Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Directive On Labour Reform

April 28, 1964

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red GuardPublication.]

Comrade Hsieh Fu-chih during a briefing said: Last year we paid close attention to grasping [labor] reform; yet it was one of the best years in production in recent years. However, the problem of the relationship between reform and production in our labor reform work has not been solved even now.

The chairman said: What is the key to reform, reform of men or labor reform in production, or put stress on both? Should we attach more importance to men, to things, or to both? Some comrades think only things, not men, are important. In fact, if we do our work on men well, we shall have things as well.

Hsieh Fu chih: I read the double-ten articles to the prisoners of the Shou-shih production team of the First Prison of Chekiang Province. They were also read by other comrades of the working group to the Ch’iao-shih farm 5th brigade. Afterward the overwhelming majority of the prisoners who had not confessed before now admitted their guilt and many recalcitrant prisoners also changed for the better.

The chairman: In general, those people are still useful. Why do they feel interested in the double-ten articles?

Hsieh Fu-chih: Once they understood the Party’s policy, they felt that they themselves, in particular their family and children, had a future in their life.

The chairman: So it is! If they have a future, they have confidence in reforming themselves. Otherwise all they see is darkness so they cannot confidently reform themselves.

Hsieh Fu-chih: At first, many cadres had objected to reading the double-ten articles to the prisoners. However, having heard them read, the prisoners became more amenable. So the attitude of the cadres also changed.

The chairman: Many cadres objected to reading the double-ten articles because they were afraid that this would make their way of things ineffectual. They don’t believe they are capable of turning the overwhelming majority of the prisoners into new men. In the past, officers of the Red Army had relied on beating, scolding, detaining, shooting, and so forth to lead their troops. A company commander or a platoon leader could not lead his men without beating or scolding them, or showing them an air of his importance. This state of affairs had gone on for many years. Later after summing up experiences it changed gradually with the result that the soldiers became more easily led. To do work on men well is not to press them into submission but to convince them by persuasion. At present, your way of doing things has begun to take effect, but even a beginning takes so many years to take effect.

The original level of labour reform cadres has not changed.

Hsieh Fu-chih: The quality of these cadres is weak but their tasks are heavy. Their work runs the gamut of class struggle, struggle for production and scientific experiment.

The chairman: So it is! If you are not good at anything, how can you reform anybody? (Comrade Hsieh Fu-chih: Through study at selected basic units we proposed labour reform’s “four first,” “two predominant factors,” and “two leniencies and two stringencies.” For handling prisoners who had served their sentence and became employed, we brought out “four retain and four do not retain,” and labour reform cadres were required to have “four knows” regarding their prisoners.)

The chairman: This is quite good. What are you doing in other areas?

Hsieh Fu-chih: We are ready to carry out these measures at certain test points and extend them step by step. We have done our work well in reforming Japanese and Chinese war criminals. After their release, except in some individual cases, the overwhelming majority of them have given a good account of themselves.

The chairman: Under certain conditions, when the enemies have laid down their arms and surrendered themselves, the overwhelming majority of them can be reformed, but there must be a good policy and a good method to make them consciously reform themselves without relying exclusively on submission by compulsion.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung