Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
April 15, 1958
The article “A Co-operative That Transformed Itself in Two Years of Bitter Struggle” is worth reading. The communist spirit is growing apace throughout the country. The political consciousness of the broad masses is rising rapidly. The backward sections among them are exerting themselves to catch up with the advanced, which demonstrates that the socialist revolution in our country is forging ahead in the economic field (in those places where the relations of production have not yet been completely transformed) and in the political, ideological, technical and cultural fields. Judging from this, it will probably take less time than previously estimated for our industry and agriculture to catch up with that of the capitalist powers. In addition to the leadership of the Party, a decisive factor is our population of 600 million. More people mean a greater ferment of ideas, more enthusiasm and more energy. Never before have the masses of the people been so inspired, so militant and so daring as at present. The former exploiting classes have been completely swamped in the boundless ocean of the working people and must change, even if unwillingly. Undoubtedly there are people who will never change, who would prefer to keep their thinking ossified down to the Day of Judgment, but that does not matter very much. All decadent ideology and other incongruous parts of the super-structure are crumbling as the days go by. To clear away the rubbish completely will still take some time, but there is no doubt of their inevitable and total collapse. Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China’s 600 million people is that they are “poor and blank”. This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for change, the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be writt! en, the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted. The big-character poster is a very useful new weapon, which can be used in the cities and the rural areas, in factories, co-operatives, shops, government institutions, schools, army units and streets — in short, wherever the masses are to be found. It has already been widely used and should always be used. A poem written by Kung Tzu-chen of the Ching Dynasty reads:
Only in wind and thunder can the country show its vitality;
Alas, the ten thousand horses are all muted!
O Heaven! Bestir yourself, I beseech you,
And send down men of all the talents.
Big-character posters have dispelled the dullness in which “ten thousand horses are all muted”. Now I wish to recommend one co-operative to the comrades in the more than 700,000 co-operatives in the countryside and to the comrades in the cities. Situated in Fenghiu County, Honan Province, and called the Yingchu Co-operative, it provides us with much food for deep thought. Do the Chinese working people still retain any of their past slavish features? None at all; they have become the masters. The working people on the 9,600,000 square kilometers of the People’s Republic of China have really begun to be the rulers of our land.
[1.] This article introduce the Yingchu Agricultural Producers’ Co-operative in Fengchiu County, Honan Province. It is situated on low-lying land where water-logging has often been disastrous, and before liberation the people there lived in poverty and hardship. After liberation their life improved and in 1955 the co-operative was formed. In its first two years, it suffered a succession of serious floods. Relying on their own strength and putting their collective wisdom to work, the cadres and members of the co-operative waged a bitter struggle against natural disasters. In the short space of two years the co-operative basically freed itself from drought and flood and drastically changed its appearance by building extensive water conservancy works, bringing dry land under irrigation and converting alkaline land into paddy fields.
[2.] The Tatsepao, or big-character poster, is powerful new weapon, a means of criticism and self-criticism which was created by the masses during the rectification movement; at the same time it is used to expose and attack the enemy. It is also a powerful weapon for conducting debate and education in accordance with the broadest mass democracy. People write down their views, suggestions or exposures and criticisms of others in big characters on large sheets of paper and put them up in conspicuous places for people to read.
[3.] Kung Tzu-chen (1792-1841) of Jenho (now Hangchow), Chekiang Province, was a progressive thinker and writer of the Ching Dynasty. He wrote this poem on worshipping the gods at Chenkiang on his way back to Hangchow from Peking in 1839.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung