Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk At Seventh Plenum Of The
Eighth Central Committee

April 1959

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

1. Ample planning for satisfactory decisions. In this phrase the emphasis is on “planning.” We have to plan a great deal; lack of planning will not do. We should discuss with all sides and oppose insufficient planning and arbitrary decisions. In the past, we often did a great deal of planning with people of the same opinion but little with people of differing opinions; we planned much with the cadres but little with the production personnel. Inadequate discussion and arbitrary decision means that affairs will not be managed well. Planning is fundamental and only with ample planning can we have satisfactory decisions. There are many methods for ample planning, for instance fact-finding meetings or forums. The goal of planning is deciding and it is undesirable to make arbitrary decisions on the basis of inadequate planning as some comrades do.

2. Make allowances. This is not only a matter of work methods, but a political one as well. When we are arranging work plans we need to make some allowances to give subordinates some initiative. If you don’t give subordinates some leeway, you don’t leave any leeway for yourself. Making allowances has advantages for both superiors and subordinates. For example, if in a rural area production contract, the target figure is set at 2,000 catties, there is no leeway for subordinates or superiors. In the past when we were waging war we held troops in reserve, but now in managing production we have forgotten that. Economic work cannot be attacked in a haphazard way and production work cannot come to a stop. Allowances must be made in planning work. It is essential to insure the central point; if you lack a central point you lack a policy. We operate in accordance with a policy.

3. Wave-like advance. All movements consist of waves; in natural science there are sound waves and electromagnetic waves. That all movements advance in wave-like fashion is a law of the development of motion; it is objective and does not change in response to human will. In our work we always go from point to area, from small to large and always in wave-like fashion, not as a continuously rising line.

4. Be skilled in observing circumstances. We must constantly be attentive to political circumstances and economic circumstances. By “political circumstances” is meant observing the ideology of all classes, as well as changes in their viewpoints. The secretaries should observe these things and so should individual committee members. Individual committee members should do good collective work as well as good individual work.

5. Decisiveness at the critical moment. Grasp changes in a situation in order to alter plans. The critical moment cannot be allowed to slip by. The time will not return and so we must be decisive at the critical moment, not hesitate and avoid decision. In capital construction, when the scale has over-expanded a little, it will contract a little. We must also act decisively at the crucial moment in dealing with certain bad tendencies in the party.

6. Maintain communication with people. Superiors and subordinates, colleagues and co-workers should maintain communication with each other. The Central Committee and local [committees] should have discussions and maintain communication, as should party committee members with each other and with the secretary. In the past communication decreased and we had to work at maintaining it. Now we are using the device of writing letters; the method is to write one a month. We shouldn’t be content to let the secretary take care of things and especially we shouldn’t keep information back from the provincial committee.

7. An individual sometimes wins over the majority. This is because truth is sometimes in one person’s hands only. Truth is sometimes in the hands of a minority, as when Marxism was in Marx’s hands alone. Lenin said that you have to have the spirit of going against the current. Party committees at every level ought to consider views from many quarters; they ought to listen to the opinion of the majority and also those of the minority and others. There ought to be created within the party an atmosphere of speaking out and of correcting shortcomings. Criticizing is sometimes rather painful, but so long as criticism results in correction it is all right. When people don’t dare speak out it is for one of six reasons: fear of admonition, fear of demotion, fear of loss of prestige, fear of dismissal from the party, fear of execution, fear of divorce. It was only after his execution that Yueh Fei became famous. Speaking out should involve no penalty and according to party regulations people are entitled to their own opinions. In the past under the court system I don’t know how many people were put to death; but there were still many who braved death to oppose the court.

8. Concentration. Concentration in the secretariat and the standing committee requires that the minority should follow the majority, but within the party there should be created an atmosphere of liberating the spirit and carrying on criticism; criticism is comradely assistance.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung