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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Speech At The Hankow Conference

April 6, 1958

[SOURCE: ‘Long Live Mao Zedong Thought,’ a Red Guard Publication.]

What is the situation of the class struggle in the transition period?

There probably won’t be more than a few more rounds in the struggle between the two roads. We must have a strategy, cooling off for a while and then letting loose. Without such cooling off and letting loose, it won’t flare up. As I mentioned at the Ch’eng-tu Conference, there are four classes in China: two exploiting and two working classes. The first exploiting class consists of imperialism, feudalism, bureaucratic capitalism, Koumintang remnants, and 300,000 rightists. The landlords have split up, some having reformed and others not yet. The unreformed landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and rightists are firmly against communism. They are the current Chiang Kai-shek and Kuomintang, and they constitute the hostile class, such as Chang Po-chun[1]. The rightists in the party are the same, including those leaning toward the right, currently classified as intermediates who have not yet made a move toward the right. Those who have been discovered but not yet classified, or not yet discovered, also belong to this class. The grand total of this class probably constitute five per cent of the population, or 30 million, which is a reasonable estimate. It is a hostile class and needs reform. Struggle and getting hold of them are required. If 70 per cent of them are split up, it will be a big victory. They must be activated, turning passive strength into active. If 10 per cent of them are reformed, it will be a success. After a few years, when they demonstrate a sincere change of heart and become genuinely reformed, their exploiting class hat may be removed. The right may turn into the left or middle-roaders; the left may also turn into the right, such as Kautsky. The second exploiting class consists of the national bourgeoisie and its intellectuals, plus a part of the upper level petit bourgeoisie, such as Liu Shao-t’ang, Ch’en Po-hua, and the rural well-to-do middle peasants. They belong to the bo! urgeoisie in essence. Most of the national bourgeoisie and its intellectuals are middle-roaders. They are exploiters, but different from the first exploiting class. They are opposed, and yet not opposed, to communism. They are a vacillating class. They are opposed to communism, but not firmly committed, and they are different from Chiang Kai-shek. They bend with the wind. There was a capitalist in Hankow. From Hankow to Peking, he made a living by relying on the slogan “Support the Communist Party; Support Government Representatives” and would not say one word more. Actually his thinking did not change much. Had we not firmly resisted when the rightists attacked last year, and had Nazism appeared in China and the rightists gained power, these people would surge upward and they wouldn’t have hesitated to knock down the Communist Party. They are two-minded about the Communist Party, wavering between for and against, while the rightists have no intention of supporting the Communist Party. After the struggle for all of this past year, these people are changing their political thinking, but they are still half-hearted. Last year most of them were without direction. However, after the big blooming and big contending, the victory of the rural and urban rectification campaign, and the great leap forward in production, they had to change by force of the situation. Whether it can be considered as 30 and 70 per cent, I hope everyone will give it consideration. A situation is man-made. Men form crowds, and the majority overwhelms the minority. The great Yangtze River Bridge, industrialization, and so on, can be classified as part of the situation. The second exploiting class is relatively civilized, and we can handle it with civilized methods, adopting the formula of criticism, which is different from the method of the anti-rightist struggle. Towards the rightists we resort to a method rather coercive in essence, for no other purpose than to make them notorious. Our policies are also different towa! rds the two exploiting classes. We rally the second while isolating and knocking down the first. In other words, we rally the middle-roaders and isolate the rightists.

Though the landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and rightists number as many as 30 million, they are scattered in the country, surrounded and isolated. They would never have imagined the holding of a rightist congress; it would be equivalent to an imperial favor and amnesty. All big cities (cities with a population of 300,000 or more) should hold such a congress, with speeches by major responsible comrades, and the speeches should be intensive and penetrating. There should first be lectures and then rallying. The lecture should be cold and bleak and the rallying wild and enthusiastic, pointing out the future and giving them hope. Similar to Old Woman Liu entering the Ta-kuan Garden to borrow money, Sister Feng was unscrupulous. Some people say that she would be an able statesman in peace time and cunning politician in times of unrest.

There are two working classes, the workers and the peasants. In the past, their mind was not at one, and they were not clear about the ideology and their mutual relations. They worked and farmed under the leadership of our party, and we did not properly handle the problem of their mutual relations. Generally speaking, the work style of our cadres is fundamentally different from that of the Kuomintang, but some of them are more or less the same. Similar to the overlord toward the common citizen, or the slave master toward the slave, they convince by force instead of persuasion. One woman cadre in the Hunan Hospital usurped a lavatory and forbade anyone else from using it. The bad work style of certain cadres is almost the same as the Kuomintang, and a few individuals even surpass it. Hence, the workers and peasants regard them as the Kuomintang. For this reason, the world philosophy of the workers and peasants did not change, and they struggled for the “five big items.” They are afraid to express themselves for fear of being rectified, forced to “wear small shoes,” and given a hard time. Who would have the nerve to display “big character posters?” Since the big blooming, big contending, big rectifying, and big reforming, there has been a great change in such relations. The workers criticized themselves for their struggle for the “five big items”, and their work attitude improved. The bath workers declared against their own wage increase. Immediately upon becoming a cadre, a store worker in Wu-han turned arrogant toward the store clerks. It was the work style of the Kuomintang. Once they changed their overlord style, the cadres of Hung-an County became one with the masses and a transformation occurred in their relations. The ownership system, mutual relations, and distribution relations are the three issues in production relations. When we tackle the middle, it is to tackle the mutual relations. Our rectification is to solve the mutual relations issue. Cer! tain individuals among the Communist Party members learned the style of the slave master in society and school. Liu chieh-mei learned it in society. Let us rectify the mutual relations, the relations between the party and political work groups and the workers in the plant, between the cadres and members in the cooperative, between the party and political personnel of all levels and the lower echelons, between the cadres and the masses, between the principal and teachers and the students. In other words, the internal contradictions in the people should be solved by persuasion, not by coercion. By so doing, the cover is lifted, and the people feel comfortable, mentally liberated, and will have the courage to write big character posters. It is Leninism, not opportunism. Lenin died too young. His writings, especially his books written in the revolutionary period, should be carefully studied. His reasoning is vivid and lively and he bares his heart to the people in his sincerity, without any hedging. The same holds true even in his struggle against the enemy. Comrade Stalin had a slight overlord flavor. Educated in a missionary school, he was not so good in dialectics, nor materialism. He was divorced from reality and did not handle successfully the mutual relations. He was relatively rigid. In the past, the relations between the Soviet Union and us were those between father and son, cat and mouse, and the thinking was inflexible. Now, it is somewhat better. Our democratic tradition has a long history. Promoting democracy at our base, with neither money, grain, weapons, nor outside aid, we had no choice but to rely on the people. The party had to become one with the people, the troops with the masses, and the officers with the soldiers. To handle such relations successfully, we had to resort to the three main rules of discipline and eight points for attentions[2]. We treated the people with equality, abolished physical punishment among the troops, repeal! ed the death penalty for deserters, constantly taught and struggled, and educated the new soldiers after each battle. Therefore, though there was some overlord attitude, we also learned some democratic work style. It was tempered in the long and arduous struggle. Yet even now, there are still some who do not subscribe to the method of persuasion toward the people. Some people in Tsinan, for instance, said that the tendency in the spring of 1957 was toward the right, and that they approved of the summer situation but not the spring situation. In fact, the summer situation was not so commendable either. As mentioned in the article on the summer situation[3], if democracy can be practiced in the troops, why can’t it be practiced in the people? One can see that this problem has not been solved. After rectification last year, the bumper harvest this year especially, and the (fundamental or preliminary) transformation of our backwardness with three more years of hard struggle, the people will understand and become convinced. But we must still perform work, write articles, and use reasoning to convince. In view of the situation of the class struggle in the transition, I feel that there will be five percent of germs (hostile class). The middle road faction may also deteriorate. They have criticisms in their mind. Temporarily they are keeping quiet, but they will express themselves in the future. We must remember that the struggle is protracted, repetitious, and complex. Nevertheless, the fundamental battle of the class struggle has been fought, and a victory has been basically won. Hundreds of million have risen. The rightists are isolated. The 300,000 rightists have become notorious and are without capital. The national bourgeoisie has also become notorious, and the same with the three-evils and five evils elements[4]. Two titles are conferred on the intellectuals: bourgeois intellectuals and in! tellectuals without bearing. Leadership figures have appeared in their leftist and rightist factions. The heroes are among the leftists, and they are of us. Those making mistakes in the future will also be among the leftists, because the leftists have capital. Any carelessness will lead to mistakes. XXX, for instance, was a member of the political bureau for 40 years, but he divorced himself from the masses and did not set foot in one plant or one rural village. His good point had been visiting everywhere in the field, and he was known as a traveler. I feel that being a traveler has its benefits. When we were engaged in guerrilla warfare in the past, we were travelers, travelling for decades. Now we are still travelling from the south to the north and we still want to remain travelers. Under the present provisions, those in the central government and the provincial levels must spend four months a year travelling, and a longer period for those in the regions and counties. We must think of the ways and means to chase them out of the front door and turn them into travelers.

Just how is the class struggle in the transition period? We must expect repetitions. There will be repetitions in the class struggle. If a momentous event should happen in the world, if a major problem appears in China, or if there is a world war or severe famine, the rightists may revolt, and the middle-roaders may rise up to resist us. Nevertheless, the fundamental battle has been fought and the situation is good, but we must be prepared for the bad.

In sum, the cadres are learning Marxism. To learn Marxism, we must break down superstition. We must not feel that only foreigners can succeed in learning. There is nothing unusual about foreigners. The foreigners think of us as foreigners also, and those on the moon regard us as gods. I believe we can succeed in learning. Four things are needed: a guiding ideology, state wealth, successors, and grain. We must have mental preparation. Bad things will occur. There may be incidents in the provinces, involving 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 people. We must break down superstition, believing in, yet disbelieving in, the scientists. Since ancient times, the children have always excelled the parents, the students the teachers, the young the old, and the spectators the performers. Whenever a problem is discussed, we must also discuss ideology. Some comrades always talk about mathematics. It is not good to leave ideology out. We must not follow the example of the Soviet academicians who give no attention to the internal contradictions among the people.

The Monkey King disregarded the laws and the heavens[5]. Why don’t we all emulate him? His anti-dogmatism was demonstrated in his courage to do whatever he wanted. Chu Pa-chieh represented liberalism, but he had a touch of revisionism in him also, because he was always threatening to quit. Of course it was not a good party, it was the Second International. Monk T’ang was equivalent to Bernstein.

The people’s and party congresses at the provincial level and above should publish big character posters. There are many in our party who are doubtful of the internal contradictions among the people. Such internal contradictions include those between the exploiters and exploited, those among the workers, peasants, and the Communist Party, and those between the leaders and the led. All contradictions are internal contradictions among the people, except those with the rightists and counter revolutionaries. Failure to visit the plants or the farms and bad work styles are internal contradictions among the people. Like the Yangtze River roaring down 10,000 li, the big character posters will wash away the dregs in the mind of many people.

How can we catch the snake if we don’t let it come out? We must let the scoundrels appear and put on performances and talk nonsense in the newspapers. Let them express and feel pleased with themselves, so that the people can see them clearly and understand them. Our method is to force and capture, and to struggle against and capture. Capturing in the city and struggling in the village make it easy to do things. We issued directives at the beginning of the rectification movement, but such directives were distributed to a small minority, the majority remaining ignorant of them. We wanted to see whether the lower echelon cadres and party members used their brains and we wanted to know their attitude.

We were forced by the situation into technical revolution. The appearance of the XX issue and imperialism were also due to the force of the situation. Things are forced to appear by the presence of opposites. (When Hung-niang was beaten, she enumerated many good principles.) Many things in the world make their appearance due to the force of the situation. When we study a problem we must control the material with a viewpoint and activate the affair at hand with politics. When discussing work appearances, we must not inundate it like a pouring rain, but must go into the details like a fine rain. How can there be a level when only numbers are discussed, without politics? Politics and numbers are the relations between the officers and soldiers, and politics is the commander. Let us hold a newspaper meeting this year. We are not afraid to activate the masses. Activating the masses is the true Marxist-Leninist work style. Lenin went to the villages and the plants in order to associate with the people, and he was vigorously opposed to bureaucraticism.

In rectification we must clarify the line between the enemy and ourselves. The People’s Government practices democracy toward the people and dictatorship over the enemy. Rectification requires attacking from both the inside and the outside, but the line between the enemy and ourselves must be clarified, dictatorship enforced over the enemy, and persuasion practiced toward the people. Rectification and anti-rightism have the essence of another power seizure in many areas and units. A class includes many strata within it, and the problems are complex. There is the distinction between the middle and the poor among the peasants, and between the new and the old among the workers. The relationship between the upper and lower levels is also an internal contradiction among the people. The contradictions between the rightists and the people are the conflicts between the enemy and ourselves. After rectification and anti-rightism, the political root is settled, and the cadres and the masses have gained experience and clarified the two types of contradictions.

A rightist faction in a county in Chekiang attempted to become active. As it did not have the support of the masses, it failed.



[1.] Chung Po-chun; see note 1, p 10 of this volume.

[2.] For three main rules of discipline and eight points for attention see S.W., Vol. IV. pp l55-156.

[3.] See comrade Mao’s article ‘The Situation In the Summer of 1957S.W., Vol. V, pp 473-482.

[4.] The three evils are corruption, waste and bureaucracy. The five evils are, bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing of economic information.

[5.] Sun Wu-kung is the Monkey King in the Chinese novel Hsi Yu chi (Pilgrimage the West) written in the 16th century.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung