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Cadres Studying Theory

Communists Seek Not Official Posts, But Revolution

by Fang Ho-ming

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #3, January 17, 1975, pp. 16-18.]

[Footnote in original article:] The author, a regimental commander of the Red Army during the well-known 25,000 li Long March, is a member of the Communist Party committee of Hungan County, Hupeh Province, and concurrently vice-chairman of the county revolutionary committee. He works mainly at the grass-roots level in the countryside as secretary of the Party branch and political instructor of the militia company of the No. 5 Production Brigade of the Liuling People’s Commune.

A farm hand before joining the revolution 46 years ago, he was wounded seven times during the revolutionary wars and was cited for meritorious service several times. This veteran cadre with a Party standing of 41 years returned to his native place to become a peasant again in 1949, the year the People’s Republic of China was founded. In the 20-odd years since then he has led the peasants there in taking the road of agricultural co-operation and building a new socialist village. The production brigade he belongs to is now a thriving one, and its annual grain yield in the years 1971-73 surpassed the target of 6 tons per hectare set by the state for this area. Apart from participating in meetings and other work, this 65-year-old cadre takes part in manual labour and has over 200 work-days a year to his credit.

During the current movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, I joined the commune members in repudiating the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius, such as “he who excels in learning can be an official,” “those who work with their minds govern, those who work with their hands are governed,” and in criticizing Lin Piao’s revisionist line.

We pointed out that more than 2,000 years ago when the slave system was on the decline and the feudal system was in the ascendant, Confucius and Mencius trumpeted this trash to peddle their reactionary programme of upholding and restoring the slave system. Lin Piao, for his part, preached these doctrines and attacked cadres going down to the grass-roots level to do manual labour in a vain attempt to turn cadres into haughty overlords riding roughshod over the people and into a revisionist privileged stratum. His aim was to restore capitalism in China.

After criticizing Confucius and Lin Piao, I have gained a deeper understanding of what Comrade Chou En-lai said in August 1973 in his political report to the Tenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China: “A genuine Communist must be ready to accept a higher or lower post.” To be ready to accept a higher or lower post and be an “official” or a rank-and-filer is our Party’s fine tradition formed in long revolutionary struggles. It is of great importance in guaranteeing that our Party and country will never go revisionist.

Need for Revolution

I became a landlord’s farm hand when I was nine. Working like a beast of burden for eight years and with an empty belly and in rags, I never dreamt I would be an “official” some day. I joined the Red Army in 1929 to become emancipated and to avenge myself. Step by step I got to know the meaning of the revolution. I joined the Party in 1933, determined to struggle for the liberation of all mankind and for the realization of communism. I was in command of a company, then a battalion and a regiment in the revolutionary army. Later I was again assigned to the posts of company commander and battalion commander. When I got to northern Shensi after the Long March, the Party organization asked me to work in a salt company. Since I had no experience at all, I was afraid I couldn’t handle the job. But when I learnt the people in the revolutionary base areas were badly in need of salt, I accepted the job.

At the time of liberation in 1949, the Party organization was concerned about my not being able to take on the heavy duties required of the leadership because of poor health and suggested that I take a long period of rest in order to recuperate. I thought of what Chairman Mao had said: “To win countrywide victory is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li.” (Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.) Much work still remained to be done. As a Communist I should continue to work for the Party as long as I breathe. So I applied to my leadership to be a peasant in my native place and do some light manual labour. Some comrades were puzzled. I said: “In the past when the revolution needed me to go to the battlefield, I took up arms and fought; now that the revolution has called on us to vigorously develop production, I’ll take up the hoe and be a peasant. It’s all the same.”

In 1953, when an agricultural mutual-aid team was formed there, I was elected its leader. When an agricultural producers’ co-operative was set up the following year, I was again chosen by the masses to be the head. Since this was the need of the revolution, I accepted the job. In 1958, a small, animal husbandry farm was run by the county, staffed mainly by demobbed armymen. My leadership asked me, to head the farm, so I left the countryside and worked in the county. However, when the farm was put under the administration of another government department later, I left the farm and returned to the production brigade of the Liuling People’s Commune.

In the last 40 years or more my posts changed dozens of times. Many other comrades also changed posts many times. This is very natural and is needed in the revolution. With the triumphant advance of the revolution, the Party’s fighting tasks and main work differed from time to time, hence there should be corresponding changes in the use of cadres and changes of posts.

The history of our Party clearly shows is. During the Second Revolutionary Civil War period (1927-37) when revolutionary base areas were being built up or expanded and when there were armed struggles against the reactionary Kuomintang armies’ “encirclement and suppression” campaigns, large numbers of cadres went to the grass-roots level to carry out the agrarian revolution, mobilizing the masses to overthrow the local despots and divide the land. During the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45), large numbers of cadres joined the army to reinforce the army backbone force to ensure victory in the War. A Communist should link the specific work he undertakes with the great cause of communism and subordinate his personal interests to the cause of liberation of the proletariat. Whatever the rank and whatever the work, so long as the work is needed by the revolution and the Party, he should take it on and do it well.

Different Class, Different Views

Different classes have entirely different conceptions of “officials” and “civilians.” Bureaucrats and politicians of the bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes are haughty overlords riding roughshod over the people. Being an official is regarded as a natural ladder for them to gain fame, position and power. During the reactionary Kuomintang rule, corruption, graft, embezzlement and bribe were common. In exposing the bourgeois politician and executioner Thiers who suppressed the Paris Commune, Marx bitterly said: Thiers “was consistent only in his greed for wealth and his hatred of the men that produce it.” (The Civil War in France.)

Sharply criticizing the corrupt Kuomintang officialdom, Chairman Mao said: “Conscription, government bonds, economic controls, famine relief and war relief, all without exception have become money-making opportunities for corrupt officials. With such a pack of wolves running wild, no wonder the country’s affairs are in chaos.” (Ten Demands on the Kuomintang.)

In contrast with such types, while summing up the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871, the revolutionary teacher of the proletariat Marx acclaimed the commune in “replacing the haughteous masters of the people by always removable servants ... they act continuously under public supervision.” (The First Draft of The Civil War in France.) Soon after the victory of the October Revolution, Lenin called on the Red Army cadres to work in factories and the countryside. Chairman Mao teaches us: “All our cadres, whatever their rank, are servants of the people, and whatever we do is to serve the people.” (The Tasks for 1945.)

Our Party is the vanguard of the proletariat and our country is a socialist state under the proletarian dictatorship. We work for the interests of the proletariat and the broad masses of the people, and not for self-interest. Our aim is the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man and the liberation of all mankind. Therefore, “we Communits seek not official posts, but revolution. Everyone of us must be a thoroughgoing revolutionary in spirit and we must never for a moment divorce ourselves from the masses.”

Coming from the people, our cadres have always shared weal and woe with the masses. During the war years, we climbed snow mountains, crossed the marshy grassland, fought in the north and south, sometimes as “officials,” sometimes as rank-and-filers. We took part in production during intervals between battles. Under extremely difficult conditions we were always one with the masses.

Since liberation, our Party has become the ruling Party. Though our positions have changed, we cadres have retained our proletarian qualities. To continue the revolution under the proletarian dictatorship, many cadres volunteered to work at the grass-roots level and engage in manual labour in accordance with Chairman Mao’s instruction “Remain one of the common people while serving as an ‘official.’” They keep in constant and close touch with the working people and temper their own revolutionary will. They have obtained much first-hand and useful knowledge through investigations and study.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius have brought about profound changes in the mental outlook of the cadres. In response to Chairman Mao’s call “Going down to do manual labour gives vast numbers of cadres an excellent opportunity to study once again,” they have left their offices in groups to temper themselves in the “May 7” cadre schools or work in the countryside and factories as ordinary peasants or workers. Some have taken up leading posts at the grass-roots level and just like the ordinary labourers, they directly take part in the three great revolutionary movements—class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment. In an army, senior officers have gone to the company to serve as common soldiers. In this way, relations betweem the Party and the masses have become closer.

Two-Line Struggle

There always have been struggles between the two lines with regard to the question of a cadre being ready to be an “official” or a rank-and-filer. Liu Shao-chi openly advocated the theory of “joinng the Party in order to climb up.” The “May 7” cadre schools initiated by Chairman Mao were attacked by Lin Piao and his like who wanted to restore capitalism. They tried their best to demoralize our cadres and turn them into spiritual aristocrats divorced from labour, from practice and from the masses. They even used underhand and shameful means to corrupt the cadres, such as offering them official posts, and formed small cliques for the interests of a minority.

The Soviet bureaucrat-monopoly capitalist class represented by the Soviet revisionist renegade clique is a reactionary class. Members of this class get high salaries and their way of life and world outlook are completely bourgeois. To enable our cadres to be always ready to accept a higher or lower post and be an “official” or a rank-and-filer is not only a problem regarding one’s attitude towards a change of one’s post, but is a major issue in preventing capitalist restoration.

In addition to overcoming interference by the revisionist line, we also have to repudiate and gradually do away with the deep-rooted influence of the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius in society. For instance, there is an old saying that “of all professions, schooling is the highest.” The purpose of schooling is to “excel in learning” and “be an official.” There is a similar saying in our place: “People prefer going up while water flows down.” This means that being an official is “going up,” while a cadre becoming a rank-and-filer is “going down.” This is a reflection of landlord and bourgeois ideas. We have deeply criticized such reactionary ideas in the current movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius. In our socialist state under the proletarian dictatorship, there is only the division of revolutionary work, which cannot be classified as superior or inferior. If anyone separates himself from the masses or goes so far as to oppose the working people, no matter how high his rank, he is bound to fall from his “high place.” Such was the fate of Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao.

I remember when I returned to my native place to take part in manual labour, I put on an old cotton-padded coat in winter and went about barefoot in summer, like all the country-folk. There were two ways of looking at this. Some said: “Old Fang, it’s not worth your while to go around like this.” The majority said: “Old Fang is the same as us.” I was happy to hear this. It showed that they liked me and I had not betrayed the working people to whom I belong. If I didn’t share their ideas and sentiments, they wouldn’t have confidence in me, and that would mean I really had gone “down.”

In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels pointed out: “The Communist revolution is the most radical rupture with traditional property relations; no wonder that its development involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.” That a cadre in our society should be ready to accept a higher or lower post and be able to be an “official” or a rank-and-filer is a manifestation of such a rupture.

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