Shibdas Ghosh

Cultural Revolution of China

Source: Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) (used with kind permission)
Date: October 27, 1967
First published : January 1968
HTML Markup: Salil Sen with Mike B. for MIA, July 2007
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

Alarmed at its revolutionary significance, the capitalist-imperialists of different countries unleashed a spate of slander campaign against the Cultural Revolution in China, and this created much confusion among people in general and communist circles in particular. This exhaustive analysis provides the Marxist-Leninist approach to evaluating the significance of this great event, termed here as magnificent.


I shall place before you my reactions about the Cultural Revolution of China. The Central Committee of our party has not yet met to discuss and make an evaluation of it. Naturally, whatever I would place here should be considered only as my personal observation and, till it is accepted by the Central Committee, it will  remain as the basis for further discussion — and nothing more. Because, it is quite likely that some changes may have to be incorporated here and there. The Central Committee may decide and I myself may think it necessary to make certain additions and alterations later on.1 However, from all the materials we have at our disposal and the knowledge that we could have about the Cultural Revolution of China — I place my reactions about it as also my viewpoint regarding what should be the angularity and outlook of our comrades while approaching this issue and also how they should take it.  

Confusion about Cultural Revolution

We find that wild speculations are going on in the bourgeois press all over the world about the Cultural Revolution of China and they are dishing out motivated and deliberately distorted news on it. But what is most agonizing is that confusions prevail about this Cultural Revolution even among the communists of different countries, who are imbued with the noble ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Instead of purging through inner-party struggle those who are engaged, according to the leadership of the Communist Party of China, in anti-party activities, the CPC has adopted the method of involving openly the whole people in such a gigantic polemical struggle which some communist parties, including the CPSU, consider to be alien to the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism.

Not only that;   the revisionist leadership of the CPSU and some of their supporters have even tried to insinuate that this Proletarian Cultural Revolution is a movement engineered by Mao Zedong with the sole design of establishing his absolute leadership and autocratic control over the party, destroying the CPC itself. Moreover, both the Soviet revisionist and the bourgeois press are carrying on malicious propaganda about the ‘excesses’, etc., committed by the Red Guards. As a result, a lot of confusion over these questions has cropped up among many of the communist workers. Besides, many communists are getting misled by the bourgeois propaganda that the present difference between Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi is nothing but a power conflict and that what is being practised in China in the name of Mao is sheer cult of the individual. Whatever be the propaganda in the bourgeois press, communist workers will have to bear in mind that it is impossible to grasp the real significance of the Cultural Revolution of China with such a superficial and oversimplified approach. I hold that this Cultural Revolution has a sound scientific basis, judged by the yardstick of Marxism-Leninism, and the way the CPC is conducting this Cultural Revolution is really magnificent and full of great significance. Communists all over the world who have really dedicated themselves to the revolutionary movement, have a great deal to learn from it. There are some defects, shortcomings or even weaknesses in it — and it is not at all unnatural for these to crop up in such a gigantic affair — but these are not what the bourgeois and the revisionist press circles are trying to make out. We shall have to judge these considering the entire background of the Cultural Revolution. 

Cultural Revolution — a culmination of cultural movement

The present Cultural Revolution is the culmination of those very movements which the Communist Party of China had to conduct after the revolution embracing all spheres of cultural life of the society. The CPC had to conduct such movements in the ideological-cultural field even before the revolution — for revolutionary parties in all countries this is an indispensable task before the revolution. No revolutionary party can accomplish revolution by ignoring this most urgent task. At the Tenth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the CPC, Comrade Mao Zedong said: “To overthrow political power it is always necessary, first of all, to create public opinion to do work in the ideological sphere”. By this he had precisely underlined the indispensable necessity of cultural revolution. This holds good for the revolutionary parties as well as for the counter-revolutionaries. Those who aspire to overthrow the opponents from state power through mass upsurge would have to work in the ideological-cultural spheres to organize the masses on the basis of ideology, politics and culture of their own class.

And this struggle in the cultural sphere is to be conducted not only before revolution for its accomplishment but has got to be continued even after the revolution in order to protect, consolidate and advance the same. Because, “The fundamental question of every revolution is not only to capture power, but to consolidate it.” This consolidation does not mean political and economic consolidation only but of culture as well. When Marx said, “Cultural revolution will continue”, he meant precisely this. In China, too, this cultural revolution continued uninterruptedly even after the revolution — at a pace at times slow, at times intense.

Even after the victory of revolution, series of writings on character-building of the cadres, on style of propaganda and infiltration of the bourgeois and all sorts of counter-revolutionary ideas and culture among the party members and the people, have been published in China. Are not all these part of Cultural Revolution? The present Cultural Revolution in China indicates a particular stage in its development, manifesting itself in this way at this particular juncture. Cultural revolution does not always take this form. In its course, cultural revolution at times takes such turns centring round certain events and developments. But it should be borne in mind that cultural revolution is a continuous process. By analysing the facts of the Cultural Revolution of China and from the available information about it, I feel that the present intense phase of the Cultural Revolution would soon come to an end and a relatively stable phase would follow. The present intense wave of the Cultural Revolution would not be there. But what would that mean? It would mean that certain changes would have been brought about through this present phase of Cultural Revolution. I think that when this present phase would be over, the CPC would convene a party Congress where there would be many changes, including changes in the leadership. This is what they are going to do. But the instruments of the cultural revolution would be remaining even then and would continue to operate. The cultural movement would continue, only the present form would not be there. 

Why they started it now

Now, before we examine the questions which have cropped  up centring round this Cultural Revolution, we shall have to understand one thing first. That is, why at this particular phase of international and national situation, China has dragged the whole nation into the vortex of this Cultural Revolution? It may seem as if they have invited, quite consciously, such a great risk, not an ordinary risk but one of far-reaching consequences, which may bring in its wake serious crises. And at what time have they undertaken this? To tell the truth, they are doing this at a time when in the face of continuous threat of attack and aggression by the US warmongers they stand virtually alone. And the possibility cannot be ruled out altogether that if such an eventuality does really arise, she will get no help from the socialist camp. Moreover, the problem of her own economic growth and promotion of production is quite pressing today. In such a critical international and national situation, the Chinese leaders could easily have taken to the old traditional way, as many people suggest, that is, they could have settled the question inside the party bodies first through inner-party struggle and then convinced the masses on that very line of the party. But instead of doing that they have involved all sections of the people, even the army, in a struggle by which they have created an environment open for criticism and counter-criticism, which they knew, would inevitably cause lots of troubles and difficulties. This they did knowing it well that it might create serious convulsions in the country. Before coming to the point whether the process adopted is right or wrong, I would like to place before you, as I feel and understand, the reasons which compelled them to take such a grave risk in such a situation. 

To fight reactionary ideologies

First of all, China has accomplished anti-imperialist, anti-feudal people’s democratic revolution. The people’s democratic revolution had to be accomplished by fulfilling those very tasks in the ideological, political and cultural spheres which were indispensable for preparing the mass mind and making the people free, ideologically and culturally, from the vile influence of feudal and bourgeois culture without which it was impossible to seize power, make revolution successful and consolidate its gains. But this, however, could not free the people, or even the party members, from all the vices of bourgeois culture and forces of habit, nor totally remove from their mental make-up all the ingredients of culture, ethics and morality which they inherited and carried along as hangover from the old feudal society. Moreover, the class which had been overthrown from power, did not, as a class, lose all its power of resistance, particularly in the socio-cultural life, as soon as it was overthrown. As a result, the cultural ingredients of the old society remained — in whatever subtle form it might be — in all spheres of the social, economic, cultural and political life in the new condition of the society. And after the attainment of stability in the relative sense, following the seizure of power, the old culture was gaining ground with passage of time due to the low level of ideological-political consciousness of the party workers and even some of the leading members. Moreover, the transition to socialism in the Chinese society is taking place relatively peacefully, despite the turmoil you feel from outside; the internal condition is, no doubt, relatively peaceful and with the party controlling the state power, a tendency of individualism and various shades of opportunism are growing among the party members and the people. And centring round all these, different types of bourgeois, petty bourgeois and even feudal ideas and norms of behaviour are infiltrating the party life. And all these are happening and working inside the party in the name of socialism  and under cover of revolutionary verbiage and Marxist-Leninist scholasticism. That the Chinese leadership should have worries over all this is quite likely and there is no earthly reason, other than bias, to doubt their sincerity. This is quite natural and can happen in any party. Of course, there may be some exaggeration or underestimation in stating facts, but there is nothing unnatural about it. Only those who are absolutely ignorant of the most complicated process of ‘unity-struggle-unity’ and the magnitude of the complexities of revolution can talk the nonsense that since revolution has been accomplished such things can never happen and the party as well as the cadres are bound to be automatically free from the vile influence of the bourgeois ideology and culture. Nowhere in the world can revolution ensure all this at a stroke. Even after the capture of power, these trends and tendencies are bound to persist for some time in all countries inside the party as in different spheres of social life. China is no exception to this. 

To elevate cultural standard

Secondly, the Russian experience has clearly shown that if along with the tremendous growth and development of the economy, military science and technology of a socialist country, the ideological-cultural-ethical standard of the society as a whole — starting from the philosophical understanding and cultural-ethical standard of the collective to the minutest detail of the individual behaviour, habit and practices — cannot be elevated to keep pace with the need for all-round development of socialist economy, then the gap that will be created is bound to lead to a lowering of standard in the ideological sphere. And if the level of consciousness and the cultural standard remain low, then it may give birth to revisionism-reformism at any moment, in a critical hour, under favourable conditions and may lead to counter-revolutionary upsurge, peaceful or violent, and thus endanger socialism by bringing about counter-revolutionary changes in the socio-political setup. If backwardness continues to persist in the fields of epistemology and culture, then the entire party and the working class may, being misled, tread the revisionist-reformist path and bring about restoration of capitalism while waving the banner of Marxism-Leninism and chanting socialist slogans. 

To practise proletarian culture

Thirdly, the present leadership of China has been highly perturbed over another point. In the post-War period, an excellent  revolutionary situation developed internationally, when the whole world was in ferment with revolutionary movements — tides of revolutionary upsurge were sweeping across and imperialism was pushed, so to say, back to the wall. But today the whole current has been reversed — there has been a great setback in the world communist movement, the imperialists are taking the most aggressive steps and forces of counter-revolution and subversion are on the offensive everywhere. And for all this, the main responsibility should squarely lie with Soviet revisionism, the revisionist outlook and practices of the present Soviet leadership. Immeasurable damage to the world revolution has been wrought by such a party which has the tradition and heritage of the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, a party which for the first time in the world made socialist revolution victorious, founded a socialist state, consolidated and developed socialist economy on a firm basis, and after accomplishing all these tasks, was considering and contemplating under the leadership of Comrade Stalin how quickly and in what way it could, after achieving the final victory of socialism, step on to the ‘first stage of communism’. There are references to all this in the Report to the 19th Congress of the CPSU which was held just before Stalin’s death. How could such change be possible in the party of Lenin and Stalin — how could the revisionists all of a sudden usurp the leadership of the party and the state without any effective resistance from within? Certainly all this could not happen overnight. The Chinese leadership has been greatly perturbed over the gravity of such a situation.

 Naturally, they have been seriously thinking that if they are to safeguard the Chinese Revolution, if they are to ensure its uninterrupted growth and advancement, if they are to achieve victories of socialism, one after another, both in the national and international spheres, they would have to, while holding aloft the banner of proletarian internationalism, carry on the struggle for continuously uplifting the standard of proletarian politics and culture without which they cannot fulfil their obligation to revolution. This most urgent and indispensable task of cultural revolution was neglected in the Soviet Union. Even a giant communist leader like Stalin committed some mistakes in this particular field for his somewhat complacent attitude. Stalin once said : “The more the socialist system and the socialist economy will be strengthened and consolidated, the more sharpened will be the class struggles.” But at the Eighteenth Congress Stalin himself had analysed the Soviet society in a way from which it might appear that there was no more class division in the Soviet society — it was a classless society. He observed : “The Soviet citizens are a new type of citizens — they are socialist citizens. The Soviet society is free from internal class contradiction, that is, the antagonistic character of the internal class contradiction is no more there”. Surely it was wrong to put it this way. Because, antagonistic character of class contradiction still prevailed in the Soviet society, otherwise what was the state for? To answer this question Stalin only referred to the external contradiction, that is, the existence of imperialism and its influence over the Soviet society. But, in my opinion, it should be borne in mind that here, too, the external contradiction can influence the internal contradiction of society only when a material condition favourable for such an influence to work is already existing within the society. 

Naturally, when after the socialist revolution it was necessary to further intensify class struggle, when the practice of proletarian culture ought to have been further heightened, when it was indispensable to keep uninterrupted this practice and the process of struggle in order to uplift the standard of proletarian  revolutionary character against the infiltration of the influence of bourgeois ideology and culture into the party and the social life, when it was necessary to hold aloft the banner of cultural revolution in order to raise the cultural and political standard of the people to conform to the needs of each and every change of the character of the socialist productive system, the fact that this struggle got slackened due to the self-complacent attitude of the Soviet leadership after attainment of some stability in the social system following revolution, actually led to this inevitable fall of political and cultural standard and provided the breeding ground for revisionism. Whether the CPC explained all these points so elaborately and lucidly in support of their programme of the Cultural Revolution, is not the point. But from whatever they have said or indicated, I understand it like this. Not that they have said it in this manner, but observing what had happened in the Soviet state, this apprehension worked in them. 

To cement unity of party and people

Fourthly, China apprehends that she may have to face a war any day although the forces of peace throughout the world and their power of resistance have gained such strength today that it is very difficult for the US imperialists to unleash a world war. It is true that the imperialists may not be able to wage a world war — their war efforts will have to remain limited to local and partial wars only, and they will continue to blackmail the weaker nations posing before them the threat of a nuclear war — but so long as imperialism exists as a world force, the danger and possibility of war will also be there. Naturally, no revolutionary party can afford to underestimate or rule out this danger. Taking advantage of the internal conflict, disunity and lapses in the socialist camp, imperialist attack on China may come any day, particularly when the out-and-out revisionist leadership of the CPSU is persistently carrying on a malicious propaganda against China and frantically striving to curb her growing influence on the anti-imperialist struggles of different countries as well as the newly independent resurgent nationalist countries of Asia and Africa. In such an eventuality, if the party and the people of China continue to suffer from the ideological shortcomings and defects which I have mentioned earlier, then they would not be able to stand as ‘one man’ and face the attack. Moreover, it is difficult to visualize the situation that would follow in the event of an imperialist attack on China. In such a situation, China might be encircled from all sides and the whole world might go against her. What dangerous turn of events awaits China is anybody’s guess when even many of the newly independent resurgent nationalist countries are virtually reduced to agents of imperialism. From the trend of events taking place one after another in the newly independent resurgent nationalist countries, this apprehension gets further confirmed. India, who was a friend of China a few years back, is no longer so. Burma, who was China’s friend even the other day, has now turned towards the USA. Indonesia is thoroughly changed. She is now in the grip of the reactionaries, the agents of the imperialists. As there are bright prospects of the ultimate victory of revolutionary movement in some countries of South-East Asia, it does not mean that they are free from these dangers. Under the circumstances, when the policy of containment of China is an open and naked declaration of the US imperialists and when the US warmongers may any moment mount a pre-emptive attack on China at the slightest opportunity, the possibility of which is very much there, everyone of the Chinese society, if necessary, would have to fight till the last drop of blood under the leadership of the party to thwart the imperialist attack and save revolution. In that case, the firm political and ideological unity between the party and the people would provide the lifeblood for this war. And herein lies the invincible strength of revolutionary China. On this firm understanding, she challenges : ‘No power on earth can destroy China. Whoever comes to destroy her, will ultimately be destroyed’. This strength of theirs, which makes possible such a bold declaration, lies precisely in the firm political and ideological unity of the people and the party. So the remnants of reactionary ideas that still persist in the Chinese society and are growing anew and infiltrating it in new forms – if all these cannot be completely eradicated as fast as possible, then the evils which are almost imperceptible at present and apparently quite insignificant, causing only, if at all, some disturbances in the economic, administrative and organizational fields might, at a critical hour, rear their ugly heads through internal sabotage and bring in its wake a civil war and create a great hurdle to uniting the whole nation as ‘one man’ by organizing a counter-revolution. So this is also another important aspect that warrants this Cultural Revolution right at this moment. 

To build permanent cultural organizations

Fifthly, in order to keep the Chinese Revolution and Chinese society free from the pernicious influence of different varieties of revisionism, it is necessary to build up a permanent organization for conducting uninterrupted cultural movement within the country. It is necessary to build up a united movement of the party and the people to guard against infiltration of vile bourgeois ideology and culture from which the party workers at different levels, the people and different activities in the society are not free. Besides, it should be remembered that even after all these years of revolution, in Russia as well as in China, the number of people adapted to Marxist-Leninist way of thinking are very few in comparison to the vast population. Those who have some idea about Marxism-Leninism have just a superficial impact of this ideology on them. Again, the party workers who work and think in accordance with the Marxist-Leninist methodology and outlook have been found to suffer from bourgeois ideological confusions and are influenced by modern revisionism. Moreover, the Chinese leaders do also find that with the relatively growing economic stability and advancement of the society as well as with the increasing material well-being, individualism of a new variety is growing in the mental make-up of the individuals in the society. This new trend of individualism manifested itself in a socialist society. Whether they have been able to correctly ascertain its real character or not is an altogether different question. But there is no denying the fact that they have been able to understand at least this much that such a trend of individualism is completely alien to class consciousness, class emotion and dedication of the proletariat. So to fight it out is a must. 

To fight casual attitude

Sixthly, those who are the living soul and forces of the Chinese Revolution today, i.e., the communist cadres and others who are engaged in different spheres of activities — military, cultural, and different branches of production, are guided by the Central Committee and Mao Zedong, the  concretized expression of their collective leadership. Most of the old and experienced members of the Central Committee, including Mao Zedong are already above seventy. They cannot shut their eyes to the stark reality, which is causing a great anxiety, too, in them, that this most experienced batch of the leaders, all growing old, would pass away at close intervals of time. Because, so long as Mao Zedong and all these old, experienced and powerful leaders are there, the party may not face any acute crisis or serious danger. But the apprehension of a grave danger cropping up within the party in their absence should not be ruled out. We should remember that people very often work relying on their belief, reposing their faith and confidence in a leader. Just take the example of Russia — what happened there did surely not take place overnight. As the ideological and cultural standard of the party and the people could not be continuously uplifted to keep pace with the growing progress of socialist economy, the ideological-cultural standard remained low and inadequate, thus gradually providing, in the main, the breeding ground for revisionism within the society. But you see, the harmful effect of such a low level of consciousness of the party and the people of the Soviet Union could not make its presence felt because of the impact of the powerful personality, ideological guidance, iron discipline and firm handling of a man like Stalin. As a result, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union could remain essentially the ‘proletarian vanguard’ despite some mistakes and blunders here and there so long as Stalin was living. But today, only in absence of a great personality, how easily the whole party and the people have fallen victim to all sorts of rotten thinking and ideas. Naturally,  if proper precaution is not taken in time, such eventualities may very well arise. The Chinese leadership did not fail to take lessons from all this. What is agitating their minds is that if the ideological-cultural standard along with the political consciousness of the new members, who are joining in growing numbers after revolution and many of whom are already occupying responsible posts and positions in the party and the state, are not adequately uplifted and if a new wave of proletarian cultural movement is not created among the people, then, in absence of Mao Zedong and the present leadership, revisionism may grow in the CPC and society in the very same way it grew in the Soviet Union.

Beside all this, China is confronted today with serious and complex problems. As her various problems require immediate solution, so also she has to face the problem created by the activities of the external forces, and she has the problem to educate the whole nation to stand as ‘one man’ against the containment of China policy of the imperialists. Besides, in carrying out systematically the task of socialist reconstruction, China, let alone being helped by Russia, rather has to fight against various obstacles and economic blockades created by the Soviet revisionists. Hence, if she has to make speedy development of her economy by consolidating and strengthening it on a strong foundation then she would have to build up a firm unity between the party and the people on the basis of correct political line and ideology and develop a sense of revolutionary dedication among the people. Otherwise, because of the relative stability that appears in the society in the post-revolutionary period, a kind of  casual attitude might develop among the workers and different sections of the people, in which case the speedy development of the Chinese economy would not be possible.  

To attain economic and military power

Seventhly, China is trying to prepare herself to be the citadel of international proletarian revolution. Naturally, as her standing up as ‘one man’ on a stronger military, political, economic, social and cultural footing and her continuous gaining in strength is a guarantee in favour of peace and against the threat of nuclear war, it is urgently necessary as well for extending active help and co-operation to the revolutionary movements all over the world. Naturally, such a gigantic Cultural Revolution has not been prompted simply by her internal and economic necessities guided by national point of view. It is something more. Even in the interest of fulfilling her international obligation to effectively help the anti-imperialist liberation struggles, it is necessary for her to strengthen the economic foundation and acquire military power very speedily. And in these fields of activities, she should come nearer to the position of the Soviet Union as fast as possible. Because, even if it sounds somewhat queer, the fact however remains that because of the revisionist role of the Soviet leadership, her supremacy in the economic and military field is posing a great danger today. If China can speedily cover the economic and military gap that exists between her and the Soviet Union, then it would be easier for her to overcome the present crisis in the international communist movement and she would be able to unite all the countries, more particularly the anti-imperialist forces and the leading countries of the socialist camp, in the anti-imperialist movement throughout the world. Because, China is not in a position on account of her relative economic backwardness, to offer economic aid to the non-aligned countries  and effectively draw them in the anti-imperialist struggle under her leadership, which is in a way obstructed by all sorts of economic help from the Soviet Union. Since those underdeveloped countries are to a very great extent dependent on Soviet economic aid, the influence of the revisionist Soviet leadership still persists. If China can very rapidly acquire almost equal economic and military strength and position then only she can influence those countries which still have got a genuine anti-imperialist role to play and thus can straightaway draw them to the side of anti-imperialist struggle by freeing them from the influence of revisionist leadership of the Soviet Union. 

To practise proletarian politics in the military

Eighthly, in a section of the top officials of the Chinese army, a dangerous trend of putting undue emphasis on speedy modernization of military and arms and ammunition to be on a par with the leading imperialist countries, was growing strongly. As a result, they almost made secondary the urgent necessity of continuous uplift of the political-cultural standard of the army through continuous practice of proletarian politics. This, too, has made the Chinese leaders very much anxious. Faced with persistent war threat from the imperialist countries the leaders of the Chinese Cultural Revolution are neither ignoring nor belittling a whit the importance of speedy modernization of arms and ammunition and the army;   on the contrary, their serious efforts in this field and the spectacular advancement they made within such a short time have startled the world powers. But whatever may be the advancement in the field of modernization of arms, if the army of a socialist country is not imbued with the spirit of proletarian culture and revolution, then in culture and character it remains in  no way different from the imperialist mercenary army. Because, only the urge for proletarian revolution and the practice of proletarian politics and culture can help the army of a socialist country acquire decisive and invincible strength which no bourgeois mercenary army equipped with all the modern arms even can face or contain. Naturally, if the tendency of putting greater emphasis on modernization of arms in place of practising the revolutionary politics and proletarian culture gains upper hand, then the sense of dedication for revolution in the Chinese army might be lost in course of time, the symptoms of which are already there. So, to free the army from this dangerous trend and psychology by involving them, along with the people, in the movement, is also another vital object of the present Cultural Revolution. 

To elevate ideological standard of intellectuals

Ninthly, the scientists, the intellectuals and the technocrats who have served the progress of the society and made valuable contributions in different ways to the cause of social progress have also not been excluded from the purview of the Cultural Revolution. For, because of their special position and also because of the influence they have on all sections of the people through their activities, they become heroes to the people very easily. The influence of the scientists and other intellectuals is really tremendous on the society. Hence their cultural and world outlook also need to be changed. Their thoughts, ideas and cultural standard must also conform to the needs of socialist revolution — its progress and development. In the Chinese society those persons in power in the party and the state, who are discharging great responsibilities in the economic and administrative fields, are also not reflecting the necessary and adequate cultural standard. These incongruities and inadequacies have, therefore, to be wiped off and removed through struggle. All these factors taken together, necessitated the present Cultural Revolution in China. This  Cultural Revolution is the struggle to wipe out, both individually and collectively, all sorts of reactionary ideas from within the party and the society, administration, style of work, educational system and even from the fields of science and epistemology.

Communists to learn from Cultural Revolution

Now, it was the old and traditional method to initiate struggle first inside the party, to arrive at certain decisions in the  party bodies and then to educate and imbue the people in accordance with those. But I should say that in this Cultural Revolution Mao Zedong has shown a magnificent and brilliant political-organizational courage. Communists all over the world have got a great deal to learn from it. Ideological struggle took place in Russia also. But there it remained confined within the party. Such a method of struggle, however, cannot remove the doubts and apprehension from the mass mind and touch it; hence the people cannot rally round the party as ‘one man’ on the basis of a clear and correct understanding. Even if they do so sometimes, they do it either under the overall impact of the leadership, or under duress or from a wrong notion, or not out of conscious but blind emotion for the party.

But if any doubt or apprehension prevails among the people regarding what is happening inside the party, then at the time of crisis, the reactionaries and the anti-party forces may create division among the people using it as a weapon and thereby endanger the party and the revolution. Naturally, nothing can save the revolution at a critical hour other than the firm unity of the party and the people in the ideological-political field, at least up to a certain level. So, to make the people active in favour of the basic principles of the party, to inspire them to work unitedly under the leadership of the party, it is necessary to raise the level of consciousness of the people to that required standard. And to do this the people would have to be involved continuously in the process of cultural movement and be given the opportunity to take active part in debates and discussions. No doubt, a great risk is involved in it. Only a very powerful communist party, a party which is in state power, which controls the army and the legal system, handles the state machine and has got a network of organizations as well in every field of activity of the people, can afford to take such a great risk. Only such a powerful party can shoulder the risk of such a gigantic programme, and the Communist Party of China has undertaken it. Despite the risk involved, they were not afraid of facing it. The entire people have been given the right to openly criticize even the leaders and the executives of the party and the state. The party which can grant the people such a right and can take such a risk is not an ordinary party. They are doing this knowing full well that this may pose serious problems. The people who have been given the right for open discussion and criticism and have thus been roused may even, crossing the limit, go against the very leadership that gave them this right.

For that, all precautionary measures have been taken. Moreover, the leadership is quite aware of the fact that there may be some excesses when the entire people have been brought into the vortex of such a gigantic Cultural Revolution. It would not be wise in any way either to stem the tide or discourage the people on the main object of the Cultural Revolution lest there might be excesses. The CPC Central Committee has pointedly declared that where excesses will lead to criminal offences, those responsible will be punished according to law. Law will take its own course against those who will commit criminal offences like arson, looting, killing and the like. But the main programme of the Cultural Revolution cannot be stopped or kept in abeyance on the plea of all this. 

Leadership, too, to face criticism

This movement, once started, may not spare the leaders even, not excluding those who are on the right track, from irresponsible criticisms of the people, for which they may feel embarrassed. But for this, they should neither feel embarrassed nor be distracted from the main objective. It is for this that the leaders have been urged again and again not to fight shy of criticism in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. It is quite likely that the people may criticize rightly or even wrongly. By this, only those will be perturbed or afraid who are not really imbued with the proletarian outlook and culture. Revolutionaries are never afraid of criticism. They have nothing to hide from the people. It is only about the party and revolution that they may have something to keep secret. They cannot have anything personal which they feel necessary to keep secret from the people. There may be certain things which the party may decide to keep secret. But in the present case, it is the decision of the party to encourage open criticism by all. So, there is nothing here to take personally and no tangible reason to be afraid of. It is known that it is Mao Zedong at whose inspiration this Cultural Revolution  was initiated. The whole programme is the outcome of Mao Zedong’s contemplation. But at a certain stage a hue and cry was raised even against Mao Zedong. Some people — maybe they belonged to the opposite camp — raised the slogan that Mao came of a rich peasant family, and  hence was a bourgeois himself. But all this could not embarrass or perturb Mao Zedong a bit. Rather, he himself consented to the continuation of this type of criticism. Because, he knew it for certain that such questions, if suppressed, would remain unresolved. But if these came out in the open, that would expose the wrong putting of the question, that is, why such a question is wrong, and thus it would provide  a chance for its rectification. So, when the question is resolved, it  provides a better understanding and clarity of thought. But if such things are suppressed or attempted to be impressed upon the people in general or in vague terms, then although the people may acquiesce in because of the overall impact of the situation, they would do it not with a clear mind, some doubts would still persist. This way of coming to an agreement indicates that blindness and mechanical thinking continue to persist. So, the revolutionary workers along with the active workers of the Cultural Revolution should remain with the masses actively participating in the Proletarian Cultural Revolution and help them correct their mistakes, and in this process the people would also help in correcting the mistakes of the party workers, if there be any. This way, the party would conduct the movement by making the people active and would thus be able to keep it within its control as well. It was not at all conceived at the outset that the army would have to be involved. But at the Eleventh Plenary session it was decided that, if necessary, even the army would have to take part in this Cultural Revolution. Because, there are differences of opinion even within the army. Moreover, if the movement takes a violent turn then it has got to be brought under control. So, this movement has to be conducted in the most disciplined way; if necessary, it has got to be restrained even, but under no circumstances can this feature of mass participation be allowed to die. In essence, this is the main spirit of the Cultural Revolution.

Involving wider sections of people

Now the question  is : why did the Communist Party of China take recourse to this path of involving actively the whole people in the Cultural Revolution? Because, by this, right from the leaders to the party workers as well as the people, all would get an opportunity to correct their mistakes and shortcomings. The present Chinese leadership is contemplating to give a permanent shape to the existing organizations of the Cultural Revolution. Naturally, this struggle will continue. The specific problems against which the present Cultural Revolution is being conducted will no longer be there in future and so the contents of the future movement will also change with the emergence of newer problems before it. But the process China has adopted to build the instruments of struggle by involving the masses actively in the movement will not be discouraged. This approach is no doubt new.

We hold that in any movement in which people are actively involved, chances of committing mistakes would be less. If people do not take active part in movements, then mistakes or not, unnecessary doubts and apprehensions would remain in the mass mind.

The disciplinary action taken by the party leadership against any individual may create, because of their own way of thinking, unnecessary apprehensions and the like in the mass mind even if the action is justified. On the contrary, what happens when the people take active part in it? Well, people may apprehend a conspiracy here, too; but in this case there is scope for open discussion and debate. People may come out to assert or denounce openly that there had been a conspiracy — a debate would continue, many documents would be placed by the opponents as well as others, and thus clarity would emerge through this conflict of ideas and reasonings.

For this the party has advised not to brand as enemies all those who are vociferous against this Cultural Revolution. The party has equally warned against the danger that even the real enemies may go undetected, taking advantage of the notion: everybody opposing is not necessarily an enemy. So, there should be a line of difference between the attitude towards the real enemy and that against those who are common men but are behaving like enemies under the influence of the bourgeois ideology or are being confused by the reactionary forces. This is necessary in order to distinguish and isolate the enemies from the common people. So, as a result of these conflicts and contradictions, when unity would ultimately be reached, free from the influence of all sorts of reactionary ideology, it would be, even if relatively, a stronger unity of the majority based on a clearer understanding — a unity of the party and the people, of the leaders and the led. This struggle is the only guarantee for the victory of revolution in the present situation.

Now some may think that the party will have to face many difficulties if the whole of the masses are involved in it. What are those difficulties? Well, widespread chaos and disturbances. But even if it causes chaos and disturbances, it is a necessity if China has to solve her internal and external problems, if she has to remove all apprehensions from the mass mind and if she has to build up a firm unity of the party with the people on the basis of a higher political consciousness, culture and ethics. Otherwise, despite all propaganda and publicity, the necessary initiative of the people would be lacking. In that case, people would not get the chance to plunge into struggle, to learn from this struggle and thereby grasp the truth. Maybe, they would listen to and abide by, but they would do so blindly. And given a chance for debates and discussions, people would come out openly and frankly to give vent to their feelings — they would not conceal the doubts and apprehensions in their minds. So we see that through this Cultural Revolution they are striving to bring about a unity, in their own language, of the ninetyfive per cent of the people with the party — a unity based on ideology. They are striving to achieve this unity dragging all points of differences and diversities into the vortex of struggle. Naturally, as a methodology, it is more scientific. And the only question that  may arise is whether it is at all possible to lead this Cultural Revolution to its logical culmination. Or, whether it will end up in a catastrophe? The CPC has courageously taken it up. The way they have undertaken this risk to accomplish such a gigantic task is, I would repeat, simply magnificent. Communists all over the world have a great deal to learn from it. 

Ordinary mistakes are not fundamental deviation

Questions have been raised centring round some mistakes and shortcomings of the Cultural Revolution of China. For example, there is a mechanical trend in their approach, carrying with it the danger of subjectivism. If the leadership is not sufficiently careful in time about it, there is every possibility of slipping into subjectivism later on. I shall deal afterwards with what this mechanical approach means. Many people think that since there is a mechanical trend in the approach of the Communist Party of China, it has already deviated from Marxism-Leninism. No, surely not. There is always a gap, a nodal point, between what might take place in future and what has already happened. For example, committing mistakes does not necessarily mean that there has been a fundamental deviation. So, it is wrong to conclude that each and every deviation of a party makes it counter-revolutionary at once. In course of continuously suffering from deviations or committing continuous mistakes, it may reach a particular point, the nodal point, when it turns counter-revolutionary. The present mechanical approach that you find is the outcome of the low level of consciousness in general and the wide difference that exists in the level of consciousness between the top leadership and the rank and file, and between the party and the common people in particular. So, if the CPC fails to get rid of this mechanical approach from which it suffers at present, then subjectivism, gaining ground, may one day cause a serious disaster. But if you suggest that they have already deviated fundamentally then you will have to substantiate it with facts. I do not hold that their thought process is wrong. But I say that correct process notwithstanding, they are reflecting a somewhat low level of consciousness. There is nothing unnatural about it. But in view of this low level of ideological standard, if it is generalized and presumed that this lowering of ideological standard is a common feature in all fields of activity, then it would be a gross mistake.

Although this low level of ideological standard is sometimes leading them to some theoretical inconsistencies, still then it cannot be denied that in place of the old and traditional method of closed-door discussion for criticism and self-criticism, the method they have adopted to remove from the mass mind the various confusions, unfounded apprehensions and unnecessary suspicions, that is, the process of involving the people directly in this gigantic movement for making them collectively a politically conscious entity, is definitely a bold and new step and in that sense it is really magnificent and unique.

Referring to the ideological controversy in the international communist movement and the method of struggle that should be adopted to resolve the same, we held as far back as 1963 in the article An Appeal to the Leaders of the International Communist Movement that this struggle concerning ideological questions of fundamental nature should involve not only the leaders but also the rank and file, the class and the masses. We are glad that in the Cultural Revolution of China, this principle finds its first concrete application in the history of the international communist movement. Frankly speaking, we did not expect that even the CPC would so promptly apply this principle in practice on such a massive scale. It is true that there are inadequacies in the ideological standard in some aspects of this Cultural Revolution — about which I shall discuss later on — but there are, at the same time, many bright and brilliant aspects of it from which the communists all over the world have a lot to learn. There are many unique and creative things in it. There are both shortcomings and magnificent aspects of this Cultural Revolution. It is impermissible that without seeing the brighter sides of it we should only look at the inadequacies and denounce the whole thing as subjective. 

Criticism to be just and proper

But I find that those who are criticizing the Cultural Revolution are doing it with an attitude of self-projection born of inflated ego. Every communist has not only the right but also the bounden duty to express his opinion on the Cultural Revolution. Because, it directly concerns the all-important question regarding the future of world communist movement. Naturally, if there is any mistake or limitation in it or any inadequacy in their approach, one should point that out. Similarly, if somebody can provide a better solution to any problem or can help them with an enriched theory, he should advance it. But if a particular party is able to do so, it is not correct to think that it becomes superior to the CPC in all respects or that the CPC is simply worthless. It is true that they are great in many respects and maybe we are insignificant compared to them. But still then we can claim in all humility that we may be capable of advancing some theories which are definitely rich and which may be useful even to them. As it is wrong to accept blindly whatever comes from the CPC because they are great, so it is equally wrong to reject or underestimate even those magnificent and brilliant contributions of theirs because we could provide some useful new theories not viewed by them. In that case like the bourgeois intellectuals we would one day succumb to self-complacency. We would then, in the name of Marxism, reduce ourselves to the position of those hypocrite bourgeois intellectuals against whom the CPC is waging a serious battle. This is why, for us, criticism should always be just and proper.

Revolutionary intellectualism vis-a-vis bourgeois scholasticism

Incidentally, I want to discuss one more point, though apparently unrelated. You should always remember that there is a fundamental difference between bourgeois scholasticism and revolutionary intellectualism. The difference between revolutionary intellectualism and bourgeois scholasticism lies precisely in the fact that revolutionary intellectualism is purposive, creative and beneficial to the cause of social progress and revolution. This is why it is free from vanity or ego. A revolutionary intellectual is never vainglorious, nor does he fear or fight shy of asserting his worth when necessary. He is never vociferous to establish his superiority to others. As revolutionary intellectualism is creative, it not only acts but is decisive too. Its aim is not to belittle but to help others. But bourgeois scholasticism is devoid of these objectives. So, as I was saying, while criticizing the CPC, the revolutionaries should give them the proper respect they deserve. What a tremendous risk they have undertaken! Even a little modesty suffices to make one understand that it was not just an infantile act on the part of the CPC. In fact, the programme of Cultural Revolution has a sound theoretical basis and is backed by rich experience.

Historical role of individual as leader

Now, different circles, not excluding the communists, have raised certain points of criticism and expressed some reservations about the Cultural Revolution of China. First, many are of the opinion that what is going on in China in the name of Mao Zedong is nothing but the cult of personality. That is, during this Cultural Revolution and in the whole of the social life of China, the way in which Mao Zedong is being eulogized as a leader provides evidence, they say, of the cult of personality. Say, for example, when Mao Zedong attends a meeting, the party workers maintain some formalities to express their regard; thunderous slogans eulogizing him continue for a long time; the critics attribute these acts to the practice of the cult of personality. From all these formalities it may appear to be the cult of personality. But you would have to keep in mind one more important point in this connection. If you are to inspire and involve the masses of people in social movements, then so long as the active members of the party as well as the people do not acquire the highest standard of communist consciousness — not the highest standard of the past but as it should be at present — these would remain as the general form of paying respect. These are mechanical no doubt, but nevertheless necessary. Today, revolution cannot be brought about anywhere avoiding these formalities. Revolution will be free from this limitation only when the level of consciousness of every individual member of society will be raised to the level of social consciousness, when individual consciousness will become identified with social consciousness, when the party and the individual entity will become one and the same, that is, when society as a whole and the party will have become identified and the prevailing gap between the highest and the lowest levels of consciousness will be eliminated. Only then the historical role of individual as leader to inspire and imbue people to discharge their social responsibilities will cease to exist. But not before that. Although this method carries the legacy of the old bourgeois mechanical process, still then there is a difference between the two. You should understand it. Where lies the difference? The difference lies precisely in the fact that in the communist movement constant attempt is there to maintain a necessary minimum level of consciousness of people. That is, a minimum level of theoretical understanding is considered indispensable here. First of all, no individual, not even the leader, is considered infallible; and secondly, any phenomenon, any entity, even thoughts and ideas, are not taken as absolute, rather they are considered changeable — they change along with the change of the material condition. These two are the bases on which the minimum level of consciousness of people should rest.

Blind allegiance to a leader gives birth to authoritarianism

Again, as this method of projecting an individual as a leader to inspire the party workers and people is indispensable, so also there is a danger inherent in it if it is not based on a correct understanding. A genuine revolutionary party feels it necessary, no doubt, but knows the inherent danger as well. If this is not conducted correctly, it brings mechanization within the party and gives birth to authoritarianism. What is more, lowering of ideological standard persists due to mechanization, which in turn makes one incapable of comprehending the contemporary problems. As a result, those very people whose emancipation is the object of revolution and for which they are being inspired, fall prey to another preconception. They cannot be freed from it. For example, there is no denying the fact that in Russia the gigantic socialist construction was made projecting Stalin before the masses — no doubt this made many spectacular economic achievements possible. The personality of Stalin and his leadership imbued the whole of the Russian people greatly. But again, following this very course, came the backwardness in the ideological standard. The mechanization that is inherent in this method of imbuing the people by projecting a leader before them could not be fought out ultimately because the low level of ideological-cultural standard among the communists and the masses continued to persist. That is why, Stalin’s Russia today is treading the revisionist path. Both these aspects are equally valid. The leading role of an individual was there in Russia and it is there in China too. It was there in China before the revolution, it is there today also and it will be there in the future, too, and will act as a decisive force so long as there will be the necessity of inspiring the people to work under the leadership of the party on the basis of unity of will. No revolution can be viewed without this. So, in all revolutions, this method is inseparably linked up with the question of involving the masses in action. The revolutionary party which does not practise this method, which has not been able to concretize and personify the collective leadership of the party through an individual, has not been able to project the leader in the high esteem and imagination of the masses, but places all the leaders on a par, does not really mean revolution at all. No doubt, there exists a collective leadership but, over and above it, should emerge a leader as a symbolic expression of the unity of struggle. The objective necessity of organizing and leading revolution to victory in any country always calls for the emergence of such a leader of the leaders. Otherwise, during the course of revolutionary struggle, the unity of the leadership and the party cannot be preserved and the question of facing any national crisis unitedly by the whole people becomes endangered because, in its absence, no sense of authority works and ultra-democratic trend and tendency grow. As a result, instead of conducting the revolutionary battles, the entire party runs the risk of being reduced to a debating society at the cost of all its activities. Therefore, no revolutionary party considers the task of projecting the leader a useless task, but while doing it they always remain vigilant and alert.  

Nature of conflict between Mao and Liu

Secondly, various sorts of speculations are going on centring round the question of the conflict over leadership between Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi. The communist cadres must have a clear understanding about this too. Leaving aside the propaganda in the bourgeois press, even the leadership of the CPC is admitting that some persons in power like Liu Shaoqi have been gradually stepping towards capitalism, even if unknowingly, by opposing the proletarian revolutionary politics of the party. Moreover, a careful examination of the contentions of these two contending groups reveals that a trend of bureaucratic way of functioning, just like that of the bourgeois political leaders, was developing as a regular practice among many of the leaders holding top posts both in the party and the state. Since the successful conclusion of the Chinese Revolution, Mao Zedong has been raising the slogan time and again : ‘Let hundred flowers blossom and hundred schools of thought contend’. But although he stressed it repeatedly, it was not put into practice in the party life. When he said, let hundreds of people think and contemplate, he knew that this would encourage open conflict and contradiction between different thoughts and opinions, but he, at the same time, asserted that there was nothing to be afraid of. Such conflicts and contradictions were not only unavoidable but necessary and beneficial as well. He reiterated this during the present Cultural Revolution, too. The present leadership of China maintains that if this process of struggle continues, then not only the leaders and the rank and file of the party but even the entire people would unite into a single organic whole in different spheres of activities on the basis of a common understanding up to a certain level. Otherwise, it would be an unprincipled unity for some opportunistic consideration or unity under compulsion which cannot last long.

But unity achieved through this process of open conflicts and contradictions between different thoughts and ideas would be a stable unity. But in spite of all this education, the leaders fell victim to bureaucratic style of work again and again and reflected a typical apolitical attitude in their day-to-day behaviour and activities. In the manner of typical bureaucratic officers, these leaders follow the routine of attending office in office hours,  clearing files, issuing orders, notices and circulars, attending meetings to deliver lectures — and that is all. But the revolutionary cadres are always told : ‘Behave like political workers, impress upon the comrades the party instructions clearly — guide them concretely, if necessary with illustrations, on how to put the party decisions into practice’. But even after all these, it has been observed that here there is practically no reflection of it in the actual behaviour and conduct of the leaders. The political behaviour of the leaders does not reflect that minimum standard. Do not we have more or less the same experience in our party? I have time and again criticized our leaders and cadres for being victim of bureaucratic style of work and what I meant by the term ‘bureaucratic’ was precisely this style of activity. Among the Chinese leaders, this trend of bureaucratic functioning was also growing in their day-to-day activities. Those communists who move like the official bureaucrats, if they do not reveal their identity as Marxist-Leninists, if their party cards are anyway found missing from their pockets, then it is difficult to distinguish them from the bourgeois bureaucrats attending duties regularly, except when they open their mouths in characteristic verbiage. But the question is : why were these non-revolutionary trends and tendencies growing in China in the working style of the party? Why was the revolutionary outlook not being reflected in the relationship between the leaders and the cadres and why was a mechanical and stereotyped attitude growing within the party life? What is the root cause behind all these? The reason is: the struggle within the country is no more an open confrontation and direct class struggle. Nobody is going to overthrow them from power, no more is the police forcibly taking them to prison. In short, the old form of class struggle is no more there today. The class struggle has assumed a new form, and has become more and more subtle. But so far as the concept of struggle is concerned, the old idea still prevails in them. The reactionary ideas and thinking of the old society have not been thoroughly wiped out from the minds of the leaders, cadres and the people, on the one hand; rather the bourgeois ideas, in the new condition, are infiltrating in newer forms and in subtler ways while, on the other, with the growing economic and political stability of the socialist system, the sense of individual liberty is gradually tending to assume the character of a sense of privilege. As a result, conducting class struggle has become all the more difficult today. The revolution, accomplishment of which once seemed very difficult, has assumed a still more difficult character in the present context. Mao Zedong himself admitted this fact in his speeches and writings and said : It is much more difficult than the revolution Beijing has done previously. Because, the struggle had then been direct and straight and the enemy was in the open and known. They were then directly involved in the struggle. But here, the enemy infiltrates stealthily, the party falls victim to it unconsciously — today the struggle is against all this. It is a struggle against the tendencies that grow from within. Where the enemy is known, it does not pose so much danger since it is then easier to detect and conduct struggle against the enemy directly. But where the enemy is within and enters stealthily, the struggle becomes much more difficult. In the CPC, too, bureaucratic style of functioning was growing and the sense of individual freedom was tending to develop into a sense of privilege. That these tendencies had grown very strong within the CPSU is amply clear today. The organizers of the present Cultural Revolution of China hold that different types of counter-revolutionary trends and tendencies are growing within their party too and they charge that even some of the top ranking leaders are not free from the pernicious influence of all these. So, all-round criticisms are going on in that country. Extensive debates are going on as to what should be the behaviour, conduct and the mode of life of the communists. There is an urge for change in all walks of life. As a result, this Cultural Revolution would provide to those who committed mistakes but are honest, who support socialism and are willing to move along the path of revolution, a chance to rectify themselves. And if the struggle is conducted in this way to generate a sense of partisanship, then those who would try to hide their true colours and pose themselves as innocent victims and hence not the real enemy of the people, would one day expose themselves. In this way it would be clear whether they are pretenders and are enemies, or have committed mistakes from genuine confusions. This process, being correct and scientific, will help to eliminate anti-party and counter-revolutionary forces better. This is why the Chinese leadership did not adopt, from the very beginning, the policy of forcibly ousting the anti-party and counter-revolutionary forces by using the state machine. Mainly for two reasons they prefer to isolate these forces by involving the people in a countrywide battle and evolving thus a uniform opinion among them. First, this is necessary because this very method of involving the people in the struggle would minimize the possibility of committing mistakes and, even if mistakes are committed by some from genuine confusion, it would give them a chance for their rectification as well. And secondly, when on the basis of either unanimous or majority decision, unity would be achieved through wider participation of the people in a struggle in which conflicts and interaction of diverse thinking and ideas take place — it would be a far more stable unity than before and hence there would be no apprehension among the people despite any disciplinary actions ultimately taken against anti-party leaders and cadres.

And this is why, when there is no doubt about the fact — a point which the bourgeois world is admitting — that Mao Zedong and his followers have been able to establish their supremacy and control over the entire party, we find Liu Shaoqi still at the helm of the state and enjoying all his power and position as the head of the government.2

If it was really a power conflict between Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi as the speculation goes in the bourgeois press, then Liu Shaoqi could have been very easily removed from power through coercion. But they have not done so. And why? First, this is not a power-conflict and obviously there is no doubt today that the conflict going on between Mao and Liu is one of political line and outlook. Secondly, the CPC is not thinking in terms of removing anybody by coercion. This leaves the ground for Liu Shaoqi to change his political line through persuasion by ideological struggle and join the mainstream. And if it so happens, then we shall find Liu Shaoqi’s name in the first rank once more. 

Cultural Revolution helps augment production

At one stage, difference of opinion between Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai cropped up centring round certain aspects of the Cultural Revolution and it seemed that at the initial stage Zhou Enlai was opposed to extension of Cultural Revolution to the industrial field. And at that time a debate was conducted in the ideological field against this idea also. And in course of that ideological struggle, those who were opposed to carrying the Cultural Revolution to the industrial sector lest it might hamper production were ultimately proved to be wrong. Because, in order to augment production, there is the necessity for Cultural Revolution. Cultural Revolution does not hamper production. Rather, Cultural Revolution aims at completely removing the bourgeois fads from among the working class, freeing production totally from the influence of economism and casual attitude and saving those who hold high administrative posts in industries and factories from the pernicious effects of all this confused thinking. So, the programme of Cultural Revolution should by no means be opposed. Zhou Enlai realized this afterwards and corrected himself — of course if it is not surmised, as some are doing, that he was made to change his views under duress. Again, many are speculating that even though Zhou Enlai is acting as the next man to Mao Zedong during the course of the Cultural Revolution, but after Mao, he will take a different road like Khrushchev. Because, in their opinion, this change of Zhou Enlai is just a shrewd manoeuvre, a deception. Even if this happens in future, I do not consider it proper to indulge in such thinking. Because, to adopt such a method in analysing events means to sink into bourgeois speculation instead of following dialectical method of analysis. And if this method of thinking persists, there will remain the danger of sinking into speculations, one after another. Naturally, I consider it dangerous to think like this because it is subjective and hypothetical and is absolutely divorced from reality. This can never be the correct process of analysing things. Everything must be judged by the yardstick of objective reality. Zhou Enlai has a glorious revolutionary record and at present he is patronizing the Cultural Revolution. Once the name of Zhou Enlai went down in the list of the bourgeois speculators. But again, they have brought his name up in the list. His name is again among the two next to Mao — one is Lin Biao, the other Zhou Enlai. Bourgeois speculators are doing much exercise on the question of names of the leaders coming to the forefront, or going down to the bottom. But it is interesting that China is least concerned about all this. Naturally, it would not at all be surprising if Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi reach complete unanimity — about the possibility of which I have mentioned earlier. However much mechanical approach might have adversely affected the struggle, it cannot be denied that the conflict was real and genuine. That is why they do not want to give up the struggle. But neither from the government nor from the party are they allowing criticism against Liu Shaoqi by name, and even in the midst of the waves of Cultural Revolution, he has been provided with all protection and security. So, from all these, what I feel is that the root cause of the present conflict between Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi lies in some genuine confusion of Liu over the outlook and method of implementation of the political line of the party. 

Achieving unity — when possible?

Now, this confusion may be of two types. Maybe, Liu Shaoqi does not differ on the fundamental political line and outlook of the party but he considers the way it is being implemented under the leadership of Mao Zedong to be wrong. And secondly, it may be that on the international questions, too, Liu Shaoqi has no basic difference on questions over which the CPC is fighting against the Soviet revisionism but he differs with Mao on just the style and approach. Perhaps that is why he is being named Khrushchev, modern Khrushchev — he is being accused of having a leaning towards revisionism. At least, from the articles and editorials appearing in the party journals guided by the  thoughts of Mao Zedong and the way the party leadership is approaching the whole issue, it appears to me that in all probability here lies the real confusion. So, a struggle is going on. If the nature of conflict with Liu Shaoqi is this, there is nothing to be afraid of. He is forwarding his arguments on this, so also the party is coming out with counter-arguments under Mao’s leadership. If mechanical approach does not stand in the way and blur the main object and issues involved in the struggle then, no doubt, through this struggle there will be clarity, and unity will be achieved.  

Material incentive in socialist economy

But if the confusion is of a different nature, then it becomes very serious. That is, if the difference is on the base political line and outlook of the party as well as on the main political line and approach pursued by the party in the ideological struggle going on in the international communist movement, then it is something different and of fundamental nature. Moreover, it seems that there is a basic difference on another question as well. That is, on the question of a new type of economism and the policy of ‘material incentive’ under conditions of socialism. In the period of socialist economic reconstruction, there is a danger that a tendency of a new type of economism, of hankering for material incentive and benefit may grow among the common workers. In other words, to the general workers, socialism comes to mean nothing else than greater benefit and amenities. As a result, behind the urge of a worker to produce more actually works his sense of privilege and material benefit as, otherwise, the talk of socialism or higher production has no meaning to him. In socialism, the workers will automatically get its benefit more and more with the growth of production and there will be continuous uplift of the standard of living of the working people. But to relate the question of enhancement of production to personal benefit is to reflect a mentality which is absolutely incompatible with the basic aim and object of socialism. Such a mentality breeds a typical individualistic and opportunistic trend among the workers. So, the outlook and attitude of workers should be moulded in such a way that they sincerely feel the necessity to dedicate themselves to increasing production in the very interest of advancement of their own country as well as of the world proletarian revolution. Because, no doubt, the unhampered development and progress of the country is inseparably linked with the growth and advancement of the international proletarian revolution, and on the question of attainment of  these  two  depends  the  spiritual  and material progress of an individual. If this be the mode of thinking and the bent of mind of the working class, then only, while they take part in socialist construction, a sense of complete dedication would grow and prevail among them and then only the workers would be able to fight out casual and apathetic attitude towards work and responsibility. It means that when the sense of dedication is absent, it breeds a kind of casual or callous attitude towards work, a casual attitude which brings in its trail an urge for individual privilege and a tendency to get more, even though unreasonable. The workers being the sole determinant in a socialist society, unless they are imbued with the revolutionary consciousness, there is every possibility that the bourgeois sense of individual right would again rear its ugly head. It would again take deeper roots in society under cover of new slogans and ultimately the sense of freedom and individual liberty would be reduced to a sense of privilege.

Due to a superficial knowledge of socialism and also due to the influence of modern revisionism, a group of socialists think that the main object of socialism is to anyhow increase production. These so-called Marxists, in utter disregard of the inherent internal contradiction and the fundamental economic laws of socialist system, even advocate introduction of policy of ‘material incentive’ to gear up production. As a result, rate of production may be boosted temporarily but in no time it may put at stake the socialist economy and endanger the socialist system by generating in all branches of production a speculative trend and by bringing about anarchy in production. As the aim of socialism is to ultimately create abundance in production, these so-called Marxists vulgarize it by saying that the working class wants to increase production for individual benefit, both material and cultural. Naturally, according to them, socialism will have no meaning to the working class if it cannot provide them with more material benefits in comparison to the advanced capitalist countries. Under cover of this queer explanation of socialism, the old sense of bourgeois individual freedom and right makes its debut in a socialist society. It does not and can never bring proletarian revolutionary dedication among the working class. 

Pernicious impact of economism

This economism that grows among the workers after revolution is different from the economism that prevailed among them before revolution. Distracting the working class from proletarian revolutionary politics, economism offers, before revolution, a scope to the bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties to create cleavage among the working class separating the rest from the fighting section,  and thereby creates confusion among the people about the nobility of the revolutionary ideology. Neither does  it help the revolutionary consciousness to grow among the workers, nor does it help the revolutionary politics come to the forefront. The economism, in the period after revolution, obstructs the workers from being conscious of their responsibility as cadres of international proletarian revolution, hinders their sense of obligation to the society and dampens the urge for complete dedication and sacrifice which is essential for the individual’s freedom, growth and development. If there is no serious blunder or shortcoming on the part of the leadership, socialist economy is still sure to advance because of the very inherent objective law of the socialist system. But it will not generate, in that case, the cultural and political inspiration among the workers that is so vitally necessary to carry forward the advancement unhindered to its logical goal. As a result, this economism in a socialist system is a great obstacle in the way of identification of individual interest with social interest. This economism-individualism in a socialist system, which I have already termed ‘socialist individualism’, helps strengthen such attitude among the workers. One of the main objects of the Cultural Revolution of China is to fight against this tendency as well. Because, in order to further consolidate their economy they will have to step forward from the peasants’ commune to the workers’ commune.

And for that, this new type of individualism,  a new type of opportunism, based on the individual worker families in the industrial field, will put a great obstacle to the formation of the workers’ commune. So, in this phase of economic development of the Chinese society, this too, is a very important point.

Growth of individualism in socialist system hinders ideological struggle

Zhou Enlai’s initial hesitant attitude to the question of extending the Cultural Revolution to the industrial sector is a clear indication that the influence of economism worked to some extent in him, even if indirectly. Be that as it may, Zhou Enlai was ultimately convinced that in the interest of ensuring uninterrupted advancement of production, extension of Cultural Revolution in the industrial field was an indispensable necessity. Herein lies the advantage of criticizing the defects of a person without mentioning his name. But so far as Liu Shaoqi is concerned it is clear that no such ideological unity with him has yet been achieved. It may so happen that all attempts for unity may ultimately fail. Now, if in this struggle the political line of Mao Zedong becomes ultimately victorious, it will mean fall of Liu Shaoqi. But if unity is achieved in the long run then Liu Shaoqi’s name will again come to the forefront, putting an end to all the speculations in the bourgeois press. Then what would those people say, who are now painting this struggle as a power conflict between Mao and Liu and are making wild speculations on it? They cannot find anything other than a power conflict in such a great historic struggle. In this struggle the conduct of both sides may suffer from mechanical approach, and in fact it does.  So far as I feel, due to the low level of consciousness of the general members of the party and the people, the standard which is required for conducting ideological struggle, free from all sorts of influences of individualism, is not there at present. There is no denying the fact that the seed of individualism is there at the bottom of the struggle. As a result, both Mao and Liu may be influenced by this to some extent. Trends and tendencies of individualism and cult of personality create unnecessary complications in ideological struggles and the results of the struggle depend, to a very great extent, on the intensity of these trends and tendencies of individualism. If the phenomenon of individualism is intense and acute, then not only does the relatively early and easy attainment of unity become delayed, it may even create a complete rupture in the much cherished unity. If the influence of individualism and egocentricism goes beyond limit, then nothing is impossible. But one thing is sure that it is not a power conflict. It is a struggle between two opposite lines, two methodological approaches.

Perhaps the fact of Mao Zedong’s emergence as a great hero before the whole nation might have even hurt and stirred up the personal ego of some individuals. This is not at all unlikely. Those who once accepted Mao as their leader, after themselves coming into leadership and falling victim to individualism, they might have started thinking, in what way are they inferior to Mao? Under cover of their fight against the ‘cult of personality’ what they actually want is their own popularity. If the mechanical attitude to leadership persisting among the general members of the party and the people is even unwittingly indulged in, then Mao Zedong himself may one day fall victim to the cult of personality. But here these are not the main points at issue. Remember, these factors can only help complicate matters — what could have been solved very easily may tend to defy solution. As a result, these may rupture relations between many. For example, many workers at different levels have already left the party or been relieved of their responsibilities — a fate which Liu Shaoqi or some other groups may be awaiting. There may be a big purge in the party. Again, it may so happen that by persuading the majority and through a very negligible purge, the party would be able to solve such a great problem very easily and most successfully. If that happens — the probability being high — there is nothing to be astonished at. The probability lies in the very method adopted — that is the method of involving the whole people in the vortex of the Cultural Revolution. 

Some faulty expressions

Thirdly, some defects and shortcomings have been noticed in the approach in articles recently published in some Chinese papers and you have some questions regarding these too. It is true, there are defects in many of their writings. But here you will have to take another point into consideration. That is, all those who write these articles are not of the same political standard and calibre. It is but quite natural. Because, we should not forget that every work is done as per some specific assignment in the party. So, what happens then? One who is assigned the job of writing an article does it, no doubt, on the basis of the party line and thinking and he prepares it the way he has understood the party line. Now, it is quite possible that somebody else may detect a serious error of expression later on. But by that time the article has already been published. In such a case, the outsiders may take all that is there in the article as party thought. Does not such a thing happen? In our party, too, such things do happen sometimes. It happens when the comrades who write for party journals do not possess the minimum required standard. But here, too, we must remember another point — even those who possess this minimum required standard, do not have equally powerful pens. One writes very precisely and lucidly while another may be very clumsy and stiff in his writing. Although it may appear to be a little out of place here, still, for further clarification I like to give you one example. A few years back, as you know, a polemic on some fundamental ideological questions was going on between Yugoslavia and China. I supported the line, the opinion and arguments of the CPC placed against the ideological line of Tito’s party. But I have very carefully observed that though it was thoroughly against the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, still, how beautifully and precisely the Communist League of Yugoslavia had placed its viewpoints in answering the CPC!

In my opinion, Kardelj is really the father of modern revisionism — Khrushchev is nothing but his shadow. This perverted theoretician has vulgarized and maligned Marxism-Leninism. But there is no denying the fact that he is highly equipped theoretically. That is why his art of placing his viewpoints was more powerful than that of the Chinese writers. Because, Kardelj himself wrote from Yugoslavian side while from the Chinese side most probably someone from the editorial board wrote all these. All the members of the editorial board are not as highly theoretically equipped as Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin or Mao. This is naturally not possible. The question is not that simple. But, of course, there is a minimum standard of the Chinese writers and we should quite modestly accept the fact that their minimum standard is higher than that we are having at present. But it would be futile to expect that there would be no mistakes in such critical articles. There may be defects in their mode of presentation and the approach may not always be precise and scientific. I like to place one more point in this connection. There is the problem of falling victim to certain temptations. As, for example, the tendency of bantering, using unnecessary invectives and harsh words and even odd characterization often try to creep into writings. These tendencies very often create a particular mood in the writers which they enjoy and relish. So, the fact remains that the writers very often fall victim to such temptations. Not always can they keep themselves free from it. Naturally, these writings very often lack the psychological treatment necessary to be effective on the followers of the opponents against whom the fight is directed — keeping in view their mentality and stage of development, the overall objective of world revolution and the problems confronting international communist movement. As a result, it causes much harm and in fact some harm has already been done. Only he can write such articles who has got a thorough control over his emotional factors and who knows when and where emphasis has to be given, when and where emotion is to be restrained and how to control emotions and pattern arguments in order to become meaningful and purposive. The members of the editorial board must all be of such a high standard or else all will be lost — it is wrong to harbour such an illusion. This, of course, is another aspect of the problem. 

Theoretical inconsistencies and inadequacies

Some aspects of theoretical weaknesses and inadequacies in the Cultural Revolution of China have come to our notice. I have some submissions — observations and criticisms — fraternal criticisms to make.

In my opinion, a cause for apprehension would still be there if these inadequacies and weaknesses in the realm of theory as also the influence of mechanization in the process of thinking and organizational practice of the party are not removed in the near future. It is known to all the communists that constant and continuous cult and practice of revisionism-reformism in a socialist country may lead one day to the restoration of capitalism. An expression that such a change can take place even through the process of evolution is found in the writings and literature of the CPC. The CPC holds that regression to capitalism from socialism in Soviet Russia is possible through evolutionary process. Such an expression, in my opinion, is wrong. One thing is sure that coming back to capitalism from socialism is also a kind of qualitative change of society. That cannot take place only through the process of evolution. When restoration of capitalism actually takes place, it must be kept in mind that the change involves both the processes, the evolutionary change as also the revolutionary, i.e., abrupt change, indicating that there is a nodal point, a break, which signifies nothing but a qualitative change. But because the term ‘revolution’ is always associated with the concept of social progress and advancement and, particularly in social science, the term ‘revolution’ always connotes progress, the term ‘revolutionary change’ should not be used in this particular context of change from socialism to capitalism. To the extent it is a qualitative change it is definitely an abrupt change in the opposite direction, that is a counter-revolutionary change. There is definitely a nodal point that marks this abrupt change. In case of such changes in society, the nodal point is not always so much vivid. But because it is not so vivid, it cannot be construed from this that such changes involving qualitative transformation of one form of society into another can take place only through the process of evolution. Therefore, in the ultimate analysis, it is always a revolutionary change, an abrupt change, coming as the culmination of evolutionary changes. Now, in this particular context, since the term ‘revolutionary change’ is not at all appropriate, as it always connotes progress and advancement of society, they could have easily called it a “counter-revolutionary change following the process of evolution”. Then there would have been no scope for confusion over the term ‘evolution’. This clearly manifests lack of clarity in their understanding. Had not this kind of expression found place in the documents prepared by the highest leadership of the party, I could have taken it as a lapse due to lack of necessary caution on the part of writers. Another kind of confusion might have contributed to such a faulty expression. Since revolutionary change of society for progress and advancement takes place through conflict and open confrontation between the two opposite classes, it does not necessarily mean that in case of counter-revolutionary change, this equally holds good. It may so happen that the revisionists after usurping the leadership of the party may corrupt the revolutionary essence of Marxism, communist outlook, code of conduct, behaviour and practice — slowly, surreptitiously, through subtle devices and polluting by degrees — and thereby degrade the society to such an extent that Marxism-Leninism will remain only in vocabulary, slogans and speeches — its soul having been corroded completely, leading in reality to substitution of capitalism for socialism. The entire working class may fail to detect and resist this danger in time due to their very low ideological, cultural and political standard. This cannot happen overnight. With the long and continuous practice of revisionism-reforminism, this is not altogether impossible. But since this change has taken place, if it takes place at all, not through conflict and open confrontation, it will be definitely wrong to say that this is  a sequel to evolutionary change only.

So, in this transformation of society from socialism to capitalism, there exist both the processes — evolutionary and revolutionary, here counter-revolutionary, indicating both continuity and break. 

Mechanical concept of leadership

The emergence of Mao Zedong as the great leader of Chinese Revolution is no doubt a historic event. History has witnessed the emergence of great leaders to organize revolution in each and every country even in the period of classical bourgeois democratic revolutions in the international arena. In the era of proletarian revolution, too, we are witnessing today the emergence of great leaders in those countries where revolution has been successful under the leadership of the working class. But it must be clearly understood that the historic necessity of the emergence of great leaders and their leading role are not one and the same in bourgeois democratic revolution and proletarian revolution; they are fundamentally and qualitatively different in character from each other. And you must understand this difference very clearly.

Since the aim and object of bourgeois democratic revolution was to establish individual and private ownership and  control over the means of production and for that matter it was a revolution for the establishment of individual rights and development of individuals, its character of leadership always remained individual in spite of the model bourgeois democratic nature of the Constitution of the then period. As a result, individual leadership in such cases was, as if something imposed from above, directing the collective.

But since the aim and object of socialist revolution is to establish social ownership and control in place of private and individual ownership and control over the means of production by  the  people  under  the  leadership  of  the  working  class, the  concept  of  working  class  leadership  being  the  reflection of social ownership over the means of production has developed as ‘collective leadership’ for the first time in human history.

So, collective leadership in the working class party emerges as the collective knowledge of all the members of the party through the process of conflict and interaction of their thoughts and ideas, and the best personification of this collective leadership through an individual constitutes the distinctive feature of the role of leadership of an individual in the present era of proletarian revolution.

So, this is not at all a case of imposing Mao Zedong as the leader over other leaders and workers of the party and the people. But, strangely enough, most of the communist parties of the world, not excluding the CPC, have failed to grasp the significance of the personified expression of the collective leadership of the Chinese Revolution in the person of Mao Zedong and naturally their concept of leadership, still today, suffers from mechanization.

It is true that the common people may not clearly understand today the theoretical aspect of this question of concretized expression of collective leadership through an individual. Naturally, there will remain in their activities and behaviour an element of blind emotion and faith as well as a trend of mechanical allegiance to individual leadership. But the theoretical weakness of the Cultural Revolution of China lies in the fact that even those leaders who are accepting and propagating ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ as the gospel truth are not themselves clear as to why they are doing so, nor have they been able to provide the theoretical foundation of collective leadership as being the concretized and personified expression through an individual leader to the world at large.

Of late, whenever the Mao Zedong leadership has been charged with practising cult of individual, they have been heard saying : ‘‘As there can be no war without a General so there can be no struggle without a leader — where is the cult of individual in it?’’ But to argue like this means a failure to provide the theoretical basis of this phenomenon of concretized expression of collective leadership.

The revolutionary splinter group inside the Soviet Union, opposed to the revisionist Soviet leadership, has remarked in their main political documents, first published from Paris, while answering this question : “Yes we accept Mao and Hoxha as our leaders. We are organized under the leadership of these two Generals. Because, in wars we need Generals. We want to fight and there can be no fight without Generals. The bogey of ‘cult of personality’ or all that is a bourgeois propaganda”. 

Concrete expression of collective leadership

The matter is not that simple; such an over-simplified understanding about collective leadership will surely give birth to such a situation that would weaken the collective leadership as well as ideological-political struggle in the party. If this be the level of understanding then the object of the Cultural Revolution which was organized with a view to continuously uplifting their revolutionary consciousness and building up character of the party workers, the rank and file and the people, will not only be defeated but it will create newer problems and obstacles even after completion of the immediate tasks of the Cultural Revolution.

So, the most essential thing that the Chinese leadership ought to have done, in this phase of Cultural Revolution, before projecting Mao Zedong as ‘God’ to the nation and the people, was to free at least the party from all sorts of erroneous conceptions about authority. They should have established on firm theoretical foundation the historic necessity as also the dialectical process of the emergence of collective leadership in the concretized and personified expression through an individual in a working  class party, which is distinctly different from the conception of God in idealist philosophy, the conception of bourgeois individual leadership or any kind of blind authoritarianism. The CPC has not yet been able to do it. It seems that their understanding is confined to the recognition of the practical necessity of projecting Mao Zedong as the leader before the nation. As a result, they are using the name of Mao Zedong quite mechanically. Their point of logic is like this : ‘So long as Mao Zedong is correct, what’s the harm in it? He is providing us with correct leadership, so we are following him. After all, the leader is a necessity’.

But it is not proper to view this question in this way;  it has other aspects too. I do also appreciate the need of projecting Mao Zedong as authority before the Chinese people. The name Mao Zedong has its electrifying effect on the Chinese masses. It is a very powerful instrument in the hands of the CPC to rouse the people. They can ill-afford to discard it. There may be difference in degree, but the necessity of projecting the authority in organizing revolution in different countries will appear in history time and again so long as the level of consciousness of each and every individual of society does not reach an adequate standard. That the necessary and adequate ideological standard may not always be maintained in a party at the time of revolution or after it, is quite obvious. It was our experience of the Russian Revolution, and we are experiencing the same in the Chinese Revolution. The available writings and literature of the CPC bear testimony to this fact.

True, this process, being prompted by practical considerations of projecting Mao’s name and authority, has proved very much useful to them, for the time being, in rousing the people.

But they have not yet succeeded in providing a scientific formulation on the basis of the dialectical science of logic, reasoning and historical facts on the question of emergence of collective leadership.

It must be kept in mind that so long as the emergence of a leader as the concretized and personified expression of collective leadership does not take place, all tall claims of collective leadership would, in reality, mean nothing but formal democratic leadership. Scientifically speaking, a party is able to give birth to collective leadership only when the collective thinking and knowledge of all the members of the party is concretized and personified in a most comprehensive, developed and finest way through a leader and this, in fact, is the true and concretized expression of collective leadership of that party.

Only at such a stage of development of collective leadership can a party eliminate the tendencies of ultra-democracy arising from the hidden influence of individualism that is very often found in a party and can give defeat to all such trends and tendencies of individualism appearing in the garb of tall slogans of democracy, which are alien to all principles of proletarian democracy. But the writings of the CPC reflect, still today, some commonplace understanding about collective leadership. They still cling to the idea, in tune with formal democratic understanding, that the majority decision of the Central Committee is the collective leadership of the party. They have not been able to develop the concept of collective leadership further than this. If the understanding about collective leadership remains at this stage in the background of historic emergence of Mao Zedong as the great leader, then, not to speak of ordinary workers, even the leaders would fall victim to blind and mechanical practices. If those leaders and active workers who are conducting the present struggle remain for long such victims of mechanical concept of leadership, then even after such a magnificent Cultural Revolution, all evils of authoritarianism would rear their ugly heads, one after another, in the Chinese society and in the party. It is therefore high time they were alert. 

Mechanical use of quotations

Recently, a craze has been discernible among the workers of the CPC and the Chinese people of using quotations in general, and those of Mao Zedong in particular. It is true, sometimes it becomes necessary to quote from authorities to make others grasp the truth. Nobody can deny its necessity. But lots of problems will be created and in fact have already been created if quotations are used blindly and indiscriminately without thoroughly realizing the significance of the quotations, that is, why, under what circumstances, in the face of what problems the particular observation was made. As, for example, in the document of the Eleventh Plenary Session, those persons in authority who are opposing Cultural Revolution have been criticized for giving the directive — ‘‘All workers of Cultural Revolution must abide by the decision of the party body”. Criticizing this directive, it has been observed that : “It would add to the blindness and servile attitude of the general workers. Because, Mao Zedong has said that every communist should use his own head”. This way of arguing may, of course, satisfy the immediate object of their struggle against the leading personalities opposing the party, but it is dangerous to argue like this since it can one day bring about a disaster in the inner life of the party. All quotations must be used in their concrete context. But this quotation has been used out of context. This quotation has sought to challenge such a directive of the party body to follow which is a must for any democratically centralized party in order to conduct its day-to-day activities since it has been used without caring a bit for the concrete context in which, or to reflect which truth, this observation has been made. Since all these were not elaborately discussed — that is, what was the concrete situation created in the internal organization of the party bodies that necessitated the defiance of such a directive by the followers of the revolutionary line of Mao Zedong and that, through bold defiance was reflected the real consciousness, ethical standard and sense of discipline of the genuine communists — use of this quotation of Mao may encourage among the communist workers an unethical and ultra-democratic tendency in future. Indulgence in unprincipled and ultra-democratic behaviour for satisfying an immediate interest, even if under the slogan of fighting blind sense of discipline and dogmatism, is surely alien to the principle of Marxist-Leninist sense of discipline and organization.

If, taking advantage of their party position, persons in the leadership use this principle of party discipline that all workers of Cultural Revolution must abide by the decision of the party body with the ulterior object of stifling the Cultural Revolution, organized on the basis of revolutionary political line of the party, then bold and courageous struggle must be conducted against them. The quotation of Mao Zedong has its utility only if it is used in the context of a concrete situation with a view to developing  a correct understanding about the sense of discipline and the question of allegiance to party bodies. Where the struggle against the leadership is of fundamental character, and where the struggle has been initiated and permitted to continue by the highest leadership of the party, then if a section of the leaders, taking advantage of their party position, wants to stifle the very struggle under cover of the principle ‘all must abide by the decision of party body’ — they really aim at developing a kind of vested interest of leadership and sustaining blind allegiance and servility among the workers. If the quotation of Mao Zedong had been used making clear to the people this specific background, I would have nothing to object. But the manner in which it is being used surely suffers from mechanization in approach — maybe, today it is going in their favour. But if it is understood mechanically, the same logic may be used by the opponents to incite the people against the leadership. Naturally, there is danger in it. What is the real object of this intense struggle unleashed against the opponents through Cultural Revolution? The main object of this struggle is to reach unity and develop uniformity of thinking among ninetyfive per cent of the party members and the people. This precisely means that they are aiming at establishing centralism and strengthening it further. It is with this object of developing a higher form of centralism within the party and in the relationship between the party and the people that this unique, gigantic and complex struggle has been launched. It is, therefore, unwise to do anything only with an eye to the immediate interest. Let us take, for example, another observation of Mao :  “The citizens should know and the soldiers should know and work”. It means, for the citizens it would suffice only to know. But only they are soldiers who know and work, who act. This point is not at all new, but what a beautiful expression! The citizens, that is the common people should know, even if superficially, the theory of revolution and the revolutionary movement. All do not take active part in revolutionary movements. But as they come to know the theory of revolution superficially, they become, no doubt, passive supporters of revolution. They only know and understand superficially — they do not act. But since an inherent process is at work in their knowledge and superficial understanding, they become passive supporters of revolution. But others who take active part in the struggle — Mao Zedong has termed them as soldiers. They should know theories in such a way that they can really apply them in practice. Here, the term ‘to know’ has been used in the sense of real knowledge. The whole thing has been put so beautifully that the word ‘to know’ carries two different connotations representing two different levels of knowledge. One is superficial knowledge and the other the real knowledge. But due to the bad habit of using quotations blindly without knowing their import, many people think that a man can grasp theory even without taking active part in the struggle, because, Mao has said that the ‘citizens should know and the solders should know and work’. So, where lies the difficulty in knowing theory even without taking active part in the struggle or putting in any work? Naturally, many will, in that case, consider themselves Marxist-Leninists, though not soldiers, without actively associating themselves with any struggle. These gentlemen, knowing Marxism-Leninism without struggle, would assume the leadership over the real soldiers, that is the party workers, and lord it over them. Naturally, what kind of trouble and chaos it may cause if such a beautiful expression is not understood properly! That is why nothing should be understood or quoted out of context. These expressions are quite logical and effective in the concrete conditions and if applied correctly and in the right place, they would yield good results. What reflects truth in a particular context and in a given condition does not necessarily reflect the objective reality in another context and in a different condition. And here I close my discussion regarding the misuse of quotations.

Failure to conduct theoretical struggle

Another serious shortcoming of Cultural Revolution in the matter of conducting ideological-cultural struggle has come to our notice, and this is very important. If the leadership cannot get over these weaknesses and shortcomings in conducting theoretical and ideological struggles, then the apprehension of the reappearance of the trend of revisionism in future, which they are attempting to weed out from social life, will remain in spite of the attainment of some immediate objectives of the Cultural Revolution at present.

Through this Cultural Revolution they are trying to hold aloft the victorious flag of proletarian revolutionary politics fighting out completely the ideas and concepts of the past, freeing the society from the pernicious influences of bourgeois thoughts and ideas, and the sense of bourgeois individualism in particular. They are no doubt conducting struggles against the influences of bourgeois and old reactionary thoughts, ideas and culture which still prevail in the party and social life, but have not yet been able to present a clear and comprehensive outline as to the content and character of proletarian culture. They have not yet been able to provide any theoretical formulation, confirmed by history and social science, as to the fundamental difference between the moral values of bourgeois humanism and proletarian culture. True, they are speaking of proletarian humanism as against bourgeois humanism, but a careful study would reveal that their struggle is in the main directed against bourgeois humanist ideology and political thoughts, but not so much against bourgeois culture. In the realm of sense of values in life and concept of morality, they have not been able to establish the moral and ethical values of proletarian culture as against bourgeois humanist values. As a result, at this stage of development of the Chinese society, the theories and approach that they are presenting in conducting the ideological struggle are quite inadequate to free the society from the evil effects of individualism. The problems with which the Chinese society is confronted today have a new aspect. This is precisely that growing trend aimed at reducing the sense of individual freedom and liberty, individuality and emancipation of the individual to individual privileges and vulgar individualism with the attainment of more and more stability in economic and political spheres in the socialist society, which I have already termed as ‘socialist individualism’, meaning a new kind of individualism in socialist society. Naturally, mere reiterations of the old theories, differing only in language, will not help eliminate the influence of vile individualism from the society and the people. With the passing of this phase, the present phase of Cultural Revolution, stability will come. Again a wave of struggles followed by a period of stability will appear in succession. And during every such period of stability this new kind of individualism will be gathering in strength unnoticed and is sure to affect the party and the leadership. Even today, the ideological appeals of the CPC that have been found effective in  rousing and inspiring the people are essentially based on the spirit of self-sacrifice founded on the bourgeois humanist values, that is to say, surrendering self-interest to the interest of society and revolution and fulfilling social responsibilities — and nothing else. The principal tenor of this appeal is attuned to bourgeois humanism. They possess no other higher and more developed ideological weapon, higher ethical and moral concepts of proletarian culture for rousing and inspiring the people. They are still attempting to lead the masses with the same old sense of moral and ethical values and the old quotations of Mao Zedong. The writings of Mao Zedong had proved quite adequate to face and tackle the complexities and problems of class struggle in the background of backwardness of the Chinese society that existed before the revolution and even for a certain period after the revolution.

So, the writings of Mao Zedong have been found inspiring to those who are fighting in the jungles of Vietnam against imperialism or even to us, considering the present relatively backward stage of class struggle in our country. But much of the old teachings of Mao Zedong lose their bearing, significance and impact on those communists of the new generation who are living today at a relatively higher stage of economic and industrial development in the socialist society. To them, therefore, many of the old teachings of Mao Zedong have, in that sense, become obsolete and exhausted to some extent. So, in the present socialist society of China, it is incumbent on the leadership to present anew and clearly to the communists and the people at large what should be the essence of proletarian moral values and culture and what should be its content. In order to imbue the communists and the progressive individuals of those countries which have relative economic stability and those bourgeois democratic countries where the sense of individual freedom has already been reduced to individual privileges, it is essential to show the historical limitations of the bourgeois humanist values and wherein lies its reactionary role as well as what should be the essence of proletarian moral values and culture. 

Old standard of communist values now inadequate

I have already pointed out that the ideal of surrendering the individual’s interest to social interest, adjustment of individual necessities with those of the society is  nothing different from the ideals of bourgeois humanist values. Up till now, the highest standard of communist moral values was considered to have been reflected in this, and only they were considered to be the real communists who were able to surrender unconditionally and happily the individual interest to social interest, place the cause of revolution and party above all and subordinate individual interest to the cause of revolution and party. And in Communist Education  by Kalinin, this was considered to be the highest standard of communist consciousness. Also in the book How To Be A Good Communist written by Liu Shaoqi — although of late this book is being severely criticized and discarded, but once it was approved by the Central Committee of the CPC and considered a highly acclaimed document — this has been regarded as the highest communist standard. But this cannot be considered as the adequate standard for the leading communists in the context of newer complexities of present-day life. Because, it is found that living under the exploitative capitalist system, the concept of freedom and individualism is being reduced to individual privileges on a wide scale and the individual’s indifferent attitude to social problems is on the increase daily. After bourgeois sense of right of equality being really established and the individual freedom and individuality being freed from the bourgeois and feudal repression in socialist society, an individual is enjoying more and more freedom and privileges. But even in a socialist society, as the state still exists as an instrument of coercion, man’s struggle for emancipation has entered into a new historical phase. Consequently, unless a correct theoretical analysis and understanding confirmed by the law of historical development is provided as to what stands as the stumbling block in the way of man’s emancipation today, even the communists who are enjoying more and more facilities and amenities in the socialist society, may reduce the sense of individual freedom and liberty to a privilege again. So, sufficient light must be thrown on the newer problems confronting man’s struggle for emancipation in the socialist society. 

On withering away of state

The contradiction that exists between the individual interest and the social interest is antagonistic in nature. So long as antagonistic contradictions between the individual and the state, on the one hand, and between the individual interest and social interest, on the other, remain, the state will not wither away, i.e., it will not disappear even after the problems relating to production and other issues have been resolved. The state, even though it is a socialist state, is after all an instrument of coercion. A bourgeois state differs from a socialist state in the sense that while the former is a coercive instrument to curb the interest of ninetynine per cent of the people of the country to protect the interest of one per cent, the latter is a coercive machinery that frustrates the counter-revolutionary attempts and reactionary activities of the one per cent to safeguard the interest of ninetynine per cent of the society. And so long as the state exists as a reflection of this antagonistic contradiction, even in socialism  the individual must have to submit to the social interest, and the trend of revolt against the repressive character of the socialist state would appear repeatedly in individuals and, for this, the social objective would suffer time and again. Time and again the individual would revolt and his indifferent attitude towards social problems would grow more and more. As a result, the appeal of the nobility of communist ideology and the power of communist dedication would lose their attraction, or it would lead to the trend of liberalization. In other words, more and more demands for greater individual freedom and rights would be raised. And if this process continues, then this would give birth to revisionism and that would only help in the restoration of capitalism.

The problem is to be viewed in a different way. It is to be understood that in socialism, right is not to be wrested from anyone, i.e., the question of achieving freedom or acquiring rights fighting against any alien ruling class no more arises in the socialist society. Because of the continuance of class struggle in the socialist society, the oppression by the state still remains necessary to some extent — mainly to curb the conspiratorial activities of the dispossessed bourgeoisie and the vile self-centred individualistic activities of certain individuals that stand in the path of development of individual’s real freedom and complete emancipation with the gradual development of the socialist social system. The problem is not that any alien class is oppressing the people to exploit them. The matter is not such at all. In the socialist society of today, it is the old bourgeois concept of individual freedom and mental make-up that stands in the way of conducting a new struggle for the individual’s freedom and emancipation at this new stage. And this old mental make-up is obstructing the individual necessity and individual interest from merging and becoming identified with the social necessity and social interest. At this new stage of social development, this stands as the main obstacle in the way of the individual’s emancipation. And if this persists, class struggle would not cease completely even after the disappearance of class as an economic category and because of the evil effect of vile individualism, the state would not wither away. As a result, the individual would not be completely free from coercion of the state. Because, so long as the state exists — it exists with its coercive character in whatever form it may be. 

Wherein lies emancipation of individual

So, while conducting the struggle for the complete victory of socialism, the main object of the struggle for the emancipation of the individual should be to transform the antagonistic nature of contradiction existing between the individual necessity and social necessity into a non-antagonistic one. It is only by achieving a complete success in this struggle through cultural revolution that a basic and qualitative transformation in the content and outlook of the individual’s desire and its fulfillment would take place. After passing through successive stages of cultural revolution, when the socialist society reaches such an advanced stage, then and then only can the state wither away. Then only man would be free from all sorts of social coercion. So, it is obvious that the individual’s struggle for emancipation has reached a new and complex height and has assumed a new character in the socialist society where to resolve this problem, a more intense and arduous struggle is to be conducted for complete identification of the self-interest with the interest of society through unflagging dedication and constant vigil. Hence, it is a new standard of ethics and human values, a level that is completely and basically different from and higher than the level of the bourgeois humanist values which so long have been applied in practice to inspire and attract the workers and cadres in the communist movement. So far, the standard of morality which worked in proletarian revolutionary politics was that the individual interest must be subordinated to the greater cause of social interest. But if the level of consciousness remains the same in the present new and completely changed situation of socialist social system, then it is impossible to achieve complete dedication and arrest the trend of individualism. If the standard of communist morality is allowed to remain static at this point, then the trend and tendency of individualism would certainly continue to remain within the society despite pious wishes and talks on proletarian cultural revolution or merely recognizing the necessity of continuously lifting proletarian politics towards its revolutionary transformation. The influence of ego and bourgeois individualism, in some form or other, would be at work in the society so long as the vanity and mental complex of self-sacrifice would be there. So, the mental complex of self-sacrifice should be lifted and transformed, yielding place to real recognition of social necessity.

So, from the discussions we have had so far, it would be clear how subtly, surreptitiously and under newer garbs, the old bourgeois thoughts and ideas are working within the socialist society. The Chinese leadership, in my opinion, while fighting individualism, has moved close to grasping the root cause of the problem. But till now, they have not succeeded in providing a clear and precise theoretical basis of the problem I have discussed so far. 

Call to remove theoretical weaknesses

First of all, the whole problem is to be grasped conceptually, giving it a firm theoretical basis. And thereafter, a countrywide powerful movement has got to be developed centring round this new concept of communist morality. But the Cultural Revolution of China has not yet been able to take up this problem in this light. The object of the Cultural Revolution in China is to fight and eradicate that very trend of bourgeois individualism, falling victim to which some of the leaders and workers are taking to the capitalist road, behaving bureaucratically, reflecting in their behaviour the trend of economism, following the revisionist outlook and path and placing the importance of arms and weapons above unity on the basis of proletarian revolutionary consciousness within the army. The object of this Cultural Revolution is, therefore, to create such a condition that the entire Chinese nation can stand as ‘one man’ against all adversaries and cope with all the problems confronting their society by eradicating and freeing the people from the influence of these evils. The immediate objective of the Cultural Revolution will be fulfilled, for the present, with the completion of these tasks. But the present programme of Cultural Revolution will not be able to free the party completely from the danger of reappearance of revisionism in future. That the individual’s struggle for emancipation enters a new and complex height in a socialist society — they have not been able to correctly grasp the nature of this particular phenomenon and give it a theoretical basis. Because of this, they have failed to incorporate this theoretical understanding as the focal point of the Cultural Revolution to inspire at least the cadres and the rank and file of the party in their struggle to raise their level of consciousness to a higher sense of responsibility to the society. Only if a cultural movement throughout the length and breadth of the country can be released on the sound basis of the above theoretical understanding, this realization would dawn upon them and herein lies the real emancipation of mankind. This is one of the fundamental weaknesses of the present Cultural Revolution.

If this weakness persists, then although the present problems confronting the Cultural Revolution would no doubt be resolved, and the immediate tasks ahead achieved, but so many other issues posed by the Cultural Revolution would remain unresolved. For example, the mechanical concept about leadership would continue to exist and not be fought out. Moreover, the reason as to why the tendency of individualism is gaining in strength — they have not yet been able to comprehend that philosophically and theoretically, nor have they been able to place their basic formulation about or pinpoint the character of individualism, that is, the phenomenon of individualism in a socialist society and, finally, they have not released, on the basis of a correct understanding, an all-out struggle embracing the leaders as well as the workers.



1. Afterwards, this speech was adopted in its entirety by the Central Committee at its session held on 25 and 26 February, 1969.

2. Comrade Ghosh delivered this speech on the 27th October, 1967. Till then Liu Shaoqi was at the helm of the state. Later on when this speech was published as a booklet on the 6th October, 1970, after being adopted by the Central Committee, Liu Shaoqi had already been removed from that post. And afterwards he was expelled from the party.

Shibdas Ghosh Internet Archive  |  Marxism and Anti-Imperialism in India