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Workers‘ and Peasants‘ Philosophical Writings

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 9, #6, Feb. 4, 1966, p. 29.]

Zhexue Yanjiu (Philosophical Research), a nationally circulated magazine which is published every other month, devotes its recent issue—No. 6, 1965—to 20 articles by worker, peasant and soldier authors arising out of their study of Chairman Mao Tse-tung‘s works, The articles were selected from thousands of philosophical writings contributed in recent months to newspapers and magazines in various parts of the country by factory and building workers, commune members, armymen, shop assistants and others.

This special issue includes an article entitled “Holding the Reins of Objective Laws” by the cotton spinner Hsieh Yueh, who uses the example of her invention of a new spinning method to illustrate the relation between analysis and synthesis in cognition and practice. Tan Hsien-ping, a driver who has a record of ten years‘ safe driving, writes on “Dialectics in Motor Driving.” In “Seeing People With a Living Eye,” Lu Hsien-hsien, member of a rural people‘s commune and secretary of a Communist Youth League branch in a production brigade, describes her experience in helping backward comrades catch up with the activists. Other articles are “There Is Dialectical Materialism in Farming, Too” by the nationally known ground-nut planter Yao Shih-chang of Shantung; “What Stops a Man From Listening?” by Keng Chang-so, national model peasant and head of the Wugong Production Brigade of the Wugong People‘s Commune in Jaoyang County, Hopei Province; and “I Will Learn From Chairman Mao‘s Writings My Whole Life” by Li Su-wen, a shop assistant of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, who is a Deputy to the National People‘s Congress.

The editorial of the magazine and a recent Renmin Ribao review of the number point out that as the masses‘ study of Marxist philosophy is clearly aimed at practical application, at solving the problems they come up against, and as they are the people who have the richest experience in practice, they show immense vitality and creativeness in applying Marxism-Leninism and Chairman Mao‘s fundamental philosophical ideas to their daily life and work. They base their daily work on a grasp and application of the objective laws involved in it. This generates fresh revolutionary energy and a scientific spirit; it helps produce more food and industrial goods, spark technical innovations and carry forward the class struggle in socialist society in the correct way. Their philosophical theses are fine examples of theory drawn from objective reality and then verified by objective reality.

In “Dialectics in Motor Driving,” Tan Hsien-ping writes vividly of many contradictions in driving and the way he solved them. Especially interesting are his views on “driving in a reasonable and unreasonable way” which concern the dialectics of morality and law. To him, these are vital issues. “... Supposing an accident is imminent. If a driver can avoid it by giving the pedestrian violating the rule of the road more room or by stopping earlier, then he should do so.... It would seem that reason is on your side if an accident occurs while you have faithfully abided by the traffic laws; but, if you failed to do your best by stopping earlier or taking some other action to avoid an accident which was avoidable, and thus caused loss to the life or wealth of the people, then reason is not on your side and you have failed to do your duty.”

“Seeing People With a Living Eye” by Lu Hsien-hsien illustrates the importance of considering people in the light of their development and not statically. She generalizes this as “a thread through three stages.” The thread is Chairman Mao‘s ideas on the thesis “one divides into two.” In helping a youth who is still backward, one must first of all discover his good points, unite with him, and then persuade him to make use of his good points to overcome his weak points. That is the first stage. When he begins to wake up politically and shows actual progress, even though it may be but small, it is best to give him suitable encouragement to consolidate his progress. That is the second stage. But when a youngster has been praised for some reason, it is necessary to pay attention to his negative side and for his own sake give him a timely reminder about this. If this is not done, a “time bomb” is laid and some day it will explode to throw him back again.

Citing such examples, the editorial praises these writings for being vivid and down-to-earth, combining theory and practice and offering a host of fresh ideas. They are indeed easily understood and stand in sharp and striking contrast to philosophical research which is divorced from reality, or thesis writing which is swaddled in abstract thoughts. The emancipation of philosophy from the classroom and bookish knowledge will yield unprecedentedly rich material for the further development of dialectical materialism.

The last two pages of the magazine recommend to its readers‘ attention a wide selection of philosophical writings of the working people put out by national, provincial and regional publishers. Written either in Han—the main Chinese language—or in the languages of various minority peoples, these writings show how powerful an ideological weapon dialectical materialism is in the hands of the revolutionary people. Theory indeed becomes an immense material force as soon as it has gripped the masses.

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