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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talks At Three Meetings With
Comrades Chang Ch’un-ch’iao
And Yao Wen-yuan[1]

February 1967

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

Chairman Mao invited Comrades Chang Ch’un-ch’iao and Yao Wen-yüan[2] to come to Peking from 12 to 18 February, and met them three times within a week. Even before they had arrived at the airport the Chairman inquired whether they had arrived or not, and when the airport comrades said they would soon be there, the Chairman waited for them in the doorway. They had no sooner arrived than the Chairman asked, ‘What is this with the First, Second and Third Regiments? They have come here making accusations against you.’

From February to April is a crucial period for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. During these three months, the Great Cultural Revolution ought to start taking shape.

In general, the work in Shanghai is very good. At the time of the An-t’ing incident, isn’t it true that only 1,000-2,000 workers of Shanghai went there at first? Now, the number has reached one million! This illustrates that Shanghai’s workers have been mobilized rather successfully.

Our present revolution  —  the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, and we have launched it ourselves. This is because a portion of the structure of proletarian dictatorship has been usurped and no longer belongs to the proletariat, but to the bourgeoisie. Thus, we had to make revolution. The Central Committee Cultural Revolution Group must ponder over it and write articles. This is called “Revolution Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” This is a very important theoretical problem.

The Chairman said that for the purpose of seizing power the ‘Three-way Alliances’ were essential.[3] Fukien, Kweichow and Inner Mongolia did not present big problems, though there might be a little disorder there. In Shansi at present 53 per cent were revolutionary masses, 27 per cent army, and 20 per cent cadres from various organs. Shanghai ought to learn from them. The January Revolution had succeeded, but February, March and April were more crucial, more important. The Chairman said: ‘The slogan of “Doubt everything and overthrow everything” is reactionary. The Shanghai People’s Committee demanded that the Premier of the State Council should do away with all heads. This is extreme anarchism, it is most reactionary. If instead of calling someone the “head” of something we call him “orderly” or “assistant”, this would really be only a formal change. In reality there will still always be “heads”. It is the content which matters.

‘There is a slogan in Honan, “The present-day proletarian dictatorship must be completely changed.” This is a reactionary slogan.’

The slogan “doubt everything and down with everything” is reactionary. Those who want to doubt everything and overthrow everything are bound to head in the opposite direction, and will be overthrown in a matter of days. (We have here some units which won’t even have deputy section chiefs. People who don’t want to have deputy section chiefs cannot last more than a few days.)

We must trust over 95 percent of the masses, and then over 95 percent of the cadres will follow us. China has a sizable petty bourgeoisie, and the number of middle peasants is rather large. In urban areas, the number of petty bourgeoisie, small handicraftsmen, including small business owners, is considerable. If we prove to be adept in leading, they will also follow us. We must trust the vast majority.

It would be very difficult for a college student who has just graduated, or one who hasn’t yet graduated, to lead a municipality or to manage Shanghai municipality. I don’t think he would be qualified to be a college president either. In the case of college president, school conditions are complex, especially to one who has just graduated or hasn’t yet graduated. In my estimation, he may not even qualify to be a department head. A department head must have some scholarship! Since you haven’t yet completed your academic work, or have only just graduated, you have no teaching experience and no experience in administering a department. We have already trained a number of assistants and lecturers to serve as department heads. A few persons should be selected from among the original leadership cadres. We cannot completely dispense with the old personnel. [Are you] afraid Chou Ku-ch’eng[4] is no longer any good? That Chou Ku-ch’eng will no longer be able to teach?

The Paris Commune,  —  did we not all say that to institute a Paris Commune is to institute a new political power? The Paris Commune was founded in 1871, almost 96 years ago. If the Paris Commune had not failed, but had been successful, then in my opinion, it would have become by now a bourgeois commune. This is because it was impossible for the French bourgeoisie to allow France’s working class to have so much political power. That is the case of the Paris Commune. In regard to the form of soviet political power, as soon as it materialized, Lenin was elated, deeming it a remarkable creation by workers, peasants and soldiers, as well as a new form proletarian dictatorship. Nonetheless, Lenin had not anticipated then that although the workers, peasants and soldiers could use this form of political power, it could also be used by the bourgeoisie, and by Khrushchev. Thus, the present soviet has been transformed from Lenin’s soviet to Khrushchev’s soviet.

Britain is a monarchy. Doesn’t it have a king? The U.S. has a presidential system. They are both the same, being bourgeois dictatorships. The puppet regime of South Vietnam has a president and bordering it is Shanouk’s Royal Kingdom of Cambodia. Which is better? I am afraid Sihanouk is somewhat better. India has a presidential system; its neighbour, Nepal, is a kingdom. Which country is better? It would seem that the kingdom is somewhat better than India. This is judging by their present performances. In the case of ancient China’s three kings and five emperors, they were called kings in the Chou dynasty, emperors in the Ch’in dynasty. The First Emperor of Ch’in (Ch’in-Shih-huang) assumed all the titles of three kings and five emperors. It was called Heavenly King in the T’ai-ping Heavenly Kingdom, while T’ang T’ai-tsung also called himself Heavenly Emperor. So you see, titles have changed over and over again. What we want to see is not the changing of titles, because the problem lies not with title, but with practice; not with form, but with content.

Titles must not be changed too frequently; we don’t emphasize names, but emphasize practice; not form, but content. That fellow Wang Mang of the Han dynasty was addicted to changing names. As soon as he became emperor, he changed all the titles of government offices, like many of us who have a dislike for the title “chief.” He also changed the names of all countries in the country. This is like our Red Guards who have changed almost all the street names of Peking, making it impossible for us to remember them. We still remember their former names. It became difficult for Wang Mang to issue edicts and orders, because the people did not know what changes had been made. This form of popular drama can be used either by China or by foreign countries, by the proletariat or by the bourgeoisie.

The principal experiences are the Paris Commune and the soviet. We can imagine that the [name] People’s Republic of China can be used by both classes. If we should be overthrown and the bourgeoisie came to power, they would have no need to change the name, but would still call it the People’s Republic of China. . . . The main thing is which class seizes political power. That is the fundamental question, not what its name is.

I think we should be more stable and should not change all the names. This is because this would give rise to the question of changing the political system, to the question of the state system, and to the question of the name of the country. Would you want to change [the name] to the Chinese People’s commune! Should the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China be called director or commune leader? Not only this problem, but another problem would arise. That is, if there is a change, it will be followed by the question of recognition or non-recognition by foreign countries. When the name of a country is changed, foreign ambassadors will lose their credentials, new ambassadors will be exchanged and recognition will be given anew. I surmise that the Soviet Union would not extend recognition. This is because she would not dare to recognize, since recognition might cause troubles for the soviet. How could there be a Chinese People’s Commune? It would be rather embarrassing to them, but the bourgeois nations might recognize it.

If everything were changed into commune, then what about the party? Where would we place the party? Among commune committee members are both party members and non-party members. Where would we place the party committee? There must be a party somehow! There must be a nucleus, no matter what we call it. Be it called the Communist party, or social democratic party, or Kuomintang, or I-kuan-tao, it must have a party. The commune must have a party, but can the commune replace the party?

I think we had better not change the name, and not call it commune. It would be better to observe the old method. We still should have the People’s Congress and elect people’s councils in the future. Any change in name is a change in form, and does not solve the problem of content. When we set up temporary power structures, do we not still call them revolutionary committees? The controlling organs in schools can become cultural revolutionary committees or cultural revolutionary leading teams. The Sixteen Articles[5] specify this.

The people of Shanghai like the people’s commune very much, and like that name very much. What should we do? Shouldn’t you go back and do some consultation? There are several methods that we can use: one of them is to make no change, and go on calling it the Shanghai People’s Commune. The advantage of this method is that it could safeguard the enthusiasm of Shanghai’s people, since they like this commune. The shortcomings of this is that yours would be the only one in the entire country, and so won’t you be rather isolated? For now don’t announce in Jen-min Jih-pao [People’s Daily] that everyone wants to call it People’s Commune. If the Central Committee should recognize People’s Commune and publish it in the Jen-min Jih-pao, then the name will be used throughout the country. Why should only Shanghai be allowed to call it so, and we cannot? This would make it rather difficult. Thus, there are both advantages and shortcomings in not changing the name. The second method is to change it throughout the country. This would necessitate a change in the political system and in the country’s name. Some people might not recognize it, and much trouble might ensue. Moreover, it wouldn’t have any meaning, and no practical significance. The third method is to go ahead and change it, thus conforming with the entire country. Of course, you could change it in the near future or later on, not necessarily right now. But if you people still say that you don’t wish to change, then you may just as well call it this name for some time. What do you think? Does it make sense?

There is another series of problems which you may not have considered. Many places have now applied to the Centre to establish people’s communes. A document has been issued by the Centre saying that no place apart from Shanghai may set up people’s communes. The Chairman is of the opinion that Shanghai ought to make a change and transform itself into a revolutionary committee or a city committee or a city people’s committee.

[Chairman Mao said:] ‘I’ve read Liu Shao-ch’i’s How to be a Good Communist[6] several times. It is anti-Marxist-Leninist. Our method of struggle should now be on a higher level. We shouldn’t keep on saying, “Smash their dogs’ heads, down with X X X.” I think that university students should make a deeper study of things and choose a few passages to write some critical articles about.’

From now on, we should not advocate the slogan of “down with the diehard elements who uphold the bourgeois reactionary line,” but rather “down with those in power taking the capitalist road.”

Generally speaking the work of Shanghai is excellent. When you went there last time, weren’t there only some 100-200 persons? By now it has reached more than one million. The workers have organized nearly one million people which illustrates that Shanghai’s worker masses have been more fully mobilized.

I have seen the “Urgent Directive” of the Central Committee Cultural Revolution Group on dealing with the question of the Shanghai Red Revolutionary Committee.[7] It was very well written, being imbued with the spirit of the rebels. Its last point says “necessary measures shall be taken. If that meeting is held to bombard Chang Ch’un-ch’iao we will certainly take the necessary steps and arrest people.”

(The Shanghai People’s) Commune has been too soft on the question of suppressing counter-revolutionaries. Someone complained to me that when people were apprehended by the bureau of public security, they would enter through the front door and be released through the back door.

There are a number of accounts still outstanding which must be settled later. First, the demand made to the Premier by the Municipal People’s Committee; second, the question of the Red Revolutionaries; third, the broadening of the revolution to oppose the military seizure of the radio stations; fourth, the opposition to military control at Lunghua Airfield.[8]

There is a quotation which is currently used a great deal: ‘The world is ours.’ This was said by the Chairman in 1920.[9] He can’t altogether remember it himself and it should not be used in future.

The Chairman asked: ‘Is T’ungchi University still at the stations and docks?’[10] Comrade Chang Ch’un-ch’iao replied: ‘They still are.’ The Chairman then asked: ‘Were they still there when you came?’ Chang Ch’un-ch’iao replied: ‘I’m not sure.’ The Chairman said: ‘That’s excellent. In the past the students had not really united with the workers. Only now have they really united with them.’

The people in literature and the arts should return to their own units to carry out the Cultural Revolution.

[The Chairman remarked:] ‘The Wen-hui-pao has done very well. I completely agree with their point of view on the struggle with neighbourhood cadres and I support them.’ Comrade Chang Ch’un-ch’iao said: ‘The Wen-hui-pao exerts a lot of pressure.’ The Chairman said: ‘We must support them.’



[1.] The source states that this article was based on the tape-recorded draft of Comrade Chang Ch’un-ch’iao’s speech at the Shanghai People’s Square on 24 February and on some pertinent handbills. Whether every word is Chairman Mao’s original word is difficult to ascertain, and so this is for reference only.

[2.] Chang Ch’un-ch’iao, a secretary of the Shanghai Party committee, had helped to arrange for the publication of Yao Wen-yuan’s attack on Wu Han in November 1965. Thereafter he rose rapidly, becoming a member of the Cultural Revolution Group in the summer of 1966, and a Politburo Member in 1969. He and Yao Wen-yüan were the two principal leaders of the ‘Shanghai Commune’ which had been formed on 5 February 1967.

While the general thrust of Mao’s remarks on this occasion is plain enough, the rather terse record of the main points of his conversations with Chang and Yao contained in the text translated here includes allusions to a great many details of the complex and rapidly changing situation in Shanghai in January and February 1967. The First, Second and Third Regiments (of Workers in the Northern Expedition) were organizations loyal to Keng Chin-chang, a leader later denounced as an ultra-leftist, who was contending with Chang Ch’un-ch’iao in early 1967 for control of the situation in Shanghai. Keng was said to have visited Peking in late December 1966; in early February 1967, he sent to Peking emissaries who were received by Chou En-lai and handed to him detailed accusations against Chang and his Workers’ Headquarters.

[3.] This was the formula put forward in January 1967 for the ‘seizure of power’ by ‘Revolutionary Committees’. Comrade Mao said: “The basic experience of revolutionary committees is this  —  they are threefold: they have representatives of revolutionary cadres, representatives of the armed forces, and representatives of the revolutionary masses. This forms a revolutionary “three-in-one” combination. The revolutionary committee should exercise unified leadership, eliminate redundant or overlapping administrative structures, follow the policy of better troops and simpler administration and organize a revolutionary leading group which keeps in contact with the masses.”

[4.] for Chou Ku-cheng see note 14 on p. 143 of this volume.

[5.] For Sixteen Articles see note 1 on p. 282 of this volume.

[6.] Liu Shao-ch’i’s work of 1939, which had been re-issued in revised form in 1962, was known under this title in English, prior to the Cultural Revolution. It was violently attacked in April 1967 as the quintessential expression of his revisionist and careerist thinking. Since that time, the title has been translated literally as On the Self Cultivation of Communists (Self-Cultivation for short).

[7.] This refers to the urgent telegram sent to Shanghai by the Cultural Revolution Group under the Central Committee on 29 January 1967, criticizing the Red Revolutionaries (see note below) for turning the spearhead of the struggle against Chang Ch’un-ch’iao and Yao Wen-yuan, rather than against the old Party leadership headed by former Mayor Ts’ao Ti-ch’iu, and threatening them with ‘all necessary action’ if they persisted in their errors.

[8.] The demand by the Municipal People’s Committee is presumably that criticized by Mao. ‘Red Revolutionaries’ is the abbreviation for the Revolutionary Committee of Red Guards from Shanghai Schools and Universities, one of the principal signatories of the ‘Urgent Notice’ denouncing ‘economism’ put out by thirty-two ‘Rebel’ organizations in Shanghai on 9 January 1967. This group, the strongest of all student organizations in the city, opposed Chang Ch’un-ch’iao until ordered to desist by the telegram of 29 January from the Centre mentioned in note 7. The establishment of PLN control over broadcasting stations had been called for in the Central Committee circulars of 11 and 23 January 1967. The second of these opened the door to possible conflict by stipulating: ‘When the proletarian revolutionaries are able to control the situation, military control should end.’ Military control of the civil aviation system was ordered by the State Council on 26 January 1967 (ibid., p. 208). This apparently encountered opposition at Lunghua Airfield in Shanghai

[9.] This is a quotation taken from Comrade Mao’s article “To The Glory of the Hans” written in 1919 [For the article see Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Vol. VI, pp. 10-11].

[10.] The ‘Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Red Guards’ “East is Red” General Headquarters of T’ungchi University’ were supporters of Chang Ch’un-ch’iao.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung