Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk At A Meeting Of The Central
Cultural Revolution Group

January 9, 1967

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

At the Wen-hui-pao the leftists have now seized power.[1] They rebelled on the fourth. The Liberation Daily also rebelled on the sixth. This is the right direction. I have read all three editions of the Wen-hui-pao since the seizure of power. They reprinted some articles by Red Guards. Some of them are good and should be reprinted elsewhere. On the fifth the Wen-hui-pao issued ‘A Letter to the People of the Whole City’. The People’s Daily should reprint it,[2] and the radio stations should broadcast it. Internal rebellions are one. In a few days we can make a general report on them. This is one class overthrowing another. This is a great revolution. Many papers in my opinion would be better closed down. But newspapers must still come out. The question is by whom they are brought out. It is good that the Wen-hui-pao and the Liberation Daily have changed management. As soon as they come out these two papers will certainly influence East China and every province and city in the country.

Before you make a revolution, you must first create public opinion. ‘June First’ was when power was seized in the People’s Daily. The Centre sent a work team and put out the editorial ‘Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons’[3]. I do not agree with the wholesale replacement of the staff of the People’s Daily, but it had to be taken over. T’ang P’ing-shu replaced Wu Leng-hsi.[4] At first the masses were distrustful because the People’s Daily had deceived people in the past, and what’s more it had issued no statement. The seizure of power in two newspapers is a national question and we should support their rebellion.

Our newspapers should reprint Red Guard articles. They are very well written whereas our stuff is utterly lifeless. The Propaganda Department of the Central Committee can be done away with, though those people can continue to eat there. There are many things which the Propaganda Department and the Ministry of Culture were unable to cope with. Even you (pointing to Comrade Ch’en Po-ta) and I could not cope with them. But when the Red Guards came they were immediately brought under control.

The upsurge of revolutionary power in Shanghai has brought hope to the whole country. It cannot fail to influence the whole of East China and all provinces and cities in the country. ‘A Letter to the People of the Whole City’ is a rare example of a good article. It refers to the city of Shanghai but the problem it discussed is of national significance.

In making revolution these days people demand this and that. When we made revolution from 1920 onwards we set up first the Youth League and then the Communist Party. We had no funds, no printing press, no bicycles. When we ran newspapers we were very friendly with the workers and chatted with them as we edited articles.

We should establish links with all sorts of people, left, right and centre. I have never agreed with a unit being all that pure in its approach. (Someone responded: ‘Wu Leng-hsi’s lot are now very comfortable. They have put on weight.’) We have allowed Wu Leng-hsi to become too comfortable. I am not in favour of their dismissal. Let them remain at their posts to be supervised by the masses.

When we started to make revolution it was opportunism which we met with, not Marxism-Leninism. When I was young I hadn’t even read the Communist Manifesto.

We must speak of grasping revolution and promoting production. We must not make revolution in isolation from production. The conservative faction do not grasp production. This is a class struggle. You must not believe that ‘When Chang the Butcher is dead, we’ll have to eat pork bristles and all’, or that we can do nothing without them. Don’t believe that sort of rubbish.



[1.] The ‘seizure of power’ at the Shanghai Wen-hui-pao was the first act in the ‘January Storm’. Shanghai, the cradle of the Chinese Communist revolution, possessing the largest and most politically experienced working class in the nation, was the site of the Cultural Revolution’s most important victory in January 1967. It was then that the Shanghai working class united to seize power from the old bureaucratic Party organization in an action that became the model for the whole country.

By October 1966 only a few thousand rebels existed out of a total of one million industrial workers in the city. Shanghai workers had always been highly politicized and were loyal to the Communist Party. It was logical, therefore, that the Shanghai workers would approach with caution any call for an attack on officials of a party which they had supported over the years with so much sacrifice and enthusiasm.

Nevertheless, by December 1966, 60,000 workers responded to Chairman Mao’s call and joined the Workers’ Rebel Headquarters, while an equal number of workers supported the “royalist” or conservative Workers’ Red Militia, an organization built by the functionaries of the Liu Shao-chi followers. Clashes between the two groups were frequent, but by the end of December a wholesale defection by the members of the conservative organizations ensued, and the collapse of the Workers’ Red Militia followed.

It was at this point that the Party officials in the old Shanghai Municipal Committee, plant managers, heads of bureaus under siege by the rebels, and district Party chiefs counterattacked, using methods that caught comrade Mao and his colleagues in Peking completely unawares. First, the old entrenched cadres, who were skilled organizers, initiated a movement among their followers in the now-defunct Workers’ Red Militia to demand wage increases and foment strikes throughout the city. Second, those holding power in the city opened up the municipal and industrial coffers to grant millions of yuan in wage increases, bonuses, and grants in an all-out attempt to buy off the Shanghai working class. Factories were closed, railroads and shipping were paralyzed, and serious power shortages plagued the greatest industrial city in China.

The revolutionary rebels responded to the crisis by in effect seizing power. Rank-and-file workers and students manned ticket booths at the railway stations, factory workers stood triple shifts in the industrial plants, and thousands of volunteers appeared at the docks to help unload cargo. New institutions of power were hastily created in the classic revolutionary pattern. The remarkably high level of revolutionary consciousness achieved by the masses of Shanghai was demonstrated when the hoodwinked workers voluntarily returned the money illegally dispensed by the old Shanghai Party bureaucrats. At mass meetings organized throughout Shanghai, the guilty functionaries were forced to stand with head bowed as the workers showered them with paper money until the enemy stood knee-deep in the shameful currency.

Comrade Mao, watching the situation in Shanghai closely, recognized that the workers in Shanghai had in fact seized power: he was the first to name what had happened “a power seizure from below.”

[2.] This was in fact done on the very day on which Comrade Mao was speaking. The text with People’s Daily’s Editors note is given below:

[Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) Editor’s Note: The “Message to All Shanghai People.” published in the Shanghai Wenhui Pao on January 5, 1967, is an extremely important document. It holds high the great red banner of the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao and sounds a clarion call to continue the vigorous counter-offensive upon the bourgeois reactionary line. It resolutely responds to Chairman Mao’s great call to take firm hold of the revolution and promote production and raises the current key question in the great proletarian cultural revolution. This question does not just concern Shanghai alone but the whole country as well.

With the growth of the revolutionary forces in Shanghai, the Wenhui Pao and Jiefang Ribao (Liberation Daily) have appeared as two completely new and revolutionary newspapers. They are products of the victory of the proletarian revolutionary line over the bourgeois reactionary line. This is a great event in the history of the development of the great proletarian cultural revolution in China. This is a great revolution. This great event will certainly play a tremendous role in pushing ahead the development of the movement of the great proletarian cultural revolution throughout east China and in all the cities and provinces in other parts of the country.]


Message To All Shanghai People

Under the guidance of the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, the great proletarian cultural revolution has won tremendous victories in the mass movement over the last few months in the criticism of the bourgeois reactionary line. We have entered the year 1967 to the sound of militant songs of triumph. It was pointed out in the New Year’s Day editorial of Renmin Ribao and the journal Hongqui: “1967 will be a year of all-round development of class struggle throughout China. It will be a year in which the proletariat, united with other sections of the revolutionary masses, will launch a general attack on the handful of Party persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road and on the ghosts and monsters in society. It will be a year of even more penetrating criticism and repudiation of the bourgeois reactionary line and elimination of its influence. It will be a year of decisive victory in carrying out the struggle [to overthrow those in authority who are taking the capitalist road], the criticism and repudiation [of the reactionary bourgeois academic ‘authorities’ and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes] and the transformation [of education, literature and art and all other parts of the superstructure not in correspondence with the socialist economic base].” In other words, it will be a year in which the bourgeois reactionary line will totally collapse and disintegrate completely, a year in which the great proletarian cultural revolution will win a great, decisive victory.

The broad revolutionary masses of Shanghai have also won an initial victory in the struggle to criticize and repudiate the bourgeois reactionary line implemented by a handful of people within the Party in the Shanghai area and have carried the struggle to a deeper and broader new stage.

The mass movement of the great proletarian cultural revolution in our Shanghai factories is surging forward vigorously, smashing through all resistance with the might of an avalanche and the force of a thunderbolt. We, workers of the revolutionary rebel groups, follow Chairman Mao’s teachings most closely and resolutely carry out the policy of “taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production” advanced by Chairman Mao himself. Chairman Mao teaches us: “Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.” We of the revolutionary rebel groups clearly understand that if the great proletarian cultural revolution is not carried out well, we will lose our orientation in production and slide back in the direction of capitalism. What we ourselves have experienced in the course of the great proletarian cultural revolution has increasingly proved to us that only if the great proletarian cultural revolution is carried out well, will production develop on a still greater scale. Any idea of counterposing the great cultural revolution to the development of production is erroneous.

However, a handful of Party persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road and those who obstinately adhere to the bourgeois reactionary line have a bitter hatred for the great proletarian cultural revolution. They have been trying by every means to resist the policy of “taking firm hold of the revolution end promoting production” put forward by Chairman Mao. Their schemes and devices may be summarized in the following ways:

At the beginning of the movement, they used the pretext of “taking firm hold of production” to repress the revolution and oppose taking firm hold of the revolution. When we workers of the revolutionary rebel groups wanted to rise up in revolution and criticize and repudiate the bourgeois reactionary line, they used the tasks of production to bring pressure to bear on the workers and tagged us with the label of “sabotaging production.” Did they really want to “take firm hold of production”? No, they wanted to defend their own positions and attempted to obstruct our revolution. We exposed their schemes and rose up bravely in rebellion.

Then they resorted to another trick, that is, they played with high-sounding revolutionary words, giving the appearance of being exceedingly “Left” in order to incite large numbers of members of the Workers’ Red Militia Detachments whom they have hoodwinked to undermine production and sabotage transport and communications under the pretext of going north to “lodge complaints.” They did this to attain their aim of undermining the great proletarian cultural revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. More recently, a handful of reactionary elements were even plotting to cut off water and electricity supplies and bring public transport to a standstill. We must drag out these reactionary elements and exercise proletarian dictatorship over them, punish them severely and never allow them to succeed in their criminal schemes.

Comrade revolutionary workers! Go into action at once! Resolutely carry out the policy of “taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production” advanced by Chairman Mao! We, workers of the revolutionary rebel groups, must become models in “taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production.” We must serve as the vanguards and the backbone not only in taking firm hold of the revolution, but also in promoting production. Our city of Shanghai, China’s biggest industrial producer, plays an extremely important role in the overall economic life of the country. But lately, in many factories and plants, it has occurred that some or even the majority of the members of the Workers’ Red Militia Detachments have suspended production and deserted their posts in production. This runs directly counter to the stipulation by the Party Central Committee on taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production and directly affects the people’s livelihood and the development of national economic construction. Our revolutionary rebel workers, bearing in mind the teachings of Chairman Mao, have stood our ground in the face of this adverse current, have given proof of our high sense of revolutionary responsibility, and, under extremely difficult conditions, have shouldered all the production tasks of our factories and plants, thus dealing a telling blow against the handful of Party persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, and smashing their big plot by which they attempted to thwart the revolution through sabotaging production. The actions of these workers are correct and splendid! All of us comrades of the revolutionary rebel groups should learn from them. Chairman Mao teaches us: “We should support whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports.” We, workers of the revolutionary rebel groups, have the lofty aspiration, the determination and the strength to do still bett! er in both revolution and production and to carry out Chairman Mao’s great call for “taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production.”

The broad sections of our class brothers of the Workers’ Red Militia Detachments who want to make revolution! “Taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production” is a policy put forward by Chairman Mao, a policy stressed time and again by the Party Central Committee, an important policy which guarantees the carrying through to the end of the great proletarian cultural revolution. To support or not to support, to carry out or not to carry out this policy is itself a matter of principle, a cardinal issue of right and wrong. In allowing yourselves to be incited by those people [Party persons in authority who are taking the capitalist roadTr.] and by deserting your posts in production, whose interests are you serving? By acting in this way, whose hearts, after all, are you gladdening and whose are you saddening? We hope that you will follow Chairman Mao’s teachings, that, on this important question of principle, you will see things more clearly, make a clear distinction between right and wrong, stop being deceived, wake up quickly, return to your posts in production, and return to the proletarian revolutionary line. We, comrades of the revolutionary rebel groups, will certainly warmly welcome you back to make revolution along with us and improve production with us. We will certainly not blame you, because we are all close class brothers, and because the overwhelming majority of you are victims of the bourgeois reactionary line, are revolutionary masses who have been hoodwinked by those within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road and by those who are stubbornly following the bourgeois reactionary line.

All revolutionary students and revolutionary government cadres of the city! Let us closely unite with the masses of revolutionary workers, and in order to carry out resolutely the policy of “taking firm hold of the revolution and promoting production” put forward by Chairman Mao, let us undertake widespread propaganda work and struggle, open fire fiercely and with still greater resolve at the bourgeois reactionary line, crush all new counter-attacks by the bourgeois reactionary line and launch a new upsurge in the great proletarian cultural revolution in the factories and plants!

In the boundless brilliance of the great thought of Mao Tse-tung, we look towards the future and see the magnificent prospect of the revolution. We are the working class, poor and lower-middle peasants, and all working people must unite with the revolutionary students, intellectuals and cadres, must make a common effort, fight shoulder to shoulder and continue our victorious advance so as to carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end!

Long live the great proletarian cultural revolution!

Long live the red sun in our hearts, the greatest leader Chairman Mao and long life, long, long life to him!

The Shanghai Workers’ Revolutionary Rebel General Headquarters
and ten other revolutionary mass organizations,
January 4, 1967.

[3.] “Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons”

(Text of the Peoples Daily Editorial)

An upsurge is occurring in the great proletarian cultural revolution in socialist China whose population accounts for one quarter of the world’s total.

For the last few months, in response to the militant call of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman Mao, hundreds of millions of workers, peasants and soldiers and vast numbers of revolutionary cadres and intellectuals, all armed with Mao Tse-tung’s thought, have been sweeping away a horde of monsters that have entrenched themselves in ideological and cultural positions. With the tremendous and impetuous force of a raging storm, they have smashed the shackles imposed on their minds by the exploiting classes for so long in the past, routing the bourgeois “specialists,” “scholars,” “authorities” and “venerable masters” and sweeping every bit of their prestige into the dust.

Chairman Mao has taught us that class struggle does not cease in China after the socialist transformation of the system of ownership has in the main been completed. He said:

The class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the class struggle between different political forces, and the class struggle in the ideological field between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will continue to be long and tortuous and at times will even become very acute. The proletariat seeks to transform the world according to its own world outlook, and so does the bourgeoisie. In this respect, the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism, is still not really settled.

The class struggle in the ideological field between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie has been very acute right through the sixteen years since China’s liberation. The current great socialist cultural revolution is precisely a continuation and development of this struggle. The struggle is inevitable. The ideology of the proletariat and the ideology of all the exploiting classes are diametrically opposed to each other and cannot coexist in peace. The proletarian revolution is a revolution to abolish all exploiting classes and all systems of exploitation; it is a most thoroughgoing revolution to bring about the gradual elimination of the differences between workers and peasants, between town and country, and between mental and manual laborers. This cannot but meet with the most stubborn from the exploiting classes.

In every revolution the basic question is that of state power. In all branches of the superstructure ideology, religion, art, law, state power  —  the central issue is state power. State power means everything, Without it, all will be lost. Therefore, no matter how many problems have to be tackled after the conquest of state power, the proletariat must never forget state power, never forget its orientation and never lose sight of the central issue. Forgetting about state power means forgetting about politics, forgetting about the basic theses of Marxism and switching to economism, anarchism and utopianism and becoming muddle-headed. In the last analysis, the class struggle in the ideological field between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is a struggle for leadership. The exploiting classes have been disarmed and deprived of their authority by the people, but their reactionary ideas remain rooted in their minds. We have overthrown their rule and confiscated their property, but this does not mean that we have rid their minds of reactionary ideas as well. During the thousands of years of their rule over the working people, the exploiting classes monopolized the culture created by the working people and in turn used it to deceive, fool and benumb the working people in order to consolidate their reactionary state power. For thousands of years, theirs was the dominant ideology which inevitably exerted widespread influence in society. Not reconciled to the overthrow of their reactionary rule, they invariably try to make use of this influence of theirs surviving from the past to shape public opinion in preparation for the political and economic restoration of capitalism. The uninterrupted struggle on the ideological and cultural front in the sixteen years from liberation up to the current exposure of the black anti-Party and anti-socialist line of the “Three-Family Villages,” big and small, has been a struggle between the forces attempting restoration and the for! ces opposing restoration.

In order to seize state power, the bourgeoisie during the period of the bourgeois revolution likewise started with ideological preparations by launching the bourgeois cultural revolution. Even the bourgeois revolution, which replaced one exploiting class by another, had to undergo repeated reversals and witness many struggles  —  revolution, then restoration and then the overthrow of restoration. It took many European countries hundreds of years to complete their bourgeois revolutions from the start of the ideological preparations to the final conquest of state power. Since the proletarian revolution is a revolution aimed at completely ending all systems of exploitation, it is still less permissible to imagine that the exploiting classes will meekly allow the proletariat to deprive them of all their privileges without seeking to restore their rule. The surviving members of these classes who are unreconciled will inevitably, as Lenin put it, throw themselves with a tenfold furious passion into the battle for the recovery of their lost paradise. The fact that the Khrushchev revisionist clique has usurped the leadership of the Party, army and state in the Soviet Union is an extremely serious lesson for the proletariat throughout the world. At present the representatives of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois “scholars” and “authorities” in China are dreaming precisely of restoring capitalism. Though their political rule has been toppled, they are still desperately trying to maintain their academic “authority,” mould public opinion for a comeback and win over the masses, the youth and the generations yet unborn from us.

The anti-feudal cultural revolution waged by the bourgeoisie ended as soon as it had seized power. The proletarian cultural revolution, however, is a cultural revolution against the ideology of all exploiting classes. This cultural revolution is entirely different from the bourgeois cultural revolution. It is only after the creation of the political, economic and cultural prerequisites following the capture of state power by the proletariat that the broadest road is opened up for the proletarian cultural revolution.

The proletarian cultural revolution is aimed not only at demolishing all the old ideology and culture and all the old customs and habits, which, fostered by the exploiting classes, have poisoned the minds of the people for thousands of years, but also at creating and fostering among the masses an entirely new ideology and culture and entirely new customs and habits  —  those of the proletariat. This great task of transforming customs and habits is without any precedent in human history. As for all the heritage, customs and habits of the feudal and bourgeois classes, the proletarian world outlook must be used to subject them to thoroughgoing criticism. It takes time to clear away the evil habits of the old society from among the people. Nevertheless, our experience since liberation proves that the transformation of customs and habits can be accelerated if the masses are fully mobilized, the mass line is implemented and the transformation is made into a genuine mass movement.

As the bourgeois cultural revolution served only a small number of people, i.e., the new exploiting class, only a small number of people could participate in it. The proletarian cultural revolution, the broad masses of the working people and is in the interests of the working people who constitute the overwhelming majority of the population. It is therefore able to attract and unite the broad masses of the working people to take part in it. The bourgeois individuals who carried out the enlightenment invariably looked down upon the masses, treated them as a mob and considered themselves as the predestined masters of the people. In sharp contrast, proletarian ideological revolutionaries serve the people heart and soul with the object of awakening them, and work for the interests of the broadest masses.

The bourgeoisie, with its base selfishness, is unable to suppress its hatred for the masses. Marx said:

The peculiar nature of the material it [political economy] deals with, summons as foes into the field of battle the most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the furies of private interest.

This also holds for the bourgeoisie when it has been overthrown.

The scale and momentum of the great proletarian cultural revolution now being carried on in China have no parallel in history, and the tremendous drive and momentum and boundless wisdom of the working people manifested in the movement far exceed the imagination of the lords of the bourgeoisie. Facts have eloquently proved that Mao Tse-tung’s thought becomes a moral atom bomb of colossal power once it takes hold of the masses. The current great cultural revolution is immensely advancing the socialist cause of the Chinese people and undoubtedly exerting an incalculable, far-reaching influence upon the present and future of the world.

The stormy cultural revolution now under way in our country has thrown the imperialists, the modem revisionists and the reactionaries of all countries into confusion and panic. At one moment, they indulge in wishful thinking saying that our great cultural revolution has shown that there are hopes of “a peaceful evolution” on the part of China’s younger generation A moment later, they become pessimistic, saying that all this has shown that Communist rule remains very stable. Then again, they seem to be fearfully puzzled, saying that it will never be possible to find genuine “China hands” who can promptly pass accurate judgment on what is taking place in China. Dear sirs, your wishful thinking invariably runs counter to the march of the history. The triumphant progress of this great and unparalleled cultural revolution of the proletariat is already sounding the death knell not only of the remnant capitalist forces on Chinese soil, but of imperialism, modern revisionism and all reaction. Your days are numbered.

Illuminated by the great Mao Tse-tung’s thought, let us carry the proletarian cultural revolution through to the end. Its victory will certainly further strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat in our country, guarantee the completion of the socialist revolution on all fronts and ensure our successful transition from socialism to triumphant communism!

[4.] Wu Leng-hsi (e.1915- ) had been editor of People’s Daily since 1957; he had participated in the deliberations of P’eng Cheng’s ‘Group of Five’. In late 1972, he reappeared as a ‘leading member’ of the editorial staff, though no longer as editor. T’ang P’ing-shu was an ultra-leftist, purged in 1968 with the Wang Li faction.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung