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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Talk At The First Plenum Of
The Ninth Central Committee Of
The Chinese Communist Party

April 28, 1969

[SOURCE: Mao Chu-hsi wen-hsun. The source states that this talk was edited from a tape recording not examined by the Chairman.]

What I am going to say is old stuff with which you are all familiar. There is nothing new. I am simply going to talk about unity. The purpose of uniting is to win still greater victories.

The Soviet revisionists now attack us. Some Tass broadcast or other, the Wang Ming material,[1] and the long screed in Kommunist all say we are no longer a party of the proletariat, and call us a ‘petit-bourgeois party’. They say we have imposed a monolithic order and have returned to the time of the bases, which means we have retrogressed. What is this thing they call becoming monolithic? They say it is a military-bureaucratic system. According to Japanese terminology it is a ‘system’. In Soviet vocabulary it is a ‘military-bureaucratic dictatorship’. When they see there are many military men in our lists of personnel they call us ‘military’. As for the ‘bureaucratic’ part, I suppose they mean the batch of ‘bureaucrats’ comprising me, En-lai, K’ang Sheng and Ch’en Po-ta. In a word those of you who are not military are all supposed to belong to a bureaucratic network, and we are collectively called a ‘military-bureaucratic dictatorship’. I say let them talk. They can say what they want. But their words have one characteristic: they avoid branding us as a bourgeois party, instead they label us a ‘party of the petit bourgeoisie’. We, on the other hand, say that they are a bourgeois dictatorship, and are restoring the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

If we are to speak of victory we must guarantee that under the leadership of the proletariat we unite the broad masses of the people to win victory. The socialist revolution must still be continued. There are still things in this revolution which have not been completed and must still be continued: for example struggle-criticism-transformation. After a few years maybe we shall have to carry out another revolution.

Several of our old comrades have been to the factories for a while to see for themselves. I hope that in future you people will also go down to have a look when the opportunity arises. You should study the problems of various factories. It seems essential that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution should still be carried out. Our foundation has not been consolidated. According to my own observation I would say that, not in all factories, nor in an overwhelming majority of factories, but in quite a large majority of cases the leadership is not in the hands of true Marxists, nor yet in the hands of the masses of the workers. In the past the leadership in the factories was not devoid of good men; there were good men. Among the Party committee secretaries, assistant secretaries and committee members there were good men. There were good men among the branch secretaries. But they followed the old line of Liu Shao-ch’i. They were all for material incentives, they put profits in command and did not promote proletarian politics. Instead they operated a system of bonuses, etc. There are now some factories which have liberated them and have included them in the leadership based on the Triple Alliance. Some factories still have not done so. But in the factories there are indeed bad people, for example in the Seventh of February works, which is the railway locomotive and carriage repair works at Ch’ang-hsin-tien. This is a big factory with 8,000 workers and several tens of thousands if you include their families. In the past the Kuomintang had nine district branches there, the San-min chu-i Youth League[2] had three organizations and eight so-called special duty organs. Of course, careful analysis is called for because in those days it wouldn’t do to refuse to join the Kuomintang! Some of them are old workers. Are you going to get rid of all the old workers? That won’t do! You should distinguish the serious cases from the ! trivial. Some were nominal Kuomintang party members. They had to join the party. It is only necessary to have a talk with them. There were others who had more responsibility, while there was a small minority who were up to their necks in it, and who have done bad things. You must distinguish between their differing circumstances. Among those who have done bad things there should also be distinctions. If they are frank then we should be more lenient. If they resist we should be severe. If they make a proper self-criticism we should let them go on working  —  of course we shall not give them work in the leadership. If you don’t let them work, what will they do at home? What will their sons and daughters do? Besides, most of the old workers are skilled, even if their skill is not of a high order.

I have brought up this instance to illustrate that the revolution has not been completed. Therefore will all the comrades of the Central Committee including alternate members please pay attention: you should undertake very detailed work. It must be done in a detailed manner, it won’t suffice to do it sketchily, that will often lead to mistakes. There are some places where too many people have been arrested. This is bad. Why arrest so many? They haven’t committed homicide, arson, or poisoning. I say that provided they haven’t committed any of these crimes, you shouldn’t arrest them. As for those who have committed the mistake of following the capitalist road, still less should they be arrested. Those in factories should be allowed to work, to participate in mass movements. The people who made mistakes have after all made them in the past. Either they joined the Kuomintang or did some bad things  —  or perhaps they made mistakes in the recent period such as the capitalist roaders. But they should be allowed to join with the masses. It would be bad not to let them join with the masses. Some have been shut up for two years, shut up in ‘cattle pens’. They no longer know what is going on in the world. When they come out and people talk to them, they are unable to make sensible replies. They are still speaking the language of two years ago. These people have been divorced from life for two years and they must be helped. Study classes must be organized and you must talk about history with them and tell them about the course of the Great Cultural Revolution during the past two years, and enable them gradually to awaken.

Let us unite for one purpose: to consolidate the proletarian dictatorship. You should see that this is carried out in every factory, village, office and school. At first you shouldn’t try to do this too comprehensively. You can do it, but you shouldn’t start doing it and then not bother about it. Don’t just do it for half a year or even longer, and then have nobody bother with it after that. You should summarize experiences factory by factory, school by school, organ by organ. Thus Comrade Lin Piao’s report says that we must do it factory by factory, school by school, commune by commune, Party branch by Party branch, unit by unit. The question of dealing with one Youth League branch after another and with the League as a whole has also been raised.

Another thing which we have talked about before is that we should be prepared for war. We should maintain our preparedness year after year. People may ask, ‘Suppose they don’t come?’ No matter whether they come or not, we should be prepared. Don’t expect the Centre to distribute materials even for the manufacture of hand-grenades. Hand-grenades can be made everywhere, in every province. Each province can even make rifles and light weapons. This concerns material preparation, but the most important thing is to be psychologically prepared. To be psychologically prepared means that we must be spiritually prepared to fight. Not only should we on the Central Committee have this psychological preparedness, but we should see to it that the great majority of the people have it too. Those I am talking about do not include the enemies of the dictatorship, such as those landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries and bad elements, because that lot would be happy to see the imperialists and revisionists attack us. If they attacked us these people suppose that this would turn the world upside down and they would come out on top. We should also be prepared on this score; in the process of the socialist revolution we should also carry through this revolution.

Others may come and attack us but we shall not fight outside our borders. We do not fight outside our borders. I say we will not be provoked. Even if you invite us to come out we will not come out, but if you should come and attack us we will deal with you. It depends on whether you attack on a small scale or a large scale. If it is on a small scale we will fight on the border. If it is on a large scale then I am in favour of yielding some ground. China is no small country. If there is nothing in it for them I don’t think they will come. We must make it clear to the whole world that we have both right and advantage on our side. If they invade our territory then I think it would be more to our advantage, and we would then have both right and advantage. They would be easy to fight since they would fall into the people’s encirclement. As for things like aeroplanes, tanks and armoured cars, everywhere experience proves that they can be dealt with.

Is it not true that in order to win victory we must have more people? People from all walks of life, no matter on which mountain-top or in which province they are, whether they are in the north or the south. Which is better, to unite more people or less people? It is always better to unite more people. Some people’s opinion differs from ours, but this is not a case of relationship between us and the enemy. I do not believe, to put it in concrete terms, that the relationship between Yang Te-chih and Wang Hsiao-yü[3] is of the latter kind. Is the relationship between you two one between us and the enemy, or is it a relationship among the people? In my opinion it is merely a quarrel among the people. The Centre is also rather bureaucratic; it did not pay much attention to you. Neither did you bring it to the Centre for discussion. Such a big province as Shantung has contradictions among the people. Don’t you think you should take this opportunity to talk it over? I think that in East China too there is this problem of contradictions among the people. This is also the case in Shansi. You support one faction, I support another, but what is the necessity for this incessant quarrelling? There are also problems in Yünnan, Kweichow and Szechuan. Every place has a certain number of problems, but things are much better than last year and the year before. You, comrade, aren’t you called Hsü Shih-yu[4]? The year before last when we were in Shanghai things were really terrible, in July, August and September. Now life is after all a bit better. I am talking about the overall situation. In that Nanking of yours there emerged a so-called ‘Red Headquarters’. Work was done and as a result they decided to cooperate, didn’t they? Didn’t the ‘August 27th’ and the ‘Red Headquarters’ in the end cooperate?

I believe that the main problem still concerns our work. Haven’t I said these two sentences before: the answer to the problem of the localities lies in the army; the answer to the problem of the army lies in political work? You are not implacable enemies in life and death, so why bother about it? And when it comes to personal gratitude or hatred, that is not of such great consequence. In a word there is nothing from either your previous or present lives to make you mortal enemies. You simply clashed, had some difference of opinion, somebody did something like criticizing you or opposing you. You counter-attacked and as a result a contradiction arose. Those opposed to you are not necessarily bad. One of the personalities whom Peking often wanted to overthrow was Hsieh Fu-chih. He later adopted the following method: to all the bodies which wanted to overthrow him he said that there was nothing wrong with them, and those who supported him were not necessarily good.

So what I say is still the same old words, which is nothing other than unite to win greater victories. In this there is concrete content. What are we going to do? And what sort of concrete victories? And how do we go about uniting people?

I have faith in some of the old comrades who have made mistakes in the past. Originally there was a long list of thirty-odd names. We thought that they should all be elected as members of the Politburo. Later someone prepared a shorter list of less than twenty. This time we thought it was too short. The majority are middle-of-the-roaders (laughter.) Those who oppose both the long list and the short list advocate a medium list of between twenty and thirty. So the only thing to do was to elect representatives. This is not to say that the candidate members of the Central Committee are not as good as full members or Politburo members in respect of their political level, working ability, moral and intellectual qualities; this isn’t the question at all. There is something unfair here. You may say that it is quite fair; I think it is not so fair, not so just. Everyone should be both prudent and cautious, no matter whether you are alternate members of the Central Committee, Central Committee members, Politburo members, you should all be prudent and cautious. Don’t be impulsive and forget what’s what. Since the time of Marx we have never talked about credit. You are communists, you are that part of the masses which is more conscious, you are that part of the proletariat which is more conscious. So I agree with this slogan, ‘First do not fear hardship, second do not fear death’; but not the slogan, ‘Even if we get no credit, we are rewarded by hard work; if we get no credit for hard work, we have the reward of being exhausted’ (laughter). This slogan is the direct opposite of ‘First do not fear hardship, second do not fear death.’ You can see how many of us have died. All the old comrades who remain are fortunate to be alive and have survived by chance. Comrade P’i Ting-chün,[5] at that period in Hupei-Hunan-Anhwei, how many people were with you? Afterwards how many were lef! t? At that time there were many people, now not so many remain. At that time after the Kiangsi Soviet, the Chingkangshan Soviet, North-East Kiangsi, West Hunan and Hupei, North Shensi had gone through the fighting there were very great losses, and not many of the old comrades remained. This is what is meant by ‘First not fearing hardship, second not fearing death.’ For years we did not have any such thing as salaries. We had no eight-tier wage system. We had only a fixed amount of food, three mace of oil and five of salt. If we got 1½ catties of millet, that was great. As for vegetables, how could we get vegetables everywhere the army went? Now we have entered the cities. This is a good thing. If we hadn’t entered the cities Chiang Kai-shek would be occupying them. But it is also a bad thing because it caused our Party to deteriorate. So there are some foreigners and journalists who say our Party is being rebuilt. We raise this slogan too, but we call it rectification and Party-building. In fact the Party needs to be rebuilt. Every branch needs to be rectified among the masses. They must go through the masses; not just a few Party members but the masses outside the Party must participate in meetings and in criticism. Individuals who are no good should be persuaded to get out of the Party, to withdraw. A very small minority may have to be disciplined. Isn’t this laid down in the Party Constitution? It also has to be passed by the Party branch congress and approved by the superior level. In a word we must use prudence. This must be done, it certainly had to be done, but it must be done prudently.

This National Congress seems to have been a very good one. In my opinion it has been a congress of unity and of victory. We use the method of issuing communiques. The foreigners can no longer fish for our news (laughter.) They say we hold secret meetings. In fact we are both open and secret. I think that the reporters in Peking are not much good. Perhaps we have cleared out most of the traitors and spies who had wormed their way among us. In the past whenever we held a meeting it was immediately leaked out and the Red Guard posters immediately published it. Since Wang [Li], Kuan [Feng], Ch’i [Pen-yü] Yang [Ch’eng-wu], Yü [Li-chin] and Chuan [Ts’ung-pi] fell they no longer have any more news about the meetings of the Central Committee.

That’s more or less that. The meeting is adjourned (long enthusiastic applause.)



[1.] This refers to Wang Ming’s article, ‘China: Cultural Revolution or Counter-Revolutionary Coup’, originally published in the Canadian Tribune on 19 March 1969, and subsequently reprinted in pamphlet form in Moscow by the Novosti Press Agency Publishing House. It enumerates ‘ten major crimes committed by Mao Tse-tung in China’, and ‘five major crimes committed by Mao Tse-tung in international affairs’.

[2.] The ‘San-min chu-I’ or ‘Three People’s Principles’ Youth League was the youth organization of the Kuomintang.

[3.] Wang Hsiso-yü, a PLA political commissar, was Chairman of the Shantung Revolutionary Committee from its establishment on 3 February 1967 until October 1969. Yang Te-chih (1910- ), who replaced him at that time, had been First Vice-Chairman throughout this period. Wang, at the time of his dismissal, was denounced as a member of the ‘May 16th’ ultra-leftist group.

[4.] Hsü Shih-yu (1906- ) was at this time Commander of the Nanking Military Region and Vice-Minister of National Defence. Comrade Mao is alluding to the military rebellion in Wuhan in the summer of 1967.

[5.] P’i Ting-chün (1914- ) became a member of the Central Committee at the Ninth Congress. At that time, he was Deputy Commander of the PLA in Fukien. He was transferred to Langchou in 1970 as Commander of the PLA there; he returned to Fukien in the reshuffle of January 1974.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung