Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


November 29, 1943

[Comrade Mao Tse-tung made this speech at a reception in honour of the labour heroes of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region.]

On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party I would like to say a few words at this reception it is giving for the labour heroes and heroines and other model workers in production elected from the villages, the factories, the armed forces, the government and other organizations and the schools in the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region. What I want to say can be summed up in the words, "Get organized!" This year the peasant masses and the people in the army, the government and other organizations, the schools and the factories of the Border Region have been conducting a production campaign in accordance with the resolutions of the meeting of senior cadres convened last winter by the Northwest Bureau of the Central Committee. Great achievements and advances have been scored in every field of production this year and the Border Region has taken on a new look. Facts have fully borne out the correctness of the policy adopted by the conference of senior cadres. The gist of this policy is to organize the masses, to mobilize and organize into a great army of labour all the available forces without exception--the people, the army, the government and other organizations and the schools--all men and women, young and old, who can contribute their labour power on a part-time or full-time basis. We have an army for fighting as well as an army for labour. For fighting we have the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies; but even they do a dual job, warfare and production. With these two kinds of armies, and with a fighting army skilled in these two tasks and in mass work, we can overcome our difficulties and defeat Japanese imperialism. If the achievements of our production campaign in the Border Region in recent years were not great or remarkable enough to prove this conclusively, our achievements this year have really done so, as we have all seen with our own eyes.

In all the armed units of the Border Region that have been allotted land this year, the soldiers have on the average cultivated eighteen mou per person; and they can produce or make practically everything--food (vegetables, meat and cooking oil), clothing (cotton-padded clothes, woollen knitwear and footwear), shelter (cave-dwellings, houses and meeting halls), articles of daily use (tables, chairs, benches and stationery), and fuel (firewood, charcoal and coal). By using our own hands we have attained the objective of "ample food and clothing". Every soldier needs to spend only three months of the year in production and can devote the remaining nine months to training and fighting. Our troops depend for their pay neither on the Kuomintang government, nor on the Border Region Government, nor on the people, but can fully provide for themselves. What a vitally important innovation for our cause of national liberation! During the last six and a half years of the War of Resistance, the anti-Japanese base areas have been subjected to the enemy's policy of "burn all, kill all, loot all", the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region has been tightly blockaded by the Kuomintang and we were reduced to the direst straits financially and economically; if our troops had been able to do nothing except fight, we would never have solved our problems. Now our troops in the Border Region have learned to produce, and so have some of the troops at the front, while others are learning. If every man in our heroic and combat-worthy Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies becomes able not only to fight and do mass work but also to produce, we need fear no difficulty and shall be "invincible under heaven", [1] to use the words of Mencius. Our organizations and schools have also taken a big step forward this year. Only a small part of their expenditure has come from the government, most of it being covered by their own production; they have grown 100 per cent of the vegetables they consume as compared with 50 per cent last year, considerably increased their consumption of meat by raising pigs and sheep, and established many workshops for making simple necessities. As the army, the organizations and the schools now meet their own material needs fully or for the most part, less is taken in taxation from the people, who can therefore enjoy more of the fruits of their labour. As soldiers and civilians are alike increasing production, all have ample food and clothing and are happy. In our factories, too, production has been stepped up, secret agents have been combed out and productivity has risen greatly. Throughout the Border Region, labour heroes have come forward in great numbers in agriculture and industry, in the organizations and the schools, and also in the army; we can say that production in the Border Region has been set on the right path. All this comes from organizing the strength of the masses.

To organize the strength of the masses is one policy. Is there a contrary policy? Yes, there is. It is one that lacks the mass viewpoint, fails to rely on the masses or organize them, and gives exclusive attention to organizing the small number of people working in the financial, supply or trading organizations, while paying no attention to organizing the masses in the villages, the army, the government and other organizations, the schools and factories; it treats economic work not as a broad movement or as an extensive front, but only as an expedient for meeting financial deficits. That is the other policy, the wrong policy. Such a policy formerly existed in the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region, but after the correct guidance given over these years, and especially after the senior cadres' conference last year and the mass movement this year, the number of people who still think this way is probably small. In the base areas in northern and central China, where fighting is intense and the leading bodies have not given it enough attention, the production campaign of the masses has not yet become widespread. However, since the Central Committee's directive of October 1 [2] this year, preparations are being made everywhere for a production campaign next year. Conditions at the front are more difficult than in the Border Region; not only is there heavy fighting, but natural disasters have occurred in some places. Nevertheless, we must mobilize the entire Party, the government and the army and the civilian population both to fight against the enemy and to engage in production, in order to support the war, to cope with the enemy's policy of "burn all, kill all, loot all" and to provide disaster relief. With the experience already gained in the last few years in production at the front, and with the ideological, organizational and material preparations this winter, an extensive campaign can be and must be launched next year. In the front-line areas where fighting is going on, it is not yet possible to have "ample food and clothing" but quite possible and, indeed, imperative to "use our own hands and overcome difficulties".

The co-operatives are now the most important form of mass organization in the economic field. Although it is unnecessary to insist on attaching the label co-operative to the productive activities of the masses in our army, our government and other organizations and our schools, these activities are of a co-operative nature, being carried on under centralized leadership to meet the material needs of various departments, units and individuals through mutual help and joint labour. They are co-operatives of a sort.

Among the peasant masses a system of individual economy has prevailed for thousands of years, with each family or household forming a productive unit. This scattered, individual form of production is the economic foundation of feudal rule and keeps the peasants in perpetual poverty. The only way to change it is gradual collectivization, and the only way to bring about collectivization, according to Lenin, is through co-operatives. [3] We have already organized many peasant co-operatives in the Border Region, but at present they are only of a rudimentary type and must go through several stages of development before they can become co-operatives of the Soviet type known as collective farms. Ours is a new-democratic economy, and our co-operatives are still organizations for collective labour based on an individual economy (on private property). Furthermore, they are of several types. One type is the organization of agricultural labour for mutual aid, such as the "teams for the exchange of labour" and "teams for the exchange and hire of labour"; [4] this kind of organization was known as the "mutual-aid working group" or "ploughing team" [5] in the Red areas in Kiangsi and is now called the "mutual-aid group" in some places at the front. So long as they are collective mutual-aid organizations which the people join voluntarily (compulsion must never be used), all of them are good, no matter how they are named, no matter whether they are each composed of a few, a few dozen or hundreds of people, or whether they are composed entirely or partly of people who can contribute full-time labour; no matter whether the members render each other mutual aid in terms of manpower, animal power or implements, or they live and eat together during the busy farming season; and no matter whether the organizations are temporary or permanent. These methods of collective mutual aid are the inventions of the masses themselves. In the past we summed up such experience among the masses in Kiangsi, and now we are summing it up in northern Shensi. In the Border Region mutual aid in labour has become much more systematic and better developed, after being encouraged by the meeting of senior cadres last year and put into practice all through the current year. Many labour-exchange teams in the Border Region have done their ploughing, planting, weeding and reaping collectively, and the harvest this year is double that of last. Now that the masses have seen these substantial results, undoubtedly more and more people will adopt the practice next year. We do not expect to organize into co-operatives in one year all the hundreds of thousands of people in the Border Region who can contribute full-time or part-time labour, but this objective can be realized within a few years. All women, too, should be mobilized to do a certain amount of productive work. All loafers must be reformed into good citizens through participation in production. Such collective mutual-aid producers' co-operatives should be extensively and voluntarily organized in all the anti-Japanese base areas in northern and central China.

Besides the collective mutual-aid co-operative for agricultural production, there are three other varieties: the multi-purpose cooperative like the Southern District Co-operative of Yenan, which combines the functions of producers', consumers', transport (salt transport) and credit co-operatives; the transport co-operative (salt transport team); and the handicraft co-operative.

With these four kinds of co-operatives among the masses and the collective labour co-operatives in the army, the schools and the government and other organizations, we can organize all the forces of the people into a great army of labour. This is the only road to liberation for the people, the only road from poverty to prosperity and the only road to victory in the War of Resistance. Every Communist must learn to organize the labour of the masses. Communists with an intellectual background must also learn to do so; once they have set their minds on it, they can learn in six months or a year. They can help the masses to organize production and to sum up experience. When our comrades have learned, among other skills, to organize the labour of the masses--to help the peasants draw up their household production plans, to set up labour-exchange teams, salt transport teams and multi-purpose co-operatives, to organize production in the army, the schools and the government and other organizations, to organize production in the factories, develop emulation in production, encourage and reward labour heroes, and arrange production exhibitions--when our comrades have learned to bring the creative power and initiative of the masses into play, we shall certainly be able to drive out the Japanese imperialists and, together with the whole people, build up a new China.

We Communists must be able to integrate ourselves with the masses in all things. If our Party members spend their whole lives sitting indoors and never go out to face the world and brave the storm, what good will they be to the Chinese people? None at all, and we do not need such people as Party members. We Communists ought to face the world and brave the storm, the great world of mass struggle and the mighty storm of mass struggle. "Three cobblers with their wits combined equal Chukeh Liang the master mind." [6] In other words, the masses have great creative power. In fact there are thousands upon thousands of Chukeh Liangs among the Chinese people; every village, every town has its own. We should go to the masses and learn from them, synthesize their experience into better, articulated principles and methods, then do propaganda among the masses, and call upon them to put these principles and methods into practice so as to solve their problems and help them achieve liberation and happiness. If our comrades doing local work are isolated from the masses, fail to understand their feelings and to help them organize their production and improve their livelihood, and if they confine themselves to collecting "public grain for national salvation" without realizing that 10 per cent of their energy is quite enough for this purpose provided they first devote 90 per cent to helping the masses solve the problem of "private grain for the people's own salvation", then these comrades are contaminated with the Kuomintang style of work and covered with the dust of bureaucracy. The Kuomintang only demands things from the people and gives them nothing in return. If a member of our Party acts in this way, his style of work is that of the Kuomintang, and his face, caked with the dust of bureaucracy, needs a good wash in a basin of hot water. In my opinion, this bureaucratic style is to be found in local work in all our anti-Japanese base areas, and there are comrades who are isolated from the masses because they lack the mass viewpoint. We must firmly do away with this style of work before we can have close ties with the masses.

In addition, a kind of warlord style is to be found in our army work, a style also characteristic of the Kuomintang whose army is divorced from the masses. Our troops must observe the correct principles that govern relations between the army and the people, between the army and the government, between the army and the Party, between officers and men, and between military work and political work, and relations among the cadres, and must never commit the errors of warlordism. Officers must cherish their men and must not be indifferent to their well-being or resort to corporal punishment; the army must cherish the people and never encroach upon their interests; the army must respect the government and the Party and never "assert independence". Our Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies are the armed forces of the people; they have always been very good, and are indeed the best in the country. But it is true that in recent years errors of warlordism of a certain kind have arisen, and some comrades in the army have become arrogant and high-handed in their behaviour towards the soldiers, the people, the government and the Party, always blaming the comrades doing local work but never themselves, always seeing their own achievements but never their own shortcomings, and always welcoming flattery but never criticism. Such phenomena are to be found, for example, in the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region. The tendency has been basically overcome as a result of the conference of senior cadres and the meeting of military and political cadres last year and of the campaigns to "support the government and cherish the people" and "support the army" during the Spring Festival [7] this year, but there is still a residue which we must make further efforts to eradicate. These faults are also to be found in the base areas in northern and central China, and the Party organizations and the army there must endeavour to eradicate them.

Whether it is the tendency towards bureaucracy in local work or towards warlordism in army work, the fault is of the same nature, namely, isolation from the masses. The overwhelming majority of our comrades are good comrades. Those who have this fault can correct it once they have been criticized and their mistakes pointed out. But self-criticism is imperative and wrong tendencies must be squarely faced and conscientiously corrected. If anyone fails to criticize the tendency towards bureaucracy in local work or towards warlordism in army work, it means that he wants to retain the Kuomintang style and keep the dust of bureaucracy or warlordism on his otherwise clean face, and he is not a good Communist. If these two tendencies are eliminated, all our work, including, of course, the production campaign, will proceed smoothly.

Our Border Region has taken on a totally different look because great results have been achieved here in production, whether among the peasant masses, or in the government and other organizations, the schools, the army or in the factories, and the relations between the army and the people have greatly improved. All this indicates that our comrades have a stronger mass viewpoint and have made great progress in becoming one with the masses. Nevertheless, we must not be complacent but continue our self-criticism and strive for further progress. We must strive for further progress in production, too. As our faces are apt to get dirty, we must wash them every day; as the floor is apt to gather dust, we must sweep it every day. Even though the tendencies towards bureaucracy in local work and warlordism in army work have been basically overcome, these bad tendencies may arise again. We are surrounded by the serried forces of Japanese imperialism and Chinese reaction, and we live in the midst of the undisciplined petty bourgeoisie, and hence great gusts of dirt of bureaucracy and warlordism blow in our faces daily. Therefore, we must not become complacent over every success. We should check our complacency and constantly criticize our shortcomings, just as we should wash our faces or sweep the floor every day to remove the dirt and keep them dean.

Labour heroes and model workers in production! You are leaders of the people, you have been very successful in your work, and I hope you, too, will not grow complacent. I hope that when you get back to the counties in the sub-regions of Kuanchung, Lungtung, Sanpien, Suiteh and Yenan, [8] when you get back to your organizations, schools, army units or factories, you will lead the people, lead the masses and work still better, and first of all get the masses organized on a voluntary basis into co-operatives, get them even better organized and in even greater numbers. I hope that, when you go back, you will do this work and propagate it, so that by next year's conference of labour heroes we shall have achieved still greater results.


1. From Mencius Book III, "Kungsun Chou", Part I, Chapter 5.

2. The Central Committee's directive of October 1 was "Spread the Campaigns to Reduce Rent, Increase Production and 'Support the Government and Cherish the People' in the Base Areas", pp. 131-35 of this volume.

3. See V. I. Lenin, "On Cooperation", Selected Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1952, Vol. II, Part 2, pp. 715-23.

4. "Teams for the exchange of labour" and "teams for the exchange and hire of labour" were both labour organizations for collective mutual aid in agriculture in the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region. Labour-exchange is a means by which the peasants adjust labour power among themselves. Man-workdays were exchanged for man-workdays, ox-workdays for ox-workdays, man-workdays for ox-workdays etc. Peasants who joined labour-exchange teams contributed their labour power or animal power to cultivate the land of each member-family collectively and in rotation. In settling accounts, the workday was taken as the unit of exchange those who contributed more man-workdays or animal-workdays were paid for the difference by those who contributed less. "Teams for the exchange and hire of labour" were usually formed by peasants with insufficient land. Besides exchanging work among themselves for mutual aid, their members also hired themselves out collectively to families which were short of labour power.

5. Mutual-aid working groups and ploughing teams, based on individual farming, were formed by peasants in the Red areas to facilitate production through a better organization of labour power. On the principle of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, the members did an equal amount of work for each other, or if one could not give another as much help as he received he made up the difference in cash. Apart from helping each other, the teams gave preferential treatment to the families of Red Army soldiers and worked for bereaved old folk without any pay except for meals during the work. As these measures of mutual aid were of great help to production and were carried out on a reasonable basis they won the warm support of the masses.

6. Chukeh Liang was a statesman and strategist in the period of the Three Kingdoms (221-265), who became a symbol of resourcefulness and wisdom in Chinese folklore.

7. The Spring Festival is New Year's Day in the Chinese lunar calendar.

8. The Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region was divided into these five sub-regions.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung