[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.]

The ”May 7” Cadre School

[This unsigned article is reprinted from Peking Review, #19, May 12, 1972, pp. 5-7.]

A NEW thing born in the Great Cultural Revolution, ”May 7” cadre schools are all over China. Every province, municipality and autonomous region as well as many special administrative regions, counties and cities, all have this type of school. More than a hundred belong to the departments under the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council.

Those who have been sent to the school include veteran cadres who went through the Long March, the War of Resistance Against Japan or the War of Liberation; cadres who joined the revolution after liberation; those who went from their homes to schools and from there to government offices and who were lacking in practical experience; and young cadres who had been Red Guards. While at cadre school, they get their regular wages and the same welfare facilities as when they are on the job. The term generally is for a year or so, the least six months, the most two to three years.

Versatile Activities

Regardless of seniority or how high a post held, everyone is an ordinary student, a ”May 7” fighter. At the Chingkou ”May 7” Cadre School in Kirin Province, the former director of the agriculture bureau becomes a pig-breeder, the former secretary of the city Party committee a carpenter, a department head a cart driver and a county head a cook.

Students’ lives are many-sided. They do productive manual labour as well as study. They criticize the bourgeoisie and do mass work. The school also organizes militia training and cultural and sports activities. Some schools set aside time for students to study their vocations or raise their general educational level.

The ”May 7” cadre school is a school for training cadres at their posts in rotation.

How does the school accomplish its tasks? How do students study? It can be generalized as follows:

Studying Marxist-Leninist Works. In the light of the revolutionary struggle and their ideology, the students study the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and Chairman Mao’s works to raise their level of Marxism and their consciousness of the struggle between the two lines, thereby raising their ability to distinguish between genuine and sham Marxists.

The students at the Huangho ”May 7” Cadre School in Honan spend half a day studying and the other half doing manual labour. In the busy farming season, they work during the day, studying in the morning or evening. Last year they studied the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Critique of the Gotha Programme and The State and Revolution as well as On Practice and On Contradiction. They pay special attention to linking theory with practice and often organize group discussions and criticism meetings.

Participating in Class Struggle. Students at cadre schools take part in class struggle and in criticizing the bourgeoisie to temper themselves. They often link their work and ideological problems with their mass criticism of swindlers like Liu Shao-chi, of the theory of the dying out of class struggle, the bourgeois theory of human nature, the theory of productive forces, idealist apriorism, the theory that doing manual labour is a punishment and the theory of going to school in order to get an official post. Some cadre schools carry out various political movements in step with the movements in the units they belong to. Some have sent students to rural people’s communes to take part in or help local people carry out a political campaign like attacking active counter-revolutionaries, campaigns against embezzlement and theft, extravagance and waste and speculation.

Taking Part in Productive Labour. Cadre schools devote themselves mainly to agricultural production. Where conditions allow, they branch out into forestry, animal husbandry, side-occupations and fisheries. At the same time they go in for small industries such as machine-repairing, manufacturing of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, paper- and brick-making, and sugar-refining.

Every cadre school has cultivated land—much was once wasteland—ranging from hundreds to thousands of mu, parts of which are reclaimed tracts along sea coasts or lakeshores and on barren hillsides and alkaline slopes. Inner Mongolia’s Ikh Chao League cadre school converted much sandy land into fertile fields by covering the sand with layers of mud.

“Plain living and hard struggle” and “self-reliance” is the motto of all the cadre schools.

The object of students taking part in industrial or agricultural productive labour is not only to create material wealth for the country but mainly to better their ideology and to transform their subjective world as they transform the objective world.

Cadres of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee turned the building of their school into a process of edifying their thought. Instead of choosing a ready-made site, they preferred to build it from scratch. They turned 5,000 mu of lakeshore and other wasteland into fields, and built dormitories and factories on their own. They dug canals, wading knee-deep in mud. They went into icy streams to get sand and braved eye-stinging smoke to burn limestone in the kilns. They fought floods to save people’s lives and property. They met all these trials head-on to gain the revolutionary spirit of ”fearing neither hardship nor death.”

Going Among Workers and Peasants. Students often leave their schools for short stays in nearby people’s communes or factories. Living, eating and working alongside workers or peasants, they learn from them and carry out social investigations among them at the same time. They also do mass work, such as organizing workers and peasants to study philosophy, helping them get some general education and aiding local Party organizations carry out Party rectification and Party building. All these activities aim at raising their ideological level and reforming their world outlook.

Transforming Man

Cadres come to the schools in turns. They go back to their original posts after ”graduation,” or are transferred to new work. Practice has shown that their stay at cadre schools, brief as it is, is excellent training. The great majority of students come out of the schools changed in outlook in more ways than one.

One artist at the Kuantang Cadre School in Hunan Province who had joined revolutionary work straight from school had not liked to draw peasants because he considered their weatherbeaten faces no objects for art. After enterine the cadre school, he had a chance to live and eat with peasants, and made some social investigations into their lives. He found out the tragic histories of many peasant families in the old society under the exploitation of the landlord class. His sentiments changed, and he began to have a great compassion for the once-downtrodden peasants. He said: ”Before, I looked at things according to bourgeois aesthetic standards; the more I drew, the farther from the labouring people I got. Now, the more I draw peasants, the closer I feel to them.”

Lin Hsiang-wei, vice-director and chief engineer at a designing institute in Hunan, had designed a highway bridge which wasted tons of bricks because he wanted it fancy. The workers criticized him, without convincing him he was wrong. After going to the Kuantang Cadre School, he happened to be working at a brick-kiln. A rush assignment in summer had him drenched in sweat and covered with dirt in the sweltering heat day after day. Only then did he fully realize what it meant to make one brick. He said with genuine feeling: ”It’s only after you’ve taken part in labour that you get to feel akin to the workers and peasants.” During a fierce rainstorm, Lin ran to the kiln and covered up the clay molds, though he got soaking wet. He often expresses his determination to continue to make revolution and thoroughly transform his old ideas, to become an intellectual welcomed by the workers, peasants and soldiers.

Veteran cadres with much revolutionary experience also gain a great deal from going to cadre school. It puts them back in the war years and helps them get rid of bureaucratic airs and the inactivity that crept up on them in peace time. It rejuvenates them.

Fang Fu-chin, a veteran of the 25,000-li Long March of the Chinese Red Army in 1934-35, was one of the first to enrol at the Meitsun Cadre School under the Kwangchow Railway Bureau. Once there, he was reminded of the militant life he used to lead in the Chingkang Mountains, Yenan and Nanniwan in the early days of the revolution. Invigorated, he joined the rank and file in climbing mountains to fell trees, and went wherever the difficulties were greatest. Out of consideration for his years, comrades often told him to take a rest. He refused, saying: ”You may replace me in labour, but that’ll never transform my ideology.”

Yang Li-feng is a new cadre from a poor peasant family. She entered college in 1960 wearing a pair of simple cloth shoes her mother had made for her. Under the influence of the revisionist line in education, she developed the bourgeois idea of wanting to get up in the world. So she put the cloth shoes at the bottom of a chest. When schoolmates asked her to tell them her family history, she refused, ashamed of past poverty.

At the Hsiushuihotzu People’s Commune in Faku County, Liaoning Province, Yang took part in peasant activities to recall past bitterness and praise the new life. She told commune members how her feelings had changed after going to college. The peasants helped her, saying: ”You must understand that you’ve not only forgotten your family’s bitter past, but that of your class. You’ve not only put away the cloth shoes, but the true qualities of the labourng people.” Enlightened, Yang plunged into productive labour with renewed zeal and wore her cloth shoes again.

After coming out of cadre schools, most cadres are full of life, keep in close touch with the masses and have a good style in their work and way of living. The masses of workers, peasants and soldiers welcome their progress made in this period of ”studying once again.” They say: ”We have full confidence in cadres who can work both at the top and down at the grass roots, and who keep close to the people.”

Origin of Cadre Schools

“May 7” cadre schools were set up in all parts of the country according to Chairman Mao’s May 7, 1966 Directive.*

In 1968, when the Proletarian Cultural Revolution was developing in depth, the question of how to carry forward the cadres’ ideological revolutionization and revolutionize government institutions was discussed on a wide scale. In October that year Chairman Mao issued the call: “Going down to do manual labour gives vast numbers of cadres an excellent opportunity to study once again; this should be done by all cadres except those who are old, weak, ill or disabled. Cadres at their posts should also go down in turn to do manual labour.”

Cadres at every level all over the country enthusiastically responded to this call and asked to go to the most difficult places to do manual labour and to “study once again.” The ”May 7” cadre schools were set up to meet these needs, and in the single month of October alone new ones appeared almost every day.

The guiding thought of these cadre schools which upholds the system of cadre participation in collective productive labour was pointed out by Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee long before 1968.

Cadres doing productive labour is the fine tradition of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army, as today it is the tradition of the People’s Liberation Army. In an army of the people, officers and soldiers help the masses in manual labour wherever they are. After liberation, cadres in government and Party organizations have learnt to carry forward this tradition. The system of cadre participation in collective productive labour for fixed periods has been in effect since 1958, and cadres have been taking turns in going to the countryside or factories.

In 1964, after summing up the experience of revolutionary struggle in China and studying the positive and negative experiences in the international communist movement, Chairman Mao pointed out: “By taking part in collective productive labour, the cadres maintain extensive, constant and close ties with the working people. This is a major measure of fundamental importance for a socialist system; it helps to overcome bureaucracy and to prevent revisionism and dogmatism.”


* This directive pointed out that the “army should be a great school…. In this school, our army should study politics and military affairs, raise its educational level, and also engage in agriculture and side-occupations and run small or medium-sized factories…. Our army should also do mass work…. Also our army should always be ready to participate in the struggles to criticize and repudiate the bourgeoisie in the cultural revolution.” It also called on people in other fields to “learn other things” while mainly engaging in their own work. “They should also learn industrial production, agricultural production and military affairs. They also should criticize and repudiate the bourgeoisie.” They must study “politics and raise their educational level.” ”Those working in … Party and government organizations should do the same.”

Peking Review Index   |  Chinese Communism  |  Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung