due note of this problem. Party members must participate in branch and group activities, in order to check on the work, make criticism and self-criticism, and study. This is a stipulation in the Party Constitution and should therefore be done conscientiously.
The third question is concerned with training and selection of cadres, especially the leading core at the various levels. This is an important issue which should also be included in the regular work of Party committees at all levels. We should establish a system for handling matters concerning cadres. Over the past few years we have suffered enormously from the instability of cadres. We should be alert to the serious phenomenon of frequent changes in status of significant numbers of cadres. We should pay constant attention to the performance of our cadres, judging their merits and demerits by their long-term work, not their performance in some movement or over a short period of time.
Until recently, our Party has always been prudent in handling matters concerning individual cadres. As a result, we had a united Party that was acting in unison and whose leading members kept in touch with the rank and file. Unfortunately, this kind of close communication has not been maintained in recent years, especially during the large-scale movements when a considerable number of cadres were subjected to unjust treatment and their cases were handled imprudently. We should review the cases of cadres who were criticized and punished during recent years in line with the principles set forth by the Central Committee in its Directive Concerning the Discussion and Trial Implementation of the Revised Draft Regulations on the Work in the Rural People’s Communes (Sixty Articles). In handling these cases, there are three possible circumstances to consider. One is that the criticism or punishment was correct and therefore does not need to be redressed. Two is that it was partially incorrect, in which case only that part should be corrected. This would involve a partial rehabilitation, since only the part of the punishment considered extreme should be rescinded. The third possibility is that it was totally wrong which calls for complete rehabilitation. In short, we should seek truth from facts and deal with each case on its merits. No movement should be launched to re-examine the cases and rehabilitate cadres; the work should be done by specially designated organs and persons, such as the supervisory commissions. Should they have more cases than they can handle, they may recruit more staff. Party committees should appoint suitable leading comrades to take charge of the work. Currently we are very busy with heavy work loads, in addition to being confronted with econo”imic difficulties, so we cannot afford to devote all our efforts to the re-examination of cases and rehabilitation of cadres. Besides, this is meticulous and time-consuming work, so we should specially assign people to do it. The best way would be for those who originally mishandled a case to redress that case, which would help to draw us closer together.
The fourth question concerns the study of Marxist-Leninist theory and Comrade Mao Zedong’s works. It is not necessary to expound on the reason for this one. Our experience of these past few years has made us recognize our insufficient understanding of the fundamental tenets of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, which resulted in a spate of mistakes. When we become absorbed in day-to-day work to the neglect of study, we can easily get bogged down in the mediocrity of routine and become low-minded. This is a dangerous situation which could lead to political degeneration. We need to create an atmosphere which will encourage study, one conducive to theoretical study. (Mao Zedong’s comment: If we busy ourselves with everyday routine and pay no attention to the study of theory, we shall definitely lose our bearings.) Encouraging study in practice is also a part of our Party’s work style and one of our Party’s fine traditions.
I have raised four questions here concerning our inner-Party activities. Though I have only brought up these four, there are, naturally, many others.
Today we are confronting numerous difficulties and our tasks are formidable. Although the targets we have set are modest, it will still be hard to achieve them. As Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out, it is particularly important this year that we put matters in order concerning industry, agriculture, commerce, education, the army, the government and the Party. Facing such enormous and heavy tasks, leadership by the Party and its committees at all levels is extremely important.
At this conference we have stressed the need of strengthening Party leadership, democratic centralism, and centralization and unification. The most important aspect of centralization and unification is unifying our thinking. This is essential if we are to have unity in our actions. The entire Party needs to unify its understanding of the report given by Comrade Liu Shaoqi and the important speech made by Comrade Mao Zedong. Accomplishing this will then enable us to obtain unity in our work and actions.
In summary, now that we have established our guiding principles, we should work with one heart, adopt a forward-looking attitude, and continue to review our experience in all the localities, departments and work units. We must do everything possible to overcome the difficulties and carry out the policies and tasks of the Party and state. Once a decision is made, we must implement it in unison. This is one of the rules of our discipline and a tradition of our Party.
Almost all the comrades of our generation, especially the comrades present here, are principal leaders at various levels, shouldering immense responsibilities. Our generation must uphold the Party’s fine traditions, set a good example, do our work well as servants of the people, and fulfil our obligations to China’s socialist cause and to the emancipation of the people all over the world.
Comrade Liu Shaoqi has challenged us to aim high and let us do as he says.
We should aim high in upholding the Party’s fine traditions and work style!
We should aim high in strengthening and correctly exercising democratic centralism!
We should aim high in learning how to be a competent “squad leader”, an orchestra conductor, and an “accomplished pianist”!
Our generation should aim high in setting a splendid example for the next generation!
This concludes my talk.