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[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #16, April 18, 1975, pp. 4-6.]
CHAIRMAN Mao recently pointed out: “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.” This directive is of very great significances in our struggle to combat and prevent revisionism and consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat. It also makes clearer the orientation of the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius.
Since socialist society has, just emerged from the womb of capitalist society, it inevitably carries many ”birth marks” of the old society. These ”birth marks” not only enable the old bourgeoisie to continue to exist and carry on nefarious activities but also serve as hotbeds for engendering new bourgeois elements and the soil for breeding revisionism, and provide the conditions for capitalist restoration. In order to prevent such a restoration, the proletariat not only must overcome the resistance of the overthrown landlord and capitalist classes and guard against subversion and aggression by imperialism and social-imperialism, it must also struggle against the new bourgeois elements and step by step sweep away the soil engendering revisionism and create conditions in which it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie to exist or for a new bourgeoisie to arise.
To consolidate the proletarian dictatorship and develop the socialist system and step by step eliminate the ”birth marks” of the old society, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party headed by Chairman Mao, have over the past 20 years repeatedly fought domestic and foreign enemies, and have waged an indefatigable struggle against the ideology of all the exploiting classes, particularly the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. This struggle has been broadened and deepened as a result of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius. We have already won great victories and made great achievements, but, as the great revolutionary and author Lu Hsun (1881-1936) said: ”There’s still no end to the fighting, and the old refrain will be sung over and over.” To consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat and develop the socialist system, we must continue to deepen our criticism of the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of Lin Piao and the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius—the counter-revolutionary ”old refrain” ”sung over and over” by Lin Piao and his like.
The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are the most concentrated expression of the traditional concepts of private ownership of old China. They are a reactionary ideological system embodying the old thinking, old culture and old traditions. They have been spread throughout China for more than 2,000 years and reactionaries in the past adapted and remoulded them continuously for use in ruling and corrupting the people and in maintaining the decadent economic base and reactionary political rule. The ideologies of all dying exploiting classes throughout history are of the same lineage and identical. Originally, the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius were the ideology of the declining slave-owning class of old China. When the feudal landlord class became conservative and reactionary after taking over rule from the slave-owning class, it adopted the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius to save itself and changed them into the ideology of the landlord class. Compromising with the landlord class, the weak bourgeoisie of China took over and turned these doctrines into reactionary ideological weapons to defend their own political and economic interests. The concepts of bourgeois right, from the ideas of private ownership and hierarchy to attitudes towards physical labour and mental labour and so on in China, can all without exception trace their roots to the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. The landlord and capitalist agents inside the Party also took over these decadent traditions from the declining slave-owning class and the declining landlord and capitalist classes.
The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are doctrines of restoration. ”Restrain oneself and return to the rites” was the reactionary programme of Confucius for restoring the slave system. His ”rites” were the hierarchic system of slave society and related rituals and ceremonies. All subsequent rotten social forces also invariably trotted out this battered banner in opposing a new social system. To ”restrain oneself and return to the rites,” the reactionaries always attack new revolutionary political power while shouting about so-called ”rule by benevolence” and ”rule by virtue” which Confucius and Mencius advocated. During the period of socialism, the landlord and capitalist classes, which want to recover their lost ”paradise” and restore their cannibalistic system of ”rites” under which they exploited and oppressed the working people, also wave that tattered old banner of ”rule by benevolence” to oppose the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Chieftains of opportunist lines inside our Party, in their wild attacks on the dictatorship of the proletariat, all used the ideology of the Confucian school as their weapon. In his sinister book Self-Cultivation, soaked in Confucian and Mencian poison, Liu Shao-chi told Communists to learn so-called ”loyalty and forbearance” and ”reply to wrong with virtue” and ”exercise benevolence and love” towards the capitalist class and not exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lin Piao also waved the phoney flag of ”benevolence, righteousness and virtue” when he frenziedly attacked the dictatorship of the proletariat. He slandered the dictatorship of the proletariat as a ”meat grinder” and howled that ”he who relies on virtue will thrive and he who relies on force will perish,” and made a hullabaloo about ”benevolence, righteousness and virtue” and so forth. This tells the revolutionary people from a negative angle that if they are to consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat and prevent a capitalist restoration they must deeply criticize the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. As Chairman Mao has said: “Our relationship with them can in no way be one of equality. On the contrary, it is a relationship in which one class oppresses another, that is, the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. There can be no other type of relationship, such as a so-called relationship of equality or of peaceful coexistence between exploiting and exploited classes, or of kindness or magnanimity.”
The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are doctrines of retrogression. The historical period of socialism is a long process of struggle between nascent communism and dying capitalism. It is a case of either moving forward or going backwards. Whether we vigorously support and actively develop the new-born things which represent the direction in which society moves forward or suppress and eradicate them, whether we restrict and gradually do away with bourgeois right and other ”birth marks” of the old society or protect, bolster and continue to expand them, is one important facet of the struggle between the two lines inside the Party. It is an important question of consolidating and strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat or destroying and weakening this dictatorship. We are bound to enthusiastically nurture and develop the new-born things if we want to consolidate and strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat and actively and gradually overcome and eliminate the ”birth marks” of the old society. This is an extensive and profound revolution. The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius which advocate hanging on to the old and restoration and retrogression must be demolished and traditional concepts of the exploiting classes must be destroyed; only then can the new ways of the proletariat be established and the communist revolutionary spirit brought into full play. Only by clearing away the debris from the ruins of the old society can socialist new things grow sturdily, Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and their like used ”the doctrine of the mean” which opposes social changes and a whole set of other malodorous ideas such as ”he who excels in learning can be an official,” ”the highest are the wise and the lowest are the stupid,” ”those who work with their minds govern, those who work with their hands are governed” and ”men are superior to women”—all rubbish from the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius—to safeguard and expand bourgeois right and oppose socialist new things in their vain attempt to stem the historical tide of socialists revolution. The massive examples of socialist new things growing up through struggle show that the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius must be profoundly criticized if the role of the new things in consolidating and strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat is to be brought into full play.
The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are doctrines of selling out the country. The history of class struggle in China for more than 2,000 years tells us that most reactionaries who stood for restoration and retrogression took the path of capitulation and betraying the country. In modern and contemporary history, chieftains of reactionaries, like Tseng Kuo-fan* (1811-72), Yuan Shih-kai** (1859-1916) and Chiang Kai-shek, all were faithful followers of Confucius and lackeys of imperialism. Chieftains of opportunist lines, like Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao, also sought backing from imperialism and social-imperialism so as to subvert the dictatorship of the proletariat and restore capitalism. This was determined by the reactionary and feeble nature of their class. It should be noted that while these traitors were selling out the sovereignty and independence of the motherland to the aggressors they talked about ”benevolence,” ”rites” and other drivel picked up from Confucius. Chairman Mao, pointed out clearly in his On New Democracy: “Imperialist culture and semi-feudal culture are devoted brothers and have formed a reactionary cultural alliance against China’s new culture. This kind of reactionary culture serves the imperialists and the feudal class and must be swept away. Unless it is swept away, no new culture of any kind can be built up. There is no construction without destruction, no flowing without damming and no motion without rest; the two are locked in a life-and-death struggle.” To defend the unity and independence of our socialist motherland under the dictatorship of the proletariat, to oppose subversion and possible aggression by imperialism and social-imperialism, we must profoundly criticize the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius.
The doctrines of Confucius and Mencius have always been linked with the historical fate of the declining reactionary classes and serve all the darkest social forces. Running through these doctrines is a reactionary ideological and political line advocating restoration, retrogression and national betrayal, and these doctrines can be merged with Chiang Kai-shek’s fascism and also with the revisionism of Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao. They can be utilized by the feudal landlord class and the old bourgeoisie as well as by the new bourgeois elements who oppose socialism. Guided by the Marxist theory on the dictatorship of the proletariat and taking hold of the reactionary essence and ideological basis of the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius which stand for restoration, retrogression and national betrayal, we must thoroughly criticize these doctrines. This will help eliminate, step by step, the soil engendering revisionism, create conditions in which it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie to exist or for a new bourgeoisie to arise, and consolidate and strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat.
_______________* A murderer who collaborated with imperialism to suppress the peasant movement of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. ** Chieftain of the northern warlords who collaborated with the imperialists to suppress the Yi Ho Tuan Movement.
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