Peking Review: Article by the Revolutionary Mass Criticism Writing Group of the Ministry of Commerce

Orientation of China’s Socialist Commerce

Source: Peking Review No. 50/1970, 11 December 1970, pages 3-6
Publisher: Peking Review, Beijing, China
Transcribed and original HTML Markup: 15 November, 2007
MIA XHTML Markup: David Walters
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SOCIALIST commerce is an important front in China’s socialist revolution and socialist construction.

By formulating a whole series of the theory, line, principles and policies for commercial work, giving socialist commerce its orientation and solving the fundamental problems in running commerce under the dictatorship of the proletariat, our great leader Chairman Mao has developed Marxism-Leninism creatively and with genius.

The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi wildly interfered in and sabotaged Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line in an attempt to lead China’s commerce on to the vile road of capitalism.

The history of the setting up and development of China’s socialist commerce is one of repeated victories of Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line over Liu Shao-chi’s counter-revolutionary revisionist line.

“Develop the Economy and Ensure Supplies” Is Fundamental Policy Guiding Commercial Work

Our great leader Chairman Mao wisely pointed out as early as 1942: “The general policy guiding our economic and financial work is to develop the economy and ensure supplies.” This general policy is the fundamental policy guiding commercial work.

“Develop the economy and ensure supplies” is a brilliant concept which Chairman Mao has consistently advocated. It profoundly reflects objective economic laws, scientifically explains the dialectical relations between production and circulation and creatively develops Marxism-Leninism. Like a radiant beacon, this general policy lights the road forward for socialist commerce.

The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi always opposed the great policy “Develop the economy and ensure supplies.” He ballyhooed the fallacy “circulation determines production” and tried to sabotage socialist construction in the field of circulation.

According to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, production is the foundation and there can be no circulation without production. Only when production develops can commodity circulation be expanded constantly and the market thrive. Isolated from production, commerce will be like water without a source and a tree without roots. “We must oppose the wrong view which lays one-sided emphasis on finance and commerce and neglects agricultural and industrial production.” Socialist commerce can function better and better only when the general policy “Develop the economy and ensure supplies” is conscientiously implemented and when, proceeding from production, effective support is given to agriculture and industry so as to stimulate the constant development of production. Liu Shao-chi’s fallacy “circulation determines production” makes circulation the starting point and centres on the market. This was a futile effort to use the law of value and supply and demand to regulate and control production. The purpose was to make commercial departments put pressure on production departments and use the market to restrict production and construction in order to sabotage the planned socialist economy.

Liu Shao-chi is an out-and-out worshipper of profit. In spreading the fallacy “circulation determines production,” he was out to get profits. Under the capitalist system, the capitalists’ sole purpose in engaging in commerce is to make the maximum profit. Market supply and demand under capitalism is the profit indicator. Variations in market supply and demand as well as the amount of profit to be made dictate where capital goes to. Marx made the penetrating point that “the mission of capitalist society is to make money” and that “production of surplus-value is the absolute law of this mode of production.” Our socialist economy is a planned economy. Our principle is to give first place to planning and put prices second. The aim of socialist commerce is not profit but the development of production and the guarantee of supplies. Liu Shao-chi wanted socialist commerce to function the way capitalist commerce is operated, that is, “act in whichever way brings the maximum profit.” The inevitable result will be that you do things in a big way when there will be a big profit, you make little effort when only small margins of profit are expected, and nothing is done when there is no prospect of profit. This will inevitably disrupt market supplies and thwart state planning and sabotage socialism. In other words, socialist commerce is bound to degenerate into capitalist commerce if one “puts profit in command” as Liu Shao-chi advocated.

The fallacy “put profit in command” must be thoroughly criticized. But this does not mean that socialist commerce can do without profit. Commercial departments should follow Chairman Mao’s great teaching “diligence and frugality should be practised in running ... shops,” give prominence to proletarian politics, improve management, expand commodity circulation, do a better job in business accounting, lower costs and reduce losses, and secure a reasonable profit in order to accumulate funds for socialist construction.

In a socialist country like China which has a population of 700 million, production should be greatly developed. Keeping production in mind, we should energetically obtain an overall balance, that is, make all-round arrangements as regards the market with due consideration to both city and countryside, peace-time and war-time needs, years of good and bad harvests and the state, the collective and the individual. We must make full use of the characteristics of the commercial departments which have extensive contacts with the customers, and take the initiative in familiarizing production units with market conditions and the masses’ opinions and needs. We should join the production units in working out production and purchasing and marketing plans, and in this way spur the development of socialist construction.

Question of Domestic Market Is in Essence Question of Peasants

Our great leader Chairman Mao has taught us: “We have a rural population of over five hundred million, so the situation of our peasants has a most important bearing on the development of our economy and the consolidation of our state power.” The aim of achieving a great development in the production of commodities is not for profit but for the peasants, for the worker-peasant alliance and for socialist construction. In accordance with Chairman Mao’s great teaching, socialist commerce should correctly handle its relations with the peasants in the course of exchanging commodities. Under the unified state plan, abiding by the principle of the exchange of equal values and using the proper forms of purchasing and marketing, socialist commerce promotes the development of both socialist agricultural production and socialist industrial production and consolidates the worker-peasant alliance and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Chairman Mao pointed out in a clear-cut way: “It is the peasants who constitute the main market for China’s industry. Only they can supply foodstuffs and raw materials in great abundance and absorb manufactured goods in great quantities.” Agriculture is the foundation of the national economy and, of course, the foundation of the domestic market too. The development of industry and the bringing about of a thriving market are inseparably linked with this foundation. Without a developed agriculture it is impossible to ensure that the needs of the people’s livelihood can be met, provide industry with an abundant supply of raw materials and an extensive market and accumulate more funds for construction. “Without industry there can be no solid national defence, no well-being for the people, no prosperity or strength for the nation.” The modernization of agriculture and the large-scale development of agricultural production call for aid from a powerful industry. But, fundamentally speaking, the scale and speed of development of industry and other fields of construction are determined mainly by the amount of marketable grain and industrial raw materials agriculture can supply, the amount of labour power that can be drawn from it and the amount of manufactured goods it can absorb.

The chief purpose of socialist production and exchange of commodities is to consolidate the worker-peasant alliance. The collective economy of China’s rural people’s communes now still generally retains the three-level system of ownership, with the production team as the basic level. The exchange of commodities is the only form of economic ties between agriculture and industry acceptable to the peasants at the present stage, and the main form of the economic integration of socialist ownership by the whole people and collective ownership. With regard to the peasants, only exchange and not expropriation can be used. This is a basic viewpoint of Mao Tsetung Thought. Apart from the small amount of agricultural tax, the overwhelming amount of agricultural and side-line products needed by the state are obtained through the exchange of commodities. Lenin said: “The economic essence and foundation of socialism is ... exchange of the products of large-scale (‘socialized’) industry for peasant produce.” Socialist commerce follows the policy of stabilizing prices; the policy of making little profit and selling more is carried out as regards industrial products; and the policy of the exchange of equal values or approximately equal values is adopted in exchanging industrial products for agricultural produce. These policies which correctly handle the relationship between the state, the collective and the individual have aroused the peasants’ enthusiasm for socialism, stimulated the urban and rural economy and consolidated the socialist base.

The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi advocated “putting a stranglehold on” the peasants, alleging that “the peasants are willing to accept even the exchange of unequal values.” His criminal purpose was to sabotage agricultural production and the vast rural market. Sabotaging socialist agriculture means sabotaging socialist industry, the socialist economic base and the worker-peasant alliance. Liu Shao-chi’s trash was actually a repetition of the reactionary fallacy of Trotsky who had advocated building industry by exploiting the peasant economy.

Lenin pointed out: “The supreme principle of the dictatorship is the maintenance of the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry.” The economic alliance between the working class and the peasants is realized mainly through the link of commerce. In supporting industry, agriculture promotes socialist industrialization, and in supporting agriculture, industry helps with agricultural co-operation and mechanization: This is the economic base of the worker-peasant alliance in the period of socialism. At the present stage, a considerable part of the means of production and all kinds of consumer goods from industry for agriculture are supplied to the peasants through commerce; the agricultural products of grain, non-staple foodstuffs and industrial raw materials are purchased by the commercial departments for supply to industry and the cities. The role of commerce as the link must be brought into play not only for developing socialist industrial and agricultural production and ensuring the supply of daily necessities for the urban and rural population, but also for strengthening the relations between workers and peasants and consolidating the worker-peasant alliance. The consolidation of this alliance is a basic task of commerce in the historical period of socialist society.

Chairman Mao has taught us: “If socialism does not occupy the rural front, capitalism assuredly will.” The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie around the market question is closely connected with the struggle between the two roads in the rural areas. The Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, while carrying out the socialist transformation of agriculture, energetically established and developed socialist commerce, practising the planned purchase and supply of grain, cotton and edible oil. This cut the economic ties between the bourgeoisie and the peasants in the field of circulation, established the socialist economic ties between the cities and the countryside, promoted the socialist transformation of agriculture and capitalist industry and commerce, and enhanced the consolidation and growth of the rural collective economy which in turn laid a sound foundation for the consolidation and expansion of the socialist planned market. Liu Shao-chi wanted to develop capitalism in the rural areas and always tried to help capitalism occupy the rural market. Shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, he brazenly advocated “freedom of trade,” attempting to pave the way for the development of a rich-peasant economy. During the period of temporary economic difficulties, he stirred up the evil wind of giving free rein to the capitalist free market in a vain attempt to create conditions for undermining the collective economy of the people’s communes and restoring capitalism.

The correct handling of the relations with the peasants in commodity exchange is by no means exclusively an economic question concerning the exchange of goods. It is, first and foremost, an important political question concerning the consolidation of the worker-peasant alliance and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Socialist Commerce is Commerce of New Type Serving Workers, Peasants and Soldiers

Chairman Mao has taught us: “This question of ‘for whom?’ is fundamental; it is a question of principle.” Whether it is the workers, peasants and soldiers who are served or a handful of bourgeois people is the watershed between socialist commerce and capitalist commerce.

The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi spared no efforts to preach the fallacy of “serving the entire people” in an attempt to change the nature of socialist commerce.

Where in the world is there such a thing as commerce “serving the entire people”! In class society, commerce belongs to and serves definite classes. The workers, peasants and soldiers are the makers of history, the masters of our era and the main force in socialist revolution and socialist construction. Socialist commerce must serve them. To adhere to the orientation of serving them is to adhere to the political orientation of socialist commerce, otherwise socialist commerce would become capitalist commerce. Liu Shao-chi’s true colours of serving a handful of bourgeois people is exposed when his cloak of “serving the entire people” is stripped off.

Socialist commerce is commerce of a new type that wholeheartedly serves the people, in the first place the workers, peasants and soldiers. As regards the variety of goods to be handled by socialist commerce, items of service, the form of purchase and sale, business hours, distribution of shops, procedures and stipulations, attitude towards customers and other aspects, the workers, peasants and soldiers should always be kept in mind, and attention should be paid to their needs and conveniences.

Liu Shao-chi did his utmost to preach bourgeois “kaleidoscopic colourfulness” and wanted socialist commerce to handle trash that has the hallmark of feudalism, capitalism and revisionism in order to satisfy the tastes of the bourgeois overlords and ladies and their pampered offspring. Do the workers, peasants and soldiers need this “kaleidoscopic colourfulness”? No! We resolutely reject such goods and forbid goods poisoned with feudalism, capitalism and revisionism from entering the socialist market to corrupt the minds of the people. We must actively handle commodities which the workers, peasants and soldiers like and which are economical, practical, unpretentious, durable and varied. At the same time, great attention must be given to expanding the repair service in the interest of the workers, peasants and soldiers. We oppose bourgeois “kaleidoscopic colourfulness” but stand for the proletarian richness of variety and colourfulness. The point of departure for a socialist commercial worker must be “his boundless sense of responsibility in his work and his boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people” and wholehearted service to the workers, peasants and soldiers.

Socialist commercial workers must study Chairman Mao’s “three constantly read articles” (Serve the People, In Memory of Norman Bethune and The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains) and his philosophical works in connection with the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment, destroy self-interest and foster utter devotion to the public interest, remould their world outlook, foster the idea of serving the workers, peasants and soldiers wholeheartedly and become propagandists of Mao Tsetung Thought, fighters in class struggle and servants of the people.

Party Leadership, Politics in Command and Mass Supervision Are Fundamental in Ensuring That Socialist Commerce Will Never Change Its Nature

We depend essentially on Party leadership, putting politics in command and mass supervision in running socialist commerce well. This has always been a teaching of Chairman Mao’s, and is the basic guarantee that the proletariat has firm leadership over commerce and that socialist commerce will never change its nature.

Socialist commerce must be put under the leadership of the Party and under the command of Mao Tsetung Thought and geared to the unified principles and policies of the Party Central Committee and to the unified state plan. Special attention should be paid at present to strengthening the leadership of Party committees and revolutionary conunittees at all levels over commerce, and bringing the initiative of the localities into fuller play. Only thus can socialist commerce correctly handle the relations between industry and commerce and between agriculture and commerce, maintain close ties with the masses and play its role better in both socialist revolution and socialist construction. Liu Shao-chi replaced Party leadership by “single-line leadership,” aiming at usurping the leadership over commerce.

Politics is the commander, the soul in everything. “Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.” Only by persistently putting proletarian politics in command and firmly grasping class struggle can we consolidate proletarian leadership over socialist commerce. The current struggle to strike at the counter-revolutionaries and to oppose corruption and theft, oppose speculation and oppose extravagance and waste is a struggle to consolidate proletarian leadership. Liu Shao-chi peddled “vocational work first”; his aim was to make commercial workers forget class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat and turn them into muddle-headed persons who bury themselves in business and do not care a fig for politics. In practical life, all vocational work is geared to definite politics; it is either proletarian politics in command or bourgeois politics in command. The so-called “vocational work first” means, in fact, putting bourgeois politics in command. Socialist commerce serves proletarian politics, not just doing business. Socialist commercial workers are revolutionary fighters of the proletariat, not capitalist businessmen.

“Direct reliance on the revolutionary masses is a basic principle of the Communist Party.” Commercial work must wholeheartedly rely on the working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants. It must conscientiously accept supervision by the masses. During the stage of struggle-criticism-transformation in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the poor and lower-middle peasants have managed rural commerce and the worker and peasant masses have supervised and managed urban commerce. This is a concrete application of Chairman Mao’s mass line to commercial work, and is a revolution on the commercial front which has thoroughly smashed Liu Shao-chi’s dream of “relying on capitalists to run the shops.”

The workers and peasants put Mao Tsetung Thought in command of everything in supervising and managing commerce. They grasp class struggle and raise the consciousness of the commercial workers as regards dass struggle and the struggle between the two lines. They grasp the orientation of commercial work—wholehearted service to the workers, peasants and soldiers. They grasp ideological education in policies to guarantee the implementation of the Party’s principles and policies. All this has played a remarkable part in improving commercial work.

The revolutionary workers and staff on China’s commercial front, who have been tempered in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, are closely rallying round the Party’s Central Committee with Chairman Mao as its leader and Vice-Chairman Lin as its deputy leader. They are determined to respond to the call of the Second Plenary Session of the Party’s Ninth Central Committee, hold the great red banner of Mao Tsetung Thought still higher and ensure that commercial work will always triumphantly advance along the socialist road.

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