Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


July 31, 1955

[Report at a conference of secretaries of provincial, municipal and autonomous region Party committees called by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.]


An upsurge in the new, socialist mass movement is imminent throughout the countryside. But some of our comrades, tottering along like a woman with bound feet, are complaining all the time, "You're going too fast, much too fast." Too much carping, unwarranted complaints, boundless anxiety and countless taboos -- all this they take as the right policy to guide the socialist mass movement in the rural areas.

No, this is not the right policy, it is the wrong one.

The high tide of social transformation in the countryside, the high tide of co-operation, has already swept a number of places and will soon sweep the whole country. It is a vast socialist revolutionary movement involving a rural population of more than 500 million, and it has tremendous, world-wide, significance. We should give this movement active, enthusiastic and systematic leadership, we should not drag it back by whatever means. Some errors are unavoidable in the process, which is understandable, and they will not be hard to correct. Shortcomings or mistakes among cadres and peasants can be remedied or overcome provided we actively help them. The cadres and the peasants are advancing under the leadership of the Party and, fundamentally, the movement is healthy. In some places they have made certain mistakes in their work; for example, poor peasants have been barred from the co-operatives in disregard of their difficulties, while well-to-do middle peasants have been forced into the co-operatives in violation of their interests. These mistakes should be corrected by educating the cadres and peasants and not by simply dressing them down. Blunt reprimands solve no problem. We must guide the movement boldly and must not "fear dragons ahead and tigers behind". Both cadres and peasants will remould themselves in the course of the struggles they themselves experience. Let them go into action and let them learn and become more competent as they go along. In this way many fine people will come to the fore. "Fearing dragons ahead and tigers behind" will not produce cadres. Large groups of cadres with short-term training should be sent to the countryside from above to guide and assist the co-operative movement, but they must also take part in the movement itself if they are to learn how to work. One does not necessarily learn how to do a job just by listening to a lecturer explain a few dozen points in a training class.

In short, the leadership should never lag behind the mass movement. Yet, as things stand now, it is the mass movement which is running ahead, while the leadership cannot keep pace with it. This state of affairs must change.


The nation-wide co-operative movement is now taking tremendous strides forward, and yet we still have to argue such questions as: Can the co-operatives grow? Can they be consolidated? As far as certain comrades are concerned, the crux of the matter seems to be their worry as to whether it is possible to consolidate the several hundred thousand existing semi-socialist co-operatives, which are generally rather small, averaging twenty-odd peasant households each. Of course, unless they can be consolidated, growth is out of the question. Certain comrades remain unconvinced despite the record of the growth of co-operation in the last few years and want to wait and see how things shape up in 1955. They may even want to wait and see for another year, and only if more co-operatives are consolidated by the end of 1956 will they be truly convinced that the co-operative transformation of agriculture is possible and that the policy of the Central Committee of our Party is correct. That is why the work in these two years is crucial.

In order to show the feasibility of agricultural co-operation and the soundness of the Party Central Committee's policy on this matter, it is perhaps not without some value for us to review the history of the agricultural co-operative movement in our country.

In the twenty-two years of revolutionary wars preceding the founding of the People's Republic of China, our Party had already acquired experience in guiding the peasants, after agrarian reform, to set up agricultural producers' mutual-aid organizations containing certain rudiments of socialism. In those days, there were mutual-aid working groups and ploughing teams in Kiangsi Province, labour-exchange teams in northern Shensi and mutual-aid teams in northern, eastern and northeastern China. In isolated cases, agricultural producers' co-operatives of a semi-socialist or socialist nature also came into being. For instance, during the War of Resistance Against Japan an agricultural producers' co-operative of a socialist nature appeared in Ansai County in northern Shensi. But such co-operatives were not widely promoted then.

It was after the founding of the People's Republic of China that our Party led the peasants in setting up agricultural producers' mutual-aid teams more extensively and in initiating the formation of large numbers of agricultural producers' co-operatives on the basis of these teams. By now nearly six years more have been spent on this work.

By December 15, 1951, when the Central Committee of our Party adopted the first Draft Resolution on Mutual Aid and Co-operation in Agricultural Production and issued it to local Party organizations to be tried out, there were already three hundred or more agricultural producers' co-operatives. (The document was not published in the press as a formal Party resolution till March 1953.) Two years later, when our Central Committee issued its Resolution on Agricultural Producers' Co-operatives on December 16, 1953, the number had grown to more than 14,000, a 46-fold increase in the space of two years.

This resolution called for an increase of agricultural producers' co-operatives from 14,000 odd to 35,800 between the winter of 1953 and the autumn harvest of 1954, that is, an increase of merely I50 per cent. As it turned out, during the year the number actually rose to 100,000, or an increase of more than 600 per cent.

In October 1954 the Central Committee of our Party decided on an increase of 500 per cent, from 100,000 to 600,000. Actually, the number reached 670,000. By June 1955, after a preliminary readjustment, it was cut by 20,000, leaving 650,000, or 50,000 more than the planned target. The number of peasant households in the co-operatives was 16,900,000, or an average of 26 households in each.

These co-operatives are to be found mainly in the northern provinces, which were liberated earlier. As for the other provinces liberated later, which constitute the majority, each has a number of agricultural producers' co-operatives, but with the exception of Anhwei and Che-kiang, they do not have many yet.

These co-operatives are generally small, but a few are large, some with 70 to 80 households, some with over 100, and some with several hundred.

They are mostly semi-socialist, but a few have developed into higher-stage co-operatives of a socialist nature.

Along with the growth of the peasants' co-operative movement in agricultural production, a small number of socialist state farms have been established in our country. By 1957 we shall have 3,038 state farms cultivating 16,870,000 mou of land. Of these, 141 will be mechanized farms (counting both those existing in 1952 and those to be set up in the course of the First Five-Year Plan) with 7,580,000 mouunder cultivation, and 2,897 will be non-mechanized state farms under local administration, cultivating 9,290,000 mou. There will be a big growth in state-operated agriculture during the period covered by the Second and Third Five-Year Plans.

In the spring of 1955 the Central Committee of our Party decided that the number of agricultural producers' co-operatives should grow to a million. This means an increase of only 350,000 over the existing 650,000, or a little more than 50 per cent. It seems to me this may be a bit too small. Probably the figure of 650,000 ought to be roughly doubled, that is, to rise to something like 1,300,000, so that, except in some of the border areas, there will be one or more small agricultural producers' co-operatives of a semi-socialist nature to serve as models in each of the country's 200,000-odd townships. In a year or two these co-operatives will gain experience and become old ones, and people will learn from them. There are still fourteen months to go between now and the autumn harvest of October 1956, and it should be possible to accomplish this plan for establishing co-operatives. I hope that on their return the responsible comrades of the various provinces and autonomous regions will look into the matter, work out appropriate plans in accordance with the concrete conditions and report to the Central Committee within two months. We shall then discuss the matter again and make a final decision.

The question is whether the co-operatives can be consolidated. Some people say that last year's plan to set up 500,000 was too big and too rash and so is this year's plan to set up another 350,000. They doubt that so many co-operatives, once formed, can be consolidated.

Is it possible to consolidate them?

True, neither socialist industrialization nor socialist transformation is easy. To change some 110 million peasant households from individual farming to collective farming and then to accomplish the technical transformation of agriculture certainly involves a host of difficulties. But we should be confident of our Party's ability to lead the masses in overcoming them.

On the question of agricultural co-operation, I think we should be confident, firstly, that both the poor peasants and the lower-middle peasants among the new and old middle peasants [1] are enthusiastic about taking the socialist road and are eagerly responding to our Party's call for co-operative transformation -- this being particularly the case among those with a higher level of political consciousness -- because the poor peasants are in a difficult economic position and because thelower-middle peasants are still not well off, although their economic position is better than before liberation.

I think we should be confident, secondly, that the Party is capable of leading the people of the whole country to socialism. Having led the great people's democratic revolution to victory and established the people's democratic dictatorship headed by the working class, our Party can certainly lead the whole nation in basically accomplishing socialist industrialization and the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce in the course of roughly three five-year plans. In agriculture no less than in other spheres we already have powerful and convincing proof of this. Witness the first batch of 300 co-operatives, the second of 13,700 and the third of 86,000, or a total of 100,000, all established before the autumn of 1954 and all consolidated since. Why, then, can't the fourth batch of 550,000 co-operatives formed in 1954-55 and the fifth batch to be established in 1955-56 (the provisional control figure is 350,000, subject to final confirmation) also be consolidated?

We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. These are two cardinal principles. If we doubt these principles, we shall accomplish nothing.


To achieve co-operation step by step throughout our rural areas, we must conscientiously check up on and strengthen the co-operatives already in existence.

We must put emphasis on the quality of the co-operatives and oppose any tendency to concentrate solely on increasing their number and membership to the neglect of their quality. We must therefore give serious attention to the work of checking up on the co-operatives.

This check-up should be done not just once, but two or three times, a year. A certain number of co-operatives have had one in the first half of this year (in certain places, apparently, a very slipshod one, done without serious effort). I suggest a second check-up for these co-operatives in the autumn and winter of this year, and a third in the spring and summer of next. Of the 650,000 existing co-operatives, 550,000 are new, having been set up last winter or this spring, and they include a number of Class 1 co-operatives [2] which are more or less consolidated. If the 100,000 old and consolidated co-operatives are added, the number now consolidated is by no means small. Can these co-operatives help to bring about the gradual consolidation of the others? The answer should certainly be yes.

We should treasure every spark of socialist enthusiasm shown by the peasants and cadres, and not thwart such enthusiasm. We should identify ourselves heart and soul with the members and cadres of the co-operatives and with the county, district and township cadres, and not thwart their enthusiasm.

No decision should be made to dissolve co-operatives unless all, or nearly all, their members are determined not to carry on. If some members are determined to give up, let them withdraw while the majority stays in and carries on. If the majority is firmly against carrying on but the minority is willing to do so, let the majority withdraw while the minority stays in and continues. Even if things come to such a pass, it will be all right. In one very small co-operative of only six households in Hopei Province, the three old middle peasant households firmly refused to carry on and were allowed to withdraw, but the three poor peasant households [3] said they would continue whatever happened. They did and the co-operative was preserved. As a matter of fact, the direction taken by these three poor peasant households is the direction the 500 million peasants of the country will take. All peasants now farming individually will eventually take the road resolutely chosen by these three poor peasant households.

With the adoption of a policy that was called "resolute contraction" in Chekiang (not by decision of the Chekiang Provincial Party Committee), out of the 53,000 co-operatives in the province 15,000 (comprising 400,000 peasant households) were dissolved at a single stroke. This caused great dissatisfaction among the masses and the cadres, and it was altogether the wrong thing to do. This policy of "resolute contraction" was decided on in a state of panic. To take such a major step without the approval of the Central Committee was wrong too. Moreover, in April 1955 the Central Committee had already issued a warning: "Do not repeat the mistake of mass dissolution of co-operatives made in 1953, or otherwise you will again have to make a self-criticism." And yet certain comrades preferred not to heed this warning.

It seems to me that there are two tendencies in the face of success, both undesirable. One is to become dizzy with success, which leads to swelled heads and "Left" deviationist mistakes. Of course, that's bad. The second is to be scared of success, which leads to "resolute contraction" and Right deviationist mistakes. That's just as bad. The trouble now is of the latter kind, for some comrades have become scared of the several hundred thousand small co-operatives.


Before co-operatives are set up, preparatory work must be done seriously and well.

We must pay attention to quality from the very start and oppose the tendency to go after quantity alone.

Fight no battle unprepared, fight no battle you are not sure of winning. This was the celebrated slogan of our Party during the revolutionary wars. It can be applied to the work of building socialism as well. To be sure of success, one must be prepared, and what is more, fully prepared. A great deal of preparatory work is necessary before a new batch of agricultural producers' co-operatives can be set up in a province, prefecture or county. In the main, this work should consist of the following:

(1) Criticize wrong ideas and sum up the experience gained past work.

(2) Conduct propaganda systematically and repeatedly among the peasant masses concerning our Party's principles, policies and measures on agricultural co-operation. In so doing, we should not only explain the advantages of co-operative transformation we should also point out the difficulties which will be encountered on the way, so that the peasants may be mentally well prepared.

(3) Draw up a comprehensive plan for expanding agricultural co-operation in the entire province, prefecture, county, district or township in the light of actual conditions and work out an annual plan accordingly.

(4) Train cadres for the setting up of co-operatives in short-term courses.

(5) Develop agricultural producers' mutual-aid teams on a wide scale and in large numbers and, whenever possible, get these teams to join together and form combined mutual-aid teams, thus laying the foundation for further combination into co-operatives.

If all this is done, it will be possible basically to solve the problem of the unity of quantity and quality in the development of co-operatives. But it will still be necessary to follow through with an immediate check-up after each batch of co-operatives is formed.

Whether or not a batch of co-operatives, once formed, can be consolidated depends, firstly, on how well the preparatory work is done and, secondly, on how well the check-up is carried out afterwards.

In the work of establishing and checking up on the co-operatives reliance must be placed on the Party and Youth League branches in the township. For this reason, both tasks must be closely linked with building and consolidating the Party and Youth League organizations in the rural areas.

Whether in establishing co-operatives or in checking up on them, the local cadres in the rural areas should be the main force, and they should be encouraged and asked to take responsibility, while cadres sent from above should be the auxiliary force, whose function is to guide and help and not to take everything into their own hands.


In production the agricultural producers' co-operatives must achieve higher crop yields than the individual peasants and mutual-aid teams. Output must not remain at the individual peasant or mutual-aid team level, for that would mean failure; what point, then, in having co-operatives at all? Still less can yields be allowed to fall. Over 80 per cent of the 650,000 agricultural producers' co-operatives which have already been set up have increased their crop yields. This is very good, showing that the members are very keen on production and that co-operatives are superior to mutual-aid teams and far superior to individual farming.

To increase crop yields it is necessary:

(1) to adhere to the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit;

(2) to improve management (planning and administration of production, organization of labour, etc.);

(3) to improve farming techniques (deep ploughing and intensive cultivation, close planting in small clusters, extending the area of double or triple cropping, introduction of better strains of seed, popularization of new types of farm implements, the fight against plant diseases and insect pests, etc.); and

(4) to increase the means of production (land under cultivation, fertilizer, water conservancy works, draught animals, farm implements, etc.).

These are indispensable conditions for consolidating the co-operatives and ensuring increased production.

In adhering to the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, we must at present give our attention to the following problems:

(1) Whether or not it is better to delay for a year or two the turning in of draught animals and larger farm implements as shares in the co-operative, and whether or not the prices fixed are fair and the payments to the owners are spread over too long a time.

(2) Whether or not there is a proper ratio between the payment based on land shares and the payment for labour.

(3) How the co-operative should raise the funds it needs.

(4) Whether or not certain members may devote part of their labour to certain kinds of side-line production.

(Since the agricultural producers' co-operatives we are now setting up are generally still semi-socialist in nature, care must be taken to solve these four problems properly so as not to violate the principle of mutual benefit as between the poor and the middle peasants, without which there can be no basis for voluntary participation.)

(5) How much land should be set aside for members to cultivate for their personal needs.

(ó) The question of the class composition of the co-operative membership.

And so on.

Here I would like to deal with the question of the class composition of the co-operative membership. I think that, in the next year or two, wherever the movement for co-operation has just begun to spread or has only recently spread, as in most areas at present, we should first get the active elements of the following sections of the people to organize themselves: (1) the poor peasants, (2) the lower-middle peasants among the new middle peasants, and (3) the lower-middle peasants among the old middle peasants. However, those among them who are not enthusiastic for the time being should not be dragged in against their will. They can be drawn into the co-operatives batch by batch when their political consciousness has risen and they have become interested in co-operatives. These sections are more or less similar in their economic status. Either they are still leading a hard life (to wit, the poor peasants, who, though they have received land and are much better off than in pre-liberation days, are still in difficulty for lack of manpower, draught animals and farm implements), or they are still not well off (to wit, the lower-middle peasants). Therefore, they are all enthusiastic about forming co-operatives. Nevertheless, for one reason or another, their enthusiasm varies in degree -- some are very keen, some are not so keen for the time being, and others prefer to wait and see. Therefore, we should devote a period of time to educating all those who do not want to join co-operatives yet, even though they are poor or lower-middle peasants, we should patiently wait until they are politically more conscious, and we must not violate the voluntary principle by dragging them in against their will.

As for the new and old upper-middle peasants, that is, the middle peasants who are economically better off, with the exception of those who are politically conscious enough to take the socialist road and are really willing to join, they should not be admitted into the co-operatives for the time being, still less be dragged in against their will. The reason is that they are not yet politically conscious enough to take the socialist road; they will make up their minds to join the co-operatives only after the majority in the rural areas have joined, or when yields per mou of the co-operatives equal or even surpass theirs and they realize that it is to their disadvantage in every respect to continue working on their own, and that they cannot further their interests except by joining.

So the first thing to do is to group the people who are poor or not well off according to their level of political consciousness (together they form about 60 to 70 per cent of the rural population) and get them to organize co-operatives in batches in the next few years, and only then should the well-to-do middle peasants be drawn in. In this way we will avoid commandism.

For the next few years in all areas where co-operative transformation has not been basically completed, landlords and rich peasants must definitely not be admitted into the co-operatives. In areas where it has been basically completed, however, the consolidated co-operatives may, on certain conditions, admit by stages and in groups former landlords and rich peasants who have long since given up exploitation, who engage in labour and are law-abiding, and may allow them to take part in collective labour while continuing to reform them through labour.


As for the development of the co-operatives, the problem now is not one of having to criticize rash advance. It is wrong to say that the present development of the co-operatives has "gone beyond the real possibilities" or "gone beyond the level of political consciousness of the masses". This is how things stand: China has an enormous population with insufficient cultivated land (only three mou per head, taking the country as a whole, and one mou or even less on the average in many parts of the southern provinces), natural calamities are frequent (every year large areas of farmland suffer from flood, drought, gales, frost, hail or insect pests in varying degrees), and farming methods are backward. Consequently, although the life of the peasant masses has improved since the agrarian reform or even improved a good deal, many are still in difficulty or not well off and those who are well off are relatively few, and hence most of the peasants are enthusiastic about the socialist road. Their enthusiasm is being constantly heightened by China's socialist industrialization and its achievements. For them socialism is the only way out. These peasants make up 60 to 70 per cent of the entire rural population. In other words, the only way for the majority of the peasants to shake off poverty, improve their livelihood and fight natural calamities is to unite and go forward along the high road of socialism. This awareness is growing rapidly among the masses of the poor peasants and of those who are not well off. The well-to-do or fairly well-to-do peasants, who make up only 20 to 30 per cent of the rural population, are vacillating, with some trying hard to go the capitalist way. As I have already said, there are also many among the poor peasants and those not well off who take a wait-and-see attitude for the time being because of their low political consciousness, and they too are wavering; however, it is easier for them than for the well-to-do peasants to accept socialism. That is how things really stand. But some of our comrades ignore these facts and think that the several hundred thousand newly established small semi-socialist agricultural producers' co-operatives have "gone beyond the real possibilities" or "gone beyond the level of political consciousness of the masses". This shows that their eyes are on the comparatively small number of well-to-do peasants to the neglect of the great majority, the poor peasants and those not well off. This is one kind of wrong thinking.

Furthermore, these comrades underrate the strength of the Communist Party's leadership in the countryside and the peasant masses' whole-hearted support for the Party. They believe it is difficult enough as it is for the Party to consolidate the several hundred thousand small co-operatives already in existence and therefore a large-scale expansion is simply inconceivable. They pessimistically picture the Party's present work in leading agricultural co-operation as having "gone beyond the level of the cadres' experience". True, the socialist revolution is a revolution of a new kind. Previously, our experience was confined to the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and we had no experience in socialist revolution. Yet how can we gain such experience? By sitting back and waiting for it? Or by plunging into the struggles of the socialist revolution and learning in the process? How can we gain experience in industrialization without carrying out the Five-Year Plan, or without pushing ahead with the work of socialist industrialization? One section of the Five-Year Plan deals with agricultural co-operation. If we do not lead the peasants in organizing one or more agricultural producers' co-operatives in every township or village, where will "the level of the cadres' experience" come from, and how will it rise? Clearly, the idea that the present development of the agricultural producers' co-operatives has "gone beyond the level of the cadres' experience" is mistaken. This is another kind of wrong thinking.

The way these comrades look at problems is wrong. They do not look at the essential or main aspects but emphasize the non-essential or minor ones. It should be pointed out that these non-essential or minor aspects must not be overlooked and must be dealt with one by one. But they should not be taken as the essential or main aspects, or we will lose our bearings.

We must have faith, first, that the peasant masses are willing to take the road of socialism step by step under the leadership of the Party and, second, that the Party is capable of leading the peasants onto this road. These two points are the essence of the matter, the main current. If we lack this conviction, it will be impossible for us basically to accomplish the building of socialism within roughly three five-year plans.


The great historical experience of the Soviet Union in building socialism inspires our people with full confidence in the building of socialism in China. However, even on this subject of international experience there are different views. Some comrades disapprove of our Central Committee's policy of keeping the development of agricultural co-operation in step with our socialist industrialization, although the validity of such a policy has been borne out in the Soviet Union. While conceding that the speed of industrialization as set at present is all right, they maintain that agricultural co-operation should proceed at an extremely slow pace and need not keep in step. This is to disregard the experience of the Soviet Union. These comrades fail to understand that socialist industrialization cannot be carried out in isolation from the co-operative transformation of agriculture. In the first place, as everyone knows, China's current level of production of commodity grain and raw materials for industry is low, whereas the state's need for them is growing year by year, and this presents a sharp contradiction. If we cannot basically solve the problem of agricultural co-operation within roughly three five-year plans, that is to say, if our agriculture cannot make a leap from small-scale farming with animal-drawn farm implements to large-scale mechanized farming, along with extensive state-organized land reclamation by settlers using machinery (the plan being to bring 400 to 500 million mou of waste land under cultivation in the course of three five-year plans), then we shall fail to resolve the contradiction between the ever-increasing need for commodity grain and industrial raw materials and the present generally low output of staple crops, and we shall run into formidable difficulties in our socialist industrialization and be unable to complete it. The Soviet Union, which had to face the same problem in the course of building socialism, solved it by leading and developing the collectivization of agriculture in a planned way. And we can solve ours only by the same method. In the second place, some of our comrades have not given any thought to the connection between the following two facts, namely, that heavy industry, the most important branch of socialist industrialization, produces for agricultural use tractors and other farm machinery, chemical fertilizers, modern means of transport, oil, electric power, etc., and that all these things can be used, or used extensively, only on the basis of an agriculture where large-scale co-operative farming prevails. We are now carrying out a revolution not only in the social system, the change from private to public ownership, but also in technology, the change from handicraft to large-scale modern machine production, and the two revolutions are interconnected. In agriculture, with conditions as they are in our country, co-operation must precede the use of big machinery (in capitalist countries agriculture develops capitalistically). Therefore we must on no account regard industry and agriculture, socialist industrialization and the socialist transformation of agriculture as disconnected or isolated things, and on no account must we emphasize the one and play down the other. In this matter too, Soviet experience points the way, yet some of our comrades pay no attention and always see these questions as isolated and unconnected. In the third place, some of our comrades have also failed to give any thought to the connection between two other facts, namely, that large funds are needed to accomplish both national industrialization and the technical transformation of agriculture, and that a considerable part of these funds has to be accumulated through agriculture. Apart from the direct agricultural tax, this is done by developing light industry to produce the great quantities of consumer goods needed by the peasants and exchanging them for the peasants' commodity grain and the raw materials for light industry, so that the material requirements of both the peasants and the state are met and funds are accumulated for the state. Moreover, large-scale expansion of light industry requires the development of agriculture as well as of heavy industry. For it cannot be brought about on the basis of a small peasant economy; it has to await large-scale farming, which in our country means socialist co-operative agriculture. Only this type of agriculture can give the peasants far greater purchasing power than they now possess. Here again the Soviet Union has provided us with experience, but some of our comrades take no notice of it. Taking the stand of the bourgeoisie, the rich peasants, or the well-to-do middle peasants with their spontaneous tendencies towards capitalism, they always think in terms of the interests of the few and fail to take the working-class stand and think in terms of the interests of the whole country and people.


Then again, some comrades have dug up an argument of a sort from the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union against what they call impetuosity and rashness in our present work of agricultural co-operation in China. Does not the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course tell us that at a certain period many local Party organizations in the Soviet Union committed the error of impetuosity and rashness on the question of the pace of collectivization? Should we not take note of this international experience?

I think we should take note of this Soviet experience and must oppose any impetuous and rash thinking which ignores preparatory work and disregards the level of political consciousness of the peasant masses, but on no account should we allow these comrades to use the Soviet experience as a cover for their idea of moving at a snail's pace.

How has the Central Committee of our Party decided to carry through agricultural co-operation in China?

First, it intends to accomplish the plan, in the main, in eighteen years. The period of a little over three years from the founding of the People's Republic of China in October 1949 to 1952 was spent on rehabilitating the national economy. In the sphere of agriculture, in addition to agrarian reform and the restoration of production, during this period we greatly extended the organization of agricultural producers' mutual-aid teams in all the old liberated areas, where we also began to form semi-socialist agricultural producers' co-operatives and gained some experience. Next followed the First Five-Year Plan, which began in 1953; nearly three years have elapsed since then, during which our agricultural co-operative movement has been spreading all over the country and our experience growing. The period from the founding of the People's Republic of China to the end of the Third Five-Year Plan covers eighteen years. In that period, we intend basically to accomplish the socialist transformation of agriculture together with socialist industrialization and the socialist transformation of handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce. Is this possible? Soviet experience tells us that it is entirely possible. In the Soviet Union the Civil War ended in Into and the collectivization of agriculture was completed in the seventeen years from 1921 to 1937, the main part of this work being done in the six years from 1929 to 1934. Although, as the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course records, some local Party organizations in the Soviet Union became "dizzy with success" during this period, the error was quickly corrected. Eventually, by a great effort the Soviet Union successfully accomplished the socialist transformation of the whole of its agriculture and at the same time achieved a massive technical reconstruction of agriculture. This road traversed by the Soviet Union is our model.

Secondly, the method we are using in the socialist transformation of agriculture is one of step-by-step advance. The first step was to call on the peasants, in accordance with the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, to organize agricultural producers' mutual-aid teams, which had only certain rudiments of socialism and comprised only a few to a dozen or so households each. The second step has been to call on the peasants, likewise in accordance with the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, to organize small agricultural producers' co-operatives on the basis of these mutual-aid teams, co-operatives which are semi-socialist in nature and are characterized by the pooling of land as shares and by unified management. Then the third step will be to call on the peasants, in accordance with the same principles, to combine further on the basis of these small semi-socialist co-operatives and organize large fully socialist agricultural producers' co-operatives. These steps make it possible for the peasants gradually to raise their socialist consciousness through personal experience and gradually to change their mode of life, thus lessening the feeling of abrupt change. Generally, these steps can avoid a fall in crop production during, say, the first year or two; indeed, they must ensure an increase each year, and this can be done. More than 80 per cent of the existing 650,000 agricultural producers' co-operatives have increased their output, while over l0 per cent have broken even, and less than l0 per cent have shown a decrease. In the two latter categories the state of affairs is bad, particularly in the case of the last category where production has fallen, and a great effort must be made to check up on and strengthen these co-operatives. Since more than 80 per cent of all the co-operatives have increased their output (by anything from 10 to 30 per cent), since over 10 per cent have shown neither an increase nor a decrease in their first year but may show an: increase in their second year after having had a check-up, and since the less than 10 per cent registering a fall in output may also show an increase in their second year or at least break even after the check-up, it can be said that on the whole our progress in co-operation is healthy and that generally we can ensure increased production and avoid falling output. Moreover, these steps are a splendid course for training cadres, In this way administrative and technical personnel for the co-operatives can be gradually trained in large numbers.

Thirdly, a control figure for the extension of agricultural co-operation should be fixed once a year in the light of the actual situation, while during the year there should be several inspections of how the work of co-operation is being carried out. Concrete measures for extending co-operation in each province, county and township can thus be decided upon every year according to changing conditions and the degree of success in the work. Expansion may be halted for a while in some places in order to carry out a check-up; in others, expansion andcheck-up can proceed simultaneously. In certain co-operatives some of the members may be allowed to withdraw, and in individual cases a co-operative may even be allowed to dissolve temporarily. In some places new co-operatives should be set up in large numbers, while in others there should be no increase except in the number of peasant households in the existing co-operatives. In every province or county, whenever a batch of co-operatives is established, expansion must be halted to allow time for a check-up before setting up a new batch. The idea of never allowing any pause, any intermission, is wrong. As for the inspection of the progress of the co-operative movement, the Central Committee and the provincial, autonomous region, municipal and prefectural committees of the Party must take it firmly in hand and make sure that it is done not once but several times every year. Whenever a problem crops up, tackle it right away; don't let problems pile up and then try to settle them all at one go. Make criticism in good time; don't get into the habit of criticizing only after the event. In the first seven months of this year, for instance, the Central Committee alone has called three conferences, including the present one, of leading comrades from various parts of the country to discuss the question of rural co-operation This method of suiting our measures to local conditions and of giving timely guidance ensures that fewer mistakes will be made in our work and that those made will be quickly put right.

Taking all the above into consideration, can't we say that the guiding policy of the Central Committee of our Party on agricultural co-operation is the right one and therefore guarantees the healthy development of the movement? I think we can and should say so; to evaluate this policy as "rash advance" is utterly wrong.


Some comrades take a wrong approach to the vital question of the worker-peasant alliance, proceeding as they do from the stand of the bourgeoisie, the rich peasants, or the well-to-do middle peasants with their spontaneous tendencies towards capitalism. They think that the present situation in the co-operative movement is very dangerous, and they advise us to "get off the horse quickly" in our present advance along the road of co-operation. "If you don't," they warn us, "there will be the danger of breaking up the worker-peasant alliance." We think exactly the opposite is true. There will be the danger of breaking up the worker-peasant alliance, if you don't get on the horse quickly. There is a difference of only a single word here -- one says "off" while the other says "on" -- yet it demonstrates the difference between the two lines. As everybody knows, we already have a worker-peasant alliance built on the basis of the bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism, a revolution which took the land from the landlords and distributed it to the peasants in order to free them from the bondage of feudal ownership. But this revolution is over, and feudal ownership has been abolished. What exists in the countryside today is capitalist ownership by the rich peasants and a vast sea of ownership by individual peasants. As is clear to everyone, the spontaneous forces of capitalism have been steadily growing in the countryside in recent years, with new rich peasants springing up everywhere and many well-to-do middle peasants striving to become rich peasants. On the other hand, many poor peasants are still living in poverty for shortage of the means of production, with some getting into debt and others selling or renting out their land. If this tendency goes unchecked, it is inevitable that polarization in the countryside will get worse day by day. Those peasants who lose their land and those who remain in poverty will complain that we are doing nothing to save them from ruin or to help them out of their difficulties. Nor will the well-to-do middle peasants who are heading in the capitalist direction be pleased with us, for we shall never be able to satisfy their demands unless we intend to take the capitalist road. Can the worker-peasant alliance continue to hold firm in these circumstances? Obviously not. There is no solution to this problem except on a new basis. And that means to bring about, step by step, the socialist transformation of the whole of agriculture together with socialist industrialization and the socialist transformation of handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce; in other words, it means to carry out co-operation and eliminate the rich peasant economy and the individual economy in the countryside so that all the rural people will become increasingly well off together. We maintain that this is the only way to consolidate the worker-peasant alliance. Otherwise, this alliance will be in real danger of breaking up.; The comrades who advise us to "get off the horse" are completely wrong in their thinking on this question.


We must now realize that there will soon be a nation-wide high tide of socialist transformation in the countryside. This is inevitable. By the spring of 1958, at the end of the final year of the First Five-Year Plan and the beginning of the first year of the Second Five-Year Plan. co-operatives of a semi-socialist nature will embrace some 250 million people, about 55 million peasant households (averaging four and a half persons each), which will mean half the rural population. By that time many counties and some provinces will have basically completed the semi-socialist transformation of the agricultural economy, and in every part of the country a small number of semi-socialist co-operatives will have become fully socialist. By 1960, that is, during the first half of the Second Five-Year Plan, we shall in the main have achieved the semi-socialist transformation of the remainder of the agricultural economy involving the other half of the rural population. By then the number of fully socialist co-operatives developed from the semi-socialist ones will have increased. All through the First and Second Five-Year Plans, the transformation of the countryside will continue to be primarily social, and only secondarily technical; the number of big farm machines will certainly increase, but not to any great extent. During the Third Five-Year Plan, the social and the technical transformation of the rural areas will proceed simultaneously; more big farm machinery will be employed each year, while in the field of social transformation, from 1960 on the semi-socialist co-operatives will be gradually developing into fully socialist ones, batch by batch and stage by stage. The social and economic features of China will not be completely changed until the socialist transformation of the social and economic system is completely accomplished and, in the technical field, machinery is used in all possible branches and places. The country's economic conditions being what they are, the technical transformation will take longer than the social. It is estimated that the basic completion of the nation-wide technical transformation of agriculture will take roughly four or five five-year plans, that is, twenty to twenty-five years. The whole Party must fight for the fulfilment of this great task.


There must be comprehensive planning and more effective leadership.

There must be national, provincial, prefectural, county, district and township plans for the stage-by-stage development of co-operation. And as the work proceeds, these plans must constantly be revised in the light of the actual conditions. All Party and Youth League organizations at the provincial, prefectural, county, district and township levels must pay serious attention to rural problems and earnestly improve their leadership in rural work. The leading comrades in charge of local Party and Youth League committees at various levels should apply themselves to studying the work of agricultural co-operation and become expert at it. In short, they must not remain passive but take the initiative, not abandon leadership but strengthen it.


In August 1954 (this, of course, is no longer news), the Heilungkiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China reported:

With the rise and spread of rural co-operation, mutual-aid and co-operative organizations of various types and the people of various strata in the rural areas are all on the move to a greater or lesser degree. The existing agricultural producers' co-operatives are planning and preparing to enlarge their membership, and the agricultural producers' mutual-aid teams which are scheduled to become co-operatives are planning and preparing to draw in more households, while those which have not yet reached that level are anxious to go forward and reach a higher stage. Some people are busy preparing to join new co-operatives, others to join existing ones. Those not ready to join co-operatives this year are actively considering joining mutual-aid teams. The stir is very broad in scope. A mass movement has come into being. This is a new and striking feature in the great development of agricultural co-operation. But because some of the leading comrades in certain counties and districts have not kept abreast of this new feature and have not given more effective leadership in good time, certain unhealthy phenomena have begun to appear in a number of tsun and tun. [N.B. In Heilungkiang Province the tsun is the administrative unit corresponding to the township in the provinces south of the Great Wall, while the ton, which is not an administrative unit, is equivalent to the village in the latter provinces.]

For instance, when people start looking for fellow members, the strong seek out the strong and elbow aside the badly-off peasants, there are squabbles over backbone activists and members which give rise to disunity, there is blind concentration of backbone activists in one place, and the rich peasants and those well-to-do peasants with fairly strong tendencies towards capitalism seize the opportunity to rig up mutual-aid teams of poor quality or rich peasants' co-operatives of their own. All this clearly demonstrates that, with the immense growth of agricultural co-operation, it is not enough to think only in terms of setting up new co-operatives when carrying out the Party's policy and guiding the movement. It is necessary to think in terms of the entire tsun [i.e., the entire township] and of promoting the agricultural co-operative movement as a whole and to give consideration both to enlarging the old co-operatives and to setting up new ones, both to developing the co-operatives and to bringing the mutual-aid teams to a higher stage, both to what is being done this year and to what is to be done next year, and even the year after. This is the only way to carry out the Party's policy to the full and to ensure the healthy growth of the agricultural co-operative movement.

Is it only in Heilungkiang Province that "some of the leading comrades in certain counties and districts have not kept abreast of this new feature and have not given more effective leadership in good time"? Is it only in certain counties and districts? I think it very likely that there are people in many leading organizations all over the country who typify this serious state of affairs in which the leadership lags behind the movement.

The report of the Heilungkiang Provincial Party Committee went on to say:

Hsichin Township, Shuangcheng County, has worked out a comprehensive plan for the whole township on the basis of leadership by the Party combined with the voluntary participation of the masses. This is an innovation in the method of leading the large-scale expansion of co-operation. Its importance lies first and foremost in the fact that through this kind of planning the Party's class line in the countryside has been fully translated into life, so that the unity between the poor and the middle peasants has been strengthened and a vigorous struggle has been waged against the rich peasant tendency. Backbone activists have been properly allocated to serve the general advance of the agricultural co-operative movement. Relations between the various co-operatives and between the co-operatives and the mutual-aid teams have been readjusted and strengthened, and the agricultural co-operative movement has consequently advanced along the whole front according to plan. Secondly, through this kind of planning the work of expanding agricultural co-operation on a large scale has been specifically assigned right down to the leading bodies at the basic level and to the masses, so that the township Party branch knows how to lead, the old co-operatives how to go forward, the new co-operatives how to establish themselves and the mutual-aid teams how to find their particular path towards further advance. In this way, the initiative and enthusiasm of the township Party branch and of the masses have been brought into full play, and the correct principle of relying on the Party branch and on the experience and wisdom of the masses has been thoroughly applied. Finally, it is precisely through this kind of planning that we have been better able to ascertain the true situation in the township and to carry outthe Party's policy concretely and fully. Therefore, it has been possible to avoid impetuosity and rashness on the one hand and conservatism and drift on the other, and thus correctly apply the Central Committee's policy of "active leadership and steady advance".

How were the "certain unhealthy phenomena" mentioned in the report of the Heilungkiang Provincial Party Committee actually dealt with? The report itself did not give a direct answer to this question. But the report of the Shuangcheng County Party Committee, appended to the Provincial Party Committee's report, did. It said:

As a result of comprehensive planning based on combining leadership by the Party branch and voluntary participation by the masses, the deviation of barring badly-off peasant households from the co-operatives has been corrected, the practice of concentrating too many backbone activists in one place has been stopped, thesquabbles over cadres and members have disappeared, the links between the co-operatives and the mutual-aid teams have grown closer, the attempts of the rich peasants and the well-to-do middle peasants to rig up rich peasants' co-operatives or mutual-aid teams of poor quality have failed, and the plan of the Party branch has in the main been put into effect. The membership of the two older co-operatives has gone up 40 per cent, skeleton organizations for six new co-operatives have been set up, and two mutual-aid teams have been organized. If things go well, we estimate that next year [i.e., in 1955] the whole township will go co-operative. At present, it is working energetically to fulfil this year's plan for expanding agricultural co-operation, increase production and ensure a good harvest. The general opinion among the township cadres is: "It is fortunate that we did all this, or things would have been in a mess. Not only would there have been trouble this year but next year ask well."

Let us work the way they do.

Comprehensive planning and more effective leadership -- that is our policy.


1. During the co-operative transformation of agriculture those who were formerly poor peasants but rose to middle peasant status after the agrarian reform were called new middle peasants. Those who were formerly middle peasants and whose economic status remained unchanged were called old middle peasants.

2. At that time agricultural producers' co-operatives which were well run, middling and poorly run were usually called Class I, Class II and Class III co-operatives respectively.

3. The three poor peasant households here referred to were those of Wang Yu-kun, Wang Hsiao-chi and Wang Hsiao-pang in Nanwangchuang Village, Anping County, Hopei Province. The agricultural producers' co-operative they set up was the predecessor of the present Nanwangchuang Brigade of the people's commune of the same name.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung