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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Interview With Andre Malraux[1]


[SOURCE: Extracted from Andre Malraux: Anti-Memoirs.]

Mao reflects “Plekhanov and the Mensheviks were Marxists, even Leninists. They cut themselves off from the masses and ended up by taking up arms against the Bolsheviks or rather they mainly ended up exiled or shot.

“There are now two paths for every Communist: that of socialist construction, and that of revisionism. We are beyond the bark-eating stage, but we have only got as far as a bowl of rice a day. To accept revisionism is to snatch away the bowl of rice. As I told you, we made the Revolution with peasant rebels. Then we led them against the cities ruled by the Kuomintang. But the successor of the Kuomintang was not the Chinese Communist Party, however important that may be, it was the New Democracy. The history of the Revolution, like the weakness of the proletariat of the big cities, forced the communists into collaboration with the petty-bourgeoisie. For that reason, too, our revolution, in the last analysis, will no more resemble the Russian Revolution than the Russian Revolution resembled yours. Even today, broad layers of our society are conditioned in such a way that their activity is necessarily orientated toward revisionism. They can only obtain what they want by taking it from the masses”

I think of Stalin: “We did not bring about the October Revolution in order to give power to the kulaks!”.

“Corruption, law-breaking, the arrogance of intellectuals, the wish to do honour to one’s family by becoming a white-collar worker and not dirtying one’s hands anymore, all these stupidities are only symptoms. Inside the party and out. The cause of them is the historical conditions themselves. But also the political conditions”

I know his theory: you begin by no longer tolerating criticism, then you abandon self-criticism, then you cut yourself off from the masses, and since the party can draw its revolutionary strength only from them, you tolerate the formation of a new class; finally like Khrushchev, you proclaim peaceful co-existence on a durable basis with United States and the Americans arrive in Vietnam. I have not forgotten his old saying “Here seventy percent of the people are poor peasants, and their sense of the Revolution has never been at fault.” He has just explained how he interprets it: one must learn from the masses in order to be able to teach them.

“That is why” he says, “Soviet revisionism is an . . . apostasy”


*     *     *


“When he [Khrushchev] came here for the last time, on his return from Camp David, he believed in compromise with American imperialism. He imagined that the contradictions had almost disappeared there. The truth is that of the contradictions due to victory are less painful than the old ones, luckily they are almost as deep. Humanity left to its own devices does not necessarily re-establish capitalism (which is why you are perhaps right in saying they will not revert to private ownership of the means of production), but it does re-establish inequality. The forces tending toward the creation of new classes are powerful. We have just suppressed military titles and badges of rank; every ‘cadre’ becomes a worker again, at least one day a weak; whole train loads of city dwellers go off to work in people’s communes. Khrushchev seemed to think that a revolution is done when a communist party has seized power  —  as if it were merely a question of national Liberation.

“Lenin was well aware that at this juncture the revolution is only just beginning. The forces and traditions he was referring to are not only the legacy of the bourgeoisie. They are also our fate. . . The revisionists mix up cause and effect. Equality is not important in itself, it is important because it is natural to those who have not lost contact with masses. . . You remember Kosygin at the 23rd Congress! ‘Communism means the raising of Living standards’, of course! And swimming is a way of putting on a pair of trunks! Stalin had destroyed the kulaks. It isn’t simply a question of replacing the Tsar with Khrushchev, one bourgeoisie with another, even if it’s called communist. The thought, culture and customs which brought China to where we found her must disappear, the thought, customs, and culture of proletarian China, which does not yet exist, must appear”.


*     *     *


“What is expressed in that commonplace term ‘revisionism’ is the death of revolution. What we have just done in the army must be done everywhere. I have told you that the revolution is also everywhere. I have told you that the revolution is also a feeling. If we decide to make of it what the Russians are now doing  —  a feeling of the past  —  everything will fall apart. Our revolution cannot be simply a stabilization of the past”.


*     *     *


I am alone with the masses. Waiting . . .



[1.] Andre Malraux, prominent French novelist. In 1965 he was minister of culture in de Gaulle’s government.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung