Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Reading Notes On The Soviet Text
Political Economy


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


Part I.
Chapters 20-23


1. From Capitalism to Socialism

The text says on pages 327-28 that socialism will “inevitably” supersede capitalism and moreover will do so by “revolutionary means.” In the imperialist period clashes between the productive forces and the production relations have become sharper than ever. The proletarian socialist revolution is an “objective necessity.” Such statements are quite satisfactory and should be made this way. “Objective necessity” is quite all right and is agreeable to people. To call the revolution an objective necessity simply means that the direction it takes does not hinge on the intentions of individuals. Like it or not, come it will.

The proletariat will “organize all working people around itself for the purpose of eliminating capitalism.” (p. 327) Correct. But at this point one should go on to raise the question of the seizure of power. “The proletarian revolution cannot hope to come upon ready-made socialist economic forms.” “Components of a socialist economy cannot mature inside of a capitalist economy based on private ownership.” (p. 328) Indeed, not only can they not “mature”; they cannot be born. In capitalist societies a cooperative or state-run economy can not even be brought into being, to say nothing of maturing. This is our main difference with the revisionists, who claim that in capitalist societies such things as municipal public enterprises are actually socialist elements, and argue that capitalism may peacefully grow over to socialism. This is a serious distortion of Marxism.

2. The Transition Period

The book says, “The transition period begins with the establishment of proletarian political power and ends with the fulfilment of the responsibility of the socialist revolution  —  the founding of socialism, communism’s first stage.” (p. 328) One must study very carefully what stages, in the final analysis, are included in the transition period. Is only the transition from capitalism to socialism included, or the transition from socialism to communism as well?

Here Marx is cited: from capitalism to communism there is a “period of revolutionary transformation.” We are presently in such a period. Within a certain number of years our people’s communes will have to carry through the transformation from ownership by the basic team to ownership by the basic commune,[1] and then into ownership by the whole people.[2] The transformation to basic commune ownership already carried out by the people’s communes remains collective ownership [and is not yet ownership by the whole people: Note in brackets inserted by translator for clarity].

In the transition period “all social relations must be fundamentally transformed.” This proposition is correct in principle. All social relations includes in its meaning the production relations and the superstructure  —  economics, politics, ideology and culture, etc.

In the transition period we must “enable the productive forces to gain the development they need to guarantee the victory of socialism.” For China, broadly speaking, I would say we need 100-200 million tons of steel per year at the least. Up to this year our main accomplishment has been to clear the way for the development of the productive forces. The development of the productive forces of China’s socialism has barely begun. Having gone through the Great Leap Forward of 1958-1959, we can look to 1960 as a year promising great development of production.

3. Universal and Particular Characteristics of the Proletarian Revolution in Various Countries

The book says, the October Revolution “planted the standard,” and that every country “has its own particular forms and concrete methods for constructing socialism.” This proposition is sound. In 1848 there was a Communist Manifesto. One hundred and ten years later there was another Communist Manifesto, namely the Moscow Declaration made in 1957 by various communist parties. This declaration addressed itself to the integration of universal laws and concrete particulars.

To acknowledge the standard of the October Revolution is to acknowledge that the “basic content” of the proletarian revolution of any country is the same. Precisely here we stand opposed to the revisionists.

Why was it that the revolution succeeded first not in the nations of the West with a high level of capitalist productivity and a numerous proletariat, but rather in the nations of the East, Russia and China for example, where the level of capitalist productivity was comparatively low and the proletariat comparatively small? This question awaits study.

Why did the proletariat win its first victory in Russia? The text says because “all the contradictions of imperialism came together in Russia.” The history of revolution suggests that the focal point of the revolution has been shifting from West to East. At the end of the eighteenth century the focal point was in France, which became the center of the political life of the world. In the mid-nineteenth century the focal point shifted to Germany, where the proletariat stepped onto the political stage, giving birth to Marxism. In the early years of the twentieth century the focal point shifted to Russia, giving birth to Leninism. Without this development of Marxism there would have been no victory for the Russian Revolution. By the mid-twentieth century the focal point of world revolution had shifted to China. Needless to say, the focal point is bound to shift again in the future.

Another reason for the victory of the Russian Revolution was that broad masses of the peasantry served as an allied force of the revolution. The text says, “The Russian proletariat formed an alliance with the poor [Only in the 1969 text: Note by translator.] peasants.” (p. 328-29, 1967 edition) Among the peasants there are several strata, and the poor peasant is the one the proletariat relied on. When a revolution begins the middle peasants always waver; they want to look things over and see whether the revolution has any strength, whether it can maintain itself, whether it will have advantages to offer. But the middle peasant will not shift over to the side of the proletariat until he has a comparatively clear picture. That is how the October Revolution was. And that is how it was for our own land reform, cooperatives, and people’s communes.[3]

Ideologically, politically, and organizationally the Bolshevik-Menshevik split prepared the way for the victory of the October Revolution. And without the Bolsheviks’ struggle against the Mensheviks and the revisionism of the Second International, the October Revolution could never have triumphed. Leninism was born and developed in the struggle against all forms of revisionism and opportunism. And without Leninism there would have been no victory for the Russian Revolution.

The book says, “Proletarian revolution first succeeded in Russia, and prerevolutionary Russia had a level of capitalist development sufficient to enable the revolution to succeed.” The victory of the proletarian revolution may not have to come in a country with a high level of capitalist development. The book is quite correct to quote Lenin. Down to the present time, of the countries where socialist revolution has succeeded only East Germany and Czechoslovakia had a comparatively high level of capitalism; elsewhere the level was comparatively low. And revolution has not broken out in any of the Western nations with a comparatively high level of development. Lenin had said, “The revolution first breaks out in the weak link of the imperialist world.” At the time of the October Revolution Russia was such a weak link. The same was true for China after the October Revolution. Both Russia and China had a relatively numerous proletariat and a vast peasantry, oppressed and suffering. And both were large states. . . . [Ellipsis in original: Note by translator.] But in these respects India was much the same. The question is, why could not India consummate a revolution by breaking imperialism’s weak link as Lenin and Stalin had described? Because India was an English colony, a colony belonging to a single imperialist state. Herein lies the difference between India and China. China was a semicolony under several imperialist governments. The Indian Communist Party did not take an active part in its country’s bourgeois democratic revolution and did not make it possible for the Indian proletariat to assume the leadership of the democratic revolution. Nor, after independence, did the Indian Communist Party persevere in the cause of the independence of the Indian proletariat.

The historical experience of China and Russia proves that to win the revolution having a mature party is a most important condition. In Russia the Bolsheviks took an active part in the democratic revolution and proposed a program for the 1905 revolution distinct from that of the bourgeoisie. It was a program that aimed to solve not only the question of overthrowing the tsar, but also the question of how to wrest leadership from the Constitutional Democratic Party in the struggle to overthrow the tsar.

At the time of the 1911 revolution China still had no communist party. After it was founded in 1921, the Chinese Communist Party immediately and energetically joined the democratic revolution and stood at its forefront. The golden age of China’s bourgeoisie, when their revolution had great vitality, was during the years 1905-1917. After the 1911 revolution the Nationalist Party was already declining. And by 1924 they had no alternative but to turn to the Communist Party before they could make further headway. The proletariat had superseded the bourgeoisie. The proletarian political party superseded the bourgeois political party as the leader of the democratic revolution. We have often said that in 1927 the Chinese Communist Party had not yet reached its maturity. Primarily this means that our party, during its years of alliance with the bourgeoisie, failed to see the possibility of the bourgeoisie betraying the revolution and, indeed, was utterly unprepared for it.

Here (p. 331) the text goes on to express the view that the reason why countries dominated by precapitalist economic forms could carry through a socialist revolution was because of assistance from advanced socialist countries. This is an incomplete way of putting the matter. After the democratic revolution succeeded in China we were able to take the path of socialism mainly because we overthrew the rule of imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism. The internal factors were the main ones. While the assistance we received from successful socialist countries was an important condition, it was not one which could settle the question of whether or not we could take the road of socialism, but only one which could influence our rate of advance after we had taken the road. With aid we could advance more quickly, without it less so. What we mean by assistance includes, in addition to economic aid, our studious application of the positive and negative experiences of both the successes and the failures of the assisting country.

4. The Question of “Peaceful Transition”

The book says on page 330, “In certain capitalist countries and former colonial countries, for the working class to take political power through peaceful parliamentary means is a practical possibility.” Tell me, which are these “certain countries”? The main capitalist countries of Europe and North America are armed to the teeth. Do you expect them to allow you to take power peacefully? The communist party and the revolutionary forces of every country must ready both hands, one for winning victory peacefully, one for taking power with violence. Neither may be dispensed with. It is essential to realize that, considering the general trend of things, the bourgeoisie has no intention of relinquishing its political power. They will put up a fight for it, and if their very life should be at stake, why should they not resort to force? In the October Revolution as in our own, both hands were ready. Before July 1917 Lenin did consider using peaceful methods to win the victory, but the July incident demonstrated that it would no longer be possible to transfer power to the proletariat peacefully. And not until he had reversed himself and carried out three months’ military preparation did he win the victory of the October Revolution. After the proletariat had seized political power in the course of the October Revolution Lenin remained inclined toward peaceful methods, using “redemption” to eliminate capitalism and put the socialist transformation into effect. But the bourgeoisie in collusion with fourteen imperialist powers launched counter-revolutionary armed up-risings and interventions. And so before the victory of the October Revolution could be consolidated, three years of armed struggle had to be waged under the leadership of the Russian party.

5. From the Democratic Revolution to the Socialist Revolution  —  Several Problems

At the end of page 330 the text takes up the transformation of the democratic revolution into the socialist revolution but does not clearly explain how the transformation is effected. The October Revolution was a socialist revolution which concomitantly fulfilled tasks left over from the bourgeois democratic revolution. Immediately after the victory of the October Revolution the nationalization of land was proclaimed. But bringing the democratic revolution to a conclusion on the land question was yet to take a period of time.

During the War of Liberation China solved the tasks of the democratic revolution. The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 marked the basic conclusion of the democratic revolution and the beginning of the transition to socialism. It took another three years to conclude the land reform, but at the time the Republic was founded we immediately expropriated the bureaucratic capitalist enterprises  —  80 percent of the fixed assets of our industry and transport  —  and converted them to ownership by the whole people.

During the War of Liberation we raised antibureaucratic capitalist slogans as well as anti-imperialist and antifeudal ones. The struggle against bureaucratic capitalism had a two sided character: it had a democratic revolutionary character insofar as it amounted to opposition to comprador capitalism,[4] but it had a socialist character insofar as it amounted to opposition to the big bourgeoisie.

After the war of resistance was won, the Nationalist Party [KMT] took over a very large portion of bureaucratic capital from Japan and Germany and Italy. The ratio of bureaucratic to national [i.e., Chinese] capital was 8 to 2. After liberation we expropriated all bureaucratic capital, thus eliminating the major components of Chinese capitalism.[5]

But it would be wrong to think that after the liberation of the whole country “the revolution in its earliest stages had only in the main the character of a bourgeois democratic revolution and not until later would it gradually develop into a socialist revolution.” [No page reference]

6. Violence and the Proletarian Dictatorship

On page 333 the text could be more precise in its use of the concept of violence. Marx and Engels always said that “the state is by definition an instrument of violence employed to suppress the opposing class.” And so it can never be said that “the proletarian dictatorship does not use violence purely and simply in dealing with the exploiter and may even not use it primarily.”

When its life is at stake the exploiting class always resorts to force. Indeed, no sooner do they see the revolution start up than they suppress it with force. The text says, “Historical experience proves that the exploiting class is utterly unwilling to cede political power to the people and uses armed force to oppose the people’s political power.” This is not a complete way of stating the matter. It is not only after the people have organized revolutionary political power that the exploiting class will oppose it with force, but even at the very moment when the people rise up to seize political power, the exploiters promptly use violence to suppress the revolutionary people.

The purpose of our revolution is to develop the society’s forces of production. Toward this end we must first overthrow the enemy. Second we must suppress its resistance. How could we do this without the revolutionary violence of the people?

Here the book turns to the “substance” of the proletarian dictatorship and the primary responsibilities of the working class and laboring people in general in the socialist revolution. But the discussion is incomplete as it leaves out the suppression of the enemy as well as the remoulding of classes. Landlords, bureaucrats, counter-revolutionaries, and undesirable elements have to be remoulded; the same holds true for the capitalist class, the upper stratum of the petit bourgeoisie, and the middle [Only in the 1969 text. Note by translator.] peasants. Our experience shows that remoulding is difficult. Those who do not undergo persistent repeated struggle can not be properly remoulded. To eliminate thoroughly any remaining strength of the bourgeoisie and any influence they may have will take one or two decades at the least and may even require half a century. In the rural areas, where basic commune ownership has been put into effect, private ownership has been transformed into state ownership. The entire country abounds with new cities and new major industry. Transportation and communications for the entire country have been modernized. Truly, the economic situation has been completely changed, and for the first time the peasants’ worldview is bound to be turned around completely step by step. (Here in speaking of “primary responsibilities” the book uses Lenin’s words differently from his original intention.)

To write or speak in an effort to suit the tastes of the enemy, the imperialists, is to defraud the masses and as a result to comfort the enemy while keeping one’s own class in ignorance.

7. The Form of the Proletarian State

On page 334 the book says, “the proletarian state can take various forms.” True enough, but there is not much difference essentially between the proletarian dictatorship in the people’s democracies and the one established in Russia after the October Revolution. Also, the soviets of the Soviet Union and our own people’s congresses were both representative assemblies, different in name only. In China the people’s congresses included those participating as representatives of the bourgeoisie, representatives who had split off from the Nationalist Party, and representatives who were prominent democratic figures. All of them accepted the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. One group among these tried to stir up trouble, but failed.[6] Such an inclusive form may appear different from the soviet, but it should be remembered that after the October Revolution the soviets included representatives of the Menshevik rightist Social Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyite faction, a Bukharin faction, a Zinoviev faction, and so forth. Nominally representatives of the workers and peasants, they were virtual representatives of the bourgeoisie. The period after the October Revolution was a time when the proletariat accepted a large number of personnel from the Kerensky government  —  all of whom were bourgeois elements. Our own central people’s government was set up on the foundation of the North China People’s Government. All members of the various departments were from the base areas, and the majority of the mainstay cadres were Communist Party members.

8. Transforming Capitalist Industry and Commerce

On page 335 there is an incorrect explanation of the process by which capitalist ownership changed into state ownership in China. The book only explains our policy toward national capital but not our policy toward bureaucratic capital (expropriation). In order to convert the property of the bureaucratic capitalist to public ownership we chose the method of expropriation.

In paragraph 2 of page 335 the experience of passing through the state capitalist form in order to transform capitalism is treated as a singular and special experience; its universal significance is denied. The countries of Western Europe and the United States have a very high level of capitalist development, and the controlling positions are held by a minority of monopoly capitalists. But there are a great number of small and middle capitalists as well. Thus it is said that American capital is concentrated but also widely distributed. After a successful revolution in these countries monopoly capital will undoubtedly have to be expropriated, but will the small and middle capitalists likewise be uniformly expropriated? It may well be the case that some form of state capitalism will have to be adopted to transform them.

Our northeast provinces may be thought of as a region with a high level of capitalist development. The same is true for Kiangsu (with centers in Shanghai and the southern part of the province). If state capitalism could work in these areas, tell me why the same policy could not work in other countries which resemble these provincial sectors?

The method the Japanese used when they held our northeast provinces was to eliminate the major local capitalists and turn their enterprises into Japanese state-managed, or in some cases monopoly capitalist enterprises. For the small and middle capitalists they established subsidiary companies as a means of imposing control.

Our transformation of national capital passed through three stages: private manufacture on state order, unified government purchase and sale of private output, joint state private operation (of individual units and of whole complexes). Each phase was carried out in a methodical way. This prevented any damage to production, which actually developed as the transformation progressed. We have gained much new experience with state capitalism; for one example, the providing of capitalists with fixed interest after the joint state-private operation phase.[7]

9. Middle Peasants

After land reform, land was not worth money and the peasants were afraid to “show themselves.” There were comrades who at one time considered this situation unsatisfactory, but what happened was that in the course of class struggles which disgraced landlords and rich peasants, the peasantry came to view poverty as dignified and wealth as shameful. This was a welcome sign, one which showed that the poor peasants had politically overturned the rich peasants and established their dominance in the villages.

On page 339 it says that the land taken from the rich peasants and given to the poor and middle peasants was land the government had expropriated and then parcelled out. This looks at the matter as a grant by royal favour, forgetting that class struggles and mass mobilizations had been set in motion, a right deviationist point of view. Our approach was to rely on the poor peasants, to unite with the majority of middle peasants (lower middle peasants) and seize the land from the landlord class. While the party did play a leading role, it was against doing everything itself and thus substituting for the masses. Indeed, its concrete practice was to “pay call on the poor to learn of their grievances,” to identify activist elements, to strike roots and pull things together, to consolidate nuclei, to promote the voicing of grievances, and to organize the class ranks  —  all for the purpose of unfolding the class struggle.

The text says “the middle peasants became the principal figures in the villages.” This is an unsatisfactory assertion. To proclaim the middle peasants as the principals, commending them to the gods, never daring to offend them, is bound to make former poor peasants feel as if they had been put in the shade. Inevitably this opens the way for middle peasants of means to assume rural leadership.

The book makes no analysis of the middle peasant. We distinguish between upper and lower middle peasants and further between old and new within those categories, regarding the new as slightly preferable. Experience in campaign after campaign has shown that the poor peasant, the new lower middle peasant, and the old lower middle peasant have a comparatively good political attitude. They are the ones who embrace the people’s communes. Among the upper middle peasants and the prosperous middle peasants there is a group that supports the communes as well as one that opposes them. According to materials from Hopei province the total number of production teams there comes to more than forty thousand, 50 percent of which embrace the communes without reservation, 35 percent of which basically accept them but with objections or doubts on particular questions, 15 percent of which oppose or have serious reservations about the communes. The opposition of this last group is due to the fact that the leadership of the teams fell to prosperous middle peasants or even undesirable elements. During this process of education in the struggle between the two roads, if the debate is to develop among these teams, their leadership will have to change. Clearly, then, the analysis of the middle peasant must be pursued. For the matter of whose hands hold rural leadership has tremendous bearing on the direction of developments there.

On page 340 the book says, “Essentially the middle peasant has a twofold character.” This question also requires concrete analysis. The poor, lower middle, upper middle, and prosperous middle peasants in one sense are all workers, but in another they are private owners. As private owners their points of view are respectively dissimilar. Poor and lower middle peasants may be described as semiprivate owners whose point of view is comparatively easily altered. By contrast, the private owner’s point of view held by the upper middle and the prosperous peasants has greater substance, and they have consistently resisted cooperativization.

10. The Worker-Peasant Alliance

The third and fourth paragraphs on page 340 are concerned with the importance of the worker-peasant alliance but fail to go into what must be done before the alliance can be developed and consolidated. The text, again, deals with the need of the peasants to press forward with the transformation of the small producers but fails to consider how to advance the process, what kinds of contradictions may be found at each stage of the transformation, and how they may be resolved. And, the text does not discuss the measures and tactics for the entire process.

Our worker-peasant alliance has already passed through two stages. The first was based on the land revolution, the second on the cooperative movement. If cooperativization had not been set in motion the peasantry inevitably would have been polarized, and the worker-peasant alliance could not have been consolidated. In consequence, the policy of “unified government purchase and sale of private output”[8] could not have been persevered in. The reason is that that policy could be maintained and made to work thoroughly only on the basis of cooperativization. At the present time our worker-peasant alliance has to take the next step and establish itself on the basis of mechanization. For to have simply the cooperative and commune movements without mechanization would once again mean that the alliance could not be consolidated. We still have to develop the cooperatives into people’s communes. We still have to develop basic ownership by the commune team into basic ownership by the commune and that further into state ownership. When state ownership and mechanization are integrated we will be able to begin truly to consolidate the worker-peasant alliance, and the differences between workers and peasants will surely be eliminated step by step.

11. The Transformation of Intellectuals

Page 341 is devoted exclusively to the problem of fostering the development of intellectuals who are the workers’ and peasants’ own, as well as the problem of involving bourgeois intellectuals in socialist construction. However, the text fails to deal with the transformation of intellectuals. Not only the bourgeois intellectuals but even those of worker or peasant origin need to engage in transformation because they have come under the manifold influence of the bourgeoisie. Liu Shao-t’ang, of artistic and literary circles, who, after becoming an author, became a major opponent of socialism, exemplifies this. Intellectuals usually express their general outlook through their way of looking at knowledge. Is it privately owned or publicly owned? Some regard it as their own property, for sale when the price is right and not otherwise. Such are mere “experts” and not “reds”[9] who say the party is an “outsider” and “cannot lead the insiders.” Those involved in the cinema claim that the party cannot lead the cinema. Those involved in musicals or ballet claim that the party cannot offer leadership there. Those in atomic science say the same. In sum, what they are all saying is that the party cannot lead anywhere. Remoulding of the intellectuals is an extremely important question for the entire period of socialist revolution and construction. Of course it would be wrong to minimize this question or to adopt a concessive attitude toward things bourgeois.

Again on page 341 it says that the fundamental contradiction in the transition economy is the one between capitalism and socialism. Correct. But this passage speaks only of setting struggles in motion to see who will emerge the victor in all realms of economic life. None of this is complete. We would put it as follows: a thoroughgoing socialist revolution must advance along the three fronts of politics, economics, and ideology.

The text says that we absorb bourgeois elements so that they may participate in the management of enterprises and the state. This is repeated on page 357. [Page 341, according to the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] But we insist on the responsibility for remoulding the bourgeois elements. We help them change their lifestyle, their general outlook, and also their viewpoint on particular issues. The text, however, makes no mention of remoulding.

12. The Relationship Between Industrialization and
Agricultural Collectivization

The book sees socialist industrialization as the precondition for agricultural collectivization. This view in no way corresponds to the situation in the Soviet Union itself, where collectivization was basically realized between 1930 and 1932. Though they had then more tractors than we do now, still and all the amount of arable land under mechanized cultivation was under 20.3 percent. Collectivization is not altogether determined by mechanization, and so industrialization is not the precondition for it.

Agricultural collectivization in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe was completed very slowly, mainly because after land reform, they did not strike while the iron was hot but delayed for a time. In some of our own old base areas too, a section of the peasantry was satisfied with the reform and unwilling to proceed further. This situation did not depend at all on whether or not there was industrialization.

13. War and Revolution

On pages 352-54 it is argued that the various people’s democracies of Eastern Europe “were able to build socialism even though there was neither civil war nor armed intervention from abroad.” It is also argued that “socialist transformation in these countries was realized without the ordeal of civil war.” It would have been better to say that what happened in these countries is that a civil war was waged in the form of international war, that civil and international war were waged together. The reactionaries of these countries were ploughed under by the Soviet Red Army. To say that there was no civil war in these countries would be mere formalism that disregards substance.

The text says that in the countries of Eastern Europe after the revolution “parliaments became the organs for broadly representing the people’s interests.” In fact, these parliaments were completely different from the bourgeois parliaments of old, bearing resemblance in name only. The Political Consultative Conference we had during the early phase of Liberation was no different in name from the Political Consultative Conference of the Nationalist period. During our negotiations with the Nationalists we were indifferent to the conference but Chiang Kai-shek was very interested in it. After Liberation we took over their signboard and called into session a nationwide Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which served as a provisional people’s congress.[10]

The text says that China “in the process of revolutionary struggle organized a people’s democratic united front.” (p. 357) Why only “revolutionary struggle” and not “revolutionary war?” From 1927 down to the nationwide victory we waged twenty-two years of long-term uninterrupted war. And even before that, starting with the bourgeois revolution of 1911, there was another fifteen years’ warfare. The chaotic wars of the warlords under the direction of imperialists should also be counted. Thus, from 1911 down to the War to Resist America and Aid Korea, it may be said that continual wars were waged in China for forty years  —  revolutionary warfare and counter-revolutionary warfare. And, since its founding, our party has joined or led wars for thirty years.

A great revolution must go through a civil war. This is a rule. And to see the ills of war but not its benefits is a onesided view. It is of no use to the people’s revolution to speak onesidedly of the destructiveness of war.

14. Is Revolution Harder in Backward Countries?

In the various nations of the West there is a great obstacle to carrying through any revolution and construction movement i.e., the poisons of the bourgeoisie are so powerful that they have penetrated each and every corner. While our bourgeoisie has had, after all, only three generations, those of England and France have had a 250-300 year history of development and their ideology and modus operandi have influenced all aspects and strata of their societies. Thus the English working class follows the Labour Party, not the Communist Party.

Lenin says, “The transition from capitalism to socialism will be more difficult for a country the more backward it is.” This would seem incorrect today. Actually, the transition is less difficult the more backward an economy is, for the poorer they are the more the people want revolution. In the capitalist countries of the West the number of people employed is comparatively high, and so is the wage level. Workers there have been deeply influenced by the bourgeoisie, and it would not appear to be all that easy to carry through a socialist transformation. And since the degree of mechanization is high, the major problem after a successful revolution would not be advancing mechanization but transforming the people. Countries of the East, such as China and Russia, had been backward and poor, but now not only have their social systems moved well ahead of those of the West, but even the rate of development of their productive forces far outstrips that of the West. Again, as in the history of the development of the capitalist countries, the backward overtake the advanced as America overtook England, and as Germany later overtook England early in the twentieth century.

15. Is Large-Scale Industry the Foundation of Socialist Transformation?

On page 364 [Page 349, according to the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] the text says, “Countries that have taken the road of socialist construction face the task of eliminating as quickly as possible the after-effects of capitalist rule in order to accelerate the development of large industry (the basis for the socialist transformation of the economy).” It is not enough to assert that the development of large industry is the foundation for the socialist transformation of the economy. All revolutionary history shows that the full development of new productive forces is not the prerequisite for the transformation of backward production relations. Our revolution began with Marxist-Leninist propaganda, which served to create new public opinion in favor of the revolution. Moreover, it was possible to destroy the old production relations only after we had overthrown a backward superstructure in the course of revolution. After the old production relations had been destroyed new ones were created, and these cleared the way for the development of new social productive forces. With that behind us we were able to set in motion the technological revolution to develop social productive forces on a large scale. At the same time, we still had to continue transforming the production relations and ideology.

This textbook addresses itself only to material preconditions and seldom engages the question of the superstructure, i.e., the class nature of the state, philosophy, and science. In economics the main object of study is the production relations. All the same, political economy and the materialist historical outlook are close cousins. It is difficult to deal clearly with problems of the economic base and the production relations if the question of the superstructure is neglected.

16. Lenin’s Discussion of the Unique
Features of Taking the Socialist Road

On page 375 a passage from Lenin is cited. It is well expressed and quite helpful for defending our work methods. “The level of consciousness of the residents, together with the efforts they have made to realize this or that plan, are bound to be reflected in the unique features of the road they take toward socialism.” Our own “politics in command” is precisely for raising the consciousness in our neighbourhoods. Our own Great Leap Forward is precisely an “effort to realize this or that plan.”

17. The Rate of Industrialization Is a Critical Problem

The text says, “As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, the rate of industrialization is a critical problem.” At present this is a critical problem for China, too. As a matter of fact, the problem becomes more acute the more backward industry is. This is true not only from country to country but also from one area to another in the same country. For example, our northeastern provinces and Shanghai have a comparatively strong base, and so state investment increased somewhat less rapidly there. In other areas, where the original industrial base was slight, and development was urgently needed, state investment increased quite rapidly. In the ten years that Shanghai has been liberated 2.2 billion Chinese dollars[11] have been invested, over 500 million by capitalists. Shanghai used to have over half a million workers, now the city has over 1 million, if we do not count the hundreds of thousands transferred out. This is only double the earlier worker population. When we compare this with certain new cities where the work force has increased enormously we can see plainly that in areas with a deficient industrial base the problem of rate is all the more critical. Here the text only says that political circumstances demand the high rate and does not explain whether or not the socialist system itself can attain the high rate. This is onesided. If there is only the need and not the capability, tell me, how is the high rate to be achieved?[12]

18. Achieve a High Rate of Industrialization by Concurrent Promotion of Small, Medium, and Large Enterprise

On page 381 the text touches on our broad development of small- and medium-scale enterprise but fails to reflect accurately our philosophy of concurrent promotion of native and foreign, small, medium, and large enterprise. The text says we “determined upon extensive development of small and medium-scale enterprises because of the utter backwardness of our technological economy, the size of our populations and very serious employment problems.” But the problem by no means lies in technological age, population size, or the need to increase employment. Under the guidance of the larger enterprises we are developing the small and the medium; under the guidance of the foreign we are adopting native methods wherever we can  —  mainly for the sake of achieving the high rate of industrialization.

19. Is Long-Term Coexistence Between Two Types of Socialist Ownership Possible?

On page 386 it says, “A socialist state and socialist construction can not be established on two different bases for any length of time. That is to say, they can not be established on the base of socialist industry, the largest and most unified base, and on the base of the peasant petty commodity economy, which is scattered and backward.” This point is well taken, of course, and we therefore extend the logic to reach the following conclusion: The socialist state and socialist construction cannot be established for any great length of time on the basis of ownership by the whole people and ownership by the collective as two different bases of ownership.

In the Soviet Union the period of coexistence between the two types of ownership has lasted too long. The contradictions between ownership of the whole people and collective ownership are in reality contradictions between workers and peasants. The text fails to recognize such contradictions.

In the same way prolonged coexistence of ownership by the whole people with ownership by the collectives is bound to become less and less adaptable to the development of the productive forces and will fail to satisfy the ever increasing needs of peasant consumption and agricultural production or of industry for raw materials. To satisfy such needs we must resolve the contradiction between these two forms of ownership, transform ownership by the collectives into ownership by the whole people, and make a unified plan for production and distribution in industry and agriculture on the basis of ownership by the whole people for an indivisible nation.

The contradictions between the productive forces and the production relations unfold without interruption. Relations that once were adapted to the productive forces will no longer be so after a period of time. In China, after we finished organizing the advanced cooperatives, the question of having both large and small units came up in every special district and in every county.

In socialist society the formal categories of distribution according to labor, commodity production, the law of value, and so forth are presently adapted to the demands of the productive forces. But as this development proceeds, the day is sure to come when these formal categories will no longer be adapted. At that time these categories will be destroyed by the development of the productive forces; their life will be over. Are we to believe that in a socialist society there are economic categories that are eternal and unchanging? Are we to believe that such categories as distribution according to labor and collective ownership are eternal  —  unlike all other categories, which are historical [hence relative]?

20. The Socialist Transformation of Agriculture Cannot Depend Only on Mechanization

Page 392 states, “The machine and tractor stations are important tools for carrying through the socialist transformation in agriculture.” Again and again the text emphasizes how important machinery is for the transformation. But if the consciousness of the peasantry is not raised, if ideology is not transformed, and you are depending on nothing but machinery  —  what good will it be? The question of the struggle between the two roads, socialism and capitalism, the transformation and re-education of people  —  these are the major questions for China.

The text on page 395 says that in carrying through the tasks of the early stages of general collectivization the question of the struggle against hostile rich peasants comes up. This of course is correct. But in the account the text gives of rural conditions after the formation of cooperatives the question of a prosperous stratum is dropped, nor is there any mention of such contradictions as those between the state, the collectives, and individuals, between accumulation and consumption[13] and so forth.

Page 402 says, “Under conditions of high tide in the agricultural cooperative movement the broad masses of the middle peasantry will not waver again.” This is too general. There is a section of rich middle peasants that is now wavering and will do so in the future.

21. So-Called Full Consolidation

“. . . fully consolidated the collective farm system,” it says on page 407. “Full consolidation”  —  a phrase to make one uneasy. The consolidation of anything is relative. How can it be “full”? What if no one died since the beginning of mankind, and everyone got “fully consolidated”? What kind of a world would that be! In the universe, on our globe, all things come into being, develop, and pass away ceaselessly. None of them is ever “fully consolidated.” Take the life of a silkworm. Not only must it pass away in the end, it must pass through four stages of development during its lifetime: egg, silkworm, pupa, moth. It must move on from one stage to the next and can never fully consolidate itself in any one stage. In the end, the moth dies, and its old essence becomes a new essence (as it leaves behind many eggs). This is a qualitative leap. Of course, from egg to worm, from worm to pupa, from pupa to moth clearly are more than quantitative changes. There is qualitative transformation too, but it is partial qualitative transformation. A person, too, in the process of moving through life toward death, experiences different stages: childhood, adolescence, youth, adulthood and old age. From life to death is a quantitative process for people, but at the same time they are pushing forward the process of partial qualitative change. It would be absurd to think that from youth to old age is but a quantitative increase without qualitative change. Inside the human organism cells are ceaselessly dividing, old ones dying and vanishing, new ones emerging and growing. At death there is a complete qualitative change, one that has come about through the preceding quantitative changes as well as the partial qualitative changes that occur during the quantitative changes. Quantitative change and qualitative change are a unity of opposites. Within the quantitative changes there are partial qualitative changes. One cannot say that there are no qualitative changes within quantitative changes. And within qualitative changes there are quantitative changes. One cannot say that there are no quantitative changes within qualitative changes.

In any lengthy process of change, before entering the final qualitative change, the subject must pass through uninterrupted quantitative changes and a good many partial qualitative changes. But the final qualitative change cannot come about unless there are partial qualitative changes and considerable quantitative change. For example, a factory of a given plant and size changes qualitatively as the machinery and other installations are renovated a section at a time. The interior changes even though the exterior and the size do not. A company of soldiers is no different. After it has fought a battle and lost dozens of men, a hundred-soldier company will have to replace its casualties. Fighting and replenishing continuously  —  this is how the company goes through uninterrupted partial qualitative change. As a result the company continues to develop and harden itself.

The crushing of Chiang Kai-shek was a qualitative change which came about through quantitative change. For example, there had to be a three-and-a-half-year period during which his army and political power were destroyed a section at a time. And, within this quantitative change qualitative change is to be found. The War of Liberation went through several different stages, and each new stage differed qualitatively from the preceding stages. The transformation from individual to collective economy was a process of qualitative transformation. In our country this process consisted of mutual aid teams, early-stage cooperatives, advanced cooperatives, and people’s communes.[14] Such different stages of partial qualitative change brought a collective economy out of an individual economy.

The present socialist economy in our country is organized through two different forms of public ownership, ownership by the whole people and collective ownership. This socialist economy has had its own birth and development. Who would believe that this process of change has come to an end, and that we will say, “These two forms of ownership will continue to be fully consolidated for all time?” Who would believe that such formulas of a socialist society as “distribution according to labor,” “commodity production,” and “the law of value” are going to live forever? Who would believe that there is only birth and development but no dying away and transformation and that these formulas unlike all others are ahistorical?

Socialism must make the transition to communism. At that time there will be things of the socialist stage that will have to die out. And, too, in the period of communism there will still be uninterrupted development. It is quite possible that communism will have to pass through a number of different stages. How can we say that once communism has been reached nothing will change, that everything will continue “fully consolidated,” that there will be quantitative change only, and no partial qualitative change going on all the time.

The way things develop, one stage leads on to another, advancing without interruption. But each and every stage has a “boundary.” Every day we read from, say, four o’clock and end at seven or eight. That is the boundary. As far as socialist ideological remoulding goes, it is a long-term task. But each ideological campaign reaches its conclusion, that is to say has a boundary. On the ideological front, when we will have come through uninterrupted quantitative changes and partial qualitative changes, the day will arrive when we will be completely free of the influence of capitalist ideology. At that time the qualitative changes of ideological remoulding will have ended, but only to be followed by the quantitative changes of a new quality.

The construction of socialism also has its boundary. We have to keep tabs: for example, what is to be the ratio of industrial goods to total production, how much steel is to be produced, how high can the people’s living standard be raised, etc.? But to say that socialist construction has a boundary hardly means that we do not want to take the next step, to make the transition to communism. It is possible to divide the transition from capitalism to communism into two stages: one from capitalism to socialism, which could be called underdeveloped socialism; and one from socialism to communism, that is, from comparatively underdeveloped socialism to comparatively developed socialism, namely, communism. This latter stage may take even longer than the first. But once it has been passed through, material production and spiritual prosperity will be most ample. People’s communist consciousness will be greatly raised, and they will be ready to enter the highest stage of communism.

On page 409 it says that after the forms of socialist production have been firmly established, production will steadily and rapidly expand. The rate of productivity will climb steadily. The text uses the term steadily or without interruption a good many times, but only to speak of quantitative transformation. There is little mention of partial qualitative change.

22. War and Peace

On page 408 it says that in capitalist societies “a crisis of surplus production will inevitably be created, causing unemployment to increase.” This is the gestation of war. It is difficult to believe that the basic principles of Marxist economics are suddenly without effect, that in a world where capitalist institutions still exist war can be fully eliminated.

Can it be said that the possibility of eliminating war for good has now arisen? Can it be said that the possibility of plying all the world’s wealth and resources to the service of mankind has arisen? This view is not Marxism, it has no class analysis, and it has not distinguished clearly between conditions under bourgeois and proletarian rule. If you do not eliminate classes, how can you eliminate war?

We will not be the ones to determine whether a world war will be waged or not. Even if a non-belligerency agreement is signed, the possibility of war will still exist. When imperialism wants to fight no agreement is going to be taken into account. And, if it comes, whether atomic or hydrogen weapons will be used is yet another question. Even though chemical weapons exist, they have not been used in time of war; conventional weapons were used after all. Even if there is no war between the two camps, there is no guarantee war will not be waged within the capitalist world. Imperialism may make war on imperialism. The bourgeoisie of one imperialist country may make war on its proletariat. Imperialism is even now waging war against colony and semicolony. War is one form of class conflict. But classes will not be eliminated except through war. And war cannot be eliminated for good except through the elimination of classes. If revolutionary war is not carried on, classes cannot be eliminated. We do not believe that the weapons of war can be eliminated without destroying classes. It is not possible. In the history of class societies any class or state is concerned with its “position of strength.” Gaining such positions has been history’s inevitable tendency. Armed force is the concrete manifestation of the real strength of a class. And as long as there is class antagonism there will be armed forces. Naturally, we are not wishing for war. We wish for peace. We favor making the utmost effort to stop nuclear war and to strive for a mutual nonaggression pact between the two camps. To strive to gain even ten or twenty years’ peace was what we advocated long ago. If we can realize this wish, it would be most beneficial for the entire socialist camp and for China’s socialist construction as well.

On page 409 it says that at this time the Soviet Union is no longer encircled by capitalism. This manner of speaking runs the risk of lulling people to sleep. Of course the present situation has changed greatly from when there was only one socialist country. West of the Soviet Union there are now the various socialist countries of Eastern Europe. East of the Soviet Union are the socialist countries of China, Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam. But the guided missiles have no eyes and can strike targets thousands or tens of thousands of kilometers away. All around the socialist camp American military bases are deployed, pointed toward the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries. Can it be said that the Soviet Union is no longer inside the ring of missiles?

23. Is Unanimity the Motive Force of Social Development?

On page 413 and 417 it says that socialism makes for the “solidarity of unanimity” and is “hard as a rock.” It says that unanimity is the “motive force of social development.”

This recognizes only the unanimity of solidarity but not the contradictions within a socialist society, nor that contradiction is the motive force of social development. Once it is put this way, the law of the universality of contradiction is denied, the laws of dialectics are suspended. Without contradictions there is no movement, and society always develops through movement. In the era of socialism, contradictions remain the motive force of social development. Precisely because there is no unanimity there is the responsibility for unity, the necessity to fight for it. If there were 100 percent unanimity always, then what explains the necessity for persevering in working for unity?

24. Rights of Labor Under Socialism

On page 414 we find a discussion of the rights labor enjoys but no discussion of labor’s right to run the state, the various enterprises, education, and culture. Actually, this is labor’s greatest right under socialism, the most fundamental right, without which there is no right to work, to an education, to vacation, etc.

The paramount issue for socialist democracy is: Does labor have the right to subdue the various antagonistic forces and their influences? For example, who controls things like the newspapers, journals, broadcast stations, the cinema? Who criticizes? These are a part of the question of rights. If these things are in the hands of right opportunists (who are a minority) then the vast nationwide majority that urgently needs a great leap forward will find itself deprived of these rights. If the cinema is in the hands of people like Chung Tien-p’ei,[15] how are the people supposed to realize their own rights in that sector? There is a variety of factions among the people. Who is in control of the organs and enterprises bears tremendously on the issue of guaranteeing the people’s rights. If Marxist-Leninists are in control, the rights of the vast majority will be guaranteed. If rightists or right opportunists are in control, these organs and enterprises may change qualitatively, and the people’s rights with respect to them cannot be guaranteed. In sum, the people must have the right to manage the superstructure. We must not take the rights of the people to mean that the state is to be managed by only a section of the people, that the people can enjoy labor rights, education rights, social insurance, etc., only under the management of certain people.

25. Is the Transition to Communism a Revolution?

On page 417 it says, “Under socialism there will be no class or social group whose interests conflict with communism and therefore the transition to communism will come about without social revolution.”

The transition to communism certainly is not a matter of one class overthrowing another. But that does not mean there will be no social revolution, because the superseding of one kind of production relations by another is a qualitative leap, i.e., a revolution. The two transformations  —  of individual economy to collective, and collective economy to public  —  in China are both revolutions in the production relations. So to go from socialism’s “distribution according to labor” to communism’s “distribution according to need” has to be called a revolution in the production relations. Of course, “distribution according to need” has to be brought about gradually. Perhaps when the principal material goods can be adequately supplied we can begin to carry out such distribution with those goods, extending the practice to other goods on the basis of further development of the productive forces.

Consider the development of our people’s communes. When we changed from basic ownership by the team to basic ownership by the commune, was a section of the people likely to raise objections or not? This is a question well worth our study. A determinative condition for realizing this changeover was that the commune-owned economy’s income was more than half of the whole commune’s total income. To realize the basic commune-ownership system is generally of benefit to the members of the commune. Thus we estimate that there should be no objection on the part of the vast majority. But at the time of changeover the original team cadres could no longer be relatively reduced under the circumstances. Would they object to the changeover?

Although classes may be eliminated in a socialist society, in the course of its development there are bound to be certain problems with “vested interest groups” which have grown content with existing institutions and unwilling to change them. For example, if the rule of distribution according to labor is in effect they benefit from higher pay for more work, and when it came time to change over to “distribution according to need” they could very well be uncomfortable with the new situation. Building any new system always necessitates some destruction of old ones. Creation never comes without destruction. If destruction is necessary it is bound to arouse some opposition. The human animal is queer indeed. No sooner do people gain some superiority than they assume airs . . . it would be dangerous to ignore this.

26. The Claim That “for China There Is No Necessity to Adopt Acute Forms of Class Struggle”

There is an error on page 419. After the October Revolution Russia’s bourgeoisie saw that the country’s economy had suffered severe damage, and so they decided that the proletariat could not change the situation and lacked the strength to maintain its political power. They judged that they only had to make the move and proletarian political power could be overthrown. At this point they carried out armed resistance, thus compelling the Russian proletariat to take drastic steps to expropriate their property. At that time neither class had much experience.

To say that China’s class struggle is not acute is unrealistic. It was fierce enough! We fought for twenty-two years straight. By waging war we overthrew the rule of the bourgeoisie’s Nationalist Party, and expropriated bureaucratic capital, which amounted to 80 percent of our entire capitalist economy. Only thus was it possible for us to use peaceful methods to remold the remaining 20 percent of national capital. In the remoulding process we still had to go through such fierce struggles as the “three-antis” and the “five-antis” campaigns.[16]

Page 420 incorrectly describes the remoulding of bourgeois industrial and commercial enterprises. After Liberation the national bourgeoisie was forced to take the road of socialist remoulding. We brought down Chiang Kai-shek, expropriated bureaucratic capital, concluded the land reform, carried out the “three-antis” and “five-antis” campaigns, and made the cooperatives a working reality. We controlled the markets from the beginning. This series of transformations forced the national bourgeoisie to accept remoulding step by step. From yet another point of view, the Common Program stipulated that various kinds of economic interests were to be given scope. This enabled the capitalists to try for what profits they could. In addition, the constitution gave them the right to a ballot and a living. These things helped the bourgeoisie to realize that by accepting remoulding they could hold onto a social position and also play a certain role in the culture and in the economy.

In joint state-private enterprises the capitalists have no real managerial rights over the enterprise. Production is certainly not jointly managed by the capitalists and representatives of the public. Nor can it be said that “Capital’s exploitation of labor has been limited.” It has been virtually curtailed. The text seems to have missed the idea that the jointly operated enterprises we are speaking of were 75 per cent socialist. Of course at present they are 90 percent socialist or more.

The remoulding of capitalist industry and commerce has been basically concluded. But if the capitalists had the chance they would attack us without restraint. In 1957 we pushed back the onslaught of the right.[17] In 1959, through their representatives in the party, they again set in motion an attack against us.[18] Our policy toward the national capitalists is to take them along with us and then to encompass them.

The text uses Lenin’s statement that state capitalism “continues the class struggle in another form.” This is correct. (p. 421)

27. The Time Period for Building Socialism

On page 423 it says that we “concluded” the socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts in 1957.[19] We would rather say that we won a decisive victory.

On the same page it says that we want to turn China into a strong socialist country within ten to fifteen years. Now this is something we agree on! This means that after the second five-year plan we will have to go through another two five-year plans until 1972 (or 1969 if we strive to beat the schedule by two or three years). In addition to modernizing industry and agriculture, science and culture, we have to modernize national defence. In a country such as ours bringing the building of socialism to its conclusion is a tremendously difficult task. In socialist construction we must not speak of “early.”

28. Further Discussion of the Relationship Between Industrialization and Socialist Transformation

On page 423 it says that reform of the system of ownership long before the realization of industrialization was a circumstance created by special conditions in China This is an error. Eastern Europe, like China, “benefited from the existence of the mighty socialist camp and the help of an industrialized country as developed as the Soviet Union.” The question is, what was the reason Eastern European countries could not complete the socialist transformation in the ownership system (including agriculture) before industrialization became a reality? [Cf. Chapter 28, paragraph 1, of the 1967 edition: Page 423 says, “Given the special conditions in China, before socialist industrialization became a reality, it was thanks to the existence of the mighty socialist camp and the help of a powerful, highly developed industrial nation like the Soviet Union that the reform of the ownership system (including agriculture) achieved victory.” This is an error. The countries of Eastern Europe no less than China “had the existence of the powerful socialist camp and the help of as highly developed an industrial nation as the Soviet Union.” Why could they not complete socialist transformation in the ownership system (including agriculture) before industrialization became a reality? Note by translator.] Turning to the relationship between industrialization and socialist transformation, the truth is that in the Soviet Union itself the problem of ownership was settled before industrialization became a reality.

Similarly, from the standpoint of world history, the bourgeois revolutions and the establishment of the bourgeois nations came before, not after, the Industrial Revolution. The bourgeoisie first changed the superstructure and took possession of the machinery of state before carrying on propaganda to gather real strength. Only then did they push forward great changes in the production relations. When the production relations had been taken care of and they were on the right track they then opened the way for the development of the productive forces. To be sure, the revolution in the production relations is brought on by a certain degree of development of the productive forces, but the major development of the productive forces always comes after changes in the production relations. Consider the history of the development of capitalism. First came simple coordination, which subsequently developed into workshop handicrafts. At this time capitalist production relations were already taking shape, but the workshops produced without machines. This type of capitalist production relations gave rise to the need for technological advance, creating the conditions for the use of machinery. In England the Industrial Revolution (late eighteenth-early nineteenth centuries) was carried through only after the bourgeois revolution, that is, after the seventeenth century. All in their respective ways, Germany, France, America, and Japan underwent change in superstructure and production relations before the vast development of capitalist industry.

It is a general rule that you cannot solve the problem of ownership and go on to expand development of the productive forces until you have first prepared public opinion for the seizure of political power. Although between the bourgeois revolution and the proletarian revolution there are certain differences (before the proletarian revolution socialist production relations did not exist, while capitalist production relations were already beginning to grow in feudal society), basically they are alike.


Part II.
Chapters 24-29


29. Contradictions Between Socialist Production Relations and Productive Forces

Page 433 discusses only the “mutual function” of the production relations and the productive forces under socialism but not the contradictions between them. The production relations include ownership of the means of production, the relations among people in the course of production, and the distribution system. The revolution in the system of ownership is the base, so to speak. For example, after the entire national economy has become indivisibly owned by the whole people through the transition from collective to people’s ownership, although people’s ownership will certainly be in effect for a relatively long time, for all enterprises so owned important problems will remain. Should a central-local division of authority be in effect? Which enterprises should be managed by whom? In 1958 in some basic construction units a system of fixed responsibility for capital investment was put into effect. The result was a tremendous release of enthusiasm in these units. When the center cannot depend on its own initiative it must release the enthusiasm of the enterprise or the locality. If such enthusiasm is frustrated it hurts production.

We see then that contradictions to be resolved remain in the production relations under people’s ownership. As far as relations among people in the course of labor and the distribution relations go, it is all the more necessary to improve them unremittingly. For these areas it is rather difficult to say what the base is. Much remains to be written about human relations in the course of labor, e.g., concerning the leadership’s adopting egalitarian attitudes, the changing of certain regulations and established practices, “the two participations” [worker participation in management and management participation in productive labor], “the three combinations” [combining efforts of cadres, workers, and technicians], etc. Public ownership of primitive communes lasted a long time, but during that time people’s relations to each other underwent a good many changes, all the same, in the course of labor.

30. The Transition from Collective to People’s Ownership Is Inevitable

On page 435 the text says only that the existence of two forms of public ownership is objectively inevitable, but not that the transition from collective to people’s ownership is also objectively inevitable. This is an inescapable objective process, one presently in evidence in certain areas of our country. According to data from Cheng An county in Hopei province, communes growing industrial crops are thriving, accumulation levels have been raised to 45 percent,[20] and the peasants’ living standard is high. Should this situation continue to develop, if we do not let collective ownership become people’s ownership and resolve the contradiction, peasant living standards will surpass those of the workers to the detriment of both industrial and agricultural development.

On page 438 it says that “state-managed enterprises are not fundamentally different from cooperatives. . . . there exist two forms of public ownership. . . . sacred and inviolable.” There is no difference between collective and people’s ownership with reference to capitalism, but the difference becomes fundamental within the socialist economy. The text speaks of the two forms of ownership as “sacred and inviolable.” This is allowable when speaking of hostile forces, but when speaking of the process of development of public ownership it becomes wrong. Nothing can be regarded as unchanging. Ownership by the whole people itself also has a process of change.

After a good many years, after ownership by the people’s communes has changed into ownership by the whole people, the whole nation will become an indivisible system of ownership by the whole people. This will greatly spur the development of the productive forces. For a period of time this will remain a socialist system of ownership by the whole people, and only after another period will it be a communist system of ownership by the whole people. Thus, people’s ownership itself will have to progress from distribution according to labor to distribution according to need.

31. Individual Property

On page 439 it says, “Another part is consumer goods. . . . which make up the personal property of the workers.” This manner of expression tends to make people think that goods classified as “consumer” are to be distributed to the workers as their individual property. This is incorrect. One part of consumer goods is individual property, another is public property, e.g., cultural and educational facilities, hospitals, athletic facilities, parks, etc. Moreover, this part is increasing. Of course they are for each worker to enjoy, but they are not individual property.

On page 440 we find lumped together work income and savings, housing, household goods, goods for individual consumption, and other ordinary equipment. This is unsatisfactory because savings, housing, etc. are all derived from working people’s incomes.

In too many places this book speaks only of individual consumption and not of social consumption, such as public welfare, culture, health, etc. This is one-sided. Housing in our rural areas is far from what it should be. We must improve rural dwelling conditions in an orderly fashion. [Only in the 1969 text.: Note by translator.] Residential construction, particularly in cities, should in the main use collective social forces, not individual ones. If a socialist society does not undertake collective efforts what kind of socialism is there in the end? Some say that socialism is more concerned with material incentives than capitalism. Such talk is simply outrageous.

Here the text says that the wealth produced by collective farms includes individual property as well as subsidiary occupations. If we fail to propose transforming these subsidiary occupations into public ownership, the peasants will be peasants forever. A given social system must be consolidated in a given period of time. But consolidation must have a limit. If it goes on and on, the ideology reflecting the system is bound to become rigidified, causing the people to be unable to adjust their thinking to new developments.

On the same page there is mention of integrating individual and collective interests. It says, “Integration is realized by the following method: a member of society is compensated according to the quantity and quality of his labor so as to satisfy the principle of individual material interest.” Here, without discussion of the necessary reservations, the text places individual interest first. This is one-sided treatment of the principle of individual material interest.

According to page 441, “Public and individual interests are not at odds and can be gradually resolved.” This is spoken in vain and solves nothing. In a country like ours, if the contradictions among the people are not put to rights every few years, they will never get resolved.

32. Contradiction Is the Motive Force of Development in a Socialist Society

Page 443, paragraph 5, admits that in a socialist society contradictions between the productive forces and the production relations exist and speaks of overcoming such contradictions. But by no means does the text recognize that contradictions are the motive force.

The succeeding paragraph is acceptable; however, under socialism it is not only certain aspects of human relations and certain forms of leading the economy, but also problems of the ownership system itself (e.g., the two types of ownership) that may hinder the development of the productive forces.

Most dubious is the viewpoint in the next paragraph. It says, “The contradictions under socialism are not irreconcilable.” This does not agree with the laws of dialectics, which hold that all contradictions are irreconcilable. Where has there ever been a reconcilable contradiction? Some are antagonistic, some are non-antagonistic, but it must not be thought that there are irreconcilable and reconcilable contradictions.

Under socialism [The transcriber of the 1967 text comments that Comrade Mao may have meant “under communism”.] there may be no war but there is still struggle, struggle among sections of the people; there may be no revolution of one class overthrowing another, but there is still revolution. The transition from socialism to communism is revolutionary. The transition from one stage of communism to another is also. Then there is technological revolution and cultural revolution. Communism will surely have to pass through many stages and many revolutions.

Here the text speaks of relying on the “positive action” of the masses to overcome contradictions at the proper time. “Positive action” should include complicated struggles.

“Under socialism there is no class energetically plotting to preserve outmoded economic relations.” Correct, but in a socialist society there are still conservative strata and something like “vested interest groups.” There still remain differences between mental and manual labor, city and countryside, worker and peasant. Although these are not antagonistic contradictions they cannot be resolved without struggle.

The children of our cadres are a cause of discouragement. They lack experience of life and of society, yet their airs are considerable and they have a great sense of superiority. They have to be educated not to rely on their parents or martyrs of the past but entirely on themselves.

In a socialist society there are always advanced and backward persons, those who are steadfastly loyal to the collective effort, diligent and sincere, fresh of spirit and lively, and those who are acting for fame and fortune, for the personal end, for the self, or who are apathetic and dejected. In the course of socialist development each and every period is bound to have a group that is more than willing to preserve backward production relations and social institutions. On many many questions the prosperous middle peasants have their own point of view. They cannot adapt to new developments, and some of them resist such developments, as proved by the debate over the Eight-Word Constitution[21] with the prosperous peasants of the Kuangtung rural areas.

Page 453, the last paragraph, says, “Criticism and self-criticism are powerful motive forces for the development of socialist society.” This is not the point. Contradictions are the motive forces, criticism and self-criticism are the methods for resolving contradictions.

33. The Dialectical Process of Knowledge

Page 446, paragraph 2, says that as ownership becomes public “people become the masters of the economic relations of their own society,” and are “able to take hold of and apply these laws fully and consciously.” It should be observed that this requires going through a process. The understanding of laws always begins with the understanding of a minority before it becomes the knowledge of the majority. It is necessary to go through a process of practice and study to go from ignorance to knowledge. At the beginning no one has knowledge. Foreknowledge has never existed. People must go through practice to gain results, meet with failure as problems arise; only through such a process can knowledge gradually advance. If you want to know the objective laws of the development of things and events you must go through the process of practice, adopt a Marxist-Leninist attitude, compare successes and failures, continually practicing and studying, going through multiple successes and failures; moreover, meticulous research must be performed. There is no other way to make one’s own knowledge gradually conform to the laws. For those who see only victory but not defeat it will not be possible to know these laws.

It is not easy “to possess and apply these laws fully and consciously.” On page 446 the text quotes Engels. “Only at this time does the fully conscious self begin to create history. For the first time to a great extent and to an ever greater extent people can create the effects they aspire after.” “Begin to” and “to an ever greater extent” are relatively accurate.

The text does not recognize the contradictions between appearances and essences. Essences always lie behind appearances and cannot be disclosed except through appearances. The text does not express the idea that for a person to know the laws it is necessary to go through a process. The vanguard is no exception.

34. Unions and the Single Leadership System

On page 452 when speaking of the mission of trade unions, the text does not say that the primary task of the unions is to develop production; it does not discuss ways to strengthen political education; it merely overemphasizes welfare.

Throughout, the text speaks of “managing production according to the principle of the single-leader system.” All enterprises in capitalist countries put this principle into effect. There should be a basic distinction between the principles governing management of socialist and capitalist enterprises. We in China have been able to distinguish our methods strictly from capitalist management by putting into effect factory leader responsibility under the guidance of the party.

35. Starting From Fundamental Principles and Rules Is Not the Marxist Method

From the second chapter on a great many rules are set up. The analysis of capitalist economy in Das Kapital commences with appearances, searches out essences, and only then uses the essence to explain the appearance, making through this method effective summaries and outlines. But the text does not pursue an analysis. Its composition lacks order. It always proceeds from rules, principles, laws, definitions, a methodology Marxism-Leninism has always opposed. The effects of principles and laws must be subjected to analysis and thorough study; only then can principles and laws be derived. Human knowledge always encounters appearances first. Proceeding from there, one searches out principles and laws. The text does the opposite. Its methodology is deductive, not analytical. According to formal logic, “People all will die. Mr. Chang is a person. Therefore Mr. Chang will die.” This is a conclusion derived from the premise that all human beings die. This is the deductive method. For every question the text first gives definitions, which it then takes as a major premise and reasons from there, failing to understand that the major premise should be the result of researching a question. Not until one has gone through the concrete research can principles and laws be discovered and proved.

36. Can Advanced Experience Be Popularized Effortlessly?

Page 461, paragraph 2, says, “In a socialist national economy science’s latest achievements, technical inventions, and advanced experience can be popularized in all enterprises without the slightest difficulty.” This is far from necessarily so. In a socialist society there are still “academic overlords” who control the organs of scientific research and repress new forces. This is why science’s latest achievements are not simply popularized without the slightest difficulty. Such a manner of speaking essentially fails to recognize that there are contradictions within a socialist society. Whenever something new appears it is bound to meet with obstacles, perhaps because people are unaccustomed to it or do not understand it, or because it conflicts with the interests of a particular group. For example, our practices of close planting and deep furrowing have no class nature in and of themselves, yet they have been opposed and resisted by a particular group. Of course, in a socialist society such inhibiting conditions are fundamentally different from those in a capitalist society.

37. Planning

Page 465 quotes Engels as saying, “Under socialism it will become possible to carry out social production according to a predetermined plan.” This is correct. In capitalist society equilibrium of the national economy is achieved through economic crises. In socialist society there is the possibility of making equilibrium a reality through planning. But let us not deny, because of this possibility, that knowledge of the required proportions must come through a process. Here the text says, “Spontaneity and laissez faire are incompatible with public ownership of the means of production.” It should not be thought, however, that spontaneity and laissez faire do not exist in a socialist society. Our knowledge of the laws is not perfect all at once. Actual work tells us that in a given period of time there is such and such a plan by such and such people, or by a different group. No one can say that one particular group’s plan conforms to the laws. Surely, some plans will accord or basically accord, while others will not or basically will not.

To think that knowledge of the proportions does not require a process  —  comparison between successes and failures, a tortuous course of development  —  is a metaphysical point of view. Freedom is the recognition of necessity, but necessity is not perceived in a glance. The world has no natural sages, nor upon attaining a socialist society does everyone become prescient. Why was not this text on political economy published at some earlier time? Why has it been revised time and again after its publication? And after all, is not the reason for this that knowledge was imperfect in the past and even now remains so? Take our own experiences  —  at the beginning we did not understand how to make socialism work; gradually, through practice, we came to understand a little, but not enough. If we think it is enough then nothing will be left to do!

On page 466 it says that an outstanding feature of socialism is “the conscious regular maintaining of due proportion.” This is both a responsibility and a demand, and a difficult one to fulfill. Even Stalin said that the plans of the Soviet Union could not be regarded as already fully reflecting what the laws demanded.

The “regular maintaining of due proportion” is at the same time the regular appearance of imbalances. For when due proportion is not achieved then the task of keeping things in proportion arises. In the course of the development of a socialist economy the regular appearance of imbalances requires us to balance things by holding to proportionality and comprehensiveness. For example, as the economy develops, shortages of technical personnel and cadres are felt all over, and a contradiction between needs and supply appears. This in turn spurs us to operate more schools and train more cadres to resolve this contradiction. It is after the appearance of imbalances and disproportion that people further understand the objective laws.

In planning, if no accounting is made, if we let things run their course, or are overly cautious insisting on everything being foolproof, then our methods will not succeed, and as a result proportionality will be destroyed.

A plan is an ideological form. Ideology is a reflection of realities, but it also acts upon realities. Our past plans stipulated that no new industry would be built on our coasts, and up to 1957 there was no construction there. We wasted seven years. Only after 1958 did major construction begin. These past two years have seen great developments. Thus, ideological forms such as plans have a great effect on economic development and its rate.

38. Priority Growth in Producing the Means of Production; Concurrent Promotion of Industry and Agriculture

On page 466 the problem of priority growth in producing the means of production is addressed.

Priority growth in producing the means of production is an economic rule for expanded reproduction common to all societies. If there are no priorities in producing the means of production in capitalist society there can be no expanded reproduction. In Stalin’s time, due to special emphasis on priority development of heavy industry, agriculture was neglected in the plans. Eastern Europe has had similar problems in the past few years. Our approach has been to make priority development of heavy industry the condition for putting into effect concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture, as well as some other concurrent programs, each of which again has within it a leading aspect. If agriculture does not make gains few problems can be resolved. It has been four years now since we proposed concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture, though it was truly put into effect in 1960. How highly we regard agriculture is expressed by the quantity of steel materials we are allocating to agriculture. In 1959 we allocated only 590,000 tons but this year (including water conservancy construction) we allocated 1.3 million tons. This is truly concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture.

Here the text mentions that between 1925 and 1958 production of the means of production in the Soviet Union increased 103 times, while consumer goods increased 15.6 times. The question is, does a ratio of 103:15.6 benefit the development of heavy [Only in 1967 text.: Note by translator.] industry or not? If we want heavy industry to develop quickly everyone has to show initiative and maintain high spirits. And if we want that then we must enable industry and agriculture to be concurrently promoted, and the same for light and heavy industry.

Provided that we enable agriculture, light industry, and heavy industry to develop at the same time and at a high rate, we may guarantee that the people’s livelihood can be suitably improved together with the development of heavy industry. The experience of the Soviet Union, no less than our own, proves that if agriculture does not develop, if light industry does not develop, it hurts the development of heavy industry.

39. “Distribution Is Determinative”  —  An Erroneous View

In chapter 20 it says, “The precondition for the high tide in state-managed industry was utilizing the workers’ concern for their individual material interest in the development of socialist production.” In chapter 21 it says, “Fully carry out economic accounting using the economic law of distribution according to labor (a law which combines workers’ individual material interest with the interests of socialist production) to serve an important function in the struggle for national industrialization.” In chapter 25 it says, “The goals of socialist production cause workers to be keenly concerned to make vigorous efforts to raise production and project personnel to be concerned with the fruits of their own labor, out of material interest. This is a powerful motive force for the development of socialist production.” To make an absolute out of “concern for individual material interest” in this fashion is bound to entail the danger of increasing individualism.

Page 452 says that the law of distribution according to labor “is one of the determining motive forces for socialist production in that it causes all workers out of material interest to be concerned for the carrying out of plans to raise productivity.” One cannot help asking, “If the fundamental economic laws of socialism determine the direction of development of socialist production, then how does it follow that individual material interest is alleged to be a determining motive force of production?” To treat distribution of consumer goods as a determining motive force is the erroneous view of distribution as determinative. Marx said, in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, “Distribution in the first place should be distribution of the means of production: in whose hands are the means of production? This is the determinative question. Distribution of the means of production is what determines distribution of consumer goods.” To regard distribution of consumer goods as the determining motive force is a distortion of Marx’s correct view and a serious theoretical error.

40. “Politics in Command and Material Incentive”

Page 452, paragraph 2, places party organization after local economic organs; these latter become the heads under the direct administration of the central government. Local party organizations cannot take the political lead in those areas, making it virtually impossible for them to mobilize all positive forces sufficiently. The text on page 457, although conceding the creative activities of the masses, nonetheless says, “One of the most important conditions for accelerating communist construction is the participation of the masses in the struggle to fulfill and overfulfill plans for national economic development.” Page 447 also says, “Initiative of farm personnel is one decisive factor in developing agriculture.” To regard the mass struggle as “one important factor” flies in the face of the principle that the masses are the creators of history. Under no circumstances can history be regarded as something the planners rather than the masses create.

Immediately afterward the text raises this point: “To begin with, we must utilize material incentives.” This makes it seem as if the masses’ creative activity has to be inspired by material interest. At every opportunity the text discusses individual material interest as if it were an attractive means for luring people into pleasant prospects. This is a reflection of the spiritual state of a good number of economic workers and leading personnel and of the failure to emphasize political-ideological work. Under such circumstances there is no alternative to relying on material incentives. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his labor.” The first half of the slogan means that the very greatest effort must be expended in production. Why separate the two halves of the slogan and always speak one-sidedly of material incentive? This kind of propaganda for material interest will make capitalism unbeatable!

41. Balance and Imbalance

Page 432, paragraph 1, is mistaken. The development of capitalist technology is balanced in certain respects, unbalanced in others. The point is that balance and imbalance in technological development is essentially different under capitalism and under socialism. Under socialism there is balance and imbalance; for example, in the first period of Liberation we had barely over 200 geological project workers, and prospecting was altogether out of phase with the needs of the development of the national economy. After several years’ intense efforts the situation was practically rectified when fresh imbalances arose. At present there is in China an overwhelming preponderance of manual labor, a situation quite out of phase with our needs for developing production and raising labor productivity. This is why we have to launch a broad technological revolution and resolve this imbalance. With the appearance of every new technical department imbalance of technological development is bound to become noticeable again. For example, we are now tackling higher technology so we are conscious of the incompatibility of many things. But this Soviet text not only denies a degree of balance under capitalism but also a degree of imbalance under socialism.

Technology and the economy both develop in this way. The text seems to be unacquainted with the wavelike advances of the development of socialist production and speaks of the development of socialist economy as perfectly linear, free of dips. This is unthinkable. No line of development is straight; it is wave or spiral shaped. Even our studying has this pattern. Before studying we do something else. Afterward we have to rest for a few hours. We cannot continue studying as if there were neither day nor night. We study more one day, less the next. Moreover in our daily study sometimes we find more to comment upon, sometimes less. These are all wavelike patterns, rising and falling. Balance is relative to imbalance. Without imbalance there is no balance. The development of all things is characterized by imbalance. That is why there is a demand for balance. Contradiction between balance and imbalance exists in all parts of the various areas and departments, forever arising, forever being resolved. When there is a plan for the first year there has to be one for the next year as well. An annual plan requires a quarterly plan, which in turn requires a monthly plan. In every one of the twelve months contradictions between balance and imbalance have to be resolved. Plans constantly have to be revised precisely because new imbalances recur.

But the text has not adequately applied the dialectical method to research the various problems. The chapter devoted to the laws of planned proportional development of the national economy is quite long, yet no mention is made of the contradiction between balance and imbalance.

The national economy of a socialist society can have planned proportional development which enables imbalances to be regulated. However, imbalance does not go away. “Unevenness is in the nature of things.” Because private ownership was eliminated it was possible to have planned organization of the economy. Therefore, it was possible to control and utilize consciously the objective laws of imbalance to create many relative temporary [Only in the 1969 text.: Note by translator.] balances.

If the productive forces run ahead, the production relations will not accord with the productive forces; the superstructure will not accord with the production relations. At that point the superstructure and the production relations will have to be changed to accord with the productive forces. Between superstructure and production relations, between production relations and productive forces  —  some say balance is only relatively attainable, for the productive forces are always advancing, therefore there is always imbalance. Balance and imbalance are two sides of a contradiction within which imbalance is absolute and balance relative. If this were not so, neither the superstructure nor the production relations, nor the productive forces, could further develop; they would become petrified. Balance is relative, imbalance absolute. This is a universal law which I am convinced applies to socialist society. Contradiction and struggle are absolutes; unity, unanimity, and solidarity are transitional, hence relative. The various balances attained in planning are temporary, transitional, and conditional, hence relative. Who can imagine a state of equilibrium that is unconditional, eternal?

We need to use balance and imbalance among the productive forces, the production relations, and the superstructure as a guideline for researching the economic problems of socialism.

The main object of study in political economy is the production relations. But to study clearly the production relations it is necessary to study concomitantly the productive forces and also the positive and negative effects of the superstructure on the production relations. The text refers to the state but never studies it in depth. This is one omission. Of course, in the process of studying political economy, the study of the productive forces and the superstructure should not become overdeveloped. If the study of the productive forces goes too far it becomes technology and natural science. If the study of the superstructure goes too far it becomes nation-state theory, class struggle theory. Under the heading of socialism (one of Marxism’s three component parts) what we study are: theories of class struggle, theories of the state, theories of revolution and the party, as well as military strategies and tactics, etc.

There is nothing in the world that cannot be analyzed. But circumstances differ and so do essences. Many fundamental categories and laws  —  e.g., unity of contradiction  —  are applicable. If we study problems in this way, if we observe problems in this way, we will then have a solid, integral worldview and methodology.

42. “Material Incentives”

Page 486 says, “In the socialist stage labor has not yet become the primary necessity in the lives of all members of society, and therefore material incentives to labor have the greatest significance.” Here “all members” is too general. Lenin was a member of the society. Had his labor not become a “primary necessity” of his life?

Page 486 raises this point: there are two kinds of individuals in socialist society, the great majority who faithfully discharge their duties and the few who are dishonest about their duties. This is correctly analyzed. But if we want to bring around this latter group we can not rely exclusively on material incentives. We still have to criticize and educate them to raise their consciousness.

This section of the text speaks of workers who are comparatively diligent and positive. Conditions being equal, these are the ones who will produce more. Plainly, whether a worker is diligent and enthusiastic or not is determined by political consciousness, not by the level of technical or cultural expertise. Some whose technical and cultural level is high are nonetheless neither diligent nor enthusiastic; others whose level is lower are quite diligent and enthusiastic. The reason lies in the lower political consciousness of the former, the higher political consciousness of the latter.

The book says that material incentive to labor “spurs increases in production” and “is one of the decisive factors in stimulating the development of production.” But material incentive does not necessarily change every year. People may not require such incentive daily, monthly, or yearly. In times of difficulty when incentives are reduced people must still carry on, and that satisfactorily. By making material incentive a one-sided absolute the text fails to give due importance to raising consciousness, and cannot explain why there are differences among the labor of people in the same pay scale. For example, in scale no. 5,[22] one group may carry on very well, another rather poorly, and a third tolerably well on the whole. Why, with similar material incentive, such differences occur is inexplicable according to their way of reasoning.

Even if the importance of material incentive is recognized, it is never the sole principle. There is always another principle, namely, spiritual inspiration from political ideology. And, while we are on the subject, material incentive can not simply be discussed as individual interest. There is also the collective interest to which individual interest should be subordinated, long-term interests to which temporary interests should be subordinated, and the interests of the whole to which partial interests should be subordinated.

In the section “Material Incentives to Labor, Socialist Emulation,” there are some fairly well written passages concerning emulation. What is missing is the discussion of politics!

First, don’t work people to death. Second, don’t ruin their health, but even bring about gradual strengthening. These two points are basic. As for other things, if we can have them, fine, if not, well and good! We want the people to have some consciousness. The text seems to lay almost no emphasis on the future, the generations to come, only emphasizing material interest, constantly taking the road of material interest and rashly turning it into the principle of individual interest, as if it were a magic wand.

What they do not say is that individual interest will be satisfied when the interests of the whole people are satisfied. The individual material interest they emphasize is in reality myopic individualism, an economistic tendency from the period of proletarian class struggle against capitalism manifesting itself in the period of socialist construction. During the era of bourgeois revolutions a number of bourgeois revolutionaries made heroic sacrifices for the interests of their class and future generations of their class, but certainly not for immediate individual interest.

When we were in the base areas we had a free [nonmarket] supply system.[23] People were tougher then, and there was no wrangling at all on account of seeking preferential treatment. After liberation we had a wage system, and agreed upon scales, but our problems only multiplied. Many people wrangled frequently in a struggle for status, and we had to do a lot of persuading.

Our party has waged war for over twenty years without letup. For a long time we made a nonmarket supply system work. Of course at that time the entire society of the base areas was not practicing the system. But those who made the system work in the civil war period reached a high of several hundred thousand, and at the lowest still numbered in the tens of thousands. In the War of Resistance Against Japan the number shot up again from over a million to several millions. Right up to the first stage of Liberation our people lived an egalitarian life, working hard and fighting bravely, without the least dependence on material incentives, only the inspiration of revolutionary spirit. At the end of the second period of the civil war we suffered a defeat, although we had victories before and after. This course of events had nothing at all to do with whether we had material incentives or not. It had to do with whether or not our political line and our military line were correct. These historical experiences have the greatest significance for solving our problems of socialist construction.

Chapter 26 says, “Workers in socialist enterprises who, out of material interest, are concerned with the results of their own work are the motive forces developing socialist production.” (p. 482)

Chapter 27 says, “Compensation for skilled labor is comparatively high. . . . And this stimulates workers to raise their cultural and technical level, causing the essential difference between manual and mental labor to diminish.” (pp. 501-03)

The point here is that higher compensation for skilled labor has spurred unskilled workers to upgrade themselves continuously so they can enter the ranks of skilled workers. This means that they studied culture and technology in order to earn more money. In a socialist society every person entering school to study culture and technology should recognize before anything else that they are studying for socialist construction, for industrialization, to serve the people, for the collective interest, and not above all for a higher wage.

Chapter 28 says, “Distribution according to labor is the greatest force propelling the development of production.” (p. 526) And at the end of this page, after explaining that wages rise steadily under socialism, the unrevised third edition of this textbook even goes so far as to say, “Socialism is fundamentally superior to capitalism precisely in this.” Now to say that socialism is fundamentally superior to capitalism because wages steadily rise is very wrong. Wages are distribution of consumer goods. If there is no distribution of the means of production, there can be no distribution of the goods produced, of consumer goods. The latter is predicated on the former.

43. Interpersonal Relations in Socialist Enterprises

Page 500 says, “Under socialism the prestige of economic leaders is contingent upon the trust the masses have in them.” This is well said indeed. But to reach this goal it will take work. In our experience, if cadres do not set aside their pretensions and identify with the workers, the workers will never look on the factory as their own but as the cadres’. “Master-of-the-house” attitudes make the workers reluctant to observe labor discipline in a self-conscious way. Do not think that under socialism creative cooperation between the workers and the leadership of the enterprises will emerge all by itself without the need to work at it.

If manual workers and enterprise leaders are both members of a unified production collective then “why do socialist enterprises have to put ’single leadership’ into effect rather than leadership under collective guidance” i.e., the system of factory head responsibility under party committee guidance?

It is when politics is weakened that there is no choice but to talk about material incentive. That is why the text follows right up with “fully putting into effect the principle of having workers deeply concerned with the results of their own labor out of individual material interest is the mainspring for progressively grasping and raising socialist production.”

44. Crash Programs, Accelerated Work

Page 505 says, “Do away with the phenomenon of accelerated work. Carry on production in a well-balanced way according to the blueprints.” In the unrevised third edition this sentence reads, “We must fight against ‘crash programs’ and work in a well-balanced way according to predetermined schedules.” This utter repudiation of crash programs and accelerated work is too absolute.

We can not completely repudiate crash programs. Their use or nonuse constitutes a unity of opposites. In nature there are gentle breezes and light rains, and there are high winds and violent rains. Use of crash programs appears and disappears, wavelike. In the technological revolution in production the need for them continually arises. In agriculture we must grapple with the seasons. The drama must have its climax. To gainsay crash programs is in reality to deny the climax. The Soviet Union wants to overtake the United States. We expect to reach the Soviet’s level in less time than it took the Soviets. That is a kind of crash program.

Socialist emulation means that the backward overtakes the advanced. This is possible only through crash programs. Relations between individuals, between units, between enterprises, as well as between nations, are all competitive. If one wants to overtake the advanced, one cannot help having crash programs. If construction or revolution is attacked with executive orders (e.g., carrying out land reform or organizing cooperatives by administrative order) there is bound to be a reduction in production because the masses will not have been mobilized, and not because of crash programs.

45. The Law of Value and Planning

On page 521 there is a small print passage that is correct; it is critical, it joins the issues.

The law of value serves as an instrument of planning. Good. But the law of value should not be made the main basis of planning. We did not carry through the Great Leap on the basis of the demands of the law of value but on the basis of the fundamental economic laws of socialism and the need to expand production. If things are narrowly regarded from the point of view of the law of value the Great Leap would have to be judged not worth the losses and last year’s all-out effort to produce steel and iron as wasted labor. The local steel produced was low in quantity and quality, and the state had to make good many losses. The economic results were not significant, etc. The partial short-term view is that the campaign was a loss, but the overall long-term view is that there was great value to the campaign because it opened wide a whole economic construction phase. Throughout the country many new starts in steel and iron were made, and many industrial centers were built. This enabled us to step up our pace greatly.

In the winter of 1959 over 75 million people were working on water conservancy nationwide. The method of organizing two large-scale campaigns could be used to solve our basic water conservancy problems. From the standpoint of one, two, or three years the value of the grain to pay for so much labor was naturally quite high. But in the longer view the campaign could considerably increase grain production and accelerate it too, and stabilize agricultural production, and so the value of commodities per unit gains. All this then goes toward satisfying the people’s need for grain. The continuing development of agriculture and light industry creates further accumulation for heavy industry. This too benefits people in the long run. So long as the peasants and the people of the entire country understand what the state is doing, whether money is gained or lost, they are bound to approve and not oppose. From among the peasants themselves the slogan of supporting industry has been put forward. There is the proof! Stalin as well as Lenin said, “In the period of socialist construction the peasantry must pay tribute to the state.” The vast majority of China’s peasants is “sending tribute” with a positive attitude. It is only among the prosperous peasants and the middle peasants, some 15 percent of the peasantry, that there is any discontent. They oppose the whole concept of the Great Leap and the people’s communes.

In sum, we put plans ahead of prices. Of course we cannot ignore prices. A few years ago we raised the purchase price for live pigs, and this had a positive effect on pig-breeding. But for the kind of large-scale, nationwide breeding we have today, planning remains the main thing we rely on.

Page 521 refers to the problem of pricing in the markets of collective farms. Their collective farm markets have too much freedom. It is not enough to use only state economic power to adjust prices in such markets. Leadership and control are also necessary. In our markets, during the first stage, prices were kept within certain bounds by the government. Thus small liberties were kept from becoming big ones.

Page 522 says, “Thanks to our command of the law of value, the kind of anarchy in production or waste of social labor power the law entails under capitalism is not found in a socialist economy.” This makes too much of the effects of the law of value. In socialist society crises do not occur, mainly because of the ownership system: the basic laws of socialism, national planning of production and distribution, the lack of free competition or anarchy, etc., and not because we command the law of value. The economic crises of capitalism, it goes without saying, are determined by the ownership system too.

46. Forms of Wages

Page 530, in its discussion of wage forms, advocates taking piecework wages as primary and the time-rate as supplementary. We do the reverse. One-sided emphasis on piece rates is bound to create contradictions between older and younger, stronger and weaker laborers, and will foster among the workers a psychology of “going for the big ones.” This makes the primary concern not the collective cause but the individual income. There is even evidence that the piece-rate wage system impedes technological innovation and mechanization.

The book concedes that with automation, piece-rate wages are unsuitable. On the one hand they say they want automation widely developed; on the other they say they want piece-rate wages used widely. This involves a contradiction.

We have put into effect the time-rate system, plus rewards. The year-end “leap forward” bonuses of the last two years are an example. With the exception of governmental and educational workers, all staff and workers have had year-end leap forward bonuses in varying amounts determined by the staff and workers themselves in the particular units.

47. Two Questions About Prices

There are two questions that deserve study.

The first is the pricing of consumer goods. The text says, “Socialism has all along been putting into practice a policy of lowering the prices of consumer goods for the people.” Our approach is to stabilize prices, generally neither letting them rise nor lowering them. Although our wage levels are comparatively low, universal employment and low prices and rents have kept the living standard of staff and workers decent enough. In the last analysis whether it is preferable to keep lowering prices or neither to raise nor lower them is a problem deserving study.

The other question concerns pricing of products of heavy and light industry. Relatively speaking, they have low prices for the former, and higher ones for the latter. We do the reverse. Why? Which is the better way in the last analysis is another problem deserving study.


Part III.
Chapters 30-34


48. Concurrent Promotion of the Foreign and the Native, the Large, Medium, and Small

Page 547 expresses opposition to dispersing construction funds. If they mean that not too many major projects should be undertaken at one time lest none can be completed on schedule, then of course we agree. But if the conclusion is to be that during major construction small- and medium-scale projects should be opposed, then we disagree. The principal new industrial centers in China were established on the basis of medium- and small-scale enterprises developed in large numbers in 1958. According to initial arrangements in the steel and iron industry, construction of twenty-nine large, nearly a hundred medium, and several hundred small-scale centers will be completed over the next eight years. The medium- and small-scale ones have already had a major effect on the steel and iron industry. Speaking from the standpoint of 1959, raw iron production nationwide has exceeded 20 million tons, half of which was produced by medium- and small-scale enterprises. In the future the medium- and the small-scale enterprise will continue to have major importance for the development of the steel and iron industry. Many small ones will become medium, many medium, large; backward ones will become advanced, local models will become like foreign ones  —  this is the objective law of development.

We will adopt advanced technology, but this cannot gainsay the necessity and the inevitability of backward technology for a period of time. Since history began, revolutionary wars have always been won by those whose weapons were deficient, lost by those with the advantage in weapons. During our civil war, our War of Resistance Against Japan, and our War of Liberation, we lacked nationwide political power and modernized arsenals. If one cannot fight unless one has the most modern weapons, that is the same as disarming one’s self.

Our desire to make all-around mechanization such as the text describes a reality (p. 420) in our second decade appears still short of fulfillment; probably it will be in our third decade. In a future time, because of inadequate machinery, we will be calling for partial mechanization and improvement of our tools. For now we are holding off on general automation. Mechanization has to be discussed, but with a sense of proportion. If mechanization and automation are made too much of it is bound to make people despise partial mechanization and production by native methods. In the past we had such diversions, when everybody was demanding new technology, new machinery, the large scale, high standards; the native, the medium, or small in scale were held in contempt. We did not overcome this tendency until we promoted concurrently native and foreign, large and medium and small.

At the present time we have not proposed chemicalization of agriculture. One reason is that we do not expect to be able to produce much fertilizer in the next however many years. (And the little we have is concentrated on our industrial crops.) Another reason is that if the turn to chemicals is proposed everybody will focus on that and neglect pig-breeding. Inorganic fertilizers are also needed but they have to be combined with organic; alone they harden the soil.

The text speaks of adopting new techniques in every department. But this is not so easy to do. There must always be a process of gradual development. Moreover, even as some new machine is being adopted many old ones remain. The text is correct when it says that as you build new enterprises and renew equipment in existing factories, you should put existing machinery and mechanical equipment to use rationally and to the fullest extent. (p. 427) Things will be no different in the future.

As to the “large” and the “foreign,” we must work on these in a spirit of “self reliance for new growth.” In 1958 we proposed slogans on ridding ourselves of superstition and working with our own hands. The facts show that working on our own is quite feasible. In the past backward capitalist countries relied on the application of new techniques to catch up with advanced capitalist countries in production. The Soviet Union likewise relies on the application of advanced technology to catch up with the capitalist countries. We too must do the same, and we can.

49. Which First, Tractors or Cooperatives?

Page 563 says, “In 1928 on the eve of overall collectivization, spring crop areas were tilled 99 percent with wood or horse-drawn ploughs.” This fact refutes the text’s repeated assertion that “tractors must precede cooperatives.” On the same page we find, “Socialist production relations cleared a wide field for the development of agricultural productive forces and progress in agricultural technology.” That is true.

First the production relations have to be changed, then and only then the productive forces can be broadly developed. This rule is universal. In some countries of Eastern Europe the cooperatives were not organized very energetically, and even today they remain uncompleted. The main reason is not that they lacked tractors (they had many more than we, comparatively speaking) but that their land reform was a top-down royal favor. Land was expropriated by quota (in some countries no expropriation was carried out on farms under 100 hectares); the work of expropriation was carried out by executive order; and after the land reform instead of striking while the iron was hot they let a full five or six years go by without doing much. We did quite the reverse. We put a mass line[24] into effect, roused the poor and lower-middle peasants to launch class struggle and seize all the land of the landlord class and distribute the surplus land of rich peasants, apportioning land on a per-capita basis. (This was a tremendous revolution in the rural areas.) Immediately afterward, we followed up with the mutual aid and cooperative movements. And from that point, steadily advancing step by step, we led the peasants on to the road to socialism. We had a massive party and army. When our forces went south a full complement of cadre squads had been set in place in every province to do local work at provincial, regional, county, and district levels. As soon as our forces would arrive they would penetrate deeply into the agricultural villages, “paying call on the poor to learn of their grievances,” “striking roots and pulling things together,” and getting the active elements of the poor and lower middle peasants organized.

50. Two Goals: Large and Public

The collective farms of the Soviet Union have undergone merger twice. Over 250,000 farms were merged into over 93,000, then these were again merged into about 70,000. In the future they will surely expand again. The text says (p. 568), “We must strengthen and develop the production relations of the various collective farms and organize publicly used production enterprises among the collective farms.” Here, actually, there are many similarities to our own methods, they simply express things differently. In the future, even if their approach is like ours, it appears doubtful they will use the term commune. Differences in expression and terminology do include a substantive issue, namely, whether or not a mass line is being put into effect.

To be sure, the large scale of the Soviet Union’s collective farms may never approach ours in terms of households and population because their rural population is sparse and their land area great. But who can say that for this reason their collective farms now need no further expansion? In places like Sinkiang and Ch’inghai the communes still need to enlarge even though there are few people for much land. Some counties in our southern provinces (e.g., northern Fukien) got large communes together under like conditions.

Enlarging the communes is a major issue. Changes in quantity are bound to bring on changes in quality, to stimulate such changes. Our people’s communes are a good example  —  “Large! and Public!” First comes “Large!”  —  it will raise the level of “Public.” This means that quantitative changes bring on partial qualitative changes.

51. What Is the Fundamental Reason for the Special Emphasis on Material Interest

In the chapter on the collective farm system there is continual discussion of individual material interest. (pp. 565, 571, etc.) The present special emphasis on material interest is for a reason. In the time of Stalin there was excessive emphasis on collective interest; individual gain was neglected. The public was overemphasized, the private underemphasized. Now they have gone to the opposite extreme, overemphasizing material incentive, neglecting collective interest. And if they persist in this course it will surely go to the opposite side again.

“Public” is in relation to “private,” and vice-versa, a unity of opposites. One without the other is impossible. We have always spoken of joint consideration of public and private and long ago made the point that there is no such thing as all the one or the other, but that the public takes precedence over the private. The individual is a part of the collective. If the collective interest advances, the individual’s lot will improve in consequence.

Duality is an attribute of all things, and for all time. Of course, duality is manifested through different concrete forms, and so the character of things varies. Heredity and mutation are a duality of opposites in unity. If there were only the latter without the former the succeeding generation would be utterly unlike the prior. Rice would no longer be that which makes it rice, nor dogs, nor people. The conservative side can have a good, a positive function. It can give living things in the midst of uninterrupted change a provisional constancy or stability. So, improved rice is still rice. But heredity without mutation would mean no advance, and development would come to a halt.

52. It Is for the People to Act

Page 577 says, “Collective farms offer the natural and economic conditions for allowing differential rent to be arranged.” Differential rent is not altogether determined by objective conditions. Actually the matter rests with the people’s doing. For example, in Hopei province there are many mechanized wells along the Peking-Hankow Railway, but very few along the Tientsin-Pukow. The natural conditions are similar, the communications equally convenient, but land improvements are never the same from place to place. There may have been reasons why the one locale was receptive (or unreceptive) to improvement, or there might have been varying historical reasons. But after all, the main thing is that it is for people to act.

While we are on the subject, some of the outlying districts of Shanghai are able to breed pigs properly, others not. In Ch’ung Ming county it was originally thought that certain natural conditions, e.g., the large number of lakes, would not be favorable for pigbreeding. But after getting rid of people’s fears of difficulties, and after people adopted a positive attitude toward the business of breeding, it was realized that far from presenting an obstacle, these very natural conditions offered advantages. Actually, whether it is a matter of deep ploughing, fine horticulture, mechanization, or collectivization, it is for people to act.

Ch’ang P’ing county, Peking, has always been plagued by flood and drought. But things changed after the construction of the reservoir at the Ming Tombs. Does not this again illustrate that it is for people to act? In Honan they are planning after 1959 and 1960 to spend another three years to tame the Yellow River by completing construction of several large-scale conduits. All this shows again that it is for people to act.

53. Transport and Commerce

Transport and packaging do not increase use value, but they do increase value. The labor they use is a part of socially necessary labor. For without transportation and packaging the process of production would remain incomplete, would not enter the stage of consumption, and the use value produced could not be said to have been realized. Take coal. After the ore is mined, if it is left around the site and not delivered to the consumer by rail, steamer, or truck, its use value is completely unrealizable.

Page 585 says that they have two systems of commerce, state-operated and cooperative. In addition, they have “unorganized markets,” i.e., the collective farm markets. We have only one system. We merged the cooperative trade into the state-operated trade, and the system now seems easy enough to run. There are lots of economies on all sides.

Page 587 refers to public supervision of commerce. For this we rely on party guidance in the main; with politics in command there is supervision by the masses. The labor of commercial workers is socially necessary and without it production cannot culminate in consumption (including productive consumption and individual consumption).

54. Concurrent Promotion of Industry and Agriculture

Page 623 discusses the rule of giving priority to increasing the means of production. The unrevised third edition mentions particularly here, “giving priority to increasing the means of production means that industry will develop at a faster rate than agriculture.”

“Industry developing faster than agriculture” has to be posed in an appropriate way. One cannot emphasize industry to an inappropriate degree or trouble is sure to occur. Take our Liaoning: with its many industries, this province has an urban population that is one-third the total. In the past they had always put industry in first place, without attending at the same time to the vigorous development of agriculture. The result was that the province’s agriculture could not guarantee supplies of grain, meats, and vegetables for the urban markets, and they always had to ship these items in from other provinces. The key issue is that agricultural labor is under great strain and is short of needed machinery. This limits the development of production; growth is comparatively slow. What we had failed to understand was that it was precisely in such places as the Northeast, particularly Liaoning, where we should have taken firm hold of agriculture. So one cannot emphasize only taking firm hold of industry.

Our position is that industry and agriculture should be developed together with priority given to developing heavy industry. The phrase “concurrent promotion” in no way denies priority in growth or faster development of industry than agriculture. At the same time, “concurrent promotion” is not equal utilization of our strength. For example, this year we estimate we can produce about 14 million tons of steel materials, of which 10 percent is to be applied to agricultural technological transformation and water conservancy construction. The remaining 90 percent is to be used mainly in heavy industry and communications and transportation construction. Under this year’s conditions this is concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture. This should not be detrimental to priority growth of heavy industry or accelerating development of industry. [Agriculture in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.]

Poland has 30 million people, but only 450,000 pigs. Now meat supplies are badly strained. Even today it would seem that Poland has not placed agricultural development on its agenda.

Page 624 says, “At different times it is necessary to accelerate the development of backward agriculture, light industry, and the food industry.” Well and good, but imbalances and maladjustments created by backwardness in agriculture and light industry cannot be alleged to be merely “partial imbalances and maladjustments.” These are questions of the totality.

Page 625 says, “Rational allocation of capital is necessary to maintain, at whatever time, correct proportions between heavy and light industry.” This paragraph speaks only of heavy and light industry, not of industry and agriculture.

55. Standards for Accumulation

This has become a major issue in Poland. At the start Gomulka emphasized material incentive. He raised workers’ wages but neglected to raise their consciousness, with the result that workers thought only of making more money but did not take the right spirit to their tasks. Increases of wages outstripped increases in productivity, and wages were eating up capital. The pressure has now forced them to come out in opposition to material incentive and to champion spiritual inspiration. Gomulka has even said, “Money cannot buy people’s minds.”

Overemphasis on material incentive always seems to lead to the opposite. Writing lots of checks naturally keeps the high-salary strata happy, but when the broad masses of workers and peasants want to cash in and find they cannot, the pressure to go to the “spiritual” is no surprise.

According to what is described on page 631, in the Soviet Union accumulated capital amounts to one-fourth of the national income. In China the figures were as follows: 27 per cent in 1957, 36 percent in 1958, 42 percent in 1959, and it appears that in the future it will be possible to maintain regularly a figure of over thirty percent. The main problem lies in the vast development of production. Only if production increases and the percentages of accumulation go up a bit can people’s livelihoods be finally improved.

It is our regular responsibility to practice economies and to accumulate large amounts of materials and wealth. It would be wrong to think that this should be done only in adverse conditions. It is difficult to believe that when hardships ease economies and accumulation are not needed.


Part IV.
Chapter 35 To The Conclusion


56. The Communist State

Page 639 says, “In the higher stages of communism the state will become unnecessary and gradually diminish.” Nonetheless this will require certain international conditions. If someone else has state machinery and you do not, it is dangerous. Page 640 says that even after communism is established, as long as imperialist countries exist, the state will continue to be necessary. This position is correct. Immediately after, the book says, “But the nature and the form of such a state will be determined by the particular features of the communist system.” This sentence is hard to understand. The nature of the state is that it is a machinery for suppressing the opposed forces. Even if such a function is no longer needed internally, the coercive nature of the state will not have changed with respect to external opposing forces. The so-called form of the state means nothing more than armed forces, prisons, arrests, executions, etc. As long as imperialism still exists, what differences in form will there be when communism is reached?

57. Transition to Communism

Page 641 says, “In a socialist society there are no antagonistic classes,” but “there are still vestiges of antagonistic classes.” The transition from socialism to communism need not be made a reality through social revolution. All that can be said is that there is no need for a social revolution in which one class overthrows another, but there will be a social revolution in which new production relations and social institutions supersede old ones.

Here the text goes on to declare, “This certainly does not mean that society, as it develops along the road to communism, will not need to conquer internal contradictions.” This declaration is merely incidental. Though there are places where this text recognizes contradictions, it does so only incidentally. One thing missing from this text is that it does not proceed from the analysis of contradictions in explaining issues. As a branch of science, political economy should begin its analysis with contradictions.

When a communist society is attained, labor discipline is bound to be even more strict than it is presently because the high level of automation will require ever higher exactitude of people’s labor and conduct.

For now we are speaking of communist society as divided into two stages, a lower and a higher. This is what Marx and his circle foresaw based on conditions of social development at that time. After entering the higher stage communist society will develop into a new stage, and new goals and tasks will assuredly present themselves.

58. The Future Development of Collective Ownership

Page 650 says, “The production relations of the collective farms and the cooperatives have forms which accord fully with the present level and the present needs of the productive forces in the rural areas.” I wonder if this is indeed true.

Introducing the Red October collective farm, a Soviet article says, “Before merger, some farms were difficult to manage in a good many respects. Afterward the problems cleared up.” The article says that the farm has a population of ten thousand and that a housing project for three thousand residents is planned. This suggests that the present form of the farm is no longer fully compatible with the development of the productive forces.

The same passage says, “We must bend every effort to strengthening and further developing the cooperatives and the collective farm ownership system.” If development is needed, a process has to be gone through, so why “bend every effort to strengthen?” Socialist production relations, social systems  —  of course one must speak in terms of consolidating them, but not to the point of ruining them. The text speaks vaguely of the road ahead, but the moment it comes to concrete measures it loses all clarity. In many ways (mainly production) the Soviets continue to progress, but with respect to the production relations fundamentally they have ceased to progress.

The text says that it is necessary to make a transition from collective ownership to indivisible ownership by the whole people. But from our point of view it is first necessary to turn collective ownership into socialist ownership by the whole people, i.e., to make the agricultural means of production entirely state owned, and to turn the peasants entirely into workers under uniform contract to the state for wages. At present, nationwide, each Chinese peasant has an average annual income of 85 [65 in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] yuan. In the future, when this amount will reach 150 yuan and the majority of workers are paid by the commune, it will be possible to make a commune ownership system basically work. In this way taking the next step to state ownership should be easy.

59. Eliminating the Difference Between Urban and Rural

The last paragraph on page 651 has a good position on rural construction. Since they want to eliminate the difference (the book says “basic difference”) between urban and rural, why does the text make a point of saying that it is not “to reduce the functions of the big cities?” The cities of the future need not be so large. Residents of large cities should be dispersed into the rural areas. Building many smaller cities is a relative advantage in case of nuclear war.

60. The Problem of the Various Socialist Countries Setting Up an Economic System

Page 659 says, “Each country could concentrate its own manpower and material resources to develop its own most advantageous natural and economic conditions and departments with production experience and cadre. The respective countries would not need to produce goods which other countries could supply.”

This is not a good idea. We do not suggest this even with respect to our own provinces. We advocate all-round development and do not think that each province need not produce goods which other provinces could supply. We want the various provinces to develop a variety of production to the fullest extent, provided there is no adverse effect on the whole. One of the advantages Europe enjoys is the independence of the various countries. Each is devoted to a set of activities, causing the European economy to develop comparatively quickly. Since the time of the Chin, China has taken shape as a major power, preserving its unity on the whole over a long period of time. One of the defects was bureaucratism, under the stifling control of which local regions could not develop independently, and with everyone temporizing, economic development was very slow. Now the situation is completely different. Within the unity we want to work toward, the various provinces will also have independence. This is relative unity and it is relative independence.

The provinces resolve their own problems independently while submitting to the resolutions of the central authorities and accepting their control. On the other hand, the center’s resolutions on major issues are all made in common, through consultation between the center and the provinces. The resolutions of the Lushan Conference were like this, for example.[25] Not only did they accord with the needs of the whole country, they accorded with the needs of the various provinces. Who could take the position that only the center, not the localities, needs to oppose right opportunism? We champion having the provinces devote themselves fully to a set of activities under a unified plan for the whole country. Provided there are raw materials and markets, provided materials can be obtained and sales made locally, whatever can be done should be done to the fullest possible extent. Previously, our concern was that after the provinces had developed, a variety of industry, industrial goods (e.g., from a place like Shanghai) would in all likelihood not be wanted. Now it appears this is not the case. Shanghai has already proposed developing toward higher, larger scale, finer, and more excellent production. They still have things to do!

I wonder why the text fails to advocate each country’s doing the utmost for itself rather than not producing goods which other countries could supply? The correct method is each doing the utmost for itself as a means toward self-reliance for new growth, working independently to the greatest possible extent, making a principle out of not relying on others, and not doing something only when it really and truly cannot be done. Above all, agriculture must be done well as far as possible. Reliance on other countries or provinces for food is most dangerous.

Some countries are so small that, exactly as the text says, “To develop all industrial departments would be economically irrational, a task to which their strength is unequal.” In that case of course a country should not force it through. It would be very difficult for some of our own provinces with low population  —  Ch’inghai or Ninghsia  —  to have comprehensive development.

61. Can the Development of the Various Socialist Countries Be Evened Up?

Paragraph 3 on page 660 says, “. . . to have the overall level of economic and cultural development of the various socialist countries gradually draw parallel.” The populations, resource bases, and historic conditions of these countries are not the same. Some of their revolutions were more backward, others more advanced. How can they be evened up? If a father has some dozen children, some tall, some short, some big some small, some bright, some slow, how can they be evened up? This is Bukharin’s theory of balance. The economic development of the various socialist countries is not in balance, nor is that of the provinces within a country, or the counties within a province. Take public health in Kuangtung province. Fo Shan city and Chihlo commune have done a good job. Consequently Fo Shan is not in balance with the whole province. Chihlo is not in balance with Shaokuan. To oppose imbalances is wrong.

62. The Ultimate Question Is One of System

Page 668 says that socialist loans are different from imperialist loans. This tallies with the facts. Socialist countries are always preferable to capitalist ones. We understand this principle. The ultimate question is systemic, institutional. Systems determine the direction a country will take. Socialist systems determine that socialist countries will always stand opposed to imperialist countries and that their compromises are always provisional.

63. Relations Between the Two Economic Systems in the World

Page 658 speaks of “competition between the two world systems.” In Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Stalin offered arguments about the two world markets. The text here emphasizes peaceful competition between the two systems and building up “peacefully developing” economic relations. This turns the actually existing two world markets into two economic systems within a unified world market  —  a step back from Stalin’s view.

Between the two economic systems there is in fact not only competition but also fierce, broad-ranging struggle, a struggle the text has kept its distance from.

64. Criticism of Stalin

Stalin’s Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, like his other works, contains erroneous arguments. But the two accusations referred to on page 681 are not convincing.

One accusation is that Stalin held that “circulation of commodities seems to have already become an obstacle to the development of the productive forces. The necessity for gradually making the transition to direct exchanges of production between industry and agriculture is fully formed.”

In this book Stalin said that when there are two kinds of ownership system then there is commodity production. He said that in the enterprises of the collective farms, although the means of production (land, tools, etc.) belong to the state, the goods produced are all the property of the separate collectives. The reason is that the labor on the collectives (like the seeds) is owned by the collectives, while the land that the state has given them for permanent use is in fact controlled by the collectives as if it were their own property. Under such conditions “the collective farms are willing to release into circulation what they produce only in the commodity form, in expectation of obtaining the commodities they need in exchange. At the present time the collective farms will not enter into any economic relations other than exchange through purchase and sales.” Stalin criticized the current view in the Soviet Union that advocated doing away with commodity production, holding that commodity production was no less necessary than it was thirty years earlier when Lenin declared the need for bending every effort to develop commodity circulation.

The text says that Stalin seemed to be advocating instant elimination of commodities. This accusation is difficult to make good. As to the question of commodity exchange, for Stalin it was only a hypothesis. For he had even said, “There is no need to promote this system with urgency; it must be decided according to the degree of accumulation of goods manufactured in the cities.”

Another accusation is that Stalin underestimated the workings of the law of value in the sphere of production and especially with reference to the means of production. “In the sphere of socialist production the law of value plays no regulating role. This role is played by the law of planned proportional development and state planned economy.” This argument offered by the text is in reality Stalin’s own argument. Even though the text says that the means of production are commodities, nonetheless, in the first place, it must say that they are in the category of ownership by the whole people. Purchase and sale of the means of production in no way changes ownership. In the second place, the text ought to concede that the law of value functions differently in the sphere of production and in the process of circulation. All these arguments are consistent with Stalin’s. One real difference between Stalin and Khrushchev is that Stalin opposed selling such means of production as tractors, etc. to the collective farms while Khrushchev sold them.

65. The Text’s General Point of View

Do not think there is no Marxism-Leninism in this text, for it contains a good many views that are Marxist-Leninist. On the other hand, do not think it is entirely Marxist-Leninist, for it contains a good many views that deviate. We are not, however, ready to conclude that this text is basically negative.

The text emphasizes that a socialist economy serves the whole people, not the profit calculations of a minority of exploiters. The basic economic laws of socialism discussed in the text cannot be regarded as wholly in error. And these laws are the fundamental subject of the book. Also, the text explains planning, proportionality, high rate of development, etc., and in these respects is still socialist and Marxist. But once planning and proportionality are acknowledged, how these things are done is quite another matter. Each of us has his own approach.

Notwithstanding, this text has certain fundamental arguments that are in error. “Politics in command” and the “mass line” are not stressed. There is no discussion of “walking on two legs,” and individual material interest is one-sidedly emphasized. Material incentives are proclaimed and individualism is far too prominent.

In studying socialist economy the text does not proceed from contradictions. In truth, it does not acknowledge the universality of contradiction nor that social contradictions are the motive force of social development. The truth is that in their own society [Socialist society in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] there is still class struggle, that is, struggle between socialism and capitalist remnants. But this they do not concede. Their society [Socialist society in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] has three types of ownership: by the whole people, by the collective, and by the individual. Of course, such individual ownership is unlike individual ownership before collectivization, when the peasants’ livelihood was entirely based on individual ownership. Now they have one foot on the boat and one still on shore, mainly relying on the collective but on the individual at the same time. If there are three types of ownership, there will be contradiction and struggle. But the text has no discussion of this. There is no encouraging of the mass movement. There is no acknowledgment of having collective ownership under socialism make the transition to public ownership under socialism, of turning the whole society into the indivisible possession of the whole people as a precondition for the transition to communism.

The text uses such vague terms as “rapprochement” and “concord” to take the place of the conception that one ownership system becomes another, one kind of production relations becomes another. In these respects the book has serious faults and serious errors and has partially deviated from Marxism-Leninism.

The text is very poorly written, neither persuasive nor interesting to read. It does not proceed from concrete analysis of the contradictions between the productive forces and the production relations nor the contradiction between the economic base and the superstructure. In posing questions, in researching problems, it always proceeds from general concepts or definitions. It gives definitions without making reasoned explanations. In fact, a definition should be the result, not the starting point, of an analysis. Quite without foundation the book offers a series of laws, laws which are not discovered and verified through analysis of concrete historical development. Laws cannot be self-explanatory. If one does not work from the concrete processes, the concrete historical development, laws will not be clearly explained.

The book does not deal with problems masterfully, with overall control of its subject. Issues do not stand forth clearly. The composition is not persuasive but is dull and illogical, lacking even formal logic. It appears as if written by different authors, each taking a chapter  —  a division of labor without unity. It lacks the systemic order a textbook should have. On top of this, its method is to proceed from definitions, and it reads like an economics dictionary. The authors are passive, contradicting one another in many places, later chapters at odds with earlier ones. Cooperative division of labor and collective authorship is one method. But the best method is to have one leader writing alongside of several assistants. This is the way Marx and his circle wrote, and their works were integral, and strictly, systematically scientific.

When writing the result will be exciting only if there is a target of criticism. Although this text has some correct things to say, it does not unfold a critique of views considered wrong. This makes the reading tedious.

In many places one feels as if a scholastic is speaking, not a revolutionary. The economist who does not understand economic practice is not a true expert. The book seems to reflect the following kind of situation: there are those who do practical work but lack the ability to generalize, as they lack concepts and laws; on the other hand, those who do theoretical work lack practical experience. These two types have not been integrated; that is, theory and practice have not been integrated.

The book shows that its authors do not have a dialectical method. One has to think philosophically to write an economics text. Philosophers should participate in the writing, otherwise it will not be possible to produce a satisfactory text.

The first edition of this text appeared in early 1955. But the basic framework seems to have been set even before then. And it looks as if the model Stalin set at that time was not very enlightening.

In the Soviet Union there are presently those who disagree with how the book was done. G. Kozlov wrote an article called “A Scientific Course of Study of Socialist Political Economy” which criticized this book. His views go to the root of the matter. He points out methodological faults of the book and calls for explanations of laws that proceed from an analysis of the process of socialist production. He also makes suggestions as to structure.

In view of the criticism of Kozlov and others it is possible that another textbook with an opposite approach will be produced in the Soviet Union. Opposition is always to the good.

From a first reading of this text one comes to realize its method and viewpoint. But that is not yet thorough study. What would be best in the future is to take the issues and arguments as the core, do some meticulous research, bring together some materials, and look over other available articles, books, reports, etc., with views that differ from those in this text. One should get an idea of the different opinions on controversial issues. To clarify issues the views of at least two sides have to be understood.

We must criticize and oppose wrong opinions, but we must also protect all correct things. Both courage and caution are needed.

No matter what, for them to have written a socialist political economy is a great task on the whole. Regardless how many problems it contains, this book at the least furnishes us with material for debate, and thanks to this has led to further study.

66. How to Write a Text on Political Economy

In principle it is permissible for the text to proceed from the ownership system. But there is an even better way. In researching the capitalist economy Marx, too, studied mainly ownership of the means of production under capitalism, examining how distribution of the means of production determined the distribution of commodities. In capitalist society the social nature of production and the private nature of ownership is a fundamental contradiction. Marx began with the commodity and went on to reveal the relations among people hidden behind commodities (the relations among things). Commodities in socialist society still have duality; nonetheless, thanks to the establishment of public ownership of the means of production and the fact that labor power is no longer a commodity, duality of commodities under socialism is not the same as their duality under capitalism. The relations among people are no longer hidden behind commodity relations. Thus, if socialist economy is studied beginning with the duality of commodities, copying Marx’s method, it may well have the opposite effect of confusing the issues, making things harder for people to understand.

Political economy aims to study the production relations. As Stalin saw it, the production relations include three things: ownership, relations among people during labor, and the distribution of commodities. In writing a political economy of our own we could also begin with the ownership system. First, we describe the conversion of ownership of the means of production from private to public: how we converted private ownership of bureaucratic capital and the capitalist ownership system into socialist ownership by the whole people; how private ownership of the land by the landlords was turned first into private ownership by individual peasants and then into collective ownership under socialism; only then could we describe the contradiction between the two forms of public ownership under socialism and how collective ownership under socialism could make the transition to people’s ownership under communism. At the same time, we must describe how people’s ownership itself changes: the system of transferring cadres to lower levels, administration by different levels, right of autonomy of enterprises, etc. Although alike in being owned by the whole people, our enterprises are variously administered, some by departments of the center, others through provinces, municipalities, or autonomous regions, yet others through local special districts or counties. Some commune-run enterprises are semi-owned by the whole people, semi-owned by the collective. But whether centrally or locally administered, the enterprises are all under unified leadership and possess specific autonomous rights.

Turning to the problem of the relations among people during productive labor, the text, aside from such comments as “relations of comradely cooperation and mutual assistance,” has completely failed to come to grips with the substantive issues, having conducted no research or analysis into this area. After the question of the ownership system is solved, the most important question is administration  —  how enterprises owned either by the whole people or the collective are administered. This is the same as the question of the relations among people under a given ownership system, a subject that could use many articles. Changes in the ownership system in a given period of time always have their limits, but the relations among people in productive labor may well, on the contrary, be in ceaseless change. With respect to administration of enterprises owned by the whole people, we have adopted a set of approaches: a combination of concentrated leadership and mass movement; combinations of party leaders, working masses, and technical personnel; cadres participating in production; workers participating in administration; steadily changing unreasonable regulations and institutional practices.

As to the distribution of commodities, the text has to be rewritten, changing its present approach altogether. Hard, bitter struggle, expanding reproduction, the future prospects of communism  —  these are what have to be emphasized, not individual material interest. The goal to lead people toward is not “one spouse, one country house, one automobile, one piano, one television.” This is the road of serving the self, not the society. A “ten-thousand-league journey begins where you are standing.” But if one looks only at the feet without giving thought to the future, then the question is: What is left of revolutionary excitement and ardor? [“What energy is left for travelling?” in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.]

67. How to Study Appearances to Reach Essences

In studying a problem one must begin with the appearances that people can see and feel, in order to research the essences that lie behind them, and then go on from there to reveal the substance and contradiction of objective things and events.

At the time of the civil war and the War of Resistance Against Japan our study of the problems of war proceeded from appearances. The enemy was big and strong, we were small and weak. This was the most obvious appearance at that time, one which all could see. We were the ones who studied and resolved problems, proceeding from appearances to study how the side which was small and weak might defeat an enemy which was big and strong. We pointed out that although we were small and weak we had mass support, and that the enemy, though big and strong, was vulnerable to thrusts in certain areas. Take the civil war period, when the enemy had several hundred thousand men, we had several tens of thousands. Strategically, the enemy was strong and on the offensive, we were weak and on the defensive. But to attack us they had to divide their forces into columns, and the columns again into detachments. Typically, one company would attack a strong point while the others were still maneuvring. We would then concentrate several tens of thousands to attack one column, even concentrating the majority of our forces to take a single point of the enemy column, as another group would divert those enemy troops still maneuvring. In this way we achieved superiority at the particular point. The enemy had become small and weak, and we large and strong. Another thing is that when they would arrive at a place conditions would be unfamiliar to them, the masses would not support them, and so we would be able to wipe out an enemy group completely.

Ideology becomes systematic, generally speaking, in the wake of the movements of phenomena. The reason is that thought and understanding are reflections of material movements. Laws are things which appear over and over, not accidentally, in the movements of phenomena. It is only after the repeated appearance of something that it becomes a law and thus an object to be understood. For example, crises of capitalism occurred about every ten years. When this had happened over and over it then became possible for us to understand the laws of economic crisis in capitalist society. In land reform we had to distribute land according to population rather than labor power. But we did not understand this clearly until we had done it many times. In the late period of the second civil war “left” adventurist comrades called for distribution of land according to labor power and disapproved of distribution of land per capita. In their view even distribution of land according to population was not rigorous as to class outlook and not sufficiently from the outlook of the masses. Their slogan was: no land to the landlord, poor land to the rich peasant; to all others land according to labor power. Facts proved this approach to be wrong. How land should be distributed was made clear only after we had gone through experiences repeated over and over again.

Marxism requires that logic be consistent with history. Thought is the reflex of objective existence. Logic comes from history. Though this textbook has an abundance of materials, there is no analysis, there is no logic, the laws are not discernible, and it is not satisfactory. But a lack of materials is also unsatisfactory. Then people will see only logic and not history. Moreover, it will be only subjective logic. Here exactly are the faults of this text.

It is vital to produce a history of the development of Chinese capitalism. If those who study history do not study the different societies, the different historical eras, they will surely be unable to produce good comprehensive histories. Studying the different societies means having to find the particular laws governing those societies. Once the particular laws have been studied and made clear, it will be easy to know the general laws of society. It is necessary to discern the general from the study of many particularities. If the particular laws are not understood clearly, the general cannot be either. For example, in studying the general laws governing animals it is necessary to study separately those governing vertebrates, invertebrates, etc.

68. Philosophy Must Serve the Political Tasks Facing Us

Any philosophy is in the service of its contemporary tasks.

Capitalist philosophy has this function. And every nation, every era has new theoreticians producing new theory for the political tasks of the day. In England such bourgeois materialists as Bacon and Hobbes appeared; materialists like the Encyclopedists then appeared in eighteenth-century France; the German and Russian bourgeoisie also had their materialists. All of these were bourgeois materialists, all of whom served the political tasks of the bourgeois class. Thus the existence of English or bourgeois materialism certainly did not make French bourgeois materialism unnecessary, nor did the existence of English and French bourgeois materialism make the German or the Russian unnecessary.

The Marxist philosophy of the proletarian class is even more vitally concerned to serve contemporary political tasks. For China, Marx, Lenin, and Stalin [Omitted in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] are necessary reading. That comes first. But communists of any country and the proletarian philosophical circles of any country must create new theory, write new works, produce their own theoreticians to serve the political tasks facing them.

No nation can at any time rely only on what is old. Having Marx and Engels without Lenin’s Two Tactics and other works could not have solved the new problems of 1905 and afterward. Having only Materialism and Empirico-Criticism of 1907 would not have sufficed to cope with the new issues that arose before and after the October Revolution. To meet the needs of this time Lenin wrote Imperialism, State and Revolution and other works. After Lenin, Stalin was needed to write Foundations of Leninism and Problems of Leninism to deal with reactionaries and preserve Leninism. At the end of our second civil war and the beginning of the War of Resistance Against Japan we wrote On Practice and On Contradiction. They had to be written to meet the needs of the times.

Now that we have entered the period of socialism a whole new series of problems has appeared. If we do not meet the new needs, write the new works, give form to new theory, it will not do!




1. China’s Industrialization Problems

After the Soviet Union’s first five-year plan had been completed, when the value of all large industrial production was 70 percent of the value of all industrial and agricultural production, they promptly declared that industrialization had been made a reality. We too could quickly reach such a standard, but even if we did, we still would not claim that industrialization had become a reality, because we have over 500 million peasants devoting themselves to agriculture. If industrialization is claimed when industrial production is 70 per cent, not only would we be unable to reflect accurately the actual conditions of our national economy, but we could even create a mood of laxity.

At the first plenary session of the Eighth National People’s Congress we spoke of the necessity to establish a firm foundation for socialist industrialization in the second five-year plan. We also said that within fifteen years or so we would build an integrated industrial system. These two statements are somewhat contradictory, for without a fully equipped industrial system how can we speak of having a “firm foundation” for socialist industrialization? As things now stand, in another three years we may surpass England in output of primary industrial products. In another five years we can fulfill our task of establishing the industrial system as a practical reality.

In the long term, we expect to be known as an industrial agricultural nation. [“. . . we will not be known as an industrial nation” in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] Even if we make over 100 million tons of steel it will still be so. If our per capita output were to surpass Great Britain’s we would need to be producing 350 million tons of steel at least!

There is a special significance to picking out a country and competing with it. We are always talking about catching up with England. Our first step is to catch up in terms of primary product output, next in terms of per capita output. In shipbuilding and motor vehicle manufacture we are still far behind that country. We must strive to overtake it in all respects. Even so small a country as Japan has 4 million tons’ capacity of commercial shipping. It is inexcusable for a country as large as ours to lack the shipping to move our own goods.

In 1949 we had 90,000 or more sets of machine tools. By 1959 the number had increased to 490,000. In 1957 Japan had 600,000. The number of machine tools is an important index of the level of industrial development. Our level of mechanization still is quite low, as one can tell simply from Shanghai, where, according to the most recent survey mechanized labor, semi-mechanized labor, and manual labor each constituted one-third.

Labor productivity in Soviet industry has not as yet surpassed that of the United States. We are even further behind. Though our population is very large our labor productivity is a long way from comparing with that of others. From 1960 on we will still have to work intensively for thirteen years.

2. Social Position and Individual Capacity

On page 488 it says that in a socialist society a person’s position is determined only by labor and individual capacity. This is not necessarily so. Keen-minded people are always coming from among those in a lower position. They are looked down on by others, they have suffered indignities, and they are young. Socialist society is no exception. In the old society it was always the case that the oppressed had scant culture but were a bit keener; the oppressors had higher culture but were a little on the slow side. There is some danger of this today. The higher salaried strata of a socialist society have a bit more cultural knowledge but tend to be a trifle slow when compared to the lower strata. Thus our cadres’ sons and daughters do not quite compare with the children of non-cadres.

From small plants have come many creations and discoveries. Larger factories may have superior facilities, newer technology, and for that very reason the staff all too often assume airs of self-importance, are satisfied with things as they are and do not seek to advance and reach out ambitiously. All too often their creativity does not compare at all with that of the staff of the smaller factory. Recently in Ch’angchou there was a textile mill in which the workers created devices that raised the efficiency of the looms. This will help cotton spinning, textile weaving, and printing and dyeing achieve a balanced capability. The new technique did not come from Shanghai or Tientsin but from a small place called Ch’angchou.

Knowledge is gained by coming through adversity. If Ch’u Yuan had remained in office his writings would not exist.[1] Only because he lost his position and was “transferred downward to perform labor” was it possible for him to get close to the life of society and produce so fine a work of literature as the Li Sao. And it was not until he had been rebuffed in many states that Confucius also turned around and devoted himself to his studies. He rallied a group of the unemployed who expected to go from place to place to sell their labor power. But no one would have them. Frustrated at every turn, he had no alternative but to collect the folk songs now known as the Book of Odes and put in order the historical materials known as the Spring and Autumn.

Historically, many advanced things came not from advanced countries but from comparatively backward ones. Marxism did not come from the comparatively developed capitalist countries of the time  —  England, France  —  but from Germany, whose level of capitalist development was in between. There is a reason for this.

Scientific inventions likewise do not necessarily come from those with a high level of culture and education. At present there are many university professors who have not invented anything. Of course, this is not to deny the difference between an engineer and a worker. It is not that we do not want engineers. But there is a real question here. Historically it is usually a case of the culturally inferior defeating the culturally superior. In our civil war our commanders at various levels were culturally inferior to the Kuomintang officers, who came from military academies at home or abroad. But we defeated them.

The human animal has this flaw: looking down on others. Those who have accomplished some small thing look down on those who have yet to. Great powers, rich nations look down on the smaller, poorer ones. The Western nations looked down on Russia, historically. China is still in a similar position. There is reason for this, for we are still nothing much; such a large country, so little steel. So much illiteracy. It can do us good to have people look down on us! It will drive us to exert ourselves, to push forward.

3. Relying on the Masses

Lenin put it well when he said, “Socialism is vigorous, spirited, creative  —  the creation of the masses of the people themselves.” Our mass line is like this. Does it not agree with Leninism? After quoting this statement the text says, “The broad laboring masses increasingly participate in a direct active way in the management of production, in the work of state bodies, in the leadership of all departments in the country’s social life.” (p. 332) This is also well put. But saying is one thing and doing another. And to do this is by no means easy.

In 1928 the Central Committee of the CPSU passed a resolution which said: “We will be able to solve the task of overtaking and surpassing the capitalist countries technically and economically only when the party and the worker and peasant masses get mobilized to the limit.” (p. 337) This is very well put. And this is exactly what we are now doing. At that time Stalin had nothing else to rely on except the masses, so he demanded all-out mobilization of the party and the masses. Afterward, when they had realized some gains this way, they became less reliant on the masses.

Lenin said, “Truly democratic centralism requires that the manifold paths, forms, and methods by which local creativity and spirit of initiative attain general goals have a sufficiently unhindered development.” (p. 454). Well said. The masses can create the paths. The masses created Russia’s soviets. And they created our people’s communes.

4. The Soviet Union and China: A Few Points
to Compare in the Development Process

On page 422 the text quotes Lenin: “If state power is in the hands of the working class it is possible to make the transition to communism through state capitalism.” And so forth. This is well put. Lenin was a solid worker. Because he realized that the proletariat after the October Revolution had no experience in managing the economy, he attempted to develop the proletariat’s competence in this area by using the ways and means of state capitalism. The Russian bourgeoisie underestimated the strength of the proletariat at that time. Refusing Lenin’s conditions, they carried out slowdowns and destructive activities, forcing the workers to confiscate their properties. That is why state capitalism could not develop.

During the civil war period Russia’s problems were truly enormous. Agriculture was in ruins. Commercial links were disrupted. Communications and transport were hardly functioning. Raw materials could not be obtained, and many factories that had been expropriated could not commence operations. Because they really had no answer to this they had no choice but to turn to a system of requisitioning the peasants’ surplus grain. Actually, this was a means of taking the fruits of the peasants’ labor without compensation, a method that meant ransacking the jars and boxes of the peasants  —  not a sound practice. Only when the civil war ended was this system replaced with a grain tax.

Our civil war lasted much longer than theirs. For twenty-two years it was our practice in the base areas to collect public grain and to purchase surplus grain. We had a correct strategy toward the peasantry and during the war we relied heavily on them.

For twenty-two years we developed our political power in the base areas, and we accumulated experience in managing the economy of the base areas. We trained cadres to manage the economy and built an alliance with the peasantry, so that after the whole country was liberated we speedily carried to its completion the work of economic recovery. Immediately after that we raised the general line of the transition period, namely, putting our primary effort into socialist revolution while beginning construction under the first five-year plan. As we carried out socialist transformation we worked together with the peasantry to deal with the capitalists. There was, however, a time when Lenin said that he could bear to negotiate even with the capitalists in hopes of turning capitalism into state capitalism as a means of coping with the spontaneity of the petty bourgeoisie. Different policies arise in different historical conditions.

In the New Economic Policy (NEP) period the Soviet Union had a restrained policy toward the rich peasants because they needed the grain. We had a similar policy toward the national bourgeoisie in the early stages after liberation. Not until the collective farms and the state farms had produced in all 400 million food of grain did they move against the rich peasants, putting forward the slogan of eliminating the rich peasants and making overall collectivization a reality.[*] What about us? We did things differently, actually eliminating the rich peasant economy as early as land reform.

In the Soviet Union cooperative movement “agriculture paid a heavy price at the beginning.” (p. 397) This is what caused many of the East European countries to have plenty of anxiety over the question of cooperativization and to be fearful of organizing big. When they did get started they moved slowly. Our production was not reduced by the cooperatives. On the contrary, it increased enormously. At the beginning many were dubious. Now the number of converts is slowly increasing.

5. The Process of Forming and Consolidating a General Line

These past two years we have been conducting a great experiment.

In the early stages of Liberation we had no experience of managing the economy of the entire nation. So in the period of the first five-year plan we could do no more than copy the Soviet Union’s methods, although we never felt altogether satisfied about it. In 1955, when we had basically completed the “three transformations”[2] (at the end of the year and in the spring of the following year), we sought out over thirty cadres for consultation. As a result of those discussions we proposed the “ten great relationships” and “More! Faster! Better! More economically!” At that time we had read Stalin’s 1949 election speech, which stated that tsarist Russia was producing 4 million tons of steel annually. The figure increases to 18 million by 1940. If one reckons from 1921, there is an increase of only 14 million tons in twenty years. And to think they were socialist the whole time! Could we not do a little better, faster? After that we put forward the question of “two methods” and at the same time we worked out a forty-article program for agricultural development.[3] No other measures were proposed at the time.

After the forward leap of 1956, opposition to [Only in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] adventurous advances appeared. Bourgeois rightists took us by our pigtails and attacked savagely in an attempt to negate the accomplishment of socialist construction. In June 1957, at the National People’s Congress, Premier Chou En-lai’s report struck back at the rightists. In September the same year the party’s third plenary session of the Central Committee revived such slogans as “More! Faster! Better! More economically!” the general program in forty articles, the society for the promoting of progress, [“Great Leap Forward” in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] etc. In November in Moscow we revised a People’s Daily editorial on “More! Faster! Better! More economically!” Thus, in the winter we launched a nationwide mass movement for large-scale water conservancy.

In 1958 there were meetings, first in Nanning, then in Ch’engtu. We tore into our problems, criticizing those opposed to daring advances. We decided not to allow further opposition to daring advances. We proposed a general line for socialist construction. If there had been no Nanning meeting we could not have come up with a general line. In May a representative [Liu Shao-Ch’i in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] of the Central Committee reported to the Eighth National People’s Congress, second session. And the assembly officially passed the general line. But the line was not consolidated, so we followed with concrete measures, mainly concerning division of authority between the center and the local areas. In Peitaiho we proposed doubling steel output and got a mass movement in steel and iron underway  —  what the Western papers called backyard steel. At the same time we launched the people’s communes. Right after came the shelling of Quemoy. These things perturbed some and offended others. Errors appeared in our work. By not paying for food we ate ourselves into a crisis in grains and nonstaple foods. The ultracommunist wind was blowing. A certain percent [12 percent in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.] of daily necessities could not be supplied. Steel output for 1959 was set at 30 million tons at Peitaiho. The Wuchang meeting lowered this to 20 million. The Shanghai meeting lowered it to 16.5 million tons. Sometime in June 1959 it was cut again to 13 million. All this was seized upon by those who disagreed with us. But when the Central Committee was opposing the “left” they did not raise their objections, nor did they do so at the two Ch’engchou conferences, the Wuchang Conference, the Peking Conference, or the Shanghai Conference. They waited until the “left” had been opposed out of existence and goals had been confirmed. Further opposition to the “left” made opposition to the right necessary. At the Lushan Conference, when we needed opposition to the right, they came out against the “left.”[4]

All this goes to show that things were far from peaceful in our world, and the general line was certainly not consolidated. Now that we have come through a period of difficult zigzags and the Lushan Conference, the general line is comparatively consolidated. But “things come in threes,” so perhaps we have to prepare for a third period of zigzags. If so, we can expect that the line will be consolidated even further. According to Chekiang Provincial Committee information “equalization” and “indiscriminate transfers of property” have reappeared very recently in certain communes. The ultracommunist wind may yet appear again!

The incidents in Poland and Hungary occured in 1956, the time of the zigzags of the campaign against “daring advances.” Then the world turned against the Soviet Union. During the zigzags of 1959 the world turned against us.

The two rectification and antirightist campaigns, one in 1957, one at Lushan, subjected the effects of bourgeois ideology and remaining bourgeois influences to comparatively thoroughgoing criticism, enabling the masses to be liberated from the danger. At that time we also struck down many superstitions, including the so-called Ma Anshan Iron and Steel Constitution. [“An authoritarian refining method at a major Soviet mill”  —  note in the 1967 text.: Note by translator.][5]

In the past we did not know how to get a socialist revolution going. We thought that after the cooperatives, after joint public-private management, the problem would be solved. The savage attacks of the bourgeois rightists caused us to put forward socialist revolution as a political and an ideological line. Actually, the Lushan Conference carried forward this revolution, and it was a sharp revolution. It would have been very bad if we had not beaten down the right opportunist line at Lushan.

6. Contradictions Among the Imperialist
Nations and Other Matters

Struggles among the respective imperialisms should be seen as a major thing. That is how Lenin saw them and Stalin too, something they called the indirect reserve force of the revolution. In getting the revolutionary base areas going China enjoyed this advantageous circumstance. In the past we had contradictions among various factions of the landlord and comprador classes. Behind these domestic contradictions lay contradictions among the imperialists. It was because of these contradictions among the imperialists that only a part of the enemy rather than all of them would do battle with us directly in a particular time, so long as we utilized the contradictions properly. In addition, we usually had time to rest and reorganize. Contradictions among the imperialists was one important reason why the October Revolution could be consolidated. Fourteen nations sent intervention forces at the time. But none alone sent much. Moreover, their purposes were not coordinated. They were engaged in intrigues. During the Korean war American purposes were not coordinated with those of their allies. The war was not fought on the largest scale. Not only could America not determine its own course, France and England were not so eager.

Internationally the bourgeoisie are now extremely uneasy, afraid of any wind that might stir the grass. Their level of alertness is high, but they are in disarray.

Since the Second World War the economic crises in capitalist society are different from those of Marx’s day. Generally speaking, they used to come every seven, eight or ten years. During the fourteen years between the end of the Second World War and 1959 there were three.

At present the international scene is far more tense than after the First World War, when capitalism still had a period of relative stability, the revolution having failed everywhere except Russia. England and France were full of high spirits and the various national bourgeoisies were not all that afraid of the Soviet Union. Aside from the taking away of Germany’s colonies the entire imperialist colonial system was still in tact. After the Second World War three of the defeated imperialisms collapsed. England and France were weakened and in decline. Socialist revolution had triumphed in over ten countries. The colonial system was breaking apart. The capitalist world would never again enjoy the relative stability it had after the First World War.

7. Why China’s Industrial Revolution Can Be Very Rapid

In Western bourgeois public opinion there are now those who acknowledge that “China is one of the countries having the most rapid industrial development.” (The U.S. Conlon report on United States diplomatic policy mentions this.)

There are many countries that have carried through an industrial revolution. Compared to all previous national industrial revolutions China promises to have one of the most rapid.

The question is, why? One of the main reasons is that our socialist revolution was carried through fairly thoroughly. We carried through the revolution against the bourgeoisie thoroughly, doing our utmost to eradicate all bourgeois influences. We struck down superstitions and energetically sought to enable the masses to win thoroughgoing liberation in all areas.

8. Population [This section is found in the 1969 text only.: Note by translator.]

In eliminating the problem of excess population, rural population is the major problem, the solution of which calls for vast development of production. In China over 500 million people are devoting themselves to agriculture. But they do not eat their fill, although they toil year in year out. This is most unreasonable. In America the agricultural population is only 13 percent and on the average each person has 2,000 catties[6] of grain. We do not have so much. What shall we do to reduce the rural population? If we do not want them crowding into the cities we will have to have a great deal of industry in the countryside so that the peasants can become workers right where they are. This brings us to a major policy issue: do we want to keep rural living conditions from falling below that in the cities, keep the two roughly the same, or keep the rural slightly higher than the urban? Every commune has to have its own economic center, its own upper-level schools to train its own intellectuals. There is no other way to solve the problem of excess rural population really and truly.



[References given here have been compiled from sources other than the Maoist Documentation Project as well. — Transcriber, MIA.]

[1] There are three levels of collective ownership in the Chinese countryside. The smallest unit, the production team, usually consists of between fifteen and thirty-five families. The team is the basic ownership and production unit, owning the land it works, a number of draught animals, and small agricultural tools such as threshers and crushers. The next unit, the production brigade, is made up of from five to fifteen teams. The brigade owns larger means of production too expensive for the team to buy and too large for them to use effectively, such as tractors and irrigation equipment. The brigade also takes care of tasks, such as hill terracing, for which the team is too small. The commune, with a population from several thousand to some fifty thousand, is composed of ten to thirty brigades. In addition to providing overall coordination among the brigades, the communes own and run large industrial enterprises and projects too large for the brigade to handle, such as large water conservancy projects.

[2] The various forms of collective ownership, taken as a whole, are distinct from ownership by the whole people. Collective ownership signifies that the means of production are owned by a sector of the total population. This sector, be it a team, brigade, or commune, basically organizes and runs production. The product of a collectively owned unit, aside from taxes, belongs to the units which produced it. The unit uses part of the product for reproduction and investment and the remainder for worker income.

Ownership by the whole people, on the other hand, signifies ownership by the whole society, not a sector of it. Such enterprises are subject to direct central planning and organization. Their products are owned by the whole society and can be distributed according to need within the whole system of units under ownership by the whole people. Since these various production units are treated as a unified accounting unit, the profits or losses of an individual production unit do not affect either investment in the unit or the income of its workers.

In 1973, industry under the ownership of the whole people accounted for 97 percent of total fixed assets, 63 percent of the people engaged in industry, and 86 percent of total industrial output. Industry under collective ownership covered 3 percent of fixed assets, 36.2 percent of the industrial workforce, and 14 percent of total output. Individual handicrafts made up the other 8 percent. In commerce, 92.5 percent of retail sales were under ownership of the whole people with collectively owned units accounting for 7.3 percent of total retail sales. In agriculture, on the other hand, 80 to 90 percent of the means of production were still under collective ownership.

[3] The land reform movement refers specifically to the post-Liberation land reform campaign of 1949-1952. The agricultural producers’ cooperatives were established for the most part during the high tide of collectivization in 1955 and early 1956. The people’s communes were organized throughout China in the fall of 1958 during the initial stages of the Great Leap Forward.

[4] Comprador capitalism refers to foreign commercial establishments in China staffed by Chinese who served these foreign interests.

[5] For Comrade Mao’s discussions of the importance of bureaucratic capital and policy toward it at that time, see “The Present Situation and Our Tasks,” December 25, 1947, and “Report to the Second Session of the Seventh Central Committee,” March 5, 1949, in Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, vol. 4 (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1961), pp. 167-68 and 361-75.

[6] Here Comrade Mao is referring to the activities of Chang Po-chün (Zhang Pojun) and Lo Lung-chi (Luo Longji). In the summer of 1957 Chang suggested giving more power to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which consisted largely of members of the various democratic parties. This unit would serve as an “upper house” with veto power over the CCP-dominated National People’s Congress. Lo proposed a set of “rehabilitation committees” to examine the treatment of democratic persons who he argued were unfairly treated in the anti-counter-revolutionary campaigns of the early 1950s.

[7] Fixed interest was a specific part of the CCP’s strategy of “buying out” the national bourgeoisie. After Liberation, policy toward them went through several stages. The first stage was the placing of orders by the state with private enterprises for manufacturing and processing and the unified purchase and distribution of products produced by these enterprises. After the rectification campaign in private industry in 1952, a second phase of “dividing the profits into four shares” was implemented. The four relatively equal shares were: (1) taxes paid to the state; (2) contributions to the worker welfare fund; (3) enterprise development funds; and (4) profits for the capitalists.

The third stage was the implementation of joint state-private ownership, first of individual enterprises and then of entire trades. In this “highest phase of state capitalism,” the income of the capitalists would come from the income they received for the work they did within the units and from “fixed interest.” Fixed interest was to be paid for twenty years at the annual rate of 5 percent of the value of the assets of the enterprises regardless of the annual profits or losses of the individual firms. Fixed interest payments were terminated during the Cultural Revolution.

[8] The policy of unified purchase and supply meant that the government would buy certain products at fixed prices, thus eliminating the private market and conditions for speculation in these goods. Unified purchase and supply of grain, edible oils, and oilseeds was instituted in March 1954, and in September 1954 the policy was instituted for cotton and cotton cloth.

Under the system of unified purchase and supply, there are three categories of goods. Goods in the first category (which, as of April 1959, included 38 products) are sold to state companies at fixed prices. Second category goods (293 products as of April 1959) are sold to the state according to quotas reached on a contractual basis. Above-quota production can, but need not, be sold to the state. Third category goods (those not included in the first or second categories) may still be sold on the market.

[9] “Red and expert” describes a unity of opposites in building a socialist society. Redness suggests political and ideological aspects of work; expertness the technical aspects. Both are necessary aspects of all work. But in line with his reasoning that every contradiction must have a primary aspect, Comrade Mao has long held that “ideological and political work is the guarantee . . . the ‘soul’” of economic and technical work. On the other hand if redness is emphasized to the exclusion of expertness, then the unity of opposites will be destroyed and the task of building socialism will become impossible.

[10] In March 1949 the CCP began to organize a People’s Political Consultative Conference representing twenty-three parties and groups. In September 1949 the Preparatory Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Conference met and passed the Common Program, a general statement of the aims of the new government, and the Organic Law of the Central People’s Republic which made the working class the leaders of the Republic. Subsequently, the National People’s Congress, first convened in 1954, was established as the dominant long-term national legislative body in China.

[11] One Chinese dollar (yuan) has a value of U.S. $.53 (April 1977). The value of the yuan has been stable at approximately U.S. $.50 for over twenty years, the variations coming mainly as a result of devaluations of the U.S. dollar.

[12] Here Comrade Mao is probably referring to his own experiences during the Great Leap Forward. At Wuchang (Wuzhang) in November 1958, Comrade Mao admitted that at the Peitaiho (Beitaihe) Conference in August 1958, during the height of enthusiasm for the Great Leap, he had made a similar error of considering only need and not capacity.

[13] This formulation of these crucial contradictions is contained in Comrade Mao’s April 1956 speech, “On the Ten Major Relationships.”

[14] Mutual aid teams were an early form of collective agricultural organization. Based on traditional peasant seasonal labor-sharing practices in parts of China, they were extensively implemented in the early 1950s. In 1955, nearly 60 percent of China’s peasant households were in mutual aid teams.

These teams were supplanted in 1955 by elementary agricultural producers’ cooperatives (APCs). Each APC contained several mutual aid teams; land and other capital goods continued to be privately owned, but other resources were pooled and used according to annual plans prepared by cooperative decision-making. By June 1956, however, 63 percent of the peasant households had progressed to larger, advanced APCs in which land, labor, and the means of production were pooled.

[15] Chang Tien-p’ei (Zhung Dian-pei) was a film critic in the mid-1950s who later took part in the antiparty, antisocialist current of 1957.

[16] The “three-antis” (Sanfan) campaign, begun in the northeast in August 1951 and nationally in January 1952, was directed against corruption, waste, and bureaucratism among government employees, many of whom were still carryovers from the Nationalist regime. The “five-antis” (Wufan) campaign was directed at the national bourgeoisie. Its specific foci were the elimination of bribery, theft of state property, tax evasion, theft of state economic secrets, and embezzlement in carrying out government contracts.

[17] Here Comrade Mao is referring to the rightist criticisms of the CCP during the “blooming and contending” period in the spring of 1957, shortly after he had delivered his talk, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” in February 1957.

[18] In July 1959, at the Lushan Conference, a group of party leaders headed by then Defense Minister P’eng Teh-huai (Peng De-huai) criticized the Great Leap Forward and its leadership as “petty bourgeois fanaticism.” They argued that it had created far more damage than good. After a major struggle at the plenum conference, P’eng and other rightists were removed from their positions of responsibility in the party and the government.

[19] The argument presented by the textbook that the socialist revolution in the ideological and political fronts was concluded in 1957 is similar to the argument in the Resolution of the Eighth Party Congress in 1956. That is to say, the main contradiction in China was no longer that between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but between the advanced relations of production (the ideological and political fronts on which the revolution was “concluded”) and the backward forces of production.

[20] The 45 percent rate of accumulation noted here by Comrade Mao is an exceptionally high one used to demonstrate an exemplary advanced situation. During the Great Leap Forward, Comrade Mao had consistently argued against excessive rates of accumulation which would reduce the peasants’ incentives to produce. As a general rule, he prescribed the following breakdown for agricultural production: taxes (7 percent); production expenses (20 percent); accumulation (18 percent); distribution to the masses (55 percent).

[21] The Eight-Character Charter for Agriculture, propagated during the Great Leap Forward, called for paying attention to water, fertilizer, soil (conservation), seeds (selection), closeness (in planting), protection (of plants), implements, and (field) management.

[22] Here Comrade Mao is referring to the fifth grade in China’s present eight-grade wage system.

[23] During the War of Liberation, cadres received goods according to need, not according to work done. These goods were distributed directly for use, not through any market mechanism based on exchange value. Under these circumstances, however, needs were defined quite spartanly.

[24] The mass line is the method of leadership which the CCP strives to achieve. Its classic formulation by Comrade Mao is as follows:

In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily “from the masses, to the masses.” This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them, and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas be coming more correct, more vital, and richer each time.

From: “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership,” June 1, 1943, Selected Works, vol. 3, p. 119.

[25] Comrade Mao is referring again to the July-August 1959 Lushan Conference at which the conflict with P’eng Teh-huai came to the fore.



[1] Ch’u Yuan (Qu Yuan) was an aristocrat of the Chou period who lived during the beginning of the third century B.C. After being dismissed from the royal court, he wrote the Li Sao, an allegorical, fanciful search for an understanding ruler. He subsequently drowned himself out of despair.

[2] The “three transformations” refers to the transformation of agriculture, private industry, and handicrafts production.

[3] The forty-articles program represented a plan for agricultural development supported by Comrade Mao. The forty articles advocated relying on agricultural production and the domestic agricultural market, rather than foreign markets, to provide the primary accumulation needed to finance China’s industrialization. The articles also advocated changing the relations of production as a condition for further developing the forces of production and increasing cooperativization. The vast majority of the peasants were to increase their income through this process. Although the forty articles were shelved during 1956 and most of 1957, they became an integral part of the Great Leap Forward.

[4] As Comrade Mao here indicates, a series of meetings were held from November 1958 through early 1959. At these meetings the errors of the Great Leap were criticized and efforts made to correct them. However, it was only after these errors had been criticized and corrections made that, in July 1959, the rightists launched what Comrade Mao saw as an opportunist attack on the Great Leap and the leadership who had supported it. This perception of the rightist criticisms is reflected in the titles of the two talks Comrade Mao gave at the Lushan Conference “Why Do the Right Opportunists Now Launch an Offensive?” and “Machine Guns, Mortars, and Other Things” (reflecting the antagonistic nature of the attack.)

[5] The Ma Anshan Iron and Steel Constitution refers to the authoritarian constitution of the Soviet Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, which the Anshan Works, China’s most advanced iron and steel works, had adopted in the 1950s. This constitution remained unchallenged until 1958. During the Great Leap Forward, the “Ma-An” principles of one person in command and technology in command were challenged in a report to the central leadership.

By March 1960, with Comrade Mao’s participation, a new Anshan Constitution had been written. It combined the five principles of (1) politics in command; (2) strengthening party leadership; (3) launching vigorous mass movements; (4) instituting the “two participations, one reform, and three combinations” (cadre participation in productive labor and worker participation in management; reform of irrational and outdated rules; cooperation between workers, cadres, and technicians); and (5) go full speed ahead with technical innovations and the technical revolution. Although Comrade Mao authorized the issue, publication, and implementation of the new Anshan Constitution in March 1960, it was not until the Cultural Revolution that it was publicized in a big way.

[6] A catty is 1.1 pounds.

[*] In “Several Questions Concerning Soviet Land Policy” (December 1929) Stalin said, “In 1927 the rich peasants produced over 600 million food of grain, of which 130 million were sold through rural exchange. This is a substantial force which we can not slight. Tell me, how much had our collective and state farms produced at that time? About 80 million food, of which 30 million were commodity grains.” So Stalin decided, “Under these circumstances we can not resolutely attack the rich peasants.” And Stalin continued, “Now we have a sufficient material basis to attack them.” That was because in 1929 the collective and state farms produced no less than 400 million food, of which over 130 million were commodity grains. (Josef Stalin, Complete Works, vol 12, p. 142.) [Transcriber’s Note: See Stalin’s “Concerning Questions of Agrarian Policy in the U.S.S.R.”.]

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung