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Maxims for Revolutionaries—
The “Three Constantly Read Articles”

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 10, #2, Jan. 6,
1967, pp. 7-8. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG
web site for some of the work done for this posting.]

THOSE three brilliant works of our great leader Chairman Mao—Serve the People, In Memory of Norman Bethune and The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains—are warmly and affectionately described by the revolutionary people as the “three constantly read articles.” They are a required course of study for everyone engaged in the proletarian revolution and serving the people’s cause; they are maxims for revolutionaries.

Comrade Lin Piao instructs us that not only fighters but cadres too must study the “three constantly read articles.” He says: “We must study these three articles as maxims. These must be studied at all levels. We must apply what we study so as to revolutionize our thinking.”

With cadres at all levels taking the lead in studying these articles really well so as to help the further revolutionization of everyone’s thinking, the study of Chairman Mao’s works in our army will be carried to a new stage and our army building will reach a new level of revolutionization. This is the key link in carrying to a new stage the mass movement to study and apply Chairman Mao’s works creatively.

What the “three constantly read articles” teach us is the spirit of dedicating oneself wholly to the liberation of the people and working entirely in the people’s interests, the spirit of utter devotion to others without any thought of self. They teach us the spirit of uniting with the broad masses and to be resolute, fearing no sacrifice and surmounting every difficulty to win victory. They teach us the spirit of responsibility to the people, of not being afraid of criticism and daring to stand up for the truth as well as correct one’s mistakes. In a word, they urge us to establish the proletarian, communist world outlook of wholeheartedly serving the Chinese people and the world’s peoples.

The invincible thought of Mao Tse-tung and the brilliant teachings embodied in the “three constantly read articles” can be compared to the sunshine and the rain that nurture the growth of revolutionary fighters. It was so in the past, and, today, in the new period of socialist revolution and socialist construction, they have taken on particularly important meaning. Guided by their radiant light, tens of thousands of successors to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat, new, communist people who are heart and soul devoted to the public interests, to the revolution and to the people, have already emerged and are maturing.

To transform one’s world outlook is a fundamental matter. To study and master Mao Tse-tung’s thought, one should begin with the “three constantly read articles” and the remoulding of one’s world outlook. Without this correct point of departure, correct stand and correct world outlook, it is impossible to really grasp and master Chairman Mao’s theories, principles and methods.

In revolutionizing his ideology and in transforming his world outlook, every cadre must see himself in a correct light and take a correct attitude towards himself.

How can one become a real Communist, a real communist fighter? One requisite is to love Chairman Mao and firmly believe in Mao Tse-tung’s thought. Another is to have confidence in the masses and rely on them.

There is yet another requisite, and that is, a correct attitude towards oneself. In short, one must act in accordance with the five requirements formulated by Chairman Mao for successors to the proletarian revolutionary cause.

Of these, the first is to be a genuine Marxist-Leninist. For us, this means that we must have a boundless love for Chairman Mao, be always faithful to Mao Tse-tung’s thought and strive diligently to master it. As for the second, third and fourth requirements, that is: wholeheartedly serve the overwhelming majority of the people, unite and work together with the overwhelming majority, apply the principle of democratic centralism and take the mass line, and so on, they concern the correct attitude to take towards the masses. The fifth requirement—to be modest and prudent and guard against arrogance and impetuosity, and have the spirit of self-criticism and the courage to correct mistakes and shortcomings in one’s work—this is a question of the correct attitude to take towards oneself. Whether one is able to take a correct attitude towards oneself is the key question determining whether one can learn the “three constantly read articles” well and revolutionize one’s thinking.

Chairman Mao has pointed out that in the course of building a socialist society, everyone should remould himself. “Even those who have a better grasp of Marxism and are comparatively firm in their proletarian stand have to go on studying.”

How should a cadre look at himself? He should look at himself from the “one divides into two” point of view. He may have his strong points, but he is sure to have shortcomings. He must not think he is always right. He must understand that remoulding one’s world outlook is not something that can be completed once and for all. As long as classes and class struggle exist in society, the struggle of the two world outlooks will go on in people’s minds. Therefore, each of us faces the problem of eradicating the bourgeois world outlook and establishing a proletarian one in his mind. This matter of remoulding one’s ideology is important both for new or old comrades, both for those in low or high positions. Furthermore, the heavier is one’s responsibility, the more important is such remoulding, and the greater the need to remould consciously and be strict with oneself. Anyone who thinks he has no contradictions in his mind and needs no remoulding is harbouring a metaphysical viewpoint that is extremely harmful.

At the core of the struggle between the proletarian and bourgeois world outlooks is the struggle between the concept of working for the public interests and of working for one’s own interests. With the deepening of the great proletarian cultural revolution, this struggle comes more and more to the fore and more widespread, until it involves everyone. Does one work wholeheartedly for the people and the collective, or does he work only for himself and his own small circle? Is he willing to be a pupil of the masses and a servant of the people, or is he an overlord standing above the masses? Does he lead a simple life and work hard, or does he revel in a high position and indulge in comfort? Is he eager to shoulder the heavy loads, or does he pick the light ones and push the heavy loads on to others? Is he full of enthusiasm and vitality, or is he losing his revolutionary militancy and becoming apathetic? Does he dare to sacrifice himself for the revolution, or does he uphold the “philosophy of survival”? All such questions represent the conflict between the public interests and self-interests, between two world outlooks, and between Mao Tse-tung’s thought and revisionist thought. Is it not true that every cadre must answer and solve these oft-met questions?

Whatever his position, however long his experience in the revolution, or his age, every one of our cadres must see himself both as a motive force in the revolution and, at the same time, as a target of the revolution, and therefore must consciously wage revolution against himself. He must make the best of his strong points so as to be able to give his all to the revolution. He must also wage a constant struggle against his shortcomings so as to adjust himself to the demands of the revolution. In the battle to remould himself to the depth of his soul, he should be a fighting commander who leads his men in the assault on the enemy citadel, not a coward filled with misgivings and fears. He must be a fearless and thoroughgoing materialist who is not afraid of being hurt, of losing face, of revealing his thoughts, of probing his soul, of affronts to his “dignity” or of changing the old existing order; only so can he be completely emancipated from egoism.

Cadres at all levels should not only make revolution against themselves, but should also welcome the help of others in doing it. We urge cadres to go among the masses, study the “three constantly read articles” together with them, mutually exchange what they have learnt, and, together, eradicate the concept of working for one’s own interests and establish the dominance of the concept of working for the public interests. They should place themselves among the masses, constantly learn from them and with the masses’ help and supervision, seriously remould their world outlook.

Chairman Mao has said: “It is not hard for one to do a bit of good. What is hard is to do good all one’s life and never do anything bad.” To read the “three constantly read articles” is quite easy, but to really put into practice what they teach is no easy matter. To practise them all one’s life is ever harder. Before the “three constantly read articles,” everyone is a pupil, and always will be. They are maxims for revolutionaries. They must be studied daily, yearly, and always. One should always make them yardsticks to measure himself against, make strict demands on himself according to them and constantly guide himself by them in practice. Only so can new comrades swiftly mature and old comrades maintain their revolutionary integrity in their later years and for ever preserve their revolutionary vigour.

(“Jiefangjun Bao” [Liberation Army
Daily] editorial, Dec. 3, 1966.)

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