A Quotation From Chairman Mao Tse-tung
The world is ours, the country is ours and society is ours. If we don’t speak, then who will? If we don’t act, then who will?
On the Proletarian Revolutionaries’ Struggle to Seize Power
[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 10, #6, Feb. 3,
1967, pp. 10-15. Thanks are due to the WWW.WENGEWANG.ORG
web site for some of the work done for this posting.
PROLETARIAN revolutionaries are uniting to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road. This is the strategic task for the new stage of the great proletarian cultural revolution. It is the decisive battle between the proletariat and the masses of working people on the one hand and the bourgeoisie and its agents in the Party on the other.
This mighty revolutionary storm started in Shanghai. The revolutionary masses in Shanghai have called it the great “January Revolution.” Our great leader Chairman Mao immediately expressed resolute support for it. He called on the workers, peasants, revolutionary students, revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary cadres to study the experience of the revolutionary rebels of Shanghai and he called on the People’s Liberation Army actively to support and assist the proletarian revolutionaries in their struggle to seize power.
Chairman Mao’s great call received an immediate enthusiastic response from the revolutionary masses and the commanders and fighters of the Peoples Liberation Army. The proletarian revolutionaries who have formed a mighty force are capturing one citadel after another in certain places and units, where the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road have been entrenched, and are then consolidating these captured positions one by one. The storm of the “January Revolution” is now sweeping the whole country.
The ranks of the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road have been badly battered. However, like all reactionaries, they will never be reconciled to their own extinction. And like all reactionaries, they “will never lay down their butcher knives ... they will never become buddhas.”
Chairman Mao has pointed out: “Make trouble, fail, make trouble again, fail again ... till their doom; that is the logic of the imperialists and all reactionaries the world over in dealing with the people’s cause, and they will never go against this logic.” This is also true of the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road. We must “cast away illusions, prepare for struggle” in accordance with Chairman Mao’s teaching.
The experience of the city of Shanghai, Shansi Province and other places tells us that in the course of the struggle to seize power, we must pay great attention to the following questions:
When they were in power, the handful of persons within the Party who were in authority and taking the capitalist road always used their power to counter the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao and to suppress the revolutionary masses. When they are stripped of power by the revolutionary masses, they still do their utmost to stage a counter seizure of power in a vain attempt to counter-attack in revenge and to recapture their lost power.
In some places, these reactionary elements are reorganizing their reactionary ranks. They are gathering together landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements and Rightists, and collecting the dregs of society to stage counter-attacks against the proletarian revolutionaries and seize power from them.
In some places, these reactionary elements have resorted to the method of worming their way in [to the ranks of the revolutionaries] and pulling people out [of the revolutionary ranks] in a vain attempt to split up the great alliance of the proletarian revolutionaries, and usurp the leadership of the revolutionary rebel organizations. In this way they hope to shift the general orientation of the struggle.
In some places, these reactionary elements instigate their collaborators who still hold the leadership of a factory, a workshop, a unit, or a production brigade to sabotage production, disrupt communications and transport and destroy state and collective property, in a vain attempt to disturb the economic life of the state so as to achieve their political aim of staging a counter-seizure of power against the proletarian revolutionaries.
Chairman Mao teaches us: “Strategically we should despise all our enemies, but tactically we should take them all seriously.” The handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road will never succeed in their schemes, which are doomed to failure. We should despise them. However, we must deal with them seriously, and must never treat them casually or lightly.
Proletarian revolutionaries must fully understand that the struggle to seize power and counter-seize power between us and the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road is a life-and-death struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It is a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy.
The general orientation for proletarian revolutionaries is to form an alliance and seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road. All revolutionary comrades should take this general orientation as their starting point and adhere to it in considering and handling all matters. If not, they will embark on the wrong road and may go over to the opposite side.
In places and organizations where the great proletarian cultural revolution has been vigorously carried out for more than half a year, the revolutionary masses have become clear as to who are the chief figures among those in the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road. In the struggle to seize power the proletarian revolutionaries must focus on their target and deal the enemy heavy blows. A strict distinction must be made between contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and those among the people. We must not treat contradictions among the people as contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and blast away indiscriminately. Otherwise, the struggle to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road will be hindered and errors on questions of orientation will be committed and will be used by the class enemy.
Resolutely build the great alliance of the proletarian revolutionaries and unite the broad masses. This is the most important condition for victory in the struggle to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road.
Now that the great proletarian cultural revolution has reached the stage of the struggle to seize power in an all-round way from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road, it is essential for revolutionary mass organizations to forge a great alliance. Without a great alliance of proletarian revolutionaries, the struggle to seize power cannot be completed successfully; even if some power has been seized, it may be lost again.
To form and consolidate the great alliance of proletarian revolutionaries, it is necessary to study and apply Chairman Mao’s works creatively in the course of struggle, to straighten out the ranks ideologically and organizationally and strengthen the proletarian sense of organization and discipline. It is necessary to use Mao Tse-tung’s thought as the weapon to correct such erroneous tendencies as departmentalism, “small group” mentality (considering the interests of a particular group rather than the overall interest), excessive decentralization, the disregard of organizational discipline, ultra-democracy, liberalism, subjectivism and individualism in people’s minds and in their organizations. All of these ideas and actions that run counter to Chairman Mao’s teachings and hamper the great alliance of the proletarian revolutionaries are an expression of the bourgeois world outlook, a reflection of the current acute class struggle in the revolutionary ranks. These questions fall within the category of contradictions among the people, which must be solved in line with the policy of “learning from past mistakes to avoid future ones” and “curing the sickness to save the patient” and the formula of unity-criticism-unity, all of which Chairman Mao has always advocated. Do more self-criticism, and don’t attack one another. The erroneous, non-proletarian ideas and actions cited above must not be allowed to develop or they will be made use of by the class enemy. If anyone clings to these erroneous ideas and persists in taking these erroneous actions and lets them develop, the non-antagonistic contradictions can turn into antagonistic ones.
Once the revolutionary mass organizations have seized power in a particular department, their own position alters. At this time, the bourgeois ideas and petty-bourgeois ideas in the minds of certain comrades easily come to the fore. We must be highly vigilant. We must rid ourselves of all selfish ideas and personal considerations and make a revolution to the depth of our souls. Everything must proceed from the fundamental interests of the proletariat. We must attach the utmost importance to the interests of the whole instead of concerning ourselves with personal prestige and position. We must firmly respond to Chairman Mao’s call to “practise economy in carrying out revolution” and not show off, spend money without measure and waste state property. We must not fall victim to the “sugar-coated bullets” of the bourgeoisie.
Revolutionary mass organizations which have seized power and the leaders of these organizations should adopt the principle of unity towards the masses and the mass organizations holding different views. They should win over the majority instead of excluding the majority. This helps to isolate to the maximum the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road and deal them blows, and it helps to establish the new proletarian revolutionary order.
Everyone, in the course of the struggle to seize power and after coming to power, has to undergo new tests. We hope that the revolutionary path-breakers who come to the fore during the movement will always be loyal to the proletariat, to Chairman Mao, and to the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao, and that they will become politically mature in the course of time rather than be like those who just flash across the stage of history. The only way one can live up to this hope is to study Mao Tse-tung’s thought conscientiously, to integrate oneself with the masses of workers and peasants and to make serious efforts to remould one’s own non-proletarian world outlook. There is no other way.
Adequate attention must be paid to the role of revolutionary cadres in the struggle to seize power. Leading cadres who have firmly adhered to the proletarian revolutionary line are the treasure of the Party. They can become the backbone of the struggle to seize power and can become leaders in this struggle.
Such leading comrades have, for quite a long time in the past, waged struggles within the Party against the handful of people in authority taking the capitalist road. They have now stepped out before the masses and have proclaimed to the masses that they stand on the side of the proletarian revolutionaries and will integrate themselves with the revolutionary masses and fight together with them. The workers, peasants, revolutionary students and revolutionary intellectuals should trust them. A clear distinction must be drawn between those in authority who belong to the proletariat and those who belong to the bourgeoisie, between those who support and carry out the proletarian revolutionary line and those who support and carry out the bourgeois reactionary line. To regard all persons in authority as untrustworthy is wrong. To oppose, exclude and overthrow all indiscriminately runs counter to the class viewpoint of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tse-tung’s thought.
When the revolutionary leading cadres rise up to join the masses in seizing power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road, the revolutionary mass organizations should support them. It must be recognized that they are more experienced in struggle, they are more mature politically and they have greater organizational skill. The seizure and retention of power will be helped immeasurably by their inclusion in the core of leadership.
Cadres who have made errors should be treated correctly and should not be overthrown indiscriminately. All those who are not anti-Party, anti-socialist elements, and do not persist in their errors or refuse to correct them after repeated education, should be allowed to correct their errors and be encouraged to make amends for their crimes by good deeds. To learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones and to cure the sickness to save the patient is a long-standing policy of the Party. Only thus can those who commit errors submit willingly; and only in this way can the proletarian revolutionaries get hearty support from the great majority of the people and remain invincible. Otherwise, there is great danger.
The overwhelming majority of the ordinary cadres in the Party and government organizations, enterprises and undertakings are good and want to make revolution. The proletarian revolutionary rebels among them are the vital force for seizing power in these organizations. This is the point which must not be neglected.
Cadres at all levels have to undergo the test of the great proletarian cultural revolution and make new contributions to the revolution. They should not rest on their past achievements, think that they are so wonderful and lightly regard the young revolutionary fighters who have now come to the fore. The following concepts are completely wrong and must be corrected: to see only one’s own past merits but not the general orientation of the revolution today and to see only the shortcomings and mistakes of the newly emerged young revolutionary fighters, but not to recognize the fact that their general orientation in the revolution is correct.
The current seizure of power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road is not effected by dismissal and reorganization from above, but from below by the mass movement called for and supported by Chairman Mao himself. Only in this way can the leading organizations of our Party and state, enterprises and undertakings, cultural organizations and schools be regenerated and the old bourgeois practices be thoroughly eradicated.
Experience proves that in the course of the struggle for the seizure of power, it is necessary, through exchange of views and consultations among leading members of revolutionary mass organizations, leading members of local People’s Liberation Army units and revolutionary leading cadres of Party and government organizations, to establish provisional organs of power to take up the responsibility of leading this struggle. These provisional organs of power must “take firm hold of the revolution and promote production,” put the system of production into normal operation, direct the existing set-ups in administrative and professional work (they should be readjusted where necessary) to carry on with their tasks, and organize the revolutionary masses to supervise these set-ups. These provisional organs of power must also shoulder the task of giving unified direction in suppressing counter-revolutionary organizations and counter-revolutionaries. Such provisional organs of power must be set up; this is essential and extremely important. Through a period of transition, the wisdom of the broad masses will be brought into full play and a completely new organizational form of political power better suited to the socialist economic base will be created.
A number of units, where a handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road have entrenched themselves over a long period, have become rotten. There these persons have been exercising bourgeois dictatorship, not proletarian dictatorship. The Marxist principle of smashing the existing state machine must be put into practice in the struggle for the seizure of power in these units.
In summing up the experience of the Paris Commune, Marx pointed out that the proletariat must not take over the existing bourgeois state machine but must thoroughly smash it. Practice in the international communist movement has proved this to be a great truth. Since a number of units, in which a handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road have entrenched themselves, have been turned into organs for bourgeois dictatorship, naturally we must not take them over ready-made, resort to reformism, combine two into one and effect peaceful transition. We must smash them thoroughly.
The great mass movement to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road has begun to create and will continue to create new organizational forms for the state organs of the proletarian dictatorship. Here, we must respect the initiative of the masses and boldly adopt the new forms, full of vitality, that emerge in the mass movement to replace the old practices of the exploiting classes and in fact to replace all old practices that do not correspond to the socialist economic base. It is absolutely impermissible to merely take over power while letting things remain the same and operating according to old rules.
On June 1 last year, Chairman Mao described the first Marxist-Leninist big-character poster in the country, which came from Peking University, as the Manifesto of the Peking People’s Commune of the sixties in the 20th century. Chairman Mao showed his wisdom and genius in predicting even then that our state organs would take on completely new forms.
To arouse hundreds of millions of people from below to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road, to smash the old practices and create new forms, opens up a new era in the international history of proletarian revolution and in the international history of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It will greatly enrich and develop the experience of the Paris Commune, greatly enrich and develop the experience of the Soviets, and greatly enrich and develop Marxism-Leninism.
The struggle by the proletarian revolutionaries to seize power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road is being carried out under the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the course of the seizure of power, the dictatorship of the proletariat must be strengthened. This is an indispensable condition for the establishment of the new proletarian revolutionary order.
In the present stage of the decisive struggle being waged by the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and its handful of agents within the Party, the landlords and rich peasants, who persist in their reactionary stand, the bourgeois Rightists, bad elements, counter-revolutionary revisionists and the U.S.-Chiang Kai-shek special agents all emerge. These ghosts and monsters spread rumours to confuse the people, and deceive and mislead those who are not aware of the true facts into forming counterrevolutionary organizations to carry out frenzied counter-revolutionary activities. For example, the so-called “Worker-Peasant Red Flag Army of China,” “Rong Fu Jun,” “United Action Committee” and a number of other organizations set up by the revisionists, which call themselves “revolutionary” but are actually royalist organizations, are reactionary organizations of this kind. The majority of the masses in these organizations have been duped and should be won over by education. However, the handful of ringleaders of these reactionary organizations have schemed and used every kind of trick to bombard the proletarian revolutionary headquarters, to seize power from the proletarian revolutionaries and raid the revolutionary mass organizations. They have stabbed the revolutionary people in the back, bought over workers and staff, halted production, interrupted communications and transport, wrecked and looted state property. They have stirred up trouble to serve their own ends and have been indulging in vain hopes of a come-back. Some of these organizations are carrying out counter-revolutionary activities on the orders of those in authority who persist in taking the capitalist road. These counter-revolutionary organizations are built on sand. Once the masses see through them, they immediately collapse, and the handful of ringleaders are dragged out by the masses.
It is a very good thing that all the ghosts and monsters come out into the open. This provides us with an opportunity for a good spring-cleaning to “sweep away all pests.”
We must be firm in exercising dictatorship over these counter-revolutionaries.
In his noted treatise On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, Chairman Mao says that in dealing with the reactionaries, we must “enforce dictatorship ... 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.”
“Revolutionary dictatorship and counter-revolutionary dictatorship are by nature opposite, but the former was learned from the latter. Such learning is very important. If the revolutionary people do not master this method of ruling over the counter-revolutionary classes, they will not be able to maintain their state power, domestic and foreign reaction will overthrow that power and restore its own rule over China and disaster will befall the revolutionary people.”
All revolutionary comrades must firmly bear in mind these teachings of Chairman Mao. For the reactionaries, even limited democracy is not allowed, not to speak of extensive democracy, not one iota. Toward them, only dictatorship should be carried out!
A group of ghosts and monsters have now come out to set up counter-revolutionary organizations and carry out counter-revolutionary activities. These counter-revolutionary organizations must be resolutely eliminated. Counter-revolutionaries must be dealt with in accordance with the law without hesitation.
Chairman Mao has called on the People’s Liberation Army to actively support and assist the genuine proletarian revolutionaries and to oppose the Rightists resolutely. The great People’s Liberation Army created by Chairman Mao himself has heartily responded to his call. The People’s Liberation Army is making new, great contributions to the cause of socialism in the great proletarian cultural revolution. This is the glorious task of the People’s Liberation Army.
In certain places, the counter-revolutionary organizations have been fully exposed. It is entirely correct that the P.L.A. units stationed there, the revolutionary masses and the public security bodies in the hands of the proletarian revolutionaries take action to suppress these counter-revolutionary organizations. The handling of the reactionary “Rong Fu Jun” in Harbin by the P.L.A. units stationed there, the revolutionary masses and the committee for taking over the municipal public security bureau has provided useful experience. Immediately after encircling the “Rong Fu Jun,” they launched a political offensive which awakened those who had been hoodwinked, and turned the scene of this counterrevolutionary incident into a meeting place for accusing the counter-revolutionaries. Those who had been deceived then handed over their chieftains and the “Rong Fu Jun” quickly disintegrated. All this dealt heavy blows to the counter-revolutionaries who are extremely few in number, and won over those who were duped.
In suppressing counter-revolutionary organizations and counter-revolutionaries, the instruments of dictatorship must work closely with the revolutionary masses. For counter-revolutionaries, this is an escape-proof net.
All revolutionary mass organizations and all revolutionary comrades must increase their revolutionary vigilance to prevent counter-revolutionaries from sneaking in to make trouble. They must co-ordinate with the Instruments of dictatorship under a unified command to safeguard the proletarian dictatorship.
As the War of Liberation entered the stages of a general counter-offensive against the Chiang Kai-shek reactionary clique, Chairman Mao issued a call to the whole Party, the whole army and the people of the whole country when he said: “The army advances, production increases. When our sense of discipline is strengthened, we are ever-victorious in the revolution.”
Today, when the great army of the proletarian revolution is seizing power from the handful of persons within the Party who are in authority and taking the capitalist road, and is launching a general counter-offensive against the bourgeoisie and its agents in the Party, we must also take firm hold of the revolution and promote production, and strengthen our sense of discipline. In this way, we shall be also ever-victorious in the present struggle.
“But now that the cock has crowed and all under heaven is bright.” Let us heartily welcome the decisive victory of the great proletarian cultural revolution!
(“Hongqi” editorial, No.3, 1967)
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