Deng Xiaoping

We Must Unite the People On the Basis of Firm Convictions


Published: November 9, 1986
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


Today in China we are urging people to have lofty ideals and moral integrity, to become better educated and to cultivate a strong sense of discipline. Of these, the most important is to have lofty ideals. From my long political and military experience I have learned that unity is of prime importance and that to achieve unity people must have common ideals and firm convictions. Over the past several decades we have united the people on the basis of firm convictions that enabled them to struggle for their own interests. Without such convictions, there would have been no cohesion among the people, and we could have accomplished nothing.

The highest goal of Communists is to realize communism, but in each historical stage we have a different programme of struggle that represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in that particular period. That is why we have been able to unite the masses and mobilize them to act with one heart and one mind. With unity like that we can overcome any difficulty or setback. It was on this unity that we relied to defeat the Kuomintang’s several million troops, who were equipped with modern American weapons. At that time we had no aircraft and no artillery, and we had to depend chiefly on men. So when I say that men play an important role, I don’t mean men in a general sense, but men who have understood where the interest of the people lies and who fight for it under the guidance of unshakable beliefs. It remains our principle to inculcate our officers and men with such beliefs. We should not abandon that principle, for it is a distinguishing feature of the way we build the army in China. We should also emphasize the importance of beliefs among the people, especially the youth. First of all, we should teach young people to have ideals and a sense of discipline. Without ideals and discipline it would be impossible for us to modernize. Many of our young people worship the Western countries for their so-called freedom, when they don’t really understand what freedom is. So we have to make clear to them the relation between freedom and discipline.

Marxism must be developed. We do not take Marxism as a dogma: rather, by combining Marxism with the concrete practice in China, we formulate our own principles. That is why we have achieved successes. Our revolution triumphed because we encircled the cities from the rural areas, although that strategy is not to be found in Marxist-Leninist books. Today we still uphold Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, part of which we have inherited and part of which we have developed ourselves. We are building socialism, or to be more precise, we are building a socialism suited to conditions in China. In this way we are truly adhering to Marxism. We have always believed that Communist parties everywhere should carry forward and develop Marxism in light of the conditions in their own countries. If we disregard realities, it is meaningless to talk about Marxism. That’s why we believe that there is not, and cannot be, any centre in the international communist movement. Nor are we in favour of establishing a so-called community of nations, because only the independence of each country is a true expression of Marxism.

(Excerpt from a talk with Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan.)