[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, Volume 9, #36, Sept. 2, 1966, pp. 8-9. Thanks are due to the www.wengewang.org web site for some of the work done for this posting.]
COMRADE MAO TSE-TUNG put forward the brilliant thesis that imperialism and all reactionaries are paper tigers when he received the American correspondent Anna Louise Strong in Yenan 20 years ago. This great strategic concept has immensely boosted the peoples morale and shattered the arrogance of imperialism and all reactionaries.
In the past 20 years, this brilliant thought of Comrade Mao Tse-tung has not only illuminated the course of the Chinese revolution and ensured the great victory of the Chinese people’s revolutionary war, but it has become well known to and been grasped by the masses of revolutionary people of the world as their mighty ideological weapon to defeat imperialism, headed by the United States, and its stooges.
Whether one fears imperialism and the reactionaries or not is essentially a question of whether one wants and dares to make revolution or not. Revolution is incompatible with fear. Fearlessness in the face of imperialism and reaction, daring to struggle and daring to win victory — these are the primary mental conditions for making revolution.
Strange as it may seem, it so happens in the world that it is always “the weak” which defeats “the strong” and it is always the oppressed nations and oppressed people which triumph over imperialism and the reactionaries. This is precisely the law of historical development, the law of class struggle. However, when the oppressed nations and oppressed people who have no arms begin to wage the struggle, they are invariably, and sometimes incomparably, weaker than imperialism and reaction in the relationship of forces. In such circumstances, to fight against imperialism requires enormous courage, invincible determination and such revolutionary and rebellious spirit as is characterized by the saying, “he who is not afraid of death by a thousand cuts dares to unhorse the emperor.” One who fears that there might be wolves ahead and tigers behind and that a falling leaf might crush him to death is fit only to be a slave. For him, there can be no talk of revolution, much less of victory.
U.S. imperialism which is about to meet its end is the biggest reactionary force in human history. Brandishing the atom bomb over the last 20 years, it has made frenzied counter-attacks against the people’s revolutionary forces in various countries. In the face of nuclear war blackmail by U.S. imperialism, some people are apt to be misled by appearances for a time, because they fail to grasp the essential fact that the enemy is nearing extinction while the people are approaching victory. They still have a certain feeling of awe of U.S. imperialism. Actually, U.S. imperialism is nothing to be feared, nor should it be. The more you fear it, the more ferocious it becomes. If you stop fearing it, it is not terrible any more. The truth of the matter is that the more you are afraid of ghosts, the more they haunt you and once you stop fearing them, they cease to exist.
The Chinese people, who are not afraid of U.S. imperialism or the atom bomb, wiped out, with millet plus rifles, the 8 million reactionary Kuomintang troops which had the all-out support of U.S. imperialism and possessed planes plus tanks, and the Chinese people finally won nationwide victory. The Korean people together with the Chinese People’s Volunteers wiped out nearly 400,000 U.S. aggressor troops in three years and a month of the war of resistance to U.S. aggression, and completely exploded the myth of U.S. invincibility. Today, U.S. imperialism has concentrated one-third of its overseas forces in Vietnam. It has used all modern weapons except the atom bomb. It has spent much more money and dropped lots more explosives on Vietnam than it did during its aggressive war in Korea. But the heroic Vietnamese people are not in the least afraid of all this. Daring to fight and daring to take on the enemy, they have pommelled and trounced U.S. imperialism, thereby eloquently proving that it is nothing more than a paper tiger.
As Comrade Mao Tse-tung said: There is nothing to fear about bigness. Isn’t U.S. imperialism very big? It turned out to be nothing when we rebuffed it once. So, there are actually some big things in the world that are not to be feared.
To be or not to be afraid — the determining factor is whether one believes in the masses of the people as creators of history. Imperialism looks powerful but is actually weak because it is cut off from the people. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has taught us that strength lies in the people and that the people are the majority. Once the people are awakened, organized and armed, and fight a shooting war against the enemy, then imperialism will no longer be so “powerful” and so arrogant. When the people stand up, the enemy will fall down.
Of course, this does not mean that one can treat the enemy lightly and carelessly. Comrade Mao Tse-tung always teaches us: Strategically, with regard to the whole, revolutionaries must despise the enemy, treat him as a paper tiger, dare to struggle against him and dare to seize victory; at the same time, tactically, with regard to each part, revolutionaries must take the enemy seriously, treat him as a real tiger, be prudent, and carefully study and perfect the art of struggle, in order to isolate and wipe him out bit by bit. Historical experience has taught us that imperialism can be defeated, but only through a prolonged, arduous and stubborn struggle. It is wrong to entertain any hope of winning victory by chance. It is wrong, too, to lose heart and become pessimistic after suffering some set-backs. It is better for the revolutionary people to anticipate more difficulties and prepare for a longer period of struggle and estimate the various possibilities more comprehensively. This approach will enable the revolutionaries to handle adequately any complicated situation and cope with the maximum resistance and struggle by the enemy. It is the correct policy which leads to victory in revolution.
To despise the enemy strategically and to take full account of him tactically is a unity of opposites. But the primary, fundamental thing that plays the determining role in the whole situation is daring to struggle and to seize victory. Such revolutionary spirit alone leads to revolutionary action and thence to victory in revolution.
Ours is an era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing to worldwide victory. In such an era, who is more afraid of whom? Who is more powerful? Countless facts have shown us that it is precisely imperialism, the reactionaries of all countries and modern revisionism that are terribly weak and it is precisely they who are afraid of us and definitely not the other way round. The task of the Marxist-Leninists and all revolutionaries is to arm the minds of millions upon millions of people with this great strategic concept that imperialism and all reactionaries are paper tigers and reinforce the revolutionary confidence and determination of the people to enable them to launch revolutionary attacks on a still bigger scale against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys. People of the whole world, unite, defy difficulties, advance wave upon wave, dare to fight and dare to win victory. Then the whole world will belong to the people.
(“Renmin Ribao” editorial, August 25.)