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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Directive On The Question Of Class Distinction

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

It is necessary to determine class status. Although bad people are in the minority, they nevertheless occupy some of the crucial departments and are in authority. . . There should be distinction between one’s class component and one’s own performance, primarily the latter. To draw class lines is to ferret out the bad elements.

It also important to distinguish between class background and one’s own performance, with emphasis on the latter. The exclusive component theory is incorrect. The question is whether you take the stand of your original class or take a changed class stand, that is, taking the side of workers and poor and lower-middle peasants. Moreover, you are not supposed to engage in sectarianism, but must unite with the majority, even including some of the landlords and rich peasants, as well as their children. There are some counter revolutionaries and saboteurs who should be transformed, and if they wish to transform, we should have them, one and all. But if we consider only the background, then even Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin would be unacceptable. For instance, Marx studied idealism first and Materialism later before he developed Marxism. Both Hegel and Fueurbach were his mentors in the field of philosophy.

In undertaking class determination in factories, our purpose is mainly to find out those Kuomintang secretaries, generals, reactionary officers, escaped landlords, and landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and bad elements. As in Pai-Yin Factory, it was to check the bad people, not every body, and not the technical staff who came from exploitative classes. Some of them used to serve the exploitative class. If their present performances are good, we should trust them, and even though it is not too good, they must be transformed. Some of them have come from exploitative classes, and so we must see how their performance is.

In order to produce socialist theory, it behoves intellectuals to study the existing phenomena of class struggle, to enhance the results of their study theoretically, and to proselytize them, thus changing the working class from a diffused into an organized class, and from a self-developing in to a self-conscious class. The workers, because they have to work and earn their living everyday under exploitation and oppression, cannot produce Marxism by themselves. Marx was not a worker himself, but he could perceive the trend of development, and after studying analytically, succeeded in changing bourgeois philosophy into proletarian philosophy, and bourgeois political economy into proletarian political economy, thereby educating the workers. In point of fact, it is impossible for a worker to read so many books or to read such bulky volumes, though the advanced ones could perhaps read more. The phenomenon of class struggle has existed for millenniums and even the bourgeoisie conceded that there was class struggle. It was only Marx and Engels who made it into a theory and systemized it. We must knock down the bourgeoisie. Socialism has succeeded capitalism. I myself also learned from the landlord class by studying Confucius’s book for six years and by attending bourgeois schools for seven years, spending 13 years altogether. I was then only 20-odd years of age, and was basically ignorant about Marx. It was only after the October revolution that I heard of Marx and read his books.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung