Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


September and December 1955


September 25, 1955

The general line of the Chinese Communist Party for the period of transition from capitalism to socialism is basically to accomplish the industrialization of China together with the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce. This transition period will cover roughly eighteen years, that is, the three years of rehabilitation plus the span of three five-year plans. On the surface there has been a consensus in our Party on this formulation of the general line and the specification of the time-limit, but in reality there have been differences of opinion. At present, these differences manifest themselves chiefly on the Question of the socialist transformation of agriculture, or agricultural co-operation.

Some people say that in the last few years there seems to have been a certain rule operating in agricultural co-operation, namely, expansion is encouraged in winter but is bound to be opposed in the spring by certain persons as rash advance. There are reasons for that remark, for they have seen opposition to the alleged rash advance on several occasions. For example, there was an expansion in the winter of 1952, only to be opposed as a rash advance in the spring of 1953; again there was an expansion in the winter of 1954, only to be opposed once more as a rash advance in the following spring. Opposition to the alleged rash advance meant not only halting the expansion but compulsorily dissolving (or "axing") large numbers of co-operatives already set up, thus rousing dissatisfaction among the cadres and peasant masses. Some peasants were so disgusted that they refused to eat, or kept to their beds, or skipped work a dozen days in a row. They said, "You were the ones who told us to set up the co-operatives, and now you are the ones who tell us to disband them." Dissolution gladdened the well-to-do middle peasants but saddened the poor peasants. When the news about the halting of expansion or the dissolution reached the poor peasants in Hu-peh Province, they were "chilled to the bone", but some middle peasants said, "This is as good as a pilgrimage to Mulan Hill." (On Mulan Hill in Huangpi County, Hupeh Province, there stands the Mulan Temple, a place peasants like to visit on pilgrimage.)

Why this wavering on the part of some comrades which most people find absolutely uncalled for? Because they have fallen under the influence of some of the middle peasants. At the initial stage of the co-operative movement some of the middle peasants, especially the well-to-do middle peasants who had strong leanings towards capitalism, were averse to socialist transformation. Here what makes the difference is the Party's policy and method of work with respect to the middle peasants in the co-operative movement. Many middle peasants, mainly the new and old lower-middle peasants, who are not so well off and have a higher level of political consciousness, are willing to join the co-operatives, provided we pursue a policy which benefits both strata, that is, the poor and also the middle peasants, and not a policy exclusively beneficial to the former, and provided our method of work is good. However, even if we follow this policy, some middle peasants will still prefer to stay outside the co-operatives for the time being and "to remain free if only for a year or two". This is perfectly understandable, for co-operation means a change in the peasants' private ownership of the means of production and the entire mode of management; for them this is a fundamental change, so naturally they want to give the matter careful consideration and for some time may find it difficult to make a decision. Some of our comrades failed to tackle problems in accordance with the Party's policy and method of work and, when faced with complaints from the well-to-do middle peasants and certain flaws in our work, they panicked, raised a hue and cry against "rash advance", and "axed" co-operatives at will as if they were malignant tumours which would be fatal unless removed at once. But this is not at all how things stand. Shortcomings there are in our work, but on the whole the movement is healthy. The masses of the poor and lower-middle peasants welcome the co-operatives. If some of the middle peasants want to wait and see, we should let them. As for the well-to-do middle peasants, we should give them even more time to wait and see, except for those willing to join. At present, the main defect in the movement is that in many places the Party leadership has failed to keep pace; the comrades in charge have not taken the leadership of the whole movement into their hands, they have no over-all plan for the province, county, district or township, but adopt a piecemeal approach, and they lack initiative, enthusiasm warm responsiveness and drive. Thus a big problem has arisen. With the movement spreading widely at the grass roots but receiving insufficient attention from above, some troubles naturally occur. In the face of such troubles, instead of providing stronger leadership and better planning, our comrades take a negative attitude and try to check the progress of the movement or rush to "axe" a number of co-operatives. Of course this is wrong and is sure to give rise to more troubles.

We have just compiled a book, How to Run Agricultural Producers' Co-operatives [1] It includes factual examples from various provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, a total of more than 120 articles. The bulk of the material covers the period January-August 1955 and the rest the second half of 1954. Most of the articles have been reprinted from the inner-Party publications of provinces, municipalities or autonomous regions, some have been taken from newspapers, others are reports of Party committees or of working personnel to Party committees at higher levels, and one is a verbatim record of a talk by the director of a co-operative who was invited to Peking. We have made only a few verbal changes in the material, keeping intact the original contents. We have written comments on some of the articles. To keep our comments separate from those of the editors of the original publications, ours carry the designation "Editor's Note". We believe that the views of the authors as expressed in the material are correct or basically correct. From this material the reader will see the scope and direction of the co-operative movement in the country and the prospects for its development. The material shows that the movement is healthy. Troubles occurred only in places where the Party committees had failed to give proper guidance. But once they caught up and gave proper guidance according to the policy of the Central Committee of our Party, the problem was solved right away. The material is very convincing; it can rouse to action those who have so far adopted a passive attitude towards the movement; it can help those who still do not know how to run a co-operative to find ways to run it; what is more, it can silence those who are fond of "axing" co-operatives at will.

It is indeed a tremendous task to carry out the socialist transformation of agriculture among several hundred million peasants. The movement has not been going on very long in the country as a whole, and the experience gained is still inadequate. In particular we have not yet conducted extensive and effective propaganda throughout the Party; as a result, many comrades have paid no heed to the subject and do not understand the principles, policies and measures for the movement, and so there is still a lack of unity of will within the Party. The Sixth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of our Party is soon to be convened to discuss the subject and a new resolution on it will be adopted. We should start extensive and effective propaganda in accordance with the resolution so as to achieve unity of will throughout the Party. The publication of this book may be of some help to our propaganda work.


December 27, 1955

This is a source book intended for people working in the countryside. A preface [2] was written for it in September. Now, three months later, that preface is already out of date, and so a new one has to be prepared.

Here is the sequence of events. The book has been compiled twice, in September and again in December. In the first compilation 121 articles were included. Most of them reflected conditions in the first half of 1955 and a few those in the second half of 1954. Sample copies were distributed for comment to responsible comrades from provincial, municipal, autonomous region and prefectural Party committees who attended the Sixth Plenary Session (Enlarged) of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, October 4-11, 1955. These comrades found the book needed to be supplemented. After the meeting most of the provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions sent in additional material. Much of this reflected conditions in the second half of 1955. Thus the book had to be recompiled. From the original 121 articles we deleted 30, keeping 91, and added 85 from the new material, bringing the total to 176 articles -- some 900,000 words. Hence the present collection. The comrades responsible for the editing have gone over all the material, made some verbal changes, added notes on difficult terms and prepared a subject index. Furthermore, we have added comments on some of the articles, criticizing certain erroneous ideas or making certain suggestions. To keep our comments separate from those of the editors of the original publications, ours carry the designation "Editor's Note". Since some of our comments were written in September and others in December, there is naturally some variation in tone.

However, what is involved is not just the material. The point is that the situation in China underwent a fundamental change in the second half of 1955. Of China's 110 million peasant households more than 7o million (over 60 per cent) have up to now (late December 1955) joined semi-socialist agricultural producers' co-operatives in response to the call of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In my report of July 31,1955 on the co-operative transformation of agriculture, I put the number of peasant households in co-operatives at 16,900,000, but in the space of a few months that number has been exceeded by well over 50 million. This is a tremendous event. This event makes it clear to us that we need only the calendar year 1956 in order basically to complete the semi-socialist co-operative transformation of agriculture. In another three or four years, that is, by 1959 or 1960, we can in the main complete the transformation of semi-socialist co-operatives into fully socialist ones. This event makes it clear to us that we must try to accomplish the socialist transformation of China's handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce ahead of schedule in order to meet the needs of an expanding agriculture. And this event makes it clear to us that in scale and tempo China's industrialization and the development of its science, culture, education, health work, etc. can no longer proceed exactly in the way previously envisaged, but must be appropriately expanded and accelerated.

Is agricultural co-operation, now proceeding at such a high tempo, going forward in a healthy way? It certainly is. The Party organizations everywhere are giving over-all leadership to the movement. The peasants are taking part in the movement whole-heartedly and in excellent order. Their enthusiasm for production is rising to unprecedented heights. For the first time the broadest masses know clearly what the future has in store for them. When three five-year plans are completed, that is, by 1967, the production of grain and many other crops will probably double or treble the highest annual output before the founding of the People's Republic. In a relatively short time, say seven or eight years, illiteracy will be wiped out. Many of the diseases most harmful to the people, such as schistosomiasis, diseases formerly considered incurable, can now be treated. In short, the masses already see a great future lying before them.

The problem facing the whole Party and people is no longer that of criticizing Right conservative ideas about the speed of the socialist transformation of agriculture. That problem has been solved. Nor is it the problem of the speed of transforming the whole of capitalist industry and commerce trade by trade into joint state-private enterprises. That problem too has been solved. The speed of the socialist transformation of handicrafts should be discussed during the first half of 1956. And that problem can also be easily solved. The problem today concerns none of these, it lies elsewhere. It lies in agricultural production; industrial production (including state, joint state-private and co-operative industries); handicraft production; the scale and speed of capital construction in industry, communications and transport; the co-ordination of commerce with other branches of the economy; the co-ordination of the work in science, culture, education and health with our various economic activities, etc. In all these fields there is an underestimation of the situation, a shortcoming which must be criticized and corrected if our work is to keep pace with the development of the situation as a whole. People must adapt their thinking to the changed conditions. Of course, no one should disregard reality and indulge in flights of fancy, or make plans of action unwarranted by the objective situation, or reach out for the impossible. However, the problem today is that Right conservative thinking is still causing trouble in many spheres and prevents our work from keeping pace with the development of the objective situation. The problem today is that what can be done by a measure of exertion is considered by many to be impossible. It is therefore entirely necessary to continue the criticism of Right conservative ideas, which do in fact exist.

This book is intended for comrades working in the countryside. Can city people read it too? They not only can but should. Here is something fresh. Just as new things are happening every day, every hour, in the building of socialism in the cities, so they are in the countryside. What are the peasants doing? What is the connection between what the peasants are doing and what the working class, the intellectuals and all patriotic personages are doing? To gain such an understanding, it will be helpful to read about the rural areas.

To make it possible for more people to understand the current situation in the countryside, we are preparing an abridged edition, containing 44 of the 176 articles, or about 270,000 words, so that those unable to read the entire collection can have some idea of this subject.


1. The book was renamed Socialist Upsurge in China's Countryside when it was published.

2. This refers to "Preface I"

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung