Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
July 1, 1957
[Editorial written for the People's Daily.]
Since June 14, when our editorial department published "The Bourgeois Orientation of Wen Hui Pao over a Period of Time", both Wen Hui Pao and the Kuangming Daily have undertaken some self-criticism on this question.
The staff of the Kuangming Daily held several meetings and severely criticized its director, Chang Po-chun, and its editor-in-chief, Chu An-ping, for their wrong orientation. This criticism was unequivocal and there has been a basic change in stand, a change to the revolutionary socialist line from the bourgeois line of Chang Po-chun and Chu An-ping opposing the Communist Party, the people and socialism. As a result, the Kuangming Daily has regained the reader's confidence and reads like a socialist paper. Only the technique of its layout still leaves something to be desired. Technique in layout and political slant in layout are two different things, and as far as the Kuangming Daily is concerned, there is not enough of the former but quite enough of the latter. Technique is something it is entirely possible to improve. A change in the technique of layout would give the paper a new look which its readers would be glad to see. Nonetheless it is not easy; our paper has long set its mind on this, but its layout, though somewhat improved, is still not up to expectations.
Wen Hui Pao has published its self-criticism, giving the impression that a change has come about in its orientation, and it has carried many news items and articles reflecting the positive line -- this of course is all to the good. Still, there is something lacking. It is just like performing on the stage, where some actors give fine portrayals as villains but never look right in their roles as heroes, they are so affected and unnatural. It is indeed difficult for them to be otherwise. Either the East Wind prevails over the West Wind, or the West Wind prevails over the East Wind; on the question of the two lines there is no room for compromise. Many editors and reporters are used to the old and beaten tracks, and it is far from easy for them to change all at once. But change they must, however grudgingly and painfully, for this is dictated by the general trend. When people say that the change is easy and pleasant, they are saying so merely out of conventional politeness. This is only human and should be excused. As for the editorial department of Wen Hui Pao, the matter is serious because it was this editorial department which was in command during the period when the paper kicked up a rumpus with its bourgeois orientation, and so there is a heavy burden on its shoulders which cannot be easily thrown off. As to whether there is another commander higher up, those who make this charge say "yes", while those who speak for the defence say "no"; moreover, this commander has been identified as Lo Lung-chi of the alliance of Chang Po-chun and Lo Lung-chi. In between the two commanders, there is a third in the person of Pu Hsi-hsiu, a capable woman of action in charge of the Peking office of Wen Hui Pao. People say that Lo Lung-chi -- Pu Hsi-hsiu -- the Wen Hui Pao editorial department represents the chain of command of the Rightists in the Democratic League directing Wen Hui Pao.
The Democratic League has played a particularly vicious role in the course of the contention among the hundred schools of thought and the rectification movement. It operates in an organized way, complete with a plan, programme and line which alienate it from the people and which are directed against the Communist Party and socialism. Then there is the Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party which has played exactly the same role. These two parties have made themselves particularly conspicuous in these days of violent storm. It is the Chang-Lo alliance which has raised the storm. Other parties have played their role, and some of their members are very vicious, too. But they are smaller in number and their chain of command is not so obvious. As for the rank and file of the Democratic League and the Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, not all nor even the majority of them are involved. After all, it is only a handful of individuals, namely, the leading bourgeois Rightists, who summon the storm and churn the waves, plot in secret and incite discontent among the masses, make contacts high and low and seek responses far and near; it is only they whose estimate of the current situation is that utter confusion everywhere will lead to their take-over and whose ultimate aim is to complete their grand scheme by gradual steps. Among the members of these parties some keep their heads, many are deceived, and a small number make up the nucleus of the right wing. Few as they are, being the nucleus, they have considerable power to manipulate. All this spring, the sky over China suddenly became overcast with rolling dark clouds, and the source of the trouble can be traced to the Chang-Lo alliance.
Two meetings were called by the Journalists' Association, the first a negation and the second a negation of the negation, and the fact that this took place in a little over a month indicates the swift changes in the situation in China. The meetings were helpful. At the first meeting, "dark clouds bearing down on the city threatened to crush it", as the reactionary bourgeois line in journalism asserted itself. But at the second, begun the other day, the atmosphere has changed and, although the Rightists are still stubbornly resisting, most people can be said to have found the correct orientation.
On June 14, Wen Hui Pao made a self-criticism and admitted it had made some mistakes. It is all very well to make self-criticism and we welcome it. But we consider Wen Hui Pao's self-criticism inadequate. And what is inadequate here is fundamental in character. That is to say, fundamentally the paper made no self-criticism. On the contrary, in the editorial of June 14 it tried to defend its mistakes. "We have one-sidedly and incorrectly interpreted the Party's policy on the free airing of views, believing that unqualified encouragement of the free airing of views would of itself help the Party in the rectification movement, and that more space given to positive views or criticisms to counter the wrong views would hinder the free airing of views." Is that so? No. During the spring Wen Hui Pao pursued the policy of the central authorities of the Democratic League opposing the Communist Party, the people and socialism and launched violent attacks on the proletariat, in diametrical opposition to the policy of the Communist Party. It was a policy designed to topple the Communist Party and create utter confusion everywhere to facilitate a take-over. Can this really be called "helping in the rectification movement"? No, that is a lie, a downright swindle. Was it wrong for a while to refrain from publishing any positive views or to publish only a few and to let erroneous views go unrefuted? Between May 8 and June 7, acting on the instructions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, our paper and all the other Party papers did precisely that. The purpose was to let demons and devils, ghosts and monsters "air views freely" and let poisonous weeds sprout and grow in profusion, so that the people, now shocked to find these ugly things still existing in the world, would take action to wipe them out. In other words, the Communist Party foresaw this inevitable class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie and bourgeois intellectuals were allowed to start this war, and for a time the press refrained from publishing any positive views or published only a few and did not take any action to repulse the wild attacks of the reactionary bourgeois Rightists, nor did the Party organization in any of the departments and schools where the rectification movement was in progress. The masses could thus clearly distinguish those whose criticism was well-intentioned from those whose so-called criticism was malevolent, and thus forces could be mustered to counter-attack when the time was ripe. Some people say this was a covert scheme. We say it was an overt one. For we made it plain to the enemy beforehand: only when ghosts and monsters are allowed to come into the open can they be wiped out; only when poisonous weeds are allowed to sprout from the soil can they be uprooted. Don't the peasants weed several times a year? Besides, uprooted weeds can be used as manure. The class enemies will invariably seek opportunities to assert themselves. They will not resign themselves to losing state power and being expropriated. However much the Communist Party warns its enemies in advance and makes its basic strategy known to them, they will still launch attacks. Class struggle is an objective reality, independent of man's will. That is to say, class struggle is inevitable. It cannot be avoided even if people want to avoid it. The only thing to do is to make the best use of the situation and guide the struggle to victory. Why do the reactionary class enemies bite the hook? As reactionary social groups blinded by the lust for gain, they take the absolute superiority of the proletariat for absolute inferiority. Fanning flames everywhere would stir up workers and peasants, students' big-character posters would facilitate the taking over of schools, free airing of views would touch off an explosive situation, there would be instant chaos everywhere and the Communist Party would crack up at once--this was how Chang Po-chun sized up the situation on June 6 for six professors in Peking. Isn't this a case of being blinded by the lust for gain? "Gain" means the grabbing of power. They have quite a few papers, one of them being Wen Hui Pao. This paper operated in accordance with the reactionary policy mentioned above, but on June 14 it tried to deceive the people, pretending that it had acted with good intentions. The paper said, "And this incorrect understanding is due to the remnants of bourgeois ideas of journalism in our minds." No, here "remnants" should read "abundance". For several months the paper served as the mouthpiece of the reactionaries who mounted unbridled attacks against the proletariat, and it changed its orientation to one of opposing the Communist Party, the people and socialism, that is, to the bourgeois orientation -- could it manage all that with just some odd remnants of bourgeois ideas? What sort of logic is this? A particular premise leads to a universal conclusion -- this is Wen Hui Pao's logic. To this day Wen Hut Pao is still not ready to criticize itself for carrying a host of reactionary reports flying in the face of the facts, for printing a spate of reactionary views and opinions, and for splashing the paper with a reactionary layout as a means for attacking the proletariat. The case is different with Hsin Min Pao; it has made many self-criticisms which are quite sincere. Hsin Min Pao's mistakes were not as serious as Wen Hui Pao's, and when it realized that it had made mistakes it started correcting them in earnest; this shows a sense of responsibility towards the people's cause on the part of those in charge of the paper and its reporters, and thus in the eyes of the reader the paper has begun to free itself from its predicament. Where on earth is Wen Hui Pao's sense of responsibility? Just when will Wen Hui Pao begin to follow Hsin Min Pao's example? Debts must be paid, and when will Wen Hui Pao begin to pay its debt? In making self-criticism Hsin Min Pao has apparently raised lots of awkward questions for Wen Hui Pao, and the reader would like to ask, when will Wen Hui Pao catch up with Hsin Min Pao? Wen Hui Pao is now in a bad fix. Before Hsin Min Paomade its self-criticism, it seemed that Wen Hui Pao might be able to muddle along for a while, but after that things have become difficult. A bad fix can be turned into a good position, and that calls for a conscientious effort to emulate Hsin Min Pao.
Now to return to the term "bourgeois Rightists". Bourgeois Rightists are the bourgeois reactionaries mentioned above who oppose the Communist Party, the people and socialism; this definition is scientific and true to fact. Only a handful, they are to be found in the democratic parties, among intellectuals, capitalists and students and also in the Communist Party and Youth League, and they have surfaced in the present great storm. They are very small in number, but in the democratic parties, and particularly in certain of these parties, they carry weight and should not be taken lightly. This bunch have not only expressed themselves in words but also followed up with deeds; they are guilty, and the principle of "blame not the speaker" does not apply to them. They are not only speakers but doers. Are they to be punished by law? There seems to be no need for that at present. For the people's state is very secure and, moreover, many among them are prominent figures. They can be treated leniently, without punishment. In general, it is enough to call them "Rightists", not reactionaries. The only exceptions are those who refuse to correct their mistakes after repeated warnings and continue to engage in sabotage in violation of the criminal law; these will have to be punished. Learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones, cure the sickness to save the patient, transform negative factors into positive ones--these principles still apply to the Rightists. Then there are Rightists of another kind who have expressed themselves in words but have not followed up with deeds. Their views are similar to those of the Rightists mentioned above, but they have not engaged in disruptive activities. There should be a greater degree of leniency towards them. Erroneous views must be repudiated root and branch with no quarter given, but these individuals should be permitted to reserve their opinions. The various types of Rightists mentioned above are allowed their freedom of speech. For a great, secure nation, there is little harm in keeping a small number of such people around when their mistakes are known to the masses. It must be understood that Rightists are persons who teach us by negative example. In this sense, poisonous weeds can render service. They render service precisely because they are poisonous and because in the past people were harmed by the poison they spread.
The Communist Party is continuing with its rectification and the democratic parties have also begun theirs. Now that the Rightists' wild attacks have been repulsed by the people, the rectification movement can proceed smoothly.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung