Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk On The Third Five Year Plan

June 6, 1964

[SOURCE: Long live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

In the past, the method of planning was essentially learned from the Soviet Union and comparatively easy to do. First you determine how much steel is needed, then on this basis estimate how much coal, electricity, transport force, and so on are needed; and then based on these assumptions estimate the expected increase in urban population and the livelihood benefits. This is the method of using the calculator. Once the output of steel is reduced, all other items are correspondingly reduced. This kind of method is impractical and unworkable. This type of calculation cannot take into account what the Lord in Heaven will do to the plan. Suppose a natural disaster comes and you just won’t have such a quantity of foodgrains, support to the urban population cannot increase to the extent desired and then everything else comes to naught. Besides you cannot figure in what war will do. We are not the chief of staff of the U.S., so we don’t know when they will strike against us. Furthermore, revolutions in various countries cannot be figured into the plan. Suppose in some countries the people’s revolutions have succeeded and they need our economic assistance. How can this be foretold?

It is necessary to change the method of planning. This is a revolution. After we learned the Soviet method, it has become a force of habit with us and it seems hard to change.

In the last few years we have been groping our way and found some other method. Our policy is to take agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor. Pursuant to this policy, when we map out a plan we first see what quantity of foodgrains can be produced, then estimate how much fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, iron and steel, and so on are needed.

How do we plan for an annual harvest? It will be determined by the assumption that in 5 years there will be 1 year of good harvest, 2 years of ordinary harvest, and 2 years of poor harvest. This is more practical and dependable. It should first be ascertained what quantity of foodgrains, cotton and other economic crops can be produced under such conditions and then how much industry can be planned for on this foundation. If the harvest of the year is better, so much the better.

Moreover, we should consider war and make strategic plans. Party committees in various localities should not manage civil affairs alone and ignore the military, should not manage money alone and ignore guns. As long as imperialism exists, there is always the danger of war. We must build up the strategic rear. . . This does not mean that we no longer care about the sea coast which must also be well-guarded so that it can play the role of supporting the construction of new bases.

Two fists and one rear end. Agriculture is one fist, and national defence is another fist. To make the fist strong, the rear end must be seated securely. The rear end is basic industry.

At present, the main problem of basic industry is one of variety and quality which must be solved. Last year although the output of steel was less, it had more variety and better quality and consequently more uses than in the past. The key does not lie in the quantity of output. The Soviet Union takes quantity as the criterion. If they fail to fulfil the quantity target of steel output, it looks as if their total socialist construction is lost. They have kept on raising their quantity target every year and they have been making empty boasts every year. As a matter of fact, a state will not collapse simply because a planned quantity target has not been fulfilled. Given a definite quantity of output, variety will increase, and thus the foundation will be strengthened.

In agriculture we must mainly rely on the spirit of Ta-chai and self-reliance. This is not to say that it does not need the support of industry. Water conservancy, chemical fertilizer, and pesticides all need the support of basic industry.

We should take hold of the objective relationship of proportions in mapping out any plan.

Planning should not be done merely by adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. As soon as calculations have been completed, all departments and all localities will be fighting four figures, personnel, and money and engaged in litigation. . . We must let politics take command, entertain an over-all viewpoint, and formulate a plan not in accordance with the desire of any particular locality but with the laws governing the objective existence of the things themselves.

Don’t fight for money all the time. Don’t spend money wastefully as soon as it comes into hand. Chou Hsin-fang earns 1,700 yuan in wages every month, and regardless of the number of performances, still deposits money in Hong Kong. Some young actors already have their “10-year plan,” hoping to surpass Chou Hsin-fang. Bourgeois intellectuals may be bought if necessary according to our policy. But why should we buy proletarian intellectuals? He who has plenty of money is bound to corrupt himself, his family and those around him. . . In the Soviet Union the high-salaried class first came from the literature and art circles.

Strive for several years so that we no longer have to import foodgrains, and use the foreign exchange thus saved to buy more technological equipment and materials. . .

We must not waste money. As soon as situation gets better, don’t try to “do it in a big way” again freely. “Make some allowances;” I have said this so many times in the past and no one acted accordingly. However, you have so acted in the past 2 years; don’t go back again when the situation turns better.

The majority of workers in official organs can work and participate in manual labor half of the time, respectively. This is worth promoting. Laziness is one of the root causes of revisionism.

Why are there so many literature and art associations in Peking? They have nothing to do. Maybe they are doing some disorderly things. At the literature and art festivals, the performance of the army ranks first, the localities second, and Peking (Central) the worst. This association, that association, this sort of thing is also transplanted from the Soviet Union. The central literature and art organizations are still ruled by foreigners and dead men. . . We must go deeply into the life of the living. If we keep on playing with dead men and foreigners, our nation will doomed. We must serve the workers and poor and lower-middle peasants. Physical cultural should also be beneficial to revolutionary struggle and construction.

Among cadres in general, many are “three door” cadres (leaving family door, entering school door, and entering office door). Cadres cannot be reared and trained well through the “three doors.” It is dangerous to rely on this type of cadres to take hold of the future of the state. Nor will it do to depend on those cadres who have entered the “primary school door, middle school door, and college door.” It will not do to not read books, nor will it do to read too many books. Ability does not depend on books alone; it must depend on practice. Our state will chiefly rely on those cadres who have read books through practice to take hold of its future.

All provinces should manage military defense industry. We should squeeze some money from industry, agriculture, and culture and education. We don’t need to establish so many regular schools. Tsinghua University has over 10,000 students and 40,000 professors, staff and family members. The spirit of leadership is going to be greatly wasted in this way.

We don’t really have make academicians and PhD’s.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung