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[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #15, April 11, 1975, pp. 13-15.]
REVOLUTIONARY storms swept the continent of Europe in the late forties of the last century. The proletariat militantly began taking the stage of history. In June 1848, the Paris proletariat staged an uprising, a great fight between the two major opposing classes—the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850, Marx summed up the revolutionary experience of that period and elaborated the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. He pointed out explicitly: “This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.” This wise conclusion of Marx is a scientific, profound exposition of the indispensability and the great historical tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The theory of the dictatorship of the, proletariat is the core of scientific socialism and the quintessence of Marxism. Marx’s exposition that socialism is the class dictatorship of the proletariat not only thoroughly exposed the reactionary essence of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois socialism of various types at that time and distinguished scientific socialism from all pseudo-socialism, but also provided the touchstone for us to differentiate Marxism from revisionism. The history of the struggle between the two lines in the international communist movement over the past century and in our Party over the last 50 years testifies to the absolute correctness of this conclusion by Marx. From Bernstein and Kautsky of the Second International to the Soviet revisionist renegade clique of the present era and from Chen Tu-hsiu, Wang Ming and Liu Shao-chi to Lin Piao, all were traitors to the dictatorship of the proletariat. For all their efforts in waving the banner of socialism, their ”socialism” which opposes the dictatorship of the proletariat actually is revisionism or capitalism. Chairman Mao recently taught us: “Why did Lenin speak of exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? It is essential to get this question clear. Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism. This should be made known to the whole nation.” Without the dictatorship of the proletariat, there will be no socialism, and treason to the dictatorship of the proletariat is treason to socialism. To consciously adhere to the socialist orientation, we must uphold the proletarian dictatorship throughout the historical period of socialism.
In his wise conclusion, Marx expounded in a scientific way the historical inevitability of the dictatorship of the proletariat and pointed out that this dictatorship is “the necessary transit point” to the abolition of class distinctions generally, thereby revealing in a profound way the universal law governing the transition of human society from capitalism to communism.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is “the necessary transit point,” that is to say, it is the only road leading to communism, a historical progression that is independent of man’s will. Socialist society is born out of capitalist society and is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of capitalism. Throughout the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle. Not only do the overthrown exploiting classes always dream of a restoration, but there is the soil in socialist society which gives rise to capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Apart from being engendered among the small producers, capitalism and the bourgeoisie “are also engendered among a part of the working class and of the Party membership. Both within the ranks of the proletariat and among the personnel of state and other organs there are people who take to the bourgeois style of life.” The objective reality and the long-term nature of class struggle in the historical period of socialism determine that the dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable and indispensable.
This conclusion by Marx not only pointed out explicitly that the proletarian dictatorship was “the necessary transit point” from capitalism to communism, but defined its great historical tasks in the political, economic and ideological fields.
The proletarian revolution’s ultimate aim is “the abolition of class distinctions generally” and the building of communism. Abolition of classes is realized through fierce class struggles. Therefore, the proletariat must stick to socialist revolution on the political front, i.e., it must wield its political power to suppress the reactionary classes within the country, suppress those who resist socialist revolution and those who are hostile to and try to undermine socialist construction, suppress all traitorous and counter-revolutionary activities, and protect the country from subversion and possible aggression by external enemies.
To abolish class distinctions generally, it is necessary to abolish “all the relations of production on which they [class distinctions] rest” and carry out socialist revolution on the economic front. After seizing political power, the proletariat not only should eliminate capitalist ownership, but should carry out the more strenuous task of socialist transformation of the individual small producers. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, we completed in the main the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts, capitalist industry and commerce in 1956. However, the struggle between socialism and capitalism in the economic field did not end with the basic victory of socialist transformation of the ownership of means of production. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “In a word, China is a socialist country. Before liberation she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practises an eight-grade wage system, distribution according to work and exchange through money, and in all this differs very little from the old society. What is different is that the system of ownership has been changed.” We must pay full attention to solving problems arising in every aspect of the relations of production, ceaselessly solve the contradictions between the relations of production and the productive forces, criticize capitalist tendencies, uphold the socialist orientation and carry the socialist revolution on the economic front through to the end.
This conclusion by Marx also stressed “the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production.” All the social relations refer to the relations in the economic, political, ideological and cultural fields. The private ownership of the bourgeoisie is the basic content of the capitalist relations of production. In capitalist society, all social relations correspond to these relations of production. To abolish classes in a real sense, the proletariat not only should overthrow the exploiters—landlords and capitalists—expropriate their ownership and abolish all private ownership of the means of production, but should abolish bourgeois right, eliminate the three major differences (namely, differences between workers and peasants, between city and countryside and between manual and mental labour) and abolish all the social relations corresponding to the capitalist relations of production. Of course, this will take a considerably long period. In this period, the attitude towards bourgeois right—whether to restrict, diminish and finally eliminate it or to foster, enlarge and develop it—reflects two diametrically opposed lines. The fact that the first socialist country, the Soviet Union, has degenerated into a social-imperialist country gives us an important lesson by negative example. Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao also tried their utmost to enlarge the three major differences and bourgeois right as a means of subverting the proletarian dictatorship and restoring capitalism. As to bourgeois rights, Chairman Mao pointed out that under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted. Otherwise, if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system. Chairman Mao’s thinking on restricting bourgeois right is of vital importance in guiding the struggle of combating and preventing revisionism.
Marx paid great attention to the revolution in the superstructure, including the ideological sphere. He set forth the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from the old relations of production as one of the important historical tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Revolution in the economic base and revolution in the superstructure are interrelated and they interact on each other. Following the setting up of the socialist economic base, the old superstructure should be changed accordingly. In the absence of socialist revolution in the superstructure including the ideological sphere, the socialist economic base cannot be consolidated and developed. Lenin pointed out: “We must overcome resistance from the capitalists in all its forms, not only in the military and the political spheres, but also ideological resistance, which is the most deep-seated and the strongest.” Therefore, during the period of socialism, the proletariat must occupy ideological and cultural fields such as philosophy, history, education, literature, art and law with Marxism, and exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture. Chairman Mao has always attached great importance to grasping class struggle in the ideological sphere. He has led the entire Party and the people of the whole country to wage one revolution after another on the ideological front, which has consolidated the proletarian dictatorship and greatly accelerated socialist revolution and construction.
What Marx said about “the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations” also refers to the ideological remoulding of the revolutionary people. Class struggle in society inevitably is reflected in people’s minds. Though the exploiting classes have been overthrown, they are not yet thoroughly eliminated, and their reactionary ideology still decays and poisons the people’s minds. While transforming the objective world, the proletariat and revolutionary people must pay serious attention to transforming their own subjective world, conscientiously study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, thoroughly understand the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, guard against the influence and corrosion of bourgeois ideology and the bourgeois style of life and make the most radical rupture with traditional ideas.
Marx said: “Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution.” This very important and brilliant thinking concentrates the proletarian spirit of making thoroughgoing revolution. Chairman Mao’s theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat is an important development of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The proletarian dictatorship is, in fact, a process in which the proletariat carries on its attacks on the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes in every sphere, a process in which socialist revolution continues in breadth and depth. In the entire historical period of socialism, there are still struggles between progress and retrogression, innovation and conservatism, restoration and counter-restoration. The dictatorship of the proletariat can only be consolidated by continuing the revolution. Contradictions in socialist society can be resolved only by depending on the theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and on practice under its guidance. Just, as Lenin pointed out: “Our ‘guarantee against restoration’ was the complete fulfilment of the revolution.” The deeper the socialist revolution goes and the deeper the old base is dug up, the more difficult it is for the old system to be restored. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius initiated and led by Chairman Mao provide new experience in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chairman Mao’s latest important instruction on the question of theory is of great practical and far-reaching historical significance for consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat, preventing capitalist restoration, upholding the Party’s basic line and keeping to continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. By studying this important instruction, the Chinese people are sure to enhance their consciousness in continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and carry the socialist revolution through to the end!
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