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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Speech At A Meeting With
Regional Secretaries And Members Of
The Cultural Revolutionary Group Of
The Central Committee

July 22, 1966

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

Now all the regional secretaries and members of the Cultural Revolution Group are present. The task of this meeting is to attend to our documents, and primarily to change the method of sending out work teams so that revolutionary teachers and students in schools, as well as some middle-of-the-road people, can organize school Cultural Revolution Groups to lead the Great Cultural Revolution. Only they understand the affairs of the schools. The work teams do not understand. There are some work teams who made a mess of things. The purpose of the Great Cultural Revolution in the schools is to carry out struggle, criticism, transformation. The work teams had the effect of obstructing the movement. Can we carry out struggle and transformation? For example, Chien Po-tsan[1] wrote a great many books, yet you still haven’t read them. How can you struggle against him and transform him? Where schools are concerned it is a case of ‘When the temple is small the gods seem big, and when the pool is shallow the turtles seem plentiful.’ Therefore we must rely on internal forces in the schools. The work teams won’t do. I won’t do, you won’t do. The provincial Party committees won’t do either. If it’s struggle and transformation you want, you must rely on the schools themselves and the units themselves. It is no good relying on the work teams. I wonder whether the work teams can be changed into liaison staff. If they are changed into advisers they will have too much power. Perhaps they can be called observers. The work teams obstruct the revolution, but there are some among them who don’t. If they obstruct the revolution they will unavoidably become counter-revolutionary. The Communications University in Sian does not allow people to telephone, and does not allow people to be sent to the Centre. Why should they fear people going to the Centre? Let them come and besiege the State Council. We must draw up documents! to the effect that they may telephone or send delegates. Will it do to get so frightened? When the newspapers in Sian and Nanking were besieged for three days, the people concerned were so afraid that their souls left their bodies. Are you afraid like this? You people! If you don’t make revolution, the revolution will be directed against you. Some districts do not allow people to besiege newspaper offices, go to the provincial Party committee or go to see the State Council. Why are you so afraid? When they get to the State Council all they see are little unimportant generals, and so nothing can be cleared up. Why are things like this? Even if you won’t show your faces I will show mine. This word ‘fear’ is always coming to the fore  —  fear of counterrevolution, fear of people using knives and guns. Can there really be so many counter-revolutionaries? These past few days K’ang Sheng,[2] Ch’en Po-ta and Chiang Ch’ing have been going down to the schools to read the big-character posters. How can you get by without perceptual knowledge? None of you go down because you are busy with routine matters; but you should go down even if it means neglecting routine matters, in order to get perceptual knowledge. In Nanking they did things a bit better. They didn’t stop students from coming to the Centre.

K’ang Sheng interrupted: ‘Nanking had three great debates. The first debate was about whether the New China Daily was revolutionary or not; the second was about whether the Kiangsu Provincial Party Committee was revolutionary or not. The debate concluded that the Kiangsu Provincial Party Committee was after all revolutionary. The third debate was about whether K’uang Ya-ming should be paraded in the street wearing a dunce’s hat.’ [Chairman Mao resumed:]

In the schools the majority is revolutionary, the minority is not revolutionary. As to whether K’uang Ya-ming will parade the streets wearing a dunce’s hat, the conclusion of the debate will naturally clarify this point.

During this meeting the comrades who are attending it should go to Peking University and the Broadcasting Institute to read the big-character posters. You should go to the places where there is the most trouble and take a look there. Today you aren’t going because we have to attend to the documents. When you read the big-character posters you can say that you are there to learn, to support their revolution; you go there to light the fire of revolution and support the revolutionary teachers and students, not to listen to counter-revolutionaries and right-wing talk. After two months you still haven’t got the slightest perceptual knowledge and you are still bureaucratic. If you go there you will be surrounded by the students and should be surrounded by them, and when you start talking to a few of them they will surround you. At the Broadcasting Institute over a hundred people were beaten up. There is one good thing about our era: the left-wingers get beaten up by the right-wingers, and this toughens up the left-wingers. To send the work teams for six months or even a year won’t work, only people from on the spot will do. The first thing is struggle, the second is criticism, the third is transformation. Struggle means destruction, and transformation means establishing something new. It won’t do to change the teaching materials in half a year’s time. The thing to do is to delete, to abandon, to condense and to simplify. Materials which are incorrect or repetitious can be cut by one third to one half.

Wang Jen-chung interrupted: ‘We should cut out two thirds and study Quotations from Chairman Mao.’ [Chairman Mao continued:]

Political teaching materials, central directives and newspaper editorials are guidelines for the masses; they mustn’t be regarded as dogmas. The problem of beatings-up hasn’t been mentioned in our circulars. This won’t do. This is a matter of our basic direction and of laying down guidelines. Our general policy should be quickly established. In carrying out transformation we must rely on the revolutionary teachers and students and leftists in the schools. It doesn’t matter if rightists join the cultural revolutionary committees of the schools; they can be useful as teachers by negative example, but the rightists shouldn’t be concentrated together. The Peking Municipal Party Committee doesn’t need so many people. When there are too many people around there will be telephoning and the issuing of orders. There should be a wholesale cut in secretaries. When I was working on the Front Committee[3] I had a secretary called Hsiang Pei. Later during our retreat we did not have secretaries any more. It’s enough just to have someone to receive and dispatch documents.

K’ang Sheng interrupted: ‘The Chairman has talked about four things. One is the reorganization of the Peking Municipal Party Committee. This has been done. The second is the reorganization of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee, which has also been carried out. The third is the elimination of the five-man Cultural Revolution Group, which has also been done.[4] The fourth is the transformation of certain ministries into departments, which hasn’t been done. [Chairman Mao replied:]

That’s right, regarding ministers, those who can manage their work don’t have to be changed. They can be called ministers, heads of departments, heads of bureaux, heads of offices, but those who don’t do their jobs should be changed into the Department of Metallurgy, the Department of Coal.

Someone interrupted: ‘Peking University carried out four big debates. Was the incident of 18 June a counter-revolutionary affair?[5] Some say yes, because there were riff-raff involved in it, but some say no, and that the work team made mistakes. Over forty people in the Peking University Middle School propose sacking the head of the work team, Chang Ch’eng-hsien.’ [Chairman Mao replied:]

There are many work teams which obstruct the movement and they include Chang Ch’eng-hsien. But we mustn’t arrest people indiscriminately. What constitutes counter-revolutionary activity? It’s simply murder, arson, and spreading poison. Such people you can arrest. You can let those who write reactionary slogans go free for the time being so that you can have a confrontation. You can consider the matter again when you have struggled against them.



[1.] Chien Po-tsan, see note 2 on p. 229 of this volume.

[2.] K’ang Sheng (1899- ) spent considerable time in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and was long regarded above all as a specialist in intelligence and security matters. Beginning in the mid-fifties, he began to play a role both in higher education, and in liaison with foreign Communist parties, participating in several important delegations for discussions with the Soviets. He became a member of the Secretariat of the Politburo in September 1962, at the Tenth Plenum. His closeness to Mao, and his interest in cultural mattes, are underlined by his participation in Mao’s talks with Ch’en Poet about philosophy in 1964. In mid-1966 he became member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, and he played an important role thereafter throughout the Cultural Revolution.

[3.] The leading Party organization in Chingkangshan days.

[4.] See note 4 on p. 246 of this volume.

[5.] Three days later, Chiang Ch’ing, in a talk at Peking University, declared that in the Chairman’s view this incident was not counter-revolutionary, but revolutionary. He had arrived at this opinion after studying all the relevant documents in Wuhan, where he was at the time. According to the Red Guard editors, the incident arose when the students at Peking University ‘brought their righteous indignation into play and spontaneously waged struggle against those in authority taking the capitalist road and other demons and monsters’; in the process, ‘some people were beaten up’ (Current Background, No. 892, p. 39). Those ‘in authority’ obviously included both Lu P’ing and the university administration, and the ‘work team’ sent to the university by the Party organization.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung