Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung
May 1, 1967
[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]
I once said at a rally of 7,000 people in 1962: “In the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism, it is yet uncertain as to which will win and which will be defeated, it being highly possible that revisionism will triumph and we will be defeated. We used the possibility of defeat to alert the public, and we found this to be highly conducive to heightening our vigilance against revisionism, as well as to preventing and opposing revisionism. . .” Actually, the struggle between the two classes and the two lines within the Communist party has always existed. Nobody can deny it, and being materialists ourselves, we of course should not deny it. Since that rally, the struggle between the two classes within our party has manifested itself in the forms of “left” in appearance but right in essence and the opposition to same, a denial of the existence of class struggle and emphasis on the existence of class struggle, and in compromises and accentuation of proletarian polities, etc. This has been discussed in pertinent documents that appeared prior to that occasion.
Today the military delegation of Albania has come here to understand our nation’s Great Cultural Revolution. Let me first of all talk about my approaches to this problem.
China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution began with Comrade Yao Wen-yuan’s criticism of “Hai Jui Dismissed From Office” in the winter of 1965. At that time, certain departments and certain localities in this country of ours were dominated by revisionism. It was so tight that even water could not seep in and pins could not penetrate. I then suggested to Comrade Chiang Ch’ing that she organize some articles to criticize “Hai Jui Dismissed From Office”. But this was impossible to accomplish here in this Red metropolis, and there was no alternative but to go to Shanghai to organize it. Finally the article was written. I read it three times, and considered it basically all right, so I let Comrade Chiang Ch’ing bring it back for publication. I suggested that some of the leading comrades of the Central Committee be allowed to read it, but Comrade Chiang Ch’ing suggested: “The article can be published as it is, and I do not think there is any need to ask Comrade [Chou] En-lai and K’ang Sheng to read it.” (Comrade Lin Piao interrupted, saying Some people say that Comrade Mao Tse-tung used one faction to fight another faction. But now all of the central leadership comrades have prestige among the revolutionary masses, and they were all briefed beforehand by Chairman Mao on the Great Cultural Revolution, and so they did not commit any errors. I think the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is an examination without examination, and whoever follows closely Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought is a proletarian revolutionary. So I have always said that Mao Tsetung Thought must be implemented both when we understand it and when we may temporarily not understand it.) After Yao Wen-yuan’s article was published, most of the newspapers in the country published it, but it was not published in Peking and Hunan. Later I suggested that a pamphlet be issued but it was also opposed and did not go through.
Yao Wen-yuan’s article was merely the signal for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Consequently, in the Central Committee, I was especially keen on drawing up the May 16 Circular. Because the enemy was especially sensitive, once the signal was sounded here, we knew that he would take action. Of course, we also had to take action on our own. This circular had already been very precise in bringing out the question of line, and the question of the two lines. At that time, the majority did not agree with my view, and I was left alone for a time. They said that my views were outmoded, and so I had to present my views to the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth CPC Central Committee for discussion. After some debate I gained the endorsement of a little over one-half of the Comrades. There were still many people who would not agree with me, including Li Ching-ch’uan and Liu Lan-t’ao. Comrade [Ch’en] Po-ta went to talk with them, and they said: I couldn’t endorse it in Peking, and after I returned [home] I still could not endorse it. Finally I had no choice but to let practice make further examination!
After the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth CPC Central Committee, the emphasis was on the criticism of the bourgeois reactionary line that had been taking place during the three months of October, November and December 1966, and this resulted in public disclosure of contradictions within the party. Here, I would like to mention another problem and that was that the broad masses of workers and peasants, and the hardcore cadres of the party and league were deceived during the process of criticizing the reactionary line. Having studied the problem what could we do with regard to those comrades who were deceived? I have always felt that the broad masses of workers, peasants and soldiers are good, the overwhelming majority of party members and [youth] league members are good, and that they have all been the principal forces during every stage of the proletarian revolution. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is certainly no exception. Since the broad masses of workers and peasants are involved in actual labor, they naturally know very little about conditions in the upper echelons. Moreover, the vast number of hardcore cadres of the party and league have heart-felt devotion to the party and have boundless love for the party’s cadres, while the “power holders taking the capitalist road” have raised the red flag to oppose the red flag. For this reason, they were so deceived that for a relatively long period of time they could not get out from under their delusions, but there were historical factors behind all of this. As long as those who were deceived reformed themselves, it was all right! As the movement developed, they again became the main force. The “January Storm” was launched by the workers, and it is just as true for the democratic revolution and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The “May 4th” Movement was launched by intellectuals, thereby fully demonstrating their foresight and awareness.! However, we must depend on the masters of the time, the workers, peasants and soldiers, to serve as the main force in carrying through thoroughgoing revolutions on the order of a real Northern Expedition or Long March. In point of fact, workers, peasants and soldiers are really only workers and peasants, since soldiers are only workers and peasants dressed in army uniforms. Although it was the intellectuals and the broad masses of young students who launched the criticism of the bourgeois reactionary line, it was, nonetheless, incumbent upon the masters of the time, the broad masses of workers, peasants and soldiers, to serve as the main force in carrying the revolution through to completion, once the “January Storm” had seized power. Intellectuals have always been quick in altering their perception of things, but, because of the limitations of their instincts, and because they lack a thorough revolutionary character, they are sometimes opportunistic.
From the standpoint of policy and strategy, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution may be generally divided into four stages. From the publication of Comrade Yao Wen-yuan’s article to the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth CPC Central Committee may be considered the first stage, and it was primarily a stage of mobilization. From the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth CPC Central Committee to the “January Storm” may be considered the second stage. The third stage consisted of X X X’s [Ch’i Pen-yu] “Patriotism or National Betrayal?” and “The Key Point of ‘Cultivation’ Is That It Betrays the Proletarian Dictatorship.” The period thereafter may be considered the fourth stage. During the third and fourth stages the question of seizing power was paramount. The fourth stage was concerned with seizing the powers of revisionism and of the bourgeoisie ideologically. Consequently, this was a crucial stage in the decisive battle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines, and this was the main and proper theme of the whole movement. After the “January Storm,” the Central Committee repeatedly concerned itself with the problem of a great alliance, but it did not work out. Later, it was discovered that this subjective wish was not in keeping with the objective laws of the development of class struggle. This is because each class and political power wanted to exert itself stubbornly. Bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideologies burst forth like unbridled flood waters, thus undermining the great alliance. It was impossible to work out a great alliance, and even if it were, it would eventually be broken up. Thus, the present attitude of the Central Committee is merely to promote it, not to work it out. The method of pulling the sprout to accelerate its growth is unfeasible. This law of class struggle can not be changed by anyone’s subjective will. On this question there are m! any examples which can be cited. In the workers’ congress, the Red Guard congress, and the peasants’ congress in X X municipality, it seems that with the exception of the peasants’ congress, the workers’ and Red Guard congress have had many squabbles. I think the revolutionary committee of X X municipality may yet have to be reorganized.
I had originally intended to train some successors from among the intellectuals, but this would now appear to be impractical. It seems to me that the world outlook of intellectuals, including those young intellectuals who are still receiving education in schools, and those both within and outside the party, is still basically bourgeois. This is because in the more than ten years since liberation, the cultural and educational circles have been dominated by revisionism, and so bourgeois ideology has seeped into their blood. Thus, revolutionary intellectuals must carefully remould their world outlook during this crucial stage of the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines. Otherwise, they will go contrary to the revolution. Now I would like to ask you a question: What would you say is the goal of the Great Cultural Revolution? (Someone answered on the spot: It is to struggle against power holders within the party who take the capitalist road.) To struggle against power holders who take the capitalist road is the main task, but it is by no means the goal. The goal is to solve the problem of world outlook: it is the question of eradicating the roots of revisionism.
The Central Committee has emphasized time and again that the masses must educate themselves and liberate themselves. This is because world outlook cannot be imposed on them. In order to transform ideology, it is necessary for the external causes to function through inner causes, though the latter are principal. If the world outlook is not transformed, how can the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution be called a victory? If the world outlook is not transformed, then although there are 2,000 power holders taking the capitalist road in this Great Cultural Revolution, there may be 4,000 next time. The cost of this Great Cultural Revolution has been very great, and even though the question of the struggle between the two classes and the two roads cannot be resolved by one, two, three or four Great Cultural Revolutions, still, this Great Cultural Revolution, should consolidate things for a decade at least. In the course of one century, it may be possible to launch such a revolution two or three times at most. Thus we must focus our attention on eradicating the roots of revisionism in order to strengthen our ability to guard against and oppose revisionism at any time. Here I would like to ask you another question: Who would you say are the power holders taking the capitalist road? (No response from the audience.) The so-called power holders taking the capitalist road are those power holders who take the road of capitalism! What I mean by this is that during the time of the democratic revolution, these people actively participated in opposing the three big mountains but once the entire country was liberated, they were not so keen on opposing the bourgeoisie. Though they had actively participated in and endorsed the overthrow of local despots and the distribution of land, after the country’s liberation when agricultural collectivization was to be implemented, they were not very keen on this either. He who would not take the socialist road and is now in power — is it not he who is a pow! er holder taking the road of capitalism! Let’s just say that it is “veteran cadres encountering new problems!” When a veteran comes face to face with a new problem, he will resolutely take the socialist road if he has the proletarian world outlook, but if he has the bourgeois world outlook, he will take the road of capitalism. This means that the bourgeoisie wants to transform the world in accordance with the bourgeois world outlook, while the proletariat wants to transform the world in accordance with the proletarian world outlook. There are those who have committed errors of orientation and line in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and this has been said to be a case of “veteran cadres encountering new problems.” But the fact that you have erred tells us that you veteran cadres have not yet thoroughly remoulded your bourgeois world outlook. From now on, veteran cadres are bound to encounter even more new problems. To ensure that you will resolutely take the road of socialism, you will have to undergo a thorough proletarian revolutionization ideologically. Let me ask you, how can you actually proceed from socialism toward communism? This is a great event for the nation, and a great event for the world.
I say the revolutionary spirit of the revolutionary little generals is very strong, and this is excellent. But you cannot step onto the stage now, because if you step onto the stage now, you will be kicked off the stage tomorrow. But this word has been leaked out by a Vice Premier’s own mouth, and this is highly inappropriate. As far as the revolutionary little generals are concerned, it is a question of nurturing and training them. At a time when they have committed certain errors, to use such words will only dampen their spirits. Some say that elections are very good and very democratic. As far as I am concerned, election is merely a fancy word, and do not feel that there is any genuine election. I have been elected by the Peking district to serve as a representative to the National People’s Congress, but how many in Peking really understood me? I feel that Chou En-lai’s premiership was an appointment by the Central Committee. Others say that China is profoundly peace-loving, but I cannot see how profound that love is. I think Chinese are militant.
In regard to cadres, we must establish the belief that 95 percent or more of them are good or relatively good, and we must never depart from this class viewpoint! In regard to leading cadres who are revolutionary or want to be revolutionary, one should protect them, protect them forthrightly and bravely, and liberate them from their errors. Even though they have taken the capitalist road, we must allow them to make revolution after they have undergone long-term education and their errors have been rectified. There are not many really bad persons. Among the masses, they constitute at most 5 percent; within the party and league, 1 to 2 percent; and there are only a handful of power holders who stubbornly take the capitalist road. But we must regard this handful of power holder within the party who take the capitalist road as the principal target of attack because their influence and insidious poison are deep and far-reaching. Thus, this is the principal task of this Great Cultural Revolution. As for bad elements among the masses, they number at most 5 percent, and they are scattered, without much strength. If the 35 million of them, calculated at 5 percent, should band together to form an army and oppose us in an organized manner, that would be a problem deserving serious consideration. But since they are diffused in various localities and powerless, they cannot be the principal target of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. However, it is necessary for us to heighten our vigilance and, especially at this crucial stage of the struggle, prevent these bad elements from wreaking havoc. Thus, there should be two premises for the great alliance: one is to destroy self-interest and foster devotion to the public interest; the other is that there must be a struggle. Without struggle the great alliance will not be effective.
The fourth stage of this Great Cultural Revolution is the crucial stage of the struggle between the two classes, the two roads and the two lines. Thus, a relatively longer period of time will be needed to arrange mass criticism. It is still being discussed by the Cultural Revolution Group of the Central Committee. Some feel that the end of this year would be an appropriate time for this, and others feel that next May would be more appropriate. However, the time must conform to the laws of class struggle.
[1.] A reference to the enlarged working conference of the CC of the CPC held in January 1962. (See Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. VIII, pp 313-344).
[2.] May 16 circular, see note 4 on p 243 of this volume.
[3.] Li Ching-chuan, see note 4 on p 303 of this volume. For Liu Lan-tao, see note 3 on p 303 of this volume.
[4.] May fourth movement: On May 4, 1919, students in Peking demonstrated against the handing over to Japan of many of China’s sovereign rights in Shantung by Britain, the United States, France, Japan, Italy and other imperialist countries then in conference in Paris. This student movement evoked an immediate response throughout the country. After June 3, it developed into a country-wide anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolutionary movement embracing large numbers of the proletariat, the urban petty bourgeoisie and even the national bourgeoisie.
[5.] Chi Pen-yu, was an editor of Hong-chi (Red Flag), the theoretical organ of the CPC.
Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung