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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk At An Enlarged Working Conference Convened By The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of China

January 30, 1962

[SOURCE: Extracted from Peking Review, No. 27, July 7, 1978.]

[Text and references are given here as provided by the Maoist Documentation Project. They are significantly different in at least one existing edition of Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. VIII. — Transcriber, MIA.]

Comrades! I have a few points to raise (enthusiastic applause). Altogether there are six points I want to talk about. The main substance of what I want to say is the problem of democratic centralism, but at the same time I want to talk about a number of other problems.


(1) The way this conference is being run

This enlarged central work conference is being attended by over 7,000 people. At the start of the conference Comrade Liu Shao-ch’i and several other comrades prepared a draft report. Before this draft had been discussed by the Political Bureau, I suggested to them that instead of first holding a meeting of the Political Bureau to discuss it, we should rather immediately issue it to the comrades who are participating in this conference so that everyone could comment on it and put forward ideas. Comrades, there are among you people from various fields and localities, various provincial, district and county committees, and from the Party committees of various enterprises. There are people from various departments at the Centre. The majority of you have more contact with the lower levels, and should have more understanding of situations and problems than us comrades on the Standing Committee, the Political Bureau and the Secretariat. Furthermore, since you all hold different positions you can raise problems from different angles. That is why we invited you to put forward ideas and issued the draft report to you. The result has been a lively discussion in which many ideas have been put forward, not all of them along the lines of the basic policy of the Central Committee. Later Comrade Shao-ch’i presided over a drafting committee of twenty-one, including responsible members of the various central bureaux. After eight days of discussion they produced a second draft written report. It should be said that in this second draft report the Centre has collected together the results of over 7,000 people’s discussion. Without your ideas this second draft could not have been written. In it both the first and second parts have many revisions. This is due to your efforts. I hear that you all consider the second draft to be not bad, and an improvement on the first. If we had not used this method, but held the conference in the usual manner, we would have heard the report first and held a discussion aft! erwards. Everyone would have approved it with a show of hands and we wouldn’t have done as well as this.

This is a question of how to hold meetings. First of all, draft reports are distributed, and those present are invited to submit their ideas and amendments. Then a new report is prepared. When this report is presented it shouldn’t be read out word by word, but some supplementary ideas should be expounded and the changes should be explained. In this way we can promote democracy more fully, gather wisdom from all directions, and compare all the different points of view. Also our meetings will be more lively. The purpose of this conference is to sum up the working experience of the past twelve years and especially the working experience of the last four years. There are many problems, so there may be many ideas being put forward, thus creating conditions favourable for this type of conference. Is it possible for all conferences to adopt this method? No, it is not possible. To use this method we must have plenty of time. We can sometimes use this method at meetings of our people’s congresses. Comrades from provincial committees, district committees, and county committees, when you convene conferences in future you may also adopt this method under suitable conditions. Of course when you are busy you usually cannot spend a lot of time on conferences. But when conditions are right, why not try it out?

What sort of method is this? It is a democratic centralist method; it is a mass-line method. First democracy, then centralism; coming from the masses, returning to the masses; the unity of the leadership and the masses. This is the first point I wanted to talk about.


(2) The problem of democratic centralism

It seems that some of our comrades still do not understand the democratic centralism which Marx and Lenin talked of. Some of those comrades are already veteran revolutionaries, with a ‘three eight style’[1] or some other style  —  anyway they have been Party members for several decades, yet they still do not understand this question. They are afraid of the masses, afraid of the masses talking about them, afraid of the masses criticizing them. What sense does it make for Marxist-Leninists to be afraid of the masses? When they have made mistakes they don’t talk about themselves, and they are afraid of the masses talking about them. The more frightened they are, the more haunted they become. I think one should not be afraid. What is there to be afraid of? Our attitude is to hold fast to the truth and be ready at any time to correct our mistakes. The question of right or wrong, correct or incorrect in our work has to do with the contradictions among the people. To resolve contradictions among the people we can’t use curses or fists, still less guns or knives. We can only use the method of discussion, reasoning, criticism and self-criticism. In short, we can only use democratic methods, the method of letting the masses speak out.

Both inside and outside the Party there must be a full democratic life, which means conscientiously putting democratic centralism into effect. We must conscientiously bring questions out into the open, and let the masses speak out. Even at the risk of being cursed we should still let them speak out. The result of their curses at the worst will be that we are thrown out and cannot go on doing this kind of work  —  demoted or transferred. What is so impossible about that? Why should a person only go up and never go down? Why should one only work in one place and never be transferred to another? I think that demotion and transfer, whether it is justified or not, does good to people. They thereby strengthen their revolutionary will, are able to investigate and study a variety of new conditions and increase their useful knowledge. I myself have had experience in this respect and gained a great deal of benefit. If you do not believe me, why not try it yourselves. Ssu-ma Ch’ien said: Wen Wang was imprisoned and the result was the development of the Chou l; Confucius was in dire straits and so compiled the Spring and Autumn Annals; Ch’u Yüan was exiled and so wrote the Li Sao; Tso Ch’iu became blind and then wrote the Kuo-yü; Sun-tzu was mutilated and mastered military strategy; Lu Pu-wei was transferred to the kingdom of Shu and so the world could read his work; Han Fei was imprisoned in the kingdom of Ch’in and wrote because he could not keep his anger to himself. Of the hundreds of poems and prose works written the majority were written by sages who were experiencing anger and frustration.[2]

In modern times people have had doubts about the truth of these statements about Wen Wang developing the Chou I and Confucius compiling the Spring and Autumn Annals, but we don’t have to worry about that  —  let the experts study those problems! Ssu-ma Ch’ien believed that this was true, and it is a fact that Wen Wang was imprisoned and Confucius was in dire straits. The things which Ssu-ma Ch’ien mentioned, apart from the example of Tso Ch’iu’s going blind, all referred to the incorrect handling of the people concerned by the top leadership of the time. In the past we have also handled some cadres in an incorrect way. No matter whether we were completely mistaken in our handling of these people, or only partially mistaken, they should all be cleared and rehabilitated according to the actual circumstances. But generally speaking, this incorrect treatment  —  having them demoted or transferred  —  tempers their revolutionary will and enables them to absorb much new knowledge from the masses.

I must point out that I am not advocating the indiscriminate wrong treatment of our cadres, our comrades, or anybody else, in the way in which the ancients detained Wen Wang, starved Confucius, exiled Ch’u Yüan, or cut off Sun-tzu’s kneecaps. I am not in favour of this way of doing things  —  I oppose it. What I am saying is that in every stage of mankind’s history there have always been such cases of mishandling. In class societies such cases are numerous. Even in a socialist society such things cannot be entirely avoided either, whether it be in a period of leadership by a correct or an incorrect line. There is however one distinction: namely, that during a period of correct line of leadership, as soon as it has been discovered that things have been mishandled, people can be cleared and rehabilitated, apologies can be made to them, so that their minds can be set at rest and they can lift up their heads again. But during a time when leadership follows an incorrect line, this way of doing things becomes impossible. Then the only thing for those who represent the correct line, at a suitable opportunity to use the methods of democratic centralism to take the initiative to set mistakes right. As for those who have themselves made mistakes, after their mistakes have been criticized by comrades and their cases have been appraised by the higher levels and they are given correct treatment, then if they are demoted or transferred one hardly need say that this demotion or transfer may be helpful to them in correcting their mistakes and gaining new knowledge.

Now there are some comrades who are afraid of the masses initiating discussion and putting forward ideas which differ from those of the leaders and leading organizations. As soon as problems are discussed they suppress the activism of the masses and do not allow others to speak out. This attitude is extremely evil. Democratic centralism is written into our Party Constitution and State Constitution, but they don’t apply it. Comrades, we are revolutionaries. If we have really committed mistakes of the kind which are harmful to the people’s cause, then we should seek the opinions of the masses and of comrades and carry out a self-examination. This sort of self-examination should sometimes be repeated several times over. If once is not enough and people are not satisfied, then it should be done a second time. If they are still not satisfied, it should be done a third time until nobody has any more criticisms. Some provincial Party committees have done this. Some provinces are taking more initiative and letting everyone talk. Those who started self-criticism earlier did so as early as 1959. The late-starters started self-criticism in 1961. Some provincial Party committees were compelled to carry out self-examinations, such as Honan, Kansu and Chinghai. According to some reports there are other provinces which are only now starting on self-criticism. It does not matter whether you take the initiative on the question of self-examination, or whether you are forced into it. It does not matter whether you do it earlier or later, provided you look squarely at your mistakes and are willing to admit them and correct them, and you are willing to let the masses criticize you  —  provided only that you adopt this kind of attitude you will be welcomed.

Criticism and self-criticism is a kind of method. It is a method of resolving contradictions among the people and it is the only method. There is no other. But if we do not have a full democratic life and do not truly implement democratic centralism, then this method of criticism and self-criticism cannot be applied.

Do we not now have many difficulties? Unless we rely on the masses, and mobilize the enthusiasm of the masses and of the cadres, we cannot overcome these difficulties. But if you do not explain the situation to the masses and to the cadres, if we do not offer our hearts to them and let them voice their own opinions, they will still be afraid of you and not dare to speak out. It would then be impossible to mobilize their enthusiasm. In 1957 I said: ‘We must bring about a political climate which has both centralism and democracy, discipline and freedom, unity of purpose and ease of mind for the individual, and which is lively and vigorous.’ We should have this political climate both within the Party and outside. Without this political climate the enthusiasm of the masses cannot be mobilized. We cannot overcome difficulties without democracy. Of course, it is even more impossible[3] to do so without centralism, but if there’s no democracy there won’t be any centralism.

Without democracy there cannot be any correct centralism because people’s ideas differ, and if their understanding of things lacks unity then centralism cannot be established. What is centralism? First of all it is a centralization of correct ideas, on the basis of which unity of understanding, policy, planning, command and action are achieved. This is called centralized unification. If people still do not understand problems, if they have ideas but have not expressed them, or are angry but still have not vented their anger, how can centralized unification be established? If there is no democracy we cannot possibly summarize experience correctly. If there is no democracy, if ideas are not coming from the masses, it is impossible to establish a good line, good general and specific policies and methods. Our leading organs merely play the role of a processing plant in the establishment of a good line and good general and specific policies and methods. Everyone knows that if a factory has no raw material it cannot do any processing. If the raw material is not adequate in quantity and quality it cannot produce good finished products. Without democracy, you have no understanding of what is happening down below; the situation will be unclear; you will be unable to collect sufficient opinions from all sides; there can be no communication between top and bottom; top-level organs of leadership will depend on one-sided and incorrect material to decide issues, thus you will find it difficult to avoid being subjectivist; it will be impossible to achieve unity of understanding and unity of action, and impossible to achieve true centralism. Is not the main item for discussion at this session of our conference opposition to dispersionism and the strengthening of centralized unification? If we fail to promote democracy in full measure, then will this centralism and this unification be true or false? Will it be real or empty? Will it be correct or incorrect? Of course it must be false, empty and incorrect.

Our centralism is built on democratic foundations; proletarian centralism is based on broad democratic foundations. The Party committee at various levels is the organ which implements centralized leadership. But the leadership of the Party committees is a collective leadership; matters cannot be decided arbitrarily by the first secretary alone. Within Party committees democratic centralism should be the sole mode of operation. The relationship between the first secretary and the other secretaries and committee members is one of the minority obeying the majority. For example, in the Standing Committee and the Political Bureau situations like this often arise: when I say something, no matter whether it is correct or incorrect, provided that everyone disagrees with me, I will accede to their point of view because they are the majority. I am told that the situation exists within some provincial Party committees, district Party committees and county Party committees, whereby in all matters whatever the first secretary says goes. This is quite wrong. It is nonsense if whatever one person says goes. I am referring to important matters, not to the routine work which comes in the wake of decisions. All important matters must be discussed collectively, different opinions must be listened to seriously, and the complexities of the situation and partial opinions must be analysed. Account must be taken of various possibilities and estimates made of the various aspects of a situation: which are good, which bad, which easy, which difficult, which possible and which impossible. Every effort must be made to be both cautious and thorough. Otherwise you have one-man tyranny. Such first secretaries should be called tyrants and not ‘squad leaders’ of democratic centralism. Once upon a time there was a certain Hsiang Yü, who was called the Tyrant of Western Ch’u. He hated listening to opinions which differed from his. He had a man called Fan Tseng working for him who offered him advice, but Hsiang Y&u! uml; did not listen. There was another man called Liu Pang, who became Emperor Kao-tsu of Han, who was better at accepting ideas different from his own. An intellectual called Li I-chi went to see Liu Pang, and announced himself as a scholar of the school of Confucius. Liu Pang said: ‘There’s a war on, I don’t want to see scholars.’ Li I-chi flared up. He said to the gatekeeper: ‘You bloody well go in and say that I am a drinking man from Kaoyang and not a scholar at all.’ The gatekeeper went in and announced him as he was told. Liu Pang said: ‘Good, ask him in.’ He was invited in. Liu Pang was washing his feet at the time, but he quickly got up to welcome him. But Li I-chi was still furious because Liu Pang had refused to see a scholar and he gave Liu Pang a telling off. ‘Do you want to conquer the world or don’t you? Why do you look down on your elders? At that time Li I-chi was over sixty and Liu Pang was younger, so Li called himself ‘your elder’. At these words Liu Pang apologized and at once accepted his plan of seizing the county of Ch’en-liu. This incident can be read in the biographies of Li I-chi and Chu Chien in the Shi-chi.[4]

Liu Pang was a hero whom the historians of the feudal period called a straightforward, open-minded man, who listened to advice and was as relaxed as a flowing river. Liu Pang fought Hsiang Yü for many years. In the end Liu Pang won and Hsiang Yü was defeated. This was no mere chance. We now have some first secretaries who cannot even match Liu Pang of the feudal period, and are somewhat like Hsiang Yü. If these comrades don’t reform, they will lose their jobs. You all know the play called The Tyrant Bids His Lady Farewell;[5] if these comrades don’t reform, the day will surely come when they too will be saying farewell to their ladies (laughter). Why do I say this so bluntly? It is because I intend to be mean and make some comrades feel sore so that they think over things properly. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if they couldn’t sleep for a night or two. If they were able to sleep, then I wouldn’t be pleased because it would mean that they have not yet felt sore.

There are some comrades who cannot bear to listen to ideas contrary to their own, and cannot bear to be criticized. This is very wrong. During this conference one province held a meeting which started off in a very lively manner, but as soon as the provincial Party secretary arrived a hush fell on the proceedings and nobody spoke. Comrade provincial Party secretary, what is the purpose of your attendance at meetings? Why don’t you stay in your own room and think about problems and let others all take part in the discussion? When this kind of atmosphere is engendered and people don’t dare to speak in your presence, then it is up to you to keep away. If you have made mistakes, then you should carry out self-criticism, let others speak, let others criticize you. On 12 June last year, during the last day of the Peking Conference called by the Central Committee, I talked about my own shortcomings and mistakes. I said I wanted the comrades to convey what I said to their various provinces and districts. I found out later that many districts did not get my message, as if my mistakes could be hidden and ought to be hidden. Comrades, they mustn’t be hidden. Any mistakes that the Centre has made ought to be my direct responsibilty, and I also have an indirect share in the blame because I am the Chairman of the Central Committee. I don’t want other people to shirk their responsibility. There are some other comrades who also bear responsibility, but the person primarily responsible should be me. All you who are our provincial committee secretaries, district Party committee secretaries, county Party committee secretaries, down to ward Party and other secretaries, enterprise committee secretaries and commune Party committee secretaries, since you have taken on the job of first secretary you must bear the responsibility for mistakes and shortcomings in the work.

Those of you who shirk responsibility or who are afraid of taking responsibility, who do not allow people to speak, who think you are tigers, and that nobody will dare to touch your arse, whoever has this attitude, ten out of ten of you will fail. People will talk anyway. You think that nobody will really dare to touch the arse of tigers like you? They damn well will!

Unless we fully promote people’s democracy and inner-Party democracy in our country, and unless we fully implement the system of proletarian democracy, it will be impossible to achieve a true proletarian centralism. Without a high degree of democracy, it is impossible to achieve a high degree of centralism, and without a high degree of centralism, it is impossible to establish a socialist economy. If our country does not establish a socialist economy, what kind of situation shall we be in? We shall become a country like Yugoslavia, which has actually become a bourgeois country; the dictatorship of the proletariat will be transformed into a bourgeois dictatorship, into a reactionary fascist type of dictatorship. This is a question which demands the utmost vigilance. I hope comrades will give a great deal of thought to it.

Without the system of democratic centralism, the proletarian dictatorship cannot be consolidated. To practise democracy among the people and to practise dictatorship over the enemies of the people, these two aspects are inseparable. When these two aspects are combined, this is then proletarian dictatorship, or it may be called people’s democratic dictatorship. Our slogan is: ‘A people’s democratic dictatorship, led by the proletariat, and based on the alliance of the workers and peasants.’ How does the proletariat exercise leadership? It leads through the Communist Party. The Communist Party is the vanguard of the proletariat. The proletariat unites with all classes and strata who approve of, support and participate in the socialist revolution and socialist construction, and exercises dictatorship over the reactionary classes or the remnants thereof. In our country the system of exploitation of man by man has already been eliminated. The economic foundations of the landlord class and the bourgeoisie have been eliminated. The reactionary classes are now no longer as ferocious as hitherto. For example, they are no longer as ferocious as in 1949 when the People’s Republic was founded, nor as ferocious as in 1957 when the right-wing bourgeosie madly attacked us.[6] Therefore we speak of them as the remnants of the reactionary classes. But we may on no account underestimate these remnants. We must continue to struggle against them. The reactionary classes which have been overthrown are still planning a come-back. In a socialist society, new bourgeois elements may still be produced. During the whole socialist stage there still exist classes and class struggle, and this class struggle is a protracted, complex, sometimes even violent affair. Our instruments of dictatorship should not be weakened; on the contrary they should be strengthened. Our security system is in the hands of comrades who follow the correct line. It is po! ssible that the security departments in some places may be in the hands of bad people. There are also some comrades engaged on security work who do not rely on the masses or on the Party. In the work of purging counter-revolutionaries, they do not follow the line of purging them with the help of the masses under the leadership of the Party committee. They rely solely on secret work, on so-called professional work. Professional work is necessary; it is absolutely necessary to use the methods of detection and trial to deal with counter-revolutionary elements, but the most important thing is to carry out the mass line under the leadership of the Party committee. When we are concerned with dictatorship over the whole reactionary class, it is especially important to rely on the masses and the Party. To exercise dictatorship over the reactionary classes does not mean that we should totally eliminate all reactionary elements, but rather that we should eliminate the classes to which they belong. We should use appropriate methods to remould them and transform them into new men. Without a broad people’s democracy, proletarian dictatorship cannot be consolidated and political power would be unstable. Without democracy, without the mobilization of the masses, without mass supervision, it will be impossible to exercise effective dictatorship over the reactionary and bad elements, and it will be impossible effectively to remould them. Thus they would continue to make trouble and might still stage a come-back. This problem demands vigilance, and I hope comrades will give a great deal of thought to this too.


(3) Which classes should we unite with?

Which classes should we unite with? Which classes should we repress? This is a question of basic standpoint.

The working class should unite with the peasant class, the urban petit bourgeoisie, and the patriotic national bourgeoisie; first of all it should unite with the peasant class. The intellectuals such as, for example, scientists, engineers and technicians, professors, writers, artists, actors, medical workers and journalists, do not constitute a class; they are either appendages of the bourgeoisie or of the proletariat. As regards the intellectuals, do we unite only with those who are revolutionary? No. As long as they are patriotic we will unite with them and let them get on with their work. Workers, peasants, urban petit-bourgeois elements, patriotic intellectuals, patriotic capitalists and other patriots together comprise more than ninety-five per cent of the whole country’s population. Under our people’s democratic dictatorship, all of these come within the classification of the people. And among the people we must practise democracy.

Those whom the people’s democratic dictatorship should repress are: landlords, rich peasants, counterrevolutionary elements, bad elements and anti-communist rightists. The classes which the counter-revolutionary elements, bad elements and anti-communist rightists represent the landlord class and the reactionary bourgeoisie. These classes and bad people comprise about four or five per cent of the population. These are the people we must compel to reform. They are the people whom the people’s democratic dictatorship is directed against.

On which side do we stand? Do we stand on the side of the popular masses, who comprise over ninety-five per cent of the whole country’s population? Or do we stand on the side of the landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionary elements, bad elements and rightists who comprise four or five per cent of the whole country’s population? We must stand on the side of the popular masses and absolutely mustn’t stand on the side of the people’s enemies; this is a question of the basic standpoint of a Marxist-Leninist.

This holds true both within our country and in the international sphere. The people of all countries, the great masses of the people who comprise more than ninety-five per cent of the [world’s] population certainly want revolution, they certainly support Marxism-Leninism and cannot support revisionism. Some may support revisionism temporarily, but later they will finally reject it. They will all gradually awaken and oppose imperialism and the reactionaries of various nations; they will all oppose revisionism. A true Marxist-Leninist must stand resolutely on the side of the popular masses who comprise over ninety-five per cent of the world’s population.


(4) Acquiring an understanding of the objective world

In acquiring an understanding of the objective world, in making a flying leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom, man must pass through a process. On the question of how China was to carry out the democratic revolution, from the founding of the Party in 1921 to the Seventh Congress in 1945 it was altogether twenty-four years before our Party’s understanding reached complete unity. In the meantime we had the experience of the Rectification Movement on an all-party scale which lasted from the spring of 1942 to the summer of 1945, altogether three and a half years. This was a very searching movement, which adopted the method of democracy, which is to say that no matter who it was who had made mistakes, provided he acknowledged them and corrected them, things would be all right, and everybody helped him to acknowledge and correct his mistakes. This is called ‘taking warning from the past in order to be more careful in future; treating the illness in order to save the patient’, ‘taking the desire for unity as a starting-point, passing through criticism or struggle, distinguishing between right and wrong, and reaching a new unity on a new basis’. The formula ‘unity-criticism-unity’ was created at that time. The Rectification Movement helped the comrades of the whole Party to reach unity of understanding. The question of how to carry out the democratic revolution, how to devise the Party line and various concrete policies were all completely solved at that time, and especially after the Rectification Movement.

Between the founding of the Party and the War of Resistance to Japan came the Northern Expeditionary War and the ten years’ Agrarian Revolutionary War, when we experienced two victories and two defeats. The Northern Expeditionary War was victorious, but in 1927 the revolution suffered a defeat. In the Agrarian Revolutionary War we won great victories, the Red Army grew to a strength of 300,000, but later we again met with setbacks and after the Long March these 300,000 men were reduced to some 20,000-odd. After we reached North Shensi the numbers increased a little, but still did not reach 30,000; that is to say they were still less than a tenth of the original 300,000. In the final analysis which was the stronger the army of 300,000 or the army of under 30,000? Having suffered such great setbacks and encountered such hardships we had become hardened, we had acquired experience, we had corrected our wrong line and restored the correct line. Therefore the army of under 30,000 was stronger than the previous army of 300,000. Comrade Liu Shao-ch’i said in his report that in the past four years our line was correct. and that our achievements were the main feature; we made some mistakes in our practical work and suffered some hardships, but we gained experience; therefore we are stronger than before, not weaker. This is how things actually are. During the period of the democratic revolution, it was only after experiencing first victory, then defeat, victory again and again defeat, and after comparing the two [victories and defeats], that I came to understand this objective world of China. On the eve of the War of Resistance to Japan and during that war I wrote a number of articles, such as ‘Strategic Problems of China’s Revolutionary War’, ‘On Protracted War’, ‘On New Democracy’, ‘Forward to the Communist’, and I drafted a number of documents on policy and strategy for the Central Committee. All these served to summarize revolutionar! y experience. These articles and documents could only have been produced at that time, and not before, because until I had been through these great storms and had been able to compare our two victories with our two defeats, I did not yet have sufficient experience, and could not yet fully understand the laws of the Chinese revolution.

Speaking generally, it is we Chinese who have achieved understanding of the objective world of China, not the comrades concerned with Chinese questions in the Communist International. These comrades in the Communist International simply did not understand, or we could say they utterly failed to understand[7] Chinese society, the Chinese nation, or the Chinese revolution. For a long time even we did not have a clear understanding of the objective world of China, let alone the foreign comrades!

It was not until the period of the Resistance to Japan that we formulated a general line for the Party and a complete set of concrete policies which were appropriate to the actual situation. By this time we had been making revolution for more than twenty years. For so many years previously we were working very much in the dark. If anyone were to claim that any comrade, for example any member of the Central Committee, or I myself, completely understood the laws of the Chinese revolution right from the beginning, then that comrade would be talking through his hat. He should definitely not be believed. It was not like that at all. In the past, and especially at the beginning, all our energies were directed towards revolution, but as for how to make revolution, what we wanted to change, which should come first and which later, and which should wait until the next stage  —  for a fairly long time none of these questions were properly understood, or we could say they were not thoroughly understood.

When I explain how our Chinese Communist Party during the period of democratic revolution, after much difficulty successfully came to understand the laws of the Chinese revolution, my aim in bringing up these historical facts is to help our comrades to appreciate one thing: that understanding the laws of socialist construction must pass through a process. It must take practice as its starting-point, passing from having no experience to having some experience; from having little experience to having more experience; from the construction of socialism, which is in the realm of necessity as yet not understood, to the gradual overcoming of our blindness and the understanding of objective laws, thereby attaining freedom, achieving a flying leap in our knowledge and reaching the realm of freedom.

With regard to socialist construction we still lack experience. I have discussed this problem with delegations of fraternal parties from quite a few countries, and I said to them that we have no experience of the construction of a socialist economy.

I have also discussed this problem with several journalists from capitalist countries, among whom there was an American called Snow. For a long time he had wanted to come to China, and in 1960 we let him come. I had a discussion with him. I said: ‘As you know, we have a set of experiences, general and specific policies and methods on politics, military affairs and class struggle; but as for socialist construction we have never done any in the past, and we still have no experience. You may say: “Haven’t you done it for eleven years?” Yes, we have done it for eleven years, and we still lack knowledge and experience. Even if we are beginning to have a little, it still isn’t much.’ Snow wanted me to say something about China’s long-term construction plan. I said: ‘I don’t know.’ He said: ‘You are being too prudent.’ I said: ‘It’s not a question of being prudent. It’s just that I really don’t know, we just haven’t any experience, that’s all.’ Comrades, it’s true that we don’t know; we really do lack experience and it is a fact that we have no such long-term plan. 1960 was the year when we ran into a lot of difficulties. In 1961 I had a discussion with Montgomery, at which we talked about these ideas again. He said: ‘In another fifty years you will be terrific.’ What he meant was that after fifty years we might become powerful and ‘invade’ other countries, but not within fifty years. He had expounded his opinions to me when he came to China in 1960. I said: ‘We are Marxist-Leninists, our state is a socialist state, not a capitalist state, therefore we wouldn’t invade in a hundred years, or even ten thousand years. As for the construction of a strong socialist economy, in China fifty years won’t be enough; it may take a hundred years or even longer. In your country the development of capitalism took several hundred years. We won’t count ! the sixteenth century, which was still in the Middle Ages. From the seventeenth century to now is already 360 years. In our country, the construction of a great and mighty socialist economy I reckon will take more than one hundred years.’ What period was the seventeenth century? It was the end of the Ming and the beginning of the Ch’ing dynasties in China. A century later, in the first half of the eighteenth century, was the Ch’ien-lung period of the Ch’ing dynasty. The author of the Dream of the Red Chamber, Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in, lived in that period. It was the period which produced the character Chia Pao-yü, who was dissatisfied with the feudal system. In China, in the Ch’ien-lung period, the sprouts of capitalist relationships of production already existed, but it was still a feudal society. This is the social background of the characters who appeared in Prospect Garden.[8] Before this, in the seventeenth century, a number of European countries were already in the process of developing capitalism. It has taken over 300 years for capitalist productive forces to develop to their present pattern. Socialism is superior in many respects to capitalism, and the economic development of our country may be much faster than that of capitalist countries. But China has a large population, our resources are meagre, and our economy backward so that in my opinion, it will be impossible to develop our productive power so rapidly as to catch up with, and overtake, the most advanced capitalist countries in less than one hundred years. If it requires only a few decades, for example only fifty years as some have conjectured, then that will be a splendid thing, for which heaven and earth be praised. But I would advise, comrades, that it is better to think more of the difficulties and so to envisage it as taking a longer period. It took from three to four hundred years to build a great and mighty capitalist eco! nomy; what would be wrong with building a great and mighty socialist economy in our country in about fifty or a hundred years? The next fifty or hundred years from now will be an epic period of fundamental change in the social system of the world, an earth-shaking period, with which no past era can be compared. Living in such a period, we must be prepared to carry out great struggles, differing in many respects from the forms of struggle of previous periods. In order to carry out this task, we must do our very best to combine the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete reality of Chinese socialist construction and with the concrete reality of future world revolution and, through practice, gradually come to understand the objective laws of the struggle. We must be prepared to suffer many defeats and set-backs as a result of our blindness, thereby gaining experience and winning final victory. When we see things in this light, then there are many advantages in envisaging it as taking a long period; conversely, harm would result from envisaging a short period.

In our work of socialist construction, we are still to a very large extent acting blindly. For us the socialist economy is still in many respects a realm of necessity not yet understood. Take me as an example: there are many problems in the work of economic construction which I still don’t understand. I haven’t got much understanding of industry and commerce. I understand a bit about agriculture, but this is only relatively speaking  —  I still don’t understand much. In order to have a deeper understanding of agriculture one should understand pedology, botany, crop cultivation, agricultural chemistry, agricultural mechanization, etc. There are also different forms of agricultural production such as food grains, cotton, oil, hemp, silk, tea, sugar, vegetables, tobacco, fruit, medical herbs, and miscellaneous grain crops, etc. There are also animal husbandry and forestry. I myself am a believer in Vilensky’s penology. In his works on penology Vilensky advocated the combination of farming, forestry and animal husbandry. I think we must have this three-way combination or agriculture will suffer. I advise, comrades, when you have some moments to spare after work, please will you seriously study all these problems of agricultural production. I myself also would like to study more. Up to now however my knowledge of these matters has been very scanty. I have paid rather more attention to problems relating to the system, to the productive relationships. As for the productive forces, I know very little. As regards our Party as a whole, our knowledge of socialist construction is extremely inadequate. We should from now on spend a period of time in summarizing our experiences and in hard study, and in the course of practice gradually deepen our understanding of it through clarifying its laws. We must put in a lot of hard work and make thorough investigations. We must go down to the countryside to squat on a selected spot. We must go and squat in the production brigades and ! production teams, and go to the factories and shops. As to making investigations and studies, we used to do them rather well but since we came into the cities we have no longer taken them seriously. In 1961 we did advocate it once again, and now there have already been some changes. But amongst the leading cadres, especially the higher-level leading cadres, some districts, departments and enterprises still haven’t adopted this style. There are same provincial Party secretaries who have still not gone down to squat on selected spots. If the provincial Party secretaries don’t go, how can they ask district Party secretaries and county Party secretaries to go down to squat? This is no good  —  it must be changed.

Since the founding of the Chinese People’s Republic, twelve years have already gone by. These twelve years can be divided into a first period of eight years and a second period of four years: 1950 to the end of 1957 constitute the first eight years; 1958 to now is the second four years. In this conference of ours, we have already initially summarized the experiences of our past work, mainly the experiences of the second period of four years. This summary is reflected in the report by Comrade Liu Shao-ch’i. We have already formulated, or are formulating, or shall formulate, concrete policies in various fields. What we have already formulated are things such as sixty regulations on work in the countryside, seventy regulations on industrial enterprises, sixty regulations on higher education, and forty regulations on scientific research. All these draft regulations have already been implemented or are being experimented with; they will be revised in future  —  some may have to be greatly revised. Among those regulations which are in the process of formulation are the regulations on commerce. Among the regulations which are going to be formulated in future are the regulations on middle-school and primary-school education.[9] We should also formulate some regulations on the work of our Party, government and mass organizations. The army has already formulated some regulations. In short, in industry, agriculture, commerce, education, army, government and Party, in those seven aspects of the work we must properly summarize experience and formulate a complete set of general and specific policies and methods suited to our conditions, so that they may progress along correct lines.

It is not enough to have the General Line; it is also necessary that, under the leadership of the General Line, in the domains of industry, agriculture, commerce, education, army, government and Party, there should be a complete set of concrete general and specific policies and methods which are suited to our conditions. Only then is it possible to persuade the masses and the cadres. We should use these as teaching materials to educate them, so that they may be united in understanding and action. Only then will it be possible to attain victory in the task of revolution and construction; otherwise it is impossible. On this point, even as far back as the War of Resistance to Japan, we already had a profound understanding. At that time we acted in this way, and therefore the cadres and masses had a unified understanding of the complete set of concrete general and specific policies and methods of the democratic revolutionary period, and thus there was unified action and we therefore attained victory in the democratic revolutionary task of that period. This everybody knows. During the period of socialist revolution and construction, our revolutionary tasks in the first few years were: in the countryside to complete the reform of the feudal land system and then to implement agricultural cooperation; in the cities to implement the socialist transformation of capitalist industrial and commercial enterprises. In the field of economic construction our task then was to rehabilitate the economy and implement the first five-year plan. Both in the revolution and in construction at that time we had a General Line which was appropriate to the objective conditions and which had abundant persuasive power. We also had a complete set of general and specific policies and methods under the leadership of the General Line. Therefore we could educate the cadres and masses, unify their understanding, and the work was carried out relatively well. This everybody also knows. But in those days the situation was such that, since we! had no experience in economic construction, we had no alternative but to copy the Soviet Union. In the field of heavy industry especially, we copied almost everything from the Soviet Union, and we had very little creativity of our own. At that time it was absolutely necessary to act thus, but at the same time it was also a weakness  —  a lack of creativity and lack of ability to stand on our own feet. Naturally this could not be our long-term strategy. From 1958 we decided to make self-reliance our major policy and striving for foreign aid a secondary aim. At the Second Session of the Party’s Eighth Congress in 1958, we adopted the General L ine of ‘going all out and aiming high to achieve greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism’. In the same year the people’s communes were also established, and the slogan of a ‘Greet Leap Forward’ was issued. For a certain period after the General Line of socialist construction was proclaimed, we still hadn’t had the time nor the possibility to formulate a complete set of concrete general and specific policies and methods which were appropriate to the conditions, since our experience was still not sufficient. Under these circumstances the cadres and the masses still did not have a complete set of teaching materials, nor had they received any systematic education on policy and so it wasn’t possible to have genuinely unified understanding and action. It only became possible after the passage of time, the experience of setbacks and difficulties, and the gaining of both positive and negative experience. Now it’s all right, we already have these things or are now formulating them. Thus we can now more judiciously carry out the socialist revolution and socialist construction. In order to formulate a complete set of concrete general and specific policies and methods under the guidance of the General Line, it is necessary to allow ideas to come from the masses and to adopt t! he method of systematic and thorough investigation and study, and examine historically the successful and unsuccessful experiences in our work. Only then may we discover the laws inherent in objective things and not created by people’s subjective imaginations; and only then may we be able to formulate various regulations which are appropriate to the circumstances. This is a very important matter. Will you comrades please pay attention to this point.

In industry, agriculture, commerce, education, military affairs, government and Party, in all these seven domains the Party leads in all things. The Party has to lead industry, agriculture, commerce, culture, education, the army and government. Generally speaking, our Party is very good. Our Party is mainly composed of workers and poor peasants. The great majority of our cadres are good, they all work industriously, but we must also see that in our Party there still exist some problems; we mustn’t imagine that everything is good with the state of our Party. At present we have over seventeen million Party members, and among these members almost eighty per cent became members after the founding of the state: they joined the Party in the fifties. Only twenty per cent joined before the founding of our state, and among these twenty per cent of our members, those who joined the Party before 1930, that is to say those who joined the Party during the twenties according to the estimate of eight years ago were some 800-odd people. Some of these have died in the past two years so now I am afraid there may only be 700-odd people left. Among both old and new Party members  —  especially among the new members there are always some people whose characters and working styles are impure. Those people are individualists, bureaucrats, subjectivists: some have even become degenerate elements. There are some people who adopt the guise of Communist Party members, but they in no way represent the working class; instead they represent the bourgeoisie. All is not pure within the Party. We must see this point, otherwise we shall suffer.

The above is my fourth point. Our understanding of the objective world must pass through a process. First of all we do not understand, or do not completely understand it, but after repeated practice and after we have obtained results through practice, when we have won victories and also had tumbles and setbacks, we are able to compare our victories and defeats. Only then is there a possibility of developing to the point of achieving complete understanding or relatively complete understanding. By that time we shall be exercising more initiative, we shall be more free and we shall become more intelligent. Freedom means the recognition of necessity and it means transforming the objective world. Only on the basis of recognizing necessity can man enjoy freedom of activity; this is the dialectical law of freedom and necessity. What we call necessity is an objectively existing law. Before we recognize it our behaviour cannot be conscious; it has elements of blindness. At this time we are stupid; during the last few years haven’t we made many stupid blunders?


(5) The international communist movement

On this question I am only going to say a few simple sentences. No matter whether in China or in other countries of the world, over ninety per cent of the people will support Marxism-Leninism in the long run. In this world at present there are still many people being deceived by social-democratic parties, by the revisionists, the imperialists, or by the reactionary elements of various countries, who have not yet awakened. But eventually little by little they will awaken, they will support Marxism-Leninism. Marxism-Leninism is truth; it cannot be resisted. The masses want revolution; the world revolution will finally be victorious. Those who forbid revolution such as the characters in Lu Hsün’s book, Squire Chao, Squire Ch’ien and the Fake Foreign Devil who did not allow Ah Q to make revolution, will finally be defeated.

The Soviet Union was the first socialist country, and the Soviet Communist Party was the party created by Lenin. Although the Party and the state leadership of the Soviet Union have now been usurped by the revisionists, I advise our comrades to believe firmly that the broad masses, the numerous Party members and cadres of the Soviet Union are good; that they want revolution, and that the rule of the revisionists won’t last long. No matter when: now, in the future, in our generation or our descendants’, we should all learn from the Soviet Union, study the experiences of the Soviet Union. If we don’t learn from the Soviet Union, we will make mistakes. People may ask: since the Soviet Union is under the rule of the revisionists, should we still learn from them? What we should learn is about the good people and good things of the Soviet Union, the good experiences of the Soviet Communist Party. As for the bad people and bad things of the Soviet Union and the Soviet revisionists, we should treat them as teachers by negative example and learn lessons from them.

We should always uphold the principle of the unity of proletarian internationalism. We always advocate that the socialist countries and the world communist movement must unite firmly on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. The international revisionists are ceaselessly cursing us. Our attitude is, let them go on cursing us. When it becomes necessary we can give them some appropriate answers. Our Party has become accustomed to being cursed. Leaving aside those who attacked us in the past, what about the present? Abroad, the imperialists curse us, the reactionary nationalists curse us, the revisionists curse us; in our country Chiang Kai-shek curses us, the landlords, rich peasants, reactionaries, bad elements and rightists curse us. They had always done so in the past . . . Are we isolated? I myself don’t feel isolated. In this room alone there are already over 7,000 people; how can we be isolated with over 7,000 people? The popular masses of all countries of the world are already standing, or are going to stand, together with us. Can we be isolated?


(6) We must unite the whole Party and the whole people

We must unite the progressive elements and active elements within and without the Party, and unite the middle elements in order to bring forward those who lag behind. Only in this way can we unite the whole Party and the whole country; only by relying on such unity can we carry out our work, overcome difficulties and properly build up China. To unite the whole Party and the whole people is not at all to suggest that we do not have our own definite orientation. Some people say that the Communist Party is ‘a party of the whole people’, but we do not see things in this way. Our Party is a proletarian party; it is the vanguard of the proletariat; it is a fighting force armed with Marxism-Leninism. We stand on the side of the popular masses who comprise over ninety-five per cent of the total population. We definitely don’t stand on the side of the landlords, rich peasants, reactionaries, bad elements and rightists who constitute four to five per cent of the total population. It is the same in the international sphere, we speak of unity with all Marxist-Leninists, all revolutionary comrades, the whole people. We definitely do not speak of unity with the anti-communist, anti-popular imperialists and reactionaries of various countries. Whenever possible we also want to establish diplomatic relations with these people, and strive to have peaceful coexistence with them on the basis of the five principles. But these matters are in a different category from the matter of uniting with the people of all countries. In order to unite the whole Party and the whole people it is necessary to promote democracy and let the people speak out. It should be so within the Party; it should also be so outside the Party. Comrades from provincial Party committees, comrades from district Party committees, and comrades from county Party committees, when you return, you must definitely let people speak out. Those of you who are present here must act and those who are not here must also act thus. All leading members ! within the Party must promote democracy and let people speak out. What are the limits? One is that we must observe Party discipline, the minority must obey the majority, and the whole Party should obey the Centre.

Another limit is the prohibition on organizing secret factions. We are not afraid of open opposition groups, we are only afraid of secret opposition groups. Such people do not speak the truth to your face; what they say to your face is all falsehood and deceit. They do not express their real aims. But as long as they do not break discipline, as long as they are not carrying on any secret factional activities, we should always allow them to speak and even if they should say the wrong things we should not punish them. If people say the wrong things they can be criticized, but we should use reason to convince them. What should we do if we persuade them and they are not convinced? We can let them reserve their opinions. As long as they obey resolutions and obey decisions taken by the majority, the minority can be allowed to reserve their various opinions. Both within and outside the Party there is advantage in allowing the minority to reserve their opinions. If they have incorrect opinions they can reserve them temporarily and they will change their minds in future. Very often the ideas of the minority will prove to be correct. History abounds with such instances. In the beginning truth is not in the hands of the majority of people, but in the hands of a minority. Marx and Engels held the truth in their hands, but in the beginning they were in the minority. Lenin for a very long period was also in the minority. We had this kind of experience within our own Party. Both under the rule of Ch’en Tu-hsiu and during the period of rule of the ‘Left-wing’ Line truth was not in the hands of the majority in the leading organs, but rather in the hands of the minority. In history doctrines of natural scientists such as Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin were for a very long period not recognized by the majority of people, but instead were thought to be incorrect. In their time they were in the minority. When our Party was founded in 1921 we only had a few dozen members; we were also in the minority, but! these few people represented the truth and represented China’s destiny.

There is also the question of arrests and executions on which I want to say something. At present, only a dozen or so years after the victory of the Revolution, while elements of the overthrown reactionary classes have not yet been reformed, and while there are people still attempting a restoration, a few people have to be arrested and executed; otherwise the people’s anger cannot be appeased and the people’s dictatorship cannot be consolidated. But we must not arrest people lightly, and we must especially not execute people lightly. There are some bad people, bad elements and degenerate people who have infiltrated into our ranks, and degenerate elements who sit on the heads of the people and piss and shit on them, behaving in a vicious and unrestrained way, seriously disobeying laws and discipline. Those people are petty Chiang Kai-sheks. We must find a way to deal with this type of people, and arrest some and execute a few of the worst who have committed the biggest crimes and the greatest evils, because if we do not arrest or execute any of this type of people, we won’t be able to appease the anger of the people. This is what we mean when we say: ‘We cannot refrain from arresting them, we cannot refrain from executing them.’ But we must not on any account arrest too many and must not execute too many. All those who might be arrested but need not be arrested, and all those who might be executed but need not be executed, we must resolve not to arrest or to execute. There was a man called P’an Han-nien who had once been vice-mayor of Shanghai. In the past he had secretly surrendered to the Kuomintang. He was a man of the C.C. Clique.[10] Now he is detained in custody; we have not executed him. If we kill one person like P’an Han-nien and thereby break the ban on executions, then we would have to kill all people like him. There was another man called Wang Shih-wei who was a secret agent working for the K! uomintang. When he was in Yenan, he wrote a book called The Wild Lily, in which he attacked the revolution and slandered the Communist Party.[11] Afterwards he was arrested and executed. That incident happened at the time when the army was on the march, and the security organs themselves made the decision to execute him; the decision did not come from the Centre. We have often made criticisms on this very matter; we thought that he shouldn’t have been executed. If he was a secret agent and wrote articles to attack us and refused to reform till death, why not leave him there or let him go and do labour? It isn’t good to kill people. We should arrest and execute as few people as possible. If we arrest people and execute people at the drop of a hat, the end result would be that everybody would fear for themselves and nobody would dare to speak. In such an atmosphere there wouldn’t be much democracy.

Also we mustn’t put hats on people indiscriminately. Some of our comrades are in the habit of persecuting people with hats. As soon as they open their mouths hats come flying out; they frighten people so that they don’t dare speak. Of course one cannot avoid hats altogether. Are there not many hats in the report made by Comrade Liu Shao-ch’i? Isn’t ‘dispersionism’ a hat? But we mustn’t put hats on people without due consideration, so that every Tom, Dick and Harry is labelled with ‘dispersionism’, and everybody becomes labelled with ‘dispersionism’. It is better that hats should be put on by people themselves and they should fit the wearers, rather than that they should be put on them by others. If people put a few hats on themselves and other people don’t agree that they should wear those hats, then they should be removed. This will make for a very good democratic atmosphere. We advocate not to grasp at others’ faults, not to put hats on people, not to flourish the big stick. The aim is to make people unafraid in their hearts and let them dare to express their opinions.

We should adopt a well-intentioned helpful attitude towards those who have made mistakes, and towards those who do not allow people to speak out. We must not create the kind of atmosphere in which people feel that they cannot afford to make mistakes and that there would be terrible consequences if they made any mistakes, and if once they made mistakes they would never raise their heads again. When a person has made mistakes, as long he sincerely wants to make amends, as long as he has really made a self-criticism, then we must show that we accept him. When people make their self-criticism the first or second time, we must not ask too much of them. It does not matter if their self-examinations are not yet thorough, we should allow them to think again and give them well-intentioned help. People need help from others; we should help those comrades who have made mistakes to understand their mistakes. If people sincerely carry out self-criticism and are willing to correct mistakes, then we should forgive them and adopt a lenient policy towards them. As long as their achievements are still of primary importance, as long as they are competent, they can be allowed to continue in their posts.

Here in my speech I have criticized certain phenomena and criticized certain comrades, but I have not named them. I have not pointed out who Tom, Dick and Harry are. You yourselves must have some ideas in your minds (laughter). For shortcomings and mistakes made in the last few years, the primary responsibility should be borne by the Centre; at the Centre the primary responsibility is mine; next the responsibility belongs to the provincial committees, municipal committees, and autonomous region Party committees; and third, to the regional committee level; fourth, to county committee level; and fifth, to the enterprise Party committees and commune Party committees. In short everyone has his share of the responsibility.

Comrades, when you have gone back you must build up democratic centralism. The comrades of the county committees should lead the commune Party committees to build up and strengthen democratic centralism. First of all we must establish and strengthen collective leadership, and not practise the type of leadership which has long been diagnosed as ‘dispersionism’. Under this method the Party committee secretaries and members do their bits separately; they cannot have real collective discussions, nor can they have real collective leadership.

If we are to promote democracy we must encourage others to criticize us and listen to their criticisms. To be able to withstand criticism we must first take measures to carry out self-criticism. We must examine whatever needs examining for one hour or at most two hours. If everything is to be brought out in the open, it will take as long as that. If others consider we have not done enough, then let them say so. If what they say is right, we will accept their opinion. When we allow others to speak, should we be active or passive in our attitude? Of course it is better to be active. What can we do if we are forced on to the defensive? In the past we were undemocratic and so we find ourselves on the defensive. No matter. Let everybody criticize us. As for me, I will not go out during the day; I will not go to the theatre at night. Please come and criticize me day and night (laughter). Then I will sit down and think about it carefully, not sleep for two or three nights, think about it until I understand it, and then write a sincere self-examination. Isn’t that the way to deal with it? In short, let other people speak out. The heavens will not fall and you will not be thrown out. If you do not let others speak, then the day will surely come when you are thrown out.

Today I will confine myself to the above matters. The central point that I have spoken about is the question of how to realize democratic centralism and how to promote democracy within and without the Party. I recommend comrades to consider this question carefully. Some comrades still do not think in terms of democratic centralism. Now is the time to adopt this way of thinking and begin to acquire some understanding of this question. If we do our utmost to promote democracy, then we can mobilize the enthusiasm of the broad masses of people within and without the Party. We can unite the broad popular masses who comprise more than ninety-five per cent of our total population. When we have achieved this, our work will get better and better and we will more quickly overcome the difficulties we encounter. Our cause will develop much more favourably (enthusiastic applause).



[1.] The work style of the PLA, defined by Mao Tse-tung in 1960 in three phrases calling for a correct political orientation, an industrious and thrifty work style, and flexible and mobile strategy and tactics, and in eight characters (four pairs) meaning unity, earnestness, seriousness and liveliness. The use of precisely these figures echoed the ‘Three Main Rules of Discipline and the Eight Points for Attention’ originally laid down in 1928, which guided the conduct of the Red Army during the struggle for power, and thus represented an attempt to establish a symbolic link with the past. For the earlier rules, see Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 155-6.

[2.] Ssu-ma Ch’ien (c. 145-90 B.C.) was China’s first great historian who compiled the Shih-chi (Historical Records) relating the history of China from the origins to his own day. The foregoing passage is from his autobiography, appended to that work.

[3.] This reading, ‘even more impossible’ (keng pu-hsing), is that of Wen-hsüan and of Wan-sui (1969). The version in Wan sui! says merely that it is ‘also impossible’ (yu pu-hsing) without centralism.

[4.] This story is indeed recounted in the Shi-chi in the biographies of Li I-chi and Chu Chien, and also in that of Liu Pang, the founder of the Han dynasty. See Burton Watson’s translation, Records of the Grand Historian of China (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), Vol. I, pp. 86-7, 269-70,. and 283. Mao has drawn on all three versions, taking some picturesque details (such as the remark, ‘I am a drinking man’) from the biography of Chu Chien, which is commonly regarded as a later interpolation and is therefore not translated by Watson.

[5.] A Peking opera, based on the account in the Shi-chi (Watson op. cit., pp. 70-71) about Hsiang Yü’s farewell from his favourite the lady Yü, on the eve of his final defeat. Mao alluded with admiration to the first two lines of the poem composed by Hsiang Yü on this occasion in his own first article of 1917: The Political Thought of Mao Tse-tung, pp. 157, 160.

[6.] The reference is, of course, to the sharp criticism of the Party and the regime in April and May 1957, before a halt was called to the policy of ‘blooming and contending’.

[7.] This is the reading in Wen-hsüan Wan-sui (1969) has rather ‘did not understand very well’ (pu hen liao-chieh instead of hen pu liao-chieh).

[8.] Chia Pao-yü is the chief male character in the Dream of the Red Chamber. Mao’s criticism of Yü P’ing-po’s interpretation of this novel related precisely to the point that, in his view, the book should be regarded as a condemnation of feudal society as a whole, and not, as Yü held, simply as a lament about individual misfortune The new garden was created for the use of the imperial concubine on the occasion of a visit to her family (The Story of the Stone, Ch. 18), and it is here that much of the subsequent action takes place. Regarding the relationship between the novel and the author’s own family background, see David Hawkes’s introduction, especially pp. 22-32.

[9.] For the revised text of the sixty articles on rural work adopted at the Tenth Plenum in September 1962, and a summary of the seventy articles on industrial work drafted in December 1961, see Documents of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, September 1956 - April 1969 (Hong Kong: URI, 1971), pp. 689-725. For the regulations on middle and primary schools drafted in 1963, see the article by Susan Shirk in China Quarterly, No. 55, July - September 1973, pp. 511-46.

[10.] A reactionary Kuomintang faction led by the two Ch’en brothers, nephews of Chiang Kai-shek’s first patron Ch’en Ch’i-mei, who played a role in creating the quasi-fascist ‘Blue Shirts’ in the 1930s.

[11.] For details on Wang Shih-wei, see Literary Dissent in Communist China, pp. 25-7 and passim.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung