Deng Xiaoping

Take A Clear-Cut Stand Against Bourgeois Liberalization


Published: December 30, 1986
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


The recent student unrest is not going to lead to any major disturbances. But because of its nature it must be taken very seriously. Firm measures must be taken against any student who creates trouble at Tiananmen Square. The rules and regulations on marches and demonstrations promulgated by the Municipal People’s Government of Beijing have the force of law; they should be resolutely enforced and no concessions should be made. In the beginning, we mainly used persuasion, which is as it should be in dealing with student demonstrators. But persuasion includes application of the law. If any of them disrupt public order or violate the law, they must be dealt with unhesitatingly. When a disturbance breaks out in a place, it’s because the leaders there didn’t take a firm, clear-cut stand. This is not a problem that has arisen in just one or two places or in just the last couple of years; it is the result of failure over the past several years to take a firm, clear-cut stand against bourgeois liberalization. It is essential to adhere firmly to the Four Cardinal Principles; otherwise bourgeois liberalization will spread unchecked — and that has been the root cause of the problem. But this student unrest is also a good thing, insofar as it is a reminder to us.

I have read Fang Lizhi’s speeches. He doesn’t sound like a Communist Party member at all. Why do we keep people like him in the Party? He should be expelled, not just persuaded to quit. There are some people who still hold to their opinions but who say they will not get involved in student disturbances. That’s fine. You can reserve your opinions, so long as you don’t take part in activities against the Party or socialism. Wang Ruowang in Shanghai is very presumptuous. He should have been expelled from the Party long ago — why this delay? A rumour is going around Shanghai to the effect that there is disagreement in the Central Committee as to whether we should uphold the Four Cardinal Principles and oppose liberalization, and that there is therefore a layer of protection. That’s why people in Shanghai are taking a wait-and-see attitude towards the disturbances.

We have to admit that on the ideological and theoretical front both central and local authorities have been weak and have lost ground. They have taken a laissez-faire attitude towards bourgeois liberalization, so that good people find no support while bad people go wild. Good people don’t dare to speak out, as if they were in the wrong. But they are not in the wrong at all. We must stand up for the Four Cardinal Principles and especially the people’s democratic dictatorship. There is no way to ensure continued political stability and unity without the people’s democratic dictatorship. People who confuse right and wrong, who turn black into white, and who start rumours and spread slanders can’t be allowed to go around with impunity stirring the masses up to make trouble. A few years ago we punished according to law some exponents of liberalization who broke the law. Did that bring discredit on us? No, China’s image was not damaged. On the contrary, the prestige of our country is steadily growing.

In developing our democracy, we cannot simply copy bourgeois democracy, or introduce the system of a balance of three powers. I have often criticized people in power in the United States, saying that actually they have three governments. Of course, the American bourgeoisie uses this system in dealing with other countries, but when it comes to internal affairs, the three branches often pull in different directions, and that makes trouble. We cannot adopt such a system.

By carrying out the open policy, learning foreign technologies and utilizing foreign capital, we mean to promote socialist construction, not to deviate from the socialist road. We intend to develop the productive forces, expand socialist public ownership and raise the people’s income. The purpose of allowing some regions and some people to become prosperous before others is to enable all of them to prosper eventually. We have to make sure that there is no polarization of society — that’s what socialism means.

Without the Communist Party’s leadership and without socialism, there is no future for China. This truth has been demonstrated in the past, and it will be demonstrated again in future. When we succeed in raising China’s per capita GNP to US$4,000 and everyone is prosperous, that will better demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism, it will point the way for three quarters of the world’s population, and it will provide further proof of the correctness of Marxism. Therefore, we must confidently keep to the socialist road and uphold the Four Cardinal Principles.

We cannot do without dictatorship. We must not only reaffirm the need for it but exercise it when necessary. Of course, we must be cautious about resorting to dictatorial means and make as few arrests as possible. But if some people are bent on provoking bloodshed, what are we going to do about it? Our principle is: first expose their plot and then do our best to avoid shedding blood, even if that means some of our own people get hurt. We must see to it that ringleaders who have violated the law are sentenced according to law. If we had not done that, we wouldn’t have put an end to the recent disturbances. If we had taken no action and backed down, we would only have had more trouble down the road.

In the recent student unrest, the democratic parties have taken a correct position, and so have well-known democrats such as Zhou Gucheng, Fei Xiaotong and Qian Weichang. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same of some of our own Party members.

This time, we have to take action against those who openly oppose socialism and the Communist Party. This may make some waves, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. We must resolutely impose sanctions on Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan and Wang Ruowang, who are so arrogant that they want to remould the Communist Party. What qualifications do they have to be Party members?

Originally, I had not intended to say anything at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Twelfth Central Committee. But later, I felt I had to intervene to ask that there be included in the resolution a few words on the necessity of combating bourgeois liberalization. Apparently, my remarks on that occasion had no great effect. I understand they were never disseminated throughout the Party.

I still haven’t changed my mind about opposing mental pollution. I have agreed to have the full text of my speech at the Second Plenary Session of the Twelfth Central Committee included in a new collection of my works.

The struggle against bourgeois liberalization will last for at least 20 years. Democracy can develop only gradually, and we cannot copy Western systems. If we did, that would only make a mess of everything. Our socialist construction can only be carried out under leadership, in an orderly way and in an environment of stability and unity. That’s why I place such emphasis on the need for high ideals and strict discipline. Bourgeois liberalization would plunge the country into turmoil once more. Bourgeois liberalization means rejection of the Party’s leadership; there would be no centre around which to unite our one billion people, and the Party itself would lose all power to fight. A party like that would be no better than a mass organization; how could it be expected to lead the people in construction?

The struggle against the bourgeois Rightists in 1957 was carried somewhat too far, and the mistakes made should be corrected. But that doesn’t mean that we have negated the necessity for this struggle as a whole.

The struggle against bourgeois liberalization is indispensable. We should not be afraid that people abroad will say we are damaging our reputation. We must take our own road and build a socialism adapted to conditions in China — that is the only way China can have a future. We must show foreigners that China’s political situation is stable. If our country were plunged into disorder and our nation reduced to a heap of loose sand, how could we ever accomplish anything? The reason the imperialists were able to bully us in the past was precisely that we were a heap of loose sand.

Dealing with the student disturbances is a serious matter. Leading cadres should take a clear-cut stand; that will help the masses see things more clearly. The three articles relating to the disturbances that were published in People’s Daily were well written, and so was the editorial that appeared in Beijing Daily entitled “Big-Character Posters Are Not Protected by the Law”. The remarks made by Li Ruihuan in Tianjin were also good. The fact that the leading cadres take an unequivocal stand encourages those who are firmly opposed to disturbances and helps to persuade those who are undecided on the matter. Disturbances can be checked if the leaders take a strong stand.

(Remarks made to some leading members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)