Remembering the Chinese Revolution

In Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the

Chinese Revolution



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 Part Three

Restoration of Capitalism

Hua Kuo-feng, the then Prime Minister, made a pretense of adherence to Mao’s political line, and even immediately after Mao’s death on September 9, 1976, spoke of primarily targeting the capitalist roaders of the Teng-types. At a speech on September 18 he said that it was necessary to "deepen the struggle to criticise Teng Hsiao-ping and repulse the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts." But this was mere subterfuge to divert attention from the impending coup d’état.

On October 6, Huo Kuo-feng, in a swift move, and relying on the security forces and on the military leaders of North China, arrested the so-called ‘Gang of Four’ (all members of the Polit Bureau of the CPC). During these operations Mao Yuan-hsin, a nephew of Mao Tsetung and also Ma Hsiao-lin, head of the Peking workers’ militia, were killed. On October 8, in the most dubious circumstances, after some members of the established leading bodies had been deprived of their liberty and others been threatened with arrest, Hua Kuo-feng had himself ‘appointed’ Chairman of the Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Committee’s Military Affairs Commission, while retaining the post of prime minister. At the same time, he had assigned to himself the monopoly on publishing and interpreting the works of Mao Tsetung. All these decisions were announced in the name of the Central Committee which, infact, never met.

From October 10, a massive campaign was launched against the Four, who were accused of ‘revisionism’ and of ‘weaving plots and intrigues’. At the same time, a call was given for strict discipline. Simultaneously a Hua cult was sought to be built invoking Mao’s support for him. From November, calls for discipline became more frequent, a vicious personal slander campaign was launched against the Four and a decision was announced to re-establish (i.e. pre-CR status) "rational rules and regulations in industry".

By December criticisms of Teng Hsiao-ping were stopped and increasing number of calls were given to increase production. In January 1977 demonstrations were whipped up calling for Teng’s return. And in March Hua Kuo-feng proposed, at a working committee meeting of the CC, that Teng again be given responsibilities. Simultaneously campaigns of "socialist emulation" began and calls for mechanisation of agriculture — a precursor to Teng’s later ‘four modernisations’ theories. At the third session of the CC (July 1977) Hua was officially appointed Chairman and Teng recovered all his previous powers. At the 11th Congress, held in August 1977 Teng made the closing speech.

But this reversal did not take place "peacefully". It was the culmination of an acute class struggle in which the security organs (equivalent to the KGB) played a big part. Repression was carried out on a large scale. In most provinces there were not only widespread arrests but also large-scale executions. Throughout 1977 repression was accompanied by a mass "purge" of the party. It is estimated that one-third of the cadres were "purged". These were mainly those cadres who had come up from the ranks during the Cultural Revolution. This purge as accompanied by a mass return of cadres who had been removed during the GPCR. Consequently, the CPC at the end of 1977, was much closer in the composition of its cadres to what it was in 1965 than to what it was in October 1976.

Parallel with the return of the Rightists, Teng’s position was being strengthened. His close collaborators were taking more and more key posts, notably in the CC’s department of organisation (which decided appointments, transfers, promotions and dismissals in all the party’s bodies), in other central departments and in a number of provinces. At the same time statements were issued stressing production which "takes precedence over class struggle" (Jen-min Jih-pao December 12, 1977). Criticism of Liu Shao-chi was soon dropped and focus was only directed against the ‘Left’ — i.e., Lin Piao and company clubbing him with the Four.

Revisionist theories became rampant while maintaining official support for ‘mass line’. Some examples were : down playing the GPCR and ignoring (or even reversing) the fact that after 1966, the political line included new revolutionary orientations; a one-sided glorification of what was achieved prior to the GPCR; increasing the political and ideological attack on the Four; emphasising production while downplaying class struggle; separating in a mechanical fashion the class struggle from the struggle for production; giving primacy to the development of productive forces; emphasising the ‘stability’ of the prevalent socialist system, thereby negating the existence of a bourgeoisie and the necessity to struggle against it; advocating the importance of struggle in ideas between "modern ideology" and the vestiges of "old" ideas; seeing the development in agriculture mainly from the standpoint of its contribution to the accumulation of capital; delinking science and scientific development from classes and class struggle; etc.

Simultaneously concrete steps were taken to reverse the socialist production relations achieved particularly during the GPCR. In factories the one-man management system was re-introduced, cadres and technicians were placed above workers; rules and regulations (discipline from the top) was tightened, workers’ initiative and decision-making powers were curbed; and demand that profits of enterprises must increase and that they must accumulate more funds for the state; while glorifying profit, a call was issued for workers to "work hard", "be disciplined" and to "obey orders and regulations"; "egalitarianism" was ridiculed; etc.

In agriculture too, similar steps were introduced : centralisation was increased and the steps towards decentralisation achieved were slowly reversed; the size of the individual plots was extended; side-income from subsidiary activity was encouraged and a rural open market once again became respectable; the unit of accounting was no longer the brigade but the individual household; a system of ‘inspection’ (rather than self-evaluation) of workers’ performance was instituted; agricultural mechanisation was chiefly focussed on, in order to enhance the rate of accumulation, etc.

In education too the orientation towards a people’s education was reversed and education was sought to be made elitist : examinations were restored to the centre of the educational system; merit and privilege once again replaced class as a basis of admission to the higher institutions of learning; the pre-CR methods were eulogised; practical work and the dignity of labour was negated; and the power of the academic authorities was re-established.

Thus we see that the revisionists went about the process of capitalist restoration with a speed that would make Khrushchev look like a tortoise. The revisionists’ positions clearly came out into the open as a counter-revolutionary line at a meeting of the sixth plenary session of the 11th CC of the CPC, held in June 1981. Here the GPCR was, for the first time openly criticised, Mao’s role after 1956 was seen as negative and the principal contradiction during socialism was no longer seen as that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie but as that between the "growing material and cultural needs of the people and the backwardness of the productive forces". Capitalist restoration had clearly taken place, and the dictatorship of the proletariat was replaced with the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, disguised as revisionists.



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