Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung

Speech at Expanded Meeting of CPC Political Bureau [1]

April 25, 1956

[Source: Long Live Mao Zedong Thought, Red Guard Publication, 1969.]

There are those who show no vigor and vitality in their expressions of opinion. The relationship between the lower echelon and the higher echelon is like that of a mouse when it sees a cat. It is as if their souls have been eaten away. Thus many dare not speak up. The various provinces have this same problem. They are not sufficiently democratic, although the exemplary workers speak up quite spiritedly. Our financial and economic conference and the Fourth Plenary Session of the Central Committee have an auxiliary function, because there are several rules and regulations on which not everyone dares speak appropriately and some comrades do not dare express themselves at all.

Another reason for this is that they do not have sufficient understanding of the situation and thus do not speak clearly and profoundly. In regard to the financial and economic system, Comrades X X and Hsien-nieh have their own opinions, but this is not a question of men. Only by changing the system can we change the way of doing things, and we must give some power to those below. Our discipline has come mostly from Soviet Union. By being too strict, we will tie the hands of the people. If we cannot crush bureaucracy in this way, then the proletarian dictatorship must have an appropriate system. In regard to the problem of the division of power between the central government and the local areas, and how the single-head system of the Soviet Union came about, the Political Bureau and the State Council have still been unable to make a decision. If the various localities want division of power, they should not be fearful of talking of independence. Since the central government has not made any decision on this, all of it can be brought up for discussion. It is allowable for the various localities to first work up their own regulations, by-laws, methods, and statutes. We should allow the various localities to be full of creativity, spirit, and liveliness. Starting next year, a large meeting should be held once a year. On 1 May there need not be a large meeting; there can be small meetings and entertainment, and 1 May slogans of the Soviet Union need not be posted.

Since the Fourth Plenary Session of the Central Committee, we have been dull and mechanical, and lacking in spirit. The Fourth Plenary Session should be convened. Its resolutions are very necessary. Letting Kao Kang hold sway for another year is unthinkable. But this has produced an over cautiousness about everything, and some do not dare speak of national affairs, and this is not right. Before the Fourth Plenary Session of the Central committee, there were some sabotage incidents; these must be overcome. The sabotage activities of Kao and Jao should be terminated.[2] But some are overcautious and do not speak of national affairs. A clear distinction should be made between two kinds of national affairs. One type is destructive, like that of Kao and Jao, arid should be opposed. One type is constructive, and should be thoroughly discussed. At the lime of the financial and economic conference,[3] some comrades said the wrong thing and were subject to criticism, but the Kao and Jao affairs should be distinguished from them. The party at the time of the Great Revolution was full of vitality. Later Ch'en Tu-hsiu committed the mistake of right opportunism, and subsequently also started the blind leftist movement.[4] After defeat, he was no longer lively. In these eight years, the brief period following the "7 August" Conference [5], the Sixth National Congress [6] and the Third Plenary Session of the Party Central Committee were correct.[7] During the period of land reform, there were three leftist tendencies. During the period of the anti-Japanese war, there was a rightist trend. Two of the leftist trends were our own, and the third leftist trend and the Communist International were related to each other. The Fourth Plenary Session's resolutions on the third leftist trend were written by the Russians who forced us to accept them, especially the Wang Ming line. It was the greatest loss to our revolutionary power, the loss incurred amounting to over 90 percent. In view of this lesson, we should accept things analytically and critically. Chang Kuo-t'ao was rightist.[8] During the Anti-Japanese War, he was also rightist. The three rightist movements were especially for centralization, and they were not allowed to express a difference of views. In defeat, they were not allowed to talk of defeat. In view of the lessons of history, later every effort was made to remedy the situation, and there was unify and fighting spirit. During the period of the Anti-Japanese War, the spirit of independence of the base areas was very great, and local activism was given expression, but there was a kind of decentralization. Some who were working for independence expressed what should not be expressed. This was related to the Wang Ming line. In order to correct this kind of phenomenon, the central government made the decision to strengthen parry nature. There was to be centralization, but a good deal of autonomy was preserved. During the period of the War of Liberation, there was formulated the system of reporting for instructions, rectifying the previous tendency of decentralizalion.[9] During the past few years, it has been irregular, and there has been more centralization. After all, how much autonomy should the industrial plants, the villages, the cooperatives, and the localities have? The Soviet Union during the past 40 years has had no experience in this, and we have no experience to study this. Since some things are decided neither by the Central Government nor the localities, they are just carried out as such, as for example the single-head system. Comrade Hsueh-feng would bring up the questions before the central government would discuss it. Our party historically has had the over-centralization of the Wang Ming line and the over-decentralization of the Second Wang Ming line. It is necessary to have an adequate amount of centralization, but too much centralization is not right and not beneficial for the mobilization of power to carry out large-scale economic reconstruction. Our comrades will please study carefully our party's history on this.

The question of the individual and the state, and the ratio of collective income. I agree that 60-70 percent of the total income should go to the commune members, and 30-40 percent to the state and the commune. At most this should not exceed 40 percent; and 30 percent is the best (including agricultural taxes, besides the cooperative public welfare fund the public accumulation fund, administrative fees, etc.)

The question of the system of the socialist economy:

The party committee system is not to be doubted. Please study Lenin's directives. The industrial plants and mines, cooperatives, commercial flow and transport, as well as other enterprises must have a definite independence, but the extent to which they should be independent should be carefully studied. We are not Kao Kang's Independent Kingdom, but should encourage open and legal "independent kingdoms" (not above the constitution) if we are to manage our affairs well. If we have none of this at all, we cannot manage our affairs well. How should the State Council have division of labor in management and control? This must be studied in order to find a solution. How many departments the central government should have and how much power they should have are questions which should be decided on shortly. As to how many departments the localities should set up, over what matters they should have jurisdiction, and how much power they should have, we should draft a resolution on this within the next few months. The various departments of the central government should stress the teaching of cadres for the lower levels to solve their problems. When the localities come to the central government and cannot see the people in charge, and there is delay and indecision, some problems do not get to be solved for several years, and the reasons for this should be studied. These two problems need solution: What method should be used so that the people in charge can be seen, and also how can problems be expeditiously solved. Will the various departments of the central government please give this their attention.

The localities have the power to resist all inoperable, impractical, and subjective orders, directives, instructions, and forms which the central government issues to the localities, and if they are restrained a bit more, it would not matter. This power is only given to the provincial and municipal committees (which arc comparatively more mature politically), and they are not given to the committees of the localities and the counties.

The Party regulations should show discipline and creativeness: the mass line should be manifested here, and the various provinces should study them a bit. It will not do not to have discipline; but discipline, when enforced inflexibly, can obstruct an attitude of positivism. Discipline which obstructs creativeness and positivism should be abolished. In the draft party regulations it would be stipulated that a vice-chairman or several vice-chairmen should be designated. Whether or not it is possible to emulate the methods of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and designate regular delegates with 5-year terms to serve in a supervisory function, is something to which everyone will please give consideration.

In the field of arts, "Let a hundred flowers bloom"; and in the literary field, "Let a hundred schools of thought contend" (as they contended during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period [722- 481 B.C.]) This should be our policy. This was the view of the people 2,000 years ago.

Democratic control of the cooperatives is very important. This is natural. In collectivized labor, the peasants also should be given some free time. It is right to listen to correct orders, but when orders are profuse, they become too inflexible and inoperative. We also must have some liberalism; it will not do otherwise. Strictness is derived from dealing with the unstrict. Discipline arises from dealing with liberalism. What we are opposed to is: We should not stir up the liberalism of the local liberals. But we must have some liberalism in order to facilitate getting things done. It will not do to be strict at all times. It is still necessary to have liberalism within the family, otherwise each family will have to set up supervisory members.

It is necessary to have national balance. Local independence should not obstruct national balance. Only with national balance can there be partial balance for the localities. Without national balance, the country would be in great chaos. Peking's things cannot match those of Shanghai, and they are afraid that Shanghai goods will flood the market. So it is necessary to have national balance. Without this balance, it will not be possible to make the nation industrialized. When we encourage independence of the localities, we must not lean to one side. Now it its necessary to stress independence.

We must positively touch on the economic activities of this year and next year. Each provincial and municipal committee should report once, and work up some exemplary models. We have had no experience in these matters, and must try to find some departments, districts, and industrial plants to study. Other people say the central government has brilliant leadership. We know some things, but also do not know other things.

In four days of meetings, we cannot talk about everything. We have talked too little about the suppression of counter-revolutionaries, the unification of war efforts, the minority nationalities, and international problems. Will the various areas please stress this to their subordinates. We should take affirmative action in regard to the suppression of counter-revolutionaries. In the past, we have killed, locked up, and controlled 2-3 million such persons, and this was extremely necessary. Without this stroke, it would not do. The democratic parties have divergent views from us. Now the counterrevolutionaries are fewer. We should take affirmative action to see if there are still any counterrevolutionaries, and this year decide upon having some of them killed. They must be liquidated in the strategic organizations and schools. Those not yet liquidated must be liquidated. We cannot be lax and lenient; we must carry out this bitter task. We should telephone once every half month to urge them into action. You can also use the telephone method towards the local committees.

Punishment within the party: In regard to some cadres in the counties, districts, and townships, this has been too much and too severe. In regard to high level cadres (including bureau chiefs and above) who commit errors and on whom it is difficult to reach a conclusion, the punishment should be carried out (and the reasons therefore should be clearly investigated). It is not right for the punishment to be severe and too heavy. With the exception of the counterrevolutionaries, they should be given the chance to reform.

In regard to the problem of minority nationalities, Comrade X X has said that Szechwan is right. Although some retribution has been made, attention needs to be paid to other areas.

The question of international relations. Some points should not be blindly followed. On some matters we already have experience. The Soviet Union has already initiated a mass criticism campaign. Some of it is neither suitable for our country nor to the Soviet Union. We have committed many errors in view of their direct leadership. For example, in regard to the suppression of counterrevolutionarics, we would not catch most of them and would not kill many of them. The single-head system is a military standpoint. The mass line is still the standpoint of graceful favors. Whether the method of capital accumulation should be by disparity (in prices between industrial goods and agricultural produce) or by tax collection is a problem. But this is not to say that we have nothing to learn from the Soviet Union. They have many things which are worthy of our study. The Soviet Union helped us in our reconstruction, and socialist countries are still the best at this. Now even with this one country, although it has made many errors, there is still much that merits our study. We should not follow blindly, but should subject everything lo analysis. There is good and bad in everything. We cannot say that everything the Soviet Union does is good. Now, people arc saying, that we have been following even w hat is bad. We should learn whatever is suitable for our use. Even the good in capitalism should be learned.

We should adopt an attitude of equal treatment to all small nations abroad. We should not cock our tail. Although we are not imperialists, do not have an "Octoberist Revolution," and in the beginning cannot cock our tail; we shall soon learn a few things and shall soon be able to cock our tail. We should teach our comrades who are sent to foreign countries to be honest and sincere, and call a spade a spade; and we must let everyone see what is good, bad, or mediocre in us. The Soviet Union had its Czars; and we have our Chiang Kai-shek. If our country has small feet, and others want to photograph them, let them do it. If our clothes are not good, let us not be afraid they will look unsightly. If we tell lies in front of foreigners, someday these lies will surely be exposed.

As to the problem of communication, some things can be talked about anywhere. The bad things about Stalin and the Third International cart be communicated to the local committee secretaries and also to the county committee secretaries. It is out of consideration for the total situation that these are not written about in articles. (This article had only one sentence about "certain bad ideas being brought up,") and we have no intention of discussing them in newspapers or among the masses.


1. In this connection also see comrade Mao's article "On Ten Major Relationships", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Vol.V, pp. 284-307

2. For more on Kao-Jao (Kao Kang-Jao Shushi) affair, see "Speeches at the National Conference of the Communist Party of China", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. V, pp.154-171.

3. The National Conference on Financial and Economic Work was held in the summer of 1953.

4. Chen Tu-hsiu was originally a professor at Peking University and became famous as an editor of New Youth. He was one of the founders of the Communist Party of China. Because of his reputation at the time of the May 4th Movement and owing to the Party's immaturity in its initial period, he became General Secretary of the Party. In the last period of the revolution of 1924-27, the Rightist thinking in the Party represented by Chen Tu-Hsiu developed into a line of capitulationism. Comrade Mao Tse-tung has observed that the capitulationists at that time "voluntarily gave up the Party's leadership of the peasant masses, urban petty bourgeoisie and middle bourgeoisie, and in particular gave up the Party's leadership of the armed forces, thus causing the defeat of the revolution" ("The Present Situation and Our Tasks", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. IV, p. 171). After the defeat of 1927 Chen Tu-hsiu and a handful of other capitulationists lost faith in the future of the revolution and became liquidationists.. They took the reactionary Trotskyist stand and together with the Trotskyites formed a small anti-Party group. Consequently Chen Chen Tu-hsiu was expelled from the Party in November 1929. He died in 1942.

With reference to Chen Tu-Hsiu's Right opportunism, see the introductory notes to "Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society" and to "Report on the Investigation into the Peasant Movement in Hunan", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. 1, and "Introducing The Communist", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. II

5. The CPC held an emergency conference of the Central Committee on August 7, 1927, at Kiukiang, Kiangsi Province. The conference criticized the erroneous capitulationist line of the Right opportunist Chen Tu-hsiu on the question of revolutionary leadership, revolutionary armed forces and agrarian revolution and removed him from the leading post.

6. The Sixth National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in July 1928. It pointed out that after the defeat in 1927, China's revolution remained bourgeois-democratic in nature; i.e., anti-imperialist and anti-feudal, and that since the inevitable new high tide in the revolution was not yet imminent, the general line for the revolution should be to win over the masses. The Sixth Congress liquidated the 1927 Right Capitulationism of Chen Tu-hsiu and also repudiated the "Left" putschism which occurred in the Party at the end of 1927 and the beginning of 1928.

The congress adopted the following Ten-Point Programme: (1) overthrow imperialist rule; (2) confiscate foreign capitalist enterprises and banks; (3) unify China and recognize the right of the nationalities to self-determination; (4) overthrow the Kuomintang warlord government (5) establish a government of councils of workers, peasants and soldiers, (6) institute the eight-hour day, increase wages, and establish unemployment relief and social insurance (7) confiscate the land of all landlords and distribute the land among the peasants; (8) improve the living conditions of the soldiers, give land and jobs to ex-soldiers; (9) abolish all exorbitant taxes and miscellaneous levies and adopt a consolidated progressive tax and (10) unite with the world proletariat, unite with the Soviet Union.

7. The Third Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee of the Party held in September 1930, and the subsequent central leading body adopted many positive measures to put an end to the Li-Li-san line. But later a number of Party comrades who were inexperienced in practical revolutionary struggle, with Chen Shao-yu (Wang Ming) and Chin Pang-hsien (Po Ku) in the lead, came out against the Central Committee's measures. In the pamphlet, The Two Lines or The Struggle for the Further Bolshevization of the Communist Party of China, they most emphatically declared that the main danger then existing in the Party was not "Left" opportunism but "Right opportunism" and, to justify their own activities, they "criticized" the Li Li-san line as "Rightist". They put forward a new political programme which continued, revived or developed the Li Li-san line and other "Left" ideas and policies in a new guise, and set themselves against the correct line of Comrade Mao Tse-tung. It was mainly to criticize the military mistakes of this new "Left" opportunist line that Comrade Mao Tse-tung wrote the article, "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War". This line was dominant in the Party from the Fourth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee in January 1931 to Ihe meeting of the Political Bureau convened by the Central Committee at Tsunyi, Kweichow Province, in January 1935, which ended the dominance of this erroneous line and established the new central leadership headed by Comrade Mao Tse-tung. The erroneous "Left" line dominated the Party for a particularly long time (four years) and brought extremely heavy losses, with disastrous consequences, to the Party and the Revolution. A loss of 90 percent was inflicted on the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese Red Army and its base areas, tens of millions of people in the revolutionary base areas were made to suffer the cruel oppression of the Kuomintang, and the progress of the Chinese revolution was retarded. The overwhelming majority of the errant comrades have realized and corrected their mistakes through a long process of learning from experience and have done much good work for the Party and people. Under Comrade Mao Tse-tung's leadership they united with the masses of other comrades in the Party on the basis of a common political understanding.

8. Chang Kuo-tao was a renegade from the Chinese revolution. In early life, speculating on the revolution, he joined the Chinese Communist Party. ln the Party he made many mistakes resulting in serious crimes. The most notorious of these was his opposition, in 1935, to the Red Army's northward march and his defeatism and liquidationism in advocating withdrawal by the Red Army to the minority-nationality areas on the Szechuan-Sikang borders; what is more, he openly carried out traitorous activities against the Party and the Central Committee, established his own bogus central committee, disrupted the unity of the Party and the Red Army, and caused heavy losses to the Fourth Front Army of the Red Army. But thanks to patient education by Comrade Mao Tse-tung and the Central Committee, the Fourth Front Army and its numerous cadres soon returned lo the correct leadership of the Central Committee of the Party and played a glorious role in subsequent struggles. Chang Kuo-tao however, proved incorrigible and in the spring of 1934 he skipped out of the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region and joined the Kuomintang secret police.

9. See "On Setting up a System of Reports", Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Vol IV, pp. 177-180..

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung