Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Speech At The Tenth Plenum Of The
Eighth Central Committee

(The morning of 24 September 1962 in the Huai-Jen Hall)

It is now ten o’clock. The meeting is in session.

This plenary session of the Central Committee has solved a number of important problems. One is the problem of agriculture, another is that of commerce. Both of these are important problems. There are also the problems of industry and of planning which are secondary problems. The third is the problem of inner-Party unity. Several comrades have made speeches. The agricultural problem was explained by Comrade Ch’en Po-ta, the problem of commerce by Comrade Li Hsien-nien, and the problems of industry and planning by Comrades Li Fu-ch’un and XXX. In addition to these problems we also had the questions of increasing the membership of the Control Commission and of the vertical and horizontal interchange of cadres.

This conference did not open today: it has already been in session for over two months. It met for a month in Peitaiho and has continued for almost a month since transferring to Peking. The practical problems were discussed and clarified in August and September by various small groups (all of you present participated) which were in fact large groups. So now the plenary session will not take too long  —  three to five days will probably suffice. If we cannot finish by the twenty-seventh, we will stay over until the twenty-eighth, by which date the meeting must adjourn.

At Peitaiho I presented three problems: those of class, the situation and contradictions. I raised the problem of class because this problem had not been solved. Leaving aside the internal situation, internationally there are imperialism, nationalism, and revisionism. I am talking about capitalist countries which have not solved the class problem. So we have an anti-imperialist task. We have the task of supporting national liberation movements, that is to say we must support the broad masses of people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including workers, peasants, the revolutionary national bourgeoisie, and the revolutionary intellectuals. We want to unite with so many people. But they do not include the reactionary national bourgeoisie like Nehru, nor the reactionary bourgeois intellectuals like the Japanese renegade communist Shojiro Kasuga[1] who, with seven or eight others, supports the theory of structural reforms.

Now then, do classes exist in socialist countries? Does class struggle exist? We can now affirm that classes do exist in socialist countries and that class struggle undoubtedly exists. Lenin said: After the victory of the revolution, because of the existence of the bourgeoisie internationally, because of the existence of bourgeois remnants internally, because the petit bourgeoisie exists and continually generates a bourgeoisie, therefore the classes which have been overthrown within the country will continue to exist for a long time to come and may even attempt restoration. The bourgeois revolutions in Europe in such countries as England and France had many ups and downs. After the overthrow of feudalism there were several restorations and reversals of fortune. This kind of reversal is also possible in socialist countries. An example of this is Yugoslavia which has changed its nature and become revisionist, changing from a workers’ and peasants’ country to a country ruled by reactionary nationalist elements. In our country we must come to grasp, understand and study this problem really thoroughly. We must acknowledge that classes will continue to exist for a long time. We must also acknowledge the existence of a struggle of class against class, and admit the possibility of the restoration of reactionary classes. We must raise our vigilance and properly educate our youth as well as the cadres, the masses and the middle- and basic-level cadres. Old cadres must also study these problems and be educated. Otherwise a country like ours can still move towards its opposite. Even to move towards its opposite would not matter too much because there would still be the negation of the negation, and afterwards we might move towards our opposite yet again. If our children’s generation go in for revisionism and move towards their opposite, so that although they still nominally have socialism it is in fact capitalism, then our grandsons will certainly rise up in revolt and overthrow their fathers, b! ecause the masses will not be satisfied. Therefore, from now on we must talk about this every year, every month, every day. We will talk about it at congresses, at Party delegate conferences, at plenums, at every meeting we hold, so that we have a more enlightened Marxist-Leninist line on the problem.

The situation in our country has not been very good for the past few years, but now it is starting to take a turn for the better. In 1959 and 1960 a number of things were done wrongly, mainly because most people had no experience to enable them to understand the problems. The most serious fault was that our requisitioning was excessive. When we did not have very much grain, we insisted on saying that we had. Blind commands were issued in both industry and agriculture. There were also some other large-scale mistakes. In the second half of 1960 we started to put these right  —  in point of fact it was quite early on, starting at the First Chengchow Conference in October 1958. Next came the Wuhan Conference in November and December 1958, while in February and March 1959 we held the Second Chengchow Conference. At the Shanghai Conference in April of that year we also paid attention to correcting our mistakes. Meanwhile there was a period in 1960 when we did not pay enough attention to it because revisionism came and put pressure on us. Our attention was diverted to opposing Khrushchev. From the second half of 1958 he wanted to blockade the Chinese coastline. He wanted to set up a joint fleet so as to have control over our coastline and blockade us. It was because of this question that Khrushchev came to our country. After this, in September 1959 during the Sino-Indian border dispute, Khrushchev supported Nehru in attacking us and Tass issued a communique. Then Khrushchev came to China and at our Tenth Anniversary Celebration banquet in October, he attacked us on our own rostrum. At the Bucharest Conference in 1960 they tried to encircle and annihilate us.[2] Then came the conference of the Two Communist Parties, the Twenty-six-Country Drafting Committee, the Eighty-one-Country Moscow Conference, and there was also a Warsaw Conference, all of which were concerned with the dispute between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. We spent the w! hole of 1960 fighting Khrushchev. So you see that among socialist countries and within Marxism-Leninism a question like this could emerge. But in fact its roots lie deep in the past, in things which happened very long ago. They did not permit China to make revolution: that was in 1945. Stalin wanted to prevent China from making revolution, saying that we should not have a civil war and should cooperate with Chiang Kai-shek, otherwise the Chinese nation would perish. But we did not do what he said. The revolution was victorious. After the victory of the revolution he next suspected China of being a Yugoslavia, and that I would become a second Tito. Later when I went to Moscow to sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, we had to go through another struggle. He was not willing to sign a treaty. After two months of negotiations he at last signed. When did Stalin begin to have confidence in us? It was at the time of the Resist America, Aid Korea campaign, from the winter of 1950. He then came to believe that we were not Tito, not Yugoslavia. But now we have became ‘Left adventurists’, ‘nationalists’, ‘dogmatists’, ‘sectarians’, while the Yugoslavs have become ‘Marxist-Leninists’. Nowadays Yugoslavia is quite all right, she’s doing fine. I hear that she has become ‘socialist’ again. So the socialist camp is internally highly complicated too. It is, in fact, also very simple. There is only one principle involved: that is the problem of the class struggle  —  the problem of the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the problem of the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and anti-Marxism-Leninism, the problem of the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism.

As for the situation, it is good both internationally and domestically. In the initial period after the founding of our state, some people, including myself as well as Comrade X X, took the view that the parties and trade unions of Asia and the parties of Africa might suffer serious damage. It was later proved that this point of view was incorrect: it did not turn out as we expected. Since the Second World War, thriving national liberation struggles have developed in Asia, Africa and Latin America year by year. There was the Cuban revolution, the independence of Algeria, the Asian Games in Indonesia; tens of thousands of people demonstrated and smashed the Indian consulate and India became isolated; West Irian was handed over by the Netherlands; armed struggle developed in South Vietnam  —  a very good armed struggle. There was also the victory of armed struggle in Algeria, the victorious struggle in Laos, the Suez Canal affair, the independence of Egypt. The United Arab Republic is inclined towards the right, but then Iraq emerged. Both are to the right of centre, but both oppose imperialism. Although the population of Algeria is less than ten million, and France had an army of 800,000 fighting for seven or eight years, yet Algeria won in the end. Thus the international situation is excellent. Comrade Ch’en I has given a very good report on this.

The contradiction I want to talk about is that between us and imperialism The contradiction between the people of the whole world and imperialism is the primary one. There is the opposition of the people of all countries to the reactionary bourgeoisie and to reactionary nationalism. There are also the contradictions between the people of all countries and revisionism, the contradictions among imperialist countries, the contradiction between nationalist countries and imperialism, internal contradictions within imperialist countries, and the contradiction between socialism and imperialism. I think that right-wing opportunism in China should be renamed: it should be called Chinese revisionism. The two months’ conference at Peitaiho and Peking has been concerned with problems of two different kinds. One kind was the problem of political work; the other was the problem of class struggle  —  that is to say, the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. The problem of work is also the problem of struggle against bourgeois ideas, which is identical with struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. There are several documents on problems of work: in industry, agriculture, commerce, etc. Various comrades have spoken on those questions.

As for how the Party should tackle the problem of revisionism within the country and within the Party and the problem of the bourgeoisie, I think we should adhere to former policies without changing them. No matter what sort of errors a comrade has committed, we should follow the line of the Rectification Campaign of 1942-5.[3] So long as comrades admit their mistakes and reform, we will welcome them. We must unite with them and cure the disease in order to save the patient; take warning from the past in order to safeguard the future. Unity-criticism-unity. But we must be quite specific about what is right and what is wrong. We must not mince words, or only spit out one word at a time. Why does the monk knock the wooden fish drum when he chants his sutra? The Journey to the West explains it by telling how the sutras collected in India were devoured by the black fish demon, who would spit out just one word each time it was knocked. This is the explanation of the wooden fish. We must not take this attitude and behave like the black fish demon. We must think things over carefully. We will unite with you, comrades, who have made mistakes, provided that you recognize your errors and return to a Marxist standpoint. Some of you comrades here present, I welcome you too. Do not be shy because you have made mistakes. We permit people to make mistakes and, having made them, we also permit you to correct them. Do not be intolerant of mistakes and do not prevent people from correcting them. Many comrades have corrected them well, which is excellent. The speech of Comrade Li Wei-han.[4] is a case in point. Comrade Li Wei-han has corrected his mistakes and we trust him. We must be resolute first in observing people, and then in helping them. There are many other comrades. I have also committed mistakes. I talked about that last year. You must also let me make mistakes, and let me correct them. Whe! n I correct them, you should welcome it. Last year I said that we must be analytical towards people. No man can be without error. Consider the sages: to say that they were without shortcomings would be a metaphysical point of view, not a Marxist dialectical-materialist point of view. Anything can be analysed. I urge comrades, no matter whether you have had connections with foreign countries, or whether you belong to secret anti-Party groups  —  as long as you spill the beans and tell the whole truth we welcome you and will give you work to do. We must on no account take the attitude of ignoring such people, still less resort to the method of execution. We cannot break our ban on executions so there have been many counter-revolutionaries whom we have not killed. Wasn’t the Hsüan T’ung emperor[5] a counter-revolutionary? There were also war criminals like Wang Yao-wu, K’ang Tse, Tu Yü-ming, Yang Kuang, and a whole lot of others whom we did not kill. Many people corrected their mistakes and we reprieved them. We didn’t kill them. Those rightists who have corrected their mistakes have had their hats removed.[6] The recent trend towards the reversal of verdicts is incorrect. Only those verdicts which were truly incorrect can be reversed. Those verdicts which were correct cannot be reversed. As for the reversal of those verdicts which were truly wrong, when they were wholly wrong they should be wholly reversed, when they were partly wrong they should be partly reversed. When they were not wrong they should not be reversed. We cannot reverse all of them indiscriminately.

On the question of work, comrades will please take care that the class struggle does not interfere with our work. The first Lushan Conference of 1959 was originally concerned with work. Then up jumped P’eng Te-huai and said: ‘You fucked my mother for forty days, can’t I fuck your mother for twenty days?’ All this fucking messed up the conference and the work was affected. Twenty days was not long enough and we abandoned the question of work. We really mustn’t do that this time, we must really pay attention. In transmitting their reports of the conference, all localities and departments should take care to put work first. Work and the class struggle should proceed simultaneously. The class struggle must not be placed in a very prominent position. We have now formed two Special Case Review Commissions to clarify problems, to elucidate the problems and then convince people. We have to engage in the class struggle, but there are special people to take care of this kind of work. The security departments are specially charged with carrying on the class struggle. P’an Han-nien[7] is a counter-revolutionary! Hu Feng and Jao Shu-shih are also counter-revolutionaries We haven’t killed any of them! We must not let the class struggle interfere with our work. We can wait until the next Plenum or the one after that and then make another attempt to clarify these matters. The main task [of the security organs] is to deal with enemy sabotage.[8] If people engage in sabotage, then we will break our ban on executions. But this is only directed at people who destroy factories or bridges, throw bombs in the vicinity of Canton, who kill people or commit arson. The task of security is to defend our cause, to defend factories, enterprises, communes, production brigades, schools, the government, the army, the Party, mass organizations, and also cultural organs such as newspa! pers, publishing houses and news agencies; i.e. to protect the superstructure.

Writing novels is popular these days, isn’t it? The use of novels for anti-Party activity is a great invention. Anyone wanting to overthrow a political régime must create public opinion and do some preparatory ideological work. This applies to counter-revolutionary as well as to revolutionary classes. Our ideology is revolutionary Marxism-Leninism; it is the combination of the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution. If these are well combined then the problems will be more easily solved. If they are not well combined, then we will meet with failure and setbacks. As regards socialist construction, this is also a combination of universal truth with the practice of construction. Have we combined them well or not? We are in the process of solving this problem. The same thing is true in military construction. For example, the military line of a few years ago is not the same as the military line today. Comrade Yeh Chien-ying[9] wrote a book which is very sharp; it is never confused on crucial points. I have always criticized you for not being sharp enough, but this time you wore sharp. Here are a couple of sentences for you: ‘Chu-ko Liang was cautious all his life, while Lu Tuan was clear-headed in big matters.’[10]

Will Comrade XX please announce the names of those who are not attending this plenum? The Standing Committee of the politburo decided that five people should not attend.

(Comrade XX intervened to say: The Standing Committee of the Politburo decided that five people should not attend the Plenum. P’eng, Hsi, Chang, Huang and Chou[11] are important individuals presently under investigation. While they are under investigation, they are not qualified to attend meetings.)

Because their crimes are really too great, they are not qualified to attend meetings, and should not attend important meetings, nor be allowed to appear on the T’ien An Men, until the situation has been clarified through investigation. We mast distinguish through analysis between important and unimportant individuals, there is a difference between them. Unimportant individuals have attended our meeting today. When unimportant individuals have thoroughly corrected their errors, they should be given work to do. If important individuals have thoroughly corrected their errors, they should also be given work to do. We are particularly hopeful that unimportant individuals will become conscious [of their errors]; naturally we hope that important elements will also become conscious.



[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.] A Japanese ‘revisionist’ who founded a new party in the aftermath of de-Stalinization.

[2.] The term ‘encircle and annihilate’ (wei-ch’ao) is the same as that employed in the 1930s to designate the campaigns of extermination launched by Chiang Kai-shek against the communists. Its use here vividly reflects the degree of hostility which Mao perceived in his erstwhile comrades.

[3.] The cheng-feng or ‘rectification’ movement of 1942-5 was the first great campaign for the ideological remoulding of the Chinese Communist Party, and for the establishment of Mao Tse-tung’s thought as the standard of orthodoxy. For the documents studied at the time, see Boyd Compton (ed.), Mao’s China (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1950). The most recent account of the political context as a whole is contained in Mark Selden, The Yenan Way in Revolutionary China (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 177-276. For my own interpretation, see the introduction to Authority, Participation, and Cultural Change in China (Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 17-22.

[4.] Li Wei-han (1897- ), a Hunanese, played a leading role in the Chinese Communist Party from its foundation in 1921. From 1944 until his eclipse in December 1964, he was Director of the Party’s United Front Work Department. It is not clear exactly why he was criticized by Mao in 1962, but the charge was probably related to the ‘capitulationism’ of which he was accused two years later.

[5.] The last Manchu emperor, deposed in 1911, and restored by the Japanese in the 1930s as the emperor of the puppet country of ‘Manchukuo’. For his own story, see From Emperor to Citizen: the Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, 2 vols. (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1964-5.)

[6.] i.e., they have had their social dignity restored by the removal of the dunce-caps, real or metaphorical, which they had been wearing.

[7.] P’an Han-nien, a former Comintern representative, was Vice-Mayor of Shanghai from 1949 until 1955, when he was expelled from the Party and arrested.

[8.] In the early 1960s, in the tense conditions created by the economic difficulties which arose after the Great Leap Forward, Kuomintang commando raids on the coast and other subversive activities were a particularly serious problem.

[9.] Yeh Chien-ying (1898- ), a professional soldier who joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1927 and participated in the Nanchang Uprising, became a member of the Central Committee in 1945. During the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, in 1966-7, he was appointed to the Secretariat and the Politburo. At the Tenth Congress in August 1973, he became one of the five vice-chairmen of the Central Committee.

[10.] Chu-ko Liang (181-234), prime minister of the Shu Han or Minor Han dynasty, was one of the most famous military strategists of ancient China. He is a central character in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and was, as Mao says, known throughout his career for his great prudence and foresight. Lü Tuan was a minister of Emperor T’ai Tsung of the Sung dynasty in the tenth century who used to say of him that he was a fool in small matters, but not in great ones.

[11.] Four of these men have long been known as members of the ‘P’eng-Huang-Chang-Chou Anti-Party Group’. (See above, Speech at the Enlarged Session of the Military Affairs Committee and the External Affairs Conference, note 1.) The other person named, Hsi [Chung-hsün] (1903- ), remained in public view as a vice-premier until 1962, but had lost all his posts by 1965. This reference confirms that, as some observers had guessed, his fall was linked to that of P’eng Te-huai, with whom he had been closely associated in the early 1950s.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung