Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
Codes and conventions constitute a problem, and I would like to use this problem as an example to discuss the question of ideological method — upholding principles while displaying the creative spirit.
Internationally we should be on friendly terms with the Soviet Union, all the people’s democracies and the communist parties and working classes of all nations; we should pay proper attention to internationalism, and learn from the good points of the Soviet Union and other foreign countries. This is a principle. But there are two methods of learning: one is merely to imitate, and the other is to apply the creative spirit. Learning should be combined with creativity. To import Soviet codes and conventions inflexibly is to lack the creative spirit.
From its foundation up to the Northern Expedition (from 1921 to 1927) our Party was comparatively lively, even allowing for Ch’en Tu-hsiu’s bourgeois ideology dressed up as Marxism. We founded our Party in the third year following the victory of the October Revolution. Those who founded the Party were all young people who had participated in the May Fourth Movement and been influenced by it. After the October Revolution, while Lenin was still alive, while the class struggle was very acute and Stalin had still not come to power, they too were full of life. The origin of Ch’en Tu-hsiu-ism lay in foreign social democracy and our native bourgeoisie. During this period, though there occurred the mistakes of Ch’en Tu-hsiu-ism, generally speaking there was no dogmatism.
From the beginning of the Civil War period up to the Tsunyi Conference (from 1927 to 1935) three separate ‘leftist’ lines arose in the Chinese Party, and the one from 1934 to 1935 was the worst. At that time the Soviet Union had won victory over the Trotskyites, though on the theoretical plane they had only defeated the Deborin school. The Chinese ‘left’ opportunists had nearly all been influenced while in the Soviet Union. Of course, this is not to say that all those who went to Moscow were dogmatists. Among the many who were in the Soviet Union at the time, some were dogmatists, others were not; some were in touch with reality, others had no contact with reality but saw only foreign conditions. What is more, Stalin’s role was beginning to be consolidated (it became firmly consolidated after the purge of counter-revolutionaries). The Comintern at that time was [run by] Bukharin, Pikov and Zinoviev, while the head of the Eastern Bureau was Kuusinen and the head of the Far East Department was Mif. XXX was a good comrade, humane, creative, but a bit too nice a chap. Mif’s influence was the greater. These were the conditions which enabled dogmatism to develop, and some Chinese comrades were influenced by it too. Among young intellectuals there was also ‘Leftist deviation’. At that time Wang Ming and others set themselves up as the so-called ‘28½ Bolsheviks’. When several hundred were studying in the Soviet Union, how was it that there were only 28½? It was because they were so terribly ‘left’ that they became self-restricting and isolated, thus reducing the Party’s contacts.
Chinese dogmatism had its own Chinese characteristics. These were expressed in warfare and in the question of the rich peasants. Because the number of rich peasants was very small we decided in principle to leave them alone, and to make concessions to them. But the ‘Leftists’ did not agree. They advocated ‘giving the rich peasants bad land, and giving the landlords no land’. As a result the landlords had nothing to eat, and some of them fled to the mountains and formed bandit guerrilla bands. On the question of the bourgeoisie they advocated overthrowing them completely, destroying them not only politically but also economically, thereby confusing the democratic revolution with the socialist revolution. They made no analysis of imperialism, considering it all to be one uniform indivisible block supporting the Kuomintang.
In the period following the liberation of the whole country (from 1950 to 1957), dogmatism made its appearance both in economic and in cultural and educational work. A certain amount of dogmatism was imported in military work, but basic principles were upheld, and you still could not say that our military work was dogmatic. In economic work dogmatism primarily manifested itself in heavy industry, planning, banking and statistics, especially in heavy industry and planning. Since we didn’t understand these things and had absolutely no experience, all we could do in our ignorance was to import foreign methods. Our statistical work was practically a copy of Soviet work; in the educational field copying was also pretty bad, for example, the system of a maximum mark of five in the schools, the uniform five years of primary school, etc. We did not even study our own experience of education in the Liberated Areas. The same applied to our public health work, with the result that I couldn’t have eggs or chicken soup for three years because an article appeared in the Soviet Union which said that one shouldn’t eat them. Later they said one could eat them. It didn’t matter whether the article was correct or not, the Chinese listened all the same and respectfully obeyed. In short, the Soviet Union was tops. In commerce it was less so, because there was more contact and exchange of documents with the Centre. There was also less dogmatism in light industry. The socialist revolution and the cooperativization of agriculture was not influenced by dogmatism because the Centre had a direct grasp of them. During the past few years the Centre has chiefly grasped the revolution and agriculture, and to a certain extent commerce.
Dogmatism appears under different sets of circumstances, which should be analysed and compared, and reasons for its appearance discovered.
1. We couldn’t manage the planning, construction and assembly of heavy industrial plants. We had no experience, China had no experts, the minister was himself an outsider, so we had to copy from foreign countries, and having copied we were unable to distinguish good from bad. Also we had to make use of Soviet experience and Soviet experts to break down the bourgeois ideology of China’s old experts. The greater part of Soviet planning was correctly applied to China, but part of it was incorrect. It was imported uncritically.
2. We lacked understanding of the whole economic situation, and understood still less the economic differences between the Soviet Union and China. So all we could do was to follow blindly. Now the situation has changed. Generally speaking, we are now capable of undertaking the planning and construction of large enterprises. In another five years we shall be capable of manufacturing the equipment ourselves. We also have some understanding of Soviet and Chinese conditions.
3. Having cleared away blind faith, we no longer have any spiritual burdens. Buddhas are made several times life-size in order to frighten people. When heroes and warriors appear on the stage they are made to look quite unlike ordinary people. Stalin was that kind of a person. The Chinese people had got so used to being slaves that they seemed to want to go on. When Chinese artists painted pictures of me together with Stalin, they always made me a little bit shorter, thus blindly knuckling under to the moral pressure exerted by the Soviet Union at that time. Marxism-Leninism looks at everyone on equal terms, and all people should be treated as equals. Khrushchev’s complete demolition of Stalin at one blow was also a kind of pressure, and the majority of people within the Chinese Party did not agree with it. Others wished to submit to this pressure and do away with the cult of the individual. There are two kinds of cult of the individual. One is correct, such as that of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the correct side of Stalin. These we ought to revere and continue to revere for ever. It would not do not to revere them. As they held truth in their hands, why should we not revere them? We believe in truth; truth is the reflection of objective existence. A squad should revere its squad leader, it would be quite wrong not to. Then there is the incorrect kind of cult of the individual in which there is no analysis, simply blind obedience. This is not right. Opposition to the cult of the individual may also have one of two aims: one is opposition to an incorrect cult, and the other is opposition to reverence for others and a desire for reverence for oneself. The question at issue is not whether or not there should be a cult of the individual, but rather whether or not the individual concerned represents the truth. If he does, then he should be revered. If truth is not present, even collective leadership will be no good. Throughout its history, our Party has stressed the combination of the role of the indivi! dual with collective leadership. When Stalin was demolished some people applauded for their own personal reasons, that is to say because they wanted others to revere them. Some people opposed Lenin, saying that he was a dictator. Lenin’s reply was straightforward: better that I should be a dictator than you! Stalin was very fond of Kao Kang and made him a special present of a motor car. Kao Kang sent Stalin a congratulatory telegram every 15 August. Every province now has examples of this. Is Chiang Hua a dictator, or is Sha Wen-han? This sort of problem has arisen in Kwangtung, Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang, Chinghai, Kansu, Anhwei and Shantung. Don’t run away with the idea that the world is at peace. The situation is unstable. You may think you are ‘on firm ground’, but it will not remain firm. One day the continents will sink, the Pacific Ocean will become dry land, and we’ll have to move house. Small earthquakes are a frequent occurrence. The Kao-Jao affair was an earthquake of the eighth degree of magnitude . . .
4. We have forgotten the lessons of historical experience, and do not understand the comparative method, nor the establishment of opposites. As I said yesterday, many of our comrades, when confronted by numerous codes and conventions, do not consider whether there might be alternative formulae, and that they should choose those which are more suited to Chinese conditions, and reject the others. They do not make any analysis, nor use their brains. They do not make comparisons. In the past when we were opposing dogmatism, their journal, the Bolshevik, indulged in self-adulation saying that they were one hundred per cent correct. Their method was to attack one point or a few points and not to mention the rest. Their journal True Words attacked five big mistakes of the Central Soviet Area, without mentioning one single good point.
In April 1956 I put forward the ‘Ten Great Relationships’, which made a start in proposing our own line for construction. This was similar to that of the Soviet Union in principle, but had our own content. Among the ‘Ten Great Relationships’ five are primary: industry and agriculture; the coast and the interior; the Centre and the regions; the state, the collective and the individual; defence construction and economic construction. Expenditure on national defence should be small in peacetime. Administrative expenditure should be small at all times.
When Stalin was criticized in 1956, we were on the one hand happy, but on the other hand apprehensive. It was completely necessary to remove the lid, to break down blind faith, to release the pressure, and to emancipate thought. But we did not agree with demolishing him at one blow. They do not hang up his picture, but we do. In 1950 I argued with Stalin in Moscow for two months. On the questions of the Treaty of Mutual Assistance, the Chinese Eastern Railway, the joint-stock companies and the border we adopted two attitudes: one was to argue when the other side made proposals we did not agree with, and the other was to accept their proposal if they absolutely insisted. This was out of consideration for the interests of socialism. Then there were the two ‘colonies’, that is the North-East and Sinkiang, where people of any third country were not allowed to reside. Now this has been rescinded. After the criticism of Stalin, the victims of blind faith had their eyes opened a bit. In order that our comrades recognize that the old ancestor also had his faults, we should apply analysis to him, and not have blind faith in him. We should accept everything good in Soviet experience, and reject what is bad. Now we are a bit more skilful in this, and understand the Soviet Union a bit better, and understand ourselves.
In 1957, in ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People’, I raised the questions of the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture, of the road to industrialization, cooperativization, birth-control, etc. In that year a big thing happened, that was the nationwide Rectification Movement, the Anti-Rightist Movement, the mass criticism of our work. This was a great stimulus to the people’s thinking.
In 1958 we have held three meetings at Hangchow, Nanning and Chengtu. Everyone has expressed a lot of opinions at these meetings, we have done some hard thinking, and summarized our experience of the previous eight years. This was also a great stimulus to thought. A question which emerged at the Nanning Conference was the codes and conventions of the various departments of the State Council. They can be changed and they ought to be changed substantially. One way would be to meet the masses. Another way would be to promote big-character posters. Another question was that of devolution of power to the regions. We have begun to put this into effect. Now centralized power and devolved power exist simultaneously. It was decided at the Third Plenum last year that centralized power and devolved power should exist simultaneously, that power should be centralized where appropriate and devolved where that is appropriate. The devolution of power should, of course, not follow the pattern of bourgeois democracy. Before the advent of socialism bourgeois democracy is progressive, but once socialism has come it is reactionary. In the Soviet Union the Russian nationality comprises fifty per cent of the population, and the national minorities are fifty per cent, while in China the Han nationality is ninety four per cent, while the national minorities are six per cent. So we cannot go in for a union of republics.
The Chinese revolution won victory by acting contrary to Stalin’s will. The fake foreign devil [in Lu Hsün’s True Story of Ah Q] ‘did not allow people to make revolution’. But our Seventh Congress advocated going all out to mobilize the masses and to build up all available revolutionary forces in order to establish a new China. During the quarrel with Wang Ming from 1937 to August 1938, we put forward ten great policies, while Wang Ming produced sixty policies. If we had followed Wang Ming’s, or in other words Stalin’s, methods the Chinese revolution couldn’t have succeeded. When our revolution succeeded, Stalin said it was a fake. We did not argue with him, and as soon as we fought the war to resist America and aid Korea, our revolution became a genuine one [in his eyes]. But when we brought out ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People’ we talked about this question but they didn’t, and what’s more they said we were going in for liberalism, so it seemed that we were not genuine again. When this report of ours was published, the New York Times printed it complete, and also carried an article which claimed that China was being ‘liberalized’. It is quite natural for the bourgeoisie to clutch at straws when drowning. But bourgeois politicians are not altogether without discernment. For example when Dulles heard about our report he said he wanted to see it. Within a couple of weeks he had come up with a conclusion: China was bad through and through; the Soviet Union was a little better. But the Soviet Union couldn’t see it, and sent us a memorandum because they feared we were moving to the right. When the Anti-Rightist Movement started, naturally our ‘liberalization’ vanished.
In short, our basic line is universal truth, but details differ. This applies to each country and to each province. There is unity and there are also contradictions. The Soviet Union stresses unity, and doesn’t talk about contradictions, especially the contradiction between the leaders and the led.
I am going to talk about four problems:
1. The mass movement for the improvement of agricultural implements must be extended to every single locality. Its significance is very great, it is a sprout of the technical revolution, it is a great revolutionary movement. Several hundreds of millions of peasants are striving mightily to negate the negative aspect of carrying things on a pole over the shoulder. Whenever they succeed in doing this, they reduce the labour force required to a fraction of what it was before; the economies resulting from the replacement of carrying-poles by mechanization greatly increase labour efficiency, and this, in turn, permits a further step forward in mechanization. This great country of China cannot be completely mechanized; there will always be some corners where mechanization is impracticable. In 1,000 years, 500 years, 100 years, 50 years, there will always be some things which are only partly mechanized — for example, making wooden boats. There are also some handicrafts which may yet survive hundreds of millions of years hence, such as the preparation of food, which will eternally remain a handicraft. Such activities constitute a unity of opposites with mechanization: their natures are different, but they must be combined.
2. Honan has put forward the slogan of carrying out the [grain-production targets of] four [hundred], five [hundred], and eight [hundred catties per mu], irrigation, the elimination of the four pests, and the abolition of illiteracy — all in the space of one year. It is possible that some of these things can be achieved, but even if all of them can be achieved, we should not say so in published reports. We should not even print reports saying that it can all be done in two years, though such reports can be circulated for internal use. It is like land reform: in the beginning, we did not publish reports, but published them only when we could announce that the reform had been partly implemented. If everyone is trying to surpass everyone else, the country may be thrown into confusion [kao-te t’ien-hsia ta luan] as a result. The thing is to go ahead and carry it out energetically. Every province should not follow the same wind, as though when they say it can be done in one year in Honan, everyone should do it in one year, and when they say Honan is number one, every other province should strive to be first. That would not be good. There must always be a number one: ‘Every three years, there is a chuang-yüan; a beauty is scarcely found once in a thousand years.’ Let Honan try it for a year, and if Honan achieves miracles, next year every province can launch another drive for a great leap forward — wouldn’t that be better?
If, in the space of one year, they carry out the four, five, and eight, and abolish illiteracy, naturally there may be very great shortcomings. At the very least, the work will be crude, and the masses will be overly tense. We should do our work boldly and joyfully, not hesitantly and coldly.
All that is necessary is that the line should be correct — going all out and aiming high to achieve greater, faster, better, and more economical [results] (or an even more popular formulation of these phrases) — and then, within the next year, two years, or three to five years, we will carry out the Forty Articles. In that case, we certainly can’t be regarded as not having any face, it can’t be considered as dishonourable, and perhaps it could even be said to be a bit better than that. As for comparisons, they should be made four times a year. Cooperativization made Chou Hsiao-chou extremely tense. In the transition to higher-stage cooperatives in Szechuan, XXX took it easy and didn’t hurry things, so that it was finished only in 1957, and conditions there weren’t at all bad. What does it matter if it takes a year longer? It may even be a bit better. On the other hand, it isn’t correct either to say that it will certainly take four or five years to complete [these tasks]. The problem is to see what the conditions are, and whether the level of consciousness of the masses has been raised or not. How many years are required will depend on objectively existing circumstances. There are two lines for building socialism: is it better to go about it coldly and deliberately, or boldly and joyfully? If we carry out the Forty Articles in eight or ten years, building socialism will not involve excluding [anyone] from the Party. In forty years, the Soviet Union has been able to produce only such a little bit of food and other stuff. If, in eighteen years, we can equal what they have done in the past forty years, it will naturally be all right, and we should do precisely that. For there are more of us, and the political conditions are different, too: we are livelier, ! and there is more Leninism here. They, on the other hand, have let part of Leninism go by the boards, they are lifeless and without vitality. Lenin’s writings of the revolutionary period attacked people very fiercely, but his attacks were justified, he was in tune with the mood of the masses, he had given his heart to the masses.
The speed of construction is a thing that exists objectively. Everything which, objectively and subjectively, is capable of achievement, we must endeavour to achieve by going all out, aiming high, and producing greater, faster, better, and more economical results. But that which cannot be achieved, we should not try to force ourselves to do. Right now there is a gust of wind, amounting to a force 10 typhoon. We must not impede this publicly, but within our own ranks [nei-pu] we must speak clearly, and damp down the atmosphere a little. We must get rid of the empty reports and foolish boasting, we must not compete for reputation, but serve reality. Some of the targets are high, and no measures have been taken to implement them; that is not good. In a word, we must have concrete measures, we must deal in reality. We must deal in abstractions, too — revolutionary romanticism is a good thing — but it is not good if there are no measures [for giving it practical effect].
3. Every two months, each province, city, and autonomous region must hold a meeting to make an investigation and sum up the results, a small meeting of from several people to a dozen or so. Coordinated regions must also hold a meeting every two or three months. The changes in the course of the movement are very great, there must be exchange of information. The aim of the meetings is to coordinate the rhythm of production. While one wave has not yet fallen, another rises in turn; this is the unity of the opposites, fast and slow. Under the general line of going all out and aiming high to achieve greater, faster, better and more economical results, a wave-like form of progress is the unity of the opposites, deliberation and haste, the unity of the opposites, toil and dreams. If we have only haste and toil, that is one-sided. To be concerned only with the intensity of labour — that won’t do, will it? In all of our work, we must use both deliberation and haste. (For example, the Party secretary in Wuchang hsien did not take account of the peasants’ sentiments, and wanted them to go on working on the reservoirs on the twenty-ninth day of the twelfth [lunar] month, so half of the civilian workers just took off.) This means also the unity of hard fighting with rest and consolidation. In the past, when we waged war, there had to be an interval between two campaigns for rest and consolidation, bringing our forces up to strength and training the soldiers. We could not keep fighting one battle after another — there is a rhythm in warfare, too. The one hundred per cent ‘Bolshevization’ carried out in the Central Soviet Area was opposed to rest and consolidation, and advocated: ‘Be audacious and resolute, follow up victories and pursue the foe immediately, crush Nanchang.’ How could that work? The unity of the op! posites, hard fighting, and rest and consolidation, is a law; moreover, they are transformed into one another. There is nothing which does not undergo such transformation. ‘Haste’ is transformed into ‘deliberation’, and ‘deliberation’ is transformed into ‘haste’. ‘Toil’ is transformed into ‘dreams’, and ‘dreams’ are transformed into ‘toil’. It is the same with rest and consolidation, and hard fighting. Toil and dreams, deliberation and haste, also have [an element of] identity; rest and consolidation and hard fighting also have an element of identity. Going to bed and getting up is also a unity of opposites. I ask you, for example, who can guarantee that after getting up he will not go to bed? On the contrary: ‘He who has been lying down for a long time thinks of getting up.’ Going to bed is transformed into getting up, and getting up is transformed into going to bed. Convening a meeting moves towards its opposite, and is transformed into dismissing a meeting. As soon as a meeting is called, it bears within itself factors leading to its own dismissal. We can’t meet for 10,000 years here in Chengtu. Wang Hsi-feng says, ‘However grandiose the banquet, it must always come to an end.’ This is the truth. A statement cannot be rejected because of the speaker; our judgement must be based on whether it is true or not. After a meeting is dismissed, problems accumulate again, until there is once more a transformation into convening a meeting. We unite, and then after we have carried out our work for a while, ideas diverge, and this is transformed into struggle; divergences arise, and once more there are splits. We can’t go on uniting day after day and year after year. As soon as we talk about unity, there is disunity; disunity is unconditional. At the very time we talk of unity, there still remains disunity — ! sp; this is why we have work to do. To talk all the time about monolithic unity, and not to talk about struggle, is not Marxist-Leninist. Unity passes through struggle, only thus can unity be achieved. It is the same within the Party, as regards classes, and among the people. Unity is transformed into struggle, and then there is unity again. We cannot talk of monolithic unity alone, and not talk about struggle, about contradictions. The Soviet Union does not talk about the contradictions between the leaders and the led. If there were no contradictions and no struggle, there would be no world, no progress, no life, there would be nothing at all. To talk all the time about unity is ‘a pool of stagnant water’; it can lead to coldness. We must destroy the old basis for unity, pass through a struggle, and unite on a new basis. Which is better — a stagnant pool, or ‘the inexhaustible Yangtse comes roaring past’? It’s like this with the Party, and it’s like this, too, with classes and the people. Unity-struggle-unity: this means we have done our work. Production is transformed into consumption, consumption is transformed into production. Production is carried out for the sake of consumption; production is carried out not merely for the sake of other toilers, the producers themselves are also consumers. If a person doesn’t eat, he has no energy at all, and he can’t produce. If he eats hot meals, he can do more work. Marx says: production also includes consumption. Production and consumption, construction and destruction, are unities of opposites, they are transformed into one another. The production of the Anshan Iron and Steel Works is done for the sake of consumption; in a few decades, the installations will be replaced. Sowing is transformed into reaping, reaping is transformed into sowing. Sowing consists in consuming seeds; after the seeds are sown, they move towards their opposite! , and are not called seeds, but rice plants, crops; after the crops are harvested, new seeds are once more obtained.
We must cite abundant examples, put forward several dozen or a hundred examples in order to explain the concepts of the unity of opposites and their transformation into one another. Only thus can we correct our ideology and raise our level of understanding. Spring, summer, autumn and winter are also transformed into one another. Elements of spring and summer are contained in autumn and winter. Birth and death are also transformed into one another. Living is transformed into dying, lifeless matter is transformed into living beings. I propose that when people over the age of fifty die, a party should be held to celebrate, for it is inevitable that men should die, this is a natural law. Grain is an annual plant, every year it is born once, and dies once; moreover, the more that dies, the more that is born. To take [another] example, if pigs were not slaughtered, there would be fewer of them all the time; who would feed them?
The Concise Philosophical Dictionary makes a specialty of opposing me. It says the transformation of birth into death is metaphysical, and the transformation of war into peace is wrong. In the last analysis, who is right? Let me ask: if living beings do not result from the transformation of inanimate matter, where do they come from? In the beginning, there was nothing but inorganic matter on earth; organic matter appeared only subsequently. All living substances result from changes in twelve elements such as nitrogen and hydrogen. All living beings result from the transformation of inanimate matter.
Sons are transformed into fathers, fathers are transformed into sons; women are transformed into men, men are transformed into women. Such transformations cannot take place directly, but, after marriage, sons and daughters are born; is this not transformation?
The oppressors and the oppressed are transformed into one another, as in the relations between bourgeoisie and landlords on the one hand, and workers and peasants on the other. Naturally, when we talk about these oppressors, we are referring to the old ruling classes, it is a matter of class dictatorship and not of individual oppressors.
War is transformed into peace, peace is the opposite of war. When there had been no fighting, that was peace; as soon as the 38th Parallel was crossed, that was war, and as soon as the armistice was concluded, that was peace again. Military affairs are politics under particular circumstances, they are the continuation of politics; politics is also a kind of war.
To sum up, quantitative changes are transformed into qualitative changes, and qualitative changes are transformed into quantitative changes. Europe is heavily infested with dogmatism, and the Soviet Union has some shortcomings, but all of this is bound to change, and if we don’t do our work well, we can become rigid again. If, at such a time, our industry has become number one in the world, we might grow cocky, and then our thinking might ossify.
The finite is transformed into the infinite, the infinite is transformed into the finite. The dialectics of ancient times was transformed into the metaphysics of the Middle Ages, and the metaphysics of the Middle Ages was transformed into the dialectics of modern times. The universe, too, undergoes transformation, it is not eternal. Capitalism leads to socialism, socialism leads to communism, and communist society must still be transformed, it will also have a beginning and an end, it will certainly be divided into stages, or they will give it another name, it cannot remain constant. If there were only quantitative changes and no qualitative changes, that would go against dialectics. There is nothing in the world that does not arise, develop, and disappear. Monkeys turned into men, mankind arose; in the end, the whole human race will disappear, it may turn into something else, at that time the earth itself will also cease to exist. The earth must certainly be extinguished, the sun too will grow cold — it is already much cooler than it was in ancient times. During the ice age, there was one change in two million years. When the ice came, a large part of all living creatures perished. Beneath the South Pole there is a great deal of coal, so you can see that in ancient times it was very warm there. In Yen-ch’ang hsien they have discovered petrified bamboo. (An author of the Sung dynasty said that bamboo grew in Yen-ch’ang in ancient times, but now it can’t.)
All things must have a beginning and an end. Only two things are infinite: time and space. The infinite is made up of the finite. All things of whatever kind develop and change step by step.
I have talked about all this in order to extend and enliven our thinking. Whenever the mind becomes rigid, it is very dangerous. We must educate our cadres. The Central, provincial, regional, and hsien-level cadres are very important. Including all the various system, there are several hundred thousand of them. In a word, we must do more thinking, we must not have constantly in mind the classic writings, but we must make use of our brains and enliven our thinking.
4. The line for building socialism is still being created, but we already have the basic ideas. Of the 600 million people of the whole country, and the 12 million Party members, only a minority — only a few millions, I fear — feels that this line is correct. It may be that a great many people still have doubts, or are not aware. For example, when the peasants carried out irrigation, you couldn’t say they were doubtful, but when it comes to the line, they are not aware. Or, to take another example, the number of those who really have faith in the campaign to get rid of the four pests has now gradually increased. I myself used to have doubts, and whenever I ran into someone, I would ask: ‘Is it really possible or not to get rid of the four pests?’ It was the same with cooperativization; so long as we had not demonstrated [its feasibility] there were bound to be doubts. There was also a part of the people who basically mistrusted it, amounting perhaps to a few tens of millions landlords, rich peasants, bourgeois, intellectuals, democratic personages, and even including some from within the labouring people, and a part of our cadres. At present, we have already induced a minority of people to feel that this line is correct. As for ourselves, we recognize that this line is correct, in theory and as demonstrated in practice in some of our work — for example, there is a substantial increase in production, we have had quite a few successes in our work, and the majority of the people feel at ease. Nevertheless, the Forty Articles, and overtaking England in fifteen years, are in the domain of theory. The four, five and eight have, for the most part, not yet been carried out, the industrialization of the whole country has not yet been carried out, overtaking England in fifteen years is still a slogan, the 156 key projects have not yet all been built. There remains a question in my! mind about producing, in the course of the second five-year plan, 20 million tons of steel. Is this a good thing, or will it throw everything into confusion? I’m not sure at present, so I want to hold meetings. We’ll meet four times a year, and if there are problems, we will make adjustments. The situation after construction has been carried out must be one of the following: excellent, fairly good, not too good, bad, or great disorder [ta luau]. It looks as though, if disorder results, it won’t be all that great, there will be just a spell of disorder, and then things may well move towards ‘order’ [chih]. The appearance of disorder contains within it some favourable elements, we should not fear disorder. In the course of building up industry in Hungary, disorders occurred, but now things are all right again.
The line has already begun to take shape, it reflects the creations of the masses in their struggles. This is a law. The leading organs have put forward some directives which reflect these creations. So many things we did not foresee. Laws exist objectively, they cannot be diverted by man’s will. For example, in 1955, when the high tide of cooperativization was seething, we did not foresee the emergence of the question of Stalin, of the Hungarian affair, and of the slogan ‘Oppose adventurism’. How will it be next year? What else is likely to happen? What ‘ism’ will they oppose? Who can predict this? Concrete affairs cannot be foretold.
At present the reciprocal relations between people are determined by the relationship between three big classes:
The first is [composed of] imperialism, feudalism, bureaucratic capitalism, the rightists and their agents. If we do not carry out a revolution aimed at these, our productive forces will be fettered. The rightists make up two per cent of the bourgeoisie. The great majority of these can in future be changed and transformed — but that’s another question.
The second is the national bourgeoisie, by which I mean all [the members of this class] except for the rightists. They are of a divided mind about the new China. They are drawn to us in spite of themselves, and at the same time they want to engage in capitalism. Now that they have passed through rectification, there have been some changes; we may perhaps have the support of two thirds of them. Incidentally, the democratic parties and groups in Peking have called a big meeting for self-criticism, reform, and oath-taking; such meetings should be held in the whole country.
The third is the left, that is to say the labouring people, the workers, the peasants. (In reality there are four classes — the peasants are a separate class.)
The line has already begun to take shape, but it has yet to be perfected and verified in practice, so we cannot say that it is finally complete. The workers put on airs of extravagance vis-a-vis the peasants, and some cadres strive for fame and position — all this is bourgeois thinking. If we do not resolve these problems, we will not do well in production; if we do not sort out these reciprocal relations, how can we do our work well? In the past, we put far too little thought into construction; most of our energy was devoted to making revolution. Mistakes will inevitably be committed. It is impossible not to commit them. The commission of mistakes is a necessary condition for the formation of a correct line. The correct line is formulated with reference to the erroneous line, the two constitute a unity of opposites. The correct line is formed in the struggle with the incorrect line. To say that mistakes can all be avoided, [so that] there are only correct things, and no mistakes, is an anti-Marxist proposition. The problem lies in committing fewer mistakes, and less serious ones. The correct and the erroneous are a unity of opposites, the theory of inevitability is correct. That there should be only correct things, and nothing erroneous, as without precedent in history, it amounts to denying the law of the unity of opposites. It is metaphysical. If there were only men and no women, if women were negated, what would we do then? It is possible to strive for a situation in which very few mistakes are committed. The number of mistakes [should be like] the relation between a giant and a dwarf. It is possible to commit few errors, and we must achieve this. Marx and Lenin achieved it.
‘People do not go to a Buddist temple for no reason,’ and I have a number of problems on which I would like to exchange views with you. In the play The Story of the Western Chamber there is an episode involving the two characters Chang Sheng and Hui Ming. Tiger Sun has surrounded the P’u Chin Monastery and the scholar Chang Sheng wants to get a message through to his friend, the White Horse General, to bring him to the rescue. There is nobody to carry the message and so they hold a mass meeting at which Hui Ming steps forward and volunteers to go. Hui Ming is depicted as a courageous, bold and resolute fellow. I hope that China will have more Hui Mings to develop a movement of ‘great airing of views, great blooming and big-character posters’ among the hundreds of thousands of people at county [hsien] committee level and above, in order to criticize the leadership. This will make for a proletarian atmosphere, a communist atmosphere. When the masses give you a good telling-off to vent their feelings, this does not mean that they are going to cut off your head or take away your job. It just means that they are in a lively militant mood, that they have a very good communist style. The way that the masses are now carrying out these struggles is excellent, and we comrades should also promote such a style among ourselves.
Ch’en Po-ta has just written to me. Before this nothing would induce him to run a journal. Now he has made a 180-degree turn and agreed to start one this year. This is fine. Our Party used to have several journals — Guide, Struggle, Truth, etc. Although we now have the People’s Daily we have no theoretical magazine. We originally made plans for the Centre and Shanghai to publish one each, in order to bring about a direct confrontation of competing views, but now it is proposed that each province should start a separate one. This is very good. In this way our theoretical level can be raised and our thinking enlivened. Each provincial journal should have its own individual characteristics, and whilst each one should base its discussion mainly on the situation in its own province, they may also talk about China as a whole, or about the whole world, the universe — even the sun and the Milky Way.
Comrades working in the provinces will sooner or later come to the Centre. Comrades at the Centre will sooner or later either die or leave the scene. Khrushchev came from a local area. At the local level the class struggle is more acute, closer to natural struggle, closer to the masses. This gives the local comrades an advantage over those at the Centre. Ch’in was a kingdom before it proclaimed itself an empire.
We must improve our style of work, speak with sincerity, take a firm hold of ourselves and possess the spirit to sweep all before us and climb to the highest peak. To do this we must have a thorough understanding of Marxist theory and of the basic contradictions in our work. But at present our comrades have no ambition to be invincible, rather they have a lethargic air about them. This is no good. It. exemplifies a slave mentality, like that of Chia Kuei, who had become so used to standing up that he was afraid to sit down. We must respect the classics but we must not follow them blindly. Marxism was itself created, not copied or lifted straight from books. On this point Stalin was relatively good. The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union says in its conclusion: ‘Particular points of Marxist principle which are not in accord with reason may be changed, such as the principle that one country cannot be victorious*.’ [*i.e., that socialism cannot first be victorious in one country alone.] Confucian scholars worshipped Confucius so blindly that they dared not use his name K’ung Ch’iu. Li Ho of the T’ang dynasty was, however, quite different. He referred to Emperor Wu of Han by his name Liu Ch’e, or Master Liu, and to the Empress as Mistress Wei.
Once we give in to blind faith our minds become cramped and our thought cannot burst out of its confinement. Unless you have a conquering spirit it is very dangerous to study Marxism-Leninism. Stalin could be said to have had this spirit, though it became somewhat tarnished. The Leninist foundation of his writing on linguistics and economics was relatively correct — basically correct. But there are some issues worth studying, for example the role of the theory of value in the socialist stage. Should we take the amount of time expended in preparing people for labour as a criterion for fixing wages? Under socialism private property still exists, the small group still exists, the family still exists. The family, which emerged in the last period of primitive communism, will in future be abolished. It had a beginning and will come to an end. K’ang Yu-wei perceived this in his book Universal Harmony. Historically, the family was a production unit, a consumption unit, a unit for the procreation of the labour force of the next generation, and a unit for the education of children. Nowadays the workers do not regard the family as a unit of production; the peasants in the cooperatives have also largely changed, and peasant families are generally not units of production. They only engage in a certain amount of subsidiary production. As for the families of government workers and members of the armed forces, they produce even less; they have become merely units of consumption, and units for rearing and bringing up labour reserves, while the chief unit of education is the school. In short, the family may in future become something which is unfavourable to the development of production. Under the present system of distribution of ‘to each according to his work’, the family is still of use. When we reach the stage of the communist relationship of distribution of ‘to each according to his need’, many o! f our concepts will change. After maybe a few thousand years, or at the very least several hundred years, the family will disappear. Many of our comrades do not dare to think about these things. They are very narrow-minded. But problems such as the disappearance of classes and parties have already been discussed in the classics. This shows that the approach of Marx and Lenin was lofty, while ours is low.
Professors — we have been afraid of them ever since we came into the towns. We did not despise them, we were terrified of them. When confronted by people with piles of learning we felt that we were good for nothing. For Marxists to fear bourgeois intellectuals, to fear professors while not fearing imperialism, is strange indeed. I believe this attitude is another example of the slave mentality, a relic from the time of ‘gratitude for His Majesty’s favours’. We must not tolerate it any longer. Naturally we cannot go out tomorrow and beat them up. We have to make contact with them, educate them and make friends with them. They may have studied more natural science than we have, but they do not necessarily know more social science. They may have studied more Marxism-Leninism but they are incapable of entering into the spirit of it, or really understanding it. Wu Ching-ch’ao read a great deal, but opposed Marxism at every opportunity.
We should not feel ashamed of ourselves. Bernstein, Kautsky, Plekhanov in his late period, all studied Marxism-Leninism much more than we have, yet they were not much good. They transformed the Second International into the servant of the bourgeoisie.
Now the situation has changed, as indicated by Comrade Ch’en Po-ta’s speech ‘Stress the Present, not the Past’, his letter ‘To the Chairman’, and his communication ‘Be prepared to explain to the lower levels’. All of these are very forceful. Yet there are many comrades who are indifferent to the struggle on the ideological front, such as the criticism of Hu Feng, Liang Shu-ming, The Life of Wu Hsün, The Dream of the Red Chamber, and Ting Ling, etc. Our basic views on the elimination of the bourgeoisie were stated in the resolution of the Second Plenum of the Seventh Central Committee. During the democratic revolution we used to say that the revolution had two stages, and that the first stage was a preparation for the second. We believe in permanent revolution, yet many comrades gave no thought to the timing of the socialist revolution or to what should be done after land reform. They closed their eyes to sprouts of socialism even after such forms had appeared. The mutual-aid teams in Jui-chin and in the anti-Japanese bases were such sprouts.
Wang Ming and Ch’en Tu-hsiu were of the same ilk. Ch’en Tu-hsiu considered that after the bourgeois revolution had succeeded, the bourgeoisie should hold political power, and the socialist revolution should not be launched until the proletariat had been consolidated and enlarged. Hence Ch’en Tu-hsiu was not a Marxist-Leninist but a bourgeois-democratic revolutionary radical. Yet thirty years later there are still people like him. Bad people like Ting Ling and Feng Hsueh-feng and good people like XXX are nothing but bourgeois democrats. They proclaim the ‘four great freedoms’, assert that peasants are afraid of showing off, thus sharply opposing us. The rich middle peasants in Honan did not want the cadres to see their valuables and feigned poverty. They bought cloth from pedlars when nobody was looking. This was excellent. It meant that the poor and lower-middle peasants were so strong that the rich middle peasants were afraid to show off. It meant that socialism has a great future. But some people did not like it and felt that this fear should be removed. They issued announcements proclaiming the ‘four great freedoms’, while failing to ask for instructions or even to consult others. Clearly this was defiance of the policies laid down by the Second Plenum. They were not spiritually prepared for socialism, though now they have become convinced and have become activized.
From ancient times the people who have created new schools of thought have always been young people without great learning. Confucius started at the age of twenty-three; and how much learning did Jesus have? Sakyamuni founded Buddhism at the age of nineteen; his learning was only acquired gradually later on. What learning did Sun Yat-sen have in his youth? He only went through higher middle school. Marx was also very young when he first created Dialectical Materialism. His learning was also acquired later on. He was about thirty when he wrote the Communist Manifesto, by which time his school of thought was already established. When he started to write books he was only in his twenties. The people whom he criticized were all learned bourgeois scholars of the time like Ricardo, Adam Smith, Hegel, etc. In history it is always those with little learning who overthrow those with much learning. The things Chang T’ai-yen wrote in his youth were lively and full of the spirit of the democratic revolution. His aim was to overthrow the Manchus. K’ang Yu-wei was the same. Liu Shih-p’ei made his name when he was only twenty and was only thirty when he died. Wang Pi was in his teens when he annotated Lao-tzu and died from mental strain when still in his twenties. Yen Yüan (a sage of the second rank) was only thirty-two when he died. Li Shih-min was in his teens when he rebelled and became commander-in-chief. At twenty-four he ascended the imperial throne. He was neither particularly old nor learned. The question is whether your direction is right or not. Ch’in Shu-pao was also very young. When young people grasp ! a truth they are invincible and old people cannot compete with them. Lo Ch’eng and Wang Po-tang were only in their twenties. When Liang Ch’i-ch’ao was young, he too was invincible, yet when we are faced by professors we become feeble and afraid that their scholarship will show us up.
Once our journals are published, provided that their direction is correct, they will do fine. Lei Hai-tsuag had studied Marxism-Leninism, but he was not as good as us because while we believed in it, the more he read the more right-wing he became. Now we want to run journals and to prevail over the bourgeois intellectuals; we only need to read a dozen or so books and we can beat them. Once we start to run our journals we shall be forced to study the classics, to think about problems, and turn our hands to writing. All this will raise our ideological level. Now a whole pile of publications has come to our attention. If we do not produce our publications people will not be reading books: they will only be discussing abstract matters and not talk about how to be ‘red’.
Each province can run a journal and thus set up a kind of confrontation. They can also be responsible for sending articles to the central publication. Six articles a year from each province would be sufficient. Anyway, there should be less than ten. You people go and organize this. This is the way to produce heroes.
Ever since ancient times the people who founded new schools of thought were all young people without too much learning. They had the ability to recognize new things at a glance and, having grasped them, they opened fire on the old fogeys. The old fogeys with learning always opposed them. When Martin Luther founded the Reformation, and Darwin’s theories appeared, many people opposed them. The inventor of sleeping-pills was not even a doctor, let alone a famous doctor; he was only a pharmacist. At first the Germans did not take him seriously, but the French welcomed him. That was how sleeping-pills started. I am told that penicillin was invented by a man who worked as a laundryman in a dyers and cleaners. Franklin of America, who discovered electricity, began as a newspaper boy. Later he became biographer, politician and scientist. Gorky only had two years of elementary schooling. Of course some things can be learnt at school; I don’t propose to close all the schools. What I mean is that it is not absolutely necessary to attend school. The main thing is whether your direction is correct or not and whether you come to grips with your studies. Learning has to be grasped. As soon as they had grasped the truth the young founders of new schools embarked on discoveries, scorning the old fogeys. Then those with learning oppressed them. Isn’t that what history is like? When we started to make revolution, we were mere twenty-year-old boys, while the rulers of that time, like Yüan Shih-k’ai and Tuan Ch’i-jui were old and experienced. They had more learning, but we had more truth.
I am glad to see how spirited the big-character posters have been recently. Their sharp criticism and lively style have blown away the stale atmosphere. Yet we always walk sedately with measured tread. ‘Meeting people we only say three tenths of what we mean, afraid to lay bare our whole heart.’ We don’t speak sincerely.
Wang He-shou’s second article dares to criticize dogmatism. P’eng T’ao’s article is also good. It has persuasive power, although it is not sharp enough. It is ‘attacking others and elevating oneself’, though not in an individualistic way. Rather it attacks incorrect ideas and elevates correct ideas, which is absolutely necessary. (Of course the errors also include his own.) T’eng Tai-yüan’s article is also good, but he is deficient in persuasive power. He should explain the reasons for building so many railways, otherwise people will be frightened off. Chang Hsi-jo criticized us for ‘craving greatness and success, being impatient for quick results, scorning the past and putting blind faith in the future’.
This is just what the proletariat is like! Any class ‘craves greatness and success’. Should we rather ‘crave pettiness and failure’? King Yu valued every moment of time. We too must treasure every minute. Confucius said: ‘Three days without seeing my lord makes me worried.’ He also said: ‘I never sit long enough to warm my mat.’ Mo-tzu’s ‘stove was not used long enough to be blackened’. They were both men who were hungry for success and quick results. We too follow this role. Irrigation, rectification, anti-rightism, 600 million people engaged in a great movement. Isn’t this ‘craving for greatness and success’? In setting average advanced norms for workers, aren’t we ‘being impatient for quick results’? Unless we despise the old system and the old reactionary productive relationships, what do we think we are doing? If we do not have faith in socialism and communism, what do we think we are doing?
We have made mistakes and we have been subjectivist, but it is correct to ‘crave greatness and success, to be impatient for quick results, to despise the past and put blind faith in the future’. Although they oppose me, the spirit of the letters from Tientsin and Nanking is praiseworthy. I think they are good. The one from Tientsin is the better, the one from Nanking being insipid and weak. As for Ch’en Ch’i-t’ung and the other three, apart from Ch’en I who is a rightist, their courage in speaking out is praiseworthy. It is very bad to whisper behind people’s backs and not to speak out to their faces. We should have general agreement — at least in principle. We should be able to speak either more sharply or more tactfully, but we must speak out. Sometimes we must be sharp and clear-cut. But in any case, if we take our desire for unity as our starting-point and adopt a helpful attitude, then sharp criticism cannot split the Party, it can only unite the Party. It is very dangerous to leave unsaid things which you want to say. Of course, we must choose our time to speak, and it does not do to ignore strategy. Take, for example, the three big cases of the Ming dynasty. Those who opposed Wei Chung-hsien paid too little attention to strategy and were themselves eliminated. Among those who fell into disfavour with the emperor at that time, there was a Szechwanese, Yang Shen, who was exiled to Yunnan. Those who spoke the truth in history, such as Pi Kan, Ch’ü Yüan, Chu Yün and Chia I, all failed in their! purpose but they fought for a principle. Those who are afraid to speak out are afraid of being called opportunists, afraid of getting the sack, afraid of being expelled from the Party, afraid of being divorced by their wives (and thus losing face), afraid of being confined to the guardroom, afraid of having their heads chopped off. I feel that as long as you are prepared for these eventualities and are able to see through the vanities of this world, you need be afraid of nothing. If you make no psychological preparation, you will not dare to speak. But should fear of martyrdom seal our lips? We must create an environment in which people will dare to speak out and reveal what is in their hearts. The Report to the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said: We must create an environment. From the masses’ point of view this is correct, and advanced elements should not be afraid of this sort of thing. They should have the spirit of Wang Hsi-feng who said: ‘He who is not afraid of the death by a thousand cuts dares to unhorse the emperor.’
We ought to be leading the masses, yet the masses nowadays are more advanced than us. They have the courage to put up big-character posters criticizing us. Of course this is different from Ch’u An-p’ing. In his case it was the enemy cursing us. Today it is criticism among comrades. Some of our comrades’ style of work is not good. There are some things they don’t dare to say. They only say three-tenths. This is first because they are afraid of being unpopular, second because they are afraid of losing votes. This is a vulgar working style which must be changed, and now we have the possibility of changing it.
In 1956 three things were blown away: the general line of achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results, the promoters of progress, and the Forty Articles. There were three kinds of people with three kinds of reaction: distress, indifference, and delight. A millstone had dropped from their neck and there would be peace in the world. Of those exhibiting these three attitudes the ones in the middle were numerous, while the two extremes were small. In 1956 there were the same three attitudes towards many problems. They were comparatively unanimous on the question of opposing Japan and Chiang Kai-shek and on land reform. But on the question of cooperativization there were these three attitudes. Is this a correct assessment?
This conference has solved a number of questions and reached agreement, and prepared some documents for the Politburo. Its weakness is that there has been relatively little discussion of ideology. Should we devote two or three days to talking about ideology, and say what is on our minds?
The comrades say that this conference is a rectification conference. But we do not talk about ideology or fulfil our pledges. Isn’t there a contradiction here? We have neither been carrying out struggles nor identifying rightists, but talking in gentle tones like light breezes and sweet showers, so that everyone can say what is on his mind. My purpose is to get people to dare to speak out with vigour and invincible force, like Marx or Lu Hsün, freeing themselves from inhibitions. We should make a breakthrough at the level of the local Party secretariat, within groups of about three people. This would create a new atmosphere. When he was eighteen or nineteen, Tsou Jung wrote a book entitled The Revolutionary Army which directly denounced the emperor. When Chang T’ai-yen wrote his article refuting K’ang Yu-wei he too was still full of spirit. The older you get the less useful you are. You must not underestimate yourself, but mobilize all your energies. Of course we still need old people: they must also take the helm. Liu Pei of the Three Kingdoms period was no good; this too was a case of an old man taking command. We must break out of the dull atmosphere in the Party.
All the poems which have been published are relics of the past. Why not produce some folk poems? Will every comrade on his return please be responsible for collecting folk poems. Each social stratum, as well as the young people and children, have many folk poems. We should have a go at this. Everyone can be issued with a few sheets of paper to write folk poems on. Those among the labouring people who cannot write can ask others to write for them. We can set a time limit of ten days. We can collect large numbers of old folk songs, and next time publish a collection.
The future of Chinese poetry is folk songs first and the classics second. On this basis we can produce a new poetry. In form it should be in the folk-song style, while in content it should combine the two opposites, realism and romanticism. If you are too realistic you can’t write poetry. The new poetry of today is formless. Nobody reads it. Anyway I wouldn’t read it, not unless you gave me a hundred dollars. In the field of collecting folk poetry, Peking University has done a lot of work. If we do this job it is possible that we may discover millions and millions of folk poems. This will not involve much work, and they will be much easier to read than the poems of Tu Fu and Li Po.
[References are given here as provided by the Maoist Documentation Project. They are significantly different in at least one existing edition of Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. VIII. — Transcriber, MIA.]
[1.] Ch’en Tu-hsiu (1879-1942) was Secretary-General of the Chinese Communist Party from its foundation in 1921 until August 1927, when he was made the scapegoat for the failure of Stalin’s policies. Prior to his conversion to Communism he had been an eloquent advocate of Western democratic and scientific thought as the remedy for China’s ills. In recent decades, Chinese Communist authors have acknowledged his contribution to the intellectual revolution of the May Fourth period, but have denied that he ever really accepted or understood Marxism. They characterize him as a bourgeois radical who had wormed his way into the Party thanks to the ideological confusion prevailing in the early 1920s. Mao himself, talking to Edgar Snow in 1936, dismissed Ch’en Tu-hsiu as bourgeois not only in his ideas, but in his instinctive reactions: ‘Ch’en was really frightened of the workers and especially of the armed peasants. Confronted at last with the reality of armed insurrection, he completely lost his senses. He could no longer see clearly what was happening, and his petty-bourgeois instincts betrayed him into panic and defeat.’ (Red Star over China, enlarged edition, Penguin, 1972, pp. 190-91).
[2.] The official view regarding the errors committed by Mao’s rivals during the period 1927-35 had been laid down in the ‘Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of our Party’ adopted by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in April 1945. The text is included in Volume III of the Selected Works (Peking, 1965), pp. 177-220. Since the onset of the Cultural Revolution, the resolution of 1945 has not been considered wholly orthodox, and it no longer appears in the Selected Works. As for the three ‘left’ lines, however, the view put forward by Mao as recently as September 1971 remains basically the same (see below, Summary of Chairman Mao’s Talks with Responsible Comrades at Various Places during his Provincial Tour). For other statements of the ‘Great Leap’ period about this question, see Speech at the Lushan Conference and Speech at the Enlarged Session of the Military Affairs Committee and the External Affairs Conference.
[3.] Abram Deborin (1881-1963), a leading Soviet philosopher who stressed the omnipresence of contradictions and the link between dialectics and the natural sciences, was condemned by Stalin in December 1930 for his ‘Menshevizing idealism’, and subsequently forced to recant.
[4.] This name is transcribed as ‘P’i-k’o-fu’, which might be an error for Rykov, though the latter occupied an important position in the Soviet state apparatus rather than in the Comintern. It could also stand for Pieck, or Piatnitsky, who were members of the Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the International in the early 1930s. In any case, Mao’s picture of the Comintern leadership is rather approximate, for Bukharin was removed from all work in the International in mid-1929, and Zinoviev had disappeared well before. Regarding the personnel more directly concerned with China, he was better informed. Kuusinen, a member of the Executive Committee and of the Secretariat, was influential in drafting many Comintern directives on China and on the non-European countries generally. Pavel Mif’s title was Deputy Head of the Eastern Secretariat, which Mao calls the Eastern Bureau (tungfang pu), but his main responsibility was China. (There does not seem to have been a separate Far Eastern Department, though details regarding the organization of the Comintern are hard to come by. The above information about Mif is from his biography in Vidnye Sovetskie Kommunisty — Uchastniki Kitaiskoi Revolyutsii [Moscow: ‘Nauka’, 1970], p. 92.)
[5.] It is hard to guess who the ‘good comrade’ referred to here might be. Mao speaks of him as if from personal knowledge, but Mao himself did not go abroad until 1949, and of those representatives of the Comintern who had visited China in the 1920s and 1930s, there were few with whom he had come in direct contact, and even fewer of whom he had anything good to say. Because of the way ‘XXX’ is contrasted with Mif, it is just possible that it stands for Kuusinen, who had attacked Mao and the Chinese very rudely in 1964 (see Marxism and Asia, pp. 330-35), so that any favourable comment would have been removed, or made anonymous, by the editors of Wan-sui (1969). Perhaps any other Comintern figure, even if known only at second or third hand, would have been imagined by Mao to be more likeable than Pavel Mif, who came to China at the end of 1930 and personally installed as the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party the very ‘dogmatists’ about whom Mao is complaining here.
[6.] Wang Ming (pseudonym of Ch’en Shao-yü) (1904-74) was the leading figure in the group of ‘Returned Students’, trained in Moscow, with whom Mao contended for the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s. He resided in the Soviet Union from 1957 until his death; during the Cultural Revolution, he published two vitriolic attacks on Mao (see Talk at the First Plenum of the Ninth Central Committee of the CPC, note 1).
[7.] Mao would appear to be concerned here rather with the uniform introduction of a system of education ill-adapted to Chinese rural reality than with the precise length of the primary course, which was not necessarily five years in the 1950s. For a detailed discussion of the educational system, including the curriculum and the length of schooling, see below, Remarks at the Spring Festival.
[8.] Kao Kang (c. 1902-c. 1954) was one of the leaders in setting up the base in Shensi to which Mao Tse-tung and his comrades retreated after the Long March. In the late 1940s, he emerged as the dominant figure in the North-east Region, where he cumulated all the top Party, government, and army posts. As the leader of China’s most highly industrialized area, he played an important role in Peking as well, and in 1952 he became the first Chairman of the State Planning Commission. He was publicly denounced in 1955, and at that time it was stated that he had committed suicide in February 1954. His fall undoubtedly resulted in part from personal rivalries, but it has also been commonly assumed that he was regarded as too close to the Soviets.
[9.] In the mid-1950s, Chiang Hua was First Secretary of the CCP in Chekiang, and Sha Wen-han was governor of the same province. In December 1957, in the context of the ‘anti-rightist’ campaign which had begun during the summer, Sha was violently attacked for corruption, immorality, and anti-Party activities, and also for his provincial and sectarian viewpoint, and removed from office. Chiang Hua delivered the main report at the meeting held to denounce Sha and other leading Chekiang officials; he also called for more rapid development in industry and agriculture, and referred to a ‘leap’ in production. Thus, his attitude towards questions of policy was indubitably correct in Mao’s eyes. As the previous sentence, ‘Every province now has examples of this’ linking the relationship between Chiang and Sha to the case of Kao Kang — makes plain, Mao is talking here about two things: the correctness or incorrectness of leadership; and loyalty to the nation as a whole rather than to one’s own province or region or to the Soviet Union. The two issues of the tempo of economic development, and of the manner and extent to which decision-making power should be decentralized, were central to the debates on policy going on in the spring of 1958, on the eve of the formal proclamation of the Great Leap Forward at the Second Session of the Eighth Party Congress in May. As Mao makes plain, they had to be fought out in every province, as well as at the national level.
[10.] The purge of Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih (c 1901- ), First Secretary of the CCP East China Bureau, and seven others in 1955, on the charge of having formed an anti-Party group with the aim of seizing power, was indeed an earthquake — by far the most serious upheaval in the Chinese Communist Party from the Rectification Campaign of 1942-3 to the fall of P’eng Te-huai in 1959.
[11.] The Bolshevik and True Words (Shih Hua) were theoretical organs edited in the early 1930s by the Moscow-trained leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, which often criticized Mao’s guerrilla tactics. Since a complete run of Shih Hua is not available, it is impossible to say which ‘five big mistakes’ are referred to here.
[12.] In 1962, Mao put forward a periodization of the history of the Chinese People’s Republic which dated the establishment of an independent and creative line for building socialism from 1958, i.e. from the beginning of the Great Leap Forward (Talk at an Enlarged Central Work Conference, pp. 176-8). This is complementary rather than contradictory to the statement here; Mao began to sketch out a new policy in 1956, and the process came to fruition in 1958.
[13.] Mao here confirms that, apart from the terms of the Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance signed on 14 February 1950, and the thorny question of the Sino-Soviet border, two main issues on which his position clashed with that of Stalin were the arrangements for the control of the Chinese Eastern Railway, and the joint Sino-Soviet stock companies in certain key industries, both of which gave Moscow a degree of economic and political leverage within China all too reminiscent of the old colonial days.
[14.] The supplementary agreement of 27 March 1950 between China and the Soviet Union provided for joint-stock companies to develop oil and non-ferrous metals in Sinkiang. There was no provision such as Mao cites, but it was widely believed at the time to contain secret clauses.
[15.] Here Mao deliberately applies to Stalin the term ‘old ancestor’ (lao tsu-tsung) which was employed in his own youth to designate the Dowager Empress Tz’u-hsi.. Clearly he wishes to suggest that these two individuals (both of whom had at one time stood in authority over him) inspired in him a similar mixture of distaste and grudging respect.
[16.] The Hangchow conference of early January 1958, and the Nanning conference of late January, were attended, like the Chengtu conference at which Mao made this speech, by provincial Party secretaries and some Politburo members; it was at the two January meetings that the Sixty Articles on Work Methods, which constituted the veritable blueprint for the Great Leap Forward, were drafted. (See the text of this document in CB 892, pp. 1-14).
[17.] The Seventh Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in April 1945, in fact advocated the establishment of a coalition government with the Kuomintang, as is indicated by the title of Mao Tse-tung’s own report on that occasion. (‘On Coalition Governrnent’, Selected Works, III, pp. 255-320.) It did, however, lay the foundations for an effort on the part of the communists, in the new political context which would grow out of Japan’s defeat, to establish themselves as a political (as well as a military) force which would have to be reckoned with. In particular, it marked the formal consecration of the ideological independence and maturity of the Chinese Communist Party by the elevation of ‘Mao Tse-tung’s Thought’ to the status of guide in all the Party’s work. (See Liu Shao-ch’i’s report on this theme in Marxism and Asia, pp. 259-61.)
[18.] The Ten-Point Programme, or Ten Great Policies, of the CCP for Anti-Japanese Resistance and National Salvation put forward on 15 August 1937 laid down a policy line mid-way between the two extremes of excessive sectarianism and abject submission to the Kuomintang. (For the text, see Brandt, Schwartz and Fairbank, A Documentary History of Chinese Communism, pp. 242-5.) Wang Ming, who had displayed leftist tendencies in the early 1930s, has been accused since 1945 of rightist and capitulationist errors following his return to China from Moscow in 1937, but I know of no document in sixty points summarizing his views at this time.
[19.] This refers to Dulles’s speech of 28 June 1957, two weeks after the New York Times report of 13 June on Mao’s February speech.
[20.] For a brief discussion of the problems raised by the effort to improve agricultural implements and techniques in the course of the Great Leap Forward, with extracts from the ‘Opinions’ regarding agricultural mechanization adopted at the Chengtu meeting, which spell out some of the implications of what Mao is saying in this paragraph, see Jack Gray, ‘The Two Roads: Alternative Strategies of Social Change and Economic Growth in China’, in Authority, Participation, and Cultural Change in China, pp. 139-43.
[21.] The expression chien-t’iao, ‘to carry on a pole over the shoulder’, is used here both in a literal sense, to evoke images such as the building of dams by the massive use of labour-power, and as a symbol of traditional Chinese ways of doing things in general. In the remainder of this paragraph, Mao sketches out the approach, characteristic of the Great Leap Forward and of his economic thinking ever since, of ‘walking on two legs’, i.e. of combining modern and traditional methods.
[22.] According to Mao’s speech of 13 October 1957 (Wan-sui (1969), p. 141), ‘four, five, eight’ was used as shorthand for the goals for grain production originally put forward in point 6 of the Twelve-year Programme for Agricultural Development (see p. 93 and note 4 to Speech at the Supreme State Soviet ). This called for yields of 400 catties per mu in areas north of the Yellow river, 500 catties per mu between the Yellow and Huai rivers and 800 catties per mu south of the Huai, to be achieved by the end of 1967. In October 1957 Mao still accepted this target date. Now, although he does not endorse the extreme optimism of the Honan leadership, he has been carried away by enthusiasm for the emerging ‘Great Leap’ to such an extent as to suggest that it might well be possible to attain these goals in one third to one half of the period previously stipulated. He adds, however, that even if the original schedule were adhered to, China would still have done far better than the Soviet Union. The targets set in 1956 amounted to two or three times existing yields (see above, p. 92).
[23.] The chuang-yüan or ‘number one palace graduate’ was the highest-ranking successful candidate in the triennial examinations for the chin-shih degree (see below, note 18 to Remarks at the Spring Festival). True beauty, according to this proverb, is rarer still.
[24.] The ‘Ceneral Line’ for building socialism, symbolized by the four characters to, k’uai, hao, sheng (more, faster, better and more economically), had been put forward by Mao in 1956, and has been regarded ever since, both by Mao and by his opponents, as summing up the essence of his approach to economic development. From mid-1956 to mid-1957 it had been seldom mentioned, though not explicitly repudiated; for Mao’s resentment at this, see his speech of 22 March 1958, p. 122. In 1958 it burst forth again and became one of the ‘Three Red Banners’ of the Great Leap.
[25.] Chou Hsiao-chou (c. 1912- ) was, at this time, First Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for Hunan Province, and concurrently Political Commissar of the Hunan Military District. At the Eighth Party Congress in September 1956, he had presented a written speech on the strengthening of agricultural cooperatives. During the year 1958, he played an acting role in Party affairs, but after the Eighth Plenum in December 1958 he dropped from view, and in 1959 he was relieved of his post as provincial secretary, and purged as a member of the ‘anti-Party group’ headed by P’eng Te-huai (see Speech at the Lushan Conference and Speech at the Enlarged Session of the Military Affairs Committee and the External Affairs Conference). This would indicate that, like P’eng, he came to have doubts about the communes, but it was not previously known that Mao had been dissatisfied with his attitude at the time of cooperativization in 1955-6.
[26.] This presumably stands for Li Ching-ch’üan (1905- ), ranking Party secretary for Szechuan province (in which the city of Chengtu is located) from 1952 to 1965, and by 1958 the leading figure in the Party organization for the whole of South-West China.
At the time when Mao made this speech, his star was definitely on the rise, and in fact Mao’s reference, two days later, to Khrushchev as an example of those vigorous elements which come to the Centre from the provinces (see the speech of 22 March 1958, p. 114) may well be meant as a compliment to Li, who was elected to the Politburo in May 1958 at the Second Session of the Eighth Party Congress. Li Ching-ch’üan’s name — assuming that it is he who is meant — would have been omitted by the editors of the 1969 volume because he was attacked and removed during the Cultural Revolution. He reappeared at the Tenth Congress in 1973.
[27.] The organization of the Party and of the state administration on a regional basis had been abolished in 1954. Regional Party bureaus were publicly re-established only in the early 1960s, but Mao here confirms that they had already been set up in 1958, in the context of the decentralizing policies of the ‘Great Leap’.
[28.] As indicated here, Mao clashed with the Moscow-trained leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in the early 1930s not only on political issues, but on military tactics. For his own criticism of previous errors in this domain, see ‘Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War’, Selected Works, I, pp. 179-249.
[29.] This remark was actually made by a minor character in Chapter 26 of the Dream of the Red Chamber; Wang Hsi-feng said the same thing, in different words, in Chapter 13 (The Story of the Stone, pp. 257, 509).
[30.] I have not been able to find the source of this quotation.
[31.] For a more extended discussion of why the death of older people is a cause for rejoicing, which reveals the roots of this attitude on Mao’s part in the Chinese tradition, see below Talk on Questions of Philosophy, p. 227, and note 40.
[32.] This dictionary (Chien-ming che-hsüieh tz’u-tien) is, in fact, a Chinese translation, first published in 1940, and reprinted in 1949 and 1951 by the San-lien Shu-tien in Peking, of a Soviet reference work, the Kratkii Filosojskii Slovar, by Rozental and Yudin, which had appeared in Moscow in 1939. I have not been able to find in it the statements quoted by Mao, but he was no doubt correct in his judgement that the Soviet understanding of dialectics in the late 1930s was different from his.
[33.] Because of the way numbers are written in Chinese, the figure ‘twelve’ in this sentence could easily be a typographical error for ‘ninety-two’. If Mao really meant to say ‘twelve’, I am unable to identify the source from which he could have taken this theory.
[34.] Wan-sui (1969) has here ‘classes’ (chieh-chi) instead of ‘stages’ (chieh-tuan), but this appears to be a typographical error, for Wen-hsüan has ‘stages’, which makes better sense and is in accord with similar statements in some of Mao’s other writings, for example in Talk on Questions of Philosophy, p. 228.
[35.] The term translated here as ‘system’ (hsi-t’ung) is that commonly used in Chinese communist parlance to refer to one organization or apparatus among many; by ‘all the various systems’, Mao means the Party apparatus, the state bureaucracy, the PLA, etc.
[36.] This refers, of course, to the Marxist-Leninist classics, not to the Confucian canon.
[37.] The 156 key industrial projects scheduled to be built during the first five-year plan, 1953-7, with Soviet aid.
[38.] The ‘emergence of the question of Stalin’ refers, of course to Khrushchev’s secret speech of February 1956; the slogan ‘oppose adventurism’ was the rallying-cry of those who, in 1956-7, opposed Mao’s economic policies. (See below, p. 138, his comments on this group, which apparently included many top leaders in the Party.)
[39.] The meaning here is obviously that Marxism lays down only general historical tendencies, not the precise sequence of events.
[40.] In the autumn of 1957, during the anti-rightist campaign, ceremonies were held in schools and elsewhere, at which participants swore to give their hearts to the Party.
[41.] i.e., it is not like some other places of worship where one goes every Sunday out of habit.
[42.] A celebrated thirteenth-century drama.
[43.] ta ming, ta fang, ta-tzu-pao. The first two phrases (sometimes translated ‘great blooming and contending’) summarize the slogan of the ‘Hundred Flowers’ campaign of 1956-7: ‘Let a hundred schools of thought contend, let a hundred flowers bloom.’ Big-character posters, or wall newspapers, which reached their utmost development during the Cultural Revolution, have long been familiar in China; Mao wrote one as a student at the time of the 1911 revolution.
[44.] Ch’en Po-ta (1904- ). Once the leading interpreter of Mao Tse-tung’s thought, and Mao’s former political secretary, Ch’en rose to high eminence when he became the head of the ‘Cultural Revolution Group’ under the Central Committee in 1966. He disappeared from the political scene in 1970, in the course of the purge of the ‘ultra-leftists’. Whatever his precise role in the events of the Cultural Revolution, he had indeed distinguished himself by his enthusiasm for the ‘Paris Commune’ model, which Mao repudiated in February 1967. (See the Introduction, and Talks at Three Meetings with Comrades Chang Ch’un-ch’iao and Yao Wen-yuan.)
[45.] In fact, this passage refers to the abandonment of conclusions which are ‘antiquated’ or no longer ‘correspond to historical conditions’. History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, (Moscow, 1954), pp. 553-4.
[46.] Emperors in traditional China were referred to by their dynastic titles; their names were taboo to such an extent that even the characters composing them could not be used in other contexts.
[47.] Ta t’ung or ‘great harmony’ is a very ancient utopian vision which has continued to inspire many Chinese thinkers down to the present day. (See, for example, Mao Tse-tung’s ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship’, Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 412.) The work on this theme by K’ang Yu-wei, the intellectual leader of the reformers of 1898, has been translated by Laurence Thompson under the title, Ta T’ung Shu: The One-World Philosophy of Kang Yu-wei (Allen & Unwin, 1958).
[48.] Wu Ching-ch’ao, a disciple of Hu Shih and a contributor to his magazine Tu-li p’ing-lun, was a Kuomintang civil servant in the 1930s and 1940s.
[49.] The literary critic Hu Feng, the philosopher Liang Shu-ming, the interpretation of the Dream of the Red Chamber by Yü P’ing-po, and the novelist Ting Ling all came under attack in the period 1953-5. (For a general account of the context see Merle Goldman, Literary Dissent in Communist China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), Chapters 6 and 7.) Mao himself was directly involved in several of these campaigns, especially in that against Hu Feng; he also wrote an anonymous editorial in 1951 attacking the film, The Life of Wu Hsün. (This campaign is also discussed by Mrs Goldman, op. cit., pp. 89-93.) In 1967, in the course of the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s comments on two of these themes were published among the ‘Five Militant Documents on Art and Literature’, translated in Peking Review, No. 23, 1967, pp. 5-8.
[50.] See the extract from Mao’s speech of 7 May 1937, in S. Schram, The Political Thought of Mao Tse-tung (Penguin, 1969), p. 226-8.
[51.] The use of the term ‘sprouts’ (‘meng-ya’) here echoes the controversy which took place in the 1950s about ‘sprouts of capitalism under the Ming dynasty’, i.e. as to whether elements of a new social system were developing in the ‘feudal’ society of China at that time, before the impact of the West.
[52.] Capital of the Chinese Soviet Republic in 1931-4. The ‘mutual aid teams’, which were formed both at that time and during the Yenan period, as well as in the early 1950s, represented the lowest stage in the development of agricultural cooperatives.
[53.] Mao defines these below on p. 216. As can be grasped from the context, they relate to policies for encouraging the pursuit of individual economic interest at the expense of the collective economy.
[54.] Chang T’ai-yen (also known as Chang Ping-lin) was an influential intellectual of the early twentieth century, politically radical but conservative in cultural and literary matters.
[55.] Liu Shih-p’ei (1880-1919) was a scholar active in the revolutionary movement prior to 1911. Thereafter, he became a conservative and an advocate of restoration.
[56.] As his dates indicate, Wang Pi (A.D. 226-49) did indeed die early, after leaving commentaries on Lao-tzu and on the Book of Changes.
[57.] Yen Yüan (Yen Hsi-chai) was one of the Ming loyalist philosophers who refused to bow to the Manchus when they conquered China in the early seventeenth century. They had great influence on Mao’s generation, and on Mao in particular; Yen is mentioned in Mao’s first published article, which appeared in 1917 (The Political Thought of Mao Tse-tung, pp. 24, 155).
[58.] Li Shih-min (597-649) overthrew the Sui dynasty and placed his father on the throne as the first T’ang emperor in 618. He was, in fact, slightly older than Mao indicates when, in 626, he became emperor himself with the dynastic title T’ai-tsung.
[59.] Ch’in Ch’iung, also known as Ch’in Shu-pao (6th-7th century A D.), distinguished himself as a military commander under both the Sui and the T’ang dynasties.
[60.] Lo Ch’eng and Wang Po-tang were political adventurers of the late Sui dynasty (early 7th century), who made their mark at a very early age.
[61.] Disciple of K’ang Yu-wei, perhaps the most influential polemicist among the Reformers of 1898; Mao read him while an adolescent.
[62.] Yüan Shih-k’ai, a high official who helped Tz’u-hsi to repress the Reform Movement of 1898, betrayed his imperial masters to become President of the Republic in 1912; he died in 1916 after an abortive attempt to restore the monarchy with himself as emperor. Tuan Ch’i-jui, one of his lieutenants, played an important role during the early years of the ‘warlord era’, which opened with Yüan’s death.
[63.] Wang He-shou (c. l908- ) and P’eng T’ao (1913-61) were respectively Minister of Metallurgical Industry and Minister of Chemical Industry at this time. It is not certain what articles Mao is referring to.
[64.] Chang Hsi-jo (c. 1889- ), a political scientist educated at Columbia University in New York and at the London School of Economics, where he studied under Harold Laski, was Minister of Education until February 1958, when he became chairman of the Commission for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. A non-communist, he made the criticisms to which Mao is referring on 15 May 1957, at a forum called by the United Front Department.
[65.] Ch’en Ch’i-t’ung, Vice-Director of the Cultural Section of the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, together with three other senior army political workers, published an article in People’s Daily on 7 January 1957, at a time when the scope of the ‘Hundred Flowers’ campaign was a subject of dispute within the leadership, some members of which opposed Mao’s policy of ‘opening wide’ the floodgates to criticism from outside the Party. (Ch’en I is a homonym of the late Foreign Minister.)
[66.] Wei Chung-hsien (d. 1627), a self-made eunuch who enjoyed the favour of the emperor Hsi Tsung, was the real ruler of China until the death of his protector. He was notorious for the cruelty with which he disposed of his opponents.
[67.] Yang Shen (1488-1529), who came first in the palace examination in 1511, was exiled in 1524 when he wept so loudly to indicate his disapproval of two proposed appointments to the Han-lin academy as to be heard all over the palace.
[68.] Pi Kan (twelfth century B.C.) remonstrated with the tyrannical last ruler of the Shang dynasty upon his excesses, and was disembowelled before the Emperor as a result.
[69.] Ch’ü Yüan (340-278 B.C.), one of China’s greatest poets, is celebrated not only for his literary talents, but for drowning himself in despair when, his advice having been neglected, the state of Ch’u, of which he had formerly been a leading minister, came to ruin. For a selection of his poems, see Li Sao and Other Poems of Chu Yuan (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1955), with an introductory sketch by Kuo Mo-jo.
[70.] Chu Yün (first century A.D.) had a chequered career; his life was in fact spared by the Emperor in his most celebrated adventure.
[71.] Chia I (second century B.C.) became a member of the Imperial Academy at such an early age that he aroused great jealousy, and was finally exiled. In his article of 1917 on physical education, Mao cited his example to make a different point: that too much study at an early age was destructive to health. See my complete French translation of this text, Mao Ze-dong: Une Etude de l’éducation physique (Paris: Mouton, 1962), p. 46.
[72.] Ch’u An-p’ing, editor of the Kuang-ming jih-pao, organ of the China Democratic League, took the lead in criticisms of the Party in April 1957, when the ‘blooming and contending’ was in full flood. He came under sharp attack in June 1957. See Literary Dissent in Communist China, pp. 192, 198, 205-6.
[73.] See John Lust’s translation, Tsou Jung: The Revolutionary Army, a Chinese Nationalist Tract of 1903 (Paris: Mouton, 1968). This pamphlet was extremely influential at the time, and Mao certainly read it as an adolescent.
[74.] The two most famous poets of China’s literary golden age during the T’ang dynasty. For a recent appreciation of their work see the extracts from Kuo Mo-jo’s book on the subject in Chinese Literature, No. 4, 1972, pp. 61-94.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung