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Chapter  XII



Theory of Class Struggle

Socialism in One Country


The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

The People’s Democratic Dictatorship


The Russian Experience

Socialist Industrialisation

Collectivisation of Agriculture

Victory of Socialism and Preliminary Conditions for Transition to Communism

Errors in Russian Experience

The Chinese Experience

General Line and Step-by-Step Collectivisation

Mao’s Development of Dialectical Approach to Socialist Construction

Great Leap Forward and the Birth of People’s Communes

Struggle against the Capitalist Roaders


Capitalist Restoration of the Soviet Union: Historical Lessons

The Cultural Revolution: A Form Found Anew

The Targets of the Revolution

Mass-Line in the Revolution

Historical Relevance of the Cultural Revolution



Theory of Class Struggle

"When feudalism was overthrown, and ‘free’ capitalist society appeared on God’s earth, it at once became apparent that this freedom meant a new system of oppression and exploitation of the working people. Various socialist doctrines immediately began to arise as a reflection of and protest against this oppression." 51 This socialism, was, "in its essence, the direct product of the recognition, on the one hand, of the class antagonisms existing in the society of today between proprietors and non-proprietors, between capitalists and wage-workers; on the other hand, of the anarchy existing in production." 52 But it "was utopian socialism. It criticised capitalist society, it condemned and damned it, it dreamed of its destruction, it indulged in fancies of better order and endeavoured to convince the rich of the immorality of exploitation." 53 "To make a science of socialism, it had first to be placed upon a real basis." 54

This real basis was provided by Marx’s doctrine of the class struggle. Developing on the description of classes and class-struggle given by bourgeois economists and historians, Marx proved:

"1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society." 55

"From that time forward socialism was no longer an accidental discovery of this or that ingenious brain, but the necessary outcome of the struggle between two historically developed classes — the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Its task was no longer to manufacture a system of society as perfect as possible, but to examine the historico-economic succession of events from which these classes and their antagonism had of necessity sprung, and to discover in the economic conditions the means of ending the conflict." 56 Socialism became a science.

Socialism in One Country

In his Principles of Communism, Engels replied as follows to the question whether the proletarian revolution is possible in one country alone:

"No. Large-scale industry, already by creating the world market, has so linked up all the peoples of the earth, and especially the civilised peoples, that each people is dependent on what happens to another. Further, in all civilised countries large-scale industry has so levelled social development that in all these countries the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have become the two decisive classes of society and the struggle between them the main struggle of the day. The communist revolution will therefore be not merely national one; it will be a revolution taking place simultaneously in all civilised countries, that is, at least in England, America, France and Germany. In each of these countries it will develop more quickly or more slowly according to whether the country has a more developed industry, more wealth, and a more considerable mass of productive forces." 61

This understanding was modified to some extent in later years when Marx and Engels referred to the possibility of victory of the revolution first in one or a few countries and even the necessity of ‘the victorious proletariat’ having to fight ‘defensive wars’ 62 against the bourgeoisie of other countries. However the general view was that victory in one country was not possible.

It was only under the new conditions of imperialism that Lenin made a clear revaluation of the earlier understanding. "The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in different countries. It cannot be otherwise under commodity production. From this it follows irrefutably that socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will for some time remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois." 63

Stalin summarised the Leninist understanding in this way:

"Formerly, the victory of the revolution in one country was considered impossible, on the assumption that it would require the combined action of the proletarians of all or at least of a majority of the advanced countries to achieve victory over the bourgeoisie. Now this point of view no longer fits in with the facts. Now we must proceed from the possibility of such a victory; for the uneven and spasmodic character of the development of the various capitalist countries under the conditions of imperialism, the development within imperialism of catastrophic contradictions leading to inevitable wars, the growth of the revolutionary movement in all countries of the world–all this leads, not only to the possibility, but also to the necessity of the victory of the proletariat in individual countries. ....

"After consolidating its power and leading the peasantry in its wake the proletariat of the victorious country can and must build a socialist society." 64

Thus it was asserted that it was possible for the proletariat to make revolution, consolidate its power, and build socialism in a single country.

"But," Stalin goes on, "does this mean that it will thereby achieve the complete and final victory of socialism, i.e., does it mean that with the forces of only one country it can finally consolidate socialism and fully guarantee that country against intervention and, consequently, also against restoration? No, it does not. For this the victory of the revolution in at least several countries is needed." 64

Further, it was assessed, revolution in the era of imperialism would not necessarily break out first in the most advanced countries; "the chain of the imperialist front must, as a rule, break where the links are weaker and, at all events, not necessarily where capitalism is more developed, where there is such and such a percentage of proletarians and such and such a percentage of peasants, and so on."65

This was the actual process of history and the proletariat was successful in some of the relatively more backward countries of the world. Thus this was also where the principles of socialist construction had to be worked out in practice


The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

The conception of the proletariat organised as a ruling class with its State, was given at the time of the ‘Communist Manifesto’ itself. Marx and Engels then said,

"..the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy."

"The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible." 66

Marx, while analysing the class struggles in France of 1848-50, clarified that the essence of the proletarian state was the dictatorship of the proletariat. In his ‘Critique of the Gotha Programme’ he asserted, "Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat."67 He also pointed out that the dictatorship of the proletariat was an essential aspect of his doctrine of the class struggle, which differentiated it from the understanding of classes and class-struggle given by bourgeois scholars.

It was on the basis of this understanding given by Marx, that Lenin gave his famous definition of a Marxist:

"Those who recognise only the class struggle are not yet Marxists; they may be found to be still within the bounds of bourgeois thinking and bourgeois politics. To confine Marxism to the theory of the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested." 68

This definition of a Marxist starts basically from the Marxist understanding of the state;

"According to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another;" 69 — Lenin.

It is a "special apparatus for the systematic application of force and the subjugation of people by force...a special category of people who are separated out to rule others and who, for the sake and purpose of rule, systematically and permanently have at their disposal a certain apparatus of coercion, an apparatus of violence, such as is represented ... by the armed detachments of troops the prisons and the other means of subjugating the will of others by force." 70

Thus every form of class society is a dictatorship of the ruling class. The so-called democracy of the capitalists is actually "a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie masked by parliamentary form." 71 It follows that all attempts to use the apparatus of the bourgeois state, which serves to protect bourgeois rights, for the purpose of abolishing those rights, are doomed to failure.

Based on this understanding Lenin further developed the understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The starting point in this understanding is that the dictatorship of the proletariat is above all the instrument of the proletarian revolution. "The revolution can defeat the bourgeoisie, can overthrow its power, even without the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the revolution will be unable to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, to maintain its victory and to push forward to the final victory of socialism unless, at a certain stage in its development, it creates a special organ in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat as its principal mainstay." 72 Thus the proletarian dictatorship is absolutely essential to complete the three main tasks that face the revolution immediately after victory: breaking the resistance of the old ruling classes, commencing socialist construction, and arming the revolution against the external imperialist enemy.

The second fundamental aspect of the Leninist understanding of the dictatorship is as the rule of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. From this arise two conclusions:

First, "Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, democracy is proletarian democracy, the democracy of the exploited majority, based on the restriction of the rights of the exploiting minority and directed against this minority.

"Second conclusion: The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot arise as the result of the peaceful development of the bourgeois society and of bourgeois democracy; it can arise only as the result of the smashing of the bourgeois state machine, the bourgeois army, the bourgeois bureaucratic apparatus, the bourgeois police." 73 This second conclusion was acknowledged by Marx and Engels as a lesson of the Paris Commune, whose experience proved that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes" 74, it had to smash it. But it was Lenin who time and again reminded that "the proletarian revolution is impossible without the forcible destruction of the bourgeois state machine and the substitution for it of a new one." 75

The third fundamental aspect of the Leninist understanding is regarding soviet power as the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx too had dealt with this question of the form of the proletarian state. He analysed the Paris Commune with its characteristics as a democratic elected organ, without any special salaries or privileges; as a working not parliamentary body, both executive and legislature at the same time. However it was Lenin who answered this question through the adoption of the Soviet form thrown up first by the 1905 Russian revolution. The soviets were all-embracing mass organisations of the workers, peasants and soldiers, as well as the most powerful organs of the revolutionary struggle of the masses. Their union into one common state organisation constituted soviet power. By its very structure soviet power facilitated the task of the proletariat leading the other sections of the oppressed masses, of freeing the armed forces from bourgeois control and of setting up a state organisation which could smash the bourgeois state machine. Besides the soviet form of proletarian state power also had all the positive features of the Paris commune. Thus, "the Paris Commune was the embryo of this form; Soviet power is its development and culmination." 76

The People’s Democratic Dictatorship

Basing himself on the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the state and the dictatorship of the proletariat, Mao elaborated the theory regarding the form of the state in the revolutions in the colonial countries. On the basis of the theory of New Democracy, he formulated the understanding of the new- democratic republic.

"This new-democratic republic will be different from the old European-American form of capitalist republic under bourgeois dictatorship which is the old democratic form and already out of date. On the other hand, it will also be different from the socialist republic of the Soviet type under the dictatorship of the proletariat which is already flourishing in the U.S.S.R., and which, moreover, will be established in all the capitalist countries and will undoubtedly become the dominant form of state and governmental structure in all the industrially advanced countries. However, for a certain historical period, this form is not suitable for the revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. During this period, therefore, a third form of state must be adopted in the revolutions of all colonial and semi-colonial countries, namely, the new-democratic republic. This form suits a certain historical period and is therefore transitional; nevertheless, it is a form which is necessary and cannot be dispensed with."

"Thus the numerous types of state system in the world can be reduced to three basic kinds according to the class character of their political power: (1) republics under bourgeois dictatorship; (2) republics under the dictatorship of the proletariat; and (3) republics under the joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes. .."

"The third kind is the transitional form of state to be adopted in the revolutions of the colonial and semi-colonial countries. Each of these revolutions will necessarily have specific characteristics of its own, but these will be minor variations on a general theme. So long as they are revolutions in colonial and semi-colonial countries, their state and governmental structure will of necessity be basically the same, i.e., a new-democratic state under the joint dictatorship of several anti-imperialist classes." 77

This state was finally established in the form of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship. On the eve of victory of the Chinese revolution, Mao explained the essence of the people’s democratic dictatorship in the following manner:

"Who are the people? At the present stage in China, they are the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie.. These classes, led by the working class and the Communist Party, unite to form their own state and elect their own government; they enforce their dictatorship over the running dogs of imperialism — the landlord class and bureaucrat-bourgeoisie, as well as the representatives of those classes, the Kuomintang reactionaries and their accomplices — suppress them, allow them only to behave themselves and not to be unruly in word or deed, if they speak or act in an unruly way, they will be promptly stopped and punished. Democracy is practised within the ranks of the people, who enjoy the rights of freedom of speech, assembly, association and so on. The right to vote belongs only to the people, not to the reactionaries. The combination of these two aspects, democracy for the people and dictatorship over the reactionaries, is the people’s democratic dictatorship." 78

Regarding the relationship between the various classes among the people, Mao elaborated as follows,

"The people’s democratic dictatorship, led by the proletariat and based on the worker-peasant alliance, requires that our Party conscientiously unite the entire working class, the entire peasantry and the broad masses of revolutionary intellectuals; these are the leading and basic forces of the dictatorship. Without this unity, the dictatorship cannot be consolidated. It is also required that our Party unite with as many as possible of the representatives of the urban petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie who can co-operate with us and with their intellectuals and political groups, so that, during the revolutionary period, we can isolate the counter-revolutionary forces and completely overthrow both the counter-revolutionary and imperialist forces in China and so that, after the victory of the revolution, we can speedily restore and develop production, cope with foreign imperialism, steadily transform China from an agricultural into an industrial country and build China into a great socialist state." 79


The Russian Experience

Around the time of the October Revolution there were two types of pseudo-Marxist views with regard to the building of socialism.

One was the view represented by the Mensheviks and others that since capitalism had not advanced sufficiently and concentrated the means of production, particularly in agriculture, the proletariat should not capture power, but wait till capitalism had created the conditions for the simultaneous socialisation of all the means of production.

The other view represented by the ‘Left’ Communists and others was that power should be captured and all the means of production immediately socialised even by means of expropriating the small and medium producers.

Lenin, in a struggle against these two trends, drew up the correct path for socialist construction. Stalin, in 1952, summarised it as follows:

"Lenin’s answer may be briefly summed up as follows:

a ) Favourable conditions for the assumption of power should not be missed—the proletariat should assume power without waiting until capitalism succeeded in ruining the millions of small and medium individual producers.

b) The means of production in industry should be expropriated and converted into public property;

c) As to the small and medium individual producers, they should be gradually united in producers’ co-operatives, i.e., in large agricultural enterprises, collective farms;

d) Industry should be developed to the utmost and the collective farms should be placed on the modern technical basis of large-scale production, not expropriating them, but on the contrary generously supplying them with first-class tractors and other machines;

e) In order to ensure an economic bond between town and country, between industry and agriculture, commodity production (exchange through purchase and sale) should be preserved for a certain period, it being the form of economic tie with the town which is alone acceptable to the peasants, and Soviet trade — state, co-operative, and collective-farm — should be developed to the full and the capitalists of all types and descriptions ousted from trading activity.

"The history of socialist construction in our country has shown that this path of development, mapped out by Lenin, has fully justified itself." 80

Though the first two steps, the seizure of power and the ‘expropriation of the expropriators’, was completed in the first few months itself, the process of socialist construction could not be taken up immediately because of the extremely difficult conditions of all-sided enemy attack faced by the first proletarian state. It had to go through a process of emergency measures called ‘War Communism’ during the civil war, up to 1920. After victory in the civil war, there was a period of economic restoration, during which concessions were given to certain sections under the New Economic Policy (NEP). Thus this period from the revolution up to 1925 was mainly a period of consolidation and preparation.

The History of the CPSU(B) describes the political essence of this period as follows:

"In October 1917 the working class had vanquished capitalism politically, by establishing its own political dictatorship. Since then the Soviet Government had been taking every measure to shatter the economic power of capitalism and to create conditions for the building of a Socialist economic system. These measures were : the expropriation of the capitalists and landlords; the conversion of the land, factories, mills, railways and the banks into public property; the adoption of the New Economic Policy ; the building up of a state-owned Socialist industry; and the application of Lenin’s co-operative plan. Now the main task was to proceed to build a new, Socialist economic system all over the country and thus smash capitalism economically as well." 81

Socialist Industrialisation: The Soviet Union was at that time still a relatively backward agrarian country with two-thirds of the total production coming from agriculture and only one-third from industry. Further being the first socialist state, the question of being economically independent of imperialism was of central importance. Therefore the path of socialist construction had to firstly concentrate on socialist industrialisation. In Stalin’s words, "The conversion of our country from an agrarian into an industrial country able to produce the machinery it needs by its own efforts—that is the essence, the basis of our general line." 82 Thus the main focus was on heavy industry which would produce machines for other industries and for agriculture.

This policy was a major success and built a strong industrial base independent of imperialism. It also enabled the defence of the socialist base in the world war II. Also industry expanded at a pace several times faster than the most advanced imperialist countries thus proving the immense superiority of the socialist system.

However, "due to special emphasis on priority development of heavy industry, agriculture was neglected in the plans."83 Thus just before the World War II, industrial production was 908.8% of the industrial production just before the World War I. However the corresponding figure for grain production was only 118.6%. This showed a retarded growth of agriculture as compared to industry. Similarly, "between 1925 and 1958 production of the means of production in the Soviet Union increased 103 times, while consumer goods increased 15.6 times."83 Mao, in his Critique of Soviet Economics, criticised this emphasis and called for concurrent promotion of industry and agriculture as well as light and heavy industry.

Collectivisation of Agriculture: The preliminary step in this process was taken in the restoration period itself with the initiation of co-operatives among small and medium peasants. However due to the resistance of the kulaks (rich farmers) there was not much advancement in this process. Further the kulaks had taken a position of active opposition and sabotage of the socialist construction process. "They refused en masse to sell to the Soviet state their grain surpluses, of which they had considerable hoards. They resorted to terrorism against the collective farmers, against Party workers and government officials in the countryside, and burned down collective farms and state granaries"84 In 1927, due to this sabotage, the marketed share of the harvest was only 37% of the pre-war figure. Thus the Party, in that year took the decision to launch an offensive to break the resistance of the kulaks. Relying on the poor peasants and allying with the middle peasants, the Party was able to achieve success in grain-purchasing and take ahead the collectivisation process. However the major advance came from the end of 1929.

It is described in the History of the CPSU(B) in the following manner:

"Prior to 1929, the Soviet Government had pursued a policy of restricting the kulaks. .... The effect of this policy was to arrest the growth of the kulak class, some sections of which, unable to withstand the pressure of these restrictions, were forced out of business and ruined. But this policy did not destroy the economic foundations of the kulaks as a class, nor did it tend to eliminate them. This policy was essential up to a certain time, that is, as long as the collective farms and state farms were still weak and unable to replace the kulaks in the production of grain."

"At the end of 1929, with the growth of the collective farms and the state farms, the Soviet Government turned sharply from this policy to the policy of eliminating the kulaks, of destroying them as a class. It repealed the laws on the renting of land and the hiring of labour, thus depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired labourers. It lifted the ban on the expropriation of the kulaks. It permitted the peasants to confiscate cattle, machines and other farm property from the kulaks for the benefit of the collective farms. The kulaks were expropriated. They were expropriated just as the capitalists had been expropriated in the sphere of industry in 1918, with this difference, however, that the kulaks’ means of production did not pass into the hands of the state, but into the hands of the peasants united in the collective farms."

"This was a profound revolution,...."

"This revolution, at one blow, solved three fundamental problems of Socialist construction:

a) It eliminated the most numerous class of exploiters in our country, the kulak class, the mainstay of capitalist restoration;

b) It transferred the most numerous labouring class in our country, the peasant class, from the path of individual farming, which breeds capitalism, to the path of co-operative, collective, Socialist farming;

c) It furnished the Soviet regime with a Socialist base in agriculture— the most extensive and vitally necessary, yet least developed, branch of national economy." 85

This step-by-step plan was adopted for the implementation of this policy. Depending on the conditions in various regions different rates of collectivisation were established and the targeted year for completion of the collectivisation was fixed. The production of tractors, harvesters and other agricultural machinery was increased manifold. State loans to collective farms were doubled in the first year itself. The process of collectivisation despite some errors, advanced rapidly towards success.

Victory of Socialism and Preliminary Conditions for Transition to Communism:

With the victory of the collectivisation movement, the Party announced the victory of socialism. In January 1933, Stalin announced that, "The victory of Socialism in all branches of the national economy had abolished the exploitation of man by man." 86 In January 1934, the 17th Party Congress Report declared that, "the socialist form of social and economic structure–now holds undivided sway and is the sole commanding force in the whole national economy." 87 The absence of any antagonistic classes was later repeatedly stressed while presenting the Constitution in 1936 and in later Political Reports.

In his Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, Stalin further asserted that, the antithesis between town and country, and between mental and physical labour, that Marx and Engels had talked about, had been abolished, and that, the antagonism of interests between them had disappeared.

What remained however was the need to eliminate the essential distinction between agriculture and industry— i.e., to abolish "the fact that whereas in industry we have public ownership of the means of production and the product of industry, in agriculture we have not public, but group, collective-farm ownership" 88 ; and the need to eliminate the essential distinction between mental and physical labour— i.e., to raise "the cultural and technical level of the workers to that of the technical personnel"88.

In the same work he made the important formulation as to the basic condition necessary for advancing towards communism:

"In order to pave the way for a real, and not declaratory transition to communism, at least three basic preliminary conditions have to be satisfied.

1. It is necessary, in the first place, definitely to ensure, .. a continuous expansion of all social production, with a relatively higher rate of expansion of the production of means of production. The relatively higher rate of expansion of production of means of production is necessary not only because it has to provide the equipment both for its own plants and for all the other branches of the national economy, but also because reproduction on an extended scale becomes altogether impossible without it.

2. It is necessary, in the second place, by means of gradual transitions carried out to the advantage of the collective farms, and, hence, of all society, to raise collective-farm property to the level of public property, and, also by means of gradual transitions, to replace commodity circulation by a system of products-exchange, under which the central government, or some other social-economic centre, might control the whole product of social production in the interests of society. ...

3. It is necessary, in the third place, to ensure such a cultural advancement of society as will secure for all members of society the all-round development of their physical and mental abilities, so that the members of society may be in a position to receive an education sufficient to enable them to be active agents of social development, and in a position freely to choose their occupations and not be tied all their lives, owing to the existing division of labour, to some one occupation. ...

"These are the basic conditions required to pave the way for the transition to communism." 89

Errors in Russian Experience: The Russian experience in socialist construction was of central importance to the international proletariat, and particularly to all countries where the proletariat seized power. Mao made an analysis of the Russian experience and pointed certain errors in the practice, as well as in Stalin’s formulations.

Mao pointed out the following principal errors in the Russian experience:

1) Not giving due importance to the contradiction between the production relations and productive forces. Mao pointed out that even "Stalin said that the socialist society’s production relations completely conformed to the development of the production forces; he negated contradictions." 90 Though Stalin corrected this understanding before his death, it was reflected in the prolonged coexistence of two types of ownership. Thus Mao showed that "prolonged coexistence of ownership by the whole people with ownership by the collectives is bound to become less and less adaptable to the development of the productive forces...The contradiction between the productive forces and the production relations unfold without interruption." 91 Mao also felt that though he recognised this problem, "Essentially, Stalin did not discover a way to make the transition from collective to public ownership." 92

2) Not giving importance to the mass-line during socialist construction. Mao pointed out that in the earlier period mass-line was adopted, but "afterward, when they [Stalin and the Party] had realised some gains this way, they became less reliant on the masses." 93 "Stalin emphasised only technology, technical cadre. He wanted nothing but technology, nothing but cadre; no politics, no masses." 94

3) Neglecting the class struggle. "When discussing the socialist economy, Stalin said the post-revolutionary reform was a peaceful reform proceeding from the top to the bottom levels. He did not undertake the class struggle from the bottom to the top, but introduced peaceful land reform in Eastern Europe and North Korea, without struggling against the landowners or the rightists, only proceeding from the top to the bottom and struggling against the capitalists. We proceed from the top to the bottom, but we also add the class struggle from the bottom to the top, settling the roots and linking together." 90

4) Imbalance in the relation between heavy industry on one side and light industry and agriculture on the other. Also failing to find the principal contradiction within heavy industry.

5) "Mistrust of the peasants." 92

Besides drawing these lessons from Stalin and the Russian experience, Mao learnt from the Chinese experience. He thus made immense progress in the Marxist theory of socialist construction.

The Chinese Experience

The implementation of the new democratic economic programme started even before nation-wide victory of the revolution. Thus in his report The Present Situation and Our Tasks, of December 1947, when the People’s Liberation Army had gone on the offensive, Mao outlined the economic tasks for that period. "Confiscate the land of the feudal class and turn it over to the peasants. Confiscate monopoly capital, headed by Chiang Kai-shek, T. V. Soong, H.H.Kung and Chen Li-fu, and turn it over to the new-democratic state, Protect the industry and commerce of the national bourgeoisie. These are the three major economic policies of the new-democratic revolution." 95 These policies were immediately taken up for implementation in the vast areas of Northern China which were under revolutionary control and the agrarian reform was completed there by mid-1950. Subsequently the agrarian reform programme was completed in the remainder of the country.

General Line and Step-by-Step Collectivisation: In 1951, the party adopted what came to be known as the general line for socialist construction. It was formulated as follows:

"The general line of the Chinese Communist Party for the period of transition from capitalism to socialism is basically to accomplish the industrialisation of China together with the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts, and capitalist industry and commerce. This transition period will cover roughly eighteen years, that is, the three years of rehabilitation plus the span of three five-year plans." 96

In accordance with this general line, a ‘step-by-step’ plan was drawn up for the socialist transformation of agriculture. "The first step was to call on the peasants, in accordance with the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, to organise agricultural producers’ mutual-aid teams, which had only certain rudiments of socialism and comprised only a few to a dozen or so households each. The second step has been to call on the peasants, likewise in accordance with the principles of voluntary participation and mutual benefit, to organise small agricultural producers" co-operatives on the basis of these mutual-aid teams, co-operatives which are semi-socialist in nature and are characterised by the pooling of land as shares and by unified management. Then the third step will be to call on the peasants, in accordance with the same principles, to combine further on the basis of these small semi-socialist co-operatives and organise large fully socialist agricultural producers’ cooperatives." 97

The first step of mutual-aid teams had started in the revolutionary bases before the nation-wide victory itself. The second step towards elementary co-operatives took place in the years 1953-55. The third step of transition to advanced co-operatives came about in 1956. There was a literal upsurge of socialist transformation in the countryside. Simultaneously, in the early months of 1956, a related movement rapidly completed the transfer to by the whole people of China’s industry and commerce far ahead of schedule.

Mao’s Development of Dialectical Approach to Socialist Construction: The general line was basically reliant on the Soviet model of socialist construction. The emphasis on industry and particularly on heavy industry was the central direction of the First Five Year Plan of 1953-57. Further there was a tendency to uncritically adopt all Soviet policies. With the rise of modern revisionism in the CPSU, the revisionist tendencies in the CPC were immediately strengthened and in 1956 a campaign was started from within the party to ‘oppose rash advances’— i.e., to stall the process of socialisation. At the same time the revisionist theory of productive forces gained ascendancy within the party, with the prime representative being the party general secretary, Liu Shao-chi. The representatives of this trend too upheld the Khrushchevites, negated the class struggle and concentrated attention towards building modern productive forces, primarily through heavy industry.

Realising the revisionist danger Mao immediately launched a struggle to defeat these trends which at that time controlled the party. His first step in this struggle was his speech of April 1956, ‘On the Ten Major Relationships’. In this speech, Mao for the first time made a clear-cut critique of the Soviet pattern of socialist economic construction. While referring to the relationship between heavy industry on the one hand and light industry and agriculture on the other, Mao stressed that "We have done better than the Soviet Union and a number of East European countries. ...Their lop-sided stress on heavy industry to the neglect of agriculture and light industry results in a shortage of goods on the market and an unstable currency."98 Similarly he criticised the Soviet policy of ‘squeezing the peasants too hard’. He also attacked the dogmatists within the CPC who "copy everything indiscriminately and transplant mechanically" while "learning from the experience of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries."99 He also criticised those who were following the example of Khrushchev in indiscriminately criticising Stalin. He upheld Stalin as a great Marxist with 70% achievements. Thus through this extensive critique of the Soviet revisionists and the mistakes in Soviet socialist construction, Mao led the struggle against the then dominant revisionist line of productive forces within the CPC.

However the biggest contribution of Mao’s speech was its major advancement of the understanding of the process of socialist construction and socialist planning. By presenting the problems of socialist construction as ten major relationships, Mao brought dialectics and contradictions to the centre of the process of building socialist society. He showed how socialist construction involved not merely the mechanical implementation of targets of production and distribution, but a dialectical understanding of the main contradictions in the process, and the mobilising of all the positive forces to achieve socialism. Thus he said, "It is to focus on one basic policy that these ten problems are being raised, the basic policy of mobilising all positive factors, internal and external, to serve the cause of socialism." 100 "These ten relationships are all contradictions. The world consists of contradictions. Without contradictions the world would cease to exist. Our task is to handle these contradictions correctly." 101

Mao followed it up the next year with his work ‘On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People’. In it he continued the development of the dialectical understanding of the process of socialist construction. Primarily he also placed the class struggle at the very core of the process. He asserted that the "class struggle is by no means over.. the question of which will win out, socialism or capitalism, is not really settled yet." 102 This marked the beginning of a nation-wide Rectification Movement, the Anti-Rightist Movement.

Great Leap Forward and the Birth of People’s Communes:

With the progress of the rectification movement, the rightists in the party were thrown on the defensive. This led, in 1958, to a rectification of the erroneous "productive forces theory" which had dominated the Eighth Party Congress in1956. The prime mover of this theory, Liu Shao-chi, was forced to admit at the Second Session of the Eighth Party Congress in May 1958, that,

"The experience of the rectification campaign and the anti-rightist struggle once again shows that throughout the transition period, that is, before completion of the building of a socialist society, the main contradiction inside our country is and remains that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the socialist road and the capitalist road...

"The spring of 1958 witnessed the beginning of a leap forward on every front in our socialist construction. Industry, agriculture and all other fields of activity are registering greater and more rapid growth."103

Aside from rapid growth however, the Great Leap Forward was a major change in the priorities of the earlier plans and general line. The industrial policy of "walking on two legs" was introduced. Through implementation of this policy it was tried to change the soviet model of over dependence on big industrial projects and to bring about a dialectical balance between heavy and light industries encouraging simultaneous development of agriculture, heavy and light industry. It aimed at reducing the gap between town and countryside, between worker and peasant, and between worker and peasant on the one hand and the intellectual and manager on the other hand. It aimed at not merely a economic revolution but a technological, political, social and cultural revolution to transform the city and countryside.

In 1958 started the building of the people’s communes. "They were formed by the amalgamation of neighbouring co-operatives in order to undertake large-scale projects such as flood control, water conservancy, afforestation, fisheries, and transport. In addition, many communes set up their own factories for making tractors, chemical fertilisers, and other means of production." 104 The movement to set up people’s communes grew very rapidly. The CC of the CPC announced in its famous Wuhan Resolution of December, 1958 that "Within a few months starting in the summer of 1958, all of the more than 740,000 agricultural producers’ co-operatives in the country, in response to the enthusiastic demand of the mass of peasants, reorganised themselves into over 26,000 people’s communes. Over 120 million households, or more than 99 percent of all China’a peasant households of various nationalities, have joined the people’s communes." 105 Summing up the political essence, the CC went on to say:

"The people’s commune is the basic unit of the socialist social structure of our country, combining industry, agriculture, trade, education, and military affairs; at the same time it is the basic organisation of the socialist state power. Marxist-Leninist theory and the initial experience of the people’s communes in our country enable us to foresee now that the people’s communes will quicken the tempo of our socialist construction and constitute the best form for realising, in our country, the following two transitions.

"Firstly, the transition from collective ownership to ownership by the whole people in the countryside; and,

"Secondly, the transition from socialist to communist society. It can also be foreseen that in the future communist society, the people’s commune will remain the basic unit of our social structure." 105

Thus the commune movement represented a tremendous advance which basically completed the process of collectivisation of agriculture. However the expectation of the commune taking ahead the process of the transition to full public ownership and communism could not be fulfilled to that extent. Also attempts at setting up urban communes could not be consolidated.

In the earliest period of the commune movement during the Great Leap, there were certain ‘left’ errors. Thus in February 1959, Mao’s speech at Cheng-chow, pointed out, "After the communes were set up in the autumn of 1958, for a while there blew up a ‘communist wind’. It consisted mainly of three elements: the first was the levelling of the poor and the rich brigades, the second was that capital accumulation by the commune was too great and the commune’s demand for labour without compensation was too great and the third was the ‘communisation’ of all kinds ‘property’." 106 These errors were soon corrected. The production brigade (former advanced co-operative), was kept as the basic accounting unit, and in 1962, this was brought to an even lower level, that of the production team. Though the perspective remained always of raising the level of ownership and accounting to higher levels, as a process of greater socialisation and transition towards communism, this did not achieve success. The basic accounting and ownership unit continued till 1976, to remain at this lowest level – the production team.

Struggle against the Capitalist Roaders:

Though the ‘left’ errors were soon corrected, the hold of the capitalist roaders, led by Liu Shao-chi, remained strong within the party’s higher levels. The two-line struggle was represented in direct and indirect ways. In July 1959, Peng Teh-huai, then Defence Minister, launched a direct attack on the Great Leap Forward, criticising what he called its "petty-bourgeois fanaticism" and desire "to enter into communism at one step" 107 Mao repulsed these attacks and defended the politics of the Great Leap. However, though Peng was defeated, the other capitalist roaders continued their attacks through indirect means.

One method was through veiled defence of Peng and attacks on Mao in the media. This was through articles and also through plays and cultural performances intending to show how Peng was an upright comrade who had been victimised.

The other method was to stall or divert the implementation of key policies decided at the highest levels. A principal example was sabotage of the programme of socialist education and the decision to launch a Cultural Revolution, taken by the Tenth Plenum of the CC in 1962. Though this was formally agreed to by the capitalist roaders, they ensured through their control within the party structure, to ensure that there was no mass mobilisation. They "sought to orient the Cultural Revolution in the direction of academic and ideological debate rather than class struggle" 108

Mao, throughout this period (1959-60), fought the battle at various levels. He realised on the basis of the Russian experience, the very real danger of the restoration of capitalism. He, therefore, on the basis of a major study of the politics and economics of Khrushchevite revisionism, drew the theoretical lessons of this experience for the education of the Chinese and the international proletariat. Through a Critique of Soviet Economics and an analysis of Khrushchev’s Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons for the World, he tried to inculcate in the party cadre the theoretical foundations for a fight against revisionism and restoration.

However he mainly tried to draw the masses into the struggle to defend and develop socialism and prevent restoration of capitalism. Besides his earlier mentioned programme for socialist education, he also gave slogans for socialist emulation of the Tachai and Tach’ing experiences as model experiences in building socialism. But when all attempts to mobilise the masses were diverted by the party bureaucracy, Mao succeeded after tremendous efforts in unleashing the energies of the masses through the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It was the culmination in practice of Mao’s development of the Marxist principles of socialist construction.


Capitalist Restoration in the Soviet Union: Historical Lessons

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was the answer of Marxism to the obstacles and sabotage of the process of socialist construction created by the Khrushchevites and the capitalist roaders. While drawing the historical lessons from Khrushchev’s phoney communism, the CPC under Mao, had stressed certain ‘theories and policies’ on the question of prevention of the restoration of capitalism. Among other points, the CPC had emphasised the following :

"apply the Marxist-Leninist law of the unity of opposites to the study of socialist society";

"socialist revolution on the economic front (in the ownership of the means of production) is insufficient by itself and cannot be consolidated. There must be a thorough socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts...During the historical period of socialism it is necessary to maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat and carry the socialist revolution through to the end if the restoration of capitalism is to be prevented, socialist construction carried forward and the conditions created for the transition to communism" ;

"in both socialist revolution and socialist construction it is necessary to adhere to the mass line, boldly to arouse the masses and to unfold mass movements on a large scale";

"whether in socialist revolution or in socialist construction, . ..the proletariat and its vanguard must ...rely on the truly dependable forces that firmly take the socialist road, win over all allies that can be won over, and unite with the masses of the people, who constitute 95 per cent of the population, in a common struggle against the enemies of socialism.";

"it is necessary to conduct extensive socialist education movements repeatedly in the cities and the countryside. In these continuous movements for educating the people we must be good at organising the revolutionary class forces, is necessary to wage a sharp, tit-for-tat struggle against the anti-socialist, capitalist and feudal forces."109

The Cultural Revolution: A Form Found Anew

These ‘theories and policies’ formed the theoretical basis of the great struggles of the Cultural Revolution. As Mao further analysed the experiences of socialist construction both in the Soviet Union and in China, it became clear that the capitalist roaders within the party itself were the most dangerous source of the restoration of capitalism. It was also clear that ideological struggle confined within the party would not settle the issue unless taken to the masses. The questions of who were the friends and enemies of the revolution were clear; the question was of the form, the method.

The Ninth Party Congress of 1969 described this question in the following manner:

"As Chairman Mao pointed out in his talk in February 1967: ‘In the past we have waged struggles in rural areas, in factories, in the cultural field, and we carried out the socialist education movement. But all this failed to solve the problem, because we did not find a form, a method, to arouse the broad masses to expose our dark aspect openly, in an all-round way, and from below.’

"Now we have found this form— it is the great proletarian cultural revolution. It is only by arousing the masses in their hundreds of millions to air their views freely, write big-character posters, and hold great debates, that the renegades, enemy agents, and capitalist-roaders in power, who have wormed their way into the Party, can be exposed and their plots to restore capitalism smashed." 110

The Targets of the Revolution

Thus from the very beginning, Mao directed the struggle against the capitalist roader headquarters within the party. Thus ‘the signal for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ was given by Yao Wen-yuan’s article, which Mao had to get published from Shanghai, because the party authorities in Peking would not allow its publication as it was critical of those in control. As the movement started building up Mao gave clear direction through the CC circular of May 16th 1966, which he personally initiated. The direction was clearly against the bourgeoisie within the party. It stated :

"There are a number of these representatives of the bourgeoisie in the Central Committee and in the Party, government and other departments at the central as well as the provincial, municipal, and autonomous-region level.

"Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the Party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists. Once conditions are ripe, they will seize political power and turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Some of them we have already seen through, others we have not. Some are still trusted by us and are being trained as our successors, persons like Khrushchev, for example, who are still nestling beside us. Party committees at all levels must pay full attention to this matter." 111

This was repeated again in the Eleventh Plenum ‘Decision of the Central Committee of the CPC concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ :

"The main target of the present movement is those within the party who are in authority and are taking the capitalist road." 112

Mass Line in the Revolution

The other important aspect of the Cultural Revolution was the advancement and practical implementation of Mao’s mass line. It was aimed, not merely at eliminating the elements hostile to socialism, but to enable the working class to ‘exercise leadership in everything’, to ‘place politics in command of administration’, and to ensure that everyone serving as an official should ‘remain one of the common people’. In order to achieve these aims it was necessary to launch an all-out offensive against bourgeois ideology in such a way that the masses would be actively involved.

Thus, the Eleventh Plenum resolution instructed,

"In the great proletarian Cultural Revolution, the only method is for the masses to liberate themselves, and any method of doing things on their behalf must not be used.

"Trust the masses, rely on them and respect their initiative. Cast out fear. Don’t be afraid of disorder. .... Let the masses educate themselves in this great revolution and learn to distinguish right and wrong and between correct and incorrect ways of doing things." 113

As the masses entered in full strength in the revolution they even created a new organisational form– the revolutionary committee. It was based on the ‘three-in-one’ combination : that is, its members, who were elected, subject to recall, and directly responsible to the people, were drawn from the Party, the People’s Liberation Army, and the mass organisations. They sprung up at all levels, from the factory or commune to the organs of provincial and regional government, and their function was to provide the link through which the masses could participate directly in the running of the country.

Mao said, "This great Cultural Revolution, using the great democratic methods of the proletarian dictatorship, has mobilised the masses from below. At the same time, it puts into practice the grand alliance of the proletarian revolutionaries, the three-way alliance between the revolutionary masses, the PLA, and the revolutionary cadres." 114

This three-in-one organ of power enabled proletarian political power to strike deep roots among the masses. Direct participation by the revolutionary masses in the running of the country and the enforcement of revolutionary supervision from below over the organs of political power at various levels played a very important role in ensuring that leading groups at all levels adhered to the mass line. Thus this strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat, was also the most extensive and deepest exercise in proletarian democracy yet achieved in the world.

Historical Relevance of the Cultural Revolution

Under the initial sweep of the Cultural Revolution, the bourgeois headquarters within the Party was effectively smashed, and most of the leading capitalist roaders like Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping and their supporters were stripped off their party posts and forced to do self-criticism before the masses. It was a great victory which not only inspired the Chinese masses, but also created a wave of revolutionary enthusiasm among communist revolutionaries throughout the world. After the setback of Khrushchevite modern revisionism, Maoism had proved the vitality of Marxism and its ability to find the answers to the new challenges being faced by the international proletariat. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution had shown that Marxism had an answer to the enemy, i.e., capitalist restoration. This advance in Marxism, led to the consolidation of numerous revolutionary groups and parties throughout the world on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and the launching of revolutionary struggles under their leadership.

However Mao warned, "The present Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is only the first; there will inevitably be many more in the future. The issue of who will win in the revolution can only be settled over a long historical period. If things are not properly handled, it is possible for a capitalist restoration to take place at any time in the future." 115

Further he reminded the Ninth Party Congress in 1969, "We have won a great victory. But the defeated class will continue to struggle. Its members are still about and it still exists, therefore we cannot speak of the final victory, not for decades. We must not lose our vigilance. From the Leninist point of view, the final victory in one socialist country not only requires the efforts of the proletariat and the broad masses at home, but also depends on the victory of the world revolution and the abolition of the system of exploitation of man by man on this earth so that all mankind will be emancipated. Consequently, it is wrong to talk about the final victory of the revolution in our country light-heartedly; it runs counter to Leninism and does not conform to facts." 115

Mao’s words proved true within a short time. First in 1971 Lin Piao, then vice-chairman, conspired to seize power through assassinating Mao and staging a military coup. This was foiled through the alertness of the revolutionaries in the party. Later however, arch revisionists like Teng were rehabilitated back to high positions within the party and state apparatus during the later years of the Cultural Revolution. It was these renegades who engineered the coup to take over the party and lead it on the path of capitalist restoration immediately after the death of Mao. It was they who sabotaged and then formally announced the end of the Cultural Revolution.

This coup and capitalist restoration however cannot repudiate the validity of the truth of the Cultural Revolution. Rather it, in a way, confirms Mao’s theses on the nature of socialist society and the need to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Cultural Revolution is a scientific tool developed in the struggle against capitalist restoration and in the theoretical struggle to develop Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Its scientific validity has been established in the crucible of the practice of the Chinese Revolution. Its efficacy as a weapon to mobilise the vast masses in the struggle against the danger of capitalist restoration in a socialist country has also been proved. However, as Mao himself pointed out, no weapon can provide a guarantee of final victory. Thus, the fact that the capitalist roaders have achieved a temporary victory does not in any way diminish the objective truth of the necessity and effectivity of this weapon in the fight for socialist construction and the defence of socialism.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is one of the foremost contributions of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the arsenal of the international proletariat. It represents the implementation in practice of Mao’s greatest contribution to Marxism— the theory of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to consolidate socialism, combat modern revisionism and prevent the restoration of capitalism. Its significance for the international proletariat is immeasurable in today’s world where all the socialist bases have been lost due to the machinations of the bourgeoisie within the communist party itself. Therefore the time has come to revise Lenin’s definition of a Marxist. Today,

"Those who recognise only the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat are not yet Marxists......only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat to the recognition of the continuous revolution in the super structure keeping the aim of the consummation of the world revolution and building communist society as early as possible." 116



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