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Denial of the Difference Between Socialism and Capitalism Is Not Allowed

— Repudiating the theme about “white cat, black cat”

by Chin Chih-po

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #16, April 16, 1976, pp. 18-21.]

IN the struggle to beat back the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts, Chairman Mao has penetratingly exposed and criticized the nature of the unrepentant capitalist-roader Teng Hsiao-ping in negating the taking of class struggle as the key link and in practising revisionism. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “This person does not grasp class struggle; he has never referred to this key link. Still his theme of ‘white cat, black cat,’ making no distinction between imperialism and Marxism.” It is of extremely great significance for us to study conscientiously this important directive of Chairman Mao’s, make an in-depth criticism of the reactionary theme about “white cat, black cat,” draw a clear demarcation line between Marxism and revisionism and between socialism on the one hand and capitalism and imperialism on the other so as to adhere to the Party’s basic line and carry the socialist revolution through to the end.

Background of the “White Cat, Black Cat” Theme and Its Essence

The reactionary fallacy “It doesn’t matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat, any cat that catches mice is a good cat” came out in 1961. At that time, owing to the sabotage by the Khrushchov renegade clique of the Soviet Union and serious natural disasters, China met with temporary economic difficulties and the struggle between the two classes, two roads and two lines was very acute and fierce. Class enemies both at home and abroad who rejoiced at our temporary difficulties slandered that China’s economy was “on the verge of collapse” and considered that socialist China was about to fall apart. Joining in the chorus of class enemies at home and abroad, the ringleaders of the revisionist line inside our Party tried their utmost to distort the real causes that gave rise to the temporary difficulties, ascribing them to the socialist system, the Party’s line, principles and policies without mentioning at all the sabotage by the Soviet revisionists and the serious natural disasters. They made a wrong appraisal of the situation and, thinking that the time for restoring capitalism had come, made frenzied attacks on socialism. The renegade, hidden traitor and scab Liu Shao-chi shouted himself hoarse, saying: “Industry should fall back to a sufficient degree and agriculture should do the same, including the fixing of farm output quotas based on individual households and returning to individual farming.” The bourgeois careerist and conspirator Lin Piao also trumpeted with great vigour that of the various types of relations of production in the world, “we’ll choose the one that will raise production.” What he really meant was to restore the capitalist relations of production. It was in these circumstances that Teng Hsiao-ping also came out talking blatantly about his theme on the “white cat and black cat.” For fear that people might not follow what he said, he went out of his way to elaborate: “What kind of relations of production is better? It seems that we have to take this attitude: Adopt whatever kind in whatever place that facilitates the restoration and development of production.” He also said: “Individual farming is also permissible as long as there is a rise in production.” Apparently, he thought that the socialist system no longer worked for it “has failed to catch mice”; to him the capitalist system was better for it “catches mice all right.” So he worked with might and main to turn the collective economy back to an individual economy and “twist” the New China advancing on the socialist road back to the capitalist road.

Which one is better, socialism or capitalism? Whither China? This is a question that has been cleared up long ago. Chairman Mao pointed out in unmistakable terms: “The present social system of our country is far superior to that of the old days. If it were not so, the old system would not have been overthrown and the new system could not have been established. In saying that socialist relations of production are better suited to the development of the productive forces than are the old relations of production, we mean that they permit the productive forces to develop at a speed unattainable in the old society.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) Although China at that time had met with temporary economic difficulties, they were merely difficulties on the road of advance and we could overcome them by relying on the Party leadership and the initiative of the masses and on the socialist system itself. Under the guidance of Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line, our Party and the people of the whole country persisted in taking class struggle as the key link, criticized revisionism and capitalism, adhered to the policy of maintaining independence and keeping the initiative in our own hands and relying on our own efforts, strengthened and consolidated the socialist system under the dictatorship of the proletariat, took further steps to carry out the Party’s policies for the countryside, and consolidated the collective economy based on the three-level system of ownership of the means of production in the people’s commune, with the production team at the basic level. All this further brought the socialist initiative of the masses into play, and the result was the national economy quickly recovered and developed and the situation very soon took a turn for the better. Since then, in agricultural production in our country, there have been good harvests for 14 years in succession and industrial production too has been thriving. Hasn’t this historical fact fully demonstrated that, compared with the capitalist system, the socialist system has potentially unparalleled great strength? Isn’t this a forceful repudiation and negation of the “white cat, black cat” theme that negated socialism and advocated capitalism? Facts have given eloquent proof that “only socialism can save China.” (Mao Tsetung: On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) If we were to act in the way proposed by Teng Hsiao-ping, let all the capitalist “white cats and black cats” come out, engage in individual farming and speculation, and embark on free enterprises, then the socialist collective economy would disintegrate, the cause of socialism would go down the drain and the state under the dictatorship of the proletariat would be turned into one under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Then capitalist restoration such as that occurring in the Soviet Union would appear in our country. This is a thing the Chinese people absolutely will not agree. We can only advance, not retreat; we can only take the socialist road, not the capitalist road.

“Taking the Three Directives as the Key Link” Is a Continuation and Development of the “White Cat, Black Cat” Theme

In the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the “white cat, black cat” theme was sternly criticized by the revolutionary masses. Teng Hsiao-ping had verbally acknowledged that such talk was “wrong” and expressed his desire to “mend his ways.” But has he really mended his ways? No. Once he took up work again, he relapsed into error, peddled even more frantically his “white cat, black cat” ware and persisted in taking the capitalist road. The revisionist programme of “taking the three directives as the key link” he had concocted was a continuation and development of his “white cat, black cat” theme. Throwing the key link of class struggle to the winds, he denied the objective fact that classes and class struggle exist in socialist society and spread the theory of the dying out of class struggle. He was in fact trying to let the struggle waged by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie “die out” while encouraging the bourgeoisie to launch attacks on the proletariat.

Nor was this all. Teng Hsiao-ping also spread many other similar absurdities in a vain attempt to replace in all spheres Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line with a revisionist line. He said undisguisedly that “not to be socialist-minded but professionally expert is useful for the People’s Republic of China” and that “this should be cherished and praised.” At his instigation, numerous fallacies were trotted out. One of these was: “It doesn’t matter whether it is a black line or a red line, any line will do as long as it can train people who are proficient and able to produce something.” To be socialist-minded an professionally expert or not to be socialist-minded but professionally expert—this is a question of which road we should take, the socialist road, or the capitalist road. Only by firmly taking the socialist road and integrating himself with the workers and peasants to become both red and expert can an intellectual contribute to the cause of socialist revolution and construction. As to those intellectuals obstinately taking the capitalist road, no matter how “expert” they are, they will do no good but harm to our socialist state under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Just as Chairman Mao has pointed out: “They do not like our state, i.e., the dictatorship of the proletariat, and yearn for the old society. Whenever there is an opportunity, they will stir up trouble and attempt to overthrow the Communist Party and restore the old China. As between the proletarian and the bourgeois roads, as between the socialist and the capitalist roads, these people stubbornly choose to follow the latter.” (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work.) Aren’t things just like this? In 1957, some Rightists in the cultural, educational and scientific and technological circles ended up in the anti-Party, anti-socialist quagmire by following the road of “not being socialist-minded but professionally expert.” These people formed the social basis and served as tools for Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and their like to restore capitalism. If they are of any use, they can only be useful to the restoration of capitalism and the subversion of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Having been tempered in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the overwhelming majority of the intellectuals in our country have made progress to varying degrees; they are willing to work for socialism and integrate themselves with the workers and peasants, but in their minds there are still a lot of old bourgeois ideas and they need to continue to remould their world outlook. In 1957, Chairman Mao said: “We hope that they will continue to make progress and that, in the course of work and study, they will gradually acquire the communist world outlook, get a better grasp of Marxism-Leninism and become integrated with the workers and peasants. We hope they will not stop half-way, or, what is worse, slip back, for there will be no future for them in going backwards.” (On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.) When more and more intellectuals were forging ahead towards the goal of being socialist-minded and professionally expert in accordance with Chairman Mao’s teaching, Teng Hsiao-ping babbled that not being socialist-minded but professionally expert was “useful.” In preaching this he was actually opposing the Party’s policy to help intellectuals remould their ideology, and he was trying to pull intellectuals wishing to make progress back to the old revisionist road which they took before the Great Cultural Revolution. His aim was that they would serve as his tool in restoring capitalism. What a sinister motive!

Teng Hsiao-ping also kept babbling that we should “give first place to daring” and that we should “put the word daring above everything else.” Here he said nothing about which class we should serve, what road we should take and which line we should follow. To him, anyone who dares to take on a job was praiseworthy. This, in essence, was another way of presenting his “white cat, black cat” theme. In class society, the word daring has a specific meaning, and there is no such thing as “daring” in the abstract and above the classes. What we advocate is the fearless revolutionary spirit of the proletariat: “We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven and seize turtles deep down in the Five Seas.” In our struggle for the realization of communism, we must not fear any formidable enemy, we must not be daunted by any danger, difficulty or obstacle, and we must dare to struggle and dare to win, dare to go against the tide and dare to smash the old order and build a new world. But Teng Hsiao-ping talked with great fervour about “putting the word daring above everything else,” about “making up one’s mind and fighting tooth and nail without any regard for one’s own life.” What did he really want to fight for? It was to egg on a handful of capitalist-roaders who refused to mend their ways to have a trial of strength with the proletariat “without any regard for their own lives,” be daring to practise revisionism and restore capitalism. Owing to the fact that taking the socialist road is what the people really want and that anyone who wishes to take the capitalist road is extremely isolated, those who wanted to reverse correct verdicts and restore capitalism were afraid to do so. Teng Hsiao-ping was well aware of their frame of mind, so he went all out to preach “putting the word daring above everything else” so as to back them up and boost their morale, encourage them to whip up the Rightist deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts, reverse the correct appraisal of the Great Cultural Revolution and settle accounts with it.

A New Version of the Bourgeois Pragmatic Philosophy

Although the “white cat, black cat” theme of the unrepentant capitalist-roader Teng Hsiao-ping does not deal with philosophy, it nevertheless involves the important question of what is the objective criterion of truth in the theory of knowledge. The theme that “any cat that catches mice is a good cat” is nothing but a new version of the notorious bourgeois philosophy of pragmatism which preaches that “anything useful is a truth” and vaunts that it is a philosophy above classes. In actual fact, it is out-and-out subjective idealism. It completely denies the objectiveness of truth and denies the fact that practice by people in their tens of millions is the only criterion for testing truth. According to this philosophy, whether a thing is right or wrong is determined by whether it is of any use to the bourgeoisie. So according to this reactionary concept on “truth,” rumours and sophistry which are useful to intriguing and conspiring are truths; brutal exploitation of the working people which is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie is a truth; the theory of the dying out of class struggle and theory of productive forces, both useful to capitalist restoration, are truths. Obviously, this philosophy which apologizes for the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system is most absurd and extremely reactionary. Precisely because pragmatism helps preserve the interests of the bourgeoisie and is deceptive to a certain degree, it meets the needs of the revisionists in working for restoration and retrogression. They often pick up this outdated weapon from the ideological arsenal of the bourgeoisie to attack the proletariat. Teng Hsiao-ping negated the socialist road by encouraging individual farming in the name of “increasing production”; he negated being red and expert and advocated not being socialist-minded but professionally expert on the pretext that the latter was “useful”; he opposed the fearless revolutionary spirit of the proletariat to overthrow the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and trumpeted the “courageous” spirit of the bourgeoisie to launch attacks on the proletariat on the pretext that this could “solve problems.” Aren’t all these bourgeois pragmatic trash? In order to oppose socialism he went to great lengths to seeking the aid of pragmatism and completely denied the objective criterion of truth and the objective law of social development and cast away the Marxist method of class analysis. This shows to what extent he has degenerated!

Socialism and capitalism are diametrically opposed to each other. Between the two there is always an uncompromising struggle. The result of the struggle can only be the growth of the one and the elimination of the other and the “gobbling up” of one by the other. But all revisionists try to write off this struggle. Just as Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The revisionists deny the differences between socialism and capitalism, between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. What they advocate is in fact not the socialist line but the capitalist line.” (Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work.) From his “white cat, black cat” theme to his “taking the three directives as the key link,” Teng Hsiao-ping has proved that he has consistently pushed a capitalist line, that is, a revisionist line. This line denies that the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is the principal contradiction in socialist society, that revisionism is the main danger in socialist society; it tries to reverse the correct appraisal of the Great Cultural Revolution and settle accounts with it, so as to attain the aim of replacing the socialist system with the capitalist system and replacing the dictatorship of the proletariat with the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

We must attach importance to the role of teachers by negative example. Both the new and old revisionists invariably resort to the trick of saying things in abstract terms and placing them above classes so as to blur the line of demarcation between socialism and capitalism, between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and replace the Marxist-Leninist line with the revisionist line. In opposing the switch from the new-democratic revolution to the socialist revolution, Liu Shao-chi made all-out efforts to spread the idea that “capitalist exploitation is not wrong, but has its merit,” that “the more people you exploit the move advantageous it is to the people.” He preached this in the vain hope of sabotaging the cause of socialist revolution. This tells us by negative example that it is most important to draw a clear line of demarcation on the question of class struggle and the struggle between the two lines.

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