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Having Faith in and Relying on the Majority of the Masses

by An Chun

[This article is reprinted from the English language version which
appeared in
Peking Review, #14, April 6, 1973, pp. 4-6.]

      HAVING firm faith in and relying on the majority of the masses, first of all the majority of the basic masses—the workers and peasants—is the fundamental guarantee that our Party leads the revolution and construction forward victoriously.

      To have faith in the masses and rely on them or not is one of the dividing lines between the proletarian and the bourgeois world outlook and between genuine and sham Marxists. The Chinese people’s great leader Chairman Mao has pointed out: “Whether he is a true or false Marxist, we need only find out how he stands in relation to the broad masses of workers and peasants, then we shall know him for what he is. This is the only criterion, there is no other.” (The Orientation of the Youth Movement. [SW 2:246])

      The historical experience of the struggle between the two lines tells us that all representatives of the bourgeoisie disdain, suppress and try to hoodwink the masses. On the other hand, Marxists consider that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.” (Mao Tsetung: On Coalition Government. [SW 3:257]) That is why in revolutionary struggles and in all other work, Marxists consistently and unswervingly follow the revolutionary line of having faith in and relying on the masses and arouse the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses to the full through ideological political work, so as to ensure the triumphant advance of the revolutionary cause of the proletariat.

Inexhaustible Enthusiasm for Socialism Among the Masses

      Chairman Mao has always fully estimated the great strength and wisdom of the masses. He clearly pointed out: “The masses have a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism.” (Introductory Note to “This Township Went Co-operative in Two Years.” [SW 5:246-7]) This inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism has its deep historical roots and class foundations.

      Before the liberation, the Chinese worker and peasant masses fully tasted the bitterness of oppression and exploitation under the cruel rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism. Such an unbearable position impelled the labouring people to wage anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolutionary struggles. After the liberation, their social status has changed fundamentally and the politically emancipated labouring people have become masters of the country; economically, they are no longer exploited, and their livelihood has improved steadily. From their own knowledge of the contrast between the two different societies in which their fate is so vastly different, the workers and peasants have come to realize deeply the truth that “only socialism can save China.” (Mao Tsetung: On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) They have the greatest veneration for Chairman Mao and the Communist Party, wholeheartedly support the socialist system, and urgently demand that socialist revolution and construction be speeded up so that the country’s state of being “poor and blank” inherited from the old society can be rapidly changed. This is precisely the source of their inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism which constantly pushes forward the three great revolutionary movements—class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment.

      Responding to Chairman Mao’s call during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the revolutionary masses destroyed the bourgeois headquarters under Liu Shao-chi and smashed the schemes of Liu Shao-chi and other political swindlers to change the basic line and policies of the Party and subvert the proletarian dictatorship and restore capitalism, thus making new contributions in safeguarding Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line and consolidating the proletarian dictatorship. With high revolutionary spirit, the workers and peasants are now working hard throughout China to realize the various militant tasks set down by Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee. The great practice of the revolutionary struggles waged by the workers and peasants in the last few decades under the leadership of Chairman Mao has proved that the revolutionary enthusiasm existing among the masses is an obvious and objective fact.

      This being the case, it is therefore the duty of the leadership to “be adept at recognizing their enthusiasm from its very essence.” (Mao Tsetung: Introductory Note to “The ‘Backward Areas’ Are Not Necessarily Entirely Backward.” [SW 5:246]) To do this, of course, is no easy matter. It frequently happens that the masses’ enthusiasm is very high, but some comrades are blind to it; or a few negative phenomena temporarily appearing among the masses are exaggerated and their revolutionary enthusiasm is overlooked; or the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses is assessed only from appearances; and so forth.

      Naturally, some shortcomings and mistakes will exist among the workers and peasants. But on the whole, this is not their essential and main aspect. We must not take non-essential and minor aspects for essential and main ones. Otherwise, we will lose our bearings and not only overlook the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses but we may go so far as to complain about and blame the masses and thus impair their revolutionary enthusiasm. Certain shortcomings and mistakes temporarily found among some of the masses must be analysed from a class viewpoint and in historical perspective. The basic causes of these shortcomings and mistakes are the shackles of the old forces of habit and corrosion by bourgeois ideas. Their immediate causes are the class enemies who engage in agitation and sabotage and sow dissension. Therefore, we must always point our spearhead of attack against the class enemies. As to certain erroneous ideas among the workers and peasants, they must be overcome through the method of persuasion and reasoning. Chairman Mao has taught us: “We should firmly believe that with appropriate political work the labouring people can overcome or correct their shortcomings and mistakes.” (Introductory Note to “A Party Branch Leads the Mutual-Aid and Co-operative Movement Correctly.”) Once these are corrected, the masses’ revolutionary enthusiasm will be released to an even greater extent.

      To be able to recognize the masses’ revolutionary enthusiasm from its very essence, we must take the attitude of learning from them modestly and being willing to be their pupils. Some comrades want the masses to do things according to their subjective assumptions; when problems and difficulties arise, they do not explain the situation to the masses, nor mobilize them to find a solution. As a matter of fact, in their eyes, wisdom, solutions and strength are not derived from the masses but are innate in their own minds. This view is nothing but idealism. People possessing such views will remain aloof and become divorced from the masses, and even grow to look down on the masses and suppress the latter’s revolutionary enthusiasm. Thus, to be able to recognize the masses’ revolutionary enthusiasm from its very essence, one must, in the last analysis, work hard to remould one’s world outlook, correctly understand the role of the masses from a dialectical and historical materialist viewpoint and really have faith in and rely on them.

Bringing the Masses’ Revolutionary Enthusiasm Into Play

      To have full faith in and rely on the masses does not mean that we should worship spontaneity or let negative factors continue unchecked. It means we should take correct measures and do our work well so that negative factors are transformed into positive ones. To bring the masses’ revolutionary enthusiasm into play, there must be Party leadership. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “If the masses alone are active without a strong leading group to organize their activity properly, such activity cannot be sustained for long, or carried forward in the right direction, or raised to a high level.” (Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership. [SW 3:118]) Therefore, an important task put before the Party organization is how to promote and give full play to the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses.

      How can this task be fulfilled? The fundamental way is to take education in line as the key link and frequently carry out deep-going and patient ideological-political work among the masses. The Party aims through ideological-political work to enhance the class consciousness of the masses, bring out their wisdom and strength and mobilize them to strive for the realization of the Party’s revolutionary goals and the completion of its various tasks. Only through such painstaking ideological-political work and constant education in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought can the masses recognize their class interests and understand their historic role, raise their consciousness in class struggle and line struggle, and bring their revolutionary enthusiasm into play.

      An important aspect of ideological-political work is to earnestly implement all Party policies. These policies are the criteria for correctly handling relations in every field. The masses are divided into different classes and strata. There are three sections: advanced, intermediate and backward. The Party’s policies lay down the correct attitude to adopt towards each of the different classes, strata or sections of the masses. If the policies are carried out well, the great power of the working class and its staunch ally—the poor and lower-middle peasants—can be turned to account to the full under the leadership of the Party, and the masses of the people, who make up over 95 per cent of the population, can be united and their revolutionary enthusiasm further released. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “A revolutionary party is carrying out a policy whenever it takes any action.... Therefore, before any action is taken, we must explain the policy, which we have formulated in the light of the given circumstances, to Party members and to the masses. Otherwise, Party members and the masses will depart from the guidance of our policy, act blindly and carry out a wrong policy.” (On the Policy Concerning Industry and Commerce.) Explaining the Party’s policies to the masses is a manifestation of having faith in and relying on the masses. As these policies embody the unity of the masses’ long-range interests with their immediate interests and the interests of the whole with those of the part, they receive the support of the broad masses and help arouse their revolutionary enthusiasm. The view that Party policies need not or cannot be understood and grasped by the masses is wrong.

      Protracted revolutionary practice testifies to the fact that only the correct line and policies and ideological-political work of the Party can mobilize and promote the masses’ revolutionary enthusiasm. Chairman Mao has incisively pointed out: “The leading class and the leading party must fulfil two conditions in order to exercise their leadership of the classes, strata, political parties and people’s organizations which are being led: (a) Lead those who are led (allies) to wage resolute struggles against the common enemy and achieve victories; (b) Bring material benefits to those who are led or at least not damage their interests and at the same time give them political education.” (On Some Important Problems of the Party’s Present Policy. [SW 4:187-8]) These are Marxist principles by which the vanguard of the proletariat leads the broad masses forward.

      The first principle mentioned here requires that the vanguard of the proletariat dares to and is adept at leading the masses to struggle against the common enemy and continually win victories. Any departure from this would fail to stimulate the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses and would result in vacillation on the part of our allies.

      In the years of the revolutionary wars before the liberation, millions of the revolutionary people, mainly the peasant masses, resolutely took part in and supported the revolutionary wars, willing to sacrifice their all, including their lives, for the revolutionary cause. The reason they showed such lofty revolutionary enthusiasm was because our Party, under Chairman Mao’s leadership, led them to wage resolute struggles against and overthrow the three main enemies—imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism—and eradicate oppression by reactionary Kuomintang rule and carry out the land revolution. The Party’s correct line and policies inspired them to have a high proletarian class consciousness.

      Since the liberation, the poor and lower-middle peasants of the famous Tachai Production Brigade in Shansi have fought valiantly to overcome adversities of nature and transform the countryside. The workers at Taching have conquered all kinds of hardships to turn a wilderness into one of China’s biggest petroleum bases. The commanders and fighters of the P.L.A. gladly bear the harshness of their life in order to guard the motherland’s borders and coasts. They are able to display such extraordinary enthusiasm for socialism because our Party led by Chairman Mao has upheld the dictatorship of the proletariat and persevered in the socialist road, resolutely fought against the class enemies at home and abroad who vainly tried to restore capitalism and against erroneous lines and the forces of capitalism, and won victory after victory in socialist revolution. The Party’s correct line and policies and the practice of class struggle have imbued them with and cultivated in them the sense of revolutionary responsibility of being the masters of the new society, and infused them with boundless love for socialism and the determination to fight for it steadfastly. Therefore, we must at all times remember the principle of “uniting to fight the enemy together.”

      The second principle set forth above requires that the vanguard of the proletariat, while bringing material benefits to those who are led, must also carry out political education. This, too, is a most important point. Our Party has always been concerned with the well-being of the masses, adhered to the principle that “on the question of the distribution of income, we must take account of the interests of the state, the collective and the individual” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People), and constantly raised the standard of the people’s material and cultural life on the basis of expanding production. There is a world of difference between the material and cultural well-being of the labouring people in our society today and that before the liberation, and this is an objective fact that even the imperialists have to admit. That does not mean, however, that we should make material benefits the chief means of arousing the masses’ enthusiasm. On the contrary, we repeatedly carry out political education among the masses so that they will see more and more clearly beyond individual and partial interests and always keep in mind the interests of the class and the whole; in this way they will know how the socialist fruits we have already gained can be consolidated and developed, and be brought to realize that, to complete socialist revolution and construction, we still have to engage in protracted and arduous struggles.

      By doing ideological-political work, we can raise the ideological consciousness of people in terms of line and world outlook. Enthusiasm brought on by such a method is genuine revolutionary enthusiasm. Only by such a method can the masses’ enthusiasm be really brought into play. Chairman Mao has said. “Man must have some spirit.” What spirit? The proletarian revolutionary spirit roused among the masses through the persistent ideological-political work of the Party. Imbued with this spirit, the masses will defeat the class enemies and transform the world.

      If “material incentives” are stressed in trying to arouse the masses’ enthusiasm, people will become concerned only with personal interests and see no farther than their noses. They will acquire, as Lenin had sharply criticized, “‘the narrow horizon...’ which compels one to calculate with the coldheartedness of a Shylock whether one has not worked half an hour more than somebody else, whether one is not getting less pay than somebody else...” (The State and Revolution.) Therefore, how to stimulate the masses’ enthusiasm is not merely a matter of method, but is a major question of right and wrong concerning the line we should adhere to and the road we should take. Chairman Mao has taught us: “Political work is the life-blood of all economic work.” (Introductory Note to “A Serious Lesson.”) At all times and in all the work we do, we must always attach primary importance to ideological-political work.

      To have faith in and rely on the majority of the masses is our basic starting point; we must always be one with the people. Those people who do not have faith in and rely on the masses will not be able to stand firmly on their feet in the great torrent of the revolution.

(Slightly abridged translation of an article in “Hongqi,” No. 3, 1973.)

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