Deng Xiaoping

On Opposing Wrong Ideological Tendencies


Published: March 27, 1981
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


First, the core of our current work should be implementing the guidelines laid down by the Central Working Conference of December 1980. Our work should be carried out in accordance with the views expressed at that conference by the four comrades of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, with the decisions of the Central Committee on the policies for current press and radio publicity, and with its directives on the handling of illegal publications and organizations and related problems.

Second, we should intensify propaganda and education concerning adherence to the Four Cardinal Principles, and write more articles on the subject. We should criticize wrong ideologies whether they are “Left” or Right.

Emancipation of the mind, too, means opposing both “Left” and Right ideologies. The call by the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee for emancipating our minds was directed at the “two whatevers”, and the emphasis was on correcting “Left” errors. Later a Right deviation emerged that must, of course, also be corrected.

The 1980 Central Working Conference made all this clear. The point now is to do more to publicize the necessity of adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles. We should not overlook the wrong, “Left” ideology, for it is deep-rooted. Stress should be put on rectifying any “Left” tendency in our guiding ideology, but that is not enough. We must at the same time correct the Right tendency.

Comrade Huang Kecheng said that we should oppose “Left” ideology wherever it exists and also oppose Right ideology. I agree. And we should make a concrete analysis of what is “Left” and of what is Right.

Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily) is run quite well, and I hope the comrades concerned will continue their efforts. More articles should be written to explain, both ideologically and theoretically, the importance of adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles. Opposition to these principles and negation of them come from both the “Left” and the Right, and we should take both into consideration when writing articles.

Third, we have always said that it is necessary to stick to the principles of seeking truth from facts, integrating theory with practice and proceeding from reality in all things.

In drafting the “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China”, we should seek truth from facts and conscientiously draw lessons from the “Left” mistakes. As regards the anti-Rightist struggle of 1957, I have said more than once that there really were some persons then who made vicious attacks, but that we for our part over-reacted and unduly broadened the scope of the struggle. Of course, it cannot be said that all those who were criticized were completely correct, or that they had made no mistakes. In my opinion the anti-Rightist struggle can still be summed up as follows: It was necessary, but it was broadened too much. When the Great Leap Forward started, was there anyone who opposed it? But later, some comrades, including Comrade Mao Zedong himself, found that there was something wrong with it. The two meetings Comrade Mao convened in Zhengzhou were precisely for the purpose of rectifying the “Left” errors in the Great Leap Forward. During the 17 years preceding the “cultural revolution” our work, in the main, proceeded along a correct path, though there were twists and turns and mistakes. Comrade Mao Zedong should not be held solely responsible for everything; we ourselves should share the responsibility. We should sum up historical experience and draw the necessary lessons in accordance with the principle of seeking truth from facts.

To solve ideological problems in the army, we also need to seek truth from facts. Ideological work should be carried out according to the particular circumstances of each unit and each individual.

Fourth, we should not overlook the lingering “Left” influence in the army. Influenced by “Left” ideology, quite a number of people between 30 and 40 tend to look at things from a “Left” angle. Some army cadres, including a number with long service behind them, haven’t understood the policies applied since the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee, which they regard as capitalist. This is mainly because they have been influenced by “Left” ideology. However, it cannot be said that the army is free from the influence of decadent bourgeois ideas. Some people, for example, welcome decadent music and approve of certain undesirable forms of social behaviour.

As for the “three supports and two military’s”, I suggest you give them some study. It’s no good to say only one thing about them, that is, to simply heap praise on them. We must say two things. First, that at the time it was correct for the army to go to the civilian units and deal with the situations there, which were otherwise uncontrollable. So the “three supports and two military’s” did prove useful. But second, they also did great harm to the army, for in their wake they brought many bad things that greatly detracted from the army’s prestige. Among other things, they were responsible for much of the factionalism and some “Left” notions and practices.

In recent years, the army has done a lot of educational work. It has paid great attention to education concerning line, principles and policies, which has led to a positive change in the cadres’ thinking. The overwhelming majority of our cadres are good. We have only to do some educational work to change their thinking for the better. And we should do more.

Fifth, in rectifying “Left” and Right tendencies, we should not arbitrarily raise the matter to the level of a principle or launch a movement and have everyone make a self-criticism. If everyone had to do so, we would soon have another movement on our hands. Of course, the fact that we aren’t going to launch a movement doesn’t mean that our political work can be without orientation or that we don’t need to build momentum behind our effort.

We will still need a rectification campaign at the proper time. Without it some problems may be difficult to solve.

Sixth, Comrade Chen Yun suggested that we encourage study — mainly of philosophy and such philosophical works of Comrade Mao Zedong’s as “On Practice”, “On Contradiction”, “Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War”, “Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War Against Japan” and “On Protracted War”. That’s a fine suggestion. I think we should launch a movement to study the works of Marx, Lenin and Comrade Mao Zedong. This study should be integrated with study of the history of the Chinese revolution so as to help people understand how the Party led the revolution, how Comrade Mao contributed to it and how it succeeded. After the adoption of the “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republicof China”, we should organize people to study it carefully and then encourage them to do further reading in books.

Comrade Chen Yun said that when he came back to Yan’an from Moscow at the initial stage of the War of Resistance Against Japan [1937-45], Comrade Mao Zedong advised him on three occasions to study philosophy, emphasizing in particular the need to seek truth from facts. Comrade Chen Yun said he benefited greatly from that study. Today we have some people who express an opinion on a question after only a cursory examination. The reason for this is that they are not well grounded in either theory or practice. Only when we have become well grounded in both will we really be able to correct our mistakes, both “Left” and Right. The reason the rectification movement back in the Yan’an days was directed against subjectivism, sectarianism and stereotyped Party writing was that it aimed to solve fundamental problems rather than side issues.

Seventh, there is one thing we have done very well recently, and that is to emphasize the importance of building a civilization with a high cultural and ideological level. This educational work, which has already proved so fruitful, should continue. The slogan of “four haves, three stresses and two defy’s” raised by the General Political Department is very good. It should be applied in the army and widely disseminated.

Eighth, it is necessary to criticize the film script Unrequited Love because the issue involved is the upholding of the Four Cardinal Principles. Of course, when engaging in criticism we should present facts, reason things out and guard against being one-sided.

(Summary of a talk with leading comrades of the General Political Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.)