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[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 17, #6, Feb. 8, 1974, pp. 7-12.]
The workers, peasants and soldiers, as masters of the country, have thrown themselves heart and soul into the mass movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius now developing in depth throughout China. They are the main force of this movement.
Following are articles by some Peking workers and reports on the movement in a village in Shantung Province’s Chufu County (Confucius’ native place) and Tsinghua University. —Ed.
THE spokesman of the decadent slave-owning aristocracy Confucius* (551-479 B.C.) has been dead a good two thousand years and more, but his reactionary ideology has been in continuous use by successive reactionary ruling classes. The renegade and traitor Lin Piao, like all reactionaries in history, also reeked of reactionary Confucian ideology. “Restrain oneself and restore the rites” was Confucius’ reactionary programme for restoring the slave system and he spent a lifetime running from place to place peddling it. Under the socialist system, Lin Piao also harped on this old refrain about “restraining oneself and restoring the rites.” On a scroll he hung in his bedroom, he had written: “Of all things, this is the most important: to restrain oneself and restore the rites,” i.e., the most important thing was to restore capitalism. This fully demonstrates that Lin Piao and Confucius both trod the same old path of restoring the old system. Master and disciple, they were separate in time but identical in their reactionary nature.
Confucius lived towards the end of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) when slave uprisings were frequent because of the slave-owning aristocracy’s harsh exploitation and oppression and when new, feudal relations of production were in the ascendant and unprecedented social changes were under way. A faithful running-dog of the slave-owning aristocracy, Confucius who had an ardent love for the dying slave society viewed the rising feudal system with extreme trepidation and great hatred. He abused the revolutionary actions of the rebelling slaves as “offending their superiors and creating havoc” and was consumed with hatred for the Legalists who were against the slave-owning system and advocated the rule of “law.” He wandered from state to state offering his shoddy goods of “restraining oneself and restoring the rites and all under heaven will submit to benevolence,” hoping that people would restrain their desires and act according to the rites of the slave system of the Chou Dynasty, i.e., “not to look at things, listen to things, say things and do things which do not conform to the rites.”
He tried by his mumbo-jumbo of “restraining oneself and restoring the rites” to revive extinct states under the slave system, restore the reactionary rule of the slave-owning aristocracy, reinstate the decadent old aristocrats who had lost their power and privileges and go back to the slave society of Western Chou (circ. 1066-771 B.C.) of his dreams. It can be seen from this that “restraining oneself and restoring the rites” publicized by Confucius was a reactionary programme of the slave-owning aristocracy for restoring the slave system.
That bourgeois careerist, conspirator, double-dealer, renegade and traitor Lin Piao, the devout disciple of Confucius, took over this reactionary Confucian ideology as a reactionary ideological weapon to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism. He watched with deep hatred and fear the great victories won in China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the unprecedented consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and promptly undertook to restore capitalism as the most important thing. For this reason Lin Piao seized upon Confucius’ “restraining oneself and restoring the rites” as a precious gift and held it close to his heart. If old Confucius down in the underworld could gave heard what Lin Piao said, he would have jumped with joy and crowed: “Just like me! Just like me! He not only resembles me ideologically, he uses my very words!”
People may well ask why the words and deeds of Lin Piao and Confucius were so similar despite the lapse of more than two millenniums between them. This is not very strange. They both had the same counter-revolutionary stand and carried out a political line of restoration and retrogression. “Restraining oneself and restoring the rites, all under heaven will submit to benevolence” which Confucius clamoured about had the reactionary political aim of “reviving states that have been extinguished, restoring families whose line of succession has been broken, and calling to office those who have retired to obscurity.”
The wild panegyrics of Lin Piao, who was a running-dog of the bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes, for “restraining oneself and restoring the rites” as uniquely the biggest and the most important thing were aimed at restoring capitalism and “liberating politically” all the overthrown landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements, and Rightists at home and reinstating them; internationally, he begged for the “nuclear umbrella” of the Soviet revisionists, trying to become a tsarevitch of the Soviet revisionist new tsars and turn China back into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society.
The wheel of history, however, rolls inexorably forward. Peddling “restraining oneself and restoring the rites,” Confucius in his time could not prevent the slave society from being replaced by the feudal society. Lin Piao’s attempt to use “restraining oneself and restoring the rites” to drag socialist China back into capitalism also was a hankering for the impossible!
Chairman Mao has taught us: “The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of man’s will.” The cause of socialism in our great motherland is advancing, triumphantly everywhere. Lin Piao and his gang’s vain attempt to stem this revolutionary torrent only resulted in their being drowned by it and being completely obliterated!
DIFFERENT classes have always had different attitudes towards the labouring masses. Marxist-Leninists hold that the activities in the making of history are undertakings by the masses. “The wealth of society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals.” To maintain their reactionary rule, however, all exploiting classes in history have always advertised the notion that “only the highest, who are wise, and the lowest, who are stupid, cannot be changed.” While shamelessly presenting themselves as born geniuses with foresight and vision and great men rising head and shoulders above the rank and file, they slander the labouring masses as “stupid people” and “rabble.”
The defender of the corrupt and decadent slave system more than 2,000 years ago, Confucius spread the fallacy that the slave-owners and aristocrats were born to be rulers while the labouring masses were destined by heavenly mandate to be ruled and that the slave system of exploitation and oppression of man by man was natural and eternal. Confucius’ reactionary ideas which did not disappear with the collapse of the slave system have been used for generation after generation by the exploiting classes to drug the working people and enslave and exploit them. To change the Party’s basic line and restore capitalism, Lin Piao, who inherited the mantle of Confucius, picked up such, shop-worn stuff as the notion that there are “the highest, who are wise, and the lowest, who are stupid.”
Confucius maintained that the slave-owning aristocrats were “gentlemen” with a deep understanding of the cardinal principles of justice while the labouring masses were “mean men” concerned only with small favours and gains. Singing Confucius’ tune, Lin Piao babbled: What the workers and peasants care about is how to get money, rice, cooking oil, salt, vinegar and fuel and how to support their families.... Lin Piao said that he had a brain “which is well-endowed and particularly intelligent, unlike any others.” Though separated in time by more than 2,000 years, Confucius and Lin Piao were linked by the same ideas. Both claimed to be saviours and smeared the working people as idiots. Lin Piao was a faithful disciple of Confucius’ in the true sense.
Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The lowly are most intelligent; the elite are most ignorant.” The elite referred to here are the overlords who divorce themselves from labour, the masses and practice; they belong to the moribund exploiting classes. They are most ignorant because they do not even have a smattering of any learning—“whose four limbs do not toil, and who do not know the difference between the five grains.” Confucius and Lin Piao were among such parasites.
On the other hand, by their labour and wisdom, the broad labouring masses achieve everything—mining minerals, opening up fertile land, levelling mountains, changing the course of rivers, putting up tall buildings, constructing bridges across mighty rivers, sending up man-made satellites and advancing science and technology to the world’s top level. It is up to them to smash the old society to pieces and to build a new world. Giving no thought to personal gain or loss, favours or complaints, the workers aspire to emancipate all mankind. Filled with insatiable greed, Lin Piao and a handful of other representatives of the bourgeoisie wallowed in extravagance and debauchery. They were not “geniuses” or “sages” at all, but evil-doers and dregs of society.
In trying to poison the minds of the masses with the notion that there are “the highest, who are wise, and the lowest, who are stupid,” Lin Piao and his kind dropped to their hands and knees before Confucius and slung mud at the labouring masses. They dreamt that when their scheme succeeded, the vast expanse of China would become a unified Lin dynasty. This was sheer wishful thinking. The Internationale has put it well: “The earth belongs to us the workers, no room here for those who shirk.” The working people will never tolerate slanders. Lin Piao and his gang could never succeed in their futile efforts to restore capitalism.
LOCATED west of Confucius’ tomb (his surname was Kung, his name Chiu), the Hsilinhsi Production Brigade in Chufu County, Shantung Province, was before liberation a village inhabited by tenants of the “Kung Family,” lineal descendants of Confucius. For generations, they had had their fill of oppression and exploitation toiling in the manors of landlords with the surname “Kung.” In their recent criticism of the Lin Piao anti-Party clique’s crimes, they cited a host of facts from their own experience to repudiate Confucius.
In pre-liberation Hsilinhsi Village, 215 of the 220 peasant households bore the surname “Kung”; apart from 3 rich peasant and 15 middle peasant families, 147 families worked for the “Kung Family”, as tenant-peasants, masons, gardeners, forest caretakers, odd hands and musicians. Under the signboard of “benevolence, righteousness and virtue” as advocated by Confucius, the “Kung Family” deceived the masses by saying that “the Kungs are one family.” In, fact, these descendants of Confucius bled the tenant-peasants with the same surname white without showing the slightest “benevolence and righteousness.”
For example, there is Kung Kuang-fu’s family. Both his father and grandfather were forced to sell their children, including Kung Kuang-fu himself. In those dark old days, 26 people were beaten up by the “Kung Family” for being unable to pay the rent, 15 were driven into early graves and more than 50 families fled the village to beg in other places.
Kung Fan-chen, secretary of the brigade’s Party branch, said: “Generation after generation, the ‘Kung Family’ collected rents while we were forced to pay them. There are two classes with the same surname of ‘Kung.’ The Kungs never belong to one and the same family.”
Getting to the essence of Confucius’ saying that “benevolence is to love all men,” 57-year-old Sung Wen-hsiu said: “Far from ‘loving all men,’ Confucius and his descendants simply meant consuming men! Those of the ‘Kung Family’ mumbled that theirs was a family of ‘benevolence and righteousness’ and of ‘virtue,’ but actually they were rotten to the core!” “At that time,” she continued, “my husband sweated from dawn till dusk repairing houses for the ‘Kung Family’ and was later sacked because he got sick from over-work. My mother-in-law fared even worse when she was young. One year when a baby girl was born in the ‘Kung Family,’ she was forced to leave her own child and become a wet-nurse. What is more, she was forced to change her surname from ‘Kung’ to ‘Chen’ according to the ‘Kung Family’s’ stipulation that men and women with the surname of ‘Kung’ cannot be servants and house-maids. Her lactation having dried up, she was thrown out only to see her own son die of starvation.” With great indignation, Grandmother Sung concluded: “It is not the surname but the class that counts. People of the same class are dear to one another, but not those of the same clan. By chanting Confucius’ ‘benevolence and love,’ Lin Piao intended to make us forget class struggle and let the landlords and capitalists make a come-back. We poor and lower-middle peasants will never tolerate this.”
Like Confucius who advertised the concept of the “heavenly mandate,” Lin Piao made a big fanfare about the theory of “innate genius.” The poor and lower-middle peasants of the Hsilinhsi Brigade pointed their fingers at these fallacies of Lin Piao and Confucius by contrasting their past sufferings with today’s happiness. With political power in the hands of the “Kung Family” before liberation, the down-trodden tenants could neither increase production nor improve their living standards. The “Kung Family” used Confucius’ rubbish that “life and death are preordained, riches and honours come from heaven” to deceive and benumb the labouring people so as to make them slaves for ever and prevent them from rising in resistance. But the people believed in neither heaven and fate nor in gods and ghosts, and kept rising in revolt and making revolution. Under the leadership of the Party and Chairman Mao, we distributed the land and grain of the “Kung Family” and established the dictatorship of the proletariat in 1949. Following this, we embarked on the road of collectivization which brought about tremendous development in production. Per-hectare grain yield jumped from about one ton in the early post-liberation years to more than ten tons in 1973.
Unable to pay the rent, Kung Chao-fu and his family were forced to run away and wander from place to place before liberation. His father and younger brother died of starvation, his mother went insane and his elder brother was seriously bitten by a landlord’s dog. It was not until the year of liberation that he returned to his native village. Now he has a family of six living in a five-room brick house with grain reserves enough for six months’ consumption. Looking back, on the past, he could not help denouncing Confucius’ concept of the “heavenly mandate” with great indignation. He said: “According to Confucius’ nonsense, we were supposed to be preordained to go hungry from generation to generation. But the fact is we poor and lower-middle peasants led by the Communist Party and Chairman Mao are capable of making revolution, defeating our enemies and increasing production. This has fully proved that Confucius’ concept of ‘heavenly mandate’ was pure humbug.”
Throughout his lifetime, Confucius dreamt of restoring the old order. Likewise, Lin Piao blathered that “the present is not as good as the past.” The poor and lower-middle peasants of the Hsilinhsi Brigade gave them the lie with iron-clad facts.
Confucius died more than 2,400 years ago. In the long years before liberation, the cultivated land and population in Hsilinhsi Village dwindled year after year. The impoverished peasants could hardly keep body and soul together and what they handed down from generation to generation were baskets and sticks for begging.
In the short span of 24 years after liberation, the village has changed beyond recognition under the leadership of the Party and Chairman Mao. It is a far cry from what it was in the 2,400 years before liberation. In the past, the poor and lower-middle peasants owned nothing; a few rich and middle peasants had nine oxen, five donkeys and two iron-wheeled carts. The brigade now has 45 electric motors, 21 diesel engines, 100 small rubber-tyre carts and 15 big ones as well as two tractors, while its production teams have their own sowers, winnowers, grain crushers, flour grinders and other machines on top of more than 150 draught animals including oxen, donkeys, mules and horses.
In striking contrast to the preliberation days when the tenants suffered a great deal from usury, the brigade now has more than 1.2 million yuan in public accumulation funds and every peasant household has money in the bank. Before liberation, all nine brick-and-tile houses in the village belonged to the rich peasants, whereas the poor and lower-middle peasants lived in adobe houses. Tile-roofed houses with more than 470 rooms have been put up by the collective and another 1,300 rooms built by the brigade members themselves. There are 160 bicycles and scores of sewing machines as well as radio sets and clocks and watches among the 330 families in the village.
It was said that Confucius was a man keen on promoting education among the people. But illiteracy was common before liberation when all but two villagers were illiterate. The village now has four college students and more than 100 middle school graduates and all school-age children are in school. Those illiterates who are middle-aged or older go to evening schools to learn to read and write. Gone are the days when Confucius monopolized education and culture. The poor and lower-middle peasants are now masters of culture.
Kung Ching-wu, an old poor peasant, angrily said: “By hoisting the tattered banner of ‘restraining oneself and restoring the rites’ preached by Confucius and slandering the dictatorship of the proletariat as ‘tyranny,’ the traitor Lin Piao vainly tried to have the ‘Kung Family’ again sit on the backs of the people and turn back the wheel of history. This will never succeed!”
THE Tsinghua University Committee of the Communist Party of China ran study classes recently for the university’s cadres and workers as a step in deepening the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius.
Those attending summed up their study in the following way: Lin Piao was an out-and-out disciple of Confucius. His reactionary political, ideological and organizational line as well as his counter-revolutionary tactics were closely linked with Confucius’ reactionary ideology. Criticism of Confucius is a component part of the criticism of Lin Piao and it is an important political struggle.
Lin Piao followed Confucius’ example: In trying to restore capitalism, he advocated “restraining oneself and restoring the rites”; he preached the theory of “innate genius,” alleging some were “born with knowledge,” in an attempt to usurp Party leadership and seize power; he spread the idealist conception of history that “the highest, who are wise, and the lowest, who are stupid, cannot be changed,” maliciously slandering the working people; he advertised “virtue,” “benevolence and righteousness” and “loyalty and forbearance” to attack the dictatorship of the proletariat; he peddled the “doctrine of the mean” to oppose the Marxist philosophy of struggle; he applied the reactionary worldly philosophy of Confucius and Mencius in forming a clique and engaging in intrigues and conspiracy; he attacked the “May 7” road by advocating the exploiting class ideology that “those who labour with their minds govern others; those who labour with their strength are governed by others”; he told his children to worship Confucius and study Confucian canon in dreaming of setting up a hereditary Lin dynasty. Through discussions, everyone in the study classes has come to recognize more clearly the ultra-Rightist nature of Lin Piao’s line and this has further aroused their proletarian indignation against Lin Piao.
Through study the cadres and workers held that the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius was the reactionary ideological weapon used by the representatives of all reactionary ruling classes in Chinese history to oppress the working people. Lin Piao worshipped the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius and did his utmost to peddle it precisely because he wanted to turn back history, change the Party’s basic line and restore capitalism. Some in the study classes noted that “to restrain oneself and restore the rites” was Confucius’ reactionary programme for restoring the old order of the slave system of the Western Chou Dynasty and that Lin Piao had said more than once: “Of all things, this is the most important: to restrain oneself and restore the rites.” This clearly exposed Lin Piao as making the restoration of capitalism the most important thing and fully revealed his counter-revolutionary scheme to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The cadres and workers in the study classes pointed out that to restore the slave-owners’ rule, Confucius and Mencius arrogantly demanded: “If all under heaven are to have peace and order, who is there but me at the present day to bring it about?” Lin Piao compared himself to a “heavenly horse” and claimed himself to be the “noblest of men” and a superman, blustering: “A heavenly horse flying through the skies, free and alone.” His diehard accomplice Chen Po-ta wildly echoed this. These were precisely the positions taken by disciples of Confucius and Mencius. Here the futile ambition of Lin Piao and company to stage a coup d’etat and bring about a restoration and a fascist dictatorship was completely exposed.
The cadres and workers linked Lin Piao’s restoration plot with the statements and moves of those in history who plotted a restoration of the old order and with the facts of class struggle in today’s society and concluded that all were inseparable from the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius. Therefore, to prevent a capitalist restoration and to continue the revolution, it is necessary to deepen the criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius and, in particular, grasp their ultra-Rightist nature—their plot for a restoration.
The cadres and workers linked their study with class struggle and two-line struggle in the field of education, and with remoulding the world outlook of intellectuals. They came to feel deeply that criticism of Confucius was not something that was far-removed from them but a very real struggle to transform one’s own world outlook. Some pointed out that the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius, having prevailed in China for more than 2,000 years, had a deep influence on intellectuals. Looking down upon workers and peasants, despising labour, regarding knowledge as one’s private property and seeking to sell it at a good price, observing the “doctrine of the mean,” advocating the concept that “he who excels in learning can be an official,” etc.—such are the ideological problems often found among intellectuals. Only by criticizing the doctrine of Confucius and Mencius can the deepest roots of these ideological problems be exposed. Therefore, deep-going criticism of Lin Piao and Confucius is sure to greatly help intellectuals remould their world outlook.
The cadres and workers agreed that such deep-going criticism is a major issue concerning consolidating and expanding the achievements of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat and preventing a capitalist restoration. It is a revolution for a complete rupture with old culture, old traditions and old ideology. It is in line with the need to transform the superstructure and to remould the ideology of intellectuals.
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