[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.]

Cadres Studying Marxism-Leninism

Theory Is the Guide to Practice

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #41, Oct. 13, 1972, pp. 18-20.]

The Masses Are the Real Heroes

Chiang Hsiao-lien, political commissar of a regiment of the P.L.A. Kwangehow Units, is a diligent student of the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and Chairman Mao’s works. In response to Chairman Mao’s call to “read and study seriously and have a good grasp of Marxism,” he has redoubled his efforts in study over the past year and more. In order to criticize idealist apriorism spread by Liu Shao-chi and other political swindlers, he has conscientiously read Engels’ Anti-Duhring, Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and Chairman Mao’s On Practice and Where Do Correct Ideas Come From? While studying, he has paid special attention to learning the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method and applying them to analyse and solve practical problems.

Where does man’s knowledge (including theories, policies, plans or measures) come from? Marxist-Leninists hold that “the standpoint of life, of practice, should be first and fundamental in the theory of knowledge.” Knowledge originates from practice and man’s correct ideas are not innate in the mind. Who are the makers of world history—the masses of the people or a few heroes? Marxist-Leninists maintain that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.”

Chiang Hsiao-lien not only theoretically has a good grasp of these basic viewpoints of dialectical and historical materialism, but has persisted in applying them to his practice.

He makes it a rule to go into the midst of the fighters in the companies. On one occasion when he arrived at a motor transport company which had not done its work as satisfactorily as the others, the cadres and fighters gathered round him and asked: ”Commissar Chiang, how can our company improve its work? Please tell us how, and we’ll do it without fail.”

These words reminded him of an instance early in 1967 when he took up his post as regimental commissar. At a meeting which he called to discuss political work, he tabled a plan which he had prepared on the basis of past experience for carrying out political education. But after the plan had been put into practice for some time, he found it impracticable. In the light of this, he studied time and again Chairman Mao’s teachings “No investigation, no right to speak” and “The masses have boundless creative power.” Later, after making deep-going investigations and study and consulting with the masses, he revised the plan which consequently produced good results. This made him realize the importance of upholding the materialist concept of history and doing away with idealism. Since then, whenever a new problem cropped up, he always reminded himself of the lesson he had learnt.

So, to the transport company’s cadres and fighters he said: ”Measures to improve your work are not in my mind; they have to come from your practice. Put your heads together and you’ll have them.”

The transport company is a unit which carries out its work at widely scattered places. To get to the bottom of things and concentrate the experience of the masses, Chiang went with the truck drivers when they were out on duty and joined the rank and file in making bricks and doing other work. In this way, he gained a great amount of first-hand information. He then asked the company Party branch to encourage every comrade to air his views and help analyse the reasons for the shortcomings in their work. With the masses fully mobilized, many good suggestions were put forward. Together with members of the Party branch he concentrated the advanced ideas and experience of the masses and used them to educate and inspire the whole company. As a result, the company’s work surged ahead.

Chiang Hsiao-lien always bears in mind the truth that “the masses are the real heroes” as Chairman Mao has taught. He never fails to learn from the strong points and draw on the experience of others, whatever their rank.

Once new fighter Liu Ching wrote a letter to the regimental Party committee, making suggestions for improving its work and expressing the hope that it would not rest content with what had been achieved. Chiang was very happy to read the letter and immediately reported it to the Party committee. He commented: ”That a recruit is able to give such good suggestions shows that he has a high level of political consciousness in the struggle between the two lines. We should heartily welcome and earnestly study his proposals.” Most of the committee members agreed with him. But one member took exception: ”Liu Ching came only a short time ago. What does he know?” Aware of what this comrade implied, Chiang studied together with him the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and what Chairman Mao has said concerning the correct attitude towards the masses. He related, as examples, how Marx praised the mass movement of the Paris Commune and how Chairman Mao supported the mass movement in his Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan. He stressed that as leading cadres they must wholeheartedly welcome criticisms from the masses at all times. The regimental Party committee then called a special meeting to discuss Liu Ching’s criticisms and suggestions, and with its comments attached to the letter, circulated it among the companies, calling on the cadres and fighters to voice their comments to help the committee improve its work.

Only those who have faith in the masses are trusted by the masses. Chiang Hsiao-lien has won the confidence of all the cadres and fighters in the regiment and they never fail to tell him what is on their mind. When the fighters have something troubling their mind, they always go to him even late at night after coming back from sentry duty and have a heart-to-heart talk with him. Many comrades who were demobilized one or two years ago still write to him.

Chairman Mao has said: “All our Cadres whatever their rank, are servants of the people.” Having been promoted from the grass-roots level, Chiang Hsiao-lien, now a leading cadre in a regiment, deeply realizes that to be a servant of the people or an overlord sitting high above them is an important feature distinguishing a genuine from a sham Marxist. In his notebook are these words: ”Now in a leading post, I must never divorce myself from the masses. My rank has changed, but I must always act as an ordinary soldier and keep the fine style of plain living and hard struggle.” Since he became regimental political commissar, he has often lived together with the fighters, taking part in military drills, productive labour or clean-up activities just as an ordinary soldier. He attaches great importance to preserving the style of plain living and hard struggle, regarding it as a sign of whether one has really made the most radical rupture with the traditional ideas of the exploiting classes.

Step Up Production and Make the Market Flourish

Leading cadres at all levels integrate reading and studying the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and Chairman Mao’s works with the education in line. While helping the commercial workers in the education in line, leading members of the Chengchow Municipal Party Committee seriously studied Chairman Mao’s teachings on work in socialist finance and economy.

As far back as 1942, Chairman Mao pointed out: “The general policy guiding our economic and financial work is to develop the economy and ensure supplies.” Later he further pointed out: “We must oppose the wrong view which lays one-sided emphasis on finance and commerce and neglects agricultural and industrial production.” Liu Shao-chi and other political swindlers, however, advertised ”putting profits in command” and ”going in for whatever brings in greater profit”—which was a line aimed at restoring capitalism, pure and simple. Just as Marx long ago incisively pointed out: “The vocation of bourgeois society was the making of money.”

Through reading and study and the education in line, commercial workers have come to a clearer understanding that socialist commerce must make energetic efforts to support and promote industrial and agricultural production. They realize that only in this way can they be of greater service. In other words, it is imperative to implement in earnest the general policy guiding our economic and financial work.

Chengchow, capital of Honan Province, is a railway hub in central China. As the city is linked with other parts of the country by rail, some people in the trade departments thought they could do a good job of supplying the market simply by sending people out to purchase what was needed. But the education in line opened their eyes to the fact that it was wrong to depend solely on goods from outside. Efforts must be made to step up local production.

Many factories in Chengchow use wooden boxes for packing goods, but wood is in short supply in the locality. In the past no one saw anything wrong in getting the needed wood from elsewhere. After the education in line, leading members of the timber company went together with cadres and workers to make investigations on the city’s outskirts and found that twigs and branches could be used to make baskets which could replace wooden boxes for packing purposes. So they took active measures to help the rural people’s communes grow those specific kinds of trees and organize their members to make baskets. This not only met the needs of the factories, but large quantities of wood were saved and the commune members’ income increased. The instance was a great education to the commercial workers.

After the alkaline land in the city’s outlying districts was planted to paddy rice, the local products company discovered that the rice stalks were not made use of. It sent its workers and staff members to carry out investigations in factories and enterprises, and got to know that they needed large quantities of straw ropes, mattresses and bags. Measures were then taken to organize rice-growing communes to make these things. As they did not have the necessary machines, the local products company helped the communes buy them or asked the factories concerned to make them. Thanks to these efforts, the communes increased their income from such side-line occupations and the factories no longer had to buy straw ropes, mattresses and bags from outside.

Local industries in Chengchow have developed considerably in recent years. As many small factories were newly built, their production costs were a bit high and the quality of their products not quite up to the standard. Because of this, some people in the commercial departments showed little interest in purchasing their products for fear that they might stand to lose. Seeing this, the municipal Party committee once again organized the commercial workers to study the principle of “developing the economy and ensuring supplies.” After a correct understanding was arrived at, the commercial departments took effective measures to help these factories improve the quality of their products and reduce production costs.

When the city’s department store found that the products of a fountain pen factory were not selling well due to outdated fashions and poor quality, it selected a number of new-type fountain pens favoured by the customers and sent them over as samples. With the co-operation of the department store, the workers succeeded in making new designs, improving technological processes, raising quality and increasing the variety of fountain pens which now sell in large numbers.

With help from the commercial departments, over 120 new small factories have been built in Chengchow since 1970. This has made the city more than self-sufficient in many goods which it used to depend on other places. Production of meat, fish, eggs and other non-staple foods in the suburban areas has gone up by a wide margin. In 1971 the city grew all the vegetables its population consumed. The amount of vegetables on the market in the first half of this year was 31 per cent more than in the same period of last year.

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