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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


May 24, 1955

[Article criticizing the counter-revolutionary Hu Feng clique.]

What Hu Feng calls "uniformity of public opinion" actually means that counter-revolutionaries are not allowed to express counterrevolutionary views. Indeed this is true, our system does deprive all counter-revolutionaries of freedom of speech and allows this freedom only among the people. We allow opinions to be varied among the people, that is, there is freedom to criticize, to express different views and to advocate theism or atheism (i.e., materialism). In any society and at any time, there are always two kinds of people and views, the advanced and the backward, that exist as opposites struggling with each other, with the advanced views invariably prevailing over the backward ones; it is neither possible nor right to have "uniformity of public opinion". Society can progress only if what is advanced is given full play and prevails over what is backward. But in an era in which classes and class struggle still exist both at home and abroad, the working class and the masses who have seized state power must suppress the resistance to the revolution put up by all counter-revolutionary classes, groups and individuals, thwart their activities aimed at restoration and prohibit them from exploiting freedom of speech for counter-revolutionary purposes. Thus Hu Feng and counter-revolutionaries of his kind find "uniformity of public opinion" inconvenient for them. Their inconvenience is exactly what we want and is exactly what is convenient for us. Public opinion in our country is at once uniform and non-uniform. Among the people, both the advanced and the backward are free to use our newspapers, periodicals, forums, etc. to compete with each other, so that the former can educate the latter by the democratic method of persuasion and backward ideas and systems can be overcome. When a contradiction is resolved, new contradictions emerge, and competition takes place again. In this way, society constantly progresses. The existence of contradictions means non-uniformity. The resolution of contradictions results in temporary uniformity, but new contradictions soon emerge, which means non-uniformity, and they, in turn, have to be resolved. As for the contradiction between the people and the counter-revolutionaries, that is a matter of dictatorship over the counter-revolutionaries by the people under the leadership of the working class and the Communist Party. Here the dictatorial, not the democratic method is used; in other words, the counter-revolutionaries must behave themselves and are not allowed to be unruly in word or deed. In this respect, it is not only public opinion that is uniform, but the law too. On this question, the arguments of Hu Feng and other counter-revolutionaries may seem plausible, and on hearing such counter-revolutionary remarks some muddleheads feel themselves somewhat in the wrong. Well, you see, "uniformity of public opinion", or "absence of public opinion", or "suppression of freedom" -- don't they sound awful? These people cannot distinguish clearly between two different categories, between what is within the ranks of the people and what is without. Within the ranks of the people, it is criminal to suppress freedom, to suppress the people's criticism of the shortcomings and mistakes of the Party and the government or to suppress free discussion in academic circles. This is our system. However, all this is legitimate in capitalist countries. Outside the ranks of the people, it is criminal to allow counter-revolutionaries to be unruly in word or deed and it is legitimate to exercise dictatorship over them. This is our system. The opposite is true of capitalist countries, where the bourgeoisie exercises a dictatorship under which revolutionary people are not allowed to be "unruly in word or deed" but must "behave themselves". Exploiters and counter-revolutionaries are always and everywhere in the minority while the exploited and revolutionaries are invariably in the majority. Therefore, dictatorship by the latter is perfectly right, while dictatorship by the former is invariably wrong. Hu Feng also said, "The great majority of readers belong to some organization where the atmosphere is coercive." Among the people, we reject the coercive method of commandism and adhere to the democratic method of persuasion; here the atmosphere should be free, "coercion" is wrong. "The great majority of readers belong to some organization" -- this is excellent. In thousands of years nothing like this had ever happened. It was only after the Communist Party led the people in waging a long and arduous struggle that they were able to change to being united from being like loose sand, a condition which favoured the reactionaries' exploitation and oppression, and that the people achieved this great unity among themselves within a few years after victory in the revolution. By "coercion" Hu Feng means our coercing those on the side of counter-revolution. Yes, they tremble with fear, feeling "like the miserable daughter-in-law always afraid of being beaten", or worrying that "a mere cough is being recorded". We consider this excellent too. Nothing like this had ever happened in thousands of years either. Only after the Communist Party led the people through a long and arduous struggle were these scoundrels made to feel so uncomfortable. In a word, the day of joy for the people is a day of woe for the counter-revolutionaries. This, above all, is what we celebrate each year when National Day comes around. Hu Feng also said, "When it comes to literature and art, mechanism is really the easiest thing." Here "mechanism" is a derogatory term for dialectical materialism, and to call it "the easiest thing" is sheer nonsense. Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because, being neither based on objective reality nor submitted to its test, they permit people to talk as much nonsense as they like. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, demand effort. They must be based on and submitted to the test of objective reality. Unless one makes the effort, one is liable to drift into idealism and metaphysics. In his letter [1] Hu Feng raised three questions of principle, which we have deemed it necessary to repudiate at some length. In addition, Hu Feng wrote in the letter, "At present there is a desire to resist everywhere, there are further demands everywhere"; this was in 1950. At the time, the bulk of Chiang Kai-shek's military forces had just been wiped out on the mainland, many of the counter-revolutionary armed forces who had turned into bandits were yet to be eliminated, the large-scale movements of agrarian reform and suppression of counter-revolutionaries had not yet begun, nor had the work of readjustment in the fields of culture and education. What Hu Feng said did reflect the situation then, but he left something unsaid. To spell it out, it should have read: At present there is a desire on the part of counter-revolutionaries to resist the revolution everywhere, there are further demands of all sorts from counter-revolutionaries everywhere seeking to make trouble for the revolution.


1. This refers to a counter-revolutionary confidential letter Hu Feng wrote on August 13, 1950 to his follower Chang Chung-hsiao.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung