Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


April 25, 1956

[Speech at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Bearing in mind lessons drawn from the Soviet Union, Comrade Mao Tsetung summed up China's experience, dealt with ten major relationships in socialist revolution and socialist construction and set forth the ideas underlying the general line of building socialism with greater, faster, better and more economical results, a line suited to the conditions of our country.]

In recent months the Political Bureau of the Central Committee has heard reports on the work of thirty-four industrial, agricultural, transport, commercial, financial and other departments under the: central authorities and from these reports has identified a number of problems concerning socialist construction and socialist transformation. In all, they boil down to ten problems, or ten major relationships.

It is to focus on one basic policy that these ten problems are being raised, the basic policy of mobilizing all positive factors, internal and external, to serve the cause of socialism. In the past we followed this policy of mobilizing all positive factors in order to put an end to the rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism and to win victory for the people's democratic revolution. We are now following the same policy in order to carry on the socialist revolution and build a socialist country. Nevertheless, there are some problems in our work that need discussion. Particularly worthy of attention is the fact that in the Soviet Union certain defects and errors that occurred in the course of their building socialism have lately come to light. Do you want to follow the detours they have made? It was by drawing lessons from their experience that we were able to avoid certain detours in the past, and there is all the more reason for us to do so now.

What are the positive factors, internal and external? Internally, the workers and the peasants are the basic force. The middle forces are forces that can be won over. The reactionary forces are a negative factor, but even so we should do our work well and turn this negative factor as far as possible into a positive one. Internationally, all the forces that can be united with must be united, the forces that are not neutral can be neutralized through our efforts, and even the reactionary forces can be split and made use of. In short, we should mobilize all forces, whether direct or indirect, and strive to make China a powerful socialist country.

I will now discuss the ten problems.


The emphasis in our country's construction is on heavy industry. The production of the means of production must be given priority that's settled. But it definitely does not follow that the production of the means of subsistence, especially grain, can be neglected. Without enough food and other daily necessities, it would be impossible to provide for the workers in the first place, and then what sense would it make to talk about developing heavy industry? Therefore, the relationship between heavy industry on the one hand and light industry and agriculture on the other must be properly handled.

In dealing with this relationship we have not made mistakes of principle. We have done better than the Soviet Union and a number of East European countries. The prolonged failure of the Soviet Union to reach the highest pre-October Revolution level in grain output, the grave problems arising from the glaring disequilibrium between the development of heavy industry and that of light industry in some East European countries -- such problems do not exist in our country. Their lop-sided stress on heavy industry to the neglect of agriculture and light industry results in a shortage of goods on the market and an unstable currency. We, on the other hand, attach more importance to agriculture and light industry. We have all along attended to and developed agriculture and have to a considerable degree ensured the supply of grain and raw materials necessary for the development of industry. Our daily necessities are in fairly good supply and our prices and currency are stable.

The problem now facing us is that of continuing to adjust properly the ratio between investment in heavy industry on the one hand and in agriculture and light industry on the other in order to bring about a greater development of the latter. Does this mean that heavy industry is no longer primary? No. It still is, it still claims the emphasis in our investment. But the proportion for agriculture and light industry must be somewhat increased.

What will be the results of this increase? First, the daily needs of the people will be better satisfied, and, second, the accumulation of capital will be speeded up so that we can develop heavy industry with greater and better results. Heavy industry can also accumulate capital, but, given our present economic conditions, light industry and agriculture can accumulate more and faster.

Here the question arises: Is your desire to develop heavy industry genuine or feigned, strong or weak? If your desire is feigned or weak, then you will hit agriculture and light industry and invest less in them. If your desire is genuine or strong, then you will attach importance to agriculture and light industry so that there will be more grain and more raw materials for light industry and a greater accumulation of capital. And there will be more funds in the future to invest in heavy industry.

There are now two possible approaches to our development of heavy industry: one is to develop agriculture and light industry less, and the other is to develop them more. In the long run, the first approach will lead to a smaller and slower development of heavy industry, or at least will put it on a less solid foundation, and when the over-all account is added up a few decades hence, it will not prove to have paid. The second approach will lead to a greater and faster development of heavy industry and, since it ensures the livelihood of the people, it will lay a more solid foundation for the development of heavy industry.


In the past our industry was concentrated in the coastal regions. By coastal regions we mean Liaoning, Hopei, Peking, Tientsin, eastern Honan, Shantung, Anhwei, Kiangsu, Shanghai, Chekiang, Fukien, Kwangtung and Kwangsi. About 70 per cent of all our industry, both light and heavy, is to be found in the coastal regions and only 30 percent in the interior. This irrational situation is a product of history. The coastal industrial base must be put to full use, but to even out the distribution of industry as it develops we must strive to promote industry in the interior. We have not made any major mistakes on the relationship between the two. However, in recent years we have underestimated coastal industry to some extent and have not given great enough attention to its development. This must change.

Not so long ago, there was still fighting in Korea and the international situation was quite tense; this could not but affect our attitude towards coastal industry. Now, it seems unlikely that there will be a new war of aggression against China or another world war in the near future and there will probably be a period of peace for a decade or more. It would therefore be wrong if we still fail to make full use of the plant capacity and technical forces of coastal industry. If we are to have only five years, not to say ten, we should still work hard to develop industries in the coastal regions for four years and evacuate them when war breaks out in the fifth. According to available information, in light industry the construction of a plant and its accumulation of capital generally proceed quite rapidly. After the whole plant goes into production, it can earn enough in four years to build three new factories, or two, or one or at least half of one, in addition to recouping its capital outlay. Why shouldn't we do such profitable things? The notion that the atom bomb is already overhead and about to fall on us in a matter of seconds is a calculation at variance with reality and it would be wrong to take a negative attitude towards coastal industry on this account.

It does not follow that all new factories should be built in the coastal regions. Without doubt, the greater part of the new industry should be located in the interior so that industry may gradually become evenly distributed; moreover, this will help our preparations against war. But a number of new factories and mines, even some large ones, may also be built in the coastal regions. As for the expansion and reconstruction of the light and heavy industries already in the coastal regions, we have done a fair amount of work in the past and will do much more in the future.

Making good use of the old industries in the coastal regions and developing their capacities will put us in a stronger position to promote and support industry in the interior. To adopt a negative attitude would be to hinder the latter's speedy growth. So it is likewise a question of whether the desire to develop industry in the interior is genuine or not. If it is genuine and not feigned, we must more actively use and promote industry in the coastal regions, especially light industry.


National defence is indispensable. Our defence capabilities have attained a certain level. As a result of the war to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea and of several years of training and consolidation, our armed forces have grown more powerful and are now stronger than was the Soviet Red Army before the Second World War; also, there have been improvements in armaments. Our defence industry is being built up. Ever since Pan Ku separated heaven and earth, we have never been able to make planes and cars, and now we are beginning to make them.

We do not have the atom bomb yet. But neither did we have planes and artillery in the past. We defeated the Japanese imperialists and Chiang Kai-shek with millet plus rifles. We are stronger than before and will be stronger still in the future. We will have not only more planes and artillery but atom bombs too. If we are not to be bullied in the present-day world, we cannot do without the bomb. Then what is to be done about it? One reliable way is to cut military and administrative expenditures down to appropriate proportions and increase expenditures on economic construction. Only with the faster growth of economic construction can there be greater progress in defence construction.

At the Third Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of our Party in 1950, we already raised the question of streamlining the state apparatus and reducing military and administrative expenditures and considered this measure to be one of the three prerequisites for achieving a fundamental turn for the better in our financial and economic situation. In the period of the First Five-Year Plan, military and administrative expenditures accounted for 30 per cent of the total expenditures in the state budget. This proportion is much too high. In the period of the Second Five-Year Plan, we must reduce it to around 20 per cent, so that more funds can be released for building more factories and turning out more machines. After a time, we shall not only have plenty of planes and artillery but probably have our own atom bombs as well.

Here again the question arises: Is your desire for the atom bomb genuine and very keen? Or is it only lukewarm and not so very keen? If your desire is genuine and very keen, then you will reduce the proportion of military and administrative expenditures and spend more on economic construction. If your desire is not genuine or not so very keen, you will stay in the old rut. This is a matter of strategic policy, and I hope the Military Commission will discuss it.

Would it be all right to demobilize all our troops now? No, it would not. For enemies are still around, and we are being bullied and encircled by them. We must strengthen our national defence, and for that purpose we must first of all strengthen our work in economic construction.


The relationship between the state on the one hand and factories and agricultural co-operatives on the other and the relationship between factories and agricultural co-operatives on the one hand and the producers on the other should both be handled well. To this end we should consider not just one side but all three, the state, the collective and the individual, or, as we used to say, "take into consideration both the army and the people" and "take into consideration both the public and the private interest". In view of the experience of the Soviet Union as well as our own, we must see to it that from now on this problem is solved much better.

Take the workers for example. As their labour productivity rises, there should be a gradual improvement in their working conditions and collective welfare. We have always advocated plain living and hard work and opposed putting personal material benefits above everything else; at the same time we have always advocated concern for the livelihood of the masses and opposed bureaucracy, which is callous to their well-being. With the growth of our economy as a whole, wages should be appropriately adjusted. We have recently decided to increase wages to some extent, mainly the wages of those at the lower levels, the wages of the workers, in order to narrow the wage gap between them and the upper levels. Generally speaking, our wages are not high, but compared with the past the life of our workers has greatly improved because, among other things, more people are employed and prices remain low and stable. Under the regime of the proletariat, our workers have unfailingly displayed high political consciousness and enthusiasm for labour. When at the end of last year the Central Committee called for a fight against Right conservatism, the masses of workers warmly responded and, what was exceptional, overfulfilled the plan for the first quarter of the year by working all out for three months. We must strive to encourage this zeal for hard work and at the same time pay still greater attention to solving the pressing problems in their work and everyday life.

Here I would like to touch on the question of the independence of the factories under unified leadership. It's not right, I'm afraid, to place everything in the hands of the central or the provincial and municipal authorities without leaving the factories any power of their own, any room for independent action, any benefits. We don't have much experience on how to share power and returns properly among the central authorities, the provincial and municipal authorities and the factories, and we should study the subject. As a matter of principle, centralization and independence form a unity of opposites, and there must be both centralization and independence. For instance, we are now having a meeting, which is centralization; after the meeting, some of us will go for a walk, some will read books, some will go to eat, which is independence. If we don't adjourn the meeting and give everyone some independence but let it go on and on, wouldn't it be the death of us all? This is true of individuals, and no less true of factories and other units of production. Every unit of production must enjoy independence as the correlative of centralization if it is to develop more vigorously.

Now about the peasants. Our relations with the peasants have always been good, but we did make a mistake on the question of grain. In 1954 floods caused a decrease in production in some parts of our country, and yet we purchased 7,000 million more catties of grain. A decrease in production and an increase in purchasing -- this made grain the topic on almost everyone's lips in many places last spring and nearly every household talked about the state monopoly for marketing grain. The peasants were disgruntled, and there were a lot of complaints both inside and outside the Party. Although quite a few people indulged in deliberate exaggeration and exploited the opportunity to attack us, it cannot be said that we had no shortcomings. Inadequate investigation and failure to size up the situation resulted in the purchase of 7,000 million catties more; that was a shortcoming. After discovering it, we purchased 7,000 million catties less in 1955 and introduced a system of fixed quotas for grain production, purchasing and marketing [1] and, what's more, there was a good harvest. With a decrease in purchasing and an increase in production, the peasants had over 20,000 million more catties of grain at their disposal. Thus even those peasants who had complaints before said, "The Communist Party is really good." This lesson the whole Party must bear in mind.

The Soviet Union has adopted measures which squeeze the peasants very hard. It takes away too much from the peasants at too low a price through its system of so-called obligatory sales [2] and other measures. This method of capital accumulation has seriously dampened the peasants' enthusiasm for production. You want the hen to lay more eggs and yet you don't feed it, you want the horse to run fast and yet you don't let it graze. What kind of logic is that!

Our policies towards the peasants differ from those of the Soviet Union and take into account the interests of both the state and the peasants. Our agricultural tax has always been relatively low. In the exchange of industrial and agricultural products we follow a policy of narrowing the price scissors, a policy of exchanging equal or roughly equal values. The state buys agricultural products at standard prices while the peasants suffer no loss, and, what is more, our purchase prices are gradually being raised. In supplying the peasants with manufactured goods we follow a policy of larger sales at a small profit and of stabilizing or appropriately reducing their prices; in supplying grain to the peasants in grain-deficient areas we generally subsidize such sales to a certain extent. Even so, mistakes of one kind or another will occur if we are not careful. In view of the grave mistakes made by the Soviet Union on this question, we must take greater care and handle the relationship between the state and the peasants well.

Similarly, the relationship between the co-operative and the peasants should be well handled. What proportion of the earnings of a co-operative should go to the state, to the co-operative and to the peasants respectively and in what form should be determined properly. The amount that goes to the co-operative is used directly to serve the peasants. Production expenses need no explanation, management expenses are also necessary, the accumulation fund is for expanded reproduction and the public welfare fund is for the peasants' well-being. However, together with the peasants, we should work out equitable ratios among these items. We must strictly economize on production and management expenses. The accumulation fund and the public welfare fund must also be kept within limits, and one shouldn't expect all good things to be done in a single year.

Except in case of extraordinary natural disasters, we must see to it that, given increased agricultural production, go per cent of the co-operative members get some increase in their income and the other lo per cent break even each year, and if the latter's income should fall, ways must be found to solve the problem in good time.

In short, consideration must be given to both sides, not to just one, whether they are the state and the factory, the state and the worker, the factory and the worker, the state and the co-operative, the state and the peasant, or the co-operative and the peasant. To give consideration to only one side, whichever it may be, is harmful to socialism and to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is a big question which concerns 600 million people, and it calls for repeated education in the whole Party and the whole nation.


The relationship between the central and the local authorities constitutes another contradiction. To resolve this contradiction, our attention should now be focussed on how to enlarge the powers of the local authorities to some extent, give them greater independence and let them do more, all on the premise that the unified leadership of the central authorities is to be strengthened. This will be advantageous to our task of building a powerful socialist country. Our territory is so vast, our population is so large and the conditions are so complex that it is far better to have the initiative come from both the central and the local authorities than from one source alone. We must not follow the example of the Soviet Union in concentrating everything in the hands of the central authorities, shackling the local authorities and denying them the right to independent action.

The central authorities want to develop industry, and so do the local authorities. Even industries directly under the central authorities need assistance from the local authorities. And all the more so for agriculture and commerce. In short, if we are to promote socialist construction, we must bring the initiative of the local authorities into lay. If we are to strengthen the central authorities, we must attend to the interests of the localities.

At present scores of hands are reaching out to the localities, making things difficult for them. Once a ministry is set up, it wants to have revolution and so it issues orders. Since the ministries don't think it proper to issue orders to the Party committees and people's councils at the provincial level, they establish direct contact with the relevant departments and bureaus in the provinces and municipalities and give them orders every day. These orders are all supposed to come from the central authorities, even though neither the Central Committee of the Party nor the State Council knows anything about them, and they put a great strain on the local authorities. There is such a flood of statistical forms that they become a scourge. This state affairs must be changed.

We should encourage the style of work in which the local authorities are consulted on the matters to be taken up. It is the practice of the Central Committee of the Party to consult the local authorities; it never hastily issues orders without prior consultation. We hope that the ministries and departments under the central authorities will pay due attention to this and will first confer with the localities on all matters concerning them and issue no order without full consultation.

The central departments fall into two categories. Those in the first category exercise leadership right down to the enterprises, but their administrative offices and enterprises in the localities are also subject to supervision by the local authorities. Those in the second have the task of laying down guiding principles and mapping out work plans, while the local authorities assume the responsibility for putting them into operation.

For a large country like ours and a big Party like ours the proper handling of the relationship between the central and local authorities is of vital importance. Some capitalist countries pay great attention to this too. Although their social system is fundamentally different from ours, the experience of their growth is nevertheless worth studying. Take our own experience; the system of the greater administrative area instituted in the early days of our People's Republic was a necessity at that time, and yet it had shortcomings which were later exploited to a certain extent by the anti-Party alliance of Kao Kang and Jao Shu-shih. It was subsequently decided to abolish the greater administrative areas and put the various provinces directly under the central authorities; that was a correct decision. But neither was the outcome so satisfactory when matters went to the length of depriving the localities of their necessary independence. According to our Constitution, the legislative powers are all vested in the central authorities. But, provided that the policies of the central authorities are not violated, the local authorities may work out rules, regulations and measures in the light of their specific conditions and the needs of their work, and this is in no way prohibited by the Constitution. We want both unity and particularity. To build a powerful socialist country it is imperative to have a strong and unified central leadership and unified planning and discipline throughout the country; disruption of this indispensable unity is impermissible. At the same time, it is essential to bring the initiative of the local authorities into full play and let each locality enjoy the particularity suited to its local conditions. This particularity is not the Kao Kang type of particularity but one that is necessary for the interest of the whole and for the strengthening of national unity.

There is also the relationship between different local authorities, and here I refer chiefly to the relationship between the higher and lower local authorities. Since the provinces and municipalities have their own complaints about the central departments, can it be that the prefectures, counties, districts and townships have no complaints about the provinces and municipalities? The central authorities should take care to give scope to the initiative of the provinces and municipalities, and the latter in their turn should do the same for the prefectures, counties, districts and townships; in neither case should the lower levels be put in a strait-jacket. Of course comrades at the lower levels must be informed of the matters on which centralization is necessary and they must not act as they please. In short, centralization must be enforced where it is possible and necessary, otherwise it should not be imposed at all. The provinces and municipalities, prefectures, counties, districts and townships should all enjoy their own proper independence and rights and should fight for them. To fight for such rights in the interest of the whole nation and not of the locality cannot be called localism or an undue assertion of independence.

The relationship between different provinces and municipalities is also a kind of relationship between different local authorities, and it should be properly handled too. It is our consistent principle to advocate consideration for the general interest and mutual help and accommodation.

Our experience is still insufficient and immature on the question of handling the relationship between the central and local authorities and that between different local authorities. We hope that you will consider and discuss it in earnest and sum up your experience from time to time so as to enhance achievements and overcome shortcomings.


Comparatively speaking, our policy on the relationship between the Han nationality and the minority nationalities is sound and has won the favour of the minority nationalities. We put the emphasis on opposing Han chauvinism. Local-nationality chauvinism must be opposed too, but generally that is not where our emphasis lies.

The population of the minority nationalities in our country is small, but the area they inhabit is large. The Han people comprise 94 per cent of the total population, an overwhelming majority. If they practiced Han chauvinism and discriminated against the minority peoples, that would be very bad. And who has more land? The minority nationalities, who occupy 50 to 60 per cent of the territory. We say China is a country vast in territory, rich in resources and large in population; as a matter of fact, it is the Han nationality whose population is large and the minority nationalities whose territory is vast and whose resources are rich, or at least in all probability their resources under the soil are rich.

The minority nationalities have all contributed to the making of China's history. The huge Han population is the result of the intermingling of many nationalities over a long time. All through the ages, the reactionary rulers, chiefly from the Han nationality, sowed feelings of estrangement among our various nationalities and bullied the minority peoples. Even among the working people it is not easy to eliminate the resultant influences in a short time. So we have to make extensive and sustained efforts to educate both the cadres and the masses in our proletarian nationality policy and make a point of frequently reviewing the relationship between the Han nationality and the minority nationalities. One such review was made two years ago and there should be another now. If the relationship is found to be abnormal, then we must deal with it in earnest and not just in words.

We need to make a thorough study of what systems of economic management and finance will suit the minority nationality areas.

We must sincerely and actively help the minority nationalities to develop their economy and culture. In the Soviet Union the relationship between the Russian nationality and the minority nationalities is very abnormal; we should draw lessons from this. The air in the atmosphere, the forests on the earth and the riches under the soil are all important factors needed for the building of socialism, but n material factor can be exploited and utilized without the human factor We must foster good relations between the Han nationality and the minority nationalities and strengthen the unity of all the nationalities in the common endeavour to build our great socialist motherland.


Which is better, to have just one party or several? As we see it now, it's perhaps better to have several parties. This has been true in the past and may well be so for the future; it means long-term , coexistence and mutual supervision.

In our country the various democratic parties, consisting primarily of the national bourgeoisie and its intellectuals, emerged during the resistance to Japan and the struggle against Chiang Kai-shek, and they continue to exist to this day. In this respect, China is different from the Soviet Union. We have purposely let the democratic parties remain, giving them opportunities to express their views and adopting a policy of both unity and struggle towards them. We unite with all those democratic personages who offer us well-intentioned criticisms. We should go on activating the enthusiasm of such people from the Kuomintang army and government as Wei Li-huang and Weng Wen-hao, who are patriotic. We should even provide for such abusive types as Lung Yun, Liang Shu-ming and Peng Yi-hu and allow them to rail at us, while refuting their nonsense and accepting what makes sense in their rebukes. This is better for the Party, for the people and for socialism.

Since classes and class struggle still exist in China, there is bound to be opposition in one form or another. Although all the democratic parties and democrats without party affiliation have professed their acceptance of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, many of them are actually in opposition in varying degrees. On such matters as "carrying the revolution through to the end", the movement to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea and the agrarian reform, they were against us and yet not against us. To this very day they have reservations about the suppression of counter-revolutionaries. They didn't want to have a constitution of the socialist type, for, as they said, the Common Programme was just perfect, and yet when the Draft Constitution came out, their hands all went up in favour. Things often turn into their opposites, and this is also true of the attitude of the democratic parties on many questions. They are in opposition, and yet not in opposition, often proceeding from being in opposition to not being in opposition.

The Communist Party and the democratic parties are all products of history. What emerges in history disappears in history. Therefore, the Communist Party will disappear one day, and so will the democratic parties. Is this disappearance so unpleasant? In my opinion, it will be very pleasant. I think it is just fine that one day we will be able to do away with the Communist Party and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Our task is to hasten their extinction. We have spoken about this point many times.

But at present we cannot do without the proletarian party and the dictatorship of the proletariat and, what is more, it is imperative that they should be made still more powerful. Otherwise, we would not be able to suppress the counter-revolutionaries, resist the imperialists and build socialism, or consolidate it when it is built. Lenin's theory on the proletarian party and the dictatorship of the proletariat is by no means "outmoded", as alleged by certain people. The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot but be highly coercive. Still, we must oppose bureaucracy and a cumbersome apparatus. I propose that the Party and government organs should be thoroughly streamlined and cut by two-thirds provided that no person dies and no work stops.

However, streamlining the Party and government organs does not mean getting rid of the democratic parties. I suggest you give attention to our united front work so as to improve our relations with them and make every possible effort to mobilize their enthusiasm for the cause of socialism.


What kind of factor are counter-revolutionaries? They are a negative factor, a destructive factor, they are forces opposed to the positive factors. Is it possible for counter-revolutionaries to change? The die-herds will undoubtedly never change. However, given the conditions in our country, most of the counter-revolutionaries will eventually change to a greater or lesser extent. Thanks to the correct policy we adopted, many have been transformed into persons no longer opposed to the revolution, and a few have even done some good.

The following points should be affirmed:

First, it should be affirmed that the suppression of counter-revolutionaries in 1951-1952 was necessary. There is a view that this campaign needn't have been launched. This is wrong.

Counter-revolutionaries may be dealt with in these ways: execution, imprisonment, supervision and leaving at large. Execution -- everybody knows what that means. By imprisonment we mean putting counter-revolutionaries in jail and reforming them through labour. By supervision we mean leaving them in society to be reformed under the supervision of the masses. By leaving at large we mean that generally no arrest is made in those cases where it is marginal whether to make an arrest, or that those arrested are set free for good behaviour. It is essential that different counter-revolutionaries should be dealt with differently on the merits of each case.

Now let's take execution in particular. True, we executed a number of people during the above-mentioned campaign to suppress counter-revolutionaries. But what sort of people were they? They were counter-revolutionaries who owed the masses many blood debts and were bitterly hated. In a great revolution embracing 600 million people, the masses would not have been able to rise if we had not killed off such local despots as the "Tyrant of the East" and the "Tyrant of the West". Had it not been for that campaign of suppression, the people would not have approved our present policy of leniency. Now that some people have heard that Stalin wrongly put a number of people to death, they jump to the conclusion that we too were wrong in putting those counter-revolutionaries to death. This is a wrong view. It is of immediate significance today to affirm that it was absolutely right to execute those counter-revolutionaries.

Second, it should be affirmed that counter-revolutionaries still exist, although their number has greatly diminished. After the Hu Feng case surfaced, it was necessary to ferret out the counter-revolutionaries. The effort to clear out those who remain hidden must go on. It should be affirmed that there are still a small number of counter-revolutionaries carrying out counter-revolutionary sabotage of one kind or another. For example, they kill cattle, set fire to granaries, wreck factories, steal information and put up reactionary posters. Consequently, it is wrong to say that counter-revolutionaries have been completely eliminated and that we can therefore lay our heads on our pillows and just drop off to sleep. As long as class struggle exists in China and in the world, we should never relax our vigilance. Nevertheless, it would be equally wrong to assert that there are still large numbers of counter-revolutionaries.

Third, from now on there should be fewer arrests and executions in the suppression of counter-revolutionaries in society at large. They are the mortal and immediate enemies of the people and are deeply hated by them, and therefore a small number should be executed. But most of them should be handed over to the agricultural co-operatives and made to work under supervision and be reformed through labour. All the same, we cannot announce that there will be no more executions, and we must not abolish the death penalty.

Fourth, in clearing out counter-revolutionaries in Party and government organs, schools and army units, we must adhere to the policy started in Yenan of killing none and arresting few. Confirmed counter-revolutionaries are to be screened by the organizations concerned, but they are not to be arrested by the public security bureaus, prosecuted by the procuratorial organs or tried by the law courts. Well over ninety out of every hundred of these counter-revolutionaries should be dealt with in this way. This is what we mean by arresting few. As for executions, kill none.

What kind of people are those we don't execute? We don't execute people like Hu Feng, Pan Han-nien, Jao Shu-shih, or even captured war criminals such as Emperor Pu Yi and Kang Tse. We don't have them executed, not because their crimes don't deserve capital punishment but because such executions would yield no advantage. If one such criminal is executed, a second and a third will be compared with him in their crimes, and then many heads will begin to roll. This is my first point. Second, people may be wrongly executed. Once a head is chopped off, history shows it can't be restored, nor can it grow again as chives do, after being cut. If you cut off a head by mistake, there is no way to rectify the mistake, even if you want to. The third point is that you will have destroyed a source of evidence. You need evidence in order to suppress counter-revolutionaries. Often one counter-revolutionary serves as a living witness against another, an there will be cases where you may want to consult him. If you have got rid of him, you may not be able to get evidence any more. And this will be to the advantage of counter-revolution, not of revolution. The fourth point is that killing these counter-revolutionaries won't (1) raise production, (2) raise the country's scientific level, (3) help do away with the four pests, (4) strengthen national defence, or (5) help recover Taiwan. It will only earn you the reputation of killing captives, and killing captives has always given one a bad name. Another point is that counter-revolutionaries inside Party and government organ are different from those in society at large. The latter lord it over the masses while the former are somewhat removed from the masses, and therefore make enemies in general but seldom enemies in particular. What harm is there in killing none of them? Those who are physically fit for manual labour should be reformed through labour, and those who are not should be provided for. Counter-revolutionaries are trash, they are vermin, but once in your hands, you can make them perform some kind of service for the people.

But shall we enact a law stipulating that no counter-revolutionary in Party and government organs is to be executed? Ours is a poll for internal observance which need not be made public, and all we need do is carry it out as far as possible in practice. Supposing someone should throw a bomb into this building, killing everybody here, or half or one-third of the people present, what would you say -- execute him or not execute him? Certainly he must be executed.

Adopting the policy of killing none when eliminating counter-revolutionaries from Party and government organs in no way prevent us from being strict with them. Instead, it serves as a safeguard against irretrievable mistakes, and if mistakes are made, it gives us a opportunity to correct them. In this way many people will be put a ease and distrust among comrades inside the Party avoided. If counter-revolutionaries are not executed, they have to be fed. All counter-revolutionaries should be given a chance to earn a living, so that the can start anew. This will be good for the cause of the people and be well received abroad.

The suppression of counter-revolutionaries still calls for hard work. We must not relax. In future not only must the suppression of counter-revolutionaries in society continue, but we must also uncover all the hidden counter-revolutionaries in Party and government organs, schools and army units. We must draw a clear distinction between ourselves and the enemy. If the enemy is allowed to worm his way into our ranks and even into our organs of leadership, we know only too well how serious a threat this will be to the cause of socialism and to the dictatorship of the proletariat.


A clear distinction must be made between right and wrong, whether inside or outside the Party. How to deal with people who have made mistakes is an important question. The correct attitude towards them should be to adopt a policy of "learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient", help them correct their mistakes and allow them to go on taking part in the revolution. In those days when the dogmatists headed by Wang Ming were in the saddle, our Party erred on this question, picking up the bad aspect of Stalin's style of work. In society the dogmatists rejected the middle forces and inside the Party they did not allow people to correct their mistakes; they barred both from the revolution.

The True Story of Ah Q is a fine story. I would recommend comrades who have read it before to reread it and those who haven't to read it carefully. In this story Lu Hsun writes mainly about a peasant who is backward and politically unawakened. He devotes a whole chapter, "Barred from the Revolution", to describing how a bogus foreign devil bars Ah Q from the revolution. Actually, all Ah Q understands by revolution is helping himself to a few things just like some others. But even this kind of revolution is denied him by the bogus foreign devil. It seems to me that in this respect some people are quite like that bogus foreign devil. They barred from the revolution those who had committed errors, drawing no distinction between the making of mistakes and counter-revolution, and went so far as to kill a number of people who were guilty only of mistakes. We must take this lesson to heart. It is bad either to bar people outside the Party from the revolution or to prohibit erring comrades inside the Party from making amends.

With regard to comrades who have erred, some people say we must observe them and see if they are going to correct their mistakes. I would say just observing them will not do, we must help them correct their mistakes. That is to say, first we must observe and second we must give help. Everybody needs help; those who have not done wrong need it and those who have need it still more. Probably no one is free from mistakes, only some make more and some less, and once they do they need help. It is passive just to observe; conditions must be created to help those who have erred to mend their ways. A clear distinction must be drawn between right and wrong, for inner-Party controversies over principle are a reflection inside the Party of the class struggle in society, and no equivocation is to be tolerated. It is normal, in accordance with the merits of the case, to mete out appropriate and well grounded criticism to comrades who have erred, and even to conduct necessary struggle against them; this is to help them correct mistakes. To deny them help and, what is worse, to gloat over their mistakes, is sectarianism.

For revolution, it is always better to have more people. Except for a few who cling to their mistakes and fail to mend their ways after repeated admonition, the majority of those who have erred can correct their mistakes. People who have had typhoid become immune to it; similarly, people who have made mistakes will make fewer ones provided they are good at drawing lessons. On the other hand, since it is easier for those who have not erred to become cocky, they are prone to make mistakes. Let us be careful, for those who fix people guilty of mistakes will more often than not end up finding themselves in a fix. Kao Kang started out to lift a rock to hurl at others only to find himself being knocked down. Treating with good will those who have erred will win general approval and unite people. A helpful attitude or a hostile attitude towards comrades who have erred -- this is a criterion for judging whether one is well-intentioned or ill-intentioned.

The policy of "learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones and curing the sickness to save the patient" is a policy for uniting the whole Party. We must stick to this policy.


We have put forward the slogan of learning from other countries. I think we have been right. At present, the leaders of some countries are chary and even afraid of advancing this slogan. It takes some courage to do so, because theatrical pretensions have to be discarded.

It must be admitted that every nation has its strong points. If not, how can it survive? How can it progress? On the other hand, every nation has its weak points. Some believe that socialism is just perfect, without a single flaw. How can that be true? It must be recognized that there are always two aspects, the strong points and the weak points. The secretaries of our Party branches, the company commanders and platoon leaders of our army have all learned to jot down both aspects in their pocket notebooks, the weak points as well as the strong ones, when summing up their experience. They all know there are two aspects to everything, why do we mention only one? There will always be two aspects, even ten thousand years from now. Each age, whether the future or the present, has its own two aspects, and each individual has his own two aspects. In short, there are two aspects, not just one. To say there is only one is to be aware of one aspect and to be ignorant of the other.

Our policy is to learn from the strong points of all nations and all countries, learn all that is genuinely good in the political, economic, scientific and technological fields and in literature and art. But we must learn with an analytical and critical eye, not blindly, and we mustn't copy everything indiscriminately and transplant mechanically. Naturally, we mustn't pick up their shortcomings and weak points.

We should adopt the same attitude in learning from the experience of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. Some of our people were not clear about this before and even picked up their weaknesses. While they were swelling with pride over what they had picked up, it was already being discarded in those countries; as a result, they had to do a somersault like the Monkey Sun Wu-kung. For instance, there were people who accused us of making a mistake of principle in setting up a Ministry of Culture and a Bureau of Cinematography rather than a Ministry of Cinematography and a Bureau of Culture, as was the case in the Soviet Union. They did not anticipate that shortly afterwards the Soviet Union would make a change and set up a Ministry of Culture as we had done. Some people never take the trouble to analyse, they simply follow the "wind". Today, when the north wind is blowing, they join the "north wind" school; tomorrow, when there is a west wind, they switch to the "west wind" school; afterwards when the north wind blows again, they switch back to the "north wind" school. They hold no independent opinion of their own and often go from one extreme to the other.

In the Soviet Union, those who once extolled Stalin to the skies have now in one swoop consigned him to purgatory. Here in China some people are following their example. It is the opinion of the Central Committee that Stalin's mistakes amounted to only 30 per cent of the whole and his achievements to 70 per cent, and that all things considered Stalin was nonetheless a great Marxist. We wrote "On the Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" on the basis of this evaluation. This assessment of 30 per cent for mistakes and 70 per cent for achievements is just about right. Stalin did a number of wrong things in connection with China. The "Left" adventurism pursued by Wang Ming in the latter part of the Second Revolutionary Civil War period and his Right opportunism in the early days of the War of Resistance Against Japan can both be traced to Stalin. At the time of the War of Liberation, Stalin first enjoined us not to press on with the revolution, maintaining that if civil war flared up, the Chinese nation would run the risk of destroying itself. Then when fighting did erupt, he took us half seriously, half sceptically. When we won the war, Stalin suspected that ours was a victory of the Tito type, and in 1949 and 1950 the pressure on us was very strong indeed. Even so, we maintain the estimate of 30 per cent for his mistakes and 70 per cent for his achievements. This is only fair.

In the social sciences and in Marxism-Leninism, we must continue to study Stalin diligently wherever he is right. What we must study is all that is universally true and we must make sure that this study is linked with Chinese reality. It would lead to a mess if every single sentence, even of Marx's, were followed. Our theory is an integration of the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution. At one time some people in the Party went in for dogmatism, and this came under our criticism. Nevertheless, there is still dogmatism today. It still exists in academic circles and in economic circles too.

In the natural sciences we are rather backward, and here we should make a special effort to learn from foreign countries. And yet we must learn critically, not blindly. In technology I think first we have to follow others in most cases, and it is better for us to do so, since that is what we are lacking at present and know little about. However, in those cases where we already have clear knowledge, we must not follow others in every detail.

We must firmly reject and criticize all the decadent bourgeois systems, ideologies and ways of life of foreign countries. But this should in no way prevent us from learning the advanced sciences and technologies of capitalist countries and whatever is scientific in the management of their enterprises. In the industrially developed countries they run their enterprises with fewer people and greater efficiency and they know how to do business. All this should be learned well in accordance with our own principles in order to improve our work. Nowadays, those who make English their study no longer work hard at it, and research papers are no longer translated into English, French, German or Japanese for exchange with other countries. This too is a kind of blind prejudice. Neither the indiscriminate rejection of everything foreign, whether scientific, technological or cultural, nor the indiscriminate imitation of everything foreign as noted above, has anything in common with the Marxist attitude, and neither in any way benefits our cause.

In my opinion, China has two weaknesses, which are at the same time two strong points.

First, in the past China was a colonial and semi-colonial country, not an imperialist power, and was always bullied by others. Its industry and agriculture are not developed and its scientific and technological level is low, and except for its vast territory, rich resources, large population, long history, The Dream of the Red Chamber in literature, and so on, China is inferior to other countries in many respects, and so has no reason to feel conceited. However, there are people who, having been slaves too long, feel inferior in everything and don't stand up straight in the presence of foreigners. They are just like Chia Kuei [3] in the opera The Famen Temple who, when asked to take a seat, refuses to do so, giving the excuse that he is used to standing in attendance. Here we need to bestir ourselves, enhance our national confidence and encourage the spirit typified by "scorn U.S. imperialism", which was fostered during the movement to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea.

Second, our revolution came late. Although the Revolution of 1911 which overthrew the Ching emperor preceded the Russian revolution, there was no Communist Party at that time and the revolution failed. Victory in the people's revolution came only in 1949, some thirty years later than the October Revolution. On this account too, we are not in a position to feel conceited. The Soviet Union differs from our country in that, firstly, tsarist Russia was an imperialist power and, secondly, it had the October Revolution. As a result, many people in the Soviet Union are conceited and very arrogant.

Our two weaknesses are also strong points. As I have said elsewhere, we are first "poor" and second "blank". By "poor" I mean we do not have much industry and our agriculture is underdeveloped. By "blank" I mean we are like a blank sheet of paper and our cultural and scientific level is not high. From the developmental point of view, this is not bad. The poor want revolution, whereas it is difficult for the rich to want revolution. Countries with a high scientific and technological level are overblown with arrogance. We are like a blank sheet of paper, which is good for writing on.

Being "poor" and "blank" is therefore all to our good. Even when one day our country becomes strong and prosperous, we must still adhere to the revolutionary stand, remain modest and prudent, learn from other countries and not allow ourselves to become swollen with conceit. We must not only learn from other countries during the period of our First Five-Year Plan, but must go on doing so after the completion of scores of five-year plans. We must be ready to learn even ten thousand years from now. Is there anything bad about that?

I have taken up ten topics altogether. These ten relationships are all contradictions. The world consists of contradictions. Without contradictions the world would cease to exist. Our task is to handle these contradictions correctly. As to whether or not they can be resolved entirely to our satisfaction in practice, we must be prepared for either possibility; furthermore, in the course of resolving these contradictions we are bound to come up against new ones, new problems. But as we have often said, while the road ahead is tortuous, the future is bright. We must do our best to mobilize all positive factors, both inside and outside the Party, both at home and abroad, both direct and indirect, and make China a powerful socialist country.


1. The system of fixed quotas for the production, purchase and marketing of grain was instituted in the spring of 1955. The quotas for production fixed in that year were based on the grain yield per mou in normal years, and increases in production were not to entail extra sales of grain to the state for three years. The fixed quota for purchase refers to the purchase by the state of a fixed proportion of surplus grain from peasant households having a surplus. The fixed quota for marketing refers to the quota for the state's supply of grain to grain-deficient households. The system was adopted in order to raise the peasants' enthusiasm for increasing production.

2. The system of obligatory sales enforced in the Soviet Union from 1933 to 1957 was the principal measure by which the state bought agricultural products. Under it the collective farms and individual peasant households were required to sell their agricultural products annually to the state in quantities and at prices fixed by the state.

3. In the Peking opera The Famen Temple, Chia Kuei is a trusted lackey of Liu Chin, a Ming Dynasty eunuch.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung