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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk At The Report Meeting

October 24, 1966

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

The Chairman said: ‘What is there to be frightened of? Have you read the brief report by Li Hsüeh-feng[1]? His two children ran off and when they came back they gave Li Hsüeh-feng a lecture. “Why are you old leaders so frightened of the Red Guards? They haven’t beat you up and yet you just won’t examine yourselves.” Wu Hsiu-ch’üan has four children and they all belong to different factions and lots of their schoolmates go to his home, sometimes ten or more at a time. When you have had more contact with them then you realize there is nothing to be afraid of; instead you think they are quite lovable. If one wants to educate others the educationist should first be educated. You are not clear-headed and dare not face the Red Guards, nor speak the truth to the students; you act like officials and big shots. First of all you don’t dare to see people and then you don’t dare to speak. You have been making revolution for many decades, but the longer you do it the stupider you get. In the letter Shao-ch’i wrote to Chiang Wei-ch’ing, he criticized Chiang Wei-ch’ing[2] and said that he was stupid, but is he himself any cleverer?’

The Chairman asked Liu Lan-t’ao[3]: ‘When you have gone back, what do you have in mind to do?’

Liu replied: ‘I first want to go back and have a look.’

The Chairman said: ‘When you speak you always mince your words.’

Chairman Mao asked Premier Chou about the progress of the meeting. The Premier said: ‘It’s almost finished. We will meet for another half-day tomorrow. As for the concrete problems, we can solve them according to basic principles when we get back.’

Chairman Mao asked Li Ching-ch’üan: ‘How’s Liao Chih-kao[4] getting on?’

Li replied: ‘In the beginning he wasn’t very clear, but in the latter part of the meeting he was somewhat better.’

The Chairman said: ‘What’s all this about being consistently correct? You yourself did a bunk. You were frightened out of your wits and rushed off to stay in the military district. When you get back you must pull yourself together and work properly. It’s bad to paste up big-character posters about Liu and Teng in the streets. Mustn’t we allow people to make mistakes, allow people to make revolution, allow them to change? Let the Red Guards read The True Story of Ah Q.’[5]

The Chairman said: ‘The meeting this time is somewhat better. At the last meeting it was all indoctrination and no progress. Moreover we had no experience. Now we have had two months’ more experience. Altogether we have had less than five months’ experience. The democratic revolution was carried on for twenty-eight years; we made many mistakes and many people died. The socialist revolution has been carried on for seventeen years, but the cultural revolution has only been carried on for five months. It will take at least five years to get some experience. One big-character poster, the Red Guards, the great exchange of revolutionary experience, and nobody  —  not even I  —  expected that all the provinces and cities would be thrown into confusion. The students also made some mistakes, but the mistakes were mainly made by us big shots.’

The Chairman asked Li Hsien-nien: ‘How did your meeting go today?’

Li replied: ‘The Institute of Finance and Economics held an accusation meeting, and I wanted to make a self-examination, but they wouldn’t let me speak.’

The Chairman said: ‘You should go there again tomorrow and make your examination, otherwise people will say you have done a bunk.’

Li said: ‘Tomorrow I have to go abroad.’

The Chairman said: ‘You should also tell them that in the past it used to be San-niang who taught her son.[6] Nowadays it’s the son who teaches San-niang. I think you are a bit lacking in spirit.

‘If they don’t want to listen to your self-examination, you must still go ahead and make one. If they accuse you, you should admit your mistakes. The trouble was stirred up by the Centre, the responsibility rests with the Centre, but the regions also have some responsibility. What I’m responsible for is the division into first and second lines. Why did we make this division into first and second lines? The first reason is that my health is not very good; the second was the lesson of the Soviet Union. Malenkov was not mature enough, and before Stalin died he had not wielded power. Every time he proposed a toast, he fawned and flattered. I wanted to establish their prestige before I died; I never imagined that things might move in the opposite direction.’

Comrade T’ao Chu[7] said: ‘Supreme power (‘a ch’üan’) has slipped from your hands.’

The Chairman said: ‘This is because I deliberately relinquished it. Now, however, they have set up independent kingdoms; there are many things I have not been consulted about, such as the land problem, the Tientsin speeches, the cooperatives in Shansi, the rejection of investigation and study, the big fuss made of Wang Kuang-mei. All these things should really have been discussed at the Centre before decisions were taken. Teng Hsiao-p’ing never came to consult me: from 1959 to the present he has never consulted me over anything at all. In 1962 suddenly the four vice-premiers, Li Fu-ch’un, T’an Chen-lin, Li Hsien-nien and Po I-po[8] came to look me up in Nanking, and afterwards went to Tientsin. I immediately gave my approval, and the four went back again, but Teng Hsiao-p’ing never came. I was not satisfied with the Wuchang Conference; I could do nothing about the high targets. So I went to Peking to hold a conference, but although you had met for six days, you wouldn’t let me hold mine even for a single day. It’s not so bad that I am not allowed to complete my work, but I don’t like being treated as a dead ancestor.

‘After the Tsunyi conference the Centre was more concentrated, but after the Sixth Plenum in 1938, Hsiang Ying and P’eng Te-huai tried to set up an independent kingdom.[9] They didn’t keep me informed about any of these things. After the Seventh Congress there was nobody at the Centre. When Hu Tsung-nan marched on Yenan[10] the Centre was divided into two armies; I was in North Shensi with En-lai and Jen Pi-shih;[11] Liu Shao-ch’i and Chu Te were in the north-east. Things were still relatively centralized. But once we entered the cities, we were dispersed, each devoting himself to his own sphere. Especially when the division was made into first and second lines, there was even more dispersal. In 1953, after the financial and economic conference, I told everybody to communicate with one another, to communicate with the Centre and communicate with the regions. Liu and Teng acted openly, not in secret, they were not like P’eng Chen. In the past Ch’en Tu-hsiu, Chang Kuo-t’ao, Wang Ming, Lo Lung-chang, Li Li-san all acted openly; that’s not so serious. But Kao Kang, Jao Shu-shih, P’eng Te-huai were two-faced. P’eng Te-huai colluded with them, but I did not know it. P’eng Chen, Lo Jui-ch’ing,[12] Lu Ting-i[13] and Yang Shang-k’un[14] were acting secretly, and those who are secretive will come to no good end. Those who follow the wrong line should reform, but Ch’en, Wang and Li did not reform.’

Chou En-lai remarked: ‘Li Li-san did not change his thinking.’

[Chairman Mao resumed:] ‘Cliques and factions of whatever description should be strictly excluded. The essential thing is that they should reform, that their ideas should conform, and that they should unite with us. Then things will be all right. We should allow Liu and Teng to make revolution and to reform themselves. You say that I am the kind of person that mixes with thin mud. I am the kind of person that mixes with thin mud. During the Seventh Congress Ch’en Ch’i-han[15] said, one shouldn’t elect people who have followed Wang Ming’s line to the Central Committee. Wang Ming and several others were all elected members of the Central Committee. At present only Wang Ming has left, the others are all still here! Lo Fu is no good. I have a favourable impression of Wang Chia-hsiang,[16] for he approved of the battle at Tungku.[17] During the Ningtu conference,[18] Lo Fu wanted to expel me, but Chou and Chu did not agree. During the Tsunyi Conference he played a useful role, and at that time one couldn’t have got by without them.[19] Lo Fu was obstinate. Comrade Shao-ch’i opposed them, and Nieh Jung-chen[20] also opposed them. We shouldn’t condemn Liu Shao-ch’i out of hand. If they have made mistakes they can change, can’t they? When they have changed it will be all right. Let them pull themselves together, and throw themselves courageously into their work. This meeting was held at my suggestion, but the time has been so short that I don’t know whether things are clear or not. Still, it may be better than the last meeting. I had no idea that one big-character poster, the Red Guards and big exchange! of revolutionary experience would have stirred up such a big affair. Some of the students did not have a terribly good family background, but were our own family backgrounds all that good? Don’t enlist deserters and turncoats. I myself have many right-wing friends such as Chou Ku-ch’eng and Chang Chih-chung.[21] Will it do not to have a few right-wing contacts? How can one be so pure? To enter into contact with them is to investigate and study them, and understand their behaviour. The other day on the T’ien An Men I deliberately drew Li Tsung-jen[22] over towards me. It’s better not to give this fellow a post; it’s better for him not to have any position or power. Do we want to have democratic parties? Can’t we have just one party? The Party organizations in the schools shouldn’t be restored too early. After 1957, the Party added many new members; Chien Po-tsan, Wu Han, Li Ta were all Party members. Were they all so good? Are the democratic parties all so very bad? I think the democratic parties are better than P’eng, Lo, Lu and Yang. We still want the democratic parties, the Political Consultative Conference; we should explain this clearly to the Red Guards. The Chinese democratic revolution was started by Sun Yat-sen. At that time there was no Communist Party. Under the leadership of Sun Yat-sen, they fought against K’ang, Liang,[23] and the imperial system. This year makes the hundredth anniversary of Sun Yat-sen’s birth. How shall we celebrate it? We should discuss this with the Red Guards, and we should hold commemorative meetings. The division which I introduced into first and second lines has led to the opposite result.’

Comrade K’ang Sheng interrupted: ‘The political report at the Eighth Congress contains the theory of the disappearance of classes.’

[Chairman Mao replied:] ‘I read the report, and it was passed by the congress; we cannot make those two  —  Liu and Teng  —  solely responsible.

‘Factories and villages should be dealt with by stages and in batches. Go back and clarify the thinking of your fellow-students in the provinces and municipalities, and hold good meetings. Find a quiet place in Shanghai in which to meet. If the students stir things up, let them. We have met for seventeen days, and it has been worthwhile. As Lin Piao says, we should do careful political and ideological work among them. In 1936 Stalin talked about the elimination of class struggle, but in 1939 he carried out another purge of counter-revolutionaries. Wasn’t that class struggle too?

‘When you go back you should pull yourselves together and do your work well. Who then can overthrow you?’



[1.] Li Hsüeh-feng (c. 1906- ), First Secretary of the CCP North China Bureau, had replaced P’eng Chen as First Secretary of the Peking Party branch in June 1966. He disappeared from the political scene in December 1970; Mao subsequently identified him as one of Lin Piao’s co-conspirators.

[2.] Chiang Wei-ching, first secretary of Kiangsu Provincial Committee.

[3.] Liu Lan-t’ao (1904 ), First Secretary of the CCP Northwest Bureau, and political commissar of the Lanchow Military Region.

[4.] Li Ching-ch’uan, First Secretary of the CPC Southwest Bureau since 1961, was thus the direct superior of Liao Chih-kao, about whom Mao asks him here.  Liao Chih-kao was first secretary of Szechuan Provincial Committee.

[5.] The True Story of Ah Q, is a famous novel by the great Chinese writer Lu Hsun.

[6.] San-niang refers to Wang Ch’un, the heroine of the Peking opera San-niang chino-tzu (San-niang Teaches Her Son). Third wife of a Ming dynasty official wrongly thought to have died, she refused to remarry and devoted her life to educating her husband’s son by his second wife, who eventually became a chuang-yüan.

[7.] T’ao Chu (c. 1906 ) became First Secretary of the CCP Central-South Bureau in 1961. In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution he enjoyed a meteoric rise to power, becoming head of the Central Committee’s Propaganda Department in July 1966, and ranking fourth, immediately after Mao Tse-tung, Lin Piao, and Chou En-lai, at the Eleventh Plenum in August 1966. In late December 1966, he was officially denounced.

[8.] Li Fu-ch’un (1899- ), a Hunanese, has been a long-time close associate of Mao Tse-tung. He worked with Mao at the Peasant Movement Training Institute in 1925-6, and is married to Ts’ai Ch’ang, the sister of Mao’s best friend, Ts’ai Ho-sen. He has been Chairman of the State Planning Commission since 1954.

T’an Chen-lin (1902- ), Politburo member and the Party’s top agricultural spokesman in 1958, had espoused radical policies in the countryside at the time of the Great Leap Forward.  He was made a vice-premier of the State Council in April 1959.

Po I-po (1907- ), Vice-Premier and Chairman of the State Economic Commission; he was not re-elected, even to the Central Committee, in 1969, and was extensively criticized during the Cultural Revolution for espousing the type of economic policies favoured by Liu Shao-ch’i.

Li Hsien-nien (c. 1907- ), Minister of Finance, Vice-Premier, and member of the Politburo.

[9.] A reference to the New Fourth Army Incident in Southern Anhwei, and to P’eng’s Hundred Regiments Offensive.

Hsiang Ying (1898-1941), a former labour leader, and Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Soviet Republic in the early 1930s, was political commissar of the New Fourth Army in central China.

[10.] In the spring of 1947, obeying the fundamental principle of guerrilla tactics, as laid down by Mao, that the aim of war is to destroy the enemy’s forces rather than to hold territory for its own sake, the Communists abandoned their capital of Yenan without a struggle. This resulted in the separation of the top leadership into two groups, as enumerated by Mao, which lasted from March 1947 until May 1948.

[11.] Jen Pi-shih (1904-50) was a member of the Politburo at the time of his death, and had been closely associated with Mao since the 1940s.

[12.] Lo Jui-ch’ing (c. 1906- ) was Minister of Public Security from 1949 to 1959. Thereafter he was Chief-of-Staff of the PLA up to the end of 1965.

[13.] Lu Ting-i (c. 1901- ), head of the CCP Propaganda Department until March 1966.

[14.] Yang Shang-k’un (c. 1905- ), at this time an alternate member of the CCP Secretariat.

[15.] Ch’en Ch’i-han (c. 1898- ), a member of the CCP Central Control Commission, who retained his position on the Central Committee in 1969, was active in military and intelligence work at the time of the Seventh Congress in 1945.

[16.] Wang Chia-hsiang (1907-74) was, like the other people comrade Mao was discussing here, a member of the ‘Returned Student’s faction’, i.e., Wang Ming faction.

[17.] A reference to the revolt organised by Li Li-san against comrade Mao in December 1930.  This is commonly known as Futien rebellion which began in the town of Tung-ku.

[18.] In August 1932, at the Ningtu conference comrade Mao was stripped of his control over the Red Army. He suggests here that Lo Fu (Chang Wen-t’ien) wanted to expel him from the Party as well, but that Chou En-lai and Chu Te opposed this.

[19.] At the Tsunyi Conference of January 1935, where comrade Mao’s line was firmly established in the CPC, Ch’in Pang-hsien was replaced as Secretary-General by Chang Wen-t’ien. Without the cooperation of some of the Moscow-oriented faction, and of Chang in particular, Mao could obviously not have achieved as much as he did on this occasion in reorganizing the leadership of the Party.

[20.] Nieh Jung-chen (1899- ) was Lin Piao’s chief political officer during the Long March; after 1949, he occupied important positions in military and scientific work. He remains a Vice-Premier, and a member of the Central Committee.

[21.] Chang Chih-chung (1891- ), a Nationalist general who had occupied many high posts under Chiang Kai-shek, was director of the Generalissimo’s north-west headquarters from 1945 to 1949, when he switched his allegiance to the communists. After helping the new regime establish its authority in Sinkiang, he was appointed in 1954 Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Council in Peking.

[22.] Li Tsung-jen (1890-1969), acting president of the Kuomintang regime in early 1949, who returned to China from exile in the United States in 1965.

[23.] i.e., the reformers K’ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch’i-chtao, who supported the idea of a constitutional monarchy in the early years of the twentieth century.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung