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Repulsing the Right Deviationist Wind in
the Scientific and Technological Circles

by the Mass Criticism Group of Peking and Tsinghua Universities

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 19, #18, April 30,
1976, pp. 6-9. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG
web site for some of the work done for this posting.]

Around last summer, several leading members in the scientific and technological circles pushing the revisionist line, instigated by the arch unrepentant capitalist-roader in the Party Teng Hsiao-ping, tried to negate the achievements gained in science and technology during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Their attempt was to pull scientific research back to the old revisionist road of Liu Shao-chi before the Great Cultural Revolution.

The struggle to beat back the Right deviationist wind to reverse the correct verdicts in the scientific and technological circles is a component part of the great counterattack initiated and led by Chairman Mao on the Right deviationist wind.

The following article deals with issues involved and the essence of the two-line struggle in that field. —Ed.

THE Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, initiated and led personally by Chairman Mao, has criticized in a penetrating way the revisionist line of Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao and promoted the vigorous development of China’s science and technology. Many new, important achievements in this field, including the recovery of a man-made earth satellite according to plan after orbiting the earth, the man-made synthetic insulin and measurement of its crystallized structure, are indications that China’s science and technology have continued to advance to a new high level. However, for a period recently, a Right deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts was whipped up in the scientific and technological circles. Several people clinging to the revisionist line clamoured: “What is the revisionist line in scientific research? Can anyone give a clear answer?” This reactionary fallacy is itself an example of the revisionist line in the scientific and technological circles.

The Necessity to Uphold the Dictatorship of The Proletariat

“Unite for one purpose, that is, the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This must be fully achieved in every factory, village, office and school.” This brilliant directive of Chairman Mao’s which sets forth in explicit terms the fundamental task on various fronts must be firmly implemented without exception. Yet, advocators of the Right deviationist trend in the scientific and technological circles openly declared: “Don’t talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat in the scientific and technological circles.” One of their reasons was: “You can’t exercise dictatorship over science and technique.”

Dictatorship always means the relations between classes, not the relations between human beings and things. The task of natural science is to study the laws of nature. In class society, those engaged in scientific and technological work as well as research institutes and their leading and administrative organs are all conditioned by class struggle and the two-line struggle, and they all serve the dictatorship of a certain class. In capitalist society, science and technology are in the hands of the capitalists who make “natural science subservient to capital.” They are tools serving the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the interests of the capitalists. In socialist society, science and technology should be in the hands of the labouring people and serve as a tool for the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the interests of the labouring people. It is necessary to exercise proletarian dictatorship in the scientific and technological circles, but advocators of the Right deviationist wind distorted it to mean exercising dictatorship over science and technology; in doing so, they tried to make use of the particularity of the objects of scientific research to negate the necessity of exercising proletarian dictatorship on the scientific and technological front. This is a revisionist sleight of hand.

The proletariat must exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in the superstructure, including all spheres of culture. For a long time the scientific and technological field was dominated by the exploiting classes and bourgeois prejudices and traditional influences were deep-rooted. In the 17 years prior to the Great Cultural Revolution, Liu Shao-chi and his cohorts pushed a revisionist line in the scientific and technological circle. Many scientific research institutes were dominated by bourgeois intellectuals. Since the Great Cultural Revolution started, many new things conducive to the consolidation of the proletarian dictatorship have come to the fore. But the achievements obtained through struggle have to be consolidated and some places are still controlled by the bourgeoisie today. The struggle is still very acute and complicated as to who will hold the dominant position, what line is implemented and what direction and road should be followed in developing science and technology. To advocate the nonsense “Don’t talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat in the scientific and technological circles” means, in essence, negating the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, negating the principle of taking class struggle as the key link and pitting the theory of the dying out of class struggle against the Party’s basic line. This is in effect a counterattack in an attempt to liquidate the achievements gained in the Great Cultural Revolution and to let the bourgeoisie exercise dictatorship over the proletariat in science and technology.

To exercise proletarian dictatorship in the scientific and technological field means not only the suppression of a handful of counter-revolutionaries who oppose socialist revolution and undermine socialist construction. In a more fundamental sense, it means firmly implementing Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line and the Party’s principles and policies, persisting in the criticism of revisionism and the bourgeoisie as well as bourgeois ideology in scientific theories so that scientific research will serve proletarian politics, serve the workers, peasants and soldiers and be combined with productive labour.

In the scientific and technological field, there are large numbers of intellectuals. One of the important tasks of the proletarian dictatorship is to use proletarian world outlook to prevail over bourgeois world outlook and to unite, educate and transform the intellectuals. To help the intellectuals remould their ideology is entirely different from regarding them as “objects of the dictatorship” which was a slander by advocators of the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts with ulterior motives. Tempered in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, the vast majority of the intellectuals have made progress to varying degrees. Yet the advocators of the Right deviationist trend had put out the reactionary fallacy that the intellectuals were regarded as “objects of the dictatorship.” This was an attempt to vilify and oppose the dictatorship of the proletariat and it showed nothing but their own fear of the proletarian dictatorship.

Use Marxism to Occupy the Scientific and Technological Field

An important aspect in the exercise of proletarian dictatorship on the scientific and technological front is to use Marxism to occupy all the positions and guide scientific research, so as to continuously wipe out idealism, metaphysics and other bourgeois ways of thinking.

Chairman Mao has pointed out: “Marxism embraces but cannot replace realism in literary and artistic creation, just as it embraces but cannot replace the atomic and electronic theories in physics.” This explains in an all-round way the relation between Marxism and natural science. Advocators of the Right deviationist wind, however, chose to quote out of context. Without mentioning that Marxism embraces natural science, they one-sidedly emphasized that Marxism could not replace natural science. Their aim was to oppose using Marxism to guide natural science.

It should be noted that, in the first place, Marxism embraces natural science. In creating Marxism, Marx and Engels not only summed up the experience of class struggle, but generalized the rich achievements of natural science. Marxism is the crystallization of the entire human knowledge including natural science. Just as Chairman Mao has pointed out that Marx “studied nature, history and proletarian revolution and created dialectical materialism, historical materialism and the theory of proletarian revolution.” Marx wrote Mathematical Manuscripts. Engels, in his Dialectics of Nature, made a theoretical summary of many fields of natural science. By summing up the new discoveries in natural science after Engels’ death, Lenin wrote Materialism and Empirio-Criticism to criticize the reactionary philosophy of the bourgeoisie. Chairman Mao has always paid attention to the philosophical generalization of natural science. In On Contradiction and On Practice, Chairman Mao has summed up in a penetrating way the achievements of natural science, and in On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People, Chairman Mao has generalized on a high plane the dialectical law of the development of natural science.

Since Marxism has generalized natural science, the general laws of dialectical materialism it expounds are applicable to every branch of natural science. Because of the variation in the forms of motion of matter and the particularity of contradictions, every branch of science has its specific object of study. While we say that Marxism cannot replace natural science, we do not mean to weaken the guiding role played by Marxism. Rather, people are required to learn to apply the Marxist stand, viewpoint and method to make a concrete and dialectical analysis and study of their own vocational work.

As a result of the sabotage carried out by Liu Shao-chi and his gang prior to the Great Cultural Revolution, people engaged in scientific and technological work did not conscientiously study the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and Chairman Mao’s works, and idealism and metaphysics dominated quite seriously over the scientific and technological field. During the Great Cultural Revolution, scientific and technical workers have enhanced their consciousness in studying Marxism. But this is only the beginning. It requires persistent efforts and struggle over a long period in order to be able to really use Marxism to guide scientific research and occupy the scientific and technological field. In these circumstances, the reactionary fallacies advocated by the Right deviationists were actually aimed at strangling the mass movement of the scientific and technical personnel to study Marxism.

Historical experience has proved that the revisionists often make use of natural science to attack Marxism. Marxists must gird themselves for battle in this field. An important aspect of Marx’ and Engels’ struggle against Duhring concerned natural science. In Anti-Duhring, Engels criticized Duhring’s anti-Marxist viewpoints in cosmogony, physics, chemistry and biology. After the defeat of the revolution in Russia in 1905, to oppose Bogdanov’s revisionist line, Lenin made deep-going researches into the new discoveries of natural science and the “crisis of physics” and thoroughly criticized Machism and its disciples in Russia. Chairman Mao’s directive “Break down blind faith, go in for industry, agriculture and technical and cultural revolutions independently” and his instruction on opposing the suppression of newborn forces have incisively criticized the philosophy of servility to things foreign and other idealistic and metaphysical views in the scientific and technological field. But the advocators of the Right deviationist trend openly opposed using Marxism to occupy all positions in natural science.

Integration With Workers and Peasants

Professional scientific and technical personnel integrating with the workers and peasants and the conducting of scientific research in an open-door way are socialist new things that have emerged in the Great Cultural Revolution. The Right deviationists, however, did their utmost to find fault with these revolutionary newborn things. They asserted that conducting scientific research in an open-door way would mean “too much linking with practice to the neglect of theory” and “too much emphasis on integration with workers and peasants, which would make people not dare to study theory.”

To set linking scientific research with production against the development of scientific theory is that kind of theory of knowledge which puts the cart before the horse. What is theory? “There is only one kind of true theory in this world, theory that is drawn from objective reality and then verified by objective reality.” Man’s activity in production is the most fundamental practical activity. In the last analysis, the emergence and development of the theories of natural science originate from practice in production. “If society has a technical need, that helps science forward more than ten universities.” Today, the vigorous development of China’s industrial and agricultural production and construction poses many urgent theoretical problems to be solved by natural science, and on the other hand accumulates rich practical experience for solving these problems and developing scientific theories. If the scientific and technical personnel were to follow what the Right deviationists advocated, completely ignore the needs of China’s industrial and agricultural production and cudgel their brains behind closed doors, then they could only find topics for study from foreign magazines and be led by the nose by others. Before the Cultural Revolution, under the pernicious influence of Liu Shao-chi’s revisionist line in scientific research, many research units tried to “raise the standards” through study behind closed doors, and had no contact, whatsoever with factories and the villages. The result was lots of money were wasted, no success was gained and the scientists turned revisionist. Having criticized the revisionist line during the Cultural Revolution, scientific and technical workers began to take an active part in the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment. Working according to the theory of knowledge of “practice — theory — again practice,” they have begun to achieve some successes.

By integrating themselves with the workers and peasants, the brilliant road charted by Chairman Mao, scientific and technical workers receive re-education politically and this helps them remould their world outlook. At the same time, it is also very necessary for them to study again vocationally. The Right deviationists emphasized “fanning up a hurricane for vocational work” and forbade stressing the integration of scientific and technical personnel with workers and peasants. Isn’t it quite clear what they opposed and what they advocated?

“From the very beginning the origin and development of the sciences has been determined by production.” The labouring people are those who directly engage in production. In the long process of practice, they have accumulated rich experience, both successful and unsuccessful. This is the source for developing scientific theories. Only by modestly learning from and summing up the masses’ new experience and gathering together their wisdom can scientific and technical personnel give full play to their professional skills and make greater contributions in their work. By promoting open-door scientific research, we do not mean doing away with laboratories or negating study and research by the scientific workers and technicians themselves. What we mean is to link research in the laboratories with experiments by the masses and to adhere to the correct orientation of integration with productive labour and with workers and peasants.

Launch Vigorous Mass Movement

Should the masses be mobilized in developing science and technology? This is a question of principle concerning the political line. The Right deviationists regarded the scientific and technological field as a sacred place where ordinary labourers must not be admitted. In their eyes, the cultural level of the workers, peasants and soldiers was “too low” and they were therefore not qualified to do research work. This was an attempt to bar the masses from scientific and technological work.

“The mass movement is necessary in all work. Things won’t go without the mass movement.” To launch vigorous mass movements in scientific and technological work is an extremely important feature of the development in China’s science and technology.

China is a socialist country. We cannot rely on foreign aid to develop our science and technology. Maintaining independence and keeping the initiative in our own hands and relying on our own efforts is a fundamental principle in socialist revolution and socialist construction. We must never trail behind others at a snail’s pace, but should race against time to catch up with and surpass advanced world levels. To achieve this, it won’t do just to rely on a few people; we must launch vigorous mass movements and rely on the masses’ wisdom and strength.

The masses doing scientific research is of great importance to narrowing the three major differences between worker and peasant, between town and country and between manual and mental labour, and to restricting bourgeois right. By launching vigorous mass movements on the scientific and technological front, ordinary labourers are able to master science and technology, thereby breaking the monopoly of science and technology by the exploiting classes. In present-day China, workers, peasants and soldiers are toppling blind faith and emancipating their minds and are enthusiastically taking part in the mass movement of scientific experiment. From the creation of the new series of oil-extracting technology in Taching to the “sponge farmland” in Tachai which is a development in the science of soil, from the manufacture of a “mass drill” to the invention of new electric light source, from automatic production lines in neighbourhood-run small factories to the building of 10,000-ton vessels with home-made materials and equipment, from the swift progress in industry to reaping rich harvests for 14 years in a row — all are splendid feats performed by China’s workers and poor and lower-middle peasants. They vividly speak of the truth that “the masses are the real heroes.” Mass contingents engaged in scientific research constitute the main force in promoting science and technology in China.

We have always attached importance to the role of professional scientific and technical personnel. We have always held that they should integrate themselves with the masses and we regard this as the only way to developing China’s science and technology at a quick tempo. When we say that vigorous mass movements should be launched in the scientific and technological field, we also mean reliance on professional scientific and technical personnel and we advocate and put into practice the principle that they should integrate themselves with the masses. China’s successes in nuclear and thermonuclear tests and in launching man-made earth satellites are all fruits of the combined efforts of workers, cadres, scientific workers and technicians and the result of mass movements. The aim of the Right deviationists was to lead scientific and technical personnel astray on to the road of separation from the workers and peasants; there could be no future for any vocational work if scientific and technical personnel were to go up this blind alley.

Non-Professionals Can Lead Professionals

Which class wields the power of leadership is of great importance concerning which line is followed. The Right deviationists openly advocated that “first-rate” “authorities” “publicly acknowledged in the scientific and technological circles” should hold the leading posts. They tried to use this to oppose the leadership of the proletariat over scientific and technological work.

This is a typical example of the fallacy that “experts should be in charge of the institutes.” Its essence was to slash Party leadership, just as what Liu Shao-chi had done before the Cultural Revolution in letting bourgeois intellectuals control the leadership in science and technology. In this respect, the weapon used by the Right deviationists was the same as that used by the Rightists in 1957 when they attacked the Party, saying: Those who do not have vocational skill cannot hold responsible positions; non-professionals cannot lead professionals.

Dialectical materialism holds that it is a universal law for non-professionals to lead professionals. Anyone who maintains that only those with scientific and technical knowledge can lead a certain branch of work is not only negating the leadership of politics over vocational work but is actually denying any possibility of giving unified leadership over various departments of vocational work. Of course, this does not mean that comrades engaged in Party work on the scientific and technological front should not learn scientific and technological knowledge at all. Our Party has always maintained that cadres should learn the vocational work they lead and strive to be both red and expert, because this helps them to implement Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line in a still better way and is conducive to strengthening Party leadership.

The fact that the hackneyed tune that “non-professionals cannot lead professionals” surfaces again and again in the scientific and technological circles shows that the exploiting classes will never retreat from their hereditary domain of their own accord. In this field, in particular, which requires special knowledge, the bourgeoisie often regard the scientific and technological knowledge it possesses as capital in contending with the proletariat for leadership. Therefore, Party leadership in this field should in no way be weakened but should be greatly strengthened.

Chairman Mao has time and again taught us: “Guard against revisionism.” The Right deviationist wind in the scientific and technological circles to negate the achievements of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is by no means an isolated phenomenon. It was whipped up by the arch unrepentant capitalist-roader in the Party Teng Hsiao-ping who pushed a revisionist line which is diametrically opposed to Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line. The essence of this revisionist line is to negate class struggle as the key link, change the Party’s basic line and negate the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in a vain attempt to restore capitalism. The current great struggle to beat back the Right deviationist wind is to consolidate and develop the fruits of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and to prevent capitalist restoration.

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