Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Speech At The Central Work Conference

December 28, 1964

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

I don’t have much to say. Is this document (referring to the 23 Articles[1]) all right?

Article one, regarding the nature of the problem, is such a provision feasible?

There are three kinds of presentation. Are the first two better or is the third one better?

I have discussed it with members of the Standing Committee and also with several local comrades, deeming that the third method of presentation is better.

This is because the name of the movement is the socialist education movement, not a four clean-up education movement, nor an educational movement on intertwining contradictions.

At the Pei-tai-ho conference in 1962, the 10th plenary session of the Central Committee issued a communiqué, stating that we should undertake socialism, not capitalism.

During the first half of 1962, there was blown the “wind of individual farming.” There were also “three conciliations and one reduction” and “three freedoms and one contract” which blew with terrific force. Teng Tzu-hui[2] was one of those in the “wind of individual farming,” there being several others beside him. Some comrades were persuaded; others listened, but would not reply or answer questions.

We have undertaken socialism for so many years, yet some comrades would not respond or answer questions.

In April and May there was not a single local comrade who said that situation was fine, and only army comrades said it was all right. I heard this directly from Hsu Shih-yu[3], X X X, and indirectly from Yang Te-chih and Han Hsien-ch’u. It was then in May, and they would say only that the situation was bad, and that there was such a general atmosphere.

When I went to Tsinan in June, several comrades told me that the situation was good. Why was there this change? They did not reap wheat in May, but in June they did.

Why should I talk about the situation at Pei-tai-ho? It is because someone said then that if “production was not contracted to each household, it would take some eight to ten years to recover.” Should we undertake socialism, or capitalism? This was a kind of class struggle. Consequently, it was asked “whether class, and class contradiction exist?”

Thus, it was felt by the standing members of the Political Bureau and through public discussions that the third method of presentation was more appropriate because it envisages the nature of the problem.

The focus was to rectify the power holders within the party taking the capitalist road. Comrade Ch’en I[4] said that he was also a power holder, and if you wouldn’t take the capitalist road, you could still be the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Article 16, regarding working attitude; this means that democracy must be stressed.

When you say every day there must be democracy, this is undemocratic. When you ask others to be democratic, you are not democratic yourself.

There have always been three great democracies in the army. When you cannot capture a fortress, you will summon the soldiers, fighter and squad leaders to hold a meeting and discuss strategy. You will then find the way. This is military democracy.

Political democracy  —  the three great disciplines.

Economic democracy  —  the mess should be managed by fighters. Do they still manage it now? This cannot be left entirely to the care of the quartermaster. There are two officers in each company: a sergeant clerk and a quartermaster. The sergeant clerk is in charge of copying work, which is to write reports. It seems terrific, because he knows a few characters.

One should listen to both good words and bad. There is no problem if you prefer to hear good words. The problems is with bad works. I once spoke at a rally of some 7,000 people, saying although “one should not touch the buttocks of a tiger, I [Lao-tzu] insist on touching it.” [5] Later, I realized that expression was uncouth and changed it. In this case the I denotes the laboring people and lower echelon cadres, and people like us aren’t too good to touch. If you wish to expose his scar or blister, it won’t be too easy!

One should listen to both correct words and incorrect words. You should listen to what is right, but even though it’s wrong, continue to listen. If others should criticize you wrongly, what does it matter? You are correct, and when someone makes a wrong criticism, the responsibility is his. What does it matter if you listen to him? But if you won’t listen, it is no good. When it is correct, and when the criticism is apt, you must listen. If the criticism is wrong, it behoves you all the more to listen. Moreover, especially when they say something against you, you must listen patiently. That is rather difficult to do.

You must allow the other person to finish his talk which is also somewhat difficult to do. He may talk quite long, and there may be too much water and too little rice, resembling a bowl of congee; I have suffered from such ordeals many times. There was someone who talked for two hours, but still didn’t get to the point. I asked him if I could help him, and then he got to the point. When at Yenan, X X X once came to visit me. He rambled on for two hours without getting anywhere. I asked him what he wanted from me, and then he mentioned his purpose. There was then another comrade who would only lecture, and would refuse to answer my questions. I could only listen to his lecturing. There are many such people in the world whose purpose is to lecture others. They want to lecture people like me, copiously and ramblingly.

There is a distinction between propaganda and incitement. In propaganda many concepts are linked together, in incitement, there is only one concept or one slogan. For instance, when you conduct a strike, you present a slogan which is very simple. This is called incitement. When you write articles, make reports, and engage in lengthy discourses, this is propaganda. When you hang up posters, this is incitement (mobilization for a specific event.)

X X X discovered this, and he talked about it twice, taking 50 minutes one time, and zero minutes another time because nobody wanted to listen to him! I have always advocated that in listening to speeches, one must not clap hands. If you don’t like to listen, you may take a nap. When your talk is boring, it’d be better for him to take a nap to maintain his health. It is better to maintain one’s health against such ordeals. Another way is to read a novel. I did this when I was attending school, and in this way I kicked out the teacher. (He related his story as a student.) This could have been my fault, or perhaps it was because what the teacher lectured on was uninteresting that I began to read novels, and later I invented napping. Don’t say that I have had no inventions, because I also invented (laughter). I used this method to punish those who, instead of engaging in some form of dialogue, would merely lecture, and to harass those teachers who were prone to giving lecture, but would not allow their students to ask questions or question their students as a way of stimulation. If there is a teaching syllabus in a class, the teacher won’t have to lecture. All he has to do is to let the students read it, and raise some questions for student discussions. When the government work report was presented this time, I suggested that it need not be read. But they said there might be some illiterates, so I conceded and it was read. I also clapped. In this kind of meeting, I am also for clapping hands.

Among comrades, you must not make others afraid of you. But in the case of the enemy, you must make him afraid. One must by no means make others afraid of you among comrades! If you do so, there must be some trouble with you, for otherwise, why would you want others to be afraid of you? When you make others afraid of you, it must be because you are weak in reasoning.

In army units in old days, the squad leader would train his soldiers with these methods: beating, scolding, and detention, and nothing else. He was undemocratic. Later, we said that beating and scolding should not be permitted, and now detention has also been abolished. Soldiers desert, and if they desert, let them go and why apprehend them? To capture the deserter and shoot him, why! Why would others desert? It is most probably because they could not live in your place. Let them run away. If you want to get the deserter back, you will have to admit your errors to him and invite him to eat rice and pork. You should tell him that if he still wants to run away, he could do so, but if not, he could stay. You can’t use the method of beating and scolding and incarceration to deal with deserters. Let the deserter run away, because such a soldier has a rather low positiveness, and what is the use of keeping him? He could flee to some foreign country, and what does that matter? China has so many people. They might denounce us, but then so many people have denounced us, including Khrushchev and Kennedy who are not Chinese. The musician Fu Ts’ung has fled to England. I say this is good. What’s the use of keeping this kind of person in the country?

I have spoken only on these two points: the nature of the problem, and the working attitude.



[1.] Later this document was issued as a directive of the CC. Extracts from the directive of 14 January 1965 on the socialist education movement in the countryside, known as the twenty-three point directive (Nung-is’un she-hui-chu-i chiao-yu yun-tung chung mu-ch’ien t’i-ck’u ti-i-hsien wen-t’i), 14 January 1965, paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are given below:

Since the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the Party in September 1962, as a result of the socialist education movement which has developed in the cities and in the countryside, as a result of the application of a series of Central Committee policies by the whole Party, as a result of the active efforts of the popular masses, numerous party members and cadres, an excellent situation has come into being on the political, economic, ideological and cultural, and military fronts in our country. In the course of the past few months, more than a million cadres throughout the country have gone deep down into units at the grass-roots level in the villages, and a new high tide has emerged in the movement for socialist revolution.

The many great successes which our country has obtained so rapidly in the course of the past year, demonstrate that our Party’s general line for building socialism is correct. At the same time, this has demonstrated even further that our Chinese Communist Party, headed by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, is a great, glorious and correct Party. . .

Serious and sharp class struggles persist both in our cities and in the countryside. Once the socialist transformation of the system of property has been basically carried out, the class enemies who oppose socialism endeavor to use the method of ‘peaceful evolution’ in order to re-establish capitalism. This situation of class struggle is necessarily reflected within the Party. The leadership of some communes, brigades, enterprises, and other units has been corrupted, or usurped. . . Experience has shown that if only the whole Party. . . thoroughly applies the various directives of the Party Central Committee regarding the Socialist Education Movement, grasps the essential principle of class struggle, relies on the working class, the poor and lower, middle peasants, the revolutionary cadres, the revolutionary intellectuals, and other revolutionary elements, and takes care to unite over ninety-five per cent of the masses, and over ninety-five per cent of the cadres  —  provided we do this, the numerous questions still persisting in the cities and in the countryside will not be hard to locate and to solve. . .

The important point in this campaign is rectifying those people within the party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road. . . Some of those people in authority taking the capitalist road do so openly, others act behind the scenes. Some of those who support them are at lower levels, some are at higher levels. At the lower levels, there are landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, and other bad elements who have already been identified, and also similar elements who have not been detected. At the higher levels, there are those who oppose building socialism in the communes, the ch’u, the hsien, the special districts, and even in the work of provincial and Central Committee departments. Among them are those who were originally class alien elements; there are those who have shed their skins and changed their nature; and there are those who have taken bribes and traitorously banded together to break the law and cause disorder. . .

The overwhelming majority of our cadres want to take the socialist road, but there are few people among them who do not have a clear understanding of the socialist revolution, do not employ people properly, do not investigate the work energetically, and commit bureaucratic errors. . .

The socialist education movement in the cities and the countryside will henceforth be called simply the four clean-ups movement, i.e. political economic, organizational and ideological clean-up. In the cities, the socialist education movement was known in the past as the ‘five-antis’ movement. Henceforth, it will also be known as the four clean-ups, and the term five-antis will be abolished. . .

In June 1964, at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Central Committee, attended by the first secretaries of all the regional bureaus of the Central Committee, Comrade Mao Tse-tung said:

What are the criteria for carrying out the socialist education movement well?

1.  One must see whether the poor and lower middle peasants are really stirred into action or not.

2.  Has the problem of the ‘four uncleans’ among the cadres been solved or not?

3.  Have the cadres taken part in manual labour or not?

4.  Has a good leadership core been established or not?

5.  When landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and bad elements are discovered who indulge in disruptive activities, is this contradiction simply handed over to higher authorities, or are the masses mobilized to watch them seriously and reform them on the spot?

6.  One must see whether the result is to increase or to decrease production

. . . Throughout the whole movement, we must make use of contradictions, win over the majority, oppose and smash the minority; those who resolutely take the capitalist road are always an extreme minority. There are some people who have committed errors who can still correct them. As for those people who are the target of the four clean-ups, we must be good at dissociating them, at treating them in a discriminating fashion, and at isolating the worst offenders to the greatest extent possible. . . .

[2.] See notes 16, 17 on p. 143 of this volume.

[3.] See note 9 on p. 79 of this volume.

[4.] A reference to comrade Chen Yi (C’hen I) the late foreign minister.

[5.] See “ Talk at The Enlarged Working Conference Convened by The CC of the CPC ” Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Volume VIII, pp 313-336.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung