[This issue of Peking Review is from massline.org. Massline.org has kindly given us permission to to place these documents on the MIA. We made only some formatting changes to make them congruent with our style sheets. Note from massline.org: This article is reprinted from Peking Review , Vol. 9, #23, June 3, 1966, pp. 5-8. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG web site for some of the work done for this posting.]
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. “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 16 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 labourers. This cannot but meet with the most stubborn resistance 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 16 years from liberation up to the current exposure of the anti-Party and anti-socialist black line of the “Three-Family Villages,” big and small, has been a struggle between the forces attempting restoration and the forces 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,” remould public opinion for a come-back 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 in nature 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, however, serves 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 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 modern 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 judgement on what is taking place in China. Dear Sirs, your wishful thinking invariably runs counter to the march of 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!
(“Renmin Ribao” editorial, June 1.)
Peking Review Index | Chinese Communism | Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung